Blessings Journal

I was challenged many years ago to start a blessings journal. Basically, it was to take time every day to write down the blessings God gave me (and/or my family) for that particular day. It could be something as simple as finding money in my coat pocket I’d forgotten I put there, to someone paying it forward in the drive-thru … or even just “Thank You, God, today’s over and you promise me a clean slate to start over tomorrow.” 

Over the years my blessing journal has grown to include much more than just writing down the blessings God gives each and every day. I have started writing down promises He speaks over me and my family, prayer requests He has answered, the specific word He gives me for the upcoming year, significant Bible verses He wants me to focus on for a particular season, and my commitment for times of fasting. 

Every December, I take time to go to the store and pick out the blessing journal that I think best fits the word God gives for the upcoming year. It has to be the perfect color, style, etc. and each year it’s different. I like using fancy notebooks with different sections in place of an expensive journal, just because I like to have a section for all of the above and I like having a notebook I can fold over and write in easily since that’s the purpose of the journal – writing down the ways God speaks, blesses and answers. During particular difficult periods of time in my faith journey, I will reread past journals to remember the ways God has blessed, spoken and answered and it encourages me to endure, not give up, and finish strong the assignments He gives. 

If you’d like to learn how my blessings journal has evolved and changed, and the new things I’m implementing in 2022, head over to Cheer UP! Podcast on January 12, 2022 and listen to that episode. In the meantime, stop over to Cheer UP! Podcast and catch some of the other past episodes. Starting your new year with encouragement sounds like a great way to start counting your blessings!

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

The Power of the Blessing

I’m not sure exactly how many years ago it was that I was introduced to this tradition, but our family has been putting it into practice ever since and I want to encourage you this morning to consider starting it with your own family.

Kent Julian is someone whose blog I follow. You can find him here: He offers a lot of wisdom from both a businessman perspective as well as a Christian husband and father. He spoke on his blog several years ago about how he writes a “birthday” letter to each of his children once a year – highlighting some of the accomplishments from their previous year as well as praying blessings and instilling wisdom for the year(s) to come. I thought that was a great idea and being someone who loves the written word, I decided to start that tradition in our home as well.

Since then I’ve been introduced to another variation such as buying a blank journal and writing one blessing each day for either your husband and/or each one of your children and then presenting it to them at the end of the year. However, that seemed too complicated so I’ve stuck with a birthday letter each year. My theory is the best tradition is the one that speaks to your heart and the uniqueness of your family.

Who doesn’t want to be encouraged? In today’s society, especially with the access of social media 24/7, wouldn’t your children benefit from the written words of your encouragement? Something they could pull out and reread from time to time, seeing in black and white their unique gifts and talents that you notice. Maybe it’s something as simple as you noticing the kindness they show their “kid brother or sister” and that encouragement will spur them on to act in the manner in which you caught them – building more acts of kindness upon each other until it becomes second nature. Maybe it’s the encouragement they need to know that their mom and dad believe in them… so that when they are tempted to take a detour from the right choices they normally make, they will remember how much confidence you have in them and that alone will stop them from heading in a direction that would be difficult to move away from.

I just wanted to take the time today to remember the power of encouragement. The power a blessing holds in the life of a child from their parent. The power of speaking respect and honor to our parents. The power of showing kindness to a friend and even kindness to a stranger. The power of the positive word from one human to another.

Words hold power. There is power in speaking blessings over those we love.

I’m imaging a world where in 2022 we all choose to speak blessings over each other. That’s the world I want to live in.

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

Celebrate Lit Blog Tour for Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson

About the Book

Book: Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

Author: Candice Sue Patterson

Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical/Adventure

Release date: December, 2021Shirley Davenport is as much a patriot as her four brothers. She, too, wants to aid her country in the war efforts, but opportunities for women are limited. When her best friend Joan informs her that the Coast Guard has opened a new branch for single women, they both enlist in the SPARs, ready to help protect the home front.

Training is rigorous, and Shirley is disappointed that she and Joan are sent to separate training camps. At the end of basic training, Captain Webber commends her efforts and commissions her home to Maine under the ruse of a dishonorable discharge to help uncover a plot against the First Lady.

