His Encouragement #110

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Welcome to His Encouragement Thursday! I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my struggle day of the week. By Thursday, I have already been working hard at school and at home, and I just wish it would hurry up and be Friday already. LOL! I definitely need a little extra Jesus time on Thursdays.

Trisha, my blogger friend at Joy of Reading, and I decided on calling this post “His Encouragement” because our real source of peace, strength, and security can only come from Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our constant! We pray and hope that these Thursday posts become a real encouragement to you and help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. God bless!


Today’s Thursday Encouragement comes from:

Psalm 32 (ESV)

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Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!


Psalm 32 is one of the most beautiful Psalms in all the Psaltry. In most translations, Psalm 32 is titled, “Blessed are the Forgiven.” We are also told that this Psalm is a “Maskil of David.” Side note, the word maskil is derived from a Hebrew word that means enlightened or wise. I think this is an important idea since the entire Psalm is about sin, asking forgiveness, and being cleansed. The reader of this Psalm would be “wise” to pay close attention to the words in this very important poem!

I did some study and commentators say the best way to analyze this Psalm is to chunk it. You will notice that I have color-coded the Psalm into chunked parts. You may also notice that the chunks fall around the word selah. According to commentators, this is not accidental. They believe selah is a musical notation calling for a pause so that the hearers of the Psalm can contemplate the information discussed in the chunk of text. I like that idea, so today, I want to discuss each segment and I ask that you, dear reader, take a pause to consider the concepts discussed in each chunk. They are filled with super important info from God. Of all the Psalms, I feel that Psalm 32 is a very real love letter to God’s children.

Chunk 1

Transgression, sin, iniquity, and deceit.

These are bad things. Transgression is when we break a rule or law that God has set up for us. Sin is when we miss the mark. Iniquity is gross injustice or wickedness. And, deceit is purposely concealing the truth, purposely misleading someone, or cheating.

Verse 3 is interesting in that when we keep silent about our sins, when we run away from God and others out of shame and guilt because of our sins, our body takes matters into its own hands. Our bones waste away and our soul groans. When we have unconfessed sin our bodies feel wrong. We sigh, our tummies hurt, our chests throb, maybe even our heads ache. We get depressed and maybe a little testy. Our attitudes stink. And, we can’t help but feel heavy, like something is pressing in on us. As David expresses in verse 4, we feel heavy because YAHWEH is pressing on us. It’s His way of calling us to Him so we can have a conversation.

Chunk 2

Take responsibility. Go to God and confess. Hide NOTHING.

God already knows.

Once you go to God, He will forgive you!

Chunk 3

When we finally go to God, we realize the truth that has been staring at us all along — God is our hiding place. He keeps us from trouble. He delivers us FROM OUR SINS. We just have to be in right relationship. We have to offer prayer. And, we have to do it God’s way, not our way. If we do it our way, we may not find God.

Chunk 4

This last chunk is my favorite. It’s written as if God is talking directly to us. He tells us that He is our Teacher. He will train us up the way we need to go. He also tells us that He has His eye upon us. I love that! I love that God sees us.

Then, God gives us a warning: don’t be like mules and horses. This is pretty clear symbolism. Mules are incredibly stubborn and horses have to be broken in order to get them to submit to the will of the owner. What God is saying here is that we need to be wise. Take God at His word. Come to Him when we mess us and ask for forgiveness. Don’t be stubborn. Don’t be the person who has to learn the hard way with stress and guilt and shame eating at your bones. Those who choose to go the hard way will have many sorrows, but those who choose to follow God’s teachings will be surrounded by His steadfast love. Being surrounded by God’s steadfast love is cause for joyous celebration.

To sum up, we all sin. We all make mistakes. “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10 ESV). Don’t make yourself sick hiding your sins thinking no one will ever find out. No one can survive that two-faced kind of life. Instead, be wise and go to GOD! He’s waiting for you so He can instruct you, protect you, and surround you with His incomparable, steadfast love.

God is always the answer. AMEN and AMEN!


NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!

WHAT BIBLICAL VERSE IS ENCOURAGING YOU TODAY?

Check out more Thursday Encouragement from my fellow blogger friends:

Trisha @ Joy of Reading

Jacquelyn @ A Heavenly Home

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Becca @ The Becca Files

Gina @ Stories by Gina

Rebecca @ Rev. Rebecca Writes

Andi @ Radiant Light

Leslie @ Edits & Reviews by Leslie

An Uncommon Woman (2020) — Release Day, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

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♥♥♥ HAPPY RELEASE DAY ♥♥♥

About the Book

wp-1578193266907.jpgBook:  An Uncommon Woman

Author: Laura Frantz

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa’s long-lost friend, Keturah, a redeemed Indian captive like himself.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when she is taken captive by the tribe Clay left, his hand–and heart–are forced, leading to one very private and one very public reckoning.

