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 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 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 4: Christmas Cooking

When do you start your Christmas cooking?
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Do you cook for a big family? For all of your extended family? Or for just 2 or 3 people?

I have a friend who has just herself, her mom and her kids and they decided to buy a meal from Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving.

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It worked so well, they’re talking about doing it at Christmas too.

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Do you enjoy making special Holiday-themed deserts- yummy cakes, decorative deserts, cute cookies?

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Do you love putting together little treats you can give away as gifts?

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Do you make the most of the season?

Have you ever thought about what cooking a wonderful meal or making gifts to give away means?

Especially to the people who receive and enjoy them…

Have you ever thought about how those things compare to God’s love and sharing it with others?

Have a Blessed Christmas this year!
And share God’s love with as many people as you can.

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 1

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Can you believe it?

I can hardly believe how fast this year has rushed by! Before we know it, we’ll be welcoming in 2014!

I have decided to post every day leading up to Christmas. Some of the posts will be book reviews and I may have to find a way to get fancy with some of the non-Christmas books. LOL!

My hope is that I can find ways to remind everyone what this season is truly about.

Thought for the day:

“What are you Thankful for?”

I know we just celebrated Thanksgiving and we’re all about “Thanked” out but take a moment to think about some of the things you are thankful for as we approach the Christmas season and the New Year.

Think about your family and your children first.

Think about your job and the bills your paycheck pays second.

Think about all those miserable people who desperately need a little joy.

Now think about the gift God gave to us on the night so long ago that we celebrate as “Christmas” and say a prayer of Thanks for the many many blessings he gives us every single day!

Wishing you and your family a Blessed Christmas!

24 Days til ChristmasGod Bless You!

 

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The One Year Book of Amish Peace by Tricia Goyer! WIN! PROMOTE! CHECK IT OUT!

Do you enjoy Tricia Goyer’s Amish novels? Then you’ll LOVE “The One Year Book of Amish Peace”!

amish-peace3D

And, right now Tricia is running a fantastic promotion! Don’t miss the opportunity for great prizes!

CLICK HERE for more INFO!

And don’t miss out on the launch of this great devotional!
A bit about the book:

In our instantly connected world, it’s surprisingly easy to lose our connection to God. This devotional taps Amish wisdom in order to help us draw closer to God and hear his voice. In The One Year® Book of Amish Peace, you’ll get a daily taste of Amish values and wisdom. Tricia Goyer shares her fascination with the Amish in a way that will inspire and encourage believers to carve out more time in each day to listen to God and experience his presence. This daily devotional contains interesting facts about the Amish, recipes, and information about the way the Amish handle money, rear their children, and center their lives on faith in God. You’ll be inspired to slow down and find ways to simplify so that you, too, can experience God in the ordinary.” – “TriciaGoyer.com

You can also get a sneak peek at the book by clicking the link below.

The One Year® Book of Amish Peace (Sampler)

GOD Bless! And ENJOY!

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Read Kathryn Cushman’s NEW Book! And ENTER to WIN some GREAT Prizes!

I have not yet read this book but I know Kathryn Cushman to be a stellar author and I’m certain it’s wonderful!

Don’t miss it!

Enter the Chasing Hope Giveaway from author Katie Cushman!

Today I am here to tell you about a
GREAT opportunity!

Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman

Book Summary: (From Kathryn’s Website)

A talented runner fully committed to Olympic dreams, Sabrina Rice’s future was shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she has new goals and dreams that have nothing to do with running–something that’s become far too painful to think on.

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it’s all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist.

When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina becomes Brandy’s best hope for staying out of juvenile hall. Soon, Sabrina begins to feel an uncomfortable nudge that her new life is just about to be toppled…that God may be calling her to minister to this talented but troubled girl.

Book Info & Sample Chapter:

Can be found at http://www.katiecushman.com/books/

About the Sweepstakes

Kathryn Cushman’s newest novel, Chasing Hope, is about Sabrina Rice – a gifted runner and Olympic hopeful who’s had her dreams shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she’s focused on building new dreams. Dreams that have nothing to do with running.

