It is difficult to believe that 2023 is here. Right? When I was a child any year beginning with 20 sounded so futuristic. Every year I had known started with 19. Now here we are getting close to a quarter of a century in the 2000s. Wow!
Are you satisfied with how you lived your life in 2022? If you are like me, your mind is whirling with ideas of things you want to do differently or change this year. What are your goals to change yourself? I’m not talking physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
After taking inventory of last year, I want to be more positive and put grief to rest. Our family has had some jarring heartaches from the loss of beloved family members over the past few years. Instead of dwelling on what I’ve lost by those sweet people being gone, I’ve decided to focus on what they’ve gained instead. They were all Christians are gained a life of no more tears, or pain, and no more suffering. Now, their life is in Heaven. Praise God!
When I think about how much I am missing one of those precious family members, I will smile instead of cry. Knowing that my family is now together in perfect harmony with Jesus is what makes me extremely happy. My mind’s eye will see them healthy and joyful.
Another thing that I am consciously changing is to mend any fractured relationships. For whatever reason the relationship is not whole or flourishing, I am taking responsibility and plan to make it better. A Bible study that I am doing pinpoints six reasons that cause strife or challenges in relationships. They are: (1) a failure to forgive or apologize, (2) criticism, (3) gossip, (4) deception, (5) a lack of inclusion, and (6) a failure to accept differences. Anyone nodding their head? Raise your hand if you have done or been the recipient of any one of these six. Yep, me, too.
Scripture tells that the best place to begin is with ourselves. Before we criticize someone, we need to take a look at our actions first. Are we nitpicking something when in fact we have done the same thing to a greater extent?
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”(Matthew 7:2–5)
In order for me to accomplish making myself better I will need help. Help from family and friends is wonderful, but I need help from Jesus with Him, I can do all things. His guidance will keep me doing what I should and uphold my spirit. I will feel better all around just knowing that He is with me.
What about you? I would love to hear what you are working on to make you a better YOU in 2023. Do you need prayer support? I would be honored to include you in my daily prayers. Just send me a note.
It is my sincere prayer that you will achieve great things in 2023 with the help of Jesus, our Savior. May God bless you indeed!
Thanksgiving is a great holiday. Don’t you agree? It is a time to reflect on what we have and to be grateful for it. Scrumptious dishes are made to serve along side a turkey or ham, maybe both. Friends and family gather around the table for food, fellowship, and fun.
In our family on my sweet mother’s side, we all flock to my sister’s home. The lunch headcount is between forty and fifty. Mother is the only surviving sibling of four. There are eleven cousins with children of their own. Many have grandchildren. Hugs abound as well as remembrances of those gone to Glory. Tales of the past are told.
Lunch is a bounty of dishes brought in by each family. It is a better buffet than may be found at any restaurant. Turkey, dressing, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli, mac & cheese, asparagus, corn, green beans, peas, and rolls. The salads are just as lengthy, and the desserts, oh my! The desserts are scandalous, but absolutely yummy. Before we eat, we form a large circle and say a prayer of thanks for not just the food, but our family and Jesus. It is then I miss my husband the most as I realize his hand is no longer here to hold.
Football games blast on the television, board games or cards are enthusiastically played at tables, and endless trips are made to the kitchen for coffee, tea, lemonade, or percolator punch. The dessert table gets a lot of attention. Sampler plates are made and look enticing. A few people try to find a quiet place to nap. A full belly makes one tired after all.
This year I am pondering my many blessings. I have so blessed to have my sweet mother with me on this side of Heaven. She is my best friend, confidant, adviser, and biggest treasure besides being my mother. My children are jewels and have taken such fabulous care of me as I navigate life without their father. Their children, my grands, are my pride and joy. I am fortunate to have a nephew that will drop everything when I need him. He is so sweet and caring. His two sisters are, also, but are married with demanding jobs.
