Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year at a Glance ~ 2015 Wrap-up Post

So here we are and it's....wait, WHAT?!?!? The last day of 2016? No way, Jose! B-) Anyways... I decided to do a wrap-up post of my year, 2015. I got this idea after reading Katie Grace's postHere goes!! 

This was the first FULL year that I've been at this writing 'thing'. I have several books started along with a few short stories and some fan-fiction stuff. ;) (At the rate I'm going they'll all be completed by the time I'm...50?? B-) hahaha.) 
Sometime next year (by that I mean like tomorrow. haha.) you all will be getting to read a short story I'm working on. ;) I think y'all will enjoy it!! (And throw rocks at me for all the cliffhangers....*cough, cough* ) 

I did not enter/complete NaNoWriMo this year. *sad face* I wanted to, but November is chaos for Christmas tree farmers (and Christmas tree farmers daughters...) BUT...I'm planning to hold my own 'NaNo' sometime this coming summer. Probably June or August. Anyone interested in doing it with me? :D I'd love to have ya!!! 

In preparation for this post I pulled out the notebook I use to keep track of what books I'd read (including those I'm currently reading) and...*gasp* Only 34????  I'm going to say 35 because I read another but it's not technically published yet... *wink* 

I read... 
Decent Exposure by Jessica Rey and Leah Darrow 
Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin 
A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu 
Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow 
Heartbreak Trail by Susan K. Marlow 
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry 
Another Homecoming by Janette Oke
My Secret War by Mary Pope Osborne 
The Journey by Wanda E. Brunstetter 
A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin 
A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin 
The Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis 
Dark Storms Rising by Jesseca Wheaton
Gift From the Storm by Rebekah A. Morris
Avery's Battlefield by Deanna K. Klingel 
Avery's Crossroads by Deanna K. Klingel
Tales From the Circle C Ranch by Susan K. Marlow
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman 
Currently reading...
Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin 
With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin 
Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher 
The Battle of Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick 
Kinship by Trudy Krisher 

Books of the Bible...

Ebooks that I read... 
While You're Awake by Amber Stokes 
How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes
A Christmas Peril by Diane Moody

Currently reading to review... 
The Battle Plan of Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick 
Twelve Days of Christmas by Michelle Paige Holmes (ebook) 
Danny's Girl by Susan Alyworth (ebook) 

I started a blog this year!!! *throws bucketfuls of confetti* Actually, two. :) I've had so much fun with this and all you followers have been THE BEST!!! ;) 

Groundbreaking(?) things that have happened this year. ;) 

- a new church 
- taking drivers Ed./learning to drive/getting my permit 
- finishing 9th grade and starting 10th
- going camping with friends (and acting positively goofy for an entire week) 
I'll let y'all guess which ones are me and my brother B-) 

- photographing my own Indiana Jones...

- sunsets 

- going on my first mission trip 

- traveling with my family across this beautiful land 

- losing my self to fictional folks and then learning that they die.... 

- discovering lots of great movies. Like "The Shunning", "The Confession", "Seasons of Gray", "Letters to God", "The Christmas Candle" and "Hoovey" to mention a few. 
Are these two ADORABLE or what??? :) 

I mean seriously?!?!?!? :D 

I'll have another post sometime this weekend/next week about my goals for 2016 in writing, reading, bloggin and life in general. :) 

Until then! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Now THIS is Bliss...

 Four days after Christmas and here I am. Enjoying all the wonderful gifts I received from family and friends. :) 
 The ENO hammock from my parents is currently holding me; suspended between two trees above the house, enveloped in it's blue and green material. 
 A book from Mom is patiently waiting for me to thumb through it's pages. The travel mug from Dad, sitting on the ground below me, contains sweet tea, and the salted caramel bites are being quickly consumed. *reaches for another* Let's face it, these things are...divine. B-) 
(Uh-oh. The sun is making them melt-y. :-( *sighs and moves them to behind the backpack*) 

 Another gift, this one from a dear friend, is making a dangling-clanking noise as the breeze glides me to and fro. (If anyone cares to guess what this unique item is, please do! :D) Also, to the giver of this... My Dad was rather confused and concerned by the name on "it". B-) But after I explained who the name belonged to, he was fine. ;) 

Does anyone remember that mention I made about not blogging this week? Yeah, that didn't exactly happen obviously. :) But....I do have a surprise for y'all coming up soon!! :D And I have a great picture for another Imagine This! Anyone interested? 

Sisters in Christ, 
Faith <3 

Friday, December 25, 2015

"12 Days of Christmas" blog series wrap-up + The Christmas Story!!

(***Note: I'm scheduling this ahead of time so that I can spend all of Christmas with my family. <3 If I'm on at all today it'll be late tonight.) 

 Well everyone, this is it! 12 Days of Christmas ends today. Wow, it doesn't seem possible! Over the last two weeks we've had so much fun and I hate to see it go. But all good things must come to an end. Who knows? Maybe we'll do this again next year! :)

Today's Christmas fun!! :) I'm going to assume that you all are spending Christmas with family and friends, but here's the blogs where Christmas post should be appearing today. These, however, aren't direct links because I'm doing this ahead of time. ;) 
~ Visit Whimsical Writings for the conclusion of Jesseca's story! 
~ Visit Rebekah Ashleigh's blog for a Christmas Bible verse! 
~ Visit Counting Your Blessings One by One for a special guest post! 

Below is a picture that I've been meaning to share with you all for over a week now. When we were out of town overnight (I mentioned this before, I believe) we saw lots of beautiful Christmas lights! Every year in this certain town, they set up the "12 Days of Christmas" down the middle of the four-lane. And I took a picture of this to share with y'all! It seemed to fit our blog series quite well. ;) 

I'm including a list of all the post that everyone did during these past 12 days. I think y'all can figure out by the dates which ones are up today. ;) 
Also if you missed any of them, click the link and check them out! :-) 

~ Jesseca Dawn ~ 
Thank you for being such an active participant in this blog series, Jesseca. It was great to have someone else posting daily and I always enjoy your posts. :) Your sweet comments never fail to brighten my day! 

