The Christmas Chronicles: Aria St. John

Posted on December 3, 2014 | 139 comments

The Christmas Chronicles is a blog hop between 5 historical romance authors. Our desire is to bring you joy through these letters, grounded in the true spirit of the season, and written from the fictional viewpoints of each book’s heroine. We’re so glad to have you join the event. Each day this week, a new Christmas Chronicles post will go live, complete with a letter and a new ornament giveaway for that blog post.


Click for a chance to win this fresh wreath!

To read more about the project and enter for a chance to win this fresh evergreen wreath which represents the gift of eternal life, click here.

To find your way to the other four blog posts and enter each of the five Christmas Chronicles individual giveaways, read on! We have a list for you at the bottom of this post.




Dear James,

Had I a candle, and were there not a sea of water and silence between us, I’d light it in my window for you right now. Perhaps you’d see it, and we’d meet on the shore like we used to. Perhaps it would be as though nothing had ever happened to separate us.

The words come slow now as I write this… but not for the reason you may think. There are volumes of stories to tell, but they can all be wrapped up not-so-neatly in three small words that I fairly tremble to write:

I’m coming home.

I wonder so many things, James. When I get there—will the island still feel like home? Will you have the bonfire burning on the green like you sometimes used to as Christmas drew near, for the village children to warm their hands by?

 . . . . .

. . . . .

You always said that was the beauty of fire. That even in the coldest winter, the warmth would always transform the cold, and not the other way around.

I’m counting on that.

For I have a secret, James. A plan.

I will tell you all once I arrive, if you’ll speak to me. And if you won’t, why, I shall just make a nuisance of myself until you’ve at least heard the fullness of the insanity of my scheme.

I think of home—our little Isle in the great big ocean—and its ever-in-between state. Part English, part French, never sure quite what to be and as a result, settling into its own quirks complete with feuds and legends and lore, hemmed in by ebbing and flowing tides all around.

I understand it now, in a way, that in-between identity. I’m part what I once was, part what I may someday be, not quite sure what that makes me now and as a result, I’m rooting deep into what’s directly before me: the chance to redeem something lost.

Do you remember that day we explored the sea cave when the tide was low? We were just children and as you rowed the boat into the darkness, I held out the lantern and wove a story for you of how the sea cave came to be: a young girl adrift on the waves was weary, lost and alone. She fell to her knees in the bottom of her weathered rowboat and prayed for a haven, a place of safety to call home. When she opened her eyes (oh, how you snickered at me when I told this part, James. You horrid creature.) a rainbow alighted on the side of an island cliff, and right before her eyes the very rock opened like curtains into the form of a cave, beckoning her into its safety.

…There is a slight chance that I now understand why you snickered. I will say no more on the matter. Except that while I may have wiped a tear from my eyes after my own tale that day, let it not be forgotten that I dealt you a proper blow the moment you cocked your brow at me and didn’t even attempt to stifle your laugh.

I remember that you advised me to avoid listening to all tragic ballads henceforth, and then you told me a tale of your own. A true story, unlike my tall tale. Of how the waves beating upon the island broke it, bit by bit. Changed the landscape of it completely until there was an entire cave there.

That is what I’ve clung to these silent years, James. Just as broken land can hold great definition and worth, I’ve learned that sometimes, God allows the broken places into our lives to become places of deep healing, places of hidden treasure. A place of safety and refuge.


. . . . .

Well. Perhaps your ten-year-old self didn’t use those precise words. But you’ve always held wisdom in your heart, as long as I’ve known you. And I thank you for sharing that good news with me that day. The truth of such redemption has kindled such joy over the years, and I have so much to tell you now.

I shan’t mail this, as we depart Guernsey tomorrow and will be in Castlebury on Espoir in just a matter of hours. I’d beat my own letter to the smithy door.

But perhaps I shall light that candle for you after all.


Until then, my beloved friend,




. . . . . . .

 Win this custom-made treble clef ornament, formed partly from brass, which plays an important role in Bespoke.

To enter to win Aria’s ornament and an e-copy of Bespoke, simply leave a comment on this post answering one of these two questions:

In Bespoke, Aria discovers joy in the tasks before her, even after a long-held dream seems lost. When you’ve faced seasons of unforeseen loss, has there been a special scripture that’s helped you?


As you may guess from the cover, Bespoke includes a bicycle as part of its storyline. Do you have a special bicycle-related memory?

For an extra entry, feel free to share about the Christmas Chronicles using the hashtag #ChristmasChronicles on your favorite social media outlet.

12/8/14 UPDATE:

Oh, my. Thank you so much for your kind participation, and all of the wisdom and cherished memories you’ve shared in the comments! I can’t begin to tell you what a blessing it was to dwell in your words there over the past few days. The five of us are more grateful than we can ever tell you for each of you, your beautiful hearts, and your shared words of good news and great joy this Crhistmas!

The giveaways are now closed, and we have the following winners:

Christmas Chronicles Grand Prize Evergreen Wreath: Chris Bures!

Giveaway from Regina Jennigns– the winner is Carrie M.!

