Saturday, January 12, 2019

What to Expect in 2019.

Hey there, lovelies!

As promised, I'm here to ramble on about what's to come this year, what 2019 will look like in my blogging and authoring life, and that sort of thing. I'm breaking it into sections and specifics to keep from being *too* disjointed and rambly.

|| Life. ||

// Work

Hopefully within the next few weeks, I'll have a full-time job at a nearby country store. There's a whole long, boring story behind that, which I'll refrain from deluging on y'all right now. But work is going to totally whack-out my nonexistent schedule. The plan is to juggle writing, editing, author responsibilities (emails, social media presence, newsletter), and blogging during non-work hours.

// ASL

This week, I began the second semester of my third year of American Sign Language. I'm not entirely certain what my future in this area will be, but after finishing ASL 3 and Conversational ASL in May, I'm planning to pursue ASL interpreter certification.

// Other

To be honest... I have legit no idea what any other area of life will look like this year. *shrugs* I'll be traveling next week and hopefully going on our becoming-annual mission trip in June. Other than that? God's got this, I suppose. ;)

More: Being present in the moment. Having courage. Focusing on the good and going for the gold.

Less: Stressing over things that don't matter. Trying to please people who don't deserve it.

|| Blog. ||

// Design

I was planning to totally revamp both my blog's design formats—and I still am. But I've also toyed with the idea of combining the two blogs, and posting faith-related articles here each Saturday, instead of on Chosen Vessels. Not sure if/when that will happen or what it consists of, so for now I'm keeping it separate. And yes, updating the design. :D

// Posts Schedule

I'm planning for one post a week on each blog. If time, energy, and inspiration permits, there may be two here on occasion. Saturdays are the norm for posts on Chosen Vessels, and I'm not setting a specific day for Stories by Firefly. Probably Mondays or Tuesdays, additional posts on Thursdays or Fridays. And, as usual, monthly recaps will be on or within a day or two of the last day of the month.

// Monthly Recaps

The monthly recaps of Stories by Firefly are often my most popular posts, so they will remain. However, I'm changing the design, re-working the layout, and tweaking the content. Less meh and more quality, for lack of a better way to put it. ;) Stick around to the end of the month to see what that means!

More: Updates on my writing—what I'm up to, how it's coming, that sort of things. Writing related posts in general, advice and such.

Less: Blog tours. Boring nonsense. Tags. Basically, less stuff that's fun but not that engaging, or find a way to make it engaging.

|| Authoring. ||

// War Tears 

So, um, yeah. I've been talking about this book for ages, and I honestly feel kinda bad that I haven't gotten it out to the world yet... But while editing the other day, I realized something. Something that changed the way I view the entire hunk of 127,000 words.

This story is no longer my heart. 

Dandelion Dust was my heart for a season, and now A Soldier's Freedom is. War Tears had it's season too, but that season is not now. And ya know what? That's just fine.

The reason I've been having a hard time working through edits isn't because the book is awful or the story is pointless or the characters are drab—even though all some of those things may or may not be true. It's because it's not my heart, the theme not passion.

So, War Tears. My WWII baby, the first book I started writing. It'll still see it's publication date, hopefully sooner rather than later. For now, I'm going to continue editing, and I have a few alphas lined up, but I'm not rushing things. If it's meant to be, it'll be.

// A Solder's Freedom

Ahh, yes, the one thing that's actually going according to plan and sticking to a schedule. Baring any catastrophe—like an earthquake or my tragic demise—this darling tale (not that I'm biased) will be released the second week of September. National Suicide Prevention Week. The first book in a trilogy that does/will deal with harsh topics and raw pain, this is a book so dear to my heart. I can't wait to share it with y'all! <3

// NaNo Novel

I'm hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo this November and write a new novel. Most likely the second book in the trilogy that A Soldier's Freedom seems to be broadening into...with or without my permission. ;) I'm hoping to write that book this year, as well as another idea I've had on the back-burner for awhile, and hopefully some short stories for the blog.

More: Devotion to putting the words on the page. Social media presence—Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, newsletter.

Less: Months of not writing. Procrastination. Mediocre planning and marketing.

so yup, that's the plan! what are you aiming for this year? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Goodbye 2018 >>> Hello 2019

goodbye 2018

A year has ended, a new one has just begun.

And Faith is setting down to curse bless y'all with her thoughts and opinions on the matter a week late because she's still trying to put her thoughts into words. For a writer, you'd think this would be fairly easy. It isn't. Mostly because I don't even know where to begin.

2018 was nothing like I thought it would be on January 1st. And yet, in many ways, it was so much more than I even dared to hope.

January through April was an absolutely crazy season. I was swamped with wrapping up my final semester of high school (chemistry lab reports, anyone?), keeping up with blogging, and sorta having a real life. Although it was wild and crazy (gracious, I even wrote about stress during those months), it was a good season. The posts I wrote then are among some of my favorites as I look back today. I created pottery, took 864 selfies, planned a trip, and published a wee little book.

