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Keeping Christmas is a holiday novella about adjusting to Christmas when there is a change in the family. For Stan and Judith, that change happens to be an empty nest. This is the first holiday they’ll be spending without any of their kids, and they don’t know what to do about it. Judith just can’t seem to muster up any Christmas spirit. The novella is heartwarming and emotional, all too relevant for anyone who has ever spent holidays without a loved one. If you’re looking for a holiday read with a little more substance and a little less fluff, Keeping Christmas is the book for you! It can be easily read in an evening or two, and it also makes a great gift for friends or neighbors. Recommended for fans of Christmas novellas and inspirational fiction.
Stan opened the ugly ornaments box and pulled out the top three ornaments, the ones wrapped in green paper, the kids’ favorites, and set them on the coffee table. He picked up the first one, the biggest one–Anna’s blue pinecone–and began to unwrap it. Without thinking, Judith walked up, stopped him, and gently took it out of his hand. She wrapped it back up, set it carefully in the box. Then picked up the other two ornaments, put them in the box, and closed the flaps.
“What’s the matter?” Stan said. “Did I do something wrong?”
“I don’t think I can do this.”
Nothing is more beautiful than family
For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it’s looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can’t bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers. Sure, the ornaments were strange-looking–some were downright ugly–but they were tradition.
With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan’s only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments . . .
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Unfinished Gift and The Restoration Series with Gary Smalley. He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists for the RT Book ReviewsInspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for twenty-five years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he’s busy researching and writing his next novel. Learn more at www.danwalshbooks.com.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Another delightful Christmas novella from Melody Carlson! The Christmas Joy Ride follows Joy, an eighty-something Christmas blogger, & her thirty-something neighbor, Miranda, on an RV trip down Route 66. Joy is on a mission to spread Christmas cheer to a list of specific people, and she enlists Miranda to help her. In an interview, Carlson said Carol Burnett would be the perfect actress to play Joy in a movie, and I loved having that reference before starting the book. Joy and Miranda will absolutely steal your heart. They are an excellent duo, and I’d love to hang out with them! Carlson’s Christmas novellas are always something I look forward to, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Grab The Christmas Joy Ride when you have a few hours to spend in a cozy chair with a cup of something hot. This book has it all–holiday spirit, heartfelt friendship, a bit of suspense, and a dash of romance. The Christmas Joy Ride is such a fun story. It’s the kind of holiday novella you’ll reach for year after year. It’d also make a great Christmas gift! Highly recommended!
Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that’s exactly what she’s getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix–in the dead of winter, no less–the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off with Joy toward Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride–one that could derail the whole venture.
No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an exciting ride!
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington’s, and The Christmas Cat. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Another Way Home is the third Chicory Inn Novel by Deborah Raney. The first, Home to Chicory Lane(See my review here), centered on Chase & Landyn (Whitman) Spencer along with the entire Whitman family. Two Roads Home focused on Landyn’s older sister, Corinne, and her family. Another Way Home follows the middle sister, Danae, & her husband Dallas Brooks. Danae and Dallas are having trouble trying to get pregnant, which seems more and more prevalent in today’s world. Raney handles the relevant subject with a grace and honesty that is refreshing. Fans of Chicory Inn will be ecstatic to see the rest of the Whitman family is still completely involved in the story. I was so happy to dive into this book and catch up with the characters! The Chicory Inn is idyllic. One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. Simply gorgeous, inviting, and relaxing. I love the continuity between all 3 books in this series in terms of cover art. I have to say the novel is a bit more intense than the picturesque cover would suggest. I was completely surprised when the second book in the series took a suspenseful turn, but I kind of expected it with this book. This is a story about marriage, infertility, family, and trust in God. I’m looking forward to the next title in the series and luckily a teaser chapter is included at the end of Another Way Home. Close to Home will feature Bree Whitman, Tim’s widow. I can’t wait to find out more about her story! It’s not too late to visit Chicory Inn. Pick up the first book and join the fun! Highly recommended to fans of Inspirational Fiction, Family Fiction, and books featuring an inn!
Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.
Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil-and leave them all forever changed.
Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
My writer friend Courtney Walsh planted the idea for the Chicory Inn Novels one evening a few years ago while we sat in a hotel lobby talking late into the night after a conference. I’d told several family stories during our visit, and at one point Courtney said, “Deb, you have so many fun family stories, you really ought to write a book about a big extended family like yours! Or better yet, a series!” That got my wheels turning, and I’ve been excited about the people who live on Chicory Lane ever since!
