Friday, December 2, 2016

DEVOTION: Don't Be A Silly Cat ~ by Karen Rees

Scripture reference: Col 3:12-14

My husband and I had great fun trimming our first Christmas tree with decorations as new and bright as our young marriage. Once finished, we stood with arms around each other admiring the tree that sat in the corner of our living room while our gray cat rubbed against our ankles.

Kitty-cat also liked our tree. She especially enjoyed batting the fragile glass balls that hung from the bottom branches and watching them swing.

After being scolded several times for playing with the ones in the front, she went around behind and batted the balls hanging there. She seemed to reason that if she were in the back, we wouldn't see her disobedience. Silly cat.

At times we find ourselves acting like Kitty-cat. In scripture, God tells us some “glass balls” to leave alone. But playing with them is so much fun.
Gossip is one of the colorful balls we find nearly irresistible. Learning all the intimate details about someone can be so satisfying. It's nearly as satisfying as the thrill of passing the information on.

Another glowing ball is irresponsible spending. We see so many desirable things to buy. We tell ourselves it doesn't matter that we don't actually need the item, that we're already in debt or we're spending money we should be giving to God.

A third forbidden glass ball is pretending to be better than we are. We dismiss our “little” faults while looking down on others when they exhibit similar failings.

The most tempting ball of all is the one the color of immediate happiness. We reason that God wants us to be happy right now! Therefore, whatever gives us happiness NOW must be God's will for us.
Since these “pretty balls” do bring us pleasure, why does God spoil our fun by forbidding them? 

A little bit of gossip may seem harmless, but we all know of people who have had good reputations destroyed by little bits of gossip that spread.

God blesses us with money and tells us how to use it to bless others. When we ignore him and impulsively spend more and more on ourselves, we're planting seeds of selfishness and are hurting our relationship with God.

Refusing to admit our own failings not only makes us a poor example for those we love but it will ultimately separate us from God Himself.

Yes, God wants us to be happy. That's why he's prepared heaven for us and why he gave us commands for living. He knows that obedience protects us from danger and brings greater long-term happiness. Any other way of finding happiness is no more lasting than a fragile Christmas decoration.
God sees us even at the back of the tree. So leave the balls alone, dear silly cat.


KAREN REES, with her second-generation missionary husband Benjamin, has served in Hong Kong since 1975. Besides her involvement in the mission work, Karen loves history, quilting and writing. They have two children, Matthew and Megan, and two grand-children, Hadessah and Arthur Aaron.

Her historical fiction novel, The Ruby Ring, was a Finalist Award in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards in the Religious Fiction category. It can be purchased in paperback or eBook from Amazon.com and other online bookstores.

Visit Karen on her author page on FacebookWatch her book trailer, The Ruby Ring Trailer.



Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Christmas Without Faith – by Christine Lindsay

With Christmas just around the corner, I’m sharing an excerpt from Christmas 1998 a few months before my birth-daughter Sarah and I were reunited in our Adoption Reunion. This excerpt is from my memoirs just released this 2016, Finding Sarah Finding Me

Because Christmas isn’t easy for everyone, at least not every year.

Excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me:

