Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year!

We here at Coffee Cups & Camisoles wish you the Happiest of New Years!

To celebrate the new year and a new release, I'm giving away a copy of

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas: Priscilla's Reveille.

Just leave a comment telling us how you're planning to celebrate the New Year.



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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How to Know if You are Following Your Calling

Erica here:

Do you ever wonder if you are following your calling? Writers, particularly Christian writers, and especially Christian writers who are writing fiction but are not yet published, often struggle with wondering if they are following God's calling for their lives.

As I was contemplating this today (when I was supposed to be working on a proposal for my agent) I looked across the table at someone who has known what her calling was from the time she was five years old.

You see, I was sitting across the table from my daughter, Heather. The more I thought about Heather and her calling, the more I realized that there were several parallels to draw between her realization of her calling and that of my own as a writer.

Heather, age 2. She could read about the time she could talk
and she has always loved books and school.


#1. It's Okay to State Your Wishes Aloud

On her first day of kindergarten, Heather came out of the school, climbed into the car, and announced to me that she was going to be a teacher someday. She had no doubt, and no fear that this would not happen.

Writers sometimes write in secret, afraid of what people might say if they are found out. As if they are doing something shameful or embarrassing. I remember the first time I revealed to a friend at church that I would be traveling to a writer's conference. It was scary! But somehow, saying it aloud made it more real. I was a writer.

#2. Try Out Things Associated With Your Desired Calling To See If They Bring You Joy

Heather knew she wanted to be a teacher, and the first opportunity she got to work with children, she took it! For many years, starting when she was in seventh grade, she worked with preschool aged children at church, as an AWANA leader, nursery worker, Sunday School helper. She was never happier than when she was working with children.

Writers need to write, to experiment with different genres, different lengths of story, different techniques. If all you ever do is talk or think about writing, this probably isn't your calling. Or if it is, you're not using it! If you write and it brings you joy, and if you are sad if you don't get to write, this is a pretty strong indication that writing is something you should do. I am never happy unless I have a book on the stocks. I need to be working on the next story, or I am all out of sorts.

Heather, age 10, happiest when reading a book
or organizing things. She loves schedules and routines.




#3 Be Willing to Invest in Your Future 

From the time she was a sophomore in high school, Heather knew where she wanted to go to college. She chose University of Northwestern, St. Paul. UNW had the degree she wanted (Early Childhood Education) and accreditation. When she graduated, she would be licensed to teach in the State of Minnesota. To that end, she began taking distance education classes while still in high school, taking so many credits that when she arrived on campus for her first year of college, they classified her as a junior transfer. I was very thankful for this, because college is expensive. But she knew it was a necessary investment.

Writers need to invest in their careers, if they want them to be careers, that is. Writing and learning to write well take time. Time is the biggest investment. And a writing career costs money, especially at first. Writing conferences, writing books, writing classes, writing contests. A website, business cards, head shots. Coffee makers, tea bags, laptops, comfy chairs. A calling requires sacrifices. You can't do everything everyone else is doing and write. You have to cut things out of your life to invest time and money into your writing. I love to quilt and crochet and cross-stitch and watch movies, but I can't spend all day doing those things and still have time to write. I have to budget my time and cut out some things.

#4 Compare Yourself To Others, But In A Good Way

Heather's dream of being a teacher came true, and she has a class full of preschoolers who call her Miss Heather and who love her. She also is surrounded by other teachers. She has a co-teacher in her class, and she has a mentor who is a teacher. While it would be easy for her, a teacher with only a few years' experience, to compare herself to other teachers and find herself lacking their time-won skills, instead, she chooses to compare herself to other teachers and learn from them. How do they handle conflict? How do they manage their schedules and resources? How do they relate to parents, co-workers, supervisors, etc?

Writers can fall into a deadly trap of comparing themselves to other writers and allowing those comparisons to steal their joy and cause them to flounder on the shores of "Is this really my calling?" Instead of allowing jealousy or despair to creep in, observe other writers, both through their writing and through their actions and learn from their techniques. How do they relate to readers? How do they create breath-stealing tension in their work? How do they comport themselves when at conferences? Emulate the things you see from others that you like and want to portray.