Then May. I finished high school and took a hiatus from blogging and traveled across the continent. Taking two tests, my last two subjects to complete, in one day and then celebrating by having supper with friends were pretty darn epic. A few days later, my family packed up and set out. Three weeks on the road, going nearly coast to coast, through like eighteen states, getting to see/meet three darling friends... It was so amazing.

here's a random pic of my cute (not-so-little) little bro in CA.
In case y'all were getting bored. 

Next up... Summer. It was awesome. Senior pics, graduations party, a mission trip. Turning eighteen—and attempting to "adult." Getting caught in the rain, spontaneous ice cream, long walks, starting a new job, and days by the pool. Wildflowers to pluck, sunsets to chase, laughter to share, and memories to be made. Cute sundresses, adorable puppies, country music...all the lovely things summer should be made of.

The mission trip in June was particularly awesome. Old friends to catch up with, new friends to make. Work to do and the Gospel to share. Long van rides, shingle jokes, games of jenga, and matching t-shirts. I don't even know how to sum up everything that week was. <3

September was...different? Not starting school like any other good kid was weird. xD I had my first ever author event—a table at a book fair for local authors—so that was fabulous. Then, I spent most of the month house/dog sitting about half an hour from home. (I came home for supper nearly every night, ssshhh.)

October through December was a wild and crazy end to the year. I keep using those words, but it's true. Mostly normal life, with more work, another two weeks of house-sitting, getting to meet another online friend, and publishing another book.

Reading back over this, it doesn't sound that out-of-the-ordinary. It sounds pretty...normal. Just life. Just living and breathing and trying to make some sort of a difference in this ol' world.

But it was so far from ordinary. I don't even feel like the same girl who wrote a recap of 2017 only twelve short months ago. I'm not. Yet in so many ways, I still am her. Always will be.

// Accomplishments
  • published a short story/novelette 
  • published a collection of Christmas short stories 
  • traveled across the continent 
  • hosted/co-hosted two blog parties
  • wrote 161 blog posts
  • graduated from high school
  • wrote 72,000 words in WIPs
  • read 200 books
  • went on a week-long youth/ministry trip
  • turned 18
  • spent nine weeks away from home
  • met/re-met four online friends in person
  • grew closer to God <3

hello 2019

Hey there, 2019. I'm rather looking forward to you. A few weeks ago, I wasn't. New Years Eve, I still wasn't. I'd gotten used to 2018. It was a crazy year, but it was so good.

I didn't want to say goodbye. But without goodbyes there would be no hellos. So I'm being brave and having "good courage." My 2019 word of the year was (quite literally) dropped in my lap a few weeks ago.

Courage. This will be a year of stepping out, being courageous, and leaning on God's strength. Let's believe that greater things are ahead than anything we've left behind.

Dear 2019, I can't wait to see what you bring. <3

// Goals
  • publish War Tears
  • publish A Soldier's Freedom
  • start full-time job
  • read 160 books
  • blogging consistently 
  • read the Bible, cover to cover
  • travel
  • go on a missions trip
  • exercise more

best memories of 2018? what are you most looking forward to in 2019?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Christmas Release, 200 Books, & A Blog Party || December Recap

(Yes, this is a tad late. We're going to blame that on the fact that Faith has been enjoying not blogging and reading an exorbitant amount of books. But here I am. Better late than never, am I right?)

I released a book, hosted a Christmas party, read 200 books... Oh, and it's been a year since I last wrote a December recap?? Like, what?? It's 2019—2018 is over? I haven't talked to y'all since last year?!


|| Life. ||

>> We got over a foot of snow. Legit made me so happy. We were snowed in all weekend and I read four books and we got ridiculously tired of each other and it was fab. xD

>> You might be in the south, if the Taco Bell guy says "sorry for the wait, y'all. Alright, y'all have a good day now."

>> Having five dozen wacko conversations like this one.

Bro: a sister is something you have and don't want. A wife is something you want and don't have.
Me: *burst out laughing*
Bro: Wait... I think I said that wrong...?

>> My family went shopping one day, a week or two before Christmas. After hitting several stores and wandering Main Street, we went to Dairy Queen for lunch. And got locked in the restrooms. No joke.

So like, you go through the seating area and through this door into a hall that has restrooms and some employees entrance or something. My mom, bro, and I went in, and when we're headed back to the restaurant where Dad was waiting...the door we'd legit just came through wouldn't open. We all tried it (laughing until we couldn't breathe, of course), and it would wiggle but wouldn't open.

Apparently we were just doing something wrong and laughing too hard to realize it, because a guy on the other side heard us and got up to let us back in. So as we come through, laughing and telling Dad what happened, another guy spoke up across the room—"Y'all seem to be having way too much fun."

Yup, pretty much, sir.