God has blessed me with a tribe of cousins who are second brothers and sisters to me. Their children like nieces and nephews. My friends and Bible study group are precious and do more for me than they realize. I glean knowledge and information from them. Comfort comes to me from my four legged furbabies. When the house is silent and dark, Coco and Jesse are still here with their unconditional love. To say I am thankful for that is an understatement. Mostly, I am thankful for my salvation. It is thrilling to know that one day, our Thanksgiving will be celebrated in Heaven with our loved ones long gone. Oh what a glorious family reunion!
I hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. Think about the many things for which you have to be thankful. Family, friends, food, home, trees, birds, flowers, heat, air conditioning, church, and Jesus. Besides so many other things, I am thankful for you, my readers. Happy Thanksgiving!
October is fast approaching. The leaves will start changing colors and falling. Nights will be brisk. People will be dragging favorite sweaters and sweatshirts out of their closets. Pumpkin flavored goodies are already everywhere. I love October! Don’t you?
When I was younger, and a whole lot dumber or misinformed, I also loved Halloween. Stay with me because this is important. Years ago I became convicted of celebrating it so Halloween changed to Harvest Celebration for me. Witches and ghosts were replaced with scarecrows and plain pumpkins.
A couple of years ago, I saw an interview about Halloween from a former high ranking member in Satan’s army here on earth. Wow. I was shocked. For some reason I hadn’t even thought about an organized army of earthly people working for Satan and his terrible cause. This person, John Ramirez, had served Satan for years, but now is saved and serves Jesus Christ. Isn’t that awesome?!
In his interview, John discussed how Satan workers were busiest on Halloween. They looked for houses and churches, yes churches, with Jack-o-Lanterns as a welcome for them to enter. Yes, you read that correctly. As a “welcome, come on in” sign. Children dressed in costume were unprotected and easy prey. The interview was positively frightening. It has put Halloween and any Harvest Festival for October 31 into perspective for me. Just calling it by another name, but doing the same thing does not change something. It only alters its name.
“Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, said: ‘I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. Welcome to Halloween.’ We are quick on our feet to rush and honor the devil in so many ways. We see no harm in Halloween, because we think it is fun. We paint our faces, we wear our innocent costumes, we dress up our doorways—even churches dress up their entryways for Halloween with pumpkins. These actions are like giving the devil license, saying, “Here’s my church. You can have it.” This is from John’s article “I’m Shocked Christians Celebrate Halloween.”
I see so many pictures on Facebook of children dressed like zombies, witches, devils, and other evil things. Houses are decorated to look haunted and creepy. Is that really what we want? Sure, Satan is cheering, but I want to protect the children. Maybe we need a new day for them to get candy with a theme that is not scary.
I hope this blog today gave you something to ponder. It has been heavy on my heart to share this. I recognize this is a very controversial subject. Research it for yourself and do what is right for you and your family. As I look back in that old rear view mirror of life, I have a clearer understanding of why ministers in my childhood neighborhood had all of their lights off on Oct. 31. They were not being stingy after all, as we kids thought. There was a reason no gourds, pumpkins, ghosts, or witches decorated their porches and yards.
Obeying God is my number one priority. It is often hard in a world that doesn’t always, or even seldom, does that. That is why we Christians are called to be set apart from this old world. Ahhhhhh, wisdom does come with age. More importantly, it comes from God.
Whatever conclusion you reach, I hope you enjoy October and this last quarter of the year. For this lady, it has gotten here quickly. Tempus fugit.
Note: John Ramirezis an internationally known evangelist, author and highly sought-out speaker who for more than 16 years has been teaching believers around the globe how to defeat the enemy. He has shared his powerful testimony—of being miraculously saved as a high-ranking satanic priest—on It’s Supernatural!, The 700 Club, TBN, Daystar and more.
John Ramirez, author of Armed and Dangerous: The Ultimate Battle Plan for Targeting and Defeating the Enemy, Chosen.
God is Coming by author Maggie Philpot is an Advent Journey book for Children and Families. Michael Livesay-Wright has provided beautiful illustrations that coincide with the rhyming prose. This would make a lovely addition to family Advent activities.
