Life Outside the Pages

These stories are about my everyday life, which can be as ridiculous from time to time as anyone else's.

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Area Writers to be Featured at Author Event

    The 2023 authors who will be at Writers at the Crossroads March 23 : Alex Erickson, Jacob Paul Patchen, Megan Slayer, J. Paulette Forshey, Beverly Kerr, Bev Justice, back, Jane B. Night, Mike Ghere, J.L. Enger, Susan Gee Heino, Clayton Etter, Saralee Etter and Anne Blackburne

    Writers at the Crossroads has become the place for authors to read and display their latest creations. This year’s event takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 23, at Crossroads Library, 63500 Byesville Rd., Cambridge.

    Fifteen years ago, Crossroads Library was searching for a way to bring more adults to the library. That first year, local authors were given five minutes to read either a section from a book they had written or a short story. It drew a small crowd and was the beginning of a lasting friendship between the library and local readers.

    Cambridge Writers has been instrumental in organizing this event along with the cooperation of the library. This writing group, led by J. Paulette Forshey and Cindy Stonebrook, welcomes all writers to their meetings every Wednesday at noon in Crossroads Library. They provide information on ways to improve your writing skills, and give encouragement.

    Over the years, Writers at the Crossroads has grown and now features well-known authors from not only Ohio, but Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. Every author has a table to set up their display of books, which are for sale.

    The event will end with a raffle of items donated by many of the authors and area businesses. All proceeds from the raffle are given to the library to use in their children’s program. So far, the group has donated more than $3,000.

    This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: Showcase of authors planned at Crossroads Library on March 23

  • Life Outside the Pages

    I’ve Got a Newsletter!

    I officially launched my very first author newsletter this week, and I think it’s not half bad!

    Looking around, I realized most my fellow authors have such a thing. I thought, meh, I’ll do that when I actually have a book published! Who wants a newsletter from someone who really has no news?

    But now that “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” has been out for nearly three months (and on the Amazon bestseller list most of that time!) and “Mary’s Calico Hope” is set to release June 1, I figured I couldn’t dodge the newsletter responsibility any longer.

    Plus, my fabulous tech genius bro-in-law, Phil, told me if we didn’t launch a newsletter pronto, I was going to lose my domain on Mail Chimp. Well, I couldn’t let that happen, right?

    So, the thing is done. If you’re one of the 91 people who have asked to be included, you should have received the newsletter (which I’m planning on publishing monthly) this past weekend.

    If not, please feel free to PM me on Facebook at Anne Blackburne. Give me your name and email, and I’ll see that you are added to the list to receive my next newsletter in March.

    I’m having fun with this writing journey! I hope you’re having fun traveling along with me.

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Winner of a Ginger Snap Original Painting!

    I am a major procrastinator. I apologize to all the people who came to my book signing for “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” at Bookology a few weeks ago, and signed up to win this painting I did of Ginger Snap. All the people whose names I collected will eventually receive my newsletter; I say eventually, because I still don’t have a newsletter! One thing at a time, right?

    We had a marvelous turnout that day, despite frigid temperatures and fresh snow in the morning. So many friends, old and new, braved the weather to come to Bookology in Cambridge to say hello. Many of you purchased a copy of my book, “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise”. It was a wonderful day. You all made me feel so very, very special and blessed!

    So now, without further delay, I’ll announce the winner (chosen at random by my daughter using the old-fashioned pick-a-number-any-number method) of this painting! Drum roll please! And the winner is — well, ARE, in this case — Les and Betty Hoffmann! I’ll email you and you can give me your mailing address so I can send you your painting. Thank you so much for coming out to support me in the cold!

    As you may be aware, the next book in the Heart of the Amish series, “The Quilt Room Secret”, by Lisa Jones Baker, is on shelves now. And on or around April 1, the fourth book in the Heart of the Amish series from Barbour Publishing, Mindy Steele’s “Courting an Amish Bishop”, will be out. (Mindy also had book one, “The Flower Quilter”, which I absolutely loved. I want to make my own flower quilt now!)

    After that, it’s only a little while until my next book, “Mary’s Calico Hope”, book five in the Barbour series, will release on May 15 in e-books and on June 1 in print! Here is something else you may not know. The story takes place in the same story world as Ruth’s story! In fact, if you read my first book, you met Mary Yoder. She works for Ruth’s love, Jonas, in his basket shop, and uses crutches to help her walk due to a childhood accident.

