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.