Finding Joy

One year, for our daughter’s birthday, we hid envelopes of cash around our house, but we didn’t tell her where they were. She had to solve increasingly difficult riddles to find them. It didn’t matter how long she had to hunt and it didn’t matter how difficult the puzzle, she was determined to persevere because the reward was worth it. As we watched her, my husband and I took tremendous pleasure in her delight as she completed each challenge.

Joy can be like those prizes hidden in envelopes. It can linger just beyond reach camouflaged by increasingly difficult and puzzling circumstances. But once we learn that there is a prize hidden behind each trial, it changes everything. In James 1:1-18, James challenges his fellow believers to consider it pure joy when they face trials. He encourages them to be diligent because the reward is worth it.

Counting Trials As Joy (v1-4)

Life holds many certainties for every person. For example:

  • Every person has a birth date. 
  • Every person needs oxygen to breathe. 
  • Every person will consume food for nourishment. 

James adds our experiences with trials to this list of certainties. 

  • Every person will face trials.

James writes in verse 2, “whenever they face trials” (NASB) or “when they face trials” (ESV). Trials are not an if; they are a when

On the surface, James’ instruction to count trials and the testing of our faith as joy makes little sense until James’ explains. He writes in verse 3 that the testing of faith, the developing of perseverance, and perseverance finishing its work will make us mature and complete lacking in nothing, enabling us to receive the prize.

Winning the Prize (v5-12)

Like our daughter needed wisdom to solve her riddles, we need God’s wisdom to persevere in trials. James writes that we are to ask in faith for wisdom. In faith means believing that God will provide what we need, understanding that may not be what we want.

Had our daughter complained the riddles were too hard and given up after finding one or two envelopes, she would have missed out on the complete prize. Similarly, without godly wisdom, we might survive our trials, but it might be with an inward focus, full of complainants, causing bitterness to grow. I need wisdom from God because I don’t merely desire to survive my trial, I want to endure my suffering in such a way that I earn the prize that matters: the crown of life (v12). 

If you’re reading this, you have a birth date. Like trials, physical birth is a certainty for every living person. But there is another kind of birth that leads to life.

James describes two births in verse 15-18. Temptation is the origin of birth one. We are tempted by our evil desires, dragged away, and enticed. After desire is conceived, this temptation gives birth to sin, and this sin, when it is full gown, gives birth to death (v15)—our sin births death.

The second birth is the new life God grants a person when they are born again (v18). This birth comes through the word of truth and leads to life everlasting, but it is impossible to muster up the strength and wisdom within you to cause your rebirth. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to work in you. Heed James’ advice in verse 5 and confidently ask your generous God for the faith to believe His Word. He is the source of every good and perfect gift (17), and the very source of spiritual life brought forth from His Word (18).

Trials are camouflaged gifts that produce the character traits of a faithful Christ follower. Always remember that Jesus is not just walking with you through trials, but he has prepared the way and suffered on your behalf, so you do not grow weary as you depend on Him. Proverbs 2 encourages the believer to accept God’s Word, to store up His commands, to call out for wisdom and understanding and search for it as if it were a hidden treasure of silver. Only then, do we find the knowledge of God. Search for His wisdom and the supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit will align your heart with God’s purpose and plan for His glory.


If you’d like to study this passage in more depth, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll receive a FREE download to the short study on James 1:1-18: Finding Joy: a surprising treasure hidden in trials. Already a subscriber? The most recent newsletter contained the password for the EXTRAS page when you can find your downloadable copy.

Keep a lookout for a new page coming soon to my website called Free Shorts. There, you’ll be able to access free short studies and free short stories. Free shorts are always free.

What are you chasing?

We all chase something. It might be a degree, career, or academic recognition. It might be a spouse, a family, a cultural perception of success, or the approval of man. We long to pursue the things that matter, we long to chase the Lord, but we are weary from our other pursuits.

What if we directed all that energy spent rushing after lesser pursuits toward developing the character traits and disciplines Christ calls us to pursue? Would we feel less overwhelmed? What if, instead of seeking to simplify our life, we explored ways to increase our endurance and strengthen our body and mind? What if we cut things we enjoyed from our schedule to make room for things we need? What if we stopped aimlessly running, and instead, chased the disciplines that would earn the prize that mattered? Can we train for godliness and righteousness? Can we train our powers of discernment through constant practice? Can we present ourselves to the Lord as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of God?

