Friday, December 4, 2020

 Spotlight Blog Interview 2020

    Another year has slipped by and what a year it has been! I will forgo commenting on the COVID pandemic and political turmoil except to say that I have had my share of the disappointments and anxieties of this past year and am striving to keep my focus on what's most important, especially in this Advent Season: faith: family, and friends. While neglecting my blog, I have been working on some writing projects. Most recently, I was asked by my local writers' group, Capital Christian Writers Fellowship (CCWF) to participate in their "Author Spotlight" interview for their members' blog, and I thought I would share this "getting to know me" interview here with you.

What type of writing do you do? (Books, blogging, articles, genre, audience, etc.) And are you traditionally published or self/indie published?

My first published writings were local travel articles called “Backyard Getaways” for the former Journal newspaper (now The Examiner), which had a wide distribution in the DC suburbs. It was exciting to have a by-line and be paid for my writing, as well as for my photos. I also wrote the Chapter on Oxford for Rick Steves’ England guidebook (Avalon Travel 2006) and “Narnia and the North!” an article on C.S. Lewis and Northern Ireland, published in WORLD magazine (May 2008) and in Silver Leaves, a Tolkien periodical (Fall 2008). Because travel articles often focus on historical homes and sites, they made a logical transition to my true passion: historical romance. My first foray was Inklings, first edition published by Xulon Press (2002), a historical romance set in the Oxford of the writers known as the Inklings, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The success of this early print-on-demand novel eventually led to The Oxford Chronicles, a three-book contract with Harvest House Publishers: Inklings, Book One of The Oxford Chronicles, the original Inklings plus the sequel Intentions (2004), Expectations (2005), and Evasions, (2006). Because of my association with Lewis scholars and authors, Harvest House included my essay “A Glimpse of Heaven” in The Lion and the Land of Narnia (2008). Inspired by Debra White Smith’s contemporary adaptations of Jane Austen novels, I also wrote the romantic suspense novel Jillian Dare, a modern retelling of Jane Eyre (Revell, Baker House Publishers, 2009). I then embarked on an academic career, teaching English Literature as an adjunct professor, and regrettably have not been published in the last decade. I am on a search for an indie publisher for my most recently completed historical novel on Tolkien and am considering self-publishing in e-book format my now out-of-print books.

 

What inspired you to begin writing?

I have always been an avid reader. My parents encouraged that passion by providing a home full of books and frequent trips to the library. Since I was a child, I’ve had an active imagination, and I began writing romance stories in junior high, which I passed around to my friends. My 7th grade English teacher asked to read them and encouraged me in my writing, as did other teachers along the way.  My name “Melanie” is from the Greek, meaning “dark” or “ink,” and so I thought I was destined to be a writer. I was a high school yearbook editor and later an English major at UVA. I taught high school English before staying home to raise my nine children, and during those years, my writing consisted only of occasional poems, laments in my prayer journal, and our annual Christmas letter. It wasn’t until my youngest was entering kindergarten that God miraculously opened the door for me to attend my first “Oxbridge” conference sponsored by the C. S. Lewis Foundation and clearly spoke to me that the season had finally come for me to write. 

Writing Life

-          How often do you write? How do you find time to write?
Do you schedule the time or write when the Spirit moves you?

How often and when I write has depended on my life circumstances. When I began writing for publication, my children were still young so I couldn’t write until after I had put them to bed. While I was doing mundane tasks like folding laundry, my mind was in Oxford, creating scenes. When I went for my daily walk, I would imagine the conversations my characters were having. Then as soon as the children were in bed, I would sit down at the computer and write up the scenes I had envisioned during the day. When I am teaching, I honestly find very little time to write. But during the summers or semesters when I do not have a class, my mornings--- after my quiet time and coffee--- have become the most productive time to write, now that I’m an empty-nester. It takes discipline, but when I’m working on a project, I have to set apart the time for it and not allow myself to be distracted by going on-line or looking at my phone until I break for lunch. I’ve also found soothing back-ground music like classical or orchestrated worship music helps me concentrate.

-          Are you a pantser or an outliner?

Probably both. I start with a general outline of the plot or chronology of the narrative, but once I place my characters in a scene, they may surprise me.

What are your favorite resources for writers and why?

