Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another Year is Dawning

As we close out one year and welcome a new one, our thoughts and emotions can be as varied as the ways people choose to ring in the new year.

Personally, I'm glad to send 2008 packing! Since this was the year that 1) my FIL was moved into an Alzheimer's facility, 2) my mother died (in the middle of Hurricane Ike, which caused a 10-day delay in her burial), and 3) I spent the last 2 months of the year dealing with a broken foot and learning how advanced my osteoporosis already is -- I am ready to move on to 2009.

Of course, economic uncertainty coupled with a probable layoff at my man's company, as well as the less-than-encouraging political horizon, doesn't make me too ecstatic about the coming year, either!

But then I think of what the year has the possibility of being in spiritual terms. And as Habakkuk says,

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

There aren't too many hymns that focus specifically on New Year's, but you only need one when it's as good as this one.

In January, 1874 Frances Ridley Havergal sent her friends a New Year's greeting with a beautiful prayer of dedication she had written. She was known all over England as "the consecration poet." She was completely committed to serving God with her talents and abilities. She was "an accomplished pianist and vocalist, proficient in seven languages, possessing a keen mind (having memorized Psalms, Isaiah, the Minor Prophets, and the entire New Testament)."

Source: Amazing Grace: 365 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, 2002.

This tiny church sings this beautiful song whose melody is the same as The Church's One Foundation.


Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.

WORDS: Frances R. Havergal
MUSIC: Samuel S. Wesley

May this be the prayer of all of us as we welcome 2009. Happy New Year!


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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm TRYING to See What You're Saying! - Take #48

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Explain this to me. Yesterday after waiting forever, YouTube told me UPLOAD FAILED. This morning, I went on my account on YouTube and it said I had one video, and there it was! So hopefully everyone can see it now, if I haven't run you off!

Okay, I'm taking the plunge. Sort of.

I'm neither as witty or as inspirational as some of the videos I've seen. But as the common phrase goes, it is what it is.

And I guess what it is, is sort of a Public Service Announcement. If I can get the video to post. Blogger isn't cooperating with the video my camera made, so I'm trying another route, but I'm gonna have to publish to see if it works. If it shows up and disappears, I'll be back. I hope.

Well, that didn't work to load it directly, so click here and be patient, and you should be able to see it.

[UPDATE: Unless you have a really slow connection, like dial-up, it should only take about a minute and a half or so to download. I'm not sure why some people can see it and some can't. I even tried doing it with YouTube and didn't have any success. Sigh.]


And what I said at the end about it being a blast? That quickly diminshed as I spent the last hour and a half trying to get the silly thing on my blog!

Wednesday - Okay, now it's back to being a little bit of a blast. . . .!

Check out all the other videos at 2nd Cup of Coffee.


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Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog Book Tour with Giveaways!

Just in time for New Year's resolutions goal-setting, I have a unique book to tell you about. The clever title, Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, grabbed my attention and I knew I needed to take a look at this one! At first I was a little taken aback by the subtitle, 52 Ways to Master the Art of Personal Change, thinking it might be a year-long book, but these are short suggestions which are fairly simple to implement. Simple, not easy, or else the book wouldn't be needed! With chapters like Warning: Dates on the Calendar are Closer than They Appear (on procrastination) and If Everything's Coming Your Way, You're in the Wrong Lane (on obstacles), the author covers many of the common things that women struggle with.

Every woman longs for change in some area of her life. Unfortunately, fear, fatigue, adversity, heartbreak, past failures, and even the choices of other people get in the way and make lasting change seem out of reach. Having been there herself, Karen Linamen knows exactly how to take readers from where they are to where they want to be.

In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, she examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of a woman’s life.

Blending laugh-out-loud humor and sage advice, Linamen shows readers the link between dissatisfaction and transformation, how to remodel habits, the little-known truth about procrastination, how to generate the energy they need to pursue the life they desire, how to benefit from options and resources they never dreamed they had, and much, much more!

