Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A new year....

I can't believe 2011 is almost here! Where did 2010 go?

I have to admit, while 2010 had some really great times, it also had some incredibly stressful times and I'm not alllllll that sad to see it go ;)

Still, I learned many lessons in 2010 about trust, faith, and God's perfect timing and provision. I have the feeling the further I get away from 2010, the more I will see what it reaped. Right now I'm still just recovering from the training bruises!

How about you? What will you be happy to see about 2011, and what will you be sad to give up from 2010? Any regrets or wishes for do overs? Any lessons learned you'd like to share? Advice for the future?

May 2011 be a year of more learning (maybe with feathers instead of 2 x 4's), love, family, faith, and blessings - both received AND given!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Highlights

These are a few of my favorite things...
Watching Little Miss share her new toys with her 2 year old cousin at my grandparents house Christmas night. (Can we say Christmas miracle!!)
The look on Little Miss' face when she saw her shiny pink tricycle for the first time
Devouring my mom's delicious, Christmas-only sausage balls for breakfast
Presenting my grandparents Christmas Eve night with a "memory book" I made them, (essentially a sticker book with written messages pertaining to fav childhood memories centered around each of them)
Watching Little Miss roll around in the discarded wrapping paper
Taking pictures of Little Miss taking pictures on her new digital camera of Nana. (did you get all that? and yes she got a real digital camera, made for 3-yr olds! Its supposedly indestructable. We shall see. haha!)
Watching my little niece get to experience her first Christmas and all the fun of new toys (though she actually preferred the tissue paper to the toys, as she's only 8 months old)
Getting to spend part of the day with a sweet friend from church whose husband is currently deployed
Sitting around the lunch table with friends and family and feeling incredibly blessed to have all I have
Devouring my mother's special iced Christmas teacake cookies almost as quickly as the sausage balls
Getting a super awesome laptop pillow custom made from my sissy!
Taking a gazillion pics of which I shall post later when I recover from the post-Christmas chaos.
Blessings to all!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Still recovering from Christmas Chaos! Will resume posting soon....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More pearls...

Day 11: Melissa Mashburn (12/23)

Title: Just give me Christmas this year!

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


All I Want for Christmas…
Is to be able to have Christmas this Year
Melissa Mashburn

This is a simple request, isn’t it? In the previous years, we had great big bountiful Christmases with our family. Gifts, goodies and general Christmas cheer but this year it was different. The year before has been chock full of disappointments, failing businesses and severe cutbacks for our family.

Sitting with my husband one night we hammered out the bare minimum that we could spend that year for Christmas and even still the total was four hundred dollars. It does not sound like a whole lot compared to what we’ve spent on Christmas before, but this year it could have been four thousand dollars because we just did not have it.

We prayed, I cried, we prayed some more and decided that we would cut back anything else that we could that year so we could have Christmas for our kids. We did not know how we would make this happen, but we knew that we needed to step forward in faith that it would happen.

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. Galatians 3:5 the Message

Not even two days later, we hear a knock on our front door. We open the door to see some friends of ours from church. With tears in their eyes, they handed us an envelope and said that the felt they needed to give us this. We opened the envelope and inside there was four hundred dollars cash.

Shocked, stunned and with tears flowing down our face we just sat there in a state of crying and laughing at what God had done. We never shared with anyone that year what we needed, how bad it was, what was going on or what that number was for us to have Christmas for the kids, but God knew.

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

He took a willing servant, led them to our front door and changed Christmas for us that year. After many years of being in full time ministry we knew that God would provide, but when He shows up just at the right moment, you know that it was all a part of His plan to show how much He loves, provides and cares for His people.

Father God, thank you that after all the years of serving and loving you in ministry that you continue to teach, guide, love, shepherd and care for us. You, Father, are abundantly gracious and kind, thank you for showing up for us at just the right moment every time, forgive us when we forget that. In Jesus name, Amen.


About Melissa: Melissa is the founder of the blog Mel’s World Ministry, co-founder of the Praise and Coffee Nights Ministry with Sue Cramer, Kids Ministry Director at her church. Just last year she launched a new weekly series called Godly Gals ~ Real Women, Real Life, Real Faith where we meet new women each week who are “Taking their everyday, ordinary lives and placing it as their offering to God.” Romans 12:1 the Message. You can find her on twitter and at her blog. She loves encouraging women to live with an authentic faith by being transparent, renewed and transformed. ~ Romans 12:2.


