Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Christmas Home

A Christmas HomeA Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Todd and his friends are devastated to learn that the animal shelter where they work is going to be shut down after Christmas. Now they are all working as hard as they can to find "A Christmas Home" for all the animals they have been caring for.
    This is a really sweet story about how a young man struggles to overcome his handicaps, as his family and friends do all they can to help. Hope, love, determination, and family make this book a really special Christmas treat.



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Christmas in Apple Ridge

Christmas in Apple Ridge: Three-in-One Collection: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, NEW! The Dawn of ChristmasChristmas in Apple Ridge: Three-in-One Collection: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, NEW! The Dawn of Christmas by Cindy Woodsmall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Sound of sleigh Bells
Beth has carries a heavy load of guilt ever since her fiance died. But she begins to find healing in the work of a young woodcarver named Jonah.
The Christmas Singing
Mattie was devastated when her boyfriend broke up with her on Christmas Eve. But when he tells her the truth about it will it bring them together or drive them farther apart?
The Dawn of Christmas
Sadie and Levi pretend to be courting in order to get their parents to leave them alone. But they never intended to fall in love.

This little collection of three novellas is very well written. The author does an amazing job of bringing the characters and their emotions to life.
I really enjoyed "Christmas in Apple Ridge", and I am not a fan of romance stories. Especially the first two stories were so fascinating, I could hardly put them down. I didn't like the third one quite as well as the other two, but it was still really good. If you enjoy Amish, Christmas, or Romance novels, I definitely recommend "Christmas in
Apple Ridge".

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review".




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The Adventures of Daniel Boone, The Kentucky Rifleman

The Adventures of Daniel Boone: The Kentucky Rifleman (Dodo Press)The Adventures of Daniel Boone: The Kentucky Rifleman by Uncle Philip

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Daniel  Boone. His very name evokes images of adventure, courage, and heroism.
This little book is a great tribute to the legendary frontiersman. It is told in an easy, folk-tale style that makes it very entertaining to read. It contains a lot of actual facts, and a smattering of legend that make it so lovable. For example, in one section Boone is being chased by Indians, so he ducks behind a tree to hide. When the Indians get close, he steps out a bit and an Indian shoots at him. He neatly dodges the ball and steps back behind his tree. He then repeats that process until the Indians guns are empty and he runs away.
     If you are interested in Daniel Boone, I highly recommend this book.



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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Long Trail Home

Long Trail HomeLong Trail Home by Vickie McDonough

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A young man returns from the Civil War to find his parents dead and his fiance married to another man. The local blind school allows him to board on their premises, and soon he begins to fall for one of the blind students. But Annie carries a secret that could make him hate her if she tells him. This story tells of the power of love and forgiveness, and that the truth does indeed set you free.
        I really enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first two. It focuses almost entirely on the romance in the story, and I did not think it contained nearly as much historical detail as the others did. It was interesting and held my attention well, but I am not fond of stories that have no other plot other than somebody falling in love. Still, it was a good book, and if you like Christian romance novels, you will probably like this one.


I received a free copy of this book from Moody Press Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
http://mpnewsroom.com/books/long-trai...



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Saturday, December 22, 2012




Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!


Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.


We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.


If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



***
Year of Adversity Brings Joy
By Leslie Gould




I’ve been writing Amish fiction for nearly three years now—telling stories about non-resistant people who live a simple life. It’s a nice reprieve from my own life.


When my husband, Peter, joined the Army Reserve back in the mid 1980s, I wasn’t thrilled about it. Nor did I believe him when he said he’d probably never see action. Sure, the Cold War was ending and—for a short time—all seemed well in the world, but I had a degree in history. I knew better. I didn’t want to be a controlling wife (as new to the job as I was!) and come out and say he absolutely couldn’t do it. And it did help that he was joining a medical unit. Still I had my reservations.


We’ve been far more fortunate than many military families, but still it’s been quite a ride. The first exciting episode began in 1990 when Peter flew to Germany on Christmas Eve to work in an Army hospital during Desert Storm, leaving me behind with our two young sons. During the next twenty years, Peter went from being a Lt. to being a Col. and commanding a unit. Countless maneuvers and a mobilization occurred during that time, but his Army Reserve career culminated in his deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.


