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The Long Way Home by June Foster

The Long Way Home is my latest book and is a romantic suspense, the genre you write and love. The story actually came about when my editor asked for volunteers to write a romance novel where the couples meet then have an adventure. When I said yes, I had no idea of the journey on which my hero and heroine would embark.

My last three novels were grouped in my Small Town Romance Series: Letting Go, Prescription for Romance, and A Harvest of Blessings which came out in November. In that story, the middle-aged heroine’s son was serving in the U. S. Army in Germany and would be returning home soon. So, I just couldn’t forget about David Maguire. I had to tell his story, too.

In each of my novels, I love to convey a spiritual theme. When I first started writing David’s and heroine, Jada Atwood’s adventure, I didn’t know what the theme would be. After all, this couple would be kidnapped by bank robbers and face death in a Pennsylvania forest. Then it occurred to me. What if the heroine didn’t trust in the Lord at the beginning of the novel? In fact, what if she wasn’t a Christian at all? What would she do if confronted by the grave possibility her life would soon be over?

During my many days as a Christian, I’ve learned how some of my brothers and sisters came to the Lord. Sometimes it was when they found themselves at the end of their own resources. When all other options were exhausted, they begged God to save them and gave their lives over to Him. This is likely not the most ideal way to begin your Christian life, but as long as someone sincerely commits their heart to the Lord, that’s wonderful.

As an example, I once knew a lady who became born again while giving birth to her son. She later told me, the pain was so great she thought she was going to die. At that moment, she called on the Lord. She promised Him that she’d follow Him the rest of her days if He’s only bring her baby safely into the world and relieve her suffering.

I knew another lady who gave her life to the Lord after reading an end time prophecy book.

So in The Long Way Home, Jada gives her heart and life to the Lord at the moment she believes she will die.

Sometimes I can’t imagine how God could use my fictional stories, but He’s always faithful to make clear the message He wants me to write.

I hope your readers will enjoy The Long Way Home. It’s a bit more graphic than any other book I’ve written, but life is like that sometimes, right? The Lord’s blessings to you, Fay, and your readers.

More About The Long Way Home:

David Maguire’s tour of duty in Germany is over, and he’s returning home to Oak Mountain, Alabama in search of a job. After a long flight from Frankfort, he shares an Uber with Dallas resident Jada Atwood.

Jada Atwood, a registered nurse midwife, is on her way to a medical conference in Queens. If only she could live up to her father’s legacy at the hospital where she works, she could prove worthy of his reputation. Marriage awaits yet her fiancé has yet to offer a ring.

When the Uber driver must make a stop to pick up a passenger at a Queens shopping center, two men who robbed a nearby bank commandeer the Ford as a getaway car. But when they discover two passengers, they have to get rid of the extra baggage.

After the kidnappers murder the Uber driver, David and Jada fear for their lives. Will they find their way home or die in a Pennsylvania forest?

About the Author:

June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next contemporary romance or romantic suspense. June’s characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. Find June at junefoster.com.

Puzzle Perceptions by Carol James

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13: 12)

As I sat studying the nearly completed puzzle, a gaping hole stared back at me. No matter how many times and ways I tried, the remaining pieces in my hand would not fit the open space. And to top it off, the box lid had been accidentally thrown away. Despite the hours of diligent work, I was not much closer to knowing what the completed puzzle should have looked like than I’d been before I started.

I’ve always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles. I love finding that singular treasure that has the special combination of “innies” and “outies” and colored design that make it the one and only piece that fits into the waiting gap. I love the sense of accomplishment and victory gained when each piece is correctly placed, the guesswork is over, and the whole reveals a beautiful masterpiece. However, little is more frustrating to a puzzle-solver than lost pieces and gaping holes.

