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MICHEL: The Fourth Wise Man by Katheryn Maddox Haddad

Posted by Julie on January 17, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini |

MICHEL: THE FOURTH WISE MAN

 

It is January. What happens after Christmas? What happened after the original Christmas? What brought the wise men from the East in the first place? What did they do after they left Bethlehem and returned home?

We take too much for granted. We just assume there were three wise men (magi) because there were three gifts. Perhaps ten magi went together, pooled their funds, and financed one gift.

We also take for granted that the wise men saw the “Star of Bethlehem” and automatically knew the divine king of the Jews had been born and the needed to rush right over to “the little town” so they could be in the same scene as the shepherds.

Much of my book, Michel: The Fourth Wise Man, is about the magi’s search for the meaning of the star. As pagans, they had always believed the birth of a star meant the birth of a god, and that is all they had to go on.

But there is a side issue in this retelling.  In the book, Michel, a Jewish descendant of Daniel whose ancestors elected not to uproot and return to Jerusalem, lives among pagans. He wants desperately to convert them to the one true God. He wants desperately for God to walk the earth again as he had done with Adam and Eve.

He lives in one of the capital cities of Parthia which is in today’ Iraq, just south of Baghdad. The Bible says the Garden of Eden was located where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet.  Iraq’s slogan even today is “Land of the Two Rivers”.

Michel has such a missionary’s heart that he gives up everything to buy the desolate land where the Garden of Eden had been thousands of years earlier and replant it so God will walk the earth again and draw pagans to him. He loses his home, his father, his wife—everything—to buy it.

He sees the “Star of Bethlehem” as an interruption to his life’s most important work. After a year, the other magi agree to investigate the Jewish scriptures and find the meaning of the star there. They go to Bethlehem, see Jesus, now a nearly two-year-old toddler.

Did you ever wonder what the wise men did after they left Bethlehem and returned to “the East”? 

For one thing, Michel gets out in the desert on the way home and goes into a meltdown. He suddenly realizes God is already walking the earth again through young Jesus.  He has lost his fortune and his family to buy the site of the Garden of Eden.  I am not going to tell you what happens next, because it would be telling you my surprise ending.

But I hope I have told you enough so that you realize perhaps there was more—a lot more—to the story of the wise men than we normally think about. Each wise man had a life. Each wise man had a before-and-after story. This is Michel’s.

 

Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.

Website: http://inspirationsbykatheryn.com

Purchase MICHEL: The Fourth Wiseman HERE

A NOTE FROM KATHERYN MADDOX HADDAD

Whoever, makes a comment on my blog gets a free 2017 scripture calendar.  By email you can photocopy as many copies as you want to share with your congregation and family, or one if by print mailed to your home.

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COTT: Child of Dust by Shoba Sadler

Posted by Julie on January 16, 2017 in COTT, encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

 

http://clashofthetitles.com

Today we’ll sit down to chat with Shoba Sadler, author of
the contemporary title Child of Dust. Shoba will take us behind the
scenes of her unique new novel and give us a glimpse into her
writing.

Shoba, why did you choose to write this type of novel?
Social status and cultural barriers makes for great conflict. Child
of Dust is like a modern-day classic of Romeo and Juliet only instead of
opposing families, these lovers, Kim and Bryan have cultural and social
barriers to contend with.

Kim, the rich and spoilt socialite who loses her money is taken under
the wing of her reluctant chauffeur, Bryan, who has his own struggles to
deal with. They find love under the most unexpected circumstances.

Can you tell us why you started with an Asian setting for your first
two novels?

I was founder of Agape Christian magazine in Malaysia. I also freelanced
for the leading English, secular newspaper in Malaysia, The Star. My
feature stories forThe Star were several page write-ups with gorgeous
photos. Many of my stories were selected by the features editor to be
cover stories as well.

As I interviewed people all over the world for Agape, I saw God moving
powerfully in Asia and yet there were so few stories coming from there
especially in the Christian romance genre.

In Asia, Christianity is seen very much as a Western culture. Yet so
many Asians have had powerful encounters with Jesus Christ. Then there
is the struggle to validate their faith in the midst of culture,
tradition, loss of identity, social stigma and so on.

There alone you have so much material for backdrop, tension, drama,
conflict and final resolution.

