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Monday, December 31, 2012

My Crazy Busy Life: Goodbye 2012



WOW, this year has certainly gone by SUPER FAST! I myself didn't really get to "Enjoy" this year as I have been EXTREMELY busy this year.

2012 started off great, we were in our normal routine. I have Vein Surgery on March 9th to help relieve the pain from the Superficial Phlebitis I had been suffering from for almost 2yrs. The surgery was very easy, even under Local Anesthesia and barely any pain killers. I was pain free and no swelling for a few months. I was a very happy camper.

Our family continued to follow our normal routine until Mid-May. Mid-May my mom had foot surgery and then a week later my dad ended up in the hospital and then Rehab/Nursing Home for a foot issue. This is when things got super busy and haven't slowed down. The boys and I become the "Drivers" for getting my mom back and forth to Dr. appointments, grocery shopping and more. My dad stayed in the Rehab until late July, so I was also going back and forth to the Rehab for visits, laundry help, and more. My dad was home from Rehab for a couple of weeks, only to have his foot problem get worse and he returned to Rehab. The Rehab center bought in a Podiatrist who took one look at my dad's foot and diagnosed the problem. He stayed at Rehab until late September and came home. This is when life got REALLY BUSY! He can't drive at this time because his foot is in a cast, but he needs to get to Dialysis 3x a week. I have been getting up at 3am, picking him up at 3:45am, dropping him off by 4:30am and getting back home by 5am. My brother was picking him in the beginning, but for the past 5 weeks or so hasn't been able to do pickups as he is now working. So now I do drop off and my boys and I do pick up 3 days a week. I know children are supposed to take care of their parents when they are older(even though my parents are that "old").

I know this year has been a time of life lessons and helping others which is great for my boys, we are just TIRED! We have seen the inside of our van more then anything else this year! I know God puts us through "seasons" in our life and takes us off course for reasons only he knows. The boys and I have looking forward to a "new season" or even our "normal season" to hopefully return soon! I know God's plan will always come into plan before my own "desires and plans" and that has been proven this year!

My year in review update would usually include all the Family Fun activities we normally do like Park Days, Picnics/BBQ's, Library Days, exploring Chicago, and much more, but we haven't had time or energy to do much of anything this year. I am an AVID reader and I the only reading I did this year was reading the books for my Book Reviews that I do. I didn't do my usually Library visits for reading materials. I had set a book reading goal this year and came NOWHERE close to that goal. I have had no time for BLOGGING as you all can see from the "bareness" of the blog this year. I was just making my review deadlines. I have not had time to do weekly Menu Planning and get organized with our grocery shopping. I had begun to take part in a 36 in 366 challenge on a message board I am on, but had to "Abandon my List" because I just haven't had time and energy for accomplishing to much other then taking care of my parents. My boys are getting TIRED and BORED of being in the van so much. They are good sports most of the time, but as of December it has really "worn on them".

The one MAJOR thing that I did accomplish for me was I finally demanded the Dentist allow me to get Dentures and the Dentist finally agreed. Here is more on my Dental Journey, Dental Journey Update and a pic of the day I got my "teeth"!



I am looking forward to 2013! I am looking forward to getting my household back in order and back on routine! I am looking forward to many days of Family Fun for our family of 5. I am looking forward to having my boys experience new and different things and more of the same! I am looking forward to making 2013 one of the BEST yet and being a RELAXING year!


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Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas- Day 1: God with Us . . . And Us with Him by Susan May Warren



Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
God with Us . . . And Us with Him
By: Susan May Warren

Every year over labor day weekend, the Warren family has a MWE. Mandatory Warren Event. It’s a call to come home and enjoy the long weekend with our favorite people. Since my children have left for college, I relish every second of this weekend—the laughter in the kitchen, the long conversations in the family room, the frenzy of backyard football, the quietness of the morning as we drink coffee on the deck and watch the sunrise. I cherish these people, and when they are with me, I drink in their presence.

