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Posts Tagged ‘inspirational’

February 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Convenient Amish Proposal by Jan Drexler — When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs – a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience… Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Ocean’s Edge by Cindy M. Amos — Tired of Kansas, Wynn Yardley places her wish to touch the ocean into Dreams Come True Director Teague Montgomery’s hands, and then launches into an adventure to the seashore with him to discover the tidal zone–and affections for her companion. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Home Another Way by Brenda S. Anderson — Can a senator’s daughter and convict’s son overcome their differences and learn what it really means to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie by Sally Bayless — Cara Smith has a whole new life planned in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past. Will Hamlin, local editor, desperately needs a big story to keep his newspaper afloat, and Cara Smith is clearly hiding something. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses. When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Family Blessing by Lorraine Beatty — She owns the lodge but he owns the land. When single mom Carly Hughes the Longleaf Lodge, she gains a heap of trouble – her teenage crush Deputy MacKenzie Bridges. Her father left Mack the land around the lodge. While Carly wants to sell for her daughter’s sake. Mack wants to stay for his niece’s. and if they can’t work together, they’ll both lose everything… including the renewed spark between them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Calla by Hallee Bridgeman — Calla Vaughn is trying to get her life in order so she can go back to culinary school. No matter how hard she works, though, she feels like she is just treading water and can’t see any way out of the hole dug for her by a con artist who stole her identity. When flowers she sends to her best friend with a dinner invitation accidentally get delivered to Ian Jones, she decides to cook him the best meal he’s ever had. By the time she admits that the flowers were never for him, he is as convinced as she is that God orchestrated the mistake in the first place. All that’s left is to tell him the dark secret about her father’s widow. She waits a little too long, though, and is carted off to jail for questioning on felony charges before she gets a chance. Will Ian understand her situation, or will the deception surrounding Calla destroy any trust he has in her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Different Season by Jennifer Heeren — How do you go on when your heart is broken? Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac — Rachel Somers, ghost writer for America’s #1 relationship expert, is running out of ideas, but it’s keep up the charade or lose the income required to care for her father. The last thing she needs is her boss’s publicist concocting a scheme to pair her with some radio star in hopes it will spark the next book idea. Lucas Grant didn’t expect his fame on a late-night sports show to come with constant calls from women wanting relationship advice. Which means he has to waste hours on the phone with an expert like Dr. Donna Somerville talking about feelings when he’d rather be talking about his first love: football. Then a deal opens up with a big-time producer who suspects Dr. Somerville isn’t what she seems, and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Season of Hope by Lisa Jordan — His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree! Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Carolina Grace by Regina Rudd Merrick — She knows about God’s grace for her life, but pushes it away. He hasn’t experienced it, but finds grace in a way he never expected. First-year Special Education teacher Charly Livingston demonstrates God’s love on the outside, but is resentful that God allowed back-to-back tragedies in her family. Rance Butler is a top-notch medical intern. He’s on his way to the top, and when he meets Charly, he knows things will only get better. When he discovers family secrets and a dying father he never knew, his easy, carefree life seems to disintegrate. Even in the idyllic ocean breezes and South Carolina sunshine, contentment turns to bitterness and confusion except for God’s amazing grace. (Contemporary Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Street Singer by Kathleen Neely — While planning her own wedding, a law student works to help her favorite recording artist who has fallen on hard times. She finds an attorney who will work pro bono, but will her growing friendship with him come between her and her fiancé? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical Romance:

A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin — During the Nome, Alaska gold rush of 1900, a merchant sends for a serious-minded bride to help him raise his young nephews but welcomes a cheery and adventuresome woman who tests his determination to hold her at arm’s length. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis — After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith. (Historical Romance from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle GriepThe Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, Cornish Coast, 1815: When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret? The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner) Dakota Territory, 1862: Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins. A House of Secrets, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890: Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love’s Rescue by Linda Shenton Matchett — Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp? Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city? Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin — Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in late 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the base Aeroclub and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement. Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Mystery:

The Watch On the Fencepost by Kay DiBianca — In a deserted park on a cold winter day, twenty-seven-year-old Kathryn Frasier discovers a gold watch on a fencepost, and she has an ominous sense that it was deliberately left for her to find. But when she identifies the owner of the watch, she uncovers a dark family secret and a suspicion that her parents’ recent deaths may not have been an accident. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink Christian Publishing)

