Saturday, December 31, 2016

Late night convos, Christmas, and a linkup // December Recap

Hello all. Just me. Popping for a quick December recap. And by quick I mean, I'm gonna try and keep stuff brief because I have a Farewell 2016 post coming soon...followed by a Hello 2017. XD 

There will be a lot of screenshots, because my month was basically just one big conversation, so YES. *pretends this is a good intro and moves on* 

// Life. // 

>> Um, okay, so my family had fake afros one night. Like, we got this fruit basket and Tucker took all the crimped papery stuff out of it and sat the big mess on his head. And then everyone else's in turn. We laughed SO hard. :P 

>> Y'all. I went to 2nd and Charles. THAT IS THE MOST AMAZING PLACE IN THE WORLD LIKE WHAT EVEN. If you haven't been, GO NOW. And buy some books for me. XD 

>> This convo with Emma W.... 

>> I had a 'profound' convo with a friend late one night. About writing and why we write. I'm pretty sure we both ended up crying, and it was just so amazing. I'm not sharing screenshots from that one though...just too special. <3 

>> Also, Christmas happened. I got books. Had an awesome time with friends and family. Sang at a candlelight service at church. Went caroling and Dad nearly fell out of the back of the truck. It was fab. God is so good to us. <3 

>> Tucker asked who Mercy Miles is. Mom told him that Mercy Miles was Hark Herald's brother, but he didn't seem to believe her. I can't figure out why. (If you didn't get this, go listen to Hark the Herald Angels Sing. On repeat. Until you get it. Then come back and laugh with me.) 

// Books. // 

I read thirteen books this month! :D I'm hoping to finish three books that I'm currently reading today and hit 130 for my total for the year. :) 

Christmas Union by Karen Anna Vogel -- 2 stars 
Let's Keep Christmas by Peter Marshall -- 5 stars -- Review HERE.
A Christmas Peril by Diane Moody -- 5 stars 
Our Christmas Bear by Sarah Brazytis -- 5 stars -- Review HERE
The Lopsided Christmas Cake by Wanda Brunstetter -- 4.5 stars
The Acts of the Apostles -- 5 stars 
Joy to the World by Colleen L. Reece -- 4 stars 
Twice Loved by Wanda Brunstetter -- 5 stars  
One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg -- 4 stars 
Destroy by Tricia Mingerink -- 5 stars -- Review HERE
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado -- 5 stars 
White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan -- 5 stars 
Last Wish: A Short Story by Valerie Howard -- 5 stars 

I also beta-read Lydia's amazing mystery. :D

And...BOOK HAUL! :D As mentioned above, I went to 2nd and Charles...and got books for here ya go.

Amish Prayers by Beverly Lewis  
This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof 
Spring's Gentle Promise by Janette Oke 
The Measure of a Heart by Janette Oke 
Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris 
I'll be Home for Christmas by Julie L. Cannon 
Dare and Defy by Tricia Mingerink 
No Better Friend by Robert Weintraub 

// Writing. // 

Word count of the month: 11,957 (and I'm hoping to write another thousand today and that will put me to nearly 13,000. WHAT WHAT.) 

Okay, so, writing went really well this month. I had planned to finish two shirt Christmas stories and hit 72k in War Tears

But none of that happened. Instead I started and finished a completely different Christmas story and I wrote 22 words in War Tears. *dies*

Allllssoooo... I started a new story. *covers eyes and ears* I know. I say that a lot. But stop laughing. I'm serious this time. I've been writing over a thousand words a day since the 26th. :-O 
If the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise (I'm kidding. The creek has nothing to do with it whatsoever), I will be calling for beta-readers for this novella in a couple of months. And – publishing? Well...we'll see what the year brings... 

// Music & Movies. // 


A couple of them were just 'meh', but a lot of them were awesome, and so yes. Also, lots of re-watches. XD 

And then music. Loads of Christmas music (OF COURSE) and a MercyMe concert...

And a new Lawson Bates CD. (Basically, this is the soundtrack to my new novella. <33) 

// Goals. // 

December Goals.
>> Read twelve books. (Yes, I have great expectations...)     Did it!! 

>> Hit 72k in War Tears. 

>> Survive the rest of tree harvest.     Yaayyyy!! 

>> 12 Days of Christmas linkup! Click here for details and how to join in the fun! :D    Yes! It was awesome! 

>> Go to a MercyMe Christmas concert. SIX DAYS YALL. *squeals*       IT WAS FAB YES. 

>> Have a lovely, family Christmas that's focused on giving, not receiving, and reflecting the light of Christ... :)      Hehe, I believe so. ^_^ 

January Goals. 

>> Read 10 books. 

>> Finish one beta-reading project and start alpha-reading another. 

>> Finish Dandelion Dust.

>> Write at least two quality posts for Chosen Vessels

Happy New Years! :D Will you be staying up tonight? 

