I don’t think Christmas should ever be perfect.
Maybe because my most treasured Christmas memories seem to be the times when God helped me find joy in the midst of far from perfect circumstances . . .
***Like that winter during my childhood when I was sick for every holiday. Dad carried me outside to see the Christmas lights my brother and sisters had set up. On the way back in, he slipped on the ice and fell, cushioning me with his body.
And I learned that I would always be safe in his arms—no matter how often we failed to see eye-to-eye in later years.
***The first Christmas after my dad died, decorating our mother’s house because she hadn’t the strength. My sisters dragged an ugly Charlie-Brown tree out of the woods and gave it a makeover. The tree made my mother cry, and we cried with her.
And we discovered that we could cry and laugh and eat and live, even though we never stopped missing the one we had lost.
***That time I went Christmas shopping with my best friend of twenty years. She dashed around Walmart on a scooter, spreading smiles and laughter like a holiday elf, and we shared a joy made bittersweet by knowing it was her last Christmas on earth.
And I saw that breast cancer can’t stop a child of God from rejoicing in her Savior—or keep a determined woman from one last shopping spree!
I’m thankful for those Christmases. And also for the ones that were mediocre or boring or left me with a feeling that surely there was more to the holiday—or life—than this. Because they taught me that what our hearts long for will never be satisfied by anyone or anything on earth, by anything less than Christ Himself.
So for me a “real” Christmas is when we’re able to celebrate the coming of the Christ-child no matter what pain or problems plague our hearts.
And isn’t that why Jesus came in the first place? To fill up all those empty places inside us and make something beautiful out of our messy lives.
This is the truth that threads throughout Susan May Warren’s lovely winter novella, Evergreen . . .
“In the wake of good-byes, life endures. Even flourishes.”
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The story focuses on empty-nesters Ingrid & John Christiansen and their efforts to thaw the “chill that has settled over their marriage” by creating the best Christmas ever—even though their adult children are spread far and wide, beloved family members are struggling with heartbreak & abandonment & addictions, and their own hearts have grown cold towards each other & God.
As sad as Ingrid and John’s situation might be, the storyline that sucked me in & had me grabbing for the tissue box involves a beautiful lost boy named Romeo. His hungry heart & sweet spirit change every character—and reader!—he comes in contact with.
Though this novella is short enough to be read in one sitting, it’s impact will last long after finishing that final page and leave you with a few gems to stir your faith & warm your heart.
And whether or not your church has ever tried to pull together a Living Nativity, you’ll vicariously enjoy the event at the Christiansen’s church!
“Maybe, however, you’re Mary & God is simply asking you to be willing to say yes to whatever He asks.”
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GIFT SUGGESTION: Evergreen would turn a gift basket into something special or be a great stocking stuffer. If you’re gifting a reader, you could pair it with an Amazon gift card or the rest of the Christian Family Series. Good for any age—my high school students LOVE the Christian Family books!
Purchase your copies of the novella at this link. ***Thanks to Susan May Warren & Litfuse PR for providing a copy for me to review.
About the author: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels, whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.
Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists.
In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.
You can connect with SMW
***See my reviews of the Christiansen Family Series at the following links:
I’m truly thankful that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!
***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!
***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics from iPhone pics—of our church decorated for a winter wedding & my dear friend’s daughter playing Mary in our school chapel a few years ago. And, of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Continue Reading…