Wednesday, December 25, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Merry Christmas + Recap

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today's post is quick and to the point—a thank you to anyone who took part, and a heartfelt "merry Christmas" to everyone reading this. It's a special time of year, and I pray it's filled with joy and blessings for each of you. <3

|| Merry Christmas + 12DoC Wrap-Up

A huge thank you to everyone who participated this year, whether you were writing and sharing posts, or reading and commenting, you're amazing and so appreciated! <3  We ended up with about 77 posts from 16 unique blogs. 

This party means a lot to me, so I'm thankful we were able to make it happen again this year, even if it wasn't quite the same as years past.

Oh, and before I forget, our giveaway winners are Kassie A. and Faith G.—both 12DoCers! Congratulations, girls! I'll be in touch. :D

Merry Christmas, dear readers! I hope you all have a blessed day, celebrating the Messiah's coming surrounded by family and friends. I plan to be back in a few days with a 2019 recap and plans for 2020.

God bless and happy New Year! <3

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

merry Christmas <3

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas is... {Traditions}

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! (Is that a thing? Probably not. It is now.)

I know it's cliche, but I seriously can't believe tomorrow is Christmas. Ever Christmas season flies by, but this Christmas season has flown by.

Today I'm going to share some traditions and such that happen around here during Christmastime. Nothing elaborate, just a laidback list of sorts. :)

|| Christmas is... 

• Reading the Christmas story in Luke 2 and Matthew 1 multiple times, reflecting on different areas, and always gaining something new or discovering a different angle to something familiar.

• Watching Christmas movies for like...two months. Or at least since before Thanksgiving, or there about. Some are watched every year—It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas in Canaan, The Christmas Card, Signed Sealed Delivered: For Christmas, The Christmas Candle—and there's always some new ones too.

• Baking soooo many good things. That's how I'm planning to spent this afternoon, actually. In the kitchen. ;)  Some recipes are tried and true, and others are new experiments each year.

• Attending a candlelight service at church. There's something about standing in a church, dark by normal lighting but warmed by the glow of the candle of every single occupant, that always calms your heart.

• Reading Christmas books. I adore Christmas books and I always have a stack to read. This year, I literally couldn't finish my stack if I read a book a day...until January 10th.

• Stringing Christmas lights across my bookshelves, lighting a candle, and curling up in my chair with coffee and a book.

• Planning, shopping for, buying, and wrapping Christmas gifts. I love all the fun, harmless secrets floating around at Christmas time. <3

• Dressing up Christmasy, in reds and greens, or pretty Christmas dresses, or festive prints.

• Other than Christmas movies, I enjoy re-watching Christmas episodes of some well-loved TV shows—particularly, The Waltons, The Big Valley, The Andy Griffith Show, and Little House on the Prairie.

• Hosting the 12DoC blog party, and getting excited by seeing everyone else's excitement. <3

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party 

Read Another Page — Book #24: A Crazy, Crowded, Christmas

Old-Fashioned Book Love — Book Review: “Christmas Eve at the Backdoor” by Rebekah A. Morris

Soldier Girl Stories — The Night Before Christmas...

Whimsical Writings for His Glory — Auld Lang Syne, pt.3

I Like That — Just for Laughs: Christmas 2019

Joy in the Journey — Christmas Gift Ideas

last day to enter the giveaway! winners will be announced tomorrow <3

Monday, December 23, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas Story Snippets 3/3

Merry Christmas, everyone!

With only two days left until Christmas, there's only two remaining party days! Which means you only have today and tomorrow to rack up some entries (or more entries) in the 12DoC giveaway. ;)

Oh, but before you scamper off, enjoy the last few snippets of the party!