 I’ve been reading Writer’s Digest magazine for years. It always has inspiring and informative articles. Although I’m not a fan of horror and have never read a Stephen King novel, I do highly recommend his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft for practical tips from a master craftsman.

Using the Expertise of Others

-          When do you bring in outside help? Beta readers? 

-          Do you have an agent and how did you find one?
If you don’t use an agent, where do you find publishing opportunities?

Once I’ve finished the first draft of a manuscript, I invite Beta readers to give me feedback as I revise. Through some providential connections, I got the contract with Harvest House for The Oxford Chronicles on my own.  I’ve had two agents, but a complicated history with them. One agent sold Jillian Dare to Revell for me. The other really helped me with extensive revisions of my Tolkien novel, but was unable to sell it to a Christian publisher. Regrettably, she was unwilling to look for an Indie publisher, so I’ve been sending out my own queries and am currently waiting and hoping and praying for the right publisher to respond.

About You, the Writer

-          Who are your favorite authors and why? [or] What are you reading now?

I admire many authors but would list writers of classics among my favorites: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Charlotte Brontë. My favorite book is probably Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, which I’ve read several times, even aloud (in an abridged version) to my girls. My favorite 20th century writers are C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Daphne du Maurier. I admire the style and poignancy of Suite Française, a novel about the German occupation in France by Irène Némirovsky, who tragically died in a concentration camp before she could finish it.  My favorite contemporary Christian writer is Bodie Thoene; I couldn’t put down her historical romance series and she has been incredibly generous in encouraging me and other writers.  I greatly admire (and honestly, envy) how Patti Callahan Henry was able to capture convincingly the voice and intelligence of Joy Davidman Lewis in Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I belong to four book clubs and have way too many books on my reading list, but two book club favorites that come to mind are Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. I really enjoyed the entire Poldark historical series set in Cornwall by Winston Graham.  For creative non-fiction, I found fascinating Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman: A tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, and I recommend anything by Laura Hillenbrand, Candace Millard, and Erik Larson. I am currently reading Lisa Wingate’s When We Were Yours. Last month, I read her newest novel, The Book of Lost Friends and loved it. I think she’s a remarkable writer, who tackles difficult and complex historical stories and issues with compassion and wisdom while conveying each unique voice of her diverse cast of characters.  An inspirational author, she’s been blessed to be published by secular publishers and has had tremendous and well-deserved best-selling success.

         What do you find most challenging about writing? What is your writing dream?

Like many writers, I find it most challenging to write consistently and not to become discouraged or question my abilities. I am something of a dinosaur and often find all the current marketing, technology, social media and self-promotion demands to be overwhelming. Also, like many of my writing friends, I’m an introvert and would just like to be left alone to write.  I imagine my “writing dream” would be to have a devoted editor and publisher, who would nurture and encourage me, pay me generous advances, and promote and market me to best-selling status while I happily write away in an oceanfront beach house ;)

-          What are you working on now?

I most recently completed a new historical novel called Dancing in Hemlock: The Love Story of Edith and J.R.R. Tolkien, and am in the terrible wilderness of seeking a publisher and trying not to get discouraged by rejection letters. Meanwhile, my kids have me working on my memoirs through a program called Story Worth which sends questions or writing prompts to elicit memories and stories. For fun, I’ve begin working on a traditional Agatha Christie-style murder mystery set on the English country estate of one of my characters from The Oxford Chronicles. I love watching British murder mysteries, but honestly don’t know if I’m clever enough to pull one off.

-          What would you most like to share with other Christian writers?

              Organizations like CCWF are very important to give us encouragement and practical knowledge in what often feels like a very solitary calling. When I began my first novel, nearly 20 years ago, I attended a novel writing seminar hosted by then Capital Christian Writers and taught by James Scott Bell. He said something like, “Everyone thinks they have a novel in them or wants to write a novel, or even better, to have written a novel and be on a best-selling book tour, but few are willing to sit down and actually write.”  His challenge to be disciplined to sit down and write whether I “feel” like it or not has really stuck with me. Similarly, Jodi Picoult once said, “You can’t edit a blank page.”  Writers must write, not just think about writing. We can always revise once we have something written on the page. We also must read widely so that we can learn to write well and improve our craft.   I think the challenge for us as Christian writers is not only to write, but to write well, and that takes hard work and constant revision.  We also really need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that we are using our writing gift for the Glory of God and to bring others to know Him. Our faith can be subtly woven into our writing. In an essay called “Christian Apologetics,” C. S. Lewis wrote: “What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects---with their Christianity latent.” Lewis’s own entree to Christianity was through reading and literature. In a letter referring to his science fiction novel Out of the Silent Planet, Lewis observed, “Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under cover of romance without their knowing it.” I think as Christian writers we are called to write well and to weave our faith into every genre in a winsome, creative manner.

