Elizabeth Maddrey

ElizabethMaddreyHeadshotToday we welcome Elizabeth Maddrey, avid reader and author, to 3 Questions Wednesday.


(1) What is your favorite book? [Bible excluded]

Elizabeth: This is like trying to choose a favorite child. Maybe it’s cheating a little, but I think I’ll go with The Deed of Paskinarrion by Elizabeth Moon. It’s 3 books bound together as one that I tend to re-read every year. It’s a great epic fantasy – struggle between light and dark and though it wasn’t intended to be a Christian novel, it has great Christian themes/overtones.

(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Elizabeth: Maybe Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I’d love to ride piggy back on Aslan after he’s resurrected.

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 

Elizabeth: New Zealand. Not just because I love the Lord of the Rings (though I do) – but just because all the pictures I’ve seen are so lovely.


Thank you, Elizabeth, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Elizabeth is giving away a copy of Love Defined so leave a comment to be entered.

A garden bench, a place to rest in the sunshineLove Defined

Dreams Change. Plans Fail.

July and Gareth have reached the end of their infertility treatment options.  With conflicting feelings on adoption, they struggle to discover common ground in their marriage.

Meanwhile, July’s twin sister, June, and her husband, Toby, are navigating the uncertainties of adoption and the challenges of new parenthood.

How much stretching can their relationships endure before they snap?


Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing,

Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website http://www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

Our Christmas Traditions

By Cari Schaeffer

Our family Christmas traditions are not quite as lofty as others might be – we keep it simple and fairly straight forward.


candlelightWhen I was growing up, my family traditions consisted of opening one present on Christmas Eve and attending candle light church services, most years. We would gather with my grandparents, cousins, and other relatives for a big family meal on Christmas day. Some of the traditional food served, other than turkey and ham, was banana pudding, three bean salad, apple walnut salad, and tamales. Go ahead and raise your eyebrows – you should! My family consists of red necks with just a little bit of Hispanic culture thrown in because I was raised in the southwestern portion of the United States. Laugh all you want, it was good eating!


One of my husband’s family traditions was to stay up until midnight on Christmas Eve and open all the presents as soon as Christmas day arrived at the stroke of the clock. His family would typically stay up most of the night (there were six children) into the next day. We ditched that tradition when we came together and had our own children. Who wants cranky kids on Christmas Day? Not I, said the little pig…


For our family and as Christians, we are sure to keep our focus on the real meaning of Christmas, which is the birth of Christ. We attend candle light services at church on Christmas Eve and listen to the retelling of the birth of Jesus found in the book of Luke. We don’t open a present on Christmas Eve because we tend not to purchase a lot of them. Don’t get me wrong – gift giving does take place, but there aren’t piles and piles of them. Christmas comes the same day every year and we budget for it. The day after Christmas, we have no remaining debt from it. We have taught our children that we give presents to remind ourselves that Jesus is the best Gift we have ever received. The feeling we have when opening gifts is just a small taste of what it’s like when we receive His gift of eternal salvation.


We made a conscious decision not to have Santa Claus as part of our family culture. I know there are folks who weigh heavily on one side or the other on this issue. I understand that – to each his own. But for OUR family, we prefer not to allow a non-existent character to take the focus away from the real person of Jesus – the true meaning of Christmas. As a disclaimer, we also don’t do the Easter bunny (for the same reason) or the tooth fairy. One Christmas season many years ago, we were milling around the foyer after church when an older woman leaned down, smiled at my four year old son and asked him what Santa was bringing him for Christmas. He looked at her, frowned, and said, “We are Christians. We don’t do Santa. He’s not real, but Jesus is.”file0002074159204


On both Thanksgiving and Christmas morning, I make my home made cinnamon rolls. As my children have gotten older (two of my boys are now teenagers), I have had to increase the number of pans I make because otherwise I won’t get any! They are devoured rather quickly, but have to sustain us until Christmas dinner is ready. We usually eat around two in the afternoon and I make the whole thing from scratch, to include the rolls. As a Chef, I can do no less. The only canned item I purchase is the evaporated milk and pumpkin to make my pumpkin pie. I even make my own cranberry sauce, which is ridiculously easy to do and so worth it.