|| Christmas Story Snippets {pt. 3 of 3}

Before Jamison could decide whether or not to be obedient, a dark curly head appeared from the kitchen, belonging to a jitterbugging teenager in a red polka dot dress.  
“There’s my favorite little munchkin!” sixteen-year-old Molly declared as she came swooping in and held out her arms to Jamie.  
“Auntie Oll!” the toddler squealed. He bounced on the couch and clapped his hands until she scooped him up.  
Chattering to her nephew, Molly started back toward the kitchen without a word to her brother.  
“I see how it is.” Jamison leaned back on the couch and crossed his arms over his chest.  
Molly stopped and turned back, grinning mischievously. “Well, hi there. Say, you look familiar, stranger. What’s your name again?”  
“Love you too, sis.”  
“Oh my!” Molly leaned her head against Jamie’s, a dreamy look glazing over her eyes. “And now this dashing stranger has the nerve to profess his love for me. At our first meeting!”  
With dramatic grace, she twirled and fell to her knees next to her father’s rocker, somehow managing to hold Jamie upright on her hip. “Oh, Papa, whatever should I do?”  
Henry’s teasing eyes met Jamison’s, and he winked before turning to answer his youngest. “I don’t know what you’re going to do, Oll, but I think the rest of us need to ship you off to the big stage.” 

I pour up two cups of coffee in the kitchen, switch off the coffee pot and the last of the lights, and step out onto the porch just as Ryder starts back my way from the truck. Katydid trots along at his feet, looking much more awake than I am. 
I hand him one of the coffees over the porch railing and pause to lock the door. When I join him at the bottom of the steps, I glance down at Katydid. “I thought you said you coaxed her into the truck?”  
“Correction: I said I tried.” Free hand jammed deep in the pocket of his Carhartt work jacket, Ryder’s eyes meet mine through the hazy steam spiraling up from his mug of joe. “Your turn.”  
I follow his gaze down to the offending dog, surprised that she’s not obeying his commands. 
“Usually I’m the one she doesn’t mind.” Pretty sure the dog still holds a grudge against me for stealing her man. 
Stamping across the frosted grass, I follow Katydid and my husband out to the waiting truck, exhaust spilling from underneath.  
He opens the back passenger door and glances back down at the dog. “C’mon, girl. There’s plenty of space for you on top of all of Charity’s stuff.”  
“Hey, I don’t have that much!”   
After supper, Lydia shooed her out of the kitchen with instructions to enjoy the rest of the evening. 
Giving in, she wandered into the front room and sank to the hearth. The flickering flames sent skitters of warmth up her back.  
David moved from the couch to sit beside her, then silently pointed above them. Bethany turned her eyes in that direction. Uh, oh.  
The sprig of mistletoe that Erin had hung there earlier spun gaily in the firelight. She looked back to her fiancĂ©. “Don’t go getting any bright ideas, young Mr. Carnathan.”  
“Young Mr. Carnathan?”  
She grinned. “You’re young Mr. Carnathan and—” she nodded across the room to where David's father sat in the rocker, “—your father is old Mr…” The flames of a blush crept up her face as she realized what she’d said. “Oh my goodness. I—I’m terribly sorry, Mr. Carnathan. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” 
Raymond chuckled, heartily. “Don’t apologize, dear. We all know you didn’t mean it that way.”  
Everyone laughed and, this once, Bethany didn’t color red at being the subject of their merriment.  
“Where does that leave me?” Michael spoke up.  
“You’re not old enough to earn the title of ‘mister’,” David suggested, earning himself an eyeroll.  
Bethany smiled and leaned her head onto David's shoulder. Raymond and Lydia were the best future in-laws she could’ve asked for. So understanding and encouraging, always loving no matter what. She hadn’t been in a real family setting for so long, and it was an absolutely wonderful feeling. 

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

Showers of Blessings — A Christmas Recipe

Read Another Page — Book #23: A Pint of Judgement

Life of Heritage — Would God Choose You? A Devotion

Little Blossoms for Jesus — 8 Favorite Christmas Books

Soldier Girl Stories — Christmas Spirit Tag

Whimsical Writings for His Glory — Auld Lang Syne, pt.2

tomorrow is Christmas Eve, y'all! *freaks out*

Sunday, December 22, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Favorite Christmas Books of '19

Happy Sunday, dears!

Welcome back to day nine. Can you believe it? Less than three days until Christmas, whhaaaa. xD  Today we're talking Christmas books, with the last "favs of 2019" installment.

Have you read many Christmas books this year? Do you have a favorite?

|| Favorite Christmas Books of '19 

When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine /// Oh my gosh, I adored this book. I don't know what it is about journal-style/epistolary novels, but they always get me. (I loved Simone and her Sam. <3) Plus I don't read much WWI fiction and knew nothing about the Hello Girls, so this was an all-around gem of a library find. 