>> Allll the Christmasyness. Christmas play + dinner at church, Christmas music everywhere, all the secrets and wrapping paper and packages received and packages to mail. Decorations, ornaments, nativities, books, outdoor lights *points*, a blog party, and SO MUCH DARN FOOD. Gracious, I love that time of year though. <3

>> Throughout the month, I spent about two weeks house-sitting/pet-sitting, for two different people/couples. One has an ADORABLE puppy who I basically just cuddled and adored and played with for like over a week...

Honestly, though. Just look at that face. And ignore my weird position.

>> Over the final weekend of the month/year, I enjoyed a fabulous readathon with a handful of other gals! It was so much fun. We had crazy-random discussions, read loads of books/pages, and danced in confetti...virtually, of course. ;)

|| Books. ||

// books

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti -- 5 stars -- Review
A Happy Trails Christmas by Roy Rogers & Dale Evans -- 4 stars
Silent Star by Tracie Peterson -- 4 stars -- Review
A Christmas Peril by Diane Moody -- 5 stars
Hope Your Heart Needs by Holley Gerth -- 4 stars -- Review
Savanna's Gift by Camille Eide -- 5 stars -- Review
Decree by Tricia Mingerink -- 4 stars -- Review
The 12 Ways of Christmas by David Jeremiah -- 4 stars
At Your Request by Jen Turano -- 3 stars
Coffee Shop Christmas by Ryana Miller -- 4 stars -- Review
Then Came You by Becky Wade -- 4 stars
The Old Mansion's Secret by Rebekah A. Morris -- 4 stars
The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson -- 3.5 stars
The Haunted Cabin Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner -- 3 stars
The Angel of Bastogne by Gilbert Morris -- 3.5 stars
Runaway by Dandi Daley Mackall -- 4 stars

short stories //

The Least of These by Kate Willis -- 4 stars
Emmanuel by Angela R. Watts -- 5 stars
Songs in Our Memories by R.A. Rooney -- 3.5 stars
Even in the Grey by Laura Guenot -- 4 stars
Kind by Kellyn Roth -- 4 stars -- Review
The Villain Who Saved Christmas by C.B. Cook -- 4 stars
These Three Things by Gracelyn Buckner -- 5 stars

|| Writing. ||

December in the writing realm was...interesting. I always say that, don't I? I can't say the month was exactly productive... But it wasn't bad? I published a book, wrote a short story, tried to keep up with editing and failed, and planned January to be an EPIC month.

I published my darling collection of Christmas stories! Behold turned out to be such a cute, lovely little book. (Lovely on the outside anyway. I guess y'all will have to be the judges of the inside.) But yup, it's out in the frightening world of Amazon, in paperback and Kindle.

Other progress in the writing world would be the cutesy little Christmas story I finished (after starting in '15 or '16...), edited, and shared on the blog this month. A Carnathan Christmas is a prequel to War Tears, the epic novel y'all have heard me talk, cry, whine, and ramble about for like years. Which I'll hopefully have a major update on by the end of stick around, kay? There will probably be more tears.

|| Blogging. ||

// favorite posts

A Small Dream ~ Important Nothings

it's just part of the story ~ Twilight to Dawn

I See You Growing ~ Dancing in the Rain

// my posts

One ~ Two ~ Three ~ Four ~ Five ~ Six ~ Seven ~ Eight ~ Nine ~ Ten ~ Eleven ~ Twelve

|| Goals. ||

// December Goals 

>> Read 15 books.     YESS.

>> Publish Behold.     *nods*

>> Host 12 Days of Christmas blog party.    Ahaha, yes.

>> Edit pt.2 of War Tears.

// January Goals

>> Read 12+ books. (Yes, I'm crazy.)

>> Finish editing War Tears. (Even if it kills me.)

>> Post weekly on each blog. (Quality posts, at that.)

>> Re-vamp both blogs. (More on this coming soon!)

How was your Christmas? Did you read any adorable Christmas reads? What was the randomest thing that happened to you this month? If you tell me you've also been locked in a DQ hallway, I'll probably laugh until I choke... 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

12 Days of Christmas // Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!

As a brief wrap-up of the party, let me just say... this year was fabulous. Probably the strongest year of 12DoC to date. We totaled at over 140 posts (SAY WHAAA?!), a great deal of interaction, nearly 200 giveaway entries, and so. much. fun.

I really want to be able to say that I've read and commented on each participating post, but that wasn't true as I wrote this last night...and probably still isn't if you're reading this without in a few hours of when it goes up. ;) I look forward to reading the rest, though. Everything I've made my way through thus far has been so amazing.

Thank you all so much to everyone who took part! Y'all are the best for supporting my lil' Christmas party. <3 It's truly been a delightful almost-two-weeks...although I'll enjoy stepping away from the blog until my monthly recap on the 31st. xD

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 
// Luke 2:10-11

Blessings to you all this glorious day on which we celebrate the immaculate birth of our Savior. <3

// giveaway

One last thing! The winners of this year's 12DoC giveaway are...

first place || The Christmas Secret + Behold + Christmas: God with Us CD || Amie

second place || Seek + Coffee Shop Christmas || Molly Anne

Congratulations, y'all! How fun to have one of our 12DoC-ers as a winner. :) I'll be contacting you both via email shortly, so we can get your prizes sent!

