Saturday, December 29, 2018

Top Books of 2018 {Plus 2019 Goals}


So, I tried to narrow my favorite books down to one... but there were actually two that just really stuck out to me.
There were several books that I LOVED and rated 5 stars, and they each basically made me speechless (because c'mon, 5 stars?  It has to be good).  But there were two that just... ahhhh, I loved them so. very. much.

What are these two books, you ask?  Well, *grins* lemme show you.

    

Blaze of Glory by Jeff Struecker and Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury.

Oh. my. word, y'all.  Okay, so I was so surprised by Angels Walking.  I had been told that it was amazing.  I'd been urged by a good friend to read it, but as I knew that Karen Kingsbury writes romance, I was rather hesitant.  I mean... romance.  But.  Wowwwwww, I was kinda shocked at how much I loved it.  Allllll the feeellllsssss.  I've recently acquired an appreciation for feelsy stories and this one is definitely worth a re-read.

So, Blaze of Glory.  I enjoy intense books, and um this book delivered.  I checked it out of the library on a whim because I thought the cover looked cool (and because the author is military so I knew the military aspect would be epic).  Well... it was... incredible.  If I hadn't known better, I would've thought that I literally went on a rollercoaster, it was so intense.  But it was amazing.  And the spiritual aspect. <3

So yes, my two favorite books from the year were actually basically opposites, which is interesting but cool. (Also I got Blaze of Glory—the whole series, actually—for Christmas, and a candle that SMELLS LIKE A BOOKSTORE AND IT'S SO AMAZING)

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Okay, now 2019 goals.

Right about now is the time that everyone is making their New Year's resolutions—a new year, a fresh start at becoming more, becoming better.

I've never made New Year's resolutions.  Why?  Because the definition of a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something.  Resolutions take determination, y'all.  And while I get that determination and perseverance can be good things, I didn't want the burden of knowing that if I messed up one of my resolutions I'd feel like a failure, which basically reverses the effects that resolutions are supposed to have.

So, I came up with an alternative: goals.  Because I know I'm a work-in-progress, and by God's grace I'm going to continue to improve every day.  It's the same thing with my goals.  Rather than making a resolution, I made several goals to work towards rather than piling it on top of myself all at once.  So I'd like to share with you a few goals I have for the new year.

1. (Tentatively) Publish Beloved.
Okay, so yeah, this may or may not happen.  But *crosses fingers* Lord willing, I'll put the hammer down and stop procrastinating.  This poor baby has gone through (and is going through) so many changes, it'll be a miracle if I get it ready for publication by 2090.  But I'm going to try. ;)

2. Exercise at least 4 days out of every week.
Those who know me well know that I'm seriously so out of shape, it isn't even funny.  So since Mom got a membership at the local gym, I'll hopefully get going regularly with her, as well as exercising at home.  Because goodness knows I need it.

3. Read at least 60 books.
So according to Goodreads, this year I've only read 76 out of my 90-book goal this year, which is sad, but it also means that I haven't spent as much time with my nose in a book (or I'm just not as fast a reader as I used to be... but I refuse to accept that), so that's good, right?  So I thought I'd let off some pressure and rather than shoot for the stars on this one, I'd shoot for... well, the neighbor's yard, I guess.  (Living out in the country, that's not exactly close...)

4. Blog consistently.
Um maybe by the end of the year I'll actually master this one?  Because while I obviously need help in the consistent blogging department, I've been doing better lately, and maybe I'll just have to designate a few days this year to just write like 20 posts at a time and schedule them and possibly actually publish a post every week.

5. Write at least 50,000 words.
Well, seeing as how I probably wrote barely 10K this year, this might not happen, especially if I'm going to be dedicating a bunch of time to Beloved.  Buuuut we'll give it a whirl.  I mean, hundreds of people write this much in one month alone (NaNo, anyone?) and surely I can do it in the span of 12 months... right?