Beginning on December 1st, each of the days leading up to Christmas has a short verse written in a poem that will delight children and interest adults. The book is divided into four sections: God Makes, God’s Promises, God Prepares, and God Comes. At the end is an Appendix which contains corresponding scripture and discussion questions.
This is a book that could become not only a family activity but also a family tradition each year. It is a wonderful teaching tool that could be used in many places. I adore this sweet book and its message. This will make a heartfelt gift for any child or even family with young children.
I highly recommend this book. It would be a perfect book for a preschool to include in their reading circle. Church libraries would benefit by carrying this. It gets a well deserved 5 star rating from me. A complimentary copy was provided by Celebrate Lit, but this is my honest opinion.
About the Book
Book: God Is Coming
Author: Maggie Philpot
Genre: Children’s books, Christian books
Release date: October 15, 2021
In a search for a book that presented the beauty and mystery of the advent season with elegance and simplicity meant to be enjoyed by the entire family, God Is Coming was born. This Advent Journey traces the story of God’s relentless pursuit of His children and all of the anticipation of the holiday season in simple, rhyme and meter. Children and adults alike will be touched by the reminders of the profound truths of the gospel and families will return to these stories and these iconic images year after year.
Maggie Philpot wrote her first children’s story when she was in middle school (a story about an egg named Eggbert) and she has been dreaming up stories ever since. She lives in Fort Worth with her spectacular husband (whom she calls Husband), her two precocious children, and a rather ridiculous dog, Tucker. She is passionate about anything and anyone who attempts to make beauty, order, and meaning in this crazy world. The simple act of writing is one way to do just that.
More from Maggie
In a search for a book that presented the beauty and mystery of the Advent season with elegance and simplicity, God Is Coming was born. This book traces the story of God’s pursuit of His children and all of the anticipation of the Christmas season in simple, rhyme and meter. This year available in a deluxe hardback edition with full-color illustrations, offering you the opportunity to bring home a truly heirloom-quality book to be a part of your holiday traditions!
Glimpses of the Savior, 50 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, is a lovely holiday devotional by authors Shirley Crowder and Harriet E. Michael. During a time when our lives start to be busy with preparations for gatherings and dinners, these devotions offer a chance to get readers back on track and focus on Jesus. This is a much needed addition to my devotional collection.
There are fifty devotions included in this lovely book. It is meant to begin one week before Thanksgiving to carry you through the New Year. The first thing that drew me to it was the gorgeous, serene cover. The book is divided into ten sections with topics of The Crispness of Fall, Here Come the Holidays, and Keeping Christ in Christmas, just to name a few. These sections are divided into five chapters to concentrate on a certain aspect of the season.
Both authors are children of missionaries or MK for short. They have an open style of writing that is like chatting with a friend over coffee. There was an immediate connection to both authors. I was encouraged and enlightened by their devotions. They each have a relatable, open style of writing that is engaging.
The chapters start with a scripture, then have the devotional story, a prayer, and a reflective thought. This is nice for individual reading or even a group if you need a devotion. This book would make a sweet gift before Thanksgiving. Many people need a little more of Jesus and calm and a lot less stress.
I highly recommend this book. Grab yourself a copy and start your holiday mornings with a few minutes of devotional time that will point your heart toward Jesus. Pick up a few copies as gifts and share it with others. I rate this a 5 out of 5 stars. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit, but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: Glimpses of the Savior
Author: Shirley Crowder & Harriet E. Michael
Genre: Christian Living, Devotional
Release date: September 2, 2018
Finding Jesus Among the Celebrations and Decorations 50 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. In early November, our minds turn to the upcoming holiday season and the new year. We get busy preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, and all too often, we forget the real meanings of these celebrations. As Christ-followers, we can guard against this by focusing our hearts on God’s Word. Thanksgiving is a time to give God thanks; Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Savior; the New Year brings new beginnings. This devotional book contains fifty meditations to help you find Jesus among the celebrations and decorations. Begin using the book the week before Thanksgiving and it will carry you into the New Year.
