Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: December 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

...because it's not all about making Merry

And it's not about brightly wrapped packages nestled under a beautiful tree, branches brimming with pine cones and ornaments, with twinkling lights and strings of popcorn and cranberries. 

It's not about that last minute frantic trip to the mall, fighting crowds and snarling traffic, to search for the perfect gift for the family member who has everything. It's not about the promise of presents for kids who behave, delivered on a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer, by a rotund, jolly old man with a snow white beard and draped in a bright red suit. 

It's not even about beloved family gathered around a long table packed with hams and turkeys and enough pies that an entire army could eat for a week.


It's not all about making Merry. about a baby born in a musty stable and wrapped in swaddling clothes. It's about heaven's best, God-man, coming down to mingle among sin, smelly animals  and poop. To show each of us what love really looks like.

Christmas is about hope. It's about Jesus. It's about a perfect love that rights all wrongs, about a love that knows no bounds, a love that gives and never ends.

Christmas...because it's not all about making Merry.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11 NIV

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Review of CLAIMING HIS HEART by Tanya Hanson

Claiming His Heart
Purchase Link
About the book: Caught between a noose and a gold mine cave-in, Tulsa Sanderson must do anything within his power to prove his outlaw brother’s innocence…even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he just met. Tulsa needs every nugget and flake he can pull from beautiful Charmlee’s worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife! Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last disreputable outsider who passed through her peaceful California valley months ago. She has no desire and no choice but to wed the handsome stranger who arrives, bearing a mysterious letter that will change both their lives forever. Charmlee and Tull each have plans of their own. He’s set on raising quick money to save his brother’s life—a secret he isn’t going to share. She’s determined to leave the valley to find a new life for herself and medical treatment for her own brother. Marriage would put an end to the plans they’ve each worked so hard for, but is there a bigger dream for the future ahead that they can’t see? Trusting comes hard for them both, but Charmlee realizes it’s the only way to stake her claim on what’s really important— CLAIMING HIS HEART.

Sharing my thoughts:
"Something warm and soft touched Tull head to toe. Like somebody had dripped honey down his back. This picture of friends helping out when they had tasks and busy days of their own was no mirage at all. After tending Reno for who knew how long, Miz Trudy still remained to help Charmlee even as Zeal expected a large shipment. And Miz Maudie, herself a new bride, had a homestead and husband out at the Pine Tree mine.

Yet, here they were. True community...A fine little town of good folks, this Spiggleville, this out-of-the-way settlement long used up, but not used up at all."

Claiming His Heart transports you back to the gold rush days in California, to a tight-knit mining community called Spiggleville. Neighborly folks all come together to help each other out when times get tough, and believe me, things get plenty rough in this story. You'll be drawn in and won't want to leave!

Tull's pa named all his kids after places like Tulsa, Bronx, Reno and Charlotte. Yep. You read that correctly. A twist I didn't see coming, and it's not what you're thinking. You'll have to read the book to figure that one out. :) 

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, 
in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me."
"Since then, Tull did fear. Never trusted. Never prayed."

Both Tull and Charmlee reminisce on this verse as the tragedies keep piling up. Hanson does a great job keeping you furiously flipping pages, ramping up the conflict, leaving you wondering if Charm and Tull will ever cast aside their past hurts and finally open up and trust God and each other. Claiming His Heart kept me reading through all the busyness of the Christmas season. It's the perfect book to curl up with in front of a crackling fire, a sweet romance with enough kindling to warm you more than the fire. But when summer rolls around, it should also be the first book you pack to take to the beach!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to the author, Tanya Hanson, and Prairie Rose Publications for providing me with a review copy of Claiming His Heart. The opinions expressed here are my own, and I received no compensation.
post signature

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mary - an Unwed Mother by Linnette R. Mullin

Linnette R. Mullin
Every Christmas Christians around the world celebrate the baby in the manger, born to save the world. Every Christmas we read that a virgin named Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and bore a son -- Jesus. We marvel at this miracle just as we should.

Mary marveled, too. When Gabriel spoke to her, she replied, “How can this be since I’ve never been with a man?” I’m sure on some level it filled her with awe that Almighty God would bring the promised Savior into the world through her – a poor, teenage virgin betrothed to a humble carpenter. Yet, it must have been terrifying.

