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A Carol of Christmas

A Carol of Christmas

 

Silent Night, Holy Night. All is Calm, all is Bright…


Are you humming the tune to yourself? It’s the ultimate Christmas song, isn’t it?

What is it about this hymn that speaks so well to that deep place in our souls?

Maybe it’s the image the words invoke – the stable, the joyful receiving of a newborn baby, the night filled with stars –

Maybe it’s the nostalgia. How many Christmases have you sung this song at a Candlelight Service at church? How many idle moments spent humming the tune?

Just hearing the opening bars takes me back to a cold Christmas Eve at least sixty years ago and a snowflake-filled sky. The hymn spans the time and brings that scene to mind once more.

A Carol of Christmas

 
It’s all of that, isn’t it? 
But when I think of this Christmas hymn, it is the poetry that speaks to my heart the most.

Silent. Holy. Calm. Bright.

Mother and Child.

The Child? A baby.

But not just any baby – this baby is the Savior of the World.

This baby is the long-awaited Messiah.

And then another tune comes to mind…

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given. So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.

A Carol of Christmas

The Hope of mankind, given so humbly. So silently. So gently.


During this Christmas week I intend to put away the trappings that have been distracting me since the end of November. Shopping, wrappings, trees, baking (endless baking!) Even Christmas parties and church preparations.

Putting them all away for now because the time of preparation is nearly over.

Christmas Day is nearly here… It’s time to let silent contemplation have its way.

A Carol of Christmas


Joy to the World! Our Lord is come!

Have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas!

New Release!


by Mindy Obenhaus

Happy December! Yes, the holidays are upon us and there's only one thing that could make me happier. The release of a new Christmas book! 

Yesterday was release day for the fourth and final book in my Bliss, Texas series. Their Yuletide Healing is a sweet story about overcoming the wounds of the past to embrace the future God has called you to.

Rae, our heroine, always wanted a whole passel of kids, but her ex-husband was too focused his dreams to consider a family--until he left Rae for another woman. But Rae doesn't need a husband to have a family. Instead, she becomes a foster mom to six-year-old Maggie and her five-year-old brother, Max. Rae is determined to give them the perfect Christmas. One they will always remember, even if her dream of adopting them falls through. But her holiday plans are threatened when she's suddenly put in charge of the town's biggest holiday event.

Cole, our reclusive, anti-Christmas hero, grew up in an environment that has kept him emotionally shutdown for most of his life. That is, until his aunt coerces him into helping Rae with the town's Mistletoe Ball and he finds himself drawn to her foster son. Little Max has seen the worst life has to offer. Something Cole recognizes and has him longing to help the boy. But first, he’ll have to earn Max’s trust and that will entail spending time with the boy’s pretty foster mom. 

Yeah, you know where this story is headed.


To celebrate the release of Their Yuletide Healing, I'm giving away a copy of the book AND a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter (US mailing addresses only, please).

As her plans unravel, can she give her children what they truly need?

Foster mom Rae Girard’s determined to make her children’s first Christmas with her the best they’ve ever had—and she’s shocked when the town scrooge, attorney Cole Heinsohn, offers to pitch in. Rae’s young charges have melted Cole’s heart, and he wants them to experience the special day he never had. But when disaster strikes, an imperfect holiday might bring them something better: a family…


Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

I'm not going to talk about personality types.

I'm not going to mention we all had eleven months to get to this point, because I think the holiday crazies aren't about planning. Life interrupts the best of plans and when you're self-employed like we are, we have to keep that reality in the back of our minds.

Can we meet that deadline if catastrophe hits?

Can we volunteer for that Christmas play and get revisions done when that email comes in on December 4th and they need them by December 23rd?

Can we get those lights strung in the shape of a Star of David while setting up a Living Nativity with borrowed sheep and camels?

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

Okay, the camels might be a stretch! :) But you get the gist. It gets tricky.... and trickier yet when we worry that we're disappointing parents (throw in a nursing home or assisted living or illness into the mix, right?????) or disappointing children, spouses, editors, friends, neighbors.... the list is long and intense, my friends!

