Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Coming in 2012!


Find out more HERE!


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Auld Lang Hodgepodge

There's nothing like Christmas break and traveling to get my days all out of whack and make me forget to post the Hodgepodge! Here it is, a few hours late!

1. Share something you loved about your Christmas Day.

The church service at my MIL's church. I love the pastor and his message, as always, was really good. And after he spoke, a man sang O Holy Night like I've never heard it before, and I've heard some great renditions, such as David Phelps and others. This man sang all three verses (something I rarely hear anymore and that was a treat!) , and I hesitate to say he sang them. He interpreted them. Yet there was nothing showy about anything he did in his pauses or his hand gestures as he sang. As the pastor got up to close the service he said, "We have been to church!"

2. You get to put five items in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years, what items would you choose and why?

I don't think time capsules are going to be quite as necessary because of the digital history we already have. Knowing how quickly technology changes, I would probably put in 1) a newspaper, both for the news it contains and the format, 2) a Bible - hopefully, that won't be too much of an unfamiliar item, but I would want it to represent my life today, 3) a telephone - we even still have one with a cord, which will provide lots of puzzled amazement a century from now, 4) a Scrabble game, to show that people did play games face to face across a table and not just online, and 5) a pastry blender, because I still make pie crusts from scratch; they'll probably have no idea what that is! LOL

3. What do you like on a cracker?

Cream cheese with raspberry chipotle sauce.

4. Do you make resolutions at the start of a new year? How'd that work out for you this past year?


5. What's a song or song lyric you'll associate with 2011?

Laura Story's Blessings. I love that song and it's message, and I loved getting to interview her!

6. How will you ring in the new year?

Warm and snug in my bed.

7. What is something you look forward to in 2012?

Knowing that God is already there!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Last week my girl had allergy testing and tomorrow she starts allergy shots. She is less than thrilled, although she is hopeful that the result will be less congestion and fewer issues with her voice. I just keep thinking, "as if she weren't busy enough, now we add weekly trips to the doctor for this!"


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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Day After

I discovered this song last year and absolutely love it!

So take down the stockings and take back the sweaters,
Take down the lights and the star and the tree,
But don't let this world take your joy after Christmas,
Take joy to the world and just sing:

Happy Day After Christmas
Merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The Light of the world is still here!

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift that keeps on giving!


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Indescribable Gift!

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
(John 1:14)

Christmas Blessings to you as you celebrate this indescribable gift!


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

TSMSS - Christmas Eve

Two of my very favorites that make my heart swell with worship:

Fall on your knees! O night divine, O Holy Night!

Visit Amy's for more songs. Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Have a Holly Jolly Hodgepodge

1. Are you cooking Christmas dinner? How many will be round your table this year? What are we having?

Christmas dinner is turkey and dressing, which delights me to know end. I get it twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I love it! We will be at my brother-in-law's house, and I believe there will be 22 of us, all of my man's family plus a couple of other parents-in-law. I am providing the sweet potatoes, the broccoli casserole, and the pecan pies. I am also doing most of Christmas Eve lunch at my MIL's, which is traditionally tamales and Mexican food.

2. What is one must-have Christmas cookie in your house?

Well, these are not cookies, but I always make peanut brittle for the family and to give to friends. And I make pralines for Christmas Eve.

3. Santa likes a glass of milk with his cookies. Do you? What kind of milk is on tap at your house-skim? almond? soy? full fat (Gasp!)

If all 4 of us are here, we have 2% for my boy, chocolate for him and for my coffee, and fat-free for the rest of us. And we go through about six gallons a week. When the boy is at college, it's just the fat-free and I keep just a pint of low-fat chocolate to splash in my morning coffee.

4. Time magazine recently named their 'Person of the Year' for 2011. This is the person the editors believe had the greatest impact, for better or worse, in the past year. This year they chose 'The Protester'. Your thoughts? Who would you name Person of the Year for 2011?

While I agree that the right to protest is an important freedom, I thought that was a clearly liberal statement. I think sometimes folks protest about things they really have no business getting their knickers in a knot over. People are way too easily offended these days and far too concerned about perceived -- or even real -- offenses. If they put as much effort into straightening out their own lives as they do criticizing other folks, the world would be a lot better off.

I am totally blanking on who I would choose. I'm sure there's been a story of someone who is an ordinary person making an impact in their world just because that's what they are called to do, not because they have anything to gain. That is the Person of the Year for me!

5. December 21st is National Flashlight Day... when was the last time you needed a flashlight and did you know right where to find one?

National Flashlight Day?! Seriously? There's a day for everything.

(I was about to say, "Next you'll tell me there's a National Toilet Paper Day," but decided I better Google that, just in case, and THERE IS! Good grief!)

Back to the flashlight question - I needed one just the other day and yes, I knew where it was.

6. Candy canes...yum or yuck?

Peppermint flavor is okay, but I prefer it in a pop-it-in-my-mouth mint. Licking a candy cane gets sticky, even if you leave the wrapping on.

