LOVE FINDS YOU IN GLACIER BAY PAY IT FORWARD GIVEAWAY

Monday, December 31, 2012

Singer Ginny Marshall is one signature away from the recording contract of her dreams—a deal that would guarantee success for the former foster child, who still struggles to bury the memories of her painful childhood. But Ginny needs advice from the one person who will look out for her best interests—her former fiancé, Brett Miller. She travels to the remote town of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where the town’s colorful characters and stunning scenery provide respite from LA’s pressures. In Glacier Bay, Ginny discovers a box of old letters and is swept up in the love story between Clay, an early missionary to Alaska Territory, and Ellie, the woman who traveled there to be his children’s governess. When Ginny is reunited with Brett in Glacier Bay, will she discover—as Ellie did—that healing and love are sometimes found in the most unexpected places?~GoodReads Believing that one good love story deserves hearing about another a few bloggers have got together and are giving away one physical paperback copy (ARV $10) of Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss' new book Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska. This giveaway will run from January 1st, 2013 at 12:00am EST until January 8th at 12:00am EST. GREAT GIVEAWAY: Instead of entering for yourself you will be nominating a friend to win this new book by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss. Don't worry though next week more bloggers are giving away copies of Love Finds You In Glacier Bay, Alaska, that you can win.** In nominating them tell Tricia and Ocieanna why they should win this book. Do they dream of going to Alaska? Have a special love story like Ellie and Clay or Ginny and Brett? Have they been instrumental in your love story? Have they encouraged you in your marriage? How to Enter: Please leave a comment on this blog complete with your name, email address, the person you are nominating and why you think they should win this book. If your comment is chosen you will be required to give the address of the person you are nominating so the book can be mailed to them. Please read the rules for this giveaway. **You will receive extra entries in next week's giveaway hop if you comment on my blog nominating a friend. GIVEAWAY ENTRANT’S RULES 1.) Those who enter by leaving a comment agree to these rules. If you do not agree, do not enter. 2.) This giveaway are open to US and Canada residents to persons 18 years of age and older unless otherwise noted or prohibited by your state. Description and approximate retail value of prize is included in giveaway post. No purchase necessary. 3.) Entry must be submitted by 12:01am EST of specified date. 4.) The winner is selected by the authors Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. 5.) Winner is notified by email and posted on the giveaway post. Winner must claim their prize within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected. 6.) Winner must provide a valid mailing address, excluding P.O. Boxes. for prizes shipped by the sponsors. 7.) One entry per person. 8.) This giveaway is NOT associated, sponsored nor endorsed by Facebook or Twitter. 9.) A Jewel In The Making and the LFYIGBA Pay It Forward Giveaway bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill this prize. We have represented the sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner we will contact the sponsor regarding your prize. The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping the items to you directly. We cannot be held responsible for lost, damaged or undelivered prizes. We will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor please notify me within 30 days for assistance, after that I may be unable to assist you.

Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska . . . Slideshow

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas: Day 11

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 11 – Just Like Mary by Carla Anne Coroy

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
Just Like Mary
By Carla Anne Coroy
Mary. Amazing Mary. Mother of Jesus. We marvel at her simple, faith-filled acceptance of God’s will for her life. There’s so little written about Mary in the Bible. We know almost nothing, really, about this woman that God chose to parent His Son.
Many have speculated about the exact age of Jesus’ mother. How old was she, really? What would it have been like to be greeted by an angel—and told you would become pregnant by the Spirit of God?
I wonder about other things sometimes, though. Like if she had morning sickness, or gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy. Was she overdue, or was baby Jesus born right on time? Did she mistake Braxton Hicks contractions for the real thing before labor really started? Was it a fast labor or did Joseph have eighteen hours to get that place into birthing readiness?
Most women who have ever given birth to a child have shared pregnancy stories. Everyone’s story is unique and interesting. Surely Mary’s was, too!
Then there are the stories of potty-training and conversations on how to get the baby to sleep through the night. Did Mary bounce Jesus on her knee while sharing recipes with other young moms?
We cannot find answers for these questions in Scripture. And as interesting as it might be to share pregnancy stories with Mary over a cup of coffee (maybe in heaven?) and get her tips on potty-training, we really don’t need to know any of that to love the Son she bore.
But Mary’s example raises questions about me and my own life that get under my skin.
Am I the kind of woman God will choose to be part of His plan? Do I trust and love my God enough to give faith-filled answers like she did? If there were just a few paragraphs written of my life for future generations to read, would those words reveal a heart of willing submission to God?
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38, NIV)
God has not asked me to carry the burden of His Son in my womb. There are other burdens He is asking me, and you, to carry instead. Are we being the women He needs for the part of the plan we’re living in now? Am I saying to Jesus today, “May it be to me as you have said”?
During this Advent season, let’s prepare ourselves to be used by God, filled with faith and anticipating His grace—just like Mary.
***
Carla Anne Coroy is a Christian speaker and blogger, and the award-winning author of Married Mom, Solo Parent. She ministers to a wide audience through her website and blog at www.carlaanne.com. Carla Anne has served full-time with organizations such as Youth for Christ and Crown Financial Ministries, and is currently developing mentoring resources for women and an international mentoring organization for youth. She also serves as a staff writer for the online magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women and is a spokesperson for Faithbuddy.com. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children.

