Saturday, December 31, 2011


I like to say "Have a Blessed New Year!" rather than "Happy New Year!" because none of us knows what's around the next bend. Maybe we can't always be happy, but we can always be blessed!

I'll admit 2011 was a happy AND blessed year for me - lots of wonderful times with family and friends, treasured moments with the grandJOYs, and an added bonus on October 22 when God blessed us with another grandson. Oh, the joys and blessings.

What will 2012 hold? Only God knows. But the blessing of it all is that God will be walking right through this year with me, and there is so much joy and blessed assurance in knowing that. If you haven't yet trusted Christ as Savior and Lord of your life, why not make 2012 be your year? There is nothing like the blessing of knowing He holds your hand through every circumstance of life, no matter what you face.

My verse of the year is found in Isaiah 41:13: "I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not be afraid; I will help you.'"

Do you have a favorite verse? Why not share it below and be a blessing to someone who might just need to read it this very moment?

I love you all - and wish for each of you a BLESSED NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Thirty-six and counting! That's how many years it's been since my darling hubby and I tied the knot!

It was September 1975, and I had reached a pinnacle point in my life. I was 27 and "honeyless" - in other words, no sweetie pie to call my own. (boo-hoo) I had begun to think I might never find "Mr. Right". And then...WELL...let me just tell you.

Cecil is four years younger than I, so, although we were always very good friends - of the brotheryly/sisterly type - we didn't see ourselves EVER falling in love. I had known him since the ripe age of 11, and at 13, my oldest brother married his oldest sister. Our two families meshed and we were constantly together at church, picnics, celebrations, weddings, and holiday gatherings. So, it was only natural he and I would grow up best friends. Through the years we both fell in and out of love countless times, just not with each other. And we always kept each other abreast of our latest love interests.

Then came the day he asked me to pick him up at the airport after his four-year stint in the air force had come to an end. I happily agreed. It would be great to see my long lost buddy again with whom I'd only exchanged letters and shared a few phone calls.

But I'll tell you what - when he got off the plane that day, something inside me went, 'Whoa, baby, when did he grow up?' And when he placed a short, gentle, friendly kiss ON MY LIPS I nearly melted into a puddle of smush. It was that tiny first kiss that did it for me!

One week later - after having spent every spare moment together - he kissed me again - and then again - and then AGAIN. And we asked each other where we'd been all our lives. And then he told me he loved me - and would I be his wife?

Oh, my gracious - it was love at first, well, I can't say 'sight' because the first time I saw him he was about six and I was 10, so I'll just say it was love at first 'kiss'! After that magical September kiss in 1975, we could NOT wait to get married, so, three months later on December 20, we made forever vows to each other.

Ain't love the grandest thing ever? And I have a dozen roses on my kitchen island to prove that we're still going strong.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


'Tis the Season to be Giving!

And that's exactly what I'm doing! I love giving gifts so much more than receiving them, so this giveaway has been a blast for me. Thanks so much to all who entered the previous two contests. I've loved reading your delightful posts. That said, because I'm so full of CHRISTmas cheer, this time I'm giving you a chance to win not one, not two, not even three - but FOUR books. (I sound like an infomercial!!!) Yep, you read right. The winner will receive my three contemporary novels and the first book in my 1920s "River of Hope" Series.

Titles are as follows:
Through Every Storm
Long Journey Home
Tender Vow
Livvie's Song

What do you have to do to enter? Why only one thing! In the comment box below, share one of your favorite family traditions, and wa-lah, you've entered!

This contest will have a shorter window of time for entering. I'm closing it on
Tuesday, December 20 (MY 36TH ANNIVERSARY!!!) in hopes the winner will still receive his/her books before Christmas. It's gonna be tight, but we'll make every effort.

So, come on, my sweet, precious friends. Jump on board!!! Above all, enjoy these final days of the Christmas rush, but don't forget that JESUS is the reason for the season!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Are you smarter than a five-year-old?

Yesterday, our family was just getting ready to sit down to Sunday dinner when my husband glanced out the window at the backyard and said to our grandkids, "Just think, kids, in another month or so there'll be lots of snow on the ground, and we can go outside and play in it." Without skipping a beat our five-year-old grandJOY, Dylan, piped up in a scolding voice, "Papa, it's not about THAT; it's about the baby Jesus coming to the earth to save us from our sins."

