Kristen’s Christmas Letter 2018

Hello, dear friends! I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart who loves sending and receiving Christmas cards in the mail. But since I’m preparing the largest bulk mailing of my life (i.e. wedding invitations), I thought maybe an electronic letter this year might be more prudent and achievable. That said, I hope you enjoy my Christmas letter and year-in-review. Please comments with your own favorite 2018 memories!

January: Ski Trip Adventure

Last January was my first time skiing, and no, this Florida girl is not a natural with anything having to do with snow. You may remember my first-time-skier takeaways post. However, I loved getting to see a winter wonderland, learn something new, and spend time with friends. My then-boyfriend, now-fiancé, actually helped teach me!

Church group ski trip

March Madness: The Revolutionary Release

March 20 was release day for The Revolutionary, sequel to The Revisionary. I celebrated with a Facebook party, giveaways, and all the fanfare that comes with a new novel. I hope you’re enjoying this series! If you haven’t started yet, there’s still time to catch up on the first two books before the final one releases next year. They’re available on Amazon.

Release day!

May and June: Blue Ridge & Alpha Omega Academy Graduations

In May, I traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and enjoyed a busy conference about all things writing. I had the pleasure of rooming with my writer friend Ruth, so naturally, we had a blast. Plus, I was honored and thrilled that The Revisionary received the Director’s Choice Award and Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.

Receiving my Selah Award

These months are always busy with school and grading, but this year was extra exciting because my principal asked me to deliver both the virtual address and Orlando ceremony address. Getting to share my heart and God’s truth with seniors ready to launch out into life is always an honor and pleasure.

Alpha Omega Academy graduates

Oh, and I sneaked in a girl’s trip to visit my dear friend Rachel and her sweet family in Georgia, which is always a treat!

My friends Rachel and Devon

July: St. Augustine Summer Getaway

Summer is my favorite time of year but always breezes by! My brother, sister-in-law, and James planned a weekend retreat to one of our favorite cities, historical St. Augustine. This place never gets old.

Nothing says St. Augustine like a lion statue.

September: Italy!

Looking back on this month and the one month of planning for it in August, all I can think is, “Wow! Did that really happen?” Even now, I have to pinch myself. Traveling to Italy with my friend and colleague Maria was such a gift. A GIFT. Until then, I had only dared to dream that I could visit some of the settings in my next novel. This trip helped make those dreams a reality, and I can’t wait for you to read about more of them in the new year (and in my next book)!

Maria and I lived on gelato in Italy. That’s only a slight exaggeration.

October: Best Friend’s Birthday & Engagement Trip

When I think of October, I think, “My cup runs over.” The month started with a bang as friends and I celebrated my best friend Devon’s birthday in St. Augustine. Yes, I went to St. Augustine twice in one year. I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all! James taught my friends how to surf, and we splurged on donuts and coffee trips. Last, we toured the St. Augustine lighthouse, a gem.

Happy birthday to Devon!

Little did I know that James and Devon were already plotting my engagement! Later that month, James, Devon and I piled into his Subaru for a road trip to Beech Mountain to “see the leaves change.” There, in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, he popped the big question, and I said yes! If you missed it, you can read all about that story here.

I said yes!

December: Wedding Planning, Book Release Prep, & Holiday Hush

Now, here we are in the few lingering days of 2018. As we prepare to start a new year, I’m busy getting ready for The Reactionary to launch in February, planning a wedding in March, and just … breathing. I want to enjoy this special time of year with my wonderful family and friends, so you may notice me offline and posting less this week and next.

I hope you’ll take some time as well to be still and grateful for God’s indescribable Gift, the very reason we celebrate Christmas.

Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and New Year!

~ Kristen

 

 

Mason Jar Joy

Spread the joy of God’s Word this Christmas with a Scripture Promises Mason Jar! With a little time and some creativity, you can create a gift your family and friends won’t soon forget.

Inside are 100 paper slips, each personalized with a Scripture promise and your name. A friend gave me one a few years back, and I still have it on my desk today. It provides a reminder that God’s Word is relevant for whatever I’m facing.

When the shepherds saw the star in Bethlehem all those years ago, the Bible says that “they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matthew 2:10 NKJV). They had clear cause to do so! After all, the Word had become flesh (John 1:14). Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, had come to change the world and make possible reconciliation between fallen man and God.