The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan /// (C'mon, it's MacLachlan. Of course I devoured it.) I remember reading this book many years ago, I was probably nine or ten. At the time, I thought it was really sad. While it certainly has the author's trademark almost-melancholic whimsy, I wouldn't categorize the book as sad. I enjoyed the story—and found that I could sympathize with the children's fear of running out of books to read. ;)

Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander /// So, I actually didn't read this one this Christmas season, but I did read it this year, back in January. And oh my stars, it was so good. Everything a Civil War Christmas story should be + the darling-est love story. <33

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep /// Technically, I haven't finished this one. xD But I'm a ways into it and enjoying it ever so much! The story is enthralling and the writing style is simply gorgeous—both a welcome change after encountering a couple not-so-good books in the past few days. 

Waiting Here for You by Louie Giglio /// (Another book from my "currently reading" stack... xD)  Woah. This book is like one, big, 100+pg quote. One of those that you want to write down and tack up or set as your screensaver or something. The author tackles the idea that we're all waiting for something, but showing how our period of waiting is so small and less-significant compared to the world waiting hundreds of years for a Savior. 

"Waiting is not wasting when we are waiting on His plans to unfold." 

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party 

Read Another Page — Book #22: A Carol in Her Heart

RebekahAshleigh — Fun Things to Do at Christmas Time

Soldier Girl Stories — Happy Hanukkah!

Little Blossoms for Jesus — Reflections on the Wise Men

Whimsical Writings for His Glory — Auld Lang Syne, pt.1

what sort of Christmas-y things have you been up to?

Saturday, December 21, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas Decorating

Good morning, folks!

I can't believe it's less than FOUR DAYS until Christmas... O.o  Which means only three more days to enter the 12DoC giveaway!

Today's post is a little different—just some pictures of some of my favorite Christmas decorations. Sooo enjoy the photo dump. xD

|| Christmas Decorating

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

Read Another Page — Book #21: An Old-Time Christmas

Old-Fashioned Book Love — Book Review: “For My Good” by Sarah Holman

Soldier Girl Stories — Guest Post - Enjoy the Little Things

The Peculiar Messenger — 12DoC | This or That?

Life of Heritage — History Post

what's your favorite Christmas decoration?  is it new or something you put out each year?

Friday, December 20, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas Story Snippets 2/3

Happy Friday, dear friends!

(I am seriously running out of unique post intros. it's getting bad, guys.) So, uh, part two of the snippets posts, anyone? *fingerguns*

|| Christmas Story Snippets {pt. 2 of 3}

Out of nowhere, a handful of icy slush came sailing through the air and smacked the back of David’s head. He yowled as the snow skittered down his shirt.  
“That was for keeping your swell gal a secret for so long!” Michael hollered from across the yard, already forming a second round of ammo.  
“Sure wasn’t because I feared my baby-faced brother could steal her away,” David called back, grinning at the sight of his fiance, laughing heartily, cheeks pink with cold.  
There was no time to take cover before another snowball arrived, smacking into the front of Beth’s overalls.  
“And that was for stealing my clothes without permission!” 
“Hey, it was your sister’s idea!” 
“I’m calling a snowball challenge,” Luke called, tossing Lenore over his shoulder and grabbing Erin by the hand. “All out war!” 
“Are you sure y’all are brothers?” Beth asked as David grabbed her by the hand and nearly drug across the yard. “Because he acts nothing like you, sometimes.”  
They ducked behind the semi-seclusion of a shade tree, snow grenades already catapulting through the air.  
“And what does this all out war stuff mean?”  
Snickering over her cluelessness, David leaned closer until his forehead dropped to hers. “It means every man—and woman—for themselves.”