Karen Scalf Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit her website at

The publisher has graciously provided 2 copies of this book for me to give away here. Since it's a holiday week, I'm going to extend the drawing a little longer than usual. To enter, just leave a comment on this post by 8:00 a.m. Friday, January 2, 2009. I'll draw 2 winners on Friday. (Continental US residents only)

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!


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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Still Under the Law. . . Murphy's!

Why, oh, why. . . . when you have put away all the ornaments, all the wrapping paper, all the gift bags, wrestled it all back into the closet and put the every day stuff back on top. . . .do you walk back into the living room and discover one lone gift bag sitting off by itself?!


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

TSMS - Sav(or)ing It

I'm one who is ready to take the tree down as soon as Christmas is over. In fact, if we weren't out of town, it would already be down. Partly because it bothers my sinuses and partly because I like to enjoy the remainder of the holidays and start the new year without the task hanging over my head. And while I enjoy the tree and the anticipation of Christmas, once the gifts are unwrapped, it just becomes something that is in my way and a looming chore.

But oh, how important it is not to throw out the baby with the bath water pack up the heart of Christmas with all the trappings. This song by Third Day has a beautiful message. May we continue to savor the blessed truths of Christmas.

What kind of King would come so small
From glory to a humble stall?
That dirty manger is my heart, too
I'll make it a royal throne for You


What kind of King would leave His throne
In Heaven to make this earth His home?
While men seek fame and great renown
In loneliness our King comes down

Jesus, Jesus, precious One
How we thank You that You've come
Jesus, Jesus, precious One
A manger throne for God’s own Son

You left the sound of angels' praise
To come for men with unkind ways
And by this Baby's helplessness
The power of nations is laid to rest

What kind of King would come so small
From glory to a humble stall?
That dirty manger is my heart, too
I'll make it a royal throne for You

My heart is a throne
My heart is a throne for God's own Son

Words & Music by Julie Miller

I hope you have had a blessed Christmas. Find more songs for your Saturday at Amy's!


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Ponderings of the Day

1. All those after-Christmas sales of marked down wrapping paper can be skipped now. As the kids get bigger, the gifts get smaller and wrapping paper lasts a looong time!

2. Some of the sweetest memories kids make are with their cousins.

3. Traditional sounds of the season from Christmas Eve: my MIL's neighbor's lawnmower in the afternoon! (See what you gals up north are missing?!) And watching the St. Olaf's Choir and Orchestra's annual Christmas Festival on TV.

4. Red poinsettias will always remind me of my mom.

5. I love seeing all the closed stores and empty parking lots on Christmas Day. (Well, except for the movie theaters!) I'm thankful that there is still one day that celebrating, worshipping, and being with family is prioritized.

6. Taking Christmas dinner to the Alzheimer's facility so my MIL could be with my FIL helped me not stuff myself into oblivion. We pretty much just tooke the basics, as we did at Thanksgiving. No need (or logistical room) for 15 side dishes or 10 desserts.

7. Watching Faith Hill's Christmas special Christmas night on PBS was a blessing. Hearing her proclaim that Christmas is all about Jesus and sing Joy to the World, Silent Night, A Baby Changes Everything, and other songs on a public TV network was a worship experience!

I hope you had a great day and that your merriment and fun continues into the weekend!


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Thursday, December 25, 2008


And the heavens exploded with music everywhere
And the angels spilled over heaven's edge and filled the air
And the Father rejoiced, for He did not lose His Son,
But He gained to Himself forever those who'd come!
(From the song That Night by Ronn Huff)

Christmas Blessings to you!


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008


This is one of my favorite songs you don't hear much any more. Michael Card and Steve Green sing this song reflecting on the incredible reality of what we celebrate.


We can't even begin to fathom, 2000 years later, what that was really like, what that meant to those living at the time of the Messiah's birth, to the shepherds who received the good news from the angels, to the Magi who followed the star and fell at their feet to worship the Christ Child. I've alluded to this before, but studying the Old Testament and the lives of the ancient Israelites made Christmas so precious to me.

