Monday, December 25, 2017

It's About the Cross

It's not just about the manger where the baby lay,

It's not just about the angels who sang for him that day,

It's not just about the shepherds, or the bright and shining star;

It's not all about the wise men who travelled from afar.

It's about the cross, it's about my sin, it's about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again.

It's about the stone that was rolled away, so that you and I could have real life someday;

It's about the cross.

It's not all about the good things in this live I've done,

It's not all about the treasures or the trophies that I've won,

It's not all about the righteousness that I find within;

It's about His precious blood that saves me from within.

It's about the cross, it's about my sin, it's about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again.

It's about the stone that was rolled away, so that you and I could have real life someday.

It's about the cross.

The beginning of the story is wonderful and great, but it's the ending that can save you, and that's why we celebrate.

It's about the cross, it's about my sin, it's about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again.

It's about God's love nailed to a tree, it's about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should've been me.

It's about the stone that was rolled away, so that you and I could have some life someday.

So that you and I could have real life someday. 

It's about the cross.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Contemporary Christmas

It's Christmas Eve, people.  Like, wow.
To be honest, I'm still stuck in November–y'know, pre-Thanksgiving? XD
Anyway, these aren't traditional songs.  But they're beautiful and... yeah.

Chris Tomlin - Glory in the Highest

Newsong - The Christmas Shoes

Point of Grace - Carol of the Bells/What Child is This?

Barlowgirl - Hallelujah (Light has Come)

Brandon Heath - Just a Girl

Michael Card - Joseph's Song

4Him - A Strange Way to Save the World


Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Country Christmas

For having grown up with brothers obsessed with country songs, I kinda learned to hate it.
But I have to admit, there's some really good ones out there.
So here.  *shoves them at you* Enjoy.

The Oak Ridge Boys - Jesus is Born Today

Lonestar - Little Drummer Boy

Kenny Chesney - Thank God for Kids

Josh Turner - The First Noel

Alan Jackson - Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

George Strait (because we can't have a country music post without the King of Country, right? XD) - There's a New Kid in Town

Scotty McCreery - Mary, Did you Know?


Friday, December 22, 2017

Books For the Kids at Heart

Who else loves picture books?
Don't look at me that way; you're never too old to love kids' picture books.
Come to think of it, I can list more Christmas kids' books than I can Christmas books for my age.
Before you think I've gone completely off my rocker, let me say this: if you think you're too old or mature to be reading picture books, then... well, you might as well not read this post.  Because it'd be a waste of your time.

In no particular order...

The Candle in the Forest by Joe Wheeler

Eight treasured tales will charm young readers and journaling pages will turn this book into a keepsake.  Gather the family and pass on the tradition of sharing stories of faith, hope, and love.

Containing several different stories, these are perfect for reading by yourself or reading aloud to siblings. ;)

The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Pine Tree Parable tells the heartwarming tale of a Farmer and his family who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.  When the trees are tall enough to offer their neighbors, the Farmer's wife plans to keep the most beautiful pine tree for her family, until one snowy December night when a child teaches her the true meaning of Christmas.

Ohh, yes.  A simple reminder that we shouldn't keep things for ourselves—Christmas is a time for giving, and for thanking—thanking God for what He did for us.

The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne, adapted by Pat Matuszak

In this adaptation of the best-selling story of The Legend of the Christmas Tree, little ones ages 4 and under can discover the wonderful story of how the evergreen tree first became a symbol of Christmas and a way to tell people about God.

*Coughs* Yes, that's a board book.  Yes, it does say '4 and under'.  But hey, it's one of the few Christmas book that we've had around the house for as long as I can remember (see how it's worn?); you could say it's a keepsake.  Of sorts. XD

Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift by Max Lucado

The Maker-Day Festival brings out the best that Wemmicksville has to offer.  The best cake, the best bouquet, and the best music.  But when Punchinello's disastrous mistake threatens to ruin the festival, all the Wemmicks discover the most marvelous gift.  And they all sing out: "We like you.  We love you.  We all agree—without you, Eli, there'd be no we."