I’ve been reading the prophecies about Christ this season and came across Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

I am struck by the word Immanuel. God with us. The closest I get to comprehending this is reading about how Jesus’ loved his disciples. Surely they relished the time with him more profoundly after his resurrection, knowing he would soon leave.

Thankfully, he didn’t leave them for long and sent His Holy Spirit. God . . . still with them. 

As I consider the magnitude of this God who would come to earth, who would abide with the disciples, and then with me, I have to wonder not only do I relish God’s presence in my life, but does God relish time with me? Am I committed to embracing His entrance into my life? Am I even making the effort to see Him?

Imagine that during our MWE weekend, I ignored my children, and they, me? I would lose the joy of their presence.

It is not surprising to me that the Jewish people did not recognize their Savior. After all, who would guess that the Almighty might package himself as a baby and appear among them, fragile and dependent? But today, we know the story, we know the miracles, we know the truth, and God invites us into an abundant relationship, one that He wishes to relish, one that will change us. A relationship that will slake our thirsts and satisfy our hungers. One that reminds us that we are never alone.

Because every day we are a mandatory event to our Immanuel.

This season, look for the ways that God is your Immanuel, with you, every day.
***
Susan May Warren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 40 novels. With over 750,000 books in print, her stories of family, romance and adventure have earned her acclaim and reader fans from around the world. Visit her website for upcoming books and sneak peeks!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 11/26


Praising God for such a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend! The ENTIRE family was all present for the first time in 16yrs and it was AMAZING!! Had a wonderful feast prepared by my sister and had fun "hanging out"! My family was also blessed with a Pre-cooked meal from a local grocery by a small group from our church. I also went out on Thanksgiving Day and purchased a 15lb Turkey to put in our freezer for cooking at a later time. I paid $8.78 after the sale price! I do hope to catch another sale during the next month and hopefully get a couple more.

 Here is our menu plan for the week with recipe links in blue: Weekly Menu Plan 11/25-12/1
For more Menu Plans and Recipes links visit: 

Organizing Junkie


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LitFuse Blog Tour: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen HeitzMann


About The Breath of Dawn:

 "Heitzmann weaves a many-layered tale keep[ing] readers entertained and wondering when the next bit of drama will occur." -Publishers Weekly

Corporate turnaround specialist Morgan Spencer, dubbed the "success guru," has a Midas touch in business. But losing his wife sent him to the brink, and his two-year-old daughter, Livie, is all he's living for-until they encounter a woman whose trouble just might draw him out of his own.

Four years ago Quinn Reilly did the right thing. Now the man her testimony put in jail is getting out. Though she has put up barriers to protect herself and those around her, she has come to care for the Spencer family, especially the winsome Livie and her mercurial father. Unwilling to put them at risk when the threats begin, she requests something she hopes the super-successful Morgan might be able to deliver.

Fixing problems is what Morgan does best, but his counterproposal takes them in a direction neither is equipped to handle. Determined to confront the past, will they survive to build a future?

Link to buy the book:

Buy    

Meet Kristen:

Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including "Freefall", "Halos", "A Rush of Wings", and the Christy Award winner "Secrets". She and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church.

Find out more about Kristen at:

My Thoughts and Review:

I am a fan of Kristen Heitzmann, having read many of her books. The Breath of Dawn proved to be another favorite! Breath of Dawn is the 3rd book in a series, but is also great as a Standalone Novel. I have not read the first 2 books in this series, but I was not lost in the storyline.

I really like how the characters in this book grow in their faith and overcome obstacles in this story. The book is filled with suspense and twists and turns that it is hard to put the book down once you pick it up! I really related to Quinn Reilly in the fact that I also "put up barriers" when I feel I need to protect myself. Quinn gave me some inspiration and encouragement that with God's Love and help you can break those barriers and bring 'em down!

The Breath of Dawn does not disappoint the reader! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars! LOVE Kristen Heitzmann books!

Check out what other reviewers are saying about The Breath of Dawn.

Contest Sponsored by the Author: Win a Kindle Paperwhite and connect with Kristen at her 11/27 Facebook Party!

