‘Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the house,
Our spirits were lifted, our steps had a bounce.

Not the usual Christmas, our gathering small,
But the joy in our glad hearts could fill up a mall.

As we packed decorations, we had a bright thought,
Keep the Christ of Christmas first and do what He taught.

We’ll ring in the new year, grateful indeed,
And serve the dear Savior in word, mind, and deed.

Because Christmas is more than a date on a page,
It’s more than the parties or plays on a stage.

Christmas reminds us of the birth of our Savior,
His sacrifice treasured more than gifts and a manger.

Throughout this new year, we’ll share His love,
And worship the Messiah, God’s redemptive plan from above.

The simple message of John 3:16 still rings clear and true. God’s abundant love compelled Him to give His one and only Son so that when we believe we’ll have life everlasting!

By faith
aVailable to

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23, NIV.

God bless you and Happy 2023!!

By author eMarie

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“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…”(Is.9:6, NKJV)

Two days from now on Christmas Day, we will be caught up in a sea of pandemonium as squealing children rush to the tree and tear open one gift after another in an excited frenzy.

We will again ooh and ah over Aunt Mae’s green bean salad or laugh at Uncle Herman’s silly jokes as we gather around the table to consume a prodigious amount of delightful food.

Shouts of victory or groans of defeat will emanate from the crowd huddled in the living room as football fans watch the games on TV.

Beneath the fanfare and gaiety of the holiday lies the undercurrent of the real meaning of Christmas.

Jesus is the reason for the season.

A child has arrived on Earth, God’s own son, the manifestation of God Himself. A Savior has been given, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. All who believe in Him are promised eternal life.

Two of the characters in my Christmas novella, Cathy’s Christmas Confession, appear only briefly in the story. However, they open my main character’s eyes to a startling reality.

Cathy Fischer becomes acutely aware of a hurting and hungry world when she realizes there are people who do not know about Jesus.

Her desire to bring hope and joy to others during the Christmas season, despite their pain, leads her to take a closer look at herself and the influence she has on the lives of others.

She doesn’t realize it is the subtle, small things we do in our daily actions that lead others to Jesus.

What will your friends and loved learn about Jesus from you this Christmas?

Happy Jesus’s birthday!

By author Patti Shene Gonzales

Blurb for Cathy’s Christmas Confession

Christmas is not a time of joy for the hurting.
During a snowstorm, widow Cathy Fischer creams a stop sign on her way to work at the Christmas Ridge Community Church. Acquaintance David Martin stops to help. Cathy sees signs of deep grief in David, a recent widower. She reaches out with support in an attempt to help David through this most difficult first Christmas without his beloved wife.

David Martin struggles with grief over the death of his wife. He blames God for her rapid demise after her cancer diagnosis. Cathy reaches out to him with compassion and support and soon enlists him in her mission to bring joy to others at Christmas. Will their joint quest restore David’s faith?

David needs to turn loose of the past and embrace his future. Cathy has a confession to make to the entire community that may give David a different perspective of who she really is. Will her confession set her free?

Does God have plans in mind for the two of them they did not anticipate?

Cathy’s Christmas Confession: A Christmas Ridge Romance Book 3 buy link (https://tinyurl.com/mr26ekaj)

Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Check out our Amazon Christmas Ridge Romance page (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BLCJ9P9J) to learn about other books in the series and receive updates!


Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview style podcast, where guests share their journey out of darkness or ways they lead others back to light. She hosts writers on her two blogs, Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer. Patti is published in two anthologies and local publications and has three novels in progress. She enjoys writing, reading, critiquing, and spending time with family and friends. Patti lives in Colorado with her devoted feline companion, Duncan. Cathy’s Christmas Confession is her first novella.

Visit Patti at her website         www.pattishene.co
Facebook                                https://www.facebook.com/pattishene
Twitter                                    https://twitter.com/PattiShene





“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is.9:6, NKJV)

Listen! Longfellow’s bells. They’re peeling, wild and sweet!

Ah, but there’d been a time when the tolling of the bells pained the poet. Then, penned from his own anguish, Longfellow’s faith emerged victorious in this poem.

