You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Card Keepsakes

One of our Christmas traditions involves Christmas cards. For many years, each year we choose our favorite one -- it can be because it's the prettiest, the funniest, or because it has a special meaning coming from the person sending it.

Once the choice is made, I frame it and add it among the others that I've placed all over the house.
The remaining cards go into a basket that I bring out every year so that we can read them. I especially like the ones with pictures of the senders' babies and children. It's fun to see how they've grown.
I wonder how long we're going to be able to keep this tradition, since fewer and fewer people are sending cards.
What are some of your Christmas traditions?

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Colonial Christmas

Congratulations, Carol Antley, on winning a copy of Christmas Treasures for participating in the punctuation contest.
You were correct - the comma in "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" comes after Merry.

Christmas customs of the late eighteen-century America included going to church (except for Presbyterians who considered going to church on Christmas day – if it fell on any day but Sunday – “too Anglican”), dinner, dancing, and visiting.

Homes were decorated simply with whatever evergreens were available—pine, boxwood, Fraser fir, magnolia leaves, holly, mountain laurel, and ivy, as well as lavender, rose petals, and pungent herbs.

Christmas celebrations were for adults and weren’t centered on children. For example, Philip Vickers Fithian's December 18, 1773, diary entry about exciting holiday events mentions: "the Balls, the Fox-hunts, the fine entertainments..."

At many parties, revelers would sing hymns and beloved songs such as “Joy to the World” and “The First Noel.”

Gift giving wasn’t as common as today. Masters gave their slaves, servants, apprentices, or children cash, little books, and sweets.

Christmas dinners consisted of fresh meat of all sorts, since December was the best time for slaughtering. Besides beef, ham, turkey and goose, some people served fish, oysters, mincemeat pies, and brandied fruit.

The affluent would also serve wine, brandy, rum punches, and other alcoholic beverages.

One year guests at a Christmas banquet hosted by a wealthy Virginia planter named George Washington, who later became the first president, dined sumptuously on the following dishes: turtle soup, oysters, crab, codfish, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, venison, boiled mutton, suckling pig, smoked ham, roast turkey, several dishes of vegetables, biscuits, cornbread, various relishes, cakes, puddings, fruits, and pies. Wines, cordials, and a special holiday drink known as eggnog usually rounded out the plantation Christmas feast. Picture caption found on
Answer the question below and leave an email address for a chance to win a copy of Christmas Treasures, An Anthology of Short Stories.
What is the correct punctuation in this song title?
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meet Author Elaine Marie Cooper

        My guest is Elaine Marie Cooper, author of Fields of the Fatherless, a historical fiction based on a true story from the American Revolution. She has also penned three historical romances: The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels.
        Her new release is Bethany’s Calendar, a memoir of her daughter’s battle with brain cancer.

What’s your background, Elaine, and how did you became interested in writing?
I think most authors confess to a childhood passion for writing. My early attempts at the craft were an assortment of short fiction, poems, and a television manuscript! I’m sure they were quite amusing. I never thought this interest would lead to becoming a writer but the Lord kept leading me onto that path, regardless of my own plans.

What gets you in a creative mode and how do you begin your writing process?
With prayer that God will guide my writing. And then lots of coffee. ;-)

Many writers utilize a writing group. Where do you get constructive critiques and feedback?
I get lots of feedback from my husband (who is an editor) and other editor and writer friends. I value the opinions of others in the field. About a year ago, I began a writer’s group called Word Weavers so that Christian writers would be able to get constructive feedback on their work. They’ve been an invaluable help to me.

What led you to write Bethany’s Calendar?
I have to say it was the Lord impressing the idea on my heart during praise and worship time at a writer’s conference. I had no intentions of ever writing the painful saga of my daughter’s battle with brain cancer. I thought I would only continue writing historical fiction. But like Bethany’s illness changed her plans, God changed mine.

What is Bethany’s Calendar about?
It’s the story of facing my worst fear: losing a child. It’s also the story of how we helped her through that painful journey and how others in similar situations can be strengthened in their role as caregivers. This memoir is geared toward families dealing with serious illness, cancer sufferers, nurses, and friends of caregivers. I pray that what my husband and I learned during this crisis will give hope and help to others.

While reading Bethany’s Calendar, my heart ached for you and your family and I wondered how difficult it was to lay open your “mother’s heart” as you did.
Reliving that painful time was at times excruciating. I had many prayer warriors lifting me up to help me through the writing of the chapters. What a blessing to feel the prayers of others.

What's the most important thing readers will learn from Bethany’s Calendar?
I pray that readers will see how faith in God can help them through the most dire of circumstances. Life is not easy but the Lord has promised us He will never leave us or forsake us. I also pray that caregivers will learn ways to be advocates for their loved ones who are ill. Every patient who is weak from illness, needs a strong supporter who is willing to go to bat for them.

Now that Bethany’s Calendar is out in bookstores, do you have any projects you're currently working on?
I’m working on a historical fiction set in Saratoga, New York in October of 1777. And in October of 1977. And no, it is not a time travel novel. ;)

When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Being with my family. Crocheting. Going to quality movies. Drinking tea and eating scones.

Where can readers find your book?
At Amazon. Here is the purchase link:

Elaine’s contact information:
Blog and Website address:
Twitter: @elainemcooper

Here's my review of Bethany's Calendar:
         Beautifully crafted … poignant … heartrending, yet full of hope. In Bethany’s Calendar Elaine Marie Cooper lays open her “mother’s heart.” With grace, love, stunning honesty, and welcomed moments of humor she introduced me to and made me love and care for her dear, beautiful, vivacious daughter until her loss became my own. 
        Throughout Bethany’s Calendar, Cooper has delicately woven threads of advice on how to respond and care for patients and families during end-of-life experiences and grief. What a journey. What a blessing. Thank you, Elaine.