Shirley soon discovers nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust? Why do the people she loves want to harm the First Lady? With the help of Captain Webber, it’s a race against time to save Mrs. Roosevelt and remain alive.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, splitting wood, or decorating cakes, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance—where the past and present collide with faith. Her debut novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart was a 2012 ACFW First Impressions finalist and made INSPYs Longlist for 2016.

More from Candice

The idea for Saving Mrs. Roosevelt literally came overnight. I had just finished writing a contemporary romance set in Maine, centered around a harbor town where lobstering is prevalent. My agent called me and told me about the Heroines of WWII series and asked if I’d be interested in writing a WWII novel. If so, I needed to come up with a story and proposal fast because spots were limited and filling quickly. My mind was so consumed with research of the lobster industry that I felt I couldn’t clear my brain fast enough to come up with another story on such short notice. That’s when I started wondering how I could take the knowledge I already had and make it work for a WWII novel. I googled Maine during WWII, came across an article that mentioned the SPARs, and the idea for Saving Mrs. Roosevelt was born.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the Nancy Drew deep inside me figured out a unique way to merge lobstering with espionage.

Though the plot is purely fiction, there are some characters and events that are historically accurate that were fun to include as well. I love Maine, but I’m Hoosier born and raised, and in my SPAR research, I discovered that Dorothy C. Stratton–the woman the Coast Guard asked to direct the SPARs–was the Dean of Women at Purdue University in Indiana. She was a woman of true character, grace, and strength. I knew right away she needed a cameo in my story.

Within twenty-four hours of receiving my agent’s call, I had plotted the entire story and sent a proposal. Weeks went by, and as fall ushered in its beautiful colors, my husband surprised me with a trip to Monhegan Island, Maine. We walked the trails, ate amazing seafood, and took in the gorgeous view. While on the island, my agent called again, this time to let me know that Barbour had contracted Saving Mrs. Roosevelt. What a special moment it was to be standing on the very shoreline where the book is set when I received the good news.

Since the book is set in Maine where the heroine works on a lobster boat with her father, I wanted to share my favorite recipe for Maine blueberry pie.

Maine Blueberry Pie


2 Pie crusts

1 quart of fresh Maine blueberries

1 ½ tbsp lemon juice

Freshly grated nutmeg

¼ c light brown sugar

¼ c white sugar

¼ c flour

2 tbsp tapioca for thickening (if the berries are juicy)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the berries into a large bowl, add lemon juice, and toss. Add the remaining ingredients and toss until the berries are well coated with the flour and sugars mixture. Line the pie plate with one crust. Put the berries into the pie plate and top with a solid or lattice-top crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the berries are bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

My Review of Saving Mrs. Roosevelt:

I love reading (and watching) true event historical fiction books. In other words, the best way (for me) to learn about our history is to read about fictional people from a perspective that was well researched and what could have happened. I loved this book and the lessons I learned about the Coast Guard, the women’s roles in WWII and maybe most of all, how our nation (men and women alike) came together for the greater good. Maybe more people need to read this book today in order to remember what it’s like to band together, regardless of color, culture or beliefs and fight for freedom, liberty and independence for everyone. This is a book I’ll be talking about for quite a while.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or to just be encouraged, sign up here:

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at:

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 15

Girls in White Dresses, December 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 15

Remembrancy, December 16

Bigreadersite, December 16

Genesis 5020, December 16

Lighthouse Academy, December 17 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

lakesidelivingsite, December 17

The Sacred Line, December 17

Betti Mace, December 18

Boondock Ramblings, December 18

Inklings and notions, December 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 19

Older & Smarter?, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 20 (Spotlight)

Texas Book-aholic, December 21

Blossoms and Blessings, December 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 22

Through the Fire Blogs, December 22

Mary Hake, December 22

For Him and My Family, December 23

Spoken from the Heart, December 23

Labor Not in Vain, December 23

She Lives To Read, December 24

Elly Gilbert, December 24

Splashes of Joy, December 25

Pause for Tales, December 25

deb’s Book Review, December 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 26

