Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cover Reveal | Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl (Giveaway)

It's time for another cover reveal! And this is a special one ... Today is the author's birthday! So before we go any further, Happy Birthday to Jill Stengl! Jill Stengl is releasing her first new book in seven years, and her daughter (author Anne Elisabeth Stengl, who I'm sure many of you have heard of!) and Amber Stokes (of Seasons with Humility) have collaborated to put together this special cover reveal!

Without further ado, let's talk about the cover! Well, in a word, it's GORGEOUS! I'm quite partial to aqua, really all shades of blue, so of course I would be drawn to it. But the rest of the dress is great ... the ruffles, the feminine detail, and what an interesting neckline! The model looks appropriate to the time period, but I still feel like I can connect with her. All in all, it's a winner!

About the Book
Paris, France, 1792

Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

Coming April 25, 2014
From Rooglewood Press

Learn More About The Book

About the Author
Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.

Sneak Peek from Chapter One
I was born believing that the world was unfair and that I was the person to make it right.

One of my earliest memories is of Papa setting me atop a nail keg in the forge; I could not have been older than two at the time.

“Colette, give Papa a kiss,” he said, tapping his cheek.


“Come and sit on my knee.”


My response to every order was the same, asked with genuine curiosity. I did not understand why his watching friends chuckled. Why should I press my lips to Papa’s sweaty, prickly cheek? Why should I hop down from the keg, where he had just placed me, and run to sit on his knee, a most uncomfortable perch? I felt justified in requesting a reason for each abrupt order, yet he never bothered to give me one.

Mama, when thus questioned, provided an answer in the form of a sharp swat. This I could respect as definitive authority, although the reasoning behind it remained dubious.

My little brother Pascoe was born believing that the world was his to command. As soon as he acquired his first vocabulary word, “No,” he and I joined ranks in defiance of established authority.

Many impediments cluttered the path of destiny in those early years: parents, thirteen other siblings, physical ailments, and educational difficulties. And as we grew into adulthood, more serious matters intervened, even parting us for a time. But I will speak more of that later. For now, let me assure you that, no matter the obstacles thrown in our way, our sibling bond seemed indissoluble; the love between us remained unaffected by any outside relationship.

Pascoe and I were young adults when revolutionaries in Paris threw aside the tyranny of centuries and established a new government based on the Rights of Man. From the seclusion of our little village in Normandy we rejoiced over each battle fought and won; and when our local physician, Doctor Hilliard, who had first mentored then employed Pascoe for several years, was elected as deputy to the National Assembly from our district, a whole new world opened at our feet.

My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the back of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house. Perhaps it wasn’t truly my domain, for it did not belong to me. I was merely the doctor’s housekeeper and could lay no real claim. Nevertheless, the kitchen was more mine than anything had ever been, and I loved that small, dark room; especially during the hours when sunlight slanted through the bubbled-glass kitchen windows, making bright, swirling shapes on the whitewashed walls, or each evening when I arranged my latest culinary creation on a platter and left it in the warming oven for the doctor to discover whenever he arrived home. That kitchen was my home. Not the home I had grown up in, but the home I had always craved.

On that particular day, however, it did not feel the safe haven I had always believed it to be. Loud voices drifted down from the upper floor where the doctor and Pascoe were in conference, disturbing my calm. When I closed the connecting door to the dining room, the angry voices drifted in through the open kitchen windows. I couldn’t close the windows; I might smother of heat. Yet I needed to block out the sound, to make it stop.

So I slipped a filet of sole into a greased skillet and let it brown until golden on both sides. The hiss and sizzle did not quite cover the shouting, but it helped. Then I slid the fish onto a waiting plate lined with sautéed vegetables fresh from my kitchen garden; and I topped all with an herbed wine-and-butter sauce. A grind of fresh pepper finished off my creation.

But my hands were still trembling, and I felt as if something inside me might fall to pieces.

Pascoe often shouted. Shouting was part of his fiery nature, a normal event. He shouted when he gave speeches at section meetings. He shouted about overcooked meals or inferior wines. He shouted when his lace jabot refused to fall into perfect folds.

