12 Days of Christmas Giveaway–Day 11

Welcome to the 11th day of the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

The prizes are building, and today’s winner will receive ALL of the below!

I am so excited to get to participate this year, and share Day 11 with one of my favorite authors– Sarah Sundin! Today’s winner will receive these prizes from me and Sarah: The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin & an adorable book-stack ornament from me!

Not only will today’s winner get those, but they will also get EACH of these prizes below:

Coral by Sara Ella

ARC The Joy of Falling by Lindsay Harrel

Her Cowboy Till Christmas by Jill Kemerer

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

Recovered Secrets by Jessica Patch

A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson

The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah Ladd

Her Last Chance Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

AND

You Belong with Me by Tari Faris

It’s not too late to enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below by following some of your favorite authors on social media and signing up for their newsletters. We draw a new winner every day, and on December 12th, we’ll give away a $100 Amazon Gift Card in addition to all the other great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don’t forget to stop by Liz’s blog tomorrow to see what prize is added then. 

The Curse of Misty Wayfair — Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway!

If you follow me at all on social media, then you know I have an obsession with Jaime Jo Wright and everything she writes. Her first two books, The House on Foster Hill and The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond, are on my Top Ten All Time Favorite Reads List. The list of awards for The House of Foster Hill just keeps growing, and I cannot find adequate words to express how much of loved her latest release, The Curse of Misty Wayfair.

I honestly don’t know how Jaime Jo Wright does it. The three books I have read by her have all been excellent–each one better than the last, in fact. And each one with its own distinct style, tone, and message.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair is a haunting, intense journey exploring identity, grace, and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Wright expertly and sensitively navigates the ragged history of mental illness care and “treatment,” while keeping the integrity of the truth.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair is dark and creepy, yet laced with hope and grace. Definitely creepier than her previous two novels, it is not so dark as to lose the strong element of faith that ties both timelines together.

When I had to tear myself away from this book to tend to my responsibilities, I found myself aching to return to the story–as if by my presence I could protect Heidi and Thea from the haunting and mystery shrouding their lives as they fight to uncover the truth–the truth they aren’t sure they truly want to know.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Wright is a master storyteller with honest and flawed characters that display God’s grace and compassion through their imperfect search for purpose and identity.

Now, I have something very special for you. I used my super-secret, marketing savvy and was able to get my hands on an excerpt just for you guys! And by super-secret marketing savvy, I mean…the publishers made it available and I jumped at the chance to share it with you. 🙂
Just click here to get access to it. You’ll be hooked and need to run right out and buy it because you’re going to love it so much!

About The Curse of Misty Wayfair:

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother—who is battling dementia—compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns—and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

About Jaime Jo Wright:

Professional coffee drinker & Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited romantic suspense stained with the shadows of history. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy Tinkerbell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures atjaimejowright.com

 

Now you can enter to win your very own copy of The Curse of Misty Wayfair!

Just comment on this blog post and let me know if your favorite genre to read, and your drink/snack of choice while reading. That’s it! I will randomly choose a winner from the commenters on Saturday, February 9.

***Giveaway open to U.S. Residents only.***

12 Days of Giveaways — Day 11!

Welcome to the 11th day of the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

I am so excited to be part of this giveaway with some amazing—and several of my favorite—authors!

The prizes are building, and today’s winner will receive ALL of the below!

Today’s prize is something very near and dear to my heart! Today’s winner is going to walk away with some incredible books, plus a few extra goodies. And, I thought, what goes better with books than coffee and chocolate?

So, today’s winner will get a gorgeous ceramic travel mug with an inspirational saying on it, some of my favorite European Chocolates, and a sample pack of seasonal coffee! They will also win a copy of At First Glance by Susan Tuttle.


Image result for at first glance by susan tuttle

Today’s winner will also receive:

Unblemished eBook by Sara Ella

Victorian Christmas Brides Collection by Gabrielle Meyer

ARC The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

The Sky Above Us + diecast plane by Sarah Sundin

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

Cold Case Christmas by Jessica R. Patch

Wyoming Christmas Quadruplets by Jill Kemerer

Christmas with the Cowboy + jingle bell necklace by Tina Radcliffe

It’s not too late to enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below by following some of your favorite authors on social media and signing up for their newsletters. We draw a new winner every day, and on December 12th, we’ll give away a $150 Amazon Gift Card OR a 1-Year Audible Gold Subscription (winner’s choice) in addition to all the other great prizes!