6. Create a 2019 playlist.
Now, this is an idea that I kinda halfways stole from a blog I follow, but I thought it was a neat idea.  I love music, and I'm constantly listening to music or singing or playing piano or just playing a song in my head over and over (I don't recommend that though, unless you want to get really tired of that song really fast).  I'm not sure how I'll do this, maybe a song per week, or when something significant happens.



7. Finish reading through the Bible.
I started this for school this past semester, and I'm actually supposed to get 3/4 of the way done by the time next semester is over, so I'd hope this would happen... but I guess ya never know.  Maybe I should shoot for reading through the Bible again after I finish...

8. Memorize at least 20 Bible verses.
I don't memorize nearly as much as I should, and I'll hopefully step up my game this year.  I've never really cared that much for memorization (unless it's music that I accidentally memorize by listening to a specific song over and over), so not only will this increase my knowledge of the Bible, it'll also bring me out of my comfort zone.

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Yeah... that's a lot of goals.  We'll see how I do!  I might write an update post this summer... we shall see.
Do you have any goals/resolutions for 2019?


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Why Fruitcake?


Fruitcake is the stereotypical Christmas dessert.  I've personally only had it once (never again), but it's still everywhere this time of year.  So during a conversation with my mother on the subject, and amid speculation, I began to wonder exactly why fruitcake is so traditional and popular, even though few people actually like it.  So, I did some research.  And I was surprised and slightly horrified to find that some fruitcake supposedly has a shelf life of 25 years.

Fruitcake actually started in Rome, where it was almost a delicacy, only affordable to the rich because of how rare fresh fruit was in the winter.  Add liqueur to that, and you've got an expensive dish.  Our American version stemmed from the British form of plum cake, a fruity dessert incredibly popular to eat during holidays.  Obviously, it's not nearly as rare and expensive now, so it's not as popular as it used to be.  But it's still iconic.

My personal experience with fruitcake came 3 or 4 years ago, when we visited a location famous for their fruitcake, and was handing out samples.  I sunk my teeth into a bite, even though fruitcake isn't liked all that well and I'm not a fan of trying new foods.  But I figured I might as well give it a try.
The bread was... very sweet, and the fruit was... well, something I tried not to chew too much.  All this to say, no, I don't like fruitcake.  But if you do—more power to you!


Also, don't forget to visit Faith's blog for the other participators and the giveaway!


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Memorable Decorations {Part 2}


Last time I talked about the memories behind our Christmas decorations, we ended in the front room.  I'd like to now take you over to the family room, where more surprises await.



First of all, let's hop to the south side of the house, where windows offer perfect places to drape some greenery.  And what better addition to the greenery than snowflakes?  Probably about ten years ago, my grandma patiently attempted to teach me how to do a simple chain crochet stitch, which I promptly left to do other, more interesting things.  Well, finally, a few years ago, she gave me the idea to make lace snowflakes for my mom.  I readily agreed, not knowing how tedious it would be to learn new stitches and put them to use.  But I'm quite pleased with how they turned out!



A hop and a skip away, and once again, we've got a homemade gift that the guys made probably six or seven years ago.  Mom wanted stocking hangers, and so her sweet husband once again surprised her with eight shining, gold-painted hangers.  I remember that we all gave them to her—Daddy and us kids—and though I didn't do a thing, they were still partially from me, and that was special.  Though it made my brothers slightly irritated.



And let's just take a moment to admire these stocking handcrafted by my very talented mother, shall we?  Not only are they simply stockings, but cowboy boots!  Yeah, have I mentioned her love for western decor?



Now let's take a step back from the mantle (where we put the village every year until we decided to put it on the piano this year) to examine Kordell's fascination/obsession with lights.  The dude seriously finds a new place to string lights every year. (Let's not forget that one year Birdo strung garland across the room suspended from the ceiling... but that's another story.)

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Our house is certainly all decked out this year!  How about yours?


Friday, December 14, 2018

Memorable Decorations


Today marks the start of the 12 Days of Christmas blog party!
Come with me, I'd like to take you on a tour through our house.  Our Christmas decorations are put up, and there are some specific ones that I'd like to show you, each with a special meaning or memory. (And thanks to Kara for taking most of these pics!)



