Category: Holiday Post (page 1 of 3)

Longing for Home over the Holidays—Thoughts on Finding Home in a Good Book

“When you lay me down to die / I’ll open up my eyes on the skies I’ve never known / In the place where I belong / And I’ll realize His love is just another word for Home.” 

~ Songwriter Andrew Peterson, “Lay Me Down”

As the holidays approach, the highways fill with traffic and airport lines grow long as hordes of people try to fulfill their great desire—or obligation—to get home. Whether home is a safe and joyous place for you or a place filled with secrets and hurts, we all long to fill our home-shaped void. Sometimes our actual homes, unfortunately, just aren’t the places to satisfy our longings, no matter how great the distance we travel.

The word home connotes a place where safety, affection, and basic comforts like food, warmth, and water abound. But what if home is unable to meet your basic needs? For every family with windows fogged from warm food cooking in a hot oven to be served to laughing, loving people, others are lonely, wishing they had a family to celebrate with. Many suffer as the product of a broken home, or miss members serving in the military or those who have left this life. For these people, the hordes at the airport and on the roads contribute to their grief.

In Allison Pittman’s new book, Loving Luther, we meet Katharina von Bora, a young woman with a past filled with deprivation after her father sent her to live at a convent at an early age. The harsh living conditions, punishments, lack of love and possessions, and conditional approval all create an environment without grace, mercy, or belonging. Katharina longs for an escape from the rule-keeping that never results in love. Does this remind you of your own living conditions or those of anyone you know?

Home should be a place where we live in truth without harboring secrets, where we are loved for being our authentic selves and feel safe to disagree. But in Katharina’s story, despite confession, Scripture memorization, recited prayers, and paid penance, she becomes a liar and a sneak to hide the times she breaks the burdensome rules. Home should never be a place where we resort to sneaking and lying to avoid punishment.

Everyone is deserving of the dignity and safety offered in a loving home, but if home feels lacking for you on earth, we can remember our real home still awaits us. As we celebrate a King born in a stranger’s bed of straw, let’s remember we’re all truly homeless until we arrive in his presence at the end of this age. Our ultimate belonging happens with God and within the community of his church. At that point, we’ll all realize “his love is just another word for Home.”

Tyndale offers other titles that address the complicated relationships between family members. Maybe some of you need to consider how your parents’ pasts contributed to their parenting style. We see this play out in Francine Rivers’s novel Her Mother’s Hope as sensitive Hildemara interprets her mother Marta’s tough love as rejection when it’s actually an effort to instill independence and strength in her children to protect them from the hurts she experienced. Unfortunately, Marta’s tough love only pushes away her children. Often, understanding a person’s motives allows for healing and forgiveness. This Christmas, would you be helped by uncovering more of your own family story?

Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept also might provide some perspective. In this novel, protagonist Hannah Sterling longs for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following her mother’s death, Hannah discovers the existence of a grandfather she never knew who ends up holding the key to the family’s tragic past. Sometimes other family members hold the answers we seek.

This Christmas, may we strive to understand our family histories. And may we not forget those around us who have no safe place to go. If possible, invite them into your celebrations, to sit at your table and feast. And keep them in your prayers.

To continue the conversation about home and family, we’re offering these titles as e-book deals this month:  

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

Visit E-book Extra for more great deals available this month!

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Thanks for reading! When you think of home, do you think more of a person, a place, or a promise?

Let us know in the comments!

Possibilities List for 2016— New Year Thoughts from Francine Rivers

A guest post by Francine Rivers

After the excitement and joy of Christmas, I begin to ponder the coming year—and my possibilities list. A wise friend once told me “resolutions” has a legalistic sound to it, a “must do” that puts stress on one to achieve everything put down on paper. Anything less than perfection would be failure. I like the slogan “progress, not perfection.” Hence—I went with her suggestion: possibilities!

Every New Year’s Eve, I spend the evening going through a pile of notes, articles, and my calendar. It’s important for me to have a plan for the coming year. It’s on paper, not chiseled in stone. God is free to redirect me anytime He pleases. I’m open to His leading. But it doesn’t hurt to have some ideas about things I’d like to do—or get done.

I have seven categories in the following order:

Spiritual—Anything that will nurture my faith in Jesus Christ and help me grow as a Christian. Examples: Reading the One Year Bible, attending Bible Study Fellowship, keeping our home group Bible study going.

Family—Rick and I start our day by reading devotionals to one another, then praying. It’s also important to plan activities together, as well as with the family. Golf, anyone?

Work—Finishing a manuscript and considering what might come next. Maybe I’ll try script writing.

Finance—Everything that comes in comes from God. Hence, we need to be responsible in how we use those resources. They aren’t just intended for our personal use. Rick and I work together in this area, making decisions about intentional giving and saving.

Travel—It doesn’t cost a penny to dream or have a bucket list. I have categories within this category: local spots to visit, places in the state, out-of-state, and international. The more we see, the more we want to see. I’ve done a lot of armchair traveling this year, too.

House—Last year, we worked on downsizing. Rick has Parkinson’s and I’m a klutz with arthritis. Stairs will one day be a problem. We went through everything with the thought of a possible move to a smaller, single-story house. Well, we changed our minds. So this year, I’ll be focusing on minor repairs. I have a list for a handyman. All I need to do is find one.

Personal—Physical, mental, and emotional “upkeep.” Exercise, reading, time to reflect, spending time with friends (girls’ nights out).

While making my list of possibilities, I consider the following:

  • It’s never too late to do/try something new.
  • Keep relationships central. God, family, friends (old and new).
  • Work hard, but make time to have fun.
  • Small changes over time make a big difference.

Happy New Year!!

NYE-Possibilities

~*~

What about you readers? What does your possibilities list look like for 2016?

