25th Day of Christmas~Christina Rich

The winner of Diane’s books are Maria Michaels. Congratulations, Maria! Now, on to my own Christmas memory.

IMG_1232 Truth be told I have many fond Christmas memories, from the time I must have been five and my parents took me out for a Christmas Eve drive in search of Santa only to hear him ‘ho, ho, ho’ as I got out of the car to the time when it was really foggy and my brothers were concerned Santa wouldn’t be able to find our house. The first Christmases with each of our kids to the Christmas we were all snowed in. To the first Christmas hubs and I spent together in 1989 to this current one of 2013.

We’ve survived a lot of ups and downs over the years, especially since 2006 when we spent Christmas in the hospital with my mother-in-law who’d had a stroke. Only a few weeks later, as they life flighted her to the Mayo clinic in Michigan my husband and my father-in-law found themselves sliding on ice right underneath a semi-truck. DSCN1248My father-in-law and hubs walked away without a scratch.

From then on, Christmases had a whole new meaning. The size of the presents no longer mattered, the stress of buying the right gifts no longer mattered. Trying to be everything we could be to everyone no longer mattered. It was time to slow down, time to cherish moments as a family because we fully understood time could be snatched away at any moment. It was time to praise our Lord and Savior for every moment that was given us.

DSCN1251In May, hubs was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, and I have to admit I was scared, very scared. I had to wonder if we’d have any more Christmases together, especially since we were given all the statistics with malignant melanoma. But God is so very wonderful and so very faithful and He reminded me that no matter the outcome He will never leave us nor forsake us. And hubs reminded me that we need to cherish building memories, not fear they’ll be our last.

A few months after hubs’ diagnosis, we received word that my father-in-law has stage 3-4 throat cancer. Last night, as we were walking out the door to spend time with my parents and my adorable nieces and nephews, I received word that my father-in-law is in the hospital. Seems he’s not doing well. I also received word that my grandmother, who is several hundred miles away, is also in the hospital with an infection. In the midst of what seems like bad news can only be countered with love. The same kind of love that God displayed for humankind when his perfect son was birthed to a virgin, or at least the best sort of love we can share, after all, God’s word tells us to love him with all our heart and all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Luke 10:27 NV)

I also choose to be joyful and to maintain a spirit of thanksgiving, even in the midst of trials.

I just want to treat everyday like it’s Christmas, to bless people everyday like it’s Christmas, to shower them with the love of Christ everyday, like it’s Christmas everyday! To build special Christmas memories, everyday!

Merry, merry blessed Christmas.

I’m giving away a copy of The Guardian’s Promise to one commenter. Winner will be announced New Year’s Day. Since I haven’t received my author copies yet the book will be mailed out as soon as I get them.

9780373282579 Official

A Kingdom in Jeopardy

An evil queen and her royal guards will stop at nothing to find—and kill—the rightful heir to the throne of Judah. When their pursuit leads them to Mira’s village, only her father’s bond servant, Ari, a man shrouded in secrets, can keep Mira safe.

Abandoning his life as a temple guard and becoming an indentured servant was the only way Ari could protect young Joash, the true King of Judah, from Queen Athaliah. But his sacred duty prevents him from confessing his feelings for his master’s daughter. With the future of their nation on the line, Ari and Mira will risk everything to save their people.

 

 

When she was younger, Christina tried to dig herself to China, loved Three Billy Goats Gruff, and had an obsession with maps. She gave up her dig to China but still jumps at the chance to travel even if it’s just down the road. She loves watching modern takes of fairytales and mythologies on the big screen and still has a huge obsession with maps. The older the better.

Born and raised in Kansas, where she currently lives with her husband and children, Christina loves to read stories with happily ever afters, research,  take photos, knit scarves, dig into her ancestry, fish, visit the ocean, write stories with happily ever afters and talk about her family and Jesus.

Her debut novel, The Guardian’s Promise, releases from Love Inspired March 2014.

 

*To be eligible for The Guardian’s Promise, you must leave a comment and live within the Continental United States. Winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be notified Jan 1st and posted on the sidebar as well.

