Monday, December 19, 2016

Hope: Waiting Expectantly


Janet here. As a child the wait for Christmas morning seemed endless. I can remember jumping up and down on my bed the night before Christmas, beside myself with excitement, anticipating the gifts I’d asked Santa for, never doubting I’d get them. Ah, the greedy hope of childhood.

In college, I took physics because the science classes for elementary education majors were closed. Not a smart decision as I hadn’t taken physics in high school. I soon learned I was in way over my head. I waited for the final grade scared I would fail and have to retake the course. I knew I’d done my best, but was my best good enough? Ah, the desperate hope of the ill-equipped.

As a married woman, I waited for the birth of our children. I was excited, a bit nervous, wanting to be a good mother, praying for a healthy baby. Though there were no guarantees, I waited expectantly. Ah, the beautiful hope of motherhood.



We pray for many things. When waiting for an answer, we try to wait expectantly, to thank God before we see evidence of His answer. To wait in ways that bring Him honor.

Yet the wait is sometimes hard, even scary, especially if waiting for test results or for a deployed soldier to return home.

The wait can become discouraging, especially for those who wait month after month, year after year...to get published…to get pregnant…to get well.

How can we wait with expectation when the wait seems endless?

We remember God’s promises. Scripture reminds us that we are not alone in this world. God is here. He’s working behind the scenes. We may never know what all He’s doing to protect and provide for us because our view is limited.

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            We remember what God did for us in the past. When we look back at our lives, we are encouraged to see the times that God protected us, got us through difficulties or gave us a way out.  

·         We remember God may be teaching us something. Sometimes the wait is so long that all we can do is hang on and join God on the path He’s chosen for our lives. The hard times are not what we seek, but they often teach us many things like patience, trust, compassion and dependence on God.

How can we handle the answer to our prayers when the answer is no?

·         We remember God brings good out of bad. It’s often during the worst times that we truly see how much we’re loved by friends and family. Tough times also slow us down and help us get our priorities right. Tough times draw us closer to God.       

           We remember that what we think is best, may not be best. I think about the long wait for the promised Messiah and those who missed Him when He came because He wasn’t what they’d expected or what they'd wanted. Sometimes God’s answer may feel wrong, but brings the most amazing blessings. God sees the big picture and has a plan for our lives.  

·         We remember that our faith during trials can be a powerful witness. I'm not suggesting we should fake joy or peace we don't feel, but when we hang onto our faith during difficult circumstances, we're light and salt in this world. 

There are no pat answers. But there is hope. Jesus left the majesty of Heaven and came to earth as a baby that we might have eternal life with Him. He loves us and wants to give us good things, to use us in amazing ways, to draw us close. We are blessed.  

My prayer is that no matter what you’re facing, the God of hope will fill your heart with profound peace this Christmas.



What is the hardest thing you’ve had to wait for?

What is the best answer to prayer you’ve ever received?

What Scripture helps you through the toughest times?

I brought tea, coffee, hot chocolate, six-week bran muffins, cheesy grits, egg soufflé, granola, Swedish fruit soup and trays of Christmas cookies—enough to munch on all day. Stay for a lunch of chicken salad on Hawaiian rolls. Come back for lasagna, tossed salad and garlic bread for dinner.  

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of three copies of my eBook novella “A Daddy for Christmas,” once part of the Seeker collection Home for Christmas.

Here’s an excerpt:

Tess’s heart lurched to her throat. She’d know that rugged, handsome, despicable face anywhere.
Surely not. Please, God.
Folks turned toward her, murmuring.
“If I ain’t lost my wits, Rafe Rafferty’s back,” old man Snyder said. “What you gonna do now, Miss Russo?”
Run.
With a couple quick steps she whirled out of his path.
“Tess, is that you?”
Trapped by the voice that had once enthralled her, she skidded to a halt, fighting the waves of panic crashing through her. Why had he come back? With every ounce of her will, she composed her expression and faced the cad.
He doffed his hat. Even after all that had happened, all the pain he’d caused, the sight of him ratcheted her pulse. She laid a hand over her tripping heart and stared into crystal blue eyes sparkling with zest for life. “Rafe,” was all she could push past her lips.
“Glad I saw you.” He grinned, his gaze sweeping over her. “You’re all grown up.”
The approval in his gaze melted her resistance. How could this man who’d destroyed her sister have this effect on her? “It’s been over three years.”
His gaze turned somber, pensive. “Yes, too long.”
He knew something. What? “Where have you been?” As soon as the question left her lips, she regretted it. What difference did it make?
A gleam of excitement flared in his eyes. “I’ve been working on Mount Rushmore, been part of carving President Washington.”
South Dakota was hundreds of miles away. The tension in her muscles eased. Rafe would not stay.
“Where can I find Vi?”
At her sides, her hands curled into fists. “My, uh, my sister is gone.”
“Gone. Where?”
Unable to speak the words, Tess shook her head and turned to go.
A firm grasp on her forearm stopped her. Outside of leaving her coat behind, she couldn’t escape him or his question.
“Tess, tell me. Where’s Viola?”
Tears welled, but she blinked them away. She would not cry in front of him. “She’s dead.”
“Dead?” he rasped like a man sucker-punched and in search of air. Shock-filled eyes met hers. “When? What happened?”
“She died in childbirth,” she spat out, grief roiling up inside her, as fresh as the day she’d lost her sister.
Tears flooded his eyes.
She ran toward the wagon. This time he didn’t try to stop her.
As she pulled away from the depot, her gaze straight ahead, she could feel his eyes upon her. She was merely putting off the inevitable. When Rafe wanted something, he went after it. As he had her sister.
Her heart skipped a beat. Soon he’d learn Vi’s baby had lived. Would he try to take Josie from the only family she knew? From the family that loved and cared for her, while he’d been gallivanting around the country, leaving who knew how many other unwed mothers in his wake?
Three years before, she’d been a silly seventeen-year-old girl with a secret crush on her sister’s handsome beau. Both she and Vi had been fools. No longer.
If Rafe Rafferty tried to intrude in Josie’s life, he would soon learn she was no longer that starry-eyed teenager who’d found him captivating. She was the same as a mother to Vi’s child and would protect that little girl from a man who might be handsome, might be intriguing, but who would bring harm to everyone in his path.  


