Posted in Christmas, family/marriage

the best Christmas gift ever received

Best gift recieved

What’s the best Christmas gift you have ever received (besides Jesus)?

I asked several wonderful friends on Facebook this very question. I loved their responses! They varied from recent gifts to treasured gifts of years ago, to gifts that no monetary value could be placed upon.

liittle girl at Christmas

My Brother sewing machine as I use it several times throughout the week. ~ Judith S.

A flat top guitar! I was 9 years old! ~ Dolores G.

Our first Christmas, my husband bought me a beautiful oak fiddleback rocking chair. It’s precious to me. ~ Melana C.

A unicycle from my brother and sisters when I was 8. They all went in on it without my parents help.~ Mariann F.

Loving parents who didn’t yell at me when in my child-like exuberance I cut a hole in my Daddy’s new pants while wrapping presents.~ Natalie T.

A wooden cow on a string, when pulled made a “moo” sound. I was 3. ~ Scotty B.

The gift that comes to mind is of wonderful Christmas memories, trying to think of some ‘things’ all I could remember were the feelings of Christmas, family together, Christmas Eve service, lights twinkling at night at my grandmas house with family on Christmas Eve. ~ Cheryl C.

Christmas house.jpg

My mom has said her best Christmas present was Christmas of 1987… when I was born shortly before and came home on Christmas Eve. ~ Holly Anne F.

My Grandma Burton and Grandpa traveled globally when he was in the Navy. One place they went was Italy. In Italy they purchased a gorgeous Nativity set. Each year the 3 grandkids took turns setting it up. As we got older it became my thing to do with Grandma and we spent the day setting it up, decorating and hanging out. One of my favorite days each year. For my 25th Christmas Grandma gave me the Nativity. It remains my favorite gift of all time. ~ Jessica P.

nativity scene 2

As a child the most memorable gift was an interchangeable, blue band, hard plastic bracelet/watch from my dad. Presents were all done , my brothers were digging around in their stalkings and my dad faked surprise and dug around IN the tree and brought out a small box for me and something similar for my mom. She didn’t know anything about it. It spoke volumes to me! I always doubted my worth, especially concerning them/him. It was a moment I relived in my head for years. As an adult from my husband, of course the wheel around dishwasher on our first Christmas together was awesome but I would have to say my replacement wedding ring he wrapped in a box and left on my car seat on Christmas morning. It wasn’t an expensive ring by any means and was meant to be an interim ring … I can’t seem to give it up though. ~ Holly C.

I consider my youngest daughter Allison to be a wonderful Christmas present even though her Birthday is on December 4 and she was brought home two days later in a Christmas stocking I still consider her to be the best Christmas gift ever! My older daughter Heather’s Birthday is on December 24 and (the ex and I) brought her home on the 25 of December in a Christmas stocking also. I definitely do consider them both the best Christmas gifts ever and you cannot beat those two gifts ever.~ Emma W.

The presents fade in memory—the laughter and love remain as the only gifts worth keeping.~ Kathy B.

Christmas presents.jpg

While these presents are meaningful and hold a special place in my friends’ hearts, there is a gift even more important, even more wonderful, than any of the aforementioned gifts. That gift is Jesus.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and may we never forget Who is the greatest gift of all!

Posted in book giveaways

Days of Christmas book giveaways galore!!!

Below are all the links for the past 10 days’ worth of giveaways. All in all, nearly 20 books will be given away!

And you can enter as many giveaways as you’d like!  (U.S. residents only, please). All giveaways end December 18 and the winners will be announced on December 19. I’ve enjoyed the giveaways, but I am eager to get back my regularly scheduled program with humor posts, movie reviews, and devotionals! I’ll be having some Favorite Top 10 Posts, and on December 20, please join me for my popular humor post “5 things a man shouldn’t buy his wife for Christmas!” You won’t want to miss that post!

Here are the links (each will open in a new window for easier use).  Happy commenting!

Day 10: (Contemporary romance, YA fiction and a contemporary women’s fiction novel)

Day 9: (Suspense novel and a nonfiction book)

Day 8: (Bible study and a touching nonfiction book)

Day 7: (Two historical romance books)

Day 6: (Historical romance and a mystery-suspense)

Day 5: (Children’s devotional and a free download of Novel Morsels for every commenter, which includes recipes from your favorite authors)

Day 4: (YA and a suspense novel)

Day 3: (Suspense and YA audio CDs)\

Day 2: (nonfiction family book and a children’s devotional book)

Day 1: (Contemporary romance and action-packed suspense)

Posted in author interviews, book giveaways

Final Day of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Gina Conroy, Shellie Neumeier and Darlene Shortridge

Today is the final day for my special Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration (but not the final day to enter!). I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the fantastic giveaways! Tomorrow, I’ll be providing a listing of all the giveaways so you can go back through if you haven’t already, and leave comments for any of the books you’d like to win. Yep, you can enter as many giveaways as you’d like! All giveaways end December 18 and the winners will be announced on December 19.