What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
For me, it’s always writing the first draft (which I’d classify as “keeping it going” since I usually have fun with the idea, with creating the characters, living in the setting in my head. But that first draft kills me. Once I near the end, I almost always find the perfect ending. Unlike many authors, I love the editing process, too.
What trait do you love most about your main character?
I love the way Danae loves her husband. She’s not perfect, and she sometimes gets too self-absorbed, but she loves Dallas unabashedly, and would do anything for him. She loves her extended family the same way, and she loves that Dallas also loves her family.
When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
I hope readers will think of difficult situations in their own lives, and realize that God already knows the ending to their story. He already has a plan for redeeming their toughest situation. And He will get them through!
What are you working on next?
I’ve just finished the fourth novel, Close to Home, which will release next spring. And then there is one final novel in the Chicory Inn series—Whitman son Link’s story, Home at Last—and I can’t wait to write it. I’ve already started on the research for an issue that will be key in the story. But it’s still a secret.
What are your ideal writing conditions?
Clean house, perfect weather (so I can write out on the deck), great music playing, good coffee in a mug at my side.
If you could write in a different genre, which would you choose?
Believe it or not, I’d probably say suspense! I don’t like too scary books, and I wouldn’t enjoy all the research a suspense novel takes, but I’ve really enjoyed writing my women’s fiction novels that took a more suspenseful turn!
What book have you reread the most?
You know, I’ve only re-read a handful of books in my life! Cold Sassy Tree, my favorite novel of all time is one. And LaVerle Spencer’s Then Came Heaven (which I finished, then turned to the front and began re-reading immediately!)
If you could have lunch with any literary character, who would it be and why?
Oh, probably Cynthia, Father Tim’s wife in Jan Karon’s Mitford novels. I just think we’d be kindred spirits, and Father Tim is a lot like my Ken.
Favorite first line of a book:
I read this one recently and it made me smile. From Lisa Wingate’s The Sea Keeper’s Daughter: Perhaps denial is the mind’sway of protecting the heart from a sucker punch it can’t handle.
Do you have a go-to writing snack?
It’s hard to beat M&Ms—or any chocolate. I love Coffee Nips too! And Gobstoppers (miniature jawbreakers).
What is your favorite writing tool?
I must say I love having my Chicago Manual of Style open beside me. I’ve tried the online version, but there’s just something about having the hardcover book at hand. (And it doesn’t hurt that the new 16th edition’s aqua cover looks great in my office!)
If you were trapped in a book, what fictional place would you like to explore?
What a fun question! Well, I think I’d really love exploring Mitford (Jan Karon has a way of creating a cozy, warm environment.) But maybe I should use this opportunity to travel to Europe and explore some author’s fictional towns there.
What would the title of your biography be?
Better Late than Never. LOL! I’m really a fairly punctual person, but I do tend to experience some of life’s landmarks later than most. I was in my thirties before I’d ever flown in an airplane (I LOVE flying!) I still have never been to Europe… I’ve barely been outside the U.S. except for a brief jaunt into Mexico over the California border, and a couple of ports of call on the one cruise we went on years ago.
If you could live a day in one of your characters’ lives, who would you choose? Explain:
It would definitely be one of my Chicory Lane characters simply because their lives are very much like mine (AND they live near my grandbabies!) I truly love my life and while I do have a bucket list, I couldn’t ask for a better life than the one I’ve already lived!
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. —Jim Elliot
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
The pastoral charm of small-town Watervalley, Tennessee, can be deceptive, as young Dr. Luke Bradford discovers when he’s caught in the fallout of a decades-old conflict.
After a rocky start as Watervalley’s only doctor, Luke Bradford has decided to stay in town, honoring the three-year commitment he made to pay off his medical school debts. But even as his friendships with the quirky townsfolk deepen, and he pursues a romance with lovely schoolteacher Christine Chambers, several military veterans’ emotional wounds trigger anger and unrest in Watervalley.
At the center of the clash is the curmudgeonly publisher of thelocal newspaper, Luther Whitmore. Luther grew up in Watervalley, but he returned from combat in Vietnam a changed man. He fenced in beautiful Moon Lake, posting “Keep Out” notices at the beloved spot, and provokes the townspeople with his incendiary newspaper.
As Luke struggles to understand Luther’s past, and restore harmony in Watervalley, an unforeseen crisis shatters a relationship he values dearly. Suddenly Luke must answer life’s toughest questions about service, courage, love, and sacrifice.