I believe that we can. We can teach stubborn hearts through the discipline of seeking God to remain focused on Him. We can live as if we believe God when He calls us his child, chosen, holy, and redeemed. We can learn to live by the power of God rather than by our fledging strength and become so overwhelmed by God and the great length to which He has gone to save us that it changes everything in life.

Exploring this idea is the premise for my second non-fiction book (which I just finished writing!). I will share all the exciting details as soon as I am able!

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Photo credit: Jordan Steranka. Used with permission. Unsplash.

Did you miss my first non-fiction title?

Glorious Surrender won the 2016 Women’s Journey of Faith award. Do you long for the joy of complete dependence on God, yet fear the cost of full surrender? Do you long for unconditional acceptance and love, but fear exposing your heart? Do you long for solid peace, absolute trust, and contentment amidst alarming circumstances, but fear those circumstances might shatter your soul? Some of God’s greatest blessings are hiding behind those parts of our lives that are most difficult to surrender.

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What others are saying about Glorious Surrender:

Glorious Surrender is full of insights and wisdom that women of all ages will find deeply relevant. No doubt, you’ll be nodding your heads as you go through each chapter. Glorious Surrender will renew your mind and touch your heart… It is a privilege and a pleasure for me to recommend this book as a powerful tool of discipleship on a subject of critical importance in our day.” ~Robbie Symons, pastor, and author of Passion Cry 

“Stacey Weeks writes with transparency about the tension and transformation that her role as a pastor’s wife played in bringing her to the place of ultimate freedom – one who seeks God’s glory above all else. ~Andrea Thom, author of Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness

Glorious Surrender struck a chord deep within me. Stacey Weeks beautifully encourages her readers to keep a soft heart for Jesus! Margaret Gibb, Executive Director, Women Together

 Order Glorious Surrender today:,, Chapters

Newsletter subscribers have access to a FREE companion workbook. Not subscriber? Join today!


But God—it changes everything

In Too Deep recently released in Germany!!! Crazy, eh? Maybe I should Google how to write that in German. It also releases on March 13th in hardcover!!!! Whoo hooo! To celebrate, I have a few posts that relate to the themes of In Too Deep. Today’s reflection is by Marie Joynt from Monday Morning Moments. Welcome, Marie!

BUT GOD …ohhhh don’t you love those words? Doesn’t your heart leap with hope in reading those words? Our pastor made the “but God” point in a message on Sunday. Yet my thoughts and words many times in this journey have been focused on:
  • Why God?
  • When God?
  • How God?
Praise God for the BUT GOD in our lives.
This same Pastor, three years ago stood by our daughter’s hospital bed in the ICU. Then, he went down to the NICU to see our little grandson born at 27 weeks. He prayed and wept with us that day. We cried out and called out to God. I looked at him in such a fog, struggling with fear. My main question was HOW GOD? I remember saying, “We need so many miracles here, how can we even ask God? They were both dying. How God are you going to do this?”

If we camp out on the WHY, WHEN and HOW, it can drag us down so quickly. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be transparent when we go before the Lord, “Oh, Lord, how long? Oh, Lord, why?” Look at David in the Psalms. Over and over again he cries out in transparency exposing his heart. Yet David didn’t camp in the WHY, WHEN and HOW. He camped in the BUT.

But I will trust you (Psalm 55).
But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer (Psalm‬ ‭66).
In the novel, In Too Deep, Grace Stone must learn to move past the why and cling to God. Her heart is submerged in the past, drowning in guilt BUT GOD intervenes. He sends Kye Campton to join the fight for Camp Moshe and save Grace from a saboteur determined to see the camp close at any cost.
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Camping in the WHEN, WHY and HOW takes our focus off the BUT …… BUT GOD.

Friend, I’m not sure where you are on this day. I’m not aware of the burdens and troubles that are weighing you down. I have no idea whether you are waiting for a prodigal to return or an assessment from a Doctor, but I do know that in those times we can cry out to God like King Jehoshaphat did ( like we did on behalf of our daughter and grandson).
King Jehoshaphat said, “We don’t know what to do, BUT our eyes are fixed on YOU (2 Chronicles 20:12).
Our precious grandson Matthew, is our constant and forever reminder of “BUT GOD .“
What is your “but God” moment?