[button link=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/77d680ac9/” type=”big” color=”teal” newwindow=”yes”] CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway![/button]

And don’t forget to stop by Liz’s blog tomorrow to see what prize is added then!

When You’re Due for a Reckoning – {GIVEAWAY!}

Ok, guys. Brace yourselves. I am so beyond super excited to be bringing this post to you. Author Jaime Jo Wright has done it again with her second novel, and I just couldn’t help but share it with you. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve seen me post about this book and pre-ordering it. But today, y’all are in for a real treat. I have an actual excerpt from the book for you! If this sneak peak doesn’t whet your appetite and make you run right over and order it, we need to check your pulse.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Jaime in person, and she is kind, compassionate, hilarious, and a coffee lover—which y’all know I’m all about! Not only is she one of the kindest, most genuine people you could ever hope to meet, she’s a kick-booty writer. I could NOT put her first book down, and her latest—which releases July 3—isn’t any different. So, ladies and gents, enjoy your sneak peak at The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. Keep reading and you can enter to win your very own copy!!

Chapter 9

Libby

A low fog settled over the grassy lawn by Gossamer Pond, with the moon a half slit in the sky. Within a few days it would be a moonless sky, like the pall the funeral earlier that day had left over the town. The evening breeze sent a chill through Libby as she paused. The outline of a large tented structure rose alongside the pond, its frame imposing and new. Dusk outlined the rectangular tent, its canvas a dark gray with the front doors pulled wide and fastened back to invite souls inside. Ropes stretched from the corners and midpoints of the structure to wrap around metal posts hammered into the ground. It was almost like a circus tent, only this wasn’t the Big Top, and the entertainment was a different kind of show. It was spiritual.

Residents of Gossamer Grove lined up their various forms of transportation in the field just west of the tent. Motorcars, wagons, carriages, and some lone horses. Men, women, and children alike all gravitated toward the tent’s entrance. Libby knew they were a mixture of curiosity, faith, and trepidation. Tent revivals had been sweeping the nation the last few years and had finally made their way to Gossamer Grove in the form of Jedidiah and Jacobus Corbin. Since the mid-nineteenth century, people such as D. L. Moody and Billy Sunday had been shaking up people’s eternal security. Some, like Moody, seemed well received, with church revival spreading rampantly. Others, like Sunday, were stirring controversy with unscripted tirades from a mouth straight from the baseball field instead of the seminary.

Mitch had told her one paper he’d read said Sunday was so “raw” that they refused to print his words. He used language unfit for feminine dispositions, and even some men were so stricken by his preaching, they were taken from the tent on stretchers, having swooned like a female whose corset was tied too tight.

Libby narrowed her eyes, attempting to catch a glimpse of the Reverends Corbin through the bright lantern-lit inside of the meeting place. Supposedly, the twin brothers had traveled with Sunday for a while and now had struck out to evangelize on their own. Hopefully, tonight’s female attendees had loosened their corsets—assuming the Corbin brothers had picked up on Sunday’s bad habits.

The smell of kerosene from the lamps was pungent as she neared the meeting place. Libby searched for Mitch, but there were so many in attendance, she couldn’t find him. The message he’d left with Paul to have her join him at the tent revival meeting left her scrambling to help finish proofs on the articles going to press that night. She gave Paul a timid reminder to be prepared for Mitch to come busting through the doors at midnight with a special report on the revival. Paul’s sneer told Libby all she needed to know about how he felt about that.

Libby caught a glimpse of Old Man Whistler, the town drunk. She was taken aback that he would even be here, and yet it stood to reason, she supposed. The Corbin brothers were a curiosity.

Whistler brushed alongside her, his shaking elbow knocking into her arm as his knuckles gripped the bulbous end of his cane.

“Come to get yerself saved?” he cackled, and Libby tried to hide her repulsion toward the old man and his musty breath.

“I already am, thank you.” She moved a step away.

Old Man Whistler chuckled. “I’ve a feeling we all will be after tonight. Unless we want to hang along with Deacon Greenwood. Even the good can’t hide their sin forever, you know.”

The elderly man gave her a sideways glance before leaving her side. Libby swallowed hard. Hide their sin? She watched him wobble toward the tent’s doorway. Old Man Whistler probably should not be underestimated. He was a wanderer, and wanderers saw things—knew things. His remark struck close to the obituary’s heart. The insinuation of hidden sins. But, Deacon Greenwood’s slate was so clean, even Mitch had never been able to find a speck of dust on it.