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 26

Connie’s History Classroom, December 27

To Everything There Is A Season, December 27

The Author Reads, December 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 28

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 28

Lights in a Dark World, December 28


To celebrate her tour, Candace is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Adopted on Christmas Eve

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1, NIV)

A few weeks ago I was reading my daily Bible devotions and came across Matthew 1. I normally skip through the genealogies, but this particular morning, I decided to sit and savor the order of people who form the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Two particular truths struck me that morning and today I would like to focus on one, saving the other for another day. I noticed a few things: God mentions a few women in the chronology, not many but a few. Some He mentions by name, others He refers to as “the wife of…” I mention that because if God wants to highlight certain people, He will, regardless of their gender.

The other thing that struck me as I was reading was that the lineage displayed is through the line of Joseph. I’m not a Biblical scholar and I’m sure there is a very valid reason for that lineage being highlighted, but it brought out a truth to me that I believe God wanted me to grasp.

Joseph was Jesus’ step father. God was Jesus’ father. Mary was Jesus’ biological mother. He grew inside her, was fully God, fully man so his biological makeup had Mary’s DNA coursing through it – not Joseph. Joseph was a step dad. Yet, God saw fit to spend 16 verses talking about the lineage of Joseph that Jesus was born into. He didn’t spend that amount of time on Mary’s lineage, Jesus’ biological lineage, but instead on the husband of the family, the step dad.

Jesus was adopted. We are adopted. I am not Jewish. According to the Bible, I am a Gentile. I had to be adopted into God’s family in order to become His daughter. God loves me as much as His biological children, my Jewish sisters and brothers. God didn’t offer a distinction in the lineage of Jesus in Matthew 1, and He doesn’t distinguish between me and His chosen people. We are all saved who believe in Him. We are all going to Heaven if we believe in Jesus Christ, confess our sins, and ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives.

What a wonderful truth to think about on Christmas Eve, the day before we celebrate Christ’s birthday. God doesn’t care if we’re adopted or biological. He wants us all to be part of His family and offered the best way for that to happen. He let go of His Son for 33 years, showing us a glimpse of what a real relationship with Him would look like and inviting everyone to accept His free gift.

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family! May you all know the love God has for us – whether adopted or biological. God loves you! If you don’t know what that love feels like for yourself, feel free to contact me at and I will be happy to talk to you about it further. He wants us all to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas together – as one big family!

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

Author Interview: The Thin Space by Dann Stouten

About the Book

Book: The Thin Space

Author: Dann Stouten

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Release date: May 28, 2021

When Psychologist Rocky Devos lost his wife to cancer, he also lost his faith in the fairness of God. For over a year, he lived in the thin space between his love for God and his hatred for what he believed God did. Each night, he banged on heaven’s gate demanding an explanation.

“Why Rachel, Lord? Why would you let her suffer like that? Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you give us a miracle?”

The longer his prayers went unanswered the more frustrated he became. Eventually, he meets God’s silence with a silence of his own. But then, a year and four months later, the answer arrives disguised as a homeless vagabond who claims to be the apostle Paul. Clearly, Rocky believes he was delusional. But in their court-appointed sessions, he finds a kindred spirit. As Paul unpacks the pain of losing his wife in childbirth the two men connect. Rocky believes he’s there to help Paul. Paul believes the opposite.

The book explores the thin space between faith and doubt. Rocky’s questions are our questions. At some point we will all lose someone we love. When we do, we will find comfort in the company of those who have walked the path of suffering before us. Rocky invites us to join him on his journey of redemption. His conversations with Paul will not only change the way he thinks about God, they may do the same for you as well.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

DANN STOUTEN (DMin, Western Theological Seminary) is the pastor of Leadership and Teaching at Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan. Dann has always been a lover of stories. He believes if we write about hope, it’s because we have found hope. If we write about tragedy, it’s because we have experienced tragedy. If we write about love, it’s because we have been loved well or want to be. If we write about faith, it’s because we have wrestled with our doubts and come out on the other side. Doubt is the enemy of faith and nothing stirs up doubt like death.

