Saturday, September 16, 2017

Treasures of the Heart

Proverbs 24:3-4
By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Tim and I hiked through one of Kelleys Island's nature preserves. We trekked along a grass and dirt path until we reached a boardwalk, made of recycled plastic, that rambled through the woods and over the wetland. On the other side, the trees opened up onto a lovely little beach. White sand, created from waves breaking up tiny white shells, sparkled in the sun. As we wandered along the water's edge, we searched for treasures. Not gold or silver, but pretty rocks, pebbles, and lake glass. Lake Erie did not disappoint. We found pink, red, and interesting green rocks along with white, green (two shades) and brown lake glass. As we wandered along, some children playing nearby showed us their finds, including a live turtle they were watching. What a fun trip!

Once we got back home, I cleaned the rocks and glass and added them to my growing collection. I love my treasures. They are memories of my life. Our home is filled with things that remind us of the people we love and the God we worship. So much of what we own reflects the gifts God has created and given. 

Proverbs 24 reminds me my home should be built with wisdom, established on understanding, and that treasures come from knowledge. I believe the wisdom refers to the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit. For my house to truly be a home, God must come first. Understanding reflects our relationship with Jesus and the personal interest he has in us. Knowledge represents God's word of truth, the Bible, which is chocked full of rare and beautiful treasures. Without these elements, my home would be empty. I want Jesus' love, joy and peace to fill our house. I love my rocks and lake glass, but I treasure the heart of our home so much more, which is Jesus.

The treasures that fill the home should also fill the heart.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Christmas Fiction Review: The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

Book Description:
She's determined to give her baby a better life.
Could a Christmas miracle make it possible?

Not long after she receives the news in 1944 that her baby's father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant's paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don't know that she--or their grandson--exists.

When Amelia discovers the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma?


My Review:
It's not too soon to be looking for the newest holiday books. Melody Carlson writes a new Christmas story every year. The one she's penned for this joyous season is an engaging tale about a young woman who wants nothing more for her child than the love she knew with his father. I enjoyed reading the story of Amelia's courage as she forged through life's tragedy with her sweet little baby. Determined to do what's best for her baby boy, Amelia prays for a Christmas miracle. If you are looking for a great holiday read, pick up The Christmas Blessing. It's a feel good story of hope and love during WW 2. I received this book for free.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fiction Book Review: These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart

Book Description:
Francine Howard has her life all mapped out until the soldier she planned to marry at WWII's end writes to tell her he's in love with a woman in England. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he's at a loss when it comes to envisioning what's next for his life.

When Francine's and Ben's paths intersect, it's immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.


My Review:
These Healing Hills is Ann H. Gabhart's best writing to date! I love the story of Francine's brave journey into the Appalachian Mountains to become a midwife. As I read, I was reminded of another amazing book, Christy by Catherine Marshall. Ann obviously researched the nurses/midwives who actually put their lives aside and traveled into a place they'd never been. As well as the woman who started the program, Mary Breckinridge. Being a native Kentuckian, Ann wrote with the heart of one who understands the Appalachian communities. I loved the characters and found their way of life fascinating. One of the things I liked best was Ann's portrayal of the Appalachian people's love of family and faith in God. These Healing Hills stayed with me long after I finished the last page. I received this book for free.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Nonfiction Book Review: How to Listen, So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connection by Becky Harling

Book Description:
The secret to great relationships isn't to become more charming or funny or to solve the world's problems or to just try harder. The secret is to listen--and listen well. It's that simple. 

When you listen well, your marriage will grow stronger, your parenting will flourish, your friendships will thrive, and your influence at work will increase. You will be amazed at how one simple act can transform the hearts of others--as well as your own.

My Review:
How to Listen so People Will Talk is more than a how to book on listening. The author includes thoughts about not just listening to people but also, listening to God. Hearing his voice as he speaks to our hearts. When we learn to listen to God, we'll hear the voices of the people around us with deeper meaning. Becky gives some excellent exercises that help the reader check their attitude and increase listening skills. I like that she talks about hearing other people's stories and learning more about those we care about. I recommend this book as a great tool that will help us all listen better. I received this book for free.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Lord is my Rock

Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


I had something else in mind to write today, but I've tucked those words away for another time. Instead, my mind and heart are with the folks who have been through or are waiting on the forces of nature that have let loose. Texans dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, Floridians and other southerners who watch and wait on hurricane Irma. The folks out west praying for rain to put out the wildfires.

