Aug 312014
 

The Story of Santa Claus
By: Joseph McCullough
Published by: Osprey Publishing
Expected Publication Date: Oct 21 2014
ISBN: 9781472803429

Summary

Every December 24th millions of children eagerly await a visit from a large, bearded man in a red suit. But where did Santa come from and how did he evolve into today’s Jolly Old Saint Nick?

Well before the legendary poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ shaped the modern vision of Santa Claus riding a flying sleigh pulled by magical reindeer, his story actually began about seventeen hundred years ago in the Eastern Roman Empire. There, a young orphan named Nicholas became famous for using his inheritance to give gifts to the needy. In his most wildly-known story, he threw bags of gold over a wall into the house of a destitute merchant, so that the man would not be forced to sell his daughters into slavery. Eventually, this young and holy man became the Bishop of Myra and lived a life of faith and miracles, fighting injustice and protecting the weak. Even after his death, his miracles continued, and he is credited with saving sailors, healing the sick, and even raising the dead. In time, he became known as St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker.

In the numerous centuries since the passing of Saint Nicholas, his story has grown, developed, and been combined with numerous other legends. In the Netherlands, he became known as Sinterklaas, the old man who brought presents to children with the help of his assistant Zwarte Piet. In England, he became Father Christmas, the living embodiment of the holiday.

Fully illustrated with original color drawings, Santa Claus celebrates the story of his beginnings as a holy man in Ancient Rome, through his development in the Middle-Ages, to his current, likeness on advertisements, greeting cards, apparel and decorations – right down to real-life mall-based family photo opp. It is a winding, magical tale filled with mystery and good will towards all men, sure to fill even the most jaded scrooges with a little bit of Christmas magic.

A portion of all of the profits from this book will be donated to help disadvantaged children throughout the world.

My Review

I absolutely love this book and I think it will be a family favorite for generations as folklore and history mingle together and overcome 1700+ years of religion and cultural changes. This is a book that the Christian home school parent can use as a teaching aide or someone who is Atheist can use to understand the history of why we celebrate Christmas with this jolly fellow!

About the Author

Joseph A McCullough is the author of several non-fiction books including A Pocket History of Ireland and Osprey’s Zombies: A Hunter’s Guide. In addition, his fantasy short stories have appeared in various books and magazines such as Black Gate, Lords of Swords, and Adventure Mystery Tales. He also co-wrote The Grey Mountains, a supplement for the Middle-Earth Role-Playing game. The author lives in Oxford, UK.

 

Every December 24th millions of children eagerly await a visit from a large, bearded man in a red suit. But where did Santa come from and how did he evolve into today’s Jolly Old Saint Nick?

Well before the legendary poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” shaped the modern vision of Santa Claus riding a flying sleigh pulled by magical reindeer, his story actually began about seventeen hundred years ago in the Eastern Roman Empire. There, a young orphan named Nicholas became famous for using his inheritance to give gifts to the needy. In his most wildly-known story, he threw bags of gold over a wall into the house of a destitute merchant, so that the man would not be forced to sell his daughters into slavery. Eventually, this young and holy man became the Bishop of Myra and lived a life of faith and miracles, fighting injustice and protecting the weak. Even after his death, his miracles continued, and he is credited with saving sailors, healing the sick, and even raising the dead. In time, he became known as St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker.

In the numerous centuries since the passing of Saint Nicholas, his story has grown, developed, and been combined with numerous other legends. In the Netherlands, he became known as Sinterklaas, the old man who brought presents to children with the help of his assistant Zwarte Piet. In England, he became Father Christmas, the living embodiment of the holiday.

Fully illustrated with original color drawings, The Story of Santa Claus celebrates the story of his beginnings as a holy man in Ancient Rome, through his development in the Middle-Ages, to his current, likeness on advertisements, greeting cards, apparel and decorations – right down to real-life mall-based family photo opp. It is a winding, magical tale filled with mystery and good will towards all men, sure to fill even the most jaded scrooges with a little bit of Christmas magic.

