Did Last Year Get Away From You How to Track the Seasons

Last year slipped away from me. When Christmas arrived it was almost a surprise. I missed spring and summer. How did that happen? It used to be easy to know when to switch out holiday decor because I had little ones telling me. Now that I’m an empty nester I don’t decorate for every holiday.

Is time passing by too fast for you? 

Do you suppose this happens because the retail stores are muddling with our internal calendar? Before Holloween is over, Christmas trees are displayed and on January 2nd this year, my store had Valentine’s Day decor to purchase. 

 

This year I am stopping time! You can too!

The plan?

Decorate for each season. I don’t mean full-out window gels and wreaths on the door. I don’t have the time or money to purchase and make decorations that will also need to be stored.

The solution?

Find one place in your home that you pass by every day. It might be a shelf, a small spot on the kitchen counter or like me the fireplace mantle.

Yes, I have one. No, it doesn’t get changed except for Christmas.

Until now.

Winter Decor

I refuse to go through another year of catching up to the seasons. I have this stunning mantle. It is part of a log cabin from my home state of Missouri. This old log has seen a lot of seasons!

Winter decorating can be a challenge because it’s right after Christmas and the house looks so dull.

I wanted to have some sparkle to reflect the snow and ice of winter. I spray painted a few pinecones from our tree, let them dry, and then put them in this small vase. The rest of the decor on the mantle didn’t change. By adding this one piece, I know at a glance what season it is.

Next month I’ll be taking away this  piece and adding something red for Valentine’s Day.

So tell me in the comments, “Do you decorate for the seasons and holidays?”

 

Christmas is almost here!

One week until Christmas!

Does that sentence send you into a frenzy? Is panic setting in? 

Maybe you’re the person who had cards addressed and mailed the day after Thanksgiving? Your gifts were bought and wrapped before St. Nick’s?

I’ve been both of those personalities in the past.

There comes a time when your children grow up, move out and Christmas slows down. That’s where we are now. Sort of.

We’ve cut down on how much we spend on gifts after doing Dave Ramsey’s course and surprise everyone is okay with that. Which means I have much less to shop for and wrap. 

Because we have a two-year-old grandson we stuck to our tiny tree which means less decorating and more safety. Again, no one seemed to notice the lack of nutcrackers, stairs wrapped with garland or the table full of snowmen. 

Christmas Merry Christmas

What have I learned? 

I’m doing the same thing next year. There is no need to make myself insane with decorating, though I wish I could buy more for my kids. I most likely will always wish to shower them with presents. 

So from me to you, I wish you a Blessed Christmas, lots of family time and focus on Christ the newborn.  I’ll be back to writing posts in the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Carol

Diana

12 Brides of Christmas Bestseller

UPDATE! WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

It’s true! The 12 Brides of Christmas is a bestseller again this month on the ECPA list.

ECPA Bestseller December

I’m so excited that I’m offering a free giveaway on 3 of my books!

 

Read more about this fun Christmas book here.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection by Mary Connealy

The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection

by Mary Connealy

Giveaway ends December 17, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Also making the CBA best seller, is Mind of Her Own! Read more about this book here

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mind of her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Mind of her Own

by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Giveaway ends December 17, 2015.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

We're Not Blended, We're Pureed by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

We’re Not Blended, We’re Pureed

by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Giveaway ends December 16, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 Read more about We’re Not Blended We’re Pureed a survivor’s guide to blended families here

Brokenness Lets His Light Shine

Has the light gone out of your holidays?

The Christmas lights sparkle but I do not. Holidays bring out the worst in me.  It’s hard to find the joy some years. This year I lost two more important people. Time seems to be going too fast and I can’t hang onto those who hold memories of my past. 

Sometimes it feels like I’m held together with glue, my life pieces are stuck together the best they can be but I’m not longer solid. I’m fragile.

I’m not alone. The older I get, the more friends I discover also struggle as I do this time of year.

What makes a difference in how you handle the downs of life? You need faith, not faith in anything, but faith in God, His Son and His Holy Spirit.

I’m thankful that my mother taught me from a young age how important faith is, and how it can pull you through the most difficult circumstances. The ugly kinds of problems that grab you by your ankles, and yanks you further into the darkness.

What happens when you call upon your belief in God? You are released from the darkness. The pain is still present because we live in the NOT YET time. But you’re able to pick up you feet, move forward, and find bits of joy in a grandson’s smile, a husband’s embrace, a mother’s voice on the phone.

God shows you how beautiful you shine though those broken pieces. What people see when they look at you is His light, His goodness and His mercy. For that reason rejoice in your brokenness.

glass reflections

Let His Light Shine

I had this post in mind and then I heard this song by Jason Gray. I pray that it touches you as it did me.

 

Holidays Cooking and Gifting

It’s that time!

Holidays, cooking and gifting!

12 Brides Giveaway

Do you like cooking the Thanksgiving and Christmas meal?

Do friends and family have you over for dinner or parties?

Do you delight in gifting hostess with something different?

Might I suggest you enter the rafflecopter below?