(So much for keeping it short, huh?! XD) 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Bookish Recap Tag

Good morning everyone! Are y'all ready for the new year? :) 

So, um, I created a tag? *nods* It's a good tag too. Why? Because BOOKS. *grins* 

I'm gonna list out the rules and questions, and tag some people. And then, I'll be back tomorrow or next year (ha.ha.haaaa.) with my answers to the tag. Sound like fun?! 

>> Rules. 
-- Include the above button in your post. 
-- Answer the 11 questions. 
-- Use as many book covers as you like. (The correct answer to this question would be ALOT. B-)) 
-- Tag 5-10 people and notify them that they have been tagged. 

>> Questions. 

// How many books did you read in 2016? (Exact if you know, or approximate if not.) 

// Did you set a reading challenge for yourself and, if so, did you meet it?  

// What was your most read genre this year? Least read? 

// What's five of your favorite books from 2016? 

// What's five of your least favorite books from 2016? 

// What new favorite author did you discover? (Not necessarily that the author is 'new', but that they became new to you this year.) 

// What's five of your favorite book covers from the year? 

// How many books did you purchase for yourself in 2016? (Exact if you know, approximate if not.) 

// What's the longest book you read in 2016? 

// What's the shortest book you read in 2016? 

// What's your reading goal for 2017? 

>>The tagged ones... 
Rebekah @ RebekahAshleigh
Jesseca @ Whimsical Writings
Kaitlyn @ Twin Thoughts

Have a blessed day all!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rainy Days...

Some days are just meant to be rainy days. The days where you lounge around the house – reading books, writing books, and chatting with friends.

I never accomplish much on these kind of days, but somehow it just doesn't really matter. Maybe partially because I'm still recovering from an awesome linkup (haha) and Christmas chaos... 

Once I decide that I need some fresh air and outdoorsy-ness, I go on a walk with Mom and my little blond fellas. (Dogs. They are dogs.) 

The rain has stopped – for now at least – and the world feels clean and fresh. Like God just looked down and decided that our nook of the globe needed a shower. So He sent us one...or two...or two whole days of it. 

The rain clouds leave the mountains blanketed in the beautiful fog and mist. The tree limbs seem so stark and bare against the sky. 

That's our house down there...the brown roof... :) 

The dead brown leaves curl and cup to hold the rain water. As if they're trying to cling to the feel of it and keep it as long as they can. Like the way I want to absorb and savor the feel and comfort of rainy days. 

The 'haunted'-looking old house above us...maybe I'll write it's story one day... 

These are rainy days. These are good days. Maybe not the best of days, but good days just the same. They are restful and relaxing. Clean and refreshing. Maybe, within all of this, is the reason why I love rainy days so. 

What are your thoughts on rainy days? 

**All pictures are my own. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

12 Days of Christmas // Story Conclusion + Wrap-Up + Winner Announced

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a lovely day with friends and family, enjoying the season of giving and remembering that the Greatest Gift mankind ever received was from God – a baby boy born that long-ago silent night in a Bethlehem stable. May we never get so wrapped up in all the festivities that we forget the true meaning of it all <3 

I have a lot to pack into this pre-scheduled post, so let's get on with it. :) 

First off – thank you. Those two little words seem so inadequate, but I truly mean them. To all who took part in this linkup (this year and/or last) a huge thank you. Y'all have made this an awesome twelve days and...ahh! You're the best. You're all the best! <3 

And now, the story of the birth of the true Purpose in all of this...the One we live for, and the One who gives our lives meaning... 

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 
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:) 
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 
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. 
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 
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

Aren't those beautiful words?! :) 

Here's a little something to think on that I heard sometime. We sing about "let every heart prepare Him room", but are we really? Let me put it this way. Are you with the inn crowd, or are you one of the stable few? 

We have a winner for the MercyMe CD giveaway!! :D And the winner is... 

Angela Watts!!! 

Congrats, girl! I have emailed you and as soon as I receive your mailing address, I'll get your prize shipped off. ^_^ 

And now...maybe you're looking forward to this or maybe you're not, but here's the final part of Christmas Homecoming. Hope you enjoy! :) 


