Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas from a Single Point of View

With Christmas a short week away from today, I've been faced with the same circumstance I am faced with every Christmas. Or at least I have been since both parents have passed away.

No immediate family with whom to spend the holiday.

I am an only child, and because I have never married, I have no siblings, no children, and no spouse. My nearest relatives, cousins I dearly love, are a day's drive away. Hardly convenient to drop in on Christmas Day or to have over.

When my mom passed away on December 22nd many years ago, Christmas as I knew it, would never happen again. The three of us always celebrated on Christmas Day by a big breakfast and then leisurely opening our gifts. Later that day, we would sit down to a festive dinner, usually standing rib roast. We were small, but enjoyed the day and each others' company.

Needless to say, the year Mom died, Dad's and my Christmas was unique. By the time the next year rolled around, Dad had remarried to his childhood sweetheart (as often happens) and had moved back to his hometown in Ohio. That year, my new step-mom and Dad made the trip to my home and the traditions of Christmas Day carried on with me doing the entertaining and cooking. But, by the next year we reached an impasse. She wanted to be home with her nephews and I didn't want to spend time with people I hardly knew. So, I courageously decided to make my own tradition and had friends in after church on Christmas Eve.

I carried on that tradition for many years, always inviting church singles who had no plans. Sometimes we had a living room bursting at the seams and other times just three or four. Then I'd spend Christmas day with one of my best friends whose family had celebrated the night before. But about five or six years ago, that friend passed away from cancer.

All things change as seasons come and go, and several years ago I stopped the Christmas Eve party when I accepted an invitation to spend the holiday with a good friend and her family in Wisconsin. This became my new normal for several years . . .until last year when God strongly impressed on me I was to not go anywhere for Christmas, but to stay home and spend the day in quiet reflection and prayer.

After letting the thought resonate for several days to see if it would go away, I decided that I needed to obey. During that day I prayed over every aspect of my life from my writing, to relationships, ministry and health. And I received a last minute invite to come to dinner at a friend's in the late afternoon. It was as though God said, "Okay, you obeyed me and now I'll give you some fellowship to round out the day." It was the best Christmas ever. And something I needed, because I had no idea what challenges lay ahead in 2009 that needed that prayer covering.

This year I've been wondering if God would want me to do the same thing. Was it a one-time deal or was it going to be my new tradition? I went on the premise that I would try to do something meaningful. To that end, another single woman and I thought it would be good to help serve a meal to the homeless on Christmas Day. Much to my surprise, as I called around to various agencies, Christian and non-Christian, I could find no one who was holding such an event. Only Pacific Garden Mission, an outreach to the homeless in downtown Chicago, was having a meal and they had "more volunteers than they could handle." With that idea dropped, I still sought out God, asking what do you want me to do? One by one, things I tried to put together that would put me with other people, fell through.

Even my friend who invited me to dinner last year will be going out of town this year. As a single, I have always tried to reach out to other singles so they aren't alone on the holiday and yet, as I pondered this, I realized no one was reaching out to me. In conversation about this with a friend, she said that Christmas is a family day, and asked how many people would consider inviting someone into a family circle where the guest knows no one but the friend? What kind of fun would that be for the single, and that person's presence might be uncomfortable for the other family guests. I'd never thought about that. Of course, that's not true of everyone. Nothing is. But it made sense to me.

I reminded myself that I do have family within the family of God, my brothers and sisters in the Lord. Last weekend I enjoyed a lovely Christmas with a very dear and precious friend before he left to spend the holiday with his family in another state. And this past week, my Bible Study group had our Christmas gathering where I entertained a dinner party and present exchange. Next week I'm going to two Christmas worships, one with friends and one alone.

So again, this year it will be me and God together for the day. A special time in which I will not be alone at all, but spending it with Him, my heavenly Father. Perhaps this is my new normal. That's okay. I can't think of anyone better to spend the day with than Him whose birth we celebrate!

No matter if you are alone like me, or have family coming from every direction and may have to put up with your Aunt Hortensia's penchant for talking too much or Uncle Amos's always atrocious gift that will end up at the next White Elephant party you attend, I pray that you embrace your circumstance and thank God for the gift of His Son Jesus.