Dan Walsh, an author whose books I've reviewed, lives with his wife in Florida. He's been giving updates on Facebook as they pray and watch the weather channel. After so many changes in predictions, Dan posted that he was putting the situation in God's hands. I would hope in the same situation, that I'd have the faith to trust God. But how difficult that would be. Worry loves to wiggle in and take over. But God counters those thoughts with instruction to trust him, even when the situation seems impossible. Don't think for a minute that I haven't fretted. I've done my share. But I'm thankful I have a place to go with my concerns.

I'm sure we all know someone affected by the disasters around the globe. Please join me as I pray for the folks in the eye of the storm.  


Proverb 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Monday, September 4, 2017

And God Created These...

Kelleys Island, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Kelleys Island, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Westlake, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Kelleys Island, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Kelleys Island, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Kelleys Island, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Kelleys Island, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Marblehead, OH ©PennyFrostMcGinnis

Friday, September 1, 2017

The One Who Created Science

Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

A magazine came across my desk this week. The front cover posed this question, "Where did we really come from?" Curious, I opened to the page of the article. I thought maybe there was a tiny chance that someone was writing about the creation story. Instead I found another argument for a different theory.


Understand this about me—I love nature, and I respect science. In biology class, I was fascinated with photosynthesis, the life stream of plants. I enjoyed learning about flowers and found animal habitats interesting. I still enjoy being outdoors watching birds and wildlife. I was excited in Maine when we learned about the lobsters and puffins. So when I read the question, "Where did we really come from?" I already knew my answer. I've prayed and studied over this for a long time.


I believe with all my heart that God created me. He held me in his heart before I was even born. God made me to reflect his image. I may not always do that because we live in a sinful world, and I confess, I sin. But I know, without doubt, that God put me on this earth with purpose. He knew me and he knows my life. Some might wonder how I can embrace God and science. My answer—because I believe God invented science. The galaxies? God tossed every star into place. The butterflies? God painted every delicate wing. My grandbabies? God formed them before we knew them. God gave us the gift of science to help us cope with this crazy world. He has his hand in medicine, technology, astronomy (remember the recent eclipse) agriculture (he did plant the first garden) and every other science we know. My faith in the truth of the Bible leads me to believe that God is the giver of life. He is the one who understands everything because he created everything. I praise God, because his works are amazing! 
Psalm 139:13-14For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

God Grabbed our Attention

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Photo by Maggie Wickline-Jowers
On Monday afternoon, I joined the large group gathered on the commons in front of the college. A buzz of voices bounced about as we waited to see the much anticipated solar eclipse. In Ohio, we knew we'd only see about a 92% eclipse, nevertheless folks were pumped. Would the skies grow dimmer? Might the temperature drop? How would it look? As the clock approached two-thirty, several of us popped on our solar eclipse glasses and gazed up toward the giant star that lights our days and the satellite that orbits the earth. The moon passed over the sun. At 92% a sliver of sun remained visible.  The sky's appearance looked as if I was wearing Polaroid sunglasses and the temperature dropped a few degrees. After I finished checking out this rare phenomenon, I loaned my glasses to folks near-by. As I watched the crowd, I had to smile. For several minutes on a Monday afternoon, everything stopped. No matter who I stood beside, we shared the same purpose. People smiled and laughed, chatted and shared their experience. A little bit of peace covered us.

I loved that we all stopped what we were doing, put away our concerns, and tucked in our differences to gaze on the wonder God created. In all the chaos of this life, God grabbed our attention.

Since then I've thought about another time when everyone will stop what they're doing. A moment, expected yet unknown. A time when all eyes will look to the sky. We won't need NASA certified glasses to cover our eyes. Instead we'll need hearts that have accepted and believe the Lord Jesus Christ is Savior. There won't be a specific time designated by astronomers. Instead, he will come in the twinkling of an eye. Jesus will appear in the clouds to collect his followers, both those who have died and those still alive on earth. All eyes will look to Jesus on that day, the day he returns to gather his children and take them to heaven. I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see Jesus. I'm not sure when he'll come back, but I know he will. I have faith in the truth of the Bible and that God keeps his promises. When Jesus appears in the clouds, everyone will stop and look up. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Haiku








partial eclipse
leaves told the story of God'simpatient moon







the sun's brilliance
eclipsed by a satellite moon
crickets chirped praise




 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Nonfiction Book Review for Tweens: Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You by Lynn Cowell