Think of the Israelites: Years of slavery followed by wandering in the wilderness, finally reaching the Promised Land only to settle for earthly kings who fell fall short of God's requirements. Trying to follow a law that only revealed the darkness within their adulterous hearts which turned away time and time again from their covenant God to worship dead, worthless, man-made idols. The tabernacle and the temple, with its Holy of Holies where only the high priest could enter, and then only once a year. The continual need for a sacrifice, which could only cover - but not remove - sin. Hearing a word from God only through prophets. Carried away once again in exile to a foreign land. Finally allowed to return home. But then. . .silence.

400 long years of silence. No prophets. No signs. No word from God.

When suddenly, the very Son of God took on flesh and was born as a baby.

Immanuel. Our God is with us.

A sign shall be given A virgin will conceive A human baby bearing Undiminished deity The glory of the nations A light for all to see Hope for all who will embrace His warm reality Immanuel Our God is with us And if God is with us Who could stand against us Our God is with us Immanuel For all those who live in the shadow of death A glorious light has dawned For all those who stumble in the darkness Behold your light has come Immanuel Our God is with us And if God is with us Who could stand against us Our God is with us Immanuel So what will be your answer? Will you hear the call? Of Him who did not spare His son But gave him for us all On earth there is no power There is no depth or height That could ever separate us From the love of God in Christ Immanuel Our God is with us And if God is with us Who could stand against us Our God is with us Immanuel Words & Music by Michael Card

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Light Shines in the Darkness

I was getting a haircut the other day and, as usual, they had a very secular local country radio station playing on their sound system. I walked in and then stood there practically with my mouth open as the popular local DJ read this poem:

'Twas the month before Christmas when all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying nor taking a stand.
Why the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a "Holiday".

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets are hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "DreamTree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

Author Unknown

And then, in this extremely liberal city, on a station that usually has songs with less-than-stellar lyrics, he played O Holy Night.

Wow. What an incredible moment. It encouraged me to hear someone outside of the "church bubble" proclaim the meaning of Christmas. It also reminded me that God sometimes uses unexpected avenues to shine His light on a darkened world.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
(Isaiah 9:2)

This may be my favorite version of this beautiful song. Pause for a few moments and reflect with me on that night divine!


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Monday, December 22, 2008

A Bloggy Christmas Gift!

I got a little bloggy Christmas present the other day - an award! Kim over at Scattered Stones told me:

As you can see, it has such a cute button that goes with it and just two easy rules:

  1. Pass it on to 5 other fabulous blogs in a post.
  2. List 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.
Well, I don't know if I can come up with 5, but here are my admitted addictions:

  1. Sweet tea - preferably from Chick-fil-A, although Rudy's BBQ and Jason's Deli make it mighty good too!
  2. Reading - I'm sure that's a shock to you! But really, I don't sit around all day with my nose in a book. I just read fast and take a book with me wherever I might need to wait.
  3. Blogging - and that is all YOUR fault! I have been amazed what a blast this is!
  4. Mocha - another big surprise, right? But I pretty much have to have some chocolate in my coffee! It cuts the bitterness. At home, I usually pour a dab of chocolate milk in, which is the perfect touch. This morning we were out of it, however, and it tasted pretty stark with out it!
  5. Hymns - while I love me some Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, and other contemporary music, when I'm troubled, sad, or sick, nothing ministers to me like the dear old hymns. And popping in my earphones and listening to hymns on a piano can soothe just about anything!
Now for the hard part - I could pass this on to any of you, for reading your blogs makes me smile, gives me a lift, and encourages me every day. For purposes of passing this award along, however, I choose these:

  1. Gayle - Her enthusiasm and friendliness jump right off the page.
  2. Amy Beth - I'm going to pretend I'm not old enough to be her mother! She's a doll, and I love her blog: stark, heartfelt honesty juxtaposed with hilarity.
  3. Xandra - Heartwarming and genuine. And makes me hungry for her Christmas baking!
  4. Lid Linda - She can make the most mundane non-event riveting to read.
  5. Natalie - I love what she writes, and her pictures are stunning. I'm so glad Lisa "introduced" us!
Thanks, Kim!


