Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reasons Why You Rock Review & *Giveaway*


I rock! I've always known I was awesome, but this book helps me to remember that! I love this book/journal. I love the size of the book, it is perfect. There are amazing quotes and stories throughout the book, one of my favorites being "If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it." (Margaret Fuller) Kathy writes like she is talking to you, having a conversation with you. And she is! This book was made for me, made for you! You will not be disappointed!!!

Product Description:
Reasons Why YOU ROCK! unlocks the tremendous wealth of personal greatness that already exists within us. Being connected with this greatness improves our health, enhances our relationships and gives us the passion to succeed in all aspects of our lives, from business to pleasure. Fourteen chapters offer inspiring quotes, compelling stories, and the opportunity to reflect on a variety of ways we can be great, and each chapter includes a page for attaching special notes and mementos about that chapter's topic. The book is not only an excellent inspirational read, but the perfect gift for a friend, client, co-worker or loved one as well. Reasons Why YOU ROCK! guides you to systematically uncover everything that is great about you - gifts, talents and attributes you may not have even been aware of - and allows you to make this new, healthy identity the one that powers you to the successful life you deserve.

About the Author:
Since the early 1990s, Kathy Light's work has centered around developing leaders - helping them grow their businesses, make more money, and lead more satisfying, impactful lives. She is known for helping others feel great about themselves and motivating them to ever higher levels of greatness. In 2001, she left a successful corporate career to pursue her dream of launching her own coaching and training business, KathyLightInternational. She maintains a thriving coaching and training practice, serving primarily sales executives and high-performing small business owners who are dedicated to continued growth and who value the ideas, energy, resources, and accountability that Kathy provides in their coaching relationship. Many of her coaching clients have remained her clients for several years, significantly growing both their business and personal lives each year. This first book, Reasons Why You Rock, is a reflection of her life's work. It reflects the knowledge and experience she has gained helping people realize and develop their greatness and, by doing so, truly amplify their personal power and their ability to impact the lives of others. Kathy's intention is that this book will be read by thousands of individuals who have not yet realized the extent of their greatness, and who are ready and willing to do so. Her hope is that those who read the book will use it as a guided journal to record the reasons why they rock, and by reading these reflections regularly, it will become a source of ongoing inspiration throughout their lives. Kathy lives in Plano, Texas, with her talented and loving husband, Roger Light, and their two awesome kids, Joe and Julia. 

BUY this book on Amazon HERE.

Kathy has generously offered one of my reader's the chance to win a copy of this book! Here's how:

1. Follow my blog.
2. Tell me why you rock!

Giveaway ends January 6th! Good luck!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In The Morning *Giveaway*

Product Description:
In the Morning takes you on a 12 hour journey from the dark "night" to "daybreak." A breakthrough is awaiting you on the other side! Brace yourself for the ride of your life! You will take an hour by hour journey through the "night," until the "morning!" Each hour will bring new challenges like fear, doubt and anger, as well as new gifts and blessings such as joy, peace, faith and hope. You will learn how to fully receive the promises of God from the process of waiting and realize that the purpose of the darkness is not to destroy you but to transform you. The journey is not easy and your faith will be tried but if you can endure one more "night," you will walk into a new life! Unlike any other, this book chronicles the most important hours the world has ever witnessed; in Jesus Christ's last 12 hours, a fresh perspective of the journey He took to Calvary is documented. You will see not only how every step and every act was purposeful in bringing salvation and change to all, but also how His final acts before Calvary is directly connected to the journey we take in our lives.

My Thoughts:
This is a different kind of book and was a bit strange to read and try to get through. It does not exactly read like a story. It is like the author is “playing God” and “talking” to you. Very weird for me. And it is not written perfectly. But, it was interesting, to say the least.

BUY this book on Amazon HERE.

I won this book on Goodreads.

Win a copy of this book!
1. Follow my blog.
2. Are you a morning person or a night person?
3. Share this giveaway on your social networks.

Giveaway ends January 5th. Good luck!

Show Me How Review & *Giveaway*


I am in love with this book, and I am so grateful that the author, Vivian Kirkfield, was nice enough to send me a copy for review! This book has come in to my life at a perfect time, at the perfect age of my boys. Some days I am at a wits end on what to "do" with them. This book is a great resource to give me ideas! There are places in the book for notes, which I think would be a good spot to write about the memory of you doing the activity with your child, so you can look back at it, and remember. I just love this book, and want to do everything in it right now today!! But I have to pace myself, and the kids! But this is so much fun! Great book! Can't wait for more in the series!

Product Description:
1st in the new Positive Parental Participation series, this reality-based program helps parents of preschoolers build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond. "Using this book with children will not only help build their self-esteem, it'll also turn them into life-long readers and lovers of books! I wish SHOW ME HOW! had existed when my own children were young." --Suzanne Williams, author of over 27 children's books -- SHOW ME HOW! pinpoints 100 picture books every young child should hear and provides a story summary, parenting tip, eco-friendly craft project and child-friendly healthful cooking activity for each recommended title. "A wonderful resource for people who care about their children and hope to better their reading and learning experience" -Norman Bridwell, author of Clifford the Big Red Dog - With keen insight and proven experience, Ms. Kirkfield empowers parents with simple and effective strategies to help their children develop a positive self-image. Chapter One, "I CAN DO IT MYSELF", focuses on mastering tasks and skills. Chapter Four, "I AM REALLY MAD RIGHT NOW!", shows how important it is to be able to express our feelings. "Parents and caretakers will find inspiration in this delightful guide to reading and planning activities with young children." -Katharine Holabird, author of Angelina Ballerina -- "A valuable, timely and timeless book that increases each child's level of healthy self-esteem and achievement. It's sure to be a family favorite!" -Sheila Glazov, author of What Color Is Your Brain.