Hallelujah! Christ is born!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Whirlwind by Robert Liparulo

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Thomas Nelson (December 29, 2009)


Robert Liparulo


Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, released to critical acclaim. Each of his subsequent thrillers—Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers.

He is known for investing deep research and chillingly accurate predictions of near-future scenarios into his stories. In fact, his thorough, journalistic approach to research has resulted in his becoming an expert on the various topics he explores in his fiction, and he has appeared on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio.

Liparulo’s visual style of writing has caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted last year with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January, and number four, Timescape, in July. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series, Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?”

With the next two Dreamhouse books “in the can,” he is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects supernatural elements into his brand of gun-blazing storytelling. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on his acclaimed short story, which appeared in James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado.

Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page:


Which door do you go through to save the world?

David, Xander, and Toria King never know where the mysterious portals in their house will take them: past, present, or future. They have battled gladiators and the German army, dodged soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, and jumped from the sinking Titanic. They've also seen the stark future that awaits if they can't do something to change it--a destroyed city filled with mutant creatures.

And they've still got to find a way to bring Mom back and keep Taksidian from getting them out of the house. The dangers are hitting them like a whirlwind . . . but the answers are becoming apparent as well.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Whirlwind, go HERE

Friday, December 04, 2009

CBFA Blog Tour - Raising Rain by Debbie Fuller Thomas

This weekend, starting today, CFBA is touring a brand new book call Raising Rain by Debbie Fuller Thomas.This is the first book I've read by this author and I can say it won't be the last.

If you are old enough to remember the late sixties and early seventies you will particularly relate to this story of four women, now in their fifties, who were in college during that time. But even if you are too young to remember those days (bless you!) you will still enjoy this multi-layered story.

The main character, Bebe, is the most conservative of the group as a veterinarian for small animals and a prodigal who returned to God a long while before. She, together with Toni and Mare, helped their radical roommate Jude raise her daughter, Rainbow Brite, while Jude attended law school. Bebe remained in Rain's life as an almost surrogate mother while Jude spent her time protesting wars, government, abortion and whatever else she found wrong with society.

Now, many years later, they are brought back together by Jude. She has untreatable cancer and wants a last "hurrah" to celebrate her life. At the same time Rain, now a woman in her late thirties, is struggling with who she is and what wants out of life. She has sent her boyfriend packing because he doesn't want the baby she is longing to have. Like her mother she is inclined to go it alone and have a child.

All have left their protesting days behind except Jude and they come together for one final weekend. Will they survive?

It took me a couple chapters to get into the story, but with Thomas's easygoing way of storytelling, I was soon sucked into the story and kept wishing for time to read to see what was going to happen next in the lives of the ill-matched women.

The character and spiritual arcs ease upwards at a satisfying pace for Bebe and Rain, the POV characters, but this also holds true for many of the other characters. And there are a lot of characters, but Thomas masterfully works her words well to keep the reader from becoming confused.

In the occasional fashback chapters to those turbulant years I loved being reminded of things like Tab (Coca Cola's diet drink of that time), Janis Joplin, and a variety of pop music titles from the era. I wasn't a part of the protest scene myself, but one couldn't escape it if you wanted to.

I highly recommend this book.!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Raising Rain, go HERE.

GREAT NEWS! I just heard from Debbie that she is offering a chance at a free copy of Raising Rain on her website. Head over to and sign up for her newsletter. She'll throw your name in the hat. She has three copies to give away, so don't delay!


Debbie writes contemporary fiction from an historic Gold Rush town in Northern California. By day, she manages after school and day camp programs, and she burns the midnight oil to write what she loves. Her first book Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, is a Christy finalist. Raising Rain, her second book became available September 2009.

Debbie has contributed to story collections such as Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul, and Lord, I Was Happy Shallow, along with articles in Coping With Cancer magazine.

She has two teenagers and her husband is the executive pastor on Sonrise Church with 1,000 members. Debbie is a manager at Auburn Area Parks and Recreation.