It would be easy to assume that God chose Mary for some great virtue, but she was simply a girl like any other Jewish girl - one who had been taught that someday the Messiah would come. She didn’t have special revelation outside of Gabriel’s announcement, and she didn’t understand what was happening to her any more than her peers. This is evidenced by the Bible stating over and over, “Mary pondered all these things in her heart.”

The culture in which I grew up shunned anyone who found themselves pregnant outside of marriage. Even some Christians chose to end the life of the baby rather than suffer the shame and reproach of there daughter being an unwed mother. So, it’s easy for me to imagine what Mary must have gone through. There had to be deep, dark moments filled with paralyzing uncertainty.

So many questions must have bumped around inside Mary’s mind and heart! What was God doing? Why had he chosen her to bear His son and enter into such shame? And can you imagine her trying to explain herself to Joseph? “Yes, I’m pregnant, but it’s okay! I haven’t slept with anybody. This is God’s baby.” He would surely go through with his threat to divorce her, and if he did she would most likely be cast out and left to fend for herself and her baby alone?

So, what was God thinking? How could he ask His precious daughter to suffer such utter shame and humiliation through no fault of her own? Yet, he did. He hand-picked Mary and ordained that she would bear this shame. Talk about harsh! Yet, while Mary didn’t understand what God was doing, she also realized (in spite of all the questions, the mystery, and the inability to fully understand) that God knew what he was doing and she could trust Him with it.

In the same way, we don’t understand many pains and sorrows that come into our lives. My heroine, Beth, certainly didn’t understand why God allowed her to suffer in such devastating ways. This Christmas season think of Mary and how she entered into her son’s shame through her obedience to the Father. 

Aren’t we called to do the same? God’s purpose is always good even when we don’t understand what’s he’s doing. Do you believe this?

Finding Beth releases 12/20
Pre-order it here
Three years ago, Beth Gallagher lost her brother, Josh, in a tragic accident. Grief stricken and estranged from her father, she turns to the one man her brother had warned her against - Kyle Heinrich.

Now she's discovered his dark side.

She flees to the Smoky Mountains to clear her mind and seek God's will for her impending marriage. With help from a new friend, she finds the answers she needs, but will she have the resolve to follow through? And, if so, what might it cost her?

Adam Blythe had given up on finding a woman to love him rather than his money. Committed to caring for his ailing mother and running the family business, he suddenly finds his heart entangled with a woman already spoken for. Can he find a way to protect her?

Kyle Heinrich is used to getting his way, so when his fiancee leaves town without a word, he is furious. When she returns with a new man by her side, he determines to make her his - one way or another.

Beth Gallagher glanced at her gas gauge and groaned. “Come on. Where is it?” She white-knuckled the steering wheel and rounded another curve on the two-lane highway. She hadn’t passed a single car in the last five miles. Creepy! She shivered as her eyes bore a path down the tree-lined road, begging the station to pop into view.
The car shook. “No!”
It sputtered. “Please, not now!”
It lurched.
She glanced down and groaned again. The needle rested well below “E”. She pulled onto the narrow shoulder just as the car gasped its last. She thrust it in park, dropped her head onto the steering wheel, and moaned. Could things get any worse? Her mind flew to the conversation she had overheard at church, churning like an oncoming hurricane …

“Not only is he engaged to someone else, but you could be pregnant!”
Beth stood frozen in the bathroom stall, her hand hovering near the lock. Should she step out or wait until they left?         
“He doesn’t love her. He loves me.”
The two voices drew closer, so Beth didn’t move.
“And he said this when? Before or after you gave him what he wanted?”
“It’s not like that.”
Dread coursed through Beth as an image of Kyle flirting with the pretty redhead flitted through her mind. No! He wouldn’t …
 “No, Tracy. I don’t care what you say. He promised he’d take care of me. I’m going to marry Kyle …”
Beth’s head swam, and she braced herself against the walls. It couldn’t be … but the image of Kyle’s eyes roving over Samantha Ross burned in her memory.

