Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Family


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

What Did Mama Really Want for Christmas in 1970?

What Did Mama Really Want for Christmas in 1970?

We’re three days away from Christmas, and I don’t want to bog everyone down with a how-to post, a craft post, or lots of reading to wade through. Instead, I’m going to continue the thread of Christmas memories, traditions, favorite recipes, movies, and books.

When I was a kid, Christmas gift giving was fairly small at my house, but as far as I knew, it was that way for everyone, so I didn’t know any better. We got a gift or two at home, we exchanged gifts at school and at church, and I received gifts from both of my grandmothers. That was FIVE gifts spread out over five different events. That was enough to make any child … or at least THIS child … giddy with excitement!!

The rest of the Christmas season was spent waiting for the last day of school, practicing for Christmas plays at church and spending time with friends at the Christmas church potluck and cousins at grandma’s house.

I always find it interesting that we remember little snippets of things that happened in our childhood, but then nothing at all of many days and weeks. Maybe there was some little thing that really stuck with us about a certain event, a toy, or a person. One Christmas that I remember well was around 1970. Honestly, I don’t remember if we got to pick out our own presents every year, but I do know that year in particular, we did. So maybe that’s why it sticks out in my memory so much. I was six years old.

My older brothers wanted a race track from Sears-Roebuck. The race track costed over $75, which was way more than any one family member could spend for Christmas. We had $25 for Christmas. $25 in 1970 would buy a lot, at least in MY world. But it wouldn’t buy the coveted race track found in the Sears-Roebuck catalog. So my brothers talked my daddy into pooling “his” Christmas money with theirs and buying the race track. It was a huge affair, taking up the length and width of an 8 foot x 10 foot plywood table that was set up in the living room for several months. I’m sure Mama made sure I didn’t get roped into adding my Christmas money to the race track fund because I got a little wooden doll high chair and a doll.

What Did Mama Really Want for Christmas in 1970?

My family made the trip to Sears which was a good 50 miles away for our shopping trip which was a big deal for us during those days. I still remember walking around looking at all the toys, trying to decide what I wanted to buy. I finally settled on the high chair. But the problem was that Mama knew I didn’t have a doll at home that would fit in the chair. So, my poor mother used part of her Christmas money to buy a doll with bendable legs to fit in the chair. It’s been so long ago, and my memory is hazy, but I think that was the year I got a doll with retractable red hair. A search of the internet brings up the “Chrissy” dolls of the 60s and 70s, and mine was probably that doll.

What Did Mama Really Want for Christmas in 1970?

We also went to eat at a steakhouse, which was probably a bigger deal than going shopping in the “city”. All these years (and they are a LOT of years), I still remember the high-backed booths in the steakhouse. The doll and high chair, and the race track were wonderful, but the memories are what make me smile.

All these years later, I wonder what Mama and Daddy really wanted for Christmas for themselves. Did Mama have her eye on a pretty store-bought dress or new black patent-leather purse? Maybe Daddy need a new white shirt and black pants for church, or even a new pair of dress shoes.

What Did Mama Really Want for Christmas in 1970?

But they didn’t get those things. Instead they got a race track, a doll and a little wooden high chair. But I have a feeling they didn’t mind. They were making memories with us kids, much like I’m doing with my kids and grandkids these days. I really don’t need anything. My old purse suits me just fine. I have enough shoes to last a lifetime, and my closet is full.

As is my heart.

Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas

and a Very Happy New Year.

 It seems each year that I find myself posting on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I don't think it's a day many people are thinking of writing. Thoughts are more likely turned to families and friends, pies and stuffing and how best to cook that bird. 

So what's a Seeker to post about?

Well, many of you might know that I have a weakness for sentimental commercials. I've posted about them before. I particularly love the ones that manage to intrigue us with a story while they're trying to sell us on something. 

At this time of year, and honestly since about Halloween, we're inundated with Christmas commercials. Out of curiosity, I decided to Google Thanksgiving commercials. I was pleasantly surprised to see there are some lovely ones - centered around family and food of course.

Here's a sampler. Take a peak while the pies are baking.



A little Thanksgiving humor...

There is some writing craft involved here. I love to see how even in these very short clips, the ad writers managed to tell a story, create characters which at least I come to care about, inject some pathos and some humor, and sell us on a theme of the importance of family and love and togetherness - often in less than a minute.



If you watch this one through to the end, you'll see the message we all send to all of you. We're so grateful for you, so thankful you are in our lives.

You  know how the Thanksgiving Parade always ends with Santa's arrival? Here's a Christmas preview.

As writers, we can appreciate the twist ending.

Happy Thanksgiving Seekerville!