    And here is more exciting news! Around this time next year, I’ll have a third story in that story world, which I’m calling my Willow Creek Amish world, even though it is part of Barbour’s Heart of the Amish. Are you confused? I hope not! I signed a contract a couple weeks ago to write “Lizzie’s Little Mouse”, about Elizabeth Miller, whom you met in Ruth’s story (she got the little gray kitten from Lydia Coblentz), and who you’ll see again in Mary’s story. I’m pretty excited! I’ll tell you more about Lizzie another day. For now, it’s Mary’s turn.

    Soon I’ll start telling you all about Mary Yoder, and her wishes and her fears. But today is for celebration! Congratulations again, Les and Betty Hoffman!

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Happy Ground Hog Day!

    It’s Ground Hog Day! My Favorite Holiday of the Year

    If you follow such things, you’ll know that the fat, furry rodent didn’t see his shadow this morning, so we’re due for an early spring.

    Intellectually I know it’s only February, and we can reasonably expect wintery weather for up to two more months.

    But to me, Groundhog Day is the first day of spring, because it represents the hope of the end of winter. I’m not overly fond of winter, so Groundhog Day ranks right up there with my favorite holidays.

    Even if old Buckeye Chuck had seen his shadow this morning up in Marion, Ohio, thus forecasting another six weeks of winter, it wouldn’t matter. It’ll be over soon enough, and we can get down to some serious complaining about the summer heat!

    The legend of the groundhog predicting winter’s end comes from an old German belief that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on February 2, winter will last six more weeks. We in the eastern part of this country have simply refined that to specify the groundhog – also called woodchucks and whistle pigs in other parts of the country. Guess groundhogs are easier to handle than bears.

    And I hate to burst your bubble, but I recently read that Punxsutawney Phil’s whole routine is a set-up. That famous groundhog doesn’t even make the annual prediction attributed to him. A bunch of guys in tuxedos and top hats called the Inner Circle do it for him – ahead of time! And if they’re wrong, well, they get off the hook by claiming in Jimmy Buffet style that it’s six more weeks of winter somewhere!

    But all of this is easily ignored in my blissful contemplation of the warm days ahead. I can even forgive my neighborhood groundhogs for eating my Zinnias and Sunflowers every summer. The Dahlias were hard to forgive, but I’m working on it!

    Happy First Day of Spring!

  • Life Outside the Pages

    What’s Next in Amish Romance from Anne Blackburne?

    It’s an exciting time to be me! After 35 years of trying to achieve my goal of becoming a published author, anyone who reads this blog knows my dream became reality in December.

    “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” released on December 1. This is the second book in Barbour Publishing’s new Amish romance series, “The Heart of the Amish”, featuring three authors, of which I’m one!

    What an honor to be included in a series that also includes well-known authors Mindy Steele and Lisa Jones Baker!

    Mindy’s book, “The Flower Quilter” released first in September. And Lisa’s book releases officially February 1.

    My second book in the series, “Mary’s Calico Hope“, which focuses on Mary Yoder, who was introduced in “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise“, will release on June 1.

    Mindy’s second book, “Courting an Amish Bishop“, releases in April.

    And my wonderful literary agent, Tamela, just told me I’ll be getting a contract for a third book in the series this week! I’m on Cloud Nine! That book is tentatively titled “Lizzie’s Little Mouse”, and features another character introduced in my first book. Lizzie has a little gray kitten she named Little Mouse. Her dream is to own a bakery; but not just any bakery – ever since she visited New Orleans, she has dreamed of opening up a French bakery in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country! This will be her story. I’m not sure when it will be released. More on that as I find out more!

    In September, my first novella (a story that is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel) releases from Barbour in a collection called, “A Lancaster Amish Christmas“. This book features four authors of Amish romance, and I am definitely the rookie of the group!

    The other three authors are Amy Clipston, Amy Lillard, and Mindy Steele. I’m thrilled to be included in the collection with these three beloved authors of Amish romance.

    My story is about Lucy, who is raising her tiny little sister, Millie. Their mother died in childbirth, and Lucy is determined to give Millie the very best life she can, despite some disapproval from people who don’t think a single woman should be raising a child by herself. More on this story as we get closer to the release date!

