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 21: Christmas at Pebble Creek

Christmas-at-Pebble-Creek-eBook-194x300
This is a free eBook/ Novella that Vannetta Chapman offers to go along with her Pebble Creek Amish series! It’s definitely worth reading, free or not! So don’t miss it!

There is another freebie eBook/Novella that goes along with the series too: “Home to Pebble Creek” and you shouldn’t miss it either!

A short Synopsis about “Christmas at Pebble Creek” from Amazon:

Another wonderful story from The Pebble Creek Amish Series by Vannetta Chapman. Fans of the series will enjoy this chance to briefly revisit Pebble Creek, and new readers will be introduced to an Amish community that is more deeply explored in the three full novels, A Promise for Miriam, A Home for Lydia, and A Wedding for Julia.

As a bonus, this free eBook also includes Amish homestyle recipes for chicken and dumplings, green beans, and fresh bread.

Heavy snow blankets the southwestern Wisconsin Amish community as nineteen-year-old Grace Miller closes the schoolhouse for Christmas break. She’s looking forward to having extra time to help the family prepare for the holiday, and she is hoping to get a few more drawings in of the beautiful, snowy Pebble Creek landscape.

Her courtship with Adam Lapp is going on six months, and Grace can’t wait to give him his present: a blue-and-brown buggy blanket she crocheted for him. Yes, this Christmas is going to be especially joyful. Yet, amid the cheer of snowshoe outings, church potlucks, and holiday festivities, Grace is given a bittersweet reminder of the Christmas story. Grief is present with celebration, and though the future is rarely certain, she is given a heartwarming glimpse that God knows our needs before we do and will provide.

One of the things I have noticed about these books is how easy it is to overlook any negatives. The wonder and joy of the stories easily outweigh any grief or heartbreak we see.

I realized when I looked back at the reviews I have written about the novels in this series that I glossed right over the grief that is as much a part of these novels as the joy. I didn’t do it on purpose. It’s just one of those things that a person does – it’s something I do anyway…

From the heartbreak that opens the first novel to the worry over loved ones that unfolds in each story to the losses we experience with and through the characters, these stories show us that the good in life is tempered with bad.

I think at least a part of the reason for this is that we must have some bad to truly appreciate any good. If there was never a reason to worry about our loved ones, could we really appreciate them the way we need to?

God, in his magnificence, knows this about us. He designed us this way and he has a reason. Sometimes his ways are hard to understand but they are the best way. It just isn’t always easy to see it in the beginning. Many times it is in retrospect that we see the beauty of God’s plans!

I think Vannetta’s novels show this beautifully. She doesn’t dangle a character in front of us, letting us become attached to them and then yank them away. She makes them beloved in a different way, a normal way and then either shows us their loss and grief or shows us others grieving for them.

They are truly beautiful!

To find this book on Amazon click HERE.
And you can get “Home to Pebble Creek” on Amazon by clicking HERE.

You can find more reviews and info by clicking HERE to go to the book page on GoodReads

And you can read more about Vannetta Chapman on her website HERE

4 Days til Christmas

Wishing you and your family a Peaceful and Joyful Christmas season this year!

MERRY
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 18: Another wonderful story from Pebble Creek

9780736946162Once again I have received a book to review and it was the third book in a series.

And it too began a crazy search for the first two books.

I really like to read books in order. I can’t help it. I’m weird that way.

The first book was not difficult at all to find. It was the second book (again… it must just be me) that made itself hard to track down. But I finally found it!

And ironically, I read the eBook “Home to Pebble Creek” before I read any of the others in the series (It was FREE on Amazon. I couldn’t help myself!) but I’m going to have to go back and re-read it after having read these three books that started the series.

In a few days you’ll see my review of “Christmas in Pebble Creek” which is the second eBook Vannetta Chapman has released (Another FREEBIE) to go along with the series.

I’m sure it will be just as wonderful a story as the rest of them!

