Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent Reflections on the Writer’s Life

Debby Giusti here!

As I entered church on the first Sunday in Advent, my attention was drawn to a new banner hanging near the altar. The design was simple yet symbolic. Rays of light streamed from a star superimposed in the center of a large circle.

The meaning came in a flash…

Christ’s light shines in the darkness. 

To me, the circle represents earth with the star shining down from on high, just as the Star of Bethlehem brightened the heavens more than 2,000 years ago. Scripture tells us the world was in darkness, awaiting the Messiah, until God in his infinite mercy sent his Son to be our Savior.

Without doubt, the Lord is a Master Storyteller, and the plot points of his Nativity read like a well-crafted novel: a woman pregnant out of wedlock, a man who takes her as his wife, a journey in difficult circumstances to a crowded city where they can’t find lodging and are forced to shelter in a stable.

The woman delivers her child. Angels herald the birth. Shepherds pay homage to the tiny babe, and a star leads Wise Men from distant lands to the Infant King. A heinous despot’s evil plan to kill the child is thwarted, and the loving mother keeps all these things in her heart as her son grows in stature and grace.

Fast forward to Jesus’ public ministry when we read about the many times he lifted up the broken and made them whole. Christ’s light brought healing and forgiveness and the surety of everlasting life in union with a loving Father who sought salvation for his children.

As writers, Christ invites us to let his light shine through our own stories. The ways in which we do that are as varied as the tales we weave. I take everything away from my characters in the course of my suspense novels. With nowhere to turn, they turn to the Lord. In their time of need, they realize they are not alone—nor have they ever been alone—because the Lord is near to all who call upon his holy name.

Often a wound in their past keeps them from accepting love. When they finally forgive themselves, they’re then able to ask forgiveness of God. Once their pain is brought to the light and healed, they can move forward and accept the love of another.

A number of my characters feel unworthy of God’s love. Of course, none of us are worthy—we all fall short—but the Lord never stops loving us and inviting us into relationship with him.

Even those writing outside the Christian genre allow the light of Christ to shine when good triumphs over evil and hardened hearts open to love.

Readers identify with our characters. Those who have closed God out of their lives live vicariously through our stories. Truths are revealed and lessons learned that soften the hardened heart and encourage even the most jaded to reclaim their faith in God.

In my first published novel, NOWHERE TO HIDE, the heroine reads a short prayer stitched on a sampler, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Over the course of the story, she opens her heart to the Lord and, at the climax, recites the prayer to find the strength and resolve to save herself and her child.

My novella, “Yule Die,” featured in CHRISTMAS PERIL, involves a hostage situation and a strong-willed heroine who hopes to shine Christ’s love on the gang members holding her captive. The story takes a new direction as the hero, a season Atlanta cop, realizes the true meaning of Christmas.

The heroine in THE COLONEL’S DAUGHTER must see her brother’s death more clearly before she can open her heart to the Lord. Just as in my other stories, forgiveness plays an important role in allowing Christ’s light into the darkness of her past.

How do you let the light of Christ shine in your stories? What have you learned about yourself from the characters you’ve created? What gifts will you bring the Christ Child this Christmas—the gift of your writing, your service to others, the gift of prayer and quiet time spent with Him?

The view from my deck early yesterday morn.
Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for CHRISTMAS PERIL along with a Christmas surprise! Today's breakfast buffet of eggs, sausage, biscuits, fruit and grits includes Italian Panettone and Stollen from Germany. Starbucks is providing the coffee. Enjoy!

Thanks for all you do to spread Christ’s light and love.

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti
Christmas gifts for 108 needy families await being
picked up at my church. 

By Debby Giusti 

Someone wants Stephanie Upton dead. A warning to leave town is just the beginning. Fearing for her life, Stephanie turns to Special Agent Brody Goodman for help and protection. But can she trust him when he’s convinced her own brother is a prime suspect? Torn between her devotion to two men—an estranged brother whose trust she yearns to regain and an agent she may be falling for—Stephanie doesn’t know who or what to believe. As feelings between her and Brody escalate, she’ll have to choose sides to stay alive. 

