Please welcome Donna Schlater to Faith in Writing. She has written a guest post for our Gratitude Friday feature: Star of Wonder.
When I was a child, Christmas meant three things: Santa, pictures, and a tree.
Santa was easy—the Sears catalogue was handed around to each child in turn, and we could choose three items: one toy, one game, and one other thing. That one other thing could be clothes—although it rarely was—or something fun like a toboggan or ice skates.
The picture-taking ritual happened on Christmas Eve as we hung our stockings, a solemn procession to the mantel, posing with stockings in hand. We went into the living room with stockings in hand and exited empty-handed. And on Christmas morning, the tradition was repeated, except this time we entered with nothing in our hands to discover a treasure trove of gifts.
The tree was a mysterious part of our ritual. My dad was the commander-in-chief of this operation, but it wasn’t until many years later that I understood that although he believed in God and in Jesus, he had no understanding of celebrating our Savior’s birth. But that didn’t stop him from making this special for us. First the tree went up, then it was tied to hooks in the wall so it wouldn’t tip over, then the star went on top. It was a wonderful creation, although its condition declined over the years as the heavy foil nicked and chipped. In front of the star, a simple blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel, whose pink lips faded with the years and the forty-watt bulb that lit it from inside.
No matter how bent the star or how tired-looking the cherub, nothing could diminish the wonder of staring at the top of a tree that seemed ready to burst through the ceiling, listening to Christmas music on the radio while we hung the ornaments and tinsel.
Three years ago, my dad got sick. And suddenly I was faced with the prospect that this could be my last Christmas with him. The man who’d been there my entire life would soon be gone. And as difficult as that was to fathom, knowing I would never see him again if he didn’t make the decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior was even more heartbreaking for me.
So I drew a deep breath and talked to him about his need for a savior.
Three weeks before he passed, he made that decision.
Now I know he’s following the same star that led the shepherds and wise men to Bethlehem on that first Christmas morning so long ago. And that makes me smile.
Star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to that Perfect Light.
Christmas Under the Stars
November 1858, Utah Territory
Edie Meredith strives to keep her temper and her tongue under control as she heads west with her brother to California. Raised in an itinerant preacher family, she promises she will never marry a man of the cloth.
Tom Aiken, drover of the wagon train, longs to answer his true calling: to preach, and while he realizes not every woman would choose a preacher for a husband, he hopes to soon find his help-meet.
Suspicious ‘accidents’ plague their journey. Is someone trying to keep them from reaching their destination? Or will misunderstanding and circumstances keep them apart?
The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado
Matthew returns to Christmas Inn to celebrate his fortieth anniversary alone, intending to take his own life so he can join his beloved Sarah, who passed on to glory the previous January. Not certain how—or if—he will go on without her, Matthew learns on his arrival that the old inn will close its doors on New Year’s Eve. A developer has purchased the building and intends to tear it down and put up a chain hotel. Determined to keep his memories and his connection to Sarah alive, Matthew embarks on a harebrained scheme to keep the inn open.
Edith Cochrane, a widow, comes to Christmas Inn because she has nowhere else to spend the holidays. Her children are angry with her because she refuses to choose to live with one of them. Edith and her husband enjoyed a long marriage and a long mission-field ministry, but ever since his passing the previous year, Edith has found herself at loose ends. She comes to Christmas Inn to spend some time thinking about her options.
Can Matthew and Edith save the old hotel—and themselves—or will they run out of time?
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her recent releases include The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado and Christmas Under the Stars. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. Donna recently taught the popular Don’t Let Your Subplots Sink Your Story, an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers, and will teach another course in May 2018 on The Middle Muddle. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.
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