7. What Christmas carol lyric means the most to you?

Oh, wow. It depends on the day. If you're strictly confining it to carols, as in the ones in the hymnal (which would eliminate O Holy Night, for example), it's still a hard choice. I LOVE O Come, O Come Emmanuel. But another one that I've loved for years is It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. I posted the verse about resting our loads a couple of weeks ago. This is another wonderful verse, and so fitting today with the political tensions between nations and here within the USSA:
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Saw this on Facebook this week and loved it. It's apparently a poster from Australia.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Spirit of Texas

The Spirit of Texas:
The Astonishing Story of a Pioneer Rancher’s Family and Their Mighty State

by Winston Menzies
Creative Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-0-9826143-2-7
November 2011/270 pages/Hardcover/$29.99

In June of 1876, a young carpenter arrived in Galveston with nothing more than a chest of tools and a desire to find work in the burgeoning seaport city. His name was William Menzies. He was 21 years old, fiercely independent and determined to make his way in the world. Galveston was clearly not where his future would lie, however, and a combination of storms, floods, a fire and a lack of work soon drove him inland. A decade later, having broken countless horses as a horse trader to earn his keep in the interim, the young man finally found himself on the banks of the San Saba River in Menard County. It was here he decided to buy a couple of sections of land to set roots and stay.

And there on the banks of the San Saba those roots reached deep and took hold. So deep, in fact, that in 1957, some 80 years after he’d first arrived in Galveston, the Texas State Legislature recognized William as one of the state’s pioneer ranchers and a leader in the area of progressive agriculture.

The Spirit of Texas: The Astonishing Story of a Pioneer Rancher’s Family and Their Mighty State (Creative Publishing Company) is William’s story as chronicled by his great-grandson, Winston Menzies, a pastor and writer now living in Georgia. Crafted from his own memories as well as those of friends and relatives, Menzies does not hesitate to weave local and state history, politics and culture into his family’s story. In so doing, he exposes the bones of Texas’ romance and lore, revealing the raw passion and determination of the men and women who went there seeking independence and reminding the reader of the indelible mark they left behind. “The Spirit of Texas is more than just the story of William Menzies; it’s the story of the pioneers who first settled the land and made Texas what it is today,” Winston says. “In researching for this book, I found no other book that tells the story of Texas through the stories of its people.”

In telling his great-grandfather’s story, the author throws open the door to the Menzies’ family home and welcomes us in. It is here we meet Letha Ann, the woman who became William’s wife and the matriarch of the Menzies clan. With love and care, the author introduces us to this remarkable woman who devoted her life to being William’s helpmate, bearing his eight children and instilling in each the same pioneering spirit and unshakeable faith that was the hallmark of the Menzies name. A living complement to her husband, Letha Ann’s own story is one of courage, faith and unflinching dedication.

Along with the Menzies’ sons and daughters, neighbors and friends, we are also introduced to a host of other ordinary folk who persisted in living extraordinary lives in order to forge a place for themselves in the raw Texas landscape. Folks like Willie Roberts, the first white child born in Menard County who, even though stricken with polio while still a toddler, managed to defy unimaginable odds to live a rich, full life on his own terms. Folks like Dr. Ed Knipling who grew up on his father’s Port Lavaca farm and experienced firsthand the devastation to livestock wrought by a deadly pest: the screwworm fly. It was Knipling who determined that through the release of sterilized male flies the problem might be eradicated. His ability to look past the problem to see the solution brought a successful end to the damage done by the screwworm fly and was, at the time, labeled the “greatest entomological achievement of the 20th century” by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

While The Spirit of Texas is clearly the story of William Menzies and his legacy, it is also the story of all the pioneers who settled throughout Texas, carving out their own legacies in an unforgiving land. It is a story that should be read by anyone wanting to know Texas and Texans better. It is also a story that those who already know and love the state and its people may thoroughly embrace and enjoy. Find out more at the book's website.


It was only after receiving copies of his great-grandparents’ obituaries from an elderly family member that Winston Menzies discovered the need to document his family’s history before it was lost to future generations. When he realized that if he didn’t do it, no one else would, he began the information gathering process in earnest. And even then, he never imagined a book like The Spirit of Texas would be the end result.

"I had no idea what I was getting into on this one," he admitted. "I thought it would be maybe fifteen or twenty pages of interesting facts about the family, but I just kept uncovering more and more information. It ended up taking me four years to write the book and became a real labor of love. Still I never dreamed The Spirit of Texas would be what it turned out to be."

Asked what he’d like his readers to take away from the book, Winston said he hopes they’ll be inspired. "I would like for them to recognize that God created them for a reason and that they have a genius to do something really great with their lives. That’s what I hope for. That they realize they can be independent and work for something meaningful in life—against great odds—just as my great-grandparents and all the men and women who settled Texas did. It’s still possible today."

Due to his father’s military career, Winston was born on a military base in Nevada and spent his childhood living all over the United States, including many times in Texas. After leaving high school, he returned to the family’s home state to attend college, graduating from Texas A&M where he received his pilot’s license and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.

While not officially born in Texas, Winston freely admits he still considers himself a full-fledged Texan because of his family ties and ranch there. "I’ve always been in Texas a lot. They say," he joked, "there are only two kinds of people in this world: Those who live in Texas and those who wish they could."

Following college, Winston became an Army Ranger, served as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne division and later was selected to be aide to the Commanding General. Volunteering twice to command rifle companies in Vietnam, he finally served as a Brigade Adjutant before resigning his commission to pursue a career in business. After founding several businesses in the real estate field, he was called into the ministry at the age of 44.

