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The Christmas Angel Project

The Christmas Angel Project

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The Christmas Angel Project

Bewertungen:
4/5 (29 Bewertungen)
Länge:
170 Seiten
4 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Aug 30, 2016
ISBN:
9781493405145
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Perfect for readers who want a heartwarming and hopeful Christmas story

Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club--enjoying one another's company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they're sure that without her the group can't continue.

When the group gathers "one last time" to open a bag Abby's husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way--little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever.

Fan favorite Melody Carlson is back with another touching Christmas story sure to grip readers' hearts and perhaps inspire them to become Christmas Angels themselves.
Freigegeben:
Aug 30, 2016
ISBN:
9781493405145
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Melody Carlson is the prolific author of more than 200 books for women, teens and children. The recipient of numerous writing awards including the Rita and the RT Career Achievement Award, she makes her home in Oregon with her husband.


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The Christmas Angel Project - Melody Carlson

Cover

Prologue

Abby Wentworth sighed with contentment as she leaned into the soft plush sofa. I think this was the best Thanksgiving ever. She smiled happily as her husband set another log on the already crackling fire. I mean, despite not having any of our family members with us this year, it went really well. Don’t you think so too?

I’ll say. Clayton chuckled as he closed the fireplace door. In fact, that’s probably why it was so pleasant—no family feuds or old emotional fires to put out. He brushed off his hands, then sat down next to her. I’m well aware of how difficult some of my siblings can be during the holidays. Remember how Edith and Dorrie bickered over the cranberry sauce last year?

That’s right! Homemade versus store-bought—I almost had to hide the turkey carving knife. She laughed.

No drama like that today.

But I must admit that Grace and Joel seemed a little strained—although they hid it well. Did you notice?

Yeah, but I chalked it up to having young adult kids. Clayton slipped his arm around her shoulders, snuggling her closer to him. The twins seemed like they were in a snit, like they couldn’t wait to get away from their parents.

I’ll bet that’s why Grace asked me to meet her for coffee on Saturday.

My little Abby Angel—the constant counselor. Clayton gave her a squeeze. What would your book group friends do without you?

"You know that they’re more than just book group friends, she reminded him. Furthermore, what would I do without them? Those girlfriends have gotten me through a lot, Clayton."

Believe me, I know. He leaned over to peck her on the cheek. And I’m very grateful for them, Abby. I really am.

She picked up her sewing basket from the coffee table, setting it on her lap as she opened the lid. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately too. Very thankful for all four of them. She removed one of the four Christmas ornaments that she’d been working on this past week. That’s why I made these.

He studied the ornament hanging from her finger. I’m married to such a clever woman. He gave it a twirl. They’ll love these, Abs.

This is the last one. For Louisa. She took out a needle and spool of white thread. It’s nearly done. I think I’ll finish it up tonight.

Just so you know, I’m on KP. If I see you step one toe in the kitchen, you’re toast. You hear?

Thanks, hon. She grinned as she put on her reading glasses. Wouldn’t want to be toast . . . although I would like a cup of freshly brewed decaf. But it’s hard to make any if I can’t get into my kitchen.

One cup of decaf coming up. He gave her a mock salute. How about a little pumpkin pie to go with it?

She laughed. And here I thought I’d never be hungry again. Yes, please! Bring on the pie and coffee.

As Clayton headed for the kitchen, Abby started to hum softly to herself. One of her favorite Christmas carols—and perfect for her sewing project. Before long she was singing the words aloud:

Hark the herald angels sing,

"Glory to the newborn king!

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled."

Joyful all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies,

With angelic host proclaim,

Christ is born in Bethlehem!

1

Belinda Michaels was shocked to hear the news: her best friend, Abby Wentworth, had passed away in her sleep. According to Abby’s husband, who called shortly after 6:00 a.m., Abby had gone to bed with a severe headache last night, the day after Thanksgiving.