An example of what I mean can be seen in my short story Finding
Enlightenmentthat was awarded second place at faithwriters.com. It can be read
here:http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level3-previous.php?id=54362

Talk a little about your unique setting.
When I read novels I am drawn to the backdrop and setting. A great
description of the setting subtly woven into the story is what makes the
difference between being a narrator who takes a person on a journey
through his “telling” and a facilitator who steps out of the way
altogether to allow the reader to explore the journey on his own. The
writer should aim to be the facilitator and not the narrator.There is nothing like a great setting to make the reader feel like they
are there with the characters. It is like the difference between
watching a 2D and 3D movie.

Unfortunately, many formulaic romance novels that are churned out in
quick production-line succession fails to capture this allure of setting
because it takes research and time. It is also not easy to write setting
discreetly in the background and that is the only way to write it.
Otherwise it will seem like reading lecture notes instead of a story.

I read one review of a multi-cultural romance set in an Asian country
where the reviewer said she felt like she was reading a tour company’s
brochure and that is the wrong emotion to invoke.

So another reason I wrote Child of Dust was to give romance readers a
chance to explore unique settings and backdrops not normally experienced
by a reader in the current trend of romance novels available out
there.

We’d love to hear a little about the historical background for your
novel. Will you talk about that?

The main character, Bryan, Kim’s chauffeur has been deeply affected by
the Vietnam war in the sense that he is the illegitimate child of an
American GI and a Vietnamese woman. This historical background sets a
different dimension to the story and adds intrigue and authenticity.

Who would you say is the audience for this novel?

Child of Dust is an appealing read for anyone. As I have also
written for the secular press, I am able to write in a manner that
appeals to all walks of life both Christian and non-Christian. I have
had non-Christians tell me they were so engrossed in the story that they
didn’t not notice the message of the gospel woven into the story. Yet
that message is undoubtedly there.

I am an inspirational writer and everyone loves a good inspirational
story just as they love watching a Hallmark movie.

What readers have to say about the novel:
“Make sure when getting ready to read Child of Dust that you don’t have
anything else planned for the day, you won’t be able to put this book
down. I could go on and on about this book. Highly and strongly
recommend it. Is it possible to give a book 10 stars?” — Debra Dunson,
reviewer at The Edgier Christian Fiction Fan

“I found the writing of this story to be close to excellent…. I found
this book to be one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long
time. It was interesting, the story kept moving along, and I learned a
lot as I read this story. I found myself intrigued with the constant
difficulties faced by the protagonists – and their stories were
presented so much more like real life stories than any other book I have
read in a long, long time.” — Marina, Community Writer, California

“This novel has a consistent rhythm, adding surprise after surprise,
twisting our emotions at each new difficulty Kim faces. I couldn’t put
this book down, waiting to see if any or all the ends would be tired up.
I would actually like to see the novel transcend into a movie. An
amazing read.” — Brices Mice Christian Book Reviews

About Child of Dust:

Beautiful but spoilt Vietnamese
socialite, Cao Kim Lye, learns of her parents shocking death from the
dashing Amerasian family chauffeur, Bryan Nguyen.


Kim steps out of a world of crystal
and chandelier to enter the dust and chaos of working-class Hanoi. She
finds herself living under the roof of a shop cum living quarters with
Bryan and his adoptive family.


Ever
conscious of the privileged class, Kim struggles against the emotional
ties she forms towards Bryan, the reluctant saviour, who considers her
an unnecessary hitch to his already complicated life.


He still bears the scars of
abandonment by his mother and his American GI father when U.S. troops
pulled out of Vietnam.


Eventually Bryan and Kim’s powerful attraction to each other
begins to break down the wall between them.

About the author:
Shoba Sadler has been a journalist
for 20 years and founder of Agape magazine in Malaysia. She is a
versatile inspirational author that likes to write in multiple genres.
She has pioneered a new genre in Christian multi-cultural writing with
her novel Child of Dust and her many award-winning short stories can be
read here http://shobasadler.com/?page_id=250


Her passion for writing is matched only by
her passion for cooking with farm fresh produce. She lives a healthy
lifestyle on a farm with her husband, Kevin, a talented musician, who
also loves to surf and ski. They grow their own vegetables and fruits
and share their home with a multitude of animals and wildlife. They are
passionate about buying directly from local farmers who practice organic
farming.

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Transformation: The Split Second

Posted by Julie on January 8, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

The word for my year is transformation and as always, I’m constantly looking to see how that word applies to my life. A few days ago I received news that I can’t stop thinking about. A little girl is gone and her parents, amazing parents who were great to us when we lived in NY, are shattered and forever changed. A tragic accident that took place in a split second.