Giveaway from Joanne Bischof– the winner is Kathleen Belongia!

Giveaway from Amanda Dykes- the winner is Doris Reedy!

Giveaway from Karen Barnett- the winner is Judy Mayhak!

Giveaway from Sarah Sundin– the winner is Vicki Wurgler!

Winners are being contacted via e-mail.

Thank you again to each of you for giving of your hearts and time to spend Christmas Chronicles week with us!


We invite you to join us each weekday this week as we hop through cyberspace and history, gleaning the love and joy of the Christmas season from each heroine’s journey.

Monday, December 1st: Regina Jennings  (Heroine: Abigail Calhoun, A Most Inconvenient Marriage)

Tuesday, December 2nd: Joanne Bischof  (Heroine: Sarah Miller, This Quiet Sky)

Wednesday, December 3rd: Amanda Dykes (Heroine: Aria St. John, Bespoke)

Thursday, December 4th: Karen Barnett (Heroine: Abby Fischer, Out of the Ruins)

Friday, December 5th: Sarah Sundin (Heroine: Grace Kessler, Where Treetops Glisten)


Before you go, I’d like to leave you with  beautiful song for your day, as well as a special invitation. First…


This rendition of Silent Night. It’s a song that holds a special place in Aria’s heart in Bespoke, and I hope it blesses you today as well. These a capella harmonies are just incredible!


…and finally, I have cooked up a little something special for those of you who’ve already read Bespoke. As you know, there are some surprise pages in the very back of the book, one of which provides a row of village doors to “step through” to the Bespoke story-world on Pinterest.

However, there is one thing I’ve been reluctant to pin publicly, for fear of giving away/spoiling an important story element for those who haven’t read it yet. Which lead me to create a place to house these “spoilers”. May I introduce you to the…


To step through to the top secret Bespoke Spoiler Room, there’s just one thing we must do. I need to be able to invite you to the private board there, which means we’ll need to follow one another on Pinterest (what a joy to get to connect with you there!) …Simply click here to follow me there, and let me know in your comment below that you’ve done so. I’ll look for you there to follow you back and give you access to the Top Secret Bespoke Spoiler Room! You’ll receive a Pinterest notification when your invitation comes through.




A Secret. A Bicycle. A Promise…

While the elusive Secret Symphony of Giovanni St. John captivated the world’s fascination, it left his daughter closed away in the Silent House – she, the one who holds the fullness of truth about the ninth symphony. Now Aria St. John is determined to not only break free of the loss that has defined her, but to honor her father through one final gift in his last days.

On the tiny Isle of Espoir, only one man can help in her quest: James Shaw, the village blacksmith… and the lost friend of her childhood. Will they be able to overcome the tragedy that separated them before it’s too late?


To learn more about Bespoke and to find out how to receive it as your special thank you gift for a donation of any amount toward sending bicycles to missionaries in Asia, click here or read on below. …and thank you, with all my heart, for being here today! We’re so blessed to have you as part of the Chronicles family!


Donate any amount to GFA

Donate any time between now and December 31st, then
forward your receipt e-mail to BespokeBook (at) gmail (dot) com.


  1. I love Isaiah 43:18-19, ““But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
    For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
    I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

    Congrats on your release.

    • Ginger, what a verse! I love that one but haven’t read it for some time, and it touched my heart deeply today. Thank you, thank you for sharing it!

  2. Wow, you won me with this line . . .God allows the broken places into our lives to become places of deep healing, places of hidden treasure. A place of safety and refuge. So getting this book. Thank you for the opportunity to win it! I have a favorite bike memory . . . I was about 9 and was getting a bike for my birthday, Sept. 29th. My parents let me pick it out and I really wanted a purple one. Well, my day came and there were no purple bikes for me to choose from so I picked a white one with pink & purple flowers, a tall handle, banana seat bike . . . I just loved the style of bike but white just wasn’t practical. So, I reluctantly got the bike, thankful but disappointed but not showing it because that would be so unkind to my parents who probably saved for months for the bike (all of our birthdays-3 of us were born in the same week so they saved all year long for birthday week). We got home and it was raining, hard. I couldn’t get my brand new white bike dirty that way so my gracious parents let me ride the bike in our basement. We were church planters and our basement was long-as long as the ranch style house and could hold about 75 chairs? I rode and rode that day and realized that while I would have loved a purple bike my parents were pretty cool. Of course I tried to get them to let me skate with my metal skates but NO! ; ) They had their limits and I kept them on their toes . . . yep third born. Blessings to you and a very Merry Christmas!

    • Chris, what a sweet story!! To think that a bike that held some elements of disappointment in a long-cherished hope, ended up providing an even-longer-cherished memory. Your family sounds like such a wonderful group of people– I love this story! Merry Christmas to you, too, Chris, and thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  3. Ooh, I tweeted it out.

  4. Ps. 56:11 – In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

  5. My husband, son, a couple more friends and myself rode the rails to trails Chief Ladiga and the Silver Comet on our bikes a few years ago. We rode 20 miles one day, spent the night in a hotel and rode back 20 the next day. It was a beautiful ride I’ll always remember.
    I love the scripture that says man plans his way but The Lord orders his steps. No matter what we do, God knows what’s best for us. That’s a comforting thought!