It’s too early to say, but the medical examiner suspects an aneurism. Clayton spoke in a hoarse whisper that was almost unrecognizable. I already called her dad . . . and the principal at her school . . . and now you.

Belinda was so shocked that she could barely form words, but she somehow managed to express her sincere condolences to Clayton. If there’s anything I can do— Her voice cracked with emotion. Please—feel free to ask.

Just let the other book group friends know, he said sadly. You women meant the world to her. Belinda promised to do so, telling Clayton that he’d be in her prayers. But as soon as she set down her phone, she fell completely apart. After a long, hard cry, her sadness turned to anger and she began storming through her house. Ranting and raving, she shook her fist at the ceiling.

Why would God take Abby when she was only in her forties and the world still needed her? Abby had been a perennial optimist, loyal friend, beloved kindergarten teacher, and generally wonderful person. Why would God take her like that? Especially after Abby had fought and won her battle against ovarian cancer. Just two days ago, at their Thanksgiving get-together, they’d toasted to her six years of remission. And now she was dead from a brain aneurism? How could that be? How was that fair? And what would Belinda do without her?

Belinda finally found herself standing in front of her stone fireplace, just shaking her head. On the solid oak mantle were several framed photos. Mostly of her daughter Emma at various ages—from birth to her twentieth birthday last spring. But it was the old black-and-white photo, taken back in the thirties when Belinda’s mother had been a toddler, that caught Belinda’s attention now. Her round-faced mother had been seated on her great-grandma’s lap. Belinda had known since childhood that the wrinkled old woman, simply known as Granny, had been born into slavery. She’s why we got to be strong, Belinda’s mother used to tell her as a child. We gotta make Granny proud.

Attempting to steady herself and be strong, Belinda took in a deep breath as she looked at the clock next to the old photo. Surprised to see that it was nearly 7:00 now, she knew it was time to call the other book group friends. Louisa and Grace and Cassidy needed to hear the news. But how do you say something like this? Talk about a bad wake-up call.

Knowing that Louisa Van Horn was Abby’s oldest friend and mentor, as well as an early riser, Belinda decided to start with her. She quickly blurted out what Clayton had told her. Not surprisingly, the older woman broke into soft sobs, each one wrenching through Belinda’s already hurting heart. Louisa was barely over losing her husband last winter—and now this.

I can’t believe it, Louisa declared in a husky voice. Our sweet Abby is gone? How can that be?

Belinda shared what little information Clayton had given her and then, in an attempt to end the painful conversation, she explained that she still needed to call Grace and Cassidy.

I think we should all meet, Louisa said suddenly. Abby would want us to be together right now. They agreed to meet at the Coffee Cup later in the day. Belinda told Louisa goodbye, then prepared herself to call Grace.

As she waited for Grace to answer, Belinda wished that she felt closer to this woman. It bothered her to remember how she’d sometimes been jealous of Grace—often worried that Grace was trying to steal Abby’s friendship from her. Not that it had ever happened. Now she felt guilty for her juvenile feelings. Grace answered her phone in a sleepy voice and Belinda quickly told her the distressing news, followed by Louisa’s suggestion that they meet later in the day. Then she tried to cut the conversation short by explaining that she still needed to call Cassidy.

Poor Cass, Grace said. Abby was like a mom to her.

I know. Belinda winced to think of how Cassidy would take this. It would be the most difficult phone call to make.

I feel so lost now. Grace sniffed loudly. I can’t believe I can’t just text her—can’t believe Abby’s really gone.

Belinda attempted to say words of comfort, but knew they sounded as stiff as a poorly written sympathy card. I better call Cass, she finally said. I promised Clayton I would let everyone know.

I’ll see you this afternoon, Grace said.

Belinda told her goodbye, then pushed the speed dial for Cassidy’s number, taking in a deep breath as she waited for the young woman to answer. Since it was Saturday, it was possible that she’d already be at the veterinary clinic. She’d probably have her phone in her pocket to check texts, but Belinda didn’t want to text her with this kind of news.