Follow Marie on Instagram: Monday Morning Moments

InTooDeep_w12360_300 copyIn Too Deep is available at,, Pelican Book Group, Kindle Unlimited, Hardcover, and paperback. (Paperbacks must be ordered from me.) Check out the German edition!

You might find it amusing to know that my name is spelled wrong on the advertisement for hardcover edition AND they have the incorrect back cover copy on Amazon. I’ve been assured these mistakes will be corrected online and that the publisher has the right information even if Amazon is slow correcting it on their end 🙂  Sure keeps a writer humble!!!!!

Surprise contest—writing milestone within reach

I recently learned from my publisher that I am 17 book sales away from a new milestone for Fatal Homecoming, so I decided to offer a last-minute contest to boost purchases and to thank those who have brought me this far!!

Comment on this post (those receiving it via the newsletter, visit the blog post to comment) and I will enter you into a draw for the stone pendant Jessie wears in Fatal Homecoming. You will earn one entry for the comment, a bonus entry if you have already purchased the book (tell me in the post), and two bonus entries if you purchase it between today and March 4th. Make sure you tell me when you bought the book to earn your extra entries. I am going on the honor system here, so don’t worry about finding that receipt if you purchased it on release day.


If you enjoyed reading Fatal Homecoming, can you recommend it to a friend? And if you haven’t read it yet, scoop it up and see for yourself why others are calling it a “riveting, absorbing, action-packed read that will keep you guessing until the end.” Buy links are at the bottom of this post.

As usual, when I release a new novel, I write about the themes explored in the story and how they relate to our faith. This devotional is a reminder for you and for me that we do not have to face the trials of life alone.

In Psalm 84:6-7 the Psalmist speaks of a valley. I think he mentions the valley because the valleys always come. Valleys and hardships are part of the path we travel as Christ followers. I know this, yet a part of me wants some sort of guarantee that faith in God will detour me around the valley, but verse 6 is clear. The pilgrims don’t arrive in Zion by traveling around the valley. They go THROUGH it.

Psalm 84:6-7, “As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs: the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength each one appears before God in Zion.”

Note the pronouns in Psalm 84: 6-7. They go through the valley… they make it a place of springs… they go from strength to strength. THEY. Plural. In the utter exhaustion of life, when logic dictates we should quit, when it makes no sense to get back up and keep putting one foot in front of the other, God designed us to draw strength from one another. I stumble, and you steady my feet. The weak collapse, so the strong carry them. When despair hits hard, we collectively worship our way through the Valley of Baca. Our eyes fixed on the finish: standing before the Lord.

As Jessie Berns slogs through dangerous valleys in Fatal Homecoming, she comes to realize that a community of faith is a gift. She does not have to endure her valleys alone. Despite the absence of her physical family, God has provided a friend. Rick Chandler will not only walk with her, but he will face death to protect her.

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I don’t know what kind of valley you face, and I cannot speak into how God might resolve things for you. But I do know that God will not leave you to travel alone. The Israelites traveled together, and the God who walked with them also walks with you. He is sovereign over your circumstances.

Resist the lie that you must endure your hardship alone. Find your people. Find the faith community that will walk with you, encourage you, and prepare you to stand before the Lord.

Photo credit: Nick Bolton. Used with permission. Unspalsh.

What people are saying about Fatal Homecoming:

“Kept me guessing” ~ Mary

“A riveting and absorbing page-turner!” ~ Jennifer

Action-packed romantic suspense that will keep you guessing until the end.” ~ MJSH

“Weeks masters the art of a spell-binding story.” ~ Patti

“I could not put it down. I stayed up late to finish.” ~ Beth

“Weeks is now on my list of favorite authors.” ~ Karla

Read more reviews on the Celebrate Lit Book tour.

Get your copy today! Fatal Homecoming is available in paperback or ebook. or

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The contest closes March 4th at midnight EST.

Winner will be chosen random draw.

The contest winner’s name will be posted on in the comment section of this blog post on Tuesday, March 5th. The winner will have one month to provide me a mailing address.

The Leveler of Life’s Playing Field

To celebrate the upcoming release of Fatal Homecoming, I’ve invited author Fay Lamb to share her thoughts about the novel’s themes. Fay is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom. She is not only a fifth-generation Floridian, she has lived her life in Titusville, where her grandmother was born in 1899.

Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ hearts. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction. Don’t miss her social media links at the bottom of this post (and a free short story from me to celebrate Valentine’s Day). Welcome, Fay!

In Stacey Weeks’ novel, Fatal Homecoming, I was struck by the truth that in all things God is the One who levels the playing field. Romans 8:28 declares. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” That’s about as level as it gets.

What does it take for God to level that field?

In Weakness, God Brings Strength

The heroine of Fatal Homecoming is Jessie, a young woman who almost lost everything before leaving her hometown. Her attempts to move forward in life in her own strength have actually brought her home again, right back where she started. This time, though, she’s lost even more. She questions God and struggles to cling to her faith as even the man she trusts seems to let her down.

How refreshing is it for us to know that God is our strength, that in Him our weaknesses build muscle. We might almost call this Scripture cliché, but truly there is no Scripture that can be called old-hat. Truly, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

In Chaos, God Brings Order

When our hero and heroine meet, there is disorder—or conflict. There has to be. Without it, there is no story. Their world is turned upside down by events that disrupt their lives, which were already somewhat chaotic.


One of the characteristics of God is that He is orderly. One only has to look at the detailed instructions God gave for the building of the Tabernacle and His Temple, even the priestly robes. Every detail is described. When Moses spoke with God about the events prior to the Exodus from Egypt, nothing was left to chance, especially not the Passover. And how detailed was God with Moses about the Law?

In life, sometimes God’s detailed-oriented character is forgotten, and He is thought of as a God of chance. By chance, maybe He will take care of this prayer request or He’ll resolve this problem. It isn’t until the end of a sequence of situations that the order of events reveals that God was all over the solution from start to finish. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints,” says 1 Corinthians 14:33.

Into Darkness, God Brings Light

God does bring light into the dark corners of our lives because in His presence the darkness of sin cannot exist. It must flee His holy face, and those who seek Him can rest in that light. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

It is no secret that evil dwells in darkness, and it is no secret that the hero and heroine of a romantic suspense are going to have darkness come into their lives. In Fatal Homecoming, such is the case with Rick and Jessie. They weave through an incredible story of intrigue and mystery that will captivate the readers’ attention and share the light of God’s love with the reader while doing so, and this is one read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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It was murder. She was sure. And that assurance could cost her life.

Author Fay Lamb


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Check out two of Fay’s books below.


Serenity Key, Florida, has seen its share of hurricanes, but this time, one foul weather system is about to collide with another storm, and this one has nothing to do with atmospheric pressure.

David New has guarded his secrets for years, but when two brothers, John and Andy Ryan, arrive in town and he gets news that the daughter he’s never told anyone about has disappeared, possibly the victim of a heinous crime, and the lives of many of the town residents begin to unravel in the gale force consequences of David’s past, he has nowhere else to turn.

God is the only one Who can calm the storms, but can David and the good folks of Serenity Key survive until He does?

A tempest has been brewing for thirty years, with only one island town in its path.

Storms in Serenity:


Calling a truce with the man you love? What’s the fun in that?

Newly elected judge, John M. Turner, tries his best to call an end to his war with former Circuit Judge Delilah James, the woman he bested in the election by only a narrow margin. Delilah refuses to accept his flag of surrender. Worse yet, a vengeful assistant state attorney, the other candidate whose entry in the race actually handed the win to John, is seeking to have them both removed from the Florida Bar, and the game Delilah has forced upon him has given their enemy ammunition for his disbarment.

Delilah likes the give and take she shares with John. What fun is there in surrender? She is trying to make amends, though, but she makes a mess of every attempt. Added to her foibles, life has become complicated: John’s teenager sister hates her, Libby Carter, has been arrested for battery on a police officer and has embroiled Delilah in the plight of the homeless. Her past has returned to haunt her, and if that’s not enough, she’s deep into the one experience in life she never thought would happen to her. She’s fallen deeply in love.


ANNOUNCEMENT: Don’t forget – today at 9:00 A.M. a free Valentine’s Day story is available on my Facebook author page and Twitter.


It’s a birthday, and the gifts are for you!

Happy book birthday Fatal Homecoming!

I am excited that Jessie and Rick’s story is finally available for you to read. Feb 5th only, the e-book is .99 cents ( If you send proof of purchase to on Feb 5th, my publisher will send you a FREE bonus short story. Paperback copies are also available.

