Monday, December 17, 2018

The Tradition of Storytelling by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
I host Christmas Eve festivities for my extended family each year. What that means is, as you read this post, I’m frantically performing ‘white glove’ inspections of guest sleeping quarters, I’m decorating, I’m gift wrapping, I’m baking, and…I’m thinking, as always, about storytelling.

In the midst of what I affectionately refer to as my own version of ‘Christmas Cray-cray’ I stretched out in bed and read a devotional that stilled me and left me thinking about the tradition of sharing history, circumstance, and experience via the art of storytelling.

When I thought about it, I realized: This happens most especially at Christmas.

The most ancient and beautiful custom we have is that of sharing our stories and history with those we love who gather around us, sharing food, fellowship, and love. In my home, we assemble at a table overflowing with the favorite dishes we simply couldn’t do without each year: Grandma DeCou’s sugar cookies, Grandma DeSantis’ artichoke hearts following a traditional Italian feast of pasta, meatballs and salad.

Around this table, there’s reminiscence of growing up, lessons learned, people present, people passed; each moment forms the tapestry of our family table cloth, each story forms a piece of our shared lives. Christmas is a time rife with the exchange of not just gifts, but family history, some of it sweet, tender, and funny, some of it bitter-sweet.

Through it all, storytelling sparks continuity. Storytelling sparks a desire in the hearts of those who follow in our footsteps to carry on those precious traditions—not out of obligation but out of love and joyful remembrance. Out of respect for all the ways we stay connected even if logistical and heavenly distance keeps us apart.

I wonder if that isn’t how Jesus’ ministry not only built but sustained. He shared table with his disciples, and that table his disciples followed that tradition, moving Christianity from home to home, heart to heart, neighbor to neighbor, nation to nation, until nothing could stand in its way. So much like our own lives and families, right?

Nothing can stand in our way this holiday season. Share the laughter, share the tears and joys, share the victories and close-calls with those you love the most. My encouragement this month, my hope and prayer, is to share the truth that, even if you’ve heard Uncle Homer’s story a hundred times before’, maybe you can hear it for a hundred and one times. After that, remember to share it. To keep that flickering candle flame moving from taper to taper. Such is how legacies are not just born, but enriched, and passed on to the next generation.

This Christmas, light the world. Share your history, your light and never doubt its impact to shine for decades to come.

*****

CLICK TO TWEET!



*****


            Dustin Farrell is expected to succeed. He’s gifted with the means and ability to take the world of business development by storm…and he’s doing just that, right on plan.

As Christmas approaches, he’s called home, to Hope Creek, Tennessee. He’s been given a slam-dunk objective from his investors: Take a small, local art shop and expand it into the retail mainstream.

Lillianna Bennett, Dustin’s former high school classmate, is part owner of Purple Door Art Market. Long ago, her shy sweetness captured his imagination, but nothing came of the affectionate flame between them.

Until a reunion at Christmas Inn. Dustin presents his offer, realizing the wallflower of his youth has bloomed into a confident, talented woman with the kind of free-spirited heart for which he always longed. And he wonders: Is a life of expectation, and ‘more’ what he really wants? Will his professional quest end up compromising Lillianna if her gifts and business become part of a wider view?

Most of all, will love be lovelier...the second time around?

*****

Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of faith-affirming fiction who has won acclaim from critics and readers. RT Book Reviews named her book Forgiveness a 4.5-Star Top Pick and readers laude her books as ‘riveting’ and ‘true to heart.’ She’s a life-long resident of Michigan who calls suburban Detroit home.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Gift of Encouragement by Dawn Kinzer


Less than two weeks until Christmas! Do you feel ready? Are you filled with anticipation of what’s to come? Or are you stressed out about shopping for the picky teenager, an elderly parent, or that family member who already has everything he needs?

It’s crazy how much focus is put on purchasing large quantities of gifts—or items that don’t fit budgets. My husband shakes his head at the number of car commercials, asking if companies really expect people to buy new SUVs to put under the tree. I worked for a high-end dealership for a number of years, so I can attest to the fact that people do purchase cars, attach enormous bows on top, and gift them to family members this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong! We experience a great deal of joy in finding treasures to put under the Christmas tree for our grandchildren. Who doesn’t have a big soft spot for their grandkids? But the adults in our family have gone in a different direction concerning each other and focus more on spending time together.

