A Look Back at Thanksgiving

This is a repost of my 2015 Thanksgiving post.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a beautiful time, when families gather together. We live on a small court and like us, many of our neighbors have lived here a long time. As the holiday approaches, extra cars are parked in their driveways. Their children have arrived.  

Image by Peggychoucair from Pixabay

I remember those days, when we packed up the car and left on Tuesday night, or Wednesday evening, to drive the seven hours to Mom and Dad’s. It was a special time filled with hikes in the woods, roasting marshmallows over a fire, and of course, the main event: Thanksgiving Dinner. Mom spent days preparing and finally, dinner is spread on the table and we sit down.   

Yes, it was over in minutes. But we lingered around the table, laughing and talking. Clean up meant time spent on my own with Mom as we put the food away and washed the dishes. We put away all the special things she only used on holidays. We reminisced about past Thanksgivings, and loved ones now gone. Our sleep was sweet, maybe because of all the turkey we ate, but also because we were tired from all the activity.   

If you ventured out on Thanksgiving evening, stores were closed. Restaurants were closed. Ghost town. And I liked that feeling. Families gathered together to celebrate. They weren’t working. They weren’t shopping. I was reminded of my childhood, when Sundays meant darkened store windows. Even the grocery stores closed on Sunday, the traditional day of rest.  

Those days slipped away and now you can buy groceries on Sunday. And if you forgot cranberry sauce, you can buy it on Thanksgiving. I guess it’s convenient and the stores make more money, but it makes me sad to see these old traditions slip away. And now, Christmas has encroached on Thanksgiving.   

Yes, in a way, Christmas has always out-shined Thanksgiving. When I was little, I was happy to see the back of Thanksgiving, because I knew Christmas was close behind it. Now, I want the days to linger longer. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and then turn my attention to Christmas. But I realize it’s a personal choice. Christmas lovers all around me already have their houses decorated. And there’s really nothing wrong with that. 

Their emphasis is still on celebrating families, and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Taking time to be thankful for the year’s bounty. I’m thankful for all that God has given this year. Like so many others, we’ve been through some things. But in the midst of all that, I can be thankful for God’s provision throughout our time of need. He’s brought our family together in a positive way and helped us overcome our difficulties.   

When we sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we’ll have so much to be thankful for, beyond the food that is set before us. Each individual sitting at our table is a part of something so much greater. When all the pieces come together, we are whole, and we are blessed. 

   

Christ, our Lord to you we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise…

For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, 1864

I hope your Thanksgiving is a time of celebration. Thanks for stopping by!


Coming

March 22, 2022

A Big Deal

Ah, summer, a great time to kick back and relax, right? I love summer. I love being outdoors. I love to travel and find out-of-the-way places, like Cobbly-Nob, near Gatlinburg.

I have to confess, though, Bob and I missed our beach time this year. I didn’t think we would. I really expected more from the mountains. They were a feast for the eyes and soul, but…

If you love the beach, you know what I mean.

So, what’s the big deal? A HUGE sale from my publisher! I was just informed that ALL my Write Integrity books are on sale–Kindle Versions–for only 99¢. Yay!

And that’s not all, there’s a Sweepstakes for you to enter. I’ll let her give you the details. If you are interested, click the meme, or here’s the direct link: Write Integrity Press “We Love Our Readers Sale”.

Contest runs July 15 – 21

I hope you’ll take a look at the 39 books included in the sale. Everything from teen & YA Dystopian Fiction (I loved those!), historical romance, contemporary romance, suspense–even some excellent daily devotionals. You really can’t lose. You could buy the whole lot for less than $40.

I’ve read most of these books and highly recommend them. Be sure and let me know if you win the sweepstakes!

Have a question? Contact Me

Farewell to the Crime Fictionista

In this age of email, social media platforms, cyber chats, and zoom calls, is it possible to build relationships? Real ones? I suppose it could depend on the personality type of the involved parties.  

Just in case you’re thinking romance, I’m not talking about that.

Back in the twenty-teens, I joined a small critique group hosted by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). They host a massive number of groups, so it is sometimes difficult to find the right fit. This was my third try.

The “captain” of this group was a local writer and friend, Jean Thompson Kinsey. Rather than being all historical fiction/romance, we had historical, suspense, mystery, thriller, and contemporary. Among them, was a writer named Nike Chillemi.

I had never met anyone quite like Nike. She hailed from Brooklyn, New York. I could easily imagine her accent.

Her writing? I’ll let her describe that:

Today, you might call me a crime fictionista. My passion is contemporary detective stories, murder mysteries, national security/espionage thrillers, and cozies. I like my bad guys really bad and my good guys giving their all fighting the good fight. I write gritty-funny-uplifting detective novels with a national security/public safety twist. My main characters, both male and female, are jump into the fray, fighters for justice. They are tough and very likeable.

Nike Chillemi – About Me

And so was Nike—tough and very likable. In fact, over the years of working together on stories, I grew to love her. Though I’d never met her in person, she became a best friend. She taught me a lot about telling stories, especially the joy of writing. Never lose the joy.

Nike, when we “met.”

When Jean Kinsey retired due to illness, Nike should have become head of our group, but she was far too busy with her many other roles, so she suggested that I take over. I did, with Nike’s help. She might have been second banana, but she never let that keep her from expressing her opinion. 😊

She was my go-to whenever a decision needed to be made in the group. She liked being in a “small” small group. Ours was one of two groups she participated in. As we added other writers to our roll, she made them feel at home, though her wit often caught them off guard. Afterward, I would receive a private email from one of the newbies, “What did Nike mean by that comment?”

She was fond of slapping my hand over misplaced or missing commas. The hand slap was more like a guffaw. It was an ongoing joke between us.