Today Winston oversees an evangelical ministry serving a number of prisons, jails and youth development centers in the Atlanta, Georgia area and serves as pastor of Greater Grace Church, a non-denominational church in Covington, Georgia. Additionally, he is the director of the Shepherd’s House, a residential recovery ministry. He has also written a number of books and seminars. Winston believes he has about the most exciting time in life anyone could ever hope for. He and his wife, Donna, and their horses live in Conyers. They have two grown sons, Ron and John. Visit his website to learn more.


Those who live outside the Lone Star State may dismiss the title and premise of this book as another Texas tall tale, but one only has to read a few pages to recognize that William and Letha Ann were an amazing couple and represent the determination, work ethic, backbone, and faith that settled and tamed this state. Letha Ann makes the Proverbs 31 woman look like an absolute slacker! This book is a history-lover's delight with its detailed account of life in Texas in the late 1800's and its many photographs chronicling the lives and events of this family. You will have a new appreciation for the pioneers who settled this great state, as well as others who faced similar challenges across the fledgling USA.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The B&B Media Group as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Snowflake Party by Deborah Raney

This has been a crazy weekend, but I didn't want to miss sharing my sweet author friend Deborah Raney's post for the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

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 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 Snowflake Party 

By Deborah Raney

The first snow of winter hasn’t fallen yet, but in our kitchen tonight we’re doing a pretty good imitation. The whole family is circled around the huge old oak table. The snip, snip, snip of scissors is background music as tiny scraps of white paper float down, making our floor look like a giant brownie sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Tonight has turned out to be the night for our annual Snowflake Party, a tradition that began when our children were toddlers. There has never been a date blocked out in red on our calendar, but one day we wake up and the brisk autumn air has turned bitter cold. Naked tree branches trace their stark calligraphy on a dull grey sky and we need a taste of the joyful promises of Christmas and snow. It’s the perfect time for a party.

On such a day, one of the kids will fly in the back door, fresh home from school, and declare “Hey, Mom! Tonight would be a good night for the Snowflake Party!” First we round up every pair of scissors in the house. This is one time when sharing is not a virtue. While the kids search for scissors, I cut white paper into squares and fold them caddy-corner multiple times. The resulting triangles are artfully arranged in a basket, awaiting the beginning of the party.

Later, while the supper dishes dry on the counter, I recruit a volunteer to help me stir up a big pot of hot cocoa. For the next hour it will warm on the back burner, tantalizing us with its aroma.

Now the fun begins with careful cutting and snipping, shaping plain white paper into intricate works of art. Each snowflake we create seems as unique and spectacular as the genuine variety created by God himself. As each masterpiece is unfolded, collective oohs and aahs go up.

When the last dregs of our creative juices are drained, Dad oversees the vacuum patrol while I pour cocoa into generous mugs. We spread our handiwork on the floor around us and sit, quietly admiring our work while we dunk marshmallows and sip rich chocolate.

With empty mugs piled up in the sink, it’s time for the judging to begin. There will be awards for ‘prettiest’, ‘most unusual’, and as many other categories as we need for everyone to be a winner. Dad is the judge because he studied art in college. He also usually wins one of the top prizes––because he studied art in college.

Snowflakes deemed runners-up might be pasted in scrapbooks or hung on the refrigerator. A few even “melt” into the trash that very night. But the winners are taped proudly to the picture windows in the living room for passersby to enjoy while they long for the day when genuine snowflakes will color the world clean and white.

Our oldest daughter went away to college last September. She called just after Thanksgiving to tell me that her dorm window was covered with snowflakes. No, not the real thing, but the ones she remembers from her childhood––paper ones that she spent an entire evening cutting and snipping while sipping hot cocoa.

That’s the neat thing about traditions: They go with us no matter how far from home we travel.

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. After All, third in her Hanover Falls Novels series will release next spring from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. Their four children are grown now and having snowflake parties with their own children––and they all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the web at


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

TSMSS - The Holiness of Christmas

I've always loved Christmas. But I'm discovering that the older I get, the less I enjoy the "clutter" of Christmas and the more I'm drawn to the holiness of Christmas. Most of the times as I have walked into stores this fall, I have literally felt repulsed by the excessive amount of stuff overflowing shelves as retailers clamor for business. I'm not a Scrooge by any means, but so much of what I see is just pointless, gimmicky junk. What a waste of time, energy, and money.

I love this new song by Matthew West, reminding us what really matters. Come back to The Heart of Christmas.

In the shadow of a steeple
In a star that lights the way
You can find Him in a manger
The heart of Christmas has a name

Don't miss it, the heart of Christmas

* * *

I post this one every year, but it's just too good to skip! LOL

I had never paid much attention to this song until a few years ago, after I had been in a study of the Old Testament. Studying the Israelites and their struggles and captivities gave this beautiful song a whole new meaning. And one only has to turn on the news or at much of the world around us today to echo this prayer - "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Visit Amy's for more songs!


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Comfort and Joy by Sandy Ralya

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 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.

Where is Comfort and Joy Found?
By Sandy Ralya

The year 2006 ushered unwelcome emotions into my life. My husband was unhappy in his job, two of my grown children were making poor choices, my mother-in-law was showing signs of Alzheimer’s, extended-family issues were surfacing, and I was writing a book. Things only got worse. Much worse.

