Today I say goodbye to a dream

6 years ago this very month, Seeking Christmas arrived on bookshelves. It was a dream I’d worked on for years. Roadblock after roadblock seemed to meet me along the journey. Eventually, I received the letter from the publisher that my proposal was accepted and they’d like to offer me a publishing contract.

Here’s what I asked my blog readers in August 2013:

Do you……

  • Find your anxiety level rising as Christmas approaches
  • Feel the commercialization overshadows what really matters
  • Wish you could simplify Christmas
  • Feel the hectic pace and busyness makes advent devotions impossible
  • Desire to capture the true magic
  • Long to create memories & traditions with depth & meaning
  • Wish there was a devotion for today’s busy family
  • Want more than just a devotion
  • Want an experience
  • Want to address all of the above AND complete half of your gift list

For 6 years I’ve prayed for Seeking Christmas to catch fire. Sadly, it never lived the life I dreamed it would.

Does that mean it was a failure?

I suppose that depends on how you choose to view the entire experience.

I hired a consultant while I developed Seeking Christmas. From the very beginning, he told me my path was never about the book. Honestly, I didn’t get it at all. In my mind, it was all about the book. I was deeply passionate about the family, traditions, and memory making. Of course, it was about the book.

He tried to help me see beyond this one project, that I had more to offer than a Christmas experience book.

I thought a publishing deal was the end. I thought it would release and the rest was history. I thought it would be the christian Elf on the Shelf.


I quickly realized ALL the marketing rested on my shoulders.

To that point I refused to buy into the “build a platform” idea. I said I’d NEVER speak publicly. God began to show me if I wanted to share this with the world, I needed to do the actual work of sharing.

I began speaking at women’s gatherings. It was one of my greatest fears. Turns out I fell in love with speaking and something I was terrified of turned into something that brought me incredible joy. Connecting face to face with women ignited something else in me.

This step led to the preparation for me to lead women’s ministry at my church. Again, I needed time face to face with these women to hear their struggles and understand their hearts.

Because of Seeking Christmas, I began to consistently write on my blog in very intentional ways. My writing skills developed right before the eyes of my readers. You’ve watched me grow through all kinds of seasons.

All along, the sales of Seeking Christmas were pitifully low.

I’ll be totally honest, part of me wishes I’d never published it. All the writing conferences I’ve attended, they stress the importance of a first success. If you release a flop of a book, you are toast for future books.

But then I look at all God did in me and this ministry, and I see that without stepping out to publish Seeking Christmas, nothing else would have followed. Seeking Christmas drove me to develop in areas I wouldn’t have on my own.

Mainly, Seeking Christmas taught me to say no to fear. It taught me to trust God when I can’t see “success” in the way I’ve always viewed it. It taught me that success occurs in the process rather than the end result. It taught me to release my fear of failure and accept that failure might actually be the success I needed most.

Over the summer my copyright attorney called to ask about updating some filings. I let him know I planned to simply let Seeking Christmas go. I would not continue to pay the publisher to keep it in the distribution system. I was done.

I’ve not fully processed my feelings over it yet.

The prideful part of me feels embarrassed. I look back and see how naive I was. Driven by passion and desire, full of hope that it would bring a gift to families I deeply desired they experience.

The cynical part of me wonders why I spend so much time trying to help people solve their problems or share my discoveries. Do people even care?

Then I look around at this loud online world and wonder why I’m even still here on this blog space.

Then I hear God’s whisper. He gently reminds me to show up for the ones who are looking for help, encouragement, or a dose of inspiration.

So today I officially say goodbye to a once held dream for Seeking Christmas. It’s no longer available on Amazon or online book retailers. I have in my inventory 15 copies you can buy from my store here.

Just for fun, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.

My family has cheered me on through every passion, idea, & project. They’ve encouraged me to follow my dreams and never quit. Today, is hard because it feels like a quit. But I think at times, we have to quit something to prepare for another.

Here’s a little trailer my family made with me 🙂

 

Seeking Christmas from Ernie D.–Clear Impact Prod. on Vimeo.

I say goodbye to the dream I held in my heart for Seeking Christmas today, but I look forward to what God has next, which I never would have stepped into without walking the road with this book for the last 6 years.

But you know what I will still have that I hope families will use? The ornament download. I’ll be updating my shop to offer the ornaments with a family activity. I hope the heart of Seeking Christmas will live on even if the book isn’t around. And now that I think of it, maybe this is the very best way. Maybe all along what I want most is families to get into the actual Bible together. Maybe this will simplify that for them in a hectic, materialistic season.

