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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

grace & gratitude | december


“With the arrival of Advent, Christians everywhere turn again towards the Savior. Advent marks the beginning of the celebration of His birth and His long-foretold ministry, atonement, death, resurrection and second coming. If Advent is an occasion when I re-turn my eyes to the Savior, then it is also an invitation to consider where my eyes—and my heart—have been in the meantime. Advent is the gentle nudge that invites me to remember that the truth most worth knowing is that Jesus Christ is the only way Home. It is also a gentle reminder that I ought to keep my eyes upon Him all year long.” ~ Jean-Michel Hansen

December is more than just another month or the month in which winter begins—it’s the whole Advent season and the beginning of the Christmas season. It’s the time where our hearts soften and we focus on gathering our family close, cozying up at home, showing love through gifts, and experiencing God in a deeper way as we reflect on the birth of the Savior. It’s the time the whole earth recognizes Christ, whether they realize it or not, in their celebration of His arrival.

As I grow older, I value this time more. Despite the stress that often accompanies the holidays, there is so much peace and hope and wonder and joy in December. The last couple of years, I’ve actually celebrated Advent—last year through a daily Advent devotional and this year through reading a chapter of Luke each day until Christmas.

So that’s why I went with an Advent quote I love rather than a strictly December quote. 😉

Something else I’m doing to celebrate this glorious season is an Advent calendar through my newsletter. Every single day until Christmas, my subscribers receive a digital Christmas gift. Sometimes it’s a short story, some days it’s a printable bookmark, other times it’s a devotional or prayer. Either way, I’m able to show my appreciation for my subscribers and reflect on just what Advent is and why it’s so important.

It’s more than just a piece of candy every day or checking off another day until Santa comes; it’s literally waiting on God. Waiting on His Son to come to our wretched earth and save us from ourselves.

And the crazy thing is that’s my “theme” for this year: waiting on the Lord. I wasn’t sure how that would play out throughout the year when it first came to me back in last December…but I’ve seen over and over again how I really have to wait and depend on God for so much. But that’s a topic for another post. 🤭


~ scripture of the month ~


And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

And his mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

as he spoke to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Luke 1:46-55 ESV

~ gratitude ~


my papa & his health

miracles

the power of prayer

worship

my precious friends

Laura Frantz 💕

Christmas stories

songs that make me wanna dance

peace that passes all understanding

my church family

boys that sing like angels (definitely not anyone specific)

emails from strangers that make me cry tears of joy & wonder

~ grace ~

Well, my writing did not go as expected. I only wrote 6,005 words instead of 20,000 like I’d hoped—which is not surprising, since 20k in a month is like. insane for me. But 6k was still really good, all things considered. The crazy part is that I didn’t make any definable progress on The Forsaken or my story for Of Storm & Sea.

Nope. Instead, I wrote a 3k-long short story for my Advent calendar called Baby, It’s Cold Outside (after the song, of course) that just completely sucked me in. Suffice to say I already have a title in mind for the full-length version…

So that was half of my word count for November.

I also managed to complete an editing project and put out a few articles and podcast episodes for NaNoWriMo…and got a head start on my Advent gifts (which I termed my super special secret surprise project back in November’s Grace & Gratitude post).

And my reading last month? Oh, the good Lord blessed me in November with some fantabulous reads! I readThe Seamstress of Acadie by Laura Frantz, When Tomorrow Came and Garden of the Midnights by Hannah Linder, and Julia Monroe Begins Again by Rebekah Millet. Of course, Laura knocked it out of the park with her upcoming release—as always! Hannah Linder astounded me once again with her otherworldly talent. She is truly unlike any author I’ve ever read. And Rebekah Millet’s debut novel was a contemporary rom-com with main characters in their forties—a type of story I love but rarely read because I’ve had too many hit-and-misses. But Julia Monroe Begins Again was pure perfection! I actually laughed, so that was an automatic three stars. And the characters, storyline, writing, and themes altogether scored the last two stars for a five-star read!

I cannot wait to review these books and share all my thoughts—but to summarize, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you snag you a copy of each of these!!!