Early in 2007, I was asked to represent the mentoring ministry for wives I founded, Beautiful Womanhood, and lead a women’s conference in Uganda, Africa. My husband wasn’t sure if traveling to Africa was a good idea, so we committed it to prayer. While we were listening for an answer, I sensed God asking me to fast from spending, except for groceries, for thirty days. Sometimes you know that you’ve heard God’s voice because you’d never have come up with those words on your own. This was one of those times. I’d never heard of a fast from spending. Tom needed no convincing that a fast from spending came directly from the mouth of God. He still gets excited just thinking about it!

During the fast, it became clear I had used spending as a way to gain a comfort fix. When I was spending money, I felt carefree and lighthearted. Instead of dwelling on the unpleasantness in my life, I was thinking of my purchases and how they would bring me pleasure. Not until I stopped spending did I realize how short-lived the fix really was. During the fast, when I felt the urge to spend—to anesthetize my pain—I pictured myself running into the arms of Jesus, the Great Comforter. Oh, what comfort I received!

One night, I told good friends my experience of gaining comfort through the power of the Holy Spirit rather than money. I exclaimed that I had never felt so comforted. One friend then told us about a dream he’d had shortly after hearing about the invitation from Uganda. After the dream, he had awoken and recorded the following thoughts:
. . . this is for Sandy. Christ’s redemption of women is beautiful. Beautiful Womanhood is a result of redemptive wholeness. The visuals the ministry uses on the books, etc., are like a piece of beautifully veneered furniture. There is something going on with the ministry to the brokenness of abused women. In Uganda, there are hurting, abused women, and something is connecting their need and Beautiful Womanhood. Though there is nothing wrong with veneer, it is only the topping—the covering, and without good structure it is shallow and will not hold up. It is time to add a new depth to the ministry.”
Then these verses came to my friend’s mind:
All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NL
When my friend was finished sharing, everyone in the room broke down in tears, praising God for His work in my life. I’d learned to listen and God had spoken. I’d obeyed, and He’d acted. When He acted, I was changed.

Needless to say, I packed my bags and experienced some of the best days of my life in Uganda—offering God’s comfort to His troubled women.

Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980 and live near Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have three adult children and a growing number of grandchildren. When not writing and speaking, Sandy enjoys shopping at yard sales for vintage clothing, cooking, travelling, and drinking really good coffee (black is best) with her husband. For more information, contact Sandy at Subscribe to Sandy’s blog at Find Sandy on Facebook at Beautiful Womanhood. Follow Sandy on Twitter @MentoringWives.


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anticipating Christmas by Sibella Giorello

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 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.

By Sibella Giorello

Consider the bride's walk down the aisle. We all know where that woman in the white is going but somehow waiting for her to arrive at the altar is an essential part of the ceremony. In fact, the waiting is so essential that even cheapskate Vegas chapels include wedding marches.


Because the wait adds meaning to the moment.

At Christmas time, we tend to forget this essential truth about anticipation. We're lost to shopping malls and checklists, rushing toward December 25th so quickly that we forget the quiet joy of the month's other 24 days -- and then we wonder why we feel so empty on the 26th, amid ribbons and wrapping paper and our best intentions.

Because the wait adds meaning to the moment.

And that is why Advent is so important to Christmas.

I'm as guilty as the next harried person. This Advent was particularly tricky because just six hours before it started, I was still trying to finish a 110,000-word novel that was written over the course of the year -- written while homeschooling my kids, keeping my hubby happy, and generally making sure the house didn't fall down around us.

It's an understatement to say my free time is limited. But waiting adds meaning, and Advent is crucial to Christmas, so I've devised several Advent traditions that are simple, powerful and easy to keep even amid the seasonal rush.

When my kids outgrew the simple Advent calendars around age 7, I stole an idea from my writer friend Shelly Ngo (as T.S. Eliot said, "Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal." Indulge me.)

Here's how it goes: Find 24 great Christmas books, wrap them individually and place then under the tree. On the first day of Advent, take turns picking which book to open. When we did this, we would cuddle under a blanket and read aloud -- oh, the wonder, the magic! We savored "The Polar Express," howled with "How Murray Saved Christmas," and fell silent at the end of "The Tale of The Three Trees" (note: some of the picture books I chose were not explicitly about Christmas but they always echoed the message that Jesus came to earth to save us from ourselves and to love us beyond our wildest imagination. In that category, Angela Hunt's retelling of The Three Trees definitely hits the Yuletide bull's eye).

This Advent tradition lasted for about five years. It gave us rich daily discussions about the season's real meaning, without being religious or legalistic, and it increased family couch time. But like the lift-the-flap calendars, my kids outgrew the picture books.

Because the wait adds meaning, and Advent is crucial, I prayed for another way to celebrate anticipation of Christmas. By the grace of God, last year I found an enormous Advent calendar on clearance at Pottery Barn. Made of burlap, it has large pockets big enough to hold some serious bounty.