Dec. 15th --- Christmas movie review...times two! 
Dec. 16th --- Christmas book review
Dec. 17th --- Christmas recipe
Dec. 18th --- "A Christmas Miracle" 
Dec. 20th --- Christmas-y Tag

~ Rebekah Ashleigh ~ 
Rebekah, thank you so much for being a part of all this. To have only been around the 'blogosphere' for a couple of months, you've had some great posts! I always enjoy our discussions of Amish books, etc. ;) 

Dec. 16th --- Christmas candy
Dec. 17th --- Christmas movie review
Dec. 19th --- Christmas book review
Dec. 20th ---  "What Child is This?"
Dec. 23rd --- Christmas movie review
Dec. 24th --- Christmas-y Tag!

~ Rebekah Eddy ~ 
You're contributions were greatly appreciated, Rebekah. I loved your amazing story about the Rosset family and your poetry is absolutely beautiful. :-) Thank you!! 

Dec. 14th --- "God is There" : A Song
Dec. 24th --- "God Will Provide" Part 4 

~ Lauren Stoner ~ 
Lauren, thank you for your participation. Your dear story about an early Christmas in the Hansen family was so sweet. :) We need to have another chat soon! 

Dec. 16th --- "Joy to the Wordl"

~ Blessing Counter ~ 
Thank you so much for the time and posts you've contributed. The 'pen-name' Blessing matches you perfectly. :)   

Dec. 14th --- "Silent Night"
Dec. 17th --- Christmas Cookies
Dec. 21st --- Pizza Making!
Dec. 22nd --- Christmas Book Review
Dec. 23rd --- Christmas-y tag
Dec. 24th --- Christmas Album Review

~ Amy Lane ~ 
Amy, thank you for you eager participation! I'm sorry that you didn't get to be in on all of this until later, but I'm glad you contributed anyway. :) 

Dec. 19th --- Two Turtle Doves
Dec. 20th --- Three French Hens
Dec. 21st --- Four Calling Birds
Dec. 22nd --- Five Golden Rings
Dec. 23rd --- Six Geese a layin'
Dec. 24th --- Seven Swans a swimming


Now for the true reason for the season... 

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 
          ~ Luke 2:1-20 KJV

from Pinterest. I found this picture to be SO sweet!! Joesph kissing Mary and Mary kissing Baby Jesus <3 *smiles* 

~ Christmas Quote ~

 After blogging for twelve days straight, I'm going to be taking a break. From now through New Years, I'm just going to enjoying life, reading new books, and maybe I'll try to prepare myself for the dismal fact that 'real life' is returning. *sigh* Oh, well... ;) 

See y'all later! Have a blessed Christmas and happy New Years!! :D 
Sisters in Christ, 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

"Blessed by the Light" ~ A Short Story

Hello everyone! Today is...*gasp* Christmas Eve?!?!? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN SO FAST???? AHHHH!!!! *groan* Anyways... I'm enjoying this Christmas season very much. The presents tucked away under the tree, the Christmas goodies covering the kitchen counter, the lights on the trees (yes, we have two. When you live on the tree farm, you can do such things :D) The Christmas-y songs on the radio – becoming louder when I walk past...until Dad claims it's giving him a headache and sends me turn it down... That, however, is a story for another time, which I shall leave for another time. B-) 
It has been raining (no, pouring) for days now. I spitefully glare at it and say that it should be snow...but what kind of raindrops would they be if they listened to a strange teenage girl? ;) 
Enough of my ramblings, here's the short story I told y'all about yesterday. I'm planning to write many more stories with these characters, so if you all enjoy them I'll be posting them here. ;) Enjoy! And I'd love to hear what you think! :) 