A few days later, with the adoption file containing Sarah’s and her parents’ legal names in my hand, I phone the reunion support group. I don’t really know what to expect, but I’d like some advice on the next step toward reunion. The resulting rollercoaster of phone calls in one afternoon comes as a shock. As soon as I tell the other member of the support group, she starts a computer search on the voting registry for Anne and Hans VandenBos. Moments later, feeling again like the Cold War spy, I write Sarah’s home address down on a pad of paper. What do I do with this? Walk up to their door and ring the bell, and say, “Hi, I’m Sarah’s birth mom. Have you been waiting for me as long as I’ve been waiting for you?”
For half a minute I want to giggle. In reality, I need my adoption counselor to smooth the way, and I write Bob a long letter bringing him up to date. A week later he calls.
When I sit in his office again, Bob’s brow puzzles over what could have happened to the first letter I wrote for Sarah. He can’t remember receiving it, but my friend assured me she had delivered it. Bob thinks perhaps he stuck it at the back of an old cabinet when he moved some files.
But nothing ever fazes Bob. With a grin, he asks me to write another letter to Sarah. He’s also been wondering why he hadn’t heard from me since our first talk, and I wonder what happened to the numerous voicemail messages I left him. Is Bob juggling too many counseling cases and put me on the back burner? Had he simply forgotten me? Or maybe Bob has become a bit cavalier doing monumental work, such as taking a baby from one woman to give that baby to another woman. As cavalier as God?
It doesn’t matter though. On this section of the emotional rollercoaster God must have slowed the process in answer to my prayers, to prepare Sarah and her parents for the reunion. And now God is speeding up the process. I can accept this. After all, God is God. I stuff my previous disappointment down deep. The heavenly Father isn’t going to let me down like my earthly dad did.
Meanwhile, Bob leans back in his chair with a chuckle and fills me in on memories he’d been unable to share with me at the time I relinquished Sarah. Nineteen years earlier, Bob and his wife had taken care of Sarah in their apartment at Trinity Western University. It comes as a surprise to me that Bob and Beverly cared for my child the first night she’d been apart from me. I’d always assumed they’d taken her directly from me to her adoptive parents. A slim shaft of hurt arrows through my ribcage, cutting off my breath. As if I’d been kept in the dark all those years ago. When Bob had phoned me that night after I’d come home from hospital I’ had no idea my baby slept in his arms.
If I’d known then, would I have asked for her back?
But I shake off this tiny sense of betrayal. It no longer matters. Now the search is back on track, and I can afford to laugh….
….That sweet little memory of Bob’s erases a tiny bit of that new shadow in me, that sense of loss, knowing now where she’d actually been after I’d said goodbye. I stuff my jealousy deep into a crevice of my heart.
Before I leave Bob’s office, he says, “It’s only a few weeks until Christmas. Better wait until after New Year to deliver your letter to Sarah and her parents, so we don’t intrude upon their family time.” Family time. I nod and smile, but inside I shrivel. I understand. Still, hurt stabs once more that I’m not considered family. And David and our kids aren’t family to Sarah either. The desire to run and hide shrouds me again. So much for my confidence of only moments ago. Oh, who am I kidding?
The fear of rejection continues to hammer me on the drive home. During the Christmas holidays I leave a voicemail for Bob that it would be best to call the whole thing off. Better to stay in the shadows, let Sarah live her life without the awkward addition of a birth mother who doesn’t really fit into any family dynamic.
Bob calls back that night. “You’ve trusted God all these years, Christine. Don’t stop trusting now.”

Read Forward and Chapter 1 of Finding Sarah Finding Me by clicking HERE

To read more about Christine Lindsay and her fictional novels as well as her memoir, go to her website www.christinelindsay.org


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Titles

Have you ever read a book title that instantly caught your attention?

I love titles that make me laugh, or do a double take.

Here are a few by Sandra Orchard that are brilliantly written.
Note: The main character in this series, “has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art.”




Can you think of any books with interesting, catchy titles? I’d love to hear them!

And since this is my last post for the year, I ‘d like to Thank You and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the Best in 2017!

Eva Maria Hamilton is the author of Highland Hearts, a Love Inspired Historical novel published by Harlequin. Her novel, Highland Hearts, won 2nd Place in the Historical Romance, as well as the Traditional/Inspirational Romance Categories in the Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Awards, and was an Inspirational Series Finalist in the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her short story, Disinherited Love, can be read in the anthology, A Kiss is Still A Kiss. Eva Maria Hamilton is also the owner of Lilac Lane Publishing, which has currently published, Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice Colouring & Activity Book featuring Illustrations from 1895, and Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility Colouring & Activity Book featuring Illustrations from 1896.


-->
To connect with Eva Maria Hamilton online, please visit her at www.evamariahamilton.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Acts of Kindness

I just finished writing a really difficult book. It’s about a serial killer—something I said I would never write. (I normally hate that kind of book) The story, though, goes back to my Nikki Boyd Files series and tells the story of what happened to Nikki’s sister who went missing over a decade ago. I was surprised at how hard the story was to write, primarily I think, because it struck a cord with me, as the spiritual thread dealt with the question of where was God when these girls died. Really tough stuff.


