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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

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.

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

 

Character Interview: Nicole Reardon from Sleigh Ride Together With You

Sleigh Ride Together with You Cover (Largest)Today’s guest is Nicole Reardon from JoAnn Durgin’s third Christmas Holiday Extravaganza novella set in Starlight, Iowa.

Nicole, thank you for talking with us. Readers first met you briefly in Jake Marston’s story, Meet Me under the Mistletoe. Now, we find that your hard work has taken you to Des Moines, Iowa and an enviable career. Would you please share a little about your life with us?

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today. It’s great to be here and share with your readers. Since I was a teenager, I had dreamed of a career in broadcast television. However, I knew I needed to leave my small town in order to pursue my professional goals. I started working with a television affiliate in Des Moines four years ago, quickly moved up the ranks, and I was made a weekend anchor within a year. I was named as the co-host of a morning talk show, Wake Up, Des Moines!, a little over a year ago. My co-host on the show, Colin Young, is a constant source of amusement and he’s very protective of me. In many ways, Colin’s my best friend, and I simply adore him.

You are a very giving and caring person, and I’m happy that I could get to know you better in Sleigh Ride Together With You because in Meet Me under the Mistletoe, I think you’re a bit misunderstood. I’d like to know if anything happened in your life to change you in the four years since you’ve left Starlight.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve grown up. Living on my own has taught me, perhaps by necessity, some invaluable life lessons. For one thing, I’ve tried to bloom where God has planted me. I’ve found great joy and a sense of personal fulfillment in regularly helping at a downtown mission in Des Moines. Being able to help others less fortunate is a way for me to share the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me.

My mother is in a nursing center and suffers from Alzheimer’s. Every week I send her flowers and I try to visit as much as I can. It’s difficult because Mom doesn’t remember me. She continually asks for my Grandma Camille to come and visit her, but Grandma died a number of years ago. My father abandoned our family when I was thirteen, and that crushed my self-esteem and made me leery of trusting others, especially men. In some ways, I believe his leaving forced both my mom and me to become much more self-sufficient, independent and strong. But while I think it helped me in the long-term, it had the opposite effect on my mom. I realize I might sound like an emotional mess, but I’ve also learned that people are the same everywhere in the world. Being on a bigger show, living in a bigger city, doesn’t necessarily guarantee or equate with success or make me happier. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that my professional success doesn’t define me. Faith, family, home and love. Those are the things that matter most in my life.

When I met Alex Kingsfield and discovered he was from the network, I’ll admit to being wary and suspicious of his motives. As it turns out, Alex coming to the station has brought a fresh perspective and great romance into my life. He’s taught me to trust again and to seek out the good in others.

You’ve carried a heavy load for someone so young. How do you handle a high-stress job as a morning show co-host and the additional stress of caring for a loved one?

The show can be stressful, but it’s a good kind of stress. Perhaps because of some of the things I’ve gone through in my life, I approach the inevitable difficulties in a different manner from most people. What I consider to be a small blip in life might seem almost overwhelming to others. I pray a lot, and I talk to the Lord the same as I do with Colin (except without all the teasing). Being able to lay my troubles, insecurities, and fears at the foot of the Savior is an unbelievable comfort for me.

Alex Kingsfield is definitely the hero-type, but I’d like to know what you think it takes to be a romantic hero.

Thank you, and I think so, too! Colin and I had a fun discussion about that very thing when I interviewed a romance author on our show. She clammed up and I finally sparked her interest when I asked about her latest hero, Slade Stonehenge. The name makes me smile, and he’s the stereotypical romance hero: strong, masculine, romantic, physically impressive, perfect and there’s virtually nothing he can’t do. That’s not real life. A real life hero is someone who takes the time to listen, really listen, to everyone, no matter their age or station in life. He loves with a selfless, deep passion, and he’s willing to fight for love. When I tried to push Alex away because of my lingering trust issues, he made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere. To me, that was very heroic. Alex is also a very handsome and giving man, so I am blessed.

Is there a verse or scripture that has helped you to excel and to be the successful woman that you are today?

One verse that I’ve always loved, and that I often share with others, is this one from 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (NASB)

The Lord doesn’t want us to be afraid to reach for our dreams. We need to do our part in getting the required education and experience, but we also need to be mindful of the One who is our greatest friend and can help us achieve those dreams. Sometimes, God answers our prayer or leads us in a completely different direction than we expect. In any case, the journey can be very exciting if we just allow Him to take the reins instead of trying to control everything on our own.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you! Blessings to all for a Merry Christmas!

More About Sleigh Ride Together With You:

As the popular television co-host of Wake Up, Des Moines! Nicole Reardon has achieved her dream. So why has the network sent “image maker” Alex Kingsfield to the station? The irritatingly handsome man is also the first man she’s been attracted to since Jake Marston dumped her three years ago in Starlight, Iowa. When an unexpected assignment sends Nicole and Alex to Starlight, can she rise above the past and make this interview the defining moment of her career?