But never before had I heard Doctor Hilliard raise his voice in anger.

Doctor Hilliard was never angry. Doctor Hilliard never displayed emotion. At most, he might indicate approval by the glance of a benevolent eye or disapprobation by the merest lift of a brow. Yet there could be no mistaking the two furious voices overhead. I well knew Pascoe’s sharp tenor with its sarcastic edge; but now I also heard the doctor’s resonant voice crackling with fury.

I managed to slide the hot plate into the warmer alongside a crusty loaf of bread and closed the door, using a doubled towel to protect my shaking hands.

Behind me the connecting door was flung open, and Pascoe burst in as I spun to face him. “Gather your things; we are leaving,” he growled. His eyes blazed in his pale face, and the jut of his jaw allowed for no questions. He clapped his tall hat on his head as he passed through the room.

I donned my bonnet and sabots and picked up my parasol. “What has happened?” I asked just above a whisper.

“I’ll tell you once we are away from this house.” His lips snapped tight. His chest heaved with emotion, and he grasped a portfolio so tightly that his fingers looked white.

I could not recall the last time I had seen my brother in such a rage.

As part of this special cover reveal, there is a giveaway! Enter to win 10 autographed novels/novellas by Jill Stengl. What a great prize! The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.

Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

Aloha Rose
by Lisa Carter
Quilts of Love series, Book 12
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available November 2013
Abingdon Press
240 pages

Buy a copy
Find out what others think

About the Book
Can searching your past create a new beginning or just new frustration? 

When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliquéd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

My Thoughts
With winter fully upon us now, who wouldn't want to read a book set in a tropical paradise? The cover alone had me feeling a bit warmer as I snuggled under three blankets to read Aloha Rose! I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Hawaii through Lisa Carter's eyes. She made the islands come alive with her use of Hawaiian words, traditions, and culture. While I didn't initially like Laney or Kai very much (they were a little hard to connect with), I eventually liked them a lot. As their "issues" came to light and explained their actions, I understood them better and really rooted for them to overcome their pasts.

As much as I wanted to love this book, I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the read, but there were several flaws that kept it from being great (for me). The romance moved really fast. The beginning of the romantic relationship between Laney and Kai came out of left field and then stopped and started a lot. It was just confusing. The end came together really quickly—too quickly. There was a ton going on throughout the book. For 240 pages, I felt like it was too much. And the end had a really intense arc that just didn't mesh with the rest of the book. Finally, there were many places throughout where the phrasing was ... odd. I caught myself reading and re-reading whole paragraphs trying to make sure I understood what was being said. It was just confusing.

If you're looking for a quick read or a romantic story, you might enjoy this book. Especially if you're looking for an armchair vacation to Hawaii! [3 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Abingdon Press and CFBA in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Lisa Carter is the author of Carolina Reckoning and Aloha Rose, and a writer and teacher whose articles have appeared in FamilyFun, Thriving Family, MomSense, and Christian Parenting Today. She is a frequent speaker and vocalist at women’s ministry events and has taught at the collegiate, high school, and middle school levels. Lisa is a member of ACFW, RWA and Sisters in Crime. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys traveling, quilting, and researching her next romantic adventure. She and her husband have two daughters and make their home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Lisa Carter Online
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Love's Refuge by Sandra Leesmith

Love's Refuge
by Sandra Leesmith
Available November 2013
321 pages

Buy a copy (only $0.99 through the end of this week!)
Find out what others think

About the Book
Skye Larsen loves her peaceful life on Leeza Island in Puget Sound – the tranquility, the friendly neighbors, and especially the safety from big-city dangers. So when cruel pranks start to escalate and changes threaten to overtake the island, Skye is determined to fight for her haven. The presence of a handsome vacationer and the unexpected feelings he awakens can’t distract her from her goal.

Danny Fraser doesn’t realize how desperately he needs a rest until he meets Skye. By allowing him to glimpse her simple way of life, she helps him reorient his priorities – and steals his heart in the process. But his work and home in Seattle keep Skye at bay. 