Kristen Heitzmann is celebrating The Breath of Dawn by giving away one of the new Paperwhite Kindles and hosting a fun Author Chat Party on Facebook. (11/27)



One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Paperwhite
  • The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 26th. Winner will be announced at the "The Breath of Dawn" Author Chat Facebook Party on 11/27. Connect with Kristen, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of The Breath of Dawn and join Kristen on the evening of the November 27th for a chance to connect with Kristen and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the LitFuse Blog Tour Program. I was only required to give an honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. 

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

God's Blessing= Stocked Freezer




We have been extremely blessed over the past month with being able to stock our freezer with food, especially vegetables! A couple of friends from our Homeschool Group blessed us with a HUGE bounty of Veggies. I was able to bless some family and friends with some and we kept some for ourselves.

Day 1 Bounty

Day 2 Bounty

A couple of days after receiving the bounty I spent the afternoon to chop and freezer bag the Broccoli and Cauliflower. I am ever so grateful for my Chest Freezer and Food Saver as it truly has been helpful in being able to store more food then we used. I don't miss out on sales anymore due to "not having enough space".

Broccoli 


Cauliflower

I also spent that same afternoon cooking up 7lbs of Dry Pinto Beans that my hubby later mashed into Refried Beans. We LOVE Refried Beans, but we don't like the price nor preservatives in canned Refried Beans. We use Refried Beans weekly so it much more healthier and cost effective to make our own. We were able to get 12 16oz containers and 3 bigger containers from the 7lbs. We are set for at least 3 months.

Refried Beans

We also received the blessing of 20 Baked Potatoes from church recently. We help at our church on Wednesday afternoons/evenings to prep for the Wednesday night dinner. The kitchen help tries to freeze any leftovers that can be frozen so that families from the church who are in need of meal(new baby, bereavement, whatever reason) it can be provided. The food that cannot be frozen, the kitchen help divides up amongst us and we take home. I decided to take the potatoes and slice them down the middle. I scooped out the insides and was left with 2 shells and the insides I put in a bowl. We made mashed potatoes with the insides and Potato Skins with the shells. We ended up with 2 different products from the potato blessing!

Potatoes

We still have Squash that we are going to cook up for dinners! I PRAISE God for the blessings that are stocking our freezer and our "tummies"!



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Energizer "Power the Creativity" with Crayola (Mom Central Event)




I, along with my boys, recently had the opportunity to attend an Event called Power the Creativity with Energizer and Crayola. The Event was AMAZING and now I share with you the fun we had and info I learned!

The Event was held at Family Grounds Cafe on the Northside of Chicago. The Cafe has a GREAT play area for the kids and plenty of tables and chairs for the parents to sit and chat. The Cafe was a PERFECT spot to host the event and it was beautiful!

The Play Area tables were filled with lots of Crayola products for the kids to use and enjoy. My boys LOVE Arts and Crafts and Drawing, so they took to the items right away. My boys had fun with the Wonder Paper products of all kinds. Danny especially loved playing with the Sketcher Projector and Nathan loved Light Up Paint Palette. The boys were especially excited when we moved into the "dark room" where they had lots of Glow in the Dark products set up for play. Danny really got into playing with the Light Designer. The Light Designer sort of reminded me of a toy from my childhood, but better! The boys had an amazing time playing and exploring with all the wonderful Crayola toys!

Nathan "Painting"


Danny and the Light Designer toy

An Assortment of Crayola Toys powered by Energizer Batteries

The boys were excited about the Crayola toys, as was I. I though, was super excited about the Energizer Flameless Wax Candles that were on the tables. I don't use candles in my home because for me Boys + Candles= Danger. The Energizer Flameless Wax Candles have the feel and look of real candles, but are powered by Energizer Max Batteries and an LED Light which NEVER needs replacing. The Energizer Flameless Candles for me = SAFETY and ENJOYMENT!