But life happens. Whether you're a Type A "Planned-to-the-minute" gal or a "Let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may" kind of person, the holidays have their own brand of pressure. 

My advice: Breathe. Blink. And breathe again.

Scale down. Trim back. Pray. Talk to God. Spend more time with your Nativity scene and less time with Amazon and QVC.... You can stretch your arms and your efforts toward the things of God... and shrug off the things of national advertisers.

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

Christmas is a beautiful season, but Lord have mercy! It has become its own temptation. 

I used to be a super shopper.... I blush to remember it! What was I thinking????

About fifteen years back I realized I was stupid. No, don't pat me on the back and say "Oh, you weren't stupid, Ruthy!!!!"  Trust me: STUPID.

And then God gave me a smack upside the head, said "simmer down, there, little lady..." and I took His advice. 

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

I still love to do things. Decorate. Bake. Laugh. Pray.... but I learned to never have a December deadline and if someone tries to push one on me, I say no. Nothing is going to mess up my Christmas, the prayerfulness of Advent, the joy of a Savior's birth... and I feel the same way about Lent before Easter.

I put out Great-grandma's handmade reindeer and Santa display.... I set up our thirty-year-old resin outdoor Nativity scene. Dave and the kids bought a piece each year for about three or four years... They haven't all weathered well! Kind of like me. They have their aches, cracks and pains, but passers by don't see that. They see the image of a family, struggling, tucked in a stable, having a baby... Lit by ground lights, they light up the night with the hope of Christmas. The meaning of Christmas.

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe


I still work early in the day, like always. But removing deadlines and not overly-committing myself means that I can embrace the "Mary" part of me, the part that's often overshadowed by my Yankee "Martha" self. :)

And then if catastrophe strikes in the form of illness, breakage, sadness or grief, I can move forward.... share cookies from the freezer... Hugs from the heart.... the work of human hands to ease someone's heavy load.

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

I am here in cold, wet Western New York wishing you all the most blessed and beautiful of Christmas seasons! For, unto us a child is born! Unto us a Son is given! And He shall be called Wonderful! Counselor! The Prince of Peace! The Everlasting Father!!! And we can go forward together knowing that what we do for the least of these, we do for Him.

That makes it the best Christmas ever.

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

And to make this a lovely bit of relaxation, I'm going to send one lucky person a copy of my BRAND NEW WISHING BRIDGE STORY!!!!

"Embracing Light in Wishing Bridge", just released this week.... 

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

Leave a comment below and I'll tuck your name into the Sugar Cookie jar! 

We've got this!


Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves Christmas but she also loves embracing the spirit of calm she avoided for way too long as she raised six kids and did too much shopping.... She loves God, her family, her country (yes, she bleeds red, white and blue proudly), chocolate, coffee, dogs and so many things! You can message her at loganherne@gmail.com or visit her website at ruthloganherne.com. Sending Christmas blessings! 

How Amish Fiction And Western Historical Are Similar

How Amish Fiction And Western Historical Are Similar

 

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.
It's just a week until Christmas - where in the world did the month go? Like many of you my Christmas gathering will look a lot different this year and the plans are still pretty fluid. Several family members have tested positive at various times over the past few months - the latest one just this morning.  But I know God is  in control of all that's happening here and in the world at large. So my hope is in Him and in His awesome Love for us.

 

Anyway, a bit of fun news - My first Amish romance, Her Amis Wedding Quilt, released this week! As most of you know, for a little over a year now I’ve been immersed in writing the books in my Hope's Haven series. There will be three books in the series and I'm currently wrapping up book 2. It’s required a ton of research and reading all about this very unique group of people who have their own dialect and mores, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge.

One of the things I learned along the way, however, is that, at least on the surface, there are a number of similarities between Amish fiction and western historicals, the previous genre I wrote in.  Here are several of them

 

The most obvious is, of course the mode of transportation. My previous research into issues such as how to hitch a horse to a wagon and how long it takes a horse and buggy to travel xx number of miles came in handy for sure.