    So that’s what’s next for me. I’m done with the first draft of my novella, tentatively titled “Christmas Sunbeam”. I’m proofreading and cutting words right now. Do you know what they call it when an author is over her word count and has to cut a lot of words from her document?

    They call it killing your darlings! And it’s truly hard. But I’ll say this; I learned in the newspaper business that pretty much any time you edit down your word count, your story ends up being tighter and overall better for it. This book is due to the publisher on Valentine’s Day. And it’s a work of love, so that is quite appropriate!

    If you haven’t read Ruth’s story yet, it’s available on, and wherever fine books are sold! If you have read it and loved it, please leave me a review on, Goodreads,, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, or anywhere else you like. It doesn’t need to be long or complex. A simple, “I read it and I loved it!” will do the trick.

    Thanks so much for being here!

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Newspaper Editor Moonlights as Amish Romance Author

    By Lisa McDonald Loos

    (Note: This article recently appeared in the newspaper I work for in SE Ohio. It was fun seeing a story about my book in my town’s weekly paper!)

    I knew I was going to love “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” based solely on the action in the first sentence of the book – an Amish woman is hanging laundry on a clothesline!

    Amish clotheslines are a little obsession I have. I’ve taken a couple dozen photographs of them over the past decade on trips to Amish communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I would rather take clothesline pictures than shop! I enjoy seeing the colored dresses in contrast to the black pants waving on long lines that stretch from large farmhouses to larger barns.

    One of my Amish clothesline photographs appears on the Anne Blackburne website, and also her Facebook page.

    Laundry on a clothesline sets the scene for this Amish romance by your newspaper editor who has chosen to professionally write under the pseudonym Anne Blackburne. Blackburne is Anne’s middle name and her maternal grandmother’s maiden name.

    The protagonist in the novel is Ruth, a childless widow with an entrepreneurial spirit. She meets a middle-aged basket maker Jonas, who is a single father.

    An unexpected marriage proposal, lots of prayer, an adversary, and a blizzard provide some twists and turns through the book along with lots of fellowship, saving a family farm and naming felines.

    A surprise for this reader is realization that a couple of the characters in the book are real-life friends of the author.

    There’s another surprise at the end – an assortment of yummy recipes!

    “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” is Anne’s debut novel. It is Book Two in Barbour Publishing’s new series, Heart of the Amish.

    Barbour contracted with three authors for two books each.

    The other two authors are Mindy Steele and Lisa Jones Baker, who have had several previous books published.

    “I think it has helped me to be associated with other, already popular authors,” Anne said.

    Anne’s second book in the series, “Mary’s Calico Hope,” will be published on June 1, 2024.

    “I’ve always been a writer, going back to my elementary school days,” said Anne. “It was in my mid-20s that it occurred to me that I might be able to become a published author.”

    Anne started writing a children’s book series about three 12-year-old girls who formed a pet-sitting business. She queried literary agents and found one in New York who was encouraging about the series. “But it wasn’t long before she got back to me with the unfortunate news that someone else had the same idea, and beat me to the publishers.”

    Over the years, Anne said she came up with other ideas and wrote other manuscripts ranging from middle readers to mysteries to romances. She penned a satirical book called “Lying Letters to Aunt Louise” based on Christmas letters people send bragging about the accomplishments of their relatives. Anne said she had a blast writing it but it did not sell.

    “I read that the average first-time, traditionally-published author spends 10,000 hours practicing their craft before getting that first sale. That would be about right for me,” she said.

    So how did she finally get published?

    A while ago, Anne entered a contest through the Romance Writers of America and won. The prize was the opportunity to work with a mentor – a professional, published author who helped her polish her manuscript over about a year’s time.

    She also learned the ins and outs of querying and submitting to agents and publishers. It wasn’t long after Anne queried her manuscript that one of those agents signed her.

    “This is really unusual. It can take months to hear back from an agent, just to get a rejection,” said Anne. “I was over the moon.”

    Then, within a few months, Anne’s agent sold the book to Barbour Publishing.

    All of those rejection letters finally added up to an acceptance. It took her about 35 years while raising five children to get that sale.

    Anne said she may be more of a “pantser” than a “plotter” when writing. She’s a fast writer with a good idea of where a story is going when writing. She said it took her about three months to write “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise.”

    “I enjoy discovering what happens to the characters along the way, rather than having every little point plotted out ahead of time,” she said.

