Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter by Nicole Rivera

WOW!

Before I begin, let me just say – I really really like this cover! The one that is wrapped around my advance paperback is pretty, sure, but the one I’ve used below really catches the eye!

OK . . .  now to what is between the covers.

I LOVE . . . LOVE LOVE LOVE . . . the Harry Potter series.

I even love the movies.

In my personal opinion, the 8 HP movies are a bright and shining example that once in a while . . . a long while . . . a movie (in this case, moviescan be made right!

Yes I know – I got distracted again. I do that.

OK . . . WOW!

And I really mean WOW!

Nicole Rivera has a gold mine in this wonderful devotional! This book has not only given me a  new appreciation for one of my all-time favorite book series, it has shown me a wonderful new look into the story behind the story!

I don’t know if I ever would have connected all of those dots. Of course, I never saw the Biblical significance in the Narnia stories either – until someone pointed them out to me. That is the brilliance of such stories (or rather – parables).

God has truly given Nicole a vision and I am thrilled she is sharing it with the world!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2015

Don’t miss Nicole’s further posts about finding faith in the fandoms – HERE!

And check out her awesome posts on MUGGLENET.COM too!

Here is a short synopsis of the book and the opening letter – which will give you some insight into Nicole’s vision.

Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter. Explore life’s deepest truths. Discover wisdom about friendship, courage, loyalty, and love from the Boy-Who-Lived and his magical friends.  Coming December 10, 2015 in ebook and trade paper.

Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter by Nicole L Rivera, is a Christian devotional especially suited for young adults and all fans of the remarkable series, and for use as in group Bible studies.

Nicole reveals the Harry Potter story as a guide to life’s deepest truths, offering inspiration about faith, friendship, courage, loyalty, love, and other wisdom of the Bible. She advises us about how to live like Christ and the Harry Potter heroes.

The book is not yet available everywhere but it is available for pre-order at the following retailers:  SMASHWORDS, B&N, ITUNES, and AMAZON.

Or preorder the trade paperback direct from Hickey’s Books.

PLUS – the individual e-books are still available at AMAZON, B&N & ITUNES until we can all get our hands on the paperback compilation.

THANK YOU Nicole for allowing me the honor of reading an advance copy of your amazing book! It has blessed me and given me renewed love of the Harry Potter series!

“Kate’s Song” by Jennifer Beckstrand | Forever in Apple Lake #1

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It’s a difficult thing sometimes to be a mom who enjoys reading more than almost anything else.

Almost…

I enjoy my children above all other things on this earth.

And it has been many years since I stayed up into the wee hours because I just could not put a book down.

When you’re a mom who puts your kids ahead of everything else, there are plenty of times you don’t want to put a book down. There are many times you’re annoyed at having to put the book down and there are times you stay up late – even when you know you’re going to regret it.

But it has truly been years since I read a book I could not put down. I sat there, mesmerized, turning pages and agonizing over what was going to happen next.

Jennifer Beckstrand’s story held me in its grip with an astonishing strength.
It’s nearly impossible to believe this is her first published novel. She has a talent that equals authors with years of experience and success.

Her characters are perfectly shaped and, at the same time, expertly flawed. Her story flows seamlessly from scene to scene. Her plot is meticulously crafted and woven neatly around each aspect of the story.

She has created a uniquely wonderful adventure and I feel blessed to have been invited along for the ride.

5star

For more info and extras, click HERE to visit Summerside Press

And here is a brief synopsis about the book too:

Kate Weaver was raised in an Amish home and has always been expected to choose baptism and strict observance of the Ordnung. But Kate is blessed with a beautiful singing voice, and when another path leads her to the academy for vocal training, she struggles to understand God’s will for her life. She returns to Apple Lake, haunted by a violent encounter with a fellow student, and finds herself drawn to the peace and devotion of her Amish home. But can she give up her dreams? Or will her calling forever separate her from the people and the way of life she holds so dear? Nathaniel King has never wavered in his commitment to the community and the Old Order Amish Church into which he is baptized. He has been in love with Kate for as long as he can remember, and he is devastated when she leaves Apple Lake to attend the academy. When Kate returns, will she make his most profound hopes a reality–or will she break his heart all over again?

There are also more reviews HERE at ChristianBook.com HERE to visit the book page on GoodReads

And click HERE to visit Jennifer’s website.

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CONTEST | Real Women: Leading with Proverbs 31 Values

Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values is a must-have leadership resource for today’s Christian woman. Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder have successfully learned to navigate the marketplace by cultivating biblical truth, credible relationship development, and practical application into everyday life through ten foundational principles.

Lisa and Dawn are celebrating the release of their book with an iPad Mini giveaway and a Facebook “Leading with Values” author chat event on March 20th.