I’ve enjoyed the giveaways, but I am eager to get back my regularly scheduled program with humor posts, movie reviews, and devotionals! I’ll be having some Favorite Top 10 Posts, and on December 20, please join me for my popular humor post “5 things a man shouldn’t buy his wife for Christmas!” You won’t want to miss that post!

Today, let’s bring some humor into the mix! Leave a comment telling us your most hilarious Christmastime moment! Or the most hilarious Christmas gift you’ve ever received!

And now, without further ado, here are the three books up for grabs today…while I haven’t yet read the books, they both look awesome!

Following  is the blurb for Cherry Blossom Capers

Four townhouse neighbors encounter romance and mystery near our nation’s capital. In State Secrets, White House assistant chef Tara Whitley and FBI agent Jack Courtland stop a plot to sabotage a State dinner—and find love still hidden in their hearts. In Dying for Love, attorneys and opponents Ciara Turner and Daniel Evans uncover love while searching for justice. In Buried Deception, archaeologist Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter dig up love while uncovering a forged artifact. In Coffee, Tea and Danger, amateur sleuths Susan Holland and Vince Martini find love while investigating a string of mysterious accidents.

Below is the blurb for Driven…

Robyn can’t help but notice the handsome new guy at her school. She ignores, however, the arrival of another being at Brookfield Central High School—a demon assigned to destroy her…

Robyn loves her friends, enjoys her youth group, and looks forward to meeting cute Caleb Montague. But when a caustic news reporter challenges her school’s prayer team, Robyn must choose: defend their right to meet on campus and pray for whomever they wish or back down at the principal’s request.

Now she must learn what God wants her to do. And she had better learn fast, because there’s a supernatural enemy in town whose sole mission is to stop her—no matter the cost.

And the blurb for Until Forever

Until Forever is a story of a young family that is torn apart by the devastating effects of alcoholism. Can healing take place in a relationship when an unforgivable act is committed? Will Jessi’s pain and Mark’s guilt keep them apart forever, or will unforeseen circumstances bind them together?

Join Jessi and Mark as they travel many roads that lead them to places of healing and forgiveness.  Where will God draw the line at allowing circumstances in our lives that lead us to Him?  Is there any earthly pain that isn’t tolerable if it leads us to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?  As you read “Until Forever” you may find yourself asking these types of questions.  As in real life, the answers don’t come easily to Jessi and Mark.  You will find yourself walking in their shoes, crying their tears and laughing with them as they experience real and pain and find true joy. 

And now for some Christmas memories!

A Christmas Memory by Shellie Neumeier

When I was five or six, Christmas at my house always started with dark nights (‘cause in MI, December nights start at 4p.m.) and sugar-cookie smells.  Time brought friends and family to eat the feasts my mother made and sleep on our couch and floor. But as a child, the best part was the culmination of Christmas morning. The moment when everyone raced into the family room, tripped over Uncle Frank (sleeping on the floor), and shifted through the pile of presents to find the ones with your name on it. Mom and my aunts would drink from steaming coffee cups and hide from Grandpa’s camera or ooh and ahh at just the right time while Dad would dole out the gifts after fending off eager hands.

One Christmas, I changed all that. Oh sure, the cookies were baked and the feasts, all eaten. The relatives came in car loads, and Uncle Frank slept peacefully on the couch (it was a good year for him). But with dawn hours away, I woke bright-eyed and ready for the morning. I skipped down stairs to peek at the Christmas tree. Lights from the window sparkling off the multi-colored bows and papers. It had to be time for Christmas. Oh how I was tempted to rip apart those gifts, right then and there, but I remembered one clear rule my father gave the night before.

“No one opens any gifts until an adult says it’s okay.”

I raced back upstairs and popped into my parents’ room, but no amount of jumping pulled them from their slumber.

My brothers didn’t count, so I let them sleep, but I had to find someone…somewhere. I knew my aunts and uncles would tell me to ask my parents and we all know how well that worked out. Grandpa would probably say no, no questions asked. What was a kid to do without a willing adult nearby?