As the minute hand rose to a vertical position, the clock on the mantle began to chime. Twelve full strokes, which ended with the family sitting in silence except for the crackle of the fire. Christmas Day. 
Doug smiled as his mother approached him with the coffee pot. “More, son?”  
“Thanks, Mama.” He held out his mug for her to fill, his other hand occupied by Mary’s.  
Every coffee cup in the room had been refilled or topped off before Mama returned to her seat. She sank into the empty rocker by the fire, across from Papa. Doug and Mary sat on the sofa facing them, Ruthie on the ottoman between.  
“Papa…” Mama laid her hand on her husband's knee, their eyes meeting in the firelight. “Why don't you lead us in a prayer to thank God for our children’s safe return?”  
As they bowed their heads, Doug tightened his arm around Mary’s shoulders, nudging her closer to him. He couldn't help smiling when she pressed a kiss to his cheek and nestled her head into his embrace. 
Yes, they loved him for who he was deep inside. He wasn't the same person that left, but he had survived the war. And he’d made it home to the one he loved, home just in time for Christmas.


The rest of the family migrates into the living room, claiming spots around the base of the tree. Before saying grace over our breakfast, Mr. Traven pulls out his Bible and reads aloud the never- aging story from Luke two.
As the beloved words fill the room, I rest my head against Ryder’s shoulder and breathe in the wonder. The story of a Savior coming to a sin-sick world in the form of a helpless baby. The story of God in human flesh, masquerading as the Son of a lowly, humble Nazarene carpenter. For us—it was all for us. 
Laughter and conversation are enjoyed along with the breakfast. After plates have been set aside and mugs refilled, presents are passed out and exchanged. 
With my coffee cup warming my hands, I sit close to Ryder's side and observe the giving and receiving amidst the flurry of paper shreds and glittery ribbons.

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

Read Another Page — Book #20: Providence Christmas

Little Blossoms for Jesus — Sharing My Early Writings: 2 Poems & 1 Story

Rebekah's Reading Room — The Price, pt.5

Joy for the Journey — Part 3

The Peculiar Messenger — 12DoC | He Sees Every Sparrow--and Tree!

soooo who's ready for Christmas? *does NOT raise hand*

Thursday, December 19, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Heart of Christmas

Welcome back, lovely people!

I hope you're all enjoying the party and all the epic posts I've been seeing floating around. I've been making rounds through the blogging realm, but haven't checked in everywhere yet. Still, lots of good things to read and see and do!

A bit of a different post today—some thoughts and ramblings on what the heart of Christmas truly is. Hopefully it makes sense—given the late early at hour at which it was written. :P

|| Heart of Christmas 

I've been giving quite a bit of thought recently to all that Christmas is and all it isn't.

I know the technical answer—it's a national holiday, December 25th. According to Google, it's the most common holiday, most popular holiday, most loved holiday, and second most celebrated holiday. (Second to New Years Eve? Weird.)

I know the Sunday school answer—it's the day we celebrate Christ coming to earth, as Mary's virgin-born son. We read Luke 2 and Matthew 1. We sing O Holy Night and Joy to the World.

I know the culturally-accepted answer—it's a season to celebrate all that's good in the world. To spend a lot of money and probably go into debt. To exchange gifts and drink eggnog (eww) and go to parties and feel happy.

But what about when that's not enough? When that leaves us feeling empty and meaningless?

Down deep, at the core, at the heart of it all—what is Christmas?

The heart of Christmas isn't Santa Claus. It isn't colored lights or blow-up yard displays or shopping sprees. It isn't baking cookies and buying gifts or blog parties. It isn't Salvation Army bell-ringers or shouting merry Christmas to literally anyone.

It isn't even loving your neighbor, singing songs about hope and good cheer, or Christmas plays and church services.

The heart of Christmas is SO much more than any of this.

Christmas songs and candlelight services and giving gifts and reading the Christmas story and loving on those around you are all important, wonderful parts of Christmas. But even still, if that's all our Christmas is, it'll be just another empty day.

A body without a heart is dead. A celebration without a heart is dead, too.

Let's not forget the heart of Christmas. Instead, let's include Him first and foremost. Let's place Him where He belongs and keep him there. Because, if He is kept where he belongs, at the heart of all that Christmas truly is and ever will be, everything else will fall into place. The church services and Christmas performances will be successful. The presents will all get bought and wrapped and given. Beautiful, genuine, unbridled joy will fill your heart. Friends and family, believing or not, will feel the love of Christmas while in your presence.

The heart of Christmas is light and love.

The heart of Christmas is the Baby.

The heart of Christmas is the cross.

The heart of Christmas is salvation and grace and forgiveness and hope and freedom.