Launch Team Member for Tricia Goyer

Sunday, December 23, 2012





I was chosen by Tricia Goyer to be a member of her 2013 fiction Launch Team. What is that you say? What that is, is . . . I am on a team with other bloggers who will help promote Tricia's books this year. I will get to read the books prior to them coming out, and inform you about them. I am so incredibly excited that Tricia chose me!

The first book that will come out soon is Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska. I am already reading it, and loving it!!!! It will come out on January 1st. So set your calendars!!!!

Here is a sneak peak!!!




Singer Ginny Marshall is one signature away from the recording contract of her dreams—a deal that would guarantee success for the former foster child, who still struggles to bury the memories of her painful childhood. But Ginny needs advice from the one person who will look out for her best interests—her former fiancé, Brett Miller. She travels to the remote town of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where the town’s colorful characters and stunning scenery provide respite from LA’s pressures.

In Glacier Bay, Ginny discovers a box of old letters and is swept up in the love story between Clay, an early missionary to Alaska Territory, and Ellie, the woman who traveled there to be his children’s governess. When Ginny is reunited with Brett in Glacier Bay, will she discover—as Ellie did—that healing and love are sometimes found in the most unexpected places?

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 10

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 05:37 PM PST
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
Christmas Mourning
By Tricia Goyer
As I sat in our living room last Christmas morning, there was a pile of presents under the tree. A smile filled my face, just thinking about the joy and laughter that would fill the house in a few hours when we gathered around to hear the Christmas story, worship Jesus, and open presents.
That morning as I thought about the celebration of our Lord’s birth, my mind was already busy unwrapping. No, I wasn’t thinking ahead to presents. Instead, I was unwrapping the many memories of Christmas that I carry on my heart.
I remember sitting at the kids’ table in Grandma’s mobile home, laughing and goofing around with my brother and cousins. I remember the doll house my Grandpa made when I was seven and the loving care my grandma took to decorate it.
I remember the boom box and banana clips from high school and my first Christmas with my son Cory not long after I turned eighteen. Cory was only six months old, but the greatest gift God gave to both of us that year was John—my soon-to-be husband and Cory’s soon-to-be daddy.
There are memories of the kids acting out the Christmas story and Goyer family gatherings in which forty of us would eat in our cleaned-out and heated garage because it was the only place big enough to set up tables and chairs for everyone.
I also will never forget the first time I celebrated Christmas in California with my biological dad and the four sisters I didn’t know growing up. I had a happy heart that day, being with people I didn’t know well but who amazingly looked and acted just like me. How cool is that?!
As I write this, there are faces going to be missing around the tree, to be sure. There’s always a sense of missing when the people you love are far away. And that’s when Christmas Morning becomes Christmas Mourning. I’m thinking of my mom, dad, siblings, in-laws, and friends, wishing I could fill me house with their faces, their smiles, their laughter. I’m sure you understand.
It’s so easy to center Christmas around the baby who God sent, but we cannot forget the purpose for His coming. Jesus’ mission wasn’t just about the manager, the angels, and the swaddling clothes. His purpose was to offer himself so that we can spend eternity with Him and those we love.
The greatest gift is one we’ve yet to open. Salvation comes to our hearts when we whisper a prayer of faith and relinquishment—when we give up the right to ourselves.
Like a beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, the best part of the gift is still to come. My mind is anticipating the unwrapping. I can only guess of the joy and laughter to come!
***
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of four, grandmother of one, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.comTheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 9