Libby startled as a grating shriek erupted from inside the tent. Gracious, there was an organ! The music began to play, and the shivering tones and airy puffs from the pump organ blasted from the door. Row upon row of attendees lined two sides of the tent with an aisle down the middle covered in sawdust. Libby should have come earlier to find Mitch. There was no way she would now. She stretched up on her tiptoes, but the sea of bowler hats, feathers, bonnets, and bare heads made identifying anyone nearly impossible. The sun had almost completely gone down, and even now, little children were being shushed as ushers made their way up the aisle indicating they were not to disturb with whining and crying.

Libby moved to the other side of the tent, hoping she could edge her way inside and find an unobtrusive spot to stand along the canvas wall. It was hot inside the tent, stuffy with the smells of perfume, sweat, and fresh sawdust. She fumbled with the neckline of her blouse, tempted to remove the cameo brooch and unbutton the lace at her throat.

The organ music whined to a halt.

Silence.

Someone coughed. A child whimpered and was quickly shushed.

Libby strained to see the front. A modest stage, a pulpit, and . . .

“Sin!” The deep voice branded the atmosphere with authority. “It will deceive you. It will drag you to the depths of hell with the claws of demons leading the way.”

Libby froze. The vivid picture the Corbin brother drew had the entire meeting place holding their collective breath. Trepidation spread uninvited through the shelter.

Jedidiah Corbin was a man of medium height, with lamb-chop whiskers along his cheeks and wavy brown hair parted down the middle. He couldn’t be much older the Libby. His early thirties perhaps. The flyer advertising tonight’s event identified this twin as the eldest. His brother, Jacobus, was very obviously missing from attendance.

He stalked across the platform. “The darkness that festers in our souls is like a poison that, but for the grace of God, cannot be squeezed from our hearts.”

Libby scanned the crowd around her, twisting the material of her dress in her hands. Running was implausible, but preferable to being here. There was no comfort—no conviction—in the words. Merely impending doom and destruction. Jedidiah Corbin might as well have combined his message with Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry, and the congregation would have barely been able to tell the difference.

She jumped as Corbin’s foot stomped on the platform.

“But the grace of God is real!” Corbin’s gravelly voice rose with intensity, and he flung his arm forward as if throwing a baseball. “It is the damnable misrepresentation of theology that allows us to sin and wait until we lay on our deathbeds, gasping for our last breaths, to lay penitent before the Lord. That a whore can continue in her sin with a backward confession to cover the last evening’s errancy. That a drunkard may swallow his liquor along with a prayer. That a thief can pocket coins from the offering plate while admitting other sins to his priest. This hypocrisy is from the pit of the lake of fire and must cease before we hang ourselves from the rafters of a house built on lies!”

An audible gasp arose from the crowd. Whether from the language of curses and vulgar frankness mixed with grace or the reference to hanging, Libby wasn’t sure. Murmurs and heads turned toward each other. Libby’s throat closed with the claustrophobic reality that Reverend Jedidiah Corbin danced on the circumstances of Deacon Greenwood’s death.

“May we not die a sinful wretch unforgiven!”

No more. Please, no more.

Libby shoved through the people toward the tent opening. Her breaths came in short, suffocating gasps. The black sky outside, with only the tiny shaft of moon to light the banks of the pond, held little escape from this sense of being squeezed. She hurried to the pond’s bank, staring into glowing waters.

“Libby.”

She shrieked. Spinning around, her arms wrapped across her chest, she squinted in the darkness at the form that had come up behind her. She glanced toward the pond, a deep gray reflection rippling in the water. Being trapped between the water and the shadowy form was intimidating.

The man tipped his head, and as he did, his face turned into the shaft of moonlight.

“It’s you.” Libby’s breath released in a whoosh. She stepped toward him, away from the bank.

“Who did you think it was?” Elijah frowned. “I was almost certain you intended to launch yourself into the pond.”

“The thought did cross my mind, but of course that would be nonsensical, and it wouldn’t help a soul.” Libby abruptly ended her nervous chatter. Her skin had broken out into little bumps.

“I noticed you escaped the revival.” Elijah looked back toward the tent. “I had to as well.”