The heart of Christmas is Jesus.

|| 12 Days of Christmas 

Read Another Page — Book #19: The Candymaker’s Gift

RebekahAshleigh — Christmas Movie Recommendations

Old-Fashioned Book Love — Book Review: “Christmas Quilts” by Rebekah A. Morris

Kaitlyn Krispense, Author — Book Review: Bespoke by Amanda Dykes

Rebekah's Reading Room — The Candy Cane Story

in your words, what is the heart of Christmas? 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Favorite Christmas Movies of '19

(Forgive the tardiness! Apparently I wrote today's post but didn't schedule it. Which I didn't know until a few minutes ago. xD)

Now, for another "favs of 2019" post! As with the books, this isn't necessarily movies that are new this year, but ones I've really enjoyed this year.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

|| Favorite Christmas Movies of '19

Finding/Engaging/Marrying Father Christmas /// I'd saw this series floating around for awhile, but I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it or not. But I decided to give the first movie a try on Thanksgiving night—because, why not? And surprise! I really liked it. I watched the other two movies soon after and adored all three! From the mystery surrounding Miranda's father, to her and Ian's romance, to all the sweet people in the charming little town... 10/10 going on the re-watch list. ;)

Catch a Christmas Star /// This movie came on late one night last week, and I ended up watching it while I worked on blog posts and emails. I actually surprised by how much I liked it! The romance was sweet and the kids were really cute. (And is it just me, or does the main guy look like Brett Young??)

The Bridge /// In my mind...The Bridge is a classic. Or, at least, it has all the perfect elements to become a classic. A second chance love story, a special bookstore, and a middle-aged couple devoting their lives to helping others find their way. It's definitely one I'll always watch at Christmas. 

A Homecoming for the Holidays /// Another movie that I watched just because it was coming on Hallmark one night when I was working on online stuff. ;) Oh, and for the soldiers. I definitely watched for them. This was a sweet story though! Not a top favorite, but I really enjoyed it. :)

It's a Wonderful Life /// Whimsy and elegant and beautiful...It's a Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic that I adore. The plot, the setting, the characters, the quaint dialogue—all of it. Yes, George Bailey is a character of a guy, going around saying the most off-the-wall things, but it's all part of his charm. Right? 

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party 

Showers of Blessing — Top Ten Christmas Songs

Read Another Page — Book #18: The Christmas Dog

Little Blossoms for Jesus — 15 Free Christmas Stories

Soldier Girl Stories — Christmas Playlist Writing Tag

The Peculiar Messenger — 12DoC | Rejoice... always?

Kaitlyn Krispense, Author — Christmas Albums for Writing

Joy for the Journey — Part One & Part Two

what's your favorite Christmas movie this year? for all-time? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || End of an Era

A beginning of a new week, the only full calendar week of the party! Not sure how it's already day four and I still haven't gotten around to commenting on everyone's blogs *gulp*, but the Christmas season is so lovely and I'm trying to soak up every minute.

I have a rambly, life-related type post for y'all today... ;)

|| End of an Era 

As many of you know, my family used to farm Christmas trees for wholesale. There's lots of Christmas tree farmers in the area, so while that sounds cool and interesting and unusual on the internet (haha), it's not that foreign around here. If you were to say to someone here that your family farms trees, they would shrug and be like "oh, okay, so does *insert name of friend and/or family member*." It's pretty common.

ANYWAY. The Potts' have been Christmas tree farmers for all of my life, and most of my dad's life. My grandfather started it by planting trees on land he inherited from his father, in like the mid-70s. I think?

So, while the whole farming trees thing didn't usually interfere with otherwise normal life throughout most of the year, beginning of November through mid-December was the exception. Because all customers want their trees—and they all want them right then. So it's sell them now, or lose business and don't sell them at all. As Dad says, "no one wants to buy a Christmas tree on December 26th." Being on the go from the crack of dawn until after dark, with little time for anything but work, was accepted as reality during those weeks.

For all of my life, seeing piles of cut and baled Christmas trees standing in the ditches of the road while semi-trucks and trucks pulling trailers filling half a lane, waiting to be loaded with trees, was totally normal. Not only for us, but for neighboring farms as well.