  James’s heart pounded loudly as he took in the shock in his sister's eyes and the tears on her face. An image of Mom and Dad, locked in tight embrace while a heartbreaking telegram fell to their feet, flitted through his mind. 
  He was hardly aware of Emma pulling Jamie from his lap and onto her own, as he reached for Molly's hand – only a foot or so from him. 
  Before his hand made contact with hers, a shadow fell across them and James looked up. 
  A skinny young man wearing the uniform of the United States Marine Corps stood next to the Christmas tree. No, no one was here to deliver a telegram that would destroy their hope. Instead, their missing loved one had returned home. Just in time for Christmas. 
  “Titus…?” Molly whispered, her lip quivering as tears skidded down her face. 
  “Hey sis. Merry Christmas.” Titus offered her a lopsided grin and that was all it took. 
  Molly stumbled forward a step and fell into his arms, her shoulders  wracked with sobs. 
  As he looked on the long-awaited sight, James felt Emma's hand slip around his arm. He glanced towards her and she smiled back, tears glistening from her eyes and Jamie cuddling in her lap. He squeezed her hand and looked back to his siblings. 
  James’ vision was obscured by tears but even so, was quite certain Titus had only one arm around their sister. James’ hands suddenly felt clammy and sweaty. Something wasn't right. 
  Molly drew back from Titus embrace and wiped her eyes. Olivia and Henry slipped into the room, hugging their daughter, while Titus’ gaze found James. James then saw that his brother's right hand and arm were hanging limply at his side. 
  “You won, big brother.” 
  James chuckled, brushing the back of his hand across his eyes. Stupid tears. The “win” to which Titus was referring was an agreement the brothers had made when they joined up. A race – to see who would make it home from the war first. Amidst the horrific turmoil of the past two years, James had nearly forgotten the boyish competition. Titus, on the other hand, apparently had not. 
  “Yeah. And I'm pretty sure you cheated.” James grabbed his crutches from the opposite end of the couch and stood. 
  The look on Titus’ face was unreadable as his eyes dropped to his brother's empty pants leg, then bounced back to his face. 
  “What did you think you were doing going missing for nearly a year?” James accused, avoiding the topic of his injury until it was inevitable. “Letting us think you could be dead for all that time.” James maneuvered towards his brother. 
  Titus rubbed his chin with his good hand. “Oh yeah. That. Well, you see, that wasn't exactly planned.” He paused and squinted. “Think you can forgive me?” 
  “Forgive you?” James took another step forward and drug Titus into a brotherly, one-armed hug. “I think I might be able to manage that. Love you, brother.” 
  Titus didn't answer as the two embraced. His limp hand brushed James side, but didn't make it any farther. 
  Finally drawing back, James nodded towards the couch from which Emma looked on – Jamie asleep on her lap. 
  “Look what I came home to.” 
  Titus grinned and approached his sister-in-law and nephew. “Good to see you, Emma.” 
  “You too, Titus,” Emma reached up to squeeze his hand. “I would give you a hug, but this little fellow might object.” 
  “Ahh, I'll let you have a rain check.” Titus leaned down and caressed Jamie's cheek. “He's precious, Emma. Count your many blessings that he takes after you.” 
  James lifted one crutch off the floor and swatted his brother with it. 
  “Watch it,” Titus yelped, whirling around and nearly stepping on Molly who had resumed her seat by the fire. 
  “James!” Olivia admonished, she and Henry seated again in the rockers. “Don't you think you should treat your brother a little better than that when he's just arrived home?” 
  James grinned. “He's alright, Mom. I didn't hit him too hard.” 
  Titus removed his coat and sank to the floor beside Molly, and James reclaimed his seat next to his wife. 
  “Where were you all that time?” his sister asked, eyes wide. “When you were listed as missing in action, I mean.” 
  Instead of answering her, Titus stared into the fire. Finally, he spoke. “Why don't we save that story for tomorrow, or even the day after?” 
  “Okay,” Molly replied, smiling sweetly. 
  A moment of tender silence passed before Olivia dared broach another painful topic. “Titus…” she reached out to lay her hand on his shoulder. “Are you going to tell us what happened to your hand?” 
  Slowly, he nodded. “I reckon I need to.” He unbuttoned his right cuff and pulled up his sleeve, exposing a scarred hand and forearm. Burn scars, it appeared. 
  “Most of my arm looks like this. All the way up to my shoulder, and even a spot on my back. I was trapped in a burning tank. It's a miracle I made it out at all, much less with only these scars to show for it.” 
  James looked up from his brother's arm to his mother, and saw that Olivia was hiding her face behind her hands. Weeping for her child. 
  “Oh, Mama, don't cry.” Titus scooted across the floor to her feet and pulled her hands from her face. “I'm alright, really I am.” He gently wiped the tears from her face. “And I'm home now – home for good.” 
  She nodded, too overwhelmed to speak. 
  Titus smiled sadly and glanced down at his limp arm. “You know, it's not good for much, but at least I still have it.” 
  Olivia nodded and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. “You're right, son.”
  “Of course I am.” Titus winked and clasped her hand. “And right now I'm just happy to be home...with all of you.” 
  Before they knew it, the clock was again chiming, only this time the pendulum drummed out twelve bold chimes before silence again claimed the air. 
  “Christmas Day…” Titus murmured, the simple words earning him another squeeze from Mom. He smiled and patted her hand. 
  “And what a wonderful one it is.” 

The End…for now. 


Other stops in the linkup... 

Whew! That was quite a post!