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One winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini
  • Real Women Leading by Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder

Real Women Leading Cover

{MORE ABOUT REAL WOMEN LEADING}

With Proverbs 31 values.

Today’s marketplace is not always a “values-friendly” environment. Business leaders Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder show you that you can live and thrive in a “valueless” workplace when you live by biblical values and principles.

Real Women: Leading with Proverbs 31 Values is a must-have leadership resource for today’s Christian woman. Written by women in the marketplace, Real Women cultivates biblical truth, credible relationship development, and practical application into everyday life through ten foundational principles. Once women embrace these ten principles, they will soon discover the multiple attributes of the Proverbs 31 woman in today’s marketplace and learn practical ways to implement the wisdom from that timeless Scripture passage.

Women will be encouraged to develop their God-given gifts and talents in the marketplace as they live out the principles that invite others to embrace the equality-inspiring values they live by. Knowing that we are not the end users of the gospel message, the Proverbs 31 leader will find the initiative to inspire the upcoming generation to view womanhood as a gift and continue the learning process that will impact generations to come.

Learn more and purchase a copy here.

Don’t miss out on the book or the chat party! What a great time for some fun and fellowship!

Lisa Troyer Dawn Yoder

{MORE ABOUT LISA TROYER DAWN YODER}

**Lisa Troyer** Sometimes referred to by friends as the “singing executive,” wife, mom, radio personality, recording artist, speaker, and author. Her Circle of Friends women’s outreach, formed over a decade ago, is growing in all directions. Lisa uses her gift of encouragement, her influence, and her resources to open doors for women to discover their significance and belonging. She and her family currently live in Ohio.

**Dawn Yoder** is passionate about developing people to discover their strengths and reach their leadership potential. As CEO of a 500-plus employee company, she seeks to bring values and principle-based thinking into all aspects of society through a round table environment. Dawn is a member of the John Maxwell coaching team, an international trainer, a speaker with the Circle of Friends ministry, a contributing writer, a songwriter, and a frequent worship leader. She and her husband, Jeff, have been married for more than 20 years and have four children.

Find out more about Lisa Troyer at http://www.newhopedigital.com/2013/09/real-women-leading/.

“The Calling” by Suzanne Woods Fisher | The Inn at Eagle Hill book 2

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OK… I think these books are my new favorite series! WHAT a turnaround! Here I thought there was something about Suzanne’s writing that was annoying me and I was ready to quit reading. Well I was right… sort of. It is Suzanne’s writing that was agitating me. But only because she draws a reader into the story so well that we feel the emotions that her characters are feeling. And at the beginning of “The Letters”, there was some serious agitation going around.

“The Calling” is a FANTASTIC read!

Suzanne Woods Fisher has managed to continue the story beautifully while introducing many new elements as well!

A small irony… when I wrote the words you just read above, I had only read about 50 pages of the book. I like creating the review template early on my computer (adding the picture and positioning it, copying in the synopsis, setting links, etc…) so all that’s left is to type in my thoughts and impressions. That way, if I have to do it on my phone later, it’s easier to get it all done. So I created this template with a few first impressions and then went back to reading.

As I read further, Suzanne introduced more and more elements that drew me even deeper into the story – to the point that I was in tears over what I was reading. AMAZING! Suzanne crafts a story that involves each character we are introduced to in ways that we could never imagine. She is a truly blessed author and I look forward to going back and reading each and every one of her other books while I wait for the next book in this series.

What a wonderful continuation of the story.

What a tremendous example of how God moves things and people in and out of our lives for our good. We almost never see God in the little everyday kind of things that happen to us. And most of the time we miss the grand plan that God has for us until it’s staring us in the face… and in some cases, not until it has already settled in for a nice long stay.

“The Letters” was very much a surprise to me. I began reading and was almost immediately irritated – to the point that I almost decided not to even finish the story. But, having a determination to finish what I start, I did. And I am so glad I did. It was an amazing story, a true blessing to my soul. And “The Calling” was even better! Now I find myself agitated again, except this time it is because there is so long to wait for the next installment.

5star

Here is a bit of info from the Baker Publishing House about the book and Suzanne Woods Fisher.

Bethany’s restless heart is searching for answers–in life and in love

Bethany Schrock’s love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending hot summer days wading through a lifetime of accumulation at the home of five elderly Amish sisters. She’s not sure what she wants out of life, but she knows that she’s not finding it in Stoney Ridge.

Then a new guest at the Inn at Eagle Hill ropes her into volunteering in a community project for down-and-outers. Reluctant at first, Bethany starts to feel a bit of joy and satisfaction again. But not so much that Jimmy Fisher, adorable and impossible, can woo her affections with his winks and tricks. Well, maybe a little.

