Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day +giveaway!

It's Christmas 1863, the American Civil war rages and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sits alone, contemplating the last couple years. Summer 1961 his wife's dress caught on fire and she died the next morning. He sustained burns trying to put out the flames (bad enough for him to give up shaving and begin the use of Laudanum.) After seven years of courting Frances Appleton and about eighteen years of marriage, he was devastated by his loss.

Now, he's just received news that his son has been badly wounded in battle.

So he sits down and writes a poem.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
This poem has since become a very beloved hymn -- one of my favorites -- and the inspiration for a story that won the ACFW Virginia chapter's short story contest. I Heard the Bells is included in the anthology A Bit of Christmas

Virginia, December 1864

Three years ago, Gabriel Morgan left his home in Virginia to fight for the Union army, despite his family and his fiancĂ©e’s loyalties to the South. Now, with battle fresh in his mind, and the war still raging, he chances a quick trip home with one prayer…to make peace this Christmas.
Now available at Amazon!

What is one of your favorite "traditional" Christmas poems or Carols? Or, if you love this song as much as me, which is your favorite version? 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a e-book edition of A Bit of Christmas! And if you don't have any luck today, join me on Facebook for more chances to win copies of this book every day this week. :)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Beside Quiet Waters

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3 

I discovered something recently. A clock ticks louder in a quiet room than in a room bustling with activity. J Not really. It only seems that way when I lie down to take a nap. You see, my office is in our guest room. I often nap there because it’s convenient. The clock on the wall is battery operated, and while I’m working, I don’t hear it. As soon as I lie down, the noise is deafening.

Do you ever think about God’s patience for humanity? In particular, his Christian children? There are probably times when he sees me rushing about from one commitment to another, always busy doing something, and wishes I’d slow down. I purposely carve out time in my schedule to spend in prayer, but is it enough?

Sometimes I kind of feel like my dog, Dixie, who’s gone on to her perpetual rest. J She used to lie in the grass, with the wind blowing through her fur, enjoying the sounds of nature and life bustling around her. Eventually, her head would sink to rest on her paws as she snoozed on a sunny day. But the minute we threw a ball in the air, she’d be up on her feet, back in the fast lane chasing balls.

I’ve noticed when I’m chasing balls, I don’t hear the clock tick. I miss God’s quiet voice in the stillness of the day. How often does he whisper, “Be still, and know that I am God.”Psalm 46:10a

But even more disconcerting is when we feel God’s silence when we seek him. Going through trials can be quiet, agonizing, and seemingly create distance between God and us.

Whether you’re rushing around, missing a chance to experience God’s refreshing stillness or yearning to hear his voice in the midst of your pain, never doubt his presence. Within the quiet place of our soul—where our deepest hurts lie—God meets us. And sometimes, we experience his greatest gifts while dwelling with him there.

How can you see this manifesting itself in your own life? Do you need more quiet time to fellowship with God—or more God in your quiet sufferings? Either way, he's there to comfort and dwell with you. He will refresh your soul and answer your prayers according to his perfect time and will.

“It is in the quiet crucible of our personal private sufferings that our noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you’ve been through.”~Wintley Phipps

How may I pray for you? Please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests.

God bless,

My latest Christmas novella, Silent Stars of Bethlehemis available for FREE kindle download today only on Amazon. 

My other books:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Welcome Back Andrea Boeshaar! #Giveaway

Crystal and Andrea at the 2014 ACFW Gala
 Howdy y'all! Crystal here. Today I get the joy and privilege of sharing Andrea Boeshaar with you. For those of you who don't know she was one of our early members of Stitches Thru Time and an amazing writer. Today's she's answering questions about her new release A Thousand Shall Fall and giving us a chance at a giveaway, so let's get this party started!

Welcome back to Stitches Thru Time, Andrea! For those who don't have the benefit of knowing you, tell us a bit about yourself.

