Favorite Friday Fiction: Prayers of a Stranger: A Christmas Story by Davis Bunn

Prayers of a Stranger by Davis Bunn is a really well-written Christmas story. Bunn creates life-like characters like Amanda that you can’t help but like and root for. The highlight for me was Amanda’s trip to Bethlehem…

Click to tweet: Contemporary Christmas novel by internationally-acclaimed author, Davis Bunn. #Christmas #FridayReads


Prayers of a Stranger: A Christmas Story

While visiting the Holy Land, Amanda answers the prayers of a stranger . . . and begins an amazing Christmas journey.

Amanda Vance is ambivalent about her husband’s idea for a big family holiday up north. Last year she planned a special Christmas in their own home, carefully preparing a nursery and the keepsake ornaments for their newborn. Now that room stands as empty as her heart.

Then a neighbor’s mishap turns into a last-minute chance for Amanda to take a much-needed vacation to tour the Holy Land.

An extraordinary turn of events allows Amanda to help answer a young mother’s plea for healing. Then, filled with a sense of awe, Amanda visits the place of Jesus’ birth. There she discovers anew the miracle of the Christ child—God incarnate as a tiny, vulnerable baby.

Her return to Florida marks a momentous shift in her soul and in her marriage as she begins to realize that her journey didn’t end in the Holy Land. And that God doesn’t just answer prayers of strangers . . . but also those of her own heart.

“A great story filled with emotion, depth, and spiritual beauty.” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York TimesBest-selling Author

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Small Acts of Kindness: Closure

By Jennifer Hallmark

A New Year approaches and with it, a fresh start. In 2017, Ellen and I have enjoyed sharing small acts of kindness that affected us and also displaying kindness through the posts of guest bloggers. But there is one more act of kindness you can do for yourself before the New Year begins.

Several years ago, I was discussing the New Year with a friend and she told me how she was already praying about the New Year and setting goals.

“That’s always good to do. But I have one question for you,” I said. “Have you brought the year 2017 to a point of closure?”

Click to tweet: Finding closure before entering 2018. #NewYear #goals

She asked what I meant. I explained that in the thesaurus, the word closure compares to conclusion, end, close, and finalization. Had she brought this old year to a close? Have you? Below are several questions you can ask yourself so you can successfully end the year 2017.

(1)    Have I taken a moment to examine all the people in my life to make sure there is no bitterness or unforgiveness against any of them? The point is not whether they deserved to be forgiven even if they hurt you badly. When Jesus went to the Cross and suffered like He did so we could go to heaven, His love erased any excuse we might have to hold unforgiveness towards anyone for any reason. Reconciliation is not always possible, but with the help of God we can forgive.

(2)    Have I looked at all the events in my life and come to a place of peace/acceptance? Some things that happened to me this year were not good. Have I reached a place where I can move forward? It helps me to write my feelings down either in prayer form or a declaration. In a catastrophic event like the concert shooting in Las Vegas or the hurricanes that ravaged so many areas, I put into a prayer my thoughts and feelings of that day.

In an event, such as sickness or pain, I first write what the doctor said, then what God said in His Word. At the end, I write a declaration that I have chosen to believe God over man. I don’t deny the diagnosis. I simply believe God for healing, either in this lifetime or the next. During hard times, I can go back and read and remember, using these prayers and declarations to strengthen my faith and give me hope.

(3)    Have I examined my goals and dreams I had for 2017? Which goals did I reach? Which ones were probably unrealistic to begin with? As I look back at my accomplishments and the things I didn’t accomplish or finish, it will help me to set new goals, plans and dreams for 2018. I can also release my goals and dreams back to God and believe He has a purpose and plan within it all.

2018 offers a clean slate. Make sure and take a moment to bring 2017 to a point of closure. Then you’ll be free to start the New Year with faith and hope in the One who makes all things new.

Favorite Friday Fiction: The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin

The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin is a sweet, historical romance set in the 1890’s at Christmas. Ardoin spins a feel-good story with rich characters and descriptive settings. Another good holiday read…

Click to tweet: The Yuletide Angel combines romance with small acts of kindness. #FridayReads #Christmas


The Yuletide Angel

It’s the 1890s in Meadowmead and someone is venturing out at night to leave packages at the homes of the needy. Dubbed “The Yuletide Angel,” no one knows the identity of this mysterious benefactor. 

No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others. 

When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh’s estranged brother shows up in town … and in Violet’s company. 

But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of her Yuletide Angel.

Favorite Friday Fiction: God Bless Us Every One by Eva Marie Everson

Cover photo for Favorite Friday FictionGod Bless Us Every One by Eva Marie Everson is a delightful tale which combines a contemporary story with Dickens’ in a masterful way. I really enjoyed how she wove A Christmas Carol and its themes throughout the book. A great read on a cold, wintery day…

Click to tweet: Why was A Christmas Carol by Dickens written in the first place? #Christmas #FridayReads


God Bless Us Every One

Charlene Dixon—called Charlie by family and friends—is devastated at the recent loss of her job. For the last five years, the twenty-seven-year-old has blossomed as the activities director of an exclusive all-girls school. But when a misunderstanding with the headmistress leads to a pink slip right before the holidays, Charlie packs up her dreams and returns to her grandmother, Sis, who raised Charlie as her own in the mountains of North Carolina.

