This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome 2008: Happy New Years Friends!!

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The children (four of them--we are with Grandpa & the cousins tonight) are playing electric guitars and recorders, dancing in the kitchen and generally being very rowdy. Grandpa is providing background music consisting mostly of Willie Nelson and some occasional Daniel O'Donnell. The husband is threatening to go to bed soon. (I'll be amazed if that works out!)


2008 threatens to enter loudly. And very coldly--temperature is actually 19 but windchill feels like 10...and it is getting colder. Brrrrrrrr...

But it will be a good year. God is good--all the time. (LISTEN)

Wishing you all a beautiful, sweet and very JOYFUL Happy New Year

How Many Books Did I Manage to Squeeze In?

How many books did I read in 2007? I read 50 books. How many were really on my lists? The Spring Reading Thing had 17 on my list. I read 17 books but skipped seven on the list. The Fall Into Reading Challenge had 13 on my list. I read 14 books, eight on the list and six not on the list. So I got distracted thirteen times. I have twelve books that I really should start 2008 with. And they're really good books, I am sure!

What happened to distract me? Well The Morland Dynasty was a consuming passion this year. I gave up soap operas long ago. I rarely watch television. This series has ignited a love & respect for history and carried me along with the characters. I am on book 20 of the series. Ummm...I'm pretty sure that's 40% of my reading! And there's ten more to go!

I found some new authors that I will be reading more of. In fact I enjoyed almost every book I read. There was really only one I didn't like and one gave me a lot to disagree with think about. I found that there is a wonderful treasure in the Christian fiction world these days. The calibre of Christian writers has really impressed me. I still like fantasy and I like historical fiction more than ever. I didn't read any biographies in 2007. There were a couple I read in 2006, so I want to include more of those.

I did not count any of the craft books I checked out from the library. That would have added to the list, but in reality they distracted from my reading. My rubber stamping and my cross-stitch benefited though. I also read and browsed a lot of health books, diet books and exercise books. Maybe if I read them a little more and eat a little less there will be a thinner me for the new year. I also only counted one homeschool book and that was The Unprocessed Child. I need to read a few more of those for next year.

All in all 2007 was a great year for reading. I need to focus on a plan for the year to come so I can fit in a few more books. My "to read" list is quite extensive, I just need to figure out some priorities.

What titles did I read? Here is the list. I linked the titles I reviewed.

* The Queen's Fool--Phillipa Gregory
* Destination Void--Frank Herbert
* Hunters of Dune--Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
* Lord Foul’s Bane—The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson
* Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
* The Founding--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* My Sister's Keeper--Jodi Picoult
* The Dark Rose--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* Searching for Mary Poppins--Susan Davis and Gina Hyams, editors
* The Princeling--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Illearth War--The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson
* The Age of Innocence--Edith Wharton
* Healing ADD--Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
* Outlander--Diana Gabaldon
* The Oak Apple--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Black Pearl--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Virgin's Lover--Philippa Gregory
* Physik--Angie Sage
* The Open Door-Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer--Frederica Mathewes-Green
* The Long Shadow--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Hurried Child--Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon--David Elkind, Ph.D.
* The Chevalier--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Unprocessed Child–Living without School--Valerie Fitzenreiter
* At the Crossing Places--Kevin Crossley~Holland
* The Maiden--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Flood-Tide--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Tangled Thread--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--J.K. Rowling
* Crime and Clutter--Cyndy Salzman
*Gone with the Groom--Janice A. Thompson
* My Side of the Mountain--Jean Craighead George
* The Emperor--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Victory--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Regency--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Road--Cormac McCarthy
* The Campaigners--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Other Boleyn Girl--Phillipa Gregory
* Memoirs of a Geisha--Arthur Golden
* The Reckoning--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Brink of Death --Brandilyn Collins
* The Devil's Horse--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* Kingdom Wars I: A Hideous Beauty--Jack Cavanaugh
* The Divine Appointment--Jerome Teel
* The Heritage of Lancaster County: The Shunning--Beverly Lewis
* The Heritage of Lancaster County: The Confession--Beverly Lewis
* The Poison Tree--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Sovreign's Daughter--Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs
* Nutcracker Nation--Jennifer Fisher
* The Abyss--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
* The Hidden Shore--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Self Conscious Back Patting

In an attempt to do some bloggy house keeping I decided to mount my awards on the bloggy mantle of 2007.

These were the sweet blessings from bloggy friends throughout 2007 and I was so overwhelmed. In no way did I feel I deserved or lived up to such kindness, but I've found when people choose to be so caring the proper response is to say "Thank you," and be nice to others in return.

And besides when you hear someone say nice things about you if it doesn't make your day, you are just too special. I blush all over the place and stammer a lot. But I'm always amazed at the people who don't feel a little flutter when they know someone thinks they've done something great.

I will say there's always the problem of who to pass awards on to, not because I can't think of someone, but because I want to share them with everyone. And of course the fear that someone else will not appreciate the token.

But fear makes us lose precious moments. And I refuse to lose any more time worrying!

I am so grateful for everyone who was so thoughtful in 2007. I hope I can bless someone in 2008.

Blog on good friends.

Creative Blogger Award

Thoughtful Blogger Award


Blogger Reflection Award

Egel Nest Award

Mathetes

Wonder Woman Award

Community Blogger Award

A Ray of Sunshine

Spirit of Christmas Blog Award

Family Read Alouds 2007

Some were easy, some challenging. Some were happy, some sad, some tense. "Reading" somtimes included audio books when there was a lot of car time. There were bedtime stories, there were shoved in between activities. Sometimes we did well, sometimes we stalled out. But all wereloved.

We did twenty-eight read alouds for 2007. My hope for 2008 is that we can do more. There is a special time for families when they read together.