When we lose someone we love, our faith is either strengthened or strangled. That death will drive us closer to God or drive us farther away. We find ourselves in The Thin Space between wanting to believe and wondering if we do. For a time, faith and doubt play tug-o-war with our souls. In the end, whether we chose to believe or not is often decided by the stories we’re told. My prayer is that my words might bring people comfort and bring them closer to God.

More from Dann

There is a thin space between faith and doubt, and when we lose someone we love, the lines can sometimes get blurred. Unanswered prayers hang heavy on our hearts, and grief can even cause us to question God. In those moments of uncertainty, we often find comfort in the company of those who’ve walked the path of suffering before us. Their story and our stories intertwine. The Thin Space invites us to walk alongside of Rocky DeVos as he tries to navigate life’s most challenging moments. It is honest, comforting, and dares ask the questions we so often are afraid to explore. It will challenge the way you think about God and is a must read for anyone who’s lost someone they love.


What role does God play in your writing career?

I do a lot of praying when I write. I hope my books end up in the hands of people who are struggling with what they believe about God, Christianity, and eternity. I want to have a conversation with them about who God is and what He’s really like. Stories provide a way for me to do that.

Do you write full-time or part-time? How does that influence your writing?

Writers write, and we read what other people write too. It’s who we are. We just love words. I’m always writing something, the next sermon, the next book, or the next article.  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the two come together and I can use something from a sermon in a book or article.

What inspires your stories?

What inspires my stories are other people’s stories. Often those stories are the struggles of the people who come in to meet with me for pastoral counseling. Their stories, questions, problems, fears, and doubts inspire me to write about those things to a larger audience.

What are some new projects you’re working on?

I have a children’s book going entitled, The Fish-house Princess, a Christmas story called, Tommy and the six kings, and I’m plotting a sequel to The Thin Space. If the first book gets an audience, I’d hope to turn it into a trilogy. That’s why it ends with some unanswered questions.

How do you determine if it’s a stand-alone book or a series?

For me that depends on two things. First, and most important is do I think that there’s more that these characters have to say. Is there something else they can teach us about how we should be living our lives. And then second, did enough people buy the first book to justify a second?

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or to just be encouraged, sign up here:

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at:

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, December 8

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 12 (Spotlight)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 14

Beauty in the Binding, December 15 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, December 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 16

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 17

For Him and My Family, December 18

Splashes of Joy, December 19 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 19

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 20

Spoken from the Heart, December 21 (Author Interview)


To celebrate his tour, Dann is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Christmas in October…

We recently adopted another dog. We were going to adopt two dogs seven years ago, but I lost my job and we didn’t know if we should go ahead with adopting the second dog or not. We prayed for God’s wisdom and He very clearly told both my huband and myself separately to “wait.”

Fast forward to December 2020. I received a monetary gift from one of my bosses for Christmas and I felt God was telling me to use it for a dog fund. I thought it would be the beginning of a dog fund, because adopting a dog can be quite pricey. Either way, I shared with my husband about the gift and how I was keeping it set aside for another dog.

We casually have been looking throughout the year for another addition to our family, but none of them seemed right. Either too expensive, not the right breed, etc. The last Friday in September I was browsing Facebook and came across some “aussiedoodle” puppies for sale at the local shelter. They were adorable, our current dog is an Aussiedoodle and so we applied. We prayed immediately for God’s will to be done. Either open the door to adoption or close it tight because we only wanted to add to our family if He approved, if now was the time,and if the “wait” was over.

The following Thursday we received notice we were “conditionally approved.” We had an appointment for our current dog for the vet but they wanted to wait until he was up to date on heartworm before allowing the meet and greet to take place, and we needed to make sure our current dog got along with the new puppy. We were looking at a male but they were encouraging us to adopt a female. We fell in love with Bella, one of the three sisters in the litter.

During the two weeks we had to wait for the meet and greet to occur, God reminded me of how He had handpicked our current dog for us, and also handpicked the bearded dragon whom we’ve called family for the past six years. If this dog was also handpicked by God, then nothing (or no one) would stop us from adopting her.

The brothers were all adopted within the first week. I was disappointed, I’ll admit it, because we had fallen in love with Barry. However, Bella was pulling on our heartstrings too so we were excited to meet her.