// today's schedule 

Hands Made to Love || Thank You

Life of Heritage || Christmas Story (part 8) & Wrap-Up

Qadash - Set Apart, for Him || 12 Days of Christmas - Yeshua is the Reason

Inside Out Designs || Christ is Born

Lit Aflame || What if Christmas Isn't What We Say It Is

The Ramblings of a Bookworm || Till the Dawn Breaks pt.2

The Ramblings of a Bookworm || Christmas Day Rambles

RebekahAshleigh || Merry Christmas

Resting Life || Great Tidings We Bring // We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors || It's Christmas Day!

Colorful, Creative Cards || Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Joy for the Journey || Christmas Happiness and His Birth

Whimsical Writings for His Glory || What Christmas Means to Me

Merry Christmas! Hope y'all each have a blessed day, basking in the Savior's love. <3 

Monday, December 24, 2018

12 Days of Christmas // A Carnathan Christmas {pt.4}

Merry Christmas Eve! Hope y'all enjoy the final part of this year's story. :)

Monday, December 23rd, 1940 

The old sleigh slid through the winter wonderland, the soon-to-be Carnathan couple nestled inside. After a morning spent decorating a handpicked Christmas tree that the guys hauled inside, snow still fluttering from the branches, David had grabbed his girl and slipped out the backdoor. Raymond watched through the window, a smile on his kind face, as they skirted around the barn and climbed into the sleigh he used to ride in with his own girl. Sometimes, they still did. 

On a wooded lane through the farming community, David guided the mare through the ruts—made by a variety of farm wagons, tractors, and trucks. At a gap in the split-rail fence, he directed the horse out across the snowy field. 

“What do you think?” David asked, glancing to his right and finding Beth grinning back at him. 

She leaned her head back and drew in a deep breath, filling her lungs with the frosty cold air. “It’s so pretty out here, especially with all the snow. The God we serve is so amazing… And quite the Artist I might add.” 

“No argument there.” David smiled, gazing down and studying the serene look on her face. “I figured we might need some time alone and a sleigh ride sounded like the best idea.” 

“One horse open sleigh.”

“Something like that. You know, the bad thing about driving this sleigh is that I can’t hold your hand.” 

Laughing, Bethany scooted closer and looped her arms through his, tilting her head to rest against his shoulder. “That doesn’t matter. Just knowing you would be if you could satisfies me.” 

David bent down and planted a kiss in her hair, giving the reins a slow snap. “Get along, old girl.” 

Tuesday, December 24th, 1940

On Christmas Eve, a steady stream of neighbors threaded through the Carnathan’s home for most of the day, exchanging an array of small gifts and baked goods for similar parcels to carry to their own places of abode. 
And—of course—everyone wanted to catch up with the returned son and meet his fiance. By the time they’d escorted the last friend to the door, calling out goodbyes and merry christmases, Bethany was tuckered from the repetitious small talk. Still, there was something special about meeting all of the people who her David had known all his life. 

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 fiancé. “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 strong 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.

Wednesday, December 25th, 1940

Bethany awoke Christmas morning with an overwhelming sense of intense joy. She could almost feel the euphoria welling up inside of her. It wasn’t the same excitement she’d felt on Christmas mornings during her growing up years. This was different; deeper and more special. She was in a houseful of people who cared about her, loved her. They’d been David’s family when she’d met them, but that had changed in just a few days. Now they were her family, too, and she loved each of them dearly. 

She crawled out of bed and peeked through the curtains framing the icy window panes. A new, light snow blanket covered the disturbed snowfall from Saturday. How beautiful, she mused, a smile lighting her face. 

Turning away from the window, she realized that the house was quiet. Everyone must still be asleep. Bethany moved toward the dresser, thinking she could go on downstairs and start coffee for the family. 

She quickly dressed in a green dress with a holly and berry print, deciding to save her Christmas dress to wear to the church service tonight. She was brushing her hair when the creaking of the screen door breaking the morning stillness caught her attention. 

Pushing aside the curtain once again, she peered down to the yard below. David’s familiar figure moved from the side door toward the barn, his footprints the only ones in the winter whiteness. Apparently someone else was awake. 

Smiling to herself, Bethany skipped pinning up her hair and slipped out of the room. She tiptoed down the hallway, being careful not to make any noises that may wake someone. A few special moments alone with David this morning would be nice. 

She stopped at the door to yank on her boots and pull on her coat and scarf before slipping out into the cold, frosty morning. 


David cringed at the screeching of the screen door as it moved to rest against the doorframe. Someone really needed to oil those hinges. 

