Have yourself a Glorious Christmas!

Christmas usually conjures many emotions. Some good, some not so good.  We’re happy to be with those we love, but we miss those who have left us.  Or perhaps some of us are feeling the pangs of loneliness, dreading the posts on social media, where everyone is all smiles and it seems as if they own the magic of Christmas while we’re searching for meaning amidst the red bows and white lights.  Perhaps some of us are even feeling left out this Christmas. Everyone else is attending parties while we sit at home.  Maybe some of us have lost hope this year and Christmas seems to magnify it rather than eradicate it.

Some of us fall into the same trap so many movie plots display humorously each year. We get so busy trying to make Christmas “perfect” that we miss it.  With all of our glamour and glitz, gift giving and going, we forget that the first Christmas was certainly not glamorous. It was simple.  Simple, but glorious.

The glory was in its simplicity.  God didn’t put Jesus on a stage and pronounce him King of Kings. He placed him in a  humble stable with common people.  He didn’t choose to send Jesus in modern times where His birth could be national news in a matter of seconds. There were no Twitter feeds or Facebook posts. Only a handful of people witnessed this miraculous event that would change hearts and lives forever.  He was sending us a message in the very nature of His birth.  We do not have to be popular or “perfect” to receive His gift.He came for all of us, no matter what our status in life might be.

Whatever emotions or activities we are experiencing this Christmas, we need only to remember that truth.  Christmas is for all of us. The lonely, the busy, the heartbroken, the stressed, and even those who can’t see hope. The glory of Christmas isn’t in the glitz or glamour. It’s not in the going and doing, and it’s not in the gifts. The glory of Christmas is in THE GIFT, our Savior who came to give us an abundant life. (John10:10)

If you are one of the above this Christmas, read Luke chapter 2. Read it with fresh eyes,  and remember that you, too, can have a glorious Christmas.

This is the real reason for Christmas ... A virgin giving birth to the son of god. The prince of peace. You would expect a prince to be born in a palace, but this prince was humble, he would be born in a manger.:


Why not me?

I’ve been doing some self-editing on my second book when I’m not working on my third. My second book involves a character, a child, who is seriously ill and dealing with physical challenges. Sometimes God shows me missing elements from my stories in real life encounters.

Backstory: This afternoon I had to go to a Sunday school director’s meeting and my son Seth had to come with me because I had to drop him off at his youth activity afterwards. Then I had to drive back to church service, before driving back to get him before heading home.

I’ve been dealing with some health struggles myself, and the thought of all this filled me with dread as I’ve been so tired lately. I was in bed a couple of days this week. This will be resolved soon so I’m not looking for sympathy. That is not the point of this post. Actually, I was feeling sorry for myself today because I’ve been feeling down about how much this has been hindering my life. I don’t like pity parties, but I sure invited myself to one today. Well, God didn’t let me stay for long.

After dropping Seth off, I decided to pull into the bookstore across the street and grab a black coffee, hoping to feel a bit more alert during church service as I was weak and drowsy.

Standing in line, I noticed a woman bending over what appeared to be a makeshift stroller. I knew instantly that something wasn’t right. When she raised up, I saw him.

He didn’t look like a child you’d expect to see in a stroller. He was large, but probably not more than three years old. His face was almost as white as his hair, and his eyes were narrow slits as he tried to keep them open.

My eyes dropped to an electronic device with red lights that blinked with the beeping sound it made. Apparently, it communicated something vital because the woman bent back over and started adjusting tubes, pulling them apart, and hooking them back together. There were other contraptions hooked to this boy, and my first thought was how much trouble it must have been to get this child out on this drizzly day. When I could finally pull my eyes away from this boy, I watched his caregiver. She handled him with such determined patience, and with the intent of someone who knew she had no other option.

As I watched, I instantly felt shame.

I felt shame because during my moments of pity, I actually had the fleeting thought, “Why me?” Then, I started thinking of all of the “unjust” circumstances throughout my life, private and not-so-private, and I could hear Job’s wife saying, “Curse God and die!”