But my husband and I didn't want the kids focusing only on the materialist stuff for Advent -- we already fight that on Christmas day. We decided to fill the daily pockets with simple necessities and small gift cards. We also printed out the nativity story from Luke 2:1-21 in a large-sized font and cut each verse out. From Day 1 to Day 21, there is one verse to read aloud. The kids memorize it, then get to open their present (again, on alternating days for each person). Then we tape the verse to the wall in order. By Day 22, all the verses are on the wall, in order, and the kids now try to recite the entire nativity story from memory. That's not as difficult as it sounds because they've been memorizing one verse each day. Still, the entire recitation -- verbatim -- usually requires Day 23 and Day 24. Whoever does memorize the entire thing -- without mistakes --  earns a bonus gift of $25.

Does that sounds extravagant?

It is.

Because we want our kids to understand that God came down and humbled himself and taught us about love right before He suffered and died on behalf of the undeserving -- which is every one of us.

"That's" extravagant.

And in the waiting, we find even more meaning.

Sibella Giorello writes the Raleigh Harmon mystery series which won the Christy Award with its first book "The Stones Cry Out." She lives in Washington state with her husband and children, and often wishes there were 36 hours in a day.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Came Upon the Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Do you put Christmas decorations in every room of your house? If not every room, what rooms do you decorate?

No. There was a time when I did, when I was younger and had more energy! LOL The living room and den are the focal points this year.

2. If you could visit one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) which one would you choose and why?

Probably Norway. It's just always sounded so quaint and beautiful. Sweden would be a close second. In fact, I almost got to go to Sweden with my man a number of years ago on a business trip, but then it was canceled.

3. What does the word faith mean to you?

Maintaining my belief in God and His promises/power/provision/protection, etc. and acting on that belief "even when. . . ." Trusting when I cannot see.

4. You can go back to your childhood for one day...what day and age would you choose?

I have no idea. Maybe the summer I was about to turn 11, during the week I spent with my brother and then-SIL. My brother took the week off to be with me and we played dominos and swam and ate peanut butter sandwiches & watermelon every day for lunch and had the best time.

5. When did you last have 'punch'? If it's not too much trouble share your favorite punch recipe.

Probably in August at a wedding. I haven't made punch in years, so I don't even have a recipe that comes to mind. And my punch doesn't have a punch to it.

6. Do you fill stockings at your house? Are stockings opened before or after the bigger gifts?

Yes, we do stockings. Generally, they've been opened after the bigger gifts because we've always traveled; we've always had our family Christmas early before we leave and then just had stockings on Christmas morning at my MIL's.

7. What takes your breath away?

Love, shown with abandon.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I love the old carols of Christmas. They have such incredible words. And as so often happens, many times the third (or next-to-last) verse is rarely sung. The fourth verse (of five) of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear has been on my mind the past few days. It's such a wonderful reminder of the hope Christmas brings.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!


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Suzanne Woods Fisher Shares a Pearl of Christmas

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 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.


A Christmas of Kindness
By Suzanne Woods Fisher

"You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving." Amish proverb

I do it every year.

I plan for a simpler, less stressful Christmas season and, every year, by Christmas Eve I'm exhausted! After our delicious and very-time-consuming-to-make traditional Swedish meal to honor my husband¹s relatives (think: Vikings), it's time to head to church. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the last few Christmas Eve's, I have sent my husband and kids off without me. The pull to spend an hour of quiet in the house feels as strong as a magnet.

It's odd. My children are young adults now. Wouldn't you think that Christmas would be simpler? Instead, it's just the opposite. Jugging schedules to share the grandbaby with the in-laws, trying to include our elderly parents at the best time of day for them, dancing carefully around recently divorced family members whose children are impacted by the shards of broken relationships.

The thing is: you can simplify your to-do list, but you can't really simplify people. We are just a complicated bunch.

Here's where I borrow a lesson about simplicity from the Amish. It's easy to get distracted with the buggies and the bonnets and the beards, but there's so much more to learn from these gentle people if you're willing to look a little deeper.

Yes, they live with less "stuff" and that does make for a simpler, less cluttered life. But it's the reason behind it that is so compelling to me: they seek to create margin in their life. Not just empty spacebut space that is available to nourish family, community, and faith. Their Christmas is far less elaborate than yours or mine, but what they do fill it with is oh so right.

Christmas comes quietly on an Amish farmhouse. There is no outward sign of the holiday as we know it: no bright decorations, no big tree in the living room corner. A few modest gifts are waiting for children at their breakfast place settings, covered by a dishtowel. Waiting first for Dad to read the story of Christ's birth from the book of Luke. Waiting until after a special breakfast has been enjoyed. Waiting until Mom and Dad give the signal that the time has come for gifts.

Later, if Christmas doesn't fall on a Sunday, extended family and friends will gather for another big meal. If time and weather permits, the late afternoon will be filled with ice skating or sledding. And more food! Always, always an abundance of good food. Faith, family, and community. That is the focus of an Amish Christmas.

And it's also how the story begins for A Lancaster County Christmas, as a young family prepares for Christmas. A winter storm blows a non-Amish couple, Jaime and C.J. Fitzpatrick, off-course and into the Riehl farmhouse. An unlikely and tentative friendship develops, until the one thing Mattie and Sol hold most dear disappears and then. Ah, but you¹ll just have to read the story to find out what happens next. Without giving anything away, I will say that I want to create a Mattie-inspired margin this Christmas season. Mattie knew inconveniences and interruptions that come in the form of people (big ones and little ones!) are ordained by God. And blessed by God.