$14.95 USD
Jul 032014
 

Paw Prints in My Heart

Life Lessons Learned from the Dog of my Life

By: Andrew Hessel
Published: May 13th 2014
By: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN-10: 1497595495
ISBN-13: 978-1497595491

Summary

Here’s to great dogs. Many of us would like to believe there’s a special place in doggie heaven for the really great ones. I know I want to. No question they’ve earned it, deserve it, and it seems only fair. I know there are a great many great dogs out there, working their magic, living their lives with their families and saying it all without ever saying a word. For dog lovers, our precious memories of those “non-conversations” with dearly-departed four-legged friends lend silence a deafening quality. I explained to a friend that Paw Prints is a book about great dogs, not just my dog, although Mac was truly some great dog. And as I’ve said many times, he was certainly the dog of my life, and his friendship enriched and changed not just my life, but the lives of everyone in our family. While the book is my attempt to capture Mac’s remarkably and improbably wonderful story before it fades to past, it’s also in many ways my story, too. Because Mackie and I were happily and deliriously, joined-at-the-paw. Amazing, I think, that I could learn so much from a guy that never said a word. Paw Prints in My Heart is Mac’s story. I think of it as my gift to our family and all of his friends, two and four-legged, that had the pleasure and the privilege of knowing and being loved by this magnificent old Labrador retriever. It’s my best attempt to capture and chronicle a remarkable life, the pain and sadness of his passing, but most of all, his joyful impact upon us over what truly was a most improbable life of fourteen years and a day. A reverent and grateful tribute to a gentle and pure spirit that for me will always be a living reminder of a loving friend in the very truest sense. In every way, for me this book was a labor of love and joy to write. Parts will make you laugh, and others may bring you to tears, so a tissue at times may be advised. But I have the highest hopes that you’ll read it, enjoy it, and connect in ways that only you can understand. Maybe even share it with friends that might understand and pass it along, as a comfort for a true friend they’ve lost, and for what they’ve experienced, and a way for them to remember the laughter and happy times through their tears. I hope that dog lovers everywhere read this book and see a bit of their dog in Mac. I hope that the non-dog lovers amongst us read this book and reconsider. I hope that everyone has at least one dog of their life in their life. My first novel Rush to Dawn, was, in many ways a love letter to my wife, Lynne. This book, I’d like to believe, is a love letter from Mac to all of us.

My Review

This book is a great testament to how much a pet, especially a dog, can touch your heart and really become a part of your soul. This is a definite must read that had me thinking about how I will feel when my “baby’s” move to doggie heaven.

This book is for the animal lover, pet owner and the person who is on the fence about getting a forever friend. Andrew Hessel put his life on hold to write this soulful book because the lost of his best friend was a story from the heart that was worth telling (and reading!). I am so happy that someone finally wrote a book that delves into the true relationship of being part of a family that has true unconditional love.

About Andrew Hessel

It’s never too late to heed the call.

How I arrived at this conclusion is in itself a story.

After college I spent nearly three decades in the corporate world, working for big media on the publishing side.  All powerful, successful companies, headquartered in places like  New York, Burbank, and points in between.   My thing was marketing, advertising, sales management and general management.  In fairness, there were some very good years.

We had fun and did good work we were proud of.

But nothing lasts forever, and in the end, after one too many sales, mergers, and acquisitions, I walked away … having had about all the corporate fun I could stand, you might say.

Few thought the newspaper business, struggling and under siege, would ever recover.  Many branded it a dying industry and called it a dinosaur.

Still others said it was already dead.

There was no shortage of opinions, but three things were painfully clear and inarguably true:

Newspapers would never again have the near exclusive relationship they’d too often taken for granted with their readers.  At least not on the scale they’d enjoyed for so long.

No longer an indispensible news source and with fewer and fewer readers by the day, newpapers were simply no longer all that relevant.  Even the best and the brightest running the biggest and most successful newspapers had no real idea how to remain prominent players in a new age that had passed them by.

Today, we want our news and entertainment instantly, not tomorrow morning.

No escaping the fact that the glory days had up and gone, and were gone for good.  For me, it just wasn’t fun anymore.

Experiencing a shifting business paradigm first-hand is both scaryand exhilirating, but it’s also a rare chance for personal reinvention.

But what next?  What do I want? 

I wanted most to rediscover the passion the corporate world so easily crushes.   And to embrace something deep inside I’d been ignoring for most of life.

Writing is in the blood and deeply-rooted in our family.  We’re a family of writers.  Our father taught us, we taught our kids, and so it continues.

My dad wrote a couple of books, my sister has written professionally for years, and although, until the last few years, most of my own writing was business oriented, I’ve always written.

Dad’s innovative treatment of world history – now there’s a bigsubject – was published by one of the most esteemed houses in the industry, Simon & Schuster.  His dream, rightfully, was for it to be recognized as the unique reference tool he had created it to be, and to find a home in the library of every school in America.  It made perfect sense, his publisher agreed, but  the promised promotion never materialized.

For my dad, what should have been, never was.

