One More for the Road

d26c1-2013-08-2704-20-45It’s a little unnerving. This is my last post for 2015–so it’s one more, for the road. This year raced past me, leaving me a bit flustered. In many ways, it’s been my best year. We’ve celebrated several firsts, I accomplished a couple big things. We’ve had some family additions and victories.

So I can look back on 2015 with a full and very thankful heart.

And then, there were the losses. I thank God, His grace sees beyond our worldly horizons to what lies ahead for each of us. A beautiful friend left this life for her home in Glory. Another beautiful friend lost her soulmate on Thanksgiving Day. She’s still reeling a bit from the loss, but God’s grace is sufficient. She leans on her Father and her beautiful family for healing and support.

Many of my friends are fighting life battles.

Woman Why Do You Weep?“Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.” –– Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV

And so we enter 2016, imperfect in many ways, but striving, still. Some will make and keep New Year’s resolutions that will improve their lives. Others will make them and quickly forget them. I don’t usually make them, but this year, my plans include a few changes that are already in place. I know they will improve my life and help me get a better perspective on the coming days.

My prayers for you–yes, I pray for you–include a blessing on your life, that you will seek what your soul needs most. That you will knock on doors of opportunity and have them answered. And most of all, that God will grant you peace in your journey, wherever it leads.

HappyNewYear2016Happy New Year!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

shutterstock_165919043-SNOWYour Christmas may not look like this. Here in Kentucky, we’re experiencing a warm December. Our meteorologists are getting a workout, as the temperature falls into the twenties for a couple of days, then soars from the high fifties all the way into the low seventies.

I’ve had to turn on the Christmas music to keep my spirits up, because it really doesn’t look like Christmas outside. Though my garden is mostly exhausted, I still have one very confused petunia clinging to life.

file0002074159204Lights twinkle on houses up and down the streets. The malls and stores are overflowing with shoppers. Traffic is heavier than normal, everywhere you go. There is no denying–it is Christmas.

Here in our household, we celebrate in a traditional manner with all the family. It’s a joyous occasion that I love, a wonderful way to end the year.

Whatever the weather where you live, I wish you a very Merry Christmas season. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I wish you Happy Holidays. If you’re traveling, may your journey be safe. If you’re alone, may you find peace. May the Spirit of this holiday season comfort you, if you’ve experienced a recent loss.

20151219_174956In the famous words of Charles Dickens’ beloved character, Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone!”

Christmas Roundup – The Writing Prompts Crew

I was offline for a few days due to computer outages. So sorry! Here’s an interesting post introducing the Writing Prompts Crew, complete with an opportunity for their readers (and now you) to enter a Christmas giveaway! You’ll find me over there, too.

Inspired Prompt

December seems like the best time to take a few moments and introduce you to the Writing Prompts Crew. We’ve added and subtracted over the years, but always end up with a really good group of writers. You can find more information about each of our writers, along with information and buy links for their published books by clicking “The Crew” tab above, or the link provided at the end of each bio. And please read to the end of this post for important information and details about the Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway!

Jennifer HallmarkJennifer Hallmark is co-founder of the Writing Prompts blog. She’s a writer by nature, an artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet. Through the Writing Prompts blog and her personal website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, Jennifer focuses on her books, love of…

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Not Alone

Not Alone

A Literary and Spiritual Companion

for Those Confronted with

Infertility and Miscarriage

 

My friend Jennifer Hallmark is one of several authors featured in this newly-released non-fiction book. I asked her about her involvement with the project.

How did you become involved with the writing of this book?

I saw the “call out” for submissions at Kalos Press by Jessica Snell. As I read the requirements, I felt the essay I’d written several years ago about my experience with miscarriage would fit. I sent it to Jessica and went through a couple rounds of edits before it was accepted.

Oh, edits–how we love those, right? Tell us a little bit about this book.

It could be called an “edgy” Chicken Soup for the Soul. By edgy, I mean the essays, written by men and women who’ve dealt with the pain and emotions that come with miscarriage and/or infertility, are heart cries. These stories are told by broken people who have found hope in the midst of their struggle.

Infertility and miscarriage can be very personal. What do you and the other writers hope to accomplish by sharing your experiences?