Shirley Crowder was born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries. She and co-author Harriet E. Michael grew up together on the mission field and have been life-long friends. Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities: biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, writing, and music.
She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. Several of her articles have appeared in “Paper Pulpit” in the Faith section of The Gadsden Times, and in a David C. Cook publication. She also writes articles for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, and TheAddictionConnection.org. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to ten books.
Shirley has spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren serving the Lord in various ministry and secular positions throughout the world.
Harriet E. Michael was born in Joinkrama, Nigeria, deep in the African jungle in the Niger River Delta, where her father served as the only missionary doctor at that station. A few years later, the mission moved the family to a larger hospital in Ogbomoso. Co-author Shirley Crowder and her family lived right across the dirt road. The two children became constant playmates. Today they continue to enjoy their lifelong friendship.
Harriet is a multi-published, award-winning writer, and speaker. She has authored or co-authored eight books (seven nonfiction and one novel), with more under contract for future release. She is also a prolific freelance writer, having penned over 200 articles, devotions, and stories. Her work has appeared in publications by Focus on the Family, David C. Cook, Lifeway, Standard Publishing, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, Judson Press, Bethany House, and more. When not writing, she loves speaking to women’s groups and teaching writing workshops on freelance, devotional, and memoir writing.
She and her husband of over 40 years have four children and three grandchildren. When not writing, she enjoys substituting at a Christian school near her home, gardening, cooking, and traveling.
More from Shirley and Harriet
From Africa to America, Lifelong Friends
March 14, many years ago …
Deep in the heart of the African jungle in the Niger River delta of eastern Nigeria, the first cry of a newborn baby echoed from a small jungle hospital. The baby was a gir, the third child of medical missionaries, Alice and Keith Edwards. They named their daughter Harriet after Keith’s mother.
Joinkrama is located across the Niger River in the far eastern part of Nigeria. There were no bridges when Alice and Keith set out for their new home so long ago. They crossed the river in a large passenger thatched-roof, canoe-type boat. Joinkrama lies in the small section of Nigeria that is within the tropical rain forest. And it fit the role, with monkeys swinging in the trees, parrots, canaries, and other colorful birds sitting on branches and thatched roofs of the houses, and elephants in the nearby jungle sometimes getting a little too close for comfort. And of course, there were poisonous snakes to watch out for and crocodiles in the river. Children never played on the riverbanks, and swimming was absolutely prohibited! It was in this almost magical setting that Harriet was born.
Though the little jungle hospital was equipped for surgery, and the preferred place to give birth, it was not where Alice wanted to convalesce after giving birth, so she was transported home on a stretcher carried by four men, as it was much too far to walk just after giving birth. As Alice lay on the stretcher with newborn Harriet sleeping in her arms, the villagers they passed thought she and the baby had died in childbirth, people began to weep and mourn.
Alice quickly sat up and waved and held baby Harriet up for them to see. The villagers’ weeping turned to dancing and cheering as they followed her home, dancing, and praising God.
Harriet and her family stayed in this remote part of Nigeria for a year until the other family returned from furlough. At that time, they went for another year to Oyo, Nigeria, to language school and then on to Ogbomoso in central Nigeria, where they stayed the next ten years. Keith practiced medicine at the hospital in Ogbomoso, and Alice worked with him as a nurse.
October 24 of the same year Harriet was born …
Deep in the Yoruba country of southwestern Nigeria, some 260 miles away from Joinkrama, piercing through the tropical night sounds, was heard the first cry of another baby born in a guesthouse in Ogbomoso, under the shade of a mango tree. This baby was also a girl, the fourth child of missionaries Jeannie and Ray Crowder.
Early in the morning, missionary doctors Bill Williams and Ruth Berry, the second woman to ever graduate from the Medical College of Alabama, delivered this baby girl. Single missionary nurse, Lolete Dotson, an MK from South Africa who served a total of 25 years in Nigeria, stood beside the baby’s mom, holding her hand, wiping her face with a wet cloth, and whispering encouraging words.
