Read & Respond: Christmas Traditions

The holidays are hard to dislike.

Extra lights illuminating houses, yards, store windows, and bicycles—yes, even bikes…keep reading! Festive banners and garland don city streetlights and buildings. Red, gold, green, silver, blue. Warm smiles and warmer drinks. Even here in Florida, where I’ve broken a sweat on more Christmas Days than not, there is an undeniably festive buzz.

When I was a kid, Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma’s and church service led the way to the much anticipated morning of December 25th. Still in our pajamas, my older brother and sister and I would crouch on the stairs right around the corner from the tree decorated with miscellaneous ornaments.

Each year before Christmas Day, we would carefully pick out a new ornament to add to our personal collections. My sister would pick the cutest ones she could find, while I would go on a hunt to pick something that most accurately depicted my year. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but it had to be symbolic. For 3 years straight I had different breeds of horses added to the tree; in 7th grade I played a waiter in the musical Hello, Dolly!, so it was a reindeer with an apron and tray; just a few years ago, I chose a german shepherd dog to represent my new puppy.

But back to Christmas morning. As my siblings and I sat huddled together in the stairwell, we could hear my parents arranging the gifts and laying the stockings on the couch as the coffee brewed and the cinnamon rolls baked.

Years later, the anticipation is much less heightened, the gifts less in the spotlight, and our ornament shopping sometimes forgotten till after the season passes. My brother is states away, and my sister has a family of her own.  But the magic is still attainable. What reaches beyond the commercial celebration of Christmas is the connection that happens between family and friends. I’ve been blessed with a tightly knit family. This year was different from other prior holidays, but in the best of ways. I noticed growth and positive change. For presents, my family drew names and were able to really focus on the person we were buying for without breaking the bank. Our Christmas Eve dinner took place at my sister’s to relieve my grandma. My 16-month-old nephew brought a new element of complete joy and sweet entertainment that is often missed when a family’s children grow up.

Another new tradition I started this year was a “Lights by Bikes” event. My roommates and I threw a party for our friends where we decorated our bikes with garland and lights, then rode them around town to enjoy the decorated houses around us.

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Whether it’s a childhood time of wonder and glee, a teenage phase of apathetic participation, a stress-filled time of shopping, or a mellow month of reflection and thankfulness, for me, Christmas has always been a season of sweet details and evolving traditions.

Written by Emiley Jones.


What about you? What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? How have they changed over the years? What made this last season more special or more difficult than past years?

If you want to write your own response, go ahead and send it to us so we can feature it later this year!


The Gift Guide for Book Lovers – PART 2 – 10 Unique Gift Ideas

holiday gift guide for book lovers

Part 2   |   10  Unique Gift Ideas for Bookworms & Writers

Last week we released Part 1 of our Gift Guide for Book Lovers full of our favorite book-themed DIY presents and holiday decor that are just as fun to make as they are to give. Part 2 is not only for the Christmas shopping procrastinators, but also for those who plan ahead – these gift ideas are great for any time of year or occasion. So take a look, let us know what your favorites are, and share it with your literary friends!

1. Gift Cards to Your Local Bookstore & Coffeeshop



Give the gift of keeping small, local businesses alive, of helping your friends find new favorite places, AND of books and beverages. What could be better?

2. Personal Library Kit


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For a bibliophile, there’s no greater pleasure than sharing beloved books, but no crueler pain than losing them for good…the Personal Library Kit can put an end to lost books for good!

3. A Book to Keep Writers Writing

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When the ideas are running short, there’s no better place to turn than this book for entertaining, witty writing prompts.  The writing prompt book options are endless – browse for more.

4. Shirts Fit for Bookworms

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5. Literary Artwork


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When bookshelves and lamps aren’t enough decor, grace a  book lover’s walls with book-inspired prints and artwork.

6. Mugs for Avid Readers

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Who doesn’t read with a cup of coffee or tea at their side?

7. Writerly Pins

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These are the perfect stocking stuffers for the writers, notetakers, and educators in your life!

8. Candles to Read By

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Don’t have time to read every day? Light up one of these book-inspired candles as an excellent substitute.

9. Literary Jewelry

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10. Book-based Board Games

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More of a DIY person? Don’t miss the first part of this gift guide!
What are your favorite presents to give and get? Tell us in the comments!


The Gift Guide for Book Lovers – PART 1 – 11 Holiday DIY Projects

holiday gift guide for book lovers

Part 1   |   11  Holiday  DIY  Projects  for  Book  Lovers

Whether you’re a self-proclaimed book lover or you have a book enthusiast on your Christmas shopping list, look no further! We’ve compiled a guide to our favorite book-themed presents and holiday decor. Part 1 focuses on the Do-It-Yourself lovers. So minimize Pinterest and check out these unique gifts that are just as fun to make as they are to give!

1. Book Page Ornaments


You can make these for your tree, string them together to make a garland, or give them as gifts!

2. Book Trees

3. Book Wreath – made festive with ornaments!


4. Custom, Handmade Stationary from Old Book Pages

View the Tutorial HERE

This gift is even better if your book lover not only loves reading, but writing, too!

5. Book Page Art

There are tons of Etsy shops that sell these prints on vintage book pages, but they’re also fun to make yourself! + If you are an artist, you could make these even more unique and meaningful.