About the author:
About the book:
Kara Tippetts’s story was not a story of disease, although she lost her battle with terminal cancer.
It was not a story of saying goodbye, although she was intentional in her time with her husband and four children. Kara’s story was one of seeing God in the hard and in the good. It was one of finding grace in the everyday. And it was one of knowing “God with us” through fierce and beautiful friendship.
In Just Show Up, Kara and her close friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn, write about what friendship looks like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry, and even cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, this eloquent and practical book explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.
About the authors:
The late Kara Tippetts was the author of “The Hardest Peace” and blogged faithfully atmundanefaithfulness.com. Cancer was only a part of Kara’s story. Her real fight was to truly live while facing a crushing reality. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Jill Lynn Buteyn is the author of “Falling for Texas,” an inspirational novel, and a recipient of the ACFW Genesis Award for her fiction work. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children.
Connect with Jill: website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
While your heart might be in the right place, it is not unusual to feel uncomfortable or insecure when you’re around loved ones who are in the midst of a trial. The temptation to back away can be strong; after all, couldn’t they use some space? You don’t want to be a burden. Is that ever the right choice though? Is there something both of you can gain from friendship in the midst of suffering? Bestselling author Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn answer those questions in the new book Just Show Up: the Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together. With grace and practical advice, the friends wrote about what relationships look like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry and even Tippetts’ battle with cancer, which she tragically lost on March 22, 2015.
Q: You wrote Just Show Up with your late friend Kara Tippetts. Can you tell us about Kara and the circumstances that led you to write this book together?
Kara Tippetts was a grace-filled mother and pastor’s wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. While fighting cancer, she shared her story with thousands of readers on her blog, Mundane Faithfulness. She also wrote the book The Hardest Peace about her journey and co-authored Just Show Up with me before passing away at the age of 38. While Kara was blogging, I was writing fiction. We often talked about collaborating on a book. We settled on the subject of walking through suffering together because we could write from both of our perspectives. I learned a lot from watching Kara’s community rally around her, from seeing her friends in action. Of course, as the one suffering, Kara had firsthand knowledge of what works well and what doesn’t. We both hoped the book would take some of the mystery out of showing up for each other and allow people to engage more confidently in community, even during really hard times.
Q: How and when did you learn about Kara’s cancer diagnosis? Did it change your relationship with her?
I actually heard about Kara’s diagnosis when she posted about it on her personal Facebook page. We were friends through school and church, but as I say in the book, our friendship developed more after her diagnosis. She had only been in Colorado for six months at the time. I do remember thinking about our friendship. Where did I fit in all of this? Was I “in”? I decided the answer was yes. I wasn’t going to shy away from Kara because things could get scary or hard. I told her later that choosing her was a conscious choice for me.
Q: Do you think it’s easier to be someone’s friend when times are good?
Certainly there’s a simplicity to friendship when things are good, but at the same time, when is “good”? We all have hard times, and we’re often dealing with tough stuff in different areas of life at the same time. But there’s also beauty that comes in doing the really hard stuff together. When I look back on my time with Kara, on the way she let me and so many others in when she was suffering so much, I see a lot of tears, prayers and pain, but I also see grace and even peace. I see really great friendships formed in a short amount of time. It was beautiful to walk with her, even though it hurt so much. It still hurts. But I would choose her all over again.
Q: You write in Just Show Up that being there for a friend can be as simple as literally just showing up. Why is presence so important during suffering?
Presence is so important in suffering because sometimes that’s really all we have to offer. We don’t have the right words, or there isn’t anything we can do to help. Sometimes it is just about being there. There’s peace and support in being with each other — from both sides. Often it was a comfort for us to be with Kara, even if she was sleeping, and I think she felt that same thing. One time I sat at the hospital with her while she slept. I brought my laptop and just wrote, sitting in the chair. I remember wanting to have something to do so she would feel free to sleep and rest. She opened her eyes and said something about how it gave her comfort that I was there. I could have easily second-guessed offering to sit with her — it wasn’t really necessary. But just being present with each other meant something to both of us.
Q: You talk about learning to be “comfortable with your uncomfortable.” Can you share a story from your friendship with Kara that illustrates what you mean by that?
Kara never expected us to have answers for the hard she was being asked to walk. I could say, “I don’t know what to say,” and that was enough for her. Or, “I’m so sorry. I hate this for you.” She accepted things like that. She was dying, and even though our hearts were breaking, we still wanted to be with her. We craved time with her.
Q: Could you offer some advice for others on how to move past moments of awkwardness?