Every year, we must watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Christmas Story. My husband is an absolute Charlie Brown NUT. He shamelessly dances to the tune of Linus and Lucy. On our tenth anniversary, we were at a very high end restaurant. There was a gentleman playing a grand piano in the dining area who was taking requests. I slipped my request to him. He smiled and winked at me while shuffling around some pages. Finally, the tune began to fill the air. My husband’s filet mignon paused in mid-air on its way to his mouth. He cocked his head, looked at me with wide eyes and asked if I had done that. I grinned and nodded. He loved it. It is still one of our favorite memories. Every year, I try to get him a gift of something that has to do with Charlie Brown.

Even though our Christmas traditions aren’t lofty, they are meaningful and they are ours. I love them and how they bind us together as a family. There is always a lot of love, laughter, and good cheer bouncing off the walls in our home. I hope your traditions do the same for you.

Merry Christmas!

After Christmas Traditions…interrupted

With family together around the holidays, after Christmas traditions are often as meaningful as Christmas traditions, but sometimes life gets in the way in a dramatic way.

Ten years ago, on Christmas Day eve, the words of the 2004 tsunami came to us like headlines through the phone line from my brother-in-law.

“Thousands feared dead. Seaside villages wiped out.”

My husband, a native of India, put his hand over the receiver. “It’s Decruz. Turn on the news. Something terrible has happened back home.”

Our “after Christmas traditions” were set aside. My husband, Bishop Leo Michael, immediately spearheaded a very successful national fundraising event. He promised to take 100% of the contributions to the most affected tsunami victims in the most decimated areas around Nagapattinam, South India.

A pastor and native of South India, he had worked around the affected coastal region for more than twenty years. He understood the living conditions of the fisherfolk and could well imagine the horrible aftermath of the monster wave that took the lives of tens of thousands.

Our family and church flew into fundraising mode. Then, ten days after the tsunami, my husband and I flew to India.

Being a former journalist, and current freelance magazine writer on assignment, I geared up to trek into impassable villages with my husband where the dead still washed up on the shoreline and massive cremation fires still burned. Villages were destroyed.



SI ExifAlmost ten years later, we returned to the same villages and met the orphans we’d helped. We encountered surprising changes and gleaned a deeper insight into the lives of the fisherfolk and tsunami survivors.IMG_0580


My husband talking to the orphans, now grown-ups

My husband, Bishop Leo Michael, talking to the orphans, now grown-ups

Traditions are a wonderful way to keep a family united, but sometimes life gets in the way and a family has to make adjustments. I was proud of my teenage for understanding and supporting us in those days following the 2004 tsunami. As adults now, I hope they realize the importance of traditions, but have also learned to be flexible and set aside plans when necessary.

In your writing, consider how the unexpected can wreak havoc with holiday traditions. Does a greater good come out of accepting an unplanned challenge?

And if you’d like to follow our journey in my THEN and NOW nonfiction book, TSUNAMI 2004 – Still Wading Through Waves of Hope, it was published today on the tsunami anniversary, December 26, 2014 on Amazon and is only $2.99. A percentage of the proceeds go towards our relief fund to help educate the orphans of the tsunami.

Beautiful beach and sea



Tammy Trail


Today we welcome our own Crew Member, Tammy Trail, to 3 Questions Wednesday.


(1) What is your favorite book? [Bible excluded]

Tammy: Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. It made me cry a bucket of tears.


(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Tammy: Christy Huddleston from the book, Christy, by Catherine Marshall. I admire the story of Christy because she saw a need, went out of her comfort zone to help others, and didn’t quit when it got tough for her.

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Tammy: My husband I have a dream trip we would love to take someday to see Ireland and Scotland. Sometimes when I see landscape pictures of our dream trip it makes me cry. God is such an awesome Creator.

Thanks, Tammy, for dropping by!

Tammy J. Trail is a wife, mother and grandmother. Residing in Kansas where life is a never ending joy ride as “taxi driver” for two teenage boys. She learns something new every day, and once in awhile it’s useful information. A lover of historical fiction in any time period, her favorite is the American Revolutionary period.