So, this has always been one of my very, very favorites.  When I was little, and I got to pick a book for Daddy or Mom to read aloud, that's what I'd always pick.  Kord, too.

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

Because Joshua the Lamb was different, he often felt left out-like on the wintry night when he was left behind in a Bethlehem stable. This touching tale helps kids see that even if they're different, God has a unique plan for their lives.

Another one that we've had for as long as I can remember.  It's one of Mom's favorites, it's a sweet story, and I love the illustrations. ;)

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall

It's the Christmas season during a time when people had little money to spend.  Cookie jars held pennies, not Christmas cookies.  So when Jack smells something delicious coming from the kitchen, he can't believe his nose.  Cookies!
But his excitement turns to disappointment when he learns the cookies aren't for him.  Instead, Mother is baking them for the needy people at their church.  While Jack helps roll our the dough, his mother tells him the story of the Christmas cookie.  
In a captivating interplay of simple words and beautiful illustrations, The Gift of the Christmas Cookie tells a tender story of giving—not just cookies, but gifts of the heart that last forever.

Ahh, I love this story.  Not only is it a great reminder about what Christmas is really all about, but it's also got cookies.  Sugar, ya'll.  I don't know about you, but I have a weakness for stories with food—especially dessert.  XD

A Child's Christmas at St. Nicholas Circle by Douglas Kane McKelvey

In A Child's Christmas at St. Nicholas Circle, the artwork of world-renowned painter Thomas Kinkade brings to life a story destined as a Christmas classic.
Little Henry and his sister Katie will always remember the Christmas Eve that the mysterious message started to come through the telegraph machine at the town's train station.  Yet after only part of the message had appeared, a winter storm suddenly snapped the power lines.
"Good news - stop an important guest will arrive at St. Nicholas Circle by train to—"
Amazed to think someone important was making a special visit to their little town, the entire community turned out to welcome this mysterious guest.  But it is six-year-old Henry whose faith changed the lives of his family and those of a family of strangers.  The lessons of treating others with respect and sacrificial love come alive, as does the enchanting art by Kinkade.

Hearwarming and thought-provoking, this story brings out the fact that we should welcome everyone—whether they're "important" or not.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Humorous Christmas

Are you stressed, doing your last-minute shopping, getting ready for company, or just plain grumpy?
You've come to the right place.  Now, before you start thinking I'm making a sales pitch, I'm not. XD Maybe one or two of these songs will make you laugh just a little bit, or at least put a smile on your face. ;)

United States Navy - Sleigh Ride

Straight No Chaser - The Twelve Days of Christmas

Farmer Derek Klingenberg - Walking Around a T-bone Steak
(Okay, I'll admit this isn't exactly a Christmas song, but it's a parody of Walking Around the Christmas Tree, and it does mention Christmas, sooooo)

Straight No Chaser - The Christmas CanCan

Tim Hawkins - Do You Hear what I hear?


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hello in There

Well folks, I'm back again!
Don't get too used to me—I might disappear without a word of warning again at any given moment.  You've been fairly warned. XD

Have you ever walked by someone—someone elderly, to be specific—and, making eye contact, smiled at them?
Have you ever visited a nursing home just to say hello?
Have you ever opened the door for them?
Even a greeter at Walmart—do you smile and politely tip your head, or do you ignore them and brush past?
Or your grandma.  Do you ever sit down and talk with her, or do you ignore her and turn on the TV when you visit?  Just a simple hug and a "how are you?" or a five-minute shoulder rub would do wonders.

You may be asking what in the world this has to do with Christmas.
Well, this month, our pastor started his sermon with this song:

He then went on to talk about various things, but one thing that stuck out to me was this:
Give a gift that money can't buy.
A simple handshake, a short hug, help across the street, even putting hand lotion on the ladies at the nursing home—you never know what your actions can do for a person.

We had an apartment in the city,
Me and Loretta liked living there.
Well, it'd been years since the kids had grown,
A life of their own left us alone.
John and Linda live in Omaha,
And Joe is somewhere on the road.
We lost Davy in the Korean war,
And I still don't know what for, don't matter anymore.

Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello."

Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more,
She sits and stares through the back door screen.
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen.
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy,
We worked together at the factory.
But what could I say if he asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do."