An isolated island girl with painful memories. A dedicated city boy with a wild past. What will it cost for them both to find a refuge from their storms?

My Thoughts
While I've heard of Sandra Leesmith and even participated in a couple of cover releases for her, it was only this week that I finally cleared my book calendar and took the time to read one of her books. And let me tell you, I'm glad I did! Love's Refuge takes place on a secluded island in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The scenery and the simple lifestyle drew me right in and nearly had me packing my bags for a visit … until I realized that it's probably colder there than it is here in the South! But there's just something about visiting a place that is so … different … than where you're from, and Sandra made this little island come alive for me.

I really enjoyed getting to know Skye and Danny (the main characters) as well. They're so different from one another that I wasn't sure how they would even converse, much less have a relationship of any sort. But the author laid the groundwork well and gave me one piece after the other until it just made sense.

My one "complaint" is that every chapter seemed to end with some big event or excitement. While it definitely drew me in and kept me reading, at times it seemed a little over the top. Like a constant roller coaster. When all was said and done, though, the story actually did move along quite nicely and really wasn't "overdone."

All in all, I enjoyed Love's Refuge and look forward to reading more from Sandra Leesmith in the future!  [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Sandra Leesmith loves to travel in her RV and explore all of nature’s beauty, discover America’s history, and fellowship with the wonderful people she meets while on the road. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, swimming, and pickleball. Learn more about Sandra and her books at

Sandra Leesmith Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

TWO Giveaways
How much fun is this ... there are TWO giveaways today! For giveaway #1, Sandra is giving away a basic Kindle loaded with her ebooks! Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and ends Saturday, November 30. You can enter the giveaway at Seasons of Humility.

For giveaway #2, Sandra is giving one of my readers a copy of her latest book, Love's Refuge (paperback or e-book). Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and ends Saturday, December 8. You can enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*** All participants must be 18 years or older. The winner will be contacted via email. Once contacted the winner has 72 hours to respond with the required information. If the winner does not respond within the timeframe specified, another winner will be chosen. I am not responsible for shipping mishaps. Void where prohibited. ***

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay | Favorite Austen Moments KINDLE HDX Giveaway, Pinterest Contest and Facebook Party!

Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.


  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
  • Handmade Austen-themed items (scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace) 
Two ways to win! Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest (see banner below)—or BOTH! 

But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Dear Mr. Knightley" Austen-themed Facebook Author Chat Party on the 3rd. Join Katherine (and Austen fans) for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Katherine's next book.

So grab your copy of  Dear Mr. Knightley and join Katherine on the evening of December 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST. Hope to see you on the 3rd!

A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY | ENTER Anita Higman’s Double Kindle Fire Giveaway & RSVP for “Tea for Two” 12/12 Facebook Party!

Anita Higman is celebrating the release of her latest book, A Marriage in Middlebury, with a double Kindle Fire giveaway (one for you & one to give away!) and a "Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th.


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire for you AND a friend
  • A Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman (one to keep and one to give away!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 12th. Winner will be announced at the "Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th. Invite your friends and connect with Anita for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Anita's next book!

So grab your copy of A Marriage in Middlebury and join Anita on the evening of December 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 12/12!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Blast | Rebels by Scott & Judith Powell (Giveaway)

About the Book
rebelsThe world is on fire. From the ashes like a phoenix rises a new America, one that will save it all. Under one condition; absolute and complete surrender. The world complies without question. Those who don’t are destroyed. It is in this world, John is born. His very name is treason. If the New America, now known to everyone as the State, knew what John was, they’d kill him, but instead they give him a gift.