Libby nodded. “It was quite . . . well, I wasn’t finding myself drawn to salvation. Maybe if I’d stayed I would have. I mean, it’s not that I’m not saved as it is, but if I weren’t—if I didn’t believe in God—I mean, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ—then I would be going to hell, I suppose.” She stumbled to a halt. Elijah was not standing before her to inquire about the state of her eternal soul.

“Why are you here?” She sought for an avenue of escape from her scattered thoughts.

Elijah took a step closer to the pond, and he watched its dark outline for a moment. “My father was to give the closing prayer.” His quiet voice, so matter-of-fact, explained why a grieving son would attend a revival meeting on the day of his father’s funeral. Not that it would have been enough of a reason to give Libby the compulsion to attend, but Elijah was, after all, a Greenwood. They stood on principle, not feelings.

“Elijah—”

“Don’t, Libby.” His voice dropped an octave, thick with memories and truths long buried between them. Elijah turned to her. His dark eyes were troubled, his newsboy cap tugged down over his hair. “I need to clean up after my father’s affairs. To take over the mill and get it in order. I cannot—” He seemed to struggle to find words. “I cannot pick at an open wound with suggestions of foul play over my father’s own cowardice toward life.”

“That’s unfair,” Libby dared reprimand him. Elijah gave her a sharp look. “One never knows why a person determines to end his life before God chooses. Perhaps there was heartbreak, a sense of lost direction, or maybe—maybe—burdens weighted him down. You mustn’t speak with such judgment toward your father.”

She floundered. But it hadn’t been suicide, had it? She knew it. So, if he were honest with himself, did Elijah.

Elijah’s jaw worked back and forth in the darkness. She could see the sharp outline of his chin, the cleft there, and the sad lack of joy at the corners of his eyes. Libby tried again, mustering the courage to confront the man she far preferred to stay in the shadow of.

“The obituary—”

“No.” Elijah held up his hand.

“But, you cannot discount it!” Libby insisted. “Why would you want to discount it? If it means your father’s life was taken against his will—if someone determined to remove him from this world for feelings of ill will or perhaps a personal vendetta?”

“Oh, the questions! Don’t forget, Libby, what of the note? In the straw? Did my father have secrets? What man doesn’t, I ask? Must he die for them? Or take his own life for them?” Elijah’s voice rose, and he stifled his outburst by running his palm across his mouth and looking beyond Libby toward something unseen. Finally, he met her eyes, the moonlight reflecting in his pupils. “I’m not in a place where I can—where I can contemplate it.”

How very selfish! Libby swallowed back her ire and tried to temper her voice. The words came in a nervous stutter. “W-why ever not? You’re willing to risk another life if they were to strike again by pretending your father’s death was not by another’s hand?”

Elijah tugged his hat down and sniffed. An awful silence was covered by the sound of the impassioned speech of Corbin in the distance and frogs peeping their night song at the pond’s edge. Then the organ started playing, its shaky tones wafting eerily over the night sky with the confessional tune of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

She wished Elijah would say something—anything. But he pushed his hands in his trouser pockets instead. Libby couldn’t read his face in the darkness of the night. His shoulders were tense, but finally he drew a deep breath in through his nose and let it out through his mouth. His words were grave, his tone deep, telling, and all too knowing.

“When, dear Libby, have you ever been concerned how others’ lives may be affected by another’s choice?”

It was an unfair question. Hurtful. But burdened with truth all at the same time. Elijah leaned forward, his breath against her face, and his mouth inches from her nose.

“This is what we do. We continue on. We forget what has happened and look toward the future.”

“This is . . . is, well, it’s murder. That’s what it is! To pretend it’s nothing is cowardice!” Libby knew she should not have said the words the moment they filtered from her lips.

Elijah’s eyebrows shot upward. His hand lifted, and he brushed the back of her cheek with his knuckles. “And we both know that you and I are the worst sort of cowards.”

His whispered words hung between them, bringing the horrid truth into the moment and damning their souls in the echoes of the tent revival.

 

Click here to enter the giveaway!

And if you just can’t wait, click here to order The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond from your favorite retailer.

Full Bio: Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited romantic suspense stained with the shadows of history. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy Tinkerbell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com

If you love Jaime as much as I do, you’ll want to follow her! You can do that at these places:

Web site

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Instagram

Goodreads

Amazon

This Gal’s Journey Re-Launch Giveaway!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Welcome to my new home! Isn’t it lovely??