Pray, then step out in faith. God will meet you there. Be honest. You could even say to a friend, “I want to help. I don’t want to be the person who disappears because this is awkward or uncomfortable. How can I be there for you? Will you help me by telling me if I’m doing something offensive or don’t have a clue?” I think friendships can grow from this kind of honesty.
Q: Sometimes it’s easy to struggle with self-doubt and wonder if your efforts to help will be a nuisance. How did you work through some of those concerns?
I prayed a lot about decisions regarding how to help. I also had a few friends I could hash out my doubts with who were willing to process with me. Sometimes we just need someone to speak truth into our doubts. And at times, I did things and still didn’t know after if they were a help. Sometimes it’s just about doing. We may never know exactly how our help impacted someone else for the better.
Q: When offering help to someone, why is it important to be very specific about how you would like to help them?
It’s far easier for people to accept help when we offer something specific. I used to say to people, “Let me know if you need anything.” And I meant it. But rarely, if ever, did anyone ask me for anything or admit what might help them. However, when I offer a specific, “Hey, I’m at the store, can I pick anything up for you?” or, “I’d love to come by and do a couple loads of laundry this week. What day works?” it easier for the suffering people to decide if and when they need that specific help or how they can tweak it to meet their needs. The other bonus to offering a specific help is that it gives us the freedom to serve within our gifting. If I’m a kid person, and someone asks me to paint their guest room, that probably won’t bring me the same joy as watching kids. We can find so much joy in helping others, and I think part of that is in doing the things we’re gifted in — not that we don’t ever step beyond that. It’s just a good place to start. I love what I learned about being specific in helping others. It was a light-bulb moment for me. It just makes sense, and yet, I’d never really thought about it before. It’s important because it makes things easier and more comfortable for both sides and takes away the guess work.
Q: What are some words we can use to offer comfort? Are there any words that can hurt more than help?
I don’t think there are perfect words. I guess that’s why showing up for others can be confusing and scary. But maybe recognizing this — that there isn’t anything perfect to be done or said — will make it easier for people to dive in with each other. Say things that are comforting, listening phrases. “I’m so sorry. That’s hard.” Comforting is also about what not to say. Don’t try to solve your friend. Listen and love them in their hard.
Q: How did you see God and his love expressed in your friendship with Kara?
When I think about how she let us in during really hard stuff: while she was dying. In pain. Broken. I’m amazed. She gave and gave. She loved so big. I don’t even know how to explain it. God’s presence was felt by so many. It was really beautiful even though it’s still hard.
Q: What do you think holds people back from pursuing deep connections with others even during the good times?
Hurt. We’re all a bunch of sinners, and relationships can be scary. We do stupid things and say stupid things, even in good times. I know I have regrets in this area. Plus, relationships are hard work. It’s hard to open yourself up to others, to let people in to the not-so-great sides of ourselves.
Q: When you and Kara wrote about “big love,” what did you mean?
Loving more, bigger than you thought possible. Opening yourself up to community. Loving beyond your limits. Kara didn’t find a few friends and then stop letting others in. She kept opening herself up to more people. Even online, she shared so much of herself and impacted many lives.
Q: Even though Kara knew she was dying, why was it important for her to finish Just Show Up with you?
Kara fostered community in everything she did. And even though she had to accept a lot of help from others, she also gave. This was a way she could give: by taking some of the unknown out of showing up and being in community with one another. Plus, she was just Kara. Stubborn and wonderful and wanting to squeeze every minute out of life.
Q: Kara’s blog, Mundane Faithfulness, had a large following of faithful readers that followed her through her cancer journey. What were the main messages Kara always tried to impart to her readers? Kindness, kindness, kindness. And loving big.
Q: So many readers fell in love with Kara and her family through her blog and book The Hardest Peace. Can you tell us how the Tippetts family is doing since her passing in March?
I think only the Tippetts can really answer how they are doing. I would suggest following the Mundane Faithfulness blog. Jason has been gracious to share updates there about how he and the kids are doing.
What does friendship look like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry—and even cancer? Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn teamed up to write Just Show Up, a story of their close friendship and walk through Kara’s battle with terminal cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, this eloquent and practical book explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.
Celebrate the gift of friendship with a Tried & True Friendship giveaway—a prize for you and for a friend!
One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 23rd. The winner will be announced October 26th on Jill’s blog.
Is one of your friends going through a tough time—maybe you need some encouragement? Stop by Kara and Jill’s author page, click on the reviews bar, and read through some bloggers’ stories of how their friends got them through suffering.
*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.