Alex Kingsfield knows Nicole is poised on the cusp of network stardom. But beneath the professional exterior is a small-town girl at heart, genuine and God-honoring. Alex holds the power to boost Nicole’s career to unknown heights. Or crush her dreams. From any angle, he’s caught in a “no win” situation when he finds himself falling for the beautiful Nicole. What’s a man to do when love comes calling at Christmas?

MeetMeUnderTheMistletoe_w11222_300About Meet Me Under the Mistletoe:

Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one.” Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then, he meets his best friend’s sister, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance.

But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret, and he’s instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake forget the humiliation and find his way under the mistletoe to share a forever kiss with Julia?

StarlightStarbright_w11612_680About Starlight, Star Bright:

Dante Moretti, Texas-born goalie of an Italian World Cup champion team, expects Starlight, Iowa will be only a blip on the radar of his life. Grabbing a quick meal at Barney’s Diner during the holidays, Dante meets two women who capture his heart in very different ways. Then his rental car won’t start and leaves him stranded. Does the Lord have a plan for bringing him—and keeping him—in Starlight?

Amanda Marston is excited to be home for her brother’s wedding. When she drops in for a cup of coffee at Barney’s, she’s charmed by the mysterious, Italian-spouting cowboy. Before she can blink, the handsome stranger is helping with projects all over town and working his way into her heart. Does God have a plan for Dante in her beloved little Starlight or will he take her heart with him when he returns to Italy?

JoAnn Author Photo (Princess Cruise)About the Author:

JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels (and counting) in the popular Lewis Legacy Series, as well as Catching Serenity, and Echoes of Edinburgh, and the Starlight Christmas Series: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, and Sleigh Ride Together with You. JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana and loves to hear from her readers at www.joanndurgin.com or www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin.

 

Character Interview: Leona Buquet from Deep Freeze Christmas by Marian P. Merritt

DeepFreezeChristmas_w11849_png (1)Today’s guest is Leona Buquet from Marian P. Merritt’s Deep Freeze Christmas, one of the excellent Christmas Extravaganza novellas published by White Rose Press. Leona, please tell us a little about yourself, where you live, what you do?

Hello Ms. Fay. Thank you for having me here. I live in New Orleans and work as a Sous Chef at the famous Mayeux’s Restaurant. I grew up on the bayou and my parents moved to our New Orleans Lakefront home when I was eight.

I can imagine that being a sous chef in The Big Easy has to be a very interesting and demanding job, especially apprenticing under Chef Julian Mayeux. What exactly is a sous chef, and how did you become interested in the culinary arts?

A Sous Chef is the second in command in a professional kitchen just under the executive chef. It can be stressful when things don’t go as they should in the kitchen or when the food orders aren’t correct. My interest in the culinary arts began as a child. My grandmother opened a restaurant, Leo’s, in New Orleans on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. My dream is to re-open and run that restaurant which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

I found you to be a very level-headed woman. When another isn’t very kind, you let it go, and you worked hard to be nice to her. How difficult was it for you to turn the other cheek?

Well, dat hasn’t always been the case! Not too long ago, I would have cut her with a sharp tongue and harsh words. Thankfully, a few years ago, I recommitted my life to Christ and made an effort to really understand what that meant. Chef Julian has helped in that area. In our business we meet people from all walks of life and sometimes, as Chef and I remind one another, we may be the only character of Christ some of them may ever see. Why take the chance and miss that awesome opportunity?

Your story has some misunderstandings in it between you and Mr. Cameron Fleming. I can see how the paths of a man who has been raised in the Hollywood culture would clash with your Deep South spirit. And I loved the twists in your stories, but tell me how does a woman raised in Louisiana find common ground with a man pretty much raised in the Hollywood culture?

I believe Cameron’s formidable years were spent in New Orleans and that ole Southern spirit seeped in there. Despite his glittery environment, deep down Cameron’s spirit is genuine and his faith got derailed for a short while. Our common ground is our faith in Christ. That transcends any geographical or environmental differences.

And, because I’m from the Deep South myself, I have to ask: how does a girl from New Orleans handle the frosty winter days and nights in the Colorado Mountains? Is it a place you think you’d like to visit more often?

My mom asked the same question when I got home! Having never left New Orleans or seen snow, it was one of those life experiences that we all hope to have. I loved the crisp clear air and the way the snow covered so much making for a Winter Wonderland. I enjoyed it and would love to visit again BUT don’t think I could permanently leave my family, Gulf Coast seafood, Chef Julian, and the crazy wild culture of New Orleans. This Cajun gal is perfectly content to eat Shrimp po-boys from the neighborhood café, deal with the humidity in the summer time, and thank God for the time I can share with my family.