Praise for Rebels 
John has a lot of potential (especially for someone so young) in that he sees the flaws in this society. He wants to be like George Washington and knows a lot about the manner in which a government should be run... Highly recommended. ~Amazon Review 

About the Authors 
Scott and Judith PowellScott Powell was born in Burlington, Vermont, to a father who was a police officer and a mother who emigrated from South Korea. He received a degree in marketing from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, and a master's degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Scott served a two-year Spanish-speaking mission for his church. He is a mixed martial artist who continues to train with his father, a second-degree black belt in Tae kwon do and a kick boxer. Besides being married to Scott for over seventeen years, Judith Powell is a stay-at-home mom whose whole life has been full of stories. Being raised by an Irish storytelling father and a Native American mother, stories have filled her life and her head until they finally had no choice but to flow out through her fingertips. 

Book Blast Giveaway 
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash 
Ends 12/20/13 

*** Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  ***

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we share what we're reading and our goals for the week.

The Countdown to Christmas {Etsy} Party was last week, BUT all 10 Christmasy giveaways are still open until Tuesday/Wednesday. Do NOT miss out!

What I Read Last Week ...
Sugarplum Homecoming is a great Christmas book! So sweet and romantic! I'm still processing Unspoken, but it was really good too. I liked it so much more than Full Disclosure. Reviews to come on both of these.

What I'm Reading Now ...
I've started, stopped, come back to, so many books over the past few weeks! It's actually annoying me. I've just not been wanting to read all that much lately so I haven't.

My audio rental of Secretly Smitten expired, and I've only listened to 75% of it. Yikes! I'm hoping to find a paper copy so I can finish soon! Very good! The others are good too, but I wanted something that was purely for fun, and Secretly Smitten was it!

What I Hope to Read This Week ...
I'm very excited about both of these. Beyond that, I'm hoping to finish some of these other books! 

That's what I'm hoping to read this week. What are you reading?

Countdown to Christmas | Papyrusaurus (Giveaway)

Welcome to the Countdown to Christmas {Etsy} Party! 

Today, I'm pleased to feature Ashley from Papyrusaurus

(Because the shop owner has been on vacation for the past week preparing for a large event, I delayed posting this review until her shop is back up and running. Which is just more fun for the rest of us and a little extension of the party! Hope no one minds! )

As is probably obvious by now, I love Christmas, and I love decorating for Christmas! In fact, we're getting the decorations down tomorrow. (Yes, before Thanksgiving!) But I digress. I just love ornaments. I have ones that my parents have given me through the years. I have a ton of snowmen from the first tree I ever decorated in college. I have quite a few that Hubs brought into the marriage. And there are those that Hubs and I have exchanged or collected while traveling. Even with ALL those ornaments, I'm always looking for something unique, something one of a kind, something that will stand out on the tree.

My Thoughts
Papyrusaurus has one such ornament! This Pinecone Ornament is made from pages of a book. (Mine is made from pages of a dictionary, but other options include Harry Potter and Twilight!) The layers are quite delicate, but together they make a fairly substantial ornament! And the brown satin ribbon hangar adds just the right touch of fancy. If you're not big on traditional Christmas decor, I think you'll really enjoy this ornament. It's perfect to hang on a tree but not so "Christmasy." You could actually display it year round if you chose!

Additionally, I was so impressed with the packaging. It arrived in clear cellophane wrapping, complete with a little gold ribbon. Once it arrives in the mail, it's already wrapped and ready to be given as a gift if you choose. (Plus, the little origami dinosaur that Ashley put in the box was just too cute!)

Here are a couple of other favorites from the shop ...

The little stars inside this ornament are so sweet. Very pretty!

Pretty much anything related to The Sandlot is a winner in my book!

What a pretty print! I love the idea of using old book pages as art ... upcycle! There's a huge variety of prints in the shop, and they're all so cute!

Ashley is offering a great giveaway to one reader! Enter to win one Pinecone Ornament OR 2 prints (winner's choice). Giveaway is open to US or Canadian residents and ends November 27. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

*** All participants must be 18 years or older. The winner will be contacted via email. Once contacted the winner has 72 hours to respond with the required information. If the winner does not respond within the timeframe specified, another winner will be chosen. I am not responsible for shipping mishaps. Void where prohibited. *** 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Countdown to Christmas | MWC Vinyl Lettering (Giveaway)

Welcome to the Countdown to Christmas {Etsy} Party! 