The family thought the fourth baby would be a second Timothy, yet Shirley Jeanne arrived instead. The Nigerians gave her the name Bamidele, which means “come home with me.” It is a name given to a child born in a place that is not his or her parent’s home. The name was given by the Nigerians to missionary babies, both male and female, who were born there. This is Harriet’s Nigerian name as well.
Several years later, the Crowders moved to Ogbomoso. Ray served as administrator of the 96-bed hospital, and Jeannie taught kindergarten and ministered to the Nigerian women with home visits and Bible studies. Harriet’s parents worked at the Ogbomoso hospital with Ray.
Harriet ended up living just up the dirt road from Shirley. They played together nearly every day and formed a friendship that remained, even after years and distance separated them.
Fast forward to today…
Who knew that these little babies would grow up and write books together? The Edwards and the Crowders stayed in contact throughout the decades. At the annual Nigeria Mission Reunion, Harriet and Shirley reconnected and discovered they both liked to write and they shared similar theological beliefs. A series of social media posts sparked the idea of writing a devotional book together. Glimpses of the Savior is the result of that idea. And here we are today still writing books together.
Happy New Year! Doesn’t it feel good to be finished with 2020 and move up to the new and improved model 2021? It does to me. Last year was certainly for the memory books. Now we shall move on to bigger and brighter things.
Do you have any New Year’s Day traditions? Perhaps you make a resolution to improve an area of your life. My husband has had the same resolution since the eighties……to make no resolutions. If he doesn’t make them, then he won’t break them or such is his logic.
Me? Oh, I have a few things I like to do. The first is to write down a major prayer request. This is something that is troubling me that I have tried to give over to God. I do give it over, but then I keep sneaking back and picking it back up. Instead of leaving it in God’s highly capable hands, I decide to manage it myself, a mere human.
On New Year’s Eve or Day, I will hand write this issue on a piece of paper. Next I pray over it, and completely give it to God. Finally, I burn the paper to symbolize that I cannot and will not worry about or pick up this problem again. It is in God’s hands. He will take care of the situation according to His will.
If you do not do this, you should give it a try. The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
What a great way to begin 2021…with the peace of God that passes all understanding. We don’t know why we are so at ease and peaceful in the middle of chaos, but we are. Actually, we do know. We have given the trouble over to God. He is in control of our lives.
Another thing I like to do is pray a blessing from the Bible over my husband, mother, sister, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews (even those by heart and not blood). I individually name each one of them and say this Old Testament prayer from Numbers:
‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ‘
Isn’t that a wonderful blessing? This is a perfect way to enter into any new year. I would encourage you to pray it over your family as well as to write down your burden, give it over to our most powerful God, and then burn it. These two acts will make you feel happy as you begin 2021. May God bless us as we begin the adventure called 2021.
Do you have a prayer request you would like to share with me? I would be honored to join you in praying. Just fill out the contact form.
Author Chautona Havig is one of my favorite Christian fiction writers. Her style is smooth and easy is read. One constant in her stories is that an inspirational message is always included. This is typically in plain sight and not hidden. I am always assured of a good read with this author. These two contemporary books are no exception. They are wonderful. How wonderful? Each receive five stars from me.
This is a contemporary Christian mystery, suspense. In this book we meet Wendy and Neal. They are each unique. I was immediately invested in this story and its characters. I love that there is a mystery to solve in this captivating little book. Good things come in small packages!
Wendy is such a character, no pun intended. I was laughing out loud several times at her antics. I adored that she talked to her cats. I may or may not talk to my cat and dog, and they in turn probably answer back. Wendy is the quintessential crazy cat lady. She was delightful.
Then there is Neal. He is very interesting. At first Neal comes across as rough around the edges. It seems he is an acquired taste and will begin to grow on you as you continue to read.
