Friday, December 30, 2011

Common English Bible


Backgrounder
 Some Bible translations today are revisions of previous revisions. For example, from its preface, the New Revised
Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV) explains it’s “an authorized revision of the Revised Standard Version,
published in 1952, which was a revision of the American Standard Version, published in 1901, which, in turn,
embodied earlier revisions of the King James Version, published in 1611.” And the preface of the English
Standard Version (ESV) says it “stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past halfmillennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale’s New Testament of 1526; marking its course
were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard
Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV).”
 The Common English Bible is not a revision of any version. It’s a bold, new translation (not a paraphrase) for the
21
st
century, balancing academic rigor with modern understandability; ecumenical biblical scholarly thoroughness
with a natural reading experience.
 The Common English Bible is a denomination-neutral Bible, with translator scholars responsible to each other in
peer review. It’s translated by 120 biblical scholars from faith traditions in American, African, Asian, European,
and Latino communities representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific
University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary,
Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. (See website for entire list.)
 To avoid sectarian bias, 700 persons from 24 faith traditions participated in the development of the CEB
translation, which includes translators, editors, 77 reading group leaders, and hundreds of reading group
participants. All communicated together efficiently through a secure project website. The translation work began in
2008 and completed in 2011.
 A lead translator prepared the first draft of the translation. A co-translator made revisions and raised issues for
further research. A reading group commented on the second draft. A readability editor then applied rigorous
comments about style and grammar. An Old Testament, New Testament, or Apocrypha editor reviewed all
changes for each book and made final revisions. The editorial board met in person and through conferencing
technology to address issues of consistency or to resolve controversial matters. Then a stylist and copyeditors
checked the text for English consistency.
 Reading groups, consisting of 5 to 10 persons, were located in churches, youth groups, colleges, seminaries, and
a retirement community. The participants in the reading groups worship among 13 distinct denominations. Each
group was assigned a book of the Bible. They read the text aloud to each other and commented on unclear or
awkward phrasing, which translators considered in making the Common English Bible as comprehensively clear
as possible.
 The entire process for the complete Bible, the largest Bible translation undertaking ever with the most number of
participants, took only 40 months from the date of the first meeting of the CEB translation board.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

12 days of Christmas final day


Merry Christmas from all of us at Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoyed these
Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from the authors who were so kind to donate
their time and talents! If you missed a few posts, I hope you'll be able go back
through and read them on this blog over the next few days. If you'd like to keep
up with Pearl Girls and our new book project, Mother of Pearl, coming this
spring, just click this link and sign up for our newsletter (lower left sidebar).

Also, just a reminder that today is the last day for the pearl necklace and
earrings giveaway! Enter now by filling out this {form}. The winner will on
1/1 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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of
the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***
Jesus -- The Reason For the Season
By: Rachel Hauck

Through the narrow scope of 2000 years, Mary, the mother of Jesus, appears to
be one lucky woman. Chosen by God to give birth to His son, the Savior of the
world? All right, Mary, way to go.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” Gabriel said.

How many of us would like a declaration like that? Highly favored. The Lord is
with you. But Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind
of greeting this might be.

The angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the
Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the
Son of God. Mary’s seems confident and resolved when she responds, “I am
the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

She’d just been told the Holy Spirit will come upon her, that God’s power will
overshadow her, that she’d become with child even though she wasn’t married,
and she said, “I’m the Lord’s servant. Let your words be true.”

I find this amazing! A young woman. Ancient Bethlehem. Unwed mother.
They stoned women for such things in her day. But Mary believed in God. And
submitted to His will. He gave her the Holy Spirit – the same Holy Spirit given
to us. If He gave her confidence, He will give us confidence. Even though, like
Mary, our situation seems impossible.

Listen to Mary’s song later on in the first chapter of Luke.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has
been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations
will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me Holy is
his name…”

Conceiving a child out of wedlock, by Divine intervention. Not a girl’s every
day existence. Yet she had a Yes in her heart to God. She rejoiced. She boldly

said, “Generations will remember me!”

How we struggle to trust God with our children. Our finances. Our emotional
well-being. We worry. We fret. And wonder why we have no peace.

Christmas is the season where words like joy, peace and love are bantered
around like Christmas candy. Let’s not take them as just words, but as truth.
Let’s be like Mary and embrace God’s favor on our lives. Boldly declare "He’s
done great things for me!”

Out of the grit of our own souls, we can reach His heart, and feel Him
reaching for ours. No matter the pain of our past, present or future, God is
there for us. He is able. Best of all, He is willing. “My soul glorifies the Lord
this Christmas!”

***
Rachel Hauck is an award winning, best selling author who believes God
has done great things for her. She lives in Central Florida with her husband
and ornery pets. Her next release is Love Lifted Me with multi-platinum
country artist Sara Evans, January 2012. Then in April, look for The Wedding
Dress. www.rachelhauck.com.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Days of Christmas day 12


Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of
the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

The Panhandler's Breath
By Robin Dance

He slipped in sideways between the closing elevator doors, as if he were late to
a meeting; he pressed the "5" without looking. Instead of suit and tie, though,
baggy pants and faded navy hung on his tall, slim frame...and his stealth entry
stiffened the hairs on the back of my neck.

I had noticed him a few seconds earlier, just after we had parted a sea of
clamorous teens. He was smiling, grandfatherly, standing maybe 30 feet away
where the electric shuttle picks up.

I had no idea he had been watching us, studying us, predator patiently awaiting
his next prey.

The four of us were sealed in a four- by six-foot metal tomb. Tomb--that
thought really scampered across my mind. I wondered if he had a knife in his
pocket. I wanted to protect my son. Fight or flight pumped adrenaline but there
was no where to run.

Extreme and ridiculous, these thoughts - and more - flashed through my mind.
The Stranger began speaking.

"Yessir, I see you're a family man with your wife and your son here..." and he
nodded in my and my son’s direction.

"...you see I'm homeless and all I've got..." and on queue, he reached into his
left pocket and pulled out two old pennies blackened with age. Two cents to his
name?! It was all too contrived, too practiced, and I didn't believe a word he
was saying.

It was then I smelled it ~ the small space lent itself to that ~ and I doubted my
doubt.

His breath.

It wasn't the scent of alcohol. His eyes weren't red, his voice didn't waver; his
wizened face matched his graying hair.

His breath was morning's, zoo breath, the pet name I'd given to the scent
inhaled when kissing my children awake when they were little.

He needed to brush his teeth. I wondered how long it had been since he brushed
his teeth.

The elevator door opened and I handed him my leftover pizza as my son and I
brushed past him. My husband handed him a bill and the Stranger thanked and
God blessed him.

The elevator door closed behind us. Conflicted, I was relieved.

We got in the car and blurted first reaction--

"I didn't believe a word he said."

"That made me nervous."

"I wonder if he'll really eat the pizza."

In the quiet, we were left to our own thoughts, contemplating the right thing to
do. At the end of the day, this is what I decided: It doesn't matter whether or
not his story is true; for an old man to resort to begging, he has to be desperate.
The money my husband gave him will never be missed. It was a reminder
we've been entrusted with much and given much. Materially, yes, but more
so spiritually. Loved, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, graced, lavished--every
spiritual blessing. E v e r y.

There's a part of me that wishes I would have been brave enough to ask the
man his story, made sure he knew he was loved...and bought him a tooth
brush.