Hey, Bee, Cassidy said cheerfully. What’s up?

Belinda quickly broke the news about Abby, but when Cassidy didn’t respond, Belinda thought maybe she’d lost the connection. Cassidy? she said loudly. You still there?

Yeah—I’m here—I— Cassidy’s voice broke. I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe it. How can she be dead? We just saw her on Thanksgiving. She was perfectly fine.

I know, honey.

I feel like I can’t breathe.

Sit down and take some deep breaths, Belinda said slowly.

Abby was—was like a mom to me. I mean, she wasn’t old enough, but you know what I mean.

I know, Cass. She loved you so much. She was so proud of what you’ve made of your life.

What will I do without her?

You’ve still got me, Belinda said meekly, although she knew that she could never replace Abby—no one could. And you’ve got Louisa and Grace too. Now she told Cassidy about Louisa’s suggestion. Three o’clock at the Coffee Cup—can you make it?

Yeah, I get off work at two.

Maybe they’ll let you have the day off. I mean, considering—

No, I’m the only vet here until Dr. Auberon comes in at two.

Well, go easy on yourself, honey. Take lots of deep breaths. And remember how much Abby loved you.

Yeah—it’s just that—that I will miss her . . . so much. I don’t know what I’ll do without her.

We’ll figure it out, Belinda assured her.

By the time Belinda hung up the phone, she felt like a dishrag that had been completely twisted and wrung out—thoroughly drained. And she still felt miffed at God. Didn’t he know how many lives would be devastated by Abby Wentworth’s death? Not only her family and close friends either. All of Lincoln Elementary would feel the loss.

For that matter, many of the residents of Pine Grove, Minnesota, would feel it as well. And just before Christmas too. How could any of them expect to have a good Christmas now?

2

Even though Louisa was the oldest member of the book group, Abby had always been the leader—the glue that held them together. In fact, she’d been the one to start the book group in the first place, more than fifteen years ago. Originally they’d had eight members, but it didn’t take long before they were whittled down to just five. And that, they’d decided, was how they wanted to keep it. But now there were only four.

Louisa glanced at her watch as she went into the Coffee Cup. She was a few minutes early, but that would give her a chance to order her latte and get them a table. To her surprise, the big table in the corner was free. As she carried her latte back there she remembered the first time they’d met as a book group—at that very table. She also remembered the time they’d met there about nine years ago when Abby had told them she had ovarian cancer. Louisa sighed as she sat down. And now Abby was gone.

As Louisa picked up her coffee, she noticed her hand—surprised to see how old and wrinkled it looked, with blue veins showing through her pale skin. She’d turned sixty-three in April, shortly after Adam passed away. If any of the book group women needed to die, it should’ve been her. Widowed and lonely, Louisa had been attempting to hide her struggles with depression this fall. Just a few days ago, she’d confessed to Abby how she was not looking forward to Christmas this year. Matthew and Leah and the kids can’t come home from Dubai—and I told them not to worry about it, she’d confided. It’s so far for them to travel and, really, it’s just one day. Maybe I’ll just forget about Christmas altogether.

Well, you will be spending Christmas with Clayton and me, Abby had declared. And we’ll invite some others too. Maybe the book group would like to get together again—like we did last year. That was fun playing games like we did.

Louisa sighed

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4.1
29 Bewertungen / 12 Rezensionen
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  • (4/5)
    "Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club--enjoying one another's company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they're sure that without her the group can't continue. 

    When the group gathers "one last time" to open a bag Abby's husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way--little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever."-book synopsis from Goodreads.com

    This is such a lovely and uplifting book by Melody Carlson. It starts out very sad but it is not long before you just feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Although I read this in August, I felt the Christmas spirit. Reading this book at Christmas time might become part of my tradition to get me into the right mindset for the holiday. 

    This definitely has a Christian theme to it and draws you closer to God. I would re ommend this book to anybody. Anyone feeling down or unhappy would definitely benefit from this quick read. 