24th Day of Christmas~Diane Burke

The winners of Ruthy’s books are Stephanie, Ginger and Belle. Congratulations, Ladies! Now, on to Diane’s Christmas memory.DSCF0770

Christmas was literally the most wonderful time of the year for me. Being one of seven siblings who were scattered throughout the United States, it was difficult for us to get together with any regularity. But we would all make a conscious effort to trek home to my parents for the holiday. What a wonderful chaotic zoo! That house was filled with blow up mattresses, brothers, sisters, spouses, and tons and tons of excited children. We baked and cooked and played and decorated and wrapped enough presents to fill a department store. We had snow ball fights and went sledding. For many years, Christmas meant everything to me.

But life changes. As my parent’s aged and their health deteriorated that big white house we all gathered in was sold. My children grew up and moved to different states.  Eventually my parents died. My husband died. And this past year I lost my brother.

Christmas never felt the same again.

But, oh, what wonderful family memories! They will never be gone.

Recently, though, God blessed me with a second chance, a real Christmas miracle!

small pic Hidden in Plain View I had just finished writing my fifth book Hidden In Plain View (which I will be happily giving to one of the readers of this blog) when something miraculous happened…

Well, maybe I should put a slice of the dear reader here: “This book deals with the underlying theme of adoptions and self-identity. Sarah is born in the English world but raised in the Amish. When tragic circumstances develop, the main question raised is: What constitutes family? Do you belong in the one you were born into, or do you belong in the family that raised you? In April 2012, I received a certified letter that changed my life. A child I had given up for adoption more than forty years ago had found me. The ripples of that moment have stretched out and touched all my family and friends in many ways. God has blessed me, and I will be forever thankful”

Last Christmas was the first one I spent with my lost son and his family. It was filled with family and pets and blow-up mattresses and games and gifts. Before anyone opened their gifts, my son stopped them, thanked his wife and his children for being there to share with him the first Christmas he would have with his mother.

As I write this blog, I am packed to leave in the morning for a second Christmas with my son—and my other sons are as much a part of his family now as if they had all grown up together—and I sit at Christmas dinner with his adoptive parents who opened their arms and welcomed me into the family just like I’d never been gone.

One Perfect DayMy son and I have been so moved by this journey that we wrote a book about it called One Perfect Day and it will be published April, 2014 by Skyhorse Publishing. It is an awesome story and we are both happy to share it.

Christmas has come full circle for me. Yes, it is definitely my favorite time of year and I hope is for you and your family, too.

Diane is giving away a copy of her October release Hidden In Plain View and a set of \star Christmas ornaments.

Diane lives in sunny Florida between the excitement of Disney and the quiet, quaint history of St. Augustine. She has three sons, six grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, one dog and considers every day of her life a blessing.

*To be eligible for Diane’s book, you must leave a comment and live within the Continental United States. Winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be notified Dec 25th and posted on the sidebar as well.

23rd Day of Christmas~Ruth Logan Herne

The winner of Merrillee’s book and ornament is Karen Collier. Congratulations, Karen! Now, on to Ruthy’s Christmas memory.

Ruthy 2012How can someone who loves Christmas have one favorite???? I think my favorite though, was nearly thirty-five years ago. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s first child… a little boy named Alan…. had passed away at six months old, January 6th , fighting Herpes Simplex Encephalitis, a brain infection caused by the Herpes virus. There were no answers, no comforts, nothing we could do to help them with the loss of their baby boy, but I remember praying throughout the end of that snowy winter, asking God to bless them with a child before Christmas. They’d gone through a rough Christmas, watching their baby boy fade away and I desperately wanted their next Christmas to be filled with joy. And as I prayed, I felt like God was listening, hearing me. I felt a peace descend on me, as if telling me things would be okay.

On December 25th of that year, my sister-in-law Carol delivered a small but beautiful baby girl, several weeks early. Amity was born in the light of a Christmas morning, closing a year of loss with a day of joy.

