Devotions for Christmas – A Review

devotions-for-christmas-coverDevotions for Christmas: A celebration to bring you joy and peace published by Zondervan, is a lovely Christmas and December  devotions book that doesn’t just center on advent like many books for this time of year do. Instead, it takes you through the crazy, busy holiday season with very nicely done devotions. Simplifying life and giving you a moment to really enjoy the holiday season for what it is; a celebration of Christ. Each day has an incredibly appealing photograph of something Christmas-y themed, mostly over a two page spread, which I love. The images are clear and crisp and make you want to decorate. There are simple prayers and each topic is very appealing. Days like ‘Surprise Packaging’,  ‘Family Traditions’, ‘Home for the Holidays’,  ‘Holiday Memories’, ‘Christmas Leftovers’, and one of my favorites, ‘The Aroma of Christmas’.   Simple prayers, verses at both the beginning of each day and mixed within the text, and a whole 31 days of devotions, makes for an incredibly nice ‘coffee table’ book and a wonderful book for the Christmas season.

a-charlie-brown-christmas-abc-11302015-1276x850I was very pleased with this book when it arrived, one being that it is a hardback. I had expected a thin paperback and I am a fan of hardback books because I feel that they will last longer than other books.  The photographs are so incredibly beautiful feeling like they are right out of  a really classy magazine, like Martha Stewart.  The book will put you right in the spirit of Christmas, which sometimes is hard with all the ‘commercialization’ as Charlie Brown says.  It makes you want to sit down and take a moment. I am also very pleased that it is the entire month of December instead of just an advent devotional. I had assumed that this was only going to have 25 days, as it was a Christmas devotional, but it is for the whole month into New Year’s Eve. This is a really nice book for that reason. Because the holiday season doesn’t just stop on the 25th.

I was incredibly pleased with this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a really nice devotional that is not only useful, but pretty, for the holiday season. I also think it would be a lovely gift.   5 out of 5 stars.

This book was provided to me for my honest review with no compensation from Booklook Bloggers and Harper Collin’s Christian Publishing.

Kate

Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope – A Review

_225_350_Book.1777.coverDuring the holiday season, we are so focused on the holiday in general that we forget what the true season of Christmas is about. Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio is an advent devotion book meant to help us slow down, stop, and reflect what Christmas and the advent are really about. Each day starting with November 26th, Paster Giglio guides us in scripture, a reflection relating to the scripture, meditation (which is usually a Christmas poem or song) and finally a prayer.  So 30 days of thinking about how we are waiting for Christ  and the remembrance of his birth, which for Christians, is a very sacred time of year.  So, when we get a little too busy with buying the gifts, preparing the Christmas meals and dealing with family and travel and all the frustrations that may come, this very thing, almost pocket sized book is just right for pulling out. Lighting a candle and meditating and focusing on Christ.

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have loved advent since I was a little girl when we would read the Christmas story through the four weeks of December, lighting a green candle each week for the wise men, Mary and Joseph, The shepherds, the angels, and finally a red candle for Jesus. There were the colorful calendars and it was a very memorable and sacred time of year for me. I eagerly looked forward to it. As time as gone by, I have slowly let that slipe away, and this book is perfect for putting you right back into the calming frame of mind of what Christmas is really about. While I am terrible at devotions and having a daily schedule for reading my Bible, and I didn’t technically finish this book in a daily order, it’s still a lovely small book, perfect for the season. There is something incredibly calming about the red, black, white and grey colors of the book. So calming in fact that I ended up writing a sonnet about red berries with the colors of black, white and grey. This book is perfect for any Christian that want to get back to what advent is about. I love it’s slim size and I love that the meditations are songs I know, but may not know all the lyrics. I liked that it was a very Christmas themed book in that it had the traditional songs that Christians know for the season. From Oh Come All Ye Faithful, O Come Oh Come Emmanuel, Silent Night, and O Holy Night. Lovely hymns Christians know and love.

I would highly recommend this book to any Christian who wants do practice adven but feels too old for the calendars and childish themes. This is a lovely book. Five out of Five stars.

Kate

This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest opinion and review from HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Thomas Nelson, and BookLookBloggers.

A Smattering of Sonnets for PAD Chapbook Challenge

English: Shakespeare's sonnet 1

English: Shakespeare’s sonnet 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been knee deep in writing sonnets. Thinking about them, thinking in iambic pentameter, or at least iambic. I have figured it out finally. The iambic thing. Writing sonnets, well it’s a lesson every time I set my pen to paper.

We are nearly done with the challenge, and I am having to play catch up. I wished I could have written one a day, but it’s more like a one ever two days kind of thing, unless absolute inspiration hits me and then I splat one out, and I do mean splat. It hits the paper running and is there without a chance of changing it.