He drew in a deep breath of the crisp morning air as he tramped through the snow. It was such a beautiful Christmas morning. David smiled to himself on his way to the barn to milk Darling, the family milk cow. 

Over a thousand years ago our Savior came to save us, knowing He would die the terrible death of crucifixion for our sins. What a day, so worthy of celebration. Having Beth here with him and the family this Christmas made it all the more glorious. She made his life complete; added something he hadn’t even realized he was missing. And that something was very special.

Mind and heart filled with happy, Christmas joy, David whistled as he greeted Darling, wishing her a merry Christmas, and strode to drag over the milking stool. He’d just sat down when he nearly got startled out of his senses. 

Warm, red mittens appeared out of nowhere and clapped over his eyes. Guessing who it might be, David grinned, reminded his heart to beat, and waited for the rest of the prank. 

“My, my, who do we have here?” A sweet voice exclaimed. “Someone stealing milk on Christmas morning! Well, I’ll be! Maybe I’ll yell for Michael and his shotgun…” 

David chuckled under his breath and decided to go along with her charade. “Please ma’am, don’t do that! I’d be willing to milk the cow and do whatever else you may need done, just don’t have me killed,” he pleaded, clasping his hands in mock repentance. 

At his silly pleas, her hands fell away from his eyes and he tilted his head back to get a better view of her face. 
“It is Christmas, you know.” 

“So it is,” she smiled down at him before slipping her arms around his neck. He returned her embrace and, after releasing, nodded to Darling. 

“Mind if I finish my chores now?” 

“Go ahead.” Bethany grinned, crossed her arms tightly against her stomach, and leaned against a support post. “It’s nice to have a few minutes alone with you this morning.” 

“Yeah, it is,” he agreed, smiling up at her, and then set to work milking the cow, streams of white splattering inside the metal pail. “I figure, there’s no reason for Dad and Michael to have to come out in the cold when I’m perfectly capable of handling chores this morning.” 

While David milked and cleaned Darling’s stall, Bethany wandered around the barn—commenting to him on this and that. 

David was starting up the ladder to throw down hay for Dad’s pair of draft horses when Beth’s exclaiming gasp met his ears. “David, look!” The excited whisper soon followed. 

He looked over to find Beth standing in the doorway, her back to him. Jumping down from his start up the ladder and nearly tripping over the milking stool in his clumsiness, he hurried to her side. 

“What is it?” 

She didn’t speak, only pointed out across the yard. 

There, in the shimmering glitter of sunlight on snow, stood a mother deer and her fawn, silhouetted by the rising sun. As he watched, in awe of God’s creativity, small fingers slid into his. 

“That says it all, doesn’t it?” she whispered, seeming fearful of breaking the perfect serenity, cocking her head to the side. “The beauty, the innocence, the peace, and the pure white of the snow. It’s glorious.” 

His attention veering with his gaze, David silently admired his fiancé. A lump clogged his throat as his chest warmed with love for this sweet woman, his soon-to-be wife. “I really want to kiss you right now,” he murmured softly.

She turned to look up at him, a sly gleam in her blue eyes, stepping closer to him and slipping her arms around his waist. 

His arms encompassed her small frame, holding her snugly against him. Amazing how comfortably she fit there—how right it felt. 

“Merry Christmas, sweetheart,” he whispered into her ear. 

“Merry Christmas, my darling,” she replied, her voice muffled against his wool coat. 

An aggravated moo sounded through the barn door, left open by the couple. They laughed in unison. 

“Merry Christmas to you too, Darling!” 

// today's schedule 

Inside Out Designs || Author Interview: Faith Potts

Read Another Page || The Case of the Very Bad Cat

Qadash - Set Apart, for Him || 12 Days of Christmas - Hallelujah - What does it mean?

Lit Aflame || How to Make THE BEST Iced Sugar Cookies in Existence

The Peculiar Messenger || Live

Rebekah's Reading Room || A Carol in Her Heart (part 3)

RebekahAshleigh || Christmas, My Favorite Time of Year

Hands Made to Love || Candy Cane Cocoa Recipe

Literatura || Christmas Goodies

Resting Life || Not-So-Silent Night // Silent Night // Self-Control

Life of Heritage || Christmas Story (part 7)

Hands Made to Love || The Pine Tree Parable

Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors || Favorite Underrated Christmas Hymns

Chosen Vessels || The Christmas Candle {Book Review}

Thanks for reading the story, dears! Last day to enter the giveaway! <3

Sunday, December 23, 2018

12 Days of Christmas // Short Story Recs {pt.3}

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! *wink*  Today I've got the last installment of the 3-part short story recommendations series and tomorrow is the final part of A Carnathan Christmas. Who else can hardly believe the party is nearly over?

Christmas by the Sea by Beth Wiseman

Parker McIntyre is late evacuating Galveston Island prior to a hurricane, despite advisement from local Texas authorities. When Parker becomes trapped in rising floodwaters, he is going to drown if help doesn’t arrive soon. Fearing death and questioning his faith, he thinks about the young son he’ll be leaving behind.