* James Herriot's Treasury for Children
* Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty Bard MacDonald
* Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Throught the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
* Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James
* Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowlings
* Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
* Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
* Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
* Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
* Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
* Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
* Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
* Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
* Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst
* Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
* Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry
* Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomerey
* Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
* Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban and Illustrated by Garth Williams
* Best Friends for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban
* Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban
* Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
* Fast Forward Wild West by Clair Aston and Mark Stacey
* Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
* The Whale by Cynthia Rylant
* Digory the Dragon Slayer by Angela McCallister
* A Bargain for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban
* The Storm by Cynthia Rylant

Roo's Reading Wrap-Up 2007

Roo has matured a lot. His tastes have changed and understanding and abilities have increased . Topics of interest have become more varied. Roo was a relatively early reader. Not precociously so, but by age four he had a good start.

He read 67 books this year! We worked out a system that allowed me to assign some books and allowed him to choose some. I think the books he chose himself were awesome and challenging. Not lazy choices at all.

He enjoyed biographies and has asked that we continue to find more. That was a good introduction to non-fiction. For 2008 we will be exploring other non-fiction books.

Roo also got caught up in several series and sometimes needed some redirection to come up for air. But he may have gotten that from me (I love a good series). He read the Narnia series, Mary Norton's The Borrowers set, one of Gordon Korman's adventure series, and started, finished or dabbled with a few others.

Through another series, a boy named Harry Potter entered our lives. I will say, I never intended to read or have my sons read J.K. Rowlings' wildly successful stories. But after doing some research and reading conflicting reviews I decided to read one myself. Well...I was hooked.

I was and still am of the belief that these should not be handed to young children to read alone. We read the first five as a family and then Roo would pick them up and devour them again, shortly after, reading carefully and asking a lot of questions.

Boo decided to opt out after the fifth one and that actually felt like it was a good place for him to stop. He and I will pursue them at a later date if he expresses interest. Roo was allowed to continue with the sixth alone and last week finished the seventh.

I truly don't believe a child will be missing something if they never read Harry Potter. There is plenty of other worthy and more classic fiction out there. But for us it has been the source of many discussions and has fueled a love of words in Roo. We will be doing some etymology studies and see how that goes.

2008's plan includes historical fiction, some King Arthur pursuits, a couple of different series, including The Guardians of Ga'Hoole and Warriors per Roo's request. Also, as I said, some biographies and different non-fiction. It is getting hard to keep up with Roo. I may have to include some of what's on the roster for my reading because I try to pre-read at least some of his books. It really helps for some lively discussions.

What a great job Roo!! For anyone looking for some ideas for 9-10-11 year old boys, here is his list:

* Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
* Island of Dreams by Greg Farsheten
* Strider by Beverly Cleary
* The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
* The Borrowers by Mary Norton
* The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
* Redwall by Brian Jacques
* Eragon by Christopher Paolini
* Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
* Diving with Dolphins by Nick Arnold
* Mikhail Baryshnikov, Dance Genius by Bruce Glassman
* The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander
* Golden Press' Children's Bible
* The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton
* The Kids' Book of Chess by Harvey Kidder
* The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
* Dinosaur Detective: On the Right Track by B.B. Calhoun
* Transformers Showdown by B.P. Trimpe
* The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
* The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
* Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
* A Series of Unfortunate Events--A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
* The Borrowers Afloat by Mary Norton
* Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
* Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
* In Search of the Time and Space Machine by Deborah Abela
* The Barn at Gun Lake by J. Tuitel and S. Lamson
* The Further Adventures of Hank the Cowdog by J. R. Ericson
* Eldest by Christopher Paolini
* A Series of Unfortunate Events 2: Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
* Intrigue at the Rafter B Ranch by Stephen Bly
* Facing West-a Story of the Oregon Trail by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
* The Bite of the Gold Bug: A Story of the Alaskan Gold Rush
* Bionicle Legends 4: Legacy of Evil by Greg Farshtey
* The President Is Dead: A Story of the Kennedy Assasination by Virginia T. Gross
* The Journal of Jesse Smoke: A Cherokee Boy by Joseph Bruchac
* On the Run 1: Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman
* Spy Mice: The Black Paw by Heather Vogel Frederick
* The Borrowers Aloft by Mary Norton
* The Life and Times of Igor Stravinsky--Masters of Music Series by Jim Whiting
* The BFG by Roald Dahl
* On the Run 2: The Fugive Factor by Gordon Korman
* Sitting Bull: Sioux Leader by Elizabeht Schleichert
* DK Biography: John F. Kennedy by Howard S. Kaplan
* J.R.R. Tolken: Master of Fantasy by David R. Collins
* DK Biography: Harry Houdini by Vicki Cobb
* On the Run 3: Now You See Them, Now You Don't by Gordon Korman
* Masters of Music: The Life and Times of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky by Jim Whiting
* The Borrowers Avenged by Mary Norton
* Veteran's Day: Remembering Our War Heroes by Elaine Landau
* The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
* On the Run 4: The Stowaway Solution by Gordon Korman
* Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
* Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
* Spy Mice: For Your Paws Only by Heather Vogel Frederick
* Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 1: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky
* The Mayflower Compact by Phillip Brooks
* DK Biography: Anne Frank by Kem Knapp Sawyer
* Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
* DK Biography: Helen Keller by Leslie Garrett
* Squanto: Friend of the White Men by Clyde Robert Bulla
* Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac
* Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
* The Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
* The Warriors: Fire and Ice by Erin Hunter
* The Warriors: Forest of Secrets by Erin Hunter

Boo's 2007 Reading Wrap-Up

Who knew we would come from this to that?

Boo reading has increased exponentially this year. He went from a frustrated and often resistant beginner, to a very independant and opinionated reader. I wrote about our struggles here and there.