I really like the features of the candle which include: 
  • Coming in a variety of Sizes, Scents and Colors. 
  • An On/Off Switch which allows for you to control the length of time each day it is used
  • A 4hr timer on the bottom which allows the candle to turn on each day at the same time for 4hrs

Energizer Candle at Event

I have been enjoying the candle with Energizer Max with Power Seal Technology batteries that I received the day of the event! I have even put these on my Christmas Wish List so that I can have many for all rooms of my home!

The Holiday shopping season is upon us and it is important to stock up on Batteries for all the toys, gadgets and gifts that will need batteries. I remember having disappointed kids on Christmas morning in past years because I forgot the batteries! Oops!! Don't be like me , stock up now on Energizer Max with Power Seal Technology! The batteries hold their power for up to 10 yrs on the shelf. Energizer batteries have power that outlast any other battery, so you can stock up on the new Energizer Max batteries without worry of "corrosion". Make sure to look for specially marked packages of Energizer Max AA and AAA 16 packs and you will find $20 off select Crayola products  inside the battery packs.

THANK YOU to Energizer and Crayola products for sponsoring such a fun filled and informative event!

Find Energizer on Social Media: 
Energizer Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Energizer  
Energizer Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Energizer

Disclosure: "I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Energizer. I attended an event and received a promotional item to thank me for my participation." 

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

LitFuse Blog Tour: Every Perfect Gift by Dorothy Love



About Every Perfect Gift: 

Book 3 in Dorothy Love's Hickory Ridge Romance series.

Ethan and Sophie long to share a future together. But the secrets they're not sharing could tear them apart.

Sophie Caldwell has returned to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, after years away. Despite the heartaches of her childhood, Sophie is determined to make a home, and a name, for herself in the growing town. A gifted writer, she plans to resurrect the local newspaper that so enchanted her as a girl.

Ethan Heyward's idyllic childhood was shattered by a tragedy he has spent years trying to forget. An accomplished businessman and architect, he has built a majestic resort in the mountains above Hickory Ridge, drawing wealthy tourists from all over the country.

When Sophie interviews Ethan for the paper, he is impressed with her intelligence and astounded by her beauty. She's equally intrigued but fears he will reject her if he learns about her shadowed past. Just as she summons the courage to tell him, Ethan's own past unexpectedly and violently catches up with him, threatening not only his life but their budding romance.

Link to Buy the Book:
Buy


Meet Dorothy:  

An accomplished author in the secular market, Dorothy Love makes her inspirational fiction debut with her Hickory Ridge series of historicals set in her native South. Her skillful blending of the historical and the personal reflect her passion for discovering the histories of ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things and set her apart as an authoritative voice of Southern historical fiction.

Find out more about Dorothy at: Dorothy Love Books

My Thoughts and Review:

Every Perfect Gift is the 3rd and final book in the Hickory Ridge Series by Dorothy Love. I was able to read the 2nd book in the series a few months ago and loved it and this book continues the story and is just as wonderful. I enjoy Dorothy Love's writing style and books. Every Perfect Gift is would also be a great read even if you haven't read the first 2 books. The first thing that really stands out is the cover of the book. The cover is so beautiful and lovely, VERY well done!

I LOVE Historical Fiction and Romance books, so the 2 together and I am soo in heaven! I LOVE how Sophie is determined to make something of herself in the town she lived in before and sets out to buy the newspaper and begins working toward restoring the paper in town. The romance that sparks when Sophie interviews Ethan, an accomplished Businessman, is very evident. The romance is without its struggles though as both are hiding secrets from their past.

The historical value of the book is "spot on" and very true for the time and that really makes the book even more enjoyable. The theme of the book is being able to overcome lifes obstacles and giving grace to one another. I picked up the book on a "lazy Saturday afternoon" and began reading and couldn't stop. I finished the book in about 5hrs. I was intrigued by the story and the characters, the book is a GREAT read!

I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5 stars!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the LitFuse Blog Tour Program. I was only required to give an honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. 

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CWA Review: Growing Great Kids by Kate Battistelli


About the Book:

Successful adults don’t happen by accident. It takes wisdom to raise your children with a strong sense of their destiny in God and a deep knowledge of their gifts and callings.