Heather, age 21, graduating with high honors
from University of Northwestern, St. Paul 


#5 Listen for Feedback

As Heather's mama, my ears are particularly tuned to when someone pays her a compliment. It makes my mama heart proud. Parents of her Sunday school class, people she babysits for, supervising teachers, professors. They have all at one time or another affirmed Heather's career choice, pointing out her gifts as a teacher and caregiver. One thing they say over and over is how they can see the love that Heather has for her students. I see it, too. She is so patient with them, guiding them socially and intellectually, encouraging them to be their best selves. And when she receives a critique, she takes it in and uses it to make her a better teacher.

Writers need to listen to feedback, too. Have you been at this awhile? Are you getting standard form letter rejections, or are editors and agents taking the time to send you personal evaluations? Do you have critique partners? Are they seeing improvements in your work? Are you beginning to final in contests and get requests for full manuscripts? Does a critique of your work send you spiraling into despair, or does it spur you on with ways to get better?



To close, I'd like to share a Facebook post that Heather wrote a couple years ago that showed me her heart, and gave me peace that she is indeed following God's call on her life to teach preschoolers. And I'd love to hear from you. What's your calling?

Miss Heather, preschool teacher and best daughter ever.



Heather Vetsch September 2, 2015 · Today, I held his hand. He fussed as I put him down for nap time. My little special needs student, my drive-by hugger, my superhero saving the world from imagined monsters, my smiley guy. He didn't want to sleep, didn't want to rest. The world needed saving, there were monsters to destroy. But when I held his hand, he relaxed. His eyes closed. He slept at last, holding my hand. Soon he will go to kindergarten. Soon he will have new monsters to slay, new friends to play chase with, new classrooms to fill with his exuberant voice. Soon I won't be able to hold his hand anymore. I must trust that his new teachers will love him just as much as I do. And they will, I know. But today, I held his hand.




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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas: Simple is More

Gabrielle Here:


As a young wife and mother, I used to run myself ragged at Christmastime. I had a to-do list a mile long and I found very little joy in the season. The day after Christmas, I was usually so exhausted, I longed for a vacation from the holiday.

The year I had my twins, I gave myself permission to let go of the unnecessary things in life and just focus on those things that were most important. Out of sheer necessity, I had to step away from all the little "extras." It was about survival that year and little else.

Once I stepped back and looked at all the things I had given up, I realized my life was still rich and full. Most of what I had done before was done out of obligation, not joy, and there was a sense of freedom when I finally gave myself permission to let things go.

I began to enjoy the holidays, and I had a lot more energy. I chose to focus on the things that brought the most joy to my family, friends, and myself--and stop doing the things that stressed me out. For instance: I don't send out Christmas cards anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love to receive them (and sometimes feel guilty that I don't reciprocate), but it was another thing on my to-do list that made me feel overwhelmed. When I gave myself permission to let it go, I felt a weight had lifted from my shoulders. Instead of send cards, I try to send more joy into the world. I wish strangers a Merry Christmas in passing, I stop to open a door for someone at the post office, I smile while I'm waiting in line. When I'm less stressed, I feel more present to those I'm with.

I used to feel obligated to make cookies every year and deliver them to friends and neighbors. I'm not a baker by nature, so it was a lot of work to go shopping, bake the cookies, put them in fancy packaging, and find the time to tote my kids around as I delivered the cookies. The last year I did this, my twins were one and a half and my daughters were five and seven. My husband was home in bed with influenza, and I walked in the frigid cold to deliver the cookies, trying to keep my kids warm and safe on the icy walkways. It was the only time I could find to make the deliveries in our busy schedule. I wanted to see my neighbors and treat them with the cookies, but it was so much work, I was in tears by the time we got home. After that year, I allowed myself to let go of this tradition and, instead, I found other ways to connect with my neighbors throughout the year.

For some, they love baking, gift-giving, and all the little extras. They are energized by the traditions. My mother-in-law is a perfect example. She thrives on the holiday rush--and she does a beautiful job of making it special for all of us. For years, I compared myself to people like that, and found myself lacking. To compensate, I would try harder, and be more miserable. It took me a long time to admit I wasn't gifted and talented in those areas, but now I don't compare myself--now I just applaud those who are good at it and am thankful when they lavish it on me. In return, I lavish them with the things I'm gifted at and we're both happy.

One of the things I enjoy most is hosting parties. I love gathering people and treating them to a meal, fellowship, and happy memories made together. We do this dozens of times throughout the year, but one of our favorite parties is our New Year's Eve Party. I find that when I let go of the things I don't enjoy, it gives me more energy for the things I do.