Today, God’s Word continues to tell that good news and speak truth into our lives. What better gift to give someone this Christmas than the gift of God’s Word?

Learn how to make your own Scripture Promises Mason Jar by clicking here.

May you be filled with God’s exceeding great joy this Christmas and always! Merry Christmas!

~ Kristen

Tweetable

Mason Jar Joy – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Find the Merry in Your Messy

Inspired in part by my Christmas tree Ness-capade, which you can read about here, this guest post on DailyPS.com challenges us to look beyond the mess and see our blessings and opportunities. Wherever you are today, I hope you celebrate Christmas with a heart of joy that isn’t defined by circumstances.

Post excerpt

Everyone’s Christmas looks different, and reality often doesn’t mirror Hallmark movies. Some married couples find themselves apart due to military service, while singles in healthcare positions wish they had a reason to request the day off.  Others experience an empty-nest or long for their own children. Still others find the holidays painful because of loved ones lost through circumstances or death. Even those who enjoy the quintessential Christmas carry burdens of their own.

The truth is that everyone’s Christmas is its own version of messy. Comparing our Christmas to someone else’s will only steal our joy and make us miss out on the gifts we have.

This Christmas morning, find the merry in your messy by asking three questions.

Click here to read the full post on DailyPS.com. Merry Christmas!

~ Kristen

Tweetable

Celebrate Christmas with a heart of joy that isn’t defined by circumstances. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Holiday Book Specials

Happy December! With Christmas a few short weeks away, I want to share some holiday book specials with you. This month, all of my Kindle books are on sale, but you’ll want to mark your calendars for the dates.

Wings of the Dawn Trilogy

My first three young adult suspense books are $.99 on these dates:

The Revisionary

My latest release, the first book in The Rogues trilogy, is available for $.99 (Kindle version) on the first day of winter, Dec. 21.

For those who have already read The Revisionary, the sequel is coming soon! Look for more details in the new year on The Revolutionary, releasing spring of 2018.

Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas season!

~ Kristen

Tweetable

December holiday book specials – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Christmas Craft: Scripture Promises Mason Jar

craft-collageWhat do you give the person who has everything? Here’s one idea for adding a personal touch to your Christmas gifts. The best part is you can make it yourself!

Earlier this year, a friend gave me a gift that has meant so much to me. It was a purple mason jar, adorned simply with a ribbon, and inside were 100 paper slips, each personalized with a Scripture promise and my name.

I kept the jar on my desk by my laptop, and each morning, I would pull out a slip. Scripture is full of promises that offer hope and reminders that God has a perfect plan for our lives.

As the holidays approached, I thought of my readers and, if it were possible, what I would give you. Sure, we all like gift cards and goodies, but if I could give you one thing, I’d want it to be meaningful and last long after the Christmas decorations are down.

So I contacted my friend and asked if I could borrow her idea. Turns out, she shared this idea from Proverbs 31 Ministries. You can subscribe through their site or download your copy here.

I encourage you to make one for yourself and your friends. Yes, the gift is simple, but it may become the most treasured one you give this Christmas.

Better yet, why not pass it on? Copy the image below, and share on social media with your friends!

Materials & Instructions:

  1. Mason Jars: Find these at craft stores, grocery stores, or online in clear or colored varieties.
  2. Decorations: I used burlap, lace, and ribbon to wrap my jars and hot glue to secure them. (Tip: If you use hot glue, have a friend or parent help you, and be careful not to burn yourself!) Decorate with buttons, flowers, or make your own decorations. Be creative! I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments, or contact me through my website or Facebook to share a picture of your design.
  3. Click here to download the Scripture Promises PDF file. Copy and paste into Word, and do a find/replace of (NAME) with your name or a friend’s name in the document. Check that there are 100 replacements, and then print. Idea: If you’re using a clear-colored jar, print the promises on different colored paper so that your Scripture slips provide a burst of color.
  4. Cut the strips, and then fold them in half twice before stuffing them in the jar.
  5. Your family and friends will “unwrap” these promises well after the Christmas season is over.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas!

~ Kristen

Tweetables

Scripture Promises Christmas Craft Jar – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Craft a Christmas gift your family and friends will treasure. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)