Beth squeezed her eyes tight trying to rid her mind of the scene.
No. They couldn’t have meant … not my Kyle … He wouldn’t do such a thing! Would he?
Niggling doubts whispered things she didn’t want to hear. Her world tilted, spinning out of control.
            Tap, tap, tap.
            Her heart jolted and she froze until the tap came again. Trembling, she slowly tipped her head just enough to see a man peering through her window. Visions of being dragged from her car filled her mind. She swallowed hard.
            "Hello? Miss? Are you okay?"
            She eased her head off the wheel, never taking her eyes away from the pair of dark blue eyes that locked onto hers. She sucked in a lungful of air and blew it out to steady herself.
            "Are you okay?" His slight southern drawl glided over her nerves, soothing her in an unexpected way.
            Get a grip, Beth.
She gave him a shaky smile and lowered the window a few inches.
            “Are you hurt?” His brows were drawn together in concern.
            “No, I’m fine.”
            "Car trouble?"
            “I’m out of gas.” The words slipped out before she could snatch them back. She cringed. Too much information.
            "I'll run down to the station and get you a couple gallons. Would you feel safer stayin’ here or goin’ with me?”
“I-I’ll stay here. Thank you.”
“Alright then, lock your doors. No tellin’ what kind of creeps are runnin’ around."
            Crinkling her brows, she glanced at her lock. "My doors are … locked." Her mouth formed an ‘O.’ She reached over, hit the lock, and gave him a sheepish grin.
            He chuckled, his smile revealing a heart-stopping dimple in his right cheek. "It's a good thing I'm not the creep. I'll be back in a bit with your gas. You won’t be stranded for long."
Her eyes swept over him. He couldn’t be much older than her. Though he was of average height, he could easily over-power her with his broad muscular build. He should have intimidated her, but something in his gaze calmed her. Drew her.
            "Will you be okay?"
            "Um … sure …" She cleared her throat. "Thank you."
            "My pleasure. Sit tight. I'll be right back."
            “Wait! Let me give you some money for gas.” She scrambled to dig a ten dollar bill out of her purse.
            He shook his head. “It’s only a couple gallons. Don’t worry about it.” He left before she could pull her wallet out.
            Her blood pulsed hard as he pulled away… 

LINNETTE R. MULLIN is an author of life-changing romance. She has been married to Johnathan for over twenty years and they have four sons. Some of her writing credits include Charles Stanley's "In Touch" magazine, "101 Facets of Faith", Guidepost's "Extraordinary Answers to Prayer", and "Public Health Alert". She is the founder and coordinator of Palmetto Christian Writer’s Network in Lexington, SC; she runs the “We Are Writers” group on Facebook. Her favorite things are her family, her church, reading and writing, and her Savior most of all. Visit to learn more.

post signature

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's Never Too Late...or is it?

When it comes to time, I'm a firm believer that most people fall into two different categories:
those who are always a few minutes early
(that would be me) 

and those who are always running late 
(uh hum...hubby fits in here) 

Always late
Image courtesy of
And he doesn't just arrive late, he also includes some type of dramatic announcement of his presence, usually a booming, "Well, well, well." Those of us who like to keep a low profile, well, we've learned to adjust or duck our heads in embarrassment, just accepting his energetic personality as one of the things we love about him.
My sweet hubby
But, really, whether you're early or late, does it matter? Sure you might miss a few minutes of an important meeting. You could be fired from a job you loved (but if you really loved it, wouldn't you make an effort to be on time?). Or a date might have given up waiting at the prearranged meeting spot when you finally scurry in.

But, how about the more important things? Issues with an eternal impact?
I have GREAT news for you stragglers.

When it comes to accepting the precious gift of hope that Jesus so freely offers, it's NEVER too late.

Nope. It's never too late. Want to know how I know?

For one, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, two criminals surrounded him, one on each side. They both knew they deserved to die for the crimes they'd committed. One of them taunted Jesus while the other asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.

How did Jesus respond?

With love and forgiveness. With grace and mercy. With a promise that "today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43, NIV)

Today! Did you catch that? Doomed to suck in his last ragged breath hanging on a cross, that lost soul received the gift of eternal life, the promise that he'd enter heaven's gate that very day!

Still not enough evidence for you?