I've come a long way, and I have a long way to go, but when it comes to Christmas, I've found that simple really is more.

What about you? Do you thrive on the Christmas rush? Or do you like to simplify at Christmas?

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sugar Plum Fairies - A Diabetic's Guide to the Holidays

Erica here:

The holidays can be a challenging time for folks who have diabetes...like me. So many yummy, sugary, carbo-loaded foods, so many parties, so many treats!



How can you make it through the season without sabotaging all the hard work you've been putting in to manage your numbers?

I have a few things that I do, that I hope you'll find helpful.

1. Keep things as close to normal as you can: meal times, carbohydrate content, exercise routine. While there are some times when you have to vary your schedule, not every meal in the month of December needs to be a holiday event.

2. When you want to have a special, once-a-year treat, plan ahead. Reduce the carbs you take in during the meal to have room for a small goody. Don't waste this chance on something you can eat any time of the year, like chips and dip. Save it for a little taste of Grandma's Chocolate Yule Log, or a piece of Aunt Jill's Peanut Brittle.

3. Focus on Friends and Family, not Food. Don't fixate on what you can or can't eat. Put your focus on the people and making memories.



4. Don't slack on your exercise. If you're off from school or work, it's easy to fall out of your routine, but this could be a double-whammy to your numbers. Increased carb intake and decreased exertion? Not good. Stick to your exercise routine as much as possible. It's harder to restart than to keep going.

5. Splenda and Truvia are useful in Christmas baking. When possible, use a sugar substitute for your cakes and cookies. Often you will need to lower the baking temperature and increase the baking time. Sugar substitutes can burn more easily than real sugar, so low and slow is your friend. Also, I find Splenda to be sweeter than cane sugar, so I reduce the amount I use in each recipe.



6. Give yourself grace. If you overdo, don't despair. Start again doing the things you know you should.


I hope you find these tips helpful, even if you're not diabetic and maybe just hoping not to sabotage your healthy diet.

What is your favorite healthy holiday tip? 


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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Kisses.

The evening was beautiful. Golden sunset, gourmet chocolates from the chocolate boutique, my daughter, myself and an evening at a historical theater to watch Beauty and the Beast the Broadway musical.

With the holidays nearing, I love creating nostalgic memories for myself but also my children. My daughter, CoCo, has the personality type where individualized attention is more valuable to her than all the Shopkins or My Little Ponies in the world. So tonight . . . it was the two of us chasing sunsets with chocolate smiles.


And then she mused, "Momma, I miss Gramma Lola."

Wow. It was the weight of a thousand bricks. My first holiday season without my Gramma since I was born. Forty years of memories, and my baby girl? Six years of memories with her beloved Great-Gramma.

"I wish we could visit her in Heaven," the little voice said from the backseat.
"Me too," I responded. "We can visit her grave if you'd like. I know you've never been."
"Yes! Momma, please?"

I'm not a grave-visitor by principle. I prefer to remember my loved ones as they were and think of them as they are with the Lord, rather than sit opposite a cold, unfriendly reminder of the finality of death. But CoCo? She was grappling with that first pang of holiday nostalgia, of grief, of the empty hole left in her heart. It was time to visit Gramma Lola.

So we did. The little walk to her gravestone was marked by rows of American flags left over from Veteran's Day. One perched alongside Gramma Lola's gravestone, heralding Grampa Don's bravery from World War II.

"Why is that there?" CoCo inquired. So we chatted. About the war, about heroism, about Grampa Don who she never met but who taught momma to drink coffee. "Ohhhh, so he IS a hero!" CoCo proclaimed. Yes, love, yes he is.

We walked alongside some other markers. I heard the echo of my own mother's voice in mine as I repeated the stories I'd heard when I was CoCo's age.
"That's Great-Gramma Eva Marie-- your Great-Great Gramma. I was named after her."
"You were?!"
"Yep. My middle name."
"ohhhhhh." That sacred realization of family heritage.

"Who's that?"
"Ohhh, that's Aunt Avenelle. She was a crochety old woman who lived in an ancient house with dusty antiques and wore her hair in a Victorian bun and reminded momma of a ghost when I was little."
"Was she mean?"
"No. She was just, persnickety. Opinionated."
"Like you, Momma?"
Touche, Little One.