Finally that day came and she was even better than we had hoped. We don’t think she’s a full bred Aussiedoodle. She looks like she has Bernese Mountain Dog in her along with poodle because she doesn’t shed at all!

That, my friends, is the icing on the cake! My husband and I, for the past seven years, have wanted a bernedoodle but they were too expensive for our budget. We were able to get what we think is a bernedoodle, maybe mixed with some Australian shepherd, for the price of a stray. The monetary Christmas gift I received? It covered the whole price of the adoption with a little left over.

God showed me once again how much He loves us, and how personal He is. We were willing to wait for His timing, and He rewarded that obedience and faithfulness by not only giving us a submissive, sweet personality puppy, but one that is (we think) the breed we truly desired but never thought we could afford.

*** We are awaiting the results of a DNA test. She might not be a bernedoodle, but she sure has stolen our hearts. And she doesn’t shed, which for this family is truly the icing on the cake!

What is one area in your life you’re trusting God for? We waited seven years, trusting God’s timing was better than ours. There are other desires/dreams in our lives we’ve been waiting for at least seven years, if not longer. We’re still waiting.

Having Him handpick a puppy for our family builds my faith that when it’s His timing to fulfill the dreams and desires we’ve been praying about that will be life-changers in our family, it will be even better than the new addition to our house.

Because that’s God!

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

Names of Holy Spirit – Podcast Post

Last episode we talked about some of the many names of Jesus. In this episode we discuss Names for the Holy Spirit, Who is also known as the Holy Ghost.

To contact Kara, please visit her website by clicking here.

To contact Cheri, please visit her website here.

Click to learn more about HymnTalkTwinTalk.

For comments, questions, or prayer requests, please send an email to cheeruppodcast at gmail dot com or visit us on:

Twitter – @CheerPodcast

Instagram – @cheeruppodcast

Facebook – We have a Facebook Group! Search for Cheer UP! Podcast and we’d love it if you’d join us by clicking here.

The Cheer UP! Podcast is also available on the Roku, Downcast, Chromecast, Google Podcasts, Spotify and iHeart devices and apps

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: The Billionaire’s Secret by Meghann Whistler

About the Book

Book: The Billionaire’s Secret

Author: Meghann Whistler

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release date: October 11, 2021

He’s a billionaire hiding a devastating diagnosis. She’ll do whatever it takes to help her sick, matchmaking mom. A freak accident throws them together, but will his big secret tear them apart?

When Ryan Lawson’s business partners force him to go on a wilderness retreat to come to terms with a shocking diagnosis, the last thing on Ryan’s mind is romance. But when he’s stranded in the woods with a sweet young event planner, all thoughts of business take a back seat to her girl-next-door appeal.

Fresh off a bad breakup, Zara Georgopoulos comes to Vermont to help her terminally ill mom work through her bucket list—not fall in love with a man who’s the exact opposite of her usual type. But when Ryan starts working his way into her heart with his kindness and generosity, she needs to make a decision: Trust the biotech billionaire not to walk all over her, or go back to guarding her heart.

Stuck together in the wilds of Vermont, they forge a tenuous connection. When Ryan finally shares the truth about his illness, will it bring them closer together . . . or shatter Zara’s trust in him for good?

Inspired by 2 Corinthians 12:9, The Billionaire’s Secret is a sweet inspirational romance with a swoony hero, LOTS of entertaining banter, and a strong Christian message.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Meghann Whistler writes sweet Christian romance novels that won’t make your grandmother blush.

Her debut novel, Falling for the Innkeeper, was a #1 bestseller in the Clean & Wholesome Romance category on It was also named one of “Six Sensational 2020 Debut Series Romances” by the American Library Association’s Booklist Reader, and is currently a finalist for the 2021 Book Buyers Best Award.

Before settling down with her rocket scientist husband and raising three rambunctious boys, Meghann earned a B.A. in English from Amherst College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College.

She is grateful to be living her dream of writing sweet, hopeful stories that demonstrate the power of love and grace.

More from Meghann

Billionaires have been in the news a lot lately. Bill Gates was just revealed to be a serial adulterer, and both Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson recently used a portion of their riches to rocket off into space.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find any of these guys very relatable.