I could tell he'd heard that line before and had been looking for the perfect opportunity to use it on someone, and in his eyes this particular instance seemed perfect. Of course, we all agreed - even though my husband's comment had nothing to do with Christmas.

Later, that sweet remark coming from my darling grandson's innocent heart got me to reflecting. Had I overspent on gifts - again? Was I dropping enough money into the bell-ringer's red bucket? Could I be praying harder and doing more for those less fortunate than I? Did I carry a heavy enough burden for others? What more could I be doing to make someone else's Christmas more joyful? This morning in my prayer time I asked the Lord to rearrange my Christmas priorities. I want this season to be more about HIM and OTHERS and less about ME.

"Lord, reveal Your heart of goodness to me that I may be a bright and generous vessel of love, hope, and goodwill to those in need. Give me childlike vision for this beautiful season. In Your Name I pray. Amen."

Friday, December 09, 2011


'Tis the Season to be Giving!

Beginning TODAY, I'll be offering a chance to win my 3-book "Daughters of Jacob Kane" Series. Simply post a comment below telling me what your all-time favorite Christmas song is - and just like that, you're entered! On WEDNESDAY, December 14, I'll throw everybody's name into a "hat", draw one out, and let you know if you're the lucky winner. The winner's books will ship out just as soon as I receive snail mail information from the winner! My next contest (beginning December 14) will be for a chance to win my 3 contemporary stand-alone books AND...(dunt-ta-da-dah!!!) "Livvie's Song", number 1 in my "River of Hope" Series, so that's a total of FOUR books that final week! (With a little luck and Christmas blessings, all winners should receive their books before Christmas!)

Are you in? I hope so! I'm really looking forward to learning what your FAVORITE Christmas song is. If you feel so inclined, you can even tell us why, but that's not a requirement.

Okay, summary:
1. Tell us what your FAVORITE Christmas song is, and if you want to elaborate on the reason, go for it.
2. If you happen to be the winner on December 14, I'll contact you! (If you sign anonymous, I won't be able to reach you.) I will then need your 'snail mail' info.

Many blessings and love to all!!!


And the winner is..."Little Lady"!


And now...onto my NEXT giveaway.

Stay tuned, everybody!!! Sending you lots of hugs and Christmas Joy!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


With all my heart, I thank you for the opportunity to write for You, Lord. Please grant me the talent to do it with clarity and fresh style that my words will stretch deep into my readers’ souls and make a difference for eternity.

Reach into my heart, Lord, and grant me sensitivity to understand my characters—their soul’s deep core, their wants and needs and dreams. May my sensitivity make my characters come to life for my readers and, in turn, touch a chord of emotion that will draw them into the story.

I long to write from my heart, Lord, so that I may communicate Your love and goodness to my readers. Fuel my imagination with vivid ideas and vital insights that my words will flow and I will have no doubt that You are working through me.

Teach me how to trust You in those moments when the creative juices slow and my mind grows weary. It is for You I write, so please awaken and energize my senses with fresh insights so that my readers will go in search of Your truth in the midst of my fiction.

Empower me with Your Holy Spirit, God, that I may persevere in discouragement, trust in times of fear, hope in the midst of despair, believe when the doubts settle in, and rely solely on You for my strength and inspiration. In the name of Your Son Jesus, I pray. Amen.

© Sharlene MacLaren
*Feel free to reprint this prayer.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Christmas memories run like rivers of delight through my head, but here is one that washes over me every year about this time...

I couldn't have been more than seven-years-old, toothless, innocent (mostly), and tenderhearted. Times were very hard. Daddy had lost his factory job, and our family was living off his unemployment. It was almost Christmas, and my mom had told we kids that this Christmas would be sparse. I think we were all fine with it, even though a teeny part of me couldn't help but grieve over the thought of no presents.

Every other year, our family took the trek in our old blue Ford with the broken heater from Michigan to Ohio to visit my grandparents, and this was one of those years. The lack of presents would be fine as long as I got a taste of Grandma's fine cooking, the smells of which filled every corner of their two-story house. There would be turkey, stuffing, "lumpy" potatoes and gravy, green beans, scalloped corn, homemade rolls, and plenty of pumpkin, cherry, and apple pie. Of course, the wooden bowl would be brimming with an assortment of nuts - pecans, walnuts, and almonds to name a few, and I'd have fun trying my hand at the nutcracker while Grandpa's Victrola played any number of Christmas carols, and the Christmas lights twinkled on the fresh-cut spruce tree.