In The Waiting, Katherine’s approach to life was somewhat like working a puzzle. She had all her pieces, everything she wanted, in hand. However, when she tried to place them where she thought they belonged, some didn’t fit correctly. Either their knobs were too small for the holes or the colors were a shade off. So after years of planning, dreaming, and arranging, she realized her puzzle, like mine, was flawed, incomplete.

How many times do we approach life like Katherine did? We are finite creatures, and we like finite solutions. We love beauty and stories that have happy, tidy endings. But life isn’t a math problem where A+B=C. Or a puzzle where all the pieces fit and make a beautiful picture.

Or is it? Paul reminds us in I Corinthians that our current ability to understand and perceive the divine is clouded. Yet, that cloudiness does not indicate a flaw or an omission. It simply means that as solvers, we are limited by our abilities to perceive reality.

So what do we do when life presents us with a puzzle we cannot solve? When some of the pieces seem to be missing or the box lid has been thrown away? While we may not be able to visualize the image of the completed puzzle on the box lid, it does exist. The fault is not in the puzzle, but in the limitations of the the solver.

Our job then, like Katherine’s, is to trust. To trust the One Who is the Master Puzzle-Designer-Solver. And as Katherine learns, “Life doesn’t always end up like you’ve planned; sometimes it turns out better.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

About The Waiting:

When Katherine Herrington was a teenager, she made “The List” and believed God would bring her the husband she desired. That faith helped her to keep life under control just the way she likes it. But then Katherine loses her mother, her job, and her boyfriend, and after years of praying, she accepts the probability that God’s answer is, “No.”

A professional soccer player, Sam Tucker has lived the life of a celebrity in the UK only to discover that, despite all the wealth and fame he has acquired, his life is empty. He returns to the one place where life last had meaning, and goes in search of the one woman he’s loved since he was a teenager—Katherine. He wonders if she’ll remember him after all these years… And fears she just might.

As God weaves together a rejected proposal, a mission trip, and a devastating storm to turn their hearts toward Him and toward each other, Katherine and Sam will have to let go of their fears, find forgiveness and trust, and realize that their future together was worth the wait.

Find the waiting at these sites: Pelican Book Group, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

About the Author:

Carol James is an author of inspirational fiction. She lives in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell “Terrorist,” Zoe.

Having always loved intriguing stories with happy endings, she was moved to begin writing to encourage others as she’d been encouraged by the works of other authors of inspirational fiction.

Her debut novel, Rescuing Faith, has been a number one best seller on Amazon, and her second novel, The Waiting, is releasing today. Her Christmas novella, Mary’s Christmas Surprise, is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Pelican Book Group website.

Carol enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling with friends, and serving in the production department at her church. And, most days in the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning, she can be found bringing her newest novel to life.

A Most Memorable Christmas by Judy DuCharme

The thrill has never left. We had no idea that it would be so wonderful…it just seemed like a fun Christmas-y event to attend. Every year the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., hosts a free Messiah Sing. The day was cold and finding a parking spot proved difficult. Still we were excited to do this. However, the line wrapped all the way around the building on the outside. We weren’t quite dressed to be outdoors for an extended time. A kindly gentleman ushered us to the end of the line with a gracious “You’ll probably get seats but not together.”

My husband and daughter waited outside while our son and I stayed inside. The building hosts exquisite hallways with beautiful chandeliers and beautiful banners. We enjoyed watching the people travel by and prayed we’d obtain tickets. The line moved so slowly.

A woman walked up beside me. I saw her hand full of the free tickets and watched as she scanned the line, obviously trying to find someone. I smiled. “You must be happy. You got your tickets.”

“Yes, but the weather has kept our friends from getting here Do you have your tickets?”

“We hope to, even though we might not get to sit together. My husband and daughter are at the end of the line.”

“Well, let them know you now have tickets.”

The woman was a contributor to the Kennedy Center, and we sat directly behind her in Row 8. A senator sat behind us and the person next to us was there for the twenty-third time.