I may be around later this evening/night to reply to comments and all that. But until then, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :D 


Saturday, December 24, 2016

12 Days of Christmas // Christmas Homecoming 2/3

Hey everyone! Merry Christmas Eve! :D I had a slight change of plans so Christmas Homecoming will now be in three parts, the ending of it included in tomorrow's post. :) Here it is! Hope you enjoy! :D 


  “Oh, there you are!” Olivia, James’ mother, rushed towards the couple with an assault of hugs and warmth the moment they entered the door. “Thank heavens, you're safe. I was about convinced the truck had slid off the bridge and you were at the bottom of that dreadful river.” 
  Emma returned her mother-in-law’s hug with a brief apology over being late and, insisting James was to blame, slipped into the kitchen to deposit her food contributions. 
  Mrs. Olivia tossed instructions on how to warm up the casserole as she hung her daughter-in-law’s coat on the rack and turned on James who stood just inside the door. 
  When she reached up to hug her son, Olivia spied the lumpy form in the front of his coat and jumped back with a yelp. 
  James laughed as he made his way to the couch and sat down. He set his crutches aside and began unbuttoning his coat. “Goodness, Mom, it's only Jamie!” 
  “Oh, good heavens, son.” Olivia clasped her hand over her heart. “What a way to carry a child!” 
  James grinned as he sat Jamie on the couch next to him and removed both their coats. “Aww, it's alright, Mom. Em and I are both learning new ways to do things.” He looked up just as his wife appeared in the kitchen doorway. The smile on her face told him she had stepped in in time to hear his words. 
  Because of the war their lives as individuals and the life they were building together was forever changed. They were adapting, learning to function as a family in new and different ways. They would never completely heal from the heartache the war had brought into their lives, but maybe that was for the better. What was the point of a trial if it didn't change and strengthen you? There would still be many tough days ahead, but James knew in his heart they would be alright. They had God in their midst. 
  A buzzing noise sounded from the general direction of the kitchen. Henry, James’ father, peeked out from behind his Bible in his rocker near the fireplace. 
  Emma winced at the persistent ring-a-linging. “Umm, that's why I came in here, Olivia. Molly said she isn't sure if that timer was for the pie in the oven or the greens on the stovetop.” 
  “Oh dear,” Olivia flapped her hand towards Emma. “That girl is such a daydreamer; I'm never for certain that she's even listening to me. I'll be right there to take care of it,” she concluded with a nod, and Emma ducked back into the kitchen. 
  James’ mother stepped toward the couch and kissed both his and Jamie's cheeks before skittering off the kitchen, calling over her shoulder for James to join his father near the fireplace. As if he was going to freeze to death sitting a mere three or four yards away from the blaze. 
  Before James 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!” Molly, James’ sixteen year-old sister, 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 Jamie, Molly started back towards the kitchen without a word to her brother. 
  “Well! Now I see how it is,” James leaned back on the couch and crossed his arms over his chest. 
  Molly stopped and turned back, grinning mischievously. “Hi there. Say, you look familiar, stranger. What's your name again?” 
  He rolled his eyes. “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 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 James 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 Hollywood or Broadway.” 
  “Broadway!” Molly squealed. “Did you hear that Jamie-boy? I'm going to being a famous actress! I'll let you all come to my performances and–” 
  “Dinner is ready!” The call came from the kitchen, interrupting Molly’s proclaimation. “Come on, y'all, let's eat!” 
  James grabbed his crutches, stood, and started for the kitchen. Henry and Molly followed, with Jamie in tow. 


  After a bountiful meal prepared by the ladies, the family exchanged small, but meaningful gifts around the Christmas tree. The clock on the mantle struck nine, nine-thirty, and ten, and no mention was made of James and Emma heading for home. 
  Gathered around the fireplace, the family told stories of past Christmases, laughing and smiling over the memories. A few tears were shed over the absence of Titus, but for the most part the family was content in the hope and steadfast in the faith that they would see their son and brother again. 
  Emma sighed as she settled against James shoulder. The setting in this room was so peaceful with the fireplace crackling and the lovely Christmas tree decorating the other side of the room, obscuring the view of the doorway. 
  She sat next to James on the couch by the fireplace, holding his hand and soaking up his missed presence. The family’s guiding light and inspiration to keep pushing on, Olivia and Henry, sat across from them in the rockers. Molly sat on the floor between them with Jamie on her lap. The later it got, the more the little boy’ eyelids drooped. 
  Talk lessened and a blissful quiet filled the room.mFor right now, everything was alright in Emma's world. With so much warmth and love in this room, closing her eyes she...could almost...fall asleep… 
  A knocking noise resounded through the house, disrupting the near-perfect setting. 
  Startled, Emma's eyes popped open and she sat up. 
  Molly turned from her position on the floor and looked towards the front door, as if she could see through the wood and know who was standing there. “Want me to get it, Dad?” 
  “Thanks, sweetie, but I'll go,” Henry stood and ambled around the Christmas tree and through the entryway to the door. 
  Olivia hoped up and quickly followed him. Emma didn't need to ask to know what the older woman was thinking – news on Titus. And less than an hour until Christmas Day too. Please Lord, let it be good. 
  His nap interrupted by the unknown visitor, Jamie began to squirm on Molly’s lap. “Aww, did you get woke up, darling?” She stood and brought him to his parents, setting him next to James. The little boy crawled into his father's lap, eyes heavy, and was soon asleep again. 
  “Who would come calling on Christmas Eve night?” Molly wondered aloud, still gazing in the direction her parents had gone. 
  “Maybe it's your beau,” James teased, eyebrows wiggling. “Bout time I met him anyway.” 
  “Very funny, J,” Molly grumbled, crossing her arms and peeking past the tree. “I wonder–” 
  “No, I'm serious! This is a very important matter.” 
  Emma snickered as she glanced up to see how her sister-in-law was enduring the teasing. Her eyes widened when she saw large tears sliding from Molly’s eyes as she continued looking past the Christmas tree to the entryway. 
  “What was his name again? Robert, was it?” James was still going on about Molly’s non-existent beau as he situated Jamie against his shoulder.
  “Sweetheart…” Emma elbowed him and he glanced at her, eyes filling with concern as he followed her nod towards Molly. 
  “Sis, what's wrong?”
  “James, look.” 