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The Inspiration

Joshua 4 describes the pile of stones the Israelites built as a memorial to God. Those stones were evidence of the Lord’s provision for them. The memorial was a reminder to future generations that God had delivered his people.

In Fatal Homecoming, Jessie needed to remember God’s provision. As I wrote her story, I made my own pile of stones. They gave words to my faith and helped me remember that God is a God of action.

I set a goal to gather ‘one stone’ each day for one year. One acknowledgment of God’s goodness, His mercy, and His unchanging dependability affirmed that God hears and answers prayer.

I placed a jar on my kitchen windowsill to hold these reminders. They were a collection of answered prayers ready to remind the future generation that my God is good. These were proof of God’s action, even if His answer to my request was no. They were more than words on paper, and they were more than a pile of rocks by a river. They were a reference point. They mark where God met me and gave me a story to share so that others may also know and believe.

Story Goals

My goal in writing is to glorify God. It is my prayer that Fatal Homecoming not only entertains you but also stirs you to draw closer to the Father and trust His will for your life. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to gather your own pile of stones and remember to believe that your God is good. Always.

Reviews Bless Authors

If you love reading Fatal Homecoming, please leave an online review.  You can order your copy here: or


Fatal Homecoming:

Travel writer, Jessie Berns, returns to her hometown to find answers about her brother’s suspicious death. With the help of an old friend, Detective Rick Chandler, they pursue a truth that someone is willing to do anything to keep hidden—even kill again. They uncover decades-old secrets that expose hidden sins and threaten the lifestyles of high-powered people in their small community. As they close in on the devious mastermind manipulating the town, it becomes frighteningly clear to Rick that Jessie is not the one calling the shots in her private investigation. She is the killer’s new target.

Your God is Tougher

To celebrate the upcoming release of Fatal Homecoming, I’ve invited author Lisa R Mayer to share her thoughts about the novel’s themes. Lisa’s debut novel, The Aletheian Journeys: The Arrow Bringer, releases March 19, 2019, through Write Integrity Press. Welcome, Lisa!

Fatal Homecoming by Stacey Weeks is a fast-paced mystery thriller packed with intrigue, danger, romance, and, yes, even some life lessons. It’s a much-needed reminder that no matter how tough life gets, our God is tougher.

Jessie Berns and Rick Chandler are good people who experience bad things. And before the end of Fatal Homecoming, they will experience many more difficulties. The thing about Jessie and Rick, though, is that they never lose sight of God. They never stop trusting Him or loving Him, and that’s an inspiration for all of us.

Bad things happen to good people, but that doesn’t mean our God isn’t good, or that He doesn’t care. It’s an easy thing to say, but it’s a hard concept to grasp until it happens to us. When we are forced to face hardships, we ask: Does God care? If He does, why didn’t He stop it? Where is God when bad things happen?

God has been by our side the entire time.

We hold on to the truth that God never leaves us, even when it’s a hard truth to hold. No matter what happened, Jessie and Rick persevered; they kept fighting, and they kept hoping and waiting on God. They didn’t give up. They believed that things could be better. They believed that God was going to get them through it.

We all need to hear that truth. God will get us through. We may not understand how He’ll do it, or why He does it a certain way, but He always, always, always provides perfectly for His children.

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We are Overcomers

Jessie and Rick eventually overcome their battles. How about you? Are trails testing your faith? What have you overcome? Addiction? Grief? Mental health issues? Do you feel unloved? Are you fighting personal demons? Just like Jessie and Rick, you are stronger and more capable than you realize if you have God because His strength is perfect. No matter what, no matter how you suffer, I promise that God loves you fiercely.

Jessie and Rick experienced danger and mystery in Fatal Homecoming, but it is their pasts, their hardships, their human failings, and everything that makes them who they are that resonates with us. They show us that life is about growing closer to God, even when it’s hard, even when we lose faith, even when we think that He doesn’t care.

It’s about turning to God and knowing that nobody has ever cared more.

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Fatal Homecoming releases on Feb 5th and those who purchase ON THE RELEASE DATE can receive a free short story, The Girl He Never Knew. Email proof of purchase to and the publisher will send you the short story on the next business day.

Subscribers to Stacey Weeks’ newsletter and followers of this blog will receive a reminder email.