Because it’s not the first time I’ve questioned why I write romantic suspense. But in a world where so many things seem to be falling apart, I still yearn to see the good guy win. To see justice being served. I love writing about that. And I love to be reminded that there still are a lot of good people in this world.

I was reminded of this very thing  a couple of days ago. I was driving from Mozambique to South Africa with my daughter to pick up my husband and son in Johannesburg. It’s a long drive, around fifteen hours, so we usually spend the night in one of the smaller towns on the South African side after crossing the border to break up the trip. And while I don’t like making the long trip without my husband, I’ve done it enough times to where I’m comfortable with the drive.

But after an uneventful trip across the border, I finally reached the town we were going to spend the night in and the clutch went out when I was stopped at a light.

So at about an hour before dark, I was scrambling to figure out what to do. I wasn’t in a position to where I could move the car, our roadside assistance had unknowingly expired, and I didn’t have phone numbers for anyone in the town where we were. It was a potentially dangerous situation to be stuck at an intersection, two women alone, with dark falling.

My daughter was the one who kept me calm. She found a number for a roadside assistance who worked with us to send a tow truck, checking back frequently to make sure we were okay. Then just before dark—while we were still waiting—someone stopped behind us. It was an armed guard security car. The uniformed woman making her rounds had seen that we were having problems and decided to make sure we were okay. She ended up completely taking over the situation, directing traffic when the tow truck arrived, found a safe place to park the car until I could take it in to the mechanic, and she personally drove us to our guesthouse to make sure we made it safely there. My guardian angel!

In the end, I was so grateful for every who helped us that night as well as God’s protection in that we didn’t break down in Mozambique where it would have been much harder to get help. I was reminded that where there are a lot of bad things happening around the world right now, there are still a lot of good people. People who will go completely out of their way to help out a total stranger.

And yes, I think this just might end up in one of my books someday!



_________________________________________________________________________

To find out more about the best-selling series, The Nikki Boyd Files, and Lisa's other books, you can visit her website.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Join us for An Aussie Summer Christmas!

By Narelle Atkins 


I love reading Christmas romances. I often dream about experiencing a white Christmas like the characters in the inspirational romances I read by my favourite North American authors. My real life Aussie Christmas experience is very different to the winter-themed stories.

I grew up on the northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. My aunt and uncle lived across the road from Long Reef Beach in Collaroy. When I was younger I'd enjoy our Christmas day family lunch with turkey and all the trimmings. After lunch I'd head to the beach with my sister and cousins. Swimming in the ocean on Christmas Day is a foreign concept to most of my friends who live in the Northern Hemisphere.

The contemporary inspirational romance novellas in An Aussie Summer Christmas are set in coastal Australia and reflect our hot summer Christmas. We play in the sun instead of the snow and love our outdoors lifestyle.

My ninth release, Seaside Christmas, is part of An Aussie Summer Christmas novella boxed set available on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. 

Australian and New Zealand readers can read An Aussie Summer Christmas in Kindle Unlimited from Amazon Australia.

Next month I will start independently releasing my out-of-print Heartsong Presents back list titles from my Snowgum Creek and Sydney Sweethearts series on Amazon Kindle. The six books will have brand new covers, and three of the books will have new titles. Join my newsletter list to receive an email when the ebooks are available. 

Falling for the Farmer (Snowgum Creek Book 1) will be available before Christmas. 


Book Description:

Chelsea Somers is the girl he never called back. Six years later, former bad boy Gus Donovan is intrigued by Chelsea, but his past mistakes continue to haunt him. Gus is determined to prove he’s a changed man—prove it to his friends, his family, his father. And prove it to Chelsea. 

Chelsea has embraced the faith she once mocked, and she’s focused on furthering her career in health promotion and staying away from politics. She’s drawn to Gus, although his busy role as an advisor for an Australian senator doesn’t impress her. When she’s forced to confront her fears and deal with a past family tragedy, can Gus convince her to trust him and take a chance on him? 

A heartwarming Christmas romance novella set in Sydney, Australia. 

Seaside Christmas is a standalone novella and Book 3.5 in the Sydney Sweethearts series.

~~~~~~

What do you love about Christmas? Will you be having a white Christmas, or a summer Christmas, or something in between? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.