When a figure from her past reenters her life, Bethany must decide: What does the past mean to her future?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers her trademark twists, turns, and tender romance in this delightful and exciting visit to the quiet community of Stoney Ridge.

“Fisher’s characters are living the simple life–or trying to, despite the hardships they are facing–and learning how to adjust their way of life without compromising their beliefs. We get a glimpse of life few outsiders are privileged to see, with some surprises, twists, and turns.”–RT Book Reviews

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Letters, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist, a Carol Award winner, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

You can find more info and an excerpt of the book HERE from The Baker Publishing Group.

You can click HERE to read more reviews and find other info on GoodReads.

And there’s a link above but here’s another to Suzanne’s WEBSITE

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity book review program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Happy Reading

And

GOD BLESS!

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“The Letters” by Suzanne Woods Fisher |The Inn at Eagle Hill book 1

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“The Letters” is a MUST READ! What a wonderful story! What a tremendous blessing! What a relief to find out how wrong I was about the book.

I don’t know why I had such a hard time getting into the book…especially since I had absolutely no trouble getting into “The Calling” – the second book in the series.

So maybe it was just me.

Suzanne Woods Fisher has a particular talent for getting a reader attached to the characters. I was so hooked, I found myself worrying and being frightened right along with them. I could feel the confusion and determination as if it were my own.

I have been so blessed by this book and by the second book in the series (review to come in a few days) and I find myself on pins and needles, waiting for the next one!

When we begin our story, the characters are all a little scattered and a lot stressed (maybe that’s why I felt so frustrated myself…I was already sucked in, I just didn’t realize it yet). As we go on, we get to see things go from bad to worse before we begin to see God’s plan emerge. And when it does, there are so many little things that suddenly make sense in a way that they never could have without the knowledge that God is in command and his plan will move us in the direction we need to go even when we don’t see it ourselves.

Suzanne Woods Fisher has an exceptional talent for showing us all these loose threads that we could never imagine weaving together… until we begin to see the bigger picture. Suzanne has indeed blessed her and I am exceedingly glad to be blessed myself by reading her wonderful books!

5star

And now I have an excuse to go back and read “The Keeper” again with a whole new outlook and excitement!

Here’s a short blurb from the Baker Publishing Group to give you a brief overview and a look at Suzanne herself:

Welcome to a place of unconditional love and unexpected blessings

When widow Rose Schrock turns her Amish farmhouse into a bed and breakfast, she expects there might be problems. The reaction of her cantankerous mother-in-law for one. Disapproval from the church for another. But what she doesn’t expect is that the guests at the Inn at Eagle Hill will spill their problems into her life and into her heart. She also never expects the kind of help and support she gets from Galen King, the quiet and rugged horse trainer next door. Love, Rose discovers, can bloom in the most unexpected ways.

With inspiration from a true story and her signature plot twists, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a fresh story of simple pleasures and strong faith in a complex world.

“I devoured The Letters in one sitting. Suzanne Woods Fisher weaves a cast of authentic characters, real-life problems, and a beautiful setting into a sweet and satisfying story. I can’t wait for the second in the series!”–Leslie Gould, Christy Award-winning and bestselling author of Adoring Addie

“Fisher’s characters are living the simple life–or trying to, despite the hardships they are facing–and learning how to adjust their way of life without compromising their beliefs. We get a glimpse of life few outsiders are privileged to see, with some surprises, twists and turns.”–RT Book Reviews

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award finalist. She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

You can find more info and an excerpt from the book HERE from The Baker Publishing Group.

You can click HERE to read more reviews and find other info on GoodReads.

And there’s a link above but here’s another to Suzanne’s WEBSITE

Happy Reading

And

GOD BLESS!

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25 Posts of Christmas: Next on the reading list.

Now that I have a little spare time and I am all caught up on my books to review, I plan to read nothing but Christmas stories!

Here’s a little overview on the books in my queue.

I’m finally going to finish “GRACE” by Shelley Shepard Gray 8501404

(The synopsis from GoodReads)

It’s never too late to go home.

It’s Christmastime at the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, and everyone is excited about closing down for the holidays.  But when two unexpected visitors appear seeking shelter, the family’s commitment to hospitality is tested.  First Levi arrives, sullen and angry…but insisting on staying for five days.  Next Melody shows up.  She’s almost nine months pregnant, but won’t say a word about why she traveled all the way from Kentucky by herself.  As the two strangers settle in, the Brennemans try to make the best of an uncomfortable situation, except for Katie, who knows a thing or two about keeping secrets.  She is determined to learn the truth about these two strangers…all while keeping her own secret safely hidden away.