Later, it occurred to me he could have been an angel. Doesn’t that mean
generosity, kindness and hospitality is always the right response? Then it's
not about you or the stranger or the circumstance, it's about a simple, God-
glorifying response.

Had we entertained an angel unaware? We'll never know.

But it wouldn't be the first time the Breath of Heaven smelled like a zoo.

***
In a decades-old, scandalous affair with her husband, Robin also confesses
mad crushes on her three teens. As Southern as sugar-shocked tea, she’s a
recovering people pleaser who advocates talking to strangers. A memoirist,
Compassion International Blogger, and Maker-upper of words, Robin writes
for her own site, PENSIEVE, and also for (in)courage by DaySpring (a
subsidiary of Hallmark) and Simple Mom. She loves to get to know readers
through their blog comments and on Twitter and Pinterest. www.pensieve.me

Friday, December 23, 2011

12 Days of Christmas day 11


Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,

Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of
the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Inside Out Christmas
by Debora M. Coty

My veterinarian friend, Dr. Katie, tells the story about the December when
a woman brought a very sick black lab into her clinic. The dog was only
ten months old, so she was really just a big puppy, but she’d been vomiting
incessantly and her worried owner didn’t know what was wrong.

“Why don’t you go on home?” Dr. Katie told the owner. “I’ll need to run tests
for about four hours. We’ll give you a call when we’re finished.”

Dr. Katie’s assistant took x-rays and hung them on the light panel for Dr. Katie
to examine. Hmm. Something looked a little peculiar. Dr. Katie called her
assistant over.

“Is it just me, or does that look like a … a camel to you?” she asked
incredulously.

“Matter of fact, it does,” replied the astute assistant. “And look, there’s an
angel here, a shepherd there, and down there in the colon, it’s Baby Jesus!”

At that moment the phone rang. It was the dog’s distraught owner. “I can’t
believe this! I just got home and glanced at the coffee table where I put my
manger scene yesterday. There’s nothing there but an empty stable!”

As I thought about this quite literal technique for internalizing the true meaning
of Christmas, it occurred to me that sometimes I have the opposite problem.
With all the bustling busyness, my inner joy in celebration of my savior’s birth
never really makes it to the outside.

Oh, I have plenty of glittery, festive evidences of the holiday in decorations,
baking galore, and gifts under my tree. But those things are for show. They’re
merely the pretty wrappings, not the gift itself.

Can people really see the core-deep joy that radiates within me when I think of
the true gift that Papa God sent the world in his son, Jesus? Is my immeasurable
gratitude for eternal life evident as I dash through this hectic season?

I’m afraid all too often, the answer is no.

I’m just too preoccupied to allow my outside to reflect my inside so that
nonbelievers recognize that I rejoice because of the hope that is within me. My
joy is obscured by the mounds of clutter. Gratefulness is sucked out of my soul
by the vacuum called urgency.

“But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be
filled with joy” (Psalm 68:3, NLT).

This verse has become my prayer this Christmas season – that I would make
the time to give priority to rejoicing, being glad in God’s presence, and letting
my inner joy show for those who may be silently desperate to know the giver of
true joy.

Yep, there’s a better way to internalize the gift of Christmas than the black
lab technique. We can lodge the Little Lord Jesus in our hearts rather than
our colons.

***
Debora M. Coty is a humorist, inspirational speaker, and award-winning
author of twelve books, including Too Blessed to be Stressed, and coming in
March, More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre. Debora
would love to swap Christmas hugs with you at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days of Christmas day 10



Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of
the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Simple or Sparkle?
by Tracey Eyster

It’s a simple ornament made of thin cheap metal and it looks quite out of place
on our CHRISTmas tree. But each year I lovingly and safely nestle it amongst
its expensive and sparkly peers, without a care as to how unglamorous it
appears.

Many of our CHRISTmas ornaments have a story and an uncanny way of
welling up emotion in me, but this certain one causes an intense stir.

You see the ornament is engraved with the name of my grandmother, Sara,
and was given to me by my mother, who ordered it from Hospice, after
Grandmama’s death. Yes, the months leading up to her death carry memories
of a frail and failing grandmama, but that ornament carries my thoughts to
sweet CHRISTmas memories of the past.

CHRISTmas Eve dinners in her home, laughing, singing, gathering and
celebrating a year filled with blessings as we remembered the birth of our
Savior. CHRISTmas mornings, she was always there participating with glee,
in our raucous CHRISTmas happiness. Her gifts were always bank envelopes
gently tucked into the pine needles of our CHRISTmas tree, fresh cut from the
property she grew up on.

All memories of my Grandmama make my heart swell. You see she was my
Jesus with skin on. She lived her life full of joy, serving others and approached
life selflessly with an attitude of, “What can I do for you?”

Just months before she left us, even as the Alzheimer’s was robbing her mind
she shared her love of Jesus with a sweet little old lady friend, who came to
know the Lord – a divine appointment. The very next day that little old lady
silently slipped away to meet in person the One Sara introduced her to just the
day before.

At the time I wept, realizing that regardless of our own frailties and failings,
God can still use those of us who are willing to do His work and are well
practiced at hearing His voice...no matter our lack of sparkle in comparison to
others.

A simple life lived for Him, a simple ornament in memory of Sara...a simple
truth for you to ponder.

***
Tracey Eyster wife, mom, relationship gatherer and Creator/Editor of
FamilyLife’s MomLife Today is a media savvy mom making a difference
where moms are, on-line. Through speaking, writing and video interviews
Tracey is passionate about encouraging, equipping and advising moms on
every facet of momlife. Her first book, Be The Mom will be released August
2012. You can connect with Tracey at www.momlifetoday.com, her personal
site www.traceyster.com or www.twitter/momblog.com.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Day 9

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!



Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one
of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Family Traditions: A Glimpse into Christmas Future
by Tricia Goyer

Have you ever thought about family traditions? As I helped my 1-year-old
place ornaments on the Christmas tree this year I imagined her doing the same
thing with her children—and maybe even grandchildren—one day. Traditions
are beliefs and customs handed down through generations. By sharing
meaningful moments with your kids you're sending yourself into the future.

How amazing is that?

Sharing family traditions cause us to slow down from the busy, adult world for
a while. We ignore the laundry to set out the nativity set with our kids. We set
aside time in our schedules to drive around and look at Christmas lights.

Holiday traditions aren't only fun, they also help strength family bonds.
Through traditions kids trust in the security of family unit. They think, “This is
our family and this is what I do.” Of course, the most important thing to share
isn't just what we do ... but why. Why do we put out a nativity? To remind us
the real meaning of the season—Jesus coming to earth. What do the Christmas
lights represent displayed on homes and on trees? They represent the Light of
the World, Jesus.

Using traditions to bond our families and share our faith isn't new. I love
these two Scriptures that talk about that very thing.

Exodus 12:25 says, “When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as
he promised, observe this ceremony.”

Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell
the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the
wonders he has done.”

What are you're traditions? Here are a few of ours:
Baking a Birthday cake for Jesus
Buying a new ornament every year for each child
Acting out the Christmas story (with props!)
Praying together before opening presents

What are your traditions? Write a list and appreciate them in a new way this
year. Then ask, “If I could add one new tradition this holiday season, what
would it be?” I'd love to hear what you choose! It also makes me smile to think
of your children's grandchildren doing the same.