On Christmas Day in 1863 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow continued to grieve the death of his beloved second wife Fannie. She had died tragically two years prior when her housedress caught fire. Longfellow himself tried to extinguish the flames with his own body, but Fannie did not survive. Worse yet, because of his burns Longfellow couldn’t attend the funeral.

During the subsequent two years Henry’s oldest son enlisted in the Union army to fight in the Civil War. On December 1st, Henry received a telegram that his son had been shot during a battle of the Mine Run campaign. The location of the exit wound from the bullet put his son at risk of being paralyzed.

When this widowed father of six heard the cannons thundering nearby, he was beside himself with concern for his children, his country, his neighbors. It’s hard to imagine the depths of emotions the bells evoked as they tolled on that Christmas Day. We know this wasn’t Longfellow’s first epic poetic endeavor, but it may have been his most passionate.

Especially this year, though despair and hardship maybe crowding in and around us, we can rise with faith as Longfellow had so long ago. Confident that God is not dead and He isn’t deaf!

I pray that as we hear the Christmas bells this Christmas, we acknowledge all the Lord has done for us. And from grateful hearts, we share the ever-abiding hope that we have in Jesus!

Merry Christmas!!  🙂

Written by eMarie

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF HOPE and scroll down. Thank you for subscribing to this website and sharing it with friends.

     Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – 1807-1882

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”




A 1990s internet story about a little boy and his mama touched the heart of DC Chymes, a St. Louis radio personality. Thinking it would make a wonderful song, Chymes took the info to the musical group, NewSong.

After setting the lyrics to music, the composition received minimal interest. So the group sat on the piece for several years. One day, a group member shared the song’s story with his friend Donna VanLiere, whose book about the boy who wanted to buy shoes for his mama became a best-seller and then a movie. People were so enamored with The Christmas Shoes song, book, and movie that Hallmark capitalized on its fame, turning another of Donna’s books into a Christmas movie.

Now, accounts vary as to the way the above events happened. But what about the little boy in the song who wanted to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mama? Did he truly exist?

Not according to Helga Schmidt. No, sir. There wasn’t a boy. But she did stand in a long line with a brother and sister who argued about which one would put the shoes on the counter beside the register. And it wasn’t until she added $3.00 to complete the transaction that she grasped their dire need.

The children thanked her, then shared what they’d learned in Sunday School. They wanted their dying mama’s shoes to match Heaven’s gold-paved streets.

So moved by her encounter with these children, Schmidt wrote the 1970s story as a continuing education piece, which somehow found its way into a newspaper, a church bulletin, and eventually a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” publication.

Can you see the profound impact this story had on each of the people involved? For NewSong, VanLiere, and Hallmark, their fame skyrocketed.

No doubt the help the siblings received, the gift they gave their mother and the motherless years that followed, changed and shaped them.

Because of her generosity, Helga Schmidt received a gift greater than any $3.00 investment. The story she shared affected the world.

A one-of-a-kind moment.

Now, for all of us who know the story behind The Christmas Shoes, what was the brightest moment? The moment that truly changed lives. Certainly, it wasn’t what came in a wrapped shoebox or the images that flashed across the silver screen.

Hallmark would’ve never produced the movie from VanLiere’s story. The song that moved us to tears wouldn’t have been written. Schmidt’s money would’ve stayed in her pocket. And the siblings who argued on the store line that day may not have desired to buy shoes for their dying mama – had they not received the hope of Heaven while in Sunday School.

The moment they chose to believe that Heaven is real. One brilliant, magical  moment changed everything.

For them. For us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

Merry Christmas!!  🙂

Written by eMarie

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS MOMENT and scroll down. Thank you for subscribing to this website and sharing it with friends.

Also, please check out  my Amazon #1 book for Early Readers, A Snowflake’s Adventure . In 2021, we donated over 500 for these books to OCC/SP! Thank you for purchasing and leaving a review on Amazon!! Thank you!




Five years ago, after my husband Bert’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis, I maintained a stoic front. Inwardly, I believed God and took Him at His word. But in my quiet moments I felt and acted more like Jacob. I didn’t have a wrestling match with the Lord, but an intense spiritual battle had begun. Especially after I’d looked up the statistical prognosis regarding Bert’s disease. “Hopeless” fit the percentage. The doctors had told us as much. But faith said that number was unacceptable.