About the Author:
Vivian Kirkfield's love affair with children's picture books began over fifty years ago when she was given THE LITTLE HOUSE by Virginia Lee Burton as a present for her third birthday. Helping her mother turn the pages, a new and exciting world was revealed to her. As a kindergarten teacher with a master's degree in early childhood education, daycare provider and mother of three (now grown with children of their own), she formulated a program that utilized children's picture books, not only for entertainment and enjoyment, but also to help preschoolers deal with many of the challenges they encounter. SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD'S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING is the first book in her new Positive Parental Participation series. Vivian has also written a number of picture books that help toddlers learn their colors, numbers and ABC's. She loves reading, crafting and cooking, as well as hiking and flyfishing in and around the mountains and rivers of Colorado...her husband of 43 years says she always catches the biggest fish. Her most recent adventure might provide the basis for her next children's story...she went skydiving with one of her sons and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

BUY this book on Amazon HERE.

Vivian has generously offered two of my readers a chance to win her book! Here's how:

1. Follow my blog.
2. Check out Vivian's website HERE.
3. Check out Vivian's blog HERE.

Giveaway ends January 5th. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kathryn The Grape


Kathryn The Grape by Kathryn Cloward is a great children’s book. Callan wanted to me to read it again and again, and by about the fifth time he was telling me the story. The illustrations are amazing, and the words are simple enough for a child to understand and comprehend what the story is about. I love a kids book that “teaches” something, as well as tells a story. Very nice book!

About the book: Poof! Just Like Magic! That's how easy it is to fall in love with Kathryn the Grape and her magical butterfly friend, Maggie! These inspiring characters teach that each of us has our own magic within. As your children read along, they will discover their own inner strength and fearlessness, learn about making new friends, and learn the importance of helping others. Kathryn the Grape takes the reader on a journey of discovery and spreads the message that everyone is magical!

About the author: As the original Kathryn the Grape, Kathryn Cloward embraced the childhood nickname given to her by her childhood softball coach, drew on her own life experiences, and created this children’s book series that is so close to her heart. It was her own inward journey to discover her true essence which allowed the Kathryn the Grape stories to come to life. Cloward is passionate about sharing important life lessons with children in a creative and dynamic way. It is through Kathryn the Grape that Cloward hopes to teach children to love and accept themselves and others. Cloward is an entrepreneurial mom who is President and sole owner of three companies: Guardian Foods, Natural Kidz and Kandon Unlimited, the parent company to Kandon Publishing and Kathryn the Grape Company. Cloward was honored as one of San Diego Metropolitan's "40 Under 40" award recipients for excellence in business and community service. She is a sought after public speaker and was a finalist for the Speak for Success Leadership Institute's Women Changing the World award in the Inspirational Women category. Cloward credits her son for much of her creative momentum, as he is the heart of all she does and her true inspiration.

BUY the book on Amazon HERE.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. Thanks Kathryn!

The Club No One Wanted To Join *Giveaway*


About The Book: It has been the public's perception that Madoff investors were all extremely wealthy and all belonged to exclusive clubs. This perception has been reinforced by the media and the powers that be. The truth is, with very few exceptions, such as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Picower and Stanley Chais-most were average, small time investors. They did not belong to exclusive private clubs or any other fancy clubs. They lived an average American life; they worked hard, contributed to society and saved for their retirement years. But in the end that was not enough. No one, it turns out, could protect them from the worst financial criminal in history, Bernard L. Madoff. As a result, they were all thrown tragically into one club none of them ever expected to join: the "club" of victims. This is their story. It is the first book of its kind about the Madoff Ponzi scheme, in which twenty nine Madoff investors band together to tell their story without an intermediary, directly to the public and in their own words. Baring private details and exposing the truth about who the real victims are, they don't hold back as to who really enabled the scheme to continue for forty years. The readers need to know what the authorities would rather keep from them, or else they are destined to become the next victims. The book's message is: this can happen to anyone. The authors are men and women just like the average reader. They come from all walks of life - blue collar, white collar- from all parts of the country and at different life stages. These are working class families, ex-multi-millionaires, professionals, artists and retirees. They come from Florida, Minnesota, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, Texas and other states. They come from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. In short they are regular people, Americans who got sucked into a Ponzi scheme that even the federal government has yet to solve. They all have one thing in common: they were robbed of their life savings by the worst financial criminal in history, Bernard L. Madoff. It is time the public learns the truth. This is a story of financial devastation, of lessons learned, of hope and rebirth. It has been more than a year since the fraud came to light and the survivors are now ready to share their experience and the hard learned lessons with the public. Though the financial disaster caused major transformations in their lives, transformations which are still ongoing, their spirit has not been broken. As one of the authors in this book summed up eloquently, "There will always be meaningful work to be done, more fun to be had and lots more people to love". And in the end, it is the message of hope the authors wish to convey.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this fiasco on the news, as we all did. But after reading this book, I am floored. I feel for the people this happened. I think everyone who has their money in investments needs to read this book, and think twice about where they are putting their money. This is a great book, and I could not put it down, which surprised me. I stayed up one night and just finished it, I was so into it. Amazing what happened to these people.