All is revealed when a snowstorm traps them at the inn.

Then I’m going to read “PEACE”

17331333(A quick synopsis from GoodReads)

After a year of secrets and scandal, will this Amish community finally find peace under the bright promise of Christmas?

Beth Byler has a secret. Ever since she met Englischer Chris Ellis while helping out at the Yellow Bird Inn, she can’t stop thinking about him. She knows a relationship could never go anywhere–Chris was working undercover in Crittenden County as a DEA agent. That meant he faced danger daily and carried a gun, making him completely unsuitable for an Amish woman like herself. But she knew he felt the attraction, too. It was the reason he left so suddenly, promising never to see her again.

Then, three days before Christmas, while Beth is taking care of the inn, Chris returns. This time, he is bleeding and in need of a place to hide. Against her better judgment, Beth takes him in and tends to his wounds. She also promises to keep his presence a secret. Before long, it becomes clear that nothing between them has changed–a relationship is inevitable. But are they ready to sacrifice everything for this chance at love?

and “A Christmas for Katie”

15851936(A bit about the book from GoodReads)

Will a little Amish girl make a Christmas miracle?

It isn’t easy to be Katie Weaver. Her sister-in-law Ella is about to have a baby, making Katie an aunt for the second time … and she’s only six and a half! Plus, her favorite librarian, Miss Donovan, seems sad. She won’t even fix up the rundown nativity in front of the library in time for Christmas. Then, an old woman is attacked outside the library, and, one by one, the nativity figures start to disappear!

Luckily, there’s a new deputy in town, Connor Fields. He takes a real liking to Miss Donovan … and he promises to find the missing nativity pieces for Katie.

Now, all Katie has to do is pray that Ella’s delivery goes well and that some kind of nativity is in place for Christmas Eve. Oh, and that Miss D. falls in love with Connor. Katie knows from watching her three brothers that it makes people real happy. And that would be a Christmas miracle indeed!

Then I’m going to read “Christmas in Sugarcreek”

10680698(More about the story from GoodReads)

Judith Graber has always been the obedient daughter. When her older brother Josh struggled with his love life, she offered wise counsel. When her younger brother Caleb flirted with the idea of leaving their order, she firmly told him he was wrong. Over the years, she’s watched her younger siblings, helped around the house, and worked in her family’s store during her spare time. Judith feels overworked, overlooked, and underappreciated this holiday season.

But everything changes when her father hires Ben Knox.

Ben Knox is the “bad boy” of Sugarcreek. Though he’s never considered jumping the fence, he’s certainly never tried to be anything close to dutiful. Two years ago he left Sugarcreek under a cloud of shame. Rumors circulated that his rumspringa had been filled with more than the usual harmless explorations.

Now he’s back and working side by side with Judith.

As the chaos of the holiday season threatens to sap all joy, sparks fly between Ben and Judith. But Judith steels herself to ignore her infatuation. The last thing she wants to be is just one more girl who falls under Ben’s spell. Ben, on the other hand, wants Judith to realize there’s more to him than his bad reputation. When he fled Sugarcreek, he was running from a disruptive home life. Now that he’s back, he wants a fresh beginning.

Could this Christmas season bring love and a new life for the unlikeliest pair in Sugarcreek.

YAY! Shelley Shepard Gray OVERLOAD!

Looks like I’m in for some GREAT stories!

What are your plans for reading in the next few days? Or are you going to be running around shopping after Christmas sales and visiting relatives?

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25 Posts of Christmas: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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It’s here! Finally! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

As you open your presents and enjoy the day, make sure you take time to enjoy your family too!

Have a GREAT DAY!

And remember what today is all about!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!

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May God Bless you in this Holiday season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

25 Posts of Christmas Day 24: Christmas Eve!

There are hours left…only hours!

Presents are wrapped and stockings are hung. The tree is decorated and the kids are tucked into their beds, dreaming of Christmas morning!

Before you take yourself off to bed, take a peek at this;

Luke 2:1-20

King James Version (KJV)

2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And before you go to bed, take a minute to thank God for his wonderful gift and for his wonderful love!

And kiss your sweet children. They’re the best gift most of us could hope for!

GOD BLESS YOU!1 Day til Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 23: Volunteering

What do you do for your fellow man at this time of year?

Christmas-Volunteering-BannerEvery store we go to, there’s a brave man or woman standing outside with a bell and a little red bucket. They smile and wish us a “Merry Christmas” as we drop in our loose change – “The Salvation Army”

Churches pass out special shoeboxes for their congregations to fill up and send to children in other countries – “Operation Christmas Child”

And each town had their own special charities and projects that are going strong this time of year.

There are also a myriad of Shelters and community homes that feed thousands for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

What’s your personal volunteering opportunity?

