Saturday, May 30, 2015

So Many Socks

Psalm 51:7-10
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

When my kids were at home the laundry piled up. Keeping jeans, sports uniforms, and oh so many socks clean turned into a daily task. I was thankful when the girls were old enough to help out. One of the challenges of washing clothes still plagues me. Stains. Those daily stains of life can be a real challenge. Ketchup, grass stains, food, even paint. Thank goodness for Dawn dish detergent which worked for most of them.

In the Psalm, David knew his stains ran deeper than his outward appearance, they marred his soul. For him to be totally cleansed he needed God. The only way he'd be whiter than snow was to bow before his Lord. We've all sinned, it is the nature of people to mess up. There's only one way to be cleansed. Jesus. He gave his life as a sacrifice for all of us. I am still amazed that he loves me that much. Years ago I bowed before him, accepted his grace, got baptized, and received the Holy Spirit. Even though I still fall down, he loves me and accepts my repentant prayers. Jesus is the only way to heaven. He's the way, the truth and the light. And living for him fills my life with joy and hope. Praise God for his grace!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Renewed Interest

Recently, I've picked up my paintbrush again. It's been a long time since I created art on canvas. Hopefully I'll have more to share throughout the year. Finding the time is tough, but brushing the colors across the page is so relaxing.

Do you paint, draw or create other crafts?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Highland Discovery Garden

Tim and I spent some time exploring the Highland Discovery Garden in Glenwood. It is a magical place with lovely flowers, woods and a pond.
 Frog and Toad are friends.

Book Review: Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

Book Description:

Windmill Point, Michigan

Can She Forgive the Hurting Man Who Costs Her the Role She Loves?

After her father's death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren't supposed to have such roles, so it's only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper--even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He's secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation--the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He's not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who's angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he's in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope...and possibly love?

My Review:

I like that Jody Hedlund used a strong female protagonist to set the stage for a story about women who make a difference. There's no doubt that Caroline can do the job of lighthouse keeper, yet she shows her sensitive, caring side to the wounded soldier who is placed in the job she loves. I loved Caroline's two little brothers. They added a sense of playfulness to a serious situation. I enjoyed the twists, turns, and surprises of this well-written tale of courage. If you like historical fiction with romance, you'll love Hearts Made Whole.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Hearts Made Whole in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book review: As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti

 Cynthia Ruchti’s Summer of Fun $100 Giveaway
About the book:
As Waters Gone By (Abingdon, May 2015)

How can a marriage survive when separated by hundreds of miles and impenetrable prison walls?

Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. On a self-imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, Emmalyn has just a few months left to figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again.

Nudged along by the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Café, a circle of misfit people in their small town, and a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her, Emmalyn restores an island cottage that could become a home and begins to restore her heart by learning what it means to love unconditionally. Yet even as hope begins to find a place within the cottage walls, Emmalyn still wonders if she's ready for Max's release. She may be able to rebuild a cottage, but can she rebuild a marriage?

My Review:
"Bougie's smile bloomed and spread...'Grace always outweighs gravity'." Words I want to engrave on my heart. Cynthia Ruchti has written a beautiful tale of confusion, fear, love, forgiveness, and grace. As soon as I opened the first chapter and started to read, I wanted to climb in the book and get to know the characters better. Take Emmalyn's hand and walk with her along the beach. Sit and drink tea with Bougie, the quirky innkeeper and even climb on the roof to work with Cora. The story comes to life immediately and holds on until the satisfying end. The author's incredible description paints an inviting setting from the Wild Iris Inn on Madeline Island to the cottage by the lake. I just can't say enough good things about this powerful story. If I could give more than five stars I would.

I received a free copy of As Waters Gone By from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: 
Cynthia Ruchti has more than three decades of radio broadcast experience with Heartbeat of the Home radio and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.

Find Cynthia online: websiteTwitterFacebook

Purchase a copy:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Quick Licks or Big Slurps

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

My family traveled many-a-summer to dairy whips all over the state. Mom had a favorite one near Peebles that served the best foot longs and shakes. I loved the Tasty Freeze on Route 50. I'm not sure what the name of it is now, but it's still in business. And of course, the Dairy Queen offered a yummy list of sweet treats. Whether I got a hot fudge sundae, banana split, or twist cone, I had to figure out the best way to eat it. Slow with small bites, quick licks, or big slurps. Did I savor the cool creamy desert or eat so fast I got brain freeze. Maybe something in between worked best. No matter how I ate it, I loved the sweet taste.