In Growing Great Kids, Kate Battistelli shares what she and her husband, Mike, learned about parenting during the journey of raising their daughter—Dove Award–winning recording artist Francesca Battistelli. Using anecdotes to illustrate the insights she and her husband gained, she provides practical advice including:

  • How to dream God’s big dream for your child
  • The value of humility and integrity
  • How to interpret God’s seasons in a child’s life 
  • The power of a parent’s words, and more
Personal Message from the Author:
"I want to share with you that I'm not a childrearing expert. But I am an expert in raising my child just as you're an expert in raising yours.

No one knows your child better than you do and no one will love them, pray for them and fight for their future like you will. I’m passionate about helping you believe God has a Big Purpose, a God-sized plan for your precious family.

I have no interest in greatness but I have a great interest in helping you raise great kids and encouraging you to partner with God to uncover their unique destiny. Our children are entrusted to us for such a short season and our job is to nurture, guide, train and help them become all God has called them to be!"

Blessings,

Kate


About the Author:

Kate Battistelli is a wife, author, speaker, former Broadway actress, and mom to one of Christian music’s most celebrated new recording artists—Grammy-nominated, Christian contemporary singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli.

Kate currently volunteers at ESTHER Single Mothers Outreach and is thoroughly enjoying her newest role as grandmother to Francesca’s first child, Matthew Elijah.

Places you can find the author online: 
Learn more about Kate at: http://katebattistelli.com/about-me/meet-kate/

Kate's website: http://katebattistelli.com/

Kate on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KateBattistelli

Kate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/katebattistelli

Youtube video of Kate's Interview with Today's Issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMjUnMV3hts

Francesca's website: http://www.francescamusic.com/

My Thoughts and Review: 

I have to admit I though this book would be like "every other parenting book", but it is FAR from that. Growing Great Kids isn't about discipline methods, getting the kids to cooperate and all that the "other books" entail. Growing Great Kids is a "guide book" that helps Parents guide their children in reaching their full potential in their God given talents and gifts and all that God has in store for them.

We always want to see our children seeking God in all they do, just as us parents do the same. Sometimes it is hard to "redirect" children or even direct children to seeking God for their life. Mrs. Battistelli gives some great advice in achieving this and being our children's "cheerleader" to they are constantly and joyously seeking God's will for their life, talents and gifts!

I really liked this book as it is very encouraging. I am going through some "trying times" with my oldest right now as he begins to use language not approaiate and in pursing interests that are not acceptable. I will be taking the knowledge from "Growing Great Kids" and guiding him back in the direction of God. He is a very talented writer, especially for a 5th grader, and he is also a very talented artist. I truly believe these are his God given gifts and talents and I want to encourage him in those directions. I was at a lost in how to achieve that, but Kate Battistelli has given me some knowledge and direction.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars! 

Buying the Book: 

Growing Great Kids is AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE in bookstores and major retailers for $14.99.

Your readers can buy discounted and personally autographed copies here.

Or purchase online at: Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes&Noble or their favorite online retailer.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for my participation in the CWA Review Crew. I was only required to write an honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. 


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Tangled Ashes by Michelle Phoenix




About the Book: 

From the Back Cover:
After invading Lamorlaye, France, Nazi officials don’t hesitate to take over the beautiful Meunier manor as their headquarters, hiring two young Frenchwomen, Marie and Elise, who clean and launder to help supplement their families’ meager incomes. But the girls begin to grow suspicious when medical equipment arrives, followed by an influx of pregnant women. As the Nazis’ plans for the manor become clear, the girls must decide where their loyalties truly lie.

More than fifty years later . . .
Architect Marshall Becker arrives in Lamorlaye to begin the massive renovation of a Renaissance-era castle. The project that was meant to provide an escape for Becker instead becomes a gripping glimpse into the human drama that unfolded during the Nazi occupation and seems to live on in midnight disturbances and bizarre acts of vandalism.

Becker explores the castle’s shadowy history as he seeks to cope with the demons from his own past. Only Jade, the feisty nanny of the owner’s children, is willing to stand up to him. But Becker soon discovers that every one of the ch√Ęteau’s inhabitants seems to have something to hide and something to protect—and something worth fighting for.