My days throughout last year were an odd combination of hearing the daily news from a war zone via Skype and then writing about the plain life of the Amish. By last December I was working on my third Amish novel of the year while, in contrast, Peter and his field hospital staff had cared for hundreds of NATO soldiers and Afghan nationals, endured ten months of rocket fire, and continued to grieve the killing of one of their own.


Surprisingly, what seemed like it might be our worst Christmas ever, even harder than in 1990, wasn’t. Our four children (one teen and three young adults now) rallied to help make it a memorable day. We counted our blessings—Peter was well, we had all we needed, and God was at work in the life of our family. The result was an underlying joy, deeper than what we’d felt during past Christmases.


In reflection, I wrote: When it started, I thought 2011 might be one of our worst years. But it hasn’t been. Sure, it’s been one of our hardest, but a lot of good has come from it.


That was evident on Christmas morning as we Skyped with Peter. We were so thankful for the good connection and for all of us to be “together” that we hardly noticed we really weren’t.


This December, Peter is back at his civilian job (as a manager for a hospital corporation) and also commanding a nearby Army Reserve unit, which means one weekend a month and plenty of evenings—but no rockets or causalities.


I’m working on a new Amish novel and still enjoying my “time” with those who practice non-resistance, which doesn’t discount the appreciation I have for my husband’s service. I’ve even grown to the place where I’m thankful he joined the military. They’ve served each other well.


Our year of adversity resulted in a deep joy. I’m pretty sure it will carry over to this Christmas as well.



***
Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and Christy Award winner The Amish Midwife, co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Her latest release is Courting Cate, a retelling of the “Taming of the Shrew.” Leslie lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children. www.lesliegould.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2012




Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!


Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.


We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.


If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



***
Will They Know What it Cost?
By Glynnis Whitwer


My daughter Cathrine went on a field trip to the Grand Canyon when she was in fourth grade.   As I picked her up upon her return, she couldn’t wait to show me an adorable little stuffed brown bear she’d bought as a gift. She started to say that it was for everyone—meaning her three brothers and sister—but then her words got jumbled. Tears welled in her eyes as she tried to explain how she ran out of money when trying to buy gifts. Her distress was obvious.


To understand fully, it might help to know that Cathrine was born in Africa and experienced deprivation of every sort for the first eleven years of her life. At thirteen years old, she was only in fourth grade.  And although she has made remarkable gains, even now she struggles with communication and math—especially money.


Later that night I finally understood what Cathrine was trying to tell me about the bear. She had taken twenty dollars of her own money to buy herself a souvenir.  But before buying herself something, she wanted to buy some small gifts. So she started with two of her teachers and bought them each a small ring with the first initial of their last names. I looked at the price on the rings and realized each was $3.99. Times that by two, add tax, and Cathrine would have been left with eleven dollars for other gifts and herself.


I imagine she stood at the gift store counter bewildered by what she had just done. She was probably embarrassed to ask any of her classmates for help. And maybe the teacher wasn't around. There she stood with just over half of her money, and three brothers and a sister left to buy for. She decided to get a group gift, and that’s where the bear came in.


Standing in our kitchen, looking at the three items she purchased, I smiled brightly and told her everyone was going to love their gifts and that she’d made wonderful purchases. She smiled back, and the night ended well.


The next morning as she wrapped up the little rings, I kept thinking about those two teachers who were going to receive a gift that day. All they would see is a little silver ring. I knew they would be very loving and appreciative. But would they truly understand the sacrifice Cathrine made?


Would they understand their gifts cost Cathrine half of what she had? Would they ever know the frustration and worry Cathrine felt as she realized she didn't have enough to buy her family any gifts? Would they treasure those little rings, or would they put them in a drawer with gifts from other students throughout the year?


As I pondered these thoughts, I considered a gift I was given two thousand years ago: Jesus. God sent His Son into the world as a baby, knowing He would die on a cross for me. The cost of this gift staggers me.


As I decorate my tree and shop for my family, I’m reminded of what my freedom cost my Heavenly Father. Do I truly understand the sacrifice of that gift? Do I understand the anguish God the Father must have felt sending His Son? Do I treasure this gift, or do I take it for granted?