And if you don’t volunteer, you should think and pray about it. When God commands us to give 10% of ourselves, he means more than our money! He means our time too!

So go out into the world and see what you can do to help!

2 daysMERRY CHRISTMAS!

GOD BLESS YOU!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 22: Take a deep breath!

Only three days until Christmas now.

IMG_2106Kick back and fix yourself a nice cup of cocoa!

YUM!

Throughout this season, we’ve all dealt with crazy traffic, rude drivers, angry shoppers and crazy weather.

Now the time is running out and we are all running around like crazy people.

Who else is feeling the pressure? Who else feels a little crazy?

This is why I say you should take a deep breath and fix yourself a nice cup of cocoa. Snuggle up with your kids and turn on a great Christmas movie and enjoy some time with your family.

Read a Christmas story as you put the kids to bed and enjoy some time with a good book.

Then you can get back to your Christmas shopping and wrapping.

GOD Bless you! And
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 20: Christmas Vacation!

All over the country, schools are letting out today for Christmas vacation! Moms and Dads are starting their Christmas vacation and Holiday plans really kick into a new gear. Christmas-Vacation-house-seen-from-sky-511x288

 

It’s the real start to this Holiday season for most people and it’s a wonderful time for families!

What are your plans, Traditions?

What does your family do this time of year?

ChristmasTrain2004Train rides!

Shopping!

Driving around and looking at all the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations!

Wrapping presents!

Christmas caroling!

Baking cookies!

So many fun things to do! But whatever you do, ENJOY this time with your family! That’s what this season is all about!

GOD BLESS YOU and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

5 Days til Christmas

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 19: Snuggling

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Who can believe it’s less than a week until Christmas?

Who loves snuggling?

One reason I enjoy this time of year is the opportunity to snuggle up under a warm blanket by a fireplace with some hot chocolate. YUM!

So go fix you some hot cocoa and snuggle up with a great book!

And have a great night!

6 Days til Christmas

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

GOD Bless you and your Family this season!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 17: Lights, Camera, Apple iPhone?

Have you seen it?

The new Christmas commercial from Apple…

I would have warned you to grab a box of tissues but it would have ruined it.

We “old-fogey” parents complain about technology ruining family time and we are bitter about our kids spending so much time playing video games or texting but this video shows an entirely different perspective, something a lot of people never think of when they see a teen on their iPhone® or Gameboy DS®.

I hope this commercial will give teens the idea that their family is more important than they sometimes realize. And I hope it will show parents that they don’t always know exactly what is going on with their kids. Don’t jump to conclusions parents. Just LOVE your kids.

OK… I have to go find another box of tissues now so I’m just going to keep this one short and sweet. I think the video says it all anyway.

I mean… How can I top that? Way to go Apple!

One other comment come to mind as I watch this. Too often, we participate in things but we miss the “little moments”.

The argument goes on and on that it’s better to “BE THERE” than to be video-taping but something like this can help us all hold onto those precious memories forever!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! 8 Days til Christmas

GOD Bless you!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 16: Christmas Cards

What do your Christmas cards look like?

You are sending out Christmas cards… right?

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CLICK THE IMAGE to go to Dayspring.

A friend of mine found this GREAT Christmas card and I wanted to share a little bit about them!

What Christmas is all about by Linus
HERE is a closer look at the words. Just gives you chills doesn’t it?

And the rest of the card is JUST as GREAT!

The card is a tri-fold. This is the inside
The card is a tri-fold. This is the inside
LOVE IT!
LOVE IT! PERFECT MESSAGE!
Even the envelope is CUTE!
Even the envelope is CUTE!

Who hasn’t seen that movie at some point or another? It’s a classic and one that every child should see! No I don’t like them picking endlessly on Charlie Brown but the lesson learned is so wonderful that it all balances out in the end.

And the card is such a cute one. It’s hard to find really GREAT Christmas cards anymore. SO many of them are JUST fancy or JUST flashy or only about Santa. It can be so difficult, when I find I you like, it makes me want to buy a hundred boxes so I’ll have them for years to come.

But that’s not really practical.

What great Christmas cards did you find this year? Are you sending out cards with a Biblical theme or just a Holiday theme?

9 Days til ChristmasWhether you send our Biblical cards or not, remember what the Christmas season is really about this year as you send out your cards and as you celebrate with your friends and family!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

GOD Bless You!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 15: BELIEVE!

Can you believe we only have 10 more days?