Alexandria Hanson is on her way off the island to escape the immediate storm threat, but she spots a person trapped in the water. Alex—as she’s called by friends and family— isn’t adventuresome by nature. Helping the man is going to require great personal risk, but she can’t leave him to die.

As Alex joins Parker in the murky Gulf waters, a dangerous situation becomes even more serious as they wait to be rescued. With only each other to lean on, they attempt to quell their fears by praying together and sharing stories. 

If Parker and Alex leave the island alive, will they have a chance to explore their feelings during the holiday season? Or will the opportunity be lost forever?

I've read this story nearly every Christmas for several years now. Which is kinda weird, because it's not entirely a Christmas story? It has more to do with a hurricane and the aftermath. But with a unique tale and well-rounded characters, it's packed with meaning and love. I finished with happy feels. <3

A Christmas Disaster by Rebekah A. Morris

As the students of Coolidge High School prepare for their annual Christmas play, excitement mounts. Performed at the local theater, the play, with the students in complete charge of, the performances has become a tradition in town. Everything is going well until the morning of the final performance when calamity hits. Should the students cancel the final performance or try to turn the disaster into something good?

I was surprised by how much I adored this story! To often, I feel like teenagers get labeled for being irresponsible, disrespectful, electronic-addicted brat. And while that's true for some, why don't we focus on the good kids instead of dismally dwelling on the others? The kids in this one were certainly exceptional.

A Change of Heart by Anika Walkes

Nina is a college freshman just trying to get through her first year with social anxiety and no mishaps - until her roommates drag her out for a coffee break, not knowing that the simple trip will change her life forever.

A Change of Heart is a contemporary romance short story full of coffee shops, Christmas, and mistletoe.

This story is so darn adorable. Nina's anxiety over talking to a nice-looking guy was relatable, the romance was utter cuteness—and did I mention the cover is lovely?

(Get the story for free by subscribing to Anika's newsletter!)

Red Boots by Kate Willis

Old Joey’s lips fell open in astonishment as he examined a pair of boots. They were bright red, standing out like a forgotten apple on an autumn tree. He whistled, long and low. “Red boots!”

A pair of shiny red boots bring unexpected Christmas joy to a shopkeeper and a little girl.

Red Boots was such a sweet little story, that touched my heart and brought a smile to my face! The authoress did an excellent job at transporting the reader to Old Joey's shop, and bringing the characters to life inside only a few pages. I truly enjoyed! <3

(Psst! This story is also permafree on Amazon Kindle, so you should totally go get it... *wink*)

Emmanuel by Angela R. Watts

"Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery. . ."

In dystopian America, with civil unrest and wars among the states, illegal activity is rampant and only the strongest survive. Reese Burns is one of the strong fighters. He doesn’t need Jesus to fight, either.

Ezekiel, a ten-year-old child living in a fight dome, insists he get the answer about the story of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Reese sets out to find the boy the best gift he’s capable of giving. The story of Jesus. The story only brings Reese pain at first, but then he’s forced to make a choice when a miracle happens. Can Reese choose faith in an unseen God in the midst of chaos?

An Infidel Books short story prequel. 

I had the pleasure of beta-reading this story for Angela, and gracious, it was good. I'm usually not one for dystopian, but Emmanuel was fabulously done and I'm looking forward to the Infidel Books.

// today's schedule

Life of Heritage || My Favorite Christmas Songs

Inside Out Designs || Christmas Writing Music

Resting Life || Let's Call It Gentleness // Away in a Manger // Gentleness

Chosen Vessels || Savanna's Gift by Camille Eide {Book Review}

Read Another Page || The Christmas Joy Ride

RebekahAshleigh || Another Christmas Tag

Have you read any of these? What sort of Christmas preparations do you have planned for the day? 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

12 Days of Christmas // A Carnathan Christmas {pt.3}

Good morning, happy Saturday, and merry Christmas!

The party schedule for today is quite full. Largest number of posts in one day so far I believe, which means lots of fun for all!

Today I bring you the third part of the four-part story, and perhaps my personal favorite. :) Enjoy and check back for the conclusion on Christmas Eve!

Bethany descended the creaky farmhouse stairs with an uncertain smile, yet a lightness in her step over doing something so unlike her. She couldn’t help snickering as she glanced down at her thrown-together outfit. Even with the galluses pulled all the way up, the overalls were still much too long. With her sweater tucked in underneath, she fit the definition of a ragamuffin. 

At the kitchen door, Erin was waiting, tugging on boots and a scarf. She turned at Bethany’s footsteps and began to laugh. 

“Just wait ‘til the fellow see you.”


From where he stood in the barn, shoulder propped against the doorway, David looked across the snowy yard. Bethany and Erin trudged towards them—both wearing old, hand-me-down overalls. A grin spread across his face. Man, she sure looked cute. 

