Merry Christmas!

This is one of the most important messages the world needs these days, especially

Jennifer Hallmark

During the 1860s, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow supported abolitionism and especially hoped for reconciliation between the northern and southern states after the American Civil War. When his son was injured during the war, he wrote the poem “Christmas Bells”, later the basis of the carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. He wrote in his journal in 1878: “I have only one desire; and that is for harmony, and a frank and honest understanding between North and South” **

bells-1028706_960_720Christmas Bells

Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night…

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Merry Christmas!

During the 1860s, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow supported abolitionism and especially hoped for reconciliation between the northern and southern states after the American Civil War. When his son was injured during the war, he wrote the poem “Christmas Bells”, later the basis of the carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. He wrote in his journal in 1878: “I have only one desire; and that is for harmony, and a frank and honest understanding between North and South” **

bells-1028706_960_720Christmas Bells

Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

Till, ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said:

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

**Information from Wikipedia.

christmas

“Turning Point” Act of Kindness

7cc4e0_900d010bb5d34c33811c79ec9f3f359aBy Patty Hall Smith

I was drained as I slipped on the black cape that served as my costume for the play our church puts on every year around Halloween. Earlier that day, we had buried my grandfather, the latest in a long line of losses that our family had endured over the last year.

I wasn’t sure how much more I could take as I joined the women in my Sunday school class for a word of prayer before we took our places. We had a few minutes to wait and somehow ended up talking about the mission trip to Honduras our church was planning in a few weeks. As each one shared of her own experiences on the mission field, I felt like the odd man out. Since I was fifteen, I’d hoped to go on a short-term mission trip but as the years passed, I had begun to wonder if I’d heard God wrong. Even if I hadn’t been mistaken, there would be no trips in the near future for me, not with my husband out of work(another loss!) As we took our places, I pushed thoughts of mission work out of my mind.

fall-church-hill-crossesI’d completely forgotten about the whole thing by the time we walked into church that Sunday morning. We were saying our hellos and talking about the success of the play when Teri, one of the people over missions in our church asked if she could speak with us in private.

We weren’t sure what she needed to talk to us about—my husband was on the finance committee so maybe she had a question for him. Then, why include me?

Once we were alone, it didn’t take long for Teri to get to the point. Someone had paid my fare to go to Honduras. Needless to say, Danny and I were stunned. Of course, there was no doubt in my husband’s mind I should go, even though the trip occurred the week of Thanksgiving. But I wasn’t as certain as he was. Who would take care of the girls while Danny went on interviews? And I couldn’t miss the Thanksgiving luncheon with the girls at their school! But the more I prayed and sought counsel from our parents, the more certain I was that God wanted me to go.

That trip to Honduras was a turning point in my faith walk. It was not only a time of ministering to others but of allowing others to minister to me. It was a time of healing from the losses of the last year and getting a glimpse of all the good God was doing through our circumstances.

That random act of kindness changed me, and I’m eternally grateful.

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Heartsong.  She currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, A Home for Christmas is now available on Amazon.

home for christmas

Neighbors to The Rescue

By Ellen Andersen

IMG_1346It was a beautiful day so I took my basset, Petey, for a walk. We headed down the cul-de-sac and saw my neighbor, Bonnie, walking her dog, Hattie. Hattie’s a brownish-red pug who’s about three. When Petey spotted her, he got excited.

“You can say hi,” I said. We headed toward them and Petey lunged, pulling me down. Bonnie tried to catch me but it happened so fast, she couldn’t. Because I’d had one hand on the leash, I couldn’t block my fall, so I hit the pavement face first. Twice. I screamed out in pain. Bonnie grabbed hold of me, held me still, and told me to stay down, not wanting me to injure myself even worse. Francis, another neighbor, came out and pretty soon they had a pillow under my head, cold compresses on my face, and two blankets over the rest of me.

I’m not sure how long it was before I said, “I can’t believe I’m lying out here in the middle of the street.”

“It’s okay. We’ve got you. Just lie there” Francis said.