The 12 Brides of Christmas makes an excellent hostess gift or gift yourself! Twelve short stories about Christmas brides in the 1800s. Go ahead and order a few to give away, the authors would be delighted–hey you’d be gifting us if you did!

Make sure you enter below for a chance to win the ultimate hostess gift or keep it for yourself! What can you win?

 

Christmas in the post-War United States

So while we’re still six weeks out from Christmas 2015, the authors of The 12 Brides of Christmas are sponsoring a raffle!

Over the next twelve days, we’ll give you an opportunity to win TWO books:

12 daysWhat better way to prepare for the Christmas celebration, than to have one book to read for fun and one to concoct treats for your family!

The two books are not connected except for the title, so you’ll be moving from 12 Brides on the American frontier to 12 Days of recipes to try yourself.

What can be better?
We’re giving away four sets of the two books through Rafflecopter.

You have 24 different opportunities to toss in your name for a chance to win.

The raffle runs from today, November 6 to Tuesday, November 17 at midnight–12 days away.

Just sign up through the form:

Each author newsletter you sign up for counts as one opportunity to win. (12 authors x one each newsletter = 12 opportunities)

Each of the 12 days, we’ll post a new Tweet. If you’re on Twitter, retweeting that tweet will give you another opportunity.

12 days x 12 tweets = 12 more opportunities to win the two books.

Winners will be announced here on Friday, November 20, on the 12 Brides Facebook page, and by email.

My first attempt at fancy, schmancy christmas ...

Winner should receive their two books well in time for . . . their own 12 days of Christmas!

Join us, starting here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Questions? Make a comment.
Here are descriptions of the two books.

The 12 Brides of Christmas:

Christmas is the time for love, and twelve historical women are on their way to the altar, whether they know it or not. In settings across the heartland of America, readers will experience heartfelt gifts, old-fashioned Christmas traditions, sweet romance, and inspiring faith from twelve acclaimed Christian authors.

The twelve stories center on festivities, nutcrackers, stars, trees, creches, gifts, gingerbread and fruitcakes; they also are festive, advent-related, snowbound, evergreen and my favorite, yuletide.

All set in the mid and western United States, they cover the country from Illinois to Mississippi to Arizona to Wyoming and everywhere in between in the 19th century.

For detailed descriptions of the individual stories, see the 12 Brides of Christmas webpage here.

The 12 Days of Christmas Cookbook:

Wonderfully unique, The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook: 2015 will delight taste buds and make your Christmas even merrier! Featuring tasty recipes organized into fun categories including:

Appetizers on a Platter; Beverages a-Blending; Breads a-Rising

Breakfast Dishes a-Baking; Candies a-Boiling; Cookies a-Cooling

Desserts a-Delighting; Kids a-Cooking; Main Dishes a-Mixing

Salads a-Crunching; Sides a Steaming and Soups a-Simmering

With easy entertaining tips and ideas, this sure-to-be-a-favorite cookbook is overflowing with fantastic recipe ideas for the entire holiday season and beyond!

Merry Christmas!

Tweetables

Raffle: 12 Days of Christmas; Brides and a Cookbook Click to Tweet

Christmas brides and cooking: what could be better? A raffle! Click to Tweet

Celebrate Christmas raffle: two books, romance and food! Click to Tweet

 

 

Books or TV?

Books or TV which is winning

Books and TV have been facing off since the first black and white set made it’s appearance.

The appeal of stories playing out in front of you in color, black and white, or 3D have the ability to pull you in creating an experience you don’t get with a book.

Or do you? Books themselves are 3D. The covers are full of color unless you are reading on a Kindle Paperwhite, then they are black and white.

Books have story lines that can run through several books just like the TV show you must catch every week.

Do you need those commercial breaks to make popcorn? No problem, books have chapters where you can stop and run to the kitchen or even *gasp* take the book with you and read while the popcorn pops.

Both have value if used correctly. There are great shows on TV if you can find them. Recently, we watched a documentary about how brick making impacted St. Louis in the 1800s. I like Elementry even though there is violence, the characters are intriguing and there is a mystery to be solved, watching for clues is a good mental exercise. And what about all those awesome HGTV shows? My husband would prefer I not watch that channel!

Still do I need to watch all of them? Probably not, that’s why I’m choosing to read more at night. I’ve become jaded when it comes to TV. I’m tired of  violence that doesn’t have a reason or the good guy doesn’t stand out as a grand example. I’m over TV shows that try to shock with nudity, language and gender issues.

That leaves little to watch. Blackish,  Last Man Standing , old movies and reruns of TV shows from earlier days. This summer we watched a lot of baseball, now hockey will fill the screen several times a week.

.

I asked friends of mine would they rather read or watch TV in the evening. All of them said they read, but often the TV is on in the background because family members are watching and they want to be with them. That happens at my house too. When commercials come on I stop reading and talk to my husband. 

Tell me in the comments are you a reader, watcher or both?

other news:

I’m over the moon with excitement that Mind of Her Own made the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) Bestseller List for November.

CBA November list

Why Writer’s Love Scrivener and other Tips

This week I learned about a new social media sight. BLAB, it’s internet tv for the not famous-yet.