Book Description:
What will my life be like? Who will I be? Whether girls put these concerns into words or struggle anxiously with these thoughts, during this season of change, girls have questions. Sometimes these questions also come with fears and they need a safe place to process these fears. From Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and blogger, Lynn Cowell, comes Faithgirlz Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You. For girls 8-12, Brave Beauty brings tweens 100 courage-building moments to reflect on Scripture and find confidence in God, rather than in someone, some place, or some thing, as culture will all-too-soon tell them to. Lynn will also prepare girls to:
  • ·         Overcome confidence-defeating thoughts and stand on who Jesus says she is.
  • ·         Shape her self-worth on Christ and overcome the temptation base it on environmental factors.
  • ·         Build a strong foundation to face the fickle and flippant opinions of others.
  • ·         Find approval of herself even when she lacks the acceptance of others.
  • ·         Find security by turning to Christ as she steps through the exciting, yet scary world of growing up

Formatted as theme-based mini chapters, these moments can be read as one-a-days, one-a-weeks, or at the reader’s own pace. Simple and empowering, Lynn’s voice is relatable and conversational, making it easy for girls to feel like they’re spending time with a friend.


My Review:
I wish I'd had Brave Beauty for my daughters when they were tweens. This is a wonderful book, filled with wisdom that will help young girls in those formative, and often difficult, middle school years. The authors voice is conversational and never talks down to the reader. She shares stories and situations that will help the reader sort through their own life. At the end of each chapter there is a courageous call that ties up what the chapter shared and challenges girls to be courageous and brave. She also includes some quizzes and challenges that every girl will love. If you have or know a tween girl, this would be a perfect gift to share. I highly recommend Brave Beauty. I received this book for free.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Freedom and Hope

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Sixty-five lighthouses dot the coast of Maine. Those historical lights drew Tim and I to visit the beautiful north-eastern state. I've loved lighthouses for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure when I first learned of their existence and purpose, but it seemed I always knew the grand buildings saved lives and provided safety for fishermen and ship's crews. One of the lights we visited, Portland Head Light, is a majestic white structure surrounded by a home and several smaller buildings. As I wandered the property, I rounded the corner of the house and spotted a large stone.  A plaque told me the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sat and penned his lighthouse poem there.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
The poem reminds me of the hope I have in Jesus.

Steadfast—He's always here for me.
Serene—The calm in my storm.
Quenchless flame—His light cannot be put out. 
Inextinguishable light—Always shining, no matter what.

The world is a mess right now. Every day we hear stories of death and destruction. If I'm being honest—and I am, the terror scares me. I think of the world my grandchildren are growing up in and speculate about what it will be. Yes—I've gone down the road of "what if." But before I get too far gone, the Holy Spirit taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of the light. The one light that brings hope. The one that is never extinguished. You see, regardless of all the evil in the world, we have hope. Constant hope in Jesus. He's the one who brings peace and joy, the one who gives freedom from the world. He's the one who hears my prayers. He gives me freedom from fear and worry, because I know he has me in his hands. I pray for this world and the hurting. In my prayers, I ask that everyone will find comfort and peace in Jesus. He is the one who gives true freedom. The one who offers hope.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Middle School Fiction: The Ragamuffin Sisters: The Mysterious Mr. Whistler by Anita Higman & Hillary McMullen illustrated by Elise Whittier Church

Book Description:
What happens when four creative, slightly brilliant, misfit girls team up against a gang of bullies? 

That's right. Danger, chaos, and more adventure than any middle school girl should be faced with in a lifetime! 

When Jane, Elle, Dakota and Sketti band together to face The Thickheads, they land themselves in the midst of a murder-mystery that none of them is prepared to deal with. And when The Thickheads get involved, lines are drawn and accusations are flung. 
But when the two opposing groups join forces, they learn that together, they can mend fences and face the giants. 

This must-read, laugh-out-loud, coming-of-age mystery is a must-read for anyone who's ever felt like a misfit, anyone who's ever been bullied, or anyone who's ever felt like they were on the outside looking in. 


My Review:
I loved The Mysterious Mr. Whistler. The characters are delightful and full of spunk. This is a fun read, that also touches on some tough issues. Middle-schoolers will enjoy the mystery the kids get tangled up in. They'll also have fun reading about the good-natured pranks the girls and boys pull on each other. This is an entertaining read I'd share with my granddaughter. I received the book for free.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

He's the One Who Knows My Story

Psalm 62:5-8
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

This summer, Tim and I had our first experience in kayaks. I loved splashing through the fast-moving water as much as drifting quietly along the river. A number of times we hit rapids that sprayed up and soaked us. We were having a blast.



