Thankful for Home and Family by Laura V. Hilton
I signed up to write a Thanksgiving post, and then life hit. This went wrong, then that went wrong and I’m still reeling from the blows when I get an email notice—oh, I need to write a blog post. And it’s due yesterday. Guess I’d better do it.
So I’m sitting here in my living room looking around. My youngest daughter is looking up something on the desktop computer, my middle daughter is sitting on the loveseat a few feet away from me reading a book, the dog hanging out with the youngest girl. A homemade pepperoni pizza is in the oven.
My husband is downstairs in his “study” working on the sermon for one of the messages tomorrow. My youngest son has just had facetime with me. Encouraging me, discussing Christmas plans with me, and discussing his plans for Thanksgiving since we’ll be apart.
I haven’t talked to my oldest daughter today, but she plans to come home for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to hug her. My oldest son plans to be home too, but his future is iffy. I don’t know on a daily basis where he is or what he’s doing.
My computer is open to my manuscript, due to the publisher in a little over a month, and I wonder, what am I thankful for? So much. What do I capitalize on?
The big thing is home and family. Most of my children will be home for one holiday or the other. And they have a home to come to. A wood stove for heat, chairs to sit and catch up on, a table and food.
We are blessed.
May your family and loved ones be with you (at least in spirit) this Thankgiving, and may you have plenty to give thanks to God for.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Becca Troyer finds herself overwhelmed with an abundance of winter squash and pumpkins that she isn’t a bit thankful for. Desperately trying to sell them at a farmer’s market so she won’t have mountains to can, she’s surprised when a mime drops to his knee in front of her and proposes marriage.
Yost Miller is helping the volunteer firefighter raise funds at the city park when he notices his long-time crush Becca selling vegetables. Drawn across the grass, he spontaneously proposes marriage. But afterward, Yost isn’t sure how to proceed to show her that his feelings are real.
Just as he begins to find solid footing, confidence is yanked away, leaving him floundering. Will he lose Becca to another man? Or will this Thanksgiving be a season of blessings and wishes come true?
Faithe Beiler believes God wants her to feed the poor at her family’s restaurant, but when she mistakes Crist Petersheim for a homeless man and gives him a free breakfast, he’s offended. Yet he can’t help being intrigued by this pretty waitress with a giving heart.
Crist blames God for the tragedies in his life, so the last thing he wants is to get involved with an Amish girl, who trusts God in all circumstances. He fears for Faithe’s safety, though, when she invites every homeless person in the neighborhood, including drug dealers and criminals, to a free Thanksgiving dinner. Street savvy, Crist risks his life to protect her from danger.
As Crist’s heart softens toward God, Faithe finds herself falling him. Then she discovers his deception, and her world is shattered. Can she ever trust him again?
The Thanksgiving Frolic
Monroe has the prettiest girl and the fastest horse— but pride goes before a fall.
Monroe’s girlfriend, Rosemary, and her family organize the Thanksgiving Frolic, a service project to help Amish folks who have fallen on hard times. Monroe wants to go along but his dad won’t let him. Furthermore, Monroe’s dad thinks Rosemary’s family should clean up their own messy farm before they try to help others. Will the contrast between Monroe’s and Rosemary’s families end their relationship for good? Rosemary’s grandpa tries to offer words of wisdom, but people don’t take him seriously. The Thanksgiving Frolic heats up to a fever pitch, before a moment of silence changes everything.
Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.
Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.
When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.
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Five Tips for Flexible Family Faith Time
by Stephenie Hovland
Guess what? There is no such thing as a perfect Christian family! That means there isn’t one perfect way to devotions. In fact, I’m thinking the word “devotions” might need to go. Think of this as family faith time.
Let’s go through five tips to make your family faith time work. Remember to revisit these ideas regularly. As your family grows and ages, you might need to change how this works.
- Purpose: This is a time for your family to meet around God’s Word. Your family and circumstances may dictate what time of day, where, what materials, how long it will last, etc. You are not trying be a theology professor or expect perfect participation from every family member every time. Just start with something (the Bible or a kids’ Bible story book, for example) and run with it. Make changes later.
- Plan a little: Don’t worry about it being perfect, but make a few plans. Or, if you’re like me, plan a lot! I am not spontaneous, so I need to have several options. You can evaluate how it went after you’re done, so the next time is a little better.