“Oh great.” Michael’s groan drifted past on a breath of frosty white. “Erin’s been in somebody’s closet again.” 

“Yeah, yours.” 

Shoving off the doorframe, David strode into the barnyard with his hands in his pockets. “Good morning, farm girl.” 

Beth laughed, twisting in a circle to show off her get-up. “What do you think?” 

“I think…” He drew his arm around her shoulders and tugged her closer to his side, whispering into her knitted cap. “I think you look better in those than Michael or I ever did.” 

Her eyes widened. “Are these yours? No wonder they’re so long.” 

David snickered. “I don’t know, but Michael got most of my cast-offs that were still fit for wear.” 

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.” 


After a brutal snowball fight—Carnathan family style—the gang clambered inside and gathered by the kitchen stove to shed soaked boots and gloves. Although laughter and good spirits abounded, no one felt like returning to the chilled outdoors for sledding. Perhaps tomorrow, someone suggested, as Mrs. Lydia passed out hot cider, coffee, and Christmas cookies, gifted from a neighbor. 

Finding her borrowed overalls too wet to comfortably dry while on her person, Bethany excused herself and slipped upstairs to change into dry clothes. 

As she returned a few moments later, rambunctious laugher emitting from the front room told her that the majority of the family had ventured away from the stove’s warmth to take up residence by the fireplace. 
Recognizing David’s voice still in the kitchen though, she halted just out of sight. 

“What do you think of her, Mom?” 

“I think you love her very much, son,” Lydia answered, as Bethany held her breath. 


“And, maybe even more importantly, she loves you. With all her heart.”  

“I know,” he answered softly, so softly Bethany barely heard. 

Lydia’s gentle laugh drifted around the corner. “Then why are you asking?” 

“I don’t know… I’m just so happy. She’s added so much to my life. Something that—that I didn’t even realize was missing. Do you know what I mean? Does that even make sense?”

“I certainly do. I’ve felt that way for the past twenty-seven years, son.” 


Satisfied by his talk with his dear mother, David stepped out of the kitchen. Beth had surely returned by now and would’ve probably joined the others. 

He rounded the corner—and halted. Bethany stood at the bottom of the staircase, almost hidden by the shadows. A beautiful smile was on her face even as large tears welled behind her eyes. She’d undoubtedly heard his exchange with Mom. 

“I love you,” she whispered. 

He looped his fingers through hers, smiling. “Love you more.”

Saturday, December 21st, 1940 

After breakfast on Saturday morning, Lydia gathered Erin, Bethany, and Lenore in the kitchen to get some baking done. The four fellows were banished to the outdoors with orders not to return until noon or when called as volunteer samplers. 

As the grandfather clock neared twelve, Bethany—with Lenore’s help—was working on decorations for the sugar cookies while Lydia and Erin started on lunch for the family. 

Bethany wiped her finger along the edge of the bowl, nabbing the about-to-drip frosting. She quickly licked her finger and found Lenore grinning up at her. 

“Good, huh?” 

Bethany bent down to whisper to the little girl who would soon be her niece; she smiled at that thought. “It’s delicious, but don’t tell your mama and grandma that we’re sampling the goodies.” 

“Okay,” Lenore whispered, obviously enjoying sharing a secret. “I won’t tell.” She licked more of the gooey frosting from her small fingers. 

Loud shrieks resounded across the barnyard and heavy footsteps bounded across the porch. The women glanced up from their duties as a figure darted passed the window. Michael appeared in the doorway, red-faced and panting, with David following mere seconds behind him. 

The screen door slammed behind the brothers as David chased Michael around the dining room table, yelling something about snow down his shirt and revengeful justice. 

Lenore giggled from her perch on the countertop and Bethany watched the two with amusement. 

“I’m gonna give you what-for!” 

“What-for?” Michael repeated as he rounded the table for the third time. “But for what, big brother?” He howled at his own joke as he took off up the stairs with David on his tail. 

Bethany laughed at the screams and laughed floating down the stairs. “Mrs. Lydia, how did you ever manage this wild group for all these years?”

Lydia laughed. “A lot of prayers, dear. A lot of prayers.” 

Sunday, December 22nd, 1940

Walking into the white, snow-dusted church on David’s arm, Bethany stopped to look up at the steeple and the bell below it, ringing out the hour to the community. 

“It’s beautiful.” 

She didn’t realize she’d spoken her thoughts aloud until David verbally agreed. 

“Yup. I always thought the church looked all the more glorious draped in snow.” 

She smiled and squeezed his arm with her mittened hand, tipping her head against his shoulder. “You’re such a romantic.” 

David snickered as he led her on towards the church steps. “Dad would tell you that trait comes from him.” 

Bethany laughed with him, but quieted before they reached the door where the pastor was welcoming the members of his congregation. 

The man in the black suit was sixty-something, she would’ve guessed, with thinning gray hair and a pleasant smile. His smile grew when he saw the Carnathan clan approaching. Or, rather, when he saw all of the Carnathans crossing the snowy lot. 