BUY this book at Amazon HERE.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. Thank you, Alexandra Roth.

Win a copy of this book!
1. Follow my blog.
2. Tell me why you would be interested in this book.
3. Share this giveaway on your social networks.

Giveaway ends January 4th. Good luck!

Sonset Review & *Giveaway*


Sonset: A Memoir Of Family Dysfunction by G.H. Larrivee Jr. is the personal journey of a man and his relationship with his father, and that same man’s relationship as a father to his son. Being a daughter and not a son, I can still identify with the troubles of child to father. My relationship with both my real father and my step-father are complicated. This book is not put together to be a number one best-seller. It is a story of truth, from one person’s side. A story that the author wanted to tell. There are grammatical errors and mis-spellings…but if you put that aside and see the story for what it is, then you will enjoy this read, though it might be hard to read (emotionally) for some. I am sure a lot of people can relate to most of the things in the book.

About The Book: "You won’t let my mommy come home!” Thus began the journey that took me back through generations of family dysfunction that in hindsight, never really needed to happen. There are stories of abandonment and alcoholism in the distant past and a great deal of bigotry and racism in the more recent. How I found myself between an indifferent father and a spiteful son is a story that begins with my childhood. Mom never really knew where Dad was most of the time and she made herself insane over it. Even when he was home, Dad was something of an intolerant menace to have around and he could scarcely acknowledge accomplishment from any of his children. Dad would belittle Mom in front of any of us and think nothing of it. He bullied and he badgered and he made my mother feel as though she had little of value to offer him. I resolved that I would never be the kind of father that my dad was nor would I be that kind of husband, either. Not long after high school, I would marry the first woman who would have me, although she wasn't my first choice. She may or may not have known that but she was with child and it was mine and I never once entertained the idea that I didn't have to do this. Having known so little of love, it was easy to embrace the whole situation and I felt I was more than ready. Aside from the fact that she was pregnant, I don't know that Wannabe Wife had any other reason to agree to the union. We didn't last long, but the consequences of poor judgment and even less remorse would lead to a situation where I would lose the love of my son forever. Children of divorce never have an easy time of it, no matter how normal everything seems to appear. The single parent household can become a harried environment where child care has to enjoy first priority yet everybody still has to make a living. Children get moved around whether they like it or not and they have to spend time with others not of their choosing. Conversations happen and words become missiles and impressionable young minds take this all in. The fact that I had physical custody of my son might imply that ex-Wife was an unfit parent. Not true. She was an unfit wife to me who chose to leave and she chose to leave our son with me. This would change the face of any father/son relationship I might have had in mind, especially when ex-Wife indicated after a number of ex-lovers that she might want to re-join us. Blended families don't just happen without duress, either. I married Carolyn who brought along an adolescent son of her own and now we were faced with the trials of never appearing to favor one over the other. We understood that each child was an individual unto himself, but we never considered how far they were willing to go just to demonstrate that fact. Adding to this would be the other parent - always the hero - leaving their effect at our doorstep to deal with. For me and Carolyn the expectations of our children were too much to keep up with and for a while we were of a separate mind regarding our collective offspring. I had always thought that once my son got to be older and perhaps more receptive, we could have a heartfelt discussion about the issues that had always kept us at arm's length. That fantasy came to an abrupt end when he said that I had ceased to be his father the day I married Carolyn. Then he announced that he had no interest in the why's or the wherefores of anything past, leaving us devastated in the wake of his resentment. Never did I expect that this would be the last of our time together. Now there are grandchildren, the mother of whom seems to be somewhat less than satisfied with what she has been told. Her inquisition was ended abruptly and prematurely and I was never able to adequately describe what led to the misfortune of our estrangement; another episode from our kind that never needed to happen.

BUY this book on Amazon HERE.

Want to win a copy? Here's how:

1. Follow this blog.
2. Tell me a family member you do not get along with.

Giveaway ends January 4th. Good luck!


I received a complimentary review copy of this book from ReadersFavorite.com.

