Monday's Musings - A Bittersweet Christmas

Don't get me wrong.

I love Christmas. 

I love being with family.

I love giving gifts to our kids. 

Seeing their faces light up. 

I'm very grateful for loving memories from years past. My parents, especially my mom, listened to and watched us in the days before Christmas to figure out what we wanted. She used to look over my shoulder as I perused the jewelry section of the catalogue. If I lingered long on one style of ring, she would make a mental note and then secretly go buy it. They delighted and surprised us kids every year. 

Eventually, we all grew up and have moved on to have families of our own. Now my husband and I get to listen out for what our kids want for Christmas. We love bringing them joy. 

Again, I am grateful. 

But this year, my heart's a little heavy and Christmas is a little bittersweet. We've have probably had our last Christmas with one of our fathers. We're so thankful my husband's dad made it to Christmas since the doctors didn't give him this much time to live. But still, it's sad to think he probably won't be with us next year. However, we know where he's headed and he has peace galore. The hospice nurses have said he's the happiest dying man they've ever met. 

It's because he knows God's in control. Because he knows he's forgiven. 

I've never seen a man with such a purpose as my father-in-law. He's been using his time left here on earth to express his love and gratitude to his friends. To encourage them. To love on them. To bless them. 

It's humbling to watch. 

He's the one dying. Yet, he's focused on blessing others. 

That's because of the birth of a small boy a couple of thousand years ago. A baby named Jesus. Who came to live among us. To give us hope. To give us love. To encourage us. To bless us. To forgive us. 

You see, we have a heavenly father. 

He created Christmas. 

He wanted to add to his family.

He wanted to give the ultimate gift to his new, adopted kids. 

The gift of forgiveness and eternal life with him.

For that, I am grateful. We may not have hubby's dad for much longer here on earth. But we have eternity ahead of us. One day we'll be joining him in worshiping our creator, our heavenly Daddy.

A Daddy who loves to give us good gifts. 

Merry Christmas!


Photo Tip Friday - Taking Pictures That Tell a Tale

Posing for a Christmas morning shot
Well, Christmas is almost here. And for most of us, that means we'll be around a lot of family. 

It also means it's a great time to take pictures and document, document, document! 

So, what makes a good photo during the holidays? Let's look at a few examples. 
People are very important. It's great if you can actually get your kids, nieces or nephews to sit still for a photo. A posed shot is wonderful. However, they usually aren't going to pose for long.

Boy in motion!
That means having your camera ready for live action shots. Here's a picture of my son, excited and in motion! This isn't necessarily a typical shot, but it does tell a story. It's Christmas morning because the presents are under the tree. The oxygen tank meant Grandpap was there. The television is playing a special on Christmas in Yellowstone. And my son is excited in his mismatched socks!
Let's move on to other shots that document special moments. Maybe they involve pets. Here is what I call a "mood" shot. We have one cat who loves sleeping under the tree. I got down on my stomach to take this picture. Isn't he so sweet? You can tell it's before the hustle and bustle of opening presents. This is a nice memory. 

And here's another pet photo. Yes, our cat is actually watching the television while we opened presents to the Nutcracker. :) 

And lastly, here are three of our cats interested in an electronic lightning bug in a jar.                                The picture may be a little cluttered, but it shows the cats looking at the jar in the middle of my son's Legos, which he started building immediately. When he's much older, this will be a reminder for me of the time when he was little. 
So, what shots have you taken that your proud of or that are special to you? 

Leave me your link and I'll be happy to head over to your blog and take a look. 

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking!

And Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah!


Not so Wordless Wednesday

Today, I'm taking a break from Wordless Wednesday to participate in a blog hop about "the next big thing". . . it's telling you about the book I'm working on and then blog hopping to some other writers in two weeks to hear about their works in progress. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with a blog hop, it’s a series of posts linked to each other across the web. I’d like to thank Edie Melson for tagging me to participate!

In this particular hop, I’m answering ten questions about my latest WIP (Work in Progress). Feel free to post questions and comments!

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

The Cuff's Pawn

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It was a combination of a character in the book appearing in my mind and then an interesting tree that spawned the story line. 

What genre does your book fall under?

Medieval Fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Good question. I haven't completely figured out who my teenage leads would be, a male and female lead, but I would want Sean Connery to play the part of Gammel. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Usually the follower, can Lucas put aside his doubts long enough to save and return Avelina safely to her father?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m fortunate to be represented by Jonathan Clements from Wheelhouse Literary Group. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took a couple of years for the first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Actually, when I started this book, I specifically wanted it to be different than what was on the market for teenage boys. And I certainly didn't want to try and imitate the greats like Lewis and Tolkein. So there are no vampires, dragons or talking animals in my book. 

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My critique group is who spurred me on to tell the story after they heard my small seed of an idea.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
 There is an element of power that grows with time and my main male character, Lucas, is finding his place in the world. 

Now I invite you to visit these next 5 blogs to meet more authors! They'll be posting their answers to the questions above on January 2nd. 


Monday's Musings

Man Down

One of my kids has been sick. For a while. 

Going to the doctor isn't fun. We can't seem to find answers. 

As his mom, I hate to see him hurting and suffering. I've even said I would take it from him if I could and suffer in his place. But that's not the way it works. 

That's when I thought about how God sees us. He is our Daddy, our Father. 

He hurts when we hurt. I know I hurt for my son. 

But my son's burden is not my burden. I can't take it away. But I'll share all of it that I can. I'll support, love and encourage him to seek God in the midst of this. 

I've been sick and suffered before. So I can point him to God as others have pointed me. 

Then, as he grows and matures and looks back, he can see how he was comforted and then comfort others. 

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corintians 1:4 

So even in the midst of the suffering and weariness, there is hope. There is a reason. There is a point to the trials. Maybe we really want God to just take it away. But in His wisdom, sometimes we have to walk through the valleys for a while. And then, in due time, we can comfort others who must walk through that valley, too. 

What burden can you share?

What valleys have you walked through? 

Are you still there or have you come out on the other side?

Praying for you as you read this.