Christmas in July Reader Giveaway

Happy Christmas in July! Welcome to the 11th blog in this Christmas in July Reader Giveaway, which runs July 12-23, 2021. At the bottom of each author’s blog post, you will find the secret word(s). Write them all down and provide the entire answer on this Google form.

Note: You must grab all the secret words from every author in the Christmas in July Reader Giveaway to enter the contest to win a $400 Amazon gift card. At the end of this blog post is a link to the next blog, and so on, to the final blog post (18 in all). At each blog stop, the author will also give away a copy or copies of the featured Christmas book.

You fool! You can shuffle your money and build better retirement homes, but one day your life will be required of you. Then who will benefit from what you prepared for yourself?

The Christmas season’s come, and O. L. (Ollie) Feuille has dispatched all his obligatory gifts to clients and employees, but his thoughts are far from festive.

His chief competitor in the world of retirement homes, Hank Cochran of Swanky Seniors, is eyeing Ollie’s flagship home, the Queen Anne in Manassas.

Ollie would sooner die than let Cochran get his slimy hands on the pink Victorian lady. Although a tad run down, she still outclasses Swanky Seniors homes with their trendy colors and skylights. Ollie vows to save her at all costs.

Enter Art Dink, a down-and-outer turned fisher of men. Dink battles for Ollie’s heart, dancing in and out of his life—and dreams—right up to Christmas Eve.

Will Ollie take Dink’s bait or play the fool?

Do you have a favorite Christmas story hero or vilain? If you’d like to win one of three copies of The Old Fool, please comment below.

Now, it’s time for the secret words: Love your

Save the secret words, and when you reach the final blog, enter all the secret words on this form for a chance to win one of # Amazon gift cards!

Thank you so much for visiting! The next author on the tour is Izzy James and her Christmas book is Garrett. You can find it at this link. Remember, this Christmas in July Reader Giveaway will end on July 23 at 8 PM EST!

On it!

Picture this. Your backseat cargo wobbles as you turn into the gravel lot of the huge barnlike structure serving as Ben’s workshop. You resist the umpteenth urge to throw your arm over the backseat to steady it and prevent further damage. Pretty soon, it’ll be Ben’s problem. He’ll fix everything.

The whine of a saw greets you as you step out of your car, followed by the heady scent of fresh wood. You wrestle the broken rocker out of the back, turn it upside down, and rest the seat on your shoulder. That oughta make you look at home in a place like this. You stride to the half-open king-size sliding shop door and enter Ben’s domain.

A helmeted head (likely Ben’s) bends in concetration and orange and yellow sparks fly as the creator welds metal together to form an object only he could identify. Chandelier? Table legs? Pipes for a giant sink? Given the loud sizzles emanating from the table, you tiptoe forward and have the common sense to keep a safe distance.

The welder lays his tool down and flips his helmet back, holding the creation up for inspection. “Oh, hey there! Didn’t hear you come in. You’re the lady with the rocker. Pam, right?” He sets the spidery metallic object down and pulls off his gloves.

“Right.” Suddenly shy, you glance briefly at the rocker, now sitting lopsided on the sawdust-covered floor, then at the burly guy clad in a blue flannel shirt and rubbery coveralls. Definitely Ben, king of restorations and wizard of furniture fixes.

Ben covers the distance between you in a couple of long lopes and sticks out his hand, then retracts it again. “Sorry. Old habits die hard. I’m Ben, by the way.” He tips his bearded head toward the rocker. “This the patient?”

You chuckle. “It’s on it’s last legs.”

He reaches out a hand and gives the rocker a push. “Or off its rocker.”

You look way up into his friendly blue eyes. “Will it be too hard to fix? I mean, it has sentimental value, but is it worth it?”

He hefts it to his shoulder, just like I’d done earlier. What d’ya know! “Sure. Restoration. That’s what I do.”

With one gentle heft, he sets the chair on the counter behind his worktable, waves a dismissive hand, and begins to don his gloves. “On it!”

He flips his helmet down again and bends over his creation. Quirky xylophone?

But he’s working on the pot rack thingy again, not your rocker.

You forgot to tell him you wanted the worn design on the back restored.


You didn’t ask him when it would be done.

Yikes! you didn’t even ask him how much it would cost.

And you certainly didn’t try to tell him how to do his job.

He’s on it.

You’re outta there. Leaving my broken rocker behind. Not coming back till he calls to say the job is done.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:9 NIV

Outwardly wasting away; inwardly renewed

Someone joked online recently about a virus-related health questionnaire asking if she had any aches and pains. (I haven’t run across that one yet, have you?) She chose to answer “No more than usual.” I’ve been thinking how I would answer if confronted with the same question at the beauty salon today.

In our worldly existence, we’re all subject to aches and pains–and worse, and we spend a lot of energy trying to prevent them ,dull them, and cope with them in various ways. Even our brains are subject to deterioration.

My beautiful, intelligent, and godly mother almost made it to her 99th birthday. She survived breast cancer and enjoyed excellent health most of her life but she did suffer with dementia during her last few years. Although she never forgot her family members or had major personality changes, I felt her quality of life was greatly diminished. I still wrestle with “why?” and I confess some of my questions are mixed with concern about whether this will happen to me, too.