The singing, the music, the spirit, the anointing touched our souls. I had never in my life listened to the whole Messiah. I probably knew but never considered that every single word came from Scripture. The words repeated over and over, flowed into our beings, and lifted our hearts.

Three conductors, amazing solo singers beautifully and formally dressed, a perfect orchestra and a choir full of wonderful voices reverberated with the volume and presence of God. At certain places in the cantata the audience sang along. I looked around at the full to capacity main floor, balconies, gorgeous walls and chandeliers. Just thinking about it I feel the anointing of singing God’s word with such moving music and passion. It’s one of the most beautiful memories I’ve ever had of Christmas.

About the Author:

Judy DuCharme is the Author of Christmas Ivy, Run With the Wind, Blood Moon Redemption, Society of the L.A.M.B., The Cheesehead Devotional Kickoff Edition, and The Cheesehead Devotional Hall of Fame Edition. You can connect with Judy on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

About Christmas Ivy:

Linney Merritt loves her life in the Florida scrub where she assists her Pa in raising and taking cattle to market. The new cowman, Cyrus John, appreciates the chance to start over. Marrying holds no interest for either, but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. And then, just before Christmas, they find themselves fighting together to save the life of a calf, all while discovering the One who can remove fears and provide forgiveness.

Christmas Ivy won First Place Short Story at the 2016 Florida Christian Writers Conference and was a Winner in the 2018 National Indie Excellence Awards.

About Run With the Wind:

Linney Merritt loves her life in the Florida scrub where she assists her Pa in raising and taking cattle to market. The new cowman, Cyrus John, appreciates the chance to start over. Marrying holds no interest for either, but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. And then, just before Christmas, they find themselves fighting together to save the life of a calf, all while discovering the One who can remove fears and provide forgiveness.

Priceless Holiday Memories by LoRee Peery

Wrapped up in all the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, how do others see you? Do you portray harried grouchiness or joy in the season of our Lord’s birthday? “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,” (Prov. 15:13).

Nostalgia of childhood goes hand in hand with holiday happenings. Taking a trip back in time, I remember my mother telling us how fortunate we were at Christmas time. Her gifts as a child were needed homemade clothing, and maybe an orange. In comparison, kids of today are privileged.

One of my favorite memories is the wonderful school plays given in the one-room country schoolhouse. Blankets strung on wire created stage curtains. The teacher sat on a bench with script in hand to prompt students. We also sang and recited poems. Once the program ended, an ancient Santa wearing a seamed face and lots of padding, rang out in his jolly bass, “Ho, ho, ho, M-e-r-r-y Christmas!” His voice resounded through the room as we waited to taste the delightful goodies he carried in that gunnysack slung over his shoulder: hard candy, nuts, mints covered in chocolate that we called “haystacks,” an orange and an apple.

From Kindergarten through eighth grade, I participated in the Christmas Eve Sunday school program presented at our postcard-picture little white church with the steeple. That’s where I memorized Christmas carols. We kids were allowed to open one gift before we left for church. Most of the time, a necessary surprise to wear for the night.

Our trees were always spindly, sparsely branched cedars cut from the pasture or shelterbelt—Charley Brown trees. We kids loved throwing on icicles to cover up the holes between branches. With so many small helpful hands involved, the glass baubles grew fewer each year.

What are you leaving as memories of joy for your loved ones? Traditions create memories and bind families. Whatever your memories, savor them because life is short, and changing faster than we can voice an opinion. Take time to make new memories. Love one another, and may I challenge you to leave a legacy of joy.

About LoRee’s Christmas novella, A Cardinal Christmas:

Blythe loves her job and doesn’t need personal relationships, especially of the “love life” variety. Steeling herself from a recent heartbreak, Blythe focuses on furthering her successful career, but when her father needs surgery, Blythe returns home to help with the family auto shop. There, she comes face-to-face with the dreams of her past.