Available at Amazon. Watch for THE AGENT’S SECRET PAST, in March 2014.


  1. It seems that my biggest hurdle is to forgive myself...others? Not so much a problem. All the cliches in the world don't help. But when I find out how a character in a novel handles that, I get a bit of a handle on that! Stuck in the winter cold until after Christmas...nothing to forgive myself in that! Also, glad those lights didn't cause a fire yesterday!

  2. I guess I have a problem with feeling I'm not worthy enough. Which if I let it, I can fall into a pity party real easily. I'm currently reading a Christian non-fiction book that is helping me get my ducks in a row so to speak. I love it when I read a Christian novel that weaves the Christian thread masterfully through the story. It's a two-for-one...the reader is entertained by the story and learns a lesson along the way.

    Thank you all for what you do so well!

    Would love to be entered into your giveaway Debby!

    Merry Christmas!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  3. Marianne,
    You're not alone. Most people struggle to forgive themselves. Even when they've seemingly done so, the guilt often returns.

    We're often very hard on ourselves!

    Wishing you a joyous Christmas!

  4. Remember, Cindy, you're a child of God, and he doesn't make junk! :) It's been said a lot, but it's so true. He loves us unconditionally, warts and all. :)

    I agree about the blessings of Christian fiction. When I read secular fiction, I miss the inclusion of faith that could make the story even stronger, IMHO.

    Merry Christmas!


    Looks at those gifts! Unbelievable!

    We have a tree with gift tags but it's like pulling teeth to get anybody to take one... and then 99% of the time, they never return with a present. It makes me sad, and I'm wondering if we're just not being clear about how many people are struggling.

    I loved the "Jesus, I trust in you" story line. I lived in Poland and St. Faustina made that phrase famous. It was everywhere.

    Jezu, ufam Tobie!

    Divine Mercy Sunday is the Sunday after Easter, where we celebrate Sr. Faustina and her dedication to trusting Jesus completely.

  6. Hi Debby,

    I've always loved to read, and I wish there had been more Christian books to read when I was growing up. I think it's so important for our stories to reach people with God's message. You do that beautifully!

    Thanks for sharing! Merry Christmas!

  7. Hi Virginia,
    The folks in my church have huge hearts and do so much for those in need. It's such a blessing to be part of an active and committed parish.

    "Jesus, I trust in you," is always my go-to prayer, especially in times of need. Also love the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Hugs!

  8. What a lovely, peaceful view from your deck. I’d camp out there and be of no use to anyone. :)

    My gift to the Christ Child this year will once again be service to others, only more. There is so much need.

    Thank you for another meaningful post.

  9. Hi Jackie!

    I love the selection of Christmas books these days. You're right, not so in the past.

    Thanks for your kind words about my stories. I'm working on the start of an idea for a new Christmas novella. Was awake in the night trying to put the parts together...still have a long way to go. :)

    Did you get breakfast? I'm slicing the Stollen and Panettone! Both are yummy when slathered with butter.

  10. Debby -- Thank you for the beautiful seasonal reminder--in words and photos--of why we write and who we write for!

  11. Cara, did you notice the moon's reflection on the lake? I was surprised my camera picked it up. When I first woke, it was dark except for the huge moon, hanging low in the sky over the water. Hauntingly beautiful.

    Ah, service...such a lovely gift to bring the Baby Jesus! You're right. So many are hurting. I'm often overwhelmed with the need, and the pain so many carry. Lot's of hurt, lots of sickness, lots of financial and emotional and spiritual need. Thanks for all you do to reach out to those around you. Even just a smile or words of encouragement bring comfort. Of course, prayer always helps.