Coffee Club Mysteries by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, and Janice Thompson — The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . . Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop. Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead. Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought. Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing. Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock. Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives. Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care. (Cozy Mystery from Barbour Publishing)

The Sleuth’s Dilemma by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A high school English teacher’s life is turned upside down when she becomes the object of someone’s anger. (Romantic Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:

Restoration of the Heart by June Foster — Leaving his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment, Luke Chamberlain returns to his Christian values, rededicates his life to the Lord, and vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts. Janie Littleton, project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, Idaho–an 1890’s silver mining ghost town–believes no man would find her attractive, with her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair. So when contractor Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. But strange turns to worse when someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits. Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago? (Romantic Suspense from Forget Me Not Romance)

Innocence Denied by Mike Garrett — Derrick Walton, to atone for past sins, helps an Arizona socialite hide out in Alabama while a nation-wide manhunt ensues. Can he help Larissa see the need for her soul’s salvation in time? (Romantic Suspense from CrossLink Publishing)

Speculative:

The Soul Searcher by Erin R. Howard — Elnora’s parents gave her one rule: Stay hidden away at all costs. Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her now. When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat. (Urban Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Women’s Fiction:

A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney — When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton feels his world has fallen apart. As Ellen slips away from him day by day, their love is tested as never before. Desperately needing someone to confide in, John meets Julia Sinclair, a young widow who seems to understand his pain as no one else can. Torn between doing what he knows to be right and what his heart tells him surely can’t be wrong, John soon discovers that the heart cannot be trusted where true love is concerned. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Young Adult:

You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini – Middle schooler Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby. Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important. Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships. Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing? (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)

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I started reading the book of Matthew on January 1, using the theme: with new eyes. I want to see God’s Word in a fresh way in 2019.

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Matthew 11:3 features John the Baptist’s question to Jesus: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” John had obeyed God, and was now sitting in a cold, dank jail cell, his earthly future bleak. Perhaps—and I’m speculating here—he’d expected something entirely different from the Messiah he had prophesied about. The Jewish traditions handed down through the centuries may have created another expectation in his mind.

Jesus’ reply to John’s messengers (verses 4-6) was curt. “Go back and report to John what you hear and see…Blessed is the man who does not fall away because of me.”

As I read the first few verses of chapter eleven, I was reminded of a podcast my husband and I listened to recently by Ron Hutchcraft. The idea was that if we live life with expectation, we sometimes miss the freshness of a brand-new message. But, if we live with expectancy, we can be open to God’s surprises.

How often do my limited expectations get in the way of experiencing the newness of living in God’s Kingdom? If I live in expectancy, I am watching for whatever God has in his creative mind.

So, one of my goals this year is to live in expectancy of all God has for me, in all areas of my life. That’s definitely more exciting than my own expectations.

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December 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller — It’s almost Valentine’s Day at Beechy’s Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)

Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman — When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig — On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig — Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig — When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte — Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher — Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Historical:

Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy — Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)

The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller — Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where—or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)

Child of Light by Annette O’Hare — While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret’s prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson — Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid–Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)

Historical Romance:

The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Kathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse — Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women’s rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson — When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt — Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

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If you’ve tracked along with me since October 4th, you will have read the entirety of my Christmas short story, The Christmas Sweater. I really hope you enjoyed it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice L. Dick, Author

Photo Credit: Glenda Siemens

Janice was born and raised on a farm in southern Alberta, Canada, and currently lives on a farm in central Saskatchewan with her husband. She has loved the written word all her life, and began writing purposefully in 1989. Since then she has traditionally published three historical novels and independently published two more (a third to be released shortly).

Besides historical and contemporary novels, Janice also writes short stories, blogs, articles and book reviews.

Blog/website:  www.janicedick.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/janicedick

If you enjoyed this story, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I write mostly historical fiction, novel length, third person. This story was a divergence from my norm, and once I met Debbie, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I would identify more with Jeanne, and finding Debbie was, for me, an encouragement to live life more fully and to embrace each day with faith and joy. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I want to acknowledge G.G. for encouraging me to write not only a short story, but to write it in contemporary genre. I changed it up a bit more and used the first person point of view.

