Monday, December 1, 2014

Thinking Outside the Box - a guest post by the awesome Jessica Patch

Hey all, I wanted to welcome my dear friend, Jess Patch here today. She's taking the floor with a devotion and a glimpse at her new Christmas Novella, Hope Under Mistletoe. Oh, and she's even giving it away for free! So keep reading to get to know Jess, her heart, and her sweet and sassy Christmas novella.

Thank you, Susan, for having me today! I feel taller over here. I like it. (Hardy har 
har... I may or may not be slightly taller than shorty here.) 

But I digress, so back to Jess...
Today, I want to talk about thinking outside the box. Doing things differently.

Let’s take a look at a small excerpt from Hope Under Mistletoe, my Christmas novella:

     He placed a cup of steaming coffee at her fingertips. She lifted it and savored the warm rush down to her stomach. “This is good.”
     “I can pour more than a nickel draft.”
     Eden winced. “I didn’t mean to imply that.”
     “Sure you didn’t.”
     Eden scanned the room. Walnut tables. Shiny hardwood flooring and walls. An old-fashioned juke box in the corner.
     The awkward silence grew deafening.
     “What’s back there?” She pointed to the archway beside the bathrooms.
     “Game room. Pool tables…air hockey.” He crunched into the peppermint.
     She chuckled. “You can take the boy out of the minor hockey leagues but…”
     Knox’s grin faded. “Yeah.” Longing filled his eyes. He’d come home six years earlier when his mother had taken ill with cancer, bought this old building and remodeled it himself.
     “How big is it?” This place was huge.
     “Go see for yourself.”
     Eden marched into the back room. Spacious. A stage. A drum set and keys. “Is there sound equipment in here, too?”
     Knox nodded. “Live bands.”
     She whirled around. “I need this bar.”
     Knox popped another peppermint stick. “You sound like half the town now.”
     She frowned. “We have no place to hold our Christmas cantata practices or fill Christmas baskets, hold the coat drive…have Sunday morning services.”
     Knox crossed his arms and cocked his head. “Whoa. Wait a minute. You want to have church…in my bar?”
     “Yes, and I want you to offer it free of charge.”
     Knox’s raspy laugh bounced off the high wooden ceiling. He bent over cackling. Mocking her. “You been checked against the boards one too many times? I can’t have you coming in here converting customers. I’ll go broke.”
     “I’m not asking to hand out tracts on Saturday nights. We need a place.” And if a few patrons heard the Good News, so be it. Maybe Pop would come back to church—if they brought church to him.

Prior to this, Eden’s church has burned to the ground and they didn’t have the funds to purchase new equipment or even rent a place. Looking at Knox’s bar, she saw an opportunity. She thought outside the box. Here are a few of her thoughts:

     Pastor Gabe inhaled. “I have to agree with Eden. The truth is we might be able to make a difference in the lives of those who frequent the bar, people who try to numb their pain with the bottle and drink away their problems. We have a real solution. Plus, we’re not paying a dime, we have free use of sound equipment and instruments—which we can’t afford to buy or rent—and it seems like Mr. Everhart is rather agreeable to our needs.”
    Thank you, Gabe. Eden leaned forward. “The hurting people in the bars aren’t going to waltz through the church doors. We’re going to have to take the church to them. It’s a mission field.” Excitement bubbled in Eden’s chest. “Who knows what God will do? This is the season for miracles, isn’t it? New birth. Good tidings of joy and peace. We could be a Christmas miracle for someone…for many.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NET) says, “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We’re instructed to go out and be the hands and feet of Christ. As the body of Christ. I think sometimes we tend to get set in our ways, and while the Gospel and message of truth remain the same, our approach at times need to change. I’m not talking about gimmicks or marketing the church. I’m not for that at all. I’m talking about finding new ways to cultivate relationships with people. Instead of expecting them to simply come to us. I’m talking about going to them and building relationships. Showing them through actions that Christ loves everyone.

This is what happens when Eden and the new pastor of the church think outside the box. The bar won’t come to them. So they go to the bar. Not to Bible thump. Not to preach hell and damnation.

They go and hold their services, serve the community, and hold Bible studies. What happens inside that bar? Well, you’ll have to read the novella. But I can tell you that living a life devoted to God, showing compassion and love without any judgment brings hope and while not every person may slip into the back room and cling to the life, some will. And you don’t need to feel as if you’ve labored in vain. You never know when you’re sowing seeds or watering them.

But you have to think outside the box. Miracles can happen!

How has someone shown you the love of Jesus with their simple actions?

Have you subscribed to the Patched In Newsletter? I’d love for you to and as a thank you gift, you’ll receive Hope Under Mistletoe for FREE! (Susan again...if you haven't, you really, really should! Not only is this an amazing novella, but Jess's newsletters are packed with not only news but fun and tons of encouragement. And she won't spam you, promise. )

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational romantic suspense and contemporary romance. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with ice-cold Perrier and adventurous trips in the name of research. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer's class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, dominating her son at board games, and collecting recipes to wonderful dishes she'll probably never cook. She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

Connect with Jessica on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and her WEBSITE.


  1. Love the excerpts! If there are hockey references, I'm in. Thanks for sharing! And I signed up for the newsletter, too.

    1. A few hockey references! Thanks so much for joining the newsletter, Tom. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    2. You'll love it, Tom!! Both the book and her newsletter!

  2. Congratulations, Jessica! I'm so loving all these Christmas stories!

    1. Thanks, Shelli! I'm loving them all too! Have you read Sandra Bricker's Humbug Christmas collection. It's 2 stories. So funny and festive. I enjoyed them. :)

  3. Shelli, this is my favorite time of year to read. Love all the Chrismas novellas too! Perfect for a night snuggled by the Christmas tree:)

  4. We have a friend who works as a waiter in order to reach others for Christ. He and his wife also host a house church service in their home and attend our church on Sundays. He definitely thinks outside the box. One thing he shared with us is waiters and waitresses think Christians are the worst tippers. I always think of that now when it comes time to leave a tip.

    I signed up for your blog Jessica. It's so great to learn more about you.