I married young and thankfully had sense enough to marry a good man. Years later, after our children were born and that desire to be a writer continued to plague me, I attended classes at Highline Community College. I was older than many of the students and felt decidedly out of my element, but the welcome and encouragement I received helped me to hold onto what seemed to be an impossible dream. When it came to creating a setting for Mr. Miracle I could think of no better place than a community college where students like me could receive that same encouragement and hope.
Last August my husband, Wayne, and I, along with our daughter, Adele, and two of our granddaughters, made the long journey to Kenya with a team from World Vision. I went, in part, to distribute the sweaters generous knitters from all around the country had sent as part of the Knit for Kids program. We left with fifteen suitcases stuffed with sweaters.… Fifteen suitcases! I felt honored and privileged to be able to deliver these knitted items. The most amazing thing happened, though: I went to give away these sweaters and instead I received one of the greatest gifts of my life. Those who have so little gave to me. They gave me their hearts, their smiles, their love. They sang songs of joy and danced in welcome. We distributed the sweaters but we received so much more.
My mother always made Christmas special in our home. She made sure we never forgot the reason for the season.
One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories revolves around Christmas Eve. It wasn't the same every year—sometimes we would open our gifts that night or wait until Christmas morning. The one constant was Midnight Mass. I don't remember if it actually took place at midnight but I certainly remember attending the church services, holding a lighted candle and singing glory to God at the top of my lungs as the trumpets played and the choir sang. That is one of the memories I will long treasure from my childhood.
Christmas is my favorite time of year, but it can have a double-edged sword, or as Charles Dickens once wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
For those of us who insist upon doing it all: cooking, baking, shopping, decorating . . . need I continue? This is a crazy, wonderful season. I'm right there with you.
So what do I do to relax? When I get doubly stressed out, I take a long, hot bubble bath, wrap myself up in a warm quilt, sit in front of the fireplace, and read. It works every time.
By the middle of December Wayne is anxious to head to our winter home in Florida and we almost always arrive just before the holiday. Not so this year. We're staying in Port Orchard for Christmas and I'm looking forward to spending the day with our children and grandchildren. We are planning our family progressive dinner, which will be the last weekend before the big day with our bingo game and fun gift exchange. There is no greater joy than being with those we love, but especially during the holidays.
I have been dubbed “the official storyteller of Christmas,” which is all very flattering and nice, although I think Mr. Dickens might have something to say about it. Truth be told, I am a Christmas fanatic and writing a book every year for the holidays has become a tradition for me, plus it’s something I love. I'm pretty much nuts over every aspect of Christmas. And so, my friends, the season has begun... Decorating, baking, candy making, cards, social functions and all the rest! I can hardly wait!
Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine. When I stop to consider all the blessings I have received I feel overwhelmed by God's goodness to me. Each one of you is part of that. Your notes and letters have inspired me and encouraged me. I can honestly say I know of no other author who has as many wonderful readers as I do. And so, on this day in which we reflect on blessings, I want you to know you have blessed me. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and have an extra helping of stuffing on me!
When I meet people I am often greeted with the words, "Bless you" or "God bless you." My response is always the same. I say, "He already has."
I have been blessed above and beyond anything I could have imagined or expected. I could never have dreamed when I first rented that typewriter that my books would top the bestseller lists. Who could have guessed that one day movies, let alone an entire television series, would be produced from my stories. All of that was beyond the scope of my imagination.
God has blessed me and the work of my hands and I don't ever want to forget that, or fail to give the credit back to Him.
Today is special. It's the one day in the year that Americans set aside to thank those who served or are currently serving in our military.
My father, along with my uncles from both sides of the family, fought in WWII. My mom and aunts built ships. My mother, whose name was Rose, was an original “Rosie the Riveter.” And later our son, Ted, served as an Airborne Ranger with the U.S. Army. My family's roots run deep with military service, and we have gratefully served the nation we love.
This last Sunday our family was privileged to host a member of our military at the Seahawk game against the New York Giants. Meet Sergeant Snyder, and today of all days let your flag wave in appreciation to all those who serve.
This morning I'm grateful for the gift of laughter.
Having run out of room in my prayer journal, I went in search of another. I keep several blank ones in my bookshelves for just such an occasion, however, the one I chose this morning was a journal I'd started back in the year 2000 when the grandkids were young. I'd written down some of the funny things they said and found myself laughing out loud. Here are a couple of examples:
Maddy--age 3. We were having a family potluck and the table was overflowing with a wide variety of dishes. Maddy looked at the table and declared, "Tonight we feast."
Carter--age 3. It was my birthday and I asked him to guess how old I was. Carter thought long and hard and came up with the biggest number he could imagine. "Five."
James--age 8. His classroom had been vandalized and he was upset enough to write a story in which he was instrumental in capturing the culprits. The last line of his story was, "And when they got out of jail, they were too old for bingo."