When Charlie arrives—broken and confused—Sis immediately puts her granddaughter to work behind the scenes of the local school’s Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. Charlie doesn’t always like working with Dustin Kennedy, the drama teacher, but Sis encourages her to take a deeper look at why the book by Charles Dickens had been written in the first place and what it could teach Charlie about the needs of people in their own community.

Help at an Airport Before Thanksgiving

By Ellen Andersen

We always fly to California for Thanksgiving since that’s where the majority of the family lives. This year we had a flight that didn’t leave at 6:00am, which was a nice change. It was a little before 10:00am, about an hour before our flight was to leave the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We had arrived in plenty of time, since it’s such a small airport. Dad went to park the car while Mom and I took the luggage into the terminal. It weighed around 30 lbs, not much for a week’s worth of clothing, gifts, and miscellaneous. Still, it’s a lot for me to handle.

I lugged my suitcase up the curb and headed toward the door, Suitcase (800x600)but didn’t quite make it. There was a large black rug in front of the door. Unfortunately, I either didn’t see it, or I misgauged its height. Either way, I tripped on the threshold between the outside and the inside of the lobby. “Aaah” I cried, trying not to make a scene, but reacting to my impending fall. I let go of the suitcase and managed to catch myself so I didn’t hit my head. Only my hand and knee were scraped.

A gentleman I don’t know, and didn’t even get the chance to meet came from behind me, grabbed my suitcase, and brought it to me. I was so glad for his help. When he saw I wasn’t alone and Mom could take care of me from there, he left. “Thank you!” I said. I don’t know if he even heard me, but I hope so.
Mom later told me he was a tall man and was a bit hesitant, but decided he would help me. I don’t know what caused him to pause, and to take off without saying a word afterward. Maybe he feared I was hurt and he couldn’t help me. Maybe he didn’t want any recognition. I don’t know. I sure am glad he decided to do what he could though. It took him less than two minutes and it let me “recover” after being physically shaken and a little rattled mentally, before I checked my luggage and got on the plane.

Just a hand up and few minutes of his time made a difference for this traveler. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. When have you had the opportunity to reach out to someone who needed a hand? It may have made more of a difference than you know.

 

Favorite Friday Fiction: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt by Fay Lamb and Various Authors

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt by Fay Lamb and Various Authors is one woman’s journey to discover family and Christmas. I love journey stories, especially ones concerning the heart. You’ll enjoy this book.

Click to tweet: Review, “The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt is like a combination of The Amazing Race and The Ultimate Gift.” #Christmas #kindnessmatters

The 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.

A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens

A Perfect Fit

Formally titled Desire’s Promise – Newly revised and expanded.

Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.

She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense.

Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for in a Christian mate. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?

Link to buy:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0773Q1XC7


Karen Jurgens lives in the great state of Texas and writes contemporary Christian romance. Passionate about heavenly marriage on earth, she writes about how to find God’s peace through life’s storms at Touched by Him, her ministry blog. You can connect with her at http://KarenJurgens.com

Small Acts of Kindness: Just a Candy Cane

By Kathy Cheek

I have a favorite candy cane that I buy each year during the Christmas season. It is the Hershey Candy Cane with a ribbon of chocolate running through it. I have never bought any other kind since the first time I had one of these.

Last year when I was purchasing my annual first box of the season, I noticed the clerk behind the Walgreens counter looked stressed, tired and overworked––not real surprising this time of year. The last thing he needed was me piling on by rambling to him about my ultra-favorite candy cane, but I did. I just happen to think everyone should try them! He just continued to look stressed and totally uninterested in my candy cane monologue.

As I began to step away from the counter after paying, I poked a whole in the package and pulled out one of the candy canes to start enjoying right away. I pulled out a second one and turned back to the counter and offered it to him. In an instant, his wearied face broke into a giant look of surprise followed by an even larger smile. “For me?” He accepted it with a huge thank you. I watched him carefully lay it on a shelf behind him and he turned to me and said he looked forward to having it on his next break.

I wondered to myself if anyone had ever given him something for nothing or showed him a random act of kindness.

It was just a candy cane. Or was it more?

As we cross paths with people during our day, and especially during the frenzied hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, we need to offer smiles, patience, grace, and kindness. We just might change the course of someone’s stress filled day, with a smile…or with a smile and a candy cane.

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. Just a candy cane? #smallactsofkindness #compassion


Kathy Cheek writes faith-filled devotions and is published in LifeWay’s Journey magazine and Mature Living, and also contributes to several devotional sites, including Thoughts About God, Christian Devotions, and CBN.com.

Her favorite subject to write about is the rich relationship God desires to have with us and the deep trust it takes to live it out. She and her husband of 33 years live in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas and they have two daughters and one son-in-law who also reside in the Dallas area. You can read more of her devotions at www.kathycheek.com.

Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway III

One of my favorite events in the holiday season is our Once Upon a Christmas giveaway at the Inspired Prompt blog. This is the third year and the prizes are better than ever for three blessed winners. Make sure you go to Rafflecopter and enter today. Contest ends December 13th.

$25 Barnes & Noble gift card

$25 Subway gift card

$25 Starbucks gift card

Jewelry

And six books:

A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens (e-book)

The Whisper of the Palms by Harriet E. Michael (paperback)

The Tilting Leaves of Autumn by Robin E. Mason (paperback, signed)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game (paperback)

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women (hardback)

The Reason by William Sirls (Paperback or e-book)