Speaking of Believe…

believe

I have seen a lot of crazy things this morning as I googled for a good picture to put here. Pictures talking about believing in the magic of Christmas and believing in Santa Claus. Pictures talking about believing in yourself or believing in love…

I believe the ONLY magic of Christmas is in the wondrous way God sent us his son those many years ago!

christmas-starWe were reading about the Star atop the Christmas tree last night (Yes, we’re a little behind on our daily ADVENT reading) and it talked about the way the star shined down on the little home where Jesus was when the Magi came looking for him.

If you have to think of that as magic to understand it, that’s fine as long as you acknowledge that it was “magic” only because of how we see “magic”.

It was God’s power – pure and simple!

And that power still shows today! All you have to do is look for it!

Dare to BELIEVE

I BELIEVE that too many people have forgotten JesusIsTheReasonForTheSeason_answer_2_xlargethe true meaning of CHRISTmas!

It’s gotten lost in the craziness of shopping and rudeness and commercialism.

I BELIEVE that we need to come back to the simple things!il_570xN_365729113_c50o

Simple Celebrations!

Simple Traditions!

Simple Gifts!

And Simple Faith!

We need to remember what Christmas is all about.

It’s about God and His love and the incredible gift He gave to us: Jesus, His son!

What do you BELIEVE?

Do you only believe in Christmas because it’s what you’ve always done or because it’s fun to get presents?

Because if you do, that’s fine but…

You would get so much more out of the season if you put your faith in God and discovered what this Holiday is REALLY about!

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10 Days til Christmas

Wishing you and your family a Merry and Blessed Christmas this year!

GOD BLESS YOU!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 14: Take a deep breath.

keep-calm-and-enjoy-christmas-pinterestOK…

By now you’re hip-deep in shopping, wrapping, baking and juggling lists a mile long – of things you still have to do before the big day!

So I have one piece of advice for you.

BREATHE!

Seriously, stop whatever you’re doing and take a deep breath.

Look around you and inventory the wonderful bits. Watch your children as they enjoy your wonderful baking or as they add one last toy to their Christmas list.

Take in the beauty of the decorations that adorn your home. Have a seat on the couch for even five minutes and look at your tree, the stockings, the lights.

Remember what is important this time of year – family, love.

Christmas is about love. Christmas is a celebration of God’s love. He sent us the ultimate gift and he did it ONLY out of love.

So take a minute to hug your children, your husband and tell them how much you love them. And remember that they are the ones that this holiday season is for!

11 Days til ChristmasMERRY CHRISTMAS!

God loves you!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 13: Christmas Cookies

Today’s post is a sugar-filled free-for-all of Cookie Goodness!

Hope you enjoy the yummy pictures and the delicious recipes! And I hope you grab your kids and go get baking!

I meant to do 12 for the 12 days of Christmas but I went over by a few. I’m sure you won’t mind…

EVERY PICTURE is linked to the recipe!

Sugar Cookies with Ornamental Frosting
Sugar Cookies with Ornamental Frosting
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
Cinnamon Crinkles
Cinnamon Crinkles
Chocolate Snowball Cookies
Chocolate Snowball Cookies
Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies

To be 100% honest, I’m not certain the picture above is for the recipe on the page – I think it’s just a pretty picture they found. But don’t miss the page, there are a bunch of GREAT recipes shared!

Peanut Butter Rudolph Reindeer Cookies
Peanut Butter Rudolph Reindeer Cookies
Chocolate Mint Wafer Cookies
Chocolate Mint Wafer Cookies
Wreath Cookies
Wreath Cookies
Silver Bells
Silver Bells
Sugar Thumbprints
Sugar Thumbprint Cookies
Minty Christmas Cookies
Minty Christmas Cookies
Snowflake Shortbread COokies
Snowflake Shortbread Cookies
Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

BE CAREFUL – the site for the recipe below is not entirely family-friendly.

Be careful. This site is not completely family-friendly.
Peppermint Twist Kisses

And of course, we can’t have a Cookie-overload post without a recipe for Peppermint Bark!

Peppermint Bark
Peppermint Bark

ENJOY!

And while you’re baking and sampling, consider your neighbors, your postman(woman), your landlord, your teachers (if your kids are in public school).

Send cookies to your loved ones! It’s great for two things!

– Your time and your care and your love goes into them as you bake. The people you share them with will appreciate that.

– You won’t gain an extra 20 pounds because you’re eating tons of cookies! LOL!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
12 Days til Christmas

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 11: My Favorite Christmas Movie

FAIR WARNING!
Adults read this WITHOUT your young children reading over your shoulder.

We are down to two weeks. Only two more weeks until Christmas morning.

My absolute favorite Christmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street. I watch it every year. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve watched that movie.

What’s yours?

Miracle on 34th street deals with a lot of touchy subjects and I’d like to talk a little bit about one of them today: Faith.