Creating margin probably means that I won't get Christmas cards out until the end of January, and my house won't be uber-decorated. After all, something has to give. But it will mean I make time for a leisurely visit with my dad at his Alzheimer's facility. And time to volunteer in the church nursery for a holiday-crowded event. And time to invite a new neighbor over for coffee. Hopefully, it will mean that my energy won't get diverted by a frantic, self-imposed agenda. Only by God's agendathe essence of true simplicity.

And that includes taking time to worship Christ's coming at the Christmas Eve service. You can hold me accountable! This year, I will be there.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, and The Keeper, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Christy Award nominee and is the host of an internet radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Pearls of Christmas

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Pearl Girls™ 12 Pearls of Christmas blogging series!

12 Pearls of Christmas series

We've gathered several of today's most beloved authors to share their Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along beginning tomorrow (Wednesday the 14th) through Christmas day as Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Rachel Hauck, Sandy Ralya, Sibella Giorello, Susan May Warren and more, share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.

If you'd like to share the 12 Pearls of Christmas with your blog readers too, just email Christen and she'll send you the series.

AND of course there is a giveaway! Beginning tomorrow you and all your friends can enter to win a PEARL NECKLACE and EARRINGS valued at $450! The winner will be announced on New Year's Day! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

Just a quick note from Margaret McSweeney before the series begins on the 14th ...

As I write this, I imagine that we are sitting at my kitchen table and chatting over a cup of coffee while familiar Christmas carols celebrate the Season. My twelve year old Chihuahua, Pongo, barks for a pinch of pound cake while my Shih Tzu, Lilly, patiently sits by the chair and waits for a crumb to fall.

My name is not Martha Stewart, and I will never receive a neighborhood beautification award. Just look at my front stoop. Yes, my never-had-time-to-carve-the-pumpkin-that-now-suffers-from-frostbite slouches next to the front door which is decorated with a Christmas wreath. I plan to roll this large orange ornament to the garbage pile tomorrow. For now, however, I will pretend that my front stoop is a contemplative modern art exhibit capturing the essence of contrast.

Actually, I love the concept of juxtaposition – placing things together that don’t seem to belong together, yet somehow ultimately make sense being paired. A personal example for me this season is the phrase: “comfort and joy.” Having just completed my manuscript for New Hope Publishers about the aftermath of grief, I fully understand the contrast of those two words. How can comfort bring joy? How can one find joy in loss?

Perhaps, dear reader, you have experienced loss this year – loss of a loved one, loss of friendship, loss of health,  loss of financial security, loss of trust, loss of love, or loss of direction. Even with the best intent, words of encouragement shared by others can somehow seem insufficient to address an inconsolable loss.  A spoken word cannot fully restore joy to a broken heart; however the Word can. And that’s the bottom line message of Christmas! God gave us the most amazing gift: His Son -  the Word of God, the Holy Comforter.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

You are not alone this Christmas, dear friend. Juxtaposed to the unexpected grit in life is the gift of God’s grace wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. This year I purposely placed a pearl in the Nativity scene as a metaphoric reminder. When we place our grit into the hands of the Lord, His grace transforms our pain into a pearl.

 “Joy to the world!”  

Thank you so very much for sharing the JOY of the Season with us this year.

God Bless,


Margaret McSweeney lives with her husband, David and two teenage daughters in the Chicago suburbs. She is the founder and director of Pearl Girls. For more information please visit Margaret is fast at work on several fiction manuscripts. Her book Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace was written to help fund the Pearl Girl Charities. She is also the host of weekly radio show, Kitchen Chat. Connect with Margaret on Facebook or Twitter.


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Not in the Heart

Not in the Heart
Chris Fabry
ISBN: 978-1414348612
February 2012/400 pages/$13.99

Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He’s out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son’s failing heart.

With mounting hospital bills and Truman’s penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless . . . until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline—-the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s son.

As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer. For his son to live, must an innocent man die? Truman’s investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.

Read the first chapter here.

Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris's novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, and Not in the Heart, have won two Christy Awards and an ECPA Christian Book Award, but it's his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more. He has also published more than 65 other books, including nonfiction and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR. Visit his website to learn more about him.

Chris Fabry is a gifted author. His books are not always easy to read because they deal with the issues and struggles of imperfect people; in short, they are authentic books about real life! But they are also compelling books, and I always find myself drawn into the story. Not in the Heart is just such a book. To be honest, Truman Wiley is not a very likable character. Poor choices and a gambling addiction define his life, and circumstances seem like they can't get much worse. Fortunately, God hasn't given up on Truman, even though Truman is on the verge of giving up on himself. Chris Fabry kept me glued to the pages, and I found my heart turning from disdain to compassion for this broken man as the story progressed. Put this one on your list for 2012! Available in February.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an electronic copy of this book free from Tyndale as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

TSMSS - Immanuel

I think I share this song every year, but it's too good not to listen to at least once. Here are Michael Card and Steve Green from around 2002 singing a song written by Michael Card in the 1980s or early 1990s. This is absolutely one of my favorite Christmas songs, and it's a shame that they don't play it on the radio anymore.

Visit Amy's for more songs.