A huge thanks to Johann at The Interface Studio for all his work behind the scenes setting it up! If you’re looking for someone to do quality hosting for your blog, send me a message because Johann has a great deal for you!

I am so excited about our new space here, and I’m looking forward to meeting with you here much more often!

Although this blog started 6 years ago, the past few years have been fairly hit or miss as our family has undergone so much transition. However, now that we are back, I plan to get back to writing here on a regular basis and reconnecting with all of you!

To celebrate the re-launch of This Gal’s Journey, I am so excited to announce this amazing prize! So many of my favorite people from around the web have donated some truly incredible prizes that one special reader will win!

Just take a look at all of these goodies:

 

 

From the super sweet Angie Tolpin from Courageous Mom, this adorable “I Love Being a Mom” t-shirt, AND access to her 11 Day Parenting Course!

Next up is a copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer

From our friends at Dayspring, a double prize pack—one for you and one for a friend! Each pack includes a copy of Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker, an adorable tea towel, a pencil case/pouch and a compact mirror with Colossians 3:14 on it.

Elisa Pulliam is giving one of you a PDF copy of her book, Impact Together: Biblical Mentoring Simplified, as well as access to her Online Impact Mentoring Course!

Ruth Schwenk—founder of The Better Mom—has a copy of her book!

Erin Odom of The Humbled Homemaker is giving you these gorgeous art prints!

 

The giveaway runs from September 18 – September 29 at midnight. Click the link below to enter!

Click here to enter the giveaway!

The Ache and Joy of the Wait {Rain for Roots Review + GIVEAWAY!}

***Thanks to all who entered. THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED and I have contacted the winners via email. ***

 

Candles flicker in the low morning light, filling the air with their familiar spice and warmth.

Coffee filled to the brim of my favorite-for-now mug scrounged from cupboards not mine is cradled in my hands as I will contentment to bubble up from the depths of the uncertainty filling my soul.

A hodgepodge of funky and varied Christmas decor adorns the walls and shelves and tabletops – fine and appreciated substitutes for our own treasures packed away in a crate halfway around the world.

And in the backdrop, music with warmth and charm and hope swirls and sways in the air making a house not our own feel like home.

The songs so drip with hope and expectation that it makes my soul ache.

We’ve been in a time of transition and waiting for longer than I care to admit, and the idea of leaning into the Advent season, which by its very nature is full of even more waiting, makes me bristle just a tad.

Yet my children dance and hum along and talk about how the words of these songs make them feel good inside. The Weight of the World – a song about how unable we are to carry our own burdens so we must carry it all to King Jesus in prayer -is the favorite of my eight year old daughter. My ten year old and five year old claim O Come, O Come Emmanuel as their favorite. They adore thinking about what it must have been like to know Jesus was going to come, but having no idea when. And in a strange way, it feels a bit like that in our day, does it not?

My kids have been through the ringer of transition and upheaval, and these songs are like a mother’s kiss to their hearts. They can relate to the ache of longing for God to show up, and they can shout with joy because He’s already here.  And these songs bring a new joy to the waiting, and through music and word miraculous mystery of the gospel is magnified right before their eyes as they are ushered again and again to the throne of grace disguised as a manger.

Waiting SongsThen we sing along to the Magnificat as we recognize that there is rejoicing to be done in the presence of the King. He has done great things for us and there are abundant mercies and gifts for which to be grateful! We have been rescued! He has done exactly what He has promised – and we are a part of those promises even today! What joy!!

The latest album from Rain for Roots, Waiting Songs, is beautiful, haunting and perfect for young hearts. Waiting Songs is

 an album of Advent. These songs are about making time for waiting. The King is coming and He is already here. So we practice listening, quieting ourselves, celebrating, whispering good news, and yelling shouts of joy. In the Rain for Roots family, we practice most of all by singing to ourselves, to each other, and to our children about true things. He is coming — the Joy of Every Longing Heart. Our longing hearts. Grown ups and children; we are the same in this. Through these songs, may God call us closer into conversation with Himself while we wait and hope with expectation. He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Even though Rain for Roots composes their music in order to grow God’s truth in little hearts, it is anything but the typical kids’ songs style and sound. Their music is absolutely gorgeous, and at times I think I enjoy it more than my kids do! Waiting Songs is by far my favorite of all their albums, and I know you and your family will love it, too! (You’ll love it whether or not you have kiddos, I promise!)

I invite you to light your own candles, grab a soothing warm cup of cocoa and open your ears and hearts to these beautiful, rich songs. You can hear one of my favorite songs, Come Light Our Hearts, here.

 

Waiting Songs releases November 10, but today FIVE of you good folks can win your very own digital copy of Waiting Songs!

And ONE of you will walk away with an entire Rain for Roots library of CDs!!!

To enter, simply comment on this blog post and tell me what your favorite thing about the Advent season is. Want extra entries? Share this post on Twitter, Facebook and/or Pintrest. Simply leave a separate comment for each way you’ve shared. Entries close at midnight EST on Friday, November 13. 

Want more Advent goodness? Join Rain for Roots for a live, online streaming concert on December 4! It’s only $3 per household! Get your concert tickets here.

*Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the album, Waiting Songs, for the purposes of this review, but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

How to Make Christmas Truly Meaningful and FUN!

What comes to mind when you think of the Christmas season?

Joy? Reflection? Family?

Stress? Shopping? Pressure? Chaos? Is it over yet?

For those of us in the western world, Christmas seems to bring quite the hodgepodge of emotions, and conjure a myriad of thoughts and expectations. Particularly in the Pintrest-Crazy Internet Land, it can be easy to succumb to the notion that our homes must spotless, decorated to the nines and our children perfectly behaved and able to recite the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth from heart as well as sing Here Comes Santa Claus with the best of ’em.

My heart is racing just thinking of it all. The cooking, the shopping, the shipping of packages (and the trips to the post office it requires – gag me with a  spoon, please!), more cooking. Don’t forget the teacher gifts – handmade and all organic and fair-trade of course, the church play and those six dozen brownies we agreed to make for the class party at school. Anyone else beginning to feel like a zombie yet??

Yeah, me too.

That’s why a few years ago I was really searching for a way to make Christmas a truly meaningful time for our family. A time when we set aside the chaos that the busy-ness the season can bring and really focus on why we were celebrating. I was thrilled when I found an Advent curriculum complete with Bible readings, devotional thoughts, and even hymns to go with it! My little heart pitter-pattered as I envisioned our family circled around the fire, cocoa in hand, all listening quietly to the 50-verse Bible readings and then each one in turn offering a thoughtful insight. I’m talking revival right there in our living room!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Truth in the Tinsel GiveawayOh, sorry. It’s just that that particular curriculum required sitting still for more than five seconds.

Enter Truth in the Tinsel.

This is more than an curriculum – its an adventure!

It is designed to begin December 1, and you do one lesson, with a small craft, per day until Christmas. Before you’re eyes glaze over at the thought of a craft every.day., hear me out.

Amanda White, the creator of Truth in the Tinsel, created it when her kids were very small. She gets it. Not only has she lined out amazing, fun lessons, she’s made it as easy as possible for mom (and dad)! Each lesson has a short Bible reading, a short devotional thought and then the craft. There is even a hyperlink to the Bible verses, so you can just click through to read them if you’re not familiar or comfortable with flipping through a paper Bible.

There is also a master supply list for the crafts, as well as a daily list so you can easily look and see what you need for a particular day. She has also created a couple of different schedules. If every day is a bit overwhelming for you, you can just study the main characters. She has really taken all of the guess work out of really celebrating the Reason for Christmas.

Flexibility is the key here. If you don’t have the things for that day’s craft, no problem! Skip the craft, or use what you do have. Or, you can also download printable ornaments for each day. Print and color. Simple, no? (If you want to see more in-depth details about the lessons and crafts, check out the Manger Mondays tab at the top of this page.)

Perhaps the thing I love most about Truth in the Tinsel is how it instills in my children – and in myself – a deep understanding and connection to the Christmas story – the birth of Christ – and it’s meaning. My kids understand not only that Christmas is important, but why. And it was all done in about 20 minutes each evening, having fun.

*This post contains an affiliate link.

Fall Fabulous and Autumn Bliss {GIVEAWAY} UPDATED

*** This giveaway is now CLOSED ***

imageThe winner of the giveaway is commenter #5, Katy! Congrats, Katy! I have emailed you! 

Thanks to everyone who entered!

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Fall is my absolute favorite season. Perhaps its from growing up in the desert where we barely experienced two seasons (hot and…not so hot). Perhaps its the promise of warmth and coziness.

Whatever it is, I.love.fall. I love the colors, the smells, the flavors. I’m in full support of adding pumpkin to all the things.