Then around one of the curves, the river forked. I rowed left and Tim paddled right. I went over some rapids and thought I was free and clear—until I hit a pile of rocks. I tried to push off with the oar, but I wasn't strong enough. I looked for Tim. He was too far ahead of me to paddle back against the current. Thinking I could get out of the situation by myself, I climbed out and promptly plopped into the water. After I laughed at myself, I stood up and tried to maneuver the kayak so I could get back in. But the rapids kept tugging, as I tried pulling. I wasn't winning. Finally I asked God for help. In a few minutes, another kayaker reached me and helped me climb back in. Then he shoved me off the rocks.

So many times in my life I've thought "I can do it myself," but I couldn't. Too many times I've fallen into the water of life and gotten stuck on stubbornness and blinded by selfish ambition. I struggled and wrestled with a situation, before I'd cry out to God for help. Why didn't I turn to him when he's the one who knows my story, the one who loves me inside out. I'm trying to be better about seeking God's wisdom before I get stuck. I know I trust him with all of my heart. But knowing isn't enough. I have to bow before him and seek his guidance. Every.Single.Day. He's my refuge and my rock.

I can't do life on my own. I need Jesus. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fiction Book Review: The Legacy by Michael Phillips

Book Description:
The Dramatic Conclusion to the Secrets of the Shetlands
Loni Ford's unexpected inheritance of substantial real estate--not to mention a title--in the Shetland Islands has caused more than a stir in the quiet fishing hamlet of Whales Reef. How can life ever be the same with an outsider--and a woman at that--playing such a pivotal role in the life of this traditional community? But it isn't just the locals who have deep misgivings about the current situation. Loni herself never imagined this in her wildest dreams and wonders whether she's cut out for it.

Loni would hardly let herself acknowledge that she's falling in love--with Whales Reef, with its hardy people, and with local chieftain David Tulloch, whose inheritance she has usurped, at least in the eyes of some. Or has she merely been seduced by the simple, peaceful way of life that exists here?

Yet life in Whales Reef is rarely without drama. Deep rifts exist between certain lifelong neighbors, and when a dead body is discovered, suspicion is cast in the direction of the Tulloch family. How Loni and David face up to this challenge will profoundly shape their relationship, as well as the future of the island.


My Review:
The Legacy is the perfect conclusion to the Secrets of the Shetlands series. This sweeping series ends the beautiful story of Loni Ford's adventure in Scotland. I enjoyed how the author wove the many tales of Scottish legacy with the reality of Loni's life in America. The colorful characters add fun and frolic, along with depth and texture to the multilayered story. With the lovely setting, I felt like I strolled through the heather with Loni and David as they sorted out their lives and discovered their futures. Michael Phillips does not always use the writing technique of showing. He does occasionally use the old-fashioned technique of telling the story. I'm not opposed to this, but it might bother some readers. The book is lengthy, but the story needed every page. For me, The Legacy is a sigh worthy book I could disappear into. I received the book for free. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fiction Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Book Description:
She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?

Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.
Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.
About the author:
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.
Find out more about Roseanna M. at http://www.roseannamwhite.com.

Check out more here:http://litfusegroup.com/author/RWhite

My Review:
I enjoyed reading A Name Unknown. Roseanna tells the story with a fresh twist. Rosemary is a thief, yet she's a likable character. At one point I forgot she was a crook and started rooting for her. The secondary characters add a deeper element to the story, especially Rosemary's ragtag family. I found it funny when Rosemary sees the library she's going to organize. I've worked in library's for years, so the whole premise was entertaining. I am a big fan of Downton Abbey, so this book was a great read for me. If you enjoy historical fiction set in Britain, you'll like this story. I'm going to give the book 4 stars because it is lengthy with some spots that were a bit slow for me. I received this book for free.

Start the Conversation

Psalm 55:16-17
As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.

As a new mom, I didn't get much sleep. My babies' cries stirred me out of bed, sometimes more than once a night. For the most part I'm a sound sleeper, but for those years when my little ones needed me I heard their call. As my children grew into teens and tweens, they'd come to me— sometimes excited about their day, sometimes in tears. When they went off to college, my phone would ring and their sweet voice would say, "Mom." Joy filled my heart. Even now, I react the same way. When my children and grandchildren call my name, it fills my heart to overflowing, even when the tears flow.

