The Christmas season is upon us, and with it comes non-stop shopping, gift-giving, and entertaining. Not to mention baking, bow-making, and balancing the checkbook. No wonder it’s hard to find peace in the hustle and bustle of what should be one of our happiest times of the year.

Often, in the midst of our hurry, we forget to count our blessings. One of the best ways to do that is to look around us and find someone with a greater need. Most likely we won’t have to look too far. It’s not just the poor, but the poor in spirit, who need a reason to celebrate life. Or, at least, life in the moment. We can help give them that reason with the gift of our time.

Angel trees, red kettles, and food kitchens are great places to lend a hand. But we should also minister to the widower in the back pew, the single mom who lives around the corner, and the frazzled caregiver whose elderly parent is lost in dementia.

The holidays are particularly difficult for someone who is already lonely or grieving. A smile, a hug, or a plateful of homemade cookies can go a long way toward making their day. An offer to clean their windows, or an invitation to dinner—even if it’s just to the fast-food restaurant down the street—can go even further.

Take a look around you this Christmas and count those to whom you can be a blessing. It will help you count your own.

 

Kathy Harris

Kathy Harris

Kathy Harris is an author by way of a “divine detour” into the Nashville music business, where she has worked for thirty years as a marketing director. Her latest novel, Deadly Commitment, released on October 14. Read Kathy’s blog or follow her on Facebook,  Twitter, and/or Instagram.

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“She’s cute, and perky, and all the things I’m not.”

That’s how my real life persona, Donna Schlachter, describes me.

I’m not sure why, because she’s a pretty swell person herself. Still, I suspect it’s because she likes to live vicariously through me. Kind of like a split personality.

Maybe all authors are that way. We live our lives through our characters. Putting them in situations most of us would never experience.

When I wrote the first book in this series, I had a character, an occupation, and a murder—but I didn’t know whodunit, or why. I got to within two chapters of the end of the book and realized I’d written myself into a corner. So I picked one of the secondary characters, made that person the killer, ended the book, and went back and gave that character a backstory, put in some other suspects with good motives then gave them alibis. Needless to say, if I’d sat down and done an outline, I’d have known the answers to those questions and saved a lot of time.

Well, thankfully, I learned a lot since then. I grew to love my heroine (she’s actually a lot like me, only she takes way too many stupid chances and is much faster on the quippy comebacks than I’ll ever be). So I wanted to write more about her. At first, I thought three books. Finally I made a deal with her that she would tell me when she’s done.

Carly has done a lot of growing over the intervening years, too. And now she has told me, “One more. Twelve. Nice round number.” So next year’s book, Risk Management, will be the last.

Whew. That’s a little scary. After all, who am I unless I’m writing about Carly, who wants to prove to everybody that accountants are more than bean counters? Hopefully I’ll have a better idea of the answer to that question in the new year.

For now, I’m celebrating the release of Book 11, Missing Deposits.

 

Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, CAN, and SinC.

Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.

Blog: www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6

Books: Amazon http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE  and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2z5ecP8

Missing Deposits cover

 

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Dianne Neal Matthews
Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn Spencer

Welcome, readers. Davalynn Spencer from Colorado here, where it’s snowy and Christmassy already. Please welcome today’s featured author, Dianne Neal Matthews.

Dianne, please give us a quick overview of your book Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily.

Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily offers a daily dose of encouragement and wisdom for your stepfamily journey. Topics include parenting and step-parenting, strengthening your marriage, grief in the stepfamily, bonding with children, co-parenting with exes, and practical wisdom for bringing family members together.

This already sounds like a book someone in my family would benefit from, Dianne. What led you to write it?

Dianne Neal Matthews

Dianne Neal Matthews

Ron L. Deal is a nationally recognized expert in the area of blended families, the Founder and President of Smart Stepfamilies, and Director of Blended Family Ministries for FamilyLife. I was honored to work on this devotional book with Ron. His compassion and understanding of the unique needs and circumstances of stepfamilies are evident throughout his writings and his ministry. Read More →

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Making Holiday Memories

Thanksgiving was a traditional family gathering at my in-laws’ home. The siblings came from near and far with their families. Entering the snowy driveway, we’d see the house with seven gables high on the hill.

Beautiful horse in the snow

Beautiful horse in the snow

The roar of snowmobiles coming from the fields nearby let us know nieces and nephews were enjoying Grandpa’s toys. Beautiful horses galloped in the fields near the red barn.

Approaching the house, we caught a whiff of the baking turkey; then Grandma opened the door and lavished us with hugs. As we sat at the table beautifully set with china and crystal, the golden turkey served as the centerpiece, and pumpkin pie provided a sweet ending to the feast. It was truly a Norman Rockwell scene.

I miss those gatherings. They are treasured memories now that many family members have entered eternity. The memories cause me to be thankful for the times past, and they make me conscious this holiday season of how short my time is on earth.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 NIV).

As the spirit of Thanksgiving ushers in Christmas, I’ll give thanks to the Lord for providing a way for me to have eternal life; for good health, family, and friends; and for so many other blessings. And yes, for making holiday memories.

God is so good! Enjoy His goodness throughout this holiday season, and make precious holiday memories this year.

Wishing you a blessed December, a Merry Christmas, and a New Year overflowing with God’s abundance.

 

 

Peggy Cunningham

Author Peggy Cunningham

Peggy Cunningham and her husband are missionaries in

Shape Your Soul 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains

Shape Your Soul 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains

Bolivia, South America. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author of books for children and adults. Her latest book is Shape Your Soul, 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains, a women’s devotional.  www.Peggy Cunningham.com.

 

 

 

 

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Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

I realized recently that a few of my favorite things and creatures have names beginning with the letter C. A fine example is Capsized by Death, the fourth of my Jo Oliver thrillers releasing Dec. 2, 2019.

My dog’s name is Christie—short for “Christie, The Christmas Pup.” Well into her eleventh year, we’ve been a tight team since she first crawled up my leg like a little kitten when she was six weeks old.  She rocked my world in the earliest days of a long period of pain in my life. Experiencing her little heartbeat and loving personality remains a sweet blessing.

My horse’s name is Clara—she came already named. Meeting Clara truly was a love at first sight experience. If you’ve never been in love with a horse before, I highly recommend it. Horses invite you into a slower, surer world with gentle, knowing eyes and whisper soft muzzles. You can’t be in tune with your horse if your mind, heart, or soul is divided. They have a miraculous way of bringing balance and peace amid a noisy, fractured world.

Last but not least, comes Cosmo—my pint-sized camper. Cosmo is cool. He provides a sense of safety, and the promise of adventure, without breaking a sweat. He’s an easy to maneuver home on wheels, making it easy for the aforementioned C’s, as I travel around the country seeking adventure, competing at horse shows, attending conferences, and discovering the occasional independent bookstore. Sure, he has a lot of parts, and he can be rather cranky and complicated (usually late at night during inclement weather.) Other than that, he’s the perfect gentleman.

How about you? I’d love to hear about a few of your favorite things…

 

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