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer

Missy Tippens

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer
Photo Credit: Bigstock/Ammentorp

A few of months ago, I read a wonderful post by Edie Melson on her blog, The Write Conversation. She shared 9 Tips for Supporting Your Writing Spouse. In it, she shared ways her husband has helped support her career--a very inspiring post!

Edie's post gave me the idea to come up with my own suggestions we writers can share with our family and friends, especially if we have trouble asking for support. Now, we can just send them a link to this post! :) And you who are readers can share this with your family as well, to help them know how to support you in your creative pursuits.

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer

--If we’re writing (or knitting or making jewelry or…) as a career, then please respect that it’s actually a career. Please don’t call it a hobby or act as if it’s less important than any other job.

--Offer to read our work. If you’re good at grammar, offer to proof it for us. If you’re not, but enjoy reading, offer to read it and give feedback. Also, please give encouraging and positive feedback along with the constructive criticism. (Use the “sandwich method” of sandwiching criticism between two slices of positive!) :)

--When we’re stuck, help us brainstorm ideas. Your different view of the world can give us lots of new ideas.

--At holidays and birthdays, writerly gifts (including cash to go toward conferences, contests, and office supplies) are much appreciated! A writer can never have too many cool pens or notebooks.

--Please be our supporter. Your encouragement can make all the difference in an industry that can be tough sometimes. When we’re down, it helps to know you’re on our side. Let us vent to you, but please keep that confidential. Then, if needed, give us a little tough love that boots us out of our pity party.

--If you like our books, please share them by giving a shout out on social media or by word of mouth. It can make all the difference in our sales!

--Please allow us time and space to think and write. Don’t feel offended when our mind suddenly goes off into our fictional world in moments of inspiration. Just be happy for us when our characters start to speak!

--If we don’t have a designated office, please allow us to claim some space for our computer, books and papers. We know things can get chaotic before a deadline, so bear with us!

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer
Photo credit: Crestock / fotodesign_jegg

--Speaking of deadlines… Please forgive us for all the frozen pizzas and bowls of cereal you may be fed when we’re responsible for meals around deadline time. It would be a huge blessing to us if you took over and offered to cook! (This is especially helpful when small children are involved.)

--Please know that we often experience guilt for time and money taken away from the family, especially before we’re published. Your generosity and reassurance through that period can make all the difference.

--Following our dream takes courage. It helps to know you understand and are proud of us for making sacrifices to pursue that dream.

--For many of us, writing (or knitting or making jewelry or…) is a calling. We feel led by God to make this journey. We hope you’ll honor our calling as we honor your calling.

--We love you, our family and friends, and thank you for supporting us!

Now, Seekerville, I hope you’ll add to my list! What would you like others to know about how to best support your creative endeavors?

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer

After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com and

Tending Your Soul While Tending Your Family by Jolina Petersheim

Tending Your Soul While Tending Your Family by Jolina Petersheim

by Guest Jolina Petersheim

January 29, 2019

I’m writing this at the kitchen table while my four-year-old gets settled in her sleeping bag next to me. My twenty-month-old is taking a nap in the nursery, and I can hear the washer gurgling as it swirls another load. Laundry litters the couch, the white sheets piled up like dunes, and library books scatter the floor from when my four-year-old “read” to her little sister.

It’s a full life, a good life, and sometimes that fullness prevents me from folding laundry or picking up books because if I get two hours a day to myself, I want to create something that will last beyond me.

Honestly, two hours a day seems generous. Those two hours are usually broken up with questions and snack requests until my four-year-old cuddles in for nap time. But broken up or not, I’ve written five novels in two-hour nap time chunks over the past six years.

Tending Your Soul While Tending Your Family by Jolina PetersheimI began writing my debut, The Outcast, shortly after I found out I was expecting our firstborn daughter, who will be seven in February. I began writing my second novel, The Midwife, when she was three months old.

I wrote two novels before The Outcast, but neither were publishable. I went to the UK with two other women, one my best friend, and while I was there—sitting in a punt on a slow brown river in Cambridge, having cream tea in the Cotswolds, hiking along the Irish Coast—I laid my author dreams on the altar and vowed to pursue an entire new vocation: motherhood.

Turns out, becoming a mother was far easier for me than becoming an author. Six weeks after I returned from the UK, I found out I was expecting.

Tending Your Soul While Tending Your Family by Jolina Petersheim
Two months later, I met a white-haired gentleman after an author reading. Hearing each other’s Dutchy last names, we launched into discussions about our Mennonite/Amish heritages, family reunions, and shoo-fly pie. He asked if I was working on a novel. I told him I’d just started writing a contemporary retelling of The Scarlet Letter set in an Old Order Mennonite Community in Tennessee. He asked to read it. I was suspicious until I realized he was a legitimate agent with a client list that made my mouth dry.