For anyone interested we used Phonics Pathways and subtitles for part of our language arts program. For 2008 we will continue with what has worked in the past and we have some new things we are going to try. I've been given a few new additions to my already large curriculum collection. And of course we will be doing silent sustained reading, reading aloud by mom and reading aloud by Boo. Reading, reading and reading some more.

The count on the list is (I am pretty sure) 107 books. There were actually some others not included, these are the ones I would highly recommend. I am going to try to review some more childrens books as we go this year, something I enjoyed after I started blogging. If I have time I may review a few of these books just for fun.

Way to go Boo!! We are so very proud of you!

For anyone interested in 2007 Boo read:

* George Washington: Soldier, Farmer, President by Patricia A Pingry
* I Spy a Penguin (Level 1 Reader) by Jean Marzollo
* A Kiss for Little Bear
* Little Bear
* Little Bear's Visit
* Little Bear's Friend by Elsie Homelund Minarik
* Noah's Ark by Linda Hayward
* DK's Rockets and Spaceships by Karen Wallace
* One fish two fish red fish blue fish by Dr. Seuss
* Planets Around the Sun by Seymour Simon
* Dr Seuss's ABC
* The Berenstains' B Book
* DK Wild Baby Animals by Karen Wallace
* DK Dinosaur Days by Ruth Thomson
* DK A bed for the winter by Karen Wallace
* Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
* Bears on Wheels by the Berenstains
* Harry and the Lady Next Door by Gene Zion
* Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea by Cynthia Rylant
* Mr. Putter & Tabby Toot the Horn by Cynthia Rylant
* Henry and Mudge Take the Big Test by Cynthia Rylant
* Spiderman--The Amazing Story by Catherine Saunders
* Spiderman--Worst Enemies by Catherine Saunders
* Snoopy, Spike and the Cat Next Door by Charles M. Schulz
* Mr. Putter & Tabby Write the Book by Cynthia Rylant
* Henry and Mudge and the Wild WInd by Cynthia Rylant
* You Have a Brother Named Spike? Charles M. Schulz
* Curious George by H.A. Rey
* Snowshoe Thompson by Nancy Smiler Levinson
* Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel
* I'm a Manatee by John Lithgow
* Casey Jones by Allan Drummond
* Sailing With the Wind by Thomas Locker
* Scooby Doo and the Snow Monster by James Gelsey
* The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales (Usborne) by Stephen Cartwright & Heather Amery
* A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester
* Horatio's Bed by Camilla Ashforth
* Ghostville Elementary--Stage Fright by Marcia Thorton Jones and Debbie Dadey
* Dinosaur Days by Joyce Milton
* DK Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Jennifer Dussling
* Pooh's Grand Adventure--The Search for Christopher Robin adapted by Justine Korman
* True Stories About Abraham Lincoln by Ruth Belov Gross
* Five True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson
* Willow by the Sea by Camilla Ashforth
* Snow Lion by David McPhail
* Calamity by Camilla Ashforth
* Monkey Tricks by Camilla Ashforth
* Johnny Appleseed by Gini Holland
* DK Slinky Scaly Snakes by Jennifer Dussling
* Amazing Sharks by Sarah L. Thomson
* Meet the X-Men by Clare Hibbart
* BUZZ! A Book About Insects by Melvin Berger
* The Story of Columbus by Anita Ganeri
* Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley
* Twisters! by Kate Hayden
* Eruption! The Story of Volcanoes by Anita Ganeri
* Magic Tree House #1, Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne
* DK Fire Fighters by Angela Royston
* DK Winking, Blinking, Wiggling, and Wagging by Brian Moses
* Pioneer Cat by William H. Hooke
* Tentacles! Tales of the Giant Squid by Shirley Raye Redmond
* Paul Revere's Ride by Shana Corey
* The Long Way Westward by Joan Sandin
* DK Amazing Buildings by Kate Hayden
* Tornado by Betsy Byars
* Prairie School by Avi
* The Magic School Bus--Twister Trouble by Anne Schreiber
* DK Water Everywhere by Jill Atkins
* The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
* The Battle for St. Michaels by Emily Arnold McCully
* DK Tiger Tales and Big Cat Stories by Deborah Chancellor
* DK Bermuda Triangle by Andrew Donkin
* Hungry Plants by Mary Batten
* Escape North--The Story of Harriet Tubman by Monica Kulling
* First Flight by George Shea
* The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl
* George Washington: Soldier, Farmer, President by Patricia A Pingry
* Dactyls! Dragons of the Air by Dr. Robert T. Bakker
* Sea of Ice: The Wreck of the Endurance by Monica Kulling
* Race Into Space by Eric Arnold
* Chief Tecumseh by Anne M. Todd
* The World of Composers: Tchaikovsky by Greta Cencetti
* Wild Cats by Mary Batten
* Choppers by Susan E. Goodman and Michael J. Doolittle
* Dolphin Adventure by Wayne Grover
* Billy and Blaze by C.W. Anderson
* Blaze Shows the Way by C.W. Anderson
* Extreme Machines by Christopher Maynard
* Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
* Blaze and the Spotted Gray Pony by C.W. Anderson
* Christina Katerina & the Box by Patricia Lee Guach
* Phipps by Liesel Moak Skorpen
* Dolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover
* Who Was Thomas Jefferson by Dennis Brindell Fradin
* Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark by Johanna Hurwitz
* Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
* Veterans' Day: Remembering Our War Heroes by Elaine Landau
* Pocahontas: An American Princess by Joyce Milton
* Days of the Knights: A Tale of Castles and Battles by Christopher Maynard
* The BFG by Roald Dahl
* Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant
* The Twits by Roald Dahl
* Going for Gold by Andrew Donkin
* Wild Horses by George Edward Stanley
* If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma
* The Flying Flea, Callie, and Me by Carol and Bill Wallace

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Bloggy-versary to Me! With Grains of Gratitude

One year of blogging today. I am a little amazed and somewhat amused that I managed to stick with something for quite so long. If the truth be told I’m easily sidetracked and aside from my husband and my children nothing has held my attention for very long. That could account for my number of hobbies. I jump into something and get consumed. But after awhile the glow wears off and I pursue something else for a while.