The Lord invites us in Hebrews to come and reason with Him .

I came, but I was beyond reason. I cried out to Him asking, wanting, needing something personal from Him. Something to show me that even though I didn’t see it, He was still working, still moving on our behalf. That He cared about what was happening to Bert. To me. To our four children, to their spouses, and to our grandchildren. That every promise in His word was still true, still ours. Jehovah was still faithful, able, and in control of every aspect of our lives.

I pictured the crossroads in Sacramento, CA, where I first became a believer at age 19. I reminded the Lord how He had shown me His many promises throughout all generations. He’d shown Himself to be Emmanuel–God with us. I recited His miracles and His gracious healing hand. His might and power. I prayed, Show me again, Lord.


I got in the car to go to lunch with a group of Bible study friends. As I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, I again asked God to let me know He was with us. With me.

Beyond frustrated with this unanswered prayer, I walked up to the restaurant, and exhaled a deep breath. That’s when it hit me.

God had answered my prayer through that simple act. Genesis 2:7 says “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…”

Every breath was, is, and always will be proof of God’s existence and love. I had the “something special” I’d requested all along.

My wrestling ended there and then. The Lord had given me the proof I’d asked for.

That afternoon, in an effort to capture what God showed me, I penned the first words to A Snowflake’s Adventure.

…five years later, my husband is living with cancer and doing well.

A Snowflake’s Adventure is a story of God’s personal love. To my husband. To me. To every child He’s ever created. Unique. Purposeful. We are His one-of-a-kind design. Each. And. Every. One.

By eMarie

(To the glory of God, we donated this #1 Amazon children’s book through OCC/Samaritan’s Purse to 500+ children around the world on Christmas Day 2021!)

To leave a comment, please click on the title above,  BREATHING LIFE INTO A CHILDREN’S STORY, and scroll down. Please subscribe, share this post with family and friends, and return next week for another encouraging blog. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂



Adrianus Valerius wrote this to celebrate a victorious battle against Spain’s King Philip II. Because the king was Catholic, he forbade Dutch protestants from gathering to worship. But when God brought about this victory, protestants were free to meet – a huge reason to praise and sing!

Composed to the tune of a familiar Dutch folk song, the hymn first made its appearance into an American hymnal in 1903—more than 300 years after its 1597 composition. As the song gained popularity in the States, various religions added it to their hymnals. During WWI and WWII, its popularity soared because folks could relate to the lyrics about the cessation of the wickeds’ oppressing.

This hymn was sung at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ funeral mass, and an episode of West Wing referred to it. General Hospital, an American soap opera, generally had the hymn sung by their revered family, the Quartermaines at Thanksgiving.

When I was a child, we sang this song in church every Thanksgiving service. And during Thanksgiving plays in school. Our children have no recollection of the hymn, and I doubt our grandchildren know it.

Have you guessed the name of the hymn yet? Here’s a beautiful hint.

I have to admit that until I sat to write this blog, only the first two lines of “We Gather Together” came to mind. And though the hymn’s lyrics weren’t penned specifically for this purpose, the unending hope we have in Jesus to sustain, to make a way where there is no way, comes through loud and clear.

Oppression is nothing new and unfortunately continues all over the world. As in Valerious’s day, Christians/protestants are prohibited from gathering and speaking the name of Jesus in public. Yet, daring souls meet underground to worship, despite unimaginable, grave consequences.

What about here in America? In my humble opinion, we take our liberty to gather in the name of the Lord for granted.

This Thanksgiving, as we gather together with little or much, many or one, let’s pray for these dear, faithful Christians who are oppressed. Whose freedoms are restricted or denied. Who still whisper the name of Jesus with gratitude.

Let the name of the Lord be praised,
    both now and forevermore. (Psalm 113:2, NIV)

Happy Thanksgiving!