*beams* Wasn't it sweet of me to leave you there?! *inserts halo emoji* 

I'm also throwing in the link to my one-shot Christmas Eve story from last year, in case you wanna, ya know, read it again or something...if you're extremely bored...or whatever. XD Blessed by the Light

Other stops in the linkup... 

And two links didn't get added to my post until yesterday afternoon, so here they are again. :) Dotn want anyone to miss out! 

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Days of Christmas // Christmas Homecoming 1/2

Hello all! Can you believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve?! Like wutttt?? XD 

Today I have the first part of a short Christmas story I'm writing. The second half will be up tomorrow. I'd love to hear some feedback! Hope you enjoy!! :) 

Christmas Eve, 1944 

  "James!" Emma called through the house, leaning out the kitchen doorway. "They're expecting us at six o'clock, sweetheart. We should have left already." 
  "I'm coming," came the quick reply, followed by the becoming-familiar shuffle of her husband's crutches. 
  Emma crossed the room for the last time and added a plate of cookies to the smaller of the two wicker baskets on the table – both which already overflowed with food. 
  James entered the room just then, looking especially handsome in his forest green sweater and khaki slacks. Emma noted that the empty leg of his pants still hung loose, nearly touching the floor. 
  He cleared his throat and Emma’s gaze lifted to the large safety pin he extended towards her in his left hand. 
  “Would you mind fixing this? I can't make it stay straight when I sit down.” 
  “Of course.” As she reached out her hand to accept the pin, Emma paused to take in the peacefulness in his eyes. He didn't enjoy asking for her help and he never would. But he accepted it; he acknowledged that he needed it...for right now anyway. It was quite the change from the James that had returned home three weeks ago after spending several months in various army hospitals. Noting this did her heart good, although she knew they both has a ways to go. 
  She didn't speak any of these thoughts though as she knelt to fold his pants leg and then held it in place in preparation to pin it up over his stump. 
  Just as she inserted the safety pin into the fabric, James jerked. 
  “Ow! Em, you pricked me.” 
  Emma rolled her eyes and sat back on her heels to look up at him. “Survives Mussolini’s finest and is killed by the prick of a straight pin. What's this world coming to?” 
  “Ha. Ha,” James joked sarcastically, his eyes sparkling with merriment. “Just fix it, please.” 
  Emma laughed. “Okay, I am!” She carefully readjusted the pants leg and quickly pinned in place – straight and neat. 
  When she returned to full height, James leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Thanks, sugar. You did much better than I could, even if I am in need of a transfusion now.” He winked and Emma knew he was kidding her again. 
  “Oh, you jokester.” She stood on tiptoe to kiss him back. 
  He grinned and slipped his left arm around her waist, holding himself upright with his right crutch. He landed a sweet kiss on her lips. “Who needs mistletoe?” 
  “Apparently not you.” 
  James chuckled. 
  Emma stayed in his embrace for a few moments before gently pulling back. “Sweetheart, we've got to get moving or they're going to send out a search party for us.” 
  “And that would be catastrophic, especially to Mom’s health.” 
  “Oh, stop it,” Emma swatted at his arm. “She's nearly made herself sick worrying about you and Titus.” 
  James’ face turned serious. “I know she has, and I didn't mean it that way. She'll probably always worry about her kids though.” 
  “Mamas are like that.” Emma stepped over to the kitchen table and closed the top of the large picnic basket. 
  “I wouldn't know anything about that side of it...” James’ eyes widened, brows on the rise, as he gaped at the two bulging baskets of food. “We're taking all that?! Didn't Mom cook anything?” 
  “Of course she did,” Emma said, inspecting the smaller baskets contents. “This is just the stuff she allowed me to bring.” 
  James shrugged. “All this food may take me and Dad all night to work through without Titus around to lend a fork and a belly.” 
  His face became somber, his mind likely filled with thoughts and memories of his MIA younger brother. James and Titus had joined up together the weekend after Pearl Harbor and both shipped out a few months later. Emma had only known Titus briefly during her and James’ whirlwind relationship – from first look to the altar in five sweet months. But she knew it hurt James deeply to know he was home and safe with his loved ones this Christmas, when his little brother could be lying dead on a bloody battlefield somewhere. 
  She stepped closer and cupped her hand around his forearm. “I know, James. We're all thinking of Titus this Christmas.” 
  A shadow of a smile flickered across his face and he cleared his throat, before the moment was broken by the clanging of pot lids. James turned with a start and leaned to the side to look around Emma. He visibly relaxed when he could see the patch of linoleum where the couple's two year-old son sat, amusing himself by slobbering on a wooden spoon and pounding pot lids together. 
  “He's going to start his own band one day, daddy.” Emma grinned. 
  James shook his head. “Not so sure that will work out too well.” His gaze lifted to the clock on the wall across the kitchen. “We really are going to be late if we don't get a move on, Em. Do you want me to get Jamie?” 
  “Sure, hon. You two go ahead and get our coats from the closet,” Emma replied, moving across the kitchen. “I'll bring the food to the door. We really do need to go; your mother will be fit to be tied if we don't show up there soon.” 
  “C’mon, Jamie. Let's go find your shoes and coat.” The little boy hopped up from his spot on the floor and scampered out of the room, jabbering about something or other. Jamie's little feet pattered on the wooden floor, followed by the three-beat shuffling of his father. 
  Emma paused and closed her eyes in the quiet kitchen. Thank You, Lord, for these two sweet fellows in my life. You are so good to me – bringing James home safe. Please be with Titus this Christmas...wherever he is, and grant us all the peace of knowing Your will is always best