Writing was a hobby for me a long time ago and did not seem to fit into the earliest years of motherhood. But this must have been the year, for I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had attempted blogging in a different format and considered it a very poor attempt. I don’t think I was very aware of what blogging really was. Not that I am any expert now. But I will tell you that during the first blogging attempt I did not have a laptop. A laptop helps…or enables you and makes you more addicted. It’s hard to tell the difference.

My first post was either this or that, depending on how you view things. The second was actually my original profile--I was remain a little wordy. I got hooked on reading blogs somewhere in the late fall of 2006. I remember the typical thoughts running through my head, thoughts that I think many bloggers are familiar with, “Why am I doing this?” “Will someone really read anything that I have to say?” “Who should I tell about this?” I remember the trepidation when I hit the first “Publish” button.

In the end I think my why has evolved & grown with my writing. I’ve blogged for several different reasons. I’ve blogged to chronicle a year in our life. I’ve search throughout the year for the joy in life. The pursuit of joy has been very rewarding in what has had to have been one of my more difficult years. People have read and responded and shared and it is a tremendously interesting cyber-community that blogs.

Who did I end up telling? Who in my “real” life is aware that I blog? My children know and find it a very cool thing—they would tell everyone Mommy has a blog if I would let them. My husband knows about it and has let me plague him with the details, but has kept a somewhat wide distance from my blog. And my sister knows about it because she’s been mentioned and I used some of her photos. She doesn’t read it, and still is of the belief that I write, “Dear BlogDiary, Today I did laundry and fed the boys and got through school and drove to ballet.” Well maybe I did write about laundry—once. I guess I’ve talked about feeding the boys. Okay, I talked about driving to ballet. But hopefully, I’ve come a ways from the twelve-year-old me who had a pink diary with a lock and pages with dates on. Hopefully I may have grown up just a bit. But then again

I will say my computer and internet skills have improved and increased. I can talk a little geek if I have to, mostly repeating what the husband and the sister tell me. They could have a lot of fun at my expense with that.

I learned what a Stat Counter is and highly recommend using one for any new blogger. I’ve joined book challenges and blog carnivals and even managed to have some new books sent my way. How cool is that?

The biggest surprise was the blogging friends & acquaintances who’ve blessed my life this year. To everyone who took the time and left comments, and to those who just lurked thanks so much for the boost that your presence brings.

I like that my “bloggy-versary” or “bloggy birthday” is at the end of 2007 and lines up with my thoughts for the New Year. I have some different things I want to pursue for my blog in 2008 and some things that I am content with and want to keep. I’ve got a lot of housekeeping and some loose ends that need tied up so be warned that those posts will be appearing. They are mostly for me and record-keeping, so I can compare some things down road. Feel free to just click the red X and move on to more exciting reading. Although it can't be much worse than this post.

I was grateful to find Christine at Brady's Bunch and latched on to her Grains of Gratitude meme. I am grateful for all of the bloggers that have touched my heart in so many ways. I am grateful that my husband and my boys allow me to spend precious time pecking away at my computer. Sounds like I should probably thank the "academy" next...

This one year mark caught me a bit unprepared. The boys and I are traveling and so I just wrote this rambling thing. Hopefully the next blogging year will find me a bit more prepared and not scrambling.

Any suggestions for my blogging future?? Hopefully no one will say, "Hang it up, kid!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thursday Thirteen



Not very creative, but I'm thinking in terms of wrapping up the year, so these are the best of what I read:

Thirteen good books read in 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

The Morland Dynasty (20 of the 30 in the series read, but we’ll just count it as one ) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Kingdom Wars 1: A Hideous Beauty by Jack Cavanaugh

My Sister's Keeper--Jodi Picoult

The Open Door-Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Lord Foul’s Bane: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

The Sovereign’s Daughter by Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs

Destination Void by Frank Herbert

Healing ADD by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

The TT Hub!

THE PURPOSE BEHIND THE THURSDAY THIRTEEN:
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. What do you do? Write Thirteen things about yourself, summarize your week in one entry, make it easy for other bloggers to get to know you on a weekly basis. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

Merry Christmas to everyone! God bless us one and all!

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

Words: Henry J. van Dyke
Music: Ode to Joy, from the 9th Sym­pho­ny, Ludwig van Beethoven


Watch and listen to Steve Green on YouTube

A less traditional version that might give Beethoven pause from Sister Act


Technorati tags:

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Authors' Blog Tour

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Love


God's Gift of Love
by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Love. It seems as though everyone these days is either in desperate avoidance of it, in the heart wrenching process of losing it, or in the giddy throes of finding it. Some have given up on it while others believe they will know it when they see it. All of us hope when it’s our turn, the love we get - and give - will be unconditional.

But can flawed humans really offer unconditional love?

Oh, we try. If you’re a parent you know the depth of love you felt the first moment you saw that precious baby of yours. Then there’s the feelings you carried up the aisle to join your beloved at the altar. Or perhaps love to you is counted by the nights spent at a parent’s bedside. The thread of love winds through each of these, and yet it is the rare parent, spouse, or child who would admit to having loved perfectly. We are human and sadly flawed, even when we act with the best of intentions.

There is only one unconditional love that never fails. Only one love that never turns a blind eye, says the wrong thing, or procrastinates rather than acts. The love of the Father, our Heavenly Father, is perfect in every way. Not only is His love unconditional, but He also loves us in spite of who we are and not for what we are. How wonderful to know that the God of the universe loves us.

Not just love in the way we see it, the stars-in-our-eyes crazy-about-my-baby love, but a depth of feeling exponentially more than anything our flawed but well intentioned hearts could imagine.