Janet Dean grew up in a family who cherished the past and had a strong creative streak. Her father recounted fascinating stories, like his father before him. The tales they told instilled in Janet a love of history and the desire to write. Today Janet spins stories for Love Inspired Historical. She is a two-time Golden Heart finalist, a Genesis and a Carol finalist and a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novels are Golden Quill, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Booksellers Best and Inspirational Readers Choice Award finalists. 

114 comments :

  1. Janet, a perfect post for the season where we wait expectantly for our Savior.

    I'd say the hardest thing I've ever had to wait for was test results. 2014 was a bad health year for me. I waited for multiple test results. Then 2015 was a very scary year health wise for my sister. More waiting and much praying.

    The best thing I've ever received were the results from those tests. You quickly realize how very precious your health is.

    As for a verse, well there are many and some would only make sense to me. I believe when you are facing tough times and looking for a scripture to claim God provides one. Often for just that specific circumstance.

    I hope my response didn't sound dreary! I'm so thankful for God's blessings.

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    1. Not dreary at all. So sorry you went through this but as you say, those verses "appear" at just the right time don't they? Kinda like God's in control or something. We're so thankful and believe in His goodness and mercy. Learning to completely trust Him is a lifelong endeavor. :)

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    2. TERRI, your response isn't dreary. It's life shared. I'm so very glad those test results were good. What an immense relief that had to be for you and your sister. Those scary times make us appreciate each new day and each other.

      Janet

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    3. KC, you're exactly right that learning to trust Him completely is a lifelong endeavor, at least it is for me. I'm thankful He's a patient teacher.

      Janet

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    4. Terri, I remember those times while you waited! I'm so thankful all turned out well.

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  2. Such wisdom here, Janet.

    Wonderful. Just wonderful. And what I needed!

    It's likely not THE hardest thing, but we are still waiting to find our beloved Anna. She's been missing since the day after Thanksgiving. http://www.lsn.com/help-us-find-her-please/5239346.html

    As May says in our latest release, "I hate to wait." She has to learn it's all in God's timing though, and I am trying to remember that lesson too.

    Thank you and a very Merry Christmas everyone!

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    1. KC, I'm praying Anna is okay and you'll find her. Is it really cold where you are? Seems like it's not. We all hate to wait during scary times. I'm so sorry you have this worry.

      Hugs to you.
      Janet

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    2. So sorry Anna is lost, KC! Praying she finds her way home soon!

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    3. KC, I'm so sorry! I keep hoping to come to the blog and hear that you've found Anna.

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    4. Thank you all so much.
      No, no "BbbrrrrooooOOOOOOO" greeting yet. So. We wait, hopeful and expectant.
      Having others like you, Janet, Myra and Missy, help us wait, well... It helps. :) And so many FURiends on line too.

      Janet, yes it is frigid now, as in much of the country. We're in middle TN, between Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga (where there really is a choo choo!)...
      It's been in the teens at night but typically gets above freezing during the day. We have 4 seasons so, for this TX girl, it's a wonderful place to live.

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    5. I love your area, KC. Hoping and praying you get Anna back for Christmas.

      Janet

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  3. When my husband was fired years ago from a good paying upper management job, that was the scariest time in our lives! You see, he has always been the one to hold down a job & provide for the family while I stayed home. This happened unexpectedly, suddenly and without warning. He had worked for this company almost 10 years so we never thought anything would happen. To say the least, it was extremely hard to find a decent paying job for him. He did find one about a week later, but it barely made the bills. I had to go to work for a season to help take care of our needs...I hated it! Then we had to file for bankruptcy. That just about broke me, honestly! I had a hard time trusting God, my husband never did. I told him he has to have the faith for both of us because I didn't. Well, we went through a hard season, but came out the other side better. God had better plans for us and in a much better financial spot than we'd been in. I can only say that my husbands rock solid faith got me through that! His example of what it truly means to lean on God came to life. I was devastated, but he just kept on plugging away. Coming through the fire like that taught me more than anything that God WILL take care of us, He WILL provide for us and WILL see us through hard times.

    Scripture, I love where it says that we can cast ALL of our cares on Him because He cares for us! Also, where it says in Hebrews "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin". I know it's talking about temptation, but the part I like is where it says He sympathizes with our weaknesses. He understands more than anyone our times of trouble, trial and tribulation. Gives me goosebumps thinking about it! I love that He KNOWS and understands me :-)

    I enjoyed the excerpt from A Daddy for Christmas and want to know "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey used to say :-) Thanks for the chance to win a copy Janet!