And I really hope we see more stories from Pebble Creek too!

Here are a few words from Harvest House Publishers about “A Wedding for Julia” before I share my thoughts.

A Wedding for Julia, the third book in a romantic series from popular author Vannetta Chapman, takes a last look at the Amish community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways.

Julia Beechy is so stunned, she can hardly breathe. Her mother’s announcement that she must either marry or move from the family home upon her mother’s imminent death catches Julia by surprise. How can she leave the only home she has ever known? What about her dream of opening her own Plain café?

When Caleb Zook offers support, comfort, and a solution, Julia is afraid to accept it. Can she marry someone she barely knows? Is it the right thing to do? Is this God’s plan for her future?

Caleb thought his time for marrying was long past, but he feels a stirring in his heart he cannot shake for this beautiful, forlorn woman. Amid the circumstances of this life-altering decision, the people of Pebble Creek weather the worst storm to hit Wisconsin in the last hundred years. Where will Julia and Caleb be on the other side of it?

Another heartwarming story from Vannetta Chapman. She’s too good a writer to do anything but great! Once again we see the wonderful weaving in of characters from books 1 & 2 in the series – one more reason I just love series.

One thing I enjoy deeply about Vannetta’s books is how real everything and everyone is to the reader. You expect to look up and see them all around you, women knitting and children playing. You expect to hear the door open and men stomping the mud off their boots. She describes every little thing so easily and so well.

She also crafts a full-bodied story line. It really brings home that these people are just like us in so many ways. They may live under much stricter standards but their children run and shout. The ladies get together and chat while wrangling the kids. The men still gather and talk about the weather or the crops or changes in the area around them.

She makes them real for us.

How many times have we read stories about people in the English world dealing with the very same things?

…A parent pushing their child to get out into the world and get married.

…A person afraid to commit to a marriage with someone they don’t “feel that way” about.

…And I can’t even count the number of romances I’ve read where difficult situations – storms, robbery, cold of winter, the list goes on and on – have forced two people to examine their true feelings for each other.

These books are an excellent link to the Amish world, a peek into their lives and a window into their world. I find myself very glad there are two eBooks after this one. And I hope she doesn’t stop there. I hope to have more stories from Pebble Creek to read!

And here’s a bit of irony for you:
Most people would probably miss this but I’m just weird this way. On the cover of this book we see a young woman with jet black hair while the cover for the first book: “A Promise for Miriam” shows a young woman with brown hair. And yet it is Miriam who is described as having black hair. It’s mentioned several times in the first and second books. Not that it really means much – it’s just one of my little idiosyncrasies. It has no bearing whatsoever on the stories – they’re all just FANTASTIC! And I highly recommend the entire series to EVERYONE!

5star

If you would like to read more about this book click HERE to go to the page at Harvest House Publishers. You can also read a sample chapter on this page!

Or click HERE to read more reviews over at GoodReads

And you can read more about Vannetta Chapman on her website HERE

7daysWishing you and your family a Merry and Blessed Christmas this year!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Harvest House Publishers 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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I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

25 Posts of Christmas Day 18: Another wonderful story from Pebble Creek

9780736946162Once again I have received a book to review and it was the third book in a series. (I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers in exchange for an honest review)

And it too began a crazy search for the first two books.

I really like to read books in order. I can’t help it. I’m weird that way.

The first book was not difficult at all to find. It was the second book (again… it must just be me) that made itself hard to track down. But I finally found it!

And ironically, I read the eBook “Home to Pebble Creek” before I read any of the others in the series (It was FREE on Amazon. I couldn’t help myself!) but I’m going to have to go back and re-read it after having read these three books that started the series.

In a few days you’ll see my review of “Christmas in Pebble Creek” which is the second eBook Vannetta Chapman has released (Another FREEBIE) to go along with the series.

I’m sure it will be just as wonderful a story as the rest of them!

And I really hope we see more stories from Pebble Creek too!