Thanks to Deanna Robertson and Jeanne Heal for reading my manuscript and giving me their honest suggestions about writing what I had not personally experienced.

Thanks also to Gwen Hernandez, who offers excellent courses in Scrivener, so I could figure out how to format this story and set the template for future independent publishing ventures.  Also to Susan Russo Anderson for her helpful how-to article on compiling Scrivener for .mobi.

 

BOOKS BY JANICE L. DICK

STORM SERIES

(these three titles are temporarily out-of-print, but will be re-released soon)

Calm Before the Storm

Eye of the Storm

Out of the Storm

 

IN SEARCH OF FREEDOM SERIES

Other Side of the River

In a Foreign Land

Far Side of the Sea (to be released shortly)

 

SHORT STORIES

The Christmas Sweater

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS! May the reason for the season be JESUS!

 

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A Daring Escape is apparently the second book in The London Chronicles series, so I must find the first (A Secret Courage). A Daring Escape tells of a young American woman, Amity Mitchell, who has been tutoring in England. When her brother, who is in the British Home Office, appeals for her help in Prague, she agrees, only to find herself in the midst of German occupation. Amity does her best to arrange transport to England for as many Jewish children as possible, at great personal risk.

A well-told story of the plight of Jews in the way of Hitler’s advance. With the characters, we experience fear, betrayal, courage, forgiveness, freedom. The situations many of the Jews found themselves in during that time was appalling. Many had already been sent to death camps, but in Prague, evacuation of children was still possible. The author’s depiction of the desperate situation and the hope brought by those willing to risk their own freedom, offers hope to the reader also. It made me ask myself, what would I have done in Amity’s place? If I’d had a train ticket back to England, would I have taken it, or stayed on to help as I could, even as the possibilities of escape narrowed?

A good read, thought-provoking and accurately described.

See the first book in the series below, and feel free to check out the many other titles by Tricia Goyer

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I’m glad you’re still with me for this final scene of my Christmas short story, The Christmas Sweater. Read on and enjoy!

 

Chapter Three—Scene Eight(1425 w)

I called Debbie’s house after lunch and she answered the phone.

“It’s Jeannie. How are you?”

“Hey, girl,” she said in a ‘trying to be cheery’ voice. “Sorry I missed our walk this morning. I was really tired.”

“Don’t apologize,” I said. “Are you feeling a bit better now?”

“Yup. Come on over.”

I could tell when I saw her that she’d tried to fix herself up, but she couldn’t hide the dark circles under her eyes, or the lack of sparkle in her usually bubbly personality.

“Debbie, you’re going to be okay. I know it. Just trust that God has it all under control.”

“Whoa! No elephants allowed in this room. Way to get right to the point, sister.”

I smiled and shook my head, glancing up at the ceiling. “I’ve lived with elephants too long. I’m done with denial. Facing the problem is half the battle, right?”

She heaved a huge sigh and I wanted to bite back my words.

“I know you’re right,” she said, “but memories of the treatments from last time keep me from fully agreeing with you. It wasn’t fun.”

I used my head for once and kept my mouth shut. This was her time, not mine.

She glanced around to make sure Mickey wasn’t there and said, “Sometimes I wonder if I should forget about treatment and just enjoy whatever time I have.” She met my eyes. “It’s overwhelming when you know what’s coming…Oh, sorry. I promised you tea and here I am whining.”

Before she could pull herself to her feet, I jumped up. “If you can make tea in my house, I can make it in yours.”

She sighed again. “Upper cabinet beside the fridge.”

“Hey,” I said, “you have a 1-cup coffeemaker. Want me to make you a coffee instead?”

“I’d love that,” she said, and her face was as close to a smile as I’d seen that day.

“Coffee it is,” I said, hunting around in her cabinets until I found her stash of Dark Roast pop-ins. “Think I’ll have some too.”

That made her swivel around in her chair. “You? Coffee? Wonders never cease. By the way, how’s the packing coming?”

“Packing?” I needed time to figure out how to tell her.

“Yeah, packing. You’re going to Paris in a week or so. Paris, France, remember?”

I carried our cups to the table, along with a box of cookies I’d found on the counter, and sat beside her, avoiding her eyes. “I’m not going.”