Because of her faith in Jesus, I know Mother went to heaven, where she longed to go for many years. Sometime after her earthly body wore out completely, I rediscovered a scripture which put a balm on much of the discomfort I felt about what I’d categorized as her “ignominious” final years. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 showed me there’s more going on in the life of a Christian that meets the eye, or than we can feel as we go about our daily activities.

Reading, one of Mother’s greatest pleasures next to music, became difficult. Fortunately, she’d been an eager Bible student throughout her life and hidden scripture in her heart when her mind was sharp. I discovered a stack of her memory cards which reminded me that these truths were still in her heart when she could no longer read or understand. Supernaturally, the Holy Spirit was using them to renew her inwardly, when all I could see was the wasting away of her earthly body.

When Mother could no longer pray, Romans 8:26-27 reassures me that the Holy Spirit intereceded for her, perhaps using as fuel some of the scripture that she had memorized.

As I try to hide God’s Word in my heart, too, I’m reminded that God does not abandon his creatures. Even as I search for the verse, Psalm 92:12-15, which I supposedly memorized, I’m reminded that the Lord does not abandon his children (the righteous). He helps them continue to bear fruit as they age, and as they waste away outwardly, they are renewed inwardly day by day. Even though I don’t always understand His ways, “he is my rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Happy Birthday in heaven, Mother!

Could I Interest You in an Appetizer?

You smile and accept the menu, your mind on catching up with the friends you’ve joined for dinner. The server hovers. “Can I get you started with an appetizer tonight?”

Since you’re with a group, you might settle on something to share and the server hurries off. He returns just as you’ve caught up on your friend’s latest news and begin to hear the rumbling of your stomach.

By the time you’ve polished off the appetizer and your meal arrives, your appetite has diminished. You groan as the server sets a huge feast before you. What possessed you to snack on hot, buttered bread in between bites of steamed mussels or spicy grilled shrimp? How will you ever do justice to your steak and baked potato or your Italian feast?

How did “appetizers” get their name, anyway? Mom was right that eating between meals spoiled your appetite!

If you’re still with me and you haven’t run to the fridge for a snack, you probably want to know what this has to do with our spiritual life, right?

Spiritual appetizers aren’t like restaurant appetizers. 

During the early days of the pandemic, the days often dragged. Like everyone, I missed my daily routine. My house and my entire neighborhood were quiet. (Hard to believe if your entire family was suddenly at home together 24 hours a day looking for a tranquil corner, but I didn’t have that problem.) As she stared at the occasional preoccupied passer-by during our walks, I knew even Angie the dog missed people and fellow canines.

I started to create a new routine centered around time with the Lord and virtual connections centered on spiritual things. A podcast during our morning walk. Noon prayer with one or more churches. A weekly online Bible study. My own worship service on Sunday, followed by others that I might want to visit as well. This became the new normal and was a helpful way to stay connected with God and with fellow believers.

My appetite and need for spiritual sustenance were strong.

Slowly, days have become fuller and noisier. I’ve ventured out a bit. Now the virus wasn’t the only news on TV, and I “had” to stay informed. I tackled some big projects around the house. I had to rush to get up and over to the dog sitter’s so I’d arrive at an appointment on time. The “old normal” tried to reassert itself.

A vague sense of disquiet marred the tranquility I’d cultivated earlier.

I skipped the opportunity to turn on the Christian radio station and allow some music to shape my thoughts.

“I should probably settle down and pray or do my Bible study. I’d feel better,” I would tell myself.

Sometimes, an insidious voice would whisper, “That’s silly. You were really overdoing it before.”

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”

Your face, LORD, I will seek.

Psalm 27:8 NIV

Strangely, when I managed to silence the deceptive voice and sample the appetizer, I wanted more. Spiritual appetizers helped me crave more spiritual food, not less.

And that’s a good thing!

When the Spirit’s voice tries to interest you in an appetizer, say yes!

 

Christmas Scavenger Hunt Round-Robin: The Old Fool

Joyeux Noël!

Welcome to the blog tour stop for my Christmas novella The Old Fool. This story is the prequel to the Sully Parkway Series, and I’m delighted to share a pivotal moment in the life of one of its heroes.

Little Olivier’s parents couldn’t know they were saddling their son with an unpronounceable name, or that one day as real estate tycoon O. L. Feuille, his competitor would dub him an “old fool.”

As the Christmas season begins, O. L., known to his friends as Ollie, fends off overtures from his chief competitor in the world of retirement homes. Sleazy Hank Cochran is determined to acquire Ollie’s beloved flagship home, the somewhat dilapidated Queen Anne in Manassas.

The Old Fool front final

Ollie rallies his associates in a last-ditch effort to prevent Cochran’s takeover, but he’s distracted by the appearance of down-and-outer Art Dink, who has a different agenda in mind.

Stressed and financially stretched,  Ollie has a disturbing—and possibly prophetic—nightmare and finds himself at a crossroads.

Will he be wise or foolish?

It’s time to continue the scavenger hunt! Go to the book on Amazon at this link. When you read the book blurb, you’ll be able to answer the question: What is the name of Hank Cochran’s retirement home chain? When you have the answer, fill out this form and head on to the next blog!

Thank you so much for visiting! The next author on the tour is Sally Bayless, who is telling us all about her Christmas book Christmas in Abundance. You can find it at this link:

http://www.sallybayless.com/christmas-scavenger-hunt-round-robin-christmas-in-abundance/ 

Remember that the round robin will end on December 16th at 11:59 PM EST!