The novella is inspiring and entertaining. It is a short read but has a big message. I highly recommend it, especially during this time of year. It get a 5 out of 5 star from me.
I received a copy from Celebrate Lit, but these are my own, true thoughts.
New Year’s Revolutions
This is book two to the novella “Christmas Stalkings.” Even though you could read it as a stand alone, I would suggest reading them in order so that you can grasp the full story. Here we find Neal as he is beginning to fall for Wendy. There is one big problem. She is a Christian, and he is an atheist. Okay, make that a monumental problem.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in today’s world. Neal is rather a player. Without going into detail, the author shows Neal’s moral character by having him leave certain places or dates with a woman. He takes her back to her place or a hotel room.
Wendy and Neal are still the lovable two characters that we met in “Christmas Stalkings.” The author has done a great job with their characters. The dialog flows smoothly and sounds authentic. There are a few twists and turns to surprise readers.
Fortunately Neal undergoes a change of heart and transformation. It is one of the best lessons in the book. In fact, this book has many beautiful life and spiritual messages to glean. I highly recommend this book. It receives a 5 out of 5 star rating from me. I received a copy of this through Celebrate Lit. All opinions are my own, honest ones.
About the Book
Book: Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Fiction / Christian / Romance / Holiday
Release Date: January 29, 2017 and December 31, 2016
If her life had to transform into a TV movie, couldn’t it have been a sweet romance instead of a creepy suspense?
Wendy Nabity has redefined “crazy cat lady,” and she’s just fine with that. She’s got a tree and a stocking for reach of them, too.
All that festivity turns ominous when things begin turning up in odd places—places her fur babies couldn’t move them. The local police? They think she’s as crazy as the fleas jumping from cat to cat—or something like that.
Her neighbors aren’t much help. The nice one won’t come near her, despite his obvious interest, and the other hates her enough to torment her every chance he can. Seriously, if Neal Kirkpatrick makes one more rude demand of her, she might just start dumping the litter box on his front porch!
However, when a threatening note appears in one of the stockings, even Fairbury’s police officers have to admit no cat could have written it, and one officer takes it upon himself to do something.
Who knew Christmastime could feel so sinister?
New Year’s Revolutions
His life is spinning out of control, and his heart isn’t far behind!
Neal Kirkpatrick: project manager, staunch atheist, and town grump. Aside from an apparent soft spot for a neighborhood boy, the man has nothing to recommend him.
So when he overhears criticism from a neighbor he secretly respects, Neal decides maybe it’s time for professional help. With the same straightforward tenacity he uses in his job, Neal goes on a hunt for a therapist to help him unravel the mystery of himself.
His therapist says he’s in love, but Neal Kirkpatrick does not do relationships.
Discover what happens when the town curmudgeon steps out of his comfort zone and into a psychologist’s office to learn what’s up with his heart.
Click here to get your copy of Christmas Stalkings!
Click here to get your copy of New Year's Revolutions!
About the Author
Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More from Chautona
Sometimes, You Just Can’t Let a Character Go
I met him in my book, A Bird Died. Neal Kirkpatrick. Grumpy, snappish, the man just seemed to look for something to grouse about. Except when it comes to a little boy in the town, and then a soft side came out that no one expected.
A few years later, I got the idea for a Christmas comedic suspense “noella” (Christmas novella), and the minute I knew what I wanted to write, I knew I’d be writing about him, too. He’d be the main character’s neighbor and always on her case about something. Instant conflict and subplot. Oh, yeah!
Something unexpected happened as I wrote the story, though. I fell in love with the cranky guy and didn’t want to let him go. Did I have time to write a book for New Year’s, too? I mean, how cool would that be? After much deliberation, I decided to go for it.
I’m kind of glad I didn’t know what kind of Christmas our family would have that year or I would never have decided to do it, and I doubt Neal’s story would still be languishing in the slush-pile of my mind (for the story of our family’s Christmas that year, you might want to check out Sand & Mistletoe).
That story turned into something unexpected.