“You’re not…” She pointed her finger at me before she even took a sip of her coffee. “Now you listen to me. You’ve been doing so well with all this, you’re finally looking forward to something. I’ve seen it in your eyes. Why on earth are you thinking of backing out now?”

My turn to do the Debbie thing. I pointed right back at her. “Now you listen. You’ve been there for me since you moved in, prodding me to pull myself together and start living for real. And look what you’ve accomplished.”

“I didn’t do anything,” she interrupted. “You and God did.”

“Don’t get picky. What I’m saying is that now it’s my turn to be here for you. I’m not taking off on the trip across the pond to leave you here with your fears and worries.”

She snorted and leaned back in her chair. “Well if that doesn’t beat all.” Then she glared at me with those big dark eyes that had rediscovered a definite twinkle. “I’m not dead yet. I may not even be dying. I haven’t even had the tests. Could be I just caught a virus or something.”

She sat forward again. “I promise that if I have to, I will singlehandedly drag you onto the plane. Do you hear me? And remember, you have a daughter who needs you.”

I stared at her, indecision dancing in my brain. If I canceled my trip, I would leave Emily on her own. What kind of Christmas would that be for her? She was now depending on me to share this time with her. On the other hand, Debbie needed me too.

“Good,” she said. “At least you’re starting to think. I’ll let you finish your coffee and then you get back home and finish packing. Mickey and I are taking you to the airport next Tuesday and you’d better be ready.”

A slow smile spread over my face. She was right, of course. I couldn’t do much for her right now except listen and pray, and she’d never forgive herself if I stayed home because of her.

“But when I come back,” I began…

“When you come back, we’ll talk about it. Until then, don’t worry. We’ll do coffee every day I’m not up to walking. And I’ll let you know what the doc says as soon as we know.”

I had to say it. “But what about Christmas? This is the first year you and Mickey are away from your family. It’s going to be lonely.”

“Forget about it,” she said, with a wave of her hand. “We want to make the season special for my folks so we’ll be spending most of our time there. And,” she emphasized the word, “Mike Jr. and Sally are flying out for New Years. You’ll even get to meet them.”

I heard the click of doggie toenails enter the room and watched the mutt stop beside Debbie for an ear-scratch. Then, to my surprise, she trotted over and put her head on my knee.

Debbie laughed. “I don’t believe it! You take her for a walk once and she’s all over you.”

“Yup,” I said. “Steena and I are buddies, aren’t we?” I ruffled her silky curls and enjoyed the adoring look in her eyes, then grabbed a cookie and dipped it in my coffee. “Mmm. These are good.”

“You need a dog,” said Debbie, tongue in cheek.

“You might be right,” I said, and she nearly choked on her coffee. “That just might be my belated Christmas gift this year.”

She stared at me then hollered for Mickey. He arrived in short order, worry on his face. It smoothed out when he saw the sparkle in her eyes. “Honey,” she said, “will you get that box on the top shelf of our bedroom closet?”

“Anything for you, Pumpkin,” he said as he hurried off.

“Pumpkin?” I squeaked.

“Shush.”

Mickey returned in a minute with a large flat box, the kind clothing stores use to pack your purchase in.

“Thanks, Sweetie,” Debbie said, and turned to me. “I bought this a while ago already. Was gonna wait till you got home, but I think now is the time.”

Frowning, I looked from her to the box. “What’s this for?”

She grinned. “It’s a retirement gift.”

“Retirement? First of all, I didn’t work enough to warrant a gift, and secondly, I quit working a few years ago already.”

“Agh! Just open it, woman.”

Tentatively, I took the box, which was fairly lightweight, and set it on the table in front of me, careful not to spill my coffee. I opened it and saw, nestled inside, a fluffy sweater in a shocking shade of orangey-red. At a loss for words, I stroked the fabric.

“Oh Debbie, I love it. But why do you call it a retirement gift?”

“Because I won’t let you take Sam’s shabby shirt with you to Paris. Time to retire it, preferably in the trash, and start a new phase. So try it on already.”

I held up the sweater—a cardigan style with three large buttons down the front—then removed Sam’s shirt and pulled on the sweater. It felt as soft as Steena’s curls, and I pulled it around myself like a hug. “It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. Sam would love it. Red was his favourite color.”

“I’m not telling you to get rid of Sam’s old shirt, but let this sweater mark a new beginning.”