 

Another not-so-surprising similarity is the lack of technology in their everyday life. Although the Amish do make use of some technology they are very deliberate in what they allow into their homes and into their lives. So even though the Amish stories I’m writing are contemporaries rather than historicals, I have to avoid many of the trappings of present day life. Except for very strictly defined exceptions that can vary from district to district – no cellphone close to hand, no television, no computers or tablets. There’s also no electricity but these days many use generators or solar power.

 

Both groups have a strong feelings about the value of close ties to family and community and a belief in neighbors helping neighbors. It’s not unusual to find several generations living under one roof or in close proximity. And you can find several videos of Amish barn raisings, frolics (what they call their gatherings to help an individual in the community with a task) and other tasks.

 

Of course there are lots of differences too. The Amish dialect for one thing. And their strong belief in pacifism. And these book are set in the modern world so even though the Amish themselves don’t make use of all the modern conveniences they interact with those who do and even hire non-Amish to do things like chauffer them to and from places that are too distant for them to travel by buggy.

 

How Amish Fiction And Western Historical Are Similar

And in honor of this being release week for my first Amish book I’m doing a special giveaway. One of the visitors who leave a comment on this post will be selected to receive a copy of Her Amish Wedding Quilt AND their choice of any of the historical western romance books in my backlist.

 

So leave a comment – are there some similarities I missed? Do you prefer one genre over the other?

Or let’s just talk about Christmas traditions – I haven’t even gotten my tree up yet (yikes!!) but I have taken out the stockings which are my favorite decorations. And there will be a new addition to the crowded line-up on the mantle – my 6 month old grandson. I just need to get out my sewing machine…

 

How Amish Fiction And Western Historical Are Similar

HER AMISH WEDDING QUILT

How Amish Fiction And Western Historical Are Similar
An Amish seamstress and a single father have a chance to make a fresh start in this heartwarming first novel of a new series.

Spirited, forthright, impulsive -- everyone told Greta Eicher she'd have to change her ways if she ever hoped to marry. Then her best friend Calvin, the man she thought she would wed, chooses another woman. Now Greta's wondering if the others were right all along. Her dreams dashed, she pours her energy into crafting beautiful quilts at her shop and helping widower Noah Stoll care for his adorable young children.

Noah knows it's time to think about finding a wife. When Greta offers to play matchmaker on his behalf, Noah eagerly accepts. After all, no one knows his children better. But none of the women she suggests seems quite right, because, unexpectedly, his feelings of respect and friendship for Greta have grown into something even deeper and richer. But will he have enough faith to overcome the pain of his past and give love another chance?


Learn more or purchase HERE

 


 

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas! Over the next few weeks, we Seekers will be sharing some of our favorite Christmas traditions and we want to hear yours, too.

Like many of you, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Even with the year we’ve had, I’ve been anticipating Christmas for months. I’m the one who starts playing Christmas music in October (if not September). I start making lists then, too, and check them twice. And yes, I had two trees up and decorated before Thanksgiving, though that doesn’t happen every year.

One of the things that blesses me the most, though, is giving. I enjoy giving gifts. I also like wrapping them, so the recipient feels as though they’re receiving something special, no matter how small or simple the gift may be. Whether it’s a gift card or a plate of cookies, it’s all about the presentation.

This “gift” has been a tradition at our house for decades. It began when my kids were in elementary school and we were looking for teacher gifts. We wanted something special. Something they could actually use and would bring them joy. After a couple of years, they became so popular, we began giving them to the principal and office staff as well. And all we had to do was gather a few simple things and drop them in a bag.

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Christmas Scent is comprised of an orange, a lemon, four cinnamon sticks, three bay leaves, and a good handful (approximately ¼ cup) of whole cloves. The ingredients are then placed in a cellophane bag and tied with a pretty ribbon adorned with the Christmas Scent label with instructions on the other side. The instructions read:

Cut lemon and orange into quarters; combine fruit, spices, and one quart of water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer as long as desired.  (Add more water, as needed.)  Any leftover mixture can be covered and refrigerated for several days to be reused.

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Not only is this a gift tradition, it’s also a tradition at our house. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s almost always a batch of this scent simmering on the stove. I love it when my kids come home, step inside, sniff and say, “It smells like Christmas.” That’s when you know it’s a tradition.