Then I saw the breaking news coming out of the Fort Lauderdale airport. One minute passengers are focusing on travel, the next, diving for cover because of gunfire. I read on one of the sites I belong to that a cousin was one of the victims. Again, everything transforming in a split second.

I realize those transformations can come with good news, too. A marriage proposal. A birth. Hearing about a job promotion, or even getting a call that you got the job. It means in a second you go from that title to a new one. A change in address, perhaps. And always so much more.

Transformation: The Split Second Change

I am one of those that is always so far ahead in my thinking that I am guilty of missing out on celebrating the present. My dear friend told me her goal for the year was to choose present over perfect. I love that. I want to embrace what I have in my life. This week showed me that can all go away in a moment. I don’t want to have regrets. But in search of perfect, I’ve missed out on the present. That’s not how I want to approach life.

Are there examples you can think of where your life changed in a split second? What are transformations you can think of?

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Jennifer Slattery: God’s Healing Love

Posted by Julie on January 6, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

I’ve always been thankful for the darkness because it allowed me to see the light so clearly. I’m thankful for every moment I received faulty, incomplete, tainted love because it made the real thing, the agape, self-sacrificing love that can only come from Christ, so obvious. And contagious.

 

For the past few months, my husband and I have been walking beside someone who is living in darkness, choosing the darkness over light. And it’s hard. It’s never fun to see someone completely destroy their life, but it’s more than that. I see myself in this individual. I remember when I bounced from place to place, when I drank malt liquor until I passed out, when I gravitated toward the deceived and self-destroying.

 

But God also showed me the light. And He drew me with His love. His patient, unyielding, pursuing love.

 

It took a long time for that love to truly take hold. For me to truly believe it. Rest in it. In all my healing, I primarily credit two people—Jesus Christ, who saw me and loved me on my worst day, and my husband, who saw something in a homeless girl from Washington and decided to hold tight to her, until his love broke through.

 

Oh, what a road that was! Consumed with past hurts, fears, and distrust, I did everything I knew to push him away. I figured it was only a matter of time before he left me, anyway. Everyone else I knew had.

 

Only he stayed. He held tight, and he continued to love me, even when I was completely unlovable.

 

And bit by bit, his love broke through, until one day, I realized, I no longer feared he’d leave. In fact, I knew with every part of my tattered but healing heart, that he’d stay. Till death do we part.

 

That’s when real intimacy, real healing took place.

 

But then one day, on a particularly hard day, Jesus opened my eyes. I was in the middle of gunk, gunk related directly to my past and the pain I’d experienced, and it felt as if I was right back there, in it. I can’t describe what that feels like, but those of you who’ve been there know. It’s a pain that completely levels you and launches that ugly, snotty-nosed cry no one but your mate has any business seeing.

 

That’s where I was—sobbing. Like I often do, I headed straight for the bedroom, for my bed, where I could fall apart in silence.

 

Why is it, when we’re in pain, we tend to isolate?

 

So there I was, feeling alone in my heartache, until … my husband came in. Walked straight to me, and tackled me in a full on body hug. “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,” he said again and again. Maybe ten times. Maybe more. Making me sob all the harder.

 

Then it hit me, so clear it stalled my breath and my tears. That was Jesus. Jesus was holding and loving me through my husband.

 

Because that’s what He does. He meets us when it feels as if we’re falling apart and He envelopes us in His love. He tells us again and again, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Until that love breaks through and begins to heal all the broken pieces.

 

So that the pain from the past, those old wounds we’ve shoved down, lose their power over us. And His love, His power, His gentle, restoring Holy Spirit makes us new.

 

Jennifer Slattery: God’s Healing Love

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefy, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

 

Restoring Love:

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?

 

Buy it on:

Christian Book Distributors

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Connect with Jennifer

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

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ACFW Fiction Finder: January New Releases

Posted by Julie on January 5, 2017 in ACFW, encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |

January 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley by Valerie Comer, Mary Jane Hathaway, Elizabeth Maddrey, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain and Annalisa Daughety — Is love possible for a makeshift mom and a handsome widower? What about a bed and breakfast owner and the farmer next door? A curvy jilted bride and a mysterious, handsome chef? Then there’s the real estate consultant and the grandson of her elderly client; a high-powered lawyer and a woman farmer, and a formerly engaged couple. Can love make a difference in their lives? Exploring food, friends, and family in Arcadia Valley, each of these novellas kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This collection is only the beginning of your adventure! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery — Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. As Mitch struggles to keep his business afloat, and Angela works to correct the mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends discover they have something unexpected in common–a young mom fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back from redemption and true love? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)

