Sunday, April 26, 2015

Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh

Book description:
Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion... and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.

When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.

As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?
-From back cover

My Review:
On the surface Paper Hearts appears to be a sweet romance, but the story is so much more. With remarkable writing skill Courtney creates a powerful tale of a young woman who discovers her strengths as she embraces the amazing power of forgiveness. From the main characters to the most minor one, the town is filled with quirky, likeable, folks with well-developed personalities. The Valentine Volunteers made me laugh and cringe as they championed Abigail's cause. And the doctor's story tugged at my heart and reminded me that each person has a story. This is a book I'll want to read again because I loved the town and the people so much. Five stars.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Baseball and Honeycombs

Proverbs 16:23-24
The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.
Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Joey Votto hits a homerun. Billy Hamilton steals another base. Aroldis Chapman closes the game with a win. That's what I like to see when the Reds play ball. My family loves the great American Pastime, enjoyed by all ages. So when I heard on the news that the manager let off a string of curse words (seventy-seven in a five-and-a-half minute span) to the media, I was disappointed. He represented the team and the fans. The media reported he was under duress and angry at them. Instead of gracious words, he threw harmful darts.

© Penny Frost McGinnis
I have a magnet on the refrigerator that says, "You are your words." Once they come out of the mouth, they can't be swallowed back up. Proverbs reminds me to consider whether my words show care, thoughtfulness, positivity, a teaching spirit, and a healing concern. I've heard it's easier to draw bees with honey. That's true with the spoken word. I want to stop before I speak and consider how what I say affects who hears. Encourage, compliment and instruct with love like Jesus did. We are his words. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Art Shop in Batavia

Under the Stars, at 97 East Main Street, opened this month. Vicki Watkins, owner, has invited talented artists from across the country to display and sell their work.

I browsed several rooms and discovered beautiful jewelry, colorful paintings, pallet word art, pottery and handpainted furniture. Vicki plans to have several art events this coming year. Stop by and enjoy the beautiful work.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Aggravating Allergies

©Penny Frost McGinnis
I rarely miss church. But today after sleeping all day on Friday and Saturday, my body called again for rest on Sunday. Spring allergies have attacked and given me their gift of an ear, eye, and sinus infection. It started out as a minor irritation and worked it's way to a full blown aggravation.

I missed work on Friday, free admission to the Nature Center on Saturday, and church on Sunday. I probably sound whiny because I am. But I just hate missing out on life. Yet I know God calls me to rest and too often I don't listen. My husband tries to remind me, yet I think I'm okay and I plow through.

My advice to myself and anyone who might read this. Rest when your body gives the signs. Take care of yourself. And sleep as needed. It's not easy or convenient sometimes to just rest, but it's sure necessary.

Here's hoping the allergies are done with me or will at least give me a pass for the rest of spring.

Do you have allergies? What do you do to keep them at bay?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Surprises of Spring

Matthew 27: 50;54-56
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.
©Penny Frost McGinnis
Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Each day of spring holds a different surprise. In March the daffodils wave in the breeze and the hyacinths send their sweet smell into the air. Then April bursts with yellow forsythia and bright tulip trees. On my way to work this week, I noticed the redbud trees in bloom. Their lovely pinkish-red buds contrast with the fresh green leaves of the maple and oaks. Up the street a weeping cherry's petals hang like a pink cloud. In the thicket the dogwood's white petals spread. God created beautiful blossoms for the season.

As I've enjoyed the colors of spring, I couldn't help but think of Jesus. As pretty as the redbuds are, the dark red color beneath the pink reminds me of the blood Jesus shed. The dogwood with the four leaves, two longer and two shorter, resemble a cross with indents said to look like scars. An old legend taught that the dogwood was meant to be a reminder of the crucifixion. And the weeping cherry made me think of Mary who cried for her son. Spring is a time of revival and renewal of life. Jesus gives life everlasting. Praise God for new life!

Book review: A Walk in the Valley: Christian Encouragement for your Journey through Infertility

Authors: Julie Arduini, Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery, and Donna Winters

Book Description:
Everyone's journey through infertility is different. Even women who have the same physical problems will have different courses of treatment, different responses, and different emotional ups and downs as they walk this path. But we also have so much in common: the hurt, anger, frustration, pain, sorrow, hope and joy that we have experienced along the way. We are women who have experienced infertility. Some of us have gone on to conceive, others have adopted, and others remain childless. All of us have found peace in the loving arms of our Father God at the end of our journey. We want to share our experiences and thoughts with you. It is our hope and prayer that you'll be encouraged. -Amazon

Book Review:
Although I've not experienced infertility myself, I've had people I'm close to go through this very difficult journey. The authors open their hearts as they share stories of pain, joy, hope, and faith. Every woman going through infertility, miscarriage, and trials of trying to have a baby can find something that will encourage and educate. The authors include their husbands thoughts and experiences as well as practical advice, from what to ask a doctor to the details of what they experienced during testing. At the end of each chapter, the writers give the readers an opportunity to work through their own story by digging in and answering questions, writing prayers, and praises as well as recording their own questions. I recommend A Walk in the Valley not just for anyone going through infertility, but for anyone who needs to understand their family and friends' struggle. I learned so much.