BIO

Melanie Jeschke is the author of The Oxford Chronicles, a historical romance series set in the Oxford of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, (Inklings, Intentions, Expectations, Evasions) and Jillian Dare a retelling of Jane Eyre.  An honors’ graduate of UVA with a MA in English Literature from GMU, she is currently an adjunct professor of English. Melanie has studied at Oxford University and has traveled extensively in the UK where she sets her stories. Melanie lives in beautiful Belmont Bay with her husband Bill Jeschke, senior pastor of The King’s Chapel, and has nine children and a plethora of grandchildren.

www.melaniejeschke.com  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Melanie-Jeschke/40516263050

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ending the Season of Silence


 If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.”

                                                                        ~Author David Binn

           

            Once again, an embarrassing amount of time has passed between my blog posts. In the months that followed since I last posted, I dealt with my father’s rapid decline and passing on to Glory on May 29th 2018, almost exactly one year after my mother. In the fall of 2018, I had a strenuous and intense teaching load: two different literature courses at two different colleges.  The Western Literature course I taught at Patrick Henry College, a small Christian college in Purcellville, VA, was particularly challenging in terms of preparation, but the Intro to Lit class I taught at Northern VA Community College was challenging in terms of dealing with students who flagrantly plagiarized. I have not been sorry to stay home this past spring and fall and possibly to be “retired” from teaching. As much as I have loved my students and being able to share my passion for literature, I have been very grateful for time at last to devote to writing.  In May I finally finished the manuscript of the novel about Edith and JRR Tolkien that I’ve been working on in fits and starts for the past five years, and am pleased to announce that in September, I signed with a new agent. God willing, we will soon find a publisher, and this book, long in gestation, will at last be brought to life in print. While I have learned many things in my season of silence, I am hopeful this new season of my life will enable me to incorporate those lessons learned in my writing.  Thank you for being a reader and for your interest and encouragement along the way. I’m deeply grateful and look forward to sharing more of my writing with you in the months ahead.

           

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Chipping Away at the Proverbial Writer's Block


     Evidently, I have not written a real blog post since last year about this time—despite my optimistic declaration then that I was ending my “season of silence” and beginning a season of stories. I began last year in high hopes and actually did work on my novel on and off again. But I was once again plagued with unexpected interruptions: an emergency appendectomy, total knee replacement surgery, and the passing of my dear mother. I got back on track last fall, only to be handed my ideal course, British Lit, in mid-October. After an intense academic quarter, I had the busyness of the holidays. Subsequently, my story has lain dormant for over three months. I am currently not teaching, and despite caring for my aged father and all kinds of projects crying out for attention, I really have run out of valid excuses now not to write.

     So here I am ready to write—but frankly stuck. I made the mistake of abandoning my story, not only in the middle of a chapter, but in the middle of a paragraph. I honestly don’t remember where I was planning to go with that particular scene and, consequently, I’ve been avoiding it. I recalled C.S. Lewis wrote that one could walk away from writing nonfiction and easily pick it back up from where one had left off, but if one walked away from writing fiction, the ideas would scurry off the page and be hard to recover. My recollection is not quite precise in the words Lewis used, but the idea is there. Here’s what Lewis actually wrote in Book III of English Literature in the Sixteenth Century:            
"Returning to work on an interrupted story is not like returning to work on a scholarly article. Facts, however long the scholar has left them untouched in his notebook, will prove the same conclusions; he has only to start the engine running again. But the story is an organism: it goes on surreptitiously growing or decaying while your back is turned. If it decays, the resumption of work is like trying to coax back to life an extinguished fire, or recapture the confidence of a shy animal which you had only partially tamed at your last visit."