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it’s all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist.

When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina gets the uncomfortable feeling her life plans are about to be toppled…again. And that God may be asking her to help this troubled but talented girl see her dreams past the starting block.

To celebrate the story, author Katie Cushman and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the CHASING HOPE Giveaway, and your chance to win one of three fabulous prizes connected with the story!

Timeframe & Notifications:

This giveaway starts September 16, 2013 and ends October 3, 2013 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, October 4, 2013, and announced at KatieCushman.com.

Chasing Hope Grand PrizeGRAND PRIZE:

CHAMPION’S CHOICE PACKAGE

Nike’s motto is: Just Do It, and Sabrina Rice of Chasing Hope lives out this attitude despite tremendous obstacles. But chasing dreams is hard work, and every champion needs fuel for their journey.

To celebrate everyday champions like Sabrina, we’re offering our Grand Prize winner the chance to fuel up, and have some fun as they chase their dreams.

The winner of this package will receive a $200 shopping spree to the Nike Online Store, and a 1-Year subscription to Runner’s World Magazine.

Chasing Hope Second PrizeSECOND PRIZE:

NEW STRIDE PACKAGE

In Chasing Hope, Brandy Philip has world-class talent, but she needs a fresh start, and a little extra help to get her on the right path. Just like Brandy, we all need a boost now and then, especially when it comes to our health and fitness goals!

While we can’t all have a personal trainer like Sabrina to help us meet those goals, our Second Prize winner will receive the next best thing: This prize includes a $175 value Nike + FuelBand accelerometer, which tracks each step taken and calories burned (and tells the time of day), and The Courage To Start running book, written by popular life coach and former self-proclaimed “couch potato”, John Bingham.

Chasing Hope Third PrizeTHIRD PRIZE:

REST & RECHARGE PACKAGE

In Chasing Hope, Sabrina and Brandy find that even the strongest runners also need time to rest.

Whether you run marathons, a carpool, or just weekly trips to the grocery store, you can always use a little you-time, and a chance to recharge!

Our third prize winner will get that chance with a $50 gift card to Spafinder.com, plus an inside look at the life of Eric Liddell, (Sabrina’s hero and inspiration), through the ‘Complete Surrender’ biography book, and the Chariots of Fire DVD, featuring Ben Cross.

How to Enter:

Go to http://www.katiecushman.com/chasing-hope-giveaway/ and complete the entry box, anytime between September 16 and October 3.

AND DON’T FORGET TO READ
“CHASING HOPE”!

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Back to Simple…

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While reading Cindy Woodsmall’s “Amish Vines and Orchards” series, I discovered something curious.

I have been a huge fan of eReaders for a long time. I’m not crazy about the basic kindle… I like having a touchscreen and the ability to download apps. I like the iPad but I also like having expandable storage.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is perfect for me!

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is perfect for me! It’s nice and light, has a touchscreen, there are tons of apps available, it offers expandable storage AND the price was right. So this is the device I bought. I have the kindle app, nook and several other reading apps. The one issue I have with the tablet is how difficult it is to find cases for it. Oh well. One fly in the ointment is not enough to throw the whole thing out.

I have been buying books on kindle now for a while and I really enjoy having them with me wherever I go. (I also enjoy catching all the freebie promotions!)

I really enjoy having them with me wherever I go.

However, there is still something special for me about “real” books. I love the feel of the book in my hands, I love turning the pages, I love reading by lamplight without having to worry about the glare hurting my eyes and I love seeing them all stacked neatly on my shelves. And I have a LOT of shelves that are just full of books. (Some of them are even kid’s books…LOL) I’m also quite fond of hardback books. I cannot count the number of times I’ve bought two copies of a book because I wanted it in hardback too. (Thank goodness for used bookstores huh!)

Anyway, to get back to the point…

While reading the “Amish Vines and Orchards” series, I discovered that I had trouble going back and forth between reading on my Samsung eReader and the “real” book.

I discovered that I had trouble going back and forth between my eReader and the “real” book.