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*
  • (3/5)
    Hallmark movie. Everything turns out great. Quick read.
  • (4/5)
    It is always fun to read novellas set during the Christmas season. Some have a magical "Christmasy" feel and some are simply good stories that occur during the Christmas season. Melody Carlson is an author whose novellas are always a joy to read.In The Christmas Angel Project I was anticipating something perhaps dealing with folks finding a tree decorated with paper angels which has the name, gender, and age and size of a child for whom folks can purchase and provide a gift for Christmas. This was definitely not the case in this story. As you can see from the back-cover intro to the book, it is about four ladies in a book club who lose a beloved member of the group quite suddenly and just before the holiday season. What I found interesting is that each of the ladies comes from a different walk of life, a different stage of life, and has different perspectives. They all have quirks of personality and emotional and societal needs quite different from each other. While a short little read, it had a longer-book feel to it. Of the four ladies, I found it difficult to pick the one I liked best. I felt that Cassidy and especially Grace were somewhat complainers. I liked Louisa but she kind of had to grow on me. Belinda might be my "most favorite" of the four ladies.I liked the fact that two of the ladies connected with a gentleman for a potential romantic relationship. Very above board and clean. And one of the ladies' rocky marriage seems to have a lift.But perhaps I'm giving too much of the story away.A good read.I received a complimentary copy as a participant in the Baker Publishing Group's review program.
  • (5/5)
    Some Christmas stories can be sappy but this one wasn't at all. It made me laugh and cry. This story starts with a group of 5 women who are in a book club together. Abby Wentworth is the one who keeps the group together. Right after Thanksgiving she dies unexpectedly from an aneurysm. Right before she died she had made angel ornaments for the other 4 women. Her husband takes them to the women and these bring the women closer together and encourages them to come up with a Christmas project they must each complete. I received this book from Revell for a fair and honest opinion.
  • (5/5)
    An enlightening story of home and love that will touch all who read it. I loved this story as I love reading and using your gifts for what is best. Close friends become even closer when one of their group dies, leaving them with one more challenge. The become the Christmas Angels and work together to help those in need all the while helping themselves in return. I received a copy of this book from the publisher to read and review.
  • (4/5)
    December always brings the desire to read Christmas fiction for me. And to remember the real 'reason for the season.' The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson was absolutely perfect on both counts.The prologue introduces us to Abby, who is putting the finishing touches on some personal Christmas gifts for her friends, all members of their book club. Now, this isn't a spoiler as it's the first chapter - but Abby passes away.The reader is privy to the shock and grief that her four friends experience when they hear this news. Each of the four has a very different personality and different reaction to the news of Abby's death. She played a unique role in each woman's life.When Abby's husband delivers the gifts to the group, they take what Abby has given them and turn it to something even more special. They decide to become 'Christmas Angels' and help members of their community."Angels should be capable of making miracles in other people's lives......Suddenly they were all talking, suggesting ways they might help others, good deeds they might do, ways to 'pay it forward'."I loved this idea - it's absolutely one each of us should put into play in our own lives and community - at any time of the year. Matthew 6Carlson's characters are very likeable in their honesty, doubts, beliefs and struggles. I enjoyed that they were all from different walks and stages of life. (And I would enjoy them as friends as well) She has created unique ideas for each character to carry out their good deeds. I enjoyed seeing their plans come to fruition. Carlson also includes a lovely romantic subplot for one of the characters.Looking for an sweet, inspirational, heart-warming holiday tale with a wonderful message? Pick up The Christmas Angel Project. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea looking out at the snow.
  • (5/5)
    I love reading Christmas stories around the Holidays to "Get me in the mode". This is a great novella to read anytime of the year. The story starts out telling us about five ladies in a book club. With out giving the story away, we learn right away that Abby dies. It seems like she is the glue that held the club together and without her they think about disbanding. I found this book to be a great lesson on using our gift God gave us, how we are all important and that we can effect others even if we don't realize it. It shows what true friendship is and that even when we are gone, people may still be touched by the love and example we have shared. I would recommend this book for anytime of the year, not just to read at Christmas.
  • (5/5)
    Five women regularly getting together for a monthly book club, when one of them suddenly dies, Abby it seems was the glue that held them together. Would the remaining four friends be able to form some kind of bond to keep the group together, seems rather small for a book club, maybe something else.Abby being gone seems to answer them with a gift of homemade angel ornaments, and surprisingly each one looks like the receiver, but there is more to each ornament as they are about to discover. The four remaining decide to get together and grieve, but they begin to discover a personal note to each of them, how did she know? She was taken unexpectantly and yet!This book will make each one of the look deeper into yourself, and as these women found their strength from each other, you will be surprised at the outcome of this short, page-turner book. A great message here and your going to love this story!I received this book through Revell Publishing and their Blogger tour and was not required to give a positive review.
  • (4/5)
    What kind of legacy will you leave? That is the underlying theme of Melody Carlson’s The Christmas Angel Project. Carlson, known as the queen of Christmas novellas, has another hit with this book. She takes her characters on a journey from grief to hope as she explores how people can use their talents and dreams to make a community a better place.Four women — Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda — find themselves lost and rudderless following the death of their friend, Abby. Abby has befriended, encouraged, and basically loved on all four, and they find themselves unsure how they will get through the next days and weeks leading up to Christmas without her. Although members of the same bookclub, the women feel disconnected from each other without Abby. That is until they receive an unexpected gift from their dear friend.The Christmas Angel Project is all about finding purpose within the framework of one’s gifts, personality, and passions. Each character built on what they had already developed in their lives and used it to reach out to others in unique and meaningful ways. The projects each woman undertook — veterinary care for the elderly, art classes for the grieving, decorating Habitat homes, and a fashion show for high schoolers — brought dignity, self-confidence, and hope to those they touched. The characters all had fears, self-doubt, and feelings of unworthiness common to all. I liked that about them. They were real women with real struggles who decided to focus not on themselves but on others. And that is what Abby had done in her life, and that is the legacy she left for the four to continue.I listened to the audiobook of The Christmas Angel Project and was at first put off by the narrator’s voice. Her timing was great, but she made several of the characters sound older than they were. But as I got more and more involved with the story, her voice disappeared and the women emerged.A heart-warming read for the Christmas season, The Christmas Angel Project gets a recommended rating from me!Recommended.Audience: adults.
  • (5/5)
    Melody Carlson is the queen author of Christmas novels! They are the cozy snuggle up and read stories even when it isn’t Christmas time! Abby has a special way of touching people’s lives personally and for the Lord. When she dies suddenly, her monthly book club which consists of her and 4 other ladies is devastated, even lost. None of them had much in common other than their friendship Abby. Even more so they each depended on her greatly for emotional support and spiritual advice. They decide to meet one more time before disbanding the club. Her husband delivers sack filled with gifts for each one for the next meeting.Opening their presents bring tears as they are beautiful handmade angel ornaments that looks exactly like the one receiving it. Included for all of them was a personal hand written note about how grateful she was for their friendships, and how they were all her “angels”. The certainly never saw themselves as angels, just Abby.They decide in honor of their friend, to keep the club together but in a different way. Inspired by her message they would each become a Christmas angel, working to make miracles come true in the lives of others. They depart excited but perplexed. Each lady had been so wrapped up in her personal life, problems, and career, they hadn’t thought much about serving God and the needs of others. Individually the ask themselves question, what could they do, what were they capable of doing, and how would be do it?As the story unfolds all 4 ladies choose very different plans to accomplish their goal. Deeply buried God given talents emerged as they found ways to bless others.The women also found a new awakening in their relationship with the Lord. Their personal lives began to change in ways they never imagined.There were so many wonderful life lessons in this book! When you have only one person to depend on for your deepest needs and that person is taken, you are lost. That is why it is so important to have God as number one in your life. He will always be thereAlso just was with the club members, life and all its drama and business can consume us. Unknowingly we shut God out of our lives and struggle along alone. This backslidden condition also tends to make us very self-centered, unable to see or care about those around us. This book was so inspiring!I received this book free from Revell Publishing.
