Posted in author interviews, book giveaways

Day 8 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Matt Patterson & Stephanie Shott!

We’re winding down on the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway celebration with only three giveaways to go! Have you had the chance to go back and leave comments on each posting for a chance to win the books for the past seven days?

Today I have two more awesome authors: Stephanie Shott and Matt Patterson. Their Christmas memories are well worth the read and be sure to have a tissue handy when you read Matt’s memory!

I have had the honor of being Stephanie’s guest on her awesome website at Both Stephanie and Matt are giving away a copy of their books, so be sure to leave a comment below about a Christmas that has special meaning to you and that you will always remember for a chance to win!

A winner will be chosen on December 18 and winners from all of the giveaways will be announced on Monday, December 19, so be sure to go back and enter! Anyone in the U.S. can enter, and confirmed subscribers receive two entries!


Below is the blurb for Understanding What Matters Most: The Book of Ecclesiastes by Stephanie Shott:

Ecclesiastes, Understanding What Matters Most is a six-week Following God workbook study that begins with a history lesson explaining how Solomon became king and then takes the reader into a verse-by-verse study through Ecclesiastes. The study offers a unique woman s perspective to an of avoided and misunderstood book of the Bible.

I have had the honor of reviewing Stephanie’s book and loved it and learned so much! You can read my review here:

Below is the blurb for My Emily by Matt Patterson:

This book tells the story of a hurting family, an amazing little girl and a mysteriously faithful God. Emily wasn’t born perfect – so one might think. She was born with Down Syndrome and many would jump to the conclusion that she would have very little hope for a life with any significance. Two years later came the diagnosis of leukemia. What little hope remaining turned to no hope whatsoever – or so one might think. The life of this little girl, with all its perceived imperfections, had great meaning. Her loving nature and courage touched the hearts of everyone she met. She also taught them how to value their own lives – even with their many “imperfections.”

 And now, some wonderful Christmas memories from Stephanie and Matt…

Ornaments, Vacations, & Memories by Stephanie Shott

I love Christmas! The sites, the sounds, the lights and the smells – all declare the most wonderful time of the year. But when our children were growing up, our Christmas season always began in October. That was when we took our annual vacations to the mountains where we would hike the Blue Ridge trails and meander through the quaint little shops in Waynesville.

It was there, in a mom and pop shop called Cedar Hills Studios, where we would pick out a few special Christmas ornaments to add to the others that would adorn our tree each year.

They were beautifully simple and simply significant. Each one inscribed with a different name of our Lord. Names like, Messiah, Word of God, High Priest, Christ and I Am, would dangle from the Douglas Fir in the corner of our room.

We talked about what each name meant and how great our God really is. We marveled at His majesty and were humbled by His humility. Those ornaments became prompts of praise and reminders of the babe in a manger who chose to begin His journey to the cross in a cradle.

Suspended from the branches were Scriptures declaring, “Unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6) and “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

All ornaments that call our attention to the true meaning of Christmas. A Savior is born who offers hope to all mankind. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. The Lamb of God became the sacrifice for our sins. The Redeemer came to purchase us back from the slave block of sin and make us His own.

Amazing love! Amazing grace!

And while we enjoyed sharing those destiny-altering truths with our boys, my favorite event of each Christmas season is the quiet moments when no one is home but me and Jesus. Only Christmas lights illuminate the room and in the silence of that place I seek His presence.

Each ornament a purpose to praise Him. Every Scripture reference a reason to rejoice. And every year, those moments with Him are the most precious of all!

As I glance through those ornaments of adoration, I remember when and where we bought them. I remember those vacations long ago that made this momma’s heart smile big time. I reflect on walks to the waterfalls, vacation cabins and irreplaceable time with my boys.

The years have gone by and my boys are now men. Those family vacations have been replaced with busy schedules and periodic family get-togethers. I miss our October trips to the mountains and the family traditions we created together, but every year, those ornaments become reasons to rejoice in our Savior and sweet memories of our vacations and Christmases filled with faith, family and fun.

Gifts by Matt Patterson

We all love Christmas gifts, don’t we?