Several years back, Dad made the decision to not plant anymore tree seedlings—there's a multitude of reasons behind that which I won't bore y'all with—then last year, he sold the last of the trees he had growing. And honestly, with this being our first year "without trees", I'm not sure any of us miss it that much.

It's weird to see heavily-loaded trailers and trucks pulling equipment on all the local roads, and not be among them. Fields once standing in rows of tall firs, with colored tags tied to their branches defining them by size and price, are now empty.

But, like different seasons of life, it's came to it's end and now something else will fill it's place. I find it interesting that this was all completed so near the end of the decade. Just as the 20-teen years are coming to an end, so is the Christmas tree farming chapter in Potts family history. ;)

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party 

Read Another Page — Book #17: The Bells of Christmas

Old-Fashioned Book Love — Book Review: "Emmanuel" by Angela R. Watts

Rebekah's Reading Room — The Price, pt.4

Tower in the Plains — Still Shining

The Peculiar Messenger — 12DoC | Christmas Books

in what way(s) is the end of the 20-teen years an end to an era for you? 

Monday, December 16, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas Story Snippets 1/3

It's day three, y'all!

And I've got a special treat. ;) Because I always share a Christmas story of some kinda during the party—and because I haven't written ANY this year—I'm pulling random Christmasy snippets from several of my short stories, books, and unfinished works. Some have been read before and some haven't. There will be three of these posts with a few snippets each, so I hope y'all enjoy!

|| Christmas Story Snippets {pt. 1 of 3}

I cast my gaze around the darkened sanctuary, 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, letting the tranquility fill me. 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. No, I wasn’t going to go there. Not tonight. Even without him, we would be all right. Even with Braden’s status unknown, we could hold to this hope and peace.  
As the song came into the third verse, movement at the front of the church caught my eye. I slowly turned to my right and studied the area. Pastor Garrett 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 then a silhouette appeared on the curtain next to Pastor Garrett, illuminated by the light from the large candle at the center of the communion 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 sidled 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’d been reminded many times to not run in church. 
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.


Christmas in a POW camp. Now this was something Frank had never planned on doing, never dreamed about, and never thought would come about as an after effect of piloting a bomber. 
A German accented shouting from near the door told him that the man could care less that this was a day worthy of celebration, a day when enemies should set aside their differences and embrace life as fellow children of the King.  
But no. Instead they were swore enemies, willing and waiting to kill the other should the opportunity arise. 
Frank contemplated the matter as he rolled out of his bunk, nearly stepping on Nathan.  
“Hey, watch it,” Nathan warned, throwing an arm over his head. “The perfection in this face cannot be duplicated.”  
“Sure,” Frank pretended to grumble, grinning. “Merry Christmas.”  
Rising from the floor he had rolled out onto, Nathan grinned back. “Merry Christmas.”  
The guard at the door continued his shouting, part in German and part in badly broken English. 
Grabbing their coats—if they had actually been warm enough the night before to go to bed without them—the twenty or so prisoners obeyed orders with reluctance and filed out the door.  
Outside in the snowy yard, a field of frozen mud, the prisoners lined up in a pentagon of sorts around one of the towers. The head officer appeared from the direction of his quarters—no doubt much cleaner and warmer than anywhere else within the barbed wire confinement—and tromped up the stairs to the high tower with an air of superiority. From his lookout, he made it his own duty to count the prisoners in the yard below, standing in perfect rows.  
Just like every other morning, as if Christmas Day was nothing different.  


Later in the day, a rumor spread through the stalag that a surprise was being planned by a few fellows in the building next to them. Frank and Nathan swapped ideas of what on earth it could be—if it was even a truth, and not another story started by some bored GI. 
A loud stomping sounded as someone came up the rickety stairs, then bursting through the curtain that had been strung up over the door. “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas, fellas!”  
A large figure, masquerading as Santa Claus, appeared in the doorway with a large sack slung over his shoulder. “Ho, ho, ho!” He called again, before turning back to the open door. “Get in here, elfie.” 
A much shorter fellow appeared, dressed in an elf costume complete with pasteboard elf-ears. 
Frank laughed as he observed the two, roaming around and asking what each fellow “wanted from pappy.” Despite their best efforts at disguise, the identity of the two fellows was quite obvious. 
The duo tossed cigarette packs and bars of chocolate to the prisoners before taking off back out the door. Frank crowded into the window next to some of the other guys, watching as the two guys raced to the next door.  
Nathan appeared next to Frank, elbowing him. “Maybe Adam and Clayton do know what Christmas is all about, huh?”  
Frank grinned, not growling for once about being elbowed. “Yeah, maybe.” 