So, I sat in front of our fireplace and wrote as my expectant belly grew. Working eight-hour days, five days a week, I finished the novel in six months. I have since never written for eight hours at a time, and yet I wouldn’t trade my broken writing stints for peace and quiet (though, once a week, I do enjoy writing at a bustling coffee shop in town).

In the beginning, way back there in 2012, I struggled with mama guilt. I barely knew how to be a mother, and here I was adding authorship to the mix. I remember going outside with my clunky laptop and typing away on the front porch while the ceiling fans beat the summer air and my husband took care of our daughter. My insecurity prevented me from seeing this for what it was—a well-deserved break—and I instead wondered if I should go back inside and clean the kitchen or vacuum the floor or read War and Peace in Russian to my daughter to ensure I was doing enough. (I wear myself out, just thinking about how I was back then.)

Seeing that season through the clarifying lens of seven years, I believe God allowed me to step into motherhood and authorhood around the same time because he knew I would need a creative outlet to help me understand this new, very important role.

My family means more to me than anything on earth, and I take my role as a mother far more seriously than I take being a novelist. I am my daughters’ greatest example. The way I live my life will—for better and for worse—be the way they model theirs. Even if they don’t want to, even if they tell themselves they will go in the opposite direction, my habits will become their own.
What a responsibility, but also what a gift.

In eighteen years, my three little girls will be three young women, and I don’t want them to jump on the escalator of a never-ending to-do list that never allows them the opportunity to be still, to create, to think, to breathe.

Too often, we mothers believe we can’t tend our souls while also tending our families. Fathers too, of course, though I’ve witnessed far more women struggling with guilt than men.

But the truth is, our families need us to tend our souls—to take time to sit in front of the fire, to read books, to drink tea, to take a quiet moment to pour our hearts out on a keyboard, an easel, or the page. We were created in the Artist’s image, so is it any wonder a part of us isn’t satisfied unless we create?
Art—in any form—helps us process this beautifully winding maze of life, and while we are processing, our little ones are watching. They are seeing the validity of taking time to understand our hearts instead of lashing out due to our confusion, and therefore they will one day take the time to sit down and understand their own.

Friends, learn from me. Learn from that tired mama who would glance over her shoulder toward the French doors to check on her infant daughter and husband rather than letting her soul rest for an hour on the page.

Tending your soul while tending your family is not selfish. Tending your soul sets an example that will be carried down not just to your daughters and sons, but to their children as well.

What a responsibility. What a gift.

How are you going to tend your soul while tending your family? Try to name three different ways, and set aside time on your calendar to make them happen. 

(Comment below for your chance to win a copy of Jolina's latest release, How the Light Gets In, courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers)

Tending Your Soul While Tending Your Family by Jolina PetersheimJolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Alliance, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. That book also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller and was featured in Huffington Post's Fall Picks, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Tennessean. CBA Retailers + Resources called her second book, The Midwife, "an excellent read [that] will be hard to put down," and Romantic Times declared, "Petersheim is an amazing new author." Her third book, The Alliance, was selected as one of Booklist's Top 10 Inspirational Fiction titles of 2016. Jolina's nonfiction writing has been featured in Reader's Digest, Writer's Digest, and Today's Christian Woman. She and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their two young daughters. Jolina blogs regularly at

Tending Your Soul While Tending Your Family by Jolina Petersheim
From the highly acclaimed author of The Outcast and The Alliance comes an engrossing novel about marriage and motherhood, loss and moving on.

When Ruth Neufeld’s husband and father-in-law are killed working for a relief organization overseas, she travels to Wisconsin with her young daughters and mother-in-law Mabel to bury her husband. She hopes the Mennonite community will be a quiet place to grieve and piece together next steps.

Ruth and her family are welcomed by Elam, her husband’s cousin, who invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest. Sifting through fields of berries and memories of a marriage that was broken long before her husband died, Ruth finds solace in the beauty of the land and healing through hard work and budding friendship. She also encounters the possibility of new love with Elam, whose gentle encouragement awakens hopes and dreams she thought she’d lost forever.

But an unexpected twist threatens to unseat the happy ending Ruth is about to write for herself. On the precipice of a fresh start and a new marriage, Ruth must make an impossible decision: which path to choose if her husband isn’t dead after all.

What Would You Ask Your Favorite Author?

Chris Fabry

What Would You Ask Your Favorite Author?