Thank you for being with us today, Leona. I look forward Wednesday’s interview with your author, Marian P. Merritt.

More about Deep Freeze Christmas:

Louisiana Chef Leona Buquet agrees to cook at a Colorado mountain lodge during the Christmas holiday. When she meets the son of a movie producer, she is taken by his striking good looks and warm personality. Trouble is, with glamorous actresses clamoring for his attention, why would he even notice Leona?

Cameron Fleming struggles with being in a career he hates in order to please his famous father. When he meets Leona, he feels a connection to her and wants an opportunity to get to know her. That is hard to do while dodging starlets…and the woman he wants is avoiding him.

Can love sizzle, along with the Cajun dishes, in subzero temperatures?

SouthernFriedChristmas_w11200_680 (1)About Southern Fried Christmas, another Christmas Extravaganza novella:

Love: purer than Colorado snow, deeper than a Louisiana bayou.

The Colorado Rockies have always been home to journalist Kelly Shepherd, but after the death of her father, and facing her first Christmas alone, she accepts an assignment that leads her deep into Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Since his wife’s death, Denny Labouve has focused his attention on his ten-year-old daughter and the family business, but Kelly sparks the dying embers of his heart even as a Christmas cold front moves through his beloved Cajun country.

Will Denny and Kelly be able to trust God to bridge the span between the Colorado Rockies and the Louisiana bayou?

a-cajun-christmas-miracle-cover-web-copyAbout A Cajun Christmas Miracle

“Who knows anything about love at seventeen? All those hormones raging, and life decisions to make.”

Thirteen years ago, Mandy St. Pierre and Bridger Mathews were in high school and hopelessly in love. When his parents moved to Colorado in his senior year, Mandy was left behind with a broken heart and a secret. When Bridger never contacted her, she questioned the reality and depth of their love.

While neither has forgotten the other and the deep first love they shared, their lives took different paths. Mandy married and became mother to a child with special needs. Bridger married only to loose his wife to cancer three years later.

Now Mandy and Bridger are thrown together for the wedding of her cousin and his best friend. Mandy, abandoned by her husband, has moved back to Belle Camellia, the River Road, Louisiana plantation home of her youth with Daniel, her three-year-old son who has autism. Bridger is working next door with a rescue horse his best friend has saved.

When Mandy’s son bonds with Bridger and his horse, Mandy is torn. She wrangles with letting Bridger back into her life, letting him into her son’s life, her unnatural fear of horses, and her wavering faith in God.

Through Daniel’s fearless attachment to the horse and Bridger, both Mandy and Bridger are forced to confront the past. Revealed truths present perfect opportunities for forgiveness. Will they let go of the past hurts? Can they open their hearts to trust one another in order to give Daniel an experience that may unlock his world and allow him to interact like never before?

Marian P. Merritt -HeadshotAbout the Author:

Marian Pellegrin Merritt writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. She is an author and freelance writer with over ten years experience. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online websites and garnered a first place award in ACFW’s Genesis contest.

Marian is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama. This Louisiana native writes from the Northwest Colorado home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle. Connect with her through her Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter.

A Ruby Christmas Guest Author Jerusha Agen

Jerusha0040 (cropped) (2)Today, author Jerusha Agen shares some “behind the scenes” information about A Ruby Christmas.  Jerusha is a lifelong lover of story–a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. She is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series and co-author of the novellas A Ruby Christmas and A Dozen Apologies (releasing with Write Integrity Press, February 2014).  Jerusha is also a screenwriter, and several of her original scripts have been produced as films. In addition, Jerusha is a film critic, with reviews featured at the website, www.RedeemerReviews.com.

Visit Jerusha’s website at www.SDGwords.com. Follow Jerusha on Twitter @SDGwords and Facebook (Jerusha Agen – SDG Words).

While many people consider the Christmas holiday season to be their favorite time of the year, not even all of these Christmas lovers match that sentiment with their actions. Those who work in retail will be able to tell you that dread grips their hearts when the first green and red merchandise arrives and Christmas sales begin. The reason for this foreboding? Retail employees know they’re about to see the worst in people emerge, turning their customers the same color as the red bows that decorate the store over things like the price of a cute Santa dress or the scarcity of the latest Elmo toy.

Yes, this festive time of year is often sullied by short tempers, hectic schedules, and mixed-up priorities. But the sad fact is that people are not always lovable the rest of the year either. In my chapter of A Ruby Christmas, Ruby Joy Buckner faces a population of humans that are often considered among the least lovable in the world—New Yorkers. The encounters that Texas cowgirl Ruby has with “sophisticated” New Yorkers are often funny, sometimes unpleasant, and even frightening.