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    1. TRIXI, thanks for sharing the beautiful Scriptures that helped you during the financial crisis your family went through. Trust when life is scary is hard for me, too. We're both blessed to have husbands who are the spiritual leaders of the home and a Heavenly Father who understands and loves us. I'm so glad you're now in a better place financially and can look back and see how God took care of you.

      Thanks for your interest in my novella. Merry Christmas!

      Janet

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    2. Beautiful testimony, Trixi. What a wonderful faith lesson to learn -- both for you and for us now that you've shared.

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    3. Trixi, what an amazing testimony--which is another positive thing to come out of that terrible time. Your words really touched me.

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    4. Thanks for sharing, Trixi! Life is filled with good times as well as struggle. Glad God brought you through that tough time!

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  4. What an uplifting post, Janet! I love the seasons of waiting.... Advent and Lent are two favorite times for me... but I agree, the waiting for things is tough sometimes. That motherhood business... :)

    What are six week bran muffins? And if you make these, you need to share on Yankee Belle Cafe, darling! How fun would that be to have Janet in the kitchen???

    I love bran muffins.

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    1. RUTHY, we moms want the best for our kids and grandkids. I'm so grateful for the gift of prayer.

      I haven't made six-week bran muffins for years. I have no idea why except the calories aren't cyber. :-) I used to make a batch at Thanksgiving and it would keep until I used it up making muffins at Christmas.

      Any openings in January in the Yankee Belle kitchen? I have other recipes I could share.

      Janet

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    2. Darling, for you we'll create an opening! :) I'll e-mail you and we'll set it up... And I'll get out the very best dishes!

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    3. RUTHY, I'm honored. Just give me enough notice to actually cook. LOL

      Janet

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  5. Great post Janet. I guess one of the scariest things I've waited for was a period of test results on my husband. We both had our verses we clung to. Mine was 2 Timothy 1;7 which says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind." When all was said and done, it was determined that my husband was fine. God is so good!

    I'd like to know what Swedish Fruit Soup is...it sounds wonderful.

    May you all have a blessed week!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. CINDY, I love your verse, too, and that your husband is fine. I hope your mom is able to enjoy Christmas.

      Swedish Fruit Soup is a concoction of various canned fruits that are drained, then a can of cherry pie filling is mixed into all the fruit, which makes a sauce. Bake at 350 until it's bubbly--about thirty minutes. It's tasty and colorful. I use pineapple tidbits, sliced peaches, sliced pears, mandarin oranges, halved apricots, and a cup of golden raisins. This is modified as the recipe calls for currants and prunes. I make this and the egg bake and a coffeecake for Christmas morning. Fresh fruit isn't very good this time of year.

      Janet

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    2. Sounds yummy, Janet. I wondered about it as well. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Being in God's "waiting room" is a perpetual part of our life to varying degrees. And if sometimes we're not there for ourselves, we're there to prayerfully hold the hand of someone else who is. Beautiful reminder, Janet, of how God wants us to faithfully look to him. Thank you.

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    1. GLYNNA, sadly you're so right. We all have loved ones, even strangers, we're praying for who are going through hard times, too often those tough times involve cancer. I'm awed that we're able to talk with the Creator of the Universe and entrust Him with these dear ones.

      Janet

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  7. Hi Janet, this was perfect for me because I'm waiting patiently on God. My hope is in Him. Thanks for this beautiful post!

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    1. JACKIE, God bless you as you wait. Patience is not easy, but hope abounds.

      Merry Christmas!
      Janet

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  8. Beautiful post, Janet. My go to verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. No matter how long the wait, I must put my trust in the Lord. Sometimes the waiting is difficult, but I have faith that the outcome will be what's best for me. Thank for you for the reminder. Merry Christmas!

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  9. JILL, trusting that the outcome is what's best for us is not always easy, but its in releasing control that God can truly bless us with peace and joy.

    Merry Christmas!
    Janet

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  10. HI Janet, What a super post. I love how you applied scripture to all of the stages of waiting. We truly do need to trust in the Lord. One thing about being this age, you have lots of hindsight. There are so many instances where I had worry and doubt while going through a trial and now looking back, I can so see God's hand in all of my circumstances.
    For example I wondered why my writing career didn't take off after retiring, but then I had about ten years of intensive elder care for parents and friends. Looking back I am so thankful I didn't have deadlines to meet because my time was pretty much taken up by these responsibilities. And also-I saw how the circumstances occurred after I had retired so I truly did have the time to be there for my family and friends. smile
    I have so many verses I rely on. "Be still and know that I am God " Psalm 46:10 is probably the one that comes up the most. Hugs and merry Christmas to you my friend.

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    1. SANDRA, thanks for the perfect example of God's provision in your waiting! You have a lovely servant's heart, a huge blessing for the precious loved ones you took care of.

      I love that verse. Too often I'm noisy. When I'm still is when I truly feel God's presence.