We want to let others know they’re not alone. When I went through my miscarriage, I didn’t know of any resources to help me cope, though several years later I found a book by Jack Hayford called I’ll Hold You in Heaven which brought me comfort. In Not Alone, I found hope and empathy as each person shares their experience.

On a more general “writing” note–where do your story ideas come from?

Everywhere. An old green shed I passed once on the side of the road is a major part of the novel I’m working on now. An overheard conversation or story on the news can point me in the direction of a new plot. Writing prompts are important to me to expand my creativity and one reason I co-founded a blog called Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!

What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing one of your books?

I’m not a plotter by nature, and a lot of the storylines and characters are a surprise. One revelation in my latest novel has been that the antagonist, who I didn’t like, had a change of heart and has now become one of my favorite characters. J

What’s next for you? What other projects are you involved in at present?

We’ve just re-released the Heart Seeker series with Write Integrity Press. All four books are now available in one. I helped write two of the novellas, A Dozen Apologies and Unlikely Merger.

I’m also finishing final edits of my southern contemporary novel and then have a couple more novels that need editing so I can search for them a home.

Thanks, Jennifer, always great to hear from you.

Thanks so much for letting me drop by, Betty!


 

Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage

Our society understands how terrible the loss of a child is when that child is out of the womb, but what about when a child dies before birth? Or what about the emptiness that comes when a very-much-wanted child is never even conceived?

These quiet, private losses are hard for those who have not experienced them to understand. And these losses leave those who have suffered them feeling alone in their grief.

Not AloneNot Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage is a resource both for those who have suffered through these experiences and for their friends and relatives, who want to understand what their loved ones are going through.

This collection contains true stories that are:

  • sensitive, and yet honest
  • angry and raw, but not despairing
  • unique, and yet relatable

The contributors to this book are male and female, old and young, some who eventually had children and some who never did, and yet despite their differences, they share a common grief and a common faith.

No experience of miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility is like any other, yet by reading these painful and hope-filled stories, you’ll be comforted by knowing there are others who understand the journey you’re on, the loss you’ve suffered, and you will find that even though your loss is uniquely yours, you are not alone.

IMG_6297-5x7-100resAbout the author–Jennifer Hallmark has published articles, short stories and been part of four book compilations, A Dozen Apologies, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, Unlikely Merger, and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. Jennifer’s website and the group blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.

Connect with Jennifer here:

https://www.facebook.com/jenniferhallmark

https://www.facebook.com/authorjenniferhallmark

https://twitter.com/JenHwrites

https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/

Jennifer Hallmark Amazon Author Page

 

Stirring Up the Spirit

Every year, about this time, radio stations start playing Christmas songs and carols. Beautiful, colored lights are twinkling. And stores have long since begun their Christmas sales and advertising. I’m reminded of the hawkers of old, yelling about their wares, trying to woo customers.

ab82d-imgp0386All my friends put up their trees and decorate their houses like showcases then put pictures on Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram.

I try to prod myself into enough of a “Christmas spirit” to prepare a few Christmas cards, and eventually, deck the halls. Right now, almost a week past Thanksgiving, there is nothing in my house that says Christmas. And I’m okay with that.

c7551-shutterstock_165919043I’m not sure where this scrooginess comes from. I’m not really a Grinch, just a procrastinator. Maybe because it doesn’t look like this at our house–

Our grass is still green and there are a few blooms left in our gardens. Winter tends to arrive late, long after our northern friends are snowed in.

But with a family to buy for, I have to eventually get myself out there. I need to finish the shopping to allow plenty of time for cookie baking. And so, around this time, each year, I get out the Christmas coffee mugs. I turn on the music and fill the house with yummy gingery-cinnamon-nutmeg smells. And then I go shopping.

I shop early on weekday mornings, to avoid the crowds. So that’s where I’m off to today, probably about the time this post goes up. But I’m wondering, am I the only one? Do you find yourself fighting similar battles each year? Perhaps you do, and you know the reason why. Maybe you lost a loved one, or are estranged from family. If this is the case, I’ll say a prayer for you as the holiday approaches.

But if you, like me, don’t really know the reason, I hope this helps you realize you’re not alone. And I guess there’s nothing wrong with us–it’s our normal.

So here’s a little something to help you put on your Christmas spirit. Happy shopping!