     I find some consolation that the late great wordsmith, C.S. Lewis, also had difficulty returning to a story left alone too long. I wish I knew what his remedy had been. The usual prescription to overcoming writer’s block is simply to sit down and start writing—anythingto get the creative juices flowing: hence this blog post. Here’s hoping I will also be able to “coax back to life the extinguished fire” of inspiration and my abandoned story will soon spark back to life.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Greetings 2017




    


     
                                                                                                                                                                  December 2017
                                                           

     Greetings from the Jeschke clan! We send our warmest wishes for a joyous Christmas season and a blessed New Year! We had hoped for a calmer year, but 2017 brought its share of challenges & blessings. Some of our biggest challenges/sorrows: both my son Mark & I (Melanie) had to undergo appendectomies (with the same surgeon but in different months); I also endured artificial knee replacement the end of May; and during my hospitalization, my dear mother Betty, who had suffered from Alzheimer’s, entered hospice care. She peacefully went to Glory on June 1, with her devoted husband of 68 years Earl by her side, holding her hand.  Among her last words were a recitation of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus!” Her older sister Margie followed her 6 weeks later. Earl has moved to an assisted living facility nearby us; at nearly 93, he is sadly declining and in need of frequent care. We were also sorry to have Scott & Eliza move away to LA in May, but are excited to see how God will use Scott’s talents in the film industry there. Our biggest blessings: welcoming grandson Mark Devereux, Jr. (Mark & Beth’s 2nd), on June 11; and the weddings of our two youngest: Brendan to Annie Luther on August 12 and Kevin to Kirsten Mendelsohn on Dec. 2. Right before Brendan’s wedding, he was able to join me in Oxford for the triennial C.S. Lewis Oxbridge conference, where I conducted “Inklings” walking tours on my new knee. Brendan is now serving the youth at The King’s Chapel (TKC) fulltime. Kevin graduated this month from the Prince William Police Academy, and we are so proud to have a police officer in the family. We are now (at last:) officially empty-nesters!!! Raising these nine wonderful children has been our greatest joy, and we are so blessed that they are all following the Lord and are involved in ministry. Bill is especially glad to have Brendan and Mark serving alongside him at TKC, sharing the burdens and blessings of our wonderful church family.

     We are grateful for our times together with family and friends, and look forward to hearing from you, dear ones, over the holidays. May the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Lord, be born anew in our hearts today! Merry Christmas! God bless us, every one!

              Many blessings,

                                                 Melanie, Bill, & the Jeschke clan                              


Short summary of 2017:  Bill: stays endlessly busy working for the church, caring for the family-- especially for his father-in-law-- coaching soccer (Chantilly H.S) & singing. Melanie: on hiatus from teaching last spring, worked sporadically in between surgeries on a novel; enjoyed teaching a Brit Lit course at Northern VA Community College, NOVA-Manassas this fall. Ministry: Bill, Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel (TKC); Melanie, mentor mom for MOMS (Moms on a Mission, formerly MOPS). Highlights: long walks to the harbor & on the golf course here at beautiful Belmont Bay; going together to an Inklings Fellowship conference in Asheville, NC in April; Melanie attending Oxbridge w/ Brendan in July; vacationing with the fam on Topsail Island in Aug; marrying off our two youngest to wonderful, godly women; enjoying our ever-growing family

Monday, February 6, 2017

My Season of Silence


 
Melanie, in a previous season, sitting at C.S. Lewis's desk at the Kilns

I have been off- line, off the grid, off the radar, and off my game for well over a year now. Here’s why.

     I’m a perfectionist and can edit myself to death, but this time I will try writing in a stream of consciousness style.  In any case, the point is to be writing, which I haven’t done in a very long time. In fact, except for my annual Christmas letter, I have not “put pen to paper” or more aptly “fingers to keyboard” in more than a year.  Hence my blog title. My goal this month is to begin working again on my long-neglected novel about Tolkien, but this blog will have to be my kick-starter. Frankly, my season of silence has done a psychological number on my head and my confidence: I sometimes wonder if I still can write at all. I need actually to write something—anything—so that I feel I can. I expect this post will be longer than usual—just because I have so much explaining to do to myself and my readers. So if you care, please read on…