Werner has been content to let life pass him by. Following the death of his parents and the loss of his job, he returns to the only place he’s ever called home. He finds Blythe more breathtaking than he remembered. But her presence is only temporary and she refuses to let him in.

Can Blythe leave her career behind for a whole new life? Though her heart cries to remain with Werner, can she risk being hurt again?

More About LoRee Peery:

Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to 1 John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Seriesand other e-books. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten. Connect with LoRee through her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Find her publications at Pelican Book Group and Amazon.

The Christmas Journey by Carol James

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem. Luke 2:4

Christmas was always a special time growing up. Yet, I can remember only one spent with aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. My father was a career military officer, so we lived away from family.

But our home was never empty. It was filled with friends and airmen who also had no family nearby. Dad made certain no one under his command spent Christmas alone, and Mom made the holidays fun and festive for whoever filled our house.

Early in our marriage, when my husband was transferred from Texas to Georgia, my mother had one request. To spend Christmases together. So, every year, we filled the car with children and presents and made the eighteen-hour drive home for the holidays.

One December, as we began our journey, the worst Arctic cold snap on record hit north Texas. We’d planned to stay one night in a hotel along the way, but the farther we travelled, the more we realized that was impossible.

Hotels and restaurants had no power or water. Gas stations had fuel but no electricity to run the pumps. With no place to stop, our only choice was to keep going.

Ice frosted the inside of our car windows, so I tucked coats, blankets, stuffed animals, anything I could find around our preschool daughters to keep them warm.

And as my husband drove on, I prayed. Prayed we’d have enough fuel. Prayed the little car would keep running. Prayed our girls would stay warm. Prayed neither would need to stop for a potty break. Prayed for peace for my parents.

And, as I prayed, I remembered the journey of the first Christmas. Knowing the King of kings was about to be born, was Joseph worried when none of the inns had rooms and they had to spend the night in a stable, away from comfort and family? Or did he trust?

In the midst of the frigid December cold, peace blanketed me. The One Who had directed their journey was also directing ours.

I don’t remember the gifts exchanged that Christmas, the food we ate, the guests who shared our house. But I will always remember the joy glimmering in my parents’ eyes as they answered our knock. And God’s protection for our journey.

About the Author:

Carol James is an author of inspirational fiction. She lives in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell “Terrorist,” Zoe.

Having always loved intriguing stories with happy endings, she was moved to begin writing to encourage others as she’d been encouraged by the works of other authors of inspirational fiction.

Her debut novel, Rescuing Faith, has been a number one best seller on Amazon, and her second novel, The Waiting, is scheduled for release in early 2019.

Carol enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling with friends, and serving in the production department at her church. And, most days in the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning, she can be found bringing her newest novel to life.

About Mary’s Christmas Surprise:

Mary Sherman’s Christmas is nothing like she’s planned. Her fiancé has called off the engagement just days before Christmas, and her parents have gone on an anniversary cruise around the world.

Suddenly alone for the holidays, Mary returns to the comfort of her childhood home to spend Christmas in her parents’ empty house. There’s only one problem. The house is not empty. Unbeknownst to Mary, her parents have taken in a boarder, a handsome carpenter named Jake Wolesky.

Mary’s Christmas surprise may make this the best holiday ever.

About The Waiting:

When Katherine Herrington was a teenager, she made “The List” and believed God would bring her the husband she desired. That faith helped her to keep life under control just the way she likes it. But then Katherine loses her mother, her job, and her boyfriend, and after years of praying, she accepts the probability that God’s answer is, “No.”

A professional soccer player, Sam Tucker has lived the life of a celebrity in the UK only to discover that, despite all the wealth and fame he has acquired, his life is empty. He returns to the one place where life last had meaning, and goes in search of the one woman he’s loved since he was a teenager—Katherine. He wonders if she’ll remember him after all these years… And fears she just might.