Here are a few words from Harvest House Publishers about “A Wedding for Julia” before I share my thoughts.

A Wedding for Julia, the third book in a romantic series from popular author Vannetta Chapman, takes a last look at the Amish community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways.

Julia Beechy is so stunned, she can hardly breathe. Her mother’s announcement that she must either marry or move from the family home upon her mother’s imminent death catches Julia by surprise. How can she leave the only home she has ever known? What about her dream of opening her own Plain café?

When Caleb Zook offers support, comfort, and a solution, Julia is afraid to accept it. Can she marry someone she barely knows? Is it the right thing to do? Is this God’s plan for her future?

Caleb thought his time for marrying was long past, but he feels a stirring in his heart he cannot shake for this beautiful, forlorn woman. Amid the circumstances of this life-altering decision, the people of Pebble Creek weather the worst storm to hit Wisconsin in the last hundred years. Where will Julia and Caleb be on the other side of it?

Another heartwarming story from Vannetta Chapman. She’s too good a writer to do anything but great! Once again we see the wonderful weaving in of characters from books 1 & 2 in the series – one more reason I just love series.

One thing I enjoy deeply about Vannetta’s books is how real everything and everyone is to the reader. You expect to look up and see them all around you, women knitting and children playing. You expect to hear the door open and men stomping the mud off their boots. She describes every little thing so easily and so well.

She also crafts a full-bodied story line. It really brings home that these people are just like us in so many ways. They may live under much stricter standards but their children run and shout. The ladies get together and chat while wrangling the kids. The men still gather and talk about the weather or the crops or changes in the area around them.

She makes them real for us.

How many times have we read stories about people in the English world dealing with the very same things?

…A parent pushing their child to get out into the world and get married.

…A person afraid to commit to a marriage with someone they don’t “feel that way” about.

…And I can’t even count the number of romances I’ve read where difficult situations – storms, robbery, cold of winter, the list goes on and on – have forced two people to examine their true feelings for each other.

These books are an excellent link to the Amish world, a peek into their lives and a window into their world. I find myself very glad there are two eBooks after this one. And I hope she doesn’t stop there. I hope to have more stories from Pebble Creek to read!

And here’s a bit of irony for you:
Most people would probably miss this but I’m just weird this way. On the cover of this book we see a young woman with jet black hair while the cover for the first book: “A Promise for Miriam” shows a young woman with brown hair. And yet it is Miriam who is described as having black hair. It’s mentioned several times in the first and second books. Not that it really means much – it’s just one of my little idiosyncrasies. It has no bearing whatsoever on the stories – they’re all just FANTASTIC! And I highly recommend the entire series to EVERYONE!

5star

If you would like to read more about this book click HERE to go to the page at Harvest House Publishers. You can also read a sample chapter on this page!

Or click HERE to read more reviews over at GoodReads

And you can read more about Vannetta Chapman on her website HERE

7daysWishing you and your family a Merry and Blessed Christmas this year!

GOD BLESS YOU!

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I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

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 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!

M0567_Z

10 Days til Christmas

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

GOD BLESS YOU!

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I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

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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Posts of Christmas Day 12: A New Beginning in Pebble Creek

Book 2 in The Pebble Creek series is just as wonderful as the first.

Home-for-Lydia-A-662x1024In “A Home for Lydia” we get to know the people who live in the other side of the Pebble Creek community.

This side of the community is a little more liberal, a little more accepting of technology but clearly just as Amish. And ironically, there are a few ways they seem a bit more Amish.

We were introduced to this community in the first book: as Miriam’s brother lives there. So it’s not completely new to us.

We get to see a lot of the same characters. However, the main characters are mostly new.

I don’t know about you but I really enjoy continuing series. They’re my favorite kind of books. I love reading how the characters are doing in latter books and watching how they interact with new characters and difficulties. It’s why I love reading so much. Too many movies that do a continuing series ruin the whole thing in the second movie. Books aren’t that way (most of the time…I’m sure there is a series or two out there that is).