     The season of silence began well before I wrote my last official blog post in the fall of 2015. In fact, my Tolkien novel has been neglected since August 2015 when I went back to teaching my fall college classes. The reasons are many but mainly the absolute lack of time. My life has been taken over by duty and necessity. I remember a friend saying to me at the funeral of her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, that she felt like she had fallen into a black hole for the previous several years.  I too feel like I have fallen into a black hole over the past five years as we began the process of moving from our beloved Oakton home where we raised our nine children, to our “interim” home in Manassas where we could care for my parents, to finally our new down-sized home along the Occoquan River where we hope to age in place ourselves.   The black hole feeling can mainly be attributed to caring for my parents (my mom has Alzheimer’s). They are now in assisted living and my mom in the memory care unit, but we are still dealing with sorting through and passing along all their stuff—68 years-worth—as well as our own. If we include their moves with ours, we’ve sold four houses and moved four times in four years.  We are just beginning to emerge from the black hole.

     My parents lived with my husband and me and our two then college-aged sons for two and a half years in our “interim” Manassas home. I believe firmly that God called us to care for them, and I do not regret our decision, but none of it has been easy. Their demands were constant and draining and I had little time to call my own. When my mom’s Alzheimer’s progressed to the point where I could no longer care for her, we made the difficult decision to move them to a lovely assisted-living home close to our church. Those of you who have elderly parents know that even if they are in a good assisted-living facility, your care-taking is hardly over, and you can still be called nearly daily for various demands: doctors' visits, medical needs and decisions, running errands, etc. But at least I no longer had the constant minute by minute demands of daily care to meet. I naively thought that I would perhaps have more time to visit with friends again (my socializing had all but disappeared) and maybe even finally get back to writing. However, God had another plan in mind.

     In the fall of 2015, I had a fairly strenuous class schedule at NOVA community college with three composition classes on my plate.  I then received a “Macedonian call” to take on the 11th grade American Literature classes for Trinity Christian School in Fairfax because the young man who had been the teacher shocked them by quitting after the first quarter. I really, really didn’t want to return to high school teaching and I really, really didn’t want to give up my flexible schedule for a full-time job on top of my college teaching. Such a job had not been on my radar at all and yet it’s timing was very interesting. Since I no longer had the daily care of my parents to contend with, I technically could accept. Plus with my parents no longer contributing to the mortgage of a home we had bought large enough to accommodate them and all their belongings, my husband was earnestly seeking the Lord for how we were going to financially make it. He prayed for provision and this job looked like the answer to that prayer. The school needed a teacher who could step in mid-semester and we needed the money. After arguing with the Lord for a while, I prayerfully, albeit reluctantly, accepted the job. The plan was for me to finish out the fall semester at NOVA and come in two to three days a week to Trinity to teach their American Lit classes. Second semester, I taught a weekly literature class for NOVA and came on full time for Trinity. This was one of the most physically and mentally exhausting semesters of my life. I can completely sympathize with all my friends who have long commutes into work in the D.C. area.  I rose at 5:15 every morning and did not get back home until 5:15 or 5:30 every night. Anyone, who is a high school, and especially English, teacher knows how a teacher cannot leave their work at school. Each night I still had to plan lessons, grade papers, and often try to cook dinner and do household chores for my family, then fall into bed, and start the whole routine over the next day. Literally the rat-race. The Trinity students and staff are wonderful, but the demands of the job were overwhelming to me. For the first time, I felt my age—definitely too old to be standing out in all kinds of bad weather for 45 minutes every day directing traffic for carpool duty! I had no time for myself and fell deeper into the black hole. In fact, I fell completely off the social media/ writing grid.

     The blessing of the job—besides increasing my empathy for all my friends and acquaintances who are caught up in the rat-race—was that the added income enabled us to not only pay our mortgage, but also pay off many debts and put aside enough to begin needed updates so that we could sell our Manassas house. We had earnestly sought the Lord at the turn of the New Year 2016 and believed He had called us to sell the house and move by the summer or “as soon as we could.” We really enjoyed our Manassas home and neighborhood (and the bonus of a hot tub:) but knew we didn’t need all that space for ourselves. Our sons had graduated college by then and were soon to be married and on their own. After going through all we had with my parents, we were determined to down-size and get rid of most of our “stuff” while we still could. We did not want to subject our children to having to do it for us. As soon as I stopped teaching in May, we began the “Great Purge.” We had the house on the market by mid-August and had a contract on it within the first week. We had spent the spring and summer looking for just the right place for us and, by God’s grace, found a lovely condo in a waterfront community, not far from our church. Originally, I had not even considered a condo, but over time this proved to be the best option for us. With more and more purging and exhaustion, we moved by mid-October. Not much fits in a two- bedroom condo with little storage (and our youngest son is still with us until his wedding), so the purging and unpacking continues. We recently moved all the random boxes—of files and photos and memorabilia from years and years of my parents and us—out of storage, and now our condo looks like we just moved in again. So all that sorting still faces us, but bit by bit we will get there!

     Meanwhile, the literature class I was supposed to teach this semester at the college was given to a full-time faculty member who didn’t have enough students enrolled in their class. I was disappointed at first but acknowledge the Lord directing my paths. I have been praying about having the time to return to my writing, and this unexpected change seems to be the answer to the prayer.

     In the time I was off the grid, I discovered to my consternation that my e-book publisher had taken the four books of The Oxford Chronicles down off Amazon without any communication that I can find.  It’s a long story, but it turns out I was not the only author involved. After several years of disputing about unpaid royalties and breach of contract with this publisher, my agent wrote a letter declaring the return of the publishing rights of all her authors. The sad thing to me is that I worked very hard revising and editing the books for the Kindle version and, of course, those files were not returned. Now I have to start all over again: recovering the revised manuscripts and either finding a new e-publisher or trying “Indie” publishing on my own—all rather daunting.

     I also discovered that while I was off the grid, my web-site had been taken down. The renewal notice had been sent to a defunct email address and I wasn’t aware of any issues.  Thankfully, I was easily able to recover and rectify that and it’s now back up and running. Finally, many of my blog posts, which had only been partially posted and then linked to the e-publisher’s blog post had been taken down by the said publisher. These I still have to restore and this offering is the beginning of that process.

     To kick-start myself, I recently attended a conference sponsored by my local Christian writers’ group. Frankly, I came away more discouraged than inspired. The publishing industry continues to rapidly change, and keeping up with all these changes—marketing, on-line publishing, social media, etc. — is overwhelming enough, and we’re not even talking about the craft of writing. Being so long from actual writing has left me full of self-doubt as I said at the beginning of this post. However, when I came home from the conference, I received a serendipitous boost. A long-time reader, or fan if you will, had posted on my Facebook page a picture of my novel Expectations and wrote: “One of my favorite things - re-reading parts of your favorite books and crying in all the same places (for several chapters)... LOVE Melanie Morey Jeschke and her Oxford Chronicles (EXPECTATIONS) and the wonderful world she created!” Needless to say, this reader’s message encouraged me greatly just when I needed it most. Writers need readers, and if you have taken the time to read all of this “lament,” I am grateful. Thank you, dear readers, for all your encouragement, support, and prayers over the years.

     So that is the sorry saga of my season of silence. I hope and pray the silence will now be broken, and I can be disciplined to write faithfully. With God’s help and grace, I hope this new season will be my season of stories.


Christmas Greetings 2016


                                             
                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                              December 2016

Dear Friends and Family:                                                           

     Greetings from the Jeschke clan! We send our warmest wishes for a joyous Christmas season and a blessed New Year! 2016 brought its share of blessings and challenges. Our greatest blessings this year were celebrating 40 (!) years of marriage and welcoming three new grandchildren: giving us 9 adult children, and 9 granddaughters & 9 grandsons. The tie will break in June when we expect the arrival of grandson #10.  Another great blessing this year was the graduation of “our baby” from Christopher Newport University. We can now proudly claim that all nine Jeschke children have graduated from college!  We are thrilled to announce his recent engagement to his college sweetheart. Our clan continues to grow, but we have taken the bold step of drastically down-sizing.  After six exhausting months of purging all the “stuff” of two households (ours and my parents’), selling our Manassas house, and moving, we are slowly unpacking and settling into a condo in a waterfront community along the Occoquan River. Our drive to our church The King’s Chapel is actually a bit shorter (and much more scenic), and the view of the river from our large windows and balcony is serenely beautiful. We live next to a defunct golf course with access to numerous trails along the river and bay and can take a short walk down to a lovely marina and a national wildlife preserve.  After the holidays, we look forward to getting beyond the business of moving and begin actually living here in this spectacular setting.  

       May the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Lord, be born anew in our hearts today!

     Merry Christmas! God bless us, every one!

              Many blessings, 

                                        Melanie Jeschke