      Merry Christmas, dear Seeker sister.
      Janet

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  11. This may sound dumb, but the first thing that popped into my mind about waiting was: waiting for a husband. (didn't get married until 40)

    As for best answer to prayer ever: becoming a mommy. I wasn't really praying for it because I figured mommyhood had passed me by, but the Lord knew the prayer of my heart and gave me Nathaniel, aka Guppy. (Nathaniel means: gift of God)

    As for a favorite verse that gets me through tough times, I tend to like Isaiah 49:15b-16a: "...I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" added to the old standby: Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

    no need for me to be in the draw, I have your wonderful "A Daddy for Christmas" story already.

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    1. I love that verse, Deb! And what sweet answers to prayers God has given you!

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    2. DEBH, The wait for a husband doesn't sound dumb at all. What a blessing he is. You've seen God's goodness. Even when you didn't specifically pray for a child, God knew the desires of your heart. Praise His name!

      Thank you for your sweet words about my novella. Merry Christmas!

      Janet

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    3. How special, DebH, to wait for your husband and child. God gifted you so beautifully!

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  12. A beautiful, heartfelt, and inspiring post today, Janet! Just perfect for the season!

    My 25-year wait for a book contract certainly required patience and faith. But God knew what the right time for me was even if I didn't.

    Another difficult waiting time for me is always when our daughter and her family leave for overseas missionary work. They have been away twice now, each time for about three years, and now are preparing to leave again. I'm doing my best to enjoy them while they are with us.

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    1. MYRA, you had a long wait for publication. It's wonderful to see how God has richly blessed you with multiple publishers and many books on the shelves.

      I think you handle your kids being far away in the mission field really well. I can only imagine how hard that is. Enjoy this Christmas with them. The little ones grow up so fast!

      Janet

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  13. This was a beautiful post, Janet!

    My biggest season of waiting...wait, I've had several. *sigh* When my husband lost his job of more than thirty years and we despaired of him being hired again at his age...when we were trying so hard to have children, but repeated miscarriages defeated us more times than I want to count...when I thought I would never get married because the only man I wanted to marry didn't seem interested...

    But even in the midst of those times - and through those times - God still drew me to himself.

    In our last season of waiting, Joshua 1:9 became the verse I held onto: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

    In this Christmas season, it is so good to remember the great love He has for His children, isn't it?

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    1. JAN, you've had huge, very difficult waits, yet you lived your faith and clung to God. Thanks for sharing that precious verse from Joshua that helped you.

      I am awed that God left the glory of Heaven to come to earth in the flesh, the greatest gift ever given...until He gave His life. No matter what we face, we have the promise of Heaven.

      Janet

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  14. I really enjoyed this post, Janet!

    Waiting on the Lord can be so difficult. His timing is mysterious but there's a purpose to it all. "Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding." For me, it all goes back to trust.

    You're right. Hope is everything.

    Your quote above...I first read it as "Keep your eyes on the SON and the shadows will fall behind you." Fixing our eyes on Jesus is a surefire way to give us hope while we wait.

    Your smorgasbord sounds amazing. I've got tourtière, sugar pie, and a bûche de noël over here because I always go traditional French-Canadian this time of year. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Janet!

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  15. JOSEE, SON is more appropriate, isn't it?

    I heard this poem recently: Two men look through the same bars. One sees mud, the other sees stars. For me this is a reminder to look up to the One who loves us, not down at our circumstances.

    Tell us more about tourtière and a bûche de noël. I think I know sugar pie as that's served in Indiana.

    Janet

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  16. Great post, Janet. My hardest waiting? I think it was when I was waiting for Mom to get out of surgery, then when I waited for her to get well enough to be taken off of life supports. Without God's presence throughout that time, I don't know how I would have made it.
    I don't like excerpts, so I didn't read it...I'll wait for the book. Thanks for the chance to win

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  17. MARIANNE, life is so precious and fragile, at times. Without God I can't imagine getting through those hard times when life and death hang in the balance. I'm so glad your mom is doing well.

    Somehow I thought you'd read the Seeker Home for Christmas historical novella collection. If so, you've read A Daddy for Christmas. If not, your name is in the Santa hat.

    Janet

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  18. JANET, how I loved your thoughts today! A balm to our souls on this cold Monday morning.

    A scripture that has always carried me through the highs and lows is Jeremiah 29:11. It grounds me when things of this world become just too much. Also, your graphic scripture, Hebrews 11:1, is a powerhouse scripture, too. It centers us and propels us forward. Ultimately, it's why we do anything.

    Hardest thing I've ever had to wait for? Our season in the dry-as-dust desert when our son was so ill years ago. He was healed--according to God's plan, but not quite in the way we planned or envisioned. (HUGE lesson from that one.)

    The other hardest thing??? The publishing journey. Yes. That one. Too.

    Thank you for the encouragement!

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    1. CYNTHIA, the desert is a tough place to dwell. Makes me think of the years God's people wandered there and the lessons they had to learn. The Scriptures you shared give us hope when the waiting is especially hard.

      God bless you.
      Janet

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  19. Perfect, encouraging post for this season. I love how you've laid it all out. It gives me hope to read both it and all the comments. God is actively involved in our lives!

    So -- I'm still in a waiting period -- for healing. But as much as I'd love to wake up and be pain-free I've experienced so many blessings and answers to prayer over the last several years that I feel so encouraged. I know He's walking this walk with me.