6. Book Page Coasters


We’d be crazy to pretend that reading doesn’t go hand-in-hand with drinking your hot beverage of choice – and these coasters are a great way to be reminded of your favorite books.

7. Old Book? …Secret Box!

8. Book Candleholders

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as reading with a candle or two lit nearby, and these book page candle holders make it an even better scenario!

9. Book Page ubble Magnets

Not only is this a fun way to spruce up someone’s fridge or message board, but with a slight variation, you can make these into pins to put on Christmas stockings.

10. Tiny Books Necklace

11. Gift Tags


What better way to personalize your Christmas gifts than with words (or pictures) from a page?

Check out Part 2 of our Gift Guide for Book Lovers!

Did we miss anything? Comment below with your favorite gifts for bookworms!


PRE-ORDER SALE – Paul Wilbur’s New Book

Touching the Heart of God:  Embracing the Calendar of the Kingdom
by Paul Wilbur

Paul Wilbur is an internationally-acclaimed worship artist, song writer, pastor, teacher, & the founder of Wilbur Ministries. Certa Publishing is honored to have published his most recent book being released on September 4, 2015.
Did you know that you have a huge inheritance and that you serve a King who exposes His plans, purposes, power, and deepest secrets to you as a citizen in His Kingdom? In Touching the Heart of God you will learn about this King and His Kingdom-its order, its benefits, and the privilege afforded to its citizens in celebrating the greatest military and spiritual victories in recorded history.

The God of all creation actually keeps a calendar that celebrates His activity in the history of mankind and encourages our participation in the feasts. Whether you are a Messianic or Gentile believer in our amazing Messiah, you will find new and empowering insights in this book, which will build your faith and provoke your participation.

* The Feasts of the Lord…you have an engraved invitation!
* Your citizenship in the Kingdom of God brings major benefits to your life today!
* How can Christians and Jews walk as One New Man and change our world today?
* Clearly see how the Old and New Testaments integrate for His purpose.

* Is it possible to Touch the Heart of God?

Sale ends Thursday, September 3.

My Reading Manifesto


“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.” — Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Whether you grew up with a book always in tow or you only recently fell in love with reading, we can all agree that books are an important part of learning, dreaming, and doing. Why is it, then, that picking up a book can be so difficult? How many times have you claimed to be an avid reader, but when someone asks what you’re currently in the middle of, you blush and say, “Oh I haven’t had much time for it recently, what with work and…” Yet that night you watch the seconds count down till the next episode begins or scroll down your newsfeed for the hundredth time. Perhaps we shy away from a book and reach for the remote — or phone or computer — due to the emotional commitment that is required when reading something.

Whatever it is, it’s time to take back the reins and commit to reading. Commit to the books on your shelf waiting to be dusted off. Commit to the titles you’ve yet to discover. Commit to the authors you consider yourself to be a fan of, but have only read half of one of their books. Commit to your claim to be a lifelong reader.

Here are 20 commitments I’m making.

Why not make your own manifesto of sorts?

1. I will make reading a part of my daily habits. I will make time for it like I do for showering and walking the dog.

2. I will find a new author that speaks directly to me, and I will read everything they have written.

3. I will research what and who my favorite authors read and read them, as well.

4. I will always have something to read with me. Whether that’s a book, a reading app, a newspaper, or an online journal bookmarked as my home page.

5. I will read aloud to someone I love.

6. I will give each book a chance.

7. I will not waste my time on a book that I don’t like after said chance has been given.

8. I will not bash a book that I don’t like if someone else is giving it a try.

9. I will open a book. I will close my computer. I will silence my phone.

10. I will set a book on top of my TV remote, so that the decision is intentional, rather than habitual.

11. I will re-read favorite books as easily as I re-watch favorite movies.

12. I will read anything that interests me: Novels, poetry, genre fiction, self-help, old letters, memoirs, etc.

13. I will buy books by local authors at local bookstores.

14. I will not loan out my most adored books. I will buy a copy for the friend who is asking for it.

15. I will ask people I know and people I don’t know what they are reading. I will write down the titles and authors and actually look them up.

16. I will go to the library and pick a book, merely, by its cover.

17. I will always have another book at the ready when I near the end of my current read.

18. I will listen to an audio version of a book I have already read, just to see how different it feels.

19. I will read with a pen. I will mark sections that move me. I will underline words that grip me.

20. I will write down my favorite passages, just to experience how the words feel as they are written.

Inspired by Austin Kleon’s “33 thoughts on reading

– Article written by Emiley Jones –

Book Sale – $5 off “To Kill a Lion”

Author Bruce Lengeman is currently selling his book To Kill a Lion for a discounted price of $7.99

Wanting and maintaining sexual purity more than immorality is a difficult ideal to reach in today’s society, but Lengeman effectively takes on the subject, providing practical and useful solutions. In To Kill a Lion, Lengeman discusses how to overcome the power of lust by identifying the root issues that drive it and how to deal with them. Written for both counselors and strugglers, To Kill a Lion delivers hope to men seeking to attain sexual freedom.

Join the thousands of men and women across the country that have already been impacted by Lengeman’s insight and teaching – pick up a copy today at