  12. Hi Glynna,

    Did you get breakfast? I know you'll have a long day at work. How faithful you are to write in your free time, which I know is limited. God is smiling...always.

    Hugs and Christmas blessings!

  13. I have to say I love the pictures. Im not a writer but in the past year I have learnt to like myself. Even today at the drs I told her this getting healthy is bad for me. To which she said no its not its good. And it is just seems since I started getting healthy Im always sick or got issues (seems I have gastro now) But she is right its the best thing I ever did cos though that and some counseling and even talking with here I have learnt I am not defined by what I look like or my perception of myself which I will add was mighty warped. It was from dealing with past demons I have come to like who I am and I still look at myself and go you are so fat then I say no you are not. I know Im healthy but sometimes the demons rear there ugly little head.

    Another shameless plug I have Helen Gray on my blog today talking Christmas Memories at

  14. Yes, another soul who loves the Advent season.

    Gotta ask, what does your church assign to the advent candles. Joy Sunday seems to be universal but everyone mixes up the other three!

    A wonderful way to start the day.

    Thank you.

    Peace, Julie

  15. We do advent also we had Hope, Peace joy I think I couldn't hear (I was rejoicing that the microphones were not working even if I didn't hear the kid reading the info)

  16. I *LOVE* having a ministry that serves Christ. I also love that you've worded it to call it my "gift" to the Christ child. Beautiful. Thank you for this post - I enjoyed it.


  17. The Lord's church where I worship did a 'Silver Tree" this year to help the elderly in our community. I liked that. We sometimes forget our elderly, in concern for gathering the toys for children.

    We did both of course—I was glad we covered all age groups. :-)

    Thank you Debby, very thought provoking. :-)

  18. Thanks for bringing Stollen to your buffet Debby, I love that stuff!

    This Christmas is the first one that I will be without my mother, and I think it is more important than ever to show the love of Christ through fellowship with one another and appreciating the gifts, whatever they are, that people bring with them.

    Sharing time, concern, and love with others reflects what God would have us to do and I intend to keep that uppermost in my mind. My characters need to keep that in mind as well.:)

    I love Advent! Thank you for your beautiful post this morning.

    1. Piper, hugs. I know that first Christmas without your mon is a tough one.

  19. Debby, what a beautiful post and lovely pictures! Especially your (I'm assuming) tree.

    I have tried to be purposeful in pondering the Advent this year. I found a devotional which has brought me to a place of meditating on Jesus each day. It's been good to be still in His presence each day.

    As for gifts to give to Jesus, I'm definitely giving Him my writing. I hope to give the gift of encouragement and grace to those I spend time with thisChristmas season.

    Merry Christmas, Debby!

  20. Hi Debby! Your post is a feast for the eyes! Thank you for the gorgeous photos and the message of the true meaning of Christmas.

    Most of the faith journeys in my stories focus on trusting God or the need for forgiveness. Each story I write teaches me something about craft, but also about my own spiritual walk.


  21. Piper, God bless you during this first Christmas without your mom. I know how how much that hurts. May your precious memories of her bring you comfort.

    Hugs, Janet

  22. Jenny, God doesn't make junk. I'm so glad you are learning to value yourself. You are a blessing to us.

    Hugs, Janet

  23. Oh Debby, this was beautiful. I just finished an article for CFOM with a similar theme. At the heart of a Christian is this indescribable hope...and whether we SCREAM it through our novels (or use caps and bold like Mary C) or if we whisper it - God's hope does shine through our words.
    I LOVE knowing His story will reach hearts in the perfect way they need to hear it. :-)

  24. Hi Debby

    Light really shines through your post. I love your Christmas tree and the backdrop.

    The world is growing so dark with people's hearts hardening and hating each other that I sometimes think we are approaching the dark moment in His Story, but I'm excited too because it won't be long before we reach the HEA.

    Had a rather bad year health wise for me too, Jenny, so I've adopted your word of Hope. Next year is not only going to be better, it's going to be the best.