 

Ringing in the New Year—Questions that Form Story by Francine Rivers

Happy New Year’s Eve, readers! As we look forward to a promising new year and all the blessings that are to come, it is important to reflect on all that God has done for us as 2015 draws to a close. Sometimes, it is easy to follow His path but often times, we question where He may be leading us only to end up somewhere more wonderful than we could have ever desired.

          As believers, we all ask questions of the Lord. Author Francine Rivers uses these questions as the seeds in which to grow all of her stories. Read below as Francine takes us through the questions she asked of God as she prepared to begin a new story.

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Almost every story I have written since becoming a Christian has come from a question that regards a struggle in my own faith walk.   The plot centers around the different ways that question can be answered by “the world” – but the quest is to find God’s answer.

Here is a list of my novels with the questions that started each story:

A Voice in the Wind:  How do I share my faith with unsaved family members and friends who have no desire to read the Bible or hear me talk about my faith?

An Echo in the Darkness:  How many times are we called upon to forgive people who hurt us deliberately — and (in many countries) would like to see us dead?

As Sure As the Dawn:   How do you deal with anger – especially when there is “good” cause?  What is “righteous anger” and how does it look?

The Scarlet Thread What does “sovereignty” mean in man’s relationship with God?  If He is in control of everything, what does that say about the bad things that happen to people?

 

The Atonement Child:  Is there complete forgiveness and restoration for a woman who has aborted her child?  Does abortion have any effect on the woman and the man involved in the crisis pregnancy?  Does it impact people around them?  (This was my most painful and personal book because I needed to face and deal with my own abortion experience.  The character of Hannah is based on my story; Evie is based on my mother’s.)

 

The Last Sin Eater What is the difference between guilt and conviction?  This book came out of The Atonement Child.  What I learned:  guilt kept me imprisoned for years.  Conviction sent me to my knees before the Lord where I received forgiveness and experienced His love and grace.

 

Leota’s Garden:   Are abortion and euthanasia connected?  Is euthanasia merciful or an act of murder?  This novel also came out of my work on The Atonement Child.  While studying the abortion issue from all sides, I realized the arguments for abortion are exactly the same as those for euthanasia.  While going through a post-abortion class with other women (one a nurse), I learned that the elderly are already at risk.   One scene in the book continues to shock people.  I wrote it for that purpose.  I want people to understand life is precious.  The movement toward legalizing euthanasia continues to gain momentum (and has less to do with “mercy” than saving money for care).

 

And the Shofar Blew: What is a church?  How do you build it?  During my travels around the country and speaking at various churches, I saw many struggling through building projects and massive programs to draw more parishioners.  Size of building and number of people in the pews seemed to define success or failure.  Like a government out of control, the “church” (in many cases) has forgotten its foundation and purpose.   Christ is the cornerstone.   Believers meet together to study the Word of God, worship Him and encourage one another – and keep their doors and hearts open to those seeking God.  Unfortunately, too many congregations have left their first love (Jesus Christ) and turned to idolatry (placing a building/drawing a crowd/being “politically correct” above a relationship with the Lord).

 

Her Mother’s Hope / Her Daughter’s Dream:  What caused the rift between my grandmother and mother?   When my grandmother had a stroke, my mother raced from Oregon to the Central Valley of California to be with her.  Grandma died before she arrived.  My mother was heart-broken and said, “I think she willed herself to die just so we wouldn’t have to talk things out.”  I have wondered since:  What causes people (even Christians) to hold grudges?   What might have brought resolution and restoration to these two women?  Could my grandmother have loved my mother without my mother understanding it?

~*~

Jeremiah-29.11

Happy New Year! 

A Favorite Christmas Memory by Francine Rivers

Morning, Crazy4Fiction friends! With the holidays upon us, we are reflecting on what this time means and some precious moments that make this time so special. Francine Rivers is on the blog today sharing one of her most prized memories from this special time.

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A friend asked me what my most memorable Christmas was. That’s easy.  Rick and I were married on December 21, 1969.  I’ve thought since then, what a terrible thing to do to my family – have a wedding so close to Christmas – but it was the only day we could get the church.  Rick was a Marine and the Vietnam War was raging, and we didn’t want to wait.

We had an evening candlelight wedding at the Pleasanton Presbyterian Church and our reception at Haps Restaurant.  We didn’t leave until very late, and we were both tired.  We drove all of ten miles and checked into a hotel on the outskirts of Livermore and shared a bottle of champagne my father had given Rick for the occasion.  The next day, we headed for our honeymoon “lodge”, the Rivers’ family cabin in Pinecrest, a tiny town nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It had snowed.  A lot!  We had to trek through piles of it and dig our way into the cabin.  Rick built a nice fire in the Franklin stove while I got dinner ready: fried chicken and boiled artichokes.  After dinner, we settled into the lumpy hide-a-bed in front of the Franklin stove because the bedroom felt like a storage freezer. 

We awakened to rats invading the aircraft potty that served as a garbage can in the kitchen.  Rick banged the coal shovel on the floor and we heard the noisy scurry of several LARGE rats.  They came back quickly, and were not again frightened by shovel or shouting.  Perhaps if Rick had had his M14!  We moved into the bedroom and let the rats enjoy their Christmas dinner in peace.  When we returned for the family Christmas Eve gathering, everyone teased the newlyweds about their three day honeymoon in a frigid, rat-infested cabin with snow up around the windows. 

Over the years, we have gone away for a few days to a nice hotel in Monterey, San Francisco, or somewhere along the Mendocino Coast.  We have a nice restaurant dinner out or served in our room.   After 45 years of marriage (46 this year), we still consider that first Christmas together one of our fondest memories – rats and all. 

Francine and Rick

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