The idea of Faith is a tricky one. Belief in Santa Claus or The Easter Bunny or so many others, are often lumped in with belief in God and there is a line in the movie that caught my attention last night and I think that line is the real heart of the issue.

There is a scene in the movie where “Santa” talks with Mrs. Walker – one of the main characters – the mom who “doesn’t believe”.

I’m not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I… I… I’m a symbol.
I’m a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives.
If you can’t believe, if you can’t accept anything on faith, then you’re doomed for a life dominated by doubt.
~ Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street

My only real problem with the statement above is that a lot of people attribute this type of “faith” with faith in God and that sends a very wrong message.

Faith in God is very different from faith in myths or whimsical figures or anything else along those lines. And because of that – too often people either feel afraid to allow their children to ever believe in Santa Claus because telling them differently later might make them question their faith in God…

Or they encourage them to believe and make a big production of the whole thing and carry it all too far. And then they try to drag it out much longer than necessary to allow the children to keep that “faith” even after they’re ready to let it go.

I feel it’s only fair at this point to let you know that my children figured out all by themselves just who “Santa Claus” is in our family.

I was talking about this with a dear friend and we have come to the conclusion that there is a danger in the whole idea of Santa Claus
(THIS IS NOT POINTED AT ANYONE IN PARTICULAR – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

Santa Claus is worse than a myth.

Santa Claus is an excuse! An excuse to do something for your kids that they really don’t deserve at a time of the year where everyone has gone a little gift-crazy. It’s a way to ease your conscience… even though it’s not really about your conscience – it’s really about easing your guilt because you haven’t been as good a parent as you should have been and you know it.

We see it all the time in movies or in TV Shows, even books.

Some dad(mom) works too much, he(she)’s never home, the kids are spoiled rotten and they misbehave. They torment the housekeeper or the nanny or the au pair until they quit. This usually goes on for a while.

The story always shows this in a light that makes the kids look like the victims. They can’t help being so spoiled and bratty. They just want their mom or dad to be home more often.

I’m not going to get the popular vote for what I’m about to say next but it has to be said.

NO one in this situation is the victim! Except maybe the housekeepers and nannies and au pairs who are tormented by the spoiled children.

Parents are the ones responsible for their children. If they have to hire a nanny, they still need to be enough of a parent to teach their children how to behave properly. It’s the nanny’s job to watch the children, not be their parent.

And the children are equally at fault. No amount of bad behavior is acceptable, no matter what sort of attention it gets from a parent. And maybe it can be overlooked when the children are under the age of 6 but once they’re old enough to know how to dress themselves, they need to start growing up and start figuring out how human beings behave.

Of course this goes to a much larger issue and it’s a major problem with our society but I’ve ranted enough for today so I’ll stop there.

What’s the bottom line you say?

Parents, be parents! If you don’t want to be a parent, don’t have children. It’s as simple as that.

We pass on our convictions to our children by the things we tolerate. ~ Amish Proverb

And on that note, I will say adieu.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!14 Days til Christmas

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 10: Christmas Shopping

First, I want to know where this mall is because I WANT TO GO THERE!

Christmas-Shopping

Doesn’t it look like a wonderful place to shop?

The bright cheerful decorations, the airy layout. THAT TREE – WOW!
And the ice skating rink on the ground floor would be a BIG HIT!

I’m not like most people in my views on Christmas Shopping. I don’t rush out to the stores the day after Thanksgiving, a woman on a mission. I don’t search every single store for the perfect gift.

I go out with a bit of a plan in mind. I take the munchkins with me, during the week, during the day – when it’s not so busy. We don’t buy tons of things people don’t need. We aim for things that they will be able to use, something that they will appreciate, something that will bless them. After all, the thought really is what counts. So we make sure we put a lot of thought into it.

And we don’t just go after sales galore either. Not to say I don’t appreciate a good sale, because I really do. But I’m not opposed to paying full price. If you’re not willing to pay full price for something, what does that say about your feelings for the person you’re giving it to?

I would rather give one really well-thought out, heart-felt and wonderful gift than a dozen little nothings that are just going to go in the closet the day after Christmas.

I am also quite fond of hand-crafting gifts or baking.

You would not believe how much your time and effort means to most people. This is always a great idea for those on a very tight budget also.

Remember, Jesus’ gift was so much more huge than any that you will find in a store and it came only from him. Of course, no craft or baked good can compare with it either but you get the idea.

GOD BLESS YOUIMG_2092
and your family this CHRISTmas season!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 8: A Christmas Rant

grrrrrrrThis will be my first negative Christmas post this year and hopefully my last.

I spent hours, literally hours… yesterday fixing a post that took me hours to write/edit/organize to begin with… over a month ago.