All my life I've been told to read my Bible. I've heard that I should go verse by verse to study. Use the Greek to decipher the meaning. Read the Bible in a year. Look at several translations at the same time. Try a study guide. So many ways to learn about Jesus. Which one is best? I've tried many of the methods. And you know what? I've learned something new from every one of them. Whether I take tiny bites and read a verse or two, or study several chapters in one gulp, I've learned from the scripture. The only times I've not gained from reading the Bible is when I haven't done it at all. I cherish the truths I've learned from God's word. They've changed my life and made it much sweeter than I could've imagined. Praise God for his word.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Miller

If you follow the literary world at all, you've probably heard that Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, is releasing her second book in July. Lee's first story, published in 1960, follows Scout and her father Atticus Finch as he fights for civil rights in Maycomb, Alabama. The Pulitzer Prize winner has been read by millions of people and created quite the impact. Now fifty-five years later the author's second book, Go Set a Watchman, will be released in July.

In the meantime, I picked up The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Miller. Part memoir, part biography Marja had the rare opportunity to spend many months with Harper, called Nell by her friends, and Alice Lee. Alice, Harper's sister, is a lawyer who followed in her father's footsteps. 

In 2001, the Chicago Public Library chose To Kill a Mockingbird for its One Book, One Chicago city-wide read. At that time Marja worked for the Chicago Tribune and was asked to travel south to Monroeville, Harper Lee's hometown. She hoped to at least write about the small-town Maycomb was based on. She never imagined she'd spend months in the company of Harper Lee and her sister, plus spend time with their close circle of friends.

The Mockingbird Next Door is one of the best nonfiction books I've read. Reading Ms. Mills book was like sitting with her at lunch and chatting with a friend. By the time I finished the book, I felt like I'd visited Monroeville and met the Lees. If you're waiting to read Go Set a Watchman, this would be a great book to peruse in the meantime.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Gravity and Grace

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

©Penny Frost McGinnis
I just finished reading Cynthia Rutchi's, As Waters Gone By. It's a tale of love, fear, confusion and forgiveness; one of the best stories I've read in a long time. As sometimes happens, a particular line in the book caught my attention. "Grace always outweighs gravity." Wow! That's one I want to remember. The times I need to cling to grace the most, I'm down, fallen due to sin, down and depressed, physically down, exhausted and not thinking clearly, and on and on.

The apostle Paul knew this secret and told everyone about it in his writings. He fell down, was tempted, and at times physically exhausted. He knew what it meant to cling to Jesus promise. "My grace is sufficient." No matter what I go through, I know I can cling to the grace Jesus gives me tied to my hope in him. Through Jesus' power I can rest on him and be strong. Praise God for his gift of grace.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

2 Timothy 1:5I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

There's nothing sweeter than holding a brand new grandbaby. I inherited that love from my mom. The sweet smell, the soft skin, the hope in a new life spills over and pours blessings on the one whose arms wrap around the beautiful bundle. But as I look into the face of each grandchild, I also see responsibility. As grandma, I play a part in their lives just like Lois did for Timothy. Like my mom has done for my kids. And my grandmothers did for me.

We're not alone on our journey. God provides help. Whether I am the Grammy, the mom, the aunt or the friend I want nothing more than to show them Jesus. May patience, kindness, love, and encouragement flow from me.

I'm so thankful for the women in my life who've shown me hope and faith. Thank you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Am I Happy?

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tim made sure I didn't miss this pretty pink tulip.
Do you remember the song from Bible school, "If You're Happy and You Know It"? We clapped our hands and shouted amen. It was a fun song to sing, but I'd like to change the words. Instead of happy, what if we sing "If You're Joyful". To me, happy is a feeling dependent on circumstance and inconsistent with the deep joy Jesus gives. Joy's not dependent on anything except my relationship with God.

I've been sick for a week. Run a fever every day. Am I happy? No. But I still have joy because I know Jesus loves me. My heart fills with joy because God gave me my husband who takes care of me and family and friends who check on me. I hope to feel better soon. I don't usually ask this but if you think to, pray for me.

Praise God I can sing, "I'm joyful and I know it."