Monday, December 27, 2010

15 Great Indoor Activities for Kids

15 Great Indoor Activities for Kids

When the temperatures drop and the sunset comes early, it gets harder and harder to entertain restless kids. Rather than turning on a movie, or setting them up to play computer games all evening, encourage these great activities to get your kids moving!
  1. Dance: In First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, she encourages parents and children to get up and dance! Not only can you learn valuable moves on the dance floor, but merely dancing around for an hour can burn upwards of 200 calories! Take a leaf out of Michelle's book and get up and dance!
  2. Pass a Balloon: Blow up a large balloon and tell your kids to keep it off the ground. This can provide about 30 minutes of entertainment, but if you incorporate a competition, a reward, or bonus points, it can last much longer.
  3. Scavenger Hunt: A great way to keep kids entertained indoors is to create a scavenger hunt. Hide a number of items around your home, and give each child a list of what to find. You can send them off on this adventure, and then make lunch or do laundry in a quiet and relaxed environment.
  4. Hide and Go Seek: This is always a crowd favorite, especially if your home is full of nooks and crannies. Encourage your kids to get creative, and they'll be occupied for hours.
  5. Build a Fort: All you need is a few pillows, blankets, and chairs, and you've got the raw materials for a great fort! Offer your kids costumes or create a story to add to the adventure.
  6. Charades: This is a great game for kids and adults alike. Pass out a few slips of paper, and have your kids write down items in a theme – such as Disney Movies and Characters, or characters from a favorite books series. You can all take turns acting them out using your own house rules.
  7. Hula Hoop, Jump Rope: If Rocky can jump rope for hours, it's got to be good, right? Grab a few hula hoops and jump ropes, clear out one of your rooms, and turn on some fast-paced music. Your kids will love learning new skills, and you'll love getting their heart rates up! You can even hold a tournament or a competition to make it more interesting.
  8. Competitive Chores: Get your housework taken care of while simultaneously getting your kids active! Create chore competitions with a treat at the end, such as no laundry for a week, or the loser has to make lunch!
  9. Group Games – Duck Duck Goose, Red Rover, Ring Around the Rosie, Hokey Pokey: These classic group games are a great way for a large group of children to play together. If you have 2, or 3 kids, these games can create an hour of entertainment! The best part is that parents can easily join in, without tiring themselves out too much!
  10. Modified Sports – Basketball, Soccer, Bowling: Foam balls and toys like Nerf can bring traditional outside sports to your living room! Set up a small hoop or two goals and get your kids playing! Although foam is much safer, you still probably want to hide antiques and avoid the china cabinet.
  11. Active Video Games – Wii, Kinect: Traditional video games, albeit fun and endlessly entertaining, are extremely sedentary activities and should be limited to just an hour or two a week. The new, active video games incorporate fitness, coordination, and even dance skills! Consider Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Bowling, Playstation Move or Xbox Kinect next time your kids want to spend hours in front of the television on a cold or rainy day.
  12. Make Your Own Playdough: Everyone's favorite childhood treat can easily be made at home, with just a few simple ingredients. Your kids will love this gooey toy even more when they make it themselves! They can even create their own custom colors for a unique twist.
  13. Crafts: From pasta necklaces to Popsicle picture frames, there are hundreds of ways to get crafty with your kids. There are plenty of places to find great crafting ideas online, from simple and easy , to advanced and extravagant.
  14. Read Together: Most children's love of learning is spawned from a love of reading. Fuel your child's mental capacity by reading together each day. Whether you spend a few hours on Harry Potter or on Peter Rabbit, showing your kids that reading is fun is a great way to help stimulate their appetite for knowledge.
  15. Board Games: There's no better way to bond with your entire family than over a traditional board game like Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders! You can even spice things up a bit with Mouse Trap, Cranium, or a competitive card game. Teach your kids to think logically with these great family-bonding games! You can even let them win.
With these great ideas, you and your kids will never be left bored on a rainy day!

About the Author:
Amanda is a writer and blogger living in San Diego, CA. Though she often writes about the benefits of outdoor physical education supplies, she finds it's still important to find ways to encourage healthy physical and mental activity for kids when the weather doesn't permit them to go outside. For more physical education resources, check out the SPARK PE Program for more information.

Swallow Review & *Giveaway*


I was very intrigued to be able to read Swallow by Tonya Plank. I had never heard of Globus Sensate, the sensation of a ball in your throat, so I knew right away I would be interested in this story. It is actually kind of a comedy, and my goodness, the cast of characters is something else! Very unique and different, and a wonderful story that was a pleasure to read! I can't wait to read more by Tonya!

About the book: Sophie Hegel is a shy New York lawyer who hails from small-town Florence, Arizona, known not for the Renaissance but for housing a large prison. She's just graduated from Yale Law School and landed her first job when, one evening, during dinner with her fiancé, she feels a fist-like ball form at the base of her throat. A form of the psychological condition Globus Sensate, this "fist-ball" wreaks havoc on her life, causing her difficulty eating, speaking, and eventually even breathing. With a cast of characters that includes a pornographer father, a sister with a knack for getting knocked up by denizens of the town pen, a painter of male nudes, an eccentric Sing Sing-residing client, a tough-talking fashion maven and a bevy of privileged Manhattan lawyers and judges, Swallow is a dark comedy about the distance that can separate fathers and daughters, and about a young woman's struggle to survive in a world of pedigreed professionals for which she has no preparation.

About the author: Tonya Plank grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Arizona, an M.A. in History from Brown University, and a J.D. from Rutgers Law School - Newark. She worked for many years as a NYC appellate-level criminal defense attorney for indigents. Also a competitive ballroom dancer, she writes the dance blog, Swan Lake Samba Girl, which has been lauded by James Wolcott of Vanity Fair and Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal and has been cited in those publications as well as the New York Times Arts Beat blog, the Washington Post, and CNN.com. Her first novel, Swallow, won a gold medal for best regional fiction in the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards, the gold medal for women's fiction in the 2010 Living Now Book Awards, and was a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Her law review articles have been cited in numerous books and publications. She currently lives in New York, where she is working on her second novel, a legal / urban drama. Visit her website at: http://www.tonyaplank.com/

Tonya is generously offering one of my readers the chance to win a copy of her book! Here's how:

1. Follow my blog.
2. If you had Globus Sensate, how do you think it would affect your life?

Giveaway ends January 3rd. Good luck!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bite You In The Butt

Guest Post by Jeni!