I wanted to include a few here. I told CB Wentworth that I would post some. Her haikus, by the way, have been totally inspiring.

Did anyone else do the PAD Chapbook Challenge by Writer’s Digest? I would love to know if you did.

So because the holiday season is upon us, here is my Festive sonnet—

All Good Cheer

The eggnog sits upon the table top
and whipped cream islands are floating there
We wait for guests to drink the rich stuff up
And clink a glass to wish us all good cheer.

The music plays in subtle waves of sound
And candle light is glowing golden bright
The snow is falling softly to the ground
The peace is here on this, this Christmas night

We wait for Santa bringing gifts of joy
For carols sung in happy songs refrain
A tree for all to reflect and enjoy
As toasts are clinked with a glass of champagne

This Christmas Eve we wish you all good cheer
A pleasure lasting us throughout the year

 

Then my ‘Divided’ sonnet—

Trust is But a Divide

I trusted you in moments like we had
A force of love and friendship here right now
It took me time to see the flaws unsaid
Divided we stand is what I will avow

In time we may forget the lines that break
I stand on lines you stand right there apart
A split on down the middle thoughts we make
Can we go on this way and not depart

If sides must choose I choose my side it’s clear
And you are wrong as wrong as wrong can be
I must not break this stand I take to bear
And you will go and leave me you will see

We once were strong and now we are broken
These words are worse than when they were spoken

And my ‘idea’ sonnet. This one is inspired by a particular holiday film. A classic. If you know it, tell me.

The Idea’s Ideal

A grand idea call for troops to come
We’ll throw a show and make it big, you say
Ideal it is oh ho let’s go have fun
It’s rather good, idea that’s to day

The girls can do their number sparkling blue
We are in army duds and with our caps
We’ll sing to General, he’s our good man true
A rousing cheer for him, the best of chaps

The war has passed us long ago we’ll sing
Let’s clap our hands and give one last applaud
This man is ours salute him for this fling
As snow is falling and we all stand awed

It’s Christmas now so sing a song to joy
For love and hope and friends we all enjoy

 

 

So there are three that are quite fun. I have more, but I want to revise some. And we shall see. I finished up one tonight that has my heart just so happy, despite the sadness I’m putting into it. It’s weird. I am getting to vent some frustration I’m having with Boris.  I put so much emotion into my writings.  Honestly, if you feel your writing is stale, have some angst in your life. It really solidifies feelings.  Anger, hurt, sadness, pain…. love. It all comes out when you write poetry.

So, enjoy. Only two more days of the challenge, then a month of revision. And I still have four more days of Writing 101 to finish up. Aahhhh, I need to get hustling!

Kate

The Nutcracker – Writing 101 Day 13

Ella watched in wonder as the ballerina’s twirled and spun around the wintery stage. For years she had wanted to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. Now, here she was in a magnificent theater, not far from Rockefeller center and the magnificent Christmas tree. It was truly a magical, wintery wonderland time of year.

 

My flash fiction is always longer than about 200 words. This comes in at fifty two words. Whoa. I was listening to classical winter like music, and since Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet has been one I am dying to see one day… It was in my head.

And because I like this image I’m adding it to the post

Kate

Goodnight Manger – A Review

_225_350_Book.1731.coverGoodnight Manger by Laura Sassi is  Laura’s sophomore picture book following her Goodnight Ark.  The book is illustrated again by Jane Chapman and the story follows the singsong story rhymes that Goodnight Ark had within it’s pages.   This time, it’s baby Jesus who can’t get to sleep. The animals are too noisy and the baby starts to wail.  Back and forth the animals try to help Mary and Joseph quiet  a squirming, twitching baby.  From hay for the baby’s head from the donkey, to feathers from the hen. Just when the baby is quieting down, the heavenly angels start singing their Hosannas, and soon he’s awake again.  Goodness all this noise in the stable!  Shepherds arrive along with sheep, then come wise men from far and wide, that baby’s sleep will be denied….. Okay, silly rhyme there, but reading the book to write this review had me rhyming myself!   Soon Mama Mary suggests a song and all the wise men and shepherds start singing a lullaby that gently lulls baby Jesus to sleep at last.

This picture book is quite similar to Goodnight Ark, which I did a review on.  As with the Ark, this book is geared towards children 4-8 in my opinion. Parents can read it to their younger children as a lovely Christmas rhyming story, while older children can use it to learn to read marvelous rhyme.  And while I enjoyed the book, I did find a couple of the rhymes a bit discordant with the rhythm, as I would have to turn the page to finish the rhyme and it caused too much of a pause. I felt a little jarred and harder to read than Ark.  Along with that, while the pictures of the animals, Joseph, the shepherds, and wise men were right on par with Jane Chapman’s other work, I was severely disappointed with her portrayal of Mary.  All my life I have pictured Mary as being this beautiful woman. I figure if God chose her to carry Jesus and have him as her son, she has to be beautiful.  And I think there are absolutely stunning Israeli women. Beautiful women.  So to have Mary look very plain and worn out was disappointing. Yes, I know she just had a baby, but well, it doesn’t matter about that aspect when illustrating a book. I would have preferred her to look prettier.  That is just my opinion.