If you could ask your favorite living author any question about writing in order to aid your own writing journey, what would you ask?
I waited too long. I got a chance to ask Pat Conroy a question at a book signing, but I felt my question was too personal, too much about the interior work of an author. I chickened out. I asked something safe.
Pat died in 2016. If I could have that chance again, I think I would be more bold.
I’ve always wondered, given the negative reaction of some of his family members about them showing up in his books, if he ever regretted writing about those he knew—particularly his sister, Carol Ann. In 2011 he wrote on his blog, “My sister, Carol Ann, remains a stranger to my life. I only see her at wedding and funerals—all of which she turns into personal nightmares for me . . .”
If Pat had the chance to write any of his stories again, would he choose differently? Would he protect anyone he used as a model for a character? Would he avoid revealing things that eventually broke their relationship?
Subsequently, in other nonfiction books, Pat gave a glimpse of an answer. For example, his father, at first, hated the novel The Great Santini. But after publication and film, Donald Conroy embraced the role. He would attend book signings with his son and sign right next to him. Pat wrote that there was a change in their relationship and that, in a way, his writing helped heal the wounds of the past. His father transformed into a different man.
Writing can be a healing art.
But what about Carol Ann? Even when their father died, there was such anger and vitriol between her and Pat, as revealed in The Death of Santini.
Let’s say you’re offered a bestselling book and a film deal, but you have to reveal intimate secrets of family members or friends. You know those secrets revealed, those personal insights into an individual’s life, will harm your relationship. Maybe destroy it forever. Do you sacrifice that person for your art? Are the things you experience simply fodder for the stories you tell, or do you as an artist have a responsibility to veil? And even if you hide the identity of the person you pattern this character after, will they see themselves in your story? (This goes beyond any legal question of libel and hits at the heart of the writer.)

What Would You Ask Your Favorite Author?

In my latest novel, Under a Cloudless Sky, I took a real-life situation with my mother and turned it into a historical mystery. The premise is that Ruby is older and her children are afraid she’s going to kill somebody driving back and forth to the grocery store or the post office. Already several mailboxes have not survived. Her children try to reason with her and she pushes back. Finally, her daughter and son take Ruby’s keys. This is the inciting incident that makes Ruby hatch a plan. The next day when her daughter goes to the house to check on her mother, Ruby is missing. It’s Gone Grandma. Where did Ruby go? Was she abducted?
There are many twists and turns in the story and the reader travels between 1933 and 2004 to learn more about Ruby’s past and the secret she has hidden for seventy years.
But my biggest fear was that my mother (who is feistier than Ruby) would read the book and see herself. And not only that, but would be hurt by my portrayal. Is my “art” worth hurting my ninety-one-year-old mother?

What Would You Ask Your Favorite Author?

There are voices in a writer’s head that stunt the writing process. If I’m flying along, telling my story, and somewhere in the back of my mind I hear, If she reads that, she’s going to kill you, I’m out of the story, the dream, and into the fear that my mother will be hurt. That gets my mind on myself rather than the story I’m trying to tell, and that is an exit off the fiction interstate you don’t want to take.
So, at the beginning of telling Ruby’s story, I had to wrestle well with all of the possible reactions and consequences. I love my mother. I want to honor her, not denigrate her in any way. But is taking this real situation that, frankly, many people in their middle age are going through, worth the risk? I concluded it was for several reasons. First, I’ve written about my mother in dozens of ways in dozens of books (literally) and she’s never seen herself. She’s never asked, “Did you get that from something I did?” Second, there are many admirable qualities about Ruby and what she’s been through that I knew readers would be endeared to her and would root for her. It’s a loving, well-rounded portrayal of this character that shows not just her foibles and faults, but the depth of her life and story. Third, my mother is the forgiving type.
So I ran into this story with abandon and tried not to think about my fears regarding her feelings. Every few weeks she’d ask about my “coal mining book” and I’d tell her the status. Finally, in December I received my first copies and I sent her a box stuffed full because she loves to give them to family and friends.

What Would You Ask Your Favorite Author?

For a few weeks, I heard, through my mother, what others thought. I heard how much my cousins and friends in my hometown enjoyed it. Then one day she paused and asked in a little girl’s voice, “Am I Ruby?”
It was her turn to ask her favorite writer a question. And since I do not want to risk writer/mother privilege, I will keep my answer veiled.

Now, if you could ask any living or deceased writer a question that would aid in your own writing journey, what would you ask?

Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris’s novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, and The Promise of Jesse Woods, have won five Christy Awards, an ECPA Christian Book Award, and a 2017 Award of Merit from Christianity Today. His eightieth published book, Under a Cloudless Sky, is a novel set in the coalfields of his home state of West Virginia. His books include movie novelizations, like the recent bestseller War Room; nonfiction; and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. Visit his website at

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What Did Mama Really Want for Christmas in 1970?Advent Day 9: A Christmas Tradition -- the Chrismon TreeWrite with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite WriterTending Your Soul While Tending Your Family by Jolina PetersheimMy Family Christmas TraditionsWhat Would You Ask Your Favorite Author?

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