By author eMarie

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THANKFUL FOR: GATHERING, and scroll down. Please subscribe, share this post with family and friends, and return next week for another encouraging blog. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂




With over 5,000 hymns to his credit, this songwriter had a much different aspiration for his life. Thank God, His wonderful purpose for this man’s life continues to bless us all.

See if you can guess who this hymn writer is.

He was born in Medford, NJ, in 1856. His father had an excellent voice, and this boy traveled with his dad to his many singing engagements. At a young age, he aspired to following in Dad’s footsteps.

Though he become an ordained minister at age 19, his preaching left something to be desired, and his ability to sing? Well, let’s just say he wasn’t his dad.

None of these setbacks diminished this man’s desire to love and serve the Lord and to preach the Good News. And the Lord honored his commitment.

In 1892 at age 36, he put his pen, faith, and musical talent together and began composing one brilliant song after another – for others to sing. From that time on, he wrote an average of 200 songs a year.

Early in his songwriting career, he penned the dedication to a book as follows:

Let others sing of rights and wrongs,
Sing anything that pleases;
But while they’re singing other songs,
I’ll sing a song for Jesus.

And he wouldn’t accept more than one dollar for a hymn.

Maybe some of these titles can help you identify him:

Higher Ground
No. Not One

I Know He’s Mine
Almost Home
Sweeter Than All
When the Fire Fell

I’ve saved one of my favorites for last.

Along with thousands of other songs, Count Your Blessings was written by Johnson Oatman.

We overlook so many opportunities to thank God for all He has done, is doing, and will continue to do for us. Johnson conveyed reasons to pause and give thanks – for the large and small things, and especially for salvation. Each and every day.

Should we do any less?

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…” (Psm. 107:1-2a, NKJV)

By author eMarie

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THANKFUL FOR:  COUNTLESS BLESSINGS, and scroll down. Please subscribe, share this post with family and friends, and return next week for another encouraging blog. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂




So often, the debate rages whether or not America was established on Judeo-Christian principles.  Here’s an interesting quote from June 1926, when the U.S. Congress established November 11th as the day to commemorate our military veterans:

“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary(bloody), and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations … this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations ….”

Though first imprinted on U.S. coins during the Civil War, it wasn’t until 1956 during General/President Eisenhower that “In God We Trust” became the national motto. In 1957, it was then printed on U.S. dollars. Incidentally, it was the Eisenhower administration that added “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance.

Could it be that a man who faced the horrors of war realized America’s need for reliance on our Almighty God?

A myriad of stories introduce this quote including, before entering a prayer meeting with a group of ministers, one said, “the Lord is always on the side of the right” to which Abraham Lincoln replied, “yes, but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord’s side.”

To anchor the debate about our Judeo-Christian foundation, I yield the floor to a gallant orator of his time.

Yet, the Supreme Court removed the Bible and prohibited prayer in schools in 1962 and 1963. In 2015, the Court ruled that except in a historic context, the ten commandments had to be removed from government property.

The property belonging to the Judeo-Christian based government.

In 1981, then high school student Kelly Strong wrote a powerful poem entitled, “Freedom isn’t Free” – a tribute to his father who served as a marine in Vietnam.

President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected…”

Beginning with our Founding Fathers to today’s veterans, many have paid an enormous price for America’s freedom. We have the freedom to debate, to take our case to court, and even to snuff God out of our country.

Since nothing is free, what does Christianity cost?

Ah, there’s the catch!

Becoming a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is free to all because Jesus paid our eternal price.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

God bless our Veterans. God bless America.

By author eMarie

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THANKFUL FOR:  FREEDOM, and scroll down. Please subscribe, share this post with family and friends, and return next week for another encouraging blog. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂


Has God ever given you a startling reminder of His divine protection? One that leaves you with unspeakable awe?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, that’s what He did for my hubby Bert and me.

Two weeks ago we were driving home from our annual family retreat in Sunriver, OR, when our first near collision occurred. We’d spent five wonderful days with our four g’kids and their parents. We played games, sat in a hot tub, took long walks, and caught up while stuffing our faces. Our idea of a relaxing family time.

On the two-lane road that takes us home to Idaho, we listened to a favorite pastor’s sermon. The beautiful autumn leaves, the crisp air, and two hot coffees to-go make the six-hour drive enjoyable.