Back then I couldn’t fully understand how disappointed he must have been.  How hard he’d worked, how big he’d dreamed.  How deeply it must have hurt.

Authors with books that go unpromoted by their publishers are hardly members of an exclusive club.

Years later, after heeding the call, writing three thrillers and chasing my dream conventionally in the find-an-agent-get-a-publishermode, I get it.

Boy, do I get it.

My dad had no other path, he couldn’t do much about it in those days.

Thankfully, that isn’t the case today.  What you’re reading is testament to a world full of amazing new tools, and bold, new possibilities.

The shock is discovering that following the path leads to yet another jugular paradigm shift.  It couldn’t be more personal.

Or more of a roller coaster. I’m talking about coming to terms with what it means, deciding what to do, figuring out how to go about it, and then getting started.

Then, having done all that, came the final realization that is the very biggest of all:

Winning, and success, are very different beasts from when it all began.

I want people to read my thrillers, and the emphasis is readers over dollars.

I hope the pages turn and you enjoy good reads.

And at the end will consider it time well spent.

Along the way, and starting right here, I’m also hoping for a new kind of communication between readers and writers, and writers and writers.

Please accept my thanks for checking us out and for reading.

And to all the kindred spirits who, for whatever reasons are driven to follow similar dreams, I hope that your visit here offers you a little shelter from the storm and encouragement to keep going.

Here’s to great dogs. Many of us would like to believe there’s a special place in doggie heaven for the really great ones. I know I want to. No question they’ve earned it, deserve it, and it seems only fair. I know there are a great many great dogs out there, working their magic, living their lives with their families and saying it all without ever saying a word. For dog lovers, our precious memories of those “non-conversations” with dearly-departed four-legged friends lend silence a deafening quality. I explained to a friend that Paw Prints is a book about great dogs, not just my dog, although Mac was truly some great dog. And as I’ve said many times, he was certainly the dog of my life, and his friendship enriched and changed not just my life, but the lives of everyone in our family. While the book is my attempt to capture Mac’s remarkably and improbably wonderful story before it fades to past, it’s also in many ways my story, too. Because Mackie and I were happily and deliriously, joined-at-the-paw. Amazing, I think, that I could learn so much from a guy that never said a word. Paw Prints in My Heart is Mac’s story. I think of it as my gift to our family and all of his friends, two and four-legged, that had the pleasure and the privilege of knowing and being loved by this magnificent old Labrador retriever. It’s my best attempt to capture and chronicle a remarkable life, the pain and sadness of his passing, but most of all, his joyful impact upon us over what truly was a most improbable life of fourteen years and a day. A reverent and grateful tribute to a gentle and pure spirit that for me will always be a living reminder of a loving friend in the very truest sense. In every way, for me this book was a labor of love and joy to write. Parts will make you laugh, and others may bring you to tears, so a tissue at times may be advised. But I have the highest hopes that you’ll read it, enjoy it, and connect in ways that only you can understand. Maybe even share it with friends that might understand and pass it along, as a comfort for a true friend they’ve lost, and for what they’ve experienced, and a way for them to remember the laughter and happy times through their tears. I hope that dog lovers everywhere read this book and see a bit of their dog in Mac. I hope that the non-dog lovers amongst us read this book and reconsider. I hope that everyone has at least one dog of their life in their life. My first novel Rush to Dawn, was, in many ways a love letter to my wife, Lynne. This book, I’d like to believe, is a love letter from Mac to all of us.
$9.95 USD
Jun 202014
 

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Finding Spiritual WhitespaceAuthor: Bonnie Gray
Published: June 3, 2014
By: Revell
ISBN-10: 0800721799
ISBN-13: 978-0800721794

Summary

Move beyond Coping and Surviving to a Rejuvenating Place of Soul Rest

How many of us find ourselves exhausted, running on empty with no time for rest, no time for ourselves, no time for God? Bonnie Gray knows exactly what that’s like. On the brink of fulfilling a lifelong dream, Bonnie’s plans suddenly went off script. Her life shattered into a debilitating journey through anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. But as she struggled to make sense of it all, she made an important discovery: we all need spiritual whitespace.Spiritual whitespace makes room–room in one’s heart for a deep relationship with God, room in one’s life for rest, room in one’s soul for rejuvenation. With soul-stirring vulnerability and heartbreaking honesty, Bonnie takes readers on a personal journey to feed their souls and uncover the deeper story of rest. Lyrical writing draws readers into Gray’s intimate journey through overwhelming stress to find God in a broken story and celebrate the beauty of faith.Guided by biblical encouragement and thought-provoking prompts, Gray shows readers how to create space in the everyday for God, refreshment, and faith. She also offers practical steps and insights for making spiritual whitespace a reality, right in the midst of the stress-frayed stories in every season of life.”We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea. Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. If you’re exhausted with being exhausted, read this book. If you feel too busy to read this book, then that’s probably the best sign of all that you need it.”–from the foreword by Jon Acuff, New York Times bestselling author of Stuff Christians Like