    That's the way with every good story, after the darkness comes the light.

  25. OH, DEB ... it's SO nice to have a blog about reflecting on the true meaning of the season!! After all, that IS why we all write Christian romance -- to put Christ at the center of our stories, just like He is (or is supposed to be!) at Christmas.

    One of my favorite things about your stories, my friend, is they ALWAYS have a strong thread of faith, more than most I read, and I truly appreciate that.

    LOVE the Advent banner!! Our church is one of the founders of a movement called "Advent Conspiracy," where they encourage people to give His "PRESENCE" and your own to others rather than a glut of material "PRESENTS."

    How do I let the light of Christ shine in my stories -- blatantly!! I subject all my characters to the same spiritual lessons I've learned with a dose of extra drama thrown in because I don't do subtle. :)


  26. Julie said "because I don't do subtle. :) "


    I'm shocked!!

  27. The view outside your home is gorgeous! And your tree? Beautiful. I love all your Christmas preparations, Debby. Especially the hall filled with gifts for families. Now that's God's Word in action.

    All of your books have brought a message to mind, Debby. I love watching your characters grow in trust as they release all their fears to God. I know God smiles on your stories. I do, too : )

    I try to show characters who think they know all about God's will for their lives, but find out as the plot goes deeper, they've been fighting His love rather than embracing it.

    Ha, I guess we often write from our own experiences. I know I have plenty of fodder to pull from!

    Thanks again for the gorgeous pics, Debby! And the Stollen? Fantastic!!

  28. Thank you for this post! What really stood out to me was when you said, "What gifts will you bring the Christ Child this Christmas?" I LOVE Christmas, but I've had to check myself a few times this season for focusing more on the fun of buying gifts and planning with family than the true meaning of Christmas. Thanks for this reminder! Christmas is a celebration of Christ's birthday, and no matter who else I gift, I want to gift Him.

  29. Julie, I've never noticed your dramatic mustn't keep it so well hidden, LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!

  30. Debby, what a nice post. I was discouraged last night for a number of reasons. This has helped. Yes, God understands plot points, that's why they call it "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Because it is.
    Gaithers have a song, "My Heart Would Be Your Bethlehem," and that's what I want, and that it will shine out through my writing.
    Kathy Bailey

  31. I also love the pictures on this post, they really complemented the article and its meaning.

  32. What a lovely post. I feel peaceful just reading it.

    Thank you, Debby.

  33. Don't enter me in drawing, I already have "Yule Die."

  34. PIPER, the first Christmas without my Mom was really hard. I remember driving around in the rain, listening to an Elvis Christmas CD and crying because I didn't think I could do it. She had only died in October. And so much of Christmas, at least as we knew it, was bound up in her. But God came to me that day in a wondrous way, I still get chills thinking about it, and we got through it and more.
    You don't lost people all at once, you lose them a piece at a time -- a holiday here, an empty chair there. Hang in there.

  35. So many pretty pictures, Debby. Thank you for this blog today.

    I love that you've talked about the Nativity story and what perfect drama it is.

    I'll throw this out, a notion that creeps into my books a lot. The times the Bible is the most powerful is when it goes against good drama, the times it makes no sense.

    In what real novel do we tell someone who is being robbed of their cloak, to give them your coat, too.

    No, we fight back, we stand up for ourselves. We solve crime and stop the bad guy.

    In fact it makes no sense to let a villain rob from someone and then go on their way to steal again.

    But God calls us to give our coat to the one who is robbing us. To let them hit us, then turn the other cheek and let them hit us again.

    It just makes no sense in the world as we understand it.

    And I think that Jesus is teaching us his most powerful lessons, about how our lives are to be lived on a soul deep level, with very little do with with our possessions or even our bodies.

    But in the real world it hurts to get hit and we need that coat in a cold world when we don't have the money to buy another one and there are an endless number of people who will steal the next one we get.

