Tag Archives: Christmas

Be Born in Me


I don’t think there’s a parent in this country who hasn’t been affected emotionally by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I look at those little faces and my heart bleeds.

My husband and I have shed tears together for those lost. We’ve prayed together over it. And we’ve protected our children from the news.

We have a 1st grader. A precious, innocent 6-year-old. So when I think about those parents who will be irrevocably changed this Christmas, I can only beg God for his mercy, and thank him for the grace that he now holds those children in his arms.

This Christmas holds a lot of emotion for me. With my heart hurting for those in need all over the nation, I think of all the senseless violence committed against children every day in this country. All those thousands of abortions come to mind.

I’m carrying a son this holiday season. As I feel him move inside me, I think of Mary and all the emotions she must have felt knowing that the birth of her child was imminent–fear, trepidation, anxiety. Becoming a parent for the first time can be overwhelming. Think about becoming a parent for the first time–to the son of God.

And yet, Mary knew some truths. She would nurture and care for him. She would love him and hold him. And when he became a man, he would change the world. May we all believe that our children have the opportunity to change the world for God through his son.

Perhaps if we can raise godly children who have hearts that desire to share the Gospel, and better yet, make disciples in all nations, we can reach the broken and the lost. We’ll never destroy all of the evil in the world–that’s God’s department– but we can possibly prevent some of these tragedies by showing people how to truly follow a living God.

This song, called Be Born In Me, is from The Story. It’s sung by Francesca Battistelli. It moves my heart every time I hear it.

I’ll hold you in the beginning, you will hold me in the end.

He is the light of the world and he came to save us all. Happy Birthday, Jesus. You are the greatest present we’ve ever received and may you be born in us all.

Merry Christmas!


Real Signature



Filed under Just For Fun

Keeping Your Naughty Kids on the Nice List

Before we begin, a little housekeeping. Congratulations to Tiffani Hughes! You are the winner of Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport! Email me asap with your contact info so that you can get your book. Thanks!



I don’t know about yours, but I think my kids have gone nuts.

Something about twinkling colored lights, Christmas music, and the excitement of Santa on the air has made them turn into…crazy people. And right here at the time of year when they are supposed to be on their “best” behavior!

Several other moms have recently mentioned to me that it seems the number of discipline problems they are facing has gone up lately, too.

Some want to blame excitement. Others want to blame the moon. Still some want to just say “it’s that time of year…”

I think it’s a combination of all those things and more, so I came up with this little list of things we can do as parents to make sure these kids stay on the nice list.

1. Don’t use Santa as a behavior deterrent.

I’ve done it before– said, “Santa is watching you.” But I realized a while back that this is not a good thing to tell them. Why? Because I don’t want my children correcting their behavior just because they want toys. No, I want them to correct their behavior because they are convicted of their sin. That might seem a little deep to you, but raising children is a year-round job, so using Santa as a deterrent is only a temporary fix, and does nothing to correct the heart– where the root of the problem lies. Instead of talking about Santa, my husband and I remind them of our expectations for their behavior and of God’s. We want them to learn to do what’s right because it’s in their hearts, which is part of the Christmas spirit anyway.

2. Don’t give into the idea that punishments can be delayed because “it’s Christmas.”

This is my favorite time of year. I love it. I want to enjoy it and I want my kids to enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to get wrapped up in the ambiance of the happiness of the season and slack off on discipline and punishments. We’re all tempted to do it, I know, especially when a child’s punishment impedes on our fun.

I’ll never forget the Christmas when I was about 7 or 8 years old and we celebrated with my grandparents at their house in North Carolina. My sister got this little plastic key-chain, and for some reason, I wanted it. I wasn’t happy with anything else I’d gotten, and my jealousy and covetousness came out u.g.l.y. My mom sent me upstairs, away from the rest of the family. I was banned from Christmas until I could get rid of my jealous heart. It wasn’t until that moment that I understood what jealousy was and how it could be so ugly. When I got myself under control and rejoined Christmas, I had a new perspective of gratefulness for what I had received. My mom took a hard line with me that morning and could easily have let my behavior go because “it was Christmas” and because sending me away from the family celebration wasn’t ideal. It hurt and embarrassed my parents and made for some awkward moments. But it taught me a life-long lesson, one I have never EVER forgotten.

3. Stick to it.      

Anyone else like to blur their eyes when looking at the Christmas tree?

Anyone else like to blur their eyes when looking at the Christmas tree?

If you issue a warning, follow through. Even at Christmas. Even if it means that some of the “Christmas Spirit” is lost from your house temporarily. Children need consistency, even during the holidays.

4. Make sure your kiddos are getting enough sleep.

Just think about how stressed and tired you can get during the holidays–now transfer that to their little bodies! In the hustle and bustle of this busy season, it’s very easy to let naps slide or push back bedtimes. Since lack of sleep can be a direct factor in behavior, make sure your kids are getting enough sleep during this holiday season. A little nap here and there can be good for you, too!

5. Have some fun.

Make memories with your children this year. Enjoy their excitement and the magic of the season by being involved. Don’t let that same old hustle and bustle keep you so busy that you miss opportunities to make life-long memories. After all, you’ll only celebrate this year’s Christmas once! Get messy in the kitchen with some Christmas cookies. Let your kids help wrap the presents and don’t worry that the bows are lopsided and tape is showing. Watch those Christmas specials you’ve outgrown, just because they’re part of your childhood.

Let your kids enjoy the season by seeing the magic and majesty of Christ’s birth in you!