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pirate Queen review

I'm somewhat of a nerd, I think, because I ordered this book without thoroughly reading the back cover copy first. I had heard a lot about it through word of mouth and Facebook and thought I should read it. I naively thought via the cover and title that this was actually about pirates or a historical of sorts.


This is most definitely a non-historical, non-pirate novel. It's a contemporary women's fiction story by Patricia Hickman.

Here's the blurb I should have read before requesting =P

Treasure is found in the most unlikely places. The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon--and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life. Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying. Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God's presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

I have to admit, this book isn't a light or fun read especially at first. It's actually borderline depressing for someone like me who rather enjoys reading for entertainment and escape. If you're the type to get too attached to characters or allow a "down" book to drag you down in real life, I don't recommend it. Don't get me wrong, the writing is fabulous and the heart of the story sincere, it's just not going to be for everyone. But if you enjoy a good soul searching and a tear jerked, this could be for you!!

Despite my personal distance from this novel, I do give Patricia many kudos for her relatable characters that are so honest and raw. She will make you think - and feel - for sure!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Quiz

Here's a fun Christmas quiz to get us in the holiday spirit :)
This was a timely one as I've spent the last several days wrapping my head off.

(haha, if that was "rapping" instead you'd all be laughing! =P )

I'm so ridiculous about my wrapping paper, I like it to be fun and shiny and whimsical and complementary, but not matching. I like stripes and birds and snowmen and a mixture of prints that aren't all necessarily Christmas - just pretty and colorful and cheerful. How about you?
Here's my results: Pretty much on the spot!! They nailed me!

You Are Stylish

You are a sneaky gift giver. You're good at throwing people off the trail of what you're really giving them.You are well reasoned and deliberate. You plan out almost everything that you do.You are very organized and together. No one would ever accuse you of being a slob.You love to dress up and take care of yourself. You get a lot of confidence from looking sharp.

What's your results? :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Christmas Pearls - Day 8

Day 8: Tricia Goyer (12/20)

Title: Gift List

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


Gift List
by Tricia Goyer

I've been thinking lately how hard it must be for Oprah to Christmas shop. I mean if you were on her "gift list" wouldn't you expect something really, really good? The woman gives away cars and trips to Australia on her television show for goodness sake! It seems by the end of Christmas Day her friends and family would look at the pile of presents and think, "Is that it?" I mean if you knew there was billions of dollars she could spend on you, would you ever feel satisfied?

Sometimes I think we approach God the same way. We look around at our home, our family, our job, our free time and we still aren't satisfied. We wish our body looked better, our clothes were more in style, our husband was more considerate and our kids were more ... well, like the perfect little people we picture in our mind. Our careers don't excel as quickly as we think they should and people don't give us the attention we feel we deserve. We're tired and anxious and the to-do list seems to be tacked to our hearts for all the pain it causes.

Often, we look around and don't speak the words out loud, but think them just the same. "Is that it?" I mean, You're the God of the universe and You have all things in Your hands and under Your control. Couldn't you provide a little more money to help those bills disappear or make me a bit more content with the man I've chosen to spend my life with? And I thought Oprah had it tough.

Is there ever a time when God doesn't hear the murmurs? Again, not with our mouths but in our heart.

I've been guilty of this--of not being satisfied with the gifts I've been given. Yes, there will always be more to want, but today--at this moment--I'm satisfied. And I look to Him with a grateful heart and whisper, "Thank you, it is enough. More than enough."


About Tricia: Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. For more information, please visit


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Next chapter!

We got a Christmas gift a little early this year...!!

Yep, after a SOLID YEAR of my husband not having a permanent full time job, he was offered a position by the district fire station TWO MILES from our house.

We have a job!

And not just any job, but his dream job, in his dream location. God is SO good and His timing SO perfect. I kept saying that all this pastyear, even though some days it was harder to feel than others, but I knew it to be true despite the occasional doubt clouds. Well, frequent clouds.

My husband has been volunteering at this station and working part time shifts for them off and on these past few months, while going through their hiring process against tough competition and performing other part time jobs to see us through.

Can I just say how relieved I am?????

I love the fact that I don't have to cringe anymore when I walk past his fire department graduation pic in the hallway. I love the fact that I don't have to cry nightly over our budget anymore. I love the fact that God provided us with some extra money recently that we could help share with friends in dire need, as others shared with us during our need. I love knowing that God set this up SO PERFECTLY and that Romans 8:28 truly played out.