    • Gail, I love this story! I confess I had to google Chief Ladiga/Silver Comet trail, and by the look of the pictures I saw, you may have just introduced something new to my bucket list. 😉 I love that scripture, too, and I’m so thankful for the reminder that God orders our steps, and is so faithful to lead us into each new one when we seek Him. thank you for sharing this!

  6. My father died when I was 11. I’m not sure of the exact reference, but a verse that means a lot to me is all through the Psalms. The portion I remember is “…I will be a father to the fatherless….” I’ve held that promise close over the past 25 years. Because God has been a Father to me. And He’s provided me with godly men who became father figures to me.

    • Dawn, what a cherished verse to wrap your heart tight… thank you for sharing it! I went on a hunt for it for you– is it Psalm 68:5? “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” I love His Father-heart for us so much.

  7. Psalm 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I read this and find such comfort when difficulties may overwhelm my heart. i see His faithfulness in seeing me through and to not lose heart or perspective. God is always GOOD. He is ALWAYS faithful. He holds me in the palm of His hand!

    • Janette, Thank you for that verse He is so faithful– to give us the gift of belief when we don’t have sight, and the gift of sight when the time is right. Your reassurances are such a deep joy to read! Thank you for the gift of your beautiful heart!

  8. “I’m part what I once was, part what I may someday be” I am so thankful the Lord doesn’t leave us where we are but continues to guide us on our journey as fellow travelers home.

    My life Scripture ~ Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
    Psalm 119:111

    But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! Isaiah 43:1

    My son, my firstborn, died in the night of a heart attack 3-1/2 years ago. I trust the Lord completely. He has given me joy and memories.

    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

    • Tweeted ~ and shared on my Facebook news page
      Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

    • I join you in that thankfulness that He continues to transform and refine us on this journey of life, Kathleen. Thank you so much for putting that into words, and for sharing this scriptures. My heart aches at the thought of your deep loss… and your testimony in the midst of it is such a true treasure. Thank you for being here, for sharing this, and for shining His light in this world!

  9. “I’ve learned that sometimes, God allows the broken places into our lives to become places of deep healing, places of hidden treasure. A place of safety and refuge.”

    Ohhh, so beautiful, Amanda! It puts me in mind of Psalm 46, one of my favorites. I like most of the versions, but I’ll put the Message paraphrase of vs 1-3 here for fun: “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.”

    • WOW– what a picture! “We stand…courageous in seastorm”– I love that. Thank you, Karen! I love that whenever God uses the image of a sea storm in the Bible, He always shows His presence in the midst of it, His strength over it. He doesn’t always make the storms simply vanish– but He DOES always meet us right in the midst of them, offering shelter and strength and a refuge where we get to experience the heights and depths of His transcending peace and faithfulness. What a gift those storms are in that way. Thank you! I can’t wait to read your post tomorrow! 🙂

  10. My dear Amanda, I always look forward to participating in any project in which you have a part – everything you do is done with so much beauty, grace and sharing the love of God!!

    I love the Chronicles events and especially love your beautiful writing. I already have “Bespoke”, however, if I should be fortunate enough to win another copy – would gift it to a friend who doesn’t have it.

    The treble clef ornament in addition to being significant in the story of “Bespoke” is significant to me, also, as music has played such a huge part in my life since I was a child. I pray I am never forced to choose between music and books. Thank you so much for the video of Silent Night – Pentatonix was brought to my attention just last week in another music video sent by another friend. Their harmony is so beautiful – I usually buy a couple of new Christmas CD’s every year and theirs will probably one purchased this year.

    There are so many beautiful bible verses on which to cling in times of trial – it’s hard to pick a fave – however, the following verses are wonderful reminders that during my cancer battle and the health issues with other family members this year, we were brought ever closer to God – knowing He was in control – and learned lessons which helped prepare us for our eternal glory: 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV) For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

    You and your writing are ever in my prayers and I’m praying for you and your family: a Christmas season full of blessings, joy and peace, even more awareness of God’s love for you and all of your fave people and things!!

    Love and hugs!!

    • Dear Bonnie! Whenever I see your name online my heart just fills. THANK YOU for sharing that verse– I have often stood in awe (and prayer!) over all that you’ve faced this year, and with such steady, warm, strong faith in our Lord. I love that you highlighted His purpose for preparing us for eternity when we face things in this life. I am so thankful for you and your encouragement and your heart for our God! Thank you for the incredible gift that you are, Bonnie, and for joining us today. It wouldn’t be complete without you. 🙂

  11. There’s a lot of mystery in that letter. I love that Bespoke is set on an island. How original! Have you been there? One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:22-23.

    Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
    Because His compassions fail not.
    They are new every morning;
    Great is Your faithfulness.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Love this verse Regina!!!