Anyway, before I get going…

A few words from Harvest House about the book:

A Home for Lydia, the second book in a new romantic series from popular author Vannetta Chapman, centers again on the Plain community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges to their community from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways.

Aaron Troyer simply wants to farm like his father and grandfather before him. But instead he finds himself overseeing the family’s small group of guest cabins nestled along the banks of Pebble Creek. That also means he must work with the cabins’ housekeeper, Lydia Fisher.

Lydia is the most outspoken Amish woman Aaron has ever met, and she has strong opinions about how the guest cabins are to be run. She also desperately needs this job. Though sparks fly between boss and employee at first, when the cabins are robbed, nothing is more important to Aaron than making sure Lydia is safe.

Together they work to make the vacation property profitable, but can they find out the identity of the culprit before more damage is done? And is Lydia’s dream of a home of her own more than just a wish and a prayer?

I will grant you, the story is not one that takes place at Christmas but the things we see in the story are equally Christmas-oriented. There are many people out in the world without a home at this time of year. And many people are losing jobs or having to find new ones at Christmas-time.

The book deals with serious emotional and relational issues that are just as present in our “Englisch” communities as they are in the Amish community.

Aaron finds himself with a lot more responsibility than he wants and he would much rather be back on the farm – not taking care of a bunch of cabins that are falling down around him. I love how we see the humanity in his behavior. Too often, we think of the Amish as “perfect” because they hold themselves to much higher standards than we do but they are just as human as everyone else.

And one of the things I enjoy most about this series is how the people in Pebble creek deal with the “Englisch” community. There was a very serious thing that reared it’s ugly head in the first book and we see it come to fruition in the second book. It’s intriguing to watch the main characters’ reaction to it and then “hear” their thoughts about it all.

All told, it’s another wonderful book in this series and I would highly recommend it to anyone! 5 STARS!

5star

If you would like to read more about this book click HERE to go to the page at Harvest House Publishers. You can also read a sample chapter!

Or click HERE to read more reviews over at GoodReads

And you can read more about Vannetta Chapman on her website HERE

13 Days til Christmas

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

GOD BLESS YOU!

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I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

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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25 Posts of Christmas Day 6: Welcome to Pebble Creek

This is not advertised as a Christmas story but Christmas is a very important part of it and it’s such a Heartwarming story, I feel that it absolutely belongs here!

A-Promise-for-Miriam-662x1024Be prepared. This book starts a little rough. But it’s worth reading so don’t give up. (I should clarify that… When I say rough, I mean it’s very, very sad.)

I don’t want to ruin anything so I won’t say anymore.

This story reminds me again of why I love reading about the wonderfully simple lives the Amish live.

I don’t think there is any way we “Englisch” can truly understand the sacrifices and hardships and the joys and fulfillment that comes with their choices in life. But I really wish we could.

I wish more people could see the beauty in such a simple lifestyle.

Perhaps someday we can find our way back to such wonderful simplicity and enjoy the warmth of family and community that comes with it.

There’s just something about Vannetta Chapman’s writing that makes this such a reality for me. Her book “A Simple Amish Christmas” was the very first Amish story I read and it’s definitely what made me fall in love with the genre.

And now I feel as if I’ve been invited into the Pebble Creek community.

What an amazing story!What a beautiful community! What a wondrous outcome!

Read it! You won’t regret it!

5star

What Harvest House has to say about this book:

A Promise for Miriam, the first book in a brand-new romantic series from popular author Vannetta Chapman, introduces the Amish community of Pebble Creek and some of the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges to their community from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways.

Amish schoolteacher Miriam King loves her students. At 26, most women her age are married with children of their own, but she hasn’t yet met anyone who can convince her to give up the Plain school that sits along the banks of Pebble Creek. Then newcomer Gabriel Miller steps into her life, bringing his daughter, an air of mystery, and challenges Miriam has never faced before.