I laughed. “I love this shirt, but it’s going to fall off me in pieces one of these days.”

I hugged her fiercely, then stood on tiptoe and gave Mickey a kiss on the cheek. “You guys are the best. God sure knew what he was doing when he brought you here.” We were all getting a little red-eyed, so I grabbed up my stuff and turned to go.

“I have packing to do, folks. Thanks for the sweater. Bye Steena.” The mutt licked my hand and I grinned as I headed back home.

 

**Well, folks, that’s the end of the story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you’d like to hear a little more about the story, the author, and other bookish things, please find me here next Thursday, December 6th.

If you enjoyed this story, and if you want to make an author (me) very happy, please take time to go HERE, scroll to the bottom of the page where it says Customer Reviews, and leave an honest review. Thanks in advance.

 

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Below, see the seventh installment of my Christmas short story, The Christmas Sweater. Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and Christmas music in the background.

 

Chapter Two—Scene Seven

With the date of our trip coming up quickly, I spent a lot of time packing and making lists. I used the spare bedroom to lay everything out so I could see it at a glance and have a better idea if I’d missed anything. I even googled Paris and “what to take.”

I couldn’t remember being this excited in years and I knew I had no one to blame but myself. The more I thought about it, the more I felt badly for Sam and how I had kept him from doing some of the things he had really wanted to do. But I knew where he was now and that no earthly regrets bothered him.

I’d been living on the sidelines for so long I felt like a completely different person. I think my renewed excitement for life surprised even Debbie, which is a stretch. We’d been walking every day and as I grabbed my gear and headed out the door to pick her up, I thought of some things I needed to discuss with her about my trip.

It took several minutes for Mickey to answer the door, and when he did, I was stunned by his expression. His face was pale and pinched, his smile non-existent, and his manner subdued.

“Mickey, what’s the matter,” I asked as he stepped back to let me in. “Are you unwell? I just came by to pick up Debbie for our walk.”

He ran one of his large hands over his stubbly jaw and blinked rapidly a few times. “Listen, Jeannie,” he said. “Debbie isn’t feeling too well today, so you’ll have to excuse her. Sorry, I should have called and let you know.”

“Not well? How so? She looked fine yesterday. Maybe it’s a bug she’ll be able to shake in a day or so.” But in my heart I knew it could be something worse. When I stopped to think about it, Debbie had been quieter the past few days, and we had strolled more than hiked. Dread crept into my mind as I considered the possibilities.

“Can I see her?”

Mickey bunched his lips. “Can you give her a few hours? She didn’t sleep well and it’s taking her a while to pull herself together.”

I put a hand on his arm, aware that all the physical strength in the world couldn’t withstand emotional strain. “Of course. And count on my prayers in the meanwhile.” I paused, wondering if I should voice my worst guess, then thought of Debbie and plunged ahead. “Is it the cancer again?”

Tears formed in Mickey’s eyes. He turned his face away and shrugged. “Don’t know for sure. Going for more tests tomorrow, so we’ll see.”

“I’m so sorry. Please tell Debbie I love her.”

His grief kicked me in the gut and I turned to go. “Just let me know if there’s anything I can do.” An idea came to me. “Let me take Scruffy out. She’d love a walk.”

So I walked, more out of routine than anything else, but knowing the brisk air would clear my head. The silly mutt trotted along on her leash, as happy as if I’d given her a new chew toy. I’d done it again. First the endless months of grieving—not so much for Sam as for me I now knew, with my focus no more than six inches around me—then thinking of nothing but my upcoming trip. It was always about me, while Debbie spent her time counseling and encouraging me, even when she probably had a good idea her health was failing.

“Oh Lord,” I prayed as I walked. “Forgive me for my selfishness. I can’t believe what I’ve turned into this past year.” No, it had taken much more than a year to create the self-absorbed woman I’d become. Well, I had asked for forgiveness, and believed it granted, so now I had to do something about it. Walking Scooby was my first effort, and I’d continue to do so up until I left for Paris.

I stopped in my tracks, surprising the dog, and suddenly I knew what I had to do. Debbie had been there for me since she and Mickey had moved back. Now, when she really needed me, I was not going to take off on her.

 

**Only one more scene to go! Please come back next Thursday for the final installment!

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