Not so long ago, Nike left Brooklyn and moved to a place she loved—Jacksonville, Florida. She adored her new home and told funny stories about her many pets. This post from February gives us a tiny glimpse into her day-to-day life: “I really do have a life besides writing detective novels and sticking my nose into politics. I cook a lot from scratch and bake. I also have four senior cats and a senior dog.”

Yes, she stuck her nose into politics. Further proof that she was not afraid to express her opinion.

Most recent publicity photo

Then, a few months back, Nike told me she had cancer. She intended to fight, and fight is what she did. All the while, she wrote. She finished her work-in-progress, Courting Danger, and managed to get it released on Amazon. There was a book release and then there was silence.

No emails. No posts on social media. Nothing. I sent emails that went unanswered.

That’s when I knew her condition was grave. In April, she sent out a note to all her friends. She was having surgery and would be out of touch for a while. Then there was a brief post on Facebook, written while in rehab,

While I was in post surgery I watched TBN exclusively. It was honey to my soul. Now I’m in rehab an it’s going well. Every time I come to FB I am overwhelmed by fear and panic. So I will only be posting about writing Christian murder mysteries on writing centered sites. I will not be making comments much on my stream or responding.

That was the last post I read from her. In June, I received a note from a mutual friend to let me know hospice had been called for Nike. The members of our critique group sent emails to be read to her.

On June 9, she passed away.

I had never met her in person. I had never heard her voice. Yet in her passing, my heart was broken. I had grown to love our conversations. I grew to respect her as a writer. She was my mentor, and a dear friend.

The members of our group mourned her passing. We haven’t had much heart for working on our stories yet.

No more sorrow. I know it was well with her soul. She is resting in Jesus now. No more suffering or anxiety for Nike. Our group will begin again, but I think we will always have Nike in mind when we send through our chapters.

So, can you build lasting relationships, sight-unseen in this electronic age? The answer is yes, you most certainly can.

Nike Chillemi on Amazon

A July Post

Rain on the roof this morning! Like many of you, we needed rain.

June was a dry month, but a fun one! Here on my blog, June was all about travel.

Welcome, July. I am deep in the editing of my latest work-in-progress, “Still Water.” It will be Book 1 in the HomeFound series. Due to the need for an extensive rewrite, the release date has been postponed until March, 2022. I’m excited about this book and the new series.

What is the book about? When a young woman’s parents are killed in a car accident, and facts about their early lives begin to surface, she is forced out of the comfortable life she has built for herself. Then she discovers that the wreck that killed them may not have been an accident. Someone from their past had finally caught up with them.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

From my publisher: In mid-July, my other books will be on sale. If you’ve never read my books, or haven’t read all of them, watch for this e-book sale. E-books are easy to read on the road, on the beach, in the air, beside the lake, on break at your desk, or wherever this summer happens to take you.

This weekend many will gather for cookouts and picnics to celebrate our country’s birthday. I can remember several consecutive years that my husband and I spent the 4th of July in Panama City, Florida, where we watched the fireworks from a balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. This year, we’ll be in our little court, celebrating with our neighbors.

Have a safe and blessed July 4th weekend.





Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.

Hosea 6:3

Off to the Mountains

We are home again but the mountains have left an impression in our hearts and minds. We stayed in a condo above a golf course in the village of Cobbly Nob. Our view, other than the golf course far below us, was of Smoky Mountains National Park with pristine woodlands blanketing the mountains. Nature at its finest.

In the early morning–very early–you can sit outside and listen as the clouds move through the valley in front of you. It’s the air moving through a million leaves. A thrilling sound for me. A cool breeze, the soft twittering of thousands of birds in those thousands of trees. Peace.

My Morning View at Cobbly Nob

We learned an important lesson, this trip: stay away from resort areas when school is out for the summer. And you can’t beat them to it, because folks get out early here. There are pancake houses on every corner and a few in between. They are all busy. By midday, a living tide moves along the wide sidewalks as thousands vie for space in the hundreds of shops.

We ducked into a quiet gallery and enjoyed some excellent artwork. We didn’t buy anything but it was a nice break from the crowds.

Our favorite thing turned out to be the sky lift. It was just fun and the views of the city and surrounding mountains was perfect. We sat in rocking chairs at the top while sipping cool drinks. A nice respite on a hot afternoon.

Our trip up into the mountains was less than perfect, due to roadwork that closed one lane of the two-lane highway. This meant long delays due to the crowds–thousands making the same journey. We left early (good thing!) and made another discovery. My husband’s recent health issues made breathing difficult at the top, so he was unable to hike up to Clingman’s Dome. We turned around and headed back down.

The views along the way made the trip a little less painful.

The “blue smoke” of the Great Smoky Mountains lay heavy in the early morning.

One of us was disappointed that we didn’t see any “large” wildlife. No bears. No elk. Bummer. I enjoyed the wildflowers and the expansive views. I was happy to note that the forest is healing after the devastating fires of a couple of years ago.

So, back in the land of blue grass and beautiful horses, I am quite content. I do love the mountains, but if there’s a next time, we will head there when the crowds are thinner, and hopefully, the roads will all be open.

If you go, and you love the hustle and bustle, do stay in town. There are some fine places to rent. You might consider one of those that backs up to the Little Pigeon River. The sound of the water rushing over the rocks is mesmerizing. If you prefer to be away from the noise and the crowds, the surrounding area is filled with nice cabins, fully equipped homes, and some great campsites.

Don’t forget the Alamo! We enjoyed a wonderful steak dinner on the front porch of a restaurant known as “The Alamo.” Excellent service! There are other good restaurants in town, but this one was our favorite.

As always, thanks for reading!