Where we live is like the border between country life and city life. So it was no surprise to our animal loving neighbors that we got chickens. Hens and roosters. Loud, crowing, ground scratching, chickens. And my husband thought it would be a great responsibility builder for our boys, then ages 7, 8, and 9, to care for these precious creatures. Well, one of these so-called precious creatures decided he didn't like anybody. He would constantly peck and chase the hand and body that fed him. The oldest of the three, Jimmy, was trying to get the rooster to go back in his pen.

It might be good to point out here that boys feel a duty to aggravate things. Some boys feel this duty anyway, and Jimmy was a prime example. He would chase the chickens so he could pick them up. He thought it was funny....

Until, one day, Mr. Meanie (the rooster) decided he had enough of this. He hid when it was time to go to the coop. We were leaving the house to go somewhere when all of a sudden, Mr. Meanie came tearing out from under the porch after Jimmy. He chased Jimmy around the house at least three times before he caught up to him and bit him...right on the fanny! Oh what a sight! Jimmy running as fast as he can, holding his fanny and that mean old rooster chasing after him....

We finally got that old rooster put up and gave him away. Jimmy learned a valuable lesson in bullying too. If you aggravate somebody/something long enough it will come back to bite you!

Visit Jeni on her blog at PhotosByJeni.

Playful Planet DVD Review & *Giveaway*


Award winning (Parent's Choice Approved, "Dr. Toy "Best Green Product," and Preferred Choice by Creative Child Magazine) Storyland Yoga is a wonderful way for families to enjoy “organic” time together. The video connects kids and nature while providing them with the benefits of yoga: health, clarity, and calmness. Get ready to play – the planet-friendly way!

Storyland Yoga is a fun-filled adventure that infuses children with an eco-conscious message. Two unique stories, Save the Whale and Condor Trek, engage a child's imagination through storytelling. Kid's learn yoga postures by becoming part of the story and imitating animals. Yoga is great exercise and helps to calm children, giving them greater focus and increased clarity. By connecting with nature and gaining respect for their own health and well being, children become empowered to create solutions for the health and sustainability of our planet. Storyland Yoga is equally fun for parents and family members who can benefit from yoga, while enjoying organic time with their children.

Find out more info on the website HERE.

BUY the DVD on Amazon HERE.

One lucky winner will win a copy of this DVD! Here's how:

1. Follow my blog.
2. Tell me your favorite parent/child activity.

Giveaway ends January 2nd. Good luck!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Love

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~

Love
by Lauraine Snelling


When asked to write a Christmas message, one of my first thoughts was Do I climb up on my soapbox regarding changing the words in Christmas songs, using only holiday, etc. I thought about it and decided no. After all, they’re only words and what difference does a word make---really make after all?

Then I kept on thinking. If they’re only words… But we as writers know the power of words, as do readers. When the wrong word is used, it jars, while the right word can be most powerful. Take one highly overused and under practiced word---Love. Four letters is all. We toss it around so glibly, saying love ya and luv and love. But think about the power in I love you. Three of the most precious words in our language when put together. Those of us who write romances or books with romance in them, understand the power when one of our characters tells another, I love you. As humans we can never hear that enough or too much.

Christmas is about love. The greatest love story ever told, that of God for us humans, and it never changes. Customs change, politics change, the years change but God’s love never, ever does. At Christmas we are invited to share that love, to give it away, to pass it around. To find wonder again and joy in simple acts of love. We make contact with people we might never see or talk with through the year. That says I love you. We buy and make gifts to give, we reach out to strangers in need, we try to make sure everyone has a special dinner and every child a present. By giving, we receive.