I always felt like God heard those prayers the previous winter, that he heard and understood our loss and our plea. And then answered it with a baby born a touch early, just in time for Christmas.

bigstock-Advent-Candle-3184147I had asked each author to send a picture of  Christmas ornaments if they’d like. Ruthy sent a picture of an Advent Wreath along with this note. I’m sending a picture of an Advent Wreath because I love them. The three purple and single rose candle remind me of the season of waiting, Advent, the prayer-filled days and long, dark nights. I love the idea of anticipating Christ’s birth, not Santa’s arrival… Although I like Santa well! 🙂  The prayerfulness of the wreath calls to me. And I love lighting candles!!!!

Christina here. Ever since I can remember my mother always had an Advent Wreath, but I only saw them as lighting a candle on the first Sunday, then two on the second, three on the third Sunday and so forth. I never once thought of them in the way as Ruthy described. I believe next year I will be making an Advent Wreath of my own and using it to focus on Christ our Savior.

Ruthy is giving away 3 copies of The Lawman’s Holiday Wish!

The Lawman’s Holiday Wish

Rainey Cabrera McKinney comes back home to Kirkwood Lake determined to make things right, but that’s a hard sell in small towns. Bad girls are assumed to be bad long after they’ve grown up and changed their ways. And when smokin’ hot Deputy Sheriff Luke Campbell realizes Rainey is the mother his son truly needs, he has to face the reality of his actions. A woman of faith, Rainey no longer does anything on a whim… and marriage to a man who shrugs off faith doesn’t make her short list. But with Christmas approaching and a little boy’s quest for independence, Luke and Rainey realize there’s more at stake than love: There’s faith, and that’s a solid ground to build a new family on.

http://ruthloganherne.com

www.seekerville.blogspot.com

facebook.com/ruthloganherne

www.ruthysplace.com

www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com

*To be eligible for Ruthy’s book, you must leave a comment and live within the Continental United States. Winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be notified Dec 24 and posted on the sidebar as well.

22nd Day of Christmas~Merrillee Whren

The winner of Jan’s book is Jane Ruddy. Congratulations, Jane! Now, on to Merrillee’s Christmas memory.

D&P Wedding 038

 

My favorite Christmas memory is from the year that my mother-in-law turned 75. Her birthday was on Christmas, so we always had a fun time celebrating her birthday as well as Christmas. That year my daughters had a special project. They asked me to go through our photos and choose some of friends and family through the years. We also had a key to her house, and one day I went there when she wasn’t home and searched through the photos she had in a drawer. The girls sent the photos to a place that makes quilts. IMG_0553My mother-in-law was thrilled with her memory quilt. It hung in her front hall until she had to move in with us because of failing health. We then hung it on one of our walls, so she could always look at it. Here is a photo of my mother-in-law and her quilt.

 

Merrillee is giving away a copy of  Montana Match and this ornament. IMG_4920[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWCOMER ON THE RANCH

Montana Match_frontNanny to six-year-old twin girls isn’t exactly the position Brittany Gorman is looking for. But she needs a job. And the twins’ struggling single dad, rancher Parker Watson, needs all the help he can get. Soon Brittany is not only assisting the girls, but also helping Parker make peace with his past. It seems Brittany’s finally found a place to belong. And with two little matchmakers on the loose, there’s no telling what the future holds. As her time on the ranch runs out, can Brittany and Parker find the strength to face that future—together?

 

 

 

 

 

Merrillee Whren is an award-winning author who writes inspirational romance. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. She has also been the recipient of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of thirty plus years, and has two grown daughters. She has lived in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago and Florida but now makes her home in the Arizona desert. When she’s not writing or working for her husband’s recruiting firm, she spends her free time playing tennis or walking while she does the plotting for her novels. Please visit her Web site at http://www.merrilleewhren.com or connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MerrilleeWhren.Author

*To be eligible for Merrillee’s book, you must leave a comment and live within the Continental United States. Winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be notified Dec 23 and posted on the sidebar as well.