So today, when you’re reminded of that tiny baby, Jesus Christ the Creator-made-flesh, think of the love it took to accomplish this holy miracle of unconditional love. To put on the fingers and toes of an infant and come to us as Savior was the beginning of a love story that has no end.

Kathleen Y’Barbo Kathleen Y'Barbo is the author of Beloved Castaway and countless other books. For more information visit www.kathleenybarbo.com.
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Blessed by the Best Ideas—Blessed by the Best Gift


Christmas Eve Day
To all my friends:

May Peace, Joy, Love, Mercy and Grace fill your homes. Hug your familes, enjoy your church services, eat all the wonderful goodies, listen to some uplifting music...and most of all...
Remember to rest in His love.


The "Reason for the Season" is there, just like always--waiting for you to receive your gift, the best gift of all. How are you doing to remember to focus on HIM?

So many other bloggers have blessed me so much and helped me slow down. Their posts that have brought me so much joy during these days leading up to Christmas. Take some time with a warm mug of your favorite holiday beverage & visit them. Leave them a lovely comment--because you know for bloggers, the comments are just like chocolate!

Please let me know if you have something you would like to share with everyone!! There is still plenty of time.

This post begain almost forty days ago and it started with this:

I've been thinking about what I want my family to focus on this year and thought I would share some links to bloggers that have blessed my heart with their ideas. Will you share your traditions with me? I will be keeping this post near the top (with a link at the very top) and adding as long as someone has blessings & joy to share. If you have an idea on December 24th I'd like to know. Or even on January 24th, although we might be letting the post sink to the bottom by then.

So...Do your Christmas holidays begin the day after Thanksgiving? We know in the retail world they now begin the day after Halloween! (Or sooner.) So when does the season begin at your house? Do you start on December 1st and count down the days until the 25th? Do you do the Twelve Days of Christmas? Do you include the Feast of St. Nicholas? Does Christmas last until Epiphany at your home? (Of course some of us leave the tree up until almost February--but that wasn't because of celebrations.)

Some bloggers have started preparing for and remembering Christ's birth already. For forty days prior to the holiday they are getting their hearts prepared. And the ways are wonderful.

Debbi at Deb on the Run is at the beginning of a different forty day journey to Christmas, to Christ. Only she is not filling it with goodies and baking--at least until the Feast of the Nativity. Right now the Eastern Orthodox Church is celebrating the Nativity Fast. This post also contains a link to some wonderful Scripture boxes to be used in the celebration. She shows some of the process here and also talks about some planting they are including in their preparations. I spent the beginning of last year celebrating Divine Liturgy with an Orthodox Church that I loved. The beauty & richness of their celebrations leave me grasping for words. It truly touches every sense. Updated to add: Deb is getting ready for the Feast of St. Nicholas and shows us some "coins" that her family will be using.

This year Liza at Liza's Eye View is on a forty day journey to Christmas. She is doing the John 3:16 Devotional by Max Lucado: 40 Days with the Son. I will be following this with interest. I had already picked out different book to follow. But next year??

So what book did I have planned? This year I will be using the book Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr. I ran across it at the Christian bookstore that I like to shop at.

With the boys I will be reading Child of the Promise by Stormie Omartian. This is a perennial favorite of ours. I will be going into more detail on this book soon.


Some other bloggers have some wonderful children's book suggestions! Renee at 2 Peas in Pod linked to the Holidays Near and Far booklist and Leah at South Breeze Farm has some wonderful choices that journey to Bethlehem!! I know that memories that last a lifetime come from sharing a good book with a child. Be sure to visit these ladies and find these titles.

Kim at mom-musings shares with us a book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, that sounds like something I know my family will enjoy. Take a look!

Maybe you start your holiday on December 1st. Some do a Jesse Tree. Some do Advent calendars and some do Advent Wreaths (links here and there).

Last year before I started blogging, I began reading several blogs. One of my favorites was another homeschool mom. She blessed me and without knowing gave me a nudge in the keister to improve my holidays. I am talking about Jeana at Days to Come . She shared last year about an Advent tradition involving a wreath and a box to open. It started with this post and followed with many Advent posts throughout last December. Of course, as always, her posts are filled with humor and the realities of family and fun, showing we can still have fun and be merry while making the holidays more memorable.NOTE: Jeana is doing a sequel to last year. Sure to be as memorable!

A wonderful Advent project post I was thrilled to find was from Ann at More questions than answers. The supplies are simple, and the Scriptures are wonderful. This would be so great for families where younger children are present, but the olders will enjoy and relate too. I was so glad Ann let me share this.

How do you include your family in your holiday? Maria at Free to Fly shares some holiday memories where she learned about incorporating her husband's and son's wishes for decorating. She also posted about what delights her about the holidays!! She is uplifting as always.

Barbara H of Stray Thoughts shared two beautiful posts: 1st Corinthians 13 Applied to Christmas and Ten Free Gifts for Christmas. I think these are so awesome! Thank you Barbara. Edited to add: Barbara has graciously shared some more posts, her own post with links to many lovely Christmas devotionals, this favorite of mine, a story of a goose, oh my word--some funnies that will make you laugh, some quotes--I love quotes, a poem and a hymn, and a way to bless missionaries during the holidays. I thought it might be to late for this year, but good to keep in mind and work on for 2008.

Kathleen Marie from The Open Window shares on Faith Lifts a devotional about the origins and interpretations of The Twelve Days of Christmas. You know, the boys and I have a set of ornaments that list these Scripture references and they get so excited when we put them on their tree. This gives so much more meaning to an old familiar song and is a wonderful post to check out!

Do you find that one of your ways to bless your family for the holidays is to cook fabulous food? Do you look for handmade & homemade ways to share gifts.