 Staring out the back window of the car, I sighed as I thought over how much my life had changed over the past year. 
 Last Christmas my twin sister and I were in a good home. Mr. and Mrs. Evans were a sweet, older couple and earnestly tried to make Christmas merry for us. Sadly, we were only with them through January. Since then we've been in five different homes. Five! 
 I should probably stop now and explain something to you. You see, my twin and I are what most of you know as foster kids. Our parents we’re killed in a car accident when Kaitlyn and I were eight and our brother, Braden, was eleven. Having no immediate family willing or able to take us in, we were put into foster care. 
 Beside the fact that I was still grieving for my parents, I didn't mind it so much at first. At least we were together. I never felt like I really belonged with any of the families, but with Kaitlyn and Braden around, it didn't bother me. That all changed two years ago. 
 Kaitlyn and I were fourteen and Braden was seventeen. At that time we were living in a group home. There were these certain foster parents who could only take two kids. Seeing as how Braden would be considered an adult and would be out of the foster care system come his next birthday, they opted to send Kaitlyn and I. 
 For the next three days, after hearing the news, my twin and I bawled. We cried over being separated from Braden, we cried because no one would listen to our pleas to stay at the group home, and we cried because we had always knew this was coming. Unless a family wanted to adopt all three of us, eventual separation was inevitable. 
 That horrible day, as we were saying our goodbyes to Braden, my brother pulled me into a warm hug and whispered something in my ear. “You're stronger than she is, Ashlyn,” he said. “You have to be the tough one and hold it together for Kaitlyn’s sake.” 
 I slowly released him and looked up into his question-filled eyes. And I nodded. It was just one simple nod, but it was a promise. A promise to be the strong one, to not get beat-down, and to be there for my sister. 
 We left that day and we didn't see Braden again for a long time. We were able to keep in touch with him by phone and snail mail, but it just wasn't the same. 
 Health issues arose and that couple wasn't able to keep us for very long. I was so upset. Because they wanted us we were separated from our brother, and now they couldn't keep us? It wasn't right and it wasn't fair, but I didn't shed a tear over it or say a single negative word about it. Not then, not when we were sent to the next one, or the one after that…or the one after that. I had to for Kaitlyn. I’d promised Braden. 
 After turning eighteen and leaving the group home, Braden joined the military. Kaitlyn and I were worried about him, but we understood that this was something he needed to do; had to do even. 
 He was deployed overseas the year after enlistment. That sort of bothered me. It meant less communication and a long time until seeing Braden was even a possibility. 
 For the last six months Kaitlyn and I have been back in a group home. And for almost three months, we've heard nothing from Braden. I'm terribly worried about him, but I'm trying to be strong, think positive, and not let my emotions show. 
 About two weeks ago, a church group visited the home. Their goal? For zero kids to have to spend Christmas in that place. Kaitlyn and I were lucky to have been among the first kids chosen. For the past two weeks we've been staying with the Robertson family. They're a fairly young couple with three children under six. They're great to us, and we love living with them and helping out with the kiddos. Unfortunately, we’re only with them through New Years. 
 One of the best things about living with this sweet family is that they take us to church. There's a candlelight service tonight; I'm so excited about it! 
 And then there we were. Standing with our current foster parents and siblings, holding candles and lighting the sanctuary of the small country church. Enjoying the peaceful, blissful setting. 
 Our pastor finished reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 and it was time to raise our voices in harmony. 
 The pianist struck a few chords to get us started off right, and the entire congregation broke into “Silent Night” acapella. 
 I looked around me at the dark church, lit by the light of each individual candle. Just as the world is lit by each Christian who has the True Light residing in their hearts. 
 I sighed. Not a sigh of longing for things to be different, not a discontented sigh due to yet another unhappy home, but a joyful sigh. A sigh that said on this special, silent, Christmas Eve night, peace reigned within me. 
 If only… I shook my head to clear my thoughts. 
 As we came into the third verse, a movement at the front of the church caught my eye. I slowly turned to my right and studied the area. Pastor Chris stood at the podium before the pulled curtain and Mrs. Crystal, his wife and the church pianist, had moved from the piano bench to her husband’s side. Maybe that's what I saw, I mused. Her moving halfway across the room. 
 I was turning my gaze back to the candle I held when it happened again. This time I was almost fast enough to catch it and I saw the curtain falling back into place. That's strange. 
 There was yet another rustle of movement and a silhouette appeared on the curtain next to Pastor Chris, illuminated by the light from the large candle at the center of the table. 
 My heart beat faster and faster. “Oh my goodness…” I felt the tears forming in my eyes but for once I didn't care. I nudged my twin. “Kaitlyn, that's–” 
 “I know,” she whispered, her own voice just as shaky as mine. She'd seen him too. 
 Without giving a single thought to my actions, or rather the aftermath of them, I shoved my candle into Mr. Robertson’s hands. Squeezing past Mrs. Robertson, I slid into the nearest pew and hurriedly sidled down it as fast as I could toward the middle aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kaitlyn right on my heels. 
 When I reached the aisle I broke into a run. I knew not to run in church, I'd been reminded of that many times. But I was fairly certain that, given the circumstances, God would forgive me. 
 I didn't stop until I reached the front of the church and threw myself into my brother’s arms. “Braden!” 
 He held me close, drawing me up in his arms until my feet left the floor. “Oh, Ash,” he murmured. 
 Kaitlyn appeared next to us. Braden returned me to my feet and scooped her up. 
 I stood to the side and watched the reunion between my siblings. Something trickled down my cheek. I couldn't believe it. Tears? I hadn't allowed myself to cry since the day social services had separated us from Braden at the group home. And now here I was, blubbering like a toddler. 
 Braden set Kaitlyn down and held out an arm to each of us. “Come here, you sissys.” He grinned, calling us by the nicknames he'd given us during childhood. 
 I swiped at the persistent tears and stepped forward into Braden's inviting hug. 
 “I've missed you two.” His voice broke, and I couldn't care less. 
 “We've missed you,” I sniffed. “I’ve been worried, with not hearing from you for months and…” 
 “I know,” he said, almost sorrowfully, and cleared his throat. “That's mostly my fault and I owe both of you an apology.” 
  “What do you think, Ash?” Kaitlyn peeked around Braden to me. “Forgiven?” 
 I smiled and squeezed him tighter. “Forgiven.” 
 Braden chuckled. “My pretty girls.” He planted a brotherly kiss on each of our foreheads. 
 I sighed and leaned against him. I couldn't believe it. Braden was really, finally here with us! 
 I was all too soon jerked back to the Christmas Eve service when “Silent Night” came to a close and I realized everyone was watching us. 
 Pastor Chris smiled in our direction and didn't comment on Kaitlyn and my behavior. “Let's dismiss with a prayer.” 
 My siblings and I reverently bowed our heads for the prayer. I missed most of Pastor Chris’ words because I was caught up in my own talk with God. 
 Thank you, Lord. How else can I say it? Having Braden here, even if it's just seeing him briefly, is the best gift we could've asked for. I'm so grateful, God, so grateful. Help me to keep my focus on You, this Christmas and always. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 
 I lifted my head after Pastor Chris’ prayer concluded. The service was over and people began making their way back to their seats to collect coats and things before leaving. 
 I sighed as I wondered how this would all go over. “This will be fun to explain,” I muttered. 
 “What did you say?” Kaitlyn asked. 
 I realized I'd thought aloud again and I started to explain. “Well, I was just thinking how difficult this–” 
 Another voice broke into our sibling trio. “I'm assuming you two know this young man.” 
 I turned to find Mr. and Mrs. Robertson standing behind us, curiously eyeing Braden. I could only imagine how this looked to them – two teenage girls, who they're responsible for, interrupting the service to run and hug a stranger in uniform. 
 “I'm Braden Dalton, sir.” He held out his hand. “These two are my little sisters.” 
 Mr. Robertson smiled and shook Braden's hand. “Samuel Robertson. This is my wife, Cassandra, and our children, Blake, Joe and Caroline.” He motioned to the three children staying close around their parents. 
 I breathed a sigh of relief; the Robertsons weren't upset with us. On the contrary, they seemed happy for us. 
 “Nice to meet you, Braden,” Mrs. Robertson spoke up. “Your sisters are staying with us over the holidays. We've heard a lot about you.” 
 While Braden exchanged ‘nice to meet you’ and ‘how are you's’ with the Robertsons, I became aware of something. With a sick feeling in my gut, I realized we would have to say goodbye to Braden. Again. 
 As I came to terms with this aching reality, Kaitlyn turned to our brother and softly whispered a question. “Will we see you for Christmas?” 
 Braden's face became downcast. “Well, I–” 
 Before he could offer an answer, Mrs. Robertson spoke up in her usual bubbly manner. “Oh, of course! We'd love to have you, Braden. Come on over to our house anytime tomorrow. And the rest of the week while we have the girls, if you like.” 
 Braden cleared his throat and nodded. “Thank you, ma'am. I appreciate your generosity and your family opening your home to my girls. I wouldn't be getting to see them right now without you all.” 
 Mr. Robertson smiled and turned to his wife. “We are more than happy to do what little we can.” He reached down and grabbed each of the boys by the hand. “We’re going to let y'all have some time alone while we get this gang herded towards the car.” 
 Mrs. Robertson nodded and smiled sweetly to me and Kaitlyn. “Take your time, girls.” 
 Alone in the quiet, dark sanctuary with my siblings, I felt more tears fill my eyes. At that was when I knew it. This Christmas was going to be perfect. Not only was I with an amazing Christian family; not just because I was I going to be blessed by being able to spend Christmas with Kaitlyn and Braden. But for the real reasons. Because true peace, love and joy reigned within me. Because the True Light, the Light of the World, made His abode in my heart. 
 And that, folks, is a blessing in it's self. 