Hey, I appreciate you. You are the absolute best readership I could ever ask for. Sometimes I can’t believe you are still here with all that is available online to read. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Books I’ve Read in 2019

 

I should really become more systematic with sharing posts about what I’ve read and am reading. It’s far too sporadic. Nonetheless, here’s a few books I’ve read since my last post Books I’ve Read This Year and Why We Read Aloud.

 

Personal Growth/Non-Fiction/Christian Living

  • Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf

It’s a game changer kind of book. I borrowed my friend’s copy which she had underlined and highlighted unlike anything I’d ever seen. The main thing I learned here is that I’m not an active enough reader, clearly.

But seriously. I think everyone should read this book. It’s really that good.

  • Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt

I loved this book. I actually listened on Audible and finished in about 2 days. It was a fast, practical read about goal setting and habits. Apparently, a theme for my year so far. I approach these books as a cynic, sadly. But a trusted friend recommended, so I went with it. I’m glad I did.

  • Cozy Minimalist Home

This is another book I would typically not find myself drawn to for a couple of reasons. I don’t decorate continually. I literally decorate my home when I move and never again until the next house. Not kidding. It’s just not my thing. Also, we are in a 2 year spending freeze, so why would I want to read a book that could cause me to want what I don’t need.

Ok, but that whole minimalism thing drew me in. And the library had it.

It took me by surprise. I finished in a day and would definitely recommend. I particularly liked the writing style.

 

  • Remember God

I didn’t LOVE this one, but it wasn’t bad at all. I just don’t think I was the target reader for this book. I read it because the title appealed to me. If you recall from last year, remember was the word on repeat. I believe if we spent more time remembering who God is, much of our troubles would fade.

However, this book didn’t really address that as much as I’d hoped. Instead it was a part of the author’s personal journey. Her writing life/career, singleness, etc. I think someone in that same season of life would really love and connect with this book.

  • The Soul of Shame – Retelling the stories we tell about ourselves

“We’re all infected with a spiritual disease. Its name is shame. Whether we realize it or not, shame affects every aspect of our personal lives and vocational endeavors. It seeks to destroy our identity in Christ, replacing it with a damaged version of ourselves that results in unhealed pain and brokenness. But God is telling a different story for your life. Psychiatrist Curt Thompson unpacks the soul of shame, revealing its ubiquitous nature and neurobiological roots. He also provides the theological and practical tools necessary to dismantle shame, based on years of researching its damaging effects and counseling people to overcome those wounds. Thompson’s expertise and compassion will help you identify your own pains and struggles and find freedom from the lifelong negative messages that bind you. Rewrite the story of your life and embrace healing and wholeness as you discover and defeat shame’s insidious agenda.”

This book was a powerful read. I only picked it up because a friend mentioned it in passing. I recommend it to all christians.

  • Take Control of Your Life – How to silence fear and win the mental game

“With humor and wisdom, Mel Robbins expertly tackles the fear of change, rejection, and being alone, as well as imposter syndrome and feeling trapped in the wrong career. Each session is a goldmine of discovery as Mel guides you to find your purpose, improve your relationships, and ultimately take control of your life. In these times of high anxiety, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – that changes right now. If you want the tools to break free from fear and live to your fullest potential, this is a must-listen.”

I read this as part of an accountability group. The title gave me pause, but it wasn’t what I expected. Each chapter I found helpful in learning to cast out fear and embrace the person God created me to be and the callings He has placed on my life. While this book isn’t written from a christian perspective, I still found much wisdom and nuggets to take away.

  • The Power of Habit

“In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.”

I loved this book. I love learning new things and the way he told the stories was so captivating and enthralling. I finished that book more aware than ever how powerful habits are and how we hold the power to change and shape our habits. Habits don’t have to control us. Great read!!

Parenting

  • What a Difference a Mom Makes

I basically like anything by Dr. Kevin Lehman. He’s one of my favorites. The beginning I devoured, but then it quickly became much of what I’ve read in his previous books. I love it because I love his advice, but I’d read much of it already.

 

Fiction

  • Roses

Well, this one I struggled to put down. I didn’t want it to end at all. I fell in love with the characters, the plot moved not too fast and not too slow. If you like historical fiction, add this to your list.

“Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town’s founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been–not just for themselves but for their children, and children’s children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.”

 

  • Spark of Light

I’ve never read a Jodi Piccoult book I didn’t like until this one. I really had a hard time with the abortion subject matter as I shared in my Instagram post below. Sadly, I would not recommend this book.

 

  • Number the Stars

This is the 2nd time I’ve read this book. I read it aloud to Zachary and Andrew. Such a good read aloud.

 

  • The Story Keeper

I read this because I really enjoyed Before We Were Yours. It was a fairly quick read but wasn’t as gripping as I’d hoped. But fiction for me is tough because it really has to be a page turner to keep me sitting still.