My Review

Finding Spiritual Whitespace –Awakening your soul to rest by Bonnie Gray

I have been reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray and to be honest I have been struggling with it. Why? Because it is a really good book and while my experiences and hers are different they both lead to the same place, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It is hard to read about a fellow person, someone who I read regularly on their blog and see regularly online and know that they too feel pain, have suffered mentally and are on this insanely crazy journey of healing through doctors and God.

Yet I can’t seem to put the book down. It feels like it is my story too, maybe Bonnie wrote it so it would feel like that or maybe that’s just how close to home this book is. It seems like a lot of the books I have read lately are about PTSD and God and this journey and I firmly believe that God is speaking to me saying “look, these people struggle to, you are NOT alone, and I am with each of you always!”

My Review of this book is pretty simple.

Buy it, borrow it, whatever you need to do in order to read it because if it’s not YOU who is suffering from PTSD it is someone you know or will know and knowledge is power and knowledge through God is the ultimate power! This is a candid account of a real life journey of a strong person breaking down and being built back up through psychology, prayer and a whole lot of determination!

I am beyond proud of Bonnie Gray for writing this book, her story, because it is books like this that really heal. Not the ones written by doctors who have never experienced any of it and think that the letters after their name give them the ability to cure you, because they can’t. It’s the real people with real issues who have really went through it that actually help you reach a level of peace, healing, a feeling of not being broken and alone. Community, even if the other person never knows.

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Move beyond Surviving to a Rejuvenating Place of Soul Rest

How many of us find ourselves running on empty with no time for rest, no time for ourselves, no time for God?

Bonnie Gray knows what that’s like. On the brink of fulfilling a lifelong dream, she saw her plans shatter into a journey through painful memories and anxiety. In her search for answers, she made an important discovery: we all need spiritual whitespace.

Whitespace.
 It’s the space on a page left unmarked. Untouched. Whitespace makes art beautiful. It gives the eye a place to rest. Just like beautiful art, our souls need balance and beauty.

With heartbreaking honesty, Bonnie guides you to discover a better story for yourself, one that feeds your soul and makes room for rest. Infused with biblical encouragement and thought-provoking prompts, this book shows us how to create space in the everyday for God, refreshment, and faith–right in the midst of our stress-frayed lives.

“Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility.”–Ann Voskamp, New York Times bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts

“Women need this message. If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever before, this is the book for you.”–Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author of Unglued

“We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.”–from the foreword by Jon Acuff, New York Times bestselling author of Start

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind faithbarista.com, serving up shots of faith for the daily grind. Her work is featured on DaySpring (in)courage and nationally syndicated on Crosswalk.com. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

About the Author

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life. She is a featured contributor for DaySpring (in)courage and her work is also nationally syndicated on Crosswalk.com. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons, and blogs about her fascination with the challenge of keeping faith hot and fresh in the daily grind at www.faithbarista.com

Jun 092014
 

Girl at the End of the World

GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD By: Elizabeth Esther
Paperback:
224 pages
Published: March 18, 2014
By: Convergent Books
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307731871
ISBN-13: 978-0307731876

Summary

I was raised in a homegrown, fundamentalist Christian group—which is just a shorthand way of saying I’m classically trained in apocalyptic stockpiling, street preaching, and the King James Version of the Bible. I know hundreds of obscure nineteenth-century hymns by heart and have such razor sharp “modesty vision” that I can spot a miniskirt a mile away.

Verily, verily I say unto thee, none of these highly specialized skills ever got me a job, but at least I’m all set for the end of the world. Selah.

A story of mind control, the Apocalypse, and modest attire.

Elizabeth Esther grew up in love with Jesus but in fear of daily spankings (to “break her will”). Trained in her family-run church to confess sins real and imagined, she knew her parents loved her and God probably hated her. Not until she was grown and married did she find the courage to attempt the unthinkable. To leave.

In her memoir, readers will recognize questions every believer faces: When is spiritual zeal a gift, and when is it a trap? What happens when a pastor holds unchecked sway over his followers? And how can we leave behind the harm inflicted in the name of God without losing God in the process?