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Thursday, December 8, 2011


By Shelley Malcolm
ISBN: 9780578090313
Hardcover 8.5x8.5 Retail price: $32.99
Available online

ISBN 9781452056715
Paperback 8.5x8.5 Retail price: $39.50
Available online and

“REAL” is a collection of 60 inspirational stories by Shelley Malcolm, with photos by Terilee Dawn Ouimette. The stories are deeply revealing, while the photos are anonymous, focusing only on each subject’s hands. Subjects range from adolescent to elderly, from former gangster to humble homeless, international refugee to hero-housewife, from pro athlete to Hollywood celebrity.

Focusing on her subjects’ hands instead of their faces allows Malcolm’s subjects to share more freely about their lives, tragedies, hopes, dreams, loves, and toils. Ouimette displays an uncanny ability to capture each character’s essence on film by depicting one of more sets of hands at work, at play, giving or receiving help. The result shows the genius of the project, the use of anonymity displaying a greater level of intimacy and vulnerability than might have been possible by any other means.

Malcolm states that her inspiration for the book came from a dream with similar images, revealing the beauty in imperfections in a person’s hands. “The hand image is made beautiful by the life behind it,” she explains. “More anonymous than a face or even eyes which show identity and emotion, our hands portray our work, our affection, scars…even our mistakes.”

According to photographer Ouimette, “People can feel even more connected to photographs of hands than faces. There is a little bit of mystery to each one – allowing the reader to visually connect with the inspiring story.”

Confronting the importance of status and beauty in our society, “Real” honestly unveils the life stories of remarkable individuals through moving images and stories that range from tragic to hopeful to triumphant.

Originally published in March 2011, the book has been popular among widely diverse groups including youth and teens, women, parents and grandparents, men between the ages of 35 – 65, craftsmen, surgeons, hand, massage and physical therapists and many others.

NOTECARDS are also available for purchase here.

Real - The Book from David Malcolm on Vimeo.

While “Real” is her first published book, Malcolm is no stranger to creative projects, as co-owner and restorer of an historic chapel, La Perla del Mar in Shell Beach, CA, and a set designer for theater and film. Shelley Malcolm was named Pismo Beach’s Citizen of the Year in 2011 for her extensive contributions and involvement in the community. Proceeds from Real go to various charities. Shelley Malcolm graduated from University of Southern California with a degree in dental hygiene. Shelley has four adult children. Her interests include painting , drawing, sculpting, building, playing piano and other musical instruments, outdoor activities including hiking, ocean kayaking, running, water and snow-skiing, international travel, sewing, reading, writing and others. Shelley Malcolm resides in Shell Beach, California with her husband, Doug. For more information, please visit or

Terilee Dawn Ouimette specializes in photographing weddings, families and newborns through her business, Terilee Dawn Photography. Ouimette’s love of photography began with a gift of her first camera at the age of eight. Her collaboration on the book “Real” with author Shelley Malcolm represents the first published book for both women. Terilee Dawn resides in Shell Beach, California with her husband and the couple’s newborn son, Grayson. Ouimette’s hobbies include art, photography, crafting, reading, and travel. For more information about her work please visit

In a world obsessed with eternal youth and beauty, often turning to botox, eating disorders, and surgical intervention to attain the perfect body, how refreshing it is to see this book celebrating the beauty of hands that have truly lived and bear the scars and wrinkles to prove it. I have always loved hands (some of you may remember the poem I wrote three years ago about my mother's hands just two days before she died, so this book is particularly fascinating to me, although I haven't made it through every page yet. This isn't a book you sit down and read from cover to cover but one you read a page or two at time to savor and reflect. This is not an overtly Christian book; some of the individuals whose hands are portrayed do not appear to be believers. That's the only slight disappointment I have with this book. Some hands bear scars from a hard life; others, from hard living. The condition of our hands will not grant us entrance to heaven. But here on earth, they can do so much. To me, and apparently to Shelley Malcolm, a hand that's "real," that has loved and worked and lived life to the fullest, gnarled and wrinkled though it may be, is more beautiful than one with a perfect manicure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Shelley Malcolm. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Will you be hosting any house guests between now and the end of December? Does that thought make you happy or crazy? Do you do anything special for your guests to make them feel at home? How long should a house guest stay?

No house guests, but I think I mentioned last week that my boy is coming home from college. He'll be here sometime Saturday. The thought makes me so happy I'm crazy! I'll be stocking up and cooking his favorites while he's here.

2. Walter Elias Disney was born this week (December 5) back in 1905 ...what's your all time favorite Disney movie? Here's a list in case you're struggling...and yes, you have to pick one.

Don't even have to look at the list. Mary Poppins. No contest.

3. What was the last thing you purchased that you realized was a mistake after the fact?

Another easy question, for once! Some fragrance spray (her favorite) to send in a gift box to GiGi, our exchange student from Germany last year. Went to ship the package yesterday and discovered that you can't mail anything like that, either domestically or internationally, because it's flammable. I've had to open the box and unwrap the gift, and now I'm in the process of getting a different gift and wrapping, packing and shipping it. And I have to take the fragrance spray back, now that I found the receipt. For someone who really tries to be efficient, stuff like this makes me crazy.

4. What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?

Fortunately, not the one in #3! I actually don't have much shopping. We've cut way back and have donated much of our Christmas and mostly do stockings and simple gifts. I'd say I do half online, primarily because that's my favorite way to buy books and music now.