Certainly, there are people within our families and communities who really need tangible items to make their lives easier. If we’re able to give, it’s important to share what we can. But sometimes, even what we deem small and insignificant can make a difference in lives. Sometimes . . . mere words of encouragement when needed the most can feel like a wonderful present covered with shiny gold paper.


At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished … It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back. 
~ Denzel Washington

I’m grateful for what the writing community has given me. Through the years, authors have mentored, encouraged, and prayed for me. In return, I try to give back to others in those same ways. I’ve been able to see my dreams come to fruition—and it’s my hope that I can watch others experience the same.

But, what about you? Is there someone in your life who’s pursuing a dream and could use a little encouragement? A bit of mentoring? Even a prayer? Is there some way you could help that person get a step closer to accomplishing desired goals? What a wonderful Christmas gift that might be for someone struggling.

However, this type of gifting doesn’t have to be associated with a career. You might know parents who are simply dreaming about the ability to plan a date night without worrying about finding and paying a good babysitter. So, how are you with handling a toddler?

Who needs your words of encouragement today? Who can you help accomplish a dream?






The Daughters of Riverton
Take a trip back to the early 1900s and spend time in the small farming community of Riverton, Wisconsin, where people find the courage to forgive, pursue their dreams—and love.

These full-length novels complete The Daughters of Riverton historical romance series. Though they follow a time sequence with some characters playing a role in every story, each book is a stand-alone romance featuring a different couple.

Questions that can be used for self-reflection or discussion are included at the end of each story.

Included in this boxed set:
Sarah’s Smile
Hope’s Design
Rebecca’s Song



Dawn Kinzer is a freelance editor, and her own work has been published in various devotionals and magazines. She co-hosts and writes for Seriously Write. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her historical romance series The Daughters of Riverton, Hope’s Design is the second, and Rebecca’s Song completes the trilogy.

A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, good wine, strong coffee, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.

You can connect and learn more about Dawn and her work by visiting these online sites: Author WebsiteDawn’s BlogGoodreadsFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.





Thursday, December 13, 2018

Who’s Flying This Plane? by Linda Thompson

You could almost class it as a trope or archetype—the writer with hundreds of rejections. Every time I tell someone I’m a writer, the question seems to follow: “Have you experienced a lot of rejections, then?”

Yes, is the answer. It’s part of the game. And if you have a manuscript you’re shopping, you know the drill. The critique groups and classes and conferences and paid editors—and the learning process isn’t cheap, by the way! The query piles and hopeful meetings. The emailing of book proposals and samples and “fulls.” The waiting, waiting… waiting. And then, of course, another email conveying a polite rejection. 

It isn’t personal, although it’s wrenchingly hard not to take it that way.

Lord, aren’t you calling me to write? Don’t you want people to read this story?

If you’re reading this, I can guess the answer to that is a “yes.” But, here’s something I know. First and foremost, the Lord is using the ups and downs of your journey to call you into a deeper relationship with Himself. What an amazing honor! But being clay worked by the potter’s fingers doesn’t always feel good!

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. For the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3) Hardships come to prove—and in many cases, improve—the quality of our faith. That’s the outcome that actually matters.

The Lord has spoken to me on a few occasions via “Mount Moriah moments.” Moments of deep discouragement where I questioned the calling. If my manuscript was my “child of promise,” if I picked it up because He had called me to it, was I ready to surrender it on His command as well?

If you’re a Christian writer, you’re probably familiar with Allen Arnold and his book, The Story of With. It’s an extended allegory of a creative who seeks self-actualization and worldly success, but without a deep partnership with her Heavenly Father. She ultimately learns that the endpoint is not the point. The real point is the journey—with God. 

