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

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

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? 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:

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



Phase 10 Phase 10


Scrabble Scrabble


Othello Othello


Chinese CheckersChinese Checkers





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

Thursday Thirteen Hub!

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

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:

Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus Dominum!

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


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


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


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;


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;


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


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


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


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?


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


Wordless Wednesday

Swimming in Circles

There are some days that this is what life feels like.

Visit HQ for more Wordless Wednesday

Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.


Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?


Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.


See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.


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 seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Uniqueness

God's Gift of Uniqueness
by Tosca Lee

I used to hate my name. “Tosca” was too unusual. “Moon,” my middle name, was just downright embarrassing. “Lee” was all right, though it still set me apart from the rest of the Caucasian kids in my school. In an era when Christy Brinkley graced the cover of every fashion magazine, I did not wish to accentuate my different-ness.

The name I really wanted was Marie--probably because others had it and that meant I could at least buy one of those door plates for my bedroom door or license plates for my bike, which was my litmus test. As it was, they sure didn’t have plates for kids named “Tosca.”

In junior high, my friends called me “Weird Tosca.” I didn’t like that so much.

These days I teach about talent in my work as a consultant. I talk about the strange, quirky things that not only set people apart, but have the potential to make them great. A friend said to me once, “Stars have points.” He’s right. And when we blunt our points, we lose the defining characteristics of our unique mark in and contribution to this world.

Opportunities work much the same. It’s the unique ones that seem to hold the greatest potential impact. When my main character, Clay, bumps up against the opportunity to hear the story of creation from the viewpoint of a Demon, he is terrified--intrigued, but terrified. And so he resists. While his reaction might be in keeping with any sane person’s, it’s also a human reaction to the unusual. But in this case, it’s the unusual that might just might save his soul.

How has God revealed to you your uniquness? And what, most importantly, is He telling you to do with it?

Weird Tosca

“You need to know something more about Elohim: he is the ultimate force of creativity. He is the author of diversity.”
--Lucian, Demon: A Memoir
Tosca Lee is the author of Demon: A Memoir and of the upcoming Havah: The Story of Eve. For more information visit

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tour of Homes

We love snow! In theory and in pictures anyway.

And last year thanks to BooMamaI had more fun than watching HGTV by visiting all the homes on her bloggy tour. I have to share that was something I wanted to do. But you can't be part unless you have a blog--so somehow that was one of the motivators for me to start this one.

Christmas Tour of Homes

So welcome! Kick off your shoes and watch out for the cat, who will try to trip you so you might hear his pathetic tale. He says he is starving. The dog will spin circles and show off if I don’t kick her out of the house for the moment. The boys might too—but I will have to let them stay in.

The blog is decorated for Advent. Sunday was Gaudete Sunday, so we are pink this week. And that is remarkable because for those who know me, I am never pink. Pink is as common as tulle around here. But it’s the week of the pink candle. Next week we will be back to purple.

The house is as decorated as it is going to get. The snowmen peer through the debris of daily life. The counters are filled and rearranged when baking is attempted. Hohohoho!!

Here are some of the tchotchkes scattered. And there is tree…I think the maps give us a more “international flair.” Ummm…pretend with me. Please?

If you would like a few more pictures of the tree you can look here.

There are some of my favorite ornaments to be found on this sidebar. My newest snowbear Marvin is there, also some cute mice and skates and a snowman. Those were my mom’s so those hold memories of her.

We have goodies galore. There is a pot of chocolate caramel coffee on and a choice of tea. Would you like Sugar Plum Spice, Candy Cane Lane or Gingerbread Spice? Hot chocolate and apple cider are also available.

The boys liked making these!

The sugar cookies are works of art, let me say.

And my friend just shared the peanut butter cookies. We are going to do a gingerbread house later. Hopefully this year the dog won’t eat it.