Christmas is a time for celebration. But it’s also a time to remember God’s sacrifice. For it is in understanding the cost, that we fully appreciate the gift.



***
Glynnis Whitwer is an executive director with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 500,000 daily readers.  Her newest book, I Used to be So Organized, was released last fall. Glynnis, her husband Tod, and their five children live in Glendale, Arizona. Visit www.GlynnisWhitwer.com for more information.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012




Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!


Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.


We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.


If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



***
A Mistletoe Medley
By Margaret McSweeney


“You have breast cancer.”  Those four words my doctor said the week of Mother’s Day 2012 have forever changed my life. Mere months after my fiftieth birthday, I encountered this unexpected “lump in the road” and ventured through a major detour after reaching my half-century mark.


Through this “grit,” God has covered me with His amazing grace! At the same time of my diagnosis, two books released: Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith along with Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief. During this Christmas season, I rejoice that my cancer was caught and treated at an early stage. After six weeks of “daily radiance” (AKA radiation therapy), I started my daily dose of Tamoxifen to help battle any potential cells that might cause a recurrence. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.


While writing Aftermath and sharing my journey of grief as an adult orphan, I experienced several “hugs from heaven” as I discovered family letters, journals, and even a video in which my mother shares her faith. This is a mistletoe medley from my mother’s heart:


Each Christmas season my father used to go down into the woods behind our home and bring us back some mistletoe. It was a present that my sister and I loved. We’d tie it with bright ribbons and would hang it over several doorways in the house.


It was always fun of course for a Christmas party, but it came to mean more than that to us. It seemed to become a symbol of the meaning of Christmas: Love, God’s love for the world that prompted Him to send Christ to become our Savior. Somehow it seemed to enhance our love for each other as a family. And we found ourselves stepping under the mistletoe to give someone a hug or to plant a kiss on someone’s cheek and say, “I love you.”


I thought of these mistletoe Christmases during my mother’s losing battle with cancer.  I penned my thoughts like this:


Illness, you ugly parasite!


Like mistletoe, you’ve entrenched yourself upon my body!


As you bloom and grow, you feed upon my strength.


I shall fight!


Battalions stand by to help!


My doctor’s scalpel will sever you.


Modern medicine will shrivel you.


You shall fall to the ground,


And I shall stand again strong and well.


But what if I cannot conquer you?


If you are with me still


As my constant, inevitable companion,


I pray that God will help me


Learn to live with you in peace


And somehow discover how you, my enemy—


Like mistletoe at Christmas—


Can serve some useful purpose.


There are times when we cannot rid our lives of things that hurt such as pain or grief, loss, illness, sorrow. Sometimes they’re with us as our inevitable companions and we must learn to make peace with them.


Those are the times when we can ask God through Christ to help us transform the loneliness, the pain, the grief, the loss-symbolically into something that can serve a useful purpose in our lives.


May you feel an extra “hug from heaven” this Christmas season from the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.  God is present, and He knows your name!
*Text quoted from Aftermath (New Hope, 2012) by Margaret McSweeney, pp 114-115



***
Margaret McSweeny is a well-published author and freelance writer for the 411 Voices and the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. She is the author of Aftermath, A Mother's Heart Knows and Go Back and Be Happy. She is also the founder of Pearl Girls™ and the general editor of the Pearl Girls™ books; Mother of Pearl and Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace. All proceeds from the sales of the Pearl Girls™ books go to charity. For the past five years, she has served on the board of directors for WINGS, an organization that helps abused women and their children get a new start in life. Margaret would love to meet you too. Follow her on twitter or friend her on facebook. You can also keep up with Margaret atKitchen Chat or the Pearl Girls blog. Margaret lives with her husband and two daughters in the Chicago suburbs.

Call of a Coward

Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class HousewifeCall of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife by Marcia Moston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


   " The problem with promising God you'll follow Him wherever He leads is that you just might have to go. I suspect it would be easier if you were certain of His calling--like stepping out the door and seeing the lilac bush on fire and hearing a voice commanding you. But when it's your husband who is delivering the message--well, that leaves a little room for wonder.
  At least that's how I felt when my husband rocked my comfortable, middle-class afternoon with his belief that God was calling us to pack up and move to a Mayan village in Guatemala"
      Marcia Moston candidly tells her story of fear, faith, obedience, and sacrifice. I appreciate her constant references of seeking God for guidance, and obeying Him even when it's not what you want. It is nice to observe that although she is a missionary, she isn't some super-Christian who is all but perfect. She struggles with selfishness, stubbornness, and doubt; but she ultimately wants to serve God.
   This is a very good book, I think you will find it inspirational.

