DebHaggertyphoto
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Happy New Year from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, Deb Haggerty. I met Deb recently at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where she was representing the publishing house she owns, Elk Lake Publishing. Since I know many of her authors—and quite a few are CAN members!—I was delighted to meet her in person. And now I’m delighted to interview her.

Welcome to CAN, Deb! Please tell us about your book, These Are the Days of My Life.

Deb Haggerty

Deb Haggerty

Days is a series of articles I wrote about various aspects of my life. I never wanted to write a book, but I enjoyed writing vignettes for other people’s books. Our CAN president, Angie Breidenbach, suggested I make my own compilation. I exclaimed to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!” Read More →

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It’s almost time for a New Year—and a new decade! How will your life be better in 2020 and beyond? What choices will you make to do things differently?

Most New Year’s resolutions come and go like snowflakes on hot sand. They don’t seem to last. Instead, why not take time to reflect on and reevaluate your life so you can make better choices next year? Here are some ideas to get started:

Reflect. Review the past year. What went right? What do you want to improve?

Pray. Take time to get away by yourself to think and pray for a bit. Ask God what is on His heart for this new year and the future. Take time to be still and listen. This will be foundational and time well spent for the months ahead.

Plan. Think about the various areas of your life. Jot some notes about what you’d really like to do in 2020. Even one or two things in each category can be a start. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Here are some ideas.

Spiritual Life – I want to find (or lead) a small group or Bible study. I want to pray bolder prayers.

Relationships – I want to spend more quality time with my close friends. I want to really listen to my spouse and kids.

Health and fitness – I want to walk every day for at least 15 minutes. I want to find recipes that are easy to make and healthy.

Emotional life – I want to be more joyful. I want to let go of the past. I want to live a life of gratitude.

Finances – I want to get out of debt. I want to start saving or saving more. I want to be a generous giver.

Writing life – I want to finish the book proposal and sample chapters I’ve been working on and submit them to my agent by March 1. I want to attend at least one writer’s conference.

Believe. Lastly, believe that things really can be better. That God has a good plan for your life, not just everyone else’s. He knows and loves you so, and wants His best for you.

My prayer is that 2020 will be a positively amazing year for you. Here’s to believing for the best!

Jackie M. Johnson

Jackie M. Johnson

Jackie M. Johnson an author, blogger and freelance writer who inspires readers worldwide to grow a better life with hope-filled, encouraging content. Her books include, Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery guide When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie blogs for singles at “Living Single” on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website and at the “Growing a Better Life” blog on her website, www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com. “Goals 2020” photo credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. 

 

 

 

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Author Pam Farrel sharing her book, Discovering Joy in Philippians

“Do everything without grumbling… ” Phil 2:14

Maybe 2019 was tough year and you find yourself complaining a lot. You want to break the habit, but aren’t sure how. Here are twelve helpful tips to remember when you are tempted to grumble:

1. Turn on worship music
2.Go on a prayer walk
3. Do Bible Art
4.Bible study
5.Post a verse on social media
6. Go out in nature
7.Play with your kids or grandkids
8.Donate time and talent to a good cause
9.Help someone less fortunate
10. Look for a silver lining
11. Count your blessings
12.Praise God for His names or traits.

You might also want to do a Bible study on joy:
Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience

Pam Farrel is the author of 52 books including bestselling Discovering Hope in the Psalms; Discovering Joy in Philippians, and Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament.

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Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Happy Friday CAN Members!

Catherine Finger here with the great privilege of interviewing CAN Member Donn Taylor. Donn is a prayer warrior and serves our CAN members through his tireless prayers and encouragement. His faithful organization of the weekly online CAN prayer group blesses us all. When he’s not praying, Donn can be found inspiring others in person and via his daily Facebook posts. His wisdom, warmth and good humor is revealed in a new way today.

Thank you for joining us today, Donn! And thank you for your tireless service of prayer over the members of CAN and encouragement. We are looking forward to learning a little more about you. Let’s start with what drives you, Donn. What are your personal passions?

Donn Taylor

Donn Taylor

Donn: First is a vision of Western Civilization as one aspect of God’s calling his people out of the popular culture of their day. (That process began as far back as Abraham, but let’s begin with the early Christian church.) The world of Christ’s time was incredibly cruel, even savage. Through Christianity, the West (primarily Europe) gradually emerged from that savagery into what we now think of as civilization, though the process is far from complete. But as of today, only Christendom has that quality, while the rest of the world remains as savage and cruel as it was in the time of Christ. Only Christendom has the answer. The great exceptions within Christendom were Communism and National Socialism, both of which were specifically anti-Christian. In short, Christianity is the civilizing force that has made this progress possible.

Second is a vision that one becomes an educated person by asking three questions. The seeker’s first question is, “Who am I?” The obvious answer is that he is a member of mankind, and that leads to the psalmist’s question, “What is man?” Seeking an answer leads us to considering “the best that has been thought or said” in all ages. (Matthew Arnold’s words.) The third question is, “What kind of world do we live in?” That is where the sciences come in. Today there is an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). My point is that STEM cannot address the first two questions, and the answers to those questions define what STEM is about.

These thematic elements keep showing up one way or another in my novels and poetry.

Thanks, Donn. Talk about deep calling unto deep! You’re reminding me of C.S. Lewis, or Watchman Nee. Outside of your daily prayer and reflection, how do you spend your time? What activities do you engage in giving you a more rounded life?

