It Is Well

I’ve received a few messages from readers looking forward to my next book. Thank you for your encouragement. It’s been a little harder than I believed it would be to write, but I’m pushing through life, the lack of motivation and time constraints. Even if I only type 50 new words, it’s progress, and each day it’s getting easier. Yesterday, I even spent an hour writing.

One thing that helps me write is listening to music. It sort of drowns out all other noises and the tyranny of the urgent calls from household chores.

I’m currently working on Dr. Benjamin Northrop and Ellie Sims’ story, supporting characters from The Negotiated Marriage. They’re both a hot mess, and it’s been a bit of a challenge to figure out the right balance. They’ve both experienced the joys of young love, but they’ve suffered pain, rejection, and loss. They’ve been disappointed by life. They not only fear, but also expect even greater disappointment. I want to torment them until they reach their happily-ever-after, but I don’t want them depressing, if you know what I mean.

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joshua 1:5 (NIV)

I playing different scenarios around in my head, trying to figure it out when the song, It Is Well came on. I recalled the story behind the original hymn written by Horatio Spafford and the earthly tragedy that plagued his life. This song  sums up my season, it has helped me remember that no matter my circumstances, God’s goodness and grace abounds, and that when I fully trust in God I find rest and perfect shalom, the peace the surpasses all understanding, a place of nothing missing and nothing broken. I’ve been resting in and seeking to maintain this peace. But when the song began to play, it flipped on a light bulb where my story is concerned. It’s the victory and happily-ever-after I want to give Ellie and Ben. By the end of the story, I want my characters to be able to stand in the middle of a torrential life-storm, lift their face to the heavens and sing. I want them to know with assurance that no matter what they face, it is well with their soul. I want them to know God has them in all their circumstances, that He covers them and He will never leave them or forsake them.

For Horatio Spafford’s story, go here.

For a Lifetime ~ Patricia Johns

DSC01807 I was reading a gossip magazine a few months ago, and an actress was talking about her recent engagement.

“Oh, I hope I don’t sound too soppy,” she gushed. “But I really do believe that he and I are meant to be… at this point in our lives.”

OUCH. At this point in our lives? Whatever happened to Happily Ever After?

I suppose you could argue that in Hollywood where more than the national average of 50% of marriages bite the dust, that she was just being pragmatic, but it’s still sad. When a bride-to-be looks forward to her wedding already expecting an expiry date, something has gone wrong.

My aunt told me about a wedding she attended where the vows sounded like this:

“I take you to be my lawfully wedding husband, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, for as long as we both shall wish it.”

The idea of a marriage that lasts for a lifetime is fading in some circles, and I find that truly heartbreaking. I believe in marriage that lasts. I believe in loving one person for the rest of my life. I believe that we should stay true to each other in sickness, health, poverty, or wealth, but I’m not relying on my own ideals or on my husband’s love for me. I’m relying on God.

Happily Ever After is only happy when it truly lasts, and I believe that all of us want that, deep down. We want someone to love us unconditionally, to protect us, to adore us. While a husband may fall short of the ideal from time to time, God never does. And when God is in that marriage, in that relationship and in that Happily Ever After, it lasts.

Not for only a point in our lives.

Not for as long as we both shall wish it.

But for a lifetime.

 

his unexpected familyBlurb:

When a baby is dropped into her life without warning, Emily Shaw is overjoyed. It’s a bit odd that her distant cousin named single Emily as guardian, but she’s thrilled all the same. She never thought she’d get to be a mom. Another unexpected blessing is that baby Cora arrives in the arms of police chief Greg Taylor. Despite all three of them instantly bonding, Greg has promised himself he’ll never be a father. And now Emily’s smooth-talking relative is challenging her right to raise Cora. Will Emily have to make an impossible decision between the child she already loves and the man who loves her?

Harlequin

Amazon

 

Patricia Johns lives in Alberta, Canada, where the winters are long and cold. She doesn’t complain, though, because it leaves her plenty of time to write, enjoying that winter wonderland from the warm side of the window.

She has her BA in English Lit and has been writing seriously ever since. She has written numerous novels in other genres, but her true love is for romance writing, where she can be the unabashedly hopeless romantic she’s always been.

 

 

 

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.

#1

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.

#3

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.

#2

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.