On my desk at work I keep a little knick-knack. From a clay base, two stars shoot up on each end. In the middle, the words "Pray Often" are carved. I love that reminder. I need that reminder. God loves to listen to his children. If I wake up in the middle of the night, God is there to listen. When I'm driving, working, playing, God is there to listen. So what keeps me from calling on him? Distraction, lack of faith, too busy, don't care? There's no excuse that should keep me from talking to my heavenly Father. He wants to hear from me. Whether I'm rejoicing or sobbing, God has my heart. He hears my cry. And he answers. Through the Bible, other people, circumstances—HE LISTENS and ANSWERS! Wow, that's good news.


Don't wait to pray when you're in a panic, start a conversation and just talk to him. He's available 24/7. He wants to hear from us. He loves us.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Children's Book Review: The Bedtime Book by Mary EngelBreit

About the Book:
Mama comes to tuck you in,
Pulls the covers to your chin,
Squeezes fingers, squeezes toes,
Lays a kiss upon your nose.
New York Times bestselling author Mary Engelbreit presents The Bedtime Book, a beautifully-illustrated picture book that pairs sleepy time text with Mary’s beloved, timeless art. From endearing poems and snuggly stories to sweet blessings and precious prayers, each page of The Bedtime Book features ways for you to read your little one to sleep.  The Bedtime Book has a beautiful cover decorated with embossing and spot gloss.


My Review:
Mary Engelbreit does not disappoint with her latest illustrations in The Bedtime Book. Each page is colorful and fun. She creates such incredible detail in each picture. Children and adults will delight in looking for all the creatures, flowers, stars and so much more. The poems, prayers, and stories will become bedtime favorites. This would be a beautiful gift or a great book to keep stashed at Grandma's house. You can't go wrong with this lovely read-out-loud gem. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Board Book Review: Ready, Set, Find: Noah's Ark

Book Description:
Noah has an important job. He needs to build a huge ark and fill it with animals too. Now there are things and animals along the way he needs your help to find, like the hammer, the hen, and the hedgehog. Are you ready to help Noah? If so, on your mark, Ready, Set, Find! Read the classic story of Noah’s Ark in this engaging look-and-find book for young children.


My Review:
Noah's Ark is a sturdy board book with tabs that make turning each page easy for little fingers. The illustrations are colorful and cute. However, I found it difficult to find some of the hidden tools and animals. A small child might need help looking for the partially hidden items. I do think children will enjoy the short version of Noah's story. This book would be a good teaching tool, as well. I received this book for free.

Broken and Blessed

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I just spent the weekend with amazing ladies—dear, dear friends—from Kentucky Christian College. We first met over forty years ago, when we all attended KCC. Since then our paths diverged all over the country; yet it's like we were never apart. That's because we've all kept loving Jesus. You see he's the reason we all converged on KCC in the 70s. We loved the Lord and wanted to serve him.

Thanks to social media, snail mail, and phone calls, we've reconnected and found our love for each other and God still holds true. I'd venture to say that love is even stronger.  We discovered, as a group, we've suffered broken hearts, failed relationships, parents growing old, our children's heartbreak, health issues, and the oh so human struggle with sin. Our dear friend, Holly, shared a devotion with us. She talked about the tears of God and how we shed tears in times of fear, sadness, depression, and even joy. But he takes them and stores them in his bottle, on his scrolls—Psalm 56:8. He gathers our tears and heartaches because he loves us. He holds our tears and understands our sorrows.

I'm a broken person. One who has lived life, suffered, struggled, and sinned. I'm also one who has asked forgiveness and felt God's grace and love pour over me. Even though my friends and I have all experienced the pains of life, we've been blessed by the hope that comes only through Jesus. Jesus is the way to a life of joy and peace. He's the way to heaven. I praise God for friendships anchored by the hope that is in him!

Psalm 116:8-9
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
 in the land of the living.





Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beacons of Hope

Last summer, Tim and I climbed Marblehead Lighthouse. We enjoyed the view of Lake Erie and the surrounding area. I imagined what life might have been like for the lightkeeper and family. A soft breeze blew with warm temperatures. A perfect day to be outside. But think about what lightkeepers went through in the winter. Freezing degrees of cold, ice, and snow. They trudged through blizzards, storms, and other inclement weather to bring safety to the boats that traveled nearby. 

I've had a fascination with lighthouses for years. The tall beacons of light remind me of the hope I have in Jesus. The hope that helps me trek through life's circumstances with a sense of peace, joy, and safety. 

On our trip to Maine this summer, Tim and I saw seventeen different beacons of hope. Ten in Maine, on the beautiful Atlantic, and seven in Ohio, on Lake Erie. Hope you enjoy their beauty as much as we have.