As God weaves together a rejected proposal, a mission trip, and a devastating storm to turn their hearts toward Him and toward each other, Katherine and Sam will have to let go of their fears, find forgiveness and trust, and realize that their future together was worth the wait.

 

Books, Ornaments, and a Fireplace by Tracy Ruckman

I’ve always been a book lover – from even before I could walk, I think. My family gave me books every year for gifts at Christmas, birthday, Easter, and I devoured them all.

I passed that tradition onto my kids, and now they relay memories of Christmases of “nothing but books.” I wasn’t quite that drastic, except maybe one year.

That year had been quite turbulent. We’d moved back to Georgia in the summer, and then my grandmother and my dad died during the month of December, so we were on the road a lot, trying to spend time with them in Alabama as much as possible as their cancers progressed. At my job, someone passed around some ABC gift catalogs. Their prices fit my budget, and their merchandise fit my mood and personality. They had several sets of books for both ages of my boys and they had a fun, fake, cardboard fireplace that we could assemble for our new home that didn’t have one. One order and Christmas shopping was done.

But we had a problem with the tree. All our Christmas stuff had been left behind when we moved. My sister gifted us with some beautiful homemade ornaments – toy soldiers and elves – that we still put on the tree every year. (She made us a matching wreath, too!) When my mom learned about the tradition I’d started when my boys were little, she took us shopping to help recover some of the ornaments we’d left behind.

Every year, I bought an ornament for each boy and one for our home, based on something that was relevant to each during that previous year. I’d done this tradition for four or five years, so we tried to remember each one. Mom took us to this cool Christmas store that sold thousands of different kinds of ornaments, and we were able to find several that were quite similar to those left behind, so the tradition lives on today. Basketballs, musical instruments, a camera with film, Noah’s ark – all reminiscent of their growing years. When Zach got a home of his own, I packed up his ornaments and gifted him with those, so he could carry the tradition into his own family. Jonathan asked us to keep his for awhile longer so they’re here when he spends time with us during the holidays.

Tim and I have continued the tradition, too, adding an ornament or two each year. We have city ornaments from places we’ve lived or visited, and ornaments from various milestones. Every year we laugh when we pull out the handcuffs to put on the tree. That year, I’d attended a citizen’s police academy and Tim had served a short time as a bounty hunter, so when I found some handcuffs in a toy department, I knew they were our perfect ornament for that year!

The importance of traditions is lost to us until we grow older. Traditions aren’t created and kept we want to be boring (as some of us tend to think.) Traditions are created to help us remember those extra sweet moments that tend to get crowded out by other memories.

Tracy Ruckman owns TMP Books, where she serves as book publisher, writing coach, marketing guru. She is also a talented photo artist. She loves connecting with everyone – because everyone has a story to tell. Her latest books, The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series, encourage children to develop their storytelling skills through their own words and illustrations.

Follow Tracy on her personal blog at www.TracyRuckman.com for all the latest updates. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. She invites you to explore her books on Amazon and discover her artwork on Zazzle and Etsy.

Pamela S. Thibodeaux shared her favorite Christmas memory last week. You can read about it here.

Christmas Kindness by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

The ghost of Christmases past haunted our house again in 1993. To say we were poor, would be an untruth, but to say money was tight is an understatement. As in years before, funds seemed to vanish, leaving very little, if anything, for gifts. This year was one of the worst since my husband’s boss decided to go on an extended vacation-Thanksgiving through New Years-without paying his employees.

While chatting with the nurses at work one evening the inevitable question of whether or not we were through shopping came up. I responded that I was waiting on my next check (which we were receiving on Dec. 23rd), to do mine. That brought a firestorm of other questions which I answered by explaining our predicament.