- Pray: I hope you pray with your family, but say a quick, private prayer as everyone gathers. That personal prayer time will help you to take a breath and let God handle things.
- Physical: Be physical. Hold hands when you pray, hug when you’re finished, and try to touch members of your family in a loving way when you talk about and with God. We want to be Jesus “with skin on” in a sense, so we should touch. Jesus did.
- Play: While family faith time works great around a dinner table for some, others find it easier to focus on faith talk when they’re more active. Maybe you need to take it outside and shoot some hoops while you explore God’s connections in each family member’s life. Or, perhaps you start or end your time with play. Dancing helps get the wiggles out, so it might be a great way to start your family faith time. Or, maybe after a quick devotion and prayer time, you play Candyland together as a family.
When it seems like it’ll never work, please don’t give up! Try not to force your way. Change elements of your time together, and see if something else might work better. (I say this from much experience.) Keep trying. Keep praying. God is there for you and your family.
Stephenie Hovland loves reading and writing devotions. She also writes rhyming Bible stories for children and resources for teachers. You can find her work at Concordia Publishing House, Creative Communications for the Parish, and many online bookstores. Visit her Facebook page: @StephenieHovlandWriter and on Twitter:@StephHovland
Savoring the Not-So-Perfect Life
by Michelle Rayburn
(For September 10 – National TV Dinner Day)
When I was young, my mother cooked most meals from scratch, baked six loaves of bread every week and canned enough vegetables to feed the neighborhood if we ever had to retreat to a bomb shelter. But on occasion, we had TV dinners when she worked the evening shift at the hospital and my dad had to feed us three kids.
September 10 is National TV Dinner Day, and it has me reminiscing about those foil-covered aluminum trays with frozen mystery meat and gravy, blobs of mashed potatoes, corn and chocolate pudding—because who doesn’t cook their pudding in the oven, right?
In those pre-microwave days, we peeled back the foil to reveal the ready-to-eat meal when the oven timer buzzed. The actual contents were always somewhat of a surprise compared with the images on the box. For one thing, the portions were more appropriately toddler-sized, and looking back, this explains why my dad chased his meal with a giant bowl of fudge ripple ice cream.
Nothing looked as appetizing as the box, either. The gravy sort of oozed from the mystery meat over to the corn, and pooled in the pudding.
Isn’t life a little like that sometimes? Before it becomes our reality, the idea of growing up, getting married, establishing a career or becoming parents looks magazine-worthy in the images we build in our minds. And after all the anticipation, we peel back the foil and suddenly it looks a lot messier than expected.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned some lessons to get me through my TV dinner life:
- Savor every bite of happiness. There is goodness there when we look for it. Turns out, even mystery meat can be delicious!
- Toss out unrealistic expectations and embrace the imperfection of real life. Accepting what I have instead of longing for a picture on a box has brought me such contentment.
- Enjoy the fun of the experience. For me, TV dinners weren’t really about the contents of the box. They were about the fun of doing something different with my dad—maybe even actually eating in front of the TV. Too often, I can miss life’s fun if I let complaining take over.
What’s in your TV dinner life? It’s a great day for a perspective change—and maybe a trip to the frozen food aisle, just for fun.
About the Author:
Michelle Rayburn is a writer and speaker who enjoys repurposing thrift sale finds into creative decorations for home and garden. She also loves finding gems in the trashy stuff of life. She is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure. www.michellerayburn.com
A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.
Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the eyes of the orphans she encounters. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.
Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.
When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?
HEALING LOVE is not your average missions story. I loved the complex baggage Brooke brings before she ever steps on the plane to watch over her sister as they travel to El Salvador. They are orphans and Brooke lives in fear in her day-to-day life. She has dreams regarding her career, but she’s got her sister to worry about. The last thing she’s got on her agenda is falling in love.
Brooke doesn’t just fall in love with a person, she falls in love with a people. The transformation in both storylines is beautiful.
Her career goals, her new passion, her colleagues, family and heart all collide when Brooke needs to determine her future. I definitely felt her conflict and was moved by it.
This is a quick read because I wanted to learn what was going to happen. I believe you’ll feel the same, too.
Purchase HEALING LOVE HERE
I received a copy of HEALING LOVE in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.