Today, I'm pleased to feature Amanda from MWC Vinyl Lettering

If you've been to any craft stores or have any crafty friends or are interested in home decor you know that vinyl is all the rage these days. I've thought several times that it would be so cool to have a vinyl cutting machine and I've dreamed up all these projects I would do. But seriously, I know I would never get around to them all. So, my project list keeps getting longer for "one day."

Thankfully, there are people like Amanda from MWC Vinyl Lettering who have the creativity and desire to make these projects a reality for the rest of us! Of all the awesome ideas in Amanda's shop, though, I just fell in love with this sweet Nativity Trio.

My Thoughts
Amanda was kind enough to send the Nativity Trio cutouts for my review, and I was excited to finally get a shot at making my very own vinyl creation! Just to be clear, this listing is for the vinyl only, which allows you to have a little DIY fun.

Not super crafty? That's okay too! This is really simple! Amanda sent fantastic directions with the cutouts. She even gave precise measurements of the glass cubes she bought and where she purchased them (though I'm sure you can get them at any craft store). One quick trip to a local craft shop, pulling the Christmas lights out of the attic, and I was able to come home and knock out this project in no time.

The cutout for each cube comes on a separate sheet, so you don't have to cut anything out. The application is quite simple. Then add your lights, and embellish with ribbon or anything else you like and you have a beautiful nativity to display in your home. If you can't find the glass cubes, you could always use something else for the "backdrop"—mason jars, wood, or even three picture frames. Let those creative juices flow and make something to help your family focus on Christ this Christmas!

(I'm having a hard time uploading a picture of the finished product. Hopefully, I'll be able to add one soon.)

Here are a couple of other favorites from the shop ...

I'm a huge fan of wall art these days. This is so sweet!

I've not thought of putting vinyl on doors. This is great though! I also saw one in the shop for the laundry room ... might make doing laundry less laborious if I had fun decorations on the door/room1

 What a great idea for staying on track with meal planning!

Amanda is offering a giveaway to one reader who's in the mood for a little DIY fun! Enter to win one Nativity Trio Vinyl Cutout. Giveaway is open to US residents and ends November 27. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

*** All participants must be 18 years or older. The winner will be contacted via email. Once contacted the winner has 72 hours to respond with the required information. If the winner does not respond within the timeframe specified, another winner will be chosen. I am not responsible for shipping mishaps. Void where prohibited. *** 

Friday, November 22, 2013

GIVEAWAY | "Operation Christmas Child" by Franklin Graham

It's National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child (November 18-25). Since I'm encouraging all of you to give a little, I thought I'd give one of you something too! How about a copy of Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts by Franklin Graham.

(You can read about my family's involvement with Operation Christmas Child and how you can help here.)

About the Book
It was a simple idea that became the worldwide ministry of Operation Christmas Child—to minister to children in war-torn and famine-stricken countries.  In just two decades it has inspired everyday people to provide more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in 130 countries. This beautiful book weaves the moving, God-saturated story of the ministry’s beginning with the soul-stirring, Christ exalting stories of lives that have been forever changed by a simple shoebox.

Operation Christmas Child is filled with full-color photos of children whose smiles help tell what is a thoroughly hopeful story. Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham provides insight as the incredible stories of life transformation are told.

Proceeds from the book go to support the ministry it seeks to celebrate and honor.

Sneak Peek from the Book
In an excerpt from his new book, Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts, Franklin Graham talks about the beginnings of what has become a worldwide ministry that has delivered over 100 million shoeboxes to children in over 130 countries.


Days before Thanksgiving my secretary came through the door with a look on her face that I knew very well. “Do you remember that man from Britain that called you back in the summer asking for shoeboxes? He’s on the phone asking when you’ll be sending them—he’s leaving for Bosnia soon,” she stated with an air of “You’re in big trouble!” I had forgotten about it and now the Christmas season was fast approaching.

I picked up the phone. “Mr. Graham, how many shoeboxes have you collected?” I couldn’t let him down. His cause was worthy, so I said, “David, we’re working on it; I’ll get back to you.” He was thrilled and I was, well, in trouble.