Intense, evocative, and laced with intricate historical details that bring the past to life, An Uncommon Woman will transport you to the picturesque and dangerous western Virginia mountains of 1770.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Tessa Swan is an amazing woman. She is bright, passionate, and strong-willed. She is also beautiful, compassionate, and hard-working. But, Tessa is also just like every woman who’s ever walked the face of this earth — she, too, has insecurities and fears and doubts. While it is clear that Clay, the fabulous hero of An Uncommon Woman, is very attracted to Tessa for a plethora of reasons, Tessa still worries that she is not good enough for him. I completely understand Tessa’s feelings, as unfounded as they may be. For the most part, I’m pretty confident in the woman God has made me, but every now and then I, too, struggle with thoughts that I’m not good enough or pretty enough or skinny enough or smart enough for my husband. In Tessa’s case, she knows that Clay has access to genteel, upper-class women, women who have access to the best clothes money can buy and are always put together daintily and prettily. These women definitely do not have grime under their nails from working the land. Tessa has a blessed life — she’s educated where most are not, she has a loving family, and her needs are definitely met — but Tessa works for a living. Her hands are not pristine and her clothes are workworn. How could she ever compare to a back-east belle?

What I love so much about Tessa is she refuses to give in to these depressing thoughts and comparisons. In fact, a verse from Proverbs 31 comes to mind, which “renews her courage and straightens her shoulders” (113). She acknowledges that she may not be fancy like the ladies back east, but she does have the Bible to strengthen her. Tessa understands that God has made her a woman of strength and honor no matter how humble her circumstances (113). Isn’t this so beautiful? And it’s super encouraging too. Our worth as women is established by the loving Creator who made us, not by fickle society. Tessa’s example of going to her Bible to be reminded of how God sees her is the BEST message, and a reminder I think a lot of us ladies need today. The next time I’m feeling a little uncertain in my skin, when I’m feeling a little down or frumpy, I’m going to do what Tessa does — I’m going to go to God so He can remind me of my true value.

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz is a beautiful illustration of a Proverbs 31 woman hard at work. Tessa Swan is a superb heroine, and I am really going to miss her. She is a heroine I will remember long after finishing this book! If you are looking for a story that is well-crafted and beautifully penned, that takes you on a journey during a tumultuous time in our American history, and that is delightfully romantic, I highly recommend An Uncommon Woman. It’s truly a breathtaking story!

I received a review copy of this novel in paperback form from the author via her publisher, Revell. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


GIVEAWAY

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I am giving away ONE (1) paperback copy of An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz. My giveaway begins today, 1-7-20 at 5:00 am (PST) and ends on Saturday, 1-11-20 at 12:00 pm (PST). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!

Congrats to Patty R.!

You have won this giveaway. Thank you for participating. I appreciate your support!

***Please Note: Open to Continental U.S. mailing addresses only.*** One winner will be notified via email at the end of the giveaway and will be announced here on this page. For full giveaway disclosures and policies, click HERE.

Memorable Monday #67

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Welcome to Memorable Monday! The purpose of Memorable Monday is to showcase an influential book read in the past that still sticks with you today. This fun Monday morning post is hosted by the lovely Becca at The Becca Files.


This week, I am featuring:

The Painter’s Daughter

by Julie Klassen

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Amazon

The Painter’s Daughter was one of the first Klassen novels I had ever read. I absolutely loved this superb story. It’s so well written that the pages fly. And, the characters are excellent. The Painter’s Daughter is definitely a story that sticks with the reader days and weeks after finishing it. If you have not yet read this book, I highly recommend adding it to your TBR pile today.

About the Book

Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful.

Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him–one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.

Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?


NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!

Share a book you’ve read in the past and explain briefly why it’s so memorable to you in the comments below.

If you would like to join Memorable Mondays, check out Becca’s blog site by clicking HERE. Scroll to a Memorable Monday post for info.

First-Line Friday #117

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Veiled in Smoke

The Windy City Saga, #1

by Jocelyn Green

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About the Book

Chicago

Thursday, September 28, 1871

Meg’s father was gone. Again.

Oh. My. Goodness. This book is AMAZING! I devoured this novel in two days because I simply could not put it down. I may have even stayed up one night until 3 AM reading. I promise to have a more succinct review for release week but suffice to say pre-order this book today. This is one you just have to read!!! In fact, click HERE — it will take you straight to Jocelyn’s novel on AMAZON***.

***I get nothing financial if you click the link to Amazon. I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way other than being a binge book shopper. I just want you to buy Jocelyn’s novel because it is fantastic, and you deserve a fantastic read! 😉 😍


NOW IT IS YOUR TURN!