Jess at Sassy Pants has joined in to share a handmade memory and an idea for continuing the tradition. I really love to make gifts, visit her to read her sweet story.

Renee at Two Peas in Pod is sharing recipes and crafts and lots of links to other bloggers at her holiday blog Holiday Creations. She has holidays throughout the year listed on there. She has a lot of Thanksgiving going now. I can wait to see more of her warm and happy Christmas ideas.

Edited to add: Renee has some wonderful holiday thoughts here and a free book recommendation here, that I will be looking at right away. Thanks Renee!

Mrs. Pear, possibly the most organized homemaking blogger has a lovely post about passing on a traditional family recipe to Miss Pear. Lovely memories come from times like that!

All the way from Alaska, Michelle at Scribbit is hosting a Winter Bazaar with great ideas from other bloggers with crafty and fun ideas for the holidays. I think Alaska is sure to have a "White Christmas," don't you? Check it out.

A post of a different sort blessed my heart. Coach Jenny at A Coach for Life shares what "knowledge" without love gets one for the holidays. There is nothing new under the sun. It is just wrapped a little differently sometimes. This is a can't miss post. Edited to add: Jenny posted a "can't miss" link today. It isn't just for Christmas. It is for everyday. It reminds us what it is all about.

Something I think most of us are aware of , but don't often address, is the possibility for a holiday, any holiday to cause as much pain as it does joy. Heidi at God's Grace in Practice has a post titled "Blue Christmas" that really spoke to my heart. Her lovely commenters had some good thoughts to share too.

Sheryl at Taking the Challenge, hostess of Faith Lift Fridays shares a special post reminding us of the things I think we all have in common when we thing of sweet Christmas memories. Visit Sheryl for her Faith Lift Fridays for a lovely way to start the weekend.

Many thanks to those who have joined in so far. Other bloggers have agreed to join us and will let me know when their posts are up. I will be adding to this post as we go along.

Do you have some ideas for making the holidays a blessing, for remembering why we really do this? I know you do. Feel free to leave me a note in the comments or e-mail me. I would love to hear and it is a great way to share some holiday joy.
Looking forward to a holy holiday! May your Christmas be blessed and full of joy.




Technorati tags: A Reason for the Season,

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The bless├Ęd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

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

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Words by Edmund Sears
Music by Richard S. Willis

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Authors' Blog Tour

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....
The Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas



God's Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas
by Cyndy Salzmann


It was enough to curl my toes. And a quick glance at the other mother’s in the audience told me I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

So what horrendous experience caused such a reaction from a room full of moms? A violent or s3xually explicit movie? A challenge from Doctor Phil to “get real” and ‘fess up about our parenting faux pas? Or a pan of the audience spotlighting a really bad hair day?

Actually, the event that caused such a panic among this audience of mothers occurred during the Christmas program at my daughter’s school.

Things started innocently enough when the girls marched out onto the stage swinging colorful shopping bags. Of course, they were adorable and the apples of their mothers’ eyes. The trouble began when the girls opened their mouths and sang…

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Scurry! Scurry! Scurry!

Worry! Worry! Worry!

Christmastime is here!


As I said, it was enough to curl my toes. Just the thought of all that hurrying, scurrying and worrying to prepare for Christmas gave me a full-blown a hot flash. No wonder depression peaks during the holidays. Faced with all that stress , I wouldn’t want to get out of bed either.

Once my hot flash ceded, I began to realize that this is just where Satan wants us – dreading the celebration of the most precious gifts to mankind – the birth of Jesus Christ. And frankly, it made my blood boil – almost bringing on another hot flash. I decided right then that he wasn’t going to get away with it.

We have a choice on how much hurrying, scurrying and worrying we do. And this year I hope you’ll make a commitment to join me in uncluttering your Christmas by jumping off the treadmill and keeping your eyes on the true reason for the season.

Cyndy Salzmann is the author of Crime & Clutter, book two in the highly acclaimed Friday Afternoon Mystery series published by Howard Books. As America’s Clutter Coach, Cyndy is a popular national speaker and radio personality. Cyndy, her husband and three children, live in Omaha, Nebraska. For more information visit www.cyndysalzmann.com

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Grains of Gratitude—Christmas Edition

I am grateful that my husband and I got to watch our sons together on stage yesterday. I was blown away by who they have become. They are very confident young men and I have to admit that I cried watching. I could not help but think my mother would have been so proud. I am so proud. And without planning one of my dear friends had seats for herself and her husband beside us. It was a happy accident, that was such a blessing. And her daughter was entirely too adorable. So we were very happy to sit together and nudge and say, "Look!! LOOOK!!."

I am grateful for my husband who did the driving. The weather decided to challenge us and while I have done my share of winter roads this year already, it was nice to be a passenger.

I am grateful for the people who have blessed me with their friendship this year. There have been quiet golden spots of kindness that will glow forever in my heart. These are the people that have surprised me with their compassion and ability to see beneath the veneer that I sometimes often wear.

I am grateful for our church and for the friendships that are developing there. It is there that I have found the peace and comfort to continue some days when I was very low. I know God is with us every moment of our lives if we choose to let Him be, but there are times when we need to move out of our lives and into a set aside and holy place where the whole point of the building is devoted to God. He will meet us anywhere, but sometimes the physical act of worship is a blessing.

This year has flown! I remember this time last year I was gathering up the courage to blog. I was trying to figure out what I wanted my blog to be and wondering if anyone would read it. Well it has turned out to be so much different than I planned, but so much more of a blessing than I ever dreamed. I am amazed at the visitors I have had and am so grateful for each one who has blessed me with a comment or encouraged me with an e-mail.

Christine at Brady's Bunch is the originator of Grains of Gratitude.

Have a very sweet and joyful Christmas everyone.