My Thoughts and Review:
I really enjoy Historical Fiction, so when asked to read and review this book I was really excited. I thought the that topic, Nazi times, would be "over my head" but I was willing to "branch out" and read something out of my comfort zone. I was  quite surprised that I really got into the book and felt that I was "in the time". Michelle Phoenix really writes wonderfully and brings the story to life.

The main Characters of the book, especially Marshall Becker, are very intriguing. He is there to do a renovation job, but soon finds himself in the midst of other things, which creates a mystery of the book. The other "modern characters" also make the book a "keep the reader guessing" book.

Tangled Ashes is like a Historical Fiction and Mystery book all in one. I really enjoyed reading it and give it 4.5 stars out of 5. Very good book!


   Read        Buy

Learn more about the Author: Michelle Phoenix 

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the HandleBar Marketing Blogger Program. I was only required to write an honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.

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First Wild Card Tour: Susanna's Christmas Wish by Jerry S. Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From the pen of bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher, (more than 350,000 books sold), comes a truly delightful and inspiring Christmas novella. A perfect holiday delight for lovers of Amish fiction…and those who love a heartwarming and tender Christmas tale.





Product Details:
List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736951512
ISBN-13: 978-0736951517



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Susanna Wagler stood by the living room window watching Herman’s broad shoulders as he guided the team of horses into the field. Was he really her husband? The thought raced through her mind, and she pushed it away. These were not the thoughts a woman of God should have. Of course Herman was her husband. They had said the marriage vows in front of Bishop Jacob not three weeks ago. She could still hear Bishop Jacob’s voice intoning, “Do you, sister Susanna, believe Da Hah has given our brother Herman to you as your husband?”

The words had hung in the air only for a moment before she whispered, “Yah.”

Herman was the husband Da Hah meant for her. She had been certain of it. As certain as she could be. He was a man deeply loved by the community for his honest ways, his open face, and his dedication to the faith of the fathers. This was why she had said yah to Herman’s first timid request when he’d asked her home from the hymn singing. And so far Herman Wagler hadn’t let her down. Not like someone else had…Susanna also pushed that thought away.

She had forgotten about him—shut his memory from her mind. But even now she shouldn’t think badly of Matthew Yoder, though he had broken her heart. The truth had come out, and it was better this way. How awful would it have been if the truth had waited to appear after they were married? That was what her sister Mary told her, and she was right. Mary was wise about Matthew, having married his brother Ernest. Even before Matthew had left, Mary had seemed unsure of his intent. Older sisters were good for something after all, it seemed.

Still, Susanna tried to give Matthew the benefit of the doubt. He must have had his reasons for leaving the community. Even though she couldn’t understand them…or follow him into the Englisha world. And his reasons were obviously greater than his love for her. That was what hurt the most when he’d informed her he didn’t plan to stay in the Amish community. He hadn’t been able to tell her before, he’d said, though he’d assured her he hadn’t been playing her along all those years.

But a man didn’t suddenly make up his mind to leave, she figured. Such a desire had to have been there for a long time. Matthew had known something, regardless of how much he insisted he hadn’t. If she had loved him enough, she would have gone with him, she supposed. But how could a woman love a man who loved the Englisha world more than he loved her? Still, she had wavered for weeks over the matter. Struggled with the agony of it. Was she at fault? Did love require the sacrifice of everything…of all she held dear? Things like this land of her people? These open fields she’d grown up in? This place where she’d been born?

Matthew seemed to have no problem leaving all of it, and he’d soon put his words into action, getting himself placed in the bann in the process. As if she could face something like that. The cutting off of all contact with her past. This couldn’t be love, she’d finally told herself. She could not choose this.

So Matthew was gone.

And slowly she had put the fragments of her heart back together. Finding a piece here and a piece there that fit. Herman, with his tenderness, had helped. And her heart had healed somewhat, hadn’t it? She wouldn’t have married Herman if it hadn’t, would she?