How about the parable of the vineyard workers? Early in the morning, a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. After he set them to work, he went out four more times, hiring workers each time. At the end of the day, the generous vineyard owner paid each worker the same salary, no matter what time they arrived. He claimed that it was his money, and his right to do as he pleased. (Matthew 20:1-16, NIV)

Just like that vineyard owner, Jesus offers the same grace, the same precious gift, to the man or woman who comes to Him at the end of their life as the one who comes at an early age. 
He's generous, loving, gracious, and his mercy covers all who ask.
Do you hear the soft whisper? See the arms stretched wide? He's waiting for you.

It's never too life.
What are you waiting for?

post signature

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Christmas Bonus by Patty Froese

Patty Froese
My son announced to his Kindergarten teacher that Santa wasn't real. I got a distressed email from the teacher, asking me to make sure that he doesn't tell any of the other children, lest their Christmas magic be ruined.

I fully understood, and I didn't want to ruin the fun for the other kids, so I had a talk with my son about playing along with the Santa Claus game. I certainly didn't want to be the Scrooge! And our family is big on Christmas--the tree goes up right after Halloween!

But it got me to thinking. A lot of these kids were being raised without any belief in God, and in public school, even mentioning God is frowned upon. Yet there is such a protective instinct around the idea of Santa, wanting this little ones to hold onto the possibility of Santa for just a couple more years...

Santa... He knows when you're naughty or nice. He loves you, and he knows the desires of your heart. He adores children and he wants you to be good. He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. You aren't alone when there is Santa Claus.

The parents know that one day their children will no longer believe in Santa, but they don't want to tear that away. Not yet.

I didn't feel the need to tell my son that Santa was real. As Christians, the sparkle and mystery doesn't vanish after the tree comes down. Christmas lasts all year when you believe in God. Miracles, angels, God dipping down and touching Earth... We live in the sparkle of Christmas magic every single day!

Merry Christmas to all of you! May your Christmas be filled with sparkle and the possibility of miracles around every corner.

Purchase Link
A Christmas Bonus
When Millie's boss asks her to work over Christmas, she's hesitant to give him any more overtime. She has plans for her life that include quitting this job and starting her own photography business, and she promises herself to quit by New Years. 

Andrew Holmes has no desire to go back to his tiny hometown for the holidays, but his manipulative grandfather gives him an ultimatum that he just can't refuse. So in order to get the last project of the year finished in time, he asks his assistant, Millie, to make the trip with him. 

With a disgruntled brother, a sister-in-law struggling with infertility and a little boy who shows up claiming that one of the Holmes men is his father, Christmas is about to get complicated...

Want a peak into A Christmas Bonus? Sure you do...

"So, Millie says she'd like to stay," Andrew announced.

"Good." Louise shot her a smile. "Do you like fruitcake, Millie?"

"I think so." Mille sank into a seat next to her boss.

"Me, too..." Louise disappeared into the fridge, her voice meandering out from the chilly depths. "Except I always hate the fruit in it. So I just make the cake. But the cake is rather dry."

"It's more like a Christmas cracker," Andrew murmured, and Millie repressed a laugh.

The dense, dry confection that landed with a heavy thud on the tabletop looked nothing like the fruitcake she'd seen in the past.

"Guests first." Louise announced cheerfully, and when Millie shot Andrew a "help me" look, he pointed under the table.

"Give it to the dog," he mouthed.

The dog? So far, Millie hadn't seen a dog in the house, and when she slowly raised the plastic tablecloth to peer under the table, she was met with the biggest canine face she'd ever seen in her life. Stifling a yelp of shock, she turned her ashen face towards Andrew.

"That's Edgar," Andrew said.


He nodded. "Get used to him." When she turned her attention to the plate deposited in front of her, Andrew leaned in and murmured in her ear. "Thanks for coming, by the way."

Patty Froese writes from Alberta, Canada, where the winters are long and cold. This suits her just fine, since it gives her plenty of time to write and she can enjoy the snow from the right side of the window. She has her degree in English Literature and has written in other genres, but she particularly enjoys writing romance. 
Patty also writes for Harlequin Love Inspired under the name Patricia Johns. 

post signature

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,