 

 

 

 

21st Day of Christmas~Jan Drexler

The winner of Jean’s prize is Melanie Pike. Congratulations, Melanie! Now, on to Jan’s Christmas memory.

Jan DrexlerSince my husband and I got married just over thirty-one years ago, we have moved too many times. We’ve lived in six different states (one of them twice), and had a child in four of them.

When a family moves so often, it’s hard to establish traditions. Your favorite restaurant? It’s 700 miles away. That Christmas tree farm where you found the best tree three years in a row? 1200 miles away. That favorite ornament? Sacrificed to a careless moving company. Extended family? Sorry. Spending Christmas with them is rare.

We had to make our own traditions – ones that would move with our family.

I make the same Christmas treat recipes every year. Oh, I can try a new one, but I had better make the old ones, too!

Christmas stockings are always hung up. Sometimes from a fireplace mantel, sometimes on the stairway, but they’re always there.

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And we always buy a real Christmas tree. The tree is different every place we live. In Michigan and Indiana, White Pine was the tree our local tree farms raised. In Kentucky and Kansas, we bought Scotch Pines at Lowe’s. In Texas, we bought the cheapest one we could find – usually a Scotch Pine. And here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we cut our own Black Hills Spruce from the National Forest (with a permit, of course!).

And the ornaments – all the more precious because these are the ones that have survived the many moves – are brought out every year with the stories that accompany them.

There are the two surviving ornaments from my in-law’s first Christmas tree sixty-six years ago.

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There are the three ornaments left from my parent’s first tree, sixty-three years ago.

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The beadwork bell that was the last gift my grandmother made for me.

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And the ornaments our family chose together – a new one every year.

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The memories these ornaments invoke are what brings our family in touch with our history every Christmas. The stories are told, the cookies and fudge devoured, the presents opened, and a jigsaw puzzle started…all echoes of Christmases past, and memories for Christmases future.

Jan is giving away a copy of  The Prodigal Son Returns, either e-book or print for domestic, or e-book for international.

The Prodigal Son Returns

Prodigal Son Cover

From her first glimpse of his big-city suit, Ellie Miller knows Bram Lapp is trouble. The handsome Englischer says he wants to reclaim the life he left long ago. Even if his smile disarms her, all of Ellie’s energy must go to her children and their struggling farm…and to atoning for her mistakes.

A criminal’s trail has brought FBI informant Bram to Ellie’s warm and welcoming Indiana community. Now he’s posing as the kind of man he once hoped to be. Someone steadfast and upright. Someone who might be worthy of Ellie. Because no matter how much she claims she doesn’t want a second chance at love, he knows he’s found the home they were meant to share.

 

 

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of more than thirty years, their four adult children, two active dogs, and Maggie, the cat who thinks she’s a dog. If she isn’t sitting at her computer ruining – I mean living – the lives of her characters, she’s probably hiking in the Hills or the Badlands, enjoying the spectacular scenery.

Jan’s debut novel, The Prodigal Son Returns, was published by Love Inspired in May 2013, and her second novel, A Mother for His Children, was the winner of the 2013 TARA Contest, Inspirational Category. It will be published by Love Inspired in August 2014.

*To be eligible for Jan’s book you must leave a comment.

20th Day of Christmas~Jean C. Gordan

The winner of Missy’s prize is Angela Chesnut. Congratulations, Angela! Now, on to Jean’s Christmas memory.

Jeanne Gordon-1368-LR-ColorFor me Christmas is family, love and thinking of others. My favorite memory is a combination of two memories many years apart. Our first Christmas as a married couple, my husband and I were struggling college students 3,000 miles away from family and friends. We put out the ceramic manger scene I’d made the summer before and scraped together enough money to buy a real tree. In Los Angeles, the cost at least four times what it would have been in our rural Upstate New York hometowns. IMG_0341[1]Once we had the tree, we didn’t really have any money to decorate it. At a discount store near our apartment, I found boxes of plain red and blue bulbs for fifty-nine or sixty-nine cents and bought one of each color. We decorated our tree Christmas Eve before we went to church to hear the Hallelujah Choir sing. Those red and blue bulbs came home with us to New York and went on our tree in dwindling numbers every year until a few years ago when the last of the red bulbs broke. I still have two blue ones. That Christmas when I opened my gifts, I found that my daughter had searched all over until she’d found bulbs (pictured: original blue and new red and blue ones) that closely matched the ones from our first Christmas in Los Angles. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

