It can happen to all of us.

Despite our best intentions, we can get sucked into the commercial rush of the holiday season, and before we know it, December’s gone. We blink, and we miss it.

This year, let’s determine a different way.

Let’s pause before the month even begins, and take intentional steps to slow down.

Let’s get ourselves ready to notice and enjoy the true reason for the season.

As I compiled this post, I realized there are so many amazing books available!

In this post, I’ll share about the following:





Firstly, my dear friend, Asheritah Ciuciu has a beautiful, helpful devotional called Unwrapping the Names of Jesus


This book promises to help you “rediscover the beauty of the greatest gift of all by unwrapping His Names one at a time.”



 unwrapping names of jesus

And then there’s Ann Voskamp’s gorgeous family Advent devotional, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.


Unwrapping Greatest Gift cover

Read my review here, then order a copy for your own family by clicking here. You won’t regret it!

These gorgeous ornament sets complement Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. Each ornament corresponds to a daily reading.

They come in an embossed, die-cut paper version, as well as a sculpted ceramic version. I was blessed to receive a set of the sculpted ornaments last year, and they are stunning.






I also love Ann’s book, The Greatest Gift. It follows a very similar format to the family version shown above, but is geared more toward an adult audience.


My friend Trillia Newbell has a new book coming out soon, called Enjoy.

Right now, when you pre-order Enjoy, you will receive a free Advent devotional written by Trillia. To learn more about Enjoy and this giveaway, visit Trillia’s website.



The dear Kris Camealy recently released a book called Come, Lord Jesus:



AND … Christina Hubbard from Creative and Free is hosting an Advent Book Club based on this book, beginning November 27th! So order now and join the club!



Finally, the delightful Anna Rendell is offering 25 devotions for time-strapped Moms in her book, A Moment of Christmas.


The description on Amazon says, “This book is for the woman who craves a less crazed-feeling Christmas, who longs for a season that is intentional and full of joy. Including 25 devotions, each of them guilt-free, inspiring, and able to be read in 10 minutes or less! As you prepare your heart for Christmas by reading through these pages, you’ll be inspired to drop the pursuit of perfection and chase holy.” Sounds amazing, hey?


Don’t let this December pass you by.

Get your hands on some of these resources, then schedule a bit of time each day to dwell in God’s presence.


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!

In Part 1 of this interview series with Christian historical fiction author Lynn Austin, I shared about my surreal experience visiting one of my favorite authors in her home to interview her about her latest book, Waves of Mercy.

What I didn’t share in that first post was the remarkable impact that Lynn’s words and demeanor had on my own writing life.


Lynn Austin


If you missed the video from Part 1, you can watch it here:



Sitting in her living room, I absorbed her every word and folded her advice and encouragement into the fabric of my mind. Two days after our 90 minutes together, I had the pleasure of listening to Lynn deliver two keynote addresses at a Christian writers’ conference. I gleaned further wisdom during those hours and took copious notes to share with you here, in hopes that you’ll be similarly blessed.

Let me start with the writer mamas out there who are trying to write with little ones underfoot. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from Lynn:

“Don’t wait for perfect conditions; they’ll never come. Just put your computer in the middle of the table and learn to do it. Give your kids enough attention so that your writing life is not a competition and they’ll be much more accepting. Involve them in the process; talk to them about your writing. For a long time, my workspace was right in the middle of everything. Just do it; don’t wait. Be creative with your time — take materials with you in the car, think about your manuscript while you’re at the park. I’ve developed dialogue for my characters and had full conversations in my head while pushing my kids on the swings at the playground. Just take what you have and do what you need to do.”

Q: What encouragement would you give to the writer who has experienced repeated setbacks in the writing life?

Lynn: “I’m answering after learning the hard way. I did quit. After years of rejections before my first book was published, I quit. I took a teaching job and was miserable. But God steered me back. Sometimes you just have to go through it, and maybe you need to learn the hard way. If you have a calling from God, He’s going to bring you back. 

“A successful writer isn’t the person who is published—it’s person who keeps writing.” ~@LynnNAustin



It’s easy to say to writers, ‘Don’t quit.’ But each writer needs to have his or her own wrestling match with God regarding the question, ‘Am I called or not?’ Once that answer has been given, the next step is learning to depend and trust God for how He’s going to use our writing, because we have no idea.”


Q: Do you have any writing “must haves”?

Lynn: “I must have my daily quiet time for prayer and Bible reading —or else I don’t get anywhere at all with my writing. If I’m in a bad mood, if my relationships are broken or I’m anxious about something, it affects my writing. In my quiet time, that’s where I get all of this ironed out. Quiet time really settles everything else. It helps me to read Scripture every day. I started a plan to read through the Bible in a year — I’ve been doing it for 40 years. It gives me a foundation to build on.”


I could fill another whole blog post with quotes from the two conference sessions Lynn delivered.