           I recieved a complimentary copy of this book through Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest reveiw.




Monday, December 17, 2012

Courageous

CourageousCourageous by Randy Alcorn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


 Courageous tells the story of four men who are good policemen, but not such good fathers. They commit their lives to Christ, and set out to make a difference in their families.
  There were some really shocking twists, and some very emotional events in this book which made it totally captivating.
     This was an excellent book. It is great for Fathers and sons, but it is really for everyone. It has a very creative plot, and is very inspirational and entertaining.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves great fiction.



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Gunner's Run

Gunner's Run: A World War II NovelGunner's Run: A World War II Novel by Rick  Barry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


When Jim Yoder falls out of his bomber over enemy territory, he knows he is in big trouble. This story tells of the dangers and adventures Jim faced as he tried to escape Nazi Germany with his life.
    This was a really good story. I liked all the historical references, and the characters and situations were pretty good also. This book is written a bit simply, the target age range is probably 10-15, but it is still very enjoyable even if you are older. My 12 year old cousin and my brother thought this book was absolutely great. And I really liked that it had nothing at all inappropriate for young readers, even any war violence was very mild.
   This is a great book, whether you are a teen or adult. Well worth reading, especially if you like WWII.



View all my reviews



Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!


Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.


We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.


If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



***
Who is Mr. Carbunkle?
By: Debora M. Coty


In a dream this November, I was playing Clue (remember that board game from your childhood?) with three friendly strangers. We were each moving our pieces from room to room in the mysterious mansion trying to figure out who-done-it.


So far we knew it wasn’t Miss Scarlet in the parlor with a candlestick . . . or Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with a wrench.


With a voice bursting with sudden enlightenment, the player to my right announced, “Why, it’s Mr. Carbunkle!*”


My other two opponents and I looked at one another in bewilderment. Everyone knew there was no such character in this game.


It seemed my lot to state the obvious. “Who is Mr. Carbunkle?”


The words continued to ring in my head as I sat straight up in bed. I must have spoken the question aloud to jerk me awake so.


Who is Mr. Carbunkle?  


And then I knew. I knew just as surely as if the Almighty had sent me an e-mail titled, “Hey, Deb, here’s your answer.”


I had been praying for several weeks about how Papa God would like me to use my writing tithe this year. It’s been my custom, for the nine years I’ve written professionally, to give away each December (anonymously, if possible) ten percent of that year’s income from my writing ministry to someone the Lord designates.


The sum isn’t really all that much in the grand scheme of things (contrary to popular belief, Christian writers don’t get rich), but it’s enough to bless somebody in their celebration of Christ’s birth with the knowledge that their Heavenly Father knows about their needs . . . and cares.


I thought about the only Mr. Carbunkle I knew—the one who attends our church, a quiet, unassuming man who’d been out of work for more than a year. I confess that I knew about his plight but hadn’t really given it much thought—or prayer—lately. Although he never complained, I knew his family must be struggling.


So Mr. Carbunkle it is.


You know, there are lots of Mr. Carbunkles out there who would be blessed mightily by a love-gift from you this Christmas. It doesn’t have to be money; it could be help with yard work, or home repairs, or a loaf of banana bread, or best of all, a gift of your time. Thirty minutes of your undivided attention for a lonely soul who needs to know Papa God knows his or her needs … and cares.


Who is your Mr. Carbunkle?


Don’t have a Clue? I know someone who does. Just ask Him.


*Name changed for privacy



***
Debora Coty is an occupational therapist, a piano teacher, and a freelance writer. She's also involved in the children's ministry at her church and is an avid tennis player. Debora began writing to fill the void when her last child left for college, and it has since become a passion. Debora has a real knack for getting across sound biblical concepts with a refreshing lightheartedness as attested in her monthly newspaper column entitled "Grace Notes: God's Grace for Everyday Living." Look for Fear, Faith and a Fist Full of Chocolate in February of 2013.