Now it’s your turn. Share one of your favorite Christmas traditions with us. Remember, there will be several posts where you’ll be able to share more. One of today’s commenters will win an advanced copy of my March 2021 release, A Brother's Promise. (U.S. mailing addresses only, please)

Sharing Christmas Traditions

He didn’t realize he wanted a family… Until he suddenly became a single dad.

After his sister’s death, rancher Mick Ashford’s determined to ensure his orphaned niece, Sadie, feels at home. And accepting guidance from Christa Slocum is his first step. But just as Christa and Sadie begin to settle into Mick’s heart, Sadie’s paternal grandparents sue for custody. Now Mick must fight to keep them together…or risk losing the makeshift family he’s come to love


Sharing Christmas Traditions

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com  

Reflecting on the Joy of Christmas

Reflecting on the Joy of Christmas

I love the week between Christmas and New Years Day.

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy the days leading up to Christmas and being with family and friends, singing "Oh Holy Night" and "Away in the Manger", and reflecting on Jesus, the reason for the season. But the ticking clock leading up to the 25th can get the best of us, sometimes.

When all the presents are opened and everyone has gone home, I enjoy just tidying up and getting things back to normal. I'm sitting here typing this out with my tree half undecorated, a cup of coffee at my fingertips as the sun goes down and the sky turns blue gray.

It's nice. Quiet. Relaxing. Peaceful.

But you know what makes this week so special? Reflecting on all the wonderful moments from the last few days. Sure, I've had my share of working long hours at a day job where I got Christmas Day off and then was back at the grind bright and early on the 26th. I did it for nearly thirty years. These days, one of my most appreciated "presents" is working from home so that I don't have to hit the road the day after Christmas.

And I've also had my share of Christmases where our family has lost loved ones or spent the holidays in the hospital or on the roads to and from ICU. I understand that it's not always smiles and laughter. Years when it is are to be treasured.

Reflecting on the Joy of Christmas

My week started with Christmas at my house on Monday night, and I had the joy of babysitting two of my grands all day while cooking for the family. (Everybody should have to do that every so often in order to appreciate what young moms and dads go through every single day.) What a gift! To be able to enjoy my precious grand babies while cooking a meal for their parents. The little one falling asleep on my shoulder while I tossed the last of the potatoes in the crock pot for soup. The 3 1/2 year old wanting to help and mopping floors for me. She did an amazing job! Then her thanking me so sweetly when I brought out some new soft play dough.

Reflecting on the Joy of Christmas

Then watching all three of my grands running around my den squealing with joy and opening presents. Yes, thinking back on Monday night makes me smile.

Tuesday morning, my little group gathered at my in-laws for an extended family get-together and there were more children, more laughter, more squeals, presents and food, along with more pictures.

Wednesday, Christmas Day, My Cowboy and I spent the day at home alone. Well, he actually spent part of the day working cows and I "puttered" around the house, as my mother would say. It was nice just to get caught on emails and look at pictures of my grand babies as they and their parents enjoyed opening gifts in their own homes.

Thursday was more of the same with me eyeing the tree and finally deciding to take it down. Even this can be fun when you have the time to do it.

Reflecting on the Joy of Christmas


You know, I had planned to tell y'all about the material gifts I received this year, and then y'all could chime in with your own list, much like children used to call in to radio stations and tell the DJ what they got for Christmas. At least our local station did that and my husband loved listening to it on Christmas morning. But I just realized that I haven't mentioned not ONE gift I received. Not that I'm unappreciative.

But these days for me, Christmas is less about receiving material gifts than it is being with my children and grandchildren and watching the little ones. My granddaughter carried this doll with her all week from one set of grandparents to the next. She'd asked for a pink baby doll (to go with the other 500 she has!), and every time she talked to Santa, she'd only say a pink baby doll. She received much more and gifts that cost more than this little doll, but this is the one she fell in love with. A simple little doll that will give her hours of enjoyment as she uses her imagination to play "mommy".