As things were brought out in the open about my husband’s check, or rather, lack of one, I was encouraged to scrounge the barrels of toys that had been collected for needy children who came to the hospital and see if there was anything I could use for mine. Not knowing that this was allowed, I hesitated. After all, we’d been through this before and the kids were old enough to understand our finances. Continued support as well as the knowledge that other hospital employees often did this as Christmas drew closer and the barrels became empty save for the less desirable gifts that children didn’t seem to want anyway, encouraged me to check it out. I found small gift items that could be purchased at any Dollar store, still, it was better than nothing and I was able to pick out a couple of things for each of my children.

But the greatest gift came from an unexpected source.

A couple of hours later, one of my favorite nurses to work with asked me to meet her in the lounge. “When I was newly single I needed tires and a friend gave me the money to get them. He wouldn’t let me pay him back, only asked that I would pay it forward when I could. I hope you’re not insulted, and I’ll ask the same of you,” she said. By the time she placed a check in my hand we were both in tears.

To this day I’m warmed by the memory and you can bet your last dollar I honor her gift by blessing others as often as I can.

More About the 2017 IDA Finalist Keri’s Christmas Wish:

For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

About the Author:

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”  Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!

You can connect online with Pamela at the following locations:

Links:

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com

Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/psthibnewsletter

Face Book: http://facebook.com/pamelasthibodeaux

https://www.facebook.com/pamelasthibodeauxauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pamelasthibodea/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/pamela-s-thibodeaux

 

Three Gals and Their Thanksgiving Memories

Tomorrow is the day when we stop and we thank our wonderful, omniscient, sovereign Father for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us. One of my many blessings is the memories that He has provided to me on numerous occasions, and I asked two of my friends to come along and share their Thanksgiving remembrances with you as well. Thus, the title: Three Gals and Their Thanksgiving Memories.

A True Turkey Tale by Peggy Cunningham

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

This turkey tale holds a special spot in my heart. It’s my stellar turkey tale because it’s about the first turkey I ever tried to cook––two months after my wedding day. As the years pass, I realize that it is a blessing to be able to remember. But for many years this memory was anything but a blessing for me. I repressed this memory until the day my children heard it the first time and found it extremely funny. Eventually, I found the humor in it also but not that day.

After many years of married life, I now have experience cooking turkeys, but as a new bride, I didn’t. I looked forward to cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner that year. Far away from our hometown, we celebrated alone but not as we’d planned. My husband was in the Air Force, and we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now you may think that was glamorous––not so. We lived on an airman’s salary and buying a turkey broke the budget for the special day.

We got up early and together we made the stuffing then packed it in the bird and shoved it in the oven. After a few hours, we checked the bird. We thought it strange that there was no wonderful aroma coming from the oven, and looking at it––well, it was still raw. Two hours more should do it––we reasoned. We closed the oven door and waited.

The table looked lovely with my wedding gifts of silver, crystal, and candlesticks placed on the perfectly pressed tablecloth. The potatoes were cooking, and the red cranberry sauce contrasted the green linen tablecloth––my decorating skills were developing. If only that turkey would cooperate. It didn’t. After nine hours in the oven, it was tough and still not cooked. We were so disappointed that we took that bird for a long drive in the Nevada desert and threw it out of the convertible we were driving and then headed to McDonald’s. Did we ever know what happened? Never!

Remembering must be important to God. There are many verses in the Bible that remind us to remember. “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done” (Psalm 145:5). Memories!

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. I’m especially thankful I can remember the good and funny memories. I hope you make some good turkey tales on this Thanksgiving Day––funny ones too. Happy Thanksgiving!

One Rainy Thanksgiving by Tracy Ruckman

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
Psalm 147:7-8 (NASB)

One special Thanksgiving that I always remember so fondly was when my boys were growing up – they were pre- and early teens. We took a short trip to Pigeon Forge over the Thanksgiving weekend. We’d never been there, so I had no clue about the layout of the town. I was on a single-mom budget, but I found a cheap motel near a creek and we packed snacks for traveling and bedtime munchies. I was determined we’d park and walk as much as we could to save on gas.