“Don’t get up.  I don’t want you to hurt yourself any worse.” Bonnie said. She then

volunteered to take Petey home.

“Yes, please. Door’s unlocked,” I said, grateful they’d thought of it.IMG_1331

I told them I didn’t need EMS. They wanted to call my mom so she could come take care of me for a bit and, if necessary, drive me to the urgent care. Once I remembered her number, they called. They got no answer, so they left a voice mail. When they asked for her cell, I had no idea what it was. I gave them a friend’s number, but they recognized it and said it was wrong. About 5-10 minutes later, I came up with the right number and they called. No answer again, so they left another message.

Meanwhile, one of them got a wet facecloth and an ice pack and placed it over my eyes and nose in order to reduce the swelling. Someone else grabbed some Advil. I couldn’t sit up yet so they gave me water through a straw since I was still flat on the pavement.  Lying there in pain, I was aware enough to thank them all for being there to help me.

“That’s what neighbors are for”, they said.

Mom called back and talked to Francis.  About 15 minutes later, she arrived, drove me home, and stayed for a few hours to be sure I’d be okay. Bonnie said she’d come check on me later. I spent the afternoon resting and recovering.

About 7:00 that evening, Bonnie came over for a few minutes with Hattie to see how I was doing. It meant a lot that she cared enough to check on me. It didn’t stop there, though. Even the next day, Bonnie came and wanted to take Petey out to go for a walk, so I wouldn’t have to. I graciously accepted. When they returned she asked what time I get up in the morning.

“About 7:30,” I said.

“I’ll come take him out then.”

IMG_1281“You don’t have to do that,” I said.

“I don’t mind. I’ve got to take Hattie out anyway. I’ll just take both of them.” So she did. When they returned, I thanked her and she volunteered to take them that evening too. It was so kind of her. Even a week later, she’s coming to help me with Petey, not wanting me to fall again.

It may not seem like a big thing to do, but my neighbors’ efforts meant a lot as I continued to recover. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

EllenEllen Andersen lives in Mauldin, South Carolina with her adorable dog, Petey. Active in her church, Ellen is a Stephen Minister, serves on the First Impression Team, and hosts a weekly Bible study. She enjoys gardening, theater, and spending time with friends and family.

62 Ways to Spread Kindness Like Wildfire – By Galit Breen

Love these simple acts of kindness…

Kindness Blog

Acts of kindness are the simplest way to be the change you want to see in the world.

Choose one of these ideas per day to spread kindness like wildfire.

1. Give compliments with wild abandon.

2. Tweet a few of those compliments out.

3. Make eye contact.

4. Smile.

5. Let her go first, just because.

6. Recommend a book. Better yet, lend that book.

7. Send her a recipe, a pin, a blog post, a magazine clipping that you know she’ll love.

flame-clip-art-flames-background-clipart-1024x819

8. Drive carpool — both ways.

9. Take her kids on an outing. Feed them, sunscreen them, hydrate them, and bring them home happy and tired. Don’t mention any of the above.

10. When you think that thought — I like her outfit, She’s a good mom, Her Instagram photo was perfect — say it.

11. Invite her family over for pizza and store-bought cookies.

12…

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Jelly Beans on the Window Sill

jelly-beans-939754_640By Ane Mulligan

I only have one memory of my maternal grandmother, but it’s one that stands out in my mind as such an unselfish act. You see, grandma loved jellybeans, all kinds but especially the red and the orange ones.

When I was five years old, Grandma was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This was back in 1952 and there wasn’t much hope. She did have some surgery because I remember her head swathed in bandages. Funny, they didn’t frighten me. I guess because I loved her so much.

Anyway, to keep me quiet during a visit to grandma’s hospital room, mama bought me a small bag of jellybeans. I rarely got candy. I was hyperactive before they knew what hyperactivity was. But mama knew sugar would send me to the moon. However, that day, she set aside her worries over that.

