If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a short snippet from my Christmas release, Starlight in Her Eyes. In this excerpt, Serena Monroe and her six-year-old daughter, Lily, are helping at a soup kitchen dinner in inner-city Philadelphia. Colin Young, mentioned at the end, is my hero (and memorably introduced in last year’s Sleigh Ride Together with You).
“You don’t have a place to live?” Lily’s voice caught Serena’s attention. Lily had directed the question to a dark-haired girl with big, sad brown eyes. She appeared to be close to Lily’s age, perhaps a year or two older. The child shook her head.
“That’s too bad. Do you have a daddy?” Serena put her hand on Lily’s arm, hoping she hadn’t gone too far with the blunt question.
The girl nodded and pointed to the man seated beside her, engaged in conversation with a man on the other side of him. Serena wondered if the child was autistic or couldn’t speak.
“That’s good. I used to have a daddy, but now I don’t,” Lily said.
Serena wondered if she should step into the conversation but figured Lily had a purpose for her questions. The girl didn’t appear upset although her father appeared to ignore her. Serena’s heart ached for the child.
“I don’t have a mommy,” the child said in a voice so quiet both Serena and Lily strained forward to hear. “She died.”
“That’s what happened to my daddy.” Lily shoveled a bite of meatloaf into her mouth. Her brow furrowed. Finally she said, “Danica, do you have a special friend? Like a puppy or anything?”
The girl shook her head, and Lily jumped off the bench.
“I’ll be right back.”
Serena’s breath caught as Lily scampered back to the table with Truffle in her arms. She’d left him in the kitchen, locked in a cabinet with Serena’s purse. One of the workers must have recognized Lily and opened the cabinet for her.
Lily held out the teddy bear to the girl. “This is Truffle. He’s a very special bear but you can have him if you want. Just keep his same name because he really likes it.”
After only a moment’s hesitation, the girl reached for Truffle. Hugging the stuffed animal to her chest, she buried her head against him.
Serena glanced the other way, blinking away her tears as Lily plopped onto the bench and resumed eating. Thank you, Lord, for my daughter’s giving spirit that runneth over.
A verse she’d studied earlier that week came to Serena’s mind from the Book of Luke. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
She could learn so much from Lily. Her daughter loved that teddy bear. Lily’s selfless gesture touched Serena in a place hidden for much too long. A place where her dreams and hopes had been buried under a load of bitterness and regret.
Serena’s gaze moved to Colin. He had one hand over the joined hands of a young couple on top of the table, praying with them.
Serena’s tears began. Cleansing tears, healing tears.
She allowed them to flow freely.
That verse Serena recalls is found in Luke 6:38 (NIV). Truly, Lily understands the true spirit of giving. As we age, most of us come to understand that there’s much more soul-satisfying joy in giving to others. This Christmas, I challenge you (and myself, as well) to give the gift of our time, our resources, our talents, and our God-given abilities. The Lord has blessed each one of us with uniquely personal gifts, so let’s share the love and spread the joy!
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Starlight in Her Eyes
Colin Young embraces the Christmas season as the new television co-host of Wake Up, Philadelphia! His fun and spontaneous “Out and About” segments in the City of Brotherly Love are a ratings winner. Only one problem—the beautiful but intriguing assistant assigned to help make his transition easier doesn’t seem to like him much.
Serena Monroe has no time for the cheeky Brit with a glowing professional reputation but a lengthy personal history with women. Betrayed by one high-profile man, she doesn’t need another. Her sole focus is her daughter, Lily. But then Serena begins to see that Colin is nothing like she assumed. He’s a man of faith who inspires everyone around him. Dare she take a chance on love again?
When Colin invites Serena and Lily to share Christmas with him in the little town of Starlight, Iowa, can they discover a holiday miracle of their own?