Thursday, December 17, 2020

Joy Undamaged

by Emily Conrad


 Joy lives at my house, but it’s not what you think.

My grandma fell ill a few days before Christmas, 2019. While she was in the hospital, a gift from one of my out-of-town relatives arrived. The pair of Thanksgiving cactuses, one with white blooms, the other red, came nestled in a decorative planter adorned with the word joy.

The box containing Joy was delivered to Grandma’s cold December doorstep. There, the gift tipped and waited. Wisconsin’s winter gnawed at the fleshy leaves, which were never intended to survive the below-freezing temperatures.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Needs, Humanity, and Baby Skunks

by Stacey Weeks 

I love it when fiction does more than tell an entertaining narrative. I love fiction that forces me to think deeply about my faith and consider how God might be prompting me to respond. There are a lot of loveable characters in Mistletoe Movie Star who might stir this response in your soul, and my favorite is Charlene Kelley, the town veterinarian.

Charlene not only sees a great need in Mistletoe Movie Star, but she strives to be part of the solution. She observes the growing homeless crisis and steps in to help, but this crisis becomes deeply personal when three young girls land in her care. As a woman of faith, she worries about not only helping them physically, but also introducing them to a Father who loves them.

Fear and Anxiety

“What has been the hardest thing to leave behind?”

Nat’s eyes widened.

Char doubted anyone had ever asked her that before. Most people asked where you were from or stuff like that. Stuff you couldn’t answer when you were forced to cycle through grief again and again with every move.

1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our anxieties upon God because he cares for us. Nat, one of the girls in Char’s care, has needs. She needs to talk about her grief. She needs a safe person who she can trust. She needs stability. Nat’s needs stirred anxiety in Char because she was unable to provide what Nat and her sisters ultimately needed. Char brought that anxiety to the Lord through prayer. Whatever your need, whatever is making you anxious, you can follow Char’s example and pray big, pray often, and pray with expectation.

Bring our needs to Jesus.

Char dragged a hand down her face. How could she tell them they couldn’t stay together?

“I promised—”

Wendy’s eyes softened as if Char’s words pained her. “That was your first mistake,” she said gently. “Never promise.”

Charlene faced political roadblocks, legal roadblocks, and personal heartache, but she relentlessly pursued Jesus and her community of faith. She didn’t handle her circumstances perfectly. In fact, she made some pretty huge blunders that brought unanticipated consequences and roused great fear. She didn’t have the answers, but she could bring her questions to the One who does hold the answers. When we are sure that Jesus is the answer to our problem, we will do whatever it takes to bring our problem to Him.

Approach with Confidence.

Beth yanked off the lid. “Look how little they are.”

Small gasps and yelps rolled through the press. They collectively leapt back.

A quick bark of laughter escaped Char as she reached in and pulled out a baby skunk. Its folds of skin layered over the petite frame, and one tiny eye slit wiggled as if it wanted to open and see who dared to disturb its rest.

The crowd gathered around Char and Beth expected to see kittens not skunks. Shock sent them scrambling backward to a safer distance. But Beth was afraid the bring the skunks to Char. Beth believes Char will take care of the kits, even if they are skunks. She is confident that Char’s love for animals and Char’s love for her will catapult Char into action. Do you see God that way? Are you confident enough in His love to present Him with all your needs, including the surprising skunks? Come to Him, not with an attitude of entitlement, but with a sense of expectation and confidence in His care.


Use your Gifts.

In Mistletoe Movie Star, Char uses her gifts to serve her community. Consider your interests, your talents, your passions. God wants to work through you to serve and bless your community. You can encourage that person who believes they have nothing to contribute. Change often happens one smile, one gift, one soul at at a time. Who is the one in your life who needs to hear that the greatest gift of the season isn’t found under a tree?

Looking for a Christmas read? Author @writersweeks gives a glimpse into her new release Mistletoe Movie Star. #Christianfiction #amreading @emilyrconrad

"When we are sure that Jesus is the answer to our problem, we will do whatever it takes to bring our problem to Him." - @writersweeks #Christianfiction #amreading @emilyrconrad

"I love fiction that forces me to think deeply about my faith and consider how God might be prompting me to respond." - @writersweeks #Christianfiction #amreading @emilyrconrad


Stacey is a ministry wife, mother of two teens and one tween, and a sipper of hot tea with honey. She loves to open the Word of God and share the hope of Christ with women. She is a multi-award-winning author, the primary home-educator of her children, and a frequent conference speaker. Her messages have been described as rich in the truths of Scripture, gospel-infused, and life-changing. Stacey is currently working on a graduate certificate in women’s ministry with Heritage College and Seminary with plans to complete her Master of Theological Studies.

Find links to Stacey’s books here.

Sign up to Stacey’s newsfeed and receive the free short story 12 Days Under the Mistletoe. James has 12 days to win Wendy’s heart.

Mistleto Movie Star
 
Mistletoe Meadows is built around the magic of Christmas. As jingling sleighs cart rosy-cheeked lovers around the Mistletoe Mile, Charlene’s holiday dream is more complicated than photoshopped perfection. She proposes a compassion ministry initiative called the Gingerbread House but struggles to convince the town that their need for a homeless shelter is real.

Famous for his made for television holiday movies, Jonas longs for a happily-ever-after that isn’t as neat and tidy as his unrealistic films. Partnering with Char to champion her ministry invigorates him with a new purpose and provides an excuse to spend time with the girl he never forgot. But when they embrace three young sisters fighting to stay together while living on the streets, their project becomes deeply personal.

Together, they prove to a town reluctant to see anything other than holiday perfection that the greatest gift of the season isn’t found under a tree.

Find links to Stacey’s books here.

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