There’s probably famous people too, but back to this BLAB. Bethany Jet hosted Johnnie Alexander, Pam Hillman and me on her weekly show. The three of us are Tyndale authors and have books currently on sale.  We discussed, Scrivener, Nanowrimo, writer’s block and so many other things.

We even talked about adult coloring books! I love to color! I’ve found it to be so relaxing and it does let my creative side engage. I’ve put links for color books at the bottom of the post. Those are two of many out there. I’m also including a link to my favorite Crayola Pencils-you don’t have to sharpen them!

Here are the books mentioned in this BLAB show:

3 Tyndale authors

Should You Forge Ahead When Plans Change Last Minute

Should You Forge Ahead When Plans Change

Many experts would recommend when your plans change, plan to adapt. Some would suggest to forage ahead because something life changing is about to occur.

Most of us do swerve when events are canceled, family members fall ill, or when finances insist so why doesn’t government adapt? Do they always feel a life change will occur and everyone will be pleased?

In my small town, we have railroad tracks that separates a large chunk of residential areas from the city. When I moved here I knew to take a book or pen and paper in the car because I would often be stuck waiting for the train to move, unless I wanted to drive miles out of the way. Many times I did try to ‘beat the train’ to the next crossing. After awhile I quit, it was impossible. I couldn’t get there before the gates would come down.

The trains would be there for quite some time on the side track waiting for another train to pass by. My kids knew if I was late picking them up from school not to worry as I was probably stuck at the tracks.

Several years ago my little piece of country began to be taken over by subdivisions, traffic increased, a sports park took the place of a corn field across from my driveway and it became more important to someone that a bridge be build over the tracks. Cost—over 6 million dollars.

It’s a nice bridge.

Railroad bridge

So what’s the problem?

It wasn’t needed. Before it was even completed the tracks were cut in two places. (Federal Law requires unused tracks to be disconnected) I have no answer to why the city was unaware that the tracks were going to be discontinued for use. Did someone not check with the railroad before beginning the project? Or was it because the money was already assigned and it must be used? I suspect the later.

Now we have a bridge that is more like a mountain in these parts. This winter will be interesting as cars slide down in the ice and snow. Or maybe the city can adapt and close the bridge after snow storms so the kids can use it for sledding?

Thinking about myself (this is where you get to think about yourself) how many times to we have a plan that we are positive is the right one? What do we do when we discover it isn’t? For me, I don’t go to the government for the answer. I go to God with my dilemma then I wait for an answer. Sometimes it takes to long to get one and I build a bridge I don’t need.

Writing and Math

Writing and math shouldn’t go together!

For years I have explained to family and friend that I do not need math, I’m a writer words trump numbers. After many years of being unable to connect the two subjects I’ve learned how to cope in a world that requires me to know math things.

If I want to know a percentage off of a price I call my friend, or I pull out my handy dandy Dave Ramsey tip card. 

Math is so difficult for me that I can’t get the same answer on a calculator-ever!

Counting money? Forget it. I’ve made piles on the floor of ten ones only to end up with an extra or worse not as many as I thought

I’ve been happy to live with a lack of math knowledge until last night. As I tried to fall asleep, my brain decided it was time to work on my next novella Outlaw on the Pueblo Express (Barbour Publishing 2016). I was thinking about what my character would wear on the train. I could see her face pressed against the window and then turning and asking, “Where do you think we will be at lunch time?”

Math! Boom in my face!

1800s train

What???????????? TIME????????????

Pages of word problems flashed in front of me.

The ones I could never figure out the answer to.

The ones that made me cry in frustration.

The ones where I would shout to anyone who would listen, “Why should I care what time the train will arrive to pick up Bob if it stops at point B for 17 minutes?”

So here I am, faced with my math demon. I will now have to answer the question for my character, “What time will we arrive at point B?” .

I think it is time to phone a friend.

 1800s train

 

 

Encouraging Girlfriends to be Healthy

 

Girlfriends keep me sane, keep me from making serious mistakes, and love me almost unconditionally.  That can be dangerous for all of us. I’m taking a scary and shaky step here but I think it’s time to admit we need to be honest with our friends who aren’t taking care of themselves and they need to be honest and encouraging right back at us.

Now, I’m not saying you should tell them mean things like: wow, never thought I’d see you buy that size, or think you should eat that–as I myself open another snack pack of M&Ms, good thing I write where no one can see me.

What I am saying is this:

I love my girlfriends and I want to have them in my life for a long time. When my kids were my responsibility I did the hard things, like taking them to the doctor for checkups and shots. Yet, when it comes to myself I find excuses to skip mammogram, update vaccinations and blood pressure . Why does that matter as long as my clothes fit?  

But all of those things matter. Friends get breast cancer, have strokes, and without updated vaccinations can get sick and make their grandchildren ill. 

So let’s all take the girlfriend pledge.

Encourage each other to make steps for a healthy life because if we don’t we will be one less on that shopping trip, cruise or email list.

You can use this infographic below from Oscar Health Insurance as a guideline to ensure your checking off every appointment.

Oscar Girlfriends HealthLRG