    • Regina, that verse holds such promise and hope. I think it’s no mistake that God created our days to have beginnings and ends– he knew how our hearts were tuned to yearn for fresh starts, and to find that in His grace. To think of His unfailing compassion being new every morning… THAT is good news and great joy if ever I saw it! To answer your question– I have been to the Isle of Espoir only in my imagination, as I made it up. 😉 But it is based on the real Isle of Sark in the English Channel, and I long to go there someday. They have no cars, trucks, buses, etc.– only horses, pony carts, wagons, bicycles, and tractors. Can you imagine? No streetlights, either. It’s supposed to be one of the best places in the entire world for star-gazing because of the lack of light pollution, and its isolation in the ocean. Want to come with me on a research trip someday? 😉

  12. Amanda!!! It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted. I hope you and your family are having a wonderful holiday season so far.

    With where my life is today with three kids, one graduating this year, and trying to shepherd a church, I find myself in a constant battle to keep myself resting in that everlasting peace surrounding me. Instead I fret and try to control one day to the next. I know I need that peace His presence brings to calm my heart, spirit and mind. So lately I’ve been turning to this passage and preaching it to myself. 🙂
    “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6
    I’ve known this for so long and lived in it much of my time in the ministry. But, we all have our times of challenge and I’m so thankful His word has the answer and promises for each and every stage of life, each one of our challenges in life, etc…

    Thank you for the great read!! I can’t wait to get my hands on Bespoke and finish Aria’s story. Everything you write on your blog I thoroughly enjoy so I know I’m going to love this book.

    A very Merry Christmas to you and your family Amanda!! God bless.

    Kristie Truett

    • Kristy, it is ALWAYS such a joy to cross paths with you online! Thank you for sharing this verse, and how it’s so applicable during this season of your life. I love how the words of this scripture have the ability to pluck our hearts from something so consuming and destructive and paralyzing (worry), and fix our hearts in the hands of the one who strengthens, draws us near, and wraps us in the peace of who He is and His presence in the midst of the storm. Thank you for sharing this– and a very merry Christmas to you and your family too, Kristy! Thank you for being so wonderful!

  13. Great letter!

    Psalm 62: 1-2 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

    Sometimes you just have to remind yourself, that no matter what the world throws at you, if you have God, you are not alone & the world cannot tear you apart.

    • Shanna, what an incredible verse, and your thoughts on it are so important. He does not fail us, and we have a place of strength in Him. I have a feeling you’ll really enjoy Karen’s letter tomorrow; this verse has a special meaning, I think, for her book series and her heroine, Abbey. Thank you for sharing this today!

  14. That was such a beautiful and touching letter! The emotion was so raw…

    I have many special memories of biking with my family, but my favorite in particular is when riding with some of my dearest friends on the Appalachian Trail (not for the whole thing!!). It was so relaxing just to be riding and sharing about life! Such a special time!

    • Rachel, thank you for your kind words! Oh my, the chance to bike part of the Appalachian Trail? So amazing! I bet you’d love Joanne’s books, which are set in Appalachia. Her letter was yesterday’s stop on the blog hop, if you haven’t had a chance to check her stories out yet. Thank you for sharing your memory- that sounds like such an incredible experience!

  15. I don’t have one specific memory, but I grew up really close to Provo Canyon in Utah, and my dad and I (and sometimes my other siblings) would ride our bikes up there on the weekends. I loved it! Now I ride my bike with four kids to take my daughter to school and pick her up. It’s a short bike ride, but we always have a good time. 🙂

    • Liz, what special memories you were given with your dad, and what special memories you’re giving your kids now. I’m always amazed by how much richer an experience it is when I travel by bike as opposed to car. So much more to experience, notice, thank about… truly such a gift. Thank you for being here today! 🙂

  16. One of my favorite verses is 2Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. Powerful words spoken by Paul. The reason it is a favorite, my brother, who is a minister, and delivered the messae at our Mother’s funeral, used this verse. Indeed, she was ready to be offered and ready for her departure to her heavenly home.
    Here at work, I have Bible verses taped on my printer, my own personal verse at a glance. 🙂 Another is, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

    Amanda, I cannot bring myself to read Bespoke presently. I don’t know why, I just feel like I need to save it for just a little longer. Who knows, it’s just right here, waiting to be read.

    I do want to say I am enjoying the Christmas Chroniccles so much, and I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart.

    Wishing you blessings of the season,

    • Melody, what very meaningful verses! I can imagine what comfort those words have brought along the way. And I love that you’ve got your verses taped up at work– it makes such a difference to tuck the words of Life into our days so that we can truly bind them to our hearts.

      As for your thoughtful words about Bespoke, you know there is never any pressure to read it. If the time comes that it feels right, I hope it’ll wrap your day in a bit of warmth and delight, as you’ve spun into my days in so many ways. Thank you for being so wonderful, Melody, and Merry Christmas! 🙂

  17. My favorite verse is Philippians 4:13 ” I can do all things though him who strengthens me”

    • Shelia, that is such an amazing verse, and I’m glad you brought it up. It’s a familiar one and because of that, sometimes easy to forget– but one that I never want to forget. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  18. Bicycles are wonderful. The year I got one for Christmas was magical. Then my in-laws gave me a bicycle for a wedding present so my husband and I could ride together. We had such fun! It is getting a little hard on our knees now, but we still have bicycles on hand!