First, there was more to his story than I’d ever imagined. A dysfunctional family, a past that he didn’t even choose himself, and a rather immoral life I wouldn’t usually care to consider. But reality made me admit that a man with no concern for what the Lord says about things wouldn’t necessarily live the kind of life I think people should! Don’t worry, I didn’t do deep into those kinds of details! My prudish streak got pushed, but not pushed aside.
More than just “his side of the story,” New Year’s Revolutions tells the story of a man who sees himself through the lens of someone he respects and goes on a journey to see why he is as he is and if there is something inherently wrong with it or if the trouble lies with others (as he suspects).
Both a personal and a spiritual journey ensued that made me dig deep into Scripture to discover what it had to say about Jesus, relationships, and honesty. Neal’s discovery of what the Word says about things drove me to study and restudy things that I believed. We didn’t always come to the same conclusions, but it was interesting and I learned more than I would have expected to.
I hope you love Neal as much as I do. I know one thing for sure… this isn’t the last we’ll see of him.
An Ivy Hill Christmas, Tales from Ivy Hill by author Julie Klassen is a wonderful holiday tale. This Christian historical Regency story should get readers in a Christmas spirit. I thought it was lovely beginning with the cover.
Set in 1822 London this is the tale of the youngest Brockwell son, Richard. He is an independent man and seems to need his family’s money more than he needs them. At the insistence of his mother he returns to their country home for Christmas with the family this year. The results are eye opening and heart warming.
Richard is a cad and has quite the reputation in London. When he comes home to Ivy Hill for a Christmas visit, he is surprised to meet childhood friend Arabella Awdry. She is familiar with his bad reputation and avoids him like the plague even though they are childhood friends.
Author Klassen has a captivating style of writing. I was immediately invested in her story. The way she writes always whisks me away from my comfortable loveseat in my study where I read to her setting. The characters were very relatable and realistic.
This story is filled with life and spiritual lessons. It is a tale of new beginnings and forgiveness. It is quirky and delightful. Expect some twists and turns in this sweet story. I was very surprised by the transformation of one character. At the end everything comes together and is neatly tied with a bow on top. This is definitely a very enjoyable read.
I highly recommend this especially for Regency lovers. This is the perfect novella for this time of year. I have rated it 4 out of 5 stars. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: An Ivy Hill Christmas
Author: Julie Klassen
Genre: Christmas Historical Romance
Release Date: September, 2020
Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill’s most prominent family, hasn’t been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life–unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.
But Christmas in the country presents many surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled–and determined to have nothing to do with him.
Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, and joyous songs, change his heart . . . and hers as well?
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for 16 years and now writes full-time. Her novels have sold over 1 million copies, and three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and a Christian Retailing‘s Best Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
More from Julie
My fascination with England began as a girl when I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre, and watched A Christmas Carol. I have now been to Great Britain several times, and my affection for the place has only grown. I love the country villages with their stone buildings and thatched roofs, the narrow, winding roads (though not driving on them), the ancient churches, friendly people, plummy accents, and history. Writing fifteen novels set there has been a real pleasure.
An Ivy Hill Christmas includes all the elements of an idyllic Olde English yuletide: A charming village setting, snowfall, mistletoe, caroling, gifts for less fortunate neighbors, and festive gatherings of friends and family. I thoroughly enjoyed researching 19th century Christmas traditions and weaving them into this novella.
In the story, a confirmed bachelor is determined to remain aloof from the celebrations going on around him—and from his mother’s matchmaking schemes. But divine hope, friendship, and unexpected romance change his heart…and his mind. I love a transformation story; don’t you?
If you’ve read the TALES FROM IVY HILL series, you will enjoy returning to the village and spending time with favorite characters. But rest assured, the novella is a standalone, meaning you can enjoy it whether or not you’ve read the other books, as these reviews attest:
“[A] standalone novella that not only beautifully captures the kindness, hope, love, and faith of Christmas but also skillfully evokes the period holiday atmosphere of Regency England.” —Booklist
“This feel-good tale of love and redemption will delight Klassen’s fans and new readers alike.” —Publishers Weekly
And if you like the novella, I think you will like the other books as well. An Ivy Hill Christmas would also make a lovely gift for a reading friend.