So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello."

As you do your last-minute shopping, don't ignore those around you.
Say hello.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

An Instrumental Christmas

Can you tell I love music? XD
Here's some amazing instrumentals of some amazing Christmas songs:

Nashville Superpickers - The Twelve Days of Christmas

Craig Duncan - Go Tell it on the Mountain

Lindsey Stirling - O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Angels we have Heard on High

Trans Siberian Orchestra - Carol of the Bells

Lindsey Stirling - I Saw Three Ships

Banjo Ben - Joy to the World


Saturday, December 16, 2017

You Know You're a Farmer's Daughter When... {Christmas Edition}

Hey hey hey, I'm back again for the third day in a row!  Don't fall out of your chair in shock.
This time I've got for you a peek of my life around Christmastime.

Let's get started, shall we?

You know you're a farmer's daughter when...

...'Getting a Christmas tree' means going to a nearby pasture and cutting down a cedar.

...You dream of a white Christmas, but your father dreams of exactly the opposite.

...'Sledding' means being pulled on a bobsled behind the 4-wheeler.  Or sledding down a nearby dike on tractor tire tubes.

...Your family pictures for Christmas cards is taken with a piece of farm equipment, in a hay barn, or with animals in the background.

...You will randomly receive a text that has a video of your brother dancing in the workshop to Christmas music. 

...'Snowball fight' means everything from throwing balls of snow at each other to tackling each other into snowdrifts.

...'Christmas shopping' for the kids means usually going to the nearest small town and picking up most of your gifts from Dollar General or the hardware store.

...Can't figure out a gift for the guys?  Tools.  Tools everywhere.  It makes them happy.

...Icy roads = looking out the window and you at first think there's a lighthouse in your yard, but you soon realize it's the guys having fun on the 4-wheeler.


Friday, December 15, 2017

A Vintage Holiday

I would've named this post "A Secular Christmas" but that would've been an oxymoron. 
There is no such thing.
So, I'm going to simply title this post "A Vintage Holiday"... because all these songs ended up being from the early 1900s, and that's what Christmas has become in the world—a simple holiday, I mean.  Just like Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day or Thanksgiving or... well, you get the idea.
Jesus has been replaced with Santa Claus, gifts and advertisements saying "you deserve this gift—come spend big bucks and reward yourself!"
I know, not all stores are this way.
It's just society.
ANYWAY, the purpose of this post was not to go on a rant.  Sorry about that. XD
It was to share some of my favorite holiday/winter songs.
So I'll get off my soapbox and do that now.  *nods*

Dean Martin - Winter Wonderland

Frank Sinatra - Let it Snow

Johnny Mathis - It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas

Bing Crosby - Silver Bells

Andy Williams - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Bing Crosby - White Christmas


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Twelve Days of Christmas {Why}

Well, I'm back today with Faith's blog party/linkup, Twelve Days of Christmas!

Have you ever wondered why in the world the lyrics for The Twelve Days of Christmas are what they are?
When the twelve days were started, it was during religious persecution.
Christians weren't allowed to sing the songs they wanted.  Thus, this song was invented—sort of like a secret catechism.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Jesus

The Reason for the season

Two Turtle Doves: Old and New Testaments

Genesis | Exodus | Leviticus | Numbers | Deuteronomy | Joshua | Judges | Ruth | 1 Samuel | 2 Samuel  1 Kings | 2 Kings | 1 Chronicles | 2 Chronicles | Ezra | Nehemiah | Esther | Job | Psalms | Proverbs Ecclesiastes | Song of Solomon | Isaiah | Jeremiah | Lamentations | Ezekiel | Daniel | Hosea | Joel 
Amos | Obadiah | Jonah | Micah | Nahum | Habakkuk | Zephaniah | Haggai | Zechariah | Malachi

Matthew | Mark | Luke | John | Acts | Romans | 1 Corinthians | 2 Corinthians | Galatians | Ephesians
Philippians | Colossians | 1 Thessalonians | 2 Thessalonians | 1 Timothy | 2 Timothy | Titus 
Philemon | Hebrews | James | 1 Peter | 2 Peter | 1 John | 2 John | 3 John | Jude | Revelation