~ Verse of the Day ~ 

Today's Christmas-y posts!! 
~ Visit Counting Your Blessings One by One for a Christmas album review!! 
~ Visit Rebekah Ashleigh's blog for a Christmas-y tag!! 
~ Visit Whimsical Writings for the fourth part of Jesseca's beautiful Christmas story, "I'll be Home for Christmas"!! 
~ Visit Simply Stories for the conclusion of Rebekah's inspiring Christmas story, "God Will Provide"!! 

Merry Christmas everyone! I'll be scheduling tomorrow's post sometime today. :) Have a blessed Christmas from our family to yours. ;) 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"All I Want for Christmas" ~ Part 3

Read on for the conclusion of this story! :D I considered torturing you all some more by making it four parts total...but I decided against it. B-) I actually have another story planned for tomorrow. :) Can you believe tomorrow is CHRISTMAS EVE?????? :-O  How did that happen?!?! 

---(from Pinterest) Um, it should say marine to match this story, but.... ;) 


 Colin's eyes widened as he stared behind her. “Um, Alaina...”
 Before she could respond two large, rough hands clamped over her eyes. 
 “Guess who?” someone murmured. 


 Alaina was bewildered. Whose hands were over her eyes? Who was standing behind her? The voice was Colin's, but he was in front of her. Why wouldn't whoever it was speak? Were they afraid she would recognize their voice? But, who would want to surprise her like that anyw– couldn't be... Her thoughts halted and she whirled around, heart hammering in her chest. 
 She gasped as she gazed up into his handsome face. The moment was surreal. “Aaron?” 
 He grinned down at her and she fell crying into his arms. She caught a glimpse of tears in his eyes before she buried her face in his chest. 
 His arms encircled her waist and his head rested against hers. “I love you, Alaina.” 
 She slowly drew back and straightened, looking through her own tears and into his eyes. “I love you so much.” 
 Aaron’s thumb wiped away the moisture beneath her eyes and he leaned his forehead against hers. “I've missed you.” 
 “Me too,” she sniffed. 
 By now they had everyone's attention and the room erupted in applause. 
 Alaina and Aaron finally, reluctantly pulled apart. As he gave a wave and thanked their church family, she quickly claimed his right hand and arm. He's home... He's safe. Thank you, Lord! 
 Aaron turned back to his brother-in-law. “You did perfect to not have known ahead of time. Thanks, Colin.” 
 “You're welcome, Aaron. I've never seen her so happy,” Colin winked at his sister standing close at Aaron's side. 
 Aaron laughed and Alaina savored the yearned for sound. 
 “It's good to have you home, Aaron,” Colin sobered. 
 Aaron nodded. “Good to be home,” he tugged on Alaina's hand. “Come with me.” 
 She stuck close to his side through the maze of people, all of who wanted to thank him and welcome him home. Aaron patiently thanked each of them and answered their many questions. Alaina didn't mind the delay one bit; she was perfectly satisfied to just be with him. 
 Eventually, they made their way to the end of the fellowship hall and out of the throngs of people. Aaron pulled her towards the door into the sanctuary. 
 “They're finishing preparations for the Christmas play in there,” Alaina quickly told him. 
 He shrugged. “We’ll stay in the alcove, out of their way.” 
 “Alright,” she agreed and followed him through the open doorway and into the nearly dark alcove. 
 He stopped behind the door and drew her to his side. “Mrs. Seagle, may I have your permission to kiss you?” 
 She couldn't help but laugh and tease him. “I wouldn't forgive you if you didn't.” 
 He leaned down and kissed her ever so sweetly. Alaina’s heart fluttered. 
 “Was it worth waiting eight months?” he whispered in her ear. 
 “Yes,” she sighed. “Always. I'd wait forever for you.” 
  Held in his safe embrace, listening to the steady heartbeat beneath her ear, Alaina was content and ever so grateful. 