About four hours into of our drive, we began the descent from the mountainous pass. Without a guard rail, the narrow shoulder plummets into a valley.

From the opposite direction, a sedan decided to pass a semi-truck in front of it. Seeing the driver’s brown eyes and chin-length brown hair up close, we breathed, “Oh, Lord.” God performed a miracle in that moment. As if a median appeared, her car passed between the truck and ours. Our faithful God proved His hand is never short, and always outstretched toward His children!

The following week we were on our way to a prayer meeting that began at 8:45 a.m. at our church. In typical fashion, I was running two minutes late. I announced, “We should’ve left the house at 8:30. It’s 8:32.” My long-suffering husband said nothing, dutifully started the car, and we were on our way.

I looked at the dashboard clock and cringed. 8:45. We had two more 4-way stops before we’d arrive at church. “Lord, I promise to get up five minutes earlier next Sunday.” That was my prayer when I heard Bert say, “Oh, God.” Mind you, he never says, “Oh, God.” Gosh or goodness, yes. But he sincerely meant, Oh, God!

An SUV in front us had turned left at the intersection. A car from the opposite direction broadsided the SUV at full speed. He hadn’t seen his stop sign. The SUV hit one of the stop signs, preventing it from going into a ditch, and rolled over onto the other driver’s car.

By God’s grace, both drivers walked away from the accident! Bert helped the woman in the SUV, who had minor cuts and scrapes. The other driver’s airbag had deployed, but beyond shock and sincere sorrow, he was fine. I called 9-1-1, and then directed traffic through the 4-way stop.

Yes, that SUV could’ve been us. But the moral of the story isn’t – be late for prayer meeting/church! It is, however, to pray and praise the Lord. Whether we feel or see it, He is always working for our good and for His glory.

Now, no matter the distance, neither Bert nor I will start the car without asking for the Lord’s protection.

If you’ve been driving for any length of time, you’ve probably had similar situations. We take for granted that we’ll get here or there safely. But what if we do what Paul says:

Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Thess. 5:17-18, NKJV)

By author eMarie

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THANKFUL FOR:  TRAVELING MERCIES, and scroll down. Please subscribe, share this post with family and friends, and return next week for another encouraging blog. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂



This interesting adage first appeared in a 1523 book on animal husbandry. A shepherd contended that if a pup wasn’t taught early on to keep his nose to the ground, he wouldn’t be able to sniff out wolves or other predatory animals later in life.

More than twenty years later, the saying found its way into John Heywood’s book of proverbs.

In a speech given by Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, he quoted the adage as, SPOILER ALERT,  “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Then he added that no matter their age anyone who stops learning is old.

What about humans? What does God’s Word say about how well we can adapt, learn, become more like Him? Do we get a “treat” (reward) in return?

. . .put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:24, NIV)

God makes it clear that it’s never too late for Him to transform us. He rescued us from the gates of hell (the animal shelter, if you will) and opened wide the doors. He didn’t look at our age, our size, or what caused the mange on our coats. We weren’t so sick that He bypassed us. Nor have we made a mess He can’t clean up.

With His power, strength, love, and forgiveness, He frees us from eternal death. He creates in us a clean heart. We don’t have to perform a trick, sit and beg, or roll over. His word says if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, we’re saved (Rom.10:9).

God treats us tenderly because He is merciful. He loves us and longs to have a relationship with us. He wants to teach us to be like Him. To do this we pray and read His word, and obey and trust Him. And, even though we might stumble and fall, or miss sniffing out a wolf, Our Shepherd is there. Constant and true.

And, He’s the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Heb. 11:6, NKJV)

By the way, it turns out the adage that old dogs can’t learn new tricks has been soundly refuted. With consistent training and verbal commands, and use of treats, even older dogs can learn new tricks.

What about you? Ready to walk with our Savior? He created us to do just that. No leash required. Just put your hand in His and receive His rewards beyond measure!

By author eMarie

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, TRICK OR TREAT, and scroll down. Please subscribe, share this post with family and friends, and return next week for another encouraging blog. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