Three French Hens: Faith, hope, and love

1 Corinthians 13: 13 "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Four Calling Birds: The four Gospels

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Five Golden Rings: The Pentateuch—the first five books of the Old Testament

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Six Geese A-Laying: The six days of creation

Day one: darkness and light
Day two: sky and waters
Day three: land, fruit, trees
Day four: sun, moon, stars
Day five: birds and water creatures
Day six: land animals and man

Seven Swans A-Swimming: Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord

Prophesy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, compassion

Eight Maids A-Milking: The eight Beatitudes.

-Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
-Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted
-Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
-Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled
-Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy
-Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
-Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God
-Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Nine Ladies Dancing: The nine fruits of the Spirit

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control

Ten Lords A-Leaping: The Ten Commandments

-No other gods above the one true God
-No graven image
-Don't take His name in vain
-Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
-Honor your father and mother
-Don't murder
-Don't commit adultery
-Don't steal
-Don't lie
-Don't covet

Eleven Pipers Piping: The eleven faithful apostles

-Simon Peter
-James bar Alphaeus
-Simon the Zealot
-Judas bar James

Twelve Drummers Drumming: The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed

-I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
-And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
-Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
-He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
-He descended into hell. The third day he arose again from the dead.
-He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
-He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
-I believe in the Holy Spirit,
-the holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints,
-the forgiveness of sins,
-the resurrection of the body,
-And in life everlasting.

So, I hope that I didn't bore you too bad.  XD
Here's something upbeat to get you bouncing:


Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Question of Courage: Blog Tour

Yes, another blog tour. ;)  This time for the second book in Jesseca Wheaton's Questions of War series: A Question of Courage!

About the Book:

A man.  A decision.  A destiny.

Rafe Sullivan never imagined the war would come to his doorstep.  But when Pearl Harbor is attacked and America's focus suddenly shifts to the pacific, he finds he can't ignore the problem anymore.
Leaving the life he loves behind, he joins up to do what he does best.  Fly.
Yet, nothing could have prepared him for the horrors of war, and the struggle that is going on in his own heart.  As an outstanding navy pilot, he is stationed on one of the few Pacific carriers.  But could God be calling him to step out in faith, and go beyond the call of duty?
Lily wilson gives her all to help the hurting community around her.  With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the war is brought home to many American families.  And as a nurse, she longs to be able to relive some of the suffering.  Yet, her own grief is still fresh in her heart, and though she's made the decision to get on with her life, she can't seem to leave the past behind.  When healing at last comes, the guard she placed around her heart slowly begins to crumble.
But when she receives the news she hoped she would never again hear, can she trust that God's plan is always right?
Arthur Warrington saw the Navy as an escape from the life he left behind.  And it seems good for him.  He is able to forge new friendships and distance himself from his past.  But when his best friend makes a decision that rocks his world, he is left grappling with the question: what is true courage?
Three lives.  One War.  And a search for the Courage to go on.

This time, I will be doing an author interview.  But first, a bit about the author herself!

About the Author:

Jesseca is a daughter, sister, and a child of God.  Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.  And writing, of course!  At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown.  She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she's convinced there's no place like home.

The Interview:

First off, a note from Jesseca:

Disclaimer: I know Kate in real life, and we’ve been friends for a couple years. I think that’s kinda evident in the questions and answers. ;) I tried to give each question a serious answer, but I also took the liberty in answering them as I would if she had been sitting across from me, and asked them.

1. Please, dearest, namest thou five things about thy book's setting, if it pleaseth thou? (Now before you think I've completely flown off the handle, I had originally worded this 'name 5 things about the book's setting', but, as Jess put it, '"Name five things about the setting" is a command, not a question.'  So... I reworded it as a joke and she went with it.  Blame her.)

With greatest pleasure, dearest, I shall do so! Five items of consideration? Grumman Wildcat, U.S.S. Enterprise, Guadalcanal, Pearl Harbor, and . . . naturally, World War. The second.