 Alaina sighed at the peace and bliss of the moment. A thought suddenly struck her and she slowly straightened up. “Darling?” 
 “Yeah?” Aaron smiled and tucked an escaping strand of hair behind her ear. 
 “Did you know you were coming home when we talked the other night?” she asked with warranted suspicion. 
 He grinned. “Yep.” 
 Alaina attempted to look upset. “‘Won't be able to call home for weeks’ you said.” She shook her head and wrinkled her nose, “and to think I believed you.” 
 He put on his best look of genuine repentance. “Forgive me?” 
 “Always.” She smiled and leaned her head against his shoulder before speaking again. “How did you get here?” 
 Aaron watched her for a moment with an unreadable but somber expression. “I walked.” 
 “You what?” Alaina exclaimed. Walked? The airport was miles from the church. As he struggled to keep a straight face, and to remove the mischievous gleam from his eye, Alaina realized he was teasing her again. 
 “Nice try,” she snickered. “So Corporal, how long did it take you to walk here from the Middle East?” 
 “Quite awhile. I had a terrible time swimming across the Atlantic,” he grinned. “I'm still waterlogged.” 
 Alaina laughed. “Okay, your jokes are over. Be serious now, please.” 
 “I'll try,” he winked at her. 
 Alaina bit her bottom lip before hesitantly speaking the dreaded question. “How long will you be here?” 
 He kissed her forehead. “How does forever sound?” 
 She froze and her brow furrowed. “What?” 
 “Didn't I tell you?” he teased, the goofy grin still tugging at the corners of his mouth. 
 “No, you didn't. Tell me what?” Alaina insisted, hoping he was going to say what she thought he was going to say. 
 “I'm home for real. Deployment is finished and I didn't get held over.” 
 “You mean it?” she whispered, slowly, almost disbelieving. 
 Aaron smiled and nodded. “I mean it.” 
 Overjoyed, Alaina wrapped her arms around him and pulled him back into a hug. “Oh, Aaron, I'm so glad.” 
 He chuckled and returned the embrace. “I thought you'd like that.” 
 “Like it?” she sniffed, getting choked up all over again. “I'm...I'm thrilled.” 
 “That better not be tears that I'm hearing,” Aaron teased. 
 “Only happy tears,” she assured him with a sweet smile. Thank you, God. Thank you for bringing him home. 


 Alaina’s parents offered to give her and Aaron a ride home after the Christmas play. Stuffed into the backseat along with Melissa and Colin, they were cramped but they made it work. 
 Arriving at their small rented house on the west side of town, Aaron slid out of the car and turned to give his assistance to Alaina. 
 “Thanks, John! Have a good night!” Aaron called across his shoulder to the departing car as he led his wife up the stairs onto the front porch of their home. 
 Alaina shivered and leaned closer to him. “I feel snow in the air.”
 “Maybe we’ll have a white Christmas,” Aaron replied, grinning like a school boy. 
 The couple stopped for a moment and stood there near the banister. Each absorbed in their own thoughts, they watched the Christmas lights brightening houses and yards up and down the street, and the stars twinkling in the clear winter sky. 
 Aaron broke the bliss of the silent night. “Say, what day is it?” 
 Alaina turned and looked up at him in confusion. “It's December twenty-first. Why?” 
 Aaron frowned and rubbed a hand across his chin. “Only four days left. I've got some shopping to do.” 
 Alaina laughed. “Shopping for what?” 
 “Christmas is not the time to ask questions, but since I can't seem to say no to you...” Aaron made a face at that indubitable fact, “I'll tell you anyway. I need to shop for a gift for my beautiful, lovely, amazing, wonderful, darling wife.” 
 Alaina smiled at his thoughtfulness. “But Aaron, I've already recieved everything I want for Christmas.” 
 He frowned. “You–you have?” 
 “Yeah,” she nodded. “I've got you home, safe and sound. All I want for Christmas is right here.” She slid her arms around his waist. “I love you, Aaron.” 
 He held her close and kissed her hair. “I love you, darling. Merry Christmas.” 
 Alaina sighed. Yes, all was right in her world now. 
 “Merry Christmas, my Aaron.” 

The End


~ Verse of the Day -- 1 John 4:9 ~ 

Today's Christmas fun! (Is this line different every. Single. Day. or what? xD) 
~ Visit Rebekah Ashleigh's blog for a Christmas movie review! 
~ Visit Whimsical Writings for part three of Jesseca's amazing Christmas story! 
~ Visit Counting Your Blessings One by One for a Christmas-y tag! 
~ Visit Living in Faith and Fun for the sixth day of Amy's Christmas fun! 
~ Visit Chosen Vessels for the story behind a well-known and loved Christmas song! 

Merry Christmas everyone! We have a candlelight service at church tonight so I'm off to finish some preparations. What sort of Christmas-y stuff are you up to today? Is all your shopping done? I'd love to hear about it! ;) 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"All I Want for Christmas" ~ Part 2

Enjoy part two!! :) 