    When I couldn't get out to attend my church in the suburbs (I live downtown) the Lord prompted a pastor to plant a church right in my neighbourhood -- in a community that is closing churches, not opening them! And it is thriving. I'm even able to attend a bible study in a home very close to me!

    And I want to share this because I feel it's important to know that God can take all your messy stuff -- negative emotions like anger and sorrow -- and He is still so faithful.

    As my neuropathy progressed, I knew I would have to switch from a cane to a walker. That was bad enough, but it happened right when I interviewed for a job I really wanted at a college library. I felt I had to disclose my mobility challenges in the interview and it cost me the job. One I was well qualified for since I'd been working there part-time for fifteen years! Then I realized that I couldn't manage keeping the part-time position either -- not and continue my full-time job as a school librarian.

    I was a sorry case the last day I worked at the college library and when I locked up the library for the last time I was seething with rage and well into a major pity-party. And I let it all loose on God, finishing off with something to the effect of "If you're listening and really care about me now would be a good time to show it." I was hobbling along the school hallways towards the exit that led to the buses when this kid stopped me. So nervous he was practically jumping out of his skin. He stuttered that he he felt he needed to tell me something. "God knows you and loves you and He wants to heal you." Seriously. This 18 year-old college 1st year student just came to me minutes after I'd thought that horrible rant of a prayer and answered it! And then he offered to pray for me. Talk about eating some humble pie!

    No need to enter in the draw -- I have that Christmas collection and loved that story. Merry Christmas, Janet.

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    1. Moments like yours with the student are utterly amazing! And how cool that the church opened in your neighborhood!

      Keeping you in our prayers, Kav!

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    2. KAV, thanks for sharing the beautiful answer God sent after your rant of a prayer via a nervous, obedient college student. Your story gave me chills. Aren't we thankful for God's broad shoulders and loving heart? He sends what we need, right when we need it.

      Merry Christmas, Kav!
      Janet

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    3. Kav, your story brought tears to my eyes. God spoke through that young man...and you listened!

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  20. JANET, thank you so much for this timely post. Waiting is not passive. We have to encourage ourselves in the Lord.

    Have a very Merry Christmas!

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    1. CARYL, I so agree that waiting is not passive. We fill our minds with God's promises. We look for the miracles and daily blessings. We use the talents and resources God provides. We bow our heads and accept His will. Thanks for the reminder.

      Janet

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  21. thanks Janet - this spoke to my heart in a big way. It's so easy to give up when you don't know if what you're waiting for will ever come to fruition. The wait has become my calling as I learn to trust in the bigger plan. God has got this as He has reminded me so many times.

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    1. Trusting in the bigger plan is crucial, isn't it, Cindy? I love the phrase "God's got this." It's simple encouragement and a vital reminder!

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    2. CINDY, God does have this and all the things we're working toward or walking through.

      The Bible is full of stories of God's people having to wait. Noah and his family waited in the ark. Abraham and Sarah waited for Isaac. God's people waited for the Messiah. Mary and Martha waited for Jesus to arrive and heal their sick brother, then were upset that He was too late. God is never late. There were reasons for the delay as was true when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, revealing God's glory and strengthening the disciples's faith.

      Janet

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  22. Hi Janet:

    Merry Christmas!
    Love this post today!
    Much food for thought!


    Anyone can hope. It's having faith that makes the difference. While you can have hope without faith, (I can hope to win the lottery but I have no faith in that I will), it is hard to have faith without its concomitant hope. (It's been much too long since I've employed my old friend 'concomitant'. :))

    "While faith can move mountains, hope is left to wish that someone or something else will move the mountains."

    "Put your faith in action and hope will follow as night follows day."

    Also your comment that "we're light and salt in this world" reminded me of a favorite Bible quote from Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV)

    13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
    14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
    15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
    16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


    This is why I advise to write the last chapter of your novel first so that I can serve as a beacon of light and hope atop the mountain of work yet required to finish your WIP. No saggy valley is so low that you can't still see the beacon! Just as a pantser can write the first chapter without knowing where the novel is going, so too, can a retro-pantser write the last chapter without knowing just how she is going to get there!

    What do I hope for?

    Lately, I've been hoping that when I see a bright new shiny Christmas novella that captures my desire, I hope that it's not part of a collection I've already read. : (

    Also, since I have all your books, I hope some nice person wins it, loves it, and writes great reviews everywhere!

    You see, that's the true Christmas spirit.

    (Of course, I'd love to have the original artwork for the cover of "Courting Miss Adelaide" -- did you know some publishers will sell the author the original artwork if they feel they don't need it again and those authors hand the artwork in their living rooms and halls? It was in RT so it must be true.)

    Vince

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    1. VINCE, thanks for sharing some of your thoughts on faith and hope. I sometimes wonder when we pray for a very sick person's healing--or for that mountain to be moved--if we are afraid to truly hope lest we'll be shaken if the answer is no. Do we even utilize the power of the Holy Spirit within us, the power that raised Jesus from the dead? Many things about God are a mystery.

      Janet
      Janet

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    2. VINCE, I'm sorry I have no new novella for you this Christmas. But I love your definition of the Christmas spirit. :-)

      I'd love to own the original artwork of the cover of Courting Miss Adelaide, too! I have a poster size print of my second cover Courting the Doctor's Daughter that I purchased from the artist. Meeting him and seeing his studio and other art was great fun! I wrote a post about him.