2. What inspired the storyline for A Question of Courage?

To be honest, I don’t really have one thing. A lot of it I decided as I wrote. At the beginning or writing, I sat down and wrote out a quick sketch. I knew I wanted to write about Guadalcanal, because it’s a place not many people know about in relation to WWII. I also knew how I wanted the ending to be, I just had to figure out how to get there. A lot of the storyline just came to be as I wrote. I had an outline, but I didn’t always stick to it. I wanted to really bring out the harsh realities of war, but in doing so, still focus on the hope of the light of Christ, even when things look hopeless.

3. How do you feel your writing has changed/improved since writing A Question of Honor?

Umm . . . I’ve never been asked this questions before. *thinks* Is there anyway to answer this without sounding weird? [Not at all—that's why I asked it. B-) Okay, just kidding, just kidding. XD] One thing I know that has improved is the setting. I’ve been told that I’ve gotten better at making the reader feel in the story. I think more research has played a part in that. It’s so much easier to write when you have a good taste for what the historical setting was like! Other than that . . .umm, IDK. You’d have to ask someone else who has read both books. I think the readers could answer this question better than the author.

Well, I've read the first but not the second. I need my copy. I think you need to send me a free copy so I can answer my own question. *halo*

4. Name three reasons why you love this story.

*coughs* Only three? Haven’t you heard enough about it while I was writing? I mean I think you know everything. Except maybe what actually happens in the book. [What's that supposed to even mean?!]
But anyway.  The characters are definitely one. Rafe . . . oh, goodness, I love that guy. And Art. They’re both so different, yet in many ways, similar. The setting was also fun. I’ve never written anything set onboard an aircraft carrier before. It took quite a bit more research, but it was so fascinating! [Certainly sounds fascinating!]
And the lesson that the characters were learning is another thing that I hold dear. It was something that God was teaching me around the same time I was writing the book. So I love the story for that, especially. [Ahh, yes, that always makes your book more special. ;)]

5. What is the purpose of A Question of Courage?

The purpose? Is that like the dad asking the guy what the purpose of the relationship is? [I don't even know what to say to that.] Um, well, the purpose of a relationship is normally to glorify God, yes? And so I think that answers this question well. *nods* [Mhm.]
But in all seriousness, I hope it inspires others to live lives that are courageous in the face of evil. To stand for what you know is right, even when it may be something just as simple as trusting God. Because sometimes that’s not so simple.
And also, to inspire other believers to follow God’s leading, even when maybe you don’t quite understand it. Sometimes that takes more courage than facing the fire of the enemy on a battlefield.  [Beautifully put, Jesseca. <3]

6. Why should people buy your book?

Because you recommended it to them. *nods* [I did? Is it possible to recommend a book I've never read? *shrugs* Well then. I recommend it, peeps.]

But to be honest, I don’t want them to buy it just to buy it. I don’t publish books to make sales. (Though, those are always nice. ;))

I write and publish books in an effort to encourage other believers in their walk with Christ, using a historical backdrop. So if you’re someone who enjoys historical fiction that keeps Christ at the center, give it a try and see if you enjoy it. I write books to entertain, but even more, to point people to Christ. I pray that my books encourage others and draw them closer to Christ in their walk with Him. And above all, I hope that through the book, God alone is glorified.


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Blog Tour Schedule:

Wednesday, November 29th

Faith Potts//Stories by Firefly - Review, Book spotlight

Libby May//Geoturtle - Author Interview

Thursday, November 30th

Kellyn Roth//Reveries Reviews - Review

Raechel//God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae - Book Spotlight  
Kate//Twin Thoughts - Author Interview

Friday, December 1st (Release day!!)
Liv K. Fisher//Liv K. Fisher - Book Spotlight, Author Interview
Deborah C.// Reading in June - Book Spotlight  
Chloe W.//Purely by Faith Reviews - Review, Author Interview
Abigail//Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors - Book Spotlight

Saturday, December 2nd
Jazzy//Thriving Hope - Review, Book spotlight
Angela Watts//The Peculiar Messenger - Review
Rebekah Eddy//Rebekah’s Remarks - Review, Author Interview, Book spotlight
Karissa Norton//No Coffee, No Can Do - Author Interview, Review