Photo by Lorna Scubelek on Unsplash

Lisa R Mayer is excited to be part of the Write Integrity Press family. She is beyond thrilled for her first book, The Aletheian Journeys: The Arrow Bringer, to be released on March 19, 2019. She has anxiety and OCD and is a proud mental health warrior. In her free time, Lisa enjoys hanging out with her husband, Rich, and her fur-baby, Scooby, catching up on her reading list, watching her favorite shows and movies, bike-riding, traveling, and going on adventures. Stay up to date with Lisa and her publishing news at the links below.


Twitter @LisaRMayer2019

Instagram: author_lisa_r_mayer_2019

Facebook: Author-Lisa R Mayer.


Define Success for 2019

What does success in 2019 look like for you? I’ve been thinking about the word, and how I wouldn’t define it as an author.

  • Is it making the best-seller list?
  • Is it becoming an in-demand speaker?
  • Is it increasing the traffic on my website, the number of likes on my author page, or my amount of Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest followers?

Before I wrestled with this word, I would have defaulted to defining it in those measurable ways. But success as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ has to be more than popularity and numbers.

The better question to ask is how does God define success?


Pastor Crawford Loritts referenced this verse in a conference session I was privileged to attend. He broke it into three applicable parts, which I have applied to my career to create a New Year’s Resolution of sorts.

I will consider 2019 successful if:

  1. God’s Word marks my writing ministry. My ministry is not a platform to share my words or ideas; it is first and foremost about sharing the truth of God. I cannot yank verses from their context to support my point of view. If I am going to quote Scripture, I better do the work of understanding the meaning of the passage, what it meant for the original audience, and how the cross of Jesus affects the application of it today. That involves work, but it is the work that matters.
  2. I know Truth. If I am going to share the Word of God, I must know it. To understand the Word, I must be in it. I must love it and live it faithfully. It is not enough to listen to gifted preachers exposit the Word, although that is a good thing. I must also learn to handle it responsibly and with integrity for myself.
  3. I obey the Word. It’s not enough to know the Word. Faith without works is dead. I must obey what I learn and put it into practice.

If I do these things, I am – by God’s definition – successful. The freeing reality of this definition is that my success does not hinge on an Amazon rank, bestseller list, or social media followers. I am to represent God and His Word accurately and let the sales fall where they may. I will seek the Lord and leave the path of my career to Him.

What does success look like for you in 2019?

Immanuel: how to have a joyful and fearless Christmas when all is not well

To prepare for and celebrate the release of Mistletoe Melody, I have invited several authors to speak on the themes of the novel. Today, I have the privilege to introduce you to author, Jerusha Agen. Welcome, Jerusha.

Christmastime is here. It’s the season of joy, love, hope, and peace. Yet, the tough things in life don’t always seem to get the holiday memo.

Trials and suffering don’t often take Christmas vacation. And neither does the fear of such hardships. We see them on the horizon, or we fear our already ongoing trouble getting worse.

Something about the holidays makes such situations seem even harder, more tragic and painful to endure during a time when we should just get to be happy and enjoy life.

So our difficulties and the fears that go along with them rob us of the joy we would otherwise experience during the Christmas season. If we have trials during the holidays, it seems unfair that we can’t get to savor this most special time of year like others can.

Or if we see a difficult circumstance coming at us, we worry it will strike during Christmas and be all the harder to take because of the timing.

Yet, we know Who is in charge of the timing of things. We know the One Who gives and takes away the trials we face. But how could God allow problems to come our way at the worst possible time? Why would He do that? After all, the Christmas season is all about Him—the celebration of His birth and salvation for the world. Shouldn’t we be able to celebrate that without simultaneously dealing with fear and trouble?

Those are good questions, and I found a great answer to them in Stacey Weeks’ Christmas novella, Mistletoe Melody. Just like in real life, the characters in this story don’t get a vacation from their problems during the holidays.

The heroine, Melody, still has to deal with her recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, even with Christmas only days away. Quentin, the hero, still has to navigate how to protect his preteen daughter, Janie, who has physical challenges thanks to her stroke at a young age.

Melody, Quentin, and Janie each have an additional problem beyond the obvious ones. They’re plagued by fear.