    Anne is currently working on a novella to be published in an anthology with three other authors this fall. The book is titled “A Lancaster Amish Christmas” and her story in the book is called “Lucy’s Christmas Sunbeam.”

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Is it Christmas without a Christmas Tree?

    If you read my post about battling the washing machine, you know I’m living in a bit of a construction zone. My goal – between editing my next book and preparing a proposal for a new one, oh, and working full time! – has been to have my house “back together” before Christmas, put up a tree and enjoy some peace and quiet!

    Well, that hasn’t exactly happened. There are still a few “construction” items to cross off the list before we call it a job, and there are still unopened boxes of new furniture lying around waiting to be assembled.

    Will it all get done by Monday? Doubtful. What if we don’t put up a Christmas tree this year?

    Will it still be Christmas if we open our gifts without the usual trimmings?

    Will our spirits be able to soar without the dazzle we’re accustomed to?

    I say, yes! Christmas, as the Grinch found out, isn’t about boxes and bows and bling; it’s about the birth of Jesus. I hope we can put up a tree, but even if we don’t feel like it after painting and polishing and putting together furniture, Christmas will still come.

    We’ll go to church, and sing with the congregation. We’ll sit down to a special family dinner together.

    We’ll open some gifts, but the biggest gift will be that we’ll be together, celebrating this very important day.

    So Merry Christmas, a few days early, from my house to yours. Whether or not you have the trimmings, Christmas will come. There’s no stopping it!

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Battling the Washing Machine!

    What could go wrong when using a brand new washer and dryer for the first time? Read on!

    Life is about more than books – sometimes it’s about new appliances and doing righteous battle!

    Here’s a story about that. I haven’t bothered to change the names, because I’m the criminal and the name was mine! (Criminally ignorant, that is.) So there is nobody innocent to protect!

    For the past 18 months, my home has been a construction zone as an underused, former TV room was turned into a half-bath/laundry room.

    I could bore you with tales of hard-to-get plumbers and handymen, fluctuating funding, etc. But I’ll fast forward to this past month, when the whole project seemed to be nearing completion.

    My toilet was installed in time for Thanksgiving. With family in town, this, alone, was very exciting! The sink went in the next week due to the fact that I didn’t realize it didn’t come with a faucet. Oops.

    Then there was another delay when the faucet I ordered came with a broken drain, and water seeped across my floor.

    Finally, the stackable washer and dryer that has been sitting in the room for more than a year, blocking the view out my back window, was installed and proclaimed ready to use!

    I have this odd aversion to using new appliances. Seriously, I usually place a new appliance on my kitchen counter and eye it with suspicion for weeks or months before trying it out. I have no excuse.

    But with the old washer and dryer disconnected in the basement I had no choice but to try out the new set a mere week after it was proclaimed ready to go – crazy fast for me.

    My basket of dirty laundry sat on the floor next to the unit, and I opened the lid of the machine with great optimism; only to be greeted by the sight of a foot-thick wedge of Styrofoam blocking my way.

    Hmm, I guess my guy didn’t look inside before calling it done. Or maybe he was just smart enough to think, “Nah”, and quietly close it before driving away. Who could blame him?

    I could not budge it, and resolved myself to having to saw it out of there. But with what? Rejecting manly tools that I didn’t think I could fit into the space, I went to work with my serrated bread knife. It took about 15 minutes of hard labor, but finally I had the thing out.

    Inside the drum were the water hoses my guy couldn’t find – cleverly hidden indeed! I felt like I do when I’m washing out the Thanksgiving turkey and dig out the baggie of innards from the chest cavity.

    I’m telling you, this new appliance thing it NOT for the faint of heart!

    After a hot-chocolate break, I returned with the shop vac and sucked out all the little Styrofoam pellets. Then it was time to load in the clothes and laundry soap and figure out the dials and buttons.

    Smugly I thought, yeah. I’ve got this.

    Finally the machine was running! And then it was thumping. And squealing. And jumping and running into the wall behind it, gouging the new drywall and paint! The dog was barking and my daughter was calling for help.

    I turned it off. I scratched my head. I looked down. What was that red caution sticker down low on the machine near the wall? I squatted down for a look – “Remove packing rod before use!!!”

    Oh-oh. I jockeyed the machine around a bit so I could remove the sticker over a piece of protruding metal I hadn’t noticed before, and then pulled the metal out – and out – and out! It was a couple feet long!