    How do we survive living as Christians in a dangerous world as Jesus calls us too?

    Ah, sorry, I'm off topic.

    Probably just somber because I'm dieting and haven't had a SINGLE CHRISTMAS COOKIE YET THIS YEAR!

    Also haven't regained any weight, but still..........


  36. Jenny, you're a beautiful woman inside and out! Don't let those negative thoughts have power over you. Counter them with positive affirmations, and know that you're loved abundantly...especially by all the Seekers and Villagers!

  37. Julie, I love having a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. A beautiful period of reflection and renewal.


  38. Hi Hallee,

    It's all about HIM! Right?

    Merry Christmas!

  39. Mary...what a nice idea. Tell us more about the Silver Tree. Did the seniors submit requests that the congregation provided? Actual gifts or acts of service?

    Very nice! God is smiling!

    Merry Christmas, Mary!

  40. Hi Piper,

    Christmas can be bittersweet, especially for those you mourn the loss of a loved one. My mama died at Christmas, and years later, my dad was in intensive care from mid-DEC to when he died in Jan, so this time of year always brings mixed emotions.

    On a happier note, my son was born on Christmas!

    Praying for you and all those with heavy hearts. I know your outreach to others will bring comfort even in the midst of your sorrow.

    Sending love and hugs!

  41. Jeanne T!
    Sounds like you've found a great devotional. I love JESUS CALLING, which always speaks to my heart.

    Being still is so important in this busy time. I need quiet times of reflection. No music. No outside noise except that of nature...birds chirping, squirrels scurrying through the fallen calm my Spirit and tune more completely to the Lord.

    Yes, yes, yes! So glad you're giving the Baby Jesus your gift of writing! Perfect. Also love your gifts of encouragement and grace. Lovely! I know those you come in contact with this Christmas will be touched by your gentleness and affirmation...very special ways to shine Christ's light in the darkness.

    Merry Christmas, Jeanne!

  42. Hi Sweet Janet!

    Trust and forgiveness play over and over in our stories, don't they! Both are so important in our relationship with the Lord.

    Glad you liked the pics. My dil called and asked where the snowman and stacked wood photo was taken. I had to laugh. It was an outdoor display at Kroger! :)

  43. LOVELY post, Debby!

    Oh, so hard to lose a loved one near Christmas. It does get easier, though it takes time and it sure doesn't feel like it will for quite a while. We can carry the memories of these loved ones through the holidays close to our hearts in little ways. During the first few years after my father died I used to light a 24-hour candle in memory. Even though its painful it can be so good to keep one tradition alive from your loved one. Although the tears may fall, it is altogether healing.

  44. Pepper...

    So true how God allows those who read our stories to glean the message specially tailored to meet their needs.

    We write the stories. He inspires the readers.

    Love when we can work WITH the Lord to spread His Light!

  45. Elaine,

    Sorry about your health issues. God wants his children healthy and whole so we can spread his joy and his light. Praying you'll gain strength in the New Year. Standing in agreement that next year will be the BEST YEAR EVER!!!

    I agree that much of the world does seem to be in darkness. That's why I'm so grateful we're all working together to spread Christ's light. :)

    Sending hugs and prayers for healing!!!

    Merry Christmas!

  46. Love you so much, Debby! Thank you for this beautifully worded reminded of the Light in our lives! And in our stories! Wow, I've learned so much from writing the stories I've written, and so much from my characters' journeys. It is a blessing to be a writer. :-)
    I am so glad I chose, this year, to have a quiet time every morning without fail. Instead of telling myself I don't have time, I just did it. I read and pray before I ever turn on my computer. And I love it. It gives me so much peace to start my day that way, and I think I actually get MORE done. God is good. :-)

  47. Julie, love your comment: I don't do subtle! LOL!

    Also love your church's goal to give His "PRESENCE" this year! What a lovely play on words that drives home a very important message about the true meaning of Christmas!