    • Cindy, I agree. They are such amazing inventions! I had fun researching their history for this book. In their early stage, the tires were made of solid rubber– can you imagine what a bumpy ride that must have been? It’s incredible to see all the different forms they’ve taken on since then. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. My special bicycle memory is of my dad spending hours teaching me how to ride on a much too big bike, so that I wouldn’t be the only kids in the neighborhood who couldn’t ride.

    • What a special gift of time and love that was from your dad, Tonja. Thank you for sharing! I bet that made for such cherished memories.

  20. I have not read your book, but after reading the comments I will put it on my must read list.

    • Wow, thank you, Judy! So kind of you! I hope you enjoy James and Aria’s tale– it’s a quick read, but one hopefully full of joy and warmth. 🙂

  21. As a child we would ride our bikes thru the woods on a bike trail with friends in the neighborhood. This was in the day when you could go anywhere and your parents did not worry about something bad happening to you other than having a bike wreck.

    • Susan, that sounds divine. It brings to mind Anne of Green Gables– I love her bike-riding through Avonlea and the woods with Gil. I’m so glad you got to experience such a beautiful place on your bike!

  22. My life verse for everything is Philippians 4:13. When we lost our daughter, when God called us to be missionaries, when I’m at the bottom of a mountain in Nicaragua… I hold on tightly to I can do ALL things through Jesus Christ!

    • Melody, thank you for sharing your heart and this verse! What a gift it is to take God’s words, and turn each one in our hearts to find its full meaning. I love that you highlighted the word “ALL”. So much of what we encounter in life is unexpected by us, but when we cling to that word, we see that even the unexpected is not unprovided for. He gives us just the strength we need, just when we need it… and it sounds like He’s done so faithfully for you, time after time. Thank you so much for the blessing of your presence and words here today!

  23. I shared on Facebook!

  24. I tweeted!

  25. My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11~ For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare not calamity to give you a future and a hope.

    • Beth, I love that reassurance, too, and the 2 verses that follow it as well– “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” What a beautiful invitation to draw near to him, to seek Him. Thank you for that reminder!

  26. I love that song: Mary Did You Know by them.. my favorite 🙂
    I’m enjoying meeting the authors,
    great giveaway by the way ! !

    • Deanna, such a joy to have you with us! We enjoy meeting YOU! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words. I agree– their rendition of that song is stunning.

  27. “Call unto me & I will answer thee & shew thee great & mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:11 So many loved ones taken home (parents, two sisters, husband, & my only son) but GOD IS FAITHFUL! He continues to take care of me & meet my every need. GOD IS GOOD!!! PRAISING HIM THIS CHRISTMAS FOR JOY & PEACE HE ONLY CAN OFFER!

    • Oh Melissa, how your heart beats for Heaven… your words bring to mind that verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11– “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts…” The beauty of that joy and peace drawn directly from him is such an incredible thing, and I thank you for sharing that with us today. Thank you for the way your life shines with such hope and faith in His promises and goodness!

  28. I also cling to Jeremiah 29:11 – I’ve even bought one of those wall clings to put in my living room as a constant reminder. 🙂

    • Such a beautiful, assuring verse that is. And I love that you have a wall-cling of it! Those are so lovely, and they can serve of such beautiful reminders as we go about our days. Thank you for sharing!

  29. I tweeted!

  30. And I posted on Facebook!

  31. Oh my friend, how I adore Aria’s letter. Her voice, her heart… and her love for that particular blacksmith. *sigh* it makes me want to read BESPOKE all over again! I do believe I am going to have to make it a yearly tradition! (which also has me wanting to read TCS, by the way 😉 )

    Thank you for these beautiful words and your beautiful post. And for being such an amazing friend to the 4 of us other Chronicles girls. You have been a blessing through and through!

    • I am so blessed by each of the 4 of you! Thank you for being such a cherished kindred spirit, and for your kind words about Aria. I am counting down the days until I can read This Quiet Sky again… by audiobook! So, so excited. <3 Hugs to you, dear friend!

  32. Like Silent Night also!

    • Sharon, isn’t it such a beautiful song? Truly a lullaby for the heart, all year round.

  33. Most of my bicycle memories involve getting hopelessly lost hahaha!!!

    • Carrie, how fun!! Well, perhaps not in the middle of it when you actually were lost, but when you’re home safe and sound afterwards, having been lost is such a fun adventure to look back on. I used to wonder (as a young adult, not a kid) if I could find a way to get lost in the small town I grew up in– I knew every nook and cranny of it but was determined to try to find somewhere I might be able to get turned around in. I tried, ha! I never could get lost, but I did find some new discoveries along the way. Plus, the determined-to-get-lost bit was the inspiration for a part of James and Aria’s story in Bespoke, which was fun.

  34. I have not read your book, but I am going to get it!!! I loved reading your letter..

    • Oh thank you, Peggy! I’m so glad you enjoyed the letter– what a treat to have you here today!