This is the Nativity. It is up year round. It is something I really enjoy and can’t bear to put away. The people pieces are Hallmark ornaments.
The camels came courtesy of Wal-Mart. The backdrop from Hobby Lobby. A nice retail contrast I think. One of my little secret dreams is to have the time and funds to visit a ceramic shop like I used to as a child and create a Nativity from the greenware. Maybe someday.

Oh, it’s time to continue on visiting the rest of the participants? I am so glad you stopped by. Have a lovely time with the Christmas Tour of Homes. Thanks BooMama!! I will be around to be a peeping Tom voyeur see all your fabulous decorating soon!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Author's 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 sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Unconditional Acceptance

God's Gift of Unconditional Acceptance
by Lisa Samson

Clearly God Incarnate wasn't choosy. He wasn't born in a palace, but to a simple peasant woman bearing the stigma of a pregnancy conceived out of the bonds of matrimony. He wasn't even born in his own town, but endured a long ride to Bethlehem in his mother's womb only to be born in a stable among the livestock. Even after his ministry began he owned one robe and proclaimed himself homeless when He said, "Foxes have dens, birds have nest, but the Son of God has no place to lay His head."

If we used some TV preachers' standards today, Jesus clearly wasn't blessed by God. He didn't have the finest clothes, transportation or housing. Even most of His disciples weren't exactly candidates for a PhD. Clearly He must not have had enough faith if that's all He was getting from His Father!

But Christ isn't choosy and that is good news for us. For there isn't a single human being who can impress Him into shining His light of grace upon them. The stockbroker on Wall Street stands level with the illegal immigrant who picks strawberries. The evangelist in fine suits or sparkly dresses looks eye-to-eye with the busdriver. And the homeschool mom stands shoulder to shoulder with the prostitute. His love demands He looks above the good and the bad, and His arms are always open, ready to receive us when we are ready to receive Him. Sometimes we run back into His arms many times in one day and He doesn't care if we've showered or put on the latest fashions, He's only looking for a contrite heart. That's it. A heart that says, "I'm sorry."

This Christmastime, rest in the fact that you can't impress Christ. He doesn't care about our beautiful cookies or the fact that our trees look designer coordinated. He isn't impressed we ran around to ten different stores to find the perfect present for Aunt Sue. He just wants us to love Him, just as we are, for when we do, we incarnate Him in the here and now, and there's no telling what He'll do through us.

Lisa Samson is the author of Hollywood Nobody (NavPress, 2007), For more information visit

Beloved Castaway

Just received a new book from Glass Road Public Relations. Kathleen Y'Barbo recently published Beloved Castaway with Barbour Publishing. This looks to be an exciting book. Once again I get to read historical fiction--a definite favorite.

From the promotional material: Isabelle Gayarre was born of dubious parentage. The illegitimate daughter of a rich white gentleman and his quadroon mistress, she was born into a gilded cage – loved and adored but a slave nonetheless. Her only hope was to secure passage to England aboard The Jude to escape to an English country cottage given to her by her half-sister, Emilie. The cottage—an ocean away from the racist constrains of New Orleans—would give Isabelle a life of freedom.

Yet Isabelle’s flight to freedom is almost over before it begins when fire breaks
out on the docks of New Orleans. Narrowly avoiding destruction, Josiah Carter
captains The Jude through the flames.

The fire, though, has taken its toll and Captain Carter must find medical care for his men. On the way, he finds himself drawn both to Isabelle and her faith as those aboard his ship suffer with their fire-induced injuries.

When still another catastrophe strikes the ship in the Florida Keys, Josiah is
forced to come to terms with his faith—and his love of a slave woman whose
gilded cage bars her forever from the bonds of matrimony.

Does love truly conquer all? Even the racist society of nineteenth century
New Orleans?

About Kathleen Y’Barbo
A mother of three sons and one daughter, lives in the Houston area. An award-winning, bestselling novelist of Christian fiction, Kathleen is a member of various writing groups, speaker on the craft of writing, and teacher of an online creative writing course. For more information, visit