First stop is the front yard.  Looking at the house, you'll see a tree covered in lights, and then a star of lights on top of the house.  That star has been on the house every winter pretty much as long as I can remember.  But once upon a time, Mom really wanted lights on the house, and one year Daddy suddenly surprised her with a homemade star.  You can see it from a couple miles away, and it's certainly a major part of our Christmas decorations.



Next stop: front room.   Remember the Christmas tree that I mentioned?  If you turn to the right after entering the front door, you'll find that tree, laden with lights, garland and ornaments.  Have I mentioned that handmade gifts are kind of a thing around here?  Kordell made mom a box of cutout western (western decor is Mom's favorite) ornaments—bull heads, horseshoes, cowboy boots, etc., and Mom then wrote names of Jesus on them.



A few feet from the tree, you'll find Mom's grand piano covered with a ceramic village.  This village has been collected over the years, with my grandma adding to it every year for quite a long time.  It's probably the decoration us kids enjoyed putting up the most when we were little.



Next to the piano, you'll find a short chest of drawers with this nativity on it.  Us kids had our own nativity scene that we were allowed to put up ourselves.  I don't know how many pieces have been hot-glued (have I ever mentioned that hot glue is another of this family's specialties?) back together again.  So if we got to put up Mom's good brown nativity, man, we were privileged! (If you look closely, you can see that the angel's wing has been glued together... yes, we did mess up sometimes)



On a second chest of drawers around the corner lies this nativity calendar.  On each day of December, counting down to Christmas, you open one of the little doors and pull out an item to stick on the scene.  I remember calculating the number of days to see which of us siblings got to open baby Jesus on Christmas Eve.  We alternated every year, even though we argued about it every year.



These two characters are found pretty much anywhere in the house.  Pushing the yellow sticker on the mouse's foot presses a button that activates it to start dancing and playing its guitar and singing Jingle Bell Rock.  Santa has a switch to turn him on, and once that switch is flipped, he sings Jingle Bells any time he senses a loud noise, or when someone taps him.  These two guys were the best white elephant gifts ever!

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Everyone has their favorite Christmas decorations and memories.  What are some of yours?
Also, don't forget to check out Faith's blog for all the links to the other participants in the blog party!  (Also, there's an epic-looking giveaway going on with all sorts of epic stuff like books and music and I don't even know what else.)


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Blessings of a Small Church


Having attended the same small church my entire life, I kind of took for granted that all churches are like ours.
Not so, friends.
I've attended many different services over the years, and I must say that ours is my favorite.  Not that I'm totally biased or anything.  Some people hate small churches, some people love them.  There's no right or wrong here as long as the church is teaching God's Word.  But today I'd like to share a few major points about why I love attending a small church.

Less people. Being slightly anthraphobic (look that up if you don't know what it means), this is a big deal for me.  It's much more relaxing the less people there are.

Worship is personal.  Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the large churches I occasionally visit, but there are times that I can't hear myself sing over the worship leaders.  In a small church, it makes the worship experience so much more real for me personally.

Everyone knows everyone by name.  With an average attendance of around 80 people, that kinda happens... XD

One big, happy family, which kinda goes along with the previous point and the future youth group point, buuuut hey, it's definitely worth repeating.

Multiple parents that claim you, especially the ones that teasingly say your mom is selfish for not letting her kids out for adoption to them.

The youth group is like a bunch of siblings, complete with the oldest girl, bossy like a big sister (which may or may not be myself...) that the others may or may not obey, and a variety of other personalities.

Potlucks become nearly competitive.  Not with the food, exactly... but there are those certain dishes that are brought every time, and everyone knows what they are, and they disappear within ten minutes.  But when I say competitive, I mean that afterward, the first two people to the kitchen run the dishwater and basically have a competition to see who get the most silverware dumped in their sink.  And then work to keep ahead of those that take up station rinsing and drying.

Active members take up 2/3 of the congregation.  Seriously, when you think about it, that's a big percentage of the congregation.  If you attend a small church, just take a census of all the teachers, music leaders, and committee members, and there won't be much of the regular congregation left.