  35. When I was 15, I had saved enough to buy a 10-speed. it was silver and I had so much fun riding that bike. I lived in the country and it was a way to visit friends when my mom was busy. When I got my driver’s license, and no longer needed to ride my bike, I gave my bike to a friend’s younger brother. I hope he has as much fun riding it as I did.

    • Tara, what a wonderful story! It’s amazing how much more fun things are when we’ve had to work and save for them. Such a depth of meaning and delight to it. I hope he has fun riding it, too– it sounds like that bike has wonderful stories to tell!

  36. Man I just had the best memory of me and my sibs riding this awesome bright blue banana seat bike at my Opa & Omas house!
    Also I love the bible verse – Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

    • As well I shared #ChristmasChronicles on facebook

    • Janna, what a wonderful memory!! I used to long for a banana seat bike. I wonder when those will make a comeback? I have a beach cruiser now which is so much fun.

      And that verse! I love that one… and how it takes something we think of quiet and invisible (stillness), but shows how it roots deep and springs far and wide with comfort. Thank you for sharing!

  37. beautiful music, eloquent writing, tears, smiles, joy – sadness. Thank you for sharing with your fans this wonderful chance to participate – happy holidays, safe travels and Merry Christmas

    • Thank you so much, Jennifer! Such a treat to have you here today– and I’m so glad it was a place of joy. A very merry Christmas to you, too!!

  38. I pinned @4jlessad

    • oops, my pinterest: 4jlessad

      • Oh thank you, Jennifer! I’ll send you an invite to the top secret Bespoke Spoiler Room board so you’ll have it if/whenever you’d like to see the visual inspiration for the secret part of the story. 🙂

  39. “Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You, from those who rise up against them.” Psalm 17:7
    This is one of my favorite verses. It reminds me that God is always on my side, even when things seem to be going awry.

    • Kandi, that is an incredible verse. I love that phrase “marvelous lovingkindness”– it reminds me that as familiar as it is to me, it is something that needs to be pondered and truly MARVELED at, this incredible gift. I think I’ll make that the focus of my heart today, thanks to you! 🙂

  40. I forgot to mention that I am going to share this on Facebook.

  41. P.S. Forgot to mention in my previous comments that I shared the YouTube video of you and Joanne on my Facebook timeline yesterday, Amanda. I am sharing every day on Facebook about The Christmas Chronicles.

    • Thank you so much, Bonnie! You are endlessly thoughtful!

  42. I love y’all doing these letters! YEs, I have a few wonderful bicycle memoriess. My first tricycle, my first and only Big Wheel,my first bike with training wheels and my first ten speed. All super cool and all because my grandparents got them for me. I loved them all for different reasons. 🙂

    • Mippy, we love having you along! Thanks for joining in the journey this week. How special that your grandparents walked you through the growing-up phases of the bicycle world; I Love that!!

  43. I shared on Facebook with the tag 🙂

  44. The first time I rode my bike to school my chain came off. I was so late because it took me forever to figure out how to get the chain back on!

    • Oh Vicky! I had forgotten about chain capers! I remember mine doing that, too. I’m so sorry for the lateness, but what a story you got out of it! Thanks for sharing it today. 🙂

  45. When I was a kid I had a Miss Buzz Bike. It made a humming noise as you rode it. I loved that bicycle. It felt like I could go anywhere!

    • Chris, what fun! You may enjoy Aria’s bike in Bespoke– there is a secret special something about it that makes a little noise, too. I won’t say too much more as I don’t want to spoil the surprise. 😉

  46. I rode bicycles for hours when I was a child. I lived in a big neighborhood and we rode bikes from one end to the other almost daily to visit friends.

    • Rebecca, that’s so wonderful. Traversing the world on a bike brings so many memories, stories, and such a rich depth of experience. I love how I can actually smell the difference in certain spots depending on the season– the sweetness of willows in the spring, the rustic tinge of fireplace smoke in fall… you don’t get that in a car, at least not in the same way.

  47. Riding my grandfather’s old bike around and around and around the block until I knew where every crack and crevice in the sidewalk could be found!

    • Michelle, isn’t that wonderful? The world takes on such an intricate and familiar landscape when we experience it that way. I absolutely love how you put this into words, and that you got to experience it with your grandfather’s bike!

  48. I haven’t been on a bicycle in years, but have many fond memories of riding them all around our small town, especially in the summertime! We would be gone from dawn to dusk practically…

    • Patty, oh, how I love that. Thinking of kids getting to ride from dawn to dusk… what a treasured memory!

  49. Ps 130 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

    In my darkest hours I call upon the Lord to quiet my mind and heart. I am confident that He hears every word uttered and every word left unsaid. He has always been faithful to me even when my faith was shaky.

    • Victoria what an amazing scripture, and your testimony about it so beautiful as well. I love you you said this– “I call upon the Lord to quiet my mind and heart.” In times like those, I sometimes have to remind myself that He is absolutely able to do so– He even gave us a living example of storms calmed in the new testament. If He can calm the waters of the Sea of Galilee, he can calm the waters of my heart, too.

  50. Jeremiah 29:11 has always helped me when I don’t understand things in life, “For I know the plans that I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.””