Okay, not really, but still…

Anyway, I looked at this woman and this boy and my throat and eyes burned with emotion. I wanted to hug them both, but I refrained. I certainly didn’t want to end up on YouTube.

Instead, I asked her what his name was. She told me and I said I liked his name. Her mouth smiled weakly. Her eyes didn’t smile at all. We chatted for a moment. I found out she was actually his grandmother. Then, I told her I’d be praying for him. She looked at me in surprise. Then, her eyes smiled with her mouth, and she said “Thank you so much.”

I meant it. I am praying for him and for her.

As I was driving to church, I asked God to forgive me. I do not want to be so self-absorbed that I ask “Why me?” I want to say, “Why not me?”

I do not know why God allows certain struggles for each of us. We all have them. We may think some are bigger than others, but whatever is a struggle to us, is a big concern to God, no matter how small it may seem to others.

He doesn’t allow us any struggle without offering His grace, and a purpose. I do not know why that boy is suffering, but I do know God has a purpose for him and his grandmother.

He has a purpose for me, too. A purpose for each and every heartache, for each and every annoyance, and for each and every struggle, no matter how big or small.

He has a purpose for you, too.

In this encounter, I not only left my pity party, but I also came to an awareness of something missing from a scene or two in my story (You’ll just have to wait to read it to find out!).

God often works in my own life through my writing.

My favorite author Francine Rivers says, “Write what you need to read”.

I believe I will.



Flash Fiction Friday

This is my second Flash Fiction challenge. This time I was to write only 100 words or less, using one word as a story starter.The word chosen was buttons.  I managed to write it in 98 words. Hope you enjoy the result!


Spare Buttons

Nora rocked in the chair that used to sit in her own living room. Her granddaughter dug

through one of the three boxes Nora had been allowed. Nora didn’t know what had been

packed. She only recalled her late husband’s things being hauled away. Like the shirts that

still smelled like him. Wet tears trailed her wrinkled cheeks.

“What’s this, Nana?” The child held up a Folgers coffee can.

Her buttons! In that can were spare buttons from every shirt she had bought for him.

She took the can from those small hands, and smiled.


Flash Fiction Friday

Here is my first Flash Fiction Friday post. I barely made my goal of 200 words or less, with a word count of exactly 200 words. Feel free to comment on any analysis you have of the story.



Diamond Smiles

Sarah watched the rain poke angrily at the window as the train raced against it. She clutched her stuffed leopard tightly to her chest.  It was mostly dark on the train.  Most of the passengers slept. It had been a long day of whistle blowing and passenger stops. It took many hours to get to Florida from Minnesota.

“What happened to your arms and face?” The little boy across the aisle asked.  His mom shushed him and pulled him back onto her lap.  In minutes, he drifted to sleep.

Not Sarah. She feared sleep. Sleep made her go back.

She pulled her sleeves down over her arms, and drug her stringy brown hair over her left cheek.

Cover your scars when you’re in public.

Sarah forgot sometimes.

A hand reached up and moved her hair away from her cheek.  The lady on the seat in front of her brought her hand back to her lap and smiled. She handed Sarah a piece of gum. Sarah chewed until it clung to her teeth.  The rain stopped, and the sun peeked through the clouds.  Rain droplets glistened on the window.  Sarah stared at them. Finally, she slept and dreamed of diamond smiles.