So, when the idea to write a Christian billionaire romance first occurred to me, I knew it would be a challenge. I love a good challenge, though, which is what made writing this book so much fun!

Real People, Real Problems

It’s been said that death is the great equalizer, but I think illness is a pretty big equalizer, too. Old, young, fat, thin, rich, poor—it doesn’t matter. Sickness can strike anyone at any time.

And when it strikes Ryan, the hero of The Billionaire’s Secret, he doesn’t react well. He resigns himself to living without love and the family he’s always wanted . . . until he meets the heroine, Zara.

But as Shakespeare said, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” Zara’s already dealing with illness in her family. Ryan is certain she won’t want to deal with his poor health, too.

Can’t Buy Me Love

Psalm 121 asks, “Where does my help come from?”

Money can’t buy love. It can’t buy happiness. It can’t buy good health. In The Billionaire’s Secret, Ryan has to find where his help truly comes from before he’s ready for the happily ever after God’s had in store for him all along.

I hope you’ll join him and Zara for the journey!


Describe to me how you flesh out your characters? Do you have the story idea first or do you create characters and then design the story around them?

I’m a very character-driven writer. For The Billionaire’s Secret, I started with the idea of the hero, Ryan. Here’s a guy who has all the money he could ever want, who’s powerful and successful, and yet he’s just been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition that has no cure.

He can’t buy his way out of his illness. There’s no amount of money in the world that can fix it. How does he react? What does he do?

I liked the idea of taking a powerful person and making him powerless. I also liked the idea of making the billionaire hero a kind, patient, and protective person. So many billionaire books are about raging alpha males, and I wanted to turn that stereotype on its head.

Are you a “panster” or a “plotster” or a little of both? What does that mean to you and how do you use that when writing a book? 

I have a rough idea of where my stories are going when I start writing (I write romance, so hello Happily Ever After!), but I lean heavily on the “pantser” side of the equation. I enjoy the process of discovery as I write.

I really love Robert Frost’s quote, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” My characters are constantly surprising me and taking the story on interesting twists and turns!

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? 

Read, of course! I also enjoy walking, Rollerblading, and playing badminton, as well as playing cards with my husband and board games with my kids. We live near the ocean, so we spend a lot of family time at the beach.

What are some new projects you’re working on?

Right now, I’m working on the next book in my Sweet Boston Billionaires series, which is about Ryan’s business partner, Alan. It will be available in 2022, so stay tuned!

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter? 

I grew up in Canada but lived in California for thirteen years before moving to South Texas, and I can say without a doubt that I’d prefer an endless summer!

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or to just be encouraged, sign up here:

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at:

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 10

For Him and My Family, December 11

Texas Book-aholic, December 12

deb’s Book Review, December 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 14

Spoken from the Heart, December 15 (Author Interview)

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 15 (Spotlight)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 16

Inklings and notions, December 17

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 19

Simple Harvest Reads, December 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 21

Kayem Reads, December 22

Susan K. Beatty, Author, December 22 (Author Interview)


To celebrate her tour, Meghann is giving away the grand prize package of a 1000-piece Vermont Jigsaw Puzzle, My Weekend Is All Booked Adult Coloring Book, My Weekend Is All Booked Mug, & signed copy of Falling for the Innkeeper!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Twas the Night Before Jesus by Donna Wyland CELEBRATE LIT BLOG TOUR

About the Book

Book: ‘Twas the Night Before Jesus

Author: Donna Wyland

Genre: Picture Book

Release date: Fall 2021

‘Twas the Night Before Jesus is a beautifully illustrated picture book that introduces children to the life of Jesus and God’s promise of an eternal home in heaven. As the melodic rhyme carries children through Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection, they come to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Donna Wyland is an Award-winning author, editor, and coach who believes in writing books that entertain, encourage, and inspire. Her bestselling children’s book, Your Home in Heaven, sold thousands of copies and was gifted to more than 4,000 children around the world through churches, schools, and various ministry organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Reprinted in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing, Inc., Your Home in Heaven has become a classic story that shares the love of God and the hope of heaven with an increasing number of children. If I Could Ask Jesus, Donna’s premier Christian bedtime story is bringing young hearts closer to God, too.