I mentioned having a lot of books in my kindle app and I do. I love having them where I can take them wherever I go. So, while reading this series, I went back and forth between the “real” book and the books on my kindle app. And I noticed whenever I went to the app, I had a lot of trouble adjusting. This is a new experience for me. I’ve done this before with other “real” books and never noticed a problem.

So I must conclude that it is more to do with the content of the books than the book itself. So the next question is, Is this my brain’s way of telling me I need to simplify my life?

Is this my brain’s way of telling me I need to simplify my life?

I say this with only a hint of irony since I’m typing this post on my iPhone at the moment.

It’s a curious occurrence and I’m very interested to see if it continues.

I’ll let you know…

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NEVER FORGET!

NEVER FORGET!

Do you remember where you were that fateful day?
Have you taught your children what it all means?

Click on the image to read my blog post about this day.

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God Bless You!

The irony of “popular” fiction pricing.

I’ve been reading my way through a popular Amish series and I’ve been on the hunt for a bargain on book 2 (I have book 1 & “3) with no success as yet.

However, during my search, I have noticed something that is rather ironic.

Compare the two pictures below and see if you can figure out what I’m referring to.

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Have you spotted it yet?

While you’re trying to figure it out… keep in mind that “Divergent” has 487 pages and “The Winnowing Season” has 336 pages. Also keep in mind that Divergent has been out a bit longer and, in my experience, the sale price is better when they’re brand new.

And did you notice the difference in the markdown on these books? “Divergent” is $3 off and “The Winnowing Season” is only $1.50 off (especially ironic since it’s more expensive to start).

So what conclusions can we draw from this?

I wrote a blog post (you can read it HERE)about how much more expensive it is to be a good Christian and I think this proves my point beautifully.

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God Bless You!

Things I have learned about reading, about life, about me Part 1 of 3

dream-big-read

I am a reader, I am a writer, I am a teacher. But before all of these things, I am a mother. And being a mother is something that affects all of these things.

Would you like to know how?

I am doing this blog post a little differently. The following article is broken up into three parts. I will be posting it on my three different blogs since each part of it belong with the specific interests covered in that blog. It will make more sense if you read it in order but fee free to read it however you like.

And now: Things I have learned Part 1

Years ago, in a small Christian school, I learned about something called speed-reading. I also learned that it was something I did well — a little too well for some people. Reading has always been something I enjoy, something I do for fun. When other students were groaning about reading stories in English class, I didn’t hear them because I had already immersed myself in the world of that story.

It is true that when you do something a lot, you get better at it, you get faster at it. This was true for me in both ways. As a young woman, I could devour a full-length novel in an hour or two. I dove so deep into those words that the outside world ceased to exist for me. I was in the story and it would take a tremendous effort to drag me back out.

As I grew up and found other things to occupy my time, reading was less easy to sink into at a whim. I had school and I had to work to make money. And the older I grew, the more difficult school became.

For a time, reading was less a joy and more a necessity.

After college, I became a mother. For a long time after that, the only reading I did was food labels and instructions for putting together toys and baby furniture. Eventually I was able to find time for reading again, in small doses (I’ll take whatever I can get). With motherhood, I had to find a new way to read, a new way to explore those worlds. I no longer had the luxury of sinking into a story and tuning out the rest of the world. I had one child and then two who might need me at any given moment. I began exploring bedtime reading. I discovered very quickly that I can exist on little or no sleep. So I used the late hours as reading time. Why would I sleep when I could read!

I am not someone who will quickly choose a movie over a book. I can see the world in my head. Why would I NEED to see it on a screen?

Especially when they get it wrong so often.

Not too long ago, a good friend turned me onto Amish fiction and I am so glad she did. I enjoy it like I never thought I could. Who would think reading about the Amish would be so wonderful and exciting? Aren’t the Amish boring? Their lives consist of praying, working and behaving . . . right? Wrong. There is so much area inside and outside of those three things that we never consider. But trust me when I say, whether they are like us or not, they are immensely interesting and exciting!

And I find it so ironic that now, I have a new challenge that threatens my love of reading.

Go HERE to read Part 2

PART 1 PART 2 PART 3

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God Bless You!