Listening to the radio on the drive, we learned it was supposed to rain all weekend, so at our next pit stop, we picked up $1 ponchos. I knew once we bought them, the chance of rain should decrease significantly.

Have you ever been to Pigeon Forge? If so, you’re probably already laughing at all my assumptions above.

We quickly learned that Pigeon Forge is not exactly a walking town. I was determined to try though, to preserve the budget. We set out walking to the candy store down the street – through puddle-filled parking lots, across grassy medians, and under a deluge of rain. Those ponchos were definitely of the $1 variety!

Arriving at the candy store, where we watched them pulling taffy, we learned that Gatlinburg was the walking town, but we had to drive there and pay parking to walk for free.

We ended up seeing both towns, driving back and forth several times, trying to pack as much into the weekend as we could. The boys got to play laser tag, and we snuggled in our room at night watching TV and just hanging out together.

My face hurts from grinning at some of the memories. Hot fries for snacks at bedtime. And a communal microwave for popping corn (before most motel rooms had their own). All you can eat pancakes – the restaurant lost money with my boys. Rain, rain, and more rain with those flimsy ponchos – every time I see a poncho today, I think of that Thanksgiving weekend.

On the way home, we drove through Cades Cove. I didn’t take this photo, but it’s one just like the one burned into my memories of that beautiful – but wet – Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Traditions by Fay Lamb

“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works.” Psalm 26:7 (KJV)

When I married Marc Lamb, I learned that both the Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions in that family were strong enough to pull a long-separated couple together for the day. You would never know that my in-laws had any differences. Our sons enjoyed the fruits of their grandmother’s labor and the steadfast presence of their grandfather.

My dear mother-in-law started a week before with the grocery shopping, paid for by my wonderful father-in-law. She combed the stores for the perfect turkey, ordering the best Honey-Baked Ham, buying sweet potatoes and marshmallows, oysters for the dressing that Marc’s dad loved, and I grew to love, and ingredients for the ho-hum dressing that the others ate. She made mashed potatoes and homemade macaroni and cheese, a squash casserole and a broccoli casserole I can never duplicate, and a Waldorf salad like no other. She adorned the table with the best China and her grandmother’s silver. Food filled that table and the counters in the kitchen. Desserts were chocolate cake and pumpkin pie. By the time we prayed over the meal, our mouths were watering. When we finished, we rolled ourselves into the living room to watch some football and to rest up for the next day.

Tradition in the Lamb house meant that Thanksgiving didn’t end until we’d picked out the perfect tree for all of our homes on the Friday after the big meal. By the end of the weekend, Thanksgiving would be behind us and the Lamb family Christmas traditions would begin.

We lost our beloved patriarch in 2004, but the beloved matriarch and queen of the kitchen continued on through changes in family situations, the death of another loved one, and the difficulty in planning to meet the needs of the growing family God has blessed us with. By 2014, my mother-in-law had slowed considerably. We could see that she was unable to complete the many tasks she loved. That’s when my son stepped in and asked his grandmother if he could be the chef for the ham and turkey, if Mom (me) couldn’t cook some of the other dishes, and if she’d liked to continue making the dressing and the cake. We wanted to keep the tradition alive.

By 2016, with the meal moved to my home, with my son still cooking the meat and with me putting together all the dishes except the dressing, we found ourselves without dressing of any kind for Thanksgiving dinner. My mother-in-law was supposed to fix the dressing, but when my husband brought her to our home, she came empty-handed. She said she hadn’t remembered that she was supposed to make it. Her confusion easily upset her, so we laughed it off and cajoled her about it. When we later returned to her home, we discovered she had, in fact, made dressing: five pans. They were in the refrigerator, on the counter, and in the, thankfully, turned off oven. Again, we entered into teasing laughter with her, and for me, that Thanksgiving is filled with fond remembrances because laughter is a key component to memories. And God is the one who bestowed those special times upon us.