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Closing the Books on Fall into Reading 2008

Since today is the first day of winter, then that means fall is gone, so the Fall into Reading 2008 Challenge, hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days, has come to an end. And although I started a bit late, I'm going to end on time! I enjoyed participating in this just as I did the one in the spring. This fall was so bizarre and stressful in many ways, and there were times it really helped to lose myself in a book. And of course there are always piano lessons and car pick-up lines, which are some of my favorite reading spots!

Here's my list and wrap-up. I got all the ones read that I planned with the exception of one, plus I read a bunch more - some because they caught my eye and some for CFBA or other book tours.

Original List:
  • The Face by Angela Hunt - read it, loved it, reviewed it here! I could not put it down.
  • Healing Waters by Nancy Rue - cannot say enough good things about this book. I featured this 2009 Women of Faith novel here. The story is gripping, the characters tugged at my heart. I can't wait for the next novel in the Sullivan Crisp series!
  • Dreamers by Angela Hunt - I usually avoid fictionalized stories of Bible characters, but I know Angie Hunt's writing enough to know she would keep the Bible story intact and do incredible research. I was not disappointed. This was a wonderful book, as all of hers are.
  • Where the River Ends by Charles Martin - the only one I didn't get read. I started reading it when my mom was in the hospital and because of all that was going on with her, I just couldn't concentrate on it. Then in all the craziness later it got put under something and I forgot about it.
  • Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman - excellent book by a first-time author who I discovered lived a street over from me and graduated from my high school the year after I did. I reviewed it here.
  • Lying on Sunday by Sharon K. Souza - I picked this one up because I liked Every Good & Perfect Gift by this author. This was also a great book of a woman trying to deal with heartache.
  • The Cure by Harry M. Kraus MD - outstanding and convicting book. I featured it here and I've lost count of how many copies I've bought to give as gifts.
  • let them eat fruitcake by Melody Carson - I had reviewed i heart bloomberg, the first book of the 86 Bloomberg Place series, and had to find out how the roommates were progressing! This is a great series.
  • Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake - I enjoyed the first two books in this series set in Texas in the late 1800s (although they each stand alone and can be read independently). This one was a pleasure to read as well.
  • The Rogue's Redemption by Ruth Axtell Morten - I have liked every one of this author's books that I have read. They are heartwarming, historical fiction with romance that isn't sappy and overly emphasized.
  • 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter by Vicki Courtney - I featured this book here. It is a must-read for anyone with a daughter who falls in the age range of birth to college-age.
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - this was the first time I had read this classic; the Spring Reading Challenge was the first time I had read her
  • Pride & Prejudice. I enjoyed this book, but P&P is my favorite of the two.
  • Solemnly Swear by Nancy Moser - I have found myself drawn to Nancy Moser's books ever since I read Washington's Lady for a review. This was a gripping story of a jury deliberating over a manslaughter case. A beautiful story of doing the right thing, even when it is difficult or goes against the flow. And it's never too late to make things right.
Extra Books (read because they caught my eye!):
  • A Lady of Secret Devoton by Tracie Peterson - historical fiction by one of the best
  • An Unexpected Love by Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller - the second in the Broadmoor Legacy series about 3 cousins in the South; these authors have teamed up several times and write great stories.
  • The Reliance by M.L. Tyndall - I enjoyed her book The Falcon and the Sparrow and this one was a great historical adventure as well.
  • The Christmas Kite by Gail Gaymer Martin - a re-release of an earlier book, this is a touching and well-written story of a single mom whose autistic son's fascination with the kites made by a reclusive neighbor help them all to let go of their past and soar into the future.
  • The Island of Heavenly Daze by Lori Copeland & Angela Hunt - I had never read this charming series and I won it on another blog.
  • Grace in Autumn by Lori Copeland & Angela Hunt - Book #2 in the Heavenly Daze series
Books read & reviewed for blog tours during the Challenge, with the title linked to my review post:

So there you have it. I'm not going to pick a favorite among those - that would be like asking me to pick my favorite child!