If you’re a fan of my blog, you’ve probably seen it:  “The 25 Books of Christmas

Well, if you go read that post, it will tell you about why but if you want to know without having to go somewhere else, just keep reading.

I posted about Christmas books – 25 of them. And let me tell you, you never realize until you go look, that it’s difficult to actually find 25 Christmas books that you like. So I put in quite a few that I haven’t actually read. Most of them are on my to-read list but a few of them, I put in because I’d heard good things or (in the case of the ones that got the whole thing going) I loved the movie.

If you enjoy Christmas movies, you’ve probably seen “Mrs. Miracle” or “Call me Mrs. Miracle” at some point or other.

And if you’ve never read the books, let me caution you…

There is bad language in the first paragraph on the first page.
It’s bad enough the man calls his son such a thing but to actually spell out the word repeatedly is unnecessary and in very poor taste in my opinion.

First if all, it’s not really required to spell out the actual word. There are plenty of writers who allude to the word without actually putting it right there in black and white for all to see.

Second, to keep repeating it (it’s right there in the first chapter at least twice more) is just reprehensible.

Third – and this is the big one – It’s a story about an Angel! Am I the only one who thinks this is completely ridiculous? Really! In a story about an angel, we’re really going to put bad language… and spoken to a child in a completely inappropriate manner.

Needless to say, I felt a great desire to edit my post, removing the books by this author and adding in some others by trusted Christian Authors.

And that is what has truly annoyed me.

Everything, and I mean everything I did to edit this post met with disastrous results. Every picture I tried to insert, every excerpt I tried to paste and every synopsis I tried to move caused mass havoc.

Suffice to say I had a rough day and it took copious amounts of Hot Cocoa and a favorite movie to soothe my ragged nerves.

On the bright side, I feel better having stood up for my principles.

And I am reminded again of what Jesus did for us so long ago.

His ideas were not popular with everyone. His teachings made a lot of people angry and he ultimately died for his principles.

So with that in mind, I feel even better about it all.

Rant over. Go about your business.

17 Days til ChristmasAnd…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

GOD BLESS YOU!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 7: Gingerbread Houses

Who can remember making Gingerbread houses as a child?

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Isn’t it cute!

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I never personally made a gingerbread house as a child but I’ve made them with my children.

The crumbly cookies…

The sugary white “glue” that sticks to everything…

The sugar that shakes off every piece of candy and makes a little trail everywhere the children walk as they sneak pieces.

SUCH FUN!

I can tell you I missed out on some serious fun as a child and I didn’t even know it. But I am doubly glad I made time to have the experience with my children.

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20131205-110823.jpgAnd I will always remember watching Home Improvement and seeing the crazy gingerbread service station that Tim made. He used real glue (actually it was caulk) and it was one of the few things he did that was not a complete disaster.
(Except that it wasn’t edible and he charged WAY too much for it)

But it was a GREAT memory of something fun he did with the boys.

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That gingerbread house is actually on par with some of the pictures you see here. I have never even contemplated making a gingerbread house as grand as any of these. I wouldn’t know where to begin and I’m certain it would be a disaster if I tried.

I’m sure all of these (including the Better Homes and Gardens example at the top of the post) were made by professional chefs and I applaud their skill and the many hours of labor that went in to these magnificent creations!

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Have you made a gingerbread house with your children this year?

You should make the time! It could quickly become a much beloved Christmas tradition they will pass on to their own children!

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This whole picture intimidates me. See the ones in the back…equally as cool as this one. WOW!

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I know my children would love the one above! The imagination! The creativity!

To come up with a Tree-house design and find a way to make it all edible (to be honest, I don’t know that it is 100% edible but it sure looks that way)

20131205-111002.jpgAnd this one, I am entirely certain was built by a professional chef/baker.

I hope the people who saw it or consumed it appreciate the hard work that went into it!

BRAVO!

20131205-111013.jpgThis is another of my personal favorites!

I can’t even begin to imagine where I would begin with something like this.

AMAZING!

And the detail.

WOW!

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And I know my daughter would LOVE the one above! A real Princess castle.

The only problem would come when anyone wanted to eat it. LOL!

But these Gingerbread houses also remind me of a very important lesson about God’s love! Jesus came and he gave us all of his time. He traveled and he taught and he healed and he raised the dead and most of the time it was a thankless job.

Most of the time it either went unnoticed or it caused the Pharisees to grumble and plot against him.

And I’m sure it was exhausting. It was dusty and dirty and he never had a place to rest unless some kind soul provided it.

And in the end he knew he would die. All his work and all his teaching would come to an end and he would die. Then he would return to heaven to await us.

What a gift!

What an amazing God we have!

18 Days til Christmas

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

GOD Bless You!

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