    • Connie, thank you for sharing this! I love that the Bible describes his peace as transcending understanding, too. That His might, his peace, his love, don’t depend on our ability to fathom or understand circumstances… just to fix our eyes on him, and find peace in who he is, and in the trust and knowledge that He does have a plan and will not leave us alone.

  51. I have one very distinct and special memory of a bicycle. I remember taking my bike to my grandparents on vacation and my uncle taking the training wheels off, He then ran along behind me keeping me balanced until he let go without me knowing of course and I kept going. My uncle was only 9 years older than me so he seemed like one of my cousins/friends. He passed away last year right before Christmas so he has been on my mind a lot lately. I miss him now but I know that I will see him again in Heaven.

    • Oh Karen, what a treasured memory! It sounds like you and your uncle shared some wonderful times. What a cherished reassurance to know that you’ll see him again… and what a gift these memories are. In the meantime, I’m praying comfort around your heart this season, as the ache comes mixed with the sweet memories. Thank you for sharing this with us today!

  52. Hi Amanda,
    What a wonderful letter. I think I would love your story. If I don’t win it here, I will be ordering myself a copy. 🙂

    I have a lot of fun bicycle memories, especially ones that involved my mom and I riding our “bicycle built for two” – a tandem bike. It was so much fun!

    A verse that I have clung to in times that were full of trial or uncertainty is:
    Psalm 27:1
    The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

    • Hi Brittany! What fun to see you here! Thank you for your kind words– it fills my heart to think of you reading Bespoke! 🙂 I love that you and your mom rode a tandem. I would love to have one someday!

      Your verse is such a refuge verse, such an anchor for the storms. I love this reminder that he is a stronghold– that nothing is bigger than He, and that His care is so infinitely deep for us. Thank you for sharing this. Merry Christmas, Brittany!

  53. Your book sounds wonderful! list! Adding it to my “to read” Thank you for the blog hop; how creative and fun!

    • Danielle, you are too kind! Thank you for sharing in our journey this week- we’re so blessed by you!

  54. Growing up I loved my bicycle. I pretended it was my horse, “Wildfire”. Yes, like the song. “Wildfire and I had many adventures riding through our little neighborhood.

    • Lisa I love that your bike was your horse and that you gave it a name! It makes me realize that I desperately need to give my bicycle a name. Any ideas? It’s a vintage-style beach cruiser with a basket in front. Something whimsical, I think. I’d say “Wildfire,” but I hear that’s taken! 😉

  55. My husband bought us each a bike shortly after we were married. I had never owned a 10 speed bike before and had quite a learning curve figuring out the gears. But the biggest challenge was the skinny little seat! Imagine how pleased I was when he suggested a ride and I found a big, soft, cushy seat on my bike.

    • Deb, I’m laughing because my husband had quite a task to teach me how to switch gears on the bike after we were wed, too! I’m still quite lost. I now stick to a single-speed bike. 😉 I’m so glad you had the pleasant surprise of the soft, cushy seat!

  56. Psalm 40 I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined and heard my cry. He lifted me up out of the pit, out of the miry clay. I will sing a new song!

    • Oh Kerri, I love this verse that you shared! From patience, to the knowledge that He hears, to the long-awaited lifting, to a brand new song. What a treasure!

  57. My favorite scripture during those times is ” Be still and know that I am God” i lost my brother a couple of years ago right after Christmas . The bicycle reminds me of the time my brother and i were little, he talked me into riding on the handle bars so we could ride double. We crashed and i broke my nose. Not a great thing to happen but it was a memory that we made being children!

    • Oh, Shonda… those small words hold such great comfort, don’t they? They’ve stilled storms and soothed aches in my heart, and to hear the way they’ve deeply ministered to you following your loss is amazing. I’m saying a prayer for you right now, that those memories would come sweet and often this season, and that your heart would be held in the comfort of those words.

  58. liked riding bikes with friends

    • Me, too. I remember the thrill of exploring a new street, or racing, or just spinning in circles on a quiet cul de sac.. so much fun.

  59. What a beautiful letter, Amanda! “I’ve learned that sometimes, God allows the broken places into our lives to become places of deep healing, places of hidden treasure.” I love this special quote!!

    In times of sorrow, 2 Cor. 1:3-4 brings comfort. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

    I have shared the #ChristmasChronicles on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. Thank you so much for the giveaway opportunity!
    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

    • Britney, you are so amazing– and what a joy to see you here! You are always such a smile-bringer. 🙂 That verse is such a special one… that reassurance that not only will we have comfort, but it will serve such a deep and great purpose, too. Such hope in those words! Thank you for being your wonderful self, Britney, and Merry Christmas to you!

  60. An encouraging verse to me is Isaiah 41:10

    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    As several others have shared, this line from your letter especially stood out: “I’ve learned that sometimes, God allows the broken places into our lives to become places of deep healing, places of hidden treasure.” Thank you for sharing you exceptional writing talents with me! I SO loved reading Bespoke and made myself take a break so it would last a little longer. What a lovely tale with a beautiful writing style. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Also I’d love to follow you on Pinterest and see the Bespoke secret board. 🙂

    • Micah– I love this verse! Thank you for sharing it. I love that He doesn’t just tell us what not to do (fear, dismay), but tells us why (He is with us, He is our God) and gives us a promise of hope and strength. He’s so faithful!

