Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Blessings

I will join my family later today to eat the bounty of food we all prepared for this special day. I know we will have a great time. Yet, I've already been blessed beyond abundance by the Thanksgiving service we shared with our church family. What a service. The church family joined with a local Christian outreach and provided turkeys and trimmings the recipients would take home and cook for their families today, Thanksgiving. We sang, prayed and heard the truth from God's word along side people we'd just met, who came for the blessings. 

So many folks worked together to prepare for this spiritual feast of Thanksgiving. Thank you to all who took their time and resources and put this all together to praise God and his bountiful blessings. 

I pray you are all blessed on this day as you meet with family and friends to celebrate all the joys of life.

Psalm 100:4 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hospitality in a Small Town

A woman bundled in a blue sweater and fleece vest hung greenery around the window. Her helper added a sparkly ribbon. Down the street, several people flocked on the bridge and draped greenery and bright red bows. Trees shrouded in lights lined the main thoroughfare. These acts of preparation confirmed hospitality in a small town.

One of the things I love about villages and towns is their tendency to work together for the good of the residents. The town I live in plans a Christmas parade every year to open the blessed season. I grew up in a village. Just before Christmas, many people opened their homes to show and sell their handmade items. Folks gathered, chatted and enjoyed the welcoming arms of their neighbors.

Now when we come home in the evening, we’re welcomed by snowflake lights and trees shining along the street. A little shop in town has an open house as do several other businesses. My husband and I love to drive around and view the displays our fellow townsfolk hang. One of the churches hosts a living Christmas tree where the choir sings the story of Jesus birth. Some years there’s been a live Nativity.

Christmas in a small town is the best. People wave and shout Merry Christmas. They celebrate the reason for the season. As much as I enjoy visiting the nearby city and seeing the fancy lights, I wouldn’t trade in the small town celebration of the holidays.

Do you have memories of small town life during the holidays or do you live in a town now? Share your happy experiences.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pure Fun

'Tis the season for Hallmark Christmas movies. I'll admit, I enjoy a good romance, especially romantic comedy. The Hallmark Channel starts showing holiday films early in
November. I make sure I have crocheting to do, usually for gifts,. Then I settle in for two hours at a time of pure fun. I haven't been disappointed yet. I've even caught a few of the Lifetime Christmas movies. The story of a librarian trying to save the local library from being torn down struck a cord. ANd she met her match.

If your life was a Christmas movie, which one would it be?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Interview with Author Anita Higman About A Marriage in Middlebury

Anita, welcome to Encouraged in Heart. I read A Marriage in MIddlebury, and I have to say I loved the story of Sam, Charlotte and the other wonderful characters you created.  I'd love to stop by Charlotte's tea room and enjoy a pastry and tea. Tell us more about this delightful book.

What was your inspiration for A Marriage inMiddlebury?

The idea for this book came from my absolute love of tearooms in Texas. In fact, here’s my note to readers on that very subject:
More than a decade ago I met a woman named Linda Becker
who opened a tearoom in the Houston burbs called, Tea for
Two. Her eatery and gift shop did so well, she opened a second
shop. Over the years I’ve enjoyed her wonderful tearoom
fare as well as the quaint ambiance. Linda’s tearoom isn’t just
a cafĂ©—it’s a gathering place for friends, a place to eat home
cooked food, and a place so cozy you don’t want to leave.
As a writer I thought it might be fun to create a heroine who
owns a tearoom similar to Linda’s and set her shop in a small
town on the gulf coast of Texas. So, that’s how the novel, A
Marriage in Middlebury, was born. Even though my story, the
characters, and the town are fictional, Linda’s tearooms are
real places you can visit and enjoy. Thank you, Linda, for the
great food, and the fellowship, and the inspiration.

Everything was going smoothly for the main character when suddenly everything changes with the return of her ex. What advice do you have when life throws a curveball?

As a Christian we should trust in the One who made us, the One who’s known us from the first day when we were being knit together in our mother’s womb, the One who loves us best. Trusting in Him during life’s storms is the only answer, and it’s more than enough.

Charlotte was pressured into breaking off her relationship with Sam by Sam’s father - how should we react to family pressures and difficult relatives?

Bathe the situation in prayer and then talk things through no matter how painful. But once the air is clear, forgive and move on. Don’t keep going back over and over. Forgiveness is not easy, but it’s the only way to live free. It helps to remember that forgiveness is what God offered us when we sinned against Him.

Is there a certain Bible passage or verse that goes along with the theme of A Marriage in Middlebury?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Are any of the characters or events in A Marriage in Middlebury based on your own experiences?

Well, I love art, flowers, quirky characters, and tearooms, and I managed to put them all into the novel. It was a fun ride!

Do you find yourself returning to the similar themes in your novels (i.e. forgiveness, trust, etc.) or do you have a new message with each release?

Yes, I tend to go back to the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. These are not only good themes for a story, but they are paramount in living the Christian life.

What do you hope readers will walk away with after they turn the last page of A Marriage in Middlebury?

That with God all things are possible!

Like several of your other books, A Marriage in Middlebury is set in your home state of Texas - what are some of your favorite things about Texas?

Overall, Texas is an inexpensive place to live, it’s a great place to raise a family, and it’s one of the friendliest places on earth. I’ve lived here for about thirty years, and I’m proud to call Texas my home.

Before becoming a writer, you had number of interesting jobs - what was it about writing that drew you in?

I had an incredible need to tell stories. I don’t think I had a choice in becoming a writer—the profession sort of chose me. But I’m content in that truth.