I love seeing God's promises fulfilled and being able to brag on Him. :)

To GOD be the glory! Merry Christmas!

Please hear my testimony. If you're waiting and praying for something important to you, don't give up. God hears you. His timing is unpredictable to us but so perfectly, carefully planned to Him. It's okay to doubt some days. You're human. But He's GOD. Let Him do His work. Romans 8:28 is alive and well =)

My family is living proof.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas...

So just for kicks, what would you do if you were suddenly given a substantial amount of money?

Not millions of dollars or anything lottery-super-huge, but just a big amount of cash that you could use at will. (I know, I wish, right???)

I think I'd pay off every monthly bill I have so only my house note is left, and utilities of course. The basics. Then I'd love to take a European vacation and plot more books. =) And go somewhere and leave a $300 tip just to bless the waitress. And do Christmas up REALLY big that next year for my family.

What would you do?

Let's dream of a green Christmas today! Why not? :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pearls for Christmas

Day 2: Rachel Hauck

Title: Wear Joy

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as Melody Carlson, Lauraine Snelling, Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.


Wear Joy
by Rachel Hauck

Thanksgiving day in central Florida broke warm and sunny under a blue sky. The thin fall breeze beckoned me. Taking my bike out, I rode the neighborhood feeling so grateful for all my blessings.

Joy bubbled up in my spirit. I’d been feeling it for a day, these waves of joy, but as I rode my bike and talked to God, the waves strengthened and splashed my heart the entire ride.

I’d laugh. Then tear up. And laugh again. As one who’s battled and won the war on anxiety and fear attacks, the onslaught of joy was welcomed, and actually sparked a new prayer in my heart. I’ve endured attacks of panic, time for attacks of joy.

The journey of joy began earlier in the year while writing a book coincidentally named, “Dining with Joy.”

Sitting at my table one day, revelation hit me. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. The more I meditated on it, the more I wanted His joy. I don’t want my strength. I want His.

Not long after, I went to Nashville for a girl’s weekend. One of my friends handed me a coffee cup inscribed with “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Ever just know? God is calling.

During the holiday season, I turn 50. Yep, the big 5-0. Can’t stop it, I might as well embrace it.

Fifty is often associated with jubilee, a time of restoration, and healing, even release from debt and slavery. It’s a time of returning to property, and inheritance.

A time of rest.

A time of JOY!

This past week, a friend gifted me with a beautiful Christmas ornament. Inscribed on it? You guessed it.


To me, the world doesn’t look very joyful. There are social and economic woas. But God is speaking and offering joy.

As you go into this holiday season, ask God for a pearl of joy. Like pearls, crafted through abrasion, God’s true joy is often formed in us during difficult seasons.

Here’s the thing, His strength isn’t doled out based on our goodness, our success or failure, or the fact the holiday season is hard or sad for you. He is ready, willing and able to overcome all your weaknesses, fears and anxiety, sadness with the power of His very own joy.

His joy. Your strength.

I’ve been walking into rooms, houses, outdoors, raising my arms and shouting, “Joy!” People look at me funny, but I want to spread the joy of the Lord. To spread the very essence of His strength.

How about you? Can you find the pearl of joy in your life, in the essence of God’s heart toward you?

Wear joy this season.


About Rachel: RITA-finalist Rachel Hauck lives in Florida with her husband, Tony. She is the author of Dining with Joy; Sweet Caroline; Love Starts with Elle; and The Sweet By and By, co-authored with Sara Evans. For more information please visit

Oh, and be sure to enter Rachel's Dining With Joy NOOK eReader giveaway!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Monday, December 13, 2010


I'm curious today what your pet peeves are in reading fiction. Readers who are NOT writers, please especially chime in. Curious authors want to know! :)

What plots are you so tired of seeing? What character profession is just overly done in your opinion? Is there a style of writing that aggravates you more than others? Do you prefer to see a lot of description in narration or very little? etc. etc. etc.

Do tell! =)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas quiz

Do You Spend Like Santa or Scrooge?
Take the quiz HERE!
This was timely since I just finished my shopping. That's right, it's December 10th and I am DONE!! Even stocking gifts are done. Woohoo! Just in time to enjoy the rest of the month =)
My results:

You Spend Creatively

You give some of the most amazing gifts around, but you don't go broke buying them. Almost every gift you give has a handcrafted, personalized touch. Your gifts are special. You rather spend time on your gifts than money. You want every gift you give to be a treasure. You would never get someone a generic gift. You like your gifts to show how well you know the recipients.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Twinkle twinkle

May your day be full of twinkling surprises :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

C is for Cookie

What's your favorite Christmas dessert?