I love giving Christmas gifts.

If you ask 100 people to give their definition of a “gift,” it’s quite possible to get 100 varying responses. Personally, the greatest gifts I have received in this life have come from some of my greatest trials.

Nearly 25 years ago, our first daughter Emily was born. The birth of a young couple’s first child almost certainly falls under the “gift” category.

We would learn the morning following her birth that Emily was born with Down syndrome. Beyond the initial dismay and sadness, emotions quickly turned to joy and happiness. Our angel was truly a gift from God.

Two years later, Emily would be diagnosed with leukemia. Three-plus months of chemotherapy were followed by tests, transfusions, remission, relapse and eventually, death.

One of my fondest Christmas memories took place only a couple years ago. I was stumped on what to get my wife and two daughters. A surprise type of gift – something they wouldn’t expect.

On Christmas Day, after all gifts had been opened, Bonnie and the girls started to clean up the loose boxes and shredded wrapping paper. It was then I stopped them.

“There’s just one more gift,” I said. “Wait here.”

I brought in three gift bags. I told them that they had to be opened simultaneously.

Each reached into their bags and pulled out a ring box. Of course my daughters were thinking diamonds. I love their naïve hearts.

At my prompting, each opened their box. Silence and confusion followed.

My wife Bonnie said, “Wait, what is …”

Our youngest, Kimberly jumped in, “This isn’t my birthstone.”

It was Lauren, our oldest daughter, who spoke up that it was Emily’s birthstone.

“I want each of you to have a daily reminder of her,” I said.

To this day, those rings remain on their fingers.

Matt loves to connect with his readers at  My Emily is available at

Be sure to leave a comment below about a Christmas that has special meaning to you and that you will always remember for a chance to win!


Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today Penny is a multi-published author of over a dozen books. She is also a homeschool mom and a group fitness instructor. When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters and camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running, gardening, and playing volleyball. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her website,, her blog,, and through her newsletter via

47 thoughts on “Day 8 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Matt Patterson & Stephanie Shott!

  1. Matt what a fantastic gift that you gave each of them it brought tears to my eyes what a great way to remember emily. thank you penny for having this great contest …

  2. Thank you for the wonderful post and giveaway. The Christmas that was the most special to me was the year that we accepted Yeshua. We got saved right before Christmas, 1985 so it was a extremely special Christmas season to and for us.

    1. Jo ~ I remember the first Christmas after I became a Christian too! I received Christ in October of 1987 and that December I remember thinking… “I get it! WOW! What a Savior!” What a wonderful time to consider how wonderful He really is! 🙂

  3. The most memorable Christmas was the one after my first child was born. Suddenly, I could identify a little with Mary, what it must have been like to give birth in a smelly stable, alone but for Joseph, scared yet excited. But most of all, how she felt when the baby was laid in her arms.

  4. Thanks for sharing these authors and their stories, Christmas is a wonderful time of year. I remember ones when my boys were small the most.
    I am most interested in the book about Ecclesiastes, I have always liked to read this book and to learn more from it would be great.

    Paula O

    1. Paula ~ Don’t you just wish you would have known you had to let them go after you raised them!? I know we knew. But doing it can be hard on a momma’s heart, just sayin’!

      Oh, and I’m kind of fond of Ecclesiastes too! 😉

  5. You weren’t kidding about needing a tissue! I think our one-last-Christmas last year with my father-in-law is going to be one I always remember. He went all out with the decorations, baking, Christmas movies. My husband loves buckeyes – it’s a Christmas tradition for his side of the family. & my father-in-law drew me into the kitchen and taught me exactly how he makes them every year so we can keep the tradition alive…

    1. Oh the magic words, One Last Christmas. Thank you for sharing! I actually posted Matthew West’s video, “One Last Christmas” on my blog a week or so ago.

