Happy New Year – 2014 – Anything is Possible

A friend of mine is lamenting Christmas. He didn’t get everything he’d hoped for. In fact, this entire year is ending on a bit of a sour note for him.
Several months ago, he made the difficult decision to follow his dreams. He knew the road was going to be rough. It was. The approach of the Christmas season brought anxiety, since he wasn’t able to give as he had in the past. His family “suffered.” 
But he is pursuing his dream. Each new day dawns with the promise that said dream will come true. He will accomplish what he set out to do. Like an inventor with a great idea, this man is daily transferring his dreams to reality. It takes work and tons of ambition to keep chipping away at the iceberg blocking the finish line, but he’s determined. And with that determination, comes doubt.
His lament is the voice of discouragement. I understand that. Many of us tend to let our energy drain out to the dredges during the final few weeks of the year. We simply endure Christmas, then try to drum up some excitement and expectation to face the new year. Sometimes we become so caught up in our own problems, we don’t realize that others have troubles, too. 
Maybe you didn’t make your goals for 2013, so you’re discouraged about the year’s end. Maybe your Christmas was bleak and fraught with worry. There’s nothing new or weird or unusual about that. Here’s what a certain preacher had to say in the Old Testament:

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—    the feeling of hitting the bottom.But there’s one other thing I remember,    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.They’re created new every morning.    How great your faithfulness!I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).    He’s all I’ve got left. (Lamentations 3:21-24, The Message)

<img alt="" border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-u87z6pO_Dng/Ur3gcUXnXhI/AAAAAAAAAvs/h-WCBTxArX0/s200/freeimage-5640458-high.jpg" title="© Peafactory | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images” width=”133″ />
Stockfree Image
Get a grip on hope, because God’s promises are renewed every morning. Get some rest during these darker days of winter. Let God’s promises renew themselves in your spirit. As the days lengthen and the sun wakes the sleeping trees and plants and brings them back to life, you’ll wake up, too, with a renewed sense of purpose.
Most important of all, don’t give up. Stick with God––He’s all we’ve got left. But that’s like saving the best till last. He’s the Greatest and the Best. He’ll never let us down. His timetable may be different, but as long as we do our part, He’ll be there. 
What is our part? Faith. Believing in Him and in His promises. Believing that He sent His only Son. 
So for 2014, Believe. Anything is possible. You can win. You can make it. And what you’ll end up with––even if your hands seem empty––is a year’s worth of progress

Merry Christmas, Dear Readers!

SnowPines-Shutterstock_165919043.jpg

Nothing says Christmas like a snow-covered pine bough. We’ve seen lots of the white stuff so far this year, which is a little unusual for our region. But it does give my Christmas spirit a boost. I hope your holidays are filled with family and fun this year. And remember, the important gifts don’t come in boxes. Time. Touch. Sound.

I know there are times when family can’t be physically together for the holidays. It’s those times that you can still take time to call or skype. Hearing a loved one’s voice from far away can make the holidays so much brighter. God bless you and your family with the most important things in life.

Now, I need to go hang up my stocking and put a pan of cookies in the oven while I watch my favorite Christmas movie. Thanks for stopping by. And don’t forget to buy books!

If the snow has you housebound, here’s a couple of Kindle suggestions for you. Happy reading! Nike Chillemi’s Goodbye, Noel, Write Integrity Press’ A Ruby Christmas (various authors), and The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt (various authors). Those last two are novellas and so much fun! By the way, these are not paid links. I do not receive any payment for these suggestions.

Happy Holidays!

The Skinny on Some Christmas Traditions, by Nike Chillemi

http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

I’m so glad you stopped by today. It is with great pleasure I welcome Nike Chillemi as a guest writer. I am so honored to promote her latest release, Goodbye Noel. As you may have guessed, it has a holiday theme. Nike writes historical suspense/crime novels and she’s such a good storyteller! If the reviews (found here) are any indication, this one doesn’t disappoint.  

Nike Chillemi- 

In popular publications we’ve been told umpteen times the first “Christmas” celebrations came from the mid-fourth century during Constantine’s rule in ancient Rome and were adopted and adapted from solar pagan rites. This is not entirely accurate.
There is evidence the Ethiopian Church celebrated the birth of Jesus on December 25th in the 2nd century. Other Eastern churches in the second and third centuries determined the birth of Jesus to be January 5th or January 6th. The Eastern Church still celebrates the birth of Jesus on January 6th, while in the Western Church that date is Epiphany. These December 25th calculations came wholly from church history and heritage (much of that oral). This was before and separate from the papacy decision to declare December 25th the birth of Jesus for conversion reasons. The second century Egyptian theologian, Clement of Alexandria, wrote that ancient Egyptian church scholars practically tried to outdo each other with efforts to pinpoint the date of the birth of Jesus. They also came up with April 20th or 21st and May 20th…all of this having nothing to do with Roman paganism. Is December 25th the actual birthday of Jesus? I don’t know. To me every day is Christ’s birthday. 
It’s true worship of the oak and other trees were quite common in pagan Europe. However, the modern Christmas tree originated in Germany where legend has it St. Boniface cut down a great oak under which human sacrifices were made. Supposedly, in its place a tiny pine sapling grew the following spring and Boniface remarked it pointed to the heavens. That autumn he dug up the small tree and brought it into his house to have for Christmas. Many claimed these trees’ triangular shape signified the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The custom of a potted fir tree in the house at Christmas rapidly spread among Germanic Christians. In time they began decorating trees with bits of sugar candy which they gave to children on Christmas day. That tradition soon evolved into candy canes on tree boughs. Soon other gifts such as dried fruit and small bits of jewelry found their way onto trees.
Then in the 17th century, on a walk home from church late one night before Christmas, Martin Luther passed a grove of evergreen trees. When he looked up, it seemed as if the stars adorned the trees. He immediately cut and decorated a tree with lit candles for the Christmas Eve service. Cut and candle-lit trees quickly spread among Germanic Christians. When Germany’s Prince Albert married the love of his life, the young Queen Victoria, he brought to England the practice of decorating the Christmas tree with candles, candies, fancy cakes, small gifts, and toys. German immigrants brought this to Pennsylvania in the 1800s and the custom rapidly spread across America.
Eggnog is entirely American. While it’s true Europeans of wealth enjoyed eggy-milky drinks with fruit. The first true batch of eggnog was mixed up in 1607 at Captain John Smith’s Jamestown settlement. At that time it was called “egg and grog.” I’m sure we can all imagine what the ingredients were, as colonists called any drink with rum grog. It soon became a drink given to carolers at Christmas along with sweet meats and confections.
Stock.Xchng image #1148932
What about ye olde fruit cake? Cakes with fruit have been baked, well…as long as cakes have been baked. What we think of as the fruit cake, made with preserved fruit and nuts goes back to the middle-ages and the Crusades when people took this type of hearty cake on trips to sustain themselves while away from home. The British love affair with fruit cake began in the 1400s when dried fruits first arrived in the misty isles from the Mediterranean. In the mid-1800s cake with candied fruit had become a Victorian tea cake. It also became a cake served at weddings. Naturally in a time before fruit could be flown to markets from orchards and groves in a warm climate, the candied fruit cake made a perfect Christmas cake. In modern times it seems not to be as popular as years gone by, but fruit cake sales are still surprisingly high.
Whether you’re looking for a good holiday read, or the perfect gift, Nike Chillemi’s Goodbye Noel is a good fit. 


Links to order the book:

Amazon – ($2.99)                          Christianbooks – ($2.89)

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes monthly book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. Burning Hearts is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series. 

Fruitcake photo from: Stock.Xchng image #1148932