And in response to Katrina's question. . . .yes, I'm absolutely up for doing this again in the spring! Thanks for hosting this!

If you want to see what other folks have been reading this fall, click here to go to the post we've all linked up to!


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Saturday, December 20, 2008

TSMSS - A Christmas Song for a Busy Woman!

After I dropped off the kids for their last day of school this morning, I had the radio on KLOVE, but I was not paying much attention as I was plotting out what order I was going to do my errands in this morning and which could be fit in before my haircut and which would need to wait until afterward. My man's been sick most of the week and I'm fighting a cold and I've already been behind because of my foot, and there were too many things to do for the amount of time allotted.

And the fact that the paragraph above contains only two sentences is indicative of my frenzied state!

All of a sudden the final words of the song coming to an end on the radio broke through the cacophony of my mental to-do list. It caught my heart as well as my ears, and I had to come look it up and share it with you.

It's from Amy Grant's new CD The Christmas Collection. Here's the background:
Grant wrote this song with Chris Eaton, with whom she'd previously collaborated with on several other occasions, including her much covered "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)." Eaton also wrote Cliff Richard's "Saviour's Day," which topped the UK charts during Christmas 1990. Grant told Billboard magazine, "I wrote 'I Need a Silent Night' with Chris Eaton. He and I had not written together for eight years. The verses in that song talk about how crazy Christmas has become and the chorus is sort of our response to that — 'It's so commercialized, but I need a silent night.'"


Find more songs to bless your weekend at Amy's


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blog Tour - Where Do I Go?

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Where Do I Go?

Thomas Nelson (December 9, 2008)


Neta Jackson

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.

A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband fifteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip's business ambitions, Gabby finds the chance to make herself useful. It's there she meets the women of Manna House Women's Shelter; they need a Program Director-and she has a degree in social work. She's in her element, feeling God's call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn't like the changes he sees in her. But things get rough when Philip gives Gabby an ultimatum: quit her job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of their sons. Gabby must take refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday night worship: "Where do I go when there's no one else to turn to? . . . I go to the Rock I know that's able, I go to the Rock."

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds, “Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

To read the Prologue and first Chapter of Where Do I Go?, go HERE

I had not read any of the Yada Yada series - they just never appealed to me for some reason. But this one grabbed me right from the beginning. I was caught up in Gabby's situation, and my heart ached for what she went through. It was easy to be completely annoyed with her husband, as he acted like a jerk most of the time. . . . and yet when I saw how his dad treated him, I realized his acorn didn't fall very far from the tree. What a vivid picture of generational sin. Then when her mother's health issues arose - well, I just wanted to climb in the book and give her a comforting shoulder and a helping hand! Her experiences with the women of Manna House were thought-provoking, and I ached as she wondered why some of them had so much more joy - in spite of their difficult circumstnaces - than she did. I eagerly anticipate Neta Jackson's next book in this series, and I'm intrigued by the parallel novel that her husband is writing.

Happy Reading!


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Bible Winner!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-12-19 02:15:18 UTC

Congrats to A Stone Gatherer who has won the Between Pocket Bible! Send me your address, Kim, and I'll get it in the mail to you tomorrow morning!

Thanks to everyone for participating in Booked for the Holidays!


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Mini-Women Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to Sara, who has won a copy of Lucy Doesn't Wear Pink, and Carol, who won the copy of Dear Nancy: Answers to Letters from Girls Like You. Send me your addresses, ladies, and the books will be on their way!

Check back tonight after 8:00 PM CST to see who our final winner is of the the Between Pocket Bible!


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winner of Healing Waters!