  Emma entered the foyer a few moments behind her husband and son, to find that James had retrieved each of their coats from the closet and was helping Jamie into his outerwear. 
  After sitting the baskets of food in the floor, she grabbed her coat and scarf from the stack of such items on the arm of the couch and quickly put them on. Peeking through the window curtains, she noticed how much more snow had fallen in the last couple hours. A few inches of fluffy whiteness again covered the walkway out to the truck – a path the neighbor boy had shoveled just before lunch. Not too much that she was worried about making the half-a-mile drive to her in-laws, but enough so that Jamie probably couldn't walk through it without holding to her hand. 
  “I didn't think about this,” Emma mumbled, more to herself than to her husband. 
  “What is it?” James asked, looking up from buttoning his coat. 
  “Oh, it's nothing to worry over,” she smiled quickly. “I'm just going to take the food out to the truck real quick, and then I'll come back for Jamie.” 
  He shook his head. “You don't need to do that. I can carry him.” As he spoke, he held the little boy on his knee and kissed his head while he worked on Jamie’s second shoe. 
  Emma hesitated, chewing her lip. “James, how…?” 
  “I'll show you.” He scooped up the little boy off his lap and held him up to her. 
  Emma took the little boy and sat on the couch at James’ side. As she watched, he quickly unbuttoned his coat and then again reached for Jamie. 
  “What are you doing?” she asked, brows knit in confusion. 
 “Watch and be amazed,” James winked at her as he took Jamie from her lap. He sat the little boy on his lap, face tucked into his father's shirt, and then began buttoning his coat up with Jamie inside. 
  “That is how you're going to carry him to the truck?” Emma asked, her voice tainted with disbelief and hesitation. “What's to stop him from sliding out of your coat when you move around?” 
  “Em…” James’ eyes widened as he attempted to draw a deep breath in the now-overly-snug coat. “Just believe me when I say that's not possible.” 
  Emma snickered at the exaggerated look on his face. “If you say so.”
  “I do.” James grinned back, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “But... You may have to help me up.”
  “Gladly.” She stood and held out her hand to help him to stand, smiling as she did so. 
  "What's with the grin?" James demanded as he took his crutches from her and stood upright on his own. 
  Emma shook her head, unable to explain the feeling. He looked so funny with a toddler stuffed down in his wool coat, about to bust the buttons off the front with his chubby weight, that she wanted to laugh until the cows came home. And at the same time she was so overcome with thankfulness that James was home with them this Christmas that she could have sank to her knees right there by the couch and praised God for years to come for His amazing goodness. 
  When she failed to answer, James didn't push her for a reply to his now-forgotten question. He only smiled, seeming to know and even understand her private thoughts, and shuffled towards the door. 
  "We're going to be eating Mom's turkey for breakfast if we don't get moving," he called over his shoulder as he crossed the threshold. 
  Emma laughed as she yanked on her boots and grabbed up the two baskets of food, following closely behind him out the door. She paused to hurriedly close and lock the door. She really didn't want James to attempt to navigate the snowy – and possibly icy – porch steps without her there. 
  “Be careful,” she cautioned, fighting the deadbolt. “I didn't feel anything when I was out earlier, but there could still be ice beneath all this snow.” 
  As she turned around, Emma gasped upon seeing her husband teetering on the edge of the second step. 
  At her scream, James caught himself on the next step with his crutch. Stopping for only a second, he eased on down the remaining two steps and halted. 
  Emma rushed to his side. “James, are you alright? You almost fell. I thought you were going to fall!” 
  “It's terribly slick out here so it's no wonder. I think that–” 
  Her endless flow of words halted and she tilted her head to look up at him. “What?” 
  “Stop it.” His eyes were soft, but frustrated, and his voice low and serious. 
  She took a step back, a bit hurt by his sharp tone. “Stop what?” 
  “You're smothering me, Emma,” James replied bluntly, his grey eyes finding hers over the top of Jamie's head. “You're… you're mothering me, and I don't need it. It frustrates me enough to not be able to do certain things on my own, but when…” He trailed off and exhaled, rubbing his hand across his mouth and clean shaven face before bringing it to rest on Jamie's head. 
  “Emma, if I didn't think I could manage the steps on my own, do you think I would chance it while carrying Jamie? Put him in jeopardy?” 
  Her brow furrowed as she quickly answered the question that caught her so unprepared. “Of course not, James. You would never do that.” 
  James nodded, edging closer to her. “No. I wouldn't – and I know you didn't mean it that way. So believe me when I say I'm alright, Em.” 
  “I believe you, James, I just…worry.” Emma sat the smaller of the two baskets at her feet and placed her hand next to James’ on Jamie’s cheek. “I didn't mean to imply that you're incapable. I'm sorry. I'll try to do better.” 
  James smiled and moved his hand to cover her bare – and very cold – fingers. “I'm sorry too. I don't like disagreeing with you. I'll try to do better too.” 
  “So…” Emma stepped back and retrieved the other basket. “If you two can make it alone, I'll go ahead and put this stuff in the truck.” 
  James nodded, grinning. “We can handle it. Thanks, hon.” 
  She flashed him a grin in reply, and trudged on through the snow to the truck. She put the baskets in middle seat, spending longer than necessary to make sure they were scotched and wouldn't slide around to give James adequate time to get to the truck. 
  The passenger's door opened and Emma straightened up, pulling on gloves from her pocket. By the time she had gotten into the driver's seat and started the engine, Jamie and James were safely in the other seat, with James’ crutches stowed in the back. 
  “Brr, it's cold in this old thing,” Emma shivered as she carefully backed out their driveway. 
  James nodded his agreement, unbuttoning his coat to give Jamie some wiggle room. He kissed the little boy’s head while snuggling their son inside the warmth of his own coat. 
  The truck rattled and creaked in protest as Emma guided it onto the adjacent street. The family was finally on their way to spend Christmas Eve with their loved ones.