All that being said, this is a lovely rhyme book again.  I think it would be a marvelous story to read young children during the month of December to prepare for Christmas. It’s sweet and charming enough that I could see children learning the whole rhyme to recite.  I would definitely give it 4 out of 5 stars. A little less than Goodnight Ark due to the illustrations and the jarring rhyme. But all in all a very good book

This book was provided to me free of charge for my honest opinion by HarperCollins Christian Publishing. I have in no way been compensated for my opinions.

Kate

Candy Cane – Haiku

A candy cane sees
happy licks slowly pleasing
under Christmas trees.

Not sure it’s really good, but eh, I had the dice out the other night and Christmas was still on my brain. No, not all of these words are included in Haikubes, but well, that’s what the blank spaces are for…..

Kate

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas deariesMerry Christmas, readers one and all. My dearies who have held up under my very random, but Christmas inspired 25 Days of Christmas.

I hope you all have a wonderful day. I’ll be taking a few days off through the weekend to just relax a bit and hopefully write some posts for future dates. I’ve been doing these blog challenges and I love ’em, but man, they require a bit more foresight that I don’t seem to always have. Especially towards the end. I still have a Toolbox post in the works. A Writer’s Path (Ryan, I think)  knows what I mean since I commented about his blog and his toolbox… I’m rambling. Anyways, I have ideas in the works. I still need to attempt more flash fiction, but it seems to have escaped me this month. Ironically since I want to write Christmas flash fiction! I had this thought about being snowbound at Christmas, a la Hallmark-y film with the Bing wallpaper that was the other day’s…..SJMountainCabin_EN-US11195673674_1920x1080 I just have ideas I need to work on!  Now that I don’t have sewing projects, I might be able to finish or start some writing things.

So, I hope you all are having a great Christmas wherever you are. North, south, east and west.

Kate

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

merry christmasJust a short post today since it is Christmas Eve and I’m sure we are all traveling somewhere, or are with our friends and family for the holidays.  This year it is very quiet for my family and I. We didn’t go to any friend’s house for eggnog and cheer… though we did do it a couple weeks ago and hot buttered rum was the specialty of the day…. That was incredibly good and I’ve since made the recipe and we have enjoyed that immensely.

My grandparents are way down south, along with my girl friend Jules (Mrs. Austen) and Boris is down under…. As in Australia.  (pssst…. I wish I could have gone with him. I’d love to go to Australia. And well, to go with Boris… who has someone drive him to his hotel. He doesn’t drive himself. I swear, it’s like Edward from Pretty Woman….)

There is snow on the mountains here in CA. A fast moving storm blew in and dropped a bit up in the peaks… And made it incredibly cold. Brrr.  Not a white Christmas per say, but close enough.

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! (don’t forget to hang those stockings and put out the milk and cookies.)

Kate

Christmas Stars

Twinkle, Twinkle little star, what a miracle you are, wonder how you ever came to be…

 

Stars at Christmastime is almost as synonymous as snow and Christmas. Clear, crisp nights with stars so bright you could almost touch them. Little diamonds in the sky. Orion shooting across the sky, trailing Taurus, and Leo chasing him.

Snowy nights with the stars above. Twinkling, twinkling, always twinkling.  Yes, stars are winter, and stars are Christmas. And it finally dawned on me the other day, why stars are so important this time of year. It’s all because of one star. The star in the sky that led the wise men to Bethlehem where Jesus was.  That was one very important star. The star the shepherds saw in the sky that led them to the stable. The star that remained in the sky for two years, leading those wise men west.

How very important a star can be.

And while I know stars are just flaming balls of hot gas in space, somehow I can’t ever seem to remember that scientific fact when I’m looking up at their magical diamond-ness.  No, I just can’t look at it as anything but a magical, very important thing.

I love the stars. I love looking at stars and the constellations.  The stars are my ‘friends’. I never can get enough of the night sky. And I think of the majesty contained in those sparkling pinpoints of light. They were put there for a reason, and I thank God for them. Somehow they seem to bring Him just a little bit closer.

William Blake wrote, ‘To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.”

The stars are infinity and eternity.

Anyways, it’s that one star from so long ago that was so important.  I have the Gaither Trio’s song in my head. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy….” It used to be one of my favorites.  And at this time of year, as Christians, we rejoice.

Kate