Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

My best Christmas memory doesn’t have much to do with writing or editing. But it has a lot to do with a few people who reached out to a struggling single mom and her two kids to make Christmas special and to show them the love of Jesus. And it is that mom and her struggles that I keep in mind when I’m writing, hoping that my words carry her away for just a few minutes—because that’s all she has for herself—to a place where she can join someone else’s world and forget about hers for a moment.

Here’s her story.

Christmas tree with presents


It had been a hard year. She had told the kids not to expect much for Christmas. She hadn’t been getting any child support. One of her clients and gone under and hadn’t paid her. A significant amount of money that was not only supposed to go towards Christmas, but December and January bills as well. She could get her kids one gift each and the bills still wouldn’t be paid.

She got a call from the church secretary saying someone wanted to adopt a family for Christmas and would they be willing to be adopted. She was a bit surprised because she hadn’t shared much of her story with anyone, but a few people knew they’d had a hard year. So she agreed, but she didn’t tell the kids. She didn’t want to get their hopes up in case it fell through.

The church secretary called back a couple weeks later to ask when she wanted to pick up the gifts. There were eight boxes.

“Oh, that’s nice,” she thought. “The kids will get four presents each. That’s really sweet.”

“Eight boxes two feet by two feet,” the secretary continued. “The pile is up to my shoulders. Plus they’re bringing you food for Christmas dinner.”

She was so stunned she couldn’t speak.

She finally told her kids that someone had adopted them for Christmas and that they were going to pick up the gifts at church. When they walked into the room, Sissy’s face lit up. “Mom, this is exactly what we prayed for! God took care of us!”

The mom started to cry.

It took two trips with a hand truck plus several more trips carrying food and their little Jetta was overflowing. Food sat on the back window and under the kids’ feet. They couldn’t have gotten one more thing in that car.

When they unloaded the presents and put them around the tree, they had to be stuffed into every nook and cranny. She’d never seen so many presents in all her life.

What was amazing was how much time and thought was put into the gifts. It wasn’t just a matter of spending money. Clearly whoever bought the gifts knew her kids enough to know their tastes. Plus, there were homemade cookies and hand-knitted afghans for each of them. They even got gifts for the mom.

We always hear how it’s more blessed to give than receive. But in Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller makes the observation that it can be hard to receive because it implies need, and we don’t like to be needy people. We like to be the ones who have the surplus to give from.

It’s hard to accept other people’s help. But the Bible says to tell of the Lord’s wonders and faithfulness. Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did.”

Because, bottom line, this is about God and His faithfulness. He provided. Not just for their needs, like He’s promised to do. But for some of their wants as well. And abundantly. What a wonderful lesson for those children.

And me too. Because I was that mom.

It’s humbling to receive generosity, even when you need it. I’d like to think that with every book I write, I’m giving a little bit of that back to every mom out there who is where I was, to anyone alone and struggling and hurting. Especially this time of year.

Take a moment to give someone a hug, a plate of cookies, a warm drink. Look around to see if you can meet a need. Or accept a bit of generosity. Take a sacred pause in the middle of this busy season to give, to receive, to bless, and be blessed.

I don’t know who adopted us for Christmas. I do know they will be rewarded in heaven, but I also hope they’ll get some little reward here on earth too.

Mom: Still the Best Title

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I thought I’d share this with you all. I bet some of you moms can relate.

Our kids need us in so many ways, even if they act like they don’t. While this post was inspired by my daughter, who suffers from juvenile arthritis, it’s certainly is applicable to all of our kids.

When my daughter was 15, she was struck with a particularly debilitating flare up of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She ended up spending seven weeks in a rehabilitation hospital. I was a single mom at the time. Our days cycled through early morning hospital visits, school and work for my son and me (all-day physical and occupational therapy for my daughter), grabbing a frozen meal made in bulk by our wonderful church group and heading to the hospital to eat said frozen meal, do homework (my son) and work (me) while visiting with my daughter. Go to bed. Wake up. Repeat. Our personal Groundhog Day for seven weeks.

Sitting next to your child’s hospital bed will give you time to think. My daughter was fifteen, but she still wanted her mom with her. So I spent as much time as my job, and my son’s needs, allowed. And while I was sitting next to her, holding her hand, encouraging her through the pain of physical therapy, comforting her, or letting her beat me at mancala, I was struck by how much she just needed me to be mom. She had people to help her to deal with her disability, but no one but me could be her mom.

As a single mom then, much of my time was consumed by being the provider for my kids, putting a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food on the table. I spent hours each day making sure everything at work was functioning properly so books and Bibles got published on time. Much of what I had wanted to accomplish with my life and my time had to be set aside for the time being. And I was reminded of the importance of that when I ran across this quote by GK Chesterton.

How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. (What’s Wrong with the World, quoted in Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, Nelson Books)

The last two lines are my favorite because, especially when my children were small, I was everything to them. I am still their world, and the import of that can be staggering. I am continually grateful that I was able to stay at home with them when they were small. And now that they are older, they still need me greatly. Though instead of wiping noses and tying shoes, I’m helping with homework and making sure chores are done. And sitting by my daughter’s hospital bed while she learns to walk again. No matter how much your teens may act like they don’t need you, no one can take your place.

I have many titles: small business owner, editor, church member, friend. But the one that means the most is simply mom.

Another Booksweep Promo for You!

Hi all!

Earlier this year, I participated in a Booksweep promo with Coming Home for Western Historical authors. This time I have two opportunities for you: Inspirational Historical authors (I’m putting up Coming Home) and Christian Fiction (I’m putting up Protective Custody). Scroll down to find the one you are interested in and find some great new authors!