Then again, there was one. One that always said ‘yes.’

Uncle Frank.

I dashed for the family room and bee-lined for the couch. With a gentle hand to my uncle’s shoulder I shook him until he groaned.

“Uncle Frank,” I whispered.

“Huh?” His eyes still closed.

“May I open my gifts, please?”

“Uh-huh.” He mumbled as he rolled over.

That was enough. I had an adult’s permission, even if that adult was barely out of his teen years. I demolished my gifts, tore the paper from every Shellie-labeled box. As the last ribbon hit the floor, the lights flickered on. There in the doorway stood my father.

“What?” was all he could mutter.

It didn’t seem to matter that I’d followed the letter of his ruling; he looked deflated at having missed my Christmas morning. And now that it was after seven, my bleary-eyed brain couldn’t figure out why. Christmas morning was all over the family room floor. What had he missed?

“You’ll figure it out when you have children of your own,” he said.

And he was right. Now that I’m slightly older, I look forward to every Christmas morning. Not for the presents, but for those moments spent watching the children rip open their gifts, spying their excitement over that oh-so-special toy, and talking about that first precious Christmas. It isn’t about the gifts anymore; it’s about family and Christ, but I bet you knew that.

Merry Christmas, every one.

Shellie loves to connect with her readers at

A Favorite Christmas Memory by Darlene Shortridge
How do I choose one favorite memory of Christmas?  You have asked a hard thing!
Growing up in difficult circumstances, I have very few childhood memories.  There is one occasion that left me with a smile.
I was young.  How young, I cannot remember.  My parents divorced when I was five so, I must have been a little bit older than that.  My father brought gifts and he gave me the coolest present ever.  I received a pair of studded green jeans with a matching jean jacket.  Yes, I am giving away my age…but come on…isn’t that just so darn cool?
They fit perfectly and I loved them.  I’m not sure if there ever was a more joyful moment in my childhood.  That is my best childhood Christmas memory!
Darlene loves to connect with her readers at

Remembering Saint Nicholas, the Man Who Became Santa by Gina Conroy

In my efforts to steer materialism away from December the 25th and create new family traditions, I thought a great idea would be to exchange gifts on Saint Nicholas Day. Only problem is, it always snuck up on us and we’d miss it. Usually we end up remembering Saint Nick and his “spirit of giving” on Christmas Eve,

The following ideas are some suggestions on how to remember Saint Nicholas, the man who became Santa. You can adjust the activities depending on the age of your children, but no matter how you choose to remember Saint Nicholas, I’m sure it will soon be a treasured family tradition.

Share the story of the Real Saint Nicholas

We’ve always taught our children the true meaning of Christmas and shared who the real Saint Nicholas was. The video Nicholas, The Boy Who Became Santa, is a sweet and entertaining historical tale of an orphan boy who grew up to be Santa Claus. It really captures the true meaning of Christmas and one man’s sacrifice for the savior he loved. Caution: you might want to have a tissue nearby.

Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa

Synopsis: Nicholas was still a young child when he discovered a very special secret that changed his life. It was the gift of giving, by which he brought happiness to many people; but in sharing this great gift Nicholas had to face many dangers. Here is a fascinating story of the boy whose love and care for others make him one of the most popular figures of all times. Today, more than sixteen centuries later, the entire world celebrates the kindness and generosity of the man we call Santa Claus.
 Santa’s Birthday Gift by Sherrill S. Cannon

Whether you read the traditional stories of Saint Nicholas or take the Santa approach, here’s a study guide to make the most of Saint Nicholas and the Christmas story.

Discuss: Nicholas’ life and contrast it with today’s version of Santa Claus. What do you like about the real story? How has the real story of Saint Nicholas strayed from the original story. What has remained true through the ages? Is it okay to blend the two stories of Christmas?

How can you emulate Saint Nicholas and his spirit of giving this Christmas season? Talk about ways you can give to others throughout the entire year.

Do: Exchange gifts to one another in honor of Saint Nicholas and his love for Jesus and helping others.

It’s not hard to reconcile Santa with Christmas once you know the real story. Make it a goal this year to share the true story of Santa Claus with young and old alike. It’s what the real Saint Nicholas would want!

Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she’s leaning on the Lord to show her the way.  She is the founder of Writer…Interrupted at  where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God’s timing is perfect, even if she doesn’t agree with it! 😉 Her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity at she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook at and Twitter at

Posted in author interviews, book giveaways

Day 3 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Tracy Ruckman & Jordan T. Maxwell

After you leave a comment on this post, don’t forget to go back and sign up to win the two previous days’ worth of books on this blog at and by leaving a comment! Remember, you can enter as often as you wish during this special Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration. Anyone can enter (please, U.S. residents only)  and subscribers who have confirmed their subscriptions receive two entries!