My most discouraging “Mount Moriah moment” came a couple of years ago, when my first agent dropped me. I didn’t even know that was a thing! This person had been so generous to coach and mentor me through several revisions. Only a few months earlier my manuscript had garnered a significant industry award, which I know would not have happened without that agent’s guidance.

Award ceremony photo goes here. Caption: Me in 2016, at a big glam awards ceremony, the evening I was blessed to see my manuscript win the ACFW Genesis contest. Pinch me! But… still no path to publication.

I couldn’t fathom going through the querying process again. Lord, what are you telling me?

He was telling me what He tells us all. At the end of the day, it’s not about any earthly outcome. It’s about our relationship with Him. About relying on Him through the journey.

Today, my saga appears to have ended in what the world would call success. A respected agent (Wordserve Literary) and a three-book contract with a quality publisher. My debut novel, a World War II story inspired by true events from the Doolittle Raid of April, 1942, was released on December 1. And it’s a beautiful “book baby,” if I do say so myself! Thank you, Mountain Brook Ink! Plus, my street team has been wonderful, and the feedback from early readers and reviewers has been very heartening.

But! I have to tell you that the battle over who owns this book doesn’t go away, because it’s a battle between flesh and spirit. Each open door just moves the conflict to a new field. Two years ago, the wrestling with the Lord was over whether anyone would publish my—oops, His!—story. Now the question is whether anyone (or, rather, enough “anyones”) will read it. How does my one little book get attention amidst Amazon’s eight million titles?

As my husband likes to annoyingly point out: if it’s really His, won’t He bring the audience?

I’ll offer you a note of encouragement I often come back to. Naturally, during my lengthy journey to publication I meditated on scriptures on waiting. “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is 40:31), right? I noticed for the first time that the word for “wait” in this passage has a sense of being intertwined.

From the Complete Word Study Bible:

קָוָה qāwāh: A verb meaning to wait for, to look for, to hope for. The root meaning is that of twisting or winding a strand of cord or rope….

I should be so intertwined with my Lord that my will disappears into His! Didn’t Jesus also say something like this—something about abiding? “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

At the end of the day, I’m not after book sales. Not really. I’m after spiritual fruit, right? I want the story to impact lives. That will only come through abiding in Jesus. Not through my own fleshly efforts to drive the book-marketing flywheel.

There’s no question that it’s the Lord who brought me this far. I’m waiting and praying to see what He will do through this novel, and future writing ventures. And if He should call me to put my WIP in a virtual drawer and my writing career on the altar (again)? Well, I think I’m ready for that too.

GIVEAWAY

I’m hosting my Grand Launch Giveaway until 12/31—still plenty of time to get in on the action! Click here for details on the prizes—including two beautiful coffee mugs, a hand-painted vintage silk scarf from Japan, and a copy of Unbroken: The Path to Redemption on DVD—and how to enter.

THE PLUM BLOOMS IN WINTER

“A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it's a stay-up-all-night read."
- Jerry B. Jenkins, 21-time New York Times bestselling author (Left Behind, et al)

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge—In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission—Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ's forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother's life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him--even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka's treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends--only to confront a decision that will change everything.


Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves–stories where reckless faith meets relentless redemption. Her recently launched debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn't writing, you'll find her rollerblading–yes, that does make her a throwback–taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan and a visit to Wales.

Linda loves to connect with readers! Linda’s website: http://lthompsonbooks.com. Follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Bookbub.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Designing Covers that Appeal to Both Men and Women by Carol Ashby

We all know a visually stunning, genre-appropriate cover is essential for a potential reader to check out a book. But designing one can be a challenge when your target audience includes both men and women.

I write stories about dangerous times, difficult friendships, and lives transformed by forgiveness and love. Reviews and ratings tell me both men and women enjoy these historical novels because there’s much more to the plot than the romance woven through it. But for a cover to appeal to men, it must say “historical,” not “romance,” at first glance.

I’ve investigated what might encourage a man to pick up a book to read the blurb or click to the sales page for the description. Using my own covers, I’ve found four key features. When my designer, Roseanna White, captured the tension, the covers of Forgiven and Blind Ambition naturally appealed to men. Then a comment by a male friend on the first version of the third led me to investigate what could make a man see “historical” rather than “romance” at first glance. And as we all know, that first glance is all we can count on. 