    Offering up a prayer that in my ignorance I hadn’t destroyed my brand new washing machine, I tried again. It ran nice and smooth, with no imitation of a bucking bronc fighting off a cougar.

    Thank you, God!

    Now if I can just get my lights installed, hang up the towel bars and toilet paper holder, and maybe some curtains so I don’t have to use my wonderful new room in the dark, I’ll be ready to call the job done! (Well, after I patch the drywall and repaint, that is!)

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Celebrate Lit Tour for Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise!

    December 9 – 22, Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise will be on a “virtual” tour with Celebrate Lit! Each day during this time, one or more blogger will post about my book. I’ll share the blog posts the following day. There is also a fun giveaway. Check it out!

    To celebrate my tour, I’m giving away the grand prize package of a print copy of the book and a $25 Amazon eGift card!!

    Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

    The first blogger celebrating “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” is Vicky Sluiter. Here is what she has to say!

    About the Book

    Book: Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise

    Author: Anne Blackburne

    Genre: Amish/Christian Fiction

    Release Date: December, 2023

    Ruth Defies Authority to Hold on to her Family Farm
    Full of faith, hope, and romance, this new series takes you into the Heart of Amish country.

    Ruth Helmuth has never been rude in her life; trust her to choose the bishop of her Amish community for her first time!

    Ruth has worked hard to keep body and soul together since her husband, Levi’s, death. She tends her herd of goats, making her living from the milk and fiber she gets from them, all while running a farm and household by herself—and very competently, thank you! How could she imagine the bishop suggesting she should give it all up to another family, who will “make better use of the space”?

    Enter widower Jonas Hershberger, owner of a pair of adorable dimples and father of a charming 4-year-old daughter. Jonas is in need of a larger place to house his growing business. Ruth’s big red barn may be just the ticket. Little Abigail is in need of a new mother. Ruth might be just the ticket there, too!

    Can two independent souls learn to work together for their mutual good? And will they be willing to explore what grows between them?  Or will Ruth’s fear over her “big secret” and Jonas’s caution about allowing someone new to get close to his young daughter, kill their love before it has a chance to grow?

    Luckily for both of them, God’s plan involves the stubborn pair getting a little help in the form of a wise, elderly friend; a quirky orange kitten; and a smart little girl who takes one look at Ruth and decides she would make her the perfect new mother! Click here to get your copy!

    About the Author

    Anne Blackburne lives and works in Southeast Ohio as a newspaper editor and writer. She is the mother of five grown children, has one wonderful grandchild, and a spoiled poodle named Millie. For fun, when she isn’t working on Amish romance or sweet mysteries, Anne directs and acts in community theater productions and writes and directs original plays. She also enjoys reading, kayaking, swimming, searching for beach glass, and just sitting with a cup of coffee looking at large bodies of water. Her idea of the perfect vacation is cruising and seeing amazing new places with people she loves.

    More from Anne

    I’m so excited that my debut novel, Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise, will release soon from Barbour Publishing! This is the realization of a long-held dream; 30 years long!

    About 30 years ago I wrote my first book, a middle reader about a group of tweens who wanted to start a pet sitting business. I found an agent who worked hard to sell my series. Unfortunately, someone else came up with the same basic idea and beat me to the bookshelves!

    Of course, I was crushed – I’d been so close!

    I wondered if it was a sign that I wasn’t meant to become a published author. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough?

    Being the tenacious sort, I rejected that idea and buckled down. I looked at each subsequent rejection as proof that I’d been hard at work practicing my craft, and would inevitably, eventually, succeed.

    I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours of toiling away at the computer before a new author sells a book. That would be about right!

    Of course, it isn’t the same for everyone. Some authors are lucky – or just that good – and hit a home run their first at bat. Others simply can’t seem to break in.

    For me, the big break came nearly two years ago. I’d been working and polishing my Amish romance for a couple years. I also had a couple of other projects in the works, but I didn’t want to give up on Ruth and Jonas’ story. I queried many agents, being very careful to follow their individual guidelines. And finally – finally! – I got that phone call new authors dream about, offering representation. I’m proud to be represented by the wonderful Tamela Hancock Murray from the Steve Laube Agency. And Tamela quickly sold my story to Barbour Publishing, Inc.

    What a blessing! All those years of work and hope and yes, faith, had finally paid off. I was going to be a published author. I still have to pinch myself from time to time.