Finally, if you want to add a British flair to your own modern-day celebrations, buy (or make) mince tarts or Christmas pudding, place Christmas “crackers” (pull-apart gift tubes) on your table and wear the included paper crowns. Refer to Father Christmas instead of Santa; and instead of “Merry,” wish everyone a hearty, “Happy Christmas.”
Roving through Facebook posts, I have noticed many families are downsizing or canceling Thanksgiving gatherings. This is another hit from Covid. It is rough. Our normal forty to fifty person extended family celebration has been called off leaving everyone to fend for themselves.
It is our choice on how we allow this to to affect us. First instinct is to organize a pity party. You know those one person, “poor me” cry-fests. Obviously that is a poor choice. An alternative is to consider our loved ones safe at home. I bet their phones work and a Thanksgiving dinner plate would bring a smile on a face or two.
With that thought, what are you cooking? I am a Pampered Chef and have a kitchen filled with tools and recipes to make life in the kitchen easier. Flipping through some recipes, I found a few that made my mouth water. Would you like those for your file?
Our family usually fixes ham and turkey. My mother glazes the ham and everyone raves over it. This is a general recipe that gets changed often.
This salad is on the border of being a dessert. When placed in a glass bowl the presentation is striking especially when garnished with a mint leaf. It is really delicious so don’t expect left overs.
This year has presented a plethora of challenges, but we have survived. Humans need each other so let’s help one another. Kindness is under-rated. We all need to practice.
You know what else we need? Well, besides food. Yes, we need our Creator. We were made by Him and need Him. He is so good to us.
Wherever you celebrate and with whomever, I hope you take time to give thanks for all of your many blessings. Say a pray for those less fortunate and those that have an empty seat at their table.
Happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to season with love.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching. What comes to mind when you think about Thanksgiving? The obvious is giving thanks. Right? We are blessed in so many ways that most of them often are overlooked. We can not give thanks for blessings we do not realize came our way. Even this year, I am certain we have all had a plethora of things for which to be thankful.
Family comes to my mind. Thanksgiving is usually a big deal in our family. We have an abundance of people, food, laughter, and noise. Everyone brings a dish or two, and sometimes more. Games are played, football watched, shopping lists made, and family catches up on what is going on in everyone’s life. I love it!
This year a few beloved members left us for their eternal home. While we are rejoicing that they are pain free and reunited with loved ones, we are saddened that they will be missed at our table this November. Others will not be able to join us due to the pandemic and quarantine. What historically is a gathering of fifty-ish family members has dwindled to considerably less than half that number. My sister is hosting, and I am going to make a cranberry salad. Do you like cranberries? I do!
I have heard that the senior generation is the glue that holds families together. There is truth to that, but our family has plenty of glue left in its bottle. My cousins are like siblings to me and their children like nieces and nephews. We always get together for holidays. Things are not normal this year which adds a new twist. Our crowd is dwindling. The rise in Covid cases makes even healthy people want to stay home and away from possible germs.
Do not allow Covid to control your family relationships. Like all relationships, family needs to be nourished. Young children need to know extended members. Adults need to continue feeding and strengthening the bond that began years ago. We need to explain why we gather as a family and why we are thankful.
Scripture says in Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Children will remember going to family gatherings and having fun with everyone. It will become a way of like for them that will get passed on to each generation.
Let’s pray the pandemic is over soon. Hopefully we will learn from what it tried to teach us. It taught me never to take family for granted. I miss seeing my family and hugging. Oh how I miss hugging.
I hope you are able to spend Thanksgiving with at least part of your family this year. Remember all of the many things that we do have even in a year that has not been the kindest to us. I am thankful for my family, friends, and especially for Jesus. What is on your list of things for which you are thankful?