Other stops in the linkup... 

Also, the MercyMe Christmas CD giveaway ends at midnight so be sure you're entered to win!!

Have a good day! I'm off to do some baking... :) 

12 Days of Christmas // What Does Christmas Mean to You? {A GroupCollaboration}

Hello everyone and welcome to day nine! Can you believe it?! Only three days until Christmas!! :-O 

Today I have a special kind of post for you all – a group collaboration of sorts. I asked anyone who participated in 12 Days of Christmas to (if they wanted) send me a little something explaining what Christmas means to them. Each of the answers I received are below, along with the link to each person. :) Enjoy!! 

Christmas means singing, joyful singing, of praises to our Savior.  Christmas means baking peppermint cookies, praline pecans, peppernuts, and making oreo balls, peanut butter balls, and fudge.  Christmas means giving and receiving gifts with friends and family.  Christmas means decorating a Christmas tree and then admiring it from your seat in front of the fireplace.  But, most of all, Christmas symbolizes all that we as Christians stand for: it means that Jesus, God's own Son, came to be born on a frigid day with only some swaddling cloths to keep Him warm.  That He would grow "in stature and wisdom", and would bring hundreds of people to His Father for eternity.  That He died a criminal's death, all for us, so that we may go to be with Him in Paradise.
That's what Christmas means to me.

What Christmas means to me is the day the greatest gift ever given to humanity was given. the Day Light came into the a Dark world. It is the Day the infant God took on finite man. It is the day our Savior was born! It is just such an amazing thought. Since the very first book of the Bible we where promised a Savior, and then after all that time that passed God sent Him to us! And what's even more amazing is that instead of coming down on a flaming cloud proclaiming His greatness, Christ came in the most humble way. He came as a lowly humble man (.Philippians 2:5-9). And at His birth He wasn't greeted by great people, He wasn't greeted by Kings and Queens and Famous actors. No He was greeted By the lowest of the low, the Shepherds. At Christmas it's nice to get and give gifts. But the reason I give gifts is because I was given the GREATEST gift a wretch like me could be given, and that is Salvation through the Son of God. And it all started with a babe in wrapped in swaddling cloth laying in a manger. Merry Christmas everyone!

To me, Christmas means celebrating Jesus' birth. It also means decorating, baking, and being extra cheerful!
It means a time for fun traditions and time spent with family and friends! ;) 

Christmas means...
Buying the perfect gifts for my family and friends
Writing a Christmas poem
Extra writing/reading time during Christmas break (Hallelujah!!! ;P)
Singing Christmas songs around the house/listening to Christmas songs
Getting a Christmas tree and decorating it
Spending more time with family (my big brother is coming home for Christmas!!)

Hmm, what Christmas means to me? Probably just hanging out with family. Being together. Focusing on God and others instead of yourself. 