Donna lives in Ohio with her husband and a couple of bunnies that hide under the bushes outside. She loves to read, ski, jump on the trampoline with her grandson, and cross items off of her personal Bucket List.

More from Donna

Donna Wyland’s love for God and for Christmas inspired her to write ‘Twas the Night Before Jesus. Only recently did she discover how many websites offer Happy Birthday Jesus items to help families, Sunday schools, and more to celebrate the real reason for the season. Children of all ages have read and reviewed ‘Twas the Night Before Jesus. It received a rousing 5 stars! Glory to God! You can find some fun resources here!

My Review of Twas the Night Before Jesus:

This was a wonderful book by Donna Wyland. It’s great for children and tells the whole reason why Jesus came to earth, not ending with His birth but ending with Him coming back again someday, after He rose again from the dead. This is a book I would give as a gift to kids of all ages (birth through preschool, young elementary age). She tells the story of his birth, life, death and resurrection in easy-to-understand words and the illustrations are beautiful. They definitely capture my attention and would a child of any age as well. The words are easy for a learning to read child to grasp but yet keep one’s attention if being read to.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.

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Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 4

Blogging With Carol, December 4

Texas Book-aholic, December 5

Author Adventure, December 5

Inklings and notions, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 6 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

For Him and My Family, December 7

Cats in the Cradle Blog, December 7

deb’s Book Review, December 8

Splashes of Joy, December 8

A Reader’s Brain, December 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 9

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 10

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 10

Older & Smarter?, December 11

An Author’s Take, December 11

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 12

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 13

Mary Hake, December 13

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 14

Spoken from the Heart, December 14

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife, December 15

Labor Not in Vain, December 15

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 16 (Spotlight)

Lights in a Dark World, December 16


To celebrate her tour, Donna is giving away the grand prize package of a hardcover copy of the book and an online $50 Magnolia Market gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Variety of Packages Under the Christmas Tree

If your family is anything like mine, there is a reason for which wrapping paper is used for each person. Everyone gets their own and it usually coincides with that person’s personality. My mom gets poinsettias as she loves flowers, my dad gets Santa Claus paper as he loves to “help out the Big Guy,” and my nephew gets something to do with sports.

Those similarities and differences spill over to each family member also. Whenever my extended family gets together, we love to sit around talking about how my niece is just like me and my son shows traits of my sister, and how even my adopted nephew takes after his grandmother at times, despite no true biology (goes to show nurture is as important as nature). Our daughter and her cousin talk, look, and share the same expressions, despite living across the country from each other.

Sometimes the differences can seem huge and tensions can flare. So, how, especially around the holidays, do you make it all work? How do you keep harsh words from ruining not only family togetherness but possibly lifelong relationships?

My personal opinion is that if you can keep the real reason for getting together in the forefront of your mind, it helps. What is more important – a spotless house or a Dicecapades tournament (if you have never played this game, it is hilarious, especially with a large group of people)? Getting a chance to stay up late and getting a glimpse into your sister’s heart again or getting the allotted eight hours of sleep you usually need? Most little ones (there are always exceptions) can adapt to a different schedule temporarily also without too many meltdowns.

When family togetherness occurs this year, I issue you a challenge. Why not be the first one to make relationships the priority centered around an environment of fun? You might be surprised. If you take time to invest in your family, digging a little bit deeper into their personal lives, taking time to talk about more than just surface topics, you might be surprised that what you leave with this year is more than a store bought present. Instead, you might leave with a better understanding of why your brother, sister, aunt, grandmother reacts or acts a certain way. You might have a better understanding of why your brother has always hated spiders, you might learn what childhood was like for your parents and your kids might gain a better appreciation for why Grandma and Grandpa spoil them (or withhold treats and presents).

Taking time to really see each individual family member for the unique person they are, past or present experiences included, might be the best gift you receive all season. Who knows, you might find out the origin of that quirk of Uncle Bob’s and it could become the one that you respect him for the most. You will never know unless you dig a little deeper.

© Cheri Swalwell 2021