Merry Christmas, all! 🙂

Share with me: What tips can you offer for keeping both kids and parents sane during this holiday season?

Real Signature


Filed under Parenting

Accidentally Amish– The Author’s Traditions and a Giveaway!

Every so often I have the privilege of being asked to read books for author friends.

The privilege comes when I get to read a book I really enjoy and then I get to tell others about it.

This time, I want to sing the praises of author Olivia Newport and her new novel, Accidentally Amish.


I used to read Amish fiction, years ago, but I sort of got away from it because I fell into the belief of “you’ve read one, you’ve read ’em all.” At least that’s how it seemed to me.

But then I saw a copy of the cover of Olivia’s book, and I was intrigued. A novel about a woman who somehow ends up “Accidentally Amish.” Interesting.

Plus, I’d already had the pleasure of reading her previous release, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, so I knew that I enjoyed her writing.

When I got my hands on Accidentally Amish, I was thrilled! It was just what I thought it was going to be– a novel set in contemporary times about a regular woman (Annie) in a contemporary job (software creator) who somehow gets mixed up with the Amish (namely, a handsome Amish man!).

Sounds intriguing, yes?

Oh yes, it was that and SO much more. The story grabbed me from the first page. But here’s the coolest part– and I was unprepared for this– the book jumps back and forth in time, following one Amish family line from the time they came to America to present day, and how it wraps into Annie’s story.

As a history lover, I devoured the historical parts of this novel and found them fascinating. Definitely some of my favorite chapters.

So, in short, this book is for everyone– contemporary romance readers, Amish fiction readers, and historical readers. Basically, everyone on your Christmas list.

And there’s more good news– Accidentally Amish is the first in a new series from Olivia, called the Valley of Choice, so we’ll get to enjoy a continuation of Olivia’s focus on the Amish in today’s America.

Fun Christmas Giveaway– See below for your chance to win a copy of Accidentally Amish from Olivia Newport!!


Olivia-NewportI asked Olivia if she’d be willing to answer some fun holiday-themed questions, and she sweetly obliged. (Seriously, people, Olivia Newport is such a funny, kind, quick-witted person. I’m lucky to count her among my author friends!)

You can learn so much about someone from their holiday traditions, so enjoy learning a little about Olivia and some of my responses to her traditions.

1. What is your favorite Christmas song/carol and your least favorite?

Olivia: I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas music. I love the carols from the hymnal. “Once in Royal David’s City” is a certain favorite.   Least? That would be “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Jennifer: I didn’t think it was possible that there was a Christmas carol I haven’t heard, but I’m not sure I’m familiar with “Once in Royal David’s City.” I’m going to have to rectify that ASAP.

2. What is your favorite holiday treat?

Olivia: That’s a tough one. Over Thanksgiving I was introduced to white chocolate lemon truffles. I may have to learn to make those.

Jennifer: Yummy. Send me the recipe.

3. Favorite holiday movie?

Olivia: It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m a sucker for James Stewart.

Jennifer: I think that movie is a Christmas-viewing requirement.

4. Which ornament on your tree holds the most special meaning for you and why?

Olivia: Does a set of ornaments count? Years ago I cross-stitched a set of symbols of Christmas in gold thread on white fabric—a star, a stable, an angel, a lamb, and so on. Then I set them in little round gold frames. When I bring them out, I’m always surprised at how many I did in one year!

Jennifer: My mom has some ornaments like that on her tree! She taught me to cross-stitch when I was a kid, but I haven’t done it in years. I’m impressed with your ornament-making talents.

5. White lights or colored?

Olivia: White, as of last year when the ancient blinking colored ones gave out.

Jennifer: White are so classic. Always beautiful.

6. Open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Olivia: I’m the one who tries to persuade my adult children that we could exchange gifts on Christmas Eve and all sleep in the next day. They refuse. Will. Not. Budge.

Jennifer: I’m a Christmas morning traditionalist, too. 🙂

7. What three items are on your “grown up Christmas list”?

Olivia: I would love some cozy winter boots, a fleece-lined corduroy shirt, and a new computer monitor. (I may or may not have been looking at catalogs lately.)

Jennifer: Seems like you have your list all set. I hope you’ve written your letter to Santa!

8. Do you do holiday baking? If so, what do you usually make?

Olivia: Not much of a baker at any time of the year. My oven is too old and cranky to cooperate, for one thing. But a family tradition is chocolate covered shortbread squares.

Jennifer: I’m gonna need that recipe, too.

9. What is your favorite childhood Christmas memory?

Olivia: It’s a recurring one, actually. We always went to a late Christmas Eve service as a family, and I still remember the wondrous sensation of coming home past midnight knowing it was Christmas! I’ve tried to give my own children that same memory.

Jennifer: That is a very cool memory. I think those sorts of traditions are neat, and what makes each family special.

10. Do you spend as much time on the wrapping as on the gift?

Olivia: Nope. Not even close. I do try to have a variety of papers so that gifts look cheery under the tree.

Jennifer: I’m with you on this one. Why spend tons of money on something that gets trashed as soon as the gift is opened?

**You can connect with Olivia via her website, or follow her on Twitter.

If you’d like to win a copy of Olivia Newport’s Accidentally Amish, leave a comment below answering one of the same holiday questions I asked Olivia. You’ll want to read this book yourself, but it also makes a great Christmas gift!! Good luck! Winner will be announced next week, so check those posts!

Real Signature


Filed under Books