Here are a handful of highlights:

  • You have to make up your mind: Is God calling you to write? Calling comes from God. If He believes in you, who are you to doubt? You can’t run from God’s call.
  • If you’re going to answer God’s call, it’s going to require sacrifice. What are you willing to give up to nourish your dream? Learn to say “no” to things so you can say yes to your calling. On the flip side, determine where your writing fits into the scheme of things. Don’t let your writing become an idol.
  • Write regularly and consistently. Offer to write anything, just for the practice.
  • So many writers give up because they get tired of waiting for the plant to grow. Trust God’s timing. He doesn’t measure success by results, but by obedience. It isn’t just about the books; it’s about you and God.
  • No other reward will ever compete with the satisfaction of knowing that you’re serving God and bringing Him glory.


What about you? What writing advice has encouraged you? Which quote(s) stood out as you read this interview? What question(s) would you ask one of your favorite authors if given the chance? We’d love to read your responses in the comments below!


Grab Lynn’s latest novel, Waves of Mercy, on Amazon.


Affiliate links used in this post.

I could call it surreal.

Eleven years ago, shortly after having my first baby in South Africa, I was invited to join a ladies’ book club. Through our monthly meetings, I was introduced to the writing of Christian author Lynn Austin.

Her books changed me.

I flew through her Chronicles of the Kings series, a five-book collection spanning the life and times of Old Testament King Hezekiah. Lynn’s writing brought those books of the Bible to life for me — character storylines suddenly tied together into one big picture; my nostrils tingled from her vivid descriptions of burnt sacrifices.

Year after year, I was first in our book club to purchase Lynn’s latest release. I cherished the rhythm of her writing and internalized the characters she developed, the stories they told.

Fast forward to 2016, and after ten years in Cape Town, I’m back living in my hometown of Holland, Michigan.

Lynn Austin

A friend sends me a link on Facebook: Did you see that Lynn Austin is inviting readers to join the launch team for her newest book?

I dropped what I was doing and applied immediately.

Then, to my great surprise, I learned that her latest historical novel, Waves of Mercy, was set in my hometown! What were the chances?

Imagine my further shock when I discovered that Lynn had moved to Holland, Michigan! My mind flashed back to my Cape Town book club days, and how she had seemed like a distant celebrity — a writer I greatly admired who resided somewhere across the ocean. And now she lives less than four miles from my house!

As if the story couldn’t get any more incredible — Lynn’s launch team manager invited me to interview Lynn Austin in her home!

Yes, I could definitely call it surreal.

Here we are, in Lynn’s living room:



I have so much to say about our time together that I’m just going to have to let it spill into another post. Come back soon to catch Part 2 of this interview series, in which I share some of the wisdom I gleaned from my interview with Lynn Austin. In the meantime, read on for more about Lynn’s latest novel, Waves of Mercy



You’re going to love this book. Okay, I admit I’m biased because I live in the town in which it is set.

Have you ever had that privilege? To read an account of how your town was formed?

I lost myself in the telling, imagining the first settlers who stopped in the dense forests and began to chop down wood. I learned that Lake Macatawa used to be called Black Lake, and Hope College started out as Holland Academy. I drive past the original Pillar Church regularly and never knew about the grand hotels that used to line the lakeshore.

But more than the fascinating historical facts, the characters and storyline will captivate you through and through. One of the main characters, Geesje, has been asked to write her life story as the town prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding. As she is in process, a wealthy young lady named Anna visits Holland from Chicago in an attempt to heal from a broken engagement. As it turns out, these two women have much more in common than they ever could’ve imagined.

Waves of Mercy will carry you in its swell of ups and downs as the characters ride the unpredictable storms of life. It will teach you about God’s faithfulness and His neverending care of His people, even and especially during times of tremendous trial. It may just leave you asking, “Why?” and yet give you a sense of amazement over God’s sovereign provision.

If you’ve ever had genuine doubts about the goodness of God, if you’ve wrestled with the lot you’ve been dealt in life, if you’ve suffered losses and can’t explain their purpose — this book will resonate with your soul.

When asked, “What do you hope readers will come away with after finishing Waves of Mercy?” Lynn answered, “I hope they see what a close relationship with God is really like, and will learn to trust Him through the hard times and praise Him in all circumstances.”

When asked if there is a theme that seems to show up often in her writing, Lynn responded with these words: “Life is hard but God is good — and He always has everything under control.”



Visit Lynn’s website for the latest news and more info about her 24 books. To order a copy of Waves of Mercy, click here.

And don’t forget to come back for Part 2 of this interview series, in which Lynn will share some encouragement for those living the writing life!


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I received a free copy of Waves of Mercy in exchange for my honest review.




I don’t know about you, but every once in a while, life can get so busy that pretty soon everything just feels like a drag.

Maybe you can relate?

Things that used to bring joy, when added to the mix of an overwhelmingly heavy workload, can suddenly become burdensome.

Is it just me? Or do you know what I’m talking about?