Four features that invite men to check out these books:

1) A man is prominent on the cover and not in close contact with the woman.

This suggests the story won’t be entirely from the female POV. I write novels with multiple POV characters. The prominent man promises many important scenes from the POV a man naturally understands. Direct contact announces “romance,” but separation implies more to the relationship than that.

2) The woman isn’t dressed in revealing clothing or anything too feminine.

If the clothing is very feminine, she should have a body type better descripted as athletic than full-figured. This downplays the “romance” feeling of the cover. The original version (left) of The Legacy cover and the final version (right) show how subtle the difference can be between a cover that says “romance” and one that says “historical.” 

3) Direct eye contact between the man and woman shouldn’t be obvious.

On romance covers, the man and woman often gaze into each other’s eyes. As a male friend who also writes Christian fiction told me, men do enjoy romance in a novel, but they don’t want the book they’re reading to look like it’s a romance. They make a distinction between a romantic historical, which appeals to men, and a historical romance, which does not.

4) Some element of the design has to suggest action.

The covers of Forgiven and Blind Ambition both feature men in uniform. The first version of Second Chances said “romance” to my male consultants until the man was given a hand ax. As soon as he held that tool, the impression switched from romance to historical.

For The Legacy and Faithful, the background scenery suggests action. The ship promises a journey, and the amphitheater hints at men in combat. The dagger hanging on the man’s belt adds to the impression of conflict as well.

There’s so much more to this, and I’ve posted a longer discussion of a survey I did at my website, carol-ashby.com. I’d love to fold in your comments there as well.

When you look at the covers, what do you see first? Does that element suggest romance or historical to you? Why?