Congrats to Xandra the winner of Healing Waters! Send me your address, Xandra, and I'll get it in the mail to you.

Thanks to all of you for your interest. I urge you to pick up a copy of this book. It is phenomenal.


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Booked for the Holidays - Bonus Giveaway!!

I mentioned in last week's giveaway that I attend church - including Sunday morning Bible Study - with Vicki Courtney. This past Sunday evening we had our class party at the Courtneys' house, with the requisite White Elephant gift exchange. There was the usual mixture of "duds" and "good stuff" among the gifts. I lucked out and opened a "good gift". . . .which was promptly "stolen."

On my second try, I happened to open the gift Vicki had contributed, which contained a book, notepad, and this. Alas, my friend who has triplet 10-year-olds, of which 2 are girls, snatched that right up. "Your girl's too old for this anyway," she said. "But I want to give it away on my blog!" I protested (although I couldn't begrudge her precious girls the chance to have it!). Sigh. To make matters worse, I ended up with a dud (but it was in a cute bag!).

After the gift exchange as we were all chatting, Vicki got up and went into the other room to take care of something, and was gone for several minutes. When she came back, she placed another Between Pocket Bible in my hands for me to give to one of you!

I kid you not.

It is brand-spanking-new, still wrapped in plastic and in its pristine and oh-so-cute box. This picture shows the box with the fit-for-a-tween Bible peeking through. (If I still had my purple cast, I might have been tempted to keep it for myself!)

I don't suppose one of you would like a Bible for your tween, would you?!

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Girls between the ages of eight and twelve certainly do have a tough time finding admirable influences in today’s culture. Sensitive to that issue, the Between Pocket Bible combines the complete text of the acclaimed Holman Christian Standard Bible translation with cool and clear-headed material from author Vicki Courtney’s fun and faithful Between magabook releases.

Throughout the Bible, twenty-eight full-color pages of pre-teen-friendly content are purposefully dispersed to give young girls biblical advice on faith, family, fashion, friendship, boys, and more. And the additional thirty-two page devotional section is perfect for their personal or Sunday school group reading. The pocket-sized product also slips easily into any purse or backpack.

In case you're wondering what "pocket-sized" means, the Bible measures just a smidge over 7" x 5" x 1".

So here's how to qualify for this drawing: Leave a comment here on this post telling me who you would give this to - your daughter, granddaughter, niece, a special girl you mentor, etc.. Comments must be received by 8:00 p.m. CST Thursday (12/18). Please check back Thursday night and be ready to send me your address if you win - I plan to make one last trip to the post office Friday morning as soon as I drop my kids off at school and I want to get it in the mail so you'll have it in time for Christmas. As always, only continental US residents; sorry - I just can't afford to ship things any farther than that.

Thanks to Vicki for her generosity!

Okay, this really is the absolute last Booked for the Holidays giveaway! It has been so much fun! However, I will still be doing occasional giveaways with blog tours as publishers make books available.

I've also been happy during this past month to have "met" some of you who are new blog friends, and I hope you will hang around!

Happy Reading!


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Author Chat!

Here's your chance to chat with an author! Robin Jones Gunn will be doing a live, online chat at TOMORROW (Wednesday) from 2-3 PM EST. She has written more than 60 books including the popular "Christy Miller," "Sierra Jensen," and “College Years” teen series and the “Glenbrooke” and “Sisterchicks” series. During the chat, she will be taking questions and talking about her new book, Engaging Father Christmas, (which I posted about here) as well as some of her other works.

To join in the chat, log onto You can also submit pre-chat questions now at the log in page.


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Booked for the Holidays - Finale Part 2!

Nancy Rue is one of those rare individuals who has the ability to relate well to both adults and children. When she spoke at an event for tweens at our church a few years back, my girl and I had the privilege of picking her up from the airport, driving her to and from the church that Friday and Saturday, and taking her out for Mexican food on the way back to the airport Saturday afternoon. What a special memory that is.