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Well, what do you think?  Can any of you fellow small-church people relate?  And you mega-church attendees: what makes your church special?  I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Christmas Duet Blog Tour


Hey folks!  I'm here today as a part of the Christmas Duet blog tour, as is obvious by the title.
Why Christmas Duet? Because two books—a duet—are being released, and both books have titles that have to do with a Christmas song! My post is full of bookish amazingness, since the tour is for two books instead of just one, double the goodness, of course!



His Law is Love


About the Book:

Will hate and fear drown the song of Christmas love?


Amelia is eagerly anticipating her first Christmas in the west, but she soon finds that her brother-in-law's worry and her sister's exhaustion reach far deeper than the cares of a ranch and a family. A rash of fires and cattle thefts is plaguing the area, and the three young orphans they've sheltered are under suspicion from their prejudiced neighbors.



As hostilities mount, Amelia seizes every opportunity to help and encourage, but how much can one girl do? Will Reverend Brown win the community over to the true spirit of love? And will help arrive before everything they hold dear is destroyed?


Purchase on Amazon

Author Bio:

cid:1A6F87BE-60CF-4881-8E22-AC95AAAF934B@attlocal.net

Rebekah A. Morris ia a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, the Christmas Collection series, and her best selling Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn’t writing, include reading, playing with her seven nieces and nephews, and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. (Sometimes with the nieces and nephews!) The Show-Me state is where she calls home. 

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O Come All Ye Faithful and other short stories


About the Book:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Edwin wanted to be home, but instead he crouched in a trench. The English on one side of No Man’s Land and Germans on the other. What a way to spend Christmas. Could anything make it better?

Peace on Earth
Emmie and Elana are estranged sisters, torn apart by an old boyfriend five years earlier. Will they survive a night in the same hotel room after a blizzard forces them together or will peace on earth go out the window?

Silent Night
Christmas decorating had never gone this wrong. Jenna had just started when a crazy, gun-waving woman, walks right in the front door and ties her up in her own Christmas lights. Will Jenna even see her family this Christmas?

The Gift Goes On
Four friends and a year to reflect on. The year had been good for Carlotta, but Priscilla, Remus, and Newton all had at least one trial through the year. A mysterious giver the previous year had helped them all out, though. What would this year’s gifts bring?

O Christmas Tree
Gareth loves Christmas. But more than that, he loves Christmas tree hunting. As the family prepares for their annual trip, Gareth can barely contain his excitement. But what are all the spray bottles for?

Purchase on Amazon


About the Author:


Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She’s lived in, or outside of, small towns her whole life. The thought of living in a city with more than 60,000 people in it scares her, especially after some interesting adventures driving through big cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Faith currently resides in the middle of the state of Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. She is blessed to be able to have writing as her full-time career with household work and cooking to do on the side. She loves to paint walls as long as she doesn’t have to do hallways or ceilings.

When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies (fun), doing dishes (meh), knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband (yay!). She is also a Community Assistant for the Young Writers Workshop and loves her work there. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.

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Giveaway:


Grand Prize: Paperback of each (US only)
1st Prize: eBook of each (International and US)
2nd Prize: eBook of choice (International and US)

Doesn't this look like an epic giveaway?  You can enter here.

Tour Schedule:
Don't forget to check out the other blogs in the tour!


November 26
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Cover Lover Book Review – Book Spotlights

November 27
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight
Kaylee's Kind Of Writes – Two Book Reviews
Jaye L. Knight – Excerpts

November 28
Lit Aflame – Book Review and Excerpt
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections – Book Review of His Law is Love
Jenny Berlin – Excerpts

November 29
Frances Hoelsema's Blog – Two Book Spotlights
Rebekah Ashleigh – Review of His Law is Love and Book Spotlights
Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors – Book Review and Spotlight
Salsa And Tea – Author Interviews

November 30
Purely by Faith Reviews – Two Book Reviews
Once Upon An Ordinary – Author Interview and Book Spotlights
In the Bookcase - Excerpts