Small-Town Midwife

Midwife

Autumn Hazard loves being a midwife. But a tragic loss has her doubting the path she’s chosen. And her new boss isn’t helping. She’s worked with Dr. Jonathan Hanlon before, and he’s just as handsome and seemingly perfect as ever. His presence could mean trouble for the clinic—and her sensible heart. Jon remembers Autumn, too. She’s still beautiful, smart and oblivious to him. Maybe that’s for the best—he’s leaving the small town as soon as his training’s done. Besides, he has secrets of his own, and he can’t risk Autumn getting close enough to uncover them. Yet despite all their reservations, working beside each other doesn’t feel like work at all…it feels like home.

Small-Town Midwife Jean C. Gordon

Jean is giving away a copy of her July release Small-Town Mom and a $25 Amazon gift card.

 Jean C. Gordon’s writing is a natural extension of her love of reading. From that day in first grade when she realized t-h-e was the word “the,” she’s been reading everything she can put her hands on. She and her college-sweetheart husband tried the city life in Los Angeles, but quickly returned home to their native Upstate New York. They share a 170-year-old house and farm just south of Albany, NY, with their daughter and son-in-law, two grandchildren, and a menagerie of pets. Their son lives nearby. Her latest “small-town” release is Small-Town Midwife, out in March 2014.

*To be eligible for Jean’s book, you must leave a comment and live within the Continental United States. Winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be notified Dec 21 and posted on the sidebar as well.

19th Day of Christmas~Missy Tippens

The winner of Carol’s prize is Valri. Congratulations, Valri! Now, on to Missy’s Christmas memory.
MissyTippens_3One of my favorite Christmas memories is from the year, when I was about five or six, that I got a huge doll house! I remember being at my grandparents that year for Christmas morning. Being there for the holiday was special in itself since we lived so far from them. They were six hours away in northeastern Kentucky so we only saw them a couple of times a year. I have a photo that I love of me standing beside that doll house, so proud and excited. It was almost as tall as I was! It was made out of cardboard, and I remember playing with my Barbies in it. 🙂

IMG_4092The best part of those holidays, though, was being with family. I grew up away from extended family and sometimes felt like I missed out. My aunts and uncles and cousins lived near my grandparents, relatives on both sides of the family. Going there was always a treat. Familiar smells in my grandparents home and at their clothing store, family traditions, heading out on a bike to go visit. Or later, driving to see everyone. I cherished the times with extended family, especially at the holidays. Those of you who live close to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, I hope you realize how you’re blessed! Be sure to show appreciation for them this Christmas.

Do you live close to extended family?

Missy will be giving away a copy of Georgia Sweethearts.

Georgia Sweethearts Back Cover

GA_Sweethearts_Med_Res_9780373878079

 

A Pattern for Love…

After inheriting her great-aunt’s failing yarn shop, Lilly Barnes is determined to make it a success. All she wants is stability, something she doesn’t think possible in the small town of Corinthia, Georgia. Then Pastor Daniel Foreman rents space in her store to hold meetings for his growing congregation, and this proves to be her lifeline. At first Lilly wants nothing to do with Daniel’s big dreams, but she soon finds herself starting to share his goals. Yet trouble between her customers and his congregation make them both doubt the path they’re on. That is, until practical Lilly shows him that love is a risk worth taking.

 

 

 

Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Beacon Contest and a 2013 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A House Full of Hope was a Romance Writers of America 2013 RITA® Nominee. Her most recent from Love Inspired, Georgia Sweethearts was an April 2013 release. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com.

*To be eligible for Missy’s book, you must leave a comment and live within the Continental United States. Winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be notified Dec 20 and posted on the sidebar as well.