So, let’s use the power words, but more so, put feet on those words and pass the love around. Let’s look for and find the wonder, the joy and the peace, maybe in small bits and pieces and perhaps in an avalanche of blessings. Make your days brighter with the simple gift of a smile, a kind word, a touch, for every single one that you give away, will come back to you multiplied. As you give, so shall you receive. Merry Christmas my friends. May we all recognize our blessings----and let an attitude of gratitude permeate this holiday and every day. With love and joy on this day, Lauraine!
 ~~~

About Lauraine: Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than sixty books, with sales of over 2 million copies. She also writes for a wide range of magazines, and helps others reach their writing dreams by teaching at writer’s conferences across the country. Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Chewy.

For more information please visit Lauraine's website: www.laurainesnelling.com.


~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Atlas Shrugged *Giveaway*


Product Description:
At last, Ayn Rand's masterpiece is available to her millions of loyal readers in trade paperback. With this acclaimed work and its immortal query, "Who is John Galt?", Ayn Rand found the perfect artistic form to express her vision of existence. Atlas Shrugged made Rand not only one of the most popular novelists of the century, but one of its most influential thinkers. Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world - and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man's body, but about the murder - and rebirth - of man's spirit. Atlas Shrugged is the "second most influential book for Americans today" after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club.

Two lucky readers could win a copy of this book! Here's how:

1. Follow this blog.
2. Who is the most influential person in your life?

Giveaway ends January 1st. Good luck!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!



An Unforgettable Gift

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~

An Unforgettable Gift
by Karen O'Connor


On Christmas morning, 1912, in Paducah, Kentucky, fourteen-year-old Charlie Flowers and his three brothers and two sisters huddled in their beds, fully dressed, trying to keep warm as the wind howled outside their small frame house.
      
It was a desperate time for the family. Earlier that year the children's father had died. And their mother had not found work. The coal had run out and there was little money––none for gifts. Their scrawny tree with decorations made from scraps of colored paper had been given to them the night before by a local merchant.

"Can't sell this one," the man said with a nod of his head before handing it over to the eager children.
  
To pass the time, the siblings joked and shouted stories from their bedrooms across the hallway from one another. Then suddenly a racket from the alley at the rear of the house broke into their games.
      
"Charlie," his mother called, "would you see what's going on out there?"
     
Charlie pulled on his shoes, grabbed a thick overcoat from the hook by the door, and ran out back.

There stood a man in a wagon bent over a load of coal, shoveling it into the shed as fast as he could.
      
"Hey Mister, we didn't order any coal," Charlie shouted. "You're delivering it to the wrong house."
      
"Your name's Flowers, isn't it?" the man asked, still shoveling. 
      
Charlie nodded yes.
      
"Well then, there's no mistake.  I've been asked to deliver this to your family on Christmas morning." He looked the awe-struck boy square in the eye. "And I'm under strict orders not to tell who sent it," he teased.
      
Charlie ran into the house, his coattail flapping in the cold morning wind.  He could hardly wait to tell his mother and brothers and sisters. God had provided––just as he had on that first Christmas morning so long ago when He sent his only son to a needy world.
      
Charlie Flowers died in 1994 at age 96. And right up to the last year of his life, not a Christmas went by that he didn't tell the story of that sub-zero Christmas morning of his boyhood when two men gave his family an unforgettable gift.
      
It wasn't the coal that was remembered or cherished, Charlie often said––welcome as it was––but rather what two men brought to his desperate family. One, for his gift of recognizing their great need and taking the time to do something about it. And the other, for being willing to give up part of his own Christmas morning to deliver it.
      
That gift of so long ago has continued to warm the Flowers family from one generation to another, as Charlie's son––my husband, Charles––calls to mind these two unknown men each Christmas morning and whispers a prayer of thanks.
 ~~~

About Karen: Karen O'Connor is an award-winning author and writing mentor living in Watsonville, California with her husband, Charles Flowers. Karen’s latest book is 365 Reasons Why Gettin’ Old Ain’t So Bad (Harvest House 2010).

For more information, please visit Karen on the web at www.karenoconnor.com.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info


Peace And Plenty Review & *Giveaway*


Peace And Plenty by Sarah Ban Breathnach is quite an interesting book. Who hasn’t had money troubles at some point in their life? I know I have had my share. This book is a comfort to those in a time of need. I loved all the little quotes from newspapers and magazines from yesteryear. The book does tend to get a little long, but the writing is impeccable and the ideas and thoughts in this book relate to everyone, at some point and time in their lives.

About The Book: “When money is plentiful, this is a man's world. When money is scarce, it is a woman's world." Unearthed in a 1932 Ladies Home Journal, this quote is the call to arms that begins Peace And Plenty, Sarah Ban Breathnach's answer to the world's - and her own personal - financial crisis. As only Ban Breathnach can, she culls together this compendium of advice, deeply personal anecdotes, and excerpts from magazines, books, and newspapers - particularly those of the Great Depression - to inspire readers who are mired in today's financial difficulties. Focusing on her own personal path, Sarah Ban Breathnach will relate never-before revealed details about how she fell from the financial top to the bottom. Readers will immediately see how deeply she understands the plight of those trying to maintain a happy and comfortable home, while at the same time not even knowing if they will be able to make the mortgage to keep that home. Sarah has proved to be the voice of comfort for years to women who are spiritually bankrupt, and now she will reach to those who are financially strapped, showing them how to pull themselves out of their psychic and fiscal crises while providing deep comfort and reassurance throughout.

About The Author: Please visit her website at www.simpleabundance.com.

BUY this book on Amazon HERE. Title not for sale until December 29th!

Win a copy of this book (the advanced reader copy, may not be identical to the actual retail book). Here's how:

1. Follow my blog.
2. Being it's Christmas Eve, tell me your plans for today?

Giveaway ends December 31st. Good luck!

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Hachette Book Group.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just give me Christmas this year!

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~

All I Want for Christmas…
Is to be able to have Christmas this Year
by
Melissa Mashburn

This is a simple request, isn’t it? In the previous years, we had great big bountiful Christmases with our family. Gifts, goodies and general Christmas cheer but this year it was different. The year before has been chock full of disappointments, failing businesses and severe cutbacks for our family. 

Sitting with my husband one night we hammered out the bare minimum that we could spend that year for Christmas and even still the total was four hundred dollars. It does not sound like a whole lot compared to what we’ve spent on Christmas before, but this year it could have been four thousand dollars because we just did not have it.

We prayed, I cried, we prayed some more and decided that we would cut back anything else that we could that year so we could have Christmas for our kids. We did not know how we would make this happen, but we knew that we needed to step forward in faith that it would happen.