Melody has perhaps the most severe and understandable fears. Only in her twenties, she’s received the dreaded M.S. diagnosis. Her life will be changed in difficult and even catastrophic ways by this disease, and the number of her years—as miserable physically as they may become—will likely be reduced. Already, she experiences flare-ups that cause tremendous pain and may leave her with more limited mobility and worse symptoms.

She lives in fear of these flare-ups and when they come, she waits with trepidation to see what the result will be when they fade.

But even worse than her health concerns is a fear that’s more surprising. It reveals itself in her great effort to hide the truth of her health condition from Quentin. Her family respects her wishes and no one tells Quentin the reason for her family’s peculiar behavior around her and the mild physical symptoms she can’t completely hide.

When Quentin comes up with his own, negative explanation for these curiosities, she still delays telling him the truth as long as she can. The reason? She’s afraid of his reaction. She doesn’t want him to pity her in the way she feels everyone does once they learn of her M.S.

Quentin is no more fearless than Melody. He lives in the clutch of anxiety surrounding his role as the widowed single parent to Janie. Fears for Janie’s physical and emotional health plague him, driving him to assume the worst about others in his zeal to protect his daughter.

Though she is a bright spot of cheer throughout much of the story, Janie also suffers from fear that keeps her from performing musically and enjoying the sharing of her gifts as she once did.

Do you see yourself in any of those characters and their fears? I fall prey to the same people-pleasing fears, which hide pride at their root. I don’t want the pity or negative opinion of others either.

Like Quentin, most of us have loved ones we care about so much that the idea of them getting hurt in any way sparks fear in our hearts. And the thought that we could lose them to death spawns abject terror.

Fears of not performing well, of letting others down, of not living up to our own expectations—all these are common anxieties that plague many of us.

So when Melody comes to a stunning, vital realization toward the end of the novella, I was waiting with her to hear the answer to her fears. I hoped it might be an answer to, and a victory over, my own.

But even here, God, you_re leading me. Even here, your hand guides me. You_ve said, “Here I am,” and I can no longer resist Your presence.

But even here, God, you’re leading me. Even here, your hand guides me. You’ve said, “Here I am,” and I can no longer resist Your presence.

When I read these thoughts from Melody, which she has while lying on her bed in great pain, I knew I was reading her answer and mine.

Even here, in the midst of our pain, God is here.

That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it?

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23

Jesus came to Earth as a baby to be among us, His chosen people. He came to Earth, lived the perfect life none of us could, and paid the penalty for our sins in His death on the cross. Then He rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven.

He did all of this so that those of us who love and adore Him could be with Him, and He with us, now and for all eternity to come.

And that truth is the answer to our questions, the balm for our pain, the joy in our Christmas, no matter how awful our circumstances are.

Because God is with us, we don’t face any of our trials alone. As Melody realizes, we have God leading us and guiding us. We have His love and mercy surrounding us and cradling us. We have His strength sustaining us. We have His peace available to us.

This is how we can have joy this Christmas and every day of the year, no matter how dark our circumstances. Because our Savior Who loves us more than we can imagine, Who still lives and conquered death, is with us through His Holy Spirit, right now, even here.

And as Stacey Weeks says it so beautifully through Melody’s thoughts in Mistletoe Melody, we have an additional stunning promise to cling to. She says of God, You allow hardship and tears – but you don’t waste a single drop on the ground.

He will use our pain, our trials for our good and His glory. We have a God Who promises us that all things will be used for good and Who promises to never leave us.

May our response to this amazing news be that of Melody: I choose praise.

Let’s choose praise and joy this Christmas, no matter what, because we’re in the presence of our God.

Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes romantic suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is the author of the Fear Warrior Blog, where she writes about fighting against fear in our everyday lives.


You’ll often find Jerusha sharing irresistibly adorable photos of her Furry Fear Warriors (three big dogs and two little cats) on social media.

Visit Jerusha at www.JerushaAgen.comand connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Get a free e-copy of The Protector, a romantic suspense novella, when you sign up for Jerusha’s newsletter! Subscribe here, and you’ll receive the free novella as a thank you, access to exclusive giveaways, Jerusha’s news, and more!

The Protector cover

When trafficking survivor Tamara agrees to share her story at an awareness event, she doesn’t realize that decision might cost her life.

As an unknown killer tries to silence her, a handsome stranger shows up, determined to save her from harm…But who will protect Tamara’s heart?

Mistletoe Melody can be found at:


Pelican Book Group