 After everyone had been served and was seated around the lively fellowship hall, the servers and kitchen workers filled their plates and went to sit with their families. 
 Alaina canvassed the large room, searching for an unoccupied seat. Melissa motioned to her from across the room. Alaina smiled and went to sit with her parents and siblings. 
 Seeing her hands were full with her plate and cup, Colin stood and pulled out a chair for her. 
 “Why, thank you, kind sir.” 
 He grinned and flopped back into the chair next to her. 
 The family enjoyed the fellowship and time spent together. After most folks were finished, Mom left to help in the kitchen clean-up and Dad, along with several other men, went to assist in moving some of the heavier props. 
 “Oh, Alaina! I have to show you my throne!” Colin exclaimed suddenly, nearly jumping from his chair. 
 “You can't show it to her ahead of time,” Melissa insisted, scrunching up her nose. 
 Colin ignored her. “It's awesome, sis. You've gotta come see it. It's huge and wooden, with red velvety stuff on the seat and Mr. George painted it and–” 
 “And no one is supposed to see it before the play starts,” Melissa finished, tauntingly. 
 “I'm King,” he declared with a dramatic air, holding his fork high above their heads. “I can do whatever I wish!” 
 “King Silverware,” Melissa rolled her eyes. 
 Alaina snickered. “Alright, King Silverware. I'll come see your majesty's throne.” 
 He grinned. “See, Melissa? I told you I was her favorite.” 
 Now it was Alaina's turn to give the eye roll. “My favorite brother.” 
 “Yeah, whatever.” Colin stood, pushed his chair in, and scooped up his plate. “Come on,” he called over his shoulder as he sauntered across the room. 
 Alaina stood and grabbed her own plate and cup. “Catch ya later, favorite sister.” 
 Melissa giggled. “Yeah, okay.” She got up to follow her sister to the garbage can across the room. “I think I'm going to head on in there and get some more practice in.” 
 “I thought you weren't nervous?” Alaina teased. 
 “Well, I–” she started. Then she laughed. “Forget that, will you?” 
 Alaina dumped her plate in the trash and joined her laughter. Thank you, God. I really, really needed this. 
 Alaina was pulled from her quick prayer. “What?” 
 “I know you're missing Aaron alot right now,” Melissa said with a quiet smile. “Always know that I'm here for you, even if you just need to talk. After all, what are sisters for?” 
 Alaina smiled back, the care in her sister’s words forming tears in her eyes. “Thank you, Lis. I do miss him.” 
 Melissa threw away her plate and cup, and gave her sister a hug. 
 “Can't you two be sentimental some other time?” 
 The sisters turned to find Colin standing nearby, arms folded. 
 “I suppose so,” Alaina grinned and dipped into a semi-bow. “I'm at your service, King Silv-...uh, Herod.” 
 Melissa snickered and Colin rolled his eyes. 
 “Oh, come on!” 
 “I'm coming, little brother.” 
 Melissa went off to locate her costume and practice once more with the angels chorus. Alaina followed Colin through the overflowing fellowship towards the door into the sanctuary at the opposite end. 
 “Merry Christmas, Alaina.” 
 She turned to the voice. “Oh, how are you, Mrs. Stiles?” The Stiles’ also had a loved one currently deployed to Afghanistan. Their son, Brian. Alaina felt so blessed to have someone in her church family who understood what she was going through and could relate to how she felt. 
 “Quite well. How are you?” 
 “I'm doing good. Have you heard from Brian lately?” 
 “Yes,” Mrs. Stiles smiled. “I talked to him for awhile the other day. What about Aaron?” 
 Alaina nodded. “We talked on Skype for a couple hours Thursday night. It was wonderful after not talking to him for several weeks. Unfortunately, that probably won't happen for several weeks again, he says.” 
 Mrs. Stiles nodded, understandingly. “If I'm right it was probably more like Friday morning you were talking to him.” She grinned, jokingly. 
 Alaina laughed. “Yes, I believe it was.” 
 “When it's the only way to talk to them, we’ll do anything.” 
 Colin nudged his sister’s arm. “Alaina, I think you should look over there at the–” 
 She shushed him. “Don't interrupt, Colin.” 
 Mrs. Stiles smiled. “I'll let you two get along. Nice speaking with you, Alaina. You know Aaron is in my prayers.” 
 “And Brian is in mine. Thank you, Mrs. Stiles.” Mrs. Stiles walked off and Alaina turned to Colin. “Alright, King Herod. Lead to way.”  
 Colin's eyes widened as he stared behind her. “Um, Alaina...”
 Before she could respond two large, rough hands clamped over her eyes. 
 “Guess who?” someone murmured. 


~ Verse of the Day ~

Today's line up! 
~ Visit Whimsical Writings for part two of Jesseca's story, "I'll be Home for Christmas"! 
~ Visit Rebekah Ashleigh's blog for a Christmas short story challenge! 
~ Visit Rebekah's Remarks for a Christmas poem! 
~ Visit Living in Faith and Fun for more Christmas fun! 
~ Visit Chosen Vessels for a Christmas movie review! 

Merry Christmas all!! I'm off to do some baking and wrap a few presents! ;) 

Monday, December 21, 2015

"All I Want for Christmas" ~ Part 1

 Hello all of you sweet blog readers! I'm visiting here on Faith's blog today. A guest post, I believe she called it. :) 
 My name is Alaina Seagle. My husband, Cpl. Aaron Seagle, USMC, is currently overseas on deployment. He had to leave exactly one week after our wedding. That was almost eight months ago. (You can read that part of our story by clicking HERE.
 I miss Aaron very much, especially now that Christmas is almost here. But he's in God's Hands and I trust that He will keep my Aaron safe and bring him home soon. :) 
 So now that I've introduced you to my life, I'll let you read this story that Faith wrote, covering my special Christmas this year. ;) 
 Enjoy part one of "All I Want for Christmas"!! 

     -from Pinterest-


~December 21st~  

 Dear Journal, 
 I usually scribble my thoughts down in here before I go to bed, but I'm writing this earlier than usual because the Christmas dinner and play at church are tonight. I probably won't be home until late. 
 At first I considered not attending. I don't feel like being cheerful and having to make conversation, but I know Mom and Dad want me to go. It is good for me to get out of the house; Aaron wouldn't be pleased to know how often I would rather be alone than socialize. Of course, if he were here I wouldn't be alone and I wouldn't mind going places. 
 The youth group are putting on a Christmas play after the dinner, and I know Colin and Melissa would like for me to be there for that. Melissa is playing the piano for the choir and Colin is King Herod. At first he didn't like being cast as the 'bad guy', as he put it, but the role has grew on him, I think. 
 My phone just buzzed with a text message from Melissa. They're leaving the house. I better grab my coat and purse, and head downstairs. I don't want them to have to wait on me because I'm feeling sorry for myself and wishing my husband could be present for our first Christmas as a married couple. 