Photo courtesy of Public Domain Pictures.net

Friday, December 21, 2007

Welcome to Our World



Lyrics and music by Chris Rice

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting

Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence

Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world


Listen on YouTube


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Fall Into Reading Wrap-Up

It seems very strange to be tying up a "fall" reading challenge with the Christmas tree up and carols on the CD player. But the Fall Into Reading Challenge has ended. I had thirteen books on the list. I actually read fourteen books. But were they all on the list? Well...no. And that has been an issue for me before.

My list was comprised of:

1. Nutcracker Nation by Jennifer Fisher
2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
3. Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
4. Guardian of the Veil by Gregory Spencer
5. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
6. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
7. The Shunning by Beverly Lewis (Book 1 in the Heritage of Lancaster County Series)
8. A Hideous Beauty by Jack Cavenaugh
9. The Brink of Death by Brandilyn Collins (sent to me by my friend Coach Jenny)
10. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
11. The Divine Appointment by Jerome Teel
12. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (Book 1 in the Earthsea Cycle)
13. The Reckoning by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Book 15 of a series of 30 books that comprise the Morland Dynasty)

Katrina at Callapidder Days, our hostess for the challenge, has offered us some questions to consider as we wrap this up. She asks:

* Tell us how you did. Did you finish all the books you had on your original list? If not, why not? Did you get distracted by other books? Were you too busy to read as much as you would have liked? And if you did finish them all, did you read more?

Well, no, as I mentioned I did NOT finish all the books on my list. I didn't even start: Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (Book 1 in the Earthsea Cycle), Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, Guardian of the Veil by Gregory Spencer, and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon.

I definitely got distracted with other books. I became very enamored with Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' The Morland Dynasty series early this year and have been struggling not to read just that to the exclusion of all else. I will have to devote an entire post to that sometime after the new year. I was distracted enough from the Morland Dynasty and from my original list to read some books that I received that I had not counted on when the challenge began.

And, yes, life got in the way a little and considering the time of year I guess it is not surprising. Life continues on even when we have our noses buried in books and being the mother of two energetic and busy young men kept me away from some reading time. But that is a good thing to have, no complaints about that.

* Tell us what you thought. What book did you like most? Least? Did you try a new author that you now love? Have you written off an author as "I'll never read anything by him/her again!"?

Memoir of a Geisha was fabulous. It was not an uplifting book, but was fascinating. I think it was my favorite book from the challenge. Arthur Golden created memorable characters that imbedded themselves on my imagination, and I highly recommend it as a "must read."

Nutcracker Nation was my least favorite book, but I slogged through it so I could discuss it with my friend. I am not one to finish unsatisfying books, but I did it. It read like a thesis paper more than a book and I felt a lot of interesting avenues were left unexplored or ignored totally.

* Tell us what you learned. Maybe you learned something about yourself, your interests, your reading patterns. Maybe you learned that you love/hate a particular genre. Maybe you learned some fabulous little nugget of truth from one of the books you read.

I learned that historical fiction has become a definite favorite. I've been surprised and extremely pleased with the quality of the Christian fiction that I've read. That has been a fantastic blessing. I learned I can live without fantasy for a little while, although I will be back to reading it again. Some might consider A Hideous Beauty fantasy, but I don't think it is although it might loosely be called Christian fantasy.

I didn't review every book I read, but these are all the reviews I did post.

What I did read:

The Other Boleyn Girl--Phillipa Gregory
Memoirs of a Geisha--Arthur Golden
The Brink of Death --Brandilyn Collins
The Reckoning--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The Devil's Horse--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Kingdom Wars I: A Hideous Beauty--Jack Cavanaugh
The Divine Appointment--Jerome Teel
The Heritage of Lancaster County: The Shunning--Beverly Lewis
The Heritage of Lancaster County: The Confession--Beverly Lewis
The Poison Tree--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The Sovreign's Daughter--Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs
Nutcracker Nation--Jennifer Fisher
The Abyss--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The Hidden Shore--Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

As you can see, five of the fourteen are by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Those are the Morland Dynasty series. I plan on reading the third in the Heritage of Lancaster County: The Reckoning. I will be searching out other books from most of the authors I read.

I really thought the Spring Reading Thing was easier for me, so I will need to evaluate my fall reading expectations in the year to come. What my plans are for reading in 2008 are? I am working on weeding down a burgeoning list and will have some thought in a week or two.

Looking forward to checking in with all the Fall Into Reading participants. Because you know there are never too many books.


The Twelve Days of Christmas: Authors' Blog Tour

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.


On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Memories
God's Gift of Memories
by Marlo Schalesky


Memory is a powerful thing. We hear a song from our high school days and we’re transported to sweaty school dances and blasting the radio in our first car. The smell of brownies baking takes us back to pigtails and ponies. We drive by the house we lived in as a kid and remember the swingset in the backyard and how that rotten kid from next door blew spitwads through the hole in the fence.

Ever gotten sick on a type of food? You’ll never want to have that again. And don’t even think about naming your child after that whiny little brat that sat behind you in the fourth grade, even if your spouse loves that name.

Memory. It’s why we treasure photos, display mementos, keep in touch with people from our past. It’s why God set up festivals for the ancient Israelites and told them to erect memorials at significant places in their history.

Memory. It’s why the sight of a stuffed stocking takes me back to those early mornings in my childhood when my brother and I would wake up before dawn, run to the fireplace, get our stockings, and race back to my parents’s bed. Mom was always ready. Dad pretended to complain. And together, with lots of giggling and the thrill of anticipation, we’d pull out the gifts from our stockings one by one. Simple things, boring really. Candy. A toothbrush. Some silly plastic toy. Things that would be used up or forgotten in just a few short weeks. And yet, opening stockings is my favorite Christmas memory from childhood.

Why? I think it’s because good memories are not necessarily made from the “big stuff.” Rather, they’re fashioned out of warmth and happiness and times together. They’re woven with laughter, colored with simple, plain joy. They come from times when you experience love.