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. Galatians 3:5 the Message

Not even two days later, we hear a knock on our front door. We open the door to see some friends of ours from church. With tears in their eyes, they handed us an envelope and said that the felt they needed to give us this. We opened the envelope and inside there was four hundred dollars cash.

Shocked, stunned and with tears flowing down our face we just sat there in a state of crying and laughing at what God had done. We never shared with anyone that year what we needed, how bad it was, what was going on or what that number was for us to have Christmas for the kids, but God knew.

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”  2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

He took a willing servant, led them to our front door and changed Christmas for us that year. After many years of being in full time ministry we knew that God would provide, but when He shows up just at the right moment, you know that it was all a part of His plan to show how much He loves, provides and cares for His people.

Father God, thank you that after all the years of serving and loving you in ministry that you continue to teach, guide, love, shepherd and care for us.  You, Father, are abundantly gracious and kind, thank you for showing up for us at just the right moment every time, forgive us when we forget that.  In Jesus name, Amen.
 ~~~

About Melissa: Melissa is the founder of the blog Mel’s World Ministry, co-founder of the Praise and Coffee Nights Ministry with Sue Cramer, Kids Ministry Director at her church.  Just last year she launched a new weekly series called Godly Gals ~ Real Women, Real Life, Real Faith where we meet new women each week who are “Taking their everyday, ordinary lives and placing it as their offering to God.” Romans 12:1 the Message. You can find her on twitter and at her blog. She loves encouraging women to live with an authentic faith by being transparent, renewed and transformed. ~ Romans 12:2.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Jungle Warfare *Giveaway*


Product Description:
Jungle Warfare provides a field manual for the Christian in sales: a guide for certain victory in uncertain times.
Could a WWII Basic Field Manual on Jungle Warfare have any words of wisdom for sales and business professionals today? Yes - and it may even provide more. Christopher A. Cunningham has taken a prized family gift: his grandfather's Jungle Warfare manual, and adapted its rules of engagement to fit the basic needs of the Christian sales person who is on the front lines of business every day. The parallels are obvious: Stay fit. Keep your wits about you. Know your enemy. Serve your leader well. In today's unsure business climate, those who find a way to keep their faith intact while pushing through the difficulties of market downturns are the ones who will be rewarded. This book is about fighting the good fight and finding inspiration even while crawling through enemy territory.

Win a copy of this book! Here's how:

1. Follow my blog.
2. What is your "front lines"? Example: mine is standing up for my kids.

Giveaway ends December 30th. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What’s the best thing about Christmas?

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~
What’s the best thing about Christmas?
by Maureen Lang


The answer to that question will undoubtedly be different depending on the age and the faith of the person being asked. Most children will say it’s all about the gifts. Adults, even if they secretly still enjoy the gifts, will probably strive to sound more mature and say the holiday is all about friends and family. Still others might say it’s about tradition, or memories or the music or even the special food we connect to this time of year. The scrooges among us might say this season is just another marketing gimmick, or materialism gone awry. The faithful will say it’s all about Jesus, a reminder of why He shed the glory of Heaven to step into human skin and frailty.

I’m not here to defend or attack any answer to this question, but rather to ponder those possible answers.

Gifts: They touch us in personal ways, as tangible evidence of someone else’s thought and affection. Even if we don’t get exactly what we hoped, there’s something to be said about the thought behind a gift being the important part. Why wouldn’t gifts be an important and valid part of this holiday in which we celebrate God’s gift of salvation?

Holiday Gatherings: Parties might be a lot of work, forcing some out of their comfort zone, but at the core they’re all about human connection. Isn’t that what most people want?

Traditions and memories: They remind us of the past, of who we are, with the hope that even as we look forward to an unknown future we still hold some things worthy enough to repeat every year. We might find ourselves letting go of some traditions, or we might want to start some new ones.

The music: This is the only time of the year when even secular radio stations welcome songs about a baby born in Bethlehem. As a nation we may be getting stringent about separation of church as state, but the lines blur just a bit with old favorites that reflect this season.

Scrooges: The holiday season is probably a time to endure rather than enjoy, but even the scroogiest-scrooge might admit the lights of the season are pretty to behold. They’re free to look at, after all.

As for the food, the busyness, the expense and all the other things that make up this season: keep in mind that it’s all temporary. This, too, shall pass. Until next year, of course.

I’ll leave you with this thought: we are all made in God’s image, whether we believe that or not. Part of that image is the ability to give—and to receive. So here’s my thought for the day: stop a moment and dwell on all the gifts of the season. From the little mementos that say we haven’t forgotten someone or been forgotten by others, to the costliest gift of all: what God did for us in the form of Christ. As you enjoy the sounds, the sights, the scents and the tastes of this season, may your only trouble be in choosing just one thing among so many best things about Christmas.
 ~~~

About Maureen: Maureen Lang is the author of ten books, her most recent from Tyndale House is The Great War Series which are full of romance, adventure and spiritual journeys. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and their lovable Labrador Retriever.