      Janet

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    3. JANET: I'd love to read that post about the artwork and meeting the author. Could you post a link to it or given me some key words so I could find it. Thanks Vince.

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    4. JANET: That's okay about the stand alone publication of your novella. I wish all novellas came with that option as often I only want one or two of the stories in the collection. If the collection is high priced and I only want one story, sad to say, I just pass on the whole thing. Please keep the stand alones coming out.

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    5. Here's the link to the post on cover artist James Griffin:

      https://seekerville.blogspot.com/search/label/cover%20artist

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  23. They serve sugar pie in Indiana?! I wonder how close it is to what I grew up with.

    Tourtière is meat pie, usually made with ground pork, potato and cinnamon and cloves. Double crust, served with chow chow (fruit ketchup). It wouldn't be Christmas without it!

    The bûche is a yule log cake. I'd go with my grand-maman to pick up her order from the bakery in town. We always got two: vanilla with a raspberry cream filling, frosted in white, fluffy frosting and a chocolate one with a coffee cream filling. There were marzipan mushrooms and always a little scene with a plastic santa and his sleigh or deer and little trees. She'd let me keep them. : )

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    1. JOSEE, the meat pie and yule log cake sound wonderful! Are you French Canadian? One of my favorite places in Canada is Quebec!

      My mother in law's sugar pie was made with brown sugar, flour and milk and baked in a crust. Another form is sugar cream pie, which has eggs and is more like a custard. What's yours like?

      Janet

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  24. Well Joseee, you just gave me a lesson on French Christmas.

    Now I am starving. I recently (yesterday) watched a video of How It's Made, that was a French factory making yule logs for Christmas. Theirs were rasberry jam and chocolate sponge cake and ice cream frosting on top.

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    1. I know I'd love these! The log shape is part of the fun at Christmas, just like cutout cookies are.

      Janet

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  25. I spelled raspberry wrong. I saw it and ignored the warning. Bad author!

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    1. I've often wondered how the raspberry got its name. And its spelling. ;-D

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    2. MYRA, why not ask GQ to find the answer and report back. If she's not too busy shopping for you. ;-)

      Janet

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    3. I'm keeping GQ under wraps for the holidays. Things are crazy enough without her nagging!

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  26. Janet, was a lovely pre holiday post. I live for HOPE. Hope is my middle name. What is there without hope? "My people perish without hope."

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    1. TINA, Maybe we should all change our middle names to Hope. ;-) Hope is almost a command. Maybe I should scratch the almost.

      Janet

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  27. Oh, WOW, Janet -- not only is this post incredibly beautiful, but SO timely for so many of us ... AND so helpful!!

    Like Trixi, one of the hardest things we had to go through was my husband losing his job after 30 years, especially since I'd quit my job the year before to write full time. Needless to say, God was our Rock during that time and saw us through with such peace and hope.

    But the hardest thing we've ever gone through was when a doctor in my son's college town called to tell us that he thought our son had cancer and that we should get him in to a specialist as soon as possible. I remember hanging the phone up, stunned, sobs rising in my throat as I prayed and prayed. That night in bed, I couldn't sleep because I kept seeing my son in a casket, the awful picture playing over and over again like a horror movie. I finally fell asleep with Scriptures on my lips and tears in my eyes. The next day I memorized a number of Scriptures and said them again and again, clinging to God's peace like never before. Keith is usually the rock in situations like that, but he was a nervous wreck and I was a mirror lake while we waited for tests to be run. I finally printed off Scriptures and shoved them in his pocket. "Here--memorize these and pray them," I ordered, and he did.

    I'm happy to say that God carried us both through that week with the peace and hope His Word so consistently promises. And when we discovered our son did not have cancer, we rejoiced and thanked God with all of our might, praising Him to the skies!

    Hugs and more hugs!
    Julie

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    1. JULIE, to receive such a diagnosis for one of your kids had to be terribly scary. Frankly I'm upset a doctor would suggest cancer without running a single test! But you were a beautiful example of hanging onto hope as you memorized Scripture and no doubt wore out your knees while you waited for test results. You must've felt like a heavy weight slipped off your shoulders when you learned he was fine.

      Janet

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  28. Janet - I forgot to tell you that I read A Daddy for Christmas a few years ago and am reading it again this week. I love this story as it has such a powerful message of redemption and forgiveness. Thanks for writing it.

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    1. CINDY, thanks for your encouraging words!

      Janet

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  29. Such a touching post! Thank you. As for waiting, I used to try to make things happen and step out in front of God...eager little racehorse that I was. Finally, the Lord has taught me to rest in Him as I wait. Have a blessed Christmas, Janet!

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    1. BARBARA, I love that you describe yourself as an eager little racehorse. I can see you tearing up the track, racing towards the finish line.

      Do you like to watch horse races as much as I do? I'm amazed that as soon as the last horse is in position, the gate springs open and they're off. Wouldn't that be fun in real life? You're not the only one who's had to learn to rest in Him as you wait.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours!
      Janet

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  30. I've had to wait on lots of things. I've had to wait for vacations, wait for my little brothers to be born, had to wait a year to get our dog, and wait eight weeks until our puppy was old enough to come home with us. One particularly hard thing to wait for is on myself to finish writing my books! It takes so long!