GRAB THE BOOK YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING, OPEN TO CHAPTER ONE, AND POST THE FIRST SENTENCE (OR SECOND SENTENCE) IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

THEN HEAD ON OVER TO HOARDING BOOKS TO SEE ALL OF THE FLF PAGES THIS WEEK (JUST CLICK ON THE FLF BUTTON BELOW).

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

His Encouragement #109

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Welcome to His Encouragement Thursday! I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my struggle day of the week. By Thursday, I have already been working hard at school and at home, and I just wish it would hurry up and be Friday already. LOL! I definitely need a little extra Jesus time on Thursdays.

Trisha, my blogger friend at Joy of Reading, and I decided on calling this post “His Encouragement” because our real source of peace, strength, and security can only come from Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our constant! We pray and hope that these Thursday posts become a real encouragement to you and help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. God bless!


Today’s Thursday Encouragement comes from:

Genesis 6:22 (ESV)

Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

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In Genesis 6:9-21 God explains to Noah that a flood is coming. He commands Noah to construct an ark to exact specifications. Gopher wood and pitch are the materials Noah is to use. He must include various rooms throughout the ark. God instructs Noah how to fill these rooms — the kinds of animals to bring, the kinds of creatures to bring, and the kinds of foods to bring. Genesis 6 ends with, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”

When I read this chapter I’m always a little overwhelmed. I’m lost in the enormity of it all. The boat is ginormous — I don’t even know what a cubit is, but I know it’s big. And then there are all the various animals, birds, and other creatures plus all the foods to keep them alive. There’s the daily upkeep of all these creatures. How did Noah and his family get any sleep?! In addition to this, Noah had to take care of his family. And, then there’s the fact that the entire world was going to die! BUT, Noah did all that God commanded him.

Verse 22 of Genesis 6 struck me on two counts.

Count #1: Noah DID all that God listed in Genesis 6:9-21 because Noah is obedient.

Count #2: Noah just did. There’s no complaining. There’s no whining. He just DID.

Count #2 is what struck me the most. It has humbled me. I am a whiner. I am a complainer. My greatest fault is that I see the problem, NOT the BIG God standing right next to me. Noah just saw God. How much better would my life be if I was more like Noah and less like myself?

When big problems come my way this year, I want to focus on God more than on the enormity of the problem. Because, in all honesty, the God I believe in and love with my whole heart is BIGGER than anything I will face. I want to be like Noah. When God commands me, I am going to DO.


NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!

WHAT BIBLICAL VERSE IS ENCOURAGING YOU TODAY?

Check out more Thursday Encouragement from my fellow blogger friends:

Trisha @ Joy of Reading

Jacquelyn @ A Heavenly Home

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Becca @ The Becca Files

Gina @ Stories by Gina

Rebecca @ Rev. Rebecca Writes

Andi @ Radiant Light

Leslie @ Edits & Reviews by Leslie

Memorable Monday #66

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Welcome to Memorable Monday! The purpose of Memorable Monday is to showcase an influential book read in the past that still sticks with you today. This fun Monday morning post is hosted by the lovely Becca at The Becca Files.


This week, I am featuring:

A Bound Heart

by Laura Frantz

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I love every book that Laura Frantz has written. She is truly one of the most talented authors in today’s Christian fiction market. Every book she has penned is uniquely amazing, and each book gets better and better. My most favorite novel will always be Love’s Awakening. Jack and Ellie are the best hero and heroine ever! BUT, A Bound Heart is a close second. I adored every second of this novel. If you have not yet read A Bound Heart, I highly recommend it. And, in case you don’t know, Frantz’s newest novel, An Uncommon Woman is due out next week Tuesday, 1-7-20. I’m SO excited to read that one!!!

Click HERE to read my full review of A Bound Heart.

About the Book

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning—together.


NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!

Share a book you’ve read in the past and explain briefly why it’s so memorable to you in the comments below.

If you would like to join Memorable Mondays, check out Becca’s blog site by clicking HERE. Scroll to a Memorable Monday post for info.

The Wedding Dress Christmas (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post from Rachel, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

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About the Book

The Wedding Dress Christmas CoverBook:  The Wedding Dress Christmas

Series: The Wedding Collection #3.5

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Romance, Christmas

Release Date: October 22, 2019

December covers quaint Heart’s Bend, Tennessee with a blanket of white and the glitter of Christmas lights.

For JoJo Castle there’s no place like home. It’s her safe place. Her one-time love of adventure ended when life in the big city shattered her hopes and dreams. Now that she’s returned to Hearts Bend, she never wants to leave again.

Buck Mathews, the biggest country singing sensation in decades, has the world on a string – his guitar strings, to be exact. However, when news of his mother’s illness sends him back to Hearts Bend for the holiday season, he remembers how good it can be to live among family and friends.

Working with her cousin Haley in The Wedding Shop, JoJo has no aspirations of love. Leaving home, surrendering her heart again, is just too risky.