~ goals ~

Obviously the #1 goal is to write my story for OS&S + select the rest of the stories for the anthology. If you haven’t submitted yet…um, what are you waiting for??? Submissions officially close on the 10th, but the form will stay open until December 31st, so if you’re still polishing it up or writing that closing scene and can’t submit by the 10th, that’s okay! You’ll get a 21-day extension!

Funny story about my OS&S story…I had one planned and had started it, but was so struggling with it. Well, the other night, I sat down with an opening line and started a whole nother story that’s kinda captured my heart! So we’ll see how that goes!

Secondary goal is keeping up with my Advent calendar, which has been SO MUCH FUN thus far!

And if I can possibly manage to at least finish the Sky’s the Limit Press website this month, I would be so relieved and thankful. 😅

Other than reading and reviewing, I’m not going to pressure myself to do anything else in December, not with everything going on this month! So I may not have many blog posts or podcast episodes coming out, and I’ve basically disappeared from posting on Instagram until further notice. 😂 The Forsaken and Something Bright & Beautiful have likewise been put on hold until the first of next year.

Boy, 2024 will be busy. 😳

 

I usually share a song of the month in my monthly newsletter—but since I’m sending out the Advent emails, I sent out what amounts to my monthly newsletter back in November. So I wanted to share with y’all a couple songs for this month to make up! 😉

This song has really blessed us and helped us through a crazy tough time recently, and I hope it blesses y’all!

And since it’s Christmas…y’all know I’ve gotta share a Christmas song. To me, there is only one song that just floods me with the sense of Christmas, the knowing that it’s coming, the warm and cozy feeling we love about it. And it’s “The Christmas Song.” Can’t get anymore straightforward than that. 😜

Bonus songs for my folks who love Christmas music…if you’re looking for a modern rendition of “Silent Night” that’s actually good and feels classic while having that pop sound, may I direct you to Justin Bieber’s version? Somehow, the kid managed to do “Silent Night” right, while most people butcher it when they put their own spin on it. And if you’re getting tired of hearing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” but you wanna enjoy Mariah Carey’s insane vocals, I suggest her version of “O Holy Night.” It’s such a good song and done so well and soulfully by the queen of Christmas music!

Now, go and enjoy Advent, my lovelies! Read the Christmas story, listen to some carols, make yourself some hot chocolate, and remember why this season is so near and dear to our hearts. 💕

And if you want to join me in celebrating Advent with a new gift every day, sign up for my newsletter below!











(Pst! I'm an Amazon affiliate, which means I earn from qualifying purchases made through my affiliate links!)

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8 Comments


Jessica Brown
Dec 07, 2023

I'm reading a chapter of Luke every day till Christmas too!! Also, I'm with you on the boys that sing like angels, and I'm definitely not thinking about anyone specific *cough, cough* XD

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Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Dec 08, 2023
Replying to

Ooh, awesome!! I've been loving it! Hehe, glad I'm not the only one! XD

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Saraina Whitney
Dec 05, 2023

Augh, I can't WAIT to read Hannah Linder's new books! And Laura Frantz's! (*coughs* And that story you're writing for OSAS! I was planning to write and submit a story, but...well, life's been crazy. Now that the form will stay open until the 31st - thank youuuu! - I may get a chance to write something. But if not, I'll just be excited to read it when you've compiled everything together! 😊) Have a beautiful December! <333

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Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Dec 08, 2023
Replying to

💕💕💕

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Eloise Thom
Dec 04, 2023

Thank you so much for another wonderful post💕Aww I love Laura Frantz's books too (only one more month until my copy of The Seamstress of Arcadie comes, yay!) I can't wait to read Hannah Linder's stories😊 6k is great, congratulations! I absolutely adored Baby, It's Cold Outside!!! The funny thing is I wrote something for OS&S and it was a structural nightmare, so I wrote another too (which I still don't know about...oh well). I'm very relieved to know that the submissions are open longer, so I have more time to decide weather to submit or not (though if I do, I will submit as soon as I can, I promise) Wishing you a lovely Advent season, Grace 🎁🎀

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Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Dec 05, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for reading, Eloise! (Yay!! You're gonna love it!) Aw, I'm so glad you enjoyed Baby, It's Cold Outside!! Oof. I look forward to reading your story, if you do decide to submit! I hope you have a beautiful Advent season as well! 💕

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