      Think you needed tissues for this? Bring the box for the video! 🙂

      1. Thanks! Now I don’t have to google it. Though I think I’ll wait till later to watch the video – when I can have privacy with my box of tissues. 😉

  6. OK. Here is a Christmas from LONG ago that has a place in my heart. When I was about 5 (maybe, unsure of my age, I am 46 now) I remember my grandfather talking to me about Santa. I was adopted by my grandparents when I was 7 but I lived with them from the time I was three days old. I am not sure how the topic started but he told me that he had to open the door for Santa so he could carry in the gifts the night before. Years later I realized he was telling me he had to open the door for my grandmother who must have hidden the “Santa” gifts in the trunk. They always did “Santa” great but there was never any doubt in our home the true meaning of Christmas. Luke 2 was read every year BEFORE gifts were opened.

    1. Terri ~ I loved reading about how your grandparents made your Christmas so special. I was adopted too and am so thankful for the parents the Lord gave me. THanks for sharing a slice of your life and your heart!

      1. Yes, I, too, am so thankful for the Lords provision as He placed me in that home. He is so good and knows what is best for us, even when we don’t. Blessings!

  7. Pingback: One Busy Week! |
  8. My favorite Christmas memory is of the last one with my dad. It will be 5 years ago this Christmas. It was the last one that our whole family was together. Since then, a lot has happened and now my family no longer gets together for any holiday.

    Thank you Stephanie and Matt for sharing your Christmas memories with us!

    1. Joy ~ I lost my mom last year and my dad in 1997. Miss them both like crazy. Especially during the holidays. It’s so sad how the dynamics of our traditions change with time. But we get the opportunity to start new ones! I hope you have a WONDERful Christmas!

  9. Matt, thank you for sharing about Emily. One of my best friends’ oldest daughter (she’s 27,) and her name also is Emily. I would LOVE to win this book and give it to Melody (the mom). They are an incredible family. Emily had a couple of teeth pulled this past week, never complained, and since I live a couple of hours away, I made her a card and sent it….she is an absolute delight when she receives cards from me (her mom tells me….!) Our EM is not very verbal but still you just see Jesus in her and I know that the family (and her sis) make alot of sacrifices, but it’s a joy for me to be included in Emily’s life. Blessings~

  10. You bet Joy! This will be our first Christmas away from everyone. My youngest is in Portland, my father is in Baltimore (recently widowed), my oldest will be here in Phoenix while my wife and I go to St. George, Utah to visit my sister. Gonna be a very weird Christmas on this end.

  11. Penny, these authors sound incredible. Of course I LOVE CHRISTMAS and Stephanie’s book sounds great, but wow…Matt’s just gripped me by the heart strings. Thanks for introducing us to such fab authors. Of course, you aren’t too shabby yourself, kiddo! Merry Christmas! Love the Christmas card! Hugs~ Teela

  12. My favorite Christmas memory is of three years ago. That was the last Christmas Mom was fully aware of what was happening. All of us kids spent that Christmas with Mom. Little did we know that shortly after, (just 6 months), Dementia would start robbing her of her mind. Mom still knows us but that is about it. She has no concept of time or dates. She can’t even tell us who called or stopped in to see her on any given day.

    Thanks for sharing your memories. Matt, your three gifts to your wife and two daughters brought tears to my eyes. A neat way to remember Emily. You are a very thoughtful Father and Husband.
    Stephanie, thanks for sharing your memories too!

    1. Judy, oh Judy ….

      I just lost my mother to vascular dementia in June. The stories we could share. I sat with her for the last five weeks of her life. Didn’t know me. Didn’t know I was her son. But in her clearest moments – she bore testimony of Jesus Christ. Her love for Him and His sacrifice. Blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

      1. Matt, as you know Dementia is a terrible disease. I feel bad that our loved ones have had to go through this. It can get pretty depressing at times as I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. My Mom is a Christian and for that I am thankful. Some day Jesus will call her home and she will have a clear mind once again! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and best wishes in the coming new year!

  13. Hi Matt, You had a blessing in Emily. My cousin’s son was 42 in Sep and was dx as a baby with MS. His mind is sharp and he loves music but he is confined to a special wheelchair. His Mom fought for yrs to get him out of nursing homes when he was to big for her or her parents to take care of him. Now he has his own apt, with live in aids and his Mom got him van so they can go to concerts within 100 miles of home. She takes him to all concerts and local fairs that he wants to attend with his aid helping. Everyone loves Alan and he has 2 sisters and 3 neices and 1 nephew who think he is really cool. He has been a blessing to all in the family.