December 1
Books, Life, and Christ – Two Book Reviews
Maidens for Modesty – Two Book Reviews
Chosen Vessels – Two Book Reviews
Harvest Lane Cottage – Two Book Reviews
Jessica Greyson – Book Spotlights
Twin Thoughts – Book Spotlights
Heart of the Rose – Two Book Reviews
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight and Review

December 3
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway winner

Monday, November 26, 2018

Fashion Advice from Guys


Greetings, everyone!  I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
We'll ignore the fact that I'm two days late with this and just consider it extra suspense. *nods*
Now is the moment we've all been waiting for—the guys' advice about fashion!  Let's get started, shall we?  Kordell will be in bold lettering, and Chowboy will be in italics.  Actually got them to be a bit more serious this time.
Some of the questions fall under similar categories, so I've combined several of them.  So if you see your question(s) mixed in with others, that would be why. ;)

Do you approve of skinny jeans? If so, how tight is too tight? Do you think that sleeveless shirts are ok? How about tank tops? Is that going too far?

You kinda put us in a tight spot with that one

Where's your heart? What's your purpose in wearing that clothing? Why do you want to wear jeans that are tight? Why do you want to wear sleeveless shirts? It's between you and God.

I'm pretty much gonna repeat the same he said. Whats your reason for wearing it? It's all WEAR your heart is. Would you wear it if God was standing there in the same room? Cause He is.

Very well said.

Do you wear bell bottoms daily or only on Sunday? 


Well, I'm a big fan of bell bottoms. However, as a daily occurrence I'm sad to say that I don't. Or on Sundays. :( One can wish

If it were up to me, daily.  But I don't want to overdo my dazzling appearance

Are neon suspenders too edgy or should I stick to pastels? 

Go big or go home, I say neon

Depends. If I wanted to be brash, I'd go with the neon. If I was just going to a social event, I'd stick with pastels. Good question, glad it was asked.

I’m interested in crocheted sweaters - Is it best for a guy to wear a tank under them or just not worry bout it?


I'd wear something under them at least. I'd probably look for a different wardrobe.

I just wouldn't wear a sweater

What do you think about makeup?  Thoughts on jewelry? Are earrings and necklaces okay on guys? 

I don't really care.  I'm personally not a big fan of any of it


What do I think about makeup? I've never worn it. My brothers make jokes about my looks, but their recommendation was plastic surgery; not makeup.

Holes in jeans. Is that okay or not so much?

I have holes in my work jeans.

My jeans are like my golf game; I have several pairs, but I only have a hole in oneXD

Do you like high heels? Should they be outlawed?

As for being outlawed, I don't think they should necessarily be outlawed. I'm thinking if a bad dude tries to attack a female, just stomp on his foot with the high heels and that'll stop that business.

What's the point of high heels?XDXD


Jeans, sweat pants, khakis, or slick pants?

I've worn them all; I like them all; they all have their place. On the legsXD

Depends on the occasion


Are knee high dresses too short? How short can capris or shorts be? Is above the knees showing too much of the body?

Again, where's your heart? Are you wanting to be modest or not? God is with you everywhere. It's between you and God. If you think He's fine with what you wear, then go for it. But if you have doubts, why push the envelope? It's between you and God.

He said it. I agree with it. There you have it.

Thanks so much, guys!  I loved all your answers.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fashion Advice from Guys: Q&A


Greetings, peoples!  I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed that unplanned 2-week blogging break, and I'm ready to get back at it again.
So, Chowboy & Kordell are back to expound their wisdom.  Since their love advice seemed to be rather popular, they're back with untapped advice for fashion!  
Have any fashion questions for them?  Comment below!
There were a couple of people that were a little disappointed at the lack of sincerity in the guys' answers to their questions, so keep in mind this will be much the same.  If you ask a completely serious question, you may not get a completely serious answer.  Let's have fun with this, shall we?
Leave a comment with your questions!  Depending on how many they receive, there may be some questions that won't be answered.  You have until Wednesday, November 21st, to send your questions.
Let the fun begin!