I’ve found that during times like these, it helps me to take a step back and take stock of everything I have to be grateful for. A bit of a gratitude inventory, if you will.

Undoubtedly, in a short period, my perspective shifts and my burdens don’t seem quite as heavy. The clouds lift a little, and the sun peeks through.

This happened to me as I went through Tyndale’s new Gratitude Journal.




Without being intentional, by working through this journal, my previously burdened condition saw a new light.

My perspective shifted.

Instead of focusing on all that I hadn’t accomplished and all that still needed to be done, I could take a deep breath for a few moments and reflect on God’s goodness to me.




Taking time to consider God’s character and blessings caused my gratitude toward Him to grow.






If you’re in a position or phase of life in which everything feels like a drag, or you’re struggling to see God’s blessings, I encourage you to take advantage of a resource like this journal.

Take some time out of your busy schedule to recalibrate and center your thoughts around truth.




What helps you when you need a perspective shift? What helps you increase your gratitude toward the Lord? 



Check out more resources like this one in Tyndale’s Living Expressions Collection.

A description from the Tyndale website: “Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal invites you to bring creative journaling and the calming act of coloring into your quiet time with God. This beautifully designed interactive prayer book from Tyndale’s Living Expressions collection helps guide your thoughts as you pray about concerns such as health, overcoming stress, personal relationships, and more. Gratitudegives you a way to celebrate and give thanks to God for the many blessings he provides. Filled with over 100 designs to color, plenty of space for journaling and sketching, and 40 needs-based prayers, Gratitude helps you express your devotion to God with your whole heart!”


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this product from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review. Affiliate links have been used in this post. 


Happy Monday!

I’m honored to be guest hosting this week for Literacy Musing Mondays — a fun, regular link-up I’ve enjoyed over at the internet homes of Mary HillAshley Hales, Leslie, and Tami!

While I’m only guest hosting this week, you can join them every Monday with a literacy-related post by clicking here!


Confession: I’m not a history lover. I’m terrible with remembering dates and details and who fits where.

I don’t love history, but I’ve grown to love historical fiction.

Why? It makes history come alive. It picks me up and plonks me down in the middle of a different era, and gives me eyes to see.

Rather than viewing historical events as an outsider looking in, historical fiction invites me to step into the scene and become part of it. It paints color into an otherwise black and white page.

Writers of historical fiction hold tremendous power. They possess the ability to carry me back in time and make the past come alive. The otherwise flat records are rounded out and given new dimension with the portrayal of warring emotions, complex conflicts and imperfect resolutions.

Best of all, historical fiction helps me remember. It sews details together and wraps me in the finished garment.

As a homeschooler, I love the way historical fiction draws my kids in. They learn so much and refer back to books time and time again as reference points relating to certain historical periods and events.

I’m so grateful to the authors who work so hard to research and animate history for the benefit of readers like me.

My two favorite historical fiction authors are Susan Meissner and Lynn Austin.

Some of my favorite Susan Meissner books:

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard (Read my review here.)



Secrets of a Charmed Life (Read my review here.)



A Fall of Marigolds




Lady in Waiting




Some of my favorite Lynn Austin books:


Gods and Kings (and the entire Chronicles of the Kings series)




Candle in the Darkness (and the entire Refiner’s Fire series) (Get the first book in this series FREE on Kindle by clicking here!) 



While We’re Far Apart




Here are some of my favorite historical fiction chapter books I’ve read aloud to my kids:

The Golden Goblet



The Witch of Blackbird Pond




The Great Wheel





Now let’s ….

Meet Your Hosts

Ashley @Circling the Story
Leslie@Forever Joyful
Mary @Maryandering Creatively
Blog/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/ Instagram/Google+
Tami @ThisMomsDelight
Blog/Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram/Google Plus

Now, it is time to link up to the Literacy Musing Mondays hop! You will have until Saturdays at 12 p.m. now to link up! So come back often. :)


Literacy-Musing-Mondays- graph

Linkup Rules:

  1. Include a link back or the blog hop button linked to this hop on your posts.
  2. Link up the urls to your posts not to your blog.
  3. Please remember this is a family-friendly linkup. Although we believe in the right for adults to read whatever they want to read, we prefer to read wholesome posts that feature literature that edify and uplift families. We reserve the right to delete any posts that are not family friendly. We love all kinds of literature and genres including family-friendly inspirational romances, fantasy, or science fiction. We do not welcome anything with excessive violence, sexual content, or cursing. These posts will be deleted.
  4. We also want to be loving community by supporting one another. Please make a point to do this this week! Visit the post next to yours and at least one other blogger’s post of your choice! I want to see lots of clicks on everyone’s posts. I know as a blogger, you know how it feels not receive comments, right. Spread the comment love this holiday season. 🙂 Remember it is also nice to follow them on their social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Follow your hosts and co-hosts on their social media.
  6. Tweet about the link up too.

Share your literacy-related posts below! 


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