    1. My uncle was diagnosed with MD when he was 13. His parents were told he would not make it to 21. At 21, he was in college and working at a radio station. When he was about 40, my older brother, 3 cousins, and I visited him in Houston… and he was DRIVING in Houston traffic though 2 of the boys had to lift him from his wheelchair into the car. When he was about 46, I and another cousin visited him in Houston. He was still driving only now with a motorized wheelchair, a lift, and a special accelerator/brake because he could no longer move either leg. He will turn 69 this coming year, and he is the oldest person living with MD in the United States. He no longer drives, but he lives in an apartment with round-the-clock assistance, “eats” with a feeding tube through his throat, and literally cannot move a single muscle other than his neck. And what does he do for a living? He counsels people! No kidding! I am constantly in awe of people like this who despite the odds and the pain insist on making a positive difference in our world.

  14. A Christmas Memory

    My husband never has been one to get involved with putting up our Christmas tree, putting lights on it and adding ornaments. That has always been up to me. But there was one Christmas season when we went out into some woods near where my parents lived and we selected and cut off a bare tree branch which had lots of twigs. We took the branch home and my husband wired it with little white lights and then he covered the bulbs with tape and he painted the branch and wiring white. We had a large vase to display the branch in. It was really beautiful and I was very happy that my husband had finally participated in doing some Christmas decorating.

  15. What a touching Christmas story by Matt! I read his book and cried through the whole thing. His story is so inspiring. It’s a great reminder to cherish each day we have with our loved ones.

    I haven’t read Stephanie’s book, but would love to. I’m looking for a Bible study to do in the winter with the ladies. This looks like a great study.

    Thanks for the giveaways, Penny:)

    1. Hi Amanda!
      Matt’s story was is definitely a “must have tissue” one. But I love the way the Lord has given him triumph in the midst of his tragedy. We serve such an awesome God who speaks peace to our hearts in the midst of our storms!

      I’m excited that you’re considering my Ecclesiastes study. What a great way to close out one year and begin another…with our hearts fixed on eternity.

      By the way…I popped over to your site and loved you blog. Following it now. 🙂

  16. The book of Ecclesiastes sounds like a great gift! It’s one of those books that I find hard to comprehend, and would love a chance to win and understand.

    The Christmas story by Matt sounds heartwarming. I had (now deceased) a BIL with Downs syndrome. They seem to have such love and beautiful personalities.

    Thank you for the opportunity for two great giveaways.

    1. Hi Linda!
      You’re SO right about Ecclesiastes! I think it’s been touted as the most pessimistic book of the Bible. But the Lord gives us great wisdom and hope in those 12 ominous chapters and walking through it together gives us depth we might miss in a casual read. Some women are doing it with Sunday School class or a small group. That’s always fun too!

      Looking forward to seeing if you win and if you do go through it, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

  17. matt..i can’t wait to read emily’s story.

    stephanie..would love to participate in this beautiful bible study.

    merry christmas to you and yours

  18. A BIG thank you to everyone who left comments! I enjoy so much about those Christmases that were extra special to all of you. May the Lord bless each of you and may you and your families have a wonderful and Christ-filled Christmas season!

  19. Those ornaments Stephanie described with the names of the Lord on them have given me an idea for an activity for children’s Sunday School.

    Matt’s idea of the birthstone rings had to be God given. Isn’t He wonderful to plant such loving ideas into our heads?

    I am thankful to have gotten to know something about these two writers. Thank you for hosting them, Penny. I previously left a post about a Christmas memory. I would love to win a book by either of these authors. Blessings, jsmithg@hotmail(dot)com

    1. Janice ~ That just thrilled me to the core to know those ornaments are going to be used to sow seeds of faith into children’s lives! How awesome is that!

      Thank you for sharing that and thank you for stopping in an commenting! Don’t you just LOVE how wonderful Penny is! She really has such an amazing heart for God and to minister to others!

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