Conceding a Point on Amish Fiction.

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Just for the record, I am not backing off on my earlier post. I still feel it is extremely important that Amish fiction be AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE to true Amish ways.

However, I have had a different point of view brought to my attention.

Perhaps so many of these lovely authors wrote a good, decent, wholesome, clean novel and they hoped to get it published but they were unable to sell it as it was written.

So ask yourself… what would the next step be?

Well, if they’re anything like me, they look at the market. And when they see how popular Amish fiction is currently – they would think to themselves “How can I fit my story into that genre?” and began editing. They would learn everything they can about Amish ways, dress, beliefs and language. Then they incorporate it all into their story. (I am not saying this is what every author who wrote a “less-than-perfect Amish” novel has done but I feel very strongly that some of them have).

Think about it. How many of these stories have you read (if you’re a fan of Amish fiction) that sounded like a novel written about normal people who just dressed like the Amish and used a few of their words? They’re still good books written by terrific authors. They’re just not truly about the Amish.

I stated in a previous post that I thought writers were determined to make us believe the Amish were exactly like us but I know that they are not. They are very different from us. They are very cautious to be different – to keep themselves separate.

I no longer think writers are doing this on purpose.

The best part is that I can enjoy these novels so much more now. I can let go of any bitterness or irritation and simply enjoy a good, clean story. And it’s refreshing to find the market flooded now with so many wonderful, wholesome stories when it used to be such a trial to find even one book that was not full of nasty language and inappropriate behaviors.

And so I shall.

Thank You to Beverly Lewis, Tricia Goyer, Vanetta Chapman, Wanda Brunstetter, Shelley Shepard Gray, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Cindy Woodsmall, Beth Wiseman, Dale Cramer, Amy Clipston, Mindy Starns Clark, Leslie Gould, Jerry Eicher, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Karen Kingsbury and all of the others I either haven’t read yet or haven’t discovered yet!

GOD BLESS YOU!

 

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Ode to Autumn

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All around us we are beginning to see signs of the marvelous changes coming our way.

Before we know it, the humidity will be replaced by a cool, crisp autumn feel of fall in the air. The leaves will change colors and float gracefully from their trees, covering the ground in a multi-colored quilt.

The leaves will change colors and float gracefully from their trees, covering the ground in a multi-colored quilt.

We’ll soon start seeing pumpkins everywhere. The trees & bushes are getting ready for a good long rest. The animals are storing up food and getting ready for hibernation.

The animals are storing up food and getting ready for hibernation.

We’ll pack away the swimsuits, pull the scarves and hats out and the kids will start complaining about having to wear their coats.

The pools will be tucked away, the outdoor furniture will get packed up and the portable heaters will start appearing on business-place patios.

And then you’ll see my ode to Winter.

I’m going to enjoy the approach of fall!

But for now, I’m going to enjoy the approach of fall!

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Amish Fiction: A general review

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I’ve recently begun reading Amish fiction (not just because it’s popular. It’s about all you can find now that’s decent. Plus I truly enjoy reading about a life that is simpler and yet so much more complex in many ways) and I just have to say that, overall, I am enjoying them more than I ever could have expected.

However, (you knew it was coming, right? Keep reading… trust me) I do wish people would stop trying to make them out to be just like us. I know why they do it but its very unrealistic and unbelievable. Don’t these authors realize that the Amish are NOT like us?

Maybe they don’t. Or maybe it’s just too difficult to write so in-depth about something you really can’t understand.

The bottom line is, we are different – very different! And I really wish authors would try to understand this. I know books sell better if there is sex (even the hint of it) or drama but, if that’s all you can write, please write about us English and leave the Amish alone. They can not/will not defend themselves and I can not stand to see them disrespected this way!

And if you are a fan (a REAL fan) of Amish fiction, then you should take a Stand with me!

Don’t read anymore “Amish” fiction unless it really is true to the Amish lifestyle. Don’t settle for “Amish on the surface only”!

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READING takes you places!

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I love to read and I hope, if you’re here… checking out my blog, it means you do too.

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God Bless You!