Ram Island Ledge Light----------------------------Portland Head Light----------------Portland Breakwater---Maine
Nubble Lighthouse---------------------------------Kittery Lighthouse--------------------------Pemaquid Lighthouse----------Maine

Pond Island, Popham Beach Light----Wood Island, Biddeford----Whaleback Lighthouse---Spring Point Ledge Light---Maine

Fairport Harbor Light------------Vermillion Lighthouse---------Conneaut Breakwater Light----Marblehead------Ohio
Port Clinton Lighthouse--------------------------Lorain Lighthouse----------------Fairport Harbor West Breakwater--------Ohio


Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Measure of Growth

Colossians 1:9-14
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

When we vacationed in Maine, Tim and I took a "Lobster Tour." Our first afternoon in that beautiful state we boarded the Lucky Catch, on the Casco Bay in Portland. The little red boat held about fourteen tourists ready to learn about the trade of lobstering. First, we filled mesh bags with chubs and herring, then tied them into the traps. The captain taught us about the traps, how the larger lobsters get caught and the little ones have an escape hatch. The whole experience was hands-on. When we pulled in the traps and found a female, they showed us she was a layer and threw her back. Then the captain demonstrated which of the larger male lobsters to keep and which to send back to the water.


The captain grabbed the lobster and a gage. He hooked one end of the measuring tool to the socket behind the lobster's eye, then drew the other end straight down along the crustacean's carapace (back). The minimum length had to be three and a quarter inches for him to keep it. Otherwise back to the deep they went for a chance to grow.

Like those lobsters that get thrown into the sea, God wants me to keep growing. My Father knows where I am as a believer. He knows my heart and sees my soul. When I think of ways to grow spiritually I call up the verses in Galatians where Paul names the Fruit of the Spirit. My love needs to multiply. Does God draw me through the fires of life to increase my compassion for people? I'm willing to say yes. Does he require I wait to develop patience? Of course. How about experiencing hurt and pain to remember to be kind and gentle. Yes! God wants me to grow in my relationship with Jesus. He wants me to strengthen my knowledge of his word. Does he use a gage to measure my growth? No, instead he checks my heart. Jesus knows me. He loves me and he wants me to be filled with joy. And that takes growth—in learning his word, in prayer, and in obedience.


Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fiction Book Review: Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson

About the book:
A brave midwife. A wounded pilot. A risky secret.
In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O'Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she's taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she'll face imprisonment.

Still, something compels Nan to take in "flyboy" Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection-and an unbreakable bond.

But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband's death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?


About the author:
Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four
brothers. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling. Perfecting her craft, she attends many writer's conferences and over the years, she has won and finaled in numerous RWA romance writing awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, The Molly, The Tara, and she was the overall contest winner of Launching A Star. Today she lives in Coastal San Diego with her fabulous husband, her two wonderful girls, and a dozen disobedient rose bushes.

Find out more about Jeanne M. at http://www.jeannemdickson.com.



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My Review:
Grounded Hearts tells a beautiful story of strong women in Ireland in World War 2. I didn't know that Ireland was neutral during World War 2, nor did I know anything about their internment camps. Jeanne M. Dickson did her homework on the history of the area and the role Ireland played during the war. I like the main character, midwife Nan. She has a heart of gold, that's been broken. Yet, she's selfless when it comes to taking care of others. I love the strong and loyal bond the women of the story share, as well as the setting. Nan's cottage is cozy. Then there is the flyboy, "Dutch". He's a strong, yet tender man who wants nothing more than to fly his fighter plane against the evils of Hitler. As I read the book, I didn't want to put it down. It's not a gentle inspirational book. Instead, the story deals with emotions, passion, sin, war, and love. The men of Ireland were drinkers and the women said what was on their minds. But the story is a beautiful tale of redemption, second chances, forgiveness, loyalty, and love. If you enjoy honest, historical fiction, you'll want to read Grounded Hearts. I give it five stars for the excellent writing and moving story. I received this book for free.

Jeanne M. Dickson's 'Grounded Hearts' Giveaway and Blog Tour

What do you get when you mix World War II, a brave midwife, a wounded pilot, and a risky secret? Jeanne M. Dickson's new historical fiction novel, Grounded Hearts. When midwife Nan O'Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she's taking a huge risk by letting him in. Still, something compels Nan to take in "flyboy" Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection-and an unbreakable bond.

Join Jeanne in celebrating the release of her new book by entering to win the Celtic Knots Giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 31. The winner will be announced August 1 on the Litfuse blog.