That's gift enough for me. :)

Reflecting on the Joy of Christmas
Click Here to Purchase Your Copy

Advent Day 17 - A Christmas Eve to Remember with Guest Laurel Blount

by Laurel Blount
Advent Day 17 - A Christmas Eve to Remember with Guest Laurel Blount
Oh, what fun to be visiting Seekerville at Christmastime! Happy sigh. The very best part of the Christmas season is the time I get to spend with my favorite people!

I just love this time of year. I have to say, though, the day I love best is actually Christmas Eve. There’s something special about the last day before Christmas. All the work and preparations are done, the family has gathered close, and yet there’s still the hushed sense of sweet anticipation hanging in the air. For many years now, we’ve finished this beautiful day by attending a candlight service.
Advent Day 17 - A Christmas Eve to Remember with Guest Laurel Blount
The Blount Family Christmas tree 2019
When I was growing up, my family attended a very small, very sweet church in rural Georgia. Our minister traveled from a long distance to preach each Sunday, and it just wasn’t feasible for him to do a Christmas Eve service. I had never attended one.

A few years after I married, though, I experienced my very first Christmas Eve service. The gray stone church my husband and I went to that night reminded me of an Old-World cathedral. It was draped with green garlands for Christmas, and it was breathtakingly lovely. I thought the solemn candlight service held inside its echoing walls was the most beautiful and meaningful thing I had ever experienced, and attending the annual event became a Christmas Eve tradition.

I invited my parents the following year, and they loved it, too. As our children were born, they attended along with us. Every year, the service was moving and special—but I’ll always remember one year that had a little extra dash of magic.

We were savoring the final moments of the service. The sanctuary went completely dark, symbolizing the bleakness of the world before Christ’s arrival. The minister lit his candle from the Christ candle on the advent wreath and, with only his face illuminated by the flickering light, began reciting the famous passages from Luke. We were sitting in the pews, our own stubby white candles waiting to be lit, gearing up to sing Silent Night, as we’d done every year. I was anticipating the magical moment when each of us would be holding a little pinprick of light—but I admit, I was also privately wondering how I’d keep my eager children from setting each other or the sanctuary itself on fire.

Then my little son whispered, “Look, Mama!”

I glanced up—slowly, the giant, incredibly lovely stained-glass window at the front of the church began to glow with light. It started dim, then increased in brightness with every word the pastor read. By the time he’d finished the passage, the round, jewel-toned window was shining brilliantly against the darkness of the sanctuary. The whole congregation stared, slack-jawed until the minister, unaware of what had happened behind him, finally caught on and turned around. I’ll never forget the look on his face!

It turned out that the spotlight out on the front lawn had simply powered on as it did every night at a particular time, illuminating the front of the building. It wasn’t intentional, but the timing that night was absolutely impeccable. It was as if God had reached down and switched on the light Himself, just at the perfect moment.

We can no longer attend that stately old church, but I’ll always treasure the many beautiful Christmas memories we made there. So, for today’s “Georgia Christmas Memory” giveaway I’m offering a Georgia necklace, a “Merry Christmas” candle, an ornament featuring a sweet church, and a copy of my brand-new Love Inspired romance A Rancher to Trust—perfect to read beside a twinkling Christmas tree!
Advent Day 17 - A Christmas Eve to Remember with Guest Laurel Blount
May all your Christmases be blessed, sweet friends—and sprinkled with moments of unexpected, amazing beauty!


Advent Day 17 - A Christmas Eve to Remember with Guest Laurel Blount
Inspirational romance author Laurel Blount has been awarded the Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie award and has been a finalist for the Carol award, the Holt Medallion and the New England Reader’s Choice Award. Stay in touch by subscribing to her monthly newsletterfull of news, down-home recipes and fun giveaways!
A Carol of ChristmasShare Your Christmas Reading with Me!New Release!Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a CatastropheHow Amish Fiction And Western Historical Are SimilarSharing Christmas TraditionsReflecting on the Joy of ChristmasAdvent Day 20 - One Memorable Christmas (and what it taught me)Advent Day 17 - A Christmas Eve to Remember with Guest Laurel BlountAdvent Day 13: It's a Wonderful Life

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