***
Tricia Goyer is a CBA best-selling author and the winner of two Americanjavascript:void(0)
Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Awards (Night Song and
Dawn of a Thousand Nights). She co-wrote 3:16 Teen Edition with Max
Lucado and contributed to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Also a noted
marriage and parenting writer, she lives with her husband and children in
Arkansas. www.triciagoyer.com

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Day 8

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!


Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one
of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Let The Baby Grow Up This Christmas
By Shellie Tomlinson

When I was a little girl, Christmas seemed to take forever to make its way
back to our little house on the end of a dirt road called Bull Run in northeast
Louisiana. We kids started counting down the days before the leaves ever
began turning. Sure, the adults said it came once a year but I wasn't so sure.
Once Santa Claus left our humble abode it seemed like light years before he
found his way back to the Delta.

That was a child's perspective. I imagine it hasn't changed all that much for
today's kids. On the other hand, I'm operating under a completely different time
frame these days. It seems like it was just yesterday when I pulled the boxes
down from the attic and began pulling out the nativity scene, the miniature
lights, and the keepsake ornaments. And now, just that fast-- Christmas Day
is right around the corner. Soon the tree will be striped naked and the piled up
presents will all be distributed. After a few more day it'll be hard to remember
who got what from whom, and once again, I'll start packing all the decorations
away for another year.

I was thinking about how bare and cold the house always looks after the
holidays when I realized that, sadly, this scene would play itself out in many
hearts as well. A lot of people will have had expectations that weren't filled
and many of those same souls will be left with hurts that don't seem to heal.
Unless this year is remarkably different from past seasons, my bet is, the New
Year will bring magazines full of articles on combating depression and the talk
shows will have experts on offering ways to fill the long days ahead and cure
the winter blues.

I'm no expert, dear readers, but I'd like to offer you a suggestion that will go
far beyond the creature comforts of a nice warm bath or a delicious bowl of
hot soup. Your heart doesn't have to be bare and naked after the holidays. Do
you want to know the real secret? It's simple, really. Don't pack up Christ with
Christmas! As beautiful and special as the Christmas story is, it's only a part
of heaven's miracle. The Christ child grew into a man and the man became a

Savior.

This year, may we be determined to let the babe from Bethlehem live on in our
hearts. If we'll allow Him to become the Messiah He was born to be, the joy of
Christmas can be ours all year long.

***
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is an author, speaker, and radio host from
Louisiana. Her latest release Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs
Heavy was endorsed by Jeff Foxworthy as "laugh out loud funny!" You can
find Shellie's weekly southern features, podcasts, video chats and more at
http://www.allthingssouthern.com/ Make sure to get by the blog and read
about the Super Christmas Giveaway Shellie is hosting for her readers and
secure your chance to win a Mort Kunstler print valued between $700 and
$1400. www.allthingssouthern.com

POST 6 Monday 12/19 HTML – Shellie Tomlinson

Monday, December 19, 2011

Eight Ways to Beat the Blues at Christmas

Eight Ways to Beat the Blues at Christmas
By Poppy Smith

Instead of a houseful of kids and their little ones running around laughing, crying, playing with toys and sneaking treats, this year my husband, Jim, and I will be home alone for Christmas. My automatic reaction is to feel sad—but I am glad that all of them will be celebrating the coming of Jesus with their in-laws. After all, we are usually the ones who get that privilege!

But—it’s easy to be sucked down into a “poor me” mindset and play the blues, unless we decide to change our perspective. So here are eight simple ways to help you enjoy the holidays whether you’re physically or emotionally alone. Why not join me and let’s beat those blues which aren’t where God wants us at this special time of the year—or at any time!
Sing. Play music. Listen to the words and join in praising God. Singing is a guaranteed mood lifter and perspective changer. “Sing for joy to God our strength” Ps.81:1.
Smile. Smile at little children. Their harried moms. The older shoppers who are trying to find just the right present. Make smiling your chosen expression (not through gritted teeth, however!). It will make you feel so much better and maybe lift up another lonely soul.
Invite. Is there someone you haven’t had time for this past year? Could you suggest meeting for coffee, lunch, or even over to your home? Perfection isn’t needed—only a loving heart that looks beyond it’s own world.
Rest. Remember all those too early mornings when you longed to just stay in bed? Now’s your chance. Take time to read a book of the Bible or several psalms. Choose a special book, magazine, or television program. Make or buy some once in a year yummy treats and ENJOY this gift of time!
Give gifts to others. Go online and look for simple Christmas recipes. Make peppermint candy or a cranberry loaf and go drop it off at a homeless shelter or place that serves those without a home. Change your perspective from looking inward to looking outward—as God our Savior did when He gave us the most amazing gift of love any one can receive.
Write a list of your blessings. Think back over this past year. Even if it has been one of the most difficult you’ve experienced, ask God’s Spirit to show you where He was present, loving and supporting and guiding you through. He will show you something and lift your heart.
Go to a Christmas Eve Service. Even if you’re by yourself, don’t miss the presence of God amidst the beauty of this celebration. Let your senses feast on the beauty, your ears delight in the music, your heart be moved to new heights of gratitude and love.
Pray about your dreams for 2012. What do you want to see happen in the coming year? Have you thought about changes you want to make? New paths to walk? Write out what comes to mind when you think of taking better care of yourself physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. (See my video: Take Care of Yourself, …….. or check my website on the media clips page).
May your “Home Alone” Christmas fill you with joy and a fresh awareness that Christ is with you, whether you’re surrounded by people or peacefully alone.


Author Bio

Poppy Smith
With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) uses colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages women (and men, at times) to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship Lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives.
Sign up for Poppy's THRIVE newsletter at:
http://www.poppysmith.com/newsletters.htm

12 Days of Christmas Day 7

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!



Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one
of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

The Snowflake Party
By Deborah Raney

The first snow of winter hasn’t fallen yet, but in our kitchen tonight we’re
doing a pretty good imitation. The whole family is circled around the huge old
oak table. The snip, snip, snip of scissors is background music as tiny scraps of
white paper float down, making our floor look like a giant brownie sprinkled
with powdered sugar.

Tonight has turned out to be the night for our annual Snowflake Party, a
tradition that began when our children were toddlers. There has never been
a date blocked out in red on our calendar, but one day we wake up and the
brisk autumn air has turned bitter cold. Naked tree branches trace their stark

calligraphy on a dull grey sky and we need a taste of the joyful promises of
Christmas and snow. It’s the perfect time for a party.

On such a day, one of the kids will fly in the back door, fresh home from
school, and declare “Hey, Mom! Tonight would be a good night for the
Snowflake Party!” First we round up every pair of scissors in the house. This
is one time when sharing is not a virtue. While the kids search for scissors, I
cut white paper into squares and fold them caddy-corner multiple times. The
resulting triangles are artfully arranged in a basket, awaiting the beginning of
the party.

Later, while the supper dishes dry on the counter, I recruit a volunteer to help
me stir up a big pot of hot cocoa. For the next hour it will warm on the back
burner, tantalizing us with its aroma.

Now the fun begins with careful cutting and snipping, shaping plain white
paper into intricate works of art. Each snowflake we create seems as unique and
spectacular as the genuine variety created by God himself. As each masterpiece
is unfolded, collective oohs and aahs go up.

When the last dregs of our creative juices are drained, Dad oversees the
vacuum patrol while I pour cocoa into generous mugs. We spread our
handiwork on the floor around us and sit, quietly admiring our work while we
dunk marshmallows and sip rich chocolate.

With empty mugs piled up in the sink, it’s time for the judging to begin. There
will be awards for ‘prettiest’, ‘most unusual’, and as many other categories as
we need for everyone to be a winner. Dad is the judge because he studied art in
college. He also usually wins one of the top prizes––because he studied art in
college.

Snowflakes deemed runners-up might be pasted in scrapbooks or hung on the
refrigerator. A few even “melt” into the trash that very night. But the winners
are taped proudly to the picture windows in the living room for passersby to
enjoy while they long for the day when genuine snowflakes will color the
world clean and white.

Our oldest daughter went away to college last September. She called just after
Thanksgiving to tell me that her dorm window was covered with snowflakes.
No, not the real thing, but the ones she remembers from her childhood––paper
ones that she spent an entire evening cutting and snipping while sipping hot

cocoa.

That’s the neat thing about traditions: They go with us no matter how far
from home we travel.

***
DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide
Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award,
ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award,
Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. After All, third in
her Hanover Falls Novels series will release next spring from Howard/Simon
& Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in
Kansas. Their four children are grown now and having snowflake parties with
their own children––and they all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the web
at www.deborahraney.com.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Day 6

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!


Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one
of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***

Why I Decorate for Christmas
By Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser

An old cassette tape of Christmas carols—received in a package twenty years
ago when we had first arrived in France as missionaries—fills our den with
delightful piano music as I place one more ornament on the already over-laden
Christmas tree. This one is a little white wooden rabbit with pink ears that
move back and forth. It actually doesn’t look much like a Christmas ornament,
but I bought it for our baby Andrew when my husband Paul was in seminary,
and I was working for less than minimum wage in the library. This ornament
was literally all I could afford.

As I hang it on the tree today, I get goose bumps and then a rush of
warmth. And that’s why I decorate for Christmas. Not to impress but to
remember. I remember those lean, lean years, and God’s faithful provision for
us.

There are the cross-stitched ornaments I made our first year in Montpellier—
for the boys (for by now we had two sons) and Paul and me. How I ever had
time to do that, I don’t know. I remember our puny little tree—the kind they
sold in France back then—in a pot so that it could be replanted later. We
perched that tiny tree on a small table out of baby Christopher’s reach. I guess
I watered it too much, because about halfway through December, it started
smelling and then stinking, and it rotted there on Christmas Day!

I smile with these memories.

I look at the other ornaments on the tree. Many were purchased—one for each
boy—when we attended conferences around Europe, and that makes me smile
too. Getting to travel on a missionary’s budget to exotic places! There are the
waxed red bear and red baby carriage from Wales, the brightly painted clay sun
and moon from Portugal, the blue and white porcelain windmill and wooden
shoes from Holland, the hand-blown glass Snoopys sitting on gondolas from
Venice, and the delicately decorated eggs from Prague.

Other ornaments include the little pinkish shiny ball ornament with Paul’s
name written in glitter—I think he made it when he was about six , and the
little red velvet bows, bought at Michael’s after Christmas one year for a
dollar. They bring a unifying theme to the tree. I say this, smiling, because
our tree is, and has always been throughout the years, a hodge-podge of

our life. And I like it that way. I don’t think I could ever have a ‘theme’
tree. Mine is a ‘memory’ tree.

The music plays softly in the background and I smile through tears,
remembering God’s incredible faithfulness to call and keep us here in France
for so many years. Heart-breakingly hard years, overwhelmingly joyful
years—the same years, the same amazing God, our keeper.

Before we left for the mission field, I memorized Psalm 121 in English and in
French, and over the years I have held on tight to those last beautiful words of
the psalm: The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this
time forth and forever. (NASB)

Of course He will. He is God with us.

We decorate to remember Christmases past, our lives, our legacy, and mostly,
for those of us who have embraced Christ, we decorate to honor and praise Him
for coming to us—Emmanuel! We make our homes ready to receive the Christ
Child, with soft music and candles burning and the sweet flickering of angel
wings on an over-laden evergreen.

***
ELIZABETH GOLDSMITH MUSSER, an Atlanta native and the
bestselling author of The Swan House, is a novelist who writes what she
calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’ For over twenty years, Elizabeth and
her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with International
Teams. They presently live near Lyon, France. The Mussers have two sons and
a daughter-in-law. The Sweetest Thing (Bethany House, 2011) is Elizabeth’s
eighth novel. To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, and to find
discussion questions as well as photos of sites mentioned in the stories, please
visit www.elizabethmusser.com and her Facebook Fan Page.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Days of Christmas day 5

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!



Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one
of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Where is Comfort and Joy Found?
By Sandy Ralya

The year 2006 ushered unwelcome emotions into my life. My husband was
unhappy in his job, two of my grown children were making poor choices, my
mother-in-law was showing signs of Alzheimer’s, extended-family issues were
surfacing, and I was writing a book. Things only got worse. Much worse.

Early in 2007, I was asked to represent the mentoring ministry for wives I
founded, Beautiful Womanhood, and lead a women’s conference in Uganda,
Africa. My husband wasn’t sure if traveling to Africa was a good idea, so
we committed it to prayer. While we were listening for an answer, I sensed
God asking me to fast from spending, except for groceries, for thirty days.
Sometimes you know that you’ve heard God’s voice because you’d never
have come up with those words on your own. This was one of those times.
I’d never heard of a fast from spending. Tom needed no convincing that a fast
from spending came directly from the mouth of God. He still gets excited just
thinking about it!

During the fast, it became clear I had used spending as a way to gain a comfort

fix. When I was spending money, I felt carefree and lighthearted. Instead of
dwelling on the unpleasantness in my life, I was thinking of my purchases and
how they would bring me pleasure. Not until I stopped spending did I realize
how short-lived the fix really was. During the fast, when I felt the urge to
spend—to anesthetize my pain—I pictured myself running into the arms of
Jesus, the Great Comforter. Oh, what comfort I received!

One night, I told good friends my experience of gaining comfort through the
power of the Holy Spirit rather than money. I exclaimed that I had never felt
so comforted. One friend then told us about a dream he’d had shortly after
hearing about the invitation from Uganda. After the dream, he had awoken and
recorded the following thoughts:

“. . . this is for Sandy. Christ’s redemption of women is beautiful. Beautiful
Womanhood is a result of redemptive wholeness. The visuals the ministry uses
on the books, etc., are like a piece of beautifully veneered furniture. There is
something going on with the ministry to the brokenness of abused women. In
Uganda, there are hurting, abused women, and something is connecting their
need and Beautiful Womanhood. Though there is nothing wrong with veneer, it
is only the topping—the covering, and without good structure it is shallow and
will not hold up. It is time to add a new depth to the ministry.”

Then these verses came to my friend’s mind:

All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of
every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles
so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to
give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more
we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through
Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NL

When my friend was finished sharing, everyone in the room broke down in
tears, praising God for His work in my life. I’d learned to listen and God had
spoken. I’d obeyed, and He’d acted. When He acted, I was changed.

Needless to say, I packed my bags and experienced some of the best days of my
life in Uganda—offering God’s comfort to His troubled women.

***
Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980 and live near
Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have three adult children and a growing

number of grandchildren. When not writing and speaking, Sandy enjoys
shopping at yard sales for vintage clothing, cooking, travelling, and drinking
really good coffee (black is best) with her husband. For more information,
contact Sandy at sandy@beautifulwomanhood.com. Subscribe to Sandy’s blog
at www.beautifulwomanhood.com/blog. Find Sandy on Facebook at Beautiful
Womanhood. Follow Sandy on Twitter @MentoringWives.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas, Day 4

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!


Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one
of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Where is Comfort and Joy Found?
By Sandy Ralya

The year 2006 ushered unwelcome emotions into my life. My husband was
unhappy in his job, two of my grown children were making poor choices, my
mother-in-law was showing signs of Alzheimer’s, extended-family issues were
surfacing, and I was writing a book. Things only got worse. Much worse.

Early in 2007, I was asked to represent the mentoring ministry for wives I
founded, Beautiful Womanhood, and lead a women’s conference in Uganda,
Africa. My husband wasn’t sure if traveling to Africa was a good idea, so
we committed it to prayer. While we were listening for an answer, I sensed
God asking me to fast from spending, except for groceries, for thirty days.
Sometimes you know that you’ve heard God’s voice because you’d never
have come up with those words on your own. This was one of those times.
I’d never heard of a fast from spending. Tom needed no convincing that a fast
from spending came directly from the mouth of God. He still gets excited just
thinking about it!

During the fast, it became clear I had used spending as a way to gain a comfort

fix. When I was spending money, I felt carefree and lighthearted. Instead of
dwelling on the unpleasantness in my life, I was thinking of my purchases and
how they would bring me pleasure. Not until I stopped spending did I realize
how short-lived the fix really was. During the fast, when I felt the urge to
spend—to anesthetize my pain—I pictured myself running into the arms of
Jesus, the Great Comforter. Oh, what comfort I received!

One night, I told good friends my experience of gaining comfort through the
power of the Holy Spirit rather than money. I exclaimed that I had never felt
so comforted. One friend then told us about a dream he’d had shortly after
hearing about the invitation from Uganda. After the dream, he had awoken and
recorded the following thoughts:

“. . . this is for Sandy. Christ’s redemption of women is beautiful. Beautiful
Womanhood is a result of redemptive wholeness. The visuals the ministry uses
on the books, etc., are like a piece of beautifully veneered furniture. There is
something going on with the ministry to the brokenness of abused women. In
Uganda, there are hurting, abused women, and something is connecting their
need and Beautiful Womanhood. Though there is nothing wrong with veneer, it
is only the topping—the covering, and without good structure it is shallow and
will not hold up. It is time to add a new depth to the ministry.”

Then these verses came to my friend’s mind:

All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of
every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles
so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to
give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more
we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through
Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NL

When my friend was finished sharing, everyone in the room broke down in
tears, praising God for His work in my life. I’d learned to listen and God had
spoken. I’d obeyed, and He’d acted. When He acted, I was changed.

Needless to say, I packed my bags and experienced some of the best days of my
life in Uganda—offering God’s comfort to His troubled women.

***
Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980 and live near
Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have three adult children and a growing

number of grandchildren. When not writing and speaking, Sandy enjoys
shopping at yard sales for vintage clothing, cooking, travelling, and drinking
really good coffee (black is best) with her husband. For more information,
contact Sandy at sandy@beautifulwomanhood.com. Subscribe to Sandy’s blog
at www.beautifulwomanhood.com/blog. Find Sandy on Facebook at Beautiful
Womanhood. Follow Sandy on Twitter @MentoringWives.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Days of Christmas day 3




Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450
value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one
of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Advent By Sibella Giorello

Consider the bride's walk down the aisle. We all know where that woman in the
white is going but somehow waiting for her to arrive at the altar is an essential
part of the ceremony. In fact, the waiting is so essential that even cheapskate
Vegas chapels include wedding marches.

Why?

Because the wait adds meaning to the moment.

At Christmas time, we tend to forget this essential truth about anticipation.
We're lost to shopping malls and checklists, rushing toward December 25th so
quickly that we forget the quiet joy of the month's other 24 days -- and then we
wonder why we feel so empty on the 26th, amid ribbons and wrapping paper
and our best intentions.

Because the wait adds meaning to the moment.

And that is why Advent is so important to Christmas.

I'm as guilty as the next harried person. This Advent was particularly tricky
because just six hours before it started, I was still trying to finish a 110,000-
word novel that was written over the course of the year -- written while
homeschooling my kids, keeping my hubby happy, and generally making sure
the house didn't fall down around us.

It's an understatement to say my free time is limited. But waiting adds
meaning, and Advent is crucial to Christmas, so I've devised several
Advent traditions that are simple, powerful and easy to keep even amid the
seasonal rush.

When my kids outgrew the simple Advent calendars around age 7, I stole an

idea from my writer friend Shelly Ngo (as T.S. Eliot said, "Mediocre writers
borrow. Great writers steal." Indulge me.)

Here's how it goes: Find 24 great Christmas books, wrap them individually
and place then under the tree. On the first day of Advent, take turns picking
which book to open. When we did this, we would cuddle under a blanket and
read aloud -- oh, the wonder, the magic! We savored "The Polar Express,"
howled with "How Murray Saved Christmas," and fell silent at the end of "The
Tale of The Three Trees" (note: some of the picture books I chose were not
explicitly about Christmas but they always echoed the message that Jesus
came to earth to save us from ourselves and to love us beyond our wildest
imagination. In that category, Angela Hunt's retelling of The Three Trees
definitely hits the Yuletide bull's eye).

This Advent tradition lasted for about five years. It gave us rich daily
discussions about the season's real meaning, without being religious or
legalistic, and it increased family couch time. But like the lift-the-flap
calendars, my kids outgrew the picture books.

Because the wait adds meaning, and Advent is crucial, I prayed for another way
to celebrate anticipation of Christmas. By the grace of God, last year I found an
enormous Advent calendar on clearance at Pottery Barn. Made of burlap, it has
large pockets big enough to hold some serious bounty.

But my husband and I didn't want the kids focusing only on the materialist stuff
for Advent -- we already fight that on Christmas day. We decided to fill the
daily pockets with simple necessities and small gift cards. We also printed out
the nativity story from Luke 2:1-21 in a large-sized font and cut each verse out.
From Day 1 to Day 21, there is one verse to read aloud. The kids memorize it,
then get to open their present (again, on alternating days for each person). Then
we tape the verse to the wall in order. By Day 22, all the verses are on the wall,
in order, and the kids now try to recite the entire nativity story from memory.
That's not as difficult as it sounds because they've been memorizing one verse
each day. Still, the entire recitation -- verbatim -- usually requires Day 23 and
Day 24. Whoever does memorize the entire thing -- without mistakes -- earns a
bonus gift of $25.

Does that sounds extravagant?

It is.

Because we want our kids to understand that God came down and humbled
himself and taught us about love right before He suffered and died on behalf of
the undeserving -- which is every one of us.

"That's" extravagant.

And in the waiting, we find even more meaning.

***
Sibella Giorello writes the Raleigh Harmon mystery series which won
the Christy Award with its first book "The Stones Cry Out." She lives in
Washington state with her husband and children, and often wishes there were
36 hours in a day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas, Day 2

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!




Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved
writer's (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson,
Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as
each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during
this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun ... there's also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form}
and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450

value). Contest runs 12/14 - 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only
open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl
Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A Christmas of Kindness
By Suzanne Woods Fisher

"You can give without loving, but you can¹t love without giving." Amish
proverb

I do it every year.

I plan for a simpler, less stressful Christmas season and, every year, by
Christmas EveŠI'm exhausted! After our delicious and very-time-consuming-
to-make traditional Swedish meal to honor my husband¹s relatives (think:
Vikings), it's time to head to church. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the last
few Christmas Eve's, I have sent my husband and kids head off without me.
The pull to spend an hour of quiet in the house feels as strong as a magnet.

It's odd. My children are young adults now. Wouldn't you think that Christmas
would be simpler? Instead, it's just the opposite. Jugging schedules to share
the grandbaby with the in-laws, trying to include our elderly parents at the
best time of day for them, dancing carefully around recently divorced family
members whose children are impacted by the shards of broken relationships.

The thing is: you can simplify your to-do list, but you can't really simplify
people. We are just a complicated bunch.
Here's where I borrow a lesson about simplicity from the Amish. It's easy to get
distracted with the buggies and the bonnets and the beards, but there's so much
more to learn from these gentle people if you're willing to look a little deeper.

Yes, they live with less "stuff" and that does make for a simpler, less cluttered
life. But it's the reason behind it that is so compelling to me: they seek to create
margin in their life. Not just empty space‹ but space that is available to nourish

family, community, and faith. Their Christmas is far less elaborate than yours
or mine, but what they do fill it with is Š so right.
oh

Christmas comes quietly on an Amish farmhouse. There is no outward sign of
the holiday as we know it: no bright decorations, no big tree in the living room
corner. A few modest gifts are waiting for children at their breakfast place
settings, covered by a dishtowel. Waiting first for Dad to read the story of
Christ's birth from the book of Luke. Waiting until after a special breakfast has
been enjoyed. Waiting until Mom and Dad give the signal that the time has
come for gifts.

Later, if Christmas doesn't fall on a Sunday, extended family and friends will
gather for another big meal. If time and weather permits, the late afternoon
will be filled with ice skating or sledding. And more food! Always, always an
abundance of good food. Faith, family, and community. That is the focus of an
Amish Christmas.

And it's also how the story begins for A Lancaster County Christmas, as a
young family prepares for Christmas. A winter storm blows a non-Amish
couple, Jaime and C.J. Fitzpatrick, off-course and into the Riehl farmhouse. An
unlikely and tentative friendship develops, until the one thing Mattie and Sol
hold most dear disappears and thenŠ Ah, but you¹ll just have to read the story
.
to find out what happens next. Without giving anything away, I will say that
I want to create a Mattie-inspired margin this Christmas season. Mattie knew
inconveniences and interruptions that come in the form of people (big ones and
little ones!) are ordained by God. And blessed by God.

Creating margin probably means that I won't get Christmas cards out until the
end of January, and my house won't be uber-decorated. After all, something
has to give. But it will mean I make time for a leisurely visit with my dad at his
Alzheimer's facility. And time to volunteer in the church nursery for a holiday-
crowded event. And time to invite a new neighbor over for coffee. Hopefully, it
will mean that my energy won't get diverted by a frantic, self-imposed agenda.
Only by God's agenda‹ the essence of true simplicity.

And that includes taking time to worship Christ's coming at the Christmas Eve
service. You can hold me accountable! This year, I will be there.

***

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting,
The Search, and The Keeper, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish,

including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly
traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order
German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne
is a Christy Award nominee and is the host of an internet radio show called
Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in
California. www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 days of Christmas

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Pearl Girls™ 12 Pearls of
Christmas blogging series!


We've gathered several of today's most beloved authors to share their
Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along beginning tomorrow
(Wednesday the 14th) through Christmas day as Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods

Fisher, Rachel Hauck, Sandy Ralya, Sibella Giorello, Susan May Warren and
more, share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this
most wonderful time of the year.

If you'd like to share the 12 Pearls of Christmas with your blog readers
too, just email Christen and she'll send you the series.

AND of course there is a giveaway! Beginning tomorrow you and all your
friends can enter to win a PEARL NECKLACE and EARRINGS valued at
$450! The winner will be announced on New Year's Day! Pearls - a tangible
reminder of God's grace to us all.

***
Just a quick note before the series begins on the 14th ...

As I write this, I imagine that we are sitting at my kitchen table and chatting
over a cup of coffee while familiar Christmas carols celebrate the Season. My
twelve year old Chihuahua, Pongo, barks for a pinch of pound cake while my
Shih Tzu, Lilly, patiently sits by the chair and waits for a crumb to fall.

My name is not Martha Stewart, and I will never receive a neighborhood
beautification award. Just look at my front stoop. Yes, my never-had-time-to-
carve-the-pumpkin-that-now-suffers-from-frostbite slouches next to the front
door which is decorated with a Christmas wreath. I plan to roll this large orange
ornament to the garbage pile tomorrow. For now, however, I will pretend that
my front stoop is a contemplative modern art exhibit capturing the essence of
contrast.

Actually, I love the concept of juxtaposition – placing things together that don’t
seem to belong together, yet somehow ultimately make sense being paired. A
personal example for me this season is the phrase: “comfort and joy.” Having
just completed my manuscript for New Hope Publishers about the aftermath
of grief, I fully understand the contrast of those two words. How can comfort
bring joy? How can one find joy in loss?

Perhaps, dear reader, you have experienced loss this year – loss of a loved one,
loss of friendship, loss of health, loss of financial security, loss of trust, loss of
love, or loss of direction. Even with the best intent, words of encouragement
shared by others can somehow seem insufficient to address an inconsolable
loss. A spoken word cannot fully restore joy to a broken heart; however the
Word can. And that’s the bottom line message of Christmas! God gave us the

most amazing gift: His Son - the Word of God, the Holy Comforter.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that
whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.”
(John 3:16).

You are not alone this Christmas, dear friend. Juxtaposed to the unexpected
grit in life is the gift of God’s grace wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying
in a manger. This year I purposely placed a pearl in the Nativity scene as a
metaphoric reminder. When we place our grit into the hands of the Lord, His
grace transforms our pain into a pearl.

“Joy to the world!”

Thank you so very much for sharing the JOY of the Season with us this year.

God Bless,
Margaret
@mcsweeny

***
Margaret McSweeney lives with her husband, David and two teenage
daughters in the Chicago suburbs. She is the founder and director of Pearl
Girls. For more information please visit www.pearlgirls.info. Margaret is fast
at work on several fiction manuscripts. Her book Pearl Girls: Encountering
Grit, Experiencing Grace was written to help fund the Pearl Girl Charities. She
is also the host of weekly radio show, Kitchen Chat. Connect with Margaret
on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Surrendered Sleep


He Sees You When You’re Sleepin’...
By Dr. Charles W. Page

Do you recall trying to sleep on Christmas Eve while waiting for Santa to come to town? The anticipation of Saint Nicolas and all his goodies was just too much—who could sleep? The lyrics of Santa Claus is Coming to Town taunted me. “He sees you when you’re sleeping—he knows when you’re awake…” I tossed and turned trying to fall asleep, fearful I’d miss out on Santa’s visit if he caught me awake. I never doubted Santa’s ability to be aware of my wakefulness.

Unfortunately, as adults, the issues that keep us awake during the Christmas season are more complicated than those we experienced as kids. Financial burdens, strained relationships, difficult decisions, brooding regrets and fretful thoughts race through our minds and hinder our rest.

There is someone who “sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake.” It’s not Santa Claus. The Bible reminds us, God’s eyes never close. Perhaps this truth can tuck us in for the night.

“He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

We erroneously think that as we “turn in” that God somehow “turns off” or moves on to do more important things. But God doesn’t wait for us to wake up before He returns to work. God is just as active during our sleep—or sleeplessness. Believers can rest assured knowing God is awake guarding our lives.

What does God do as we slumber? Psalm 127:1-2 reminds us that God gives to those that He loves as they sleep. What does God give? Understanding God’s generous nature, one rendering would be that God gives to the believer whatever is needed at the time. God can give you wisdom and direction with decisions as you “sleep on it” overnight (Psalm 16:7, James 1:5). Maybe there is a financial need. The scriptures are filled with examples of how God provided for the physical needs of those He loved as they rested (I Kings 19:1-8; Exodus 16:1-8).

God’s gifts are good, perfect (James 1:17), eternal (Ephesians 1:3) and purposeful (Galatians 5:22-25). They do not require batteries, warranties and cannot be purchased in stores. But they are available 24/7/365—not limited to one night each year. God’s greatest gift did not arrive under a tree but on a tree (John 3:16). “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

It’s plain to see, God has our back as we sleep. Try this Christmas recipe for rest.
Repent—in areas where we are aware of our transgressions. “A clean conscience
makes a soft pillow.”
Release—control of problems you’re facing and give them over to God.
Relate—connect with God through prayer and meditation while in bed.
Rest—allow God to do what you cannot do for yourself as you sleep.
Receive—God’s unmerited forgiveness, grace and blessings while you sleep.
An English proverb reminds us, “As you make your bed so you must lie in it.” The truth of God’s Word helps us face our situations. Although we cannot change the failures of our past, we can rest with a clean conscience based on God’s gift of forgiveness. Our current circumstances may appear overwhelming, but God gives His presence and His guidance in our hour of need. Our future is secure and hopeful when God’s greatest gift—His Son—is kept in view. A life supported by a vibrant, healthy relationship with the Shepherd of Sleep makes the most comfortable mattress. In childlike faith learn to trust Him as you lie down to sleep and remember: “He sees you when you’re sleeping.”


Author Bio

Charles W. Page, M.D.
Dr. Charles W. Page is a sleep-deprived surgeon who completed medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Page is currently a rural surgeon and has taken numerous medical mission trips to South America and the Middle East. He and his wife Joanna live in Texas with their five children. He is the author of Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective. You can find more information at surrenderedsleep.com.






Surrendered Sleep
A Biblical Perspective
by Dr. Charles W. Page

PUBLISHER: Camino Real Publishers
ISBN-10: 0983138109
ISBN-13: 978-0983138105
PRICE: Paperback: $14.95; Ebook: $10.95

Available at:
Amazon
Surrendered Sleep

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dutch Apple Pie Jam Recipe

What You Need

4 cups prepared fruit (about 1 lb. Granny Smith or other tart green apples)
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Ground allspice
1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. Butter or margarine (optional)
4 cups granulated sugar, measured into separate bowl (See tip below.)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Make It


BRING boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

PEEL and core apples; finely chop or grind. Add water and raisins. Measure exactly 4 cups into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice.

STIR pectin into fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

STIR in all sugars quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon

LADLE quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; add boiling water if needed. Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

What You Need4 cups prepared fruit (about 1 lb. Granny Smith or other tart green apples) 1-1/4 cups water 1/2 cup raisins 2 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice 1 tsp. Ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp. Ground allspice 1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin 1/2 tsp. Butter or margarine (optional) 4 cups granulated sugar, measured into separate bowl (See tip below.) 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar Make It
BRING boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

PEEL and core apples; finely chop or grind. Add water and raisins. Measure exactly 4 cups into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice.

STIR pectin into fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

STIR in all sugars quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon

LADLE quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; add boiling water if needed. Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

recipe from Carrie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Decorating for Christmas



A Classic Christmas Tabletop -
The Inspired Way...
By Roxanne Hughes Packham



Have you ever just been at a standstill when trying to do aunique Christmas tabletop for your family and friends at Christmas time? Here are some tips from Roxanne Hughes Packham, co-author of Inspired Design that should make it much easier! Check out her blog if you’d like to see coordinating pictures to go with the ideas. www.InspiredDesignPublications.blogspot.com



Before you get started remember: Do not underestimate the power of your home, nor its ability to change lives. Do not underestimate the power of one tiny, seemingly insignificant, act of kindness. A welcoming smile, a cup of hot tea and an hour in a cozy nook spent listening to a friend can be life-altering. Your home is a significant part of the way people will be touched, by God, through you this Christmas season. God uses us as his hands! Your table is the means through which you can touch others by setting the stage for memories to be made.


A classic Christmas tabletop has to have red and green, plaidand sparkle, inspiration and encouragement. The red and green is an obvious choice, however sometimes it is easier than we make it. Collect red and/or green fruits and keep a glass bowl of them in a prominent place in the kitchen. You can add a few springs of ivy or pine to get really festive. Candies, such as M&Ms, come in red and green packages and in silver bowls makes any setting looks seasonal. Add red plates and greenery from your yard to complete the look.


Since Christmas is the one time we’re all into plaid, use it on your tabletop! You can tie it onto a pretty cross (see pictures on blog) onto the top of a candlestick and make a beautiful statement about the meaning of Christmas while pleasing the eye with the sparkle of the candles! Tall candles in the center looks perfect, adding shorter candles towards the two ends allow guests to be able to see over the candles for conversation. Small votives add sparkle and a feeling of warmth and coziness. You can use a plaid scarf, runner or piece of fabric draped diagonally across the table for an overall Christmas look, while allowing the beauty of the wood tabletop (or glass) to show through.

Lastly, and most importantly, the "Inspired" part of the table top design. Warming the souls of those within your home is perhaps the most important part of hospitality and the reason in Romans 12:13 we are told to Practice Hospitality. The easiest way to do this is keep a couple of framed quotes on the central part of the table, one towards either end. Not only can you do place cards with just names but think of an encouraging scripture or quote that reminds you of your guest or something that might encourage or inspire them. Praying over whatever is going on in a person’s life, not only releases the power of prayer, but lets them know you have been thinking of them and remembering their needs. In this time in our culture, what could be more inspiring!

God bless and be encouraged! Hospitality can change our world one life at a time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gift guide for men

Ladies, with the holidays coming, this is going to be a big help in selecting that special gift for the man in your life!

Rule #1:
When in doubt - buy him a cordless drill. It does not matter if he already has one. I have a friend who owns 17 and he has yet to complain. As a man, you can never have too many cordless drills. No one knows why.

Rule #2:
If you cannot afford a cordless drill, buy him anything with the word ratchet or socket in it. Men love saying those two words. "Hey George, can I borrow your ratchet?" "OK. By-the-way, are you through with my 3/8-inch
socket yet?" Again, no one knows why.

Rule #3:
If you are really, really broke, buy him anything for his car. A 99-cent ice scraper, a small bottle of deicer or something to hang from his rear view mirror. Men love gifts for their cars. No one knows why.

Rule #4:
Do not buy men socks. Do not buy men ties. And never buy men bathrobes. I was told that if God had wanted men to wear bathrobes, He wouldn't have invented Jockey shorts.

Rule #5:
You can buy men new remote controls to replace the ones they have worn out. If you have a lot of money buy your man a big-screen TV with the little picture in the corner. Watch him go wild as he flips, and flips, and flips.

Rule #6:
Rope. Men love rope. It takes us back to our cowboy origins, or at least The Boy Scouts. Nothing says love like a hundred feet of 3/8" manila rope. No one knows why.

Rule #7:
Do not buy any man industrial-sized canisters of after-shave or deodorant. I'm told they do not stink - they are earthy.

Rule #8:
Buy men label makers. Almost as good as cordless drills. Within a couple of weeks there will be labels absolutely everywhere. Socks. Shorts. Cups. Saucers. Door. Lock. Sink. You get the idea. No one knows why.

Rule #9:
Never buy a man anything that says "some assembly required" on the box. It will ruin his Special Day and he will always have parts left over.

Rule #10:
Good places to shop for men include Northwest Iron Works, A Lumber Company, Home Depot, John Deere, Valley RV Center, and Les Schwab Tire. (NAPA Auto Parts and Sears' Clearance Centers are also excellent men's stores. It doesn't matter if he doesn't know what it is. "From NAPA Auto, eh? Must be something I need. Hey! Isn't this a starter for a '68 Ford Fairlane? Wow! Thanks.")

Rule #11:
Men enjoy danger. That's why they never cook - but they will barbecue. Get him a monster barbecue with a 100-pound propane tank. Tell him the gas line leaks. "Oh the thrill! The challenge! Who wants a hamburger?"

Rule #12:
Tickets to a Hocky/Football/Basketball/Baseball game are a smart gift. However, he will not appreciate tickets to "A Retrospective of 19th Century Quilts." Everyone knows why.

Rule #13:
Men love chainsaws. Never, ever, buy a man you love a chainsaw. If you don't know why - please refer to Rule #8 and what happens when he gets a label maker.

Rule #14:
It's hard to beat a really good wheelbarrow or an aluminum extension ladder. Never buy a real man a step ladder. It must be an extension ladder. No one knows why.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind
By Linda Rondeau

I gasped as the gigantic mound stepped from the woods into our path, heads taller than our compact car. My husband swerved and we missed the animal by inches. “Was that a moose?” my husband asked.

I laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“My heroine’s life is changed when she runs into a moose.”

We both giggled over God’s sense of humor.

That we found ourselves on the back roads of Franklin County at four in the morning was in and of itself God’s doing. I hadn’t planned on attending the ACFW Writers Conference in Minneapolis. “If I final in the contest then I’ll go,” I told my husband.

I did final, and my words haunted me. And so once again God changed my plans to fit into His. In rural upstate New York, flight connections often require a pre-dawn departure, and we had taken the country road to save time.

I shared my moose tale with a writer friend who laughed her prophecy. “That moose was a smile from God. He has plans for this manuscript.”

As time went on, God continued to smile affirmation after affirmation even through a dramatic relocation to Florida. Then, eleven years from the day that I felt God’s call to write professionally, my agent called with the news—a publisher had offered a contract. “It’s for Dawn’s Hope, but the editor wants to change the title to The Other Side of Darkness,” she said.

I did agree the alternate title sounded better and trusted the editor’s choice.

Yet, it wasn’t until later that God revealed His hand had been in the making of the book long before the first words were typed, long before I imagined my character’s accident, long before He sent a moose to confirm He would soon fulfill a promise made to me over a decade ago.

During a speaking engagement at a local women’s meeting, I shared my journey from call to call, reading a poem I wrote that very day God pulled me from one life to set me on another, one undefined and uncertain. I had obeyed His leading and He immediately gave me a poem, “The Song of Peace.” As I shared the poem with the women’s group, my eyes misted when I read the line, “Praise the Lord when Hope seems foolish…There is light on the other side of darkness.”

Could it be that even then, God was smiling on a book not yet imagined? I believe He did.


Author Bio

Linda Rondeau
Award-winning author, LINDA RONDEAU, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community. Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com.






The Other Side of Darkness
by Linda Rondeau

PUBLISHER: Harbourlight Books
ISBN-10: 161116138X
ISBN-13: 978-1611161380
PRICE: Paperback: $16.99, Kindle: $5.99

Available at:
Pelican Book Group
Amazon
"Close Encounters of the Moose Kind" is loaded at docstoc.com.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New books releasing in December

Below is a list of the new releases for ACFW authors. Much good reading to add to your Christmas shopping list!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW FictionFinder website.

An Amish Wedding by Beth Wiseman -- Romance from Thomas Nelson; Pricilla's upcoming wedding is stirring up trouble - and romance - in Paradise.

Christmas Pearl by Robin L. Bayne -- Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican). Joe Gardner never expected to see Elizabeth again, not after the part she'd played in ruining his life. Refusing to believe she now shares his faith, Joe tosses aside her efforts to apologize. But when they are forced to work together in the midst of the Christmas season, Joe has to face the truth about Elizabeth, and himself.

Daddy’s Little Matchmakers by Kathleen Y'Barbo -- Romance from Love Inspired -- Wanted: Wife And Mother. Veterinarian Eric Wilson is confounded by the classified ad his three young daughters have placed. The handsome widower is not in the market for a bride!

Death in Dahlonega by Deborah Malone -- A Mystery from Lamp Post Inc.. A vacation with a friend should never include murder and mayhem.

Gold, Frankincense, and Murder by Barbara Early -- Romance/Mystery from White Rose Publishing (Pelican); A missing coworker. A brawny sidekick. Sometimes the holidays can be murder.

His Holiday Family by Margaret Daley, -- Romance from Love Inspired. In the aftermath of a hurricane, will Kathleen Hart and Gideon O'Brien, two scarred people, find hope and love?

Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland by Roseanna M. White -- Romance from Summerside Press. In 1784 peace has been declared, but war still rages in the heart of Lark Benton.

Polar Bear Plunge by Linda Glaz -- Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican). Aleni Callan can’t accept that God allowed her husband to die in Afghanistan while war hero, Brice Taylor, returns from Iraq to cheers and fame and feelings that he somehow failed. Neither can accept that one man lived and one man died.

Replication by Jill Williamson -- Young Adult from Zondervan; A girl discovers her biologist father is covering up multiple secrets—all of which are named Jason.

Savanna’s Gift by Camille Eide -- Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican); When Savanna gets a second chance at the love of her life, will her dream that once divided them get in the way?

Small-Town Sweethearts by Jean C. Gordon-- Romance from Love Inspired; With the help of God and the love of Drew Stacey, a down-sized Wall Street analyst turned church camp manager, NYC assistant art director and former town misfit Emily, ne Jinx, Hazard finds the thing she wants most in the place she least wants to be — Paradox Lake.

Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt -- Romance from Thomas Nelson; When a failed logging company threatens their town's survival, four friends devise a plan to turn Smitten, Vermont, into the country's premier romantic getaway.

The Christmas Witness by Susan Sleeman-- Thriller Suspense from Love Inspired; Can a former FBI agent let go of the devastating loss of his wife to cancer in order to save a critically ill child and her mother from a ruthless criminal?

Tracks in the Snow by Sandra Hesch-- General Fiction from Lamp Post Inc.; Jo Bremley feared losing her husband to World War II, but when a snowstorm rips apart her storybook world, how can she heal her broken heart, and move on?