 Alaina ended the entry as she always did, by writing out the prayer that was constantly in her heart and on her mind. A prayer for Aaron. 

Dear God, please be with my Aaron. I pray his deployment doesn't get lengthened and he'll be home soon. But above all else, keep my beloved husband safe from all harm. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. 

 She stopped in front of the mirror on her way out of the room and scrutinized her reflection. Pretty red sweater, knee-length black skirt, tights and black boots. Her hair was twisted up on the back of her head with a few wisps hanging around her face. The silver locket with a poinsettia etched on the lid and Aaron's picture tucked inside completed her outfit. 
 Alaina sighed. Her outfit was festive, but it didn't match how she felt inside. “God, please help me to be happy and give us all a joyful Christmas. I'm missing Aaron now more than ever, but please help me to keep my focus on you and not dwell on his absence.” 
 Realizing how long she had been standing there, she checked her hair and hurried off down the hall. She grabbed her purse from the foyer and her coat from the closet. Taking a quick peek out the living room window, she saw her parent’s SUV pulling into the driveway. 
 Perfect timing. 


 Alaina slid into the back seat next to her sister. “Hello, everyone.” 
 Mom, Dad and Melissa returned her greetings. Colin, however,  didn't look up from a handful of papers strew across his lap. 
 “King Herod is nervous about the play tonight,” Melissa whispered. “He suddenly decided that he should've been learning his lines for weeks, instead of pouting because he didn't like the part.” 
 Colin spoke up without looking away from his reading. “I did not pout, Lis.” 
 “Well, I'd call how you acted pouting,” Melissa retorted. 
 “That's enough you two,” Dad called over his shoulder. “If I recall correctly, our lead angel has been quite nervous too.” 
 Melissa blushed. “Well, at least I don't have to speak as much as Colin does.” 
 Alaina snickered as she observed the banter between her siblings. Thank you, God. I'm already enjoying myself. 


 “Alaina dear, you look absolutely beautiful this evening,” Mrs. Raby sweetly beamed as Alaina passed her on her way through the crowded church kitchen. 
 “Thank you,” Alaina smiled. She continued on down the counter until she came to Mrs. Coggins. 
 Although there were no real ‘positions’, Mrs. Coggins was usually nominated head of the church’s kitchen for such occasions. She was who Alaina needed to ask about what needed to be done. 
 The middle-aged woman turned from the sink and smiled warmly. “Good evening, Alaina!” 
 “Hello, Eleanor.” Alaina returned the smile and friendly greeting. “What can I do to help out?” 
 “You know you don't have to help in the kitchen, dear.” 
 “I want to,” Alaina said. “I don't do much cooking these days unless I'm at Mom and Dad’s.” 
 Mrs. Coggins nodded. “Alright. If you insist, I'll put you to work. You can get the rolls out of the oven and put them in those baskets.” She stepped away from the sink. “We’re about ready to serve. I'm going to ask Pastor Jamie to get everyone's attention and say grace.” 


 “What are your plans for Christmas this year?” Eleanor Coggins asked Alaina as they stood behind the counter helping serve the church family. 
 Alaina knew what the woman was really wanting to ask. She sighed. I guess mine and Aaron's first Christmas together will have to wait until next year. “I'll be at Mom and Dad’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then I'm going to Aaron's parents place the day after. Aaron's sister, Dana, can't be here until then so they're planning their family get-together for a day after everyone else.” 
 “That's wonderful,” Eleanor smiled. But her expression dimmed slightly as she continued. “I know you wish Aaron was here.” 
 Alaina sighed. “I do...but his deployment is almost over. So hopefully I'll have him back soon.” 
 Eleanor chuckled softly at the young woman's choice of words. 

(Just to make sure we're all on the same page, Alaina is fictional... :)) 

Instead of the usual "Christmas Tidings", we're going to have daily Bible verses from now, on each day this week. ;D 

Today's "12 Days of Christmas" fun! ;) 
~ Visit Whimsical Writings for the first part of Jesseca's Christmas story! 
~ Visit Lauren's Amazing World for a Christmas story! 
~ Visit Counting Your Blessings One by One for a fun recipe! 
~ Visit Living in Faith and Fun for the fourth installment of Amy's Christmas series! 
~ Visit my other blog, Chosen Vessels, for the story behind a Christmas song! 

Thank you all for reading and/or participating in this fun Christmas-y blogging! Catch ya later! :D

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Movies!

(This is a delightfully long post in which I shall nonsensically ramble about several delightful Christmas movies. :D)

Hello everyone! How are you this blessed Sunday-before-Christmas?? I'm doing quite well, thank you. Can't believe that Christmas is THIS FRIDAY!!! Like, FIVE DAYS FROM NOW!!! :-O AHHH!!!! How did that happen?? Someone please tell me... 

Okay, so here goes. In the bold type is the description from the back of the DVD, italics are for quotes and ordinary type is...well, anything else. :)
Warning: May contain spoilers! 

--Christmas in Canaan--
When a pair of boys with nothing in common team up to help an injured dog, an unlikely friendship begins. As they grow into adults, their beliefs are tested by the rapidly changing world and they see that it will take strong faith and family spirit to keep them together. 