As we move forward from here, life is always changing, but the one thing we’re not letting go is the tradition that my mother-in-law so loved.

About the Three Gals:

Peggy Cunningham and her husband are missionaries in Bolivia, South America. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author. Her children’s books and devotionals are available on Amazon.com, including just released, Hooray for Holidays Book 4: A Veterans Day Special Needs Cat, Thanksgiving Blue Mouse, and Christmas Andes Llama.

Tracy Ruckman is a book publisher, writing and marketing coach, and artist. Learn more about her book publishing and coaching at www.TMPbooks.com. Visit her personal website at www.TracyRuckman.com to learn more about her books and her art. Visit her Zazzle store at www.Zazzle.com/TMPixArt to purchase her artwork on a wide variety of merchandise.

Tracy’s latest books are in The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series that helps children develop their storytelling skills through words and illustrations. View all twelve books in the series here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B07JZX1JGG

Fay Lamb is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom. She is not only a fifth-generation Floridian, she has lived her life in Titusville, where her grandmother was born in 1899.
Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ heart. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes for Write Integrity Press in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction, and you can find out more about her novels at Author Central.

Who’s Got a Button? by Tracy Ruckman

Who’s got a button?

After Tim and I married, his sister brought us a gift. She’d filled a delicate and pretty wicker basket with sewing supplies from her own sewing kit, which had been put together from Tim’s mom’s sewing kit.

Inside the basket was a triangular shaped plastic tub – full of buttons! As I went through them, I remembered all the button cans from my childhood – old coffee cans full of buttons in every shape, size, and color.

These days, my favorite hobby at night while Tim has on the TV is to create artwork to sell. When Fay mentioned buttons, I pulled out our button tub and started snapping photos, then began creating patterns.

Then I use the patterns on merchandise in my TMPixArt store on Zazzle.

Each week, I share the latest patterns on my blog, so come see what I did with these button patterns and others I created from that same photo.

Tracy Ruckman is developer of The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series of children’s books.

 

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? National Button Day

When a friend told me recently that today, November 16, was National Button Day, I naturally thought of my novel Stalking Willow and the button jar that I wrote into the story. Why? Because the button jar was real.

My mother had a button jar that was curiously placed inside a box containing numerous family photos. My mother never said so, but because the buttons were placed with the photos, I believe that they had been given to her by her mother, my wonderful farm-raised, Kentucky born grandmother, whose country-sense has served me throughout my life. For most of my childhood, I was an only child, often lonely, and I would sift through those photos, and I would pour out the buttons and sort them and look at their texture and their design. I still remember the scent of musty, old, glorious buttons. It is a memory that soothes. I recently began collecting buttons again, and I share that particular story with Tracy Ruckman here.

In Stalking Willow, my main character, Willow Thomas, was raised by a grandmother so very similar to my Grandma New. In fact, I gave so many winks to my numerous cousins that I heard from several of them saying, “You remember that about her, too?”

Willow’s grandmother had been a simple woman who loved her family. She had raised Willow, but something happened that tore Willow’s life apart on the day Willow graduated from school. Her grandmother died as a result, and Willow fled the small mountain town. She is chased back to that town ten years later. She is not only toting her suitcase filled with clothing and followed by a stalker, she’s also carrying around a truckload of bitterness.

Willow’s journey to healing begins when she discovers a box of photographs and a button jar in her granny’s closet. Sound familiar? The buttons, though, are not the only thing she finds. She discovers something else from her grandmother, and Willow begins to understand that things are not always what they seem and that she needs to learn to forgive and to chop down the roots of bitterness.

I’ve discovered through readers of Stalking Willow that I’m not the only one with memories buttons. I’d love to hear from readers today. What special memories do you have of a particular button or a button jar?

Fay Lamb is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom. She is not only a fifth-generation Floridian, she has lived her life in Titusville, where her grandmother was born in 1899.

Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ heart. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction.