Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

And the winner of our Christmas gift basket is: Pegg Thomas! Congrats!
Enjoy the books and treats!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

Writing, Whimsy and Devotion is on vacation until January 6.
See you in 2014.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - More Advent Thoughts

Advent Thoughts: A Down-to-earth Message

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
(Luke 2:8-20, NLT)

Nativity scene in Bronner's entrance in Frankenmuth, Michigan

The shepherds were considered lowly in ancient Israel. Their clothes became dirty and smelly from working in the fields with the sheep, herding them and protecting them. If a shepherd walked by someone in town, the average citizen sidestepped them. They didn’t garner attention like the Pharisees and scribes, dressed well and scented with expensive oils, people who took pride in following the law, so that others could observe.

The Lord didn’t send his angels to the rich and religious the night Jesus was born in a room kept for animals. He sent them to the lowly shepherds, telling them to “fear not” and giving them a message of great joy and salvation to come. The account of the shepherds visiting Christ at the time of His birth speaks for itself. It’s simply this: Sinner or saint, worship the one who loves you and was willing to sacrifice His life for you, when you’ve done nothing to deserve it—myself included. He reaches out to you, wherever you are in life.

Father, open our eyes to see that we need to trust in You, to receive your love sent to us, your glory wrapped in the body of the baby Jesus, who came to live among us and give His life for us. Thank you for the best gift of all. Amen.

Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas!

Please leave a comment below or follow before the morning of Dec. 23rd, to qualify for the drawing of our Christmas gift basket, filled with Christian romance books and other goodies. When you leave a comment it means so much to me! Thank you for stopping by to read this post today.

It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Whimsy - A Catty Little Christmas!

Have Yourself a Catty Little Christmas this Year!

 I’m still waiting for Mom to put up my stocking this year. She put up a lace mantle scarf, but nothing else yet. When I sleep during December I dream of extra kitty treats and catnip, and maybe a new stuffed mouse to pounce on.

My least favorite thing that happened this holiday season was when somebody bought me a Santa hat and thought I’d like it. How embarrassing! Thankfully it was too big and I pulled it off right away.

My favorite part of Christmas last year was helping with the Christmas tree. You know, my humans just don’t arrange the branches quite right for the best climbing and exploration, so I need to get in there to make sure things are right. If your cat needs more help in this area, have them read about two very smart kitties, Iris and Fern, at their Tree Decorating 101 web page. They have several cool step-by-step pictures. (Mom needs to take more pictures of me, so I can show off more often!)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your cats out there (waving a paw at Tasha and Wild Cat, especially) and even a few dogs, like my friend, Jakearoo! Wednesday Whimsy will take a holiday break. We’ll be back in 2014 on January 8 with more pet interviews, book reviews and commentary on cat life. Until then, don’t forget to spoil your pet this holiday season.

Enter a comment or follow for a chance to win our Christmas gift basket, filled
with books and goodies pictured below. Leave a comment by the morning of Dec. 23rd. 

Cat not included!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Motivation - Creative Inspiration at Christmas

Creative Inspiration at Christmas

Inspiration for writing comes in many forms. This time of year we are surrounded by creative inspiration. During the busy and hectic days of the holiday season, it's good to take a break and absorb the wonderful Christmas movies and literature that abound. The following are just a few examples to get you started.

There aren’t many of us who haven’t seen the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, learns from an angel named Clarence that the world would be a much worse place if he’d never been born. 

Miracle on 34th Street appeals to the child in us all. When a kindly old man named Kris Kringle turns up and not only plays Santa at Macy’s, but asserts he is the real Santa Claus, he turns the world of a pragmatic single mom and her little daughter upside down.
Newer classics like Elf and the not so new Home Alone and its sequels continue to charm us. In A Christmas Story, we are treated to a nostalgic look at the early 1950s and laugh every time Ralphie’s desire for a Red Ryder BB gun are thwarted when each adult in his life repeats the well worn phrase, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

A Christmas made for TV special from the early 1970s was called The House without a Christmas Tree, about a little girl named Addie, who just wanted to celebrate a normal Christmas. However, her grim, grief-stricken father prohibited such activities since the loss of her mother during the holiday season when she was a baby. I had forgotten that the touching movie had been based on a book, written by Gail Rock and based on her childhood.

If you’re looking for a touching story for you or your children to read, here is a link with
more about the The House Without a Christmas TreeThe Children's Book Blog Christmas Countdown.

The dvd is also available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, if you prefer to watch it.

But one of the earliest and perhaps the first time bending piece of literature written,  a classic penned by Charles Dickens and made into several film and animated versions, is of course, A Christmas Carol. Skinflint Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits sent to teach him that all his money isn’t worth much in light of eternity, if he can’t share with others during his lifetime. The version of this we enjoyed watching the most with our kids was The Muppet Christmas Carol, which while it takes some liberties, stays pretty true to the message of other versions. I have yet to actually read the novella, though I have it on my Kindle app. One of these days . . .

So give yourself a break, sit back with a cup of hot chocolate or tea and curl up with a Christmas book or watch a Christmas movie to fill your imagination up and be inspired!
Maybe you'll be the one to write a classic Christmas story this year.

Enjoy this trailer for The Muppet Christmas Carol and don't forget to enter
December's drawing for a Christmas gift basket filled with books and
goodies. Leave a comment or follow the blog by Dec. 23rd to qualify.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - Hope in Hard Times

Advent Thoughts - Week 2: Hope in Hard Times

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.
 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies 
and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant— 
the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
“And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:67-79, NLT)

Birth of John the Baptist, by Tintoretto
 A priest in Israel, Zechariah wasn’t a young father filled with his own hopes and dreams. For many years, the dream of having a son eluded him. Yet, he and his wife, Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, still followed God’s law faithfully. They must have trusted that God knew what He was doing, though they went through great disappointment.

Israel wasn’t going through the best of times either. The Lord had seemed to be silent for many, many years, they found themselves under Roman rule and they awaited the Messiah. Life was difficult. Under Roman oppression they were taxed heavily and their sons and daughters could be whisked away any time at the bidding of occupying forces.

Yet, when Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to their son, John, the focus was on God’s own Son, still in Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit testified to that precious life that Mary carried, a fulfillment of God’s promises. As Zechariah prophesied, “. . . he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior . . . just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.” God kept His promises in what might have seemed the bleakest of times. The Lord remembered the sacred covenant He made with His people, a covenant He cannot break and sent His Son, Jesus.
Madonna with Child and St. John the Baptist
by Guido Reni

And in the moments of joy, when Zechariah named his son, the Holy Spirit gave him a glimpse of what that special child would do—introducing the Savior of the world to the people of Israel! There would be forgiveness of sins and the washing away of guilt. In a dark time when some waited for death, a deliverer was coming to give them hope and new life!

It encourages me to know that God remembers His people. Even in the hard times, He knows what I’m going through and gives me hope for the future. His promises are still true! If you are God’s child by faith, be encouraged that He has not forgotten you. As promised in Romans 8, He has a purpose in your life for what you’re going through and nothing can separate you from His love!

Father, help us when we hurt and feel left alone, to remember we are yours and You haven’t forgotten us. Please help us to focus on Jesus, even in the hard times, knowing that nothing can separate us from You and your love. Amen.

(Images in public domain. Source:

It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Whimsy - Just Another Wednesday with Lilybits

Lily-bits, not large, but in charge

Just another Wednesday here . . . 
Mom started back to something she calls “work” yesterday. I knew something was up when she left her new scrubs over the back of the couch in the family room the night before. Out came her large tote and her work shoes went in a plastic bag. At least I got a taste of her ham when she made a sandwich for lunch. 

When she disappeared through the door in the hallway by the laundry room, dressed for work yesterday morning, I knew she wouldn’t reappear for a long time. The nerve! Lacking my daytime servant I am at a loss. Without opposable thumbs, I can’t open the treat bag, let alone the cupboard they’re in.

I meowed and whined, but Mom didn’t come back . . . until after my scheduled dinner time, which is 5 o’clock sharp. If I can push her I might get my wet food at 4:45—that’s if I’m really obnoxious! But last night, I wasn’t fed until after six. The horror!

Yes, I know she gave me an extra treat that morning and left me plenty of food, but I punished her by turning my nose up at the usual kibble. Besides, I must keep my girlish figure. I weigh in at a little less than six pounds. I think that’s a good number for a little cat, don’t you? They keep saying I look and act like a kitten.

Anyway, I didn’t cooperate very well, when Mom wanted to pick me up when she came home. “Give me the food first”, I said!  Wouldn’t even let her take her coat off. Today I stayed under the foyer table, over the heat vent for quite awhile. Now I am on Mom’s lap as I write this post. I may not always want her to know it, but I’m glad Mom is home today. Thinking about taking a nap now . . .

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Motivations - Writing Prompt

Find a Writing Prompt in a Snowflake!
The snowflake images posted here are microphotographs taken by Wilson Bentley, aka “The Snowflake Man,” taken many years ago. He began perfecting his method of photographing individual snowflakes as a teen in 1885. He was the first to discover that each snowflake was an original in its design and left behind 5,381 images of them!

It’s amazing how God gave us the wonderful gift of creativity, too. Each writer has his or her own original stories to tell, even if they write about the same thing! As the snow swirls and gently collects, against the backdrop of evergreens in my backyard, I thought, what a perfect writing prompt: SNOWFLAKES! 

What do they make you think of? Childhood, when you caught the fresh, icy crystals on your tongue? Christmas time? Driving in a snowstorm? Or would you just write about its crystalline elegance? The challenge is to take five or ten minutes of free writing about what these beautiful little creations make you think of!

Please leave a comment or follow the blog for a chance to win our Christmas gift basket this month! It will be filled with coffee, tea, chocolate, books and other fun things. You have until Dec. 23rd to enter!

(Images from Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - Advent Thoughts

Advent Thoughts - Week One

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!

She will give birth to a son,

and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25, NLT)

St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus by Guido Reni
(in the public domain, source: Wikimedia Commons)
The Advent wreath is out on the table, but in all my busyness I have yet to light the first candle. On top of that, I have been trying out an Advent experiment and have already fallen behind! I divided the verses of the Christmas story in the Gospels, so that I would have a short reading to meditate on for each day through Christmas Eve. The book of Matthew focuses on Joseph’s story, which I read part of earlier this week.

When God chose Joseph to be a stepfather to Jesus, He chose a man filled with mercy and grace. It must have broken Joseph’s heart to think that Mary had been unfaithful, but he chose to be kind, not shaming her with extra attention. He could have brought her forward and asked for her to be stoned, but Joseph had a heart of mercy toward his betrothed. He decided to divorce her quietly.

But then the Lord stopped him by sending an angel in his dreams to tell Joseph that Mary would bear the Son of God. So Joseph obeyed by taking Mary as his wife and by naming the child Jesus when He was born.

Joseph had a heart prepared to hear the voice of God when it came to him. He was attuned to it. He didn’t chalk the dream up to too much spice in his lentils the night before. He knew the voice of God, believed the angel in the dream had been sent from Him and acted on the commands given to him. What wonderful example Joseph is for us!

Father, please help are hearts to be attuned to hear the still, small voice of your Holy Spirit. Strengthen us that we might obey You each day. Please help us to be filled with your mercy and grace that we might extend it to others. Amen.

It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Whimsy - "Catiquette"

Let’s try pronouncing this word first – “cat-ick-ket” with the
emphasis on the “ick.” 
Lilybits--not large, but in charge

Definition: It’s the etiquette cats are supposed to show when company is present. Really? ‘Cause we don’t usually invite them, so what’s the big deal? Why should I feel obligated to be polite to a visitor to my home?

Mom would like me to be kind, but here are some tips for letting the guests know you are the boss: First, if they touch you without permission, you may take a quick taste of their fingers. Now, you never bite to draw blood in this instance. It’s just a warning. Be careful with the claws, too, if you have them. Hang onto their arm like you’re using crab pincers and your human may keep you in another room—away from opportunities to beg. Oh the horror of it!

You can also find out if your guests are tasty or playful with the nibble through the sock trick. You can kill two birds with one stone this way. Make sure their socks aren’t too dirty first. Blecch!

Pace around the kitchen table, stopping next to each guest long enough to look at them longingly while they eat. This way you can find out which one is the softest touch. And don’t forget to demand to sniff each different kind of food. Remember, it must pass your inspection to be eaten.

You must also show your displeasure with your human for giving inordinate amounts of attention to the guests. This can be accomplished with the needy approach or the cold shoulder. If you’re usually a lap cat, ruffle their feathers by ignoring them, going upstairs and sulking or any other way you show distaste. If you’re not usually a lap cat, the needy approach works best. Plop yourself in your humans lap while they’re talking to the guest and surprise them. Whatever kind of cat you are, do the opposite—it will upset their routine, thus getting their attention.

For whoever thinks these are rude ideas, remember that a spoiled cat is a happy cat and makes for a much more harmonious atmosphere at home. Isn’t that what you want for your guests? I rest my case!

Leave a comment for Lily for a chance to win our Christmas gift basket!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A little late with my drawing, but last week's winner is . . .

Connie Almony! Connie, you've won a print copy of Brave New Century
and a package of assorted Lindt Lindor Truffles! Please contact me at
kerouser[at]gmail[dot]com with your snail mail address.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Motivation - Making the Most of a Busy Time

Making the Most of Busy Times
Holidays are busy times, when we have company and our routines are often changed.
It's hard to get everything done, including our writing and also getting the rest we need.
What are some things we can do to keep writing a part of our busy days without
being overwhelmed?

1) Unless you have a specific deadline, make smaller goals and write in smaller chunks.
Can you get one page written rather than none at all? Take a 10 or 15 minute break,
while cookies are baking or you're waiting for someone and make the most of that

Flickr - boellstiftung - Laptop auf dem Schoß
2) Get rid of all or nothing thinking. It's better to get something done than nothing.
If you trap yourself by figuring you won't write at all, because you're behind 10
pages and there's no way you'll be able to get all caught up. After all you have to wrap
presents, clean the house, bake and go to the church or school Christmas program.
Do nothing because of this thinking and you'll be another page or two behind. It's
okay to get something done even if it's not everything you hoped to accomplish.

3) Think of writing time as time for you to be recharged, something you should
do, because it helps you during stressful times.

4) Take time during Advent to look at the Christmas story afresh. Write down
the thoughts that come to you.

5) Think of even the holiday "disasters" that pop up as fodder for future stories, write down those ideas and tuck them away. They'll seem funnier later! For example: I went to pick up my son at the airport and managed to lock my keys in the car.

These are just a few ideas I hope to incorporate. Do you have any ideas you'd like to share on keeping up with writing over the next month? Please leave a comment for a chance to win a Christmas gift basket, which will contain coffee, tea, chocolate, books and other fun things!

The drawing for last week's prize will be tomorrow.