Inspirational Historical authors

Booksweep Promo Inspirational Historical authors

Enter to win more than 45 Inspirational Historical Romances, including books from authors like Tamara Alexander and Sarah Sundin, as well as fellow PencilDancers Diana Brandmeyer and Liz Tolsma and a Kindle Fire! This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck!

GO HERE TO ENTER > bit.ly/inspy-hist-rom


Christian Fiction

Booksweep Christian Fiction

You can win my book Protective Custody, plus books from authors like Rosemary Hines and Dan Walsh and over 30 others as well as a Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck!

Join the fun here: bit.ly/christian-fic

Thanks to you all, I won!

COTT conqueror Button


Protective Custody won Clash of the Titles for February releases! Thanks to all of you who checked out the site and voted. I’ll be popping on various blog sites next week to talk about my book. I’ll let you all know about those here so you can join in on the visits.

I’ve entered the fray!

I’m on Clash of the Titles this week. In case you don’t know what this is, it’s a fun site that pits new releases against each other based on covers and a two-sentence blurb. Go check it out and vote (for Protective Custody–hint, hint! 🙂 )

You can also enter to win a free book. I know I put up a copy!


Protective Custody on Clash of the Titles

A fun way to discover new authors!

Booksweep promo

I’ve teamed up with over 50 fantastic WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

You can win my novel COMING HOME, plus books from authors like WENDY LINDSTROM and KARI TRUMBO, MARGARET BROWNLEY and KAREN WITEMEYER.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/western-hist-rom

These contests are a great way to discover new authors that you might enjoy. As always, when there is a large group of authors, these books can range from sweet to spicy. If you decide to try out a new author, please read the book descriptions carefully to ensure you are getting a book that is at your comfort level.

The contest runs from February 6-13, 2017.

Good luck and enjoy!

Protective Custody Is Coming!

My first romantic suspense novel is releasing February 8! And you can get it for a special pre-sale price if you act soon! Click here.

Also, if you sign up for my newsletter, you can read the first TWO chapters now!

Protective Custody presale

Coming Home is free Dec 29-Jan 2

Coming Home is free for 5 days!

“I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!” R.H., Amazon reviewer

Five days only! Click here to get it!


Happy New Year!

Most of us look to the new year as a time to start new habits or reboot old ones. If one of your goals includes spending more time with God, I have something that can help you.

Daily Wisdom for Women

I wrote the entries for the month of June in this devotional book from Barbour. The image doesn’t do it justice. The cover is a soft, embossed leather-like material. It’s beautiful to hold and has a ribbon to mark your place.

And I’m giving away two copies to my subscribers. I’ll be drawing names last on January 5, and I’ll notify the winners so I can get their copies mailed out to them. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up using the form to the right. All subscribers get the first chapter of my latest release, other freebies and goodies as I come up with them, and no spam! So even if you don’t win the devotional, you’ll still get free stuff! Share with your friends!

Happy New Year!

Joy to the World?

O Come Let Us Adore Him Christmas ornament on tree

Often when we think of Christmas and its meaning, we use words like joy, happiness, peace. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction of what Christmas is supposed to be. But if we take a step back, we realize that isn’t always the experience for many people. We know many people have a hard time at Christmas, and we ourselves might find it disappointing if not downright painful.

In fact, if we go back to the first Christmas, it would be hard to see much joy, happiness, or peace for many of the people involved. Mary was a pregnant, teen mother surrounded by gossip about her infidelity to her finacé, Joseph. And it wasn’t just the painful words. She could have been killed for what the townspeople supposed she’d done if Joseph had wanted it.

She gave birth, without a mother or midwife, in a dirty, animal holding pen. And then shortly after, her new little family was fleeing for their lives from King Herod. The same Herod who ordered all of the babies in the surrounding area killed in an attempt to kill her baby. The immense sorrow of those families that first Christmas is unimaginable.

For the rest of her son’s life, Mary would hear the whispers about His illegitimacy and her character. And then the whispers became shouts as people questioned Jesus’ sanity and His audacity to say He was the Messiah. Even her other children mocked Him. And then He died a painful, humiliating criminal’s death.

In the quiet moments, when she reflected on the day the angel told her she would bear the Savior her people had been waiting thousands of years for, she must have questioned God’s purpose and her role. And when she said she was the Lord’s servant, she had no idea what she was getting into or the incredible pain that would accompany her obedience.

So who was celebrating that first Christmas? Who was joyful? Those with a heavenly perspective. The angels. The first angel, the messenger, said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” And the host, the heavenly army, said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The angels had a different perspective than Mary, Joseph, the families who lost their babies, us. The angels knew that Jesus was born on a dirty floor, amongst animals and their food and waste because that’s what He came to save us from. He comes into our mess. He doesn’t wait for us to get cleaned up and get ready for Him, like we would have to if he had been born in a palace or a temple. He specializes in coming into dirty, painful situations to walk along side us, to provide us hope and deliverance. His name, Immanuel, means “the with us God.” He is truly with us in every situation.

We don’t have the perspective of the angels. We are in the middle of our messes, pain filled and hurting. Our messes have no tidy solution in sight. Our pain has no end. We can’t see the joy, peace, and hope that God has promised to His children. That takes an eternal perspective. But our God walks with us through it all. And that is where we find the true joy, peace, and hope of the season. Our God was born into a mess so He can walk with us through our messes and pain. And that’s why we can rejoice this season.



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