Even though I knew there wouldn't be an abundance of presents that year, I still awoke on Christmas morning with anticipation stirring my chest. Downstairs, I heard adults in happy conversation, the rattle of pans on the stove, and the splendid aroma of bacon drifting through the floor register. I yanked the covers off me and padded down the carpeted staircase in my flannel nightgown with the pinkie flowers. Grandpa sat in his navy blue velvet chair and smiled when I emerged. "Here she is, folks! At last we can begin!"

"Begin what?" I asked, wiping the sleep from my eyes and walking over to Grandpa for a gentle hug.

"The presents, silly."

Presents? At that, my older brothers seemed to appear from nowhere, and my parents and grandma came from the kitchen, steaming mugs in their hands and twinkles in their eyes.

Yes, there were presents, nothing major, mind you, but presents, six or seven with MY name on them. I opened things like socks, a board game, a book, a pair of mittens knitted by Grandma, a new sweater, and some pajamas. The BEST present, though, came inside a very large box. What in the world? I couldn't imagine, but my heart pit-pattered with nervous joy as I ripped off the tape and ribbons and tore away the paper. Pulling the lid from the box, I blew out a breath of utter astonishment. It was my doll! Used, yes, and very well loved, but cleaned up spic and span to look like new! My mother had done something very special. That fall, while I was at school, she'd begun using old scraps of fabric to stitch many, many different outfits for my doll, dresses, coats, skirts, shirts, nightgowns, hats, scarves, and even blankets. I recall picking up my doll and squeezing her to me, then staring down at the scores of outfits fashioned by my talented mother. I don't think I'd ever loved so fully until that moment or experienced so completely, what it meant to give from a heart of love and sacrifice.

Mom died in January 2010 (almost two years ago) at almost 97 years of age. As the anniversary of her passing approaches I am filled with precious memories of Christmases past - but I cannot help but hold especially dear that Christmas of 1956 when she taught me afresh the true spirit - and joy - of the blessed Christ season.

Friday, December 02, 2011


'Tis the Season to be Giving!

For the next two weeks I am going to be providing you opportunities to win my books! Why? Because I'm filled with Christmas cheer, that's why!

Beginning TODAY, I'll be offering a chance to win my 3-book Little Hickman Creek Series. Simply post a comment below about a special Christmas memory - and just like that, you're entered! On December 9, I'll throw everybody's name into a "hat", draw one out, and let you know if you're the lucky winner. The winner's books will ship out the following Monday! My next contest (beginning December 9) will be for a chance to win my 3-book series titled The Daughters of Jacob Kane, and then the third week (beginning December 16), I'll offer you a chance at winning my 3 contemporary stand-alone books AND...(dunt-ta-da-dah!!!) number 1 in my River of Hope Series, so that's a total of FOUR books that final week! (With a little luck and Christmas blessings, all winners should receive their books before Christmas!)

So, are you in? I hope so! I'm really looking forward to reading about your favorite Christmas memories. Who knows? Maybe I'll even find something I can use in an upcoming book!

Okay, summary:
1. Post a comment below.
2. Include a favorite Christmas memory.
3. If you happen to be the winner on December 9, I'll contact you! (If you sign anonymous, I won't be able to reach you.)

Many blessings and love to all!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2011


'Tis the Season to be Jolly, Fa-la-la-la-la, etc., etc...

You know the old carol, the catchy tune, the fun lyrics. And I do get a warm feeling whenever I hear it, even if it's older than Stonehenge. haha. I still remember asking my dad, the church song-leader, when I was a little kid, "How come we never sing Deck the Halls in church? Can we sing it Sunday morning?" He laughed and told me it wasn't a hymn, that there was no mention of Jesus in the song. Oh. Humph.

How often we go about the Christmas rush forgetting its true meaning, forgetting altogether that without the baby Jesus there would be no Christmas despite the way the world tries to push His name aside. Even the word Christmas is shunned by many.

I'm all about decking the halls, don't get me wrong, but I'm not about leaving Christ out of Christmas. In this wonderful season of advent, let us keep at the forefront of our minds the real reason we celebrate this wondrous time of year. It's not about the tree, the presents, the glitz and glamour, the lights, or even the Christmas carols. It's about that tiny babe, Jesus, who came to earth one frosty night to give us LIFE ABUNDANT.