She loved Herman. She did. Herman was the kindest man around. She should be thankful he had even considered her. Especially after Matthew left and caused such a stir in the community. No Amish young man would have been blamed for avoiding her completely, like she was a second-rate, cast-off shirt. And yet Herman hadn’t thrown her away. He had asked her home from the hymn singing and eventually asked if she would be his frau. Someone to love and cherish forever while they lived on this earth. Herman had done that, and was that not love?

Susanna’s eyes lingered on Herman’s face as he turned the team of horses around. The prancing hooves left tracks in the light dusting of the overnight snow. For a moment Herman glanced toward the house, and she ducked behind the drapes. It wouldn’t be decent for him to see her staring at him from the window. Not yet. Even if he was her husband. They should learn to know each other better first.

When Susanna stole another look, Herman was headed out over the open fields, hanging on to the lines. He is a handsome man, she told herself. And one she was thankful to have as her husband.

There was at least one brokenhearted girl in the community that she knew of. Herman had left behind Ruth Byler. She sure hadn’t kept her desires to have Herman take her home from the hymn singing a secret. And if there was one who did so openly, there had to be others who had hid their feelings. Yet Herman had chosen her.

Susanna turned back to the kitchen with a sigh. This had to stop. This wondering and puzzling over things. She had expected it would be over after the wedding. In fact, there had been plenty of signs during the weeks before the wedding that her doubts had flown away. Now they apparently were back in force.

But they would live through this, Susanna told herself. Herman loved her and she loved him. He had made that plain enough in the days since the wedding. And she had no reason to complain. She was sure Herman was aware that her heart hadn’t totally healed from Matthew, but he was being kind and understanding. What woman wouldn’t love such a man?

Susanna ran hot water into the kitchen sink while she brought the last of the breakfast dishes to the counter. Herman’s plate was sopped clean—it looked almost washed, like it always did. Even though it had been a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, and home fries she’d fixed him. Herman would have made a gut bachelor, that was for sure. The way he kept everything tidy around himself. And yet he felt the need of her, felt it necessary to bring her into his life.

But why?

Because he loved her, of course, Susanna told herself. There didn’t need to be a reason beyond that. Perhaps it was the conversation at the breakfast table this morning that was bringing this indecision up again. Well, it was more of an argument, really. Their first timid disagreement. And she had been shocked at the feelings that rose up inside of her. The insistence that Herman see things her way. And she had even grown angry, though Herman hadn’t, even as he remained firm. There would be no celebration of Christmas in their new home. And they wouldn’t be going to her parents’ place to celebrate either. It was not the way of his family, and it would not be their way.

Susanna washed the dishes and stared out the window at the snow. Soon the snow would be falling in earnest, the flakes floating past this very window. The joy and hope of Christmas would be in the air. The celebration of the Christ child in the manger would be coming. Was this feeling just an Englisha thing, like Herman claimed? He said her family had given in to worldly influences and his family had not.

Yet how could this be true? Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas like the Englisha did, with their Christmas trees and lots of store-bought presents. Nee, their celebration was simple. They began by gathering on Christmas morning for breakfast. In his deep voice, Daett would read the story of the Christ child’s birth. Then the day would be spent together visiting, eating candy and goodies galore, and letting the children race around the house. Maybe that was a little like the Englisha, but she would be willing to adjust something, like leaving early, if that helped Herman get used to her family’s ways.

But Herman had said no. No hesitation, right out, flat no.

And she had gotten angry. Even her cheeks flushed and her fingers tingled. She had stood up from the table to get a drink at the sink even though her glass was still full of water. His eyes had followed her as he seemed to be waiting for harsh words from her.