    Often it's the gift of time, the gift of self that means the most to another. It's not the gifts but the time together that brings joy.

  48. Audra, love the message in your books.

    As you stated: "I try to show characters who think they know all about God's will for their lives, but find out as the plot goes deeper, they've been fighting His love rather than embracing it."

    So true!

    At times, we think God wants us to take on huge projects that require time and effort. In reality, He wants us to Him and love those He brings into our lives. Although big tasks may need to be accomplished, the "little" things often reap the most blessings.

  49. Jennifer, I'm sure you "gift" Him every day!

    Merry Christmas!

  50. Kathy...

    You wrote:

    "My Heart Would Be Your Bethlehem," and that's what I want, and that it will shine out through my writing.

    Your words have warmed my heart on this cold winter day!


  51. Tina, you didn't need the post to find peace...

    You radiate peace. His peace.

    Merry Christmas!

  52. Mary, I admire you for dieting at this time of year. So hard. Good for you! Shame on me for reaching for another slice of Panettone. :)

    Your comment reminds me of Victor Hugo's great classic, Les Misérables. Remember Jean Valjean steals the candlesticks from the bishop. When the police catch him and bring him back, the bishop assures the police that the candlesticks were a gift. Hugo then shows how that gift changed Jean Valjean's life and allowed him to help others.

    Turning the other cheek in my own stories involves forgiveness. My characters don't free the guilty, but they do forgive the wrongs done.

  53. Julie, thanks for sharing your walk with grief. Burning a candle is a lovely way to remember a loved one. It also brings to mind Christ's light, which brings healing and wholeness.

    Praying for you this Christmas. May you be comforted by wonderful memories of your dad.

  54. Melanie,

    Hopefully your morning time of prayer will inspire others to have a similar goal for the New Year.

    I agree with God the first fruits of the day blesses the whole day.

  55. Love the pic from your back deck, and the one of the Christmas presents waiting for needy families. Those can be such a blessing!

  56. Just wanted to say goodbye to all you lovely Seeker friends today. I'll be gone for the next week and a half, traveling to see family for Christmas. And I doubt I'll have time to stop in later.

    So MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! And thank you for hosting this fabulous blog. :-)

  57. Beautiful post today, sweet Debby--thank you. Love all the photos (and the moon shining on the lake is amazing--looks like a painting!).

    @Piper, I'm praying for you to feel comfort and peace. Even after 8 years I still miss my Mama terribly--especially at Christmastime.

    I'm bringing the gift of service to Christ. Also more quiet time studying His word and reflecting on His mercy and grace. He is always SO good--even when we go through valleys in life.

    Thank you again for sharing today, and Merry Christmas!!
    Hugs and Love, Patti Jo

    p.s. I already have your book, so no need to enter me in the drawing! ~ Also, your photo at the top of this post is PRECIOUS!!

  58. Another P.S. - Am setting out a warm peach cobbler if anyone needs a snack this afternoon. :)
    Has extra cinnamon sugar, and I also have homemade ice-cream and whipped cream for a topping. ;)
    Enjoy! ~ PJ

    1. Yum! I hope there is still some left.

  59. What a lovely post! And thank you for shining God's light through all of your stories!

  60. Praise Jesus, our Savior, the Light in a dark World!
    In my current WIP, my heroine must be literally blinded in order to see Christ's light. He uses all sorts of people and events in order to draw His creation back to Himself. Praise His name!

  61. Beautiful post, Debby, and perfect for the season!

    I think it's important in Christian fiction to portray characters who are not perfect, people who sometimes stumble or lose faith. When our stories show God working in the characters' lives and loving them through their weaknesses, it can give readers assurance that such love is possible for us all.

  62. Naomi,

    We'll be praying for your safe travel and for a wonderful visit with family. Enjoy every minute!

    Merry Christmas! See you in the New Year!

    If you get back in time, stop by for the New Year's Eve Party! We'll be ringing in 2014 for over 24 hours!