Especially for you men: do you think the four factors have broad application outside the historical genre? Can you share anything that’s a turn-off that might keep you from checking out the book description?


~~~~~~


Carol Ashby has been a professional writer for most of her life, but her articles and books were about lasers and compound semiconductors (the electronics that make cell phones, laser pointers, and LED displays work). She still writes about light, but her Light in the Empire series tells stories of difficult friendships and life-changing decisions in dangerous times, where forgiveness and love open hearts to discover their own faith in Christ. Her fascination with the Roman Empire was born during her first middle-school Latin class. A research career in New Mexico inspires her to get every historical detail right so she can spin stories that make her readers feel like they’re living under the Caesars themselves.

To connect with Carol and learn more about her books, please visit:

Author website: (https://carol-ashby.com)
History website: Life in the Roman Empire: Historical Fact and Fiction (https://carolashby.com)


Must the shadows of the past destroy the hope of the future?

In AD 122, Cornelia Scipia, proud daughter of one of Rome's noblest families, learns her adulterous husband plans to betroth their daughter to the vicious son of his best friend. Over her dead body! Cornelia divorces him, reclaims her enormous dowry, and kidnaps her own daughter. She plans to start over with Drusilla a thousand miles away. No more husbands for her. But she didn’t count on meeting Hector, the widowed Greek captain of the ship carrying her to her new life.
Devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter, Hector’s heart begins to heal as he befriends Drusilla. Cornelia’s sacrificial love for Drusilla and her courage and humor in the face of the unknown earn his admiration…as a friend. Is he ready for more?
Marriage to the kind, honest sea captain would give Drusilla the father she deserves…and Cornelia the faithful husband she’s always longed for. But while her ex-husband hunts them to drag Drusilla back to Rome, secrets in Hector’s past and the chasms between their social classes and different faiths erect complicated barriers to any future together. Will God give two lonely hearts a second chance at happiness?


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Four Things Every Writer Wants for Christmas By Marie Wells Coutu

Christmas Gifts under a Christmas Tree
When the Christmas catalogs from Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward's arrived in early December, my sister and I would spend the day going through each page and making our Christmas list.

These days, the grandchildren are more likely to scroll and click through Amazon to make their wish list. But the excitement is the same-the expectations and hope of finding that special something under the tree on Christmas Day.

I’m at the stage of life where it’s difficult to come up with a list when my husband and children ask for one. Many of the physical items I want or need come with a cord—but my husband claims a cord disqualifies it as a Christmas gift. Other things I could put on my list are courses or books on writing, but since those are for my writing business, he eliminates them, too. Sweet, but making a gift list becomes a challenge.

However, I have come up with a short list that every writer will probably agree they’d love to have for Christmas this year:

Time. If there’s one thing every writer I know wishes for, it’s more time to write. Generally, we have so many story ideas ruminating that we’ll never live long enough to write them all. Whether we write full-time, work a day job and write at night and on weekends, or care for the family while squeezing in writing time when we can, there’s never enough of it. So, yes, Santa, please bring me more time when I can concentrate on writing. (And please throw in a bit of self-discipline while you’re at it.)

Encouragement. Each of us needs encouragement from our family, our friends, and our writing buddies. Best of all is an encouragement/accountability partner who understands the frustrations of struggling to write and who challenges us to keep learning the craft and improving our skills while also reminding us God has called us to this journey. I’m grateful to have such a person in my life; if you don’t, I pray for you to find one this year.

Courage. Ironic this word is found in the previous item, “encouragement,” since those encouragers can help us take the steps needed to succeed in this industry. We need the courage to approach agents and publishers, to ask others to read our books, to write stories outside of our comfort zone, to learn what we don’t know. Most of all, we need the courage to expose ourselves, our emotions, our history through our characters, whether fictional or not. I think I’ll ask for a double dose of courage on my Christmas list.

Words. Most of all, what I want for Christmas this year are words—the right words, words that tell a story, words that reach into the hearts of readers and resonate with truth. I know Santa Clause can’t bring me this gift, and neither can my family or my friends. Only God can infuse such words into my heart so they flow out through my writing.

My Christmas wish this year? That every writer (including me) receives these four gifts and, as a result, feels God’s pleasure as we write.


Which of these gifts are you lacking right now? Let us know in the comments section below.

ClicktoTweet
4 things every writer wants for Christmas. @mwcoutu #SeriouslyWrite #writingtips #writerslife http://bit.ly/4gifts4writers
About the Author


Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu’s newest novel, The Secret Heart, from Write Integrity Press, was named a finalist in both the 2018 National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards and the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.


The Secret Heart by Marie Wells Coutu
You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook page (Author Marie Wells Coutu), at her website (MarieWellsCoutu.com), or follow her on Twitter (@mwcoutu) or on Amazon.com.

Marie is a regular contributor to Seriously WriteFor more posts by Marie, click here.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Words of Power and Intrigue

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell

Words are our livelihood. Sometimes we manipulate and coerce. At other times, they swirl about us and align in perfect order so we might pluck them like Christmas cards at the department store.

We’re wordsmiths.

We uncover beautiful words as we consider their sounds and meanings. 

Words enjoy a beyond in their expandability, a give and take that sustains our souls and gives us purpose. The beyond of a word is more than a dictionary meaning. The beyond has a gratification and a horror that takes an active role in exploring our hearts and minds for experiences long forgotten and moments yet to come.

A word has its own agency, speaks for itself, defends itself. A word has an identity. A color. A friendship. Or is it an enemy? 

Has the word so mistreated you that you see it lurking around a shadowed corner and you must run?

Because the words are alive. And those who utter them do not know the meaning for others.

C. S. Lewis knew the beyond of a word, knew the friendships they have that sustain life. Comfort. Rest.

Courage, dear heart.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

T. S. Eliot knew the beyond of a word, knew the understanding of the hard, unforgiving passion of sound. He understood a life wanting hope but finds cold, and so ushers in modernism poetry in three lines.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;


The mind screams for relief and finds a glimmer of hope a few moments later.
Photodune


In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.


"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Words are locked in your breast. They must be released.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
Maya Angelou

Tell your story. The words hold a beyond you cannot comprehend, a meaning for someone you can’t possibly grasp. 

The adventure is not knowing the beyond of words for others. The adventure is not the journey—is not you on a ship journeying across the sea. Instead, you are the ship carrying the story across the waves to their soul. 

There is only fear stopping you. And the fear doesn’t matter. Because God has given you words that hold a beyond. So you are an adventurer.

Life is a great adventure or nothing.

Hellen Keller

Write as if writing is all there is. Give the world meaning, scope, truth, even lies, but always hope. These words have a beyond for others, and you cannot know the vastness they hold. 

Because you will leave your words behind, as Shakespeare said of our end,

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


As You Like It, ‘All the World’s a Stage’

Write on, my friends.

Tweetables: click to tweet!