But she had not spoken them. She knew that Herman, being her husband, was in the right. And she knew what he would say further on the matter—that she knew before the wedding what his feelings were. He had made no secret of them. And there had been the talk with his mamm. Herman’s mamm had made two or three special trips to the Keim farm before the wedding to visit Susanna. From that first visit, it seemed as if his mamm was sizing her up as a daughter-in-law. Would she be good enough for her Herman? That was her purpose in that first visit. She must have passed the test because there had been the second visit. That’s when Mrs. Wagler told Susanna what Herman’s favorite dishes were and how important it was to honor their family traditions. That was when she mentioned their longstanding abhorrence of the celebration of Christmas that had somehow infiltrated the community. Those visits had been uncomfortable enough, but then only two days after the wedding Herman’s mamm had showed up to help her organize her kitchen. Hadn’t it occurred to her that if Susanna needed such help she would have asked her own mamm?

Nee, she couldn’t say she  didn’t know how Herman and his family felt about Christmas, Susanna acknowledged. And now with their first Christmas together approaching, Susanna was realizing it would also be her first Christmas without the joy she had experienced at home. Nee, she would never get to be at Mamm and Daett’s for Christmas morning again.

Knowing about his objections beforehand wasn’t making it any easier, no matter how often she’d told herself it should be. She had thought maybe there was some sort of compromise possible. Surely there had to be. Susanna sighed. It was useless, really. She already knew that. Hermann was handsome and nice and calm, but he was “Amish stubborn.” That was just how it was. And she was his frau.

Well, she could imagine that Christmas was no big deal. Perhaps she was being silly about such a small matter. They would find something else to do on Christmas morning.

Susanna dried the plates and placed them in the cupboard above her. She would have to learn submission, that was the only answer. This was the first big test being placed before her by Da Hah, and she would have to pass somehow. Oh, if she only could. Who would have thought she would have trouble with being a gut frau? That had been the least of her expectations. A sloppy housekeeper, perhaps, or being unable to keep up with the sewing once she had a bunch of kiener. Those things had worried her, but letting her husband have his way about Christmas had not been on her list.

Susanna closed the cupboard door. She would learn this lesson by Christmas morning. She still had time. Thanksgiving was this week, and that left nearly a month until Christmas. Yes, that’s what she would do. She would set her whole heart to the task. This would be her gift of love to Herman. She would learn to keep her mouth shut, and even if she didn’t succeed right away, it would happen. She would apologize until it did happen. Surely by Christmas the task would be done. Herman would see on that morning how much progress she’d made in fitting herself into his family’s lifestyle.

By Christmas Day she would love him fully, with all of her heart. What better wish to aim for than to live in total harmony with your husband, she decided. And love would keep growing in her heart for him. Perhaps not exactly the love she used to feel for Matthew, but a better love. A higher love. One that would grow from suffering.

Hadn’t Matthew shown her how shallow their love used to be? He’d sure been able to cast it off as if it didn’t matter.

Running to the window again, Susanna peeked out. Herman was a dim figure now, almost lost from view in the distant field. He looked intent on his work, his head bent toward the ground as his plow turned up the black dirt. Susanna turned away. How like plowing her plan was. Turning her old life under like Herman was doing to the ground today. Preparing for the spring when things come alive again. She would do the same. Plow under her selfish desires to plant a future spiritual harvest. Here was the sign as to what she should do as plain as day and right before her eyes. How like Da Hah to show her so quickly that He liked her plan. He would surely be answering her wish soon.

My Thoughts and Review: 

I really enjoyed this book! The book is only 140 pages, but it sure packs quite a story into a short book. The book is about Susanna's submit to her husband during the "Family Time" of Christmas and how God blesses her for her obedience to him and her husband. Though this book is fiction, it really spoke to me in a "REAL" way, as I struggle with this in my own marriage, especially during the holidays. Susanna's Christmas Wish is a wonderful book by an AWESOME author and really bought out a great message!


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the First Wild Card Tours blogging program. I was only required to write an honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 11/12



God is soo Good! We have been blessed tremendously over the past week with Veggies and other food. Our freezer has a nice stock of "blessings" right now. I also did some monthly grocery shopping in the past week. Here is info on the blessings we received. I will post more info next week on how our freezer got so full.

Here is our menu for this week with recipe links included:
Weekly Menu Plan 11/11-11/17

For more weekly Menu Plans and Recipes Visit:
Organizing Junkie

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