Today, leave us a comment about your absolute favorite Christmas tradition, whether it’s a new tradition or a tradition through the generations.

We have two items up for grabs today…a Christian suspense novel by Tracy Ruckman, Debbie Roome, and Amy  Barkman.

Tracy and her fellow authors are giving away one print and one digital version of Board to Death: A Trio of Mysteries in the Dangerous Games Series by Amy Barkman, Debbie Roome, and Tracy Ruckman. To enter the drawing, just leave a comment below, sharing your favorite Christmas memory. (If it happens to involve a board game, you get an extra entry! LOL!) Be sure to tell us if you want a print or digital copy and an email address where you can be reached if you win. We’ll have a separate drawing for each version, so you may enter once for each, but you can only win once.

Also up for grabs is a copy of the 10 CD audio book version (721 minutes!) of Dandyflowers by Jordan T. Maxwell.

And now two Christmas memories…

My Favorite Christmas Memory  by Tracy Ruckman

Each year it seems to get more difficult to recall a favorite Christmas memory, because there are more to add to the list. I’ve shared one precious holiday in my story “Miracle of the Nativity” published in 2009 (Christmas Miracles). Last year, I shared about my childhood Christmases when Nanny made us hot chocolate by stove light. This year, a more recent memory has pushed its way to the top of my memory bank.

In 2007, our beautiful holiday celebrations began with a delightful and huge family gathering with Tim’s sister and all his cousins. So many people, but so much love and so much laughter. It was one of those Hallmark-movie kinds of days. The past several years had been extremely difficult on both of us – deaths, wayward children, job woes, and for me, divorce – and our families had been scattered on holidays during all of it, so that gathering was especially sweet for us. Then we got some wonderful news – all the kids were coming to spend the day with us! All of us were together for the first time in years, so I cooked and cleaned like a madwoman. I can’t tell you what we ate or drank that year (although I do remember the pumpkin soup was NOT a hit!), and our gifts were small and personal. To some, that Christmas may not be one to write a school report on, but in my heart, those few hours will always be a special treasure – because we were together.

Tracy and her fellow authors are giving away one print and one digital version of Board to Death: A Trio of Mysteries in the Dangerous Games Series by Amy Barkman, Debbie Roome, and Tracy Ruckman. To enter the drawing, just leave a comment below, sharing your favorite Christmas memory. (If it happens to involve a board game, you get an extra entry! LOL!) Be sure to tell us if you want a print or digital copy and an email address where you can be reached if you win. We’ll have a separate drawing for each version, so you may enter once for each, but you can only win once.

About Board to Death:

Baby Boomers Polly Nichols, Lindsay Wilson, and Gretchen Anderson may live worlds apart, but they have one common hobby – a penchant for board games.

Polly’s serene Kentucky campground turns sinister when the manager is a VICTIM of murder. In New Zealand, Lindsay’s life is turned upside down when MIND GAMES and evidence drag her into a murder case – as a suspect. At the Kettle’s On Campground in Georgia, Gretchen matches wits with a murderous wordsmith intent on winning the latest game of SENTENCED.

You’ll love the games, the characters, and the stories – and we promise, you won’t be BOARD to Death!

Visit us on the Web at:

My Favorite Christmas Memory by Jordan T. Maxwell

When you are five, Christmas is magical; a white Christmas is even more so. After getting up at the break of dawn on Christmas morning nineteen sixty-nine my brother and I were excited to find the gifts the jolly old elf had left us. After all the presents were opened, we were told to get our coats, hats, gloves and boots on. Dad said that he had seen something in the snow outside that we needed to see.

At the farm where I grew up we seldom used the front door; the main traffic way to and from our house was via the back door and the back yard. So when Dad walked us around to the front yard we knew something unusual must have happened. We were not disappointed.

The front yard was covered in nearly pristine, six inch deep snow. I say nearly because in the center of the yard were a set of straight, parallel lines running several feet through the snow; sleigh tracks! Interspersed all around the sleigh tacks were hundreds of tiny animal foot prints which, upon closer inspection looked conspicuously like deer tracks or more correctly reindeer tracks!

