“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.” —John 1:14 (NLT)
When I think of our Lord Jesus making “his home among us,” I’m honestly in awe. Just think of the majesty and grandeur of God, our heavenly Father, permitting his only Son to descend from heaven—to become human—on our behalf, for our benefit...to SAVE us from our sin...from ourselves. This bends my mind.
Even as a little girl, as I sat quietly next to my mother and little sister in church, while my father gave his Christmas Eve sermon, I tried and tried to understand the concept of Emmanuel, God is with us. Think of that—With us! Not looking down from on high, out of touch. Not distant at all. He became one of us (or “moved into the neighborhood” as THE MESSAGE translates John 1:14). Amazing, awe-inspiring, and oh so humbling, too.
This Christmas, as always, our extended family will gather to worship the Christ of Christmas, the Babe in the manger who was God in human flesh. We will bake the birthday cake for Jesus—it’s his day, after all!—and we will sing around the piano in four-part harmony the old, old carols we all know “by heart,” as the Amish say. We will attend candlelight service on Christmas Eve, and while singing Silent Night, our younger daughter, Janie, and I will hold hands and try not to cry. And during this blessed Advent season we will pray for the lost, and ask for healing of body, mind, and spirit for others. And we will pray for the peace of Israel.
Christmas is a priceless reminder that we can rejoice every day of the year. It is our privilege to honor this precious gift—greater than any other given on earth—because without it, where would we be? After all, the hope of eternal life comes with this most beautiful package. And, as with any gift, we either open our arms to receive or turn away.
Oh, the joy of accepting the Savior and Lord, Healer of our bodies and our broken hearts, a closer friend than even the best brother. He is the reason for our very breath, the reason we are here.
Opening my heart to Christmas with you,
"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."—Psalm 9:1
Did you know that being thankful is a form of worship to God? Actually, it's the very essence of it.
Being the Giver of all good things, our heavenly Father deserves our praise and gratitude, doesn't He? Besides, a purposeful recounting of His goodness and grace each day is what He expects...and cherishes.
Stop for a moment and think: What lifts me beyond myself? Is it a prayer of praise, or perhaps a song of joy?
Recently, while walking in the golden sunlit woods of the arboretum in Chaska, MN—feeling all tuckered out, as the Amish say—I began to offer a simple thanks to the Lord, a silent prayer at first, then a conversational one.
Soon, I was overcome with tears as I listed the spiritual blessings in my life, asking nothing for myself, just this intimate sharing from my heart...to His.
Well, I began to feel buoyed by the experience, raised up from my former doldrums. And, guess what? That gratitude-filled moment lingered with me the rest of the day and stretched into the week. My thankfulness became worship...and a surprising renewal took place.
This Thanksgiving, long before we gather with friends and family around food-laden tables, let's carve out time for quiet moments with the One who deserves all of our worship and praise, every single day.
"Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes again. See how farmers wait for their precious crops to grow. They wait patiently for fall and spring rains. You, too, must be patient. Don't give up hope. The Lord will soon be here."—James 5:7-8
October is certainly a season of change. The heat and winds of summer are past (along with the storms), and the leaves are changing quickly. And soon will flutter to the ground once again. We often get discouraged when things are altered...we get too comfortable with what we're accustomed to, right?
But when we contemplate the coming of the Lord, we're excited and, yes, ever so anxious! This old world is not our home. (Remember that old tent meeting song? "We're just a-passin' through.")
Speaking of passin' through, my wonderful fall book tour to Georgia, Tennesse, Alabama and Mississippi is now a joyful memory. And an amazing encouragement to this author's heart, too. You see, I am writing for you! So, it is indeed a pleasure to meet with you face-to-face at the various events.
Thank you for waiting in line to connect with me—the assistant D.A. who shared privately that my books had helped her through the past brutal months of "cold cases," the homeschooling moms who were buoyed by my stories, the darling 94-year-old woman whose birthday gift was to meet me and have her book autographed, the high school girls who giggled with me and asked for photos, and all the brave men who stood in lines for their sweethearts, sisters, and mothers...and (gasp!) for themselves.
As usual, the tour was a whirlwind of events and lovely people. My readers are the best on the planet, and I am so honored and grateful to have met so many.
The Wish, my recent book, is touching hearts like never before. I lift that praise to the ultimate Storyteller, the Lord Jesus Christ. Presently, I am revising The Ebb Tide, my April 2017 stand-alone novel set in both Paradise, PA (Amish farmland) and Cape May, NJ. And, I'm outlining my Fall 2017 novel, as well. Stay tuned for the title and cover...soon.
Lots to look forward to, dear reader-friend!
"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and one purpose."—Philippians 2:1-2
I love to meet my reader-friends during my twice-yearly book tours. What a special time to get to know you, see you in person—my sisters and brothers in the Lord—and I count the weeks till we can finally connect.
So, as I pack my bags today, I'm ready to close the door on my quiet home office and travel to the deep South for the upcoming Fall 2016 Book Tour between September 8 and 17, to launch The Wish. This new stand-alone novel is one I fell in love with more than a year ago, when I first started thinking about an Amish girl who yearns for a sister, and to what lengths she's willing to go to bring her home where she belongs. I'll be doing book talks about Leona's compelling story at the library presentations along the tour. Cannot wait!
On another happy note, I've just completed the first draft for my next novel, The Ebb Tide, releasing April 4, 2017. Sallie's love story is one that will resonate with many readers. It continues to linger in my mind, even as I double check the character bio sheet for my editorial staff. A not-to-be-missed story of courage and faith.
Thanks for being the best fans ever!
See you soon!