  63. I had never thought of the story of Christ as a novel with amazing plot twists. Thank you for the new perspective.

    Also, I have all of your books, so I'm out of the drawing.

  64. Patti Jo,

    Love your gifts of service and study!!! Both so important.

    Thanks for the yummy peach cobbler!

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

  65. Hi Annie,

    Thanks for stopping by today and for your kind words.

    Merry Christmas!

  66. April...

    Made blind so she can see! Like Paul, perhaps?

    Merry Christmas!

  67. Great point, Myra.

    Early on, all my characters were perfect. I'm laughing now. Had to learn that perfect people are not interesting! :)

    Flaws are important in our characters so they can reflect life as it is. Thank goodness God accepts us as we are. :)

  68. Beautiful post, Debby. Thank you!

    The Christmas season can be so difficult for some - the loss of loved ones like we've already mentioned, or struggling to make ends meet, estrangement from family members...all things that get in the way of having a "perfect" Christmas - and, of course, that just makes us feel worse.

    But the real message of Christmas is so much more than trees and cookies and perfect days spent with family.

    Good friends of ours lost their 18 year old son to suicide less than a week ago. A horrible, tragic event. But something my friend said a couple days ago has changed this Christmas season for me. Because of Christmas, we can never say that God doesn't know what suffering is. Because of Christmas, God knows exactly what it's like. And because of Christmas, we have hope.

    This is what we bring to our novels as Christians.

  69. Merry Christmas, Walt, to you and your family!

    Bet your kids are excited. Is Santa ready?

  70. My heart breaks for your friends, Jan. I'll be praying for them.

    So true that Christ suffered for us and not only understands but also enters into our pain. His arms are always open to embrace and comfort. I hope your friends can turn to him in their grief.

  71. hi Debby
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! Awesome content and pictures. My struggle this year is to emphasize to my little four year old that Christmas is about Jesus and the gift He gave us - not about the gifts beneath the tree. He loves playing with the Nativity set beneath our tree, hiding baby Jesus sometimes - but he also asks about five times a night if he can open one of his gifts. "Is it Christmas yet?"

    I'm trying to implement some of the wonderful ideas differnt folks have shared about keeping Christmas simple and meaningful, how much actually sinks into my toddler's head remains to be seen. I guess concepts are harder to understand than tangible objects sitting right in front of one's eyes.

  72. Hi DebH!
    Having your little one play with a Nativity set is wonderful. Love that he hides Baby Jesus! I wouldn't worry. Sounds as if he's being exposed to the real meaning of Christmas! :)

    Sending prayers and love to you and your extended family!

  73. Debby, what a beautiful post, a beautiful re-telling of the Christmas story. I love that we can be part of sharing this with others, even if we don't have an obvious faith message in our stories.

  74. Cindy W, I felt that same way and avoided writing inspirational fiction for a long time. But then I studied Moses in a Bible study and found the courage to try. Go read Exodus again and see if it helps. Look at all Moses's excuses around chapter 3 and see how God uses him anyway. It's really moving for me when I re-read it.

  75. Hi Missy, just to bring hope--even if the story isn't inspirational--touches folks in a positive way.

    Moses gives me courage too. He kept trying to convince God he wasn't the man for the job. Gotta laugh. Don't we all feel that way sometimes?

  76. Good evening, Debby.

    My church has the same banner. I was staring at it today trying to figure out why part of it is shaded reddish. I thought maybe someone had spilled something on it, but I see yours has the same shading. Perhaps it's to indicate the joy of week three?

    I love this post. I read it early this morning, but I'm going back now to savor it.

  77. Debby, lovely blog and beautiful pictures! Merry Christmas!

  78. Mary, so good to hear from you. You've been in my thoughts! The banner has really pulled me in...seeing beyond the star...guess it speaks to my heart! Yes, I noticed the various colors in the circle too. :)

    Have a joyous Christmas and a nice, relaxing vaca from work!