I didn’t know her mother, my grandma, was dying. Maybe that’s why they allowed me into her hospital room that afternoon. She sat in a chair by the window and I ran to her. She patted her lap for me to hop up, and I did. I still remember the feeling of her squeezing me until I thought I’d pop.

I offered her some of my coveted jellybeans, which was quite a stretch. I wouldn’t have offered those to just anybody. And Grandma, being a true jellybean aficionado, knew that.

She said, “Not now, sweet one. But you can save me the black ones.”

I was thrilled because I hated the black ones. Mama always made me eat them, though, because it was a waste to throw them out. Grandma gave me a “by” with that. When we went home, I put those black jelly beans in a Dixie cup on the windowsill to save for when Grandma came to visit. A week later, Grandma donned her wings and flew to Heaven.

I kept those black jelly beans sitting on the windowsill for a year, insisting Grandma was coming for them. Mama didn’t have the heart to throw them out.

Ane Mulligan_ headshot copyAne Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Novelist and playwright, Ane is the executive director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a new community theater and president of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

 Chapel Springs SurvivalChapel Springs Survival Cover

A mail-order bride, a town overrun with tourists, and illegal art.  

How on earth will Claire and Chapel Springs survive?

Claire Bennett’s Operation Marriage Revival succeeded and life is good. That is until the mayor’s brother blabs a secret: Claire’s nineteen-year-old son has married a Brazilian mail order bride. When Claire tries to welcome her, she’s ridiculed, rebuffed, and rejected. Loving this girl is like hugging a prickly cactus.

Lydia Smith is happily living alone and running her spa—then the widow on the hill becomes a blushing bride. Then her groom’s adult son moves in—on everything.

From the first sighting of a country music star in The Painted Loon, Chapel Springs is inundated with stargazers, causing residents to flee the area. When her best friends put their house on the market, Claire is forced to do something or lose the closest thing to a sister she’s got. With her son’s future at stake and the town’s problems to solve, it’s Claire’s who needs a guardian angel.

 

Release Day for The Complete Heart Seekers Series

HeartSeekers_Box_SetI’m excited to announce that the Heart Seekers Series is now complete and released in a four-book set. I was involved in writing two of the books, A Dozen Apologies, and Unlikely Merger. An added bonus to the set is the #1 bestseller The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt. Check out these descriptions of each book and also the links where you can purchase the series; in Kindle and print.

 

A Dozen Apologies

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT medIn college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

The Love Boat Bachelor

love boat bachelor imageRomance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Unlikely Merger

11112210_858579607541022_8504991036842170166_oNo longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

snowmen1The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far-off places but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

The digital version will be FREE for three days (Dec 4, 5, 6) and then it will be 99 cents for the rest of December.

Available at Amazon.

HeartSeekers FRONT Cover

Book Release Day for Not Alone

Not AloneI’m excited to announce that Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted With Infertility and Miscarriage is available today. This book compilation gave me the opportunity to talk about a very difficult time in my life: the miscarriage of my first child. Though I was able to have two children after that, the pain is still there. If you know anyone who has struggled with miscarriage or infertility, this book can give them hope.**

Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage

Our society understands how terrible the loss of a child is when that child is out of the womb, but what about when a child dies before birth? Or what about the emptiness that comes when a very-much-wanted child is never even conceived?

These quiet, private losses are hard for those who have not experienced them to understand. And these losses leave those who have suffered them feeling alone in their grief.

Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage is a resource both for those who have suffered through these experiences and for their friends and relatives, who want to understand what their loved ones are going through.

This collection contains true stories that are:

  • sensitive, and yet honest
  • angry and raw, but not despairing
  • unique, and yet relatable

The contributors to this book are male and female, old and young, some who eventually had children and some who never did, and yet despite their differences, they share a common grief and a common faith.

No experience of miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility is like any other, yet by reading these painful and hope-filled stories, you’ll be comforted by knowing there are others who understand the journey you’re on, the loss you’ve suffered, and you will find that even though your loss is uniquely yours, you are not alone.

Purchase your copy at:

Kalos Press 

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

**This book is a clean read, except for two essays which contain a couple of curse words.