James and Lydia exchanged seasonal greetings with the gentleman and proceeded on into the church. Erin, Luke and Michael, toting Lenore, followed closely behind them. 

After stopping to admire the church, David and Bethany ended up climbing the few, icy church steps a few minutes later—another couple having slipped in between them. 

“David!” The pastor greeted, pumping his arm. “How are you?” 

“Doing well,” David shook the man’s hand. “How are you, sir?” 

“Can’t complain.” He was very different from Frank, the young pastor at Cana’s Protestant Church, but Pastor Howard seemed to fit this community. “Your parents said you were coming up for Christmas and bringing someone special.” 

With those words, he turned to shake Bethany's hand. “Good morning, ma’am. I’m Pastor Howard.” 

“Bethany Henderson,” she smiled warmly as she shook his hand. 

“My fiancée,” David quickly added. 

The minister chuckled. “I heard that, too. All Mrs. Lydia talks about is wedding plans.” His gaze swept the empty lot with a quick survey. “We’d better get inside or Maria will start the service without me.” 

“Who’s Maria?” Bethany whispered as they ducked through the double doors. 

“Maria is George’s wife, the Sunday school teacher, and the church pianist.” 

“Busy woman,” Bethany commented, as David led her down the center aisle of the church and into the pew next to the rest of the family. 

“A true server to the people of the community,” David agreed. 

No sooner had they taken their seats, than a young woman approached, made up like some kind of Hollywood star. 

“David, darling! Whatever brings you back to these parts?” 

David turned at her appearance, politely standing and taking her hand. “Christmas, of course. It’s been awhile, Clara. How are you?” 

Bethany fought a grimace at the woman’s excessive eyelash batting. 

“Oh, you know. Just the usual. Nothing exciting ever happens here.” Clara leaned closer to David, as if she were going to say something no one else was meant to hear. “Who’s this doll you’ve brought home to the folks?” 

“Oh, right.” Disengaging his hand from Clara’s possessive grasp. “Clara, meet my fiancée, Bethany Henderson. Beth, this is Clara, a childhood friend.” 

Wearing a sufficient heel, Clara was nearly as tall as David—making Bethany feel quite dwarf-like standing between them. 

Clara reached out a hand to Bethany. “Congratulations, hon. We all tried to snag him. Looks like you did it.” She grinned, revealing white teeth behind too-thick lipstick. “Best wishes, David.” The blond woman who wore entirely too much on her face winked at him and waltzed off.

Bethany glanced over at her fiancé. “Who was that? An old girlfriend?” 

“Clara Holland?” David smirked. “Goodness, no. We went to highschool together.” He winked at her. “You should know by now that I prefer the cute and quiet girls.” 

Bethany rolled her eyes at his teasing and leaned around him to speak to his sister. “Is this all true, Erin?” 

David’s sister laughed. “They did go to school together and as for girlfriend I think he’s right there too. David never thought he had time for the girls. He preferred to have his nose buried in a book.” 

David snorted. “You can’t talk, sis. You’re a pretty good bookworm yourself.” 

“I just looked up more often than you,” Erin grinned before turning back to Lenore. 

Bethany nudged David, regaining his attention. “Y’all are really good at changing the subject. What else about this Clara character is so funny?” 

“She seemed to think,” David started, trying to maintain a straight face, “that she and I were going to elope. Just run off to California, get married, and go into acting together.” 

Bethany raised her gloved hand to stifled a laugh. “You, an actor?”

David did his best to act offended—and failed tragically. “What? You don’t see what Clara saw?” 

“Sorry, but no,” Bethany shook her head. “Her, though? An actress? Absolutely. She would be like…the villain’s wife or something.” 

David’s eyes widened and he quickly looked down, trying not to burst into laughter and cause a scene in church. 

“Oh my goodness,” Bethany exclaimed, her cheeks blushing. “Did I really say that?” 

// today's schedule 

Jenna Terese || Infant King - a flash fiction story

Green Tea and Books || My Top Three Wintery Books: Why I Like Them and Why YOU Should Read Them

Read Another Page || A Pony for Christmas

Qadash - Set Apart, for Him || 12 Days of Christmas - Beyond the Horizon (book review)

Chosen Vessels || Silent Star {Book Review}

Life of Heritage || Christmas Story (part 6)

Twin Thoughts || Why Fruitcake

Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors || Still Too Many

RebekahAshleigh || Favorite Christmas Movies - Part 2

Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors || The Best of Hallmark Christmas

The Ramblings of a Bookworm || Till the Dawn Breaks (a WW1 Christmas tale)

Hands Made to Love ||  Guest Post // 12 Days of Christmas Song Origin

Inside Out Designs || Author Interview: Ryana Miller

Resting Life || Mirrored Faith // O Come, O Come Emmanuel // Faithfulness

Three days until Christmas, and only two days until the giveaway closes!