Sure. I’ve been married for nearly 40 years. My hubby Daniel and I have 3 wonderful sons, 1 beautiful daughter-in-law, and 5 precious grandchildren. My publishing career began in 1994. Since then, 31 of my books have gone to press. Additionally, I’m one of the cofounders ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I served on its Advisory Board for a number of years. In 2007, I earned my certification in Christian Life Coaching and now I’m the Owner/CEO of Pink Ink, Inc., a company committed to encouraging and equipping professional women to put their best faces forward. Those interested can find out more on my website. www.AndreaBoeshaar.com

Congratulations on your new release! What is your story about?

Thank you, Crystal!

“A Thousand Shall Fall” takes place in the autumn of 1864. Spirited Carrie Ann Bell is searching for her runaway sister in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Disguised as a Yankee soldier, she stumbles into a skirmish near Front Royal—and instead of her sister, she finds trouble.

Colonel Peyton Collier of the Union cavalry division arrests her for impersonating an officer, but protects her from worse consequences. Soon the Southern girl finds herself drawn to the chivalrous Yankee horseman, discovering that her foe has become her ally—and more than that, someone she could love. 

But Carrie has promised to keep a dark secret, never suspecting that her silence might threaten the life of the gallant Colonel who holds her—and her heart—captive.

Ooo, that sounds like such a great read! Where did you get the inspiration for your story? What do hope folks will take away from your story?

I’ve been a Civil War enthusiast since the 1980s. My father passed along the interest to me. If he were alive, he would enjoy all the information about the CW on the Internet (although websites must be fact-checked). I always loved the classic 1960s movie “Shenandoah.” When my husband and I visited the Shenandoah Valley last year for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek, it felt like home. It’s a lovely area of our country, and so rich in history. But as for true inspiration, I give God the credit. He is the one who put this story on my heart and now I’m writing an entire series.

Oh, that sounds like a wonderful place to visit and the history...wow! What a treat! Speaking of treats...cam you share with us a treat from your book? Do you have a favorite scene you can tell us about?

Yes, actually. In one of the first few chapters, Carrie (the heroine) tries to jump from a bridge into a Sycamore tree to escape the skirmish of which she’d gotten herself in the middle, but she slips and falls into the tree’s crux. When Peyton (hero) finally discovers her hours later, he thinks she’s a Confederate lad. He asks the boy’s name, then says, “And don’t say Zacchaeus because I’m in no mood for fun and games.”
(Get it? Zacchaeus/Sycamore tree?) :)

As readers will find, I like to infuse humor into dire and/or dramatic scenes. Humor is, after all, a coping mechanism. In fiction, I think humor—when used appropriately and done right—can lend welcome relief from a scene which may otherwise be too emotionally difficult to read.

LOL! Oh, I love it!!! I'm so glad you infuse humor into your stories. You mentioned this is a series, so what do you plan to work on next?

I’m currently writing book 2, “Too Deep for Words.”

Great Title! I'm sure folks would love to keep tabs on what you've got cooking. Where can readers connect with you? Where can readers buy your book(s)?

Readers can find me on the web (blog and Pinterest): www.AndreaBoeshaar.com
They can “LIKE” me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrea.boeshaar
On Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar

Thanks so much for those links. Last but not least, apart from writing, what is your favorite creative outlet?

I like to do a lot of things—when time permits. Scapbooking and photography are two of my creative outlets. I’m a novice at both, although they give me much needed relaxation.
* *

Thank you for hosting me, Crystal. I’d like to invite you and readers of Stitches Thru Time to celebrate with me. It’s the launch of “A Thousand Shall Fall.” From now until December 10th, readers can enter to win an e-copy of my novel AND a Kindle Fire HD 6”!!!
Just click on the following link:

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and very Merry Christmas!

I second Andrea's well wishes and I'd like to add a BIG Thank-You to her for being our guest today. 

All right, folks. Do y'all have any questions for Andrea? Have you read any of her stories? If so, do you have a favorite?