To me, Christmas means love. It's just everywhere-- in Jesus' coming as a baby, as people extend goodwill to each other... I don't know, it just always feels to me as though love grows so much stronger during the Christmas season. I wish it would stay throughout the year! I adore everything about Christmas and it just makes my soul so very happy...I am always so excited for the music, and the decorations, and the fellowship and gift-giving. But the 'why' for it all comes down to love...and I just think that's so beautiful. <3

Christmas to me means family. I can't remember a Christmas where my family didn't get together with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle and cousins. Christmas also means songs! Who doesn't love to blast Christmas songs in their car and sing along every chance you get? :D Christmas to me is a wonderful time I get to spend with my family, sing lots of Christmas carols, and be reminded about Jesus. During Christmas time I always feel so rejuvenated and inspired! That's what Christmas means to me :) 

The scent of peppermint coffee drifting through the house and mixing with the sounds of pots and pans in the kitchen. An excitement that pervades through the air in an almost tangible way. The squeals of glee from younger siblings, as they wait in eager  anticipation for the gifts. Piano Christmas music playing softly in the background. The warmth of the heater as everyone gathers in the living room. The quiet that settles as dad opens the Bible, and read aloud the joy of Christ's birth. The thought that we, just as the younger siblings wait for their gifts, wait in anticipation for the greatest gift of all--the return of our Savior. The awe that you feel when you realize that the Lord of the universe loved you enough to come to earth as a lowly child. The realization once again that Jesus is the greatest and most costly gift ever given. And the courage to live life boldly, knowing that this Baby lived a perfect life, died, rose again, and is with us every day of our lives. This is what Christmas means to me.

My family and I only started doing Christmas again 3 years ago- but even so, we've got traditions going! :)
  When Christmas time comes, the house is decorated in lights. The outside is always lovely, and the inside is full of Christmas 'buddies'- fabric snowmen, standing moose figures, any cute little thing Christmas related... my Ma, sis, and I have a love for Christmas pals. =D They're very cute and we have a bunch of them, all over the house. And my Dad puts the wreath and lights on our John Deer tractor!
 Christmas isn't complete without movies!! Our family favorite is 'National Lampoons Christmas Vacation' - that one is always playing. And of course, we always quote it.... =D 
 One of my favorite things about Christmas is decorating the tree. I love hanging the ornaments, laughing as the guys string the tree lights (and Dad snap the tree star...), and standing back and watching the little kids dive in. That's the moment when I can see everyone happy and enjoying themselves. It's a peek of what Christmas is about: LOVE. Not the biggest or most gifts- nothing we can buy can compare to Messiah's Gift for EACH OF US! I think that is amazing. And watching the tree go from a green, stiff and prickly stick, to a shining, glowing beacon... Reminds me of what Yeshua did, so that I could have joy this life. So we could each truly find joy, in Yeshua. 
  Christmas is getting locked out of rooms so others can wrap, and then watching my sister organize the gifts under the tree. Christmas is watching everyone laugh as my brother and niece beat each other up with empty wrapping paper tubes. Christmas is getting to wear my reindeer ears around. Christmas is hanging silver tassel around my dog's neck. Christmas is enjoying shopping, not for the gifts, but for getting to take silly pictures in the store and get a laugh out of someone. Christmas is going to the town and park and seeing the lights. Christmas is seeing the outside covered in snow, and hurrying to bundle up so we can all have the family snowball fight. Christmas is lighting the Hanukkah candles and singing as a family. 
 Christmas is a warm time of year. It's the time we remember Yeshua's Gift.... And a time to join together and celebrate! For my family and me, we'll be gathered around in our home and singing. 

Christmas to me means
The echoing stillness of a windswept morning, crowned with icicles and a slate grey sky
The rich, overwhelming fragrance of pine, the tickle of feathery branches on your nose,
Shining stars on the tree, in the sky, and in everyone’s eyes
The candle-lit silhouette of the evergreens in my crown dancing on the white walls
The bubbling sound and enticing smell of fruit soup on the stove
An overhanging secretiveness, mystery, tip-toes in the hallway on their way to the tree
Snuggling up in our Christmas PJs to read the Christmas story
Daily prayers for snow
Stumbling out into the bitter cold each morning with a steaming bucket of water for the chickens
Sparkling, wildly tossed about wrappings
Hanging each ornament, all of which have been picked up on a vacation to somewhere, and talking about our memories.
Breaking something. Always.
Sewing, crocheting, cutting, snipping- for months going up to Christmas.
Listening to Christmas carols constantly
Switching our Starbucks order to peppermint hot chocolates- and always paying for the car behind us.
Sitting on an icy hayride, clutching at gifts to distribute as you go caroling
Driving about the neighborhood Christmas lights
Decorating gingerbread houses- and snacking on them.
But most of all:
…Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray,
O, Tidings of comfort and joy.
…That unto us this day was born the Son of God by Name,
O, Tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O, Tidings of comfort and joy.
-- Seneca

To me, Christmas means, putting up decorations throughout the house and decorating the Christmas tree, getting gifts for family and friends, listening to Christmas music and playing it on my violin, reading Christmas books and watching fun Christmas movies in the evening with my family and, most importantly, Jesus’ birth.

Other stops in the linkup... 

Have a blessed day everyone! I have packages to wrap, goodies to bake, and...ahh! Tootles!
~ Faith