The Greatest Gift We Can Give

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

If we were to meet at a café for coffee and begin a conversation about all Christmas means, we’d have a long and encouraging discussion.

And if we could catch a glimpse beyond our usual capacity to understand, we may discover that the list is actually endless. The Christmas season is many things, and all of it seems to be wrapped inside of hope with strong emphasis on encouragement. Without hope and encouragement, humans struggle to even get out of bed, let alone strengthen the next generation.

The greatest gift we can give to our loved ones is encouragement.

Encouragement gives hope, and it speaks words of faith.

Encouragement strengthens.



Encouragement causes love to grow.

Love for life. For one another. For the Holy One.

Darkness. Wretched, miserable darkness cloaks itself in discouragement.

But encouragement causes us to find our way along darkened corridors.

It beckons us to move beyond the iron gates of whatever holds us prisoner.

Every aspect of faith is wrapped inside its warm embrace.

But oftentimes we must fight off discouragement before we can embrace encouragement.

Fight if you must.

Fight to hear the voice of encouragement, to clutch it to your heart.

Fight to feel its power despite discouragement’s reality.

For with encouragement will come the strength and power to accomplish what you need to…and much more. 

…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5


Winner of the Win a Stay with the Amish Contest

The winner of the Win a Stay with the Amish contest has been chosen! was used to select the winner from the over 2,000 entries.

Congratulations to Arleen Curry!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this contest. It was so much fun!



Post a comment below for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to an Old Order Amish dry goods store, a store similar to the one in Christmas in Apple Ridge. This is a new website that was given to an Old Order Amish friend of mine as a way for her to market her lovely store, Rachel’s Country Store:

This giveaway is not related to Facebook and is completely separate from a similar giveaway I am currently offering on my Facebook author page.

If you are reading this anywhere other than my website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my website and leave a comment at the bottom of my post to enter the giveaway. (

Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway. (It’s just too hard to track down all the comments left in various places, and that means it’s too easy to miss some of the comments.)

The deadline for this contest is Monday, December 24, 2012, at noon. The winner will be chosen using and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on the next blog post.

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