“We’ve got to collect some shoeboxes—fast!” I said. We threw some ideas around and then called Ross Rhoads, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. As always, Ross was glad to help and said, “Tell me what to do.”

“Get a shoebox and fill it with some little toys for kids—maybe some toothpaste and a toothbrush, a hair brush, and sock,” I suggested. “Take it to the pulpit on Sunday and show your congregation. Ask if they will help us collect shoebox gifts for the kids in Bosnia. And by the way, tell them to put a note inside with their picture so the child will know who the box is from—maybe some of the kids will write back.” Ross enthusiastically agreed. Then I called Sean Campbell, our executive director in Canada. “Sean, see what kind of response you can get from a church up there.”

I hung up and forgot about it again, until a few days after Thanksgiving. My secretary walked into my office and announced a call from Ross with that “you’re in trouble” look on her face. “Ross needs to talk to you.”

Picking up the phone, I heard his voice filled with troubled excitement. “Franklin, you’ve got to send someone down here to pick up all of these shoeboxes!”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, we’ve got shoeboxes stacked up in the gym, in the foyer, and in Sunday school rooms—they’re in the way.”

“So you’ve really been able to collect a few hundred boxes?” I asked.

“A few hundred?” Ross answered. “How about eleven thousand!” I was stunned. Ross had a big church, but eleven thousand in two weeks? He said, “Franklin, this is obviously something the Lord has blessed.”

Reflecting years later, Ross said, “All I did that Sunday morning was to show the congregation a shoebox Carol had packed and asked them to do the same. That afternoon, a member of the church with the Bible Broadcast Network (BBN) interviewed me and gave me the chance to tell about the project. We did not solicit for boxes nor was the church address given. Over the next several days, however, people began bringing shoeboxes to the church and deliveries were made daily by the post office and courier services. The church was known for ‘sending help,’ but ‘receiving’ was not something we were set up for.”

I said a great big thank you to Ross and then placed a call to David and reported the big news. Immediately, I sent my projects director (now vice president of projects and government relations) Kenney Isaacs to Charlotte to assess the situation. He called and said, “Franklin, you’re not going to believe this. People are really excited!”

This response was so overwhelming that Ross suggested I come on Sunday, December 12, to preach and thank the congregation.


That was twenty years ago. Two decades have passed—hyphenated by the turn of the century. Not every generation experiences living from one millennium to another. We have now surpassed that milestone and have come into the second decade of the twenty-first century, marking one hundred million shoebox gifts collected and delivered, representing an even larger number who have heard God’s message. When I look back on this project—Operation Christmas Child (OCC)—I think of the Scripture that says, “Oh, what God has done!” (Num. 23:23)

The Lord has blessed this outreach in numbers—monumental numbers. But more important, He has blessed it by changing hearts, one at a time. And in the twentieth year of Operation Christmas Child, we delivered the one hundred millionth shoebox!

There are miles of smiles that tell stories about changed lives, miles of oceans away. But it all started with:

One phone call
One request
One shoebox
One church
And one message about the Christmas Child
For one heart at a time

We pray that the heartbeat of the Gospel will stir the hearts of hundreds of millions more.

Come with us on this journey as we tell you about one profound truth that changes one life at a time.

Enter to win a copy of Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts by Franklin Graham. Giveaway open to US residents and ends December 14. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

*** All participants must be 18 years or older. The winner will be contacted via email. Once contacted the winner has 72 hours to respond with the required information. If the winner does not respond within the timeframe specified, another winner will be chosen. I am not responsible for shipping mishaps. Void where prohibited. ***

Countdown to Christmas | Crafty Cans (Giveaway)

Welcome to the Countdown to Christmas {Etsy} Party! 

Today, I'm pleased to feature Tina from Crafty Cans

Hubs and I exchange ornaments every year for Christmas. We started the tradition when we started dating and have continued every year since. It's one of my favorite things that we do because we always pick ornaments that mean something to us ... either about the person or about the year we had or just something really special.