Some speakers connect with an audience while on stage but don't know how to interact (or sadly, some just aren't interested!) one-on-one. Nancy is highly gifted in both areas. She was a great speaker, and she was absolutely precious to my girl (and to me!), and they became fast friends. And of course, I think she's great! But I digress.

Nancy has written many, many books for tween girls, or "mini-women" as she calls them! There's the Lily series, which includes its corresponding companion books, and the Sophie series, all of which my girl has read and reread. (In fact, it was fun to put my girl at the book table at the event - she could answer just about any question a mom might have about the books!)

Now there's Lucy, "a motherless tomboy with an inquisitive mind, a strong will, and a straight-forward approach, who knows every inch of the small and dusty New Mexico town in which she lives with her blind father. She is constantly searching for the 'why' in everything. Sometimes it helps answer her questions, and sometimes it just gets her into trouble."

Even though my girl is just a tad above the age limit for these books, she has been eagerly awaiting them. When we got to "chauffeur" Nancy around and take her to dinner, she was just starting to write them.

And because it's tucked away with the Christmas presents, here's the summary of the first book in the series, Lucy Doesn't Wear Pink:

Growing up is hard when you don’t have a mother—but God helps Lucy find her way.

Lucy is a feisty, precocious tomboy who questions everything—even God. It’s not hard to see why: a horrible accident killed her mother and blinded her father, turning her life upside down. It will take a strong but gentle housekeeper—who insists on Bible study along with homework—to show Lucy that there are many ways to become the woman God intends her to be.

Lucy’s bossy, career-minded Aunt Karen thinks eleven-year-old Lucy needs a woman’s influence. Enter Inez—a housekeeper with a will as strong as Lucy’s—and her granddaughter Mora, a girly-girl who is Lucy’s polar opposite. Will the girls ever find common ground? Inez just might have the answers when she teaches them the story of Ruth and Naomi.

Nancy Rue also has another brand-new book out, called Dear Nancy: Answers to Letters from Girls Like You. This one is also in the Christmas gifts for my girl; when it arrived, I thumbed through it, and it is darling.

Here's the summary:
You’ve got mail … lots of it! Author Nancy Rue loves getting letters from her readers, but finding the time to answer them has always been a challenge. Dear Nancy was born from a desire to connect with readers in-depth by really answering their questions, particularly the ones she gets asked over and over, like, “How did you become a writer?” and “What’s your favorite Scripture verse?” for example. Readers want more than just tips on writing, though—they want to know about Sophie and Lily, about boys and friends, about growing up, and even more about Nancy herself. So here’s a peek into Nancy’s mailbox with answers on topics that are closest to tween girls’ hearts.

I mentioned Nancy's blog yesterday. . . well, she has a blog for mini-women as well! In fact, half of her website is devoted to these girls. So check it out with your own mini-woman!


I can't stand it. . . .I was going to just give away a copy of Lucy Doesn't Wear Pink, but I absolutely have to also give a copy of Dear Nancy: Answers to Letters from Girls Like You. So here's how it will work: Leave a comment on this post before Thursday (12/18) at noon CST. Tell me which book you'd prefer, or if you'd take either. I'll do 2 drawings, one for each of the books, and post a winner for each of them. (Sorry - Continental US residents only.) Be sure to leave your email address with your comment if you don't have a blog so I can contact you and get these books on their way in time for Christmas!

And come back tomorrow for one more giveaway - you will not believe what Vicki Courtney handed me on Sunday!

Happy Reading!


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Monday, December 15, 2008

Booked for the Holidays - Finale, Part 1!

All good things must come to an end, or so they say, and while it has been a blast, my checkbook says it's time to end Booked for the Holidays! I hope you've had as much fun as I have! I thought it would be fun to go out with a bang, so I have a double giveaway this week -- one today and one tomorrow!

Like bookends on a shelf, I'm ending as I began: featuring one of my absolute favorite authors, Nancy Rue, with her latest book.