This movie is so good!!! Daniel Burton, a widower with three kids (Sarah, DJ, and young Bobber) and his father-in-law, Grandpa Wiley, makes quite the interesting family. :) Add in DJ's fight with a boy, Rodney Freeman, on the school bus and you've already got the setting for something amazing to happen. ;) 
We watched this movie the other night and I made a list if my favorite quotes and other little things throughout this movie. ;) 

- How the bus driver is always saying "hurry up! We're late enough as it is." It makes me laugh every time. ;) 
- Ms. Eunice :) She is so sweet! I just love her. :) And then when Bandit finds her in the garden... *sniff, sniff* 
- The blue flowers below the porch in the scene with Daniel talking to Wiley about DJ. I hadn't noticed them until watching it this time, I think they're hydrangeas. :) 
- When Rodney tells Daniel, "Your stupid boy owes me a new book." 
- DJ having his first supper with Ms. Eunice and Rodney. Rodney: "Didn't know you white folk had a taste for skunk." Hehehe...
- Rodney and DJ rescuing Bandit after he was shot by Carl Hammer. :'( 
- When they come home from school and they think Bandit is dead because he's missing and then he surprises Rodney and then comes out of the crate and puppy-kisses Wiley. (Never mind my run-on sentence...) 
Seven years pass...
- Rodney and DJ shopping for Ms. Eunice and the Clabber Girl (It's baking powder, by the way, for those of you who don't know.) 
- When Ms. Eunice dies *sobs*
- Daniel quote: "Who do you plan on answering to on Judgement Day? The good Lord or Carl Hammer?" 
- Rodney's story about Ms. Eunice's 'still' 
- When Daniel goes to get the Christmas Angel that was his late wife's. And then Sarah follows him. I love that scene!! It's so sadly-sweet. Daniel quote: "Every year when I see this angel I say, it ain't mine to question...but still..."
- Their 'Some Christmas': "To him 'some Christmas' meant giving all those things you wanted to give, but only your heart could afford." 
- Daniel to Sarah: "You deserve something pretty with all the work you do around here, riding herd on all of us." 
(Apparently I got caught up in the story through most of the rest of the movie...;) Oh well.) 
- Wiley to Rodney: "You're family now and once you're family, no matter what, family always got a place." 
- Rodney to Daniel: "Well, I guess that's the real stumper. I mean, why would some feller be willing to do something so generous for a kid he doesn't even know?" 

--Christmas Comes Home to Canaan--
When Daniel Burton's son Bobber is struck by an automobile, he faces extensive surgery and a grueling recovery. It's then that a kind act comes back to repay Daniel: Rodney Freeman, a young man whom Daniel had raised as his own, is now a successful writer and wants to fly them both to the West Coast and pay for medical expenses. 

This movie is the sequel to Christmas in Canaan. In this movie we follow Daniel and Bobber to the hospital in California where we meet the lovely...Briony Adair, Bobber's physical therapist. 
I love the scene where Daniel calls home and asks his kids, DJ and Sarah, for advice for his date with Briony that night. ;) And then when he throws the neck tie in the fire!! :D

--Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas--
December, 1900
Miss Heathwood's School for Girls

Thrust into the chaotic and unfamiliar world of a boarding school at Christmas, Mandie finds herself hounded by new rules and regulations at every turn. Unable to grasp the finer points of high society, she constantly falls into trouble with Miss Heathwood, the headmistress. 
While visiting the school's forbidden attic, Mandie stumbles upon a mystery from which she is warned to flee. Seeking the truth will require Mandie to lie, but it just might provide the key that unlocks the memories of a long forgotten Christmas. 

This is a great, girly-fun, Christmas movie. Although it does not follow the books like AT ALL! (Hello, people? Celia was from a wealthy family and her father was killed only days before the start of school! It was Hilda that lived in the attic!). But I try not to focus on all that and just enjoy the movie. ;) 
Polly is probably my favorite character because I just love listening to her. :D

--Love's Christmas Journey--
Still mourning the loss of her husband and daughter, Ellie Davis agrees to watch her brother Aaron's children while he heads off to purchase farmland. But after a suspicious fire, Ellie finds herself playing detective – with the help of a handsome deputy – to clear the name of a family friend. Despite her worries when Aaron doesn't return, if Ellie can trust her faith, this Christmas just might bring more miracles than she could have hoped for in an exhilarating story inspired by Janette Oke's cherished Love Comes Softly novel series. 

Where to begin, where to begin. I just love this movie, oh so much. :) 

Ellie's story is so sad...*sob* I mean, really?? Her husband and her daughter? How awful!! 

Susanna and Eric...<3 May I spend a few minutes gushing over how perfect these two are?? I mean, seriously! It's like the best love story. Susanna is the mayor's daughter and Eric is the son of an outlaw. His father left him there in town several years ago, and Sheriff Aaron Davis took him in. Eric lives in the Davis' barn now and works around there. Since his father abandoned him, Eric has learned that his father is now dead. (I think Eric's father was killed in a bank robbery, but I'm not sure...*makes face*) 
Anyway. Eric is sweet on Susanna, she returns the affection, but her father does not approve. They sneak around to see each other whenever Eric is in town, and once get caught by Ellie...hehehe. 
Thankfully, all turns our well in the end and Susanna's father agrees to allow them to court. :) 

Michael, Annabelle, and Christopher decorating the tree ;)

The Mayor, Eric, Ellie Davis, Deputy Michael, Christopher Davis, Sheriff Aaron Davis, Annabelle Davis, storekeeper-lady-who's-name-I-don't-remember, mean lawyer man. :) 

So yeah. These are all amazing movie. Go watch right now. B-) 

"Christmas Tidings" ~ Day Seven

Today's 12 Days of Christmas contributions... ;) 
~ Visit Rebekah Ashleigh's blog for the story behind a Christmas song!
~ Visit Simply Stories for the third part of Rebekah's story, God Will Provide
~ Visit Whimsical Writings and see what sort of Christmas fun Jesseca has for us today! :) 
~ Visit Living in Faith and Fun for the fourth day in Amy's Christmas blog series! 

I'm so sorry that this post didn't get up until this afternoon. (After all it is Sunday... ;)) I was planning to finish and schedule this last night, but I watched It's a Wonderful Life with my family instead. :)