Career vs. Calling

There’s something beautiful in the crafting of words to create worlds, and to create characters who are real to me. I can honestly say that I never feel more fulfilled than when I am writing. Next to motherhood, and being a wife, I know I am answering God’s call on my life. Any job position can be a calling.  I think of a career as self-serving. I think of a calling as serving God.
When the idea of a story grabs me, it doesn’t take long for that story to become a part of who I am, and another way God is working in me, bringing me closer to Him.
I think this is how it should be, no matter what our job is. If we are not bringing glory to God, and if we are not allowing Him to use our life’s work to bring us closer to Him, then we are either misusing our purpose or not answering His call on our lives.
Writing is hard. Some days, I question why God would ask me to do this. I hate it. But I love it. I need it. Writers are often undervalued. Underpaid. Overlooked. Scoffed at. I’ve had negative comments from some friends and family and I’ve had no comments as well, not even a single acknowledgement from others. I’ve had many rejection letters from publishers through the years.The actual act of writing is lonely. As a writer, the gifts you need to possess in order to write can make you lonely. You see much of what others miss because you are highly observant. You have a deep understanding of human nature. You also feel things deeply and have to express it. This isn’t always received well. Often, people would prefer that you stay silent.
I can’t. I’m a writer. To stay silent is to starve my soul.
Some days I wish I could stay silent. Then I remember this is what God created me to do. I also remember that while there are dark days to this ministry, there are also bright moments. Moments God gives us to encourage us and to inspire us to keep going.
Like the many emails I received from readers who were touched or changed by the story. Like the wonderful friends and family who expressed joy and celebrated with me. Or the time I discovered that my book hit the number one spot on Amazon for free ebooks. Or the time I realized I had over 100 reviews and most were five star reviews. And ..drumroll please…the time I received the awesome news that my book was being traditionally published by Touchpoint Press! Woohoo! A dream come true.
However, as great as getting published can be, the best bright spot of all was when I found out a man received Christ after reading my book. Forget the drumroll. Bring out the entire band! This is the real reason I write. It has to be.
We do not fulfill His call on our lives for man’s recognition of our “greatness”. We do it for man’s recognition of God’s greatness. We do it for man’s recognition that he needs a Savior. Anything less than that is a career, not a calling.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)


The Art of Letting Go

Every morning I drive my first grader to his school.  I merge into the appropriate car line and cringe when I once again witness the daily ritual of certain parents and their children. It can be already hectic with all of the cars filing into the two separate drop off lanes, many in a hurry and not wanting to slow down for any reason, not even for the safety of our children.  These certain parents I mentioned aren’t the ones driving, however.  They are the walkers.  The ones who get out of their cars and walk their children–some as old as fifth and sixth graders!– to the school entrances and some even walk them to their classrooms. Thus, parents holding their children’s hands are weaving in and out of the moving traffic and often stepping in front of a moving vehicle.  Add this dynamic to the already hectic one and morning drop off becomes more hazardous.  Unnecessarily.

We are in the last six weeks of school.  My first grader was homeschooled for his Kindergarten year.  On his very first day this year, he was ready to walk into the school and to his classroom all by himself.  I did walk him that first day, but only to ensure he knew the way. So I understand parents wanting to walk their kids to school.  For the first day, that is.  Or even the first week.  Beyond that, it is time to let go.

Both my children were great at this.  Like my youngest, my oldest couldn’t wait to walk to his Kindergarten class by himself.  Both of them were so proud to go on their own.  I know personalities can often dictate behavior, but is it possible that the parents’ behavior can dictate the personalities of their children?

Don’t get me wrong.  I make a big deal out of telling my boy goodbye.  On the way to school, we say another morning prayer, we chat about any and everything, and we often sing to the radio or just sing random songs.  Then, when we get close to the entrance, he unbuckles his seat belt and we exchange hugs and kisses.  I tell him I will be praying for him and that I hope he has a great day.  He is smiling when he gets out of the car.  He is secure.  He is ready to start the day.

Our job as parents is to prepare our children to walk by themselves.  We should lovingly support them until it’s time to let them go.  And we should begin letting them go from the moment  they are born.  It’s God’s design for parents to train their children in the way they should go. God didn’t say we should train them so we can go with them.  It’s not always easy.  I cried tears when both of my boys first started school.  I have cried at all of those little milestones such as the first time they spent the night away from me.  Now that my oldest is thirteen, I know driving is just around the corner.  Yikes.  Talk about wanting to hold his hand.  On the steering wheel!  I can still see him driving his little John Deere Tractor.  But I digress.

Apart from the hassle these parents are causing the rest of us in the pick up line, they may be hindering their children from becoming strong, independent individuals.  It may not seem like such a big thing, but I believe it is.  It’s always the little things that mean so much. Believe me, our children are learning from the little things.

Love your child by letting him go. Teach a child to cling to you, and he will learn to cling to dependency.