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

Showers of Blessings — Christmas Gift Ideas

Read Another Page — Book #16: Reminisce Christmas

Life of Heritage — Christmas Movies

RebekahAshleigh — Christmas Book Recommendations

Little Blossoms for Jesus — My 8 Favourite Winter Reads of 2019

Soldier Girl Stories — Christmas Movies

Rebekah's Reading Room — Amahl and the Night Visitors

favorite snippet? are you ready for Christmas? 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Favorite Christmas Songs of '19

Happy Sunday, readers and friends. Day two and the party is going splendidly so far!

I'm keeping things simple around here today, with a few of my favorite Christmas songs of 2019. Whether the song is new this year or I just happen to be listening to and loving it more this year, it's on the list.

So grab some coffee or hot chocolate and join us by the radio!

|| Favorite Christmas Songs of '19

Christmas in Heaven by Scotty McCreery /// I'd heard this song before, but I've listened to it a lot this season. The words are so sweet and meaningful. And, I mean, c'mon. It's Scotty. 

I'll be Home for Christmas by Cam /// One of my favorite female country music artist recorded a cover of one of my favorite Christmas classics, and I am SHOOK. This is such a beautiful version! 

Joy to the World by for King & Country /// I adore Joel and Luke's rendition of Joy to the World, and being recorded live just makes it that much better. So incredible—as they always are. 

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Maddie & Tae /// Another fabulous cover—and this time, by my favorite country music duo! I adore this one so much. <33

Christmas is All About You by Mallary Hope /// This is such a special Christmas song. The words are amazing and I love Mallary Hope! 

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

Read Another Page — Book #15: Perfect Christmas

Read Review Rejoice — Favorite Songs This Time Of Year

what's your favorite song this Christmas?  remember to enter the giveaway

Saturday, December 14, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || My Christmas TBR

Greetings, readers! Welcome to the fifth annual 12 Days of Christmas blog party. :D  

As always, I'll be posting daily for the next twelve days—today thru Christmas Day. And all the other 12DoC-ers posts will be linked after my topic of the day. There's also a giveaway and tons of other epicness!

If you're new to the party and have questions about how things work, ask away. We want you to be able to enjoy the party to the fullest. It's loads of fun! 

|| My Christmas TBR

It's no secret that I'm a book hoarder. An epic fact that I only consider a problem when I run out of shelf space, instead of when I'm leaving a bookstore with a STACK.

Recently, it came to my attention that I have several Christmas books that I haven't read. So, in addition to the oodles of library loans currently in my care, I threw together a sort of "Christmas TBR"—a stack of Christmas books that I have and want to read or re-read this Christmas season.

So here goes! 

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep /// I bought this book from a CBD sale because, first off, it's cHriStmAs. Oh, and it was really cheap so. xD  After it arrived, I read the synopsis in full and it sounds really good! 

A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep /// Another CBD sale. That I bought upon realizing it was the sequel to a book I already had, haha. I think I might have even saw a third book floating around? Anyway, I'm hoping to read this series soon! 

A Simple Christmas Wish by Melody Carlson ///  I've had this book for long. Several years. And I still haven't read it—something that I can't even blame on the book being boring, because I haven't even tried to read it. So maybe I'll get to this one. ;D 

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias /// I don't remember where I first heard about this book—Goodreads? Probably. But it looks like such a gem! I happened to stumble across it at a used bookstore this month, so of course, I had to get it! 

Hear Them Ring by Erynn Mangum /// I've been hearing great things about Erynn Mangum and her books for quite some time. This book actually has four Christmas stories tucked inside, all of which looks sweet and fun. 