Will Gabe be able to let go of the past that haunts him? He thinks he just wants to be left alone, but the loving and warm community he and his daughter have moved to has other plans for him. After a near tragedy is averted, he hesitantly returns offers of help and friendship, and he discovers he can make a difference to the people of Pebble Creek—and maybe find love again.

You can find more information about this title HERE on the Harvest House website.
For more reviews and other information you can click HERE to go to GoodReads
and more about the author, Vannetta Chapman on her website HERE

19 Days til Christmas

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 5: Do you cry at movies?

Do you have a movie you watch every year for Christmas? Is it a sad movie? Do you curl up on the couch with a box of tissues and some comfort food?

For me that movie is “The Christmas Shoes”.DVD Christmas Shoes
I teared up the first time I heard the song. And my reaction to the movie was even stronger.

I sit and watch and cry and then… when it’s all over, I go on to watch “The Christmas Blessing” which is the next movie/book in the series.

018713527318The story is just as heart-breaking and I cry just as hard… maybe even a little harder at times.

And then last Christmas season, I discovered another movie in the series.

“The Christmas Hope”

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Almost from the first , you want to bawl your eyes out. And yet, you keep watching because you know it has to work out.

You know something good has to happen. Something miraculous has to occur for sitting through 2 hours of tears and heartbreak to be worth it.

And then we get to the message.

And we are reminded of what Christmas is all about. We are reminded of the true meaning if this season, Family and love.

And the gift God sent to us on that night so long ago.

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Merry Christmas and God Bless You!

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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 3: Christmas & Candy Canes

Have you ever heard the story of how candy canes got started?

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From what I can gather, candy canes are one of the great urban legends in the world. Apparently, a combination of time and infamy have built the story to such fantastic heights that everyone has a different version.

A candy-maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols from the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.

He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.

The candymaker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the staff of the “Good Shepherd” with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

Unfortunately, the candy became known as a Candy Cane — a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But the meaning is still there for those who “have eyes to see and ears to hear.” Every time you see a Candy Cane, remember the Wonder of Jesus and His Great Love that came down at Christmas, and that His Love remains the ultimate and dominant force in the universe today.

There are many different versions of this story out there to be found. I found 1 story HERE. Another story HERE (with a few similarities).
And they’re both very different from the story I read in this great little Christmas Advent Book by Lisa Whelchel years ago.
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The details of the story may have gotten a little confused over the years but the message remains the same.

It’s all about reminding people of Jesus’ love for them, for everyone!

It’s a message that gets lost in the Holiday craziness far too easily and far too often.

Think about that the next time you enjoy a candy cane or as you hang them on your Christmas tree.

And along with these different stories, there are many activities that go along with them. So find a fun way you or your children can share this message with people this season.

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There’s a great activity HERE and another HERE and another HERE.

There are many more that you can find, including the idea in Lisa Whelchel’s book “The ADVENTure of Christmas”. The book is a terrific investment. It’s full of great stories about all of the things we love about the Christmas season!
(I’ve shown the page below with the story…hope it’s not too fuzzy.)

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Copyright Lisa Whelchel & Multnomah Press

22 Days til Christmas

Merry Christmas and God Bless You!

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25 Posts of Christmas Day 2: A Look Back

A look back at some of my favorite Christmas books that I’ve already snuggled up with this season:

5660435The Christmas Quilt” by Vannetta Chapman

I was thrilled to see it advertised and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Of course, as fate would have it, the book arrived just as November got off to a start and I became a crazy person – between NaNoWriMo and reviewing the stack of other books that had piled up on my desk. However, when I picked up the book, I could not put it down. It was an amazing read and I enjoyed every second of it. The only complaint I might have is that it took so long for two young couples so much in love to conceive. (In case you can’t tell… I’m teasing) This book is an excellent continuation of the story that started in “A Simple Amish Christmas” and it shows just how wonderful a writer Vannetta Chapman is. Three years passed between the writing of one and the other but it feels like she wrote them back to back. The characters have the same voices, mannerisms and behaviors.