For more information please visit Maureen at her website, www.maureenlang.com.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info





Simple Times *Giveaway*


Product Description:
America's most delightfully unconventional hostess and the bestselling author of I Like You delivers a new book that will forever change the world of crafting. According to Amy Sedaris, it's often been said that ugly people craft and attractive people have sex. In her new book, SIMPLE TIMES, she sets the record straight. Demonstrating that crafting is one of life's more pleasurable and constructive leisure activities, Sedaris shows that anyone with a couple of hours to kill and access to pipe cleaners can join the elite society of crafters. You will discover how to make popular crafts, such as: crab-claw roach clips, tinfoil balls, and crepe-paper moccasins, and learn how to: get inspired (Spend time at a Renaissance Fair; Buy fruit, let it get old, and see what shapes it turns into); remember which kind of glue to use with which material (Tacky with Furry, Gummy with Gritty, Paste with Prickly, and always Gloppy with Sandy); create your own craft room and avoid the most common crafting accidents (sawdust fires, feather asphyxia, pine cone lodged in throat); and cook your own edible crafts, from a Crafty Candle Salad to Sugar Skulls, and many more recipes. Plus whole chapters full of more crafting ideas (Pompom Ringworms! Seashell Toilet Seat Covers!) that will inspire you to create your own hastily constructed obscure d'arts; and much, much more! 

Win a copy of this book. Here's how:

1. Follow this blog.
2. What is your favorite craft to do?

Giveaway ends December 29th. Open to US only, sorry. Good luck!

EO Products Review & Giveaway


EO Products are personal care products that are organic and naturally made. I got a chance to review the line they are putting out in Target stores, and I am in love. This stuff is great! I think I am particularly in love with the hand sanitizing gel. I am a sanitizer junkie. Ok, ok, I am a germaphobe. So I am always using hand sanitizer, and this stuff is great. Quick drying, none of that alcohol-y smell and feeling. Amazing!

"EO Products is a leading manufacturer of natural and organic body care products that are great for you and the earth. EO stands for the purest Essential Oils. These concentrated healing and fragrant plant essences are in each and every one of our Organic and Natural Bath, Skin and Hair Care Products. We offer the finest collection of Body Lotions, Shampoos, Conditioners and Shower Gels. Our high quality Body Care Products bring you the best of what nature has to offer."

Check out their website HERE, and look for these items at your local Target!

One lucky reader will win a bottle of Grapefruit & Mint Foaming Hand Soap! Here's how:

1. Follow my blog.
2. Check out EO Products website and tell me your favorite product.

Giveaway ends December 29th. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good News

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~
Good News!
by Deb Kalmbach


The first Christmas card of the season arrived in my mailbox way back in August. How could anyone be that organized? Then I noticed my friend, Nita, had sent me a card I had written to her more than 20 years ago!
 
Memories rushed back as I read the words penned in my familiar handwriting. It was Christmas, 1991, and my world had unraveled. I could almost pretend everything was all right at this most wonderful time of the year—but not that year.
 
My husband Randy’s drinking problem had escalated to the point where his job and career were on the line. He had already been through two alcohol treatment programs and managed to stay sober for short periods of time. Then he slipped back into old, familiar patterns. His ongoing relapses were a crushing disappointment for our family.
 
I had looked forward to Christmas Eve and our family traditions; making homemade lasagna, singing carols around the piano, attending the candlelight service at church, and then coming home to open one token Christmas Eve present.     
 
“Randy, are you ready to crank out the pasta?” I called to him over the Christmas music I was playing to lift my spirits.
 
I peered into the living room to see what was keeping him. My heart froze. Randy sat on the couch, trance-like, watching a basketball game while sipping a drink.
 
No, not on Christmas Eve, I screamed inwardly. I felt like I was suffocating. Usually Randy pulled himself together but it didn’t happen that night. He drank vodka all evening while I finished holiday preparations on autopilot. None of us felt like eating lasagna or celebrating.
 
Only a few days earlier, I had written these words on the Christmas card to my friend, Nita. I don’t know God’s plans, his timing or his ways in accomplishing his purposes, but I am learning to trust him. He is faithful!
 
I suspect Nita kept my card all those years because she saw a small seed of faith and it encouraged her heart. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be eight more Christmas seasons before Randy experienced the miraculous breakthrough of finding freedom from alcoholism.
 
As I read the card I had written so long ago, I felt awed by God’s faithfulness to us—even when our situation looked completely hopeless.
 
You may be facing great difficulty as the holidays approach. The last thing you feel like is celebrating. And that’s O.K. The Good News of Christmas isn’t about picture perfect holidays where our homes are decorated a la Martha Stewart and tables are laden with holiday delicacies. Your days may not be merry and bright. You may be grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship through divorce or estrangement. Your world has unraveled.

That’s exactly why the message of Christmas is Good News. The Savior is born! The One who came to set you free, to give you peace and hope and help beyond anything you could ever imagine is as near as your next breath. Today you might not be able to see how God’s purposes are unfolding for your future, but you can be assured that He is working all things for good in your life. A twenty year-old Christmas card came on a summer day as an unexpected gift and gentle reminder of God’s presence—especially in the worst of times.
 ~~~

About Deb: Deb Kalmbach is the coauthor of Because I Said Forever: Embracing Hope in a Not-So- Perfect Marriage and the author of a book for children, Corey’s Dad Drinks Too Much. She has contributed to The New Women’s Devotional Bible, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, and other anthologies. She is a vibrant and engaging speaker who gives hope and practical solutions to those who struggle with difficult relationships. Deb and her husband, Randy, live in a tiny town in Eastern Washington. Visit Deb at: www.debkalmbach.com, or on Facebook and Twitter.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!


12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

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