    Thank you for this encouraging post.

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    1. NICKY, I hope handling the little waits makes the bigger waits a bit easier to manage. Writing books takes time. The most productive Seekers put words on the page every day no matter what. Those words add up and the habit gets ingrained. Still you don't want to miss out on the fun things of your youth. Balance is important.

      Merry Christmas!
      Janet

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  31. Such a lovely post. Thank you Janet. It was the perfect peace I needed during my lunch break. :)

    What is the hardest thing you’ve had to wait for?
    -I would have to say that was probably my husband. Like Deb H, I got married after 40 -four days to be exact. :) And really I think God waited on me more than I waited on God. I really had to get my act together and also really know a good man when I saw one.

    What is the best answer to prayer you’ve ever received?
    There are far too many to list, but the best will be when my father accepts Jesus as his savior. I'm still waiting.

    What Scripture helps you through the toughest times?
    Definitely Deuteronomy 31:8
    "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
    Seriously how can that not totally rock your world? The Lord HIMSELF goes before you...THAT ROCKS! If I was the tattoo type, I would have that on my arm. I do have it engraved on a ring though.

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    1. KELLY, you make an excellent point! God often has to wait on us to get our act together before we're ready for a yes. Thank you for mentioning another reason for a wait.

      Like you, I've been praying for years for family members to accept Jesus. This is one prayer we are positive is in God's will. I'm seeing some changes so I'm full of hope.

      I love your verse! God going before us makes me think of wagon train scouts who rode ahead to make sure the trail was safe or to search for pure water that was the difference between survival and death.

      Janet

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  32. Janet, what a beautiful post. My wait of almost 12 years to get published seemed like forever. I almost gave up several times. But God always gave me hope, whether through the encouragement of other writers, through judges in contests or by rekindling my desire. I'm thankful for hope! Especially during this Christmas season.

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    1. MISSY, I'm sure many have felt the same way as you did. But if you'd given up, your wonderful books wouldn't have been on the shelves to bless readers. I hope that's an encouragement for all those waiting for publication to hang in.

      Janet

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  33. I also meant to say my favorite verse recently is Isaiah 41:10.

    So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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  34. Janet, you've written the perfect Advent post. This season is all about anticipation and expectation...and waiting for the Christ Child to be born again. I've so enjoyed reading all the comments and the favorite scriptures.

    My son's first deployment to Iraq was my hardest waiting time. He had four deployments but the first was the most difficult for me. Praise God that he returned each time safe and sound. I pray daily for our military and my heart breaks for all those parents whose children paid the highest sacrifice. God bless them all.

    My favorite scripture: John 15:16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit.

    I always question if I'm bearing fruit and whether it's good fruit.

    I also love "Be not afraid." Seems it appears in scripture more than 300 times. That's a message the Lord wants to drive home. When I become fearful/stressed/worried, I find comfort in his Word!

    Happy Advent to all!

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    1. DEBBY, thank you! I've also been blessed by the comments and Scriptures as you have.

      I can't imagine waiting for a son (or for that matter, a husband) to return from war, not once but four times. My heart aches for those who've lost loved ones or whose loved ones are suffering from wounds or PTSD. We need to remember our soldiers in daily prayer.

      You are bearing fruit! Never doubt that for a minute.

      With so many references not to fear in the Bible, God knows that fear is a huge joy and peace robber and can stop us from living for Him.

      Janet

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    2. DEBBY: Funny thing about God choosing his children. I had a college course in Judaism and the teacher said that in the beginning God asked every other people if they would give up their gods and be His chosen people. All but the Jews said no! It seems the Jews chose their God and even made a covenant to this effect. I wonder how it really was. Vince

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  35. MISSY, that verse has everything. I especially love that God says He'll uphold us with his righteous right hand, such a beautiful image!

    Janet

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  36. God is good.

    Janet, I am not a patient person. Anyone who has ever seen me in waiting mode can tell you that. My leg's always bouncing, or I'm always jiggling. I think that's why I love Advent and Lent so much...those beautiful seasons that remind me to be still and wait.

    Jossee and I have the same verse. Proverbs 3:5-6
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

    I have had many waiting seasons in my life. The hardest was when my 19 yo brother didn't show up for hours, and we later learned he'd been killed in a car accident. It's been 22 years, and I still miss him. But I trust he's waiting to greet me. I have waited through my father's illness. There was sadness and grace, though as he made his way back to the Lord before he passed.

    As I said, God is good. All the time.

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    1. DANA, you and my husband are made from the same active cloth. When we were younger, I could occasionally feel the entire church pew jiggle. :-)

      I'm so thankful God is directing our paths as I have no sense of direction.

      I'm so sorry about the loss of your precious brother and your dad. It's such a blessing to know you'll meet one day in Heaven.

      Janet

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  37. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

    I think of this verse and it gives me some hope that I will survive what ever problem has come my way.

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    1. ablst niki l, that's a favorite verse of mine. Sometimes I wonder if I'd be up to some challenge others are going through, but then I remember I won't get what I need until I need it. Perfect timing.

      Janet

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  38. This is a very encouraging post, Janet. I wish I had time to read all the comments as I'm sure they are all interesting. A difficult time of waiting for me was going through infertility. This was after we lost our first child, so already going through a very difficult time. After years of tests and infertility treatment, I was ecstatic to learn I was pregnant. God had truly answered that prayer. That baby is the son who just graduated from college yesterday, so I am truly blessed.