5. Amaryllis-snowdrop-poinsettia...your favorite winter blossom?

Poinsettia. But I don't like it after January 1, and I have no patience for trying to keep it alive.

6. What is one thing on your personal Christmas wish list? I think we all want peace on earth so let's make this answer an actual item.

I really can't think of anything right now. Maybe a white gold chain necklace.

7. If you could only use one word today what would it be?


Yeah, back in August I never thought I would ever say this again. But today we only hit 40 degrees for about 20 minutes when the sun peeked out around 4:00.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. And while I obviously am too young to remember the actual occurrence, it makes me sad that we are so distant from that date and we have lost so many of that generation that probably most people today won't even think about it or remember the significance of the date.


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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

O Christmas Tree

I couldn't figure out why I was getting NO comments today. Then I realized this never posted. Guess it would help to set the correct time!

After years of real trees, we are finally making the move to an artificial tree. My girl's vocal chords and her breathing ability just can't handle a real tree any more. This has been something we considered years ago, but the kids were so traumatized by the idea you would have thought we had told them we were giving them up for adoption.

Now, however, we seem to be in a bind because it is a bit late to be getting one, plus local availability seems to be sparser this year due to the economy and retailers not wanting to risk being stuck with leftover inventory. And what's out there is, frankly, ugly and cheap-looking. We don't want to pay big bucks, but we want to pay enough to get a nice-looking, quality tree. We're not opposed to looking online, but it's hard to tell what you're getting. So I thought I'd toss out the question to my blog friends!

Sooo, what say you? Real or artificial at your house? If artificial, where did you get yours? Is there a brand or type you recommend? Feel free to include a link!


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Monday, December 5, 2011

The Sounds of Night Book App

The Sounds of Night
Company name: Christian Apps 4 Kids
Founder: Jessica Kirkland
Type of App: Book app
Target Audience: Children ages 2-8 years
Availability: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch,
and all Android phones and tablets.
Price: Apple App Store: $5.99
Android Marketplace: $2:99

The Sounds of Night is a book app that helps put a child's mind at ease when the lights go out at bedtime. This book addresses one of the primary feelings young children face; fear. The Sounds of Night reinforces the principle that God is the Creator of every creature. Since God makes all the animals that scurry and screech at night, children can lie down and sleep in peace.

FEATURES: The Sounds of Night has over 75 touch points/interactions. It has rich illustrations and 4 Bible verses on fear that kids can learn with their parents and share with their friends.

DEVELOPMENT: Jessica Kirkland is a member of Moms with Apps. She recently launched Christian Apps 4 Kids, which seeks to draw kids closer to Christ one app at a time. Her inaugural app is a result of the fear that was such a part of her life:

In every season of life, the Enemy would whisper the lie that I would “never make it” to the next. I believed it. Time and time again, I thought his words held power. As a young child, I never thought I would live to see my school years. Once I entered school, I never thought I would live to see the next day, next grade, or milestone in life. I listened to a very real enemy, even though I didn’t want to. Even though I came from a strong, Christian family, I felt powerless to stop the lies. Fear gripped me, stole from me, and taunted every careful step I took.

Jessica believes the only way to be free from fear, as an adult or child, is to replace fearful thoughts with God's Word. Her desire for each book project is that they not only build character, but help set kids free.

The book app was developed in partnership with ROAR.

Click this link for a QR Code Flyer which you can print to help spread the word)


Jessica Kirkland lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, Robb, and five-year-old triplets. She is an author and speaker whose greatest passion in life is to see young families grow deeper in their walk with God. Jessica's newest adventure includes launching Christian Apps 4 Kids,, which seeks to draw kids closer to Christ one app at a time. A recent release is a book app that addresses fear and scary nighttime sounds called The Sounds of Night, designed for kids ages 2-8. When Jessica isn't writing, you can find her cheering her boys on at the soccer field, or watching her little girl at the dance studio. To find out more about her current writing projects, connect with her at: Christian Apps 4 Kids or on her personal blog:


$75 Best Buy Gift Card

To enter the giveaway,
leave a comment on this post
or at any of the blog tour hosts
listed here.

Deadline for entry is 12/16/11.

I have very mixed emotions about this product. As far as the product itself goes, it is well-done and conveys important truths. I like the way it explains what the sounds are and that God made the various animals that hoot and howl, and the verses at the end of the book reinforce the concept of trusting God with fears. Young kids will enjoy the interactive elements of touching the screen and hearing a variety of sounds, such as rustling leaves and creaking doors as well as names of objects pictured. But I feel somewhat like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, resisting change and grasping for Tradition! I fear that too many parents will rely on technology and apps such as these to soothe and entertain their children rather than spending the one-on-one face time. I do appreciate that there is a Read to Me option. But when it's the hundredth time to read it (I can still recite parts of Goodnight Moon!), I fear many will opt for the easy way out. I love technology. It is a huge part of our children's lives. But I worry for the impact it is having on our children who are embracing it too early and missing out on some of the essential "real-life" experiences that it is replacing. And call me old-fashioned, but I really don't think a 2- to 8-year-old needs to be taking a phone/pad to bed. Use with extreme caution.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kathy Carlton Willis Communications as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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