Ruby reacts as I’ve been tempted to do myself at times when I’ve encountered difficult people—she hides. When I get hurt, or perhaps meet a socially awkward person, someone who is particularly needy, or someone who is downright rude, my instinctive reaction is usually one of self-preservation. How much easier is it to retreat than to be the one who faces up to the cantankerous customer? Or how about when the friend who has never been there for you needs your help for the hundredth time?

As an introvert, I’ve had to think a lot about the issue of relationships and how crucial they are to our lives as Christians, even when I, in my introvert attitude, would rather not see them that way. I had the opportunity to write about that very topic on this same blog earlier this year. I don’t often love people in the general sense, but perhaps many extroverts don’t either. People can be hard to love.

Writing about Ruby’s experience with the people of New York City gave me a chance to delve deeper into this topic and explore what the Christian’s attitude should be toward all people. If the notoriously cold residents of New York City want to brush rudely by or not offer help when assistance is needed, then isn’t it fine, and even more culturally acceptable to do the same to them? After all, if people don’t care if they have your love, why offer it? And, in this day and age, we have to protect ourselves and our closest loved ones from the worsening people around us, right?

As tempting as it is to use those seemingly logical points to guide my response to people, the Bible doesn’t give much credence to social acceptability, doing only to others what they do to you, or protecting ourselves (emotionally or physically) at the expense of others. When I try to get better at having a Christian attitude toward people I have trouble with, I tend to aim for the basics: help the poor (Matthew 25:40), help the widows and orphans (James 1:27), turn the other cheek when someone mildly hurts me (Matthew 5:39). On a good day, I can even try to forgive someone for a repeated offense or annoying behavior (Matthew 18:21-23). But is that enough?

What if love is required? Love of the unlovable. Love of the people God created in His own image. The God of the universe Who came as a baby to live and die for the sins of His chosen children did so while we were still his enemies (Romans 5:10). He did so because of His unmatched love for us. But that’s God. What can we do? Ruby finds out in her New York adventure. Check out Chapter Five in A Ruby Christmas for more!

About Jerusha Agen’s Sisters Redeemed series:

This_Dance_FRONT_COVER_smaller (for promo use)This Dance

No love, no pain. No God, no games.

A tragedy three years ago destroyed Nye’s rise to the top of the dancing world as an upcoming tango star, and in the process destroyed her reason for living. She survived the pain and built a new life resembling nothing like the one she left behind, determined never to hurt again.

Nye’s emotional walls hold up perfectly until she meets a handsome lawyer and an elderly landowner. They seem harmless, but one awakens feelings she doesn’t want and the other makes her face the God she can’t forgive. Will these two men help Nye dance again?

This Dance is available at Amazon.com and other book retailers.

This_Shadow_FRONT_COVER (660x1024)This Shadow

She’s famous for her upbeat outlook. Then the world goes black.

Oriana Sanders is always happy. And why shouldn’t she be? She enjoys a close relationship with God and a purpose-filled career teaching troubled kids. She even has the potential for romance in her sister’s friend, Nicanor, whose dark good looks and brooding manner make him an intriguing project for Oriana.

Oriana’s attempts to reach Nicanor with the joy of the Lord are brought to a halt when a confrontation with her student’s drug-dealing brother ends in tragedy. Facing darkness she has never known, can Oriana learn to forgive the unforgivable and find her way through the shadows to the light? This Shadow is available at Amazon.com

A Ruby Christmas A Ruby Christmas FULL COVER

Ruby Joy Buckner, cowgirl, has never left the Lone Star State, but at her father’s request, she takes her faithful canine companion and travels the world in search of Nativity pieces. As Ruby collects the pieces, she also collects a few unexpected surprises, including an awareness of the beauty in other cultures, and quite a menagerie of new friends, thanks in part to Yippee Ti Yi Yo who charms everyone they meet.

Ruby’s budding awareness of life outside Texas opens her eyes to a world of whimsy, and the Nativity pieces she collects are unusual. Will her father approve her eclectic collection … and the changes that travel brought to Ruby’s life?

Jerusha’s chapter of A Ruby Christmas is posted on the Write Integrity Press blog. We hope you’ll also take part in our Altered Photo Contest. Check out the unaltered photos posted each day on the Write Integrity Press blog and then visit that day’s author’s website (Today you’ll visit Jerusha’s website) for a look at the altered photo. Keep a list because on December 13, we’ll ask you to send in your list. Those with the most correct answers will be eligible for a drawing. The prize? A bundle of all of our books in PRINT and DIGITAL (for giving and/or keeping) formats. The winner will be announced Tuesday, December 17, but rest assured, the books will be shipped in time for Christmas. (Continental U.S. Residents only for print books. If an international winner is chosen, they may receive two sets of digital books for gift giving).

Last year’s Write Integrity Press novella: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt is also available on Kindle.