At age 89 I’m not as “rounded” as I was in past years. Today I’m just doing church and what I can do electronically. I got on Facebook to sell my books, but I’ve ended up doing more counseling and praying than anything else. In past years I served as deacon in several churches, mentored students at the colleges where I taught and a few writers since then, coached a basketball team of 12-year-olds. I participated in church-league basketball and in 10K runs until at age 64 the wheels came off. I still maintain membership in the National Association of Scholars and the Military Officers’ Association of America.

Bless you for that, Brother! I appreciate your passion for prayer, coaching, and service to others. How do you use this experience in your writing?

Tennyson’s Ulysses said, “I am a part of all that I have met,” but in my case it’s more like all I have met is a part of me. And there’s no telling which part will show up at any particular time. My first career was Army, the second as professor at two liberal arts colleges, and only after those did I take up creative writing professionally. My suspense novels reflected my Army experience, my mysteries set on college campuses reflect my teaching days, and my and Mildred’s lives as Christians governed my historical novel. The two passions mentioned above keep appearing in different parts of these and in my poetry.

I’d love to hear about a time when things didn’t turn out as you’d planned. Got a story for us?

Things often don’t turn out the way I planned. I began with two dead-serious intentions:  To write suspense fiction reflecting real-world problems as I knew them and to write poetry I wouldn’t be ashamed to see in a collection of American poetry. I think I achieved a little bit of both, but the unexpected happened. Some of my better poetry is comic, and comic passages kept popping up in my serious fiction. People like to laugh, so in my recent work I’ve emphasized the comic elements while maintaining the serious subjects in the background. (My Professor Preston Barclay can’t resist making a pun or smart remark even if it costs him his job.)

I look forward to reading your work. I love a little humor thrown in at every opportunity. Speaking of humor, do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event you’d like to share with us?

In my first year to teach poetry writing at the Blue Ridge Conference I wanted to prove that serious poetry could be successfully presented to a general audience. So I volunteered to read a poem on the faculty talent show. But the fellow before me on the program had the audience in stitches with comedy of the absurd. So how was I going to get the audience from that to a serious poem? On the spur of the moment I began telling jokes about my age. (“There is no truth to the rumor that I was a critique partner for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address . . . It was actually the Declaration of Independence.”) That let me step things down to reading a serious poem. But it also branded me, and I’ve had to keep doing it ever since.

Ha! I’d love to hear about your source materials for those must-have humorous openers someday! What’s one of your fascinating facts that cropped up while doing research for a book?

For the drug-smuggling flights in “The Lazarus File,” I needed to learn all I could about the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. (I had never flown one.) I remembered that James Stewart flew one in a movie and looked out of the pilot’s window to be sure the landing gear was down. When I located an actual DC-3 and sat in the plot’s seat, I found that the pilot could not see the landing gear. Moral: Never base your research on anything you see in a movie.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your world, Donn! And thank you for your commitment to praying for and serving others.

Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterward, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His publications include several suspense and mystery novels, one historical novel, and one book of poetry. Two of his novels have been finalists in the Selah Awards. He lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Two of Donn’s books were finalists for the Selah Awards and you can enjoy his daily Facebook interactions here: www.facebook.com/donntaylor His marriage to Mildred lasted 61 years, seven months, and four days until the Lord promoted her. For a great holiday romance, check out their love story on line at https://tinyurl.com/te4k8kn 

 

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In Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake became a special Yule Log wedding cake. For Sara, it was the perfect cake for her Christmas wedding. But where did the Yule Log tradition come from?

The custom of the Yule Log goes back to before medieval times. It was originally based on the Nordic tradition of Yule, a Winter Solstice festival. Burning the Yule Log was one of the most widespread Christmas traditions in early modern Europe, with the first recording of its appearance dating to 1184. For the Christian feast of Christmas, the Yule Log symbolizes the battle between good and evil. “As the fire grows brighter and burns hotter, and as the log turned into ashes, it symbolized Christ’s final and ultimate triumph over sin.”

The traditional Yule Log was originally an entire tree carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log that was carefully stored away. Then, the Yule Log was slowly burned throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the Yule Log tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil, or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from evil spirits. On Christmas morning something green, a leaf or the like, was brought into the house before anything was taken out. A piece of the Yule Log was then saved to light the next year’s log.

In Provence, France, the whole family helps to cut the log down and a little bit is burnt each night. In the Netherlands, the leftover log is stored under a bed. In some eastern European countries, the log was cut down on Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening.

The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kinds of wood are used in different countries. In England, oak is traditional; in Scotland, birch; in France, cherry wood is sprinkled with wine before it’s burned so it smells nice.

In Devon and Somerset in the UK, some people use ash twigs instead of a log. This comes from a local legend that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were cold when the shepherds found them on Christmas Night. So the shepherds collected twigs to burn and keep them warm. In Ireland they use a large candle instead of a log that’s lit on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night.

In France, the Yule Log is bûche de noel where a custom required that peasants to bring a log to their lord. In Burgundy, gifts were hidden under the log. In Brittany and in Provence prayers were offered as the log was lit, a custom still widely observed called cacho fio (blessing of the log). The eldest male parades the log around the house three times. Then it’s blessed with wine and lit with the ashes of the previous year’s log.

Susan G. Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. Learn more about The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise at www.SusanGMathis.com. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books; stories in a dozen compilations; and hundreds of articles. Susan lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling globally and Skyping with her four granddaughters.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

 

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