We returned to Gramma Lola's grave. Two little blue eyes stared down in silence. Watching, reading,
remembering.
"I miss her, Momma."
"I do too."
"I wish I could tell her I love her one more time."
Crouching beside my hurting little one, I pulled her onto my knee. Maybe it's the writer in me, or maybe my faith fills in gaps with hope, but I responded.
"Well, what I always like to do, is ask Jesus if he'd give her a message from me."
Bright eyes shifted to my face.
"Oh Momma, can we?!"

So I prayed. Through a choked throat, tears burning my eyes. "Jesus, CoCo and I were hoping you could pass on a message to Gramma Lola and Grampa Don for us. Tell them we love them."
"Especially Gramma Lola," CoCo whispered.
"Especially Gramma Lola," I echoed. "And tell Gramma Lola that we're blowing her hugs and kisses."
As my prayer ended, in full belief, we kissed our fingertips and together blew the kisses heavenward. And then, before I could even move, CoCo whispered, "I just need to give her a hug. A real one."

So she did.


I didn't hurry her. This was her moment between Jesus, CoCo, and Gramma Lola. When she finally rose, she gave me a smile. It wasn't sad, or grieving. It was hopeful.

"I bet Gramma Lola has coffee in Heaven." CoCo grasped my hand and we started for the car.
"I'm sure of it," I nodded.
Just as I'm sure that night, a little girl's prayers were answered and Gramma Lola caught our Christmas kisses.

_________________________________________


Jaime Jo Wright
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures atjaimejowright.com.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday's Devo: Jesus & Aleppo

I imagine if Jesus were born tonight, he might just have been born in a place like Aleppo, Syria. In wretched darkness. In a roached out shell of a house. To a frightened young girl waiting for a savior. Into an impossible situation. Where hope in men and government is lost, and the good news of His new government is announced to a mottle crew of homeless sheep herders outside of the bombed out city. Only the appearance of angels would be enough to rock them out of their usual cycle of hopelessness to hope for a lasting peace agreement.

By Judith Mehr for a boy in Aleppo

Night pilots flying their private jets would be stunned by the bright lights over Aleppo as they navigate the airspace. Fearing the city is ablaze from the fire of bombs, their hearts sink further wishing they might have carried the mission that would bring peace. But before they turn back from the city in defeat, they realize the light is not the blaze of total annihilation, but of a great star's light. Curious, they land in stealth mode in the desert planes and sneak through the streets in the cover of darkness until they reach a bombed out house. Bricks and mortar. Rubble and broken boards litter their way as they hear the cries of a baby within. A herd of lost dogs and cats abandoned by owners who've died or left the city in haste are nestled close to the warmth of the doorway. Inside, a young girl and her husband huddle to wrap a baby to sooth the cries that might announce his presence to the prowling evil lurking in the city. How had this beautiful thing happened here, in this city of hopeless darkness?

One pilot takes his helmet and turns it upside down. He takes a shiny metal from his lapel and places it inside, handing it to the next pilot who retrieves a special coin from his pocket to place it inside. The third pilot slides the ring from his right hand, the one he never flies without, but he places it within as they three kneel there. None speaks, for they share only the common language of giving homage despite such peril all around. The awareness of holiness permeates the dark night air that blows through the tattered curtains of the shot out windows. The infant's mother smiles humbly at each of them as she takes the helmet full of their costly gifts before they leave on their way.

As the airmen escape the darkened hovel of the city, the mother looks at the young man beside her to squeeze his hand. The babe before them sleeps as the sound of jet planes scream overhead. Footsteps and hollering fill the street outside, nearing ever closer when a man finds his way inside their threshold to warn them they must flee to the desert for a time....


~~~

Luke 2:2
"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria."

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,[a] who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold,[b] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

We read Luke 2 in Sunday School class this morning and all shared our fresh thoughts on the birth of Christ. Then a friend shared how she'd wakened at 6 a.m. relieved that CNN coverage of politics had a reprieve--instead they covered the story of Aleppo. Heartbreaking, she shared. Then she apologized, "sorry to be such a Debby-downer here, but seriously, where are you God?" We were reminded that our greatest enemies here in the western world are complacency and lack of desperation for Jesus to come. We don't know how to pray. We feel hopeless and helpless as shepherds in the fields to make any impact on such governmental political matters and conditions.

But we have been told by this Christ man-child how to pray. 
We have been told he has come to bring great tidings of joy and peace toward all men.
We have been told we are the light of the world.
So, take off your helmets. Place your most precious possessions within and offer them to the King.
Ask Him to bring His will on earth as it is in heaven. Bring His will to our complacency.
Bring His will to make us desperate for Him to incarnate here. Now.
In every darkness. In every broken place. 
Prepare Him room.

If Jesus came tonight, He might just come to Aleppo.
He might just come into your darkness. Your brokenness.
~~~