      Your words about Bespoke touched me so much, Micah. You have long been such a blessing to me and my family, and so these words are truly, truly treasures coming from you. I hope you all have such a wonderful Christmas! Give your family our love! 🙂 I’ll find you on Pinterest, too.

  61. I don’t have a specific great memory of my bicycle.. I LOVE riding my bike… I’ve been riding since I was very young. 🙂

    I also tweeted this post.

    • Ladette, I’m with you. I adore riding my bike– such a very rich experience! I bet you’ve seen some amazing things on all of those rides!

  62. I faced a loss that I thought I couldn’t bear over 25 years ago — a speaker at one of our PWOC meetings, without knowing what I was going through, wrote down a verse for me. Jeremiah 29:11. I held onto that verse then, as I still do today. The loss didn’t come about after all, and we’ve now been married 47+ years. I owe that to the Lord.

    When I was in Junior High, my girlfriends & I would ride our bikes almost all over town in the summer. Mother never seemed to worry about me, as she knew we’d ended up at one of our houses for lunch and would eventually come on home. A much safer time than now.

    • Donna, what an amazing testimony. God knows just what we need to hear and right when we need to hear it… I’m always so amazed at the way He delivers those words into our lives!

  63. The verse I cling to when I am in a difficult or fearful place is Deuteronomy 31:8
    “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

    When I was in the first grade I insisted on riding my bicycle to school in stead of walking as usual. The funny thing is that I still had training wheels. I was so embarrassed when the 6th graders made fun of me! I laugh about it now, but it was traumatic at the time!

    • Melissa, I love that verse, too. When we find ourselves on an unmarked path, it’s such a comfort to know He has gone before us still, and is with us every step.

      And your bike story– oh, how I love that determination of yours! I can relate to the trauma– words from older kids had such a way of lingering back then, didn’t they? But I’m glad it’s something to laugh about now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  64. posted to Goole + as Donna D

  65. I like ye of little faith. that is me in a nut shell.

    • Tammy, I can relate to that for sure! What I love about those words, and their context, is the tenderness I hear when Jesus speaks them. Offering his very wounds to be touched. Words grounded in life-hewn love that He gave everything to be able to speak. Thank you for the reminder that when my faith is insufficient, He is there offering to help me root deeper, see farther, trust more.

  66. I pinned here is the link

  67. I facebooked

  68. I love Isaiah 40:31
    But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

    • Doris, I was just thinking of this verse a few days ago. Thank you for sharing it with us, and for stopping by! 🙂

  69. Amanda, this is for you, Regina, Sarah, Karen, Amanda and Joanne for all that you have shared with us:

    Matthew 5:16 ESV
    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

    Merry Christmas and many blessings!

    • Renee, thank you for this! It gave me such a heart-smile, and I wonder if you know what a light YOU shine! Thank you for sharing it with us. Merry Christmas to you, too!

  70. Oh, Amanda–your writing is so very beautiful! I’ve been captivated ever since I read the preview Prologue of Bespoke. Today I finally started reading the rest of it, but in reading the first three chapters I began to feel it was too special to just enjoy myself. I’m thinking right now of saving it till my sister moves home from college in a week, and perhaps reading it aloud to her and my mom bit by bit over the rest of the Christmas season. We shall see. Thank you for penning such a treasure of a tale! Or, if you’re like me, typing…yet I still like the sound of penning so much better, even if I don’t do it!

    As for Scriptures, that’s a hard one. Isaiah 35, Psalm 30, and Revelation 21:4 have ministered to me many times. For now I’ll just share the end of Isaiah 35, which once ministered to me when I was very heartsore:
    “And the ransomed of the Lord will return
    And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
    With everlasting joy upon their heads.
    They will [g]find gladness and joy,
    And sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

    Bless you, friend.

    • Kiersti. How can I EVER tell you what your words meant to me? To think of you, and your beautiful heart that I respect so much, reading those words– that is a blessing to me that I can’t even describe. And that you’d think to share it with your mom and sister? That touched my heart so deeply. Thank you for that, and for being your wonderful self.

      As for your verse– oh, my. This is one I’ll be turning in my heart closely. “Everlasting joy…” “…find gladness and joy…” “sorrow and sighing will flee away…” what beautiful promises these are. Treasures, truly.

      Like you! Bless you, too, Kiersti, and Merry Christmas!

  71. My special bicycle memories are teaching my oldest son who is now 22 to ride a bicycle. His first bike was a little plastic 3 wheeled bike and he rode it all the time. He even took it in the car with us and rode it when we went to the park. He did not get a regualr 2 wheeled bike until he was 9 because we simply couldn’t afford it. His first bike was a Power Rangers bike. He practiced riding it and falling, of courser, in our back yard. I miss those ds when he was younger but I am so proud of the man he has become now.

    • Deanne, what a special time that sounds like! And such a treasure in those memories, too.


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