  79. Cara, sending love and prayers to you and yours! Have a Merry Christmas. I know the Lord has good things planned for 2014!

    Hugs and love!

  80. Debby, the view from your deck is lovely ... shimmering, reflected light on the water. Thanks for the peaceful scene.

    You asked "What have you learned about yourself from the characters you’ve created?" One thing I've noticed is there are moments when my characters (in the 1880s) sharpen my awareness of the same actions (or inaction), attitudes or events around me -- some things change outward appearances with the passage of time but don't change at their core.

    Probably a Christmas cookie would help me express more clearly what I'm trying to say :-)

    Nancy C

  81. Awww Debby, Loved the photos. They really made me think of you and Christmas.

  82. Nancy...

    The problems people faced in the olden days still trouble us today. Right? Human nature remains the same. Sometimes that's good, sometimes not.

    Thanks for sharing! Passing Christmas cookies your way, baked either by Patti Jo or Ruthy! Enjoy!

  83. Read this in the morning and have been basking in its warmth all day. Thank you for providing this lovely pause in the hectic week before Christmas.

    I realized recently that the reoccurring theme in my stories is about trusting. In my current WIP my heroine struggles with trusting herself to receive inspiration. It's not that she doesn't believe God has a divine plan for her life -- she just doesn't trust herself to interpret what that is.

    Don't enter me in the draw because I have Christmas Peril. Loved it!:-)

  84. Hi Sandra,

    Are you enjoying warm weather and gentle breezes? Not sure where you're hanging your hat these days. World travelers always move around a lot. :)

    Merry Christmas!

  85. Hi Kav...

    Trusting the Lord is a big issue. Often one we grapple with our entire lives! Thanks for sharing how your characters handle the question.

    Merry Christmas! Sending love and hugs north! :)

  86. Debby - this is one if the most beautiful posts I've ever read. Your love of Christ shines through. I always want my stories to portray a message, but worry they don't do the job I want them to. Thanks for sharing.

  87. This was wonderful to read through thank you. As a reader I welcome the messages.

  88. Hope I am not too late.....I am always blessed by your posts, Debby....they are so inspiring!
    I would love to be entered for Christmas Peril. I am going to download Nowhere to Hide...somehow I missed that one, and it sounds so good!
    Merry Christmas!

  89. Deb, I got over here yesterday but had no time to comment with Christmas stuff and little ones...

    I love this post so much. The heart and soul of a story, the glimpse into the logic of the Master Storyteller, Christ, the way a story can touch heart, mend souls, draw people back to the faith of their fathers.

    We are a country founded on faith, wanderers in search of religious freedom, willing to risk everything to obtain it.

    I'm always saddened to see empty churches and open voting booths, two signs that we take things for granted too often. If our stories touch a person as God intends.... well, that's reason enough to write them, right there.

    We are so blessed to do what we do.

    God bless us, everyone!

  90. Hi Terri,
    Thanks for your sweet comments! Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

  91. Hi Mary Preston! Thanks for stopping by!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  92. Hi Jackie, you're not too late to be entered in the drawing. Hope you enjoy NOWHERE TO HIDE!

    Merry Christmas!

  93. Debby I realize it is late but I wanted to let you know I was touched by your post. Like Julie, I appreciate your ability to seamlessly weave a thread of faith throughout your books.

    My gift to Him this coming year will be more service to others. More importantly, more service with a willing heart. For the first time in a very long time being a servant to others isn't a chore or "just something else I need to do." All because I am learning to listen for his voice more. That is the second part of my gift. Listening for Him. Because I WANT to :))))

  94. Please enter me in the drawing. I already had fried eggs today, bacon, and coffee. I love Starbucks. Make mine a mocha. I'll take some sausage.

  95. Pat W...

    Listening is so important. We need that quiet time in order to hear his voice.

    I'm sure he loves your gifts of time and service.

    Merry Christmas!