Jessie Andersen lives in a small town in Western New York with her husband and three kids. A former English teacher, she now spends her time writing while the kids are at school and the baby is sleeping. She volunteers at the local library and sings in the church band. You can find information about her books at jandersenbooks.com, and you can follow her blogs at Therabidwriter.blogspot (Personal blog) and Readbetweenthelinesbookclub.blogspot.com (Book blog). You can also follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jvdlandersen and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jandersenbooks
The Advent season is upon us. “Advent?” you say. “I thought it was Christmas.” Nope. Not yet. Advent is that season of preparation before Christmas. Amongst Christian believers, it’s a time not only to ready ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but to ready ourselves for his return.
When I write a book, I plan ahead. I figure out who my characters are. I brainstorm and lay out the plot. The plot twists are planned well in advance, and I know the ending before I begin. But that’s just the surface of the story. There are deeper things I need to plan as well. My antagonist has to have at least a few likable characteristics. My reader needs to fall in love with the main character. He/she has to be likable, so I’m constantly thinking, “how can I make this person real and likable?” After I’ve done everything I can to prepare myself to write, I jump into the rough draft.
I think preparing for Christmas is like that. We have to do the surfacy stuff. Bake cookies, decorate, buy and wrap gifts. In our house, we put up the Christmas Story Leg lamp in the front window, decorate the tree, and put out the crèche and the Bethlehem village. But there’s more preparation that needs to be done. The inner preparation.
When I was little, my family would sit around the dinner table each night of Advent. (Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas.) We’d read a little devotional (The Advent Alphabet) and then put coins in a little bank shaped like a loaf of bread. With each coin, we’d say one thing we were thankful for. It made this time a time for thankfulness and what we can give rather than what would be under the tree on Christmas morning. I carry this tradition on with my kids. I can still say most of the alphabet from memory. A is for anticipation. B is for Bethlehem. C is for Christ…It helps us focus on the inner preparation we need for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Because of this, I see my children taken with the entirety of Christmas. I see them wanting to give. I see them getting excited to put out the baby Jesus in the Bethlehem village. Don’t get me wrong. They’re still kids and they still have lists, but they also know that Christmas is a time of giving of themselves. That makes me proud.
I’m praying that this season, you will be filled with the wonder of Christmas and the joy that comes with knowing the Savior.
About At What Cost:
During her junior year, sixteen-year-old Maggie Reynolds expected to shop for prom dresses not maternity clothes. Now, instead of studying for the SATs, she’s reading, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Maggie’s ‘Mother Dearest’ lives in fear that Maggie will somehow taint the family name, so Maggie can’t turn to her for help. Meanwhile, her father is oblivious to anything but his 9-9 job. And her boyfriend, Justin? She’s pretty sure he’ll stay by her side.
While Maggie wrestles with her options, Justin offers a solution: abortion. It would solve all her problems quickly, easily, and effectively. And her parents would never know, which means they won’t throw her out and cut her off like they’d always threatened if she got herself knocked up. But an easy decision becomes difficult when Maggie’s aunt discovers her secret and sets out on a mission to stop the abortion, putting a kink in Maggie’s plan. Now Maggie must decide which choice she can live with: abortion or teenage motherhood. Either way, it’ll be a tough road to travel.