When she runs into her friend and high school crush Buck Mathews, she discovers Love might have other plans for her.

Buck’s career is on the verge of an momentous leap. But seeing JoJo awakens feelings he’d buried long ago. Falling in love is easy, but winning her heart will take more than one of his melodic tunes and clever lyrics.

JoJo and Buck want opposite things for their lives, leaving no room for compromise. Can love, especially the kind that touches hearts at Christmastime, overcome her fears and his quest for greatness?

When a very special gown – the wedding dress – begins to make its presence known, JoJo and Buck’s hearts bend in a way neither ever thought possible.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

rachel-hauck-HR-5Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist and a Christy and Carol Award Winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in The Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie. Rachel has also been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically. A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day. She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

More from Rachel

Hello Royal Rockstar Readers!

I’m thrilled to share The Wedding Dress Christmas with you. I’ve heard from so many how much The Wedding Dress has touched them, and as I noodled over new story ideas, my thoughts drifted toward the wedding dress and Christmas. What’s more romantic than a Christmas wedding?

This novella is set in Hearts Bend, Tennessee, the fictional town of The Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop. Even if you’ve never read one of the books in The Wedding Collection, you’ll enjoy this story, the mystery of the dress, and the women whose lives it changed.

I love weddings. They remind us of the purity and the hope of love, the power of commitment. Something powerful is released when two people pledge to spend their lives together, loving and serving one another in both good and bad times. Every wedding I attend reminds me of the vows I made to my husband and I sign up all over again.

Stories are a powerful reflection of life. Yes, fictional stories are often told with wild hyperbole, but that’s what makes them fun to read.

I also love wedding stories because they remind us of God’s love for us, and that one day there will be the grandest wedding of them all. Isn’t it wonderful that God planned a wedding before He created the earth?

In The Wedding Dress Christmas, JoJo and Buck have their issues, but love proves strong enough to conquer them all.

Thanks for going on this little tour with me and The Wedding Dress Christmas.

Yours,

Rachel

My Thoughts

I have not read any of the books in the Wedding Collection series, and I think that may be part of why I struggled with this story. Don’t get me wrong, The Wedding Dress Christmas has all the signature awesomeness fans of Hauck’s novels love and expect. The novella is well-written, the setting is pleasantly whimsical, and the characters have relatable facets. This novella also has gobs and gobs of Christmas magic perfect for our current holiday season. The mysterious, other-worldly man in purple is my favorite. He may have brought a tear or two to my eyes a couple of times. And, I absolutely adore the concept behind the wedding dress. What a fun and meaningful way to pass down history and a shared sense of female camaraderie!

But I did struggle with the pacing. Everything in this story moves at lightning speed. One second JoJo and Buck are discussing their maybe feelings for one another, and then they are making out. I actually got confused twice and had to re-read whole sections because I felt like I missed some sort of passion build-up. But, I didn’t miss anything. This novella just moves that fast. It actually makes me wonder if I missed some set-up for these two characters in previous novels.

Overall, I do recommend The Wedding Dress Christmas. It does get the reader into a romantic, Christmassy mood. Just be aware that the pacing for this story is super, duper fast. You blink and you’ve read the entire book. If you are in the mood to read a cute Christmas story in one sitting, then this is definitely the book for you!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


GIVEAWAY

The Wedding Dress Christmas Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a print copy of The Wedding Dress Christmas and a Visa gift card for $25.

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/f1fe/the-wedding-dress-christmas-celebration-tour-giveaway


BLOG STOPS

The Avid Reader, December 18

Through the Fire Blogs, December 18

Livin’ Lit, December 18

Robin’s Nest, December 18

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 19

By The Book, December 19

Wishful Endings, December 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 19

Among the Reads, December 20

Genesis 5020, December 20

Life as Lanhams, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 21

Daysong Reflections, December 21

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 21

Bigreadersite, December 21

Simple Harvest Reads, December 22 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Remembrancy, December 22

Britt Reads Fiction, December 22

She Lives to Read, December 23

Empowermoms, December 23

Inside the Wong Mind, December 23

Mia Reads Blog, December 23

Splashes of Joy, December 24

Christian Bookaholic, December 24

Hallie Reads, December 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 25

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 25

Blogging With Carol, December 25

For Him and My Family, December 26

Hebrews 12 Endurance, December 26

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 27

My Devotional Thoughts, December 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 27

Mamma Loves Books, December 27

Betti Mace, December 28

Batya’s Bits, December 28

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 28

Quiet Quilter, December 29

mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 29

janicesbookreviews, December 29

A Reader’s Brain, December 30

Inklings and notions, December 30

Texas Book-aholic, December 30

Carla Loves to Read, December 30

Back Porch Reads, December 31

CarpeDiem, December 31

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, December 31