Autumn BlissI also fall victim to the temptation to rush right past fall and bull rush straight into the holiday season. So when I saw that Denise from Denise in Bloom had collaborated with Lori Ramsey to write an eBook about how to really get the most out of the fall season, I scooped up a copy right away.

Autumn Bliss compiles ideas, recipes, devotions and decorating tips all designed to help you slow down and embrace an attitude of gratitude – and cultivate it throughout  your home and family.

Perhaps my most favorite thing about this book – and I loved the whole thing – is that when it comes to decorating your home for fall the primary focus is cultivating warmth. Denise and Lori encourage you to use natural elements, and elements you already have in your home. There’s not even a hint of Pintrest Perfection Syndrome and I absolutely love that!

Friends, I loved this book so much I read the entire thing in one day! That’s even with having three kiddos running around, schooling, etc! It’s an easy read and will be a seasonal staple for my family for sure!

Today I’m so excited to be giving away a copy of Autumn Bliss to one of you (you don’t have to own a Kindle device to read this. You can download a Kindle app for free and read it that way)! I’m going to keep this one simple.

To enter, leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about fall!

You can earn an extra entry by sharing this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook. Just be sure to leave a separate comment telling me how you shared it! I will pick a random comment as the winner on Monday, September 30.

Glamour Bag {GIVEAWAY}

Blog Birthday GiveawayWell, friends, it’s been an awesome week around here. Thanks for helping me celebrate two years of pouring my heart out online – and thanks for sharing your hearts with me!

Today is our last giveaway and its one of my faves, I have to say. I don’t remember how I came across PinkEPromise, but I absolutely love them! I was going to try to explain what Blair – a breast cancer survivor – and Mimi do over there at PinkEPromise, but I can’t say it any better than their own about us page. Here’s an excerpt, but be sure to go read the whole story – after you enter the giveaway, of course.

We offer you time sensitive deals on unique, artisan products ranging from handcrafted jewelry to decorative home products and everything in between. A portion of your purchase is then donated to The Healing Consciousness Foundation. Your donation helps breast cancer patients pursue holistic treatments offered by HCF including yoga, massage, therapeutic touch, guided imagery, acupuncture, and other therapies that promote overall health and wellness to help manage the physical side effects and great emotional strain that patients face during their battle. According to Blair, the services provided by HCF were incredibly important and comforting to her during treatment.

So we invite you to browse the site and enjoy the savings we offer you, and know that your purchase will offer a brave woman who is battling this terrible disease an opportunity to receive therapies that will comfort and soothe her while undergoing treatment.

You won’t find a better deal for a better cause anywhere … we pinkEpromise

Blair and Mimi have very generously given a whole glamour bag of goodies for one of our readers! Just check out all this adorable stuff!

PinkEPromise Giveaway at This Gal's Journey

One person will receive:

* an adorable Owl necklace
* a gorgeous pink sequined clutch bag – with leopard print lining!
* a beautiful geometric necklace and earring set – in black and antique gold.
* a cute 3-piece phone charger for car and home (pink)

I have personally ordered several things from PinkEPromise and they have all been super affordable, delivered quickly and really great quality. I know you’ll love them, too!

Click the link below to fill out the Rafflecopter form. All the giveaways from this week will remain open until midnight tomorrow, July 13. Winners will be announced sometime the week of July 15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Picture This – More Birthday {GIVEAWAYS}!

Blog Birthday GiveawayYou all know that we live in a wee little village in rural Ireland. We love it. It’s quaint, green, lush. The people are incredible and you can’t beat the tea!

While life there is not perfect, it certainly is an adventure. One of the many blessings we’ve been given while living there is the opportunity to pursue our creative sides. My hubby started learning about photography a few years ago, though he’s always been interested since having a shutter-bug father himself.

Well, you guys, he’s seriously talented. His eye for detail and beauty is astounding – especially since he’s such a manly stud! The creative side in him is inspiring. He is graciously offering an 8×12 print of one of his best photos from our time here in the states. The columbine is the state flower of Colorado. I had never seen one in person before until we went to a little town called Ouray a couple of weeks ago. Wow.

columbine

Photo by Deibel Photography

One luck winner will receive a copy of this breathtaking photo. Just click the link below and you’ll be taken to a Raffelcopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, join be over at The Better Mom today as I help us tired mamas boost our mid-summer energy a bit!