It got better. Leading across the yard and up our front porch steps were the distinct impressions of tiny boot prints! Not only was there a set of boot tracks going to the house, but there was a second set leading from the house back to where the sleigh had rested! My brother and I had conclusive, irrefutable proof that Santa had indeed been to our house on Christmas Eve and forty-two years later, I still believe!

Want to get in touch with Jordan? His website is:

He can be found on Facebook by searching for “Jordan T. Maxwell”.

Twitter: @jordantmaxwell

More info from Jordan: I will have an archieved copy of the hour long interview I will be doing on The Authors First Radio Show on November 22, 2011 regarding “Dandyflowers”. To get to the archieve go to:

I will be on the same show on December 20,2011 at 7pm Eastern, 6pm Central, 5pm Mountain & 4pm Pacific. Go to: and click on the flashing “On Air” icon. I will be talking about my second book, “Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries”.

Posted in author interviews, book giveaways

Day 2 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Amanda Beth & Mukkove Johnson

Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration!!! Today we have two fabulous books up for grabs… so be sure to leave a comment to win both Christmas is About Jesus (paperback) by Mukkove Johnson and You Can Have a Happy Family (paperback) by Amanda Beth.

Today, share with us your absolute favorite Christmas tradition or memory, or if you’ve already shared yesterday, feel free to leave another Christmas-related comment or just stop by to say “hi!”

And don’t forget to leave a comment on yesterday’s post at to win Staci Stalling’s book Cowboy and Sarah Witenhafer’s book Tamed.  Stop by on Monday where I’ll be featuring two more awesome authors.

Yes, you can enter on all of the days! (U.S. residents only please), and confirmed subscribers receive two entries!

Without further ado, I am sooooo excited to be offering as a giveaway these two more awesome books to one lucky winner…

Product Details

Here is the blurb for Christmas is About Jesus:

Christmas is About Jesus: An Advent Devotional is designed to give families a foundation to talk about what they believe and celebrate at Christmas. Beginning December 1st each day shares a verse, a picture, a popular element of Christmas celebrations and how it can help us to focus on Jesus.

Each devotion is short and thought provoking. Questions in the text give points to ponder and discuss as a family.
Below is the blurb for You Can Have a Happy Family:

YOU can’t perfect your family.

YOUR SPOUSE can’t perfect your family.

NO ONE can perfect your family.

But there is hope…GOD CAN!

Join Amanda on her journey to find contentment. She takes you through her personal testimony and reveals the steps God taught her that freed her from insecurity, strife, distrust, resentment, and chaos in her marriage.

She shares with you how to enjoy your family while waiting on God to restore, transform, and perfect you, your spouse, and your children.

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me: your mercy, O LORD, endures forever: forsake not the works of your own hands. —Psalm 138:8, AKJV

You Can Have a Happy Family is available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, and

Be sure to leave a comment for Mukkove and Amanda to win both books. Speaking of favorite Christmas traditions and memories, here are the favorites of Mukkove and Amanda…

Christmas Memories by Mukkove Johnson

Creating gifts and yummy treats- fudge, taffy, divinity, and rosettes

Hours dreaming through the Sears catalog

Relaxing time off from school and work

I remember the Christmas Eve program at church

Snowmen, sledding, and skiing

Tree with tinsel, skinny silver strings

Mom home from school with us, Dad off of work

A peaceful busy time

Stringing popcorn for the tree

Making a bonfire on the lake

Eating homemade ice cream

Monopoly games, for hours

Opening gifts on Christmas Eve with Grandpa and Grandma

Remember Jesus came for me

Ice skating on the lake

Everyday closer to Christmas

Special family times

Mukkove Johnson, author of Christmas is About Jesus and Easter is About Jesus, lives in Alaska with her husband and three children. She is learning to rest in Jesus as he directs her steps through faith, marriage, mothering, homeschooling and writing.

If you would like to know more, connect with Mukkove, or purchase books visit her website or For daily blogs during December on Christmas is About Jesus visit

Christmas Memory by Amanda Beth


My favorite memory of Christmas growing up was getting up in the morning and seeing the presents overflowing out from under the Christmas tree. Even now that me and my siblings are grown, my mom still buys the same amount of presents as she did when we were kids. Only now, she has included our spouses and our children in the giving. When we go to my parent’s house on Christmas Eve, you can’t walk in their living room without tripping over a present. I am married with four children so you can imagine how many gifts we receive. When we drive home our kids are usually buried under gifts as they’re piled to the ceiling of our minivan. Each year we tell Mom not to give us so much, but she never listens because she really enjoys giving.

Amanda Beth loves to connect with her readers at