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 9 – The ADVENTure Awaits You! by Charissa Steyn

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
The ADVENTure Awaits You!
By Charissa Steyn
God loves keeping us in a place of joyful expectation for what is next. He has mastered the art of surprise. Much to my dismay, God rarely ever lays out steps 1-2-3 for me to see. Maybe you’re like me and you’re a planner. You need time to prepare yourself for what is coming, the unknown grips you with fear, and it’s hard for you to simply enjoy a surprise.
It’s difficult to understand why God doesn’t like to reveal more of His mysterious ways, but I have a feeling it has something to do with faith. I am quite sure that if I knew everything that God had planned ahead of time my response would be, “No way God!”
But maybe we need to be a little more like Mary when it comes to faith. The angel reassured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you…” (Luke 1:30)
Did you get that? You have nothing to fear _________ (fill in the blank with your name) God has a surprise for you!
God invited Mary into the ultimate season of joyful expectation. He took her on the most miraculous adventure of birthing His son!
Instead of hesitation, Mary stepped forward, “Yes . . . let it be with me just as you say.” (Luke 1:38)
Instead of cowering in fear, Mary celebrated in faith, “I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened—I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten. . . .” {Luke 1:46-48)
As the Christmas season is upon us, I can’t help but wonder what surprises God has wrapped up for us under His tree of life? What gifts does He want to reveal to us this year?
Like Mary, let’s face the unknown, the mystery, the surprises of God with a quiet, yet confident YES!
God wants to show you the impossible can become possible, the supernatural can become natural. We don’t need special qualifications, just joyful expectation.
May you accept the invitation of Jesus in this truly ADVENTurous season and embrace all the marvelous, mysterious surprises He has for you along the way!
***
Charissa Steyn is a God-adventurer. She believes everyday holds exciting undertakings that usually involve risk, but always draw us closer to the Father’s heart. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Cape Town with her South African hubby, Michal and their son David. Together they are doing their best to lead a simple, yet dangerous life of love. Learn more about Charissa at her blog.

99Authors, 99Books, 99Cents

Friday, December 21, 2012









The books are listed by genre on the navigation bar above.

Simply click the cover of a book and you will be taken directly to its Amazon page.

Don’t forget that you can gift any of these ebooks and choose the date it is received!

When you are done shopping, be sure to click on the Prizes page and enter to win $990 worth of great prizes!!

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!!

http://buymereadme.com/

12 Pearls of Christmas, Day 8

12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 8 – Quieted in His Presence by Cara Putman

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
Quieted in His Presence
By Cara Putman
It’s the week after Thanksgiving. We’re racing toward Christmas. Even with Thanksgiving occurring a week early, it feels like a race. When did we decide this organized (or not so organized) chaos was restful, relaxing, conducive to a joyful season?
When did the joy of gifting something to one we love become replaced by the pressure to find the perfect gift? When did the amount of the gift matter more than spirit it is gifted in? At times like these I need a reason to remember that God can calm my heart when I feel like I’m spilling in a bazillion different directions.
Grab a mug of tea or cup of coffee. I’ll share my peppermint mocha creamer. It’s low-sugar. And let’s sit together and soak in this truth.
The Lord is with us. With us. Emmanual. The God with us. Savor that. He’s with us. Not watching us. With us.
He is mighty to save. He doesn’t barely save. He is mightily prepared to save.
He will take great delight in you. Think about a child. Yours or someone else’s. Think about the joy that child brings to his parents. That is a pale shadow of the depth of delight God takes in you. Humbled? Thrilled? I am!
He quiets us with His love. He will, if we’ll let Him. It is His will to quiet us with love. Like a child who is content and secure in the knowledge of her parents’ love. That’s how He wants us to rest. To be quiet. In His presence. At His feet.
He will rejoice over us with singing. Think of your favorite artist, group, chorus. Think of how their voices resonate and harmonize. Remember how you are swept away by the beauty of a voice raised in song. Then imagine God singing a special song over you. Then consider that it’s a song of rejoicing. Just because you are. A song to you.
Now that you’ve quieted in His presence, are you ready to go back to preparations. Ready to focus on Him? To find Him in the midst of the Christmas chaos? Because He is the baby in the manager. He is the reason we celebrate. And He’s celebrating you!
***
Cara Putman is an author of fourteen novels and one nonfiction work—plus all the characters and stories still begging to be told. Look for more in the future. She is also a licensed attorney, contract lecturer at a Big Ten University, adjunct faculty at a community college, and active in her church and community. She lives with her family in Indiana.