On This Holy Night by Max Lucado, Rick Warren, David Jeremiah, & others ///  Another CBD sale grab, hehe. This little Christmas devo promises a fresh and unique look at the familiar Christmas story. And the cover is super cute. 

|| Giveaway

This year's giveaway is pretty epic! Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of Behold, an ornament, a pair of fuzzy Christmas socks, and maybe some other Christmasy goodies if I come up with something... ;)  So be sure to enter and share it with your friends! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

on a scale of one to Christmas, how excited are you for this party? xD 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Indian Summer & Autumn Vibes || October Recap

Not gonna lie, I'm kinda proud of myself for getting this up while we're less than five days into the month. (Also, HI. I'm not dead.)

|| Impromptu Photoshoot

• One Sunday afternoon, while wearing a cute outfit that I especially liked, I dragged my sweet mom outside to take some pictures. I'm slightly particular about what I like in pictures. Add in the photo-bombing dogs... We ended up with dozens of shots. The good news for y'all is that I'm not posting all of them. ;)

|| Indian Summer

• This year, North Carolina decided to allow summer to last allll the way up into the month of October. I love summer and all, but this got a little out of hand. I mean, c'mon, wearing shorts on the 11th is just weird.

<3 <3 <3

so the leaves finally decided to change xD

book cover material, y'all

|| Random Life 

• Coffee. Coffee. Drinking so much coffee. Oh, wait, that's not new.

• Early in the month, I was house-sitting one weekend. And, yeah, may or may not have required five bags to stay 48 hours... *coughcough*  It was during a readathon though, so maybe we'll just pretend at least two of those were full of books??

• Day-tripped to Mount Mitchell with friends! Highest point east of the Mississippi River. :D 

the view from the top <3

super cool tree...with human in the background

my pretty mama <3

Y'all. I read six books. SIX. This hasn't happened since FEBRUARY. Granted they were mostly smallerish. But STILL. I also bought a ton of books, but that is...neither here nor there. xD xD

|| Chasing a Dream

In many ways, October was about finding (or more like rediscovering) my groove. A routine, a certain way things work best. Figuring out what matters most, what I really want to do and what I was just doing because I thought I had to. Things are much more enjoyable that way. ;)  And in the midst of that I'm finding that, when I try, I can find time to write easier than I expected. My word counts FOR SURE wouldn't break any records, but that's okay. At least I'm writing.

|| Snippets

"Um...this is a colored pencil."  
That gets her attention. With a glare that could kill germs, the girl looks up at me. "So? Do you have a problem with that?"  
I clear my throat. "Well, I mean, usually colored pencils aren't used for, you know, writing."  
Her eye roll would make Hannah jealous. "What else would you do with a pencil, Mr. Traven?"  
"I don't know...nothing? Normal pencils are for writing. Colored pencils are for art."   
"Incorrect. All pencils should be colored."  

Ryder sails across the room atop a rolling stool. “Dude, your gut looks like abstract art.”  
“You studied my insides while I was knocked out?” 

“Are you okay?” 
“Yeah… Yeah, I’m fine, Dad. Feels good to be doing something.” 
“That isn’t what I meant.”  
I swallow and refuse to meet his gaze. Almost wishing he would leave me alone to my self-pity. Almost wishing he would push hard and make me fess up.  
“It stings, doesn’t it?”  
“Getting your heart broken.” 
Tears well up in my throat until I’m smothering in the pain. I cough, costuming a whimper. Before I know what’s happening, Dad’s arms are around me. And I’m crying like I haven’t since I was eight years old.

I didn't blog much in October...but maybe that's okay, since I was able to catch my breath and get back into the groove with a few other things?

I did participate in Libby May's blog tour for her debut, Dewdrops and Butterflies, and joined in on Kassie Angle's cover reveal for her upcoming release, Tattered Wings. I love supporting other Indies—whether writers, artists, or any small business owner. :D

|| October Goals

• Outline Chasing a Dream + do some minor related research.     Pretty much, yeah. 

• Read 5 books.      YES. Surprisingly

• Catch up on blog post scheduling, book reviews, and marketing plans.      Ehheheh. Sorta. 

• Start planning 12 Days of Christmas.      NO. But soon?! 

|| November Goals

• Write daily in CaD. 

• Read 5 books. 

• Organize things for 12 Days of Christmas + plan my own posts. 

• Clear inbox. 

how was your October? can you believe it's like fifty-something days until Christmas? O.O