Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Peace to You

Sometimes the calm we need feels far away.
I know Jesus offers a peace that transcends whatever is going on in life.
He offers amazing grace and hope.

In this week before Easter, I pray peace fills your heart. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Historical Fiction Review: The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Book Description:
Bestselling author Lisa Wingate brings to life startling stories from actual “Lost Friends” advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as newly freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold away.

Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous era of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Hannie, a freed slave; Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now destitute plantation; and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s Creole half sister. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following roads rife with vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of stolen inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and siblings before slavery’s end, the pilgrimage west reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.

Louisiana, 1987: For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt—until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, is suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled live oaks and run-down plantation homes lie the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.

My Review:
Lisa Wingate has written an amazing story. I'd never read about the "Lost Friends" ads that posted for folks to find family and friends after the Civil War ended. I love the way she approached the story with a split-time perspective. Benny Silva is the perfect character to guide her students into the history of their town and their families. She has her own interesting story, which you'll discover as you read. I absolutely love Hannie and her spunk and courage. She's incredible. As I read each different time period, I couldn't wait to get back to the other one. Both stories are told in rhythm with one another, even though separated by 112 years. Being reminded how families were split apart is heartbreaking and thought provoking. The struggle to find their people took strength and an amazing amount of courage. If you read historical fiction or contemporary fiction, you'll enjoy The Book of Lost Friends. This is a 5++ stars story. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Fiction Suspense Review: Silent Shadows (Harbored Secrets Book #3) by Natalie Walters

Book Description:
Pecca Gallegos moved to the tiny town of Walton, Georgia, to protect her son and escape the dangerous lifestyle that once defined her. When a series of strange circumstances evolve into threats, Pecca finds herself confiding in an unlikely ally--her stubborn patient.

Army veteran Colton Crawford is desperate to recover from the undiagnosed disorder that is ruining his life, and his instincts are on high alert when threats against his nurse and her son force him to take action. But Colton's involvement only ramps up the danger when he uncovers a family secret revealing that whoever is after Pecca is closer--and more deadly--than they realized.

With this suspenseful new story, Natalie Walters welcomes you once more to Walton, Georgia, where everyone knows your name--but no one knows your secret.

My Review:
Silent Shadows
is a great suspense story. I enjoyed the interaction between Pecca and Colton and the friendship that developed between Colton and Maceo, Pecca's son. I also liked the older veterans who rehabbed with Colton. They reminded me of my dad. There are surprises and twists I didn't expect. The small town setting where the people are supportive and kind create the perfect community for Pecca and Maceo to start over. The thread of romance adds a sweet touch. I haven't read the first two books, but picked up on their stories in this one. They sound intriguing, also. If you enjoy suspense with a twist, pick up Silent Shadows. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Praises and Palms

He rode in on a donkey to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

He's our Ever-present Help

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

I loved listening to my Gram tell stories.

Grammy as a teenager
When the 1918 Spanish Influenza attacked, my gram was nine years old. In October a messenger about Grammy's age, dropped a telegram at the door. A military officer had alerted my great-grandmother Helen Hannah Smith to the urgency of her son's illness. "If you want to see him alive, come right away." My Grammy Sara fetched her brother Bernard and his wife, and the family loaded into the Model T and traveled from Lynchburg, Ohio to Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio where her brother, Walter, prepared to serve in WW1. The flu had hit the camp and my great-grandma Smith was determined to see her son. 

Sara, too young to visit, waited on a bench with the doctor's wife, outside the building where the infected men stayed. Great-grandma applied a mustard plaster to Walter's chest in hopes the home remedy would help. Sadly, Walter died during the epidemic with complications from pneumonia. Great-grandma Smith, Grammy, and other family members contracted the flu. Thanks to the doctor who lived across the street and a neighbor who left soup on their step every day, they survived. As my gram's memories echo with sadness and sorrow, I'm reminded of the folks who have lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. My heart breaks for anyone who has suffered such loss. 
Please pray with me that God pours peace over those who mourn.
Grammy, Great-grandma Smith, & Mom
Are you feeling exhausted, nervous, sad? Are you mourning? God wants to wrap you in his arms and comfort you. He reaches out to the brokenhearted, the hurting, the sad. He offers shelter in this time of distress.

As I've reflected on my Grammy's story and witnessed her life, I know she clung to Jesus. She loved God and set an amazing example of resilience and faith in her 92 years. No matter what we're going through, God is our strength and our hope. He gives rest to the weary and peace to the broken.

Seek the Father who is our ever-present help in times of trouble.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Bow Down

In this time of uncertainty, I know God remains the same. 
He's bigger than all my problems, greater than all my stress. 
I know that I can bow down and lift my prayers to Him, and He hears me. 
He loves me and He comforts me. 

Lift your worries and anxiety to the one who always listens.
Worship the One who cares.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Fiction Book Review: Starfish Pier (A Hope Harbor Novel Book #6) by Irene Hannon

Book Description:
A year ago, ex-Delta Force operator Steven Roark left the rigors of combat behind to run fishing charters in Hope Harbor, decompress, and talk some sense into his kid brother. Business is good--but making peace with his past is more challenging than he expected.

First-grade teacher Holly Miller leads a quiet, low-profile existence--until she's recruited to advocate for a cause that's dear to her heart. When she solicits Steven's assistance, sparks fly--especially after they find themselves on opposite sides of an issue that disrupts their placid seaside community.

As these two seemingly incompatible souls search for common ground, might they discover a deeper connection--and find that love can banish darkness and light the way to a future filled with promise?

My Review:
Irene Hannon's Hope Harbor series is one of my favorites. Seems like they get better and better with each new book. This story, featuring Steven and Holly, hits on some weighty issues. Hannon handles them beauty and grace. Besides Steven and Holly, Steven's brother Patrick has demons to conquer and Holly's neighbor is about to make a decision that will change his life. I love the way all their stories are woven together with threads of faith. The gorgeous setting and recurring characters of Hope Harbor enhance Hannon's storytelling and makes me hungry for fish tacos! If you read Starfish Pier and enjoy it, make sure to go back and read the first five volumes of this wonderful series. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.