A Sweethaven Christmas - Reviewed

Thursday, December 20, 2012



















Book Blurb:

The women of Sweethaven are reunited for a small-town Christmas!
It's holiday time in Sweethaven, but things don't go quite as planned for these scrapbookers. Lila is thrown for a loop when a woman claiming to be her sister arrives in town. As she begins digging into the woman's claims, Lila uncovers things about her family she may never be able to accept or forgive.

After the girls find an old scrapbook on Adele's bookshelf, she is reminded of her first love, a Sweethaven boy whose heart she broke so many years ago. With help from modern technology, Adele arranges a reunion with this man. And when Campbell sees Luke with a ring, she isn't sure whether to be happy or terrified. Are wedding bells in her future? For Jane and Meghan, Sweethaven is filled with the promise of something new -- as well as good friends, a new scrapbook, and a little holiday magic!


My Thoughts:

Courtney takes us back to charming town of Sweethaven and the group of ladies we have all come to love. It's the holidays and there are all kinds of emotions swirling around. What I have come to enjoy about this series is the loving community, and the camaraderie among the people that live there, they seem to pull together and want the best for each other. There is of course drama, how could there not be with Lila . . even amongst the drama, Christmas magic shows up and touches everyone with it.

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 7

12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 7 – When God Wraps a Present . . . by Julie Lessman

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
When God Wraps a Present . . .
By Julie Lessman
We’ve all heard the adage “it’s better to give than receive,” but never have I agreed more than the year I was engaged to the love of my life.
It was truly a Christmas to remember—spiced egg nog and snickerdoodles and shimmering presents unwrapped in a circle of love. Of course, we all ooohed and ahhhed over each gift opened, one at a time, reveling in the glow of excitement for giver and recipient alike.
And then it was my turn. Everyone waited while I tore into a small box, anticipation fairly shimmering in my fiancé’s eyes.
“Do you like it?” he asked, grinning like a little boy when I unearthed a very pretty silver watch.
No. “It’s beautiful,” I said with a shaky giggle, slipping it on and holding it up for everyone to admire. I quickly gave him a sweet kiss on the lips. “Thank you so much, babe—what a perfect gift!”
Perfectly awful, that is. You see, when you are a twenty-eight-year-old Type A career woman who is very set in her ways, there are just some things you have to buy for herself—books, costume jewelry, purses … a watch.
All right, yes, I’ll admit it—“high maintenance” is my middle name because heaven knows I’m one of the most particular people on the planet, especially when it comes to watches. They have to be digital, waterproof, have a day and date window, an alarm, chronograph, second hand, both silver and gold metal to wear with either silver or gold jewelry, stretch band skinny enough to fit my wrist . . . and a GPS. Okay, I’m pulling your watch chain on the last one, but you get the picture—NOT easy to find, especially with numbers big enough for someone blind as a bat.
So, yes, I faked it, of course, thanking my soon-to-be husband for the “prettiest watch I had ever owned,” because it was—I just didn’t like it. But did I “fake it” with God? Uh, no. I went straight to His throne in prayer and begged Him to help me love this watch because the man I loved gave it to me and I just flat-out didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I even went so far as to write the prayer request on a piece of paper and put it in my Bible so I could “wrap” it in prayer every single day, which I did.
Until the fateful moment years later when my husband used my Bible one day and found the note.
“You don’t like your watch??” he says, confronting me with hurt in his tone while his eyes flicked to the pretty watch on my wrist.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, somewhat confused.
He held up the note. “You told God you hated it in this note I found in your Bible.”
Uh-oh . . . BUSTED!
“Oh, babe,” I said with my brightest smile and a quick kiss on the lips. “That was then and this is now. It’s perfect for me, just like you, and I absolutely love it.
And you know what? I did!!
***
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was ACFW’s 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. Winner of 14 RWA awards, she also appeared on Booklist’s 2010 list for Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and has just released her 7th novel, A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story. You can contact Julie at her website, on Facebook, on Twitter at @julielessman, or read excerpts of her favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of her books at http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/.

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 6

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
Year of Adversity Brings Joy
By Leslie Gould
I’ve been writing Amish fiction for nearly three years now—telling stories about non-resistant people who live a simple life. It’s a nice reprieve from my own life.
When my husband, Peter, joined the Army Reserve back in the mid 1980s, I wasn’t thrilled about it. Nor did I believe him when he said he’d probably never see action. Sure, the Cold War was ending and—for a short time—all seemed well in the world, but I had a degree in history. I knew better. I didn’t want to be a controlling wife (as new to the job as I was!) and come out and say he absolutely couldn’t do it. And it did help that he was joining a medical unit. Still I had my reservations.
We’ve been far more fortunate than many military families, but still it’s been quite a ride. The first exciting episode began in 1990 when Peter flew to Germany on Christmas Eve to work in an Army hospital during Desert Storm, leaving me behind with our two young sons. During the next twenty years, Peter went from being a Lt. to being a Col. and commanding a unit. Countless maneuvers and a mobilization occurred during that time, but his Army Reserve career culminated in his deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.
My days throughout last year were an odd combination of hearing the daily news from a war zone via Skype and then writing about the plain life of the Amish. By last December I was working on my third Amish novel of the year while, in contrast, Peter and his field hospital staff had cared for hundreds of NATO soldiers and Afghan nationals, endured ten months of rocket fire, and continued to grieve the killing of one of their own.
Surprisingly, what seemed like it might be our worst Christmas ever, even harder than in 1990, wasn’t. Our four children (one teen and three young adults now) rallied to help make it a memorable day. We counted our blessings—Peter was well, we had all we needed, and God was at work in the life of our family. The result was an underlying joy, deeper than what we’d felt during past Christmases.
In reflection, I wrote: When it started, I thought 2011 might be one of our worst years. But it hasn’t been. Sure, it’s been one of our hardest, but a lot of good has come from it.
That was evident on Christmas morning as we Skyped with Peter. We were so thankful for the good connection and for all of us to be “together” that we hardly noticed we really weren’t.
This December, Peter is back at his civilian job (as a manager for a hospital corporation) and also commanding a nearby Army Reserve unit, which means one weekend a month and plenty of evenings—but no rockets or causalities.
I’m working on a new Amish novel and still enjoying my “time” with those who practice non-resistance, which doesn’t discount the appreciation I have for my husband’s service. I’ve even grown to the place where I’m thankful he joined the military. They’ve served each other well.
Our year of adversity resulted in a deep joy. I’m pretty sure it will carry over to this Christmas as well.
***
Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and Christy Award winner The Amish Midwife, co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Her latest release is Courting Cate, a retelling of the “Taming of the Shrew.” Leslie lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children. www.lesliegould.com

My Top Reads of 2012 . . . . .

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!!!!!!!

My Top Reads of 2012 are . . . .

My favorite book of 2012 is . . . .












On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in York. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege's daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other's jealousy destroy their love? In this sweeping family saga set in western Pennsylvania, one man's choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. "Love's Reckoning" is the first entry in The Ballantyne Legacy, a rich, multi-layered historical quartet from talented writer Laura Frantz, beginning in the late 1700s and following the Ballantyne family through the end of the Civil War.
My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/09/loves-reckoning-reviewed.html




2. A Light In The Window












One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting.

My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-light-in-window-reviewed.html

3. Queen of the Waves











When pampered Jacqueline Abington secretly elopes with the family gardener, she asks another woman to take her place on the much anticipated maiden voyage of the Titanic. Tessa Bowen hails from a poor corner of London but has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime—a ticket to sail to America aboard a famed vessel. But there’s a catch: she must assume Jacqueline’s identity. For the first time in her life, Tessa stays in luxurious quarters, dresses in elegant gowns, and dines with prestigious people. Then a wealthy American man takes an interest in her, and Tessa struggles to keep up the ruse as she begins falling for him. When tragedy strikes, the game is up, and two women’s lives are forever changed.

My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/10/queen-of-waves-janice-thompson.html

4. A Love Surrendered











Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents' death. But when she falls hard for Steven O'Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is?

My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-love-surrendered-reviewed.html

5. Somebody Love Me











Melissa "Missy" Houghton is on a quest for true love, but she's looking in all the wrong places. She abandons her favorite activities in her pursuit of something better. Something that will give her life significance. Something that will bring her hope. When her first boyfriend turns out to be a huge disappointment, she opens her life to more possibilities, only they aren't any better. In fact, Missy finds herself trapped in a situation that skews her view of people, and shreds her ability to trust. The resulting pain doesn't inhibit her search, but it may taint her choices and ultimately cost her more than she's willing to pay.

My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/12/somebody-love-me-reviewed.html

6. Mother of Pearl












Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach. Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Mother of Pearl brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.


My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/09/mother-of-pearl-reviewed.html


7. Inescapable














Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, Kingdom, Kansas, with plans never to return.
But five years later, the new life she built is falling apart. Lizzie knows she's being followed, and she's certain the same mysterious stranger is behind the threatening letters she's received. Realizing she'll have to run again, the only escape Lizzie can manage is a return to the last place she wants to go.
Once she arrives in Kingdom, Lizzie is confident she'll be safe until she comes up with a new plan. In reacquainting herself with the town and its people--especially her old friend, Noah Housler--she wonders if she judged her hometown and her Mennonite faith too harshly. However, just as she begins to come to terms with her roots, Lizzie is horrified to discover the danger she ran from is closer than ever.

My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/07/inescapable-reviewed-with-giveaway.html 

8. Mary Magdalene












Long maligned as a prostitute or a woman of questionable reputation, Mary Magdalene's murky story seems lost to the sands of time. Now a portrait of this enigmatic woman comes to life in the hands of an imaginative master storyteller. Diana Wallis Taylor's Mary is a woman devastated by circumstances beyond her control and plagued with terrifying dreams--until she has a life-changing confrontation with the Savior.
Lovers of historical and biblical fiction will find this creative telling of Mary's story utterly original and respectful as it opens their eyes to the redeeming work of Christ in the lives of those who follow him.


My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/06/mary-magdalene-reviewed.html 

9. Love's Sacred Song













Standing in the massive shadow of his famous father, young king Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, wisdom and folly. In the uncertain world of alliances and treachery, Solomon longs for peace and a love that is true and pure--a love that can be his cornerstone.
A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah remembers the first time she laid eyes on Solomon in Jerusalem when she was just seven years old. Since then she has known that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father, a leader of their tribe, secures a promise from King Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams may come true.
But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon's harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?

My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/03/loves-sacred-song-full-review.html

10.  Sarai












Sarai, the last child of her aged father, is beautiful, spoiled, and used to getting her own way. Even as a young girl, she is aware of the way men look at her, including her half brother Abram. When Abram finally requests Sarai's hand, she asks one thing--that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even her father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if Sarai makes a promise in return--to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees.

But as the years stretch on and Sarai's womb remains empty, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain--lest Abram decide that he will not fulfill his. To what lengths will Sarai go in her quest to bear a son? And how long will Abram's patience last?

My Review:
http://frommipov.blogspot.com/2012/03/sarai-reviewed.html


Well there you have it! Out of over 100 books I have read this year and right now I am reading 3. These are my top 10 favorites! I will name honorable mentions by New Year's if not before so be looking for those.
I want to thank all the authors I have had the pleasure to review for this year. You have provided me countless hours of reading pleasure and I look forward to what is in store for 2013. May you all have a Very Merry CHRISTmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 5


Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
Will They Know What it Cost?
By Glynnis Whitwer
My daughter Cathrine went on a field trip to the Grand Canyon when she was in fourth grade.   As I picked her up upon her return, she couldn’t wait to show me an adorable little stuffed brown bear she’d bought as a gift. She started to say that it was for everyone—meaning her three brothers and sister—but then her words got jumbled. Tears welled in her eyes as she tried to explain how she ran out of money when trying to buy gifts. Her distress was obvious.
To understand fully, it might help to know that Cathrine was born in Africa and experienced deprivation of every sort for the first eleven years of her life. At thirteen years old, she was only in fourth grade.  And although she has made remarkable gains, even now she struggles with communication and math—especially money.
Later that night I finally understood what Cathrine was trying to tell me about the bear. She had taken twenty dollars of her own money to buy herself a souvenir.  But before buying herself something, she wanted to buy some small gifts. So she started with two of her teachers and bought them each a small ring with the first initial of their last names. I looked at the price on the rings and realized each was $3.99. Times that by two, add tax, and Cathrine would have been left with eleven dollars for other gifts and herself.
I imagine she stood at the gift store counter bewildered by what she had just done. She was probably embarrassed to ask any of her classmates for help. And maybe the teacher wasn’t around. There she stood with just over half of her money, and three brothers and a sister left to buy for. She decided to get a group gift, and that’s where the bear came in.
Standing in our kitchen, looking at the three items she purchased, I smiled brightly and told her everyone was going to love their gifts and that she’d made wonderful purchases. She smiled back, and the night ended well.
The next morning as she wrapped up the little rings, I kept thinking about those two teachers who were going to receive a gift that day. All they would see is a little silver ring. I knew they would be very loving and appreciative. But would they truly understand the sacrifice Cathrine made?
Would they understand their gifts cost Cathrine half of what she had? Would they ever know the frustration and worry Cathrine felt as she realized she didn’t have enough to buy her family any gifts? Would they treasure those little rings, or would they put them in a drawer with gifts from other students throughout the year?
As I pondered these thoughts, I considered a gift I was given two thousand years ago: Jesus. God sent His Son into the world as a baby, knowing He would die on a cross for me. The cost of this gift staggers me.
As I decorate my tree and shop for my family, I’m reminded of what my freedom cost my Heavenly Father. Do I truly understand the sacrifice of that gift? Do I understand the anguish God the Father must have felt sending His Son? Do I treasure this gift, or do I take it for granted?
Christmas is a time for celebration. But it’s also a time to remember God’s sacrifice. For it is in understanding the cost, that we fully appreciate the gift.
***
Glynnis Whitwer is an executive director with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 500,000 daily readers.  Her newest book, I Used to be So Organized, was released last fall. Glynnis, her husband Tod, and their five children live in Glendale, Arizona. Visit www.GlynnisWhitwer.com for more information.

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 4

Monday, December 17, 2012

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
A Mistletoe Medley
By Margaret McSweeney
“You have breast cancer.”  Those four words my doctor said the week of Mother’s Day 2012 have forever changed my life. Mere months after my fiftieth birthday, I encountered this unexpected “lump in the road” and ventured through a major detour after reaching my half-century mark.
Through this “grit,” God has covered me with His amazing grace! At the same time of my diagnosis, two books released: Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith along with Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief. During this Christmas season, I rejoice that my cancer was caught and treated at an early stage. After six weeks of “daily radiance” (AKA radiation therapy), I started my daily dose of Tamoxifen to help battle any potential cells that might cause a recurrence. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.
While writing Aftermath and sharing my journey of grief as an adult orphan, I experienced several “hugs from heaven” as I discovered family letters, journals, and even a video in which my mother shares her faith. This is a mistletoe medley from my mother’s heart:
Each Christmas season my father used to go down into the woods behind our home and bring us back some mistletoe. It was a present that my sister and I loved. We’d tie it with bright ribbons and would hang it over several doorways in the house.
It was always fun of course for a Christmas party, but it came to mean more than that to us. It seemed to become a symbol of the meaning of Christmas: Love, God’s love for the world that prompted Him to send Christ to become our Savior. Somehow it seemed to enhance our love for each other as a family. And we found ourselves stepping under the mistletoe to give someone a hug or to plant a kiss on someone’s cheek and say, “I love you.”
I thought of these mistletoe Christmases during my mother’s losing battle with cancer.  I penned my thoughts like this:
Illness, you ugly parasite!
Like mistletoe, you’ve entrenched yourself upon my body!
As you bloom and grow, you feed upon my strength.
I shall fight!
Battalions stand by to help!
My doctor’s scalpel will sever you.
Modern medicine will shrivel you.
You shall fall to the ground,
And I shall stand again strong and well.
But what if I cannot conquer you?
If you are with me still
As my constant, inevitable companion,
I pray that God will help me
Learn to live with you in peace
And somehow discover how you, my enemy—
Like mistletoe at Christmas—
Can serve some useful purpose.
There are times when we cannot rid our lives of things that hurt such as pain or grief, loss, illness, sorrow. Sometimes they’re with us as our inevitable companions and we must learn to make peace with them.
Those are the times when we can ask God through Christ to help us transform the loneliness, the pain, the grief, the loss-symbolically into something that can serve a useful purpose in our lives.
May you feel an extra “hug from heaven” this Christmas season from the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.  God is present, and He knows your name!
*Text quoted from Aftermath (New Hope, 2012) by Margaret McSweeney, pp 114-115
***
Margaret McSweeny is a well-published author and freelance writer for the 411 Voices and the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. She is the author of Aftermath, A Mother’s Heart Knows and Go Back and Be Happy. She is also the founder of Pearl Girls™ and the general editor of the Pearl Girls™ books; Mother of Pearl and Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace. All proceeds from the sales of the Pearl Girls™ books go to charity. For the past five years, she has served on the board of directors for WINGS, an organization that helps abused women and their children get a new start in life. Margaret would love to meet you too. Follow her on twitter or friend her on facebook. You can also keep up with Margaret atKitchen Chat or the Pearl Girls blog. Margaret lives with her husband and two daughters in the Chicago suburbs.

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 3

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
Who is Mr. Carbunkle?
By: Debora M. Coty
In a dream this November, I was playing Clue (remember that board game from your childhood?) with three friendly strangers. We were each moving our pieces from room to room in the mysterious mansion trying to figure out who-done-it.
So far we knew it wasn’t Miss Scarlet in the parlor with a candlestick . . . or Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with a wrench.
With a voice bursting with sudden enlightenment, the player to my right announced, “Why, it’s Mr. Carbunkle!*”
My other two opponents and I looked at one another in bewilderment. Everyone knew there was no such character in this game.
It seemed my lot to state the obvious. “Who is Mr. Carbunkle?”
The words continued to ring in my head as I sat straight up in bed. I must have spoken the question aloud to jerk me awake so.
Who is Mr. Carbunkle?  
And then I knew. I knew just as surely as if the Almighty had sent me an e-mail titled, “Hey, Deb, here’s your answer.”
I had been praying for several weeks about how Papa God would like me to use my writing tithe this year. It’s been my custom, for the nine years I’ve written professionally, to give away each December (anonymously, if possible) ten percent of that year’s income from my writing ministry to someone the Lord designates.
The sum isn’t really all that much in the grand scheme of things (contrary to popular belief, Christian writers don’t get rich), but it’s enough to bless somebody in their celebration of Christ’s birth with the knowledge that their Heavenly Father knows about their needs . . . and cares.
I thought about the only Mr. Carbunkle I knew—the one who attends our church, a quiet, unassuming man who’d been out of work for more than a year. I confess that I knew about his plight but hadn’t really given it much thought—or prayer—lately. Although he never complained, I knew his family must be struggling.
So Mr. Carbunkle it is.
You know, there are lots of Mr. Carbunkles out there who would be blessed mightily by a love-gift from you this Christmas. It doesn’t have to be money; it could be help with yard work, or home repairs, or a loaf of banana bread, or best of all, a gift of your time. Thirty minutes of your undivided attention for a lonely soul who needs to know Papa God knows his or her needs … and cares.
Who is your Mr. Carbunkle?
Don’t have a Clue? I know someone who does. Just ask Him.
*Name changed for privacy
***
Debora Coty is an occupational therapist, a piano teacher, and a freelance writer. She’s also involved in the children’s ministry at her church and is an avid tennis player. Debora began writing to fill the void when her last child left for college, and it has since become a passion. Debora has a real knack for getting across sound biblical concepts with a refreshing lightheartedness as attested in her monthly newspaper column entitled “Grace Notes: God’s Grace for Everyday Living.” Look for Fear, Faith and a Fist Full of Chocolate in February of 2013.
 
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