The characters are all just as wonderful as I remember them.

The story itself is wonderful too. It isn’t just another “we’re trying to stretch the series out” kind of sequel either. It’s really a good next step and, I think, a story anyone would enjoy.

Also, and I don’t want to give too much away here but, there are a few really interesting surprises tucked in the pages.

I really love the extra little touches Vannetta puts in, all those extra little things that give us a real glimpse into Amish life. It helps pull you right into the story. I also really enjoy how Vannetta blends the Amish lives with the “Englisch” around them. The Amish strive to remain separate but a big part of their faith is about being open and loving to all of God’s (Gotte’s) children. Vannetta writes that aspect perfectly in my opinion. She has a talent for capturing their “voice” and their feelings and emotions – a tremendous accomplishment for an “Englisch” writer. You would never know she did not grow up Amish.

A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys this genre!

5starAnd, while I recommend that you read “A Simple Amish Christmas” first, this book could easily be read first or even alone.

Speaking of “A Simple Amish Christmas”:

20130911-180102.jpgFrom the first page I was hooked. The characters are real. I have no doubt whatsoever that Amish truly act like these characters. The setting is vivid and the scenes are painted so clearly. You can almost feel the cold and smell the fresh, clean air. The story is gripping. A definite page-turner. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next!

A definite page-turner.

An amazing story! One I will read again and again for years to come! I highly recommend this book to anyone! Not just lovers of Amish fiction either! I think anyone who enjoys a good, decent romance will enjoy this story!

5starAnyone who enjoys a good, decent romance will enjoy this story!

BY Cindy Woodsmall

6275220With “The Sound of Sleigh Bells”, I was hooked from the first page!

I’m going to try really hard not to ruin anything here…

If you are someone who has ever had a rough relationship, this is something you NEED to read. If you’ve ever dealt with loss, this is something you NEED to read! And if you enjoy a good book with wonderful characters and a fantastic story, you will WANT to read this book.

It’s truly a GREAT read!

Cindy has a talent for reaching out of the story, getting a firm grip on your heart and pulling you into the story. And when you find your way back out again, you’ve had an amazing experience and you never quite look at the world in the same way again… or at least that’s the way I feel anyway.

Cindy has a talent for taking hold of your heart strings.

The beauty of Cindy Woodsmall’s writing is that she writes characters who could be anyone. One of the things we struggle with is the realization that the Amish are just like us, they just live their faith in a different way than most of us do. They’re not really very different from most religions. Every religion has their own little things they do differently than anyone else, rules, traditions, ideals and even habits.

So these characters in Cindy’s novels, they could be anyone. It’s so very easy to associate the things they go through with your aunt or your father or your next door neighbor or someone you work with. And she does this really well. 5star

She has a true talent for helping you to get into a characters head and I am so thankful for it.

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What a wonderful story!

What wonderful characters!

What a wonderful continuation of the stories in Apple Ridge.

When you get started, “The Christmas Singing” may not seem like a great story for a while but trust me when I tell you that this book is worth finishing!

Cindy Woodsmall has again captured our hearts with wonderfully colorful characters in the Amish community of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania.

The story deals with something that is very different than what we think of as the typical Amish read but then Cindy has a talent for writing those kinds of stories. Her Amish Vines and Orchards series falls into the exact same category and I could not put those books down!

The same was true of this series. The Apple Ridge community is full of wonderful people who each seem to have their own story and they all blend so well together to create a wonderful world that pulls you right in.

5starA story well worth reading!

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This title was originally offered in the 3-in-1 book “Christmas in Apple Ridge” by Cindy Woodsmall but her fans loved it so much, she chose to let those of us who LOVE having lots and lots of books, have the stories in 3 separate hardbound novellas.

THANK YOU CINDY!