 ~~~~~
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.
~~~~~~

Friday, December 7, 2018

Writing at Christmas by Melinda Viergever Inman

Melinda Viergever Inman

Writing at Christmas

Writing our typical content is often difficult this time of year. We have more to do, and our schedules fill quickly. Presents must be purchased, wrapped, and shipped. Projects are often readied for launching in the new year, giving us pressing deadlines. Christmas plays and presentations keep us busy on evenings and weekends, rather than allowing us to recharge.

But, best of all, and maybe also inspiring the most frenzied of our efforts, family arrives, taking us completely away from our work to enjoy an even higher priority—our relationships built on love and commitment.

This is the season to prioritize the Lord, your family, and your giving.

To do so, step away from extra duties, activities, and appointments. Skip that party if you can. Avoid that loud event that will send you home with a headache and regrets. Maybe even dispense with Christmas cards. Minimize your shopping. Stop the craziness.

Focus on the reason—Jesus himself. Spend time with the Lord, concentrating on his Word and prayer. He is what our celebration is all about, and from him flows all else.

 Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus

 
The main event took place in the lives of an obscure young Jewish woman and her betrothed. It happened in backwater portions of the land of Israel, first in Nazareth and then in Bethlehem, villages void of crowds and noise until taxation forced throngs of people onto the roads and far from home. This created a time much like our own celebration. It cost a lot. It required much.

This most important event was proclaimed by angels, bringing shepherds to their knees. It was accompanied by magi showing up after a journey of many months. It brought the anger of a vicious king and the slaughter of innocent children. This most significant birth brought death and the miraculous, foretastes of what was to come.

When we pare away the unnecessary and focus on Christ, our families, generosity in response to his generous giving of himself, and whatever words, insights, and truths the Lord impresses upon us, we come away recharged spiritually.

We come away in awe. We come away inspired.

You may find yourself writing a different kind of content, words that flow from your heart in adoration of our Savior, rather than marketing, writing goals, and manuscripts. If so, lean into it. Go with the words the Lord impresses upon you. Allow yourself to be refreshed in this season.

In the frenzy of the season, you may find inspiration, as you contemplate the chaos of the young couple battling the crowds to get into Bethlehem—Mary in labor, finding no place to give birth but a barn, most probably a cave under the noisy inn. Imagine birthing, perhaps alone, painfully, and with no idea of what would happen next. Take time to feel the paralyzing terror of the shepherds as they’re floored by the angelic host proclaiming the glory of God. Experience the wonder of the magi as they make their way across the desert in search of a colossal prediction.

Consider those predictions, the first one given at the moment of humanity’s fall. Ponder the foretelling woven all through the Old Testament, culminating in the arrival of Christ, with more to be fulfilled at his return.

What will this teach you? How will you be present in the moment to absorb the lesson the Lord has for you? For, he will indeed have a lesson, and it will be specifically for you.

Will you slow down? Will you pause in the moment when he impresses this truth upon you? Will you take the time to allow him to touch your heart? Will you look up and see Jesus there with hands outstretched, a gift especially for you?

Year by year, day by day, he wants us to experience even more of himself. What gift of himself does he have for you this year? Will you find it by seeking him with all your heart?



 
Melinda V Inman, Author of Refuge; Fallen; and No Longer Alone

Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda Viergever Inman now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the Midwest. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives. Find her weekly at http://MelindaInman.com/blog/. To find her work and to be notified of future published novels, follow her at http://bit.ly/MelindasBooks/.

Connections: