Saturday, December 31, 2011

up date on winners

 “GrandMaCarolB” 
was the winner of the 





The Winner of The Sounds of Night Grand Prize Giveaway is Doreen
who left a comment at joyeverafter.blogspot.com


books

Friday, December 30, 2011

I love you more than Chocolate by Melanie Milburn


Written originally as a song now in book form.  This rhyming book is just adorable.  If you have a child that needs that extra touch knowing you love them no matter what this is the book.  Also comes with a CD of the author singing the song.

Be sure to check out the web site here

I Love You More Than Chocolate by Melanie Milburn uses the theme of chocolate to acquaint children with the meaning of love.

Milburn, a self-avowed chocoholic, has whipped up a book about a mom's love for her daughter and her love for chocolate that will melt readers' hearts. It's a rhyming book with beautiful illustrations on scrapbooking paper by Cindy Coleman.


A CD of Melanie singing I Love You More Than Chocolate is included in the book.  This easy-to-memorize song is sweet and allows children to follow along with the text, giving them the impression that they are reading the book themselves.

A nightly rhyming game after bedtime reading with her young daughter led Melanie to first produce the song. A year later she had the idea to make it into a fully illustrated children's book. Their "I Love You More" game had only two rules. It had to be something that rhymed and it had to be about something they both loved. One verse included in the book goes like this:

I love you more than the color blue.
I love you more than a day at the zoo.
I love you more . no matter what you do.
I love you more than chocolate!

Melanie has learned much about life and love from her many years working with preschoolers, where she is truly in her element. Kids gravitate toward her big heart, sense of fun, and her music. Many of her songs are inspired by her real life experiences with children in the classroom. No wonder her husband calls her a "kid magnet!"

About the author:
Melanie Milburn is Director of New Horizons Preschool in Durango, Colorado, where she has been teaching for 18 years. She has been writing songs for over 20 years and has produced two CDs for children. She was a top five finalist in the international "Song of the Year, Song and Lyric Writing Competition." Milburn enjoys sharing her songs at family concerts, fundraisers and benefits, as well as participating in story time for preschoolers at local libraries.

A copy of this book was provided by the author and Bostick Communications for the purpose of this review.


books

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind by Linda Rondeau

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind
By Linda Rondeau
I gasped as the gigantic mound stepped from the woods into our path, heads taller than our compact car. My husband swerved and we missed the animal by inches. “Was that a moose?” my husband asked.
I laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“My heroine’s life is changed when she runs into a moose.”
We both giggled over God’s sense of humor.
That we found ourselves on the back roads of Franklin County at four in the morning was in and of itself God’s doing. I hadn’t planned on attending the ACFW Writers Conference in Minneapolis. “If I final in the contest then I’ll go,” I told my husband.
I did final, and my words haunted me.  And so once again God changed my plans to fit into His. In rural upstate New York, flight connections often require a pre-dawn departure, and we had taken the country road to save time.
I shared my moose tale with a writer friend who laughed her prophecy. “That moose was a smile from God. He has plans for this manuscript.”
As time went on, God continued to smile affirmation after affirmation even through a dramatic relocation to Florida. Then, eleven years from the day that I felt God’s call to write professionally, my agent called with the news—a publisher had offered a contract. “It’s for Dawn’s Hope, but the editor wants to change the title to The Other Side of Darkness,” she said.
I did agree the alternate title sounded better and trusted the editor’s choice.
Yet, it wasn’t until later that God revealed His hand had been in the making of the book long before the first words were typed, long before I imagined my character’s accident, long before He sent a moose to confirm He would soon fulfill a promise made to me over a decade ago. 
During a speaking engagement at a local women’s meeting, I shared my journey from call to call, reading a poem I wrote that very day God pulled me from one life to set me on another, one undefined and uncertain. I had obeyed His leading and He immediately gave me a poem, “The Song of Peace.” As I shared the poem with the women’s group, my eyes misted when I read the line, “Praise the Lord when Hope seems foolish…There is light on the other side of darkness.”
Could it be that even then, God was smiling on a book not yet imagined? I believe He did.


Author Bio
Linda Rondeau
Award-winning author, LINDA RONDEAU, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.  Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com.




The Other Side of Darkness
by Linda Rondeau
PUBLISHER: Harbourlight Books
ISBN-10: 161116138X
ISBN-13: 978-1611161380
PRICE: Paperback: $16.99, Kindle: $5.99
Available at:



This article content is provided free of charge by the author through Kathy Carlton Willis Communications.



books

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Simple Gifts by Sharen Pearson

SIMPLE GIFTS
By Sharen Pearson

As a mother of five and now grandmother of seven, I’ve planned my share of birthday events. I am a creative person, so my problem is “going over the top.” My expectations supersede those of the birthday child. So, I have to step back and say, “Whose birthday is it anyway?” And, therein lies the key to a successful birthday party.

I recently assisted with my grandson, Waylon’s party. He was reaching that big-boy age of 5 years. He knew what theme he wanted: Herbie the Love Bug. He wanted a backyard campfire and a cake with Herbie on it. Simple—Herbie, campfire, cake. Got it! My daughter complied. She invited a few families from church that Waylon knew well and was comfortable around. Since entire families were represented, parents were there to help with crowd control. Bowls of chips and dip provided a place to gather around as people arrived. Children scattered to play in the back yard, parents grouped to watch and chat. Easy, huh? Daddy lit a small fire in the campfire ring in the yard. More talk, more easy playing. The cake was a simple giant chocolate chip cookie with a frosting “Herbie.” Waylon thought it was wonderful.

Mommy announced that it was gift-opening time and everyone pulled up lawn chairs and sat in family groups. Waylon sat in the middle of the circle on the grass and guests watched as he opened each gift and thanked the giver. He received many nice gifts, but to everyone’s delight, a small, inexpensive VW bug toy car was his favorite. He opened it, raised it above his head as if it were a trophy and yelled in delight. Waylon slept with his “Herbie;” woke up and greeted it; placed it on the edge of the tub so he could see it. He had the birthday he wanted. Simple party, simple gift, simple fun!

Some suggestions to consider when planning your party:
  •  If your child is old enough to have input, allow it.
  •  For ages 1-5 years, simple is best. Simple decorations, simple food, simple games.
  •  Invite only one party guest per age of the child. Young children are very intimidated by many children of the same age. Remember, “Whose birthday is it?”
  •  If guests include family/friends with older children, add activities especially for them.
  •  Home is the best place for children ages 5 and under. Big party venues are confusing, scary and do not position the “birthday child” as the center of attention as he should be.

Some traps that parents fall into:
  •  Making the party so complicated that you, as the parent, no longer enjoy it. (Been there, done that.)
  •  Allowing young party guests to get close to and grab for gifts as the birthday child is opening them. (Admit it, you’ve seen this haven’t you?)
  •  Spending too much money. (Guilty as charged.)
  •  Preparing food for adults and not age-appropriate to the guests. (The only thing to show off today is your wonderful child)
  •  Engaging in sleepover parties before the age of 9 years. (Children younger than 9 or 10 years often find sleeping at someone else’s home frightening and uncomfortable.)

Sharen Pearson’s Goof & Giggle classes and materials continue to provide a quality Mom/Tot interaction. Widely popular, Goof & Giggle’s child-focused play plans are offered in various Arizona communities. She’s also created a variety of Goof Juice DVDs and filmed episodes of Baby D.I.Y. and written workbooks for BabyFirstTV. Arizona Midday (NBC) tapes monthly segments with Sharen to provide their audience with a variety of original and creative “easy to do” activities for babies and preschoolers. Sharen’s creativity reaches a combined audience over 200 million viewers worldwide. Goof & Giggle classes and products encourage green living, repurposing materials from around the house into affordable objects for play and learning. Learn more at: http://sharenpearson.com/





books

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kathryn the Grape's Colorful Adventure by Kathryn Cloward & Ginny Hornby

If you like color then you'll love this colorful adventure with Kathryn the Grape.  This is a delightful adventure through the rainbow of colors; it is like Magic, Poof and you're on your way to the land of color with Kathryn and you don't even have to leave Kathryn's bedroom to enjoy your adventure.  This was such a magical book and I loved reading it.  Confidence and self-esteem are the bases of this colorful adventure as you read through each color dimension with Kathryn.  I love color so this was just the book for me.  Be sure to visit Kathryn the Grape's web site to download coloring and activity pages and more fun things.

Learn more about this book here

A copy of this book was provided by the author and Bostick Communications for the purpose of this review.


books

Teaser Tuesday ~ The Keeper




Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought I would play for fun! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
If asked, folks would say that Sadie Lapp was solid and practical, on the quiet side, and that she was a fine example of today's youth.  Or if they were felling less generous, they said that Sadie was a girl no one ever had to worry about. 
What they didn't know about Sadie was that she had a deeply romantic side that she tried to keep well hidden.

~taken from p. 19 of The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher



books

Monday, December 26, 2011

Life Lessons from the Help by Poppy Smith


Life Lessons from The Help
Pain Happens in a Broken World
By Poppy Smith

Have you read or seen the movie, THE HELP? If you have, you know it is a story about racism and the treatment of black maids who worked for white people in the South. People’s reactions range from outrage at the humiliation blacks have often received, to charges that it was biased and untrue.

I came out of the movie grieving. I not only felt wretched at the pain racism causes, but also at the hurt and suffering that comes when people mistreat others. Pain Happens in a Broken World. Being cruel to others, whether by actions or words, happens in every culture for many reasons: because individuals think they are superior for some reason due to their skin color, gender, position in society, wealth, or education. Whatever the reasons, they all flow from a sinful heart.


Have you been hurt?

  • Have you known what it is like to be looked down on, dismissed as unimportant, or made to feel unwanted? Have you experienced cruelty of some kind? How did it make you feel?
  • Have you wrestled with anger, wanting to get revenge, or feeling crushed and of no worth? In The Help, one of the poorly treated maids gets her revenge in a startling way. But revenge is God’s prerogative, and not ours to take (Romans 12:19).
  • Your pain might have come from someone you work with, live next to, or go to school with. Its source could be a relative or close family. Even fellow believers hurt others when operating in the flesh and not the Spirit. But no matter where your pain originated, it is something God wants to heal.
  • God Cares About You. Why should He care? Why does He call you to forgive those who have harmed you? Because He loves you and wants the appalling power of bitterness, hatred, and inner rage to stop poisoning your heart and your life.
  • God’s Path to Healing. How can you and I, followers of the Lord Jesus, indwelt by His Mighty and All-powerful Spirit, find freedom from pain? Only by forgiving the one, or many, who caused our pain.


Three necessary principles for dealing with pain:

  • Reject blame and bitterness. It doesn’t move you forward. It chains you to the past.
  • Pray for willingness to forgive. It is a process that often requires time to work through.
  • Forgive the offender. Be willing to release that person from your desire for revenge, or even for an apology. Realize they most likely have moved on and forgotten the incident. Remembering is only hurting you. Let it go.


Remember something else: the Lord is our Healer. He wants you to experience joy, no matter how much pain you have experienced. He wants you to THRIVE in every aspect of your life. And He has provided a way for this to happen! Will you walk in it?

With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) uses colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages women (and men, at times) to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship Lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives.




books

Mailbox Monday ~ Dec. 26, 2011


Join Mailbox Monday meme
December's host is: 
Let them Read Books 
(I will be hosting sometime in 2013 she is that far booked ahead)

books

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wishes 4 U

zwani.com myspace graphic comments

12 Pearls of Christmas ~ Day 12

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us at Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoyed these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you missed a few posts, I hope you'll be able go back through and read them on this blog over the next few days. If you'd like to keep up with Pearl Girls and our new book project, Mother of Pearl, coming this spring, just click this link and sign up for our newsletter (lower left sidebar).

Also, just a reminder that today is the last day for the pearl necklace and earrings giveaway! Enter now by filling out this {form}. The winner will on 1/1 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Jesus -- The Reason For the Season
By: Rachel Hauck

Through the narrow scope of 2000 years, Mary, the mother of Jesus, appears to be one lucky woman. Chosen by God to give birth to His son, the Savior of the world? All right, Mary, way to go.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” Gabriel said.

How many of us would like a declaration like that? Highly favored. The Lord is with you. But Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

The angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Mary’s seems confident and resolved when she responds, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

She’d just been told the Holy Spirit will come upon her, that God’s power will overshadow her, that she’d become with child even though she wasn’t married, and she said, “I’m the Lord’s servant. Let your words be true.”

I find this amazing! A young woman. Ancient Bethlehem. Unwed mother. They stoned women for such things in her day. But Mary believed in God. And submitted to His will. He gave her the Holy Spirit – the same Holy Spirit given to us. If He gave her confidence, He will give us confidence. Even though, like Mary, our situation seems impossible.

Listen to Mary’s song later on in the first chapter of Luke.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me Holy is his name…”

Conceiving a child out of wedlock, by Divine intervention. Not a girl’s every day existence. Yet she had a Yes in her heart to God. She rejoiced. She boldly said, “Generations will remember me!”

How we struggle to trust God with our children. Our finances. Our emotional well-being. We worry. We fret. And wonder why we have no peace.

Christmas is the season where words like joy, peace and love are bantered around like Christmas candy. Let’s not take them as just words, but as truth. Let’s be like Mary and embrace God’s favor on our lives. Boldly declare "He’s done great things for me!”

Out of the grit of our own souls, we can reach His heart, and feel Him reaching for ours. No matter the pain of our past, present or future, God is there for us. He is able. Best of all, He is willing. “My soul glorifies the Lord this Christmas!”


***

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, best selling author who believes God has done great things for her. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and ornery pets. Her next release is Love Lifted Me with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, January 2012. Then in April, look for The Wedding Dress. www.rachelhauck.com.
 

books

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Something to think about

12 Pearls of Christmas ~ Day 11

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
The Panhandler's Breath
By Robin Dance

He slipped in sideways between the closing elevator doors, as if he were late to a meeting; he pressed the "5" without looking. Instead of suit and tie, though, baggy pants and faded navy hung on his tall, slim frame...and his stealth entry stiffened the hairs on the back of my neck.

I had noticed him a few seconds earlier, just after we had parted a sea of clamorous teens. He was smiling, grandfatherly, standing maybe 30 feet away where the electric shuttle picks up.

I had no idea he had been watching us, studying us, predator patiently awaiting his next prey.

The four of us were sealed in a four- by six-foot metal tomb. Tomb--that thought really scampered across my mind. I wondered if he had a knife in his pocket. I wanted to protect my son. Fight or flight pumped adrenaline but there was no where to run.

Extreme and ridiculous, these thoughts - and more - flashed through my mind. The Stranger began speaking.

"Yessir, I see you're a family man with your wife and your son here..." and he nodded in my and my son’s direction.

"...you see I'm homeless and all I've got..." and on queue, he reached into his left pocket and pulled out two old pennies blackened with age. Two cents to his name?! It was all too contrived, too practiced, and I didn't believe a word he was saying.

It was then I smelled it ~ the small space lent itself to that ~ and I doubted my doubt.

His breath.

It wasn't the scent of alcohol. His eyes weren't red, his voice didn't waver; his wizened face matched his graying hair.

His breath was morning's, zoo breath, the pet name I'd given to the scent inhaled when kissing my children awake when they were little.

He needed to brush his teeth. I wondered how long it had been since he brushed his teeth.

The elevator door opened and I handed him my leftover pizza as my son and I brushed past him. My husband handed him a bill and the Stranger thanked and God blessed him.

The elevator door closed behind us. Conflicted, I was relieved.

We got in the car and blurted first reaction--

"I didn't believe a word he said."

"That made me nervous."

"I wonder if he'll really eat the pizza."

In the quiet, we were left to our own thoughts, contemplating the right thing to do. At the end of the day, this is what I decided: It doesn't matter whether or not his story is true; for an old man to resort to begging, he has to be desperate. The money my husband gave him will never be missed. It was a reminder we've been entrusted with much and given much. Materially, yes, but more so spiritually. Loved, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, graced, lavished--every spiritual blessing. E v e r y.

There's a part of me that wishes I would have been brave enough to ask the man his story, made sure he knew he was loved...and bought him a tooth brush.

Later, it occurred to me he could have been an angel. Doesn’t that mean generosity, kindness and hospitality is always the right response? Then it's not about you or the stranger or the circumstance, it's about a simple, God-glorifying response.

Had we entertained an angel unaware? We'll never know.

But it wouldn't be the first time the Breath of Heaven smelled like a zoo.

***
In a decades-old, scandalous affair with her husband, Robin also confesses mad crushes on her three teens. As Southern as sugar-shocked tea, she’s a recovering people pleaser who advocates talking to strangers. A memoirist, Compassion International Blogger, and Maker-upper of words, Robin writes for her own site, PENSIEVE, and also for (in)courage by DaySpring (a subsidiary of Hallmark) and Simple Mom. She loves to get to know readers through their blog comments and on Twitter and Pinterest. www.pensieve.me



books

Friday, December 23, 2011

He Sees You When You're Sleepin' by Dr. Charles W. Page

He Sees You When You’re Sleepin’...
By Dr. Charles W. Page
 
Do you recall trying to sleep on Christmas Eve while waiting for Santa to come to town? The anticipation of Saint Nicolas and all his goodies was just too much—who could sleep? The lyrics of Santa Claus is Coming to Town taunted me. “He sees you when you’re sleeping—he knows when you’re awake…” I tossed and turned trying to fall asleep, fearful I’d miss out on Santa’s visit if he caught me awake. I never doubted Santa’s ability to be aware of my wakefulness.

Unfortunately, as adults, the issues that keep us awake during the Christmas season are more complicated than those we experienced as kids. Financial burdens, strained relationships, difficult decisions, brooding regrets and fretful thoughts race through our minds and hinder our rest.

There is someone who “sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake.” It’s not Santa Claus. The Bible reminds us, God’s eyes never close. Perhaps this truth can tuck us in for the night.  
 
“He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4) 
 
We erroneously think that as we “turn in” that God somehow “turns off” or moves on to do more important things. But God doesn’t wait for us to wake up before He returns to work. God is just as active during our sleep—or sleeplessness. Believers can rest assured knowing God is awake guarding our lives.

What does God do as we slumber? Psalm 127:1-2 reminds us that God gives to those that He loves as they sleep. What does God give? Understanding God’s generous nature, one rendering would be that God gives to the believer whatever is needed at the time. God can give you wisdom and direction with decisions as you “sleep on it” overnight (Psalm 16:7, James 1:5). Maybe there is a financial need. The scriptures are filled with examples of how God provided for the physical needs of those He loved as they rested (I Kings 19:1-8; Exodus 16:1-8).

God’s gifts are good, perfect (James 1:17), eternal (Ephesians 1:3) and purposeful (Galatians 5:22-25). They do not require batteries, warranties and cannot be purchased in stores. But they are available 24/7/365—not limited to one night each year. God’s greatest gift did not arrive under a tree but on a tree (John 3:16). “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

It’s plain to see, God has our back as we sleep. Try this Christmas recipe for rest.  
  1. Repent—in areas where we are aware of our transgressions. “A clean conscience
    makes a soft pillow.”
  2. Release—control of problems you’re facing and give them over to God.
  3. Relate—connect with God through prayer and meditation while in bed.
  4. Rest—allow God to do what you cannot do for yourself as you sleep.
  5. Receive—God’s unmerited forgiveness, grace and blessings while you sleep.
An English proverb reminds us, “As you make your bed so you must lie in it.” The truth of God’s Word helps us face our situations. Although we cannot change the failures of our past, we can rest with a clean conscience based on God’s gift of forgiveness. Our current circumstances may appear overwhelming, but God gives His presence and His guidance in our hour of need. Our future is secure and hopeful when God’s greatest gift—His Son—is kept in view. A life supported by a vibrant, healthy relationship with the Shepherd of Sleep makes the most comfortable mattress. In childlike faith learn to trust Him as you lie down to sleep and remember: “He sees you when you’re sleeping.”


 
Author Bio
Charles W. Page, M.D.
Dr. Charles W. Page is a sleep-deprived surgeon who completed medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Page is currently a rural surgeon and has taken numerous medical mission trips to South America and the Middle East. He and his wife Joanna live in Texas with their five children. He is the author of Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective. You can find more information at surrenderedsleep.com.
 
 



 
Surrendered Sleep
A Biblical Perspective
by Dr. Charles W. Page
 
PUBLISHER: Camino Real Publishers
ISBN-10: 0983138109
ISBN-13: 978-0983138105
PRICE: Paperback: $14.95; Ebook: $10.95
 
Available at:

This article content is provided free of charge by the author through Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. 
 

books

12 Pearls of Christmas ~ Day 10

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Inside Out Christmas
by Debora M. Coty

My veterinarian friend, Dr. Katie, tells the story about the December when a woman brought a very sick black lab into her clinic. The dog was only ten months old, so she was really just a big puppy, but she’d been vomiting incessantly and her worried owner didn’t know what was wrong.

“Why don’t you go on home?” Dr. Katie told the owner. “I’ll need to run tests for about four hours. We’ll give you a call when we’re finished.”

Dr. Katie’s assistant took x-rays and hung them on the light panel for Dr. Katie to examine. Hmm. Something looked a little peculiar. Dr. Katie called her assistant over.

“Is it just me, or does that look like a … a camel to you?” she asked incredulously.

“Matter of fact, it does,” replied the astute assistant. “And look, there’s an angel here, a shepherd there, and down there in the colon, it’s Baby Jesus!”

At that moment the phone rang. It was the dog’s distraught owner. “I can’t believe this! I just got home and glanced at the coffee table where I put my manger scene yesterday. There’s nothing there but an empty stable!”

As I thought about this quite literal technique for internalizing the true meaning of Christmas, it occurred to me that sometimes I have the opposite problem. With all the bustling busyness, my inner joy in celebration of my savior’s birth never really makes it to the outside.

Oh, I have plenty of glittery, festive evidences of the holiday in decorations, baking galore, and gifts under my tree. But those things are for show. They’re merely the pretty wrappings, not the gift itself.

Can people really see the core-deep joy that radiates within me when I think of the true gift that Papa God sent the world in his son, Jesus? Is my immeasurable gratitude for eternal life evident as I dash through this hectic season?

I’m afraid all too often, the answer is no.

I’m just too preoccupied to allow my outside to reflect my inside so that nonbelievers recognize that I rejoice because of the hope that is within me. My joy is obscured by the mounds of clutter. Gratefulness is sucked out of my soul by the vacuum called urgency.

“But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy” (Psalm 68:3, NLT).

This verse has become my prayer this Christmas season – that I would make the time to give priority to rejoicing, being glad in God’s presence, and letting my inner joy show for those who may be silently desperate to know the giver of true joy.

Yep, there’s a better way to internalize the gift of Christmas than the black lab technique. We can lodge the Little Lord Jesus in our hearts rather than our colons.

***
Debora M. Coty is a humorist, inspirational speaker, and award-winning author of twelve books, including Too Blessed to be Stressed, and coming in March, More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre. Debora would love to swap Christmas hugs with you at www.DeboraCoty.com.


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Pearls of Christmas ~ Day 9

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Simple or Sparkle?
by Tracey Eyster

It’s a simple ornament made of thin cheap metal and it looks quite out of place on our CHRISTmas tree. But each year I lovingly and safely nestle it amongst its expensive and sparkly peers, without a care as to how unglamorous it appears.

Many of our CHRISTmas ornaments have a story and an uncanny way of welling up emotion in me, but this certain one causes an intense stir.

You see the ornament is engraved with the name of my grandmother, Sara, and was given to me by my mother, who ordered it from Hospice, after Grandmama’s death. Yes, the months leading up to her death carry memories of a frail and failing grandmama, but that ornament carries my thoughts to sweet CHRISTmas memories of the past.

CHRISTmas Eve dinners in her home, laughing, singing, gathering and celebrating a year filled with blessings as we remembered the birth of our Savior. CHRISTmas mornings, she was always there participating with glee, in our raucous CHRISTmas happiness. Her gifts were always bank envelopes gently tucked into the pine needles of our CHRISTmas tree, fresh cut from the property she grew up on.

All memories of my Grandmama make my heart swell. You see she was my Jesus with skin on. She lived her life full of joy, serving others and approached life selflessly with an attitude of, “What can I do for you?”

Just months before she left us, even as the Alzheimer’s was robbing her mind she shared her love of Jesus with a sweet little old lady friend, who came to know the Lord – a divine appointment.  The very next day that little old lady silently slipped away to meet in person the One Sara introduced her to just the day before.

At the time I wept, realizing that regardless of our own frailties and failings, God can still use those of us who are willing to do His work and are well practiced at hearing His voice...no matter our lack of sparkle in comparison to others.

A simple life lived for Him, a simple ornament in memory of Sara...a simple truth for you to ponder.

***
Tracey Eyster wife, mom, relationship gatherer and Creator/Editor of FamilyLife’s MomLife Today is a media savvy mom making a difference where moms are, on-line. Through speaking, writing and video interviews Tracey is passionate about encouraging, equipping and advising moms on every facet of momlife. Her first book, Be The Mom will be released August 2012. You can connect with Tracey at www.momlifetoday.com, her personal site www.traceyster.com or www.twitter/momblog.com.



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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

8 Ways to beat the Blues at Christmas by Poppy Smith

Eight Ways to Beat the Blues at Christmas
By Poppy Smith
Instead of a houseful of kids and their little ones running around laughing, crying, playing with toys and sneaking treats, this year my husband, Jim, and I will be home alone for Christmas.  My automatic reaction is to feel sad—but I am glad that all of them will be celebrating the coming of Jesus with their in-laws.  After all, we are usually the ones who get that privilege!
But—it’s easy to be sucked down into a “poor me” mindset and play the blues, unless we decide to change our perspective.  So here are eight simple ways to help you enjoy the holidays whether you’re physically or emotionally alone. Why not join me and let’s beat those blues which aren’t where God wants us at this special time of the year—or at any time!
  • Sing. Play music. Listen to the words and join in praising God. Singing is a guaranteed mood lifter and perspective changer. “Sing for joy to God our strength” Ps.81:1.
  • Smile. Smile at little children. Their harried moms. The older shoppers who are trying to find just the right present. Make smiling your chosen expression (not through gritted teeth, however!). It will make you feel so much better and maybe lift up another lonely soul.
  • Invite. Is there someone you haven’t had time for this past year? Could you suggest meeting for coffee, lunch, or even over to your home? Perfection isn’t needed—only a loving heart that looks beyond it’s own world.
  • Rest. Remember all those too early mornings when you longed to just stay in bed? Now’s your chance. Take time to read a book of the Bible or several psalms. Choose a special book, magazine, or television program. Make or buy some once in a year yummy treats and ENJOY this gift of time!
  • Give gifts to others. Go online and look for simple Christmas recipes. Make peppermint candy or a cranberry loaf and go drop it off at a homeless shelter or place that serves those without a home. Change your perspective from looking inward to looking outward—as God our Savior did when He gave us the most amazing gift of love any one can receive.
  • Write a list of your blessings. Think back over this past year. Even if it has been one of the most difficult you’ve experienced, ask God’s Spirit to show you where He was present, loving and supporting and guiding you through. He will show you something and lift your heart.
  • Go to a Christmas Eve Service. Even if you’re by yourself, don’t miss the presence of God amidst the beauty of this celebration. Let your senses feast on the beauty, your ears delight in the music, your heart be moved to new heights of gratitude and love.
  • Pray about your dreams for 2012. What do you want to see happen in the coming year? Have you thought about changes you want to make? New paths to walk? Write out what comes to mind when you think of taking better care of yourself physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. (See my video: Take Care of Yourself, …….. or check my website on the media clips page).
May your “Home Alone” Christmas fill you with joy and a fresh awareness that Christ is with you, whether you’re surrounded by people or peacefully alone.


Author Bio

With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) uses colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages women (and men, at times) to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship Lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives. 
Sign up for Poppy's THRIVE newsletter at:


This article content is provided free of charge by the author through Kathy Carlton Willis Communications.



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12 Pearls of Christmas ~ Day 8

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Enjoy the Ride!
Susan May Warren

We sit poised on the top of a cliff, a near drop off before us, that falls to a rushing river. In the middle, a bridge of snow and ice hints at our destination. My husband guns the snowmobile engine. “Ready?”

Ready? For a face plant into a tree, maybe reconstructive surgery? To feel my stomach ripped from my body as we plummet down the mountain? Let’s do it!

We live on five acres of woods in northern Minnesota that butts up to a national forest. Hence, our backyard is about a hundred thousand acres. Aside from harboring deer, lynx, fox, cougar and bear, it also makes excellent snowmobile terrain. And not long ago, Mrs. Claus gave her Santa a snowmobile for two.

I love snowmobiling. Flying over the snow, catching air over drifts. I love to drive, to be at the helm of the beast as I weave around trees and over hill and dale, my husband sitting behind me. I also love riding behind my husband as he drives, feeling those powerful arms as he’s muscling the snowmobile into the wilds. We follow unknown trails, driven by a Magellan spirit, hoping that we have enough gas to get us back to civilization. I love hanging on, simply trusting him, knowing that wherever he’s taking me, he’s going first.

But there are times, when I see where he’s taking me, and I just have to bury my head in his back. Like straight down a cliff.

However, my heart cheers, despite the terror as we gun it down the hill, over the river, up the opposite side. And, if we hadn’t let ourselves go, we would have never discovered the beauty of a winter river, a hidden jewel buried deep in the forest. Nor the exhilaration of facing the challenge together.

Further on, we find an enchanted forest of towering white pine. Catch a view of Lake Superior, discover an old cabin in the woods.

It occurs to me that snowmobiling is much like my spiritual life. Occasionally, I drive, and it’s me setting our course, weaving through the trees, getting us hopelessly lost. But when God takes the “wheel” and I hang on, trusting Him for the speed and destination, I see the scenery. I trust him to keep me safe. I trust him to bring me home, where there is an eternal supply of hot chocolate.

As Christmas season becomes more hectic, what if I let God drive?  Maybe everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and maybe I don’t have to control every tradition, every holiday nuance. What if I just held on for the ride?

I’ll bet I’ll still get there, and I might even enjoy the scenery along the way.

How have you let go, and “enjoyed” the scenery of this hectic, exhilarating Christmas season?

Merry Christmas!

***
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of thirty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press.  A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.  A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.  She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday ~ A Christmas Journey Home




Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought I would play for fun! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The work he and the others had found was backbreaking at times and had few comforts or perks, but he was grateful for any labor that would pay him and enable him to provide for his family.


~taken from p. 145 of A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias


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12 Pearls of Christmas ~ Day 7

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Family Traditions: A Glimpse into Christmas Future
by Tricia Goyer

Have you ever thought about family traditions? As I helped my 1-year-old place ornaments on the Christmas tree this year I imagined her doing the same thing with her children—and maybe even grandchildren—one day. Traditions are beliefs and customs handed down through generations. By sharing meaningful moments with your kids you're sending yourself into the future. How amazing is that?

Sharing family traditions cause us to slow down from the busy, adult world for a while. We ignore the laundry to set out the nativity set with our kids. We set aside time in our schedules to drive around and look at Christmas lights.

Holiday traditions aren't only fun, they also help strength family bonds. Through traditions kids trust in the security of family unit. They think, “This is our family and this is what I do.” Of course, the most important thing to share isn't just what we do ... but why. Why do we put out a nativity? To remind us the real meaning of the season—Jesus coming to earth. What do the Christmas lights represent displayed on homes and on trees? They represent the Light of the World, Jesus.

Using traditions to bond our families and share our faith isn't new. I love these two Scriptures that talk about that very thing.

Exodus 12:25 says, “When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.”

Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.”

What are you're traditions? Here are a few of ours:

Baking a Birthday cake for Jesus

Buying a new ornament every year for each child

Acting out the Christmas story (with props!)

Praying together before opening presents

What are your traditions? Write a list and appreciate them in a new way this year. Then ask, “If I could add one new tradition this holiday season, what would it be?” I'd love to hear what you choose! It also makes me smile to think of your children's grandchildren doing the same.

***
Tricia Goyer is a CBA best-selling author and the winner of two American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Awards (Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights). She co-wrote 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and contributed to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Also a noted marriage and parenting writer, she lives with her husband and children in Arkansas. www.triciagoyer.com




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