Credit to above painting to Judith Mehr, who writes this of the painting: "Well, here is my obsession I have been involved with for the past two months. I painted this new 60" x 48" painting, entitled "Omran, Angels Are Here," because I saw that picture of the little boy in the ambulance seat who had just been pulled out of the rubble of a bombed building in Aleppo, Syria. I really wanted to comfort that boy so I thought of Angels coming to attend to him. Judith Mehr."

-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Friday!

Erica here:

It is snowing fit to fill the Frenchy furrows here in Minnesota! What's the weather like where you are?

Gabe and I are deep in both the snow and in the promotion of our latest novella collection, Seven Brides for Seven Texans.

We are so excited about both the collection and readers' response to it.

Here are a couple of fun reviews from amazon and Goodreads:

This book was my introduction to all the authors listed on the cover. I have never read anything from these ladies. I was pleasantly surprised to find a new group of authors I sincerely enjoyed. Novellas can be a little tricky since there is such a short and finite time frame to complete a story; they can get boring and drag on because the author chooses to prolong one small moment in time or feel rushed without detail to characterization.

These seven novellas, however, were very well written. It amazed me how seven authors could come together to knit such a tightly woven story that spanned the lives of seven brothers, with a background storyline and character development in the men's father. The stories seamlessly flowed from one to the other and I could not put the book down. These seven brothers and their wives became near and dear to me as I lost sleep over two days trying to finish the book. The romance is sweet, the characters quite believable and real, the faith component of each storyline recognizable. Each brother and his wife are quite different from the other and easily distinguishable. I had no trouble remembering each of their personalities throughout the book and that attests to the skill of the authors since there are so many characters to keep track of, with seven main couples and a few other side characters thrown into the mix.
~ MH via amazon

Each author has their own style that is perfect for the brother they are writing about. I enjoyed each story and how it tied in to the previous one. Each one flowed into the other like ripples on the river. You will laugh and get teary eyed, cheer and say what were you thinking. Most important is the theme of faith that binds this family together in love. Thank you authors for such a well written, inspiring book. ~ 
Lucy via Goodreads

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the seven Hart brothers set in 1874 Texas! All named after famous Texans, their unique personalities gave each story a distinct flavor of its own; from the charming Hays, the youngest brother and first to get married, to the oldest, steady responsible Austin. When they gathered together, they showed how a family can love and support each other, even with their differences. Each story built on the one before it, so the book flowed well and felt like a full length novel, complete with a satisfying wrap up at the end. Some action, danger, suspense and tender romances, plus a bit of faith, made this an outstanding set of novellas! ~ Karen via Christianbook.com


The authors of Seven Brides for Seven Texans also have a group blog just for the collection at http://7bridesfor7texans.blogspot.com/ and if you hop over there, you can read character interviews, author inspirations, fun facts, and more.

We're holding a rafflecopter giveaway, too. A Kindle Fire Tablet loaded with 15 books by the various authors, including Seven Brides for Seven Texans! You can enter here or over on the 7 Brides blog!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 15, 2016

St. Paul Winter Carnival

In 1885 a New York reporter visited St. Paul and declared the city to be another Siberia. He said it was "unfit for human habitation."

Offended by the attack, the people of St. Paul decided to retaliate by showing the world how much fun winter in Minnesota can be.

In 1886 the St. Paul Winter Carnival was born. It was held in the month of January.


One of the highlights of the first Winter Carnival was this ice castle. It was built with over 35,000 blocks of ice taken from Minnesota lakes.

1888
The ice castle has been the centerpiece of a festival that has continued to grow for many years. The festival has included bobsledding, ice horse racing (on frozen lakes), a royal crowning, dogsled races, snow and ice sculpting contests, a parade and much more.