    No need to put me in the drawing. I already have that novella. I really enjoyed it.

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    1. SANDY, I'm so sorry you lost a child and then struggled with infertility. What a joy to have your son, all grown up and making you proud!

      I'm thankful you enjoyed A Daddy for Christmas.

      Janet

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  39. What are six-week bran muffins? I've never heard of them.

    Also, I have a copy of the collection, so please don't include me in the drawing.

    What's the thing I've waited on the longest? Ironically, it's something I want to keep waiting on. It's watching my older son grow up and deal with the challenges of his disability. I keep wondering when he's going to hit a wall. Thankfully, he continues to conquer every barrier.

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    1. WALT, six-week bran muffins are made with all the usual muffin ingredients along with Raisin Bran cereal and buttermilk. The mix lasts six weeks in the refrigerator, the reason I made it before Thanksgiving and used it up at Christmas.

      Your son proves waiting can be a blessing. I know you're proud that he's conquering every barrier of his disability. God bless him and you.

      Merry Christmas!
      Janet

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  40. Janet, thank you so much for such a lovely post. Like others here I've experienced the waiting for medical test results, for myself and loved-ones, and recall the anxiety, fear and dread that accompanied those waits. Prayer, scripture and supportive family and friends made all the difference. I can't say that I understand why and how some of the prayers were answered (and I know I'm not necessarily supposed to) but knowing that God was in control, always and all ways, and that I could let go and give the doubt and fear to Him was what kept me going. Thank you for such a thought-provoking post.

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  41. Janet, so beautifully said. I'm printing it and hanging it in front of me to remind me the wait is worth it.

    Publication is the hardest thing I've had to wait for in forever. Waiting for an agent. Waiting for someone to find my stories worth printing. It's exhausting at times.

    I keep lots of scriptures around me on sticky notes. Reminders that God is faithful to do what He said He will do.

    One of them is:
    Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

    The best answered prayer I ever received was my eldest child. I prayed and prayed for a baby and I call her My Answered Prayer. She reminds me that God hears the cries of our hearts and He is good.

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    1. SHAREE, the wait is worth it, as your precious firstborn and this verse continually remind you. Never give up.

      Janet

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  42. LAURA, bad times are tough and scary. Thanks for reminding us God is in control. Thankfully fear won't overpower us when we know God has the final word and gave us prayer, Scripture and friends and family to see us through.

    God bless you.
    Janet

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  43. Janet, thank you for a beautiful post and for sharing those Christmases in the past that helped shape you into the inspirational (in more ways than one) writer you are today.

    For me, the wait seems long as I wait to have my daughter's MRI scans this week and next as she has some new symptoms. Thanks to all who have posted stories in the comments as I've been reading them and I love how the thread of faith interweaves all of them, giving strength to others as you all shared your stories and your waits. For me, the verse I find myself repeating so often is Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.

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    1. TANYA, I'm praying for your daughter and will pray for the result of her scans this week. I'm so sorry you have this ongoing worry for her. Your verse is perfect for handling something that is hard to understand.

      God bless you.
      Janet

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  44. I'm a little late coming to the party, but I just wanted to tell you how much I loved your post. Beautifully written. Thank you.

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    1. RENEE, thank you for your encouraging words.

      Merry Christmas!
      Janet

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  45. Janet, this lesson couldn't have been more timely. God's answers can sure turn our world upside down...like our son's suicide that ultimately led our--God's--Christian family to intense lifechanging faith and service. Beyond my prayers, He plotted the course for my family, which (6 years later) continues to glow through a pending sibling adoption from Hawaii and my daughter's family's wonderful faith and dedication. God IS good...yes, ALL the time. Thanks so much for the reminder.

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    1. Oops...I meant Haiti in the above post--not Hawaii!! I need my coffee!

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  46. I can't wait to read what happens next. Merry Christmas!

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    1. CARROLL, thanks for your interest in my story!

      Merry Christmas!

      Janet

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  47. REBECCA, you should've written my post. Your faith in the face of one of the worst things I can imagine is such a strong witness to our God's goodness and provision. God bless you and that precious child from Haiti who is joining your family.

    Janet

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    1. Thanks, Janet. My daughter and her husband are adopting siblings...a brother and sister, ages 2 and 4. We are so excited because they should be able to come home in a few months. What a thrill to watch God at work. Thanks for all you do, Janet. I love your posts.

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    2. Rebecca, siblings means twice as many reasons to celebrate! God bless your daughter and her husband for giving them a wonderful home.

      Thanks for your sweet words.
      Hugs, Janet

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  48. Sorry I'm a day behind, Janet, but wanted to say your post is beautiful (just like YOU!). Thank you for sharing with us - - just what I needed to read.
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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  49. Patti Jo, thank you, pretty lady! You always say such wonderful, encouraging words. You're a blessing!

    Hugs, Janet

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  50. This is such a beautiful post. I cam't think of anything more perfect as I take time to drink a cup of coffee on this day before Christmas Eve!
    Connie
    cps1950(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  51. Hi Janet,
    I'm catching up on emails from this week - your post was very timely and encouraging! Thank you for your obedience in writing on this particular topic! Merry Christmas!

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