I received a free copy of A Walk in the Valley from Clalfont House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson

Book description:
Small-town girl Katie Fisher is planning her wedding. Sure, her boyfriend hasn't managed to pop the question just yet, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't enter a contest in Texas Bride magazine to win the dress of her dreams, right? But when her boyfriend breaks up with her and takes a job in another town--the very same day Katie wins her dream dress--her world is turned upside down. Should she claim her prize? And will the hunky former pro-basketball player who runs the swanky Dallas bridal shop--yeah, you read that right--catch on to her humiliation if she does?

My Review:
I've read several of Janice Thompson's wedding themed books and enjoyed each one. Every Bride Needs a Groom is no exception. Katie Fisher and the small town she lives in are a breath of fresh air. Her family is a hoot. From her countrified brothers to her wayward aunt, they each add another layer of entertainment to the story. I think I smiled the entire time I read this delightful story. The fun didn't stay in small town, Fairfield, Texas. When Katie traveled to Dallas and met the crew at the high-end bridal shop, the comedy continued. The whole concept of a pro-basketball player working in a wedding shop is funny and almost believable. If you enjoy romantic comedy, pick up a copy of Every Bride Needs a Groom. It's a five-star read!

Disclosure:I received a free copy of Every Bride Needs aGroom from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review.


Fritillaria thunbergii ©Penny Frost McGinnis

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Beauties

Sessile Trillium ©Penny Frost McGinnis
Large-flowered Trillium ©Penny Frost McGinnis
 Every spring 

I'm excited to find flowers sprouting and blooming. God never disappoints. He's created some of the most interesting and beautiful plants. It'd been a long time since I wandered through the woods in spring. Discovering the trillium (above)was like finding a treasure. My husband and I spotted them the first week we hiked but they hadn't bloomed. This week they spread their color.  

As an added delight, I found a Jack-in-the-pulpit (below, right). Easy to miss because of their leaf-like appearance. Then we ran across the lovely, whimsical plant (two bottom pics) with cup-like blooms and curled tendrils. If anyone knows the name, please let me know. Enjoy the pics. I had fun taking them. 
All photo ©Penny Frost McGinnis

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The River Roared

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.

The water rushed over the dam of the East Fork of the Little Miami River. As the turbulent torrent roared by, my husband remarked about the incredible power of water. We've seen heavy rain cause rivers to rise out of their embankment and create  flooding so strong it carries houses and trees away. As we watched the water teem between the banks I was reminded of the amazing power of God.

Much like the vigorous water that rushed over the dam, the power of the Holy Spirit flowed through believers in Rome. Instead of destruction, his power carried hope. God's power changes still lives. He can move mountains if we have faith. As his spirit moves through my life, I'm filled with his peace and joy. Praise God for his mighty power.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Another Poem for National Poetry Month

Summer in the South 

by Paul Laurence Dunbar 

The oriole sings in the greening grove 
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green, 
Timid and hesitating. 
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep 
And the nights smell warm and piney, 
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots 
Are yellow-green and tiny. 
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill, 
Streams laugh that erst were quiet, 
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue 
And the woods run mad with riot.

What a beautiful poem from a talented poet.

Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Who?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Opening Day

opening day

the bats swing

baseball's in bloom

Does anyone else enjoy baseball? The Reds started the season with a win today. I've watched the Reds play since I was a little girl and still love the game. When I'm fortunate enough to attend a game in person, I love to watch the people along with the game. It's one of the most relaxing activities on my list.

What do you like to do to relax?

Friday, April 3, 2015

It Blows Me Away

Luke 23:44-46
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 24:36-39
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Thunder crashed in the distance, dark skies repelled daylight, and rain pelted over the ground. Good Friday morning, I found myself thinking about the day Jesus died. As I drove in the downpour I wondered why God loved me so much. I'm not perfect like his son. I'm not even good all the time. Yet God sent his son as a sacrifice for my imperfections, my sin. Because he loves me.

That blows me away. Sometimes I can't even comprehend the difference Jesus made in my life. He lived as a human, died at the hands of sinners, and came back to life because he wants to pour his grace over anyone who chooses to believe. As Easter nears, I praise God for the resurrection of Jesus.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April is National Poetry Month

Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets. I read many of his poems growing up and had to memorize this one in high school. 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know. 
His house is in the village though; 
He will not see me stopping here 
To watch his woods fill up with snow. 

My little horse must think it queer 
To stop without a farmhouse near 
Between the woods and frozen lake 
The darkest evening of the year. 

He gives his harness bells a shake 
To ask if there is some mistake. 
The only other sound’s the sweep 
Of easy wind and downy flake. 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.