  • (4/5)
    The Christmas Angel Project is this year’s Christmas story by Melody Carlson. Abby Wentworth lives in Pine Grove, Minnesota with her husband, Clayton. Abby belongs to a book club (that she organized and created fifteen years prior) with her friends. Abby is actually what holds it together (the glue). It is Thanksgiving evening and Abby is working on ornaments to give to her friends. She wanted to do something very special for them. They were there for her when she went through her cancer treatments. The next day Belinda receives a call from Clayton, Abby’s husband. Abby passed away during the night from a brain aneurism. Abby was a gentle soul with a good heart (her husband and friends called her an angel on Earth). Abby will be sorely missed. Clayton gives a package to Belinda for the group. At the next meeting, each member opens her gift from Abby. They are angel ornaments created to look like each one of them. Grace, Belinda, Louisa, and Cassidy decide to become angel’s this Christmas. They will do something special to honor Abby and to help others. But what will each of them do? Cassidy is a veterinarian and the idea comes to her the next day. Mrs. Morgan brings in her sick cat even though she cannot afford it. Her little baby (her cat) is ill and needs assistance. Cassidy finds out that other people in Mrs. Morgan’s building are in the same predicament (they are all on social security). Cassidy starts offering her services to them (at no charge), but her boss does not approve. Cassidy really gets to know the residents and enjoys spending time with them. What if Cassidy has to make a choice? Louisa is an artist and finds out that the local community center needs someone to teach an art therapy class. Maybe this would help her too. Louisa is also dealing with the loss of her husband, Adam (passed away the previous year). Grace is an interior designer and Habitat for Humanity Homes is doing a special project for Christmas. They need to someone to furnish the living rooms of three homes for their new owners. Grace did not read the whole letter and thought they needed Christmas decorations. But there is no turning her back. Grace will need the help of her friends to fulfill this wish. Belinda owns Glad Rags in town. She offers unique fashions (upcycles items). Belinda receives an email from the new McKinley High School principal. The students are fashion challenged (dressing like street walkers). Casey, the principal, wonders if Belinda can help them. Belinda ends up organizing a fashion show with the proceeds going to charity. But she is in for a shock when she meets the principal! Join Louisa, Cassidy, Belinda, and Grace as they start The Christmas Angel Project.I always look forward to Melody Carlson’s Christmas novel each year. I was so delighted when I received an advance copy. I enjoyed the overall story, but I did not like the amount of romance in the book. Two of the characters end up having romantic encounters while doing their angel projects. I wish there had been less romance in the novel and more about the woman (and their angel projects). The book really did not need the romantic element. I love the descriptions of the angel ornaments that Abby made for her friends (wish there had been pictures). The book is well-written (as usual) with engaging characters. I give The Christmas Angel Project 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). The book was lacking the normal Melody Carlson magic.I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.
  • (5/5)
    Title: The Christmas Angel ProjectAuthor: Melody CarlsonPages: 176Year: 2016Publisher: RevellMy rating is 5 stars.The story is not the usual perky or cute type of tale published for the holidays. However, it is a very touching book and I highly recommend it! What starts out as a book group with five women becomes a group of four women trying to regroup after the loss of one of the ladies who the other four leaned on. From there evolves a tale of how God works in the hearts and lives of these four women that not only changes them, but impacts others too.The book begins to be filled with hope as the women come in contact with what was left for each of them by their former leader who went home to be with the Lord. Each of the four women really becomes a different person from the inside out, and the people they come in contact with and what happens grabs my heart. I think it’s an excellent book too as we are reminded that not everyone has the best of holidays, and how God can uplift the heart in the darkest hours when we look outward instead of being totally inward focused.Well done Melody!Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”