Our Authors’ New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2014, everyone! In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I sent to following question to several of our fiction authors:

If you had to pick one fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) to work on in 2014, which would it be?

tablespoon.com fruit

For me, of course, the answer was simple. I mean there’s . . . but also . . . and what about . . . hmm. Maybe all of them?

To help me narrow down my choices, I read what our authors had to say. Here is how they responded:

Janette Oke


All needed. All should be developing daily. I would love to see each one of them in my own life: plump, and rich in color, and ripened to the tastiness they were meant to be. To pick one—it would be love. Because love is needed for each of the others to develop to full potential. Delicious possibilities!

Siri Mitchell


Patience. I think that as a fruit of the Spirit, it’s highly underrated. Mostly people just kind of skip over it for the more “righteous” gifts, but we live in such an impatient world. It’s easy to get caught up in the “right-now” culture, but really, impatience is making yourself and your needs more important than everyone else’s. So patience is what I’ll be working on this year.

Lisa Wingate


This being the empty nest year of my life, I think mine would be joy. As a mom who always loved being a mom and loved all the routines that go with being a mom, I’m working on finding joy as life turns a corner. When one (dorm room) door closes, another door opens.

Kathryn Cushman


Self-control. It’s a constant struggle in almost every area of my life. It’s the main reason my favorite verse is Psalm 9:10, “And those who know Your name put their trust in You. For You, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.”

Laurel Oke Logan


I tend to be a passion-driven person, so I would like to balance that with more self-control.

Melissa Tagg


I think faithfulness—although, let’s be honest, I really could stand to use some work on patience and self-control, too. But I feel like in the past year or so, God has constantly been reminding me of His faithfulness . . . there is something so amazing about that constancy. It makes him dependable and trustworthy. I would like to be that way as much as possible in my own life: faithful, dependable, constant.

Leslie Gould


I’d pick joy! We live in a broken world, but God’s redemption is evident everywhere. In nature. In humans. In art. In stories. I want to be aware of that redemptive work and rejoice in that beauty. I want to delight in creation and relationships and knowing God is ultimately in control.

Victoria Bylin


Kindness, definitely. I work part-time in a doctor’s office. Every day I see people going through hard times. A little extra consideration—opening a door, getting someone a tissue—goes a long way to brightening that person’s day. It brightens my day too! We all need help now and then. It’s a fact of life.

Karen Witemeyer


Self-control. That sweet tooth of mine just keeps insisting on having its own way, and I give in far too often.

Kate Breslin


I could certainly work on them all, but I’ll choose faithfulness. As a new author, I’ve experienced a lot of “firsts” in publishing, both exciting and challenging; to keep my faith constant that all will work according to God’s plan is a blessing to strive for!

Lynn Austin


Peace. I would like to get to the place where all of the disturbances in life, major and minor, don’t ruffle my composure or make me lose sleep.

Dani Pettrey


Joy. It’s been a difficult couple of years with a lot of loss, but also with a ton of good. Isn’t it funny how God brings joy in the midst of heartache? This year, I’d love to dwell on the joy and praising God for it.

Melissa Jagears


Love—I’m really busy at the moment and my kids and husband and other loved ones need to know that I love them. God too. And so I need to make sure I carve out enough time to show them in 2014.

Patrick Carr


I’d choose them all! If I could only choose one, it would be self-control. This last year with work (I’m a teacher) has been such an eye-opener, and the change in perspective has been difficult but very worthwhile.

Anne Mateer


Definitely joy. I have a tendency to get bogged down in all I have to do or things that are going on in my life and forget that the joy of the Lord isn’t dependent on my circumstances but on what He has done for and in me.

R. J. Larson


I would choose love. I hope to reflect true and boundless love for everyone in this fallen world, even when some people challenge ideals I cherish, or threaten those who are vulnerable. Practicing and reflecting love also helps me as I pursue the other fruits of the Spirit.

Elizabeth Ludwig


Patience. No doubt. I am not a patient person, and reminding me of that only makes me more impatient. Thank goodness the Lord does not grow weary with me. He’s got to shake his head every time I forget to put on the fruits of the Spirit.

How about you? Pick a fruit, and tell us a little bit about why you chose it.

A Forgotten Holiday: Melissa Jagears

“We don’t do anything special for Christmas.”
“She doesn’t know who Santa is.”
“We celebrate Epiphany.”
“I’m not putting up a Christmas Tree.”

All of these sentences have come out of my mouth and earned me some incredulous stares. Even before I had children, I decided that I wanted to focus on the reason for the holidays, not the trappings of the holidays. Both my and my husband’s families gather for Christmas, but it’s simply a get-together with a bonus present exchange. I couldn’t imagine, after the hubbub, to go home and do it all over again. So I decided we would observe an entirely different holiday, make our own traditions, and tailor the focus where we wanted it.

The obvious choice for a generally unobserved religious holiday was Epiphany, King’s Day, or Twelfth Night. Epiphany means “manifestation” or the showing forth of Jesus as divine Son of God. Christmas marks Jesus’ humanity; Epiphany highlights His divinity. In the first century church, the only observed holiday was Easter, the second century added Epiphany, and the third century added Christmas. The song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” refers to the twelve days between Christmas (Dec. 25) and Epiphany (Jan. 6).

The biggest observers of this holiday are Latin American Catholics and the Orthodox churches in Europe, so I researched all their traditions. Here are the fun things that many of them do to celebrate (besides liturgical practices):

  • A King’s Day Cake. A cake is baked with a ring (or other item) inside. Whoever gets the crown gets to be king for the day, and the others serve this person.
  • The children take down the Christmas tree that has hidden candy and cookies. The children keep the spoils they find while dismantling the decorated tree.
  • A procession, usually made up of children dressed as Wise Men, parades around the neighborhood caroling and carrying the Bethlehem star. Some give away coins or treats, others bless each house they stop at, and others receive donations to the church that is typically the final destination of the procession.
  • A presentation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night or other plays, pageants, and dances.
  • Men scramble into the ice cold water to retrieve something thrown there, cut out a cross-shaped hole in the ice to be baptized in, bless the water, or just show off their manliness—predecessor to the Polar Bear Plunge, I assume.
  • Children leave out stockings or shoes for the Wise Men to fill when they visit, or they fill a box with grass and hay and place it under their beds for the Wise Men’s camels, and the grass and hay then get replaced with treats.
  • Yule Log, Wassail, and other specialty food which they gather together to eat. Continue reading