    And here I am. I hope you love Ruth and Jonas – and of course, Ginger Snap! – as much as I do. I have another book from their make-believe town of Willow Creek coming out next summer, also from Barbour. Both books are part of a new series called “Heart of the Amish”, and feature three authors. The other two, Mindy Steele and Lisa Jones Baker, are both seasoned veterans with a number of Amish and other Christian books under their belts. It’s such an honor to be included with them in this project!

    Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise is available now for pre-order on Amazon. And my second book, tentatively titled Mary’s Calico Hope, will be available late this winter.

    Be sure to look for Mindy Steele’s wonderful book, The Flower Quilter, which kicks off the series. It is also available on Amazon. I read an early release and boy, was I impressed. I can’t wait to read Lisa Jones Baker’s story!

    My Review!

    by Vicky Sluiter

    “Part of the Heart of the Amish series, each book is a standalone by some of our favorite authors of Amish fiction. Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise happens to be author Anne Blackburne’s debut novel and she is definitely going to become a favorite.

    I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know spunky Ruth Helmuth, who is dealing with loss and struggling to keep her family farm. And then there’s our hero, Jonas Hershberger who is also dealing with loss, and his adorable daughter, Abigail. Add in Ruth’s elderly friend and lots of kittens and you have the makings of a fun, heartwarming story. I highly recommend it! 

    I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.”

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Season’s Guiltings

    Instead of feeling guilt over what you can’t change, why not change what you can?

    On the First day of Christmas my loved ones gave to me – guilt.

    On the Second day of Christmas my church family gave to me – guilt.

    On the Third day of Christmas the media gave to me – guilt.

    On the Fourth day of Christmas some random guy I saw begging for food gave to me – guilt.

    (Insert eight more guilty situations here.)

    And I really hate feeling guilty!

    Along with the season of joy comes the season of guilt. Everywhere we look, and a lot of places we’d prefer not to look, people are in need. And for some reason – maybe that guilt I mentioned before – it’s harder to ignore at this time of year what we should pay attention to all year round.

    Pleas for help come from every direction, from “giving trees” in churches and businesses to requests for donations from large corporate charities to celebrities on the radio singing songs asking us to “. . . feed the world.”

    And that doesn’t even allow for the requests and needs we find at home.

    The problem is, with the current state of world politics, overpopulation, food distribution networks and a host of other impediments, it is not possible, in spite of what Band Aid tells us, to feed, clothe, or otherwise save the entire world.

    Hey, Jesus told us there would be poor always. It’s an overwhelming problem, even with today’s technology, medical advancements and the desire of good people everywhere who would like to help.

    So what should we do? Should we just shrug and turn away, telling ourselves we can’t save the multitudes of poor, so we might as well not do anything?

    Ebenezer Scrooge asked, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” And if you’ll recall, that didn’t work out very well for him.

    While it’s true that we can’t save the multitudes, we should remember that multitudes are made up of lots of individuals. And each one of those individuals is a person you might know; might like; might, in other circumstances, be.

    Here’s an idea: Why not help one person? Why not make a difference in one life?

    I guarantee that the difference you make in that one life will make a difference; if not to the world at large, then certainly in your own heart.

    So find a way to be of use to someone. Keep it simple and doable. Choose a child from a giving tree at your church. Donate a few cans of food to a food pantry. Slip $10 into a Salvation Army kettle. Drop off a warm coat and blanket to a homeless person. Carry a “give-away” bag filled with a few bucks, non-perishable snacks, warm socks, etc. in your car to hand out the window to the next person you see asking for food or money. Shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk or mow their grass for free. Give someone without a car a ride. Read to a lonely patient in the hospital. Volunteer once a week – or once a year — at the hospital, food pantry, your church, your child’s school, the Veteran’s clinic, the senior citizens center, the Salvation Army, a soup kitchen, a non-profit thrift store, etc. Give blood. Give a darn.

    No, you won’t have solved the world’s poverty problem. Your little contribution will be infinitesimal in the big scheme of things. But what if everyone did the same? We still wouldn’t solve everything – but we’d sure put a good dent in things! And you’ll feel good about what you’ve done.

    Don’t bother feeling guilty this Christmas season. Your feeling of guilt is useless to others. Instead, do something, no matter how small, to make a dent. You might end up entertaining an angel.