1986
1992
2004
Ice Sculptures
Snow Sculptures
What about you? Have you been to a Winter Carnival? Would you like to go?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Traditions a la Vetsch

Erica Here:

Tis the season! Here in Minnesota we have enough snow to about guarantee a white Christmas. (I've lived here for 23 years and we've never NOT had a white Christmas!) Decorations are up, and everyone's shopping and planning and preparing.



Every year, there are some things that I know need to happen for Christmas to feel like Christmas at our house. There are things the kids are expecting, and things we look forward to doing together that only happen at Christmas. I thought I'd share a few of our Christmas Traditions, and I'd love to hear yours!

1. We decorate the day after Thanksgiving. This year my daughter did all the decorating because I was on a tight writing deadline. The house looks lovely due to all her hard work!



2. We watch Scrooge, starring Alastair Sim, sometime during the month of December. It isn't truly the Christmas season if we don't watch this as a family. (Sometimes we also watch It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and/or The Three Godfathers, but Scrooge is a MUST.)



3. The Christmas Eve Service at church. My favorite service of the year, with soft lights, beautiful music, and an expectant hush.



4. On Christmas morning, we have waffles. Somehow this tradition got started when the kids were little, and we continue it to this day. This year will be tricky, since Christmas is on a Sunday, and we have a church service, but we'll work it out.



5. Stockings. We've always had Christmas stockings for the kids, but the last few years, they've stuffed stockings for us, too! So much fun!



6. We read the Christmas story before we open any gifts. We take turns, and I'm pretty sure this year it's my turn to get to read Luke 2.



7. We have my FIL over for Christmas dinner. My SIL has him to her place on Christmas Eve, and we get him on Christmas Day.



What are some of your Christmas Traditions? I'd love to hear!




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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Calming Coloring

I'll let you in on a secret ... I don't always write. Sometimes, after an especially harried day, I like to pull out a coloring book and revert back to my 8 year old self. In fact, my daughter knows one thing I'll rarely say "no" to is coloring. So if she wants some undivided "mommy-time", she'll pull out the markers and books.

Some of my favorite pens are:



They have super fine points that work wonderfully for getting into the little detailed areas of my coloring pages. I'm no artiste, but I'm especially pleased with how my Aslan turned out in my Narnia coloring book.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Recently, I received two new coloring books in the mail and I was really excited to get them. I had no idea the treasure that was inside!



I knew these would have devotionals to go with coloring pages and I was excited to be able to do something calming while also meditative. But I had no idea there were also TUTORIALS inside! As in, how to create those beautiful scripted letters, ideas for creating designs, step by step lessons that went along with Scripture and also gave you some pre-crafted imagery to color as well.

The Bible devotionals are simplistic and encouraging. They're not deeply intellectual, but sometimes at 9:30 pm at night, I need the soft spoken Word and thought rather than an argument for or against predestination.

I would definitely recommend these if you're at all interesting in even STARTING to color or craft letters. https://www.amazon.com/ScriptureDoodle-Devotional-Experience-April-Knight/dp/0781414695/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481642659&sr=8-1&keywords=scripture+doodle

What do you do to maintain your sanity and grab a moment of calm in the rush of the day? Color? Knit? (if you're a knitter I have a whole bunch of things I'd love for you to make me ;) lol!) Puzzles?

I'd love to hear what you do in your spare time. Leave a comment below and I'll send a lucky someone some tea to brew when you need that warm calm in the middle of a cold winter chaos.

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Jaime Jo Wright
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures atjaimejowright.com.

Web site: www.jaimejowright.com 
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Periscope: @jaimejowright


Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Carol Favorites

One of the best joys of the Christmas season are the songs and carols that remind us of Christ's love for the world. I love to have Ted Yoder's dulcimer CD on, or Handel's Messiah. There is nothing like a choir singing O Come, O Come, Immanuel that moves the soul and focuses the season.
There are so many favorites it's hard to pick just one. But if I had to--it would be Joy to the World.

I love it because this world needs to make room for her King.
I love it because it gives hope for the nations.
I love it because it heralds hope for overcoming any darkness.
What greater joy than this in Christ?
I love it because joy makes me smile no matter what I'm feeling or thinking.
 I love it because it reminds me of the importance of believing.
 I love it because it reminds me of innocence.
What joy do you need this season?
What is your favorite Christmas hymn and why?
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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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