So, this year, I’m thinking about the memories I’m making now, for my kids, and for myself. I don’t want those memories to be ones of a Mom who’s running around with too much to do and too little time to do it. I don’t want them to be of hustle, bustle, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cards, and gifts thrown under the tree. I don’t even want them to be of the cool stable-and-horse set that my girls will unwrap on Christmas morning. Or the cheap kid’s guitar for my oldest (age 7), or the new “ooo-ahh” (stuffed gorilla) for one of my 2-year-old twins.

Because the toys will break, get old, get lost, or they’ll outgrow them. But they won’t outgrow the happy memories of family times together. The memories of decorating Christmas cookies with laughter and joking – those won’t get old. The times we make a gingerbread house together, or sit down and watch the Grinch – those won’t break. The simple things make the best memories. Times when we’re together as a family, having fun, enjoying the traditions we’re building together.

So, that’s my goal this Christmas, to weave memories of peace, love, togetherness, because that’s the best gift I can think of to celebrate Jesus’ birth -- Memories that bring a smile to the face of children . . . and to the face of the King.

For more about the power of memories in our lives, check out Marlo's next novel, Beyond the Night, releasing in May. A woman in a hospital bed, a man sitting beside her, and between them, a memory that can set her free. Find out more at: http://www.marloschalesky.com/

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

With Christmas time and some free time coming up, we are planning on playing some games. They really don't have anything to do with "The Real Reason for the Season," but they are fun and if you don't have them and are brave enough to forge off to the toy store, I would highly recommend them.

So I give you:



Thirteen Games I Like




UnoUno









CribbageCribbage








Phase 10 Phase 10










BoggleBoggle












Scrabble Scrabble










SorrySorry









Othello Othello








MancalaMancala





Chinese CheckersChinese Checkers












JengaJenga












YahtzeeYahtzee












Skip-BoSkip-Bo












ClueClue













What games do you recommend that are not on my list?

Thursday Thirteen Hub!

THE PURPOSE BEHIND THE THURSDAY THIRTEEN:
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. What do you do? Write Thirteen things about yourself, summarize your week in one entry, make it easy for other bloggers to get to know you on a weekly basis. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged!

Twelve Days of Christmas: Authors' Blog Tour

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Story


God's Gift of Dreams and Story
by Melody Carlson

A dream doesn’t always seem like a gift from God, but sometimes I’ll experience one so vivid and amazing that I can’t help but think God is at work. I remember a dream that woke me in the middle of the night about ten years ago. I was so moved that I felt compelled to write it down. In my dream I saw a sweet angel who was distraught that Jesus was about to leave heaven to be born as a baby on earth. So she volunteered to give up being an angel and God transformed her into a magnificent star to light the night sky for the Big Event. I won’t tell the entire dream, but simply let it be said that the ending surprised everyone—including me. The story became a children’s Christmas book called The Greatest Gift (which is currently out of print). But as a result of that dream, I began to pay even more attention to my dreams. Sometimes I think that God simply uses them to show me things about my own life and sometimes my dreams wind up in my books.

Melody Carlson is the author of Ready to Wed, (Guideposts Books 2007). This story also involves a dream! For more information visit http://www.melodycarlson.com/

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Angels Cried

The Angels Cried
(Alan Jackson with Alison Krauss)


They came from near,they came from far
Following a distance star to where He lay
Not being sure of what it mean,but
Knowing it was their way

And the creatures gathered 'round
And didn't make a sound
And the angels cried

The angels knew what was to come
The reason God had sent His son
From up above
It filled their hearts with joy to see and
Knowing of His destiny
Came tears of love

I've often thought about that night
And wondered if they realized
That star so bright
Was sent to tell all the land
The Son of God would soon become
The Son of Man

And the creatures gathered 'round
And didn't make a sound
And the angels cried

And the Angel Cried
And the Angel Cried
Artist: Jackson Alan

Song: The Angels Cried (Alan Jackson with Alison Krauss)
Album: Honky Tonk Christmas Alan Jackson


Listen on YouTube.


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Twelve Days of Christmas: Author's Blog Tour

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Unexpected Blessings

God's Gift of Unexpected Blessings
by Angela Hunt


The arrival of our daughter from South Korea wasn’t exactly unexpected—we’d spent years longing for her, and then months praying for that little baby’s safe arrival in our arms.

And as I look back over the experience, I can’t help thinking of Mary, who must have had such mixed feelings when she held the infant Jesus in her arms. Great joy, for the promised child had arrived. Great responsibility for the fragile life in her care. And great dread for the difficulties and sorrows that would arise.

As a young mother, I knew there would be tough times, and I haven’t been disappointed. But through bad times and good, through loving moments and less-than-loving moments, I can see the hand of God’s sovereignty molding me, my husband, and my children into the people he intends us to be.

Christmas shines brightest in the eyes of children. But it resonates most deeply in the hearts of those who love them.

Angela Hunt

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Adeste Fideles

Adeste fideles,
Laeti triumphantes;
Venite, venite in Bethlehem;
Natum videte,
Regem Angelorum:

Refrain:
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus Dominum!

Deum de Deo,
Lumen de lumine,
Gestant puellae viscera;
Deum verum,
Genitum, non factum:

Refrain

Cantet nunc hymnos
Chorus angelorum,
Cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria, gloria,
In excelsis Deo!

Refrain

Ergo qui natus
Die hodierna,
Jesu tibi sit gloria;
Patris aeterni
Verbum caro factum!

Refrain

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

Refrain

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;

Refrain

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;

Refrain

See how the shepherds, summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither bend our joyful footsteps;

Refrain

Lo! star led chieftains, Magi, Christ adoring,
Offer Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
We to the Christ Child bring our hearts’ oblations.

Refrain

Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?

Refrain

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Refrain