  • Somerset

This is the prequel to Roses. Equally as good as Roses!

“Born into the wealthiest and most influential family in 1830s South Carolina, Jessica Wyndham was expected to look appealing, act with decorum, and marry a suitably prominent and respectable man. However, her outspoken opinions and unflagging sense of justice make her a difficult-and dangerous-firebrand, especially for slavery-dependent Carson Wyndham. Jessica’s testing of her powerful father’s love is only the beginning of the pain, passion, and triumph she will experience on a journey with the indomitable, land-obsessed Silas Toliver and headstrong Jeremy Warwick to a wild new land called Texas.”

  • Until We Reach Home Lynn Austin

I’ve loved all Lynn Austin books, and this one kept me coming back. A sweet, while at times heartbreaking, and moving read.

“Life in Sweden feels like an endless winter to Elin Carlson after the deaths of her parents. When circumstances become unbearable, she determines to find a safe haven for her sisters.

So begins their journey to America . . . the land of dreams and second chances.

But as hardship becomes their constant companion, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia question their decision to immigrate to Chicago. Will their hopes for the future ever be realized?

ONLY IN CROSSING A SEEMINGLY ENDLESS OCEAN WILL THEY FIND THE TRUE MEANING OF LOVE, FAITH, AND HOME”

  • Titans, Leslie Meacham

Great book. I liked Roses and Somerset better. However, Titans was worth reading. It was filled with a bit less heartache     than her previous books. A more predictable ending. A sweet read to wind down my summer fiction spree.

Do you enjoy these posts? I don’t know how many of y’all are readers???

Is Your Memory As Good As You Think It Is?

I’ve spent my life as a mom building traditions into our family. Even wrote a Christmas devotion to help families do the same.

So you can imagine why it shocked me to my core when I heard one of my children answer the question, “What Christmas traditions does your family have?” with “We don’t really have any traditions.”

Seriously?

We have so many traditions I actually have a notebook dedicated to all things Christmas. It holds Christmas traditions, recipes, menus, etc.

I slept on that comment and woke with it still front and center. It was bothering me because I’ve worked so hard to create in our family memories, experiences, and traditions.

As casually as I could muster, I asked my son why he answered that way. He didn’t remember giving the answer he gave. I tried jarring his memory.

“Remember, they said this. You said that.”

He looked at me quizzically. After a moment he responded, “Well, we don’t really have any do we?”

“What? Are you serious? Let me remind you and see if you recall them.”

I continued to list them all.

“Mom, why are you so upset? Those aren’t really traditions are they? I thought traditions were big things?”

“No, it’s a repeated experience. It can be something small like we have Pioneer Woman Blueberry French Toast Casserole every Christmas morning.”

“Oh, well, I wasn’t thinking that way.”

“Well, how about these? We have a gingerbread house competition every year. Or we make Rolo cookies every year. We have a competition before the baking begins to see who can unroll and stack their Rolos the fastest.”

His response, “We didn’t do it last year.”

I felt myself get defensive all over again. “Yes we did!! I even have it on video.”

I spent the next 5 minutes searching for the videos and made him watch them with me. It all came back. He remembered it clearly.

Yet, until I forced him to recall, he’d forgotten.

If we don’t practice the art of remembering, we forget.

We forget easier than we remember. And we don’t all remember the same way or the same things. We must practice how to remember well.

The Bible is full of this call to remember.

“Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected? Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected?’”

Matthew 16:8-10

Simply Remember

In 2017 the word God continued to speak to me was Remember. In 2018 the word was Simple.

And today I continue to hear these words together. Simply remember.

Remember Me. Remember My works. Remember My faithfulness. Simply practice the art of remembering.

It was the days leading up to Christmas I felt called, inspired, and driven by God to write Illuminate. The inspiration came after a time away at a writer’s retreat and after months of Him stirring a theme in my heart. One of remembrance.

This year has been a challenge for me in many ways as I’ve attempted to homeschool a high schooler, middle schooler, and a delayed learner in elementary school. All while writing and launching 2 businesses at the same time. I’ve cried many tears over all of it and the overwhelm.

Do you know when I’ve hit my wall or felt completely overwhelmed, the Lord has asked me to remember. Every. Single. Time.

It’s like He whispered, “My child, you are forgetting again. Remember. Simply remember.”

I have personally gone through Illuminate multiple times over this last year. God has used it to minister to my soul. He’s used it to restore my hope and put the tools in my hands to defeat the discouragement the enemy attempted to bury me in.

You, my precious and faithful readers, are always on my mind. When the Lord shows me something, you are the first to come to my mind. I begin to think, “I have to share this with my readers. I know they will be as encouraged as I’ve been.”