I don’t know about you but I have a personal fondness for hard bound books. There’s just something about a nice thick cover, a pretty dustcover that you can slip off while you’re reading and then slip back on so it looks pretty on the shelf. It may be weird but I’m OK with that.

These Apple Ridge Novellas are absolutely some of Cindy Woodsmall’s best work. Each story is written in such a way that you could quite easily read it all by itself and not miss much about what has happened in the others. And yet, if you read them in order, they flow so nicely from one to the next.

I don’t know if she has anymore in the works but I’m hoping so!

A wonderfully heart-warming read!

This story focuses on two young people who have experienced heartbreak firsthand in the worst way. It’s not something one typically associates with the Amish community. In fact, nothing about the main characters in these three novellas is something we typically associate with the Amish but they are very real and very true-to-life struggles that the Amish deal with just as often as we English do.

I have to say I was surprised at the deviousness of one particular character. I won’t spoil it for you but you’ll know who I’m talking about when you get there. It was a pleasant surprise and masterfully written. Definitely not something you would expect in the Amish community but very well-written and done in exactly the right way for the character!

The story is full of surprises!

Cindy has written all of these stories so beautifully. The characters are wonderful and the story pulls you right in. I remarked to a good friend the other day that Cindy has a particular talent for writing the Amish voice. I am one of those people who hears the characters talking in my head as I read the story. It’s probably why I remember so much about stories I’ve read, even years later. And when I “hear” Cindy’s characters, they truly sound Amish.

I would love to say it’s true of most other Amish fiction authors I read but sadly, it is not. And that’s OK. They’re still great stories or I wouldn’t read them and then go on about them here.

As you can probably guess, I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review but I already owned the first two hard-bound books in the series and I would have bought this one!

And I wholeheartedly recommend it to my friends! GREAT GREAT READ! All three books in the series are well-worth the full purchase price and 5 star reads!5star

BRAVO CINDY!

I pray that Cindy’s books bless you the way they have me and I pray God Blesses Cindy Woodsmall and her writing for many years to come!

BY Tricia Goyer:

17787021A Christmas Gift for Rose”
by Tricia Goyer

2 pages into the book and I could tell this was going to be a great story.

I love that Tricia has been so successful with her historical novels and I’m REALLY glad she branched out into Amish fiction! I LOVE that genre so much!

This book combines both so well!

I typically avoid books about war but a book about what war is doing to those left behind, well… those are fair game. And I’m really glad I picked this one to read! I love Christmas stories and this will be a welcome addition to my collection.

All of that aside, this is the first book of it’s kind that I have read. An Amish historical novel dealing with fallout from World War 2… Well, that would be hard to miss. And I’m so glad I didn’t (miss it… that is)! I will read this book again and again and recommend it to all of my friends!

It’s such a wonderful story. Don’t get me wrong, there’s conflict. There’s always conflict. But it’s not ridiculous and it’s not nonsense. There is genuine conflict and genuine resolution. The characters are very deep and the story is completely believable.

Usually when you have this many things going on in a story, it’s too much or it feels like the author is trying to pad the story but everything going on in this story fits together to make the story work.

It took so many twists and turns that I did not see coming. That’s always a good thing. Too many books these days are absolutely predictable. This one is not. It’s great!

And you can really tell Tricia did her homework for this one. She tells us just enough about certain things without it being too much and, from what I remember (granted I wasn’t great with History in school), they’re incredibly accurate.

This is a must read for anyone! Especially if you like a good heartwarming story about the Amish community. In fact, that’s one of the great things about the Amish community, I think. Take away all mention of a date and it’s usually pretty hard to tell exactly when the story takes place. They’re so unchanging.

5starClearly a FIVE star book! Great job Tricia!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What have you read this year so far that is in the Christmas Spirit?

What are some of your favorite Christmas reads?

What Christmas stories are you planning to read this season?

I plan to read many more great Christmas stories this season and I plan to share them with you here!

23 Days til Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS! & GOD BLESS!

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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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God Bless You!