Historical Mystery:

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering — Drew and Madeline Farthering visit the Yorkshire moor to catch a killer and solve a mystery that involves an old feud, a new rivalry and a huge, spectral hound that may or may not be a harbinger of death. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Historical Romance:

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander — A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to get an audition at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. Women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, he says, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the new opera hall opens. But far more pressing, he must finish it for his dying father, who inspired his love of music. Then Tate’s ailment worsens. Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The American Heiress Brides Collection by Lisa Carter, Mary Eileen Davis, Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Lisa Karon Richardson, Lynette Sowell and Kimberley Woodhouse — Meet nine young women in America between 1880 and 1911 who have been blessed by fortunes made in gold, silver, industry, ranching, and banking. But when it comes to love, each woman struggles to find true love within a society where “first comes money, second comes marriage.” What kind of man can they trust with their greatest treasure—their hearts? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber — In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for with her beloved Noah Schwartz, and a new, very different future… But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves. Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share… (Historical Romance from Kensington)

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch — Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin’ eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Dead Run by Jodie Bailey — Kristin James’s morning run turns deadly when she’s attacked by a stranger who’s after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won’t let her brush the attack under the rug. He’ll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can’t tell her that he’s under orders to investigate her link to her brother’s misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn’t want to believe that her brother wasn’t on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley — It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in one week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard — Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde is convinced the owner’s involved in a wildlife trafficking ring–until someone tries to kill her. Gemma’s determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died, but someone wants her out of the way, and she’s starting to wonder if her parents’ and uncle’s deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he’ll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can’t shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won’t survive without him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Buried Memories by Carol J. Post — A soldier hero suffering from PTSD and a young woman struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood fight for their lives and find healing together. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Still Life by Dani Pettrey — Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Supernatural Thriller:

Fatal Accusation by Rachel Dylan — Attorney Olivia Murray hopes her life in Windy Ridge will get back to normal after a hard-fought trial. But she soon finds out that the forces of evil have not given up. An embezzling scandal rocks the community church to its core. The New Age groups are ready to declare victory when a high-profile prosecutor files criminal charges against the local pastor. However, Olivia is not willing to give up on the community she’s come to love. She takes on the defense pro bono knowing it could destroy her career, but it’s a case she is called to defend. The battle will be fierce, but she’s not fighting it alone. Her friend and fellow attorney Grant Baxter is by her side. Olivia must use all the tools in her arsenal to combat those who seek to destroy the believers in the community. If Olivia can’t prove the pastor’s innocence, more than her career is on the line. The entire community of Windy Ridge could fall to the forces of darkness. (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published)

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2017 Word of the Year: Transformation

Posted by Julie on January 2, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Some do resolutions, I do word of the year.

Around September I start praying and watching for confirmation. Sometimes the words come later in the year, and I’ve had them as early as October. That was the case for this year.

The words have been abundance, revive, chosen, preposterous, perspective and fierce. All good.

This year?

2017 word of the year: transformation

Transformation.

And in my innocence, I try to define what the word will mean for me. It’s always so much more than I can imagine. Perspective taught me all 2016 to look beyond what I was feeling. It would have been tempting to go with my gut reaction to the many changes the year brought and make that the period at the end of my sentence. Perspective forced me to have a panoramic view of each change. Fierce I believe was the mindset God had for me, and I had to choose for myself.

So for transformation, I’m already running ahead trying to figure it out.

There’s the superficial.

-Growing my hair out (and the curls, the red curls!)

-Hoping to ditch the glasses and go back to contacts

-Believing my hormones will behave, I’ll find a groove with fitness, and see additional weight loss.

 

There’s the monumental.

-There’s a lot of roles and titles in my life. This year I’m not just step-mom, we will be grandparents. I always separate explaining who is who not because I see a difference between our children and his, but because a lot of people aren’t aware we are actually a family with 4 kids, and they tend to think our 18 year old is the one with the changes. Our 13 year old will be an aunt, and our college boy, and uncle. And my husband is one beaming grandpa-to-be.

 

That’s off the top of my head. I know even this month we’ll learn more that could change things. I have a full, solid, crazy year planned with writing and speaking. Only God knows the changes to come.

Transformation.

That’s my word for the year.

What’s yours?

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