Illuminate released as a 14 day audio devotion. Meaning it arrives one day at a time for 14 days as an audio file.

I realized some people simply aren’t audio. And some people get stuck at the 14 day piece thinking they need to carve out 14 days (you don’t).

So I packaged Illuminate in 1 complete eBook.

You can now purchase the eBook and get the entire 14 day collection as one book. You can view it on any device or computer. Or print it off. I’m a paper kind of gal and printing at an office supply store is super inexpensive.

While the audio version comes with the transcript as well, there’s something about getting it all at once that some people really want.

Now you can have it both ways!

What God does flows out of who He is.

When we begin to practice the art of remembering and establish this habit, everything changes. Suddenly fear fades, anxiety shrinks, and worries wither.

Illuminate will provide the light your soul is longing for to see the path toward a deeper intimacy with God. For 14 days you will practice seeing the character of God like never before.

ebook devotional

What will Illuminate do for you?

Illuminate will teach you how to truly rest and be still like never before.

No more living overwhelmed by life.

At the end of 14 days you will have a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Creator of your soul. It’s exactly what your soul is longing for.

Who is Illuminate for?

For the one ready to:

  • live free of fear
  • release anxiety and worry once and for all
  • learn to rest even in chaos
  • grow in knowledge and love of God

Looking for a last minute gift?

Give Illuminate. No shipping. No runs to the store. No lines. And best of all, no more adding to the gift clutter. It’s a simple gift that will appeal to all.

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Books I’ve Read This Year and Why We Read Aloud

I love reading. It’s my favorite hobby for sure. If you ask my kids what I would do if I had free time, they know the answer. I’d read.

I read a mixture of non-fiction and historical fiction. But my favorite has become books for children. I guess that’s why when I read this quote by CS Lewis, I nodded emphatically along.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” CS Lewis

When my boys were babies, thankfully iphones weren’t around. When we went to the grocery store, I put a book in their hands. They were mesmerized. At home I read to them before they were able to understand a word I read. I loved simply holding them and reading. It was soothing for each of us.

As they moved into toddler and preschool years, we’d sit for long stretches of time reading. Mostly, because I didn’t like to play. I did play. But given the option, I’d read any day.

So we’d grab piles of books and sit on the couch and read story after story after story. We’d read sometimes an hour at a time.

When they were old enough to read on their own, I continued reading aloud to them before bed. They never wanted me to stop. They seemed to get more out of this time than I realized in all the years of reading.

Here we are in high school, middle school, and elementary school and we are still reading together. When I asked Jacob recently what his favorite part of homeschool has been, he answered “that first year when we’d sit on the screened in porch together, reading books and eating snacks.”

I’ve also discovered a little secret to ending sibling bickering in the car. Audible books! We become engrossed in the story and no on argues. It’s glorious!

I thought I’d share what I’ve read this year. This isn’t a book review. But if they are on the list, I’d recommend them for the most part. Some more than others to be sure. But I have many I quit this year. Time is too short to read bad books.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read so far in 2018.

Adult Historical Fiction

(Each book listed in this category I’d highly recommend)

The Nightingale

The Mark of the King

Before We Were Yours

Non-Fiction

(I loved each of these for different reasons. All very good!)

The Magnolia Story
Capital Gaines

Business boutique

The Secret Code to Success

 

Adult Fiction

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Parenting

(These weren’t my all time favorites but I’m glad I read them. Especially glad I read the love languages. I needed a refresher.)

Mere Motherhood

The Lifegiving Home

The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers

The Way They Learn (Not really a parenting book, but for parents to understand their kids’ learning styles. Not just for the homeschoolers either!)

Christian Living

(These both are in the life changing category for me. Prayer I’ve read twice! I never do that.)

Experiencing the Spirit – Henry Blackaby

Prayer-Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – Timothy Keller

 

FAMILY READ ALOUDS

Where the Red Fern Grows (possibly my favorite all time in children’s book)
My Father’s Dragon
Little Women ( I actually just read this for myself. It is my childhood favorite)
Sign of the Beaver
Sword of Rhema (We LOVE this series. This was book 3.)
Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Green ember
Ember falls
Ember rising

(The Green Ember Series goes down as a favorite in the family. Highly recommend the Audible version. The narration is incredible and really brings the story to life. This is how we read the entire series.)

The lion the witch and the wardrobe

 

School Reads

Darwinist Dilemna

Path to the Pacific

Join our community of readers by clicking here. You will receive some fun downloads to enjoy.In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s called Illuminate. Find out more here and listen to a sample.

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My heart is to encourage and inspire you to follow God with wholehearted, fearless courage.