Nancy has just released the second book in the Sullivan Crisp Series, which she writes in collaboration with Stephen Arterburn, who provides the counseling background for Sullivan Crisp (Sully). The first book, Healing Stones, completely blew me away. It was one of the first books I posted about way back in January.

Now Healing Waters has come out in just the past week, and from the first sentence, I was hooked. And apparently, I am not the only one, because it has been chosen as the 2009 Women of Faith Novel of the Year!

Here's the summary from Nancy's website:

Overweight, introverted Lucia Coffey has always stood outside the spotlight of her Christian celebrity sister Sonia Cabot, but when Sonia is involved in a devastating accident, Lucia is thrust into that limelight – where she makes some shocking, life-changing discoveries about her sister, her marriage, and herself. Dr. Sullivan Crisp is her guide as he, too, continues his journey of discovery. Their soul-wrenching examination of faith and suffering exacts a great sacrifice from Lucia and a no-turning-back decision for Sully.

You can read the first chapter here.

If you are not familiar with Nancy, let me tell you: she is a delight! I've had the privilege of meeting her personally and spending some time with her on several occasions, and she is as genuine and sweet as they come. I have been especially excited lately because she has updated her website and begun blogging on a regular basis. And Oh.My.Goodness. Just as she does in her books, she cuts straight to the heart of the matter on her blog and makes one think. She's just finishing up a discussion on the Seven Deadly Sins. Ouch!

Nancy is an adept author who uses a well-written story to get a message across. That may remind you of the first author I featured, Angela Hunt. Well, though they live several states away from each other, they are good friends and together they present a writer's workshop each year, aptly named Nangie U!

Today, I am giving away a copy of Healing Waters to one of you! Just leave a comment here to be entered. And as usual, extra chances may be had by posting about the giveaway and/or by posting the button. Deadline for comments for the giveaway is Wednesday (12/17) at noon CST. Sorry, Continental US Residents only, please.

Please come back tomorrow for another giveaway and to find out why my girl is crazy about Nancy Rue!


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

TSMSS - A Christmas Duet

Christmas is a time of joy. Yet, depending on one's circumstances, it isn't always a time of happiness. This season has been a bit of a frustrating struggle for me. Dealing with my mom's death. My broken foot, which has immobilized me much more than I would like and has been a bit painful at times, both from the break and from compensating with the other leg. I could list other things that are relatively insignificant by themselves, but when added all together, they've been a bit overwhelming.

The other day I heard this song, and while I remember hearing it last year and thinking it was pretty, it really ministered to me this year. Matthew West and Mandisa team up in a great duet. The final verse and the chorus remind me that the very message of Christmas is that God gives peace in the midst of difficult circumstances! There wasn't much choice on the video available, and while it's okay, I suggest just closing your eyes and listening.

I think of Mary and the virgin birth
And I’m amazed at how much God thinks we’re worth
That He would send His only Son to die
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

Tears of thankfulness, tears of hope
I cry tears of joy at Christmas cause I know
There is peace on earth for every heart to find
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

Find more songs to bless your weekend at Amy's!


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Friday, December 12, 2008

The (White) Elephant & The Mouse

'Tis the season for parties. And that means White Elephant gifts. Our church staff party is tonight and much thought and care is put by some of them into the junk gift they will bestow on another. Much hilarity generally ensues.

I generally am not too creative in this department. But this year I came up with a pretty fun idea for my man's gift. He's done a lot of computer work for the staff and so we're wrapping a defunct piece of computer hardware. (I don't even know what the thing he gave me is called!) But beneath it, will be another item that I painted. Now please note the disclaimer that I am not at all artsy like that other Lid who creates gingerbread cathedrals and paints glasses for her small group. And I can't take credit for the idea. But being the pun-lover I am, I couldn't resist making this ornament:

As for my gift, I'm giving these stuffed giant microbes:

The Common Cold

I'm also tossing in trial/travel sizes of Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and Kleenex tissue. After all, I am responsible for Pastoral Care!


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