Last year, we both bought ornaments from Etsy shops. (How funny is that?! We didn't even know the other one was doing that! Great minds and all!) The ornament I gave Hubs came from Crafty Cans, and it was a hit!

My Thoughts
I bought Hubs a Santa ornament crafted from an upcycled Mountain Dew Can. (I also bought myself a  Dr. Pepper snowman. They were just so cute!) Hubs is slightly addicted to Mountain Dew, so I thought it was an appropriate addition for our tree!

The ornaments were exactly what I was hoping for! They were sweet designs and showcased the cans really well. (There's no guessing what kind of can it was.) The backs are padded with a thin layer of foam, so the sharp edges of the can won't cut you (or little ones!). And the ornaments look great on the tree. They shimmer in the lights and are really cute! And the best part is that Hubs loved his gift!
Here are some of my favorites from Crafty Cans' shop ...

 Isn't this dove so sweet?

 I think the train may be my favorite this year. A very classic Christmas image.

While I don't drink energy drinks, this angel is so cute. I love how Tina lined up the design so that the "head" of the Starbucks logo is the "head" of the angel!

What a cute little snowman!

Y'all! These earrings!!! Love them!

Tina wanted to let lots of people win, so she's giving away FIVE ornaments!!! FIVE winners will each get their choice of ornament from Crafty Cans. Giveaway is open to US residents and ends November 26. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

*** All participants must be 18 years or older. The winner will be contacted via email. Once contacted the winner has 72 hours to respond with the required information. If the winner does not respond within the timeframe specified, another winner will be chosen. I am not responsible for shipping mishaps. Void where prohibited. *** 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child

I'm sure you've heard of Operation Christmas Child before. I didn't realize until recently that this ministry is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. During the past 20 years, Operation Christmas Child has provided more than 100 million shoeboxes to children in need around the world! Wow! That's a lot of children who have been helped through the years! (In case you're wondering, if you stacked all those boxes on top of each other, that would be more than 26,000 times taller than the Empire State Building!)

Hubs and I packed our shoeboxes over the weekend and had a great time doing it. It's so much fun to shop and try to think of little things that might bring a smile to a child's face or just let them know that someone, somewhere is praying for them. This week is National Collection Week (November 18-25), so you still have plenty of time to pack a box and drop it off at one of the collection sites around the country.

I know sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming to try to figure out where to start, so I thought I'd give you a step-by-step for what WE did to give you a few ideas. Of course, feel free to do whatever works best for YOU!

Here are some really simple steps on how to pack a shoebox, complete with gift suggestions (and a few restrictions).

We decided to pack 4 boxes total—2 boys and 2 girls, ages 5-9.

We went to the Dollar Store and Wal-Mart to get everything we needed. You could probably get everything at one place, but both stores were a little picked over. See the pics below to see exactly what we got where. :)

 We started with the basics: washcloth, toothpaste, toothbrush, bar of soap, comb.

Then added a few school/art supplies: pencils, pencil sharpener, stickers, construction paper, crayons, colored pencils

Then we added in some purely fun stuff: candy, puzzle, bouncy ball, yo-yo, play dough, plastic spoon and fork, headbands (for the girls), Hot Wheels (for the boys).

We then wrote a quick note to let the child know that we were praying for them and wanted them to know the love of Jesus (including our address, so they can write back if they like!), tucked in a picture of us, and closed up the box.

We went online to pay the $7 donation per box to help it get where it needs to go. The online payment option allows you to track your box and see where it ends up. Very cool! Once we paid, we printed the label, taped it to the box, and put a rubber band around it. And then we delivered it to one of the collection centers near us. (Here's a complete list, searchable by city/state or zip code.)

Pretty simple, right?! This is a fairly simple and inexpensive way to give to those in need this Christmas. If you want more information, check out the Operation Christmas Child site.

And if you'd like even more info, here's a FUNNY video from Uncle Si (who doesn't love Duck Dynasty?!) with a few more tips on packing a box. (And here are more videos from Uncle Si.) Enjoy!

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