Saturday, December 15, 2012




Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!


Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.


We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.


If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



***
An Inexpensive New Christmas Tradition
By: Christy Fitzwater


I was invited to play some Christmas carols on the piano for a senior-adult luncheon, but before I got up to play they had a time for the seniors to share what they remembered as their favorite Christmas gifts. 




There was talk of new bicycles, a pony, and a new dress.


Then one elderly man took the microphone and said, “An orange.” When he was young, an orange was a rare treat. As he spoke, he got choked up and had to stop talking to collect himself. He explained that his Sunday School was giving an orange for anyone who memorized a Bible verse. He tearfully described earning that delicious orange and slowly savoring every bite. When he was done eating the orange, he put the peel on the furnace so it would dry, and then he chewed on the peel.


He said with conviction, “We just don’t know how rich we are in this country.”


Christmas is usually the time when I feel broke. I tuck away money for gifts all year long, but money doesn’t go very far these days. My husband and I love to spoil our kids and try to scheme how to get them a big-ticket item. We’ve enjoyed the Christmas mornings when we’ve been able to enjoy watching our kids open such gifts as an electric guitar or an iPad.


I stopped to imagine how our whole family would feel if, on Christmas morning, the only gift under the tree was a small basket cradling an orange for each of us. I think we would feel disappointment and great loss. What would we do the rest of the morning if not consumed by opening gift after gift?  Where would the focus be?


Our years of wealth make thankfulness for an orange seem ludicrous.


As I processed this man’s story, I decided what we lack at Christmas isn’t money to buy nice gifts—it’s gratitude to relish the simple treasures we enjoy every day.


This Christmas I am going to begin a new tradition for my family, and I would invite your family to do the same. I am going to place a small basket with four oranges under the tree, along with a printed copy of the man’s story of the orange. We’re going to pause at some point in the morning and each hold an orange while we read the story. And then we’re going to hold those oranges up to our noses and breathe in the fragrance God built into it, peel it slowly, and enjoy each juicy bite. And while we eat it, we’ll each speak thankfulness to the Lord for the grace He has poured into our lives.


In that moment, we’ll know how rich we are.



***
Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She is the mother of a daughter in college and a high-school boy. Read her personal blog at christyfitzwater.com.

Friday, December 14, 2012




Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!


Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.


We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.


If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



***
God with Us . . . And Us with Him
By: Susan May Warren


Every year over labor day weekend, the Warren family has a MWE. Mandatory Warren Event. It’s a call to come home and enjoy the long weekend with our favorite people. Since my children have left for college, I relish every second of this weekend—the laughter in the kitchen, the long conversations in the family room, the frenzy of backyard football, the quietness of the morning as we drink coffee on the deck and watch the sunrise. I cherish these people, and when they are with me, I drink in their presence.


I’ve been reading the prophecies about Christ this season and came across Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.


I am struck by the word Immanuel. God with us. The closest I get to comprehending this is reading about how Jesus’ loved his disciples. Surely they relished the time with him more profoundly after his resurrection, knowing he would soon leave.


Thankfully, he didn’t leave them for long and sent His Holy Spirit. God . . . still with them. 


As I consider the magnitude of this God who would come to earth, who would abide with the disciples, and then with me, I have to wonder not only do I relish God’s presence in my life, but does God relish time with me? Am I committed to embracing His entrance into my life? Am I even making the effort to see Him?


Imagine that during our MWE weekend, I ignored my children, and they, me? I would lose the joy of their presence.


It is not surprising to me that the Jewish people did not recognize their Savior. After all, who would guess that the Almighty might package himself as a baby and appear among them, fragile and dependent? But today, we know the story, we know the miracles, we know the truth, and God invites us into an abundant relationship, one that He wishes to relish, one that will change us. A relationship that will slake our thirsts and satisfy our hungers. One that reminds us that we are never alone.


Because every day we are a mandatory event to our Immanuel.


This season, look for the ways that God is your Immanuel, with you, every day.



***

Susan May Warren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 40 novels. With over 750,000 books in print, her stories of family, romance and adventure have earned her acclaim and reader fans from around the world. Visit her website for upcoming books and sneak peeks!