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Girl at the End of the World is a story of the lingering effects of spiritual abuse and the growing hope that God can still be good when His people fail.

Includes reading group discussion guide and interview with the author

AMAZON ~ GOODREADS

My Review

Elizabeth Esther probably doesn’t think it but she is a hero for her family and while she still carries scars that she is dealing with this book was amazingly important for the world to know.

As a victim who was taken and preached to and chastised in the name of “god” I unfortunately related to much of what she was saying. I shed many tears reading this candid account of the most vulnerable and scary moments of her life.

I recommend this book to anyone and EVERYONE because it isn’t just a book. It is a guide, in my opinion, to understanding what goes on inside of the head of someone who is in a “victim” position and even more, someone who was a victim and is dealing with re-establishing themselves.

In this book you get a first hand glimpse into what many of us call reality and I can attest to the fact that years after the abuse is over the stuff inside of you is still there like it is a tumor that can’t be removed and needs to be worked around instead.

Elizabeth Esther is an amazing storyteller and blogger and I encourage everyone to read this book to gain some understanding into themselves, people they love, people they haven’t met yet. Unfortunately post traumatic stress affects us all, one way or another.

About the Author

Elizabeth EsterElizabeth Esther is the author of “Girl at The End of the World: my escape from fundamentalism in search of faith with a future.” She is a popular, award-winning blogger and advocate for children’s rights. She appeared on Anderson Cooper LIVE to confront the abusive child spanking practices of Mike & Debi Pearl. Her writing has appeared in Mothering Magazine, OC Family and The Orange County Register. She is a contributing writer for Deeper Story. Elizabeth is a mother of five and lives with her husband and family in Tustin, California.

 

 

WEBSITE ~ FACEBOOK ~ TWITTER ~ PINTEREST ~ CONTACT

I was raised in a homegrown, fundamentalist Christian group—which is just a shorthand way of saying I’m classically trained in apocalyptic stockpiling, street preaching, and the King James Version of the Bible. I know hundreds of obscure nineteenth-century hymns by heart and have such razor sharp “modesty vision” that I can spot a miniskirt a mile away.

Verily, verily I say unto thee, none of these highly specialized skills ever got me a job, but at least I’m all set for the end of the world. Selah.

A story of mind control, the Apocalypse, and modest attire.

Elizabeth Esther grew up in love with Jesus but in fear of daily spankings (to “break her will”). Trained in her family-run church to confess sins real and imagined, she knew her parents loved her and God probably hated her. Not until she was grown and married did she find the courage to attempt the unthinkable. To leave.

In her memoir, readers will recognize questions every believer faces: When is spiritual zeal a gift, and when is it a trap? What happens when a pastor holds unchecked sway over his followers?And how can we leave behind the harm inflicted in the name of God without losing God in the process?

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Girl at the End of the World is a story of the lingering effects of spiritual abuse and the growing hope that God can still be good when His people fail.

Includes reading group discussion guide and interview with the author

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
May 162014
 

Cricut Explore – DIY


Cricut for home and business – I LOVE mine and now you can enjoy Cricut too with awesome deals!

 

make cards with Cricut Cricut crafts Cricut accessories
Jumpstart Your Cutout Art at Cricut

How many times have you had the perfect design idea for a card, pattern, sticker, whatever, only to get discouraged by what it would take to make it real? Cricut is a new company that can take your ideas from design to production in just a few clicks!

What is Cricut?

The Cricut Explore™ is a design-and-cut system for making amazing, affordable DIY craft projects. It’s the easiest way to turn an idea into a finished project right in your own home. It can cut a wide variety of materials — everything from paper to vinyl to fabric — from designs that you purchase or create yourself.

Cricut also provides free projects to get you started, as well as free images of the week to inspire your own new projects. The Cricut Explore™ comes with Cricut Design Space™, free online software that helps you to cut and draw your creations. Get free shipping with code: FREESHIP35

Am I Limited?

You can buy additional software with THOUSANDS of ideas to suit every possible season and need, never creating the same project twice if you don’t want to! Truly making each item one of a kind and personalized! Imagine how much you can save creating your own professional quality wedding invites for a pennies or having the card that says and shows EXACTLY what you want without having to settle? Create seasonal decor and crafts as well. My son has created houses to display at Christmas, they look great and all of his work cost less than one ornament from the box store would have!

**as with many of my posts this contains affiliate links. I do however own and love my Cricut machines and software. I have two including the original Cricut and a newer one as well as one that prints on fondant and helps with cake decorating**

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