I have to admit I'm a sucker for Christmas cookies, especially anything involving shortbread and sprinkles... like Pepperidge Farm style. YUM!

What helps get you (and your elastic-waisted pants) in the Christmas season? Pies? Cookies? Brownies? Cakes? All of the above ::wink::

I had a church women's ministry Christmas party last night, and wanted to contribute a dessert. However, I didn't decide this until, naturally, the night before. (Sunday) So Sunday evening, my husband and 2 yr old stayed up with me 'til 10:30 p.m., baking tea cake cookies from an old family recipe and mixing powdered sugar icing, and generally having a a flour covered blast! Even Little Miss got in on the action, standing on a chair in the kitchen, pulled up to the counter, "reading" the recipe book to me and stiring measuring spoons in bowls. =)

The teacakes didn't come out all that great, they were a little too thick and some of the bottoms got a little too done. But overall we salvaged 10 of the giant cookies for the party, and while I thought they were a little salty (we followed the recipe I promise!) others thought they were just fine. At least they looked cute - we used a circle cookie cutter and used red and green powdered sugar icing to paint them and then make polka dots in contrasting colors. The important thing was...we had fun. And made a new memory with Little Miss!!

(no, the pic above are not my cookies. lol I wish they had been!)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

eeeeeeeverywheeeere you looook....

Ahem. Sorry, I have Christmas carols in my head! And a room full of surprises in store bags just begging to be wrapped and stashed under the tree. I'm excited, this year I've spread out my shopping (and the costs!) so I only have a few things left to find, and they're all pretty much little items. Yay!

This year shopping was harder technically since Little Miss is now old enough to see toys and want them now instead of later. It was funny though, the other day I asked if she'd share her cookie with me and of course in true toddler method she said no. I pretended to pout and she immediately sobered and patted my arm and said "Don't worry Mama. You'll get one for Christmas."

Guess she's heard that before? lol

What about you? Are you ready for Christmas? Just getting started on your shopping? Do you enjoy spreading it out like I do or would you rather grit your teeth and get 'er done all in one day? =)

Jingle bells, jingle bells....

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Deck the halls



Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Another winner by Susan May Warren...

Just when I think Susie's novels can't get any better...she surprises me again! =)

One of the things I like best about Susie is that she can write women's fiction, suspense, romance, or chick lit with equal talent. She's never boxed in, and it seems very novel is truly better than the last - which seems pretty impossible since I enjoy them all.

(I'm also a fan of Susie's shoe collection but that's a post for another day) ::wink::

Reading Nightingale was like entering a time warp and being taken back to a time of passion, love and war. Ever wondered what it was like to be a war nurse? Just read this heartfelt, inspiring fiction novel and I think you'll have a pretty good taste of it!

About Nightingale:

Esther Lange doesn’t love her fiancĂ©—she’s trapped in an engagement after a mistaken night of passion.

Still, she grieves him when he’s lost in battle, the letters sent to her by the medic at his side giving her a strange comfort, so much that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter Hess, an Iowa farmboy. Or is he? Peter Hess is not who he seems. Indeed, he’s hiding a secret, something that could cost them both their lives, especially when the past comes back to life. A bittersweet love song of the home front war between duty and the heart...a battle where only one will survive.

Don’t miss book 1 in this stand-alone collection, Sons of Thunder. It was also fantabulous!

About Susan May Warren:

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-four novels with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year.Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.
Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota , where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!) A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:

Link to buy the book:


Contest info: The Letters From Home Giveaway!

Enter the Contest: Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

To celebrate the release of Nightingale, Susan would like you to write a letter. One grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. 5 runner's up winners will win a signed copy of Nightingale. There are two ways to enter the contest by writing letters.

1. Write a letter to a soldier. At the end of the contest we’ll print out and mail your letter for you.
2. Write a letter to a friend, loved one, family member, enemy. Tell them something you wished you’d told them before. Tell them you love them, or maybe how they touched your life. Perhaps an apology is in order or a thank you. Or perhaps you'd like to relate a funny tale or just share life. Whatever it is, submit it here along with your email address and we’ll send it for you.

Enter here or at the SHARE page on the Brothers in Arms website.

(this novel was given to me free courtesy of the publisher and publicity team to review, but I was not under any obligation to post a positive review. The above thoughts are my true opinion!)