Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Poetry Blast

I just returned home from the American Library Association's conference. The Poetry Blast featuring a number of remarkable children's poets was a highlight for me.

Betsy Franco read fun concrete poems from A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters

Nikki Grimes read beautiful poems from her new book Poems in the Attic

Rebecca Kai Dotlitch read her poetry that put a new twist on fairy tales from Grumbles from the Forest
 Marilyn Nelson read selections from her new book How I Discovered Poetry
 Alma Flo Ada shared her latest poetry from her free verse fictional narrative Yes! We are Latinos!

F. Isable Campoy her delightful poems from 
Poesia eres tu/Poetry is You

Marilyn Singer shared poems from A Strange Place to Call Home: The World's Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals that Call Them Home 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Song of Solomon 2:12
Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.

In the summer, I enjoy the tiger lilies that spring up in the ditches. Often accompanied by Queen Anne's Lace, and chicory, they dance in the breeze and nod as I drive by. The vibrant orange trumpets shoot from the slender green stems as if they want to sing. And why not sing?

God created such an amazing world filled with incredible colors, shapes, and textures. Sing for the joy of summer. Sing for the beauty of the earth. Sing for Jesus love. Sing to praise the Lord!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Father Provides

Acts 14:15-17
“Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

My dad worked hard to provide. We lived in a comfortable home, ate nourishing meals Mom prepared, and didn't want for anything. I know there were lean times as well as plentiful times, but I'll always remember my dad coming home after a day of work. He smelled like a mix of oil and metal with the grime and grit of a man who worked with his hands. His provision brought our family comfort  and the ability to live our lives for God.

Paul reminds the people in Lystra and Derbe they have a father who provides. God gives more than we imagine. He pours the rain and shines the sun. His love fills hearts with joy and peace. I've earned nothing, all I have God has given.

Recently, my husband and I drove along a country road as the sun beat down. We passed by a field and he noticed cows huddled under a row of trees, along a fence. God gave them a bit of shade in the midst of the heat. He's a generous father to all of his creation. Praise the Lord for his giving spirit and provision.

Nonfiction Book Review: A Friend in Me by Pamela Havey Lau

About the book:
Women’s Nonfiction (
David C. Cook)
Young women long for relational connection. Yet, without realizing it, more mature Christian women often distance themselves from the younger generation because they use different language to talk about God or have different views on church and theology.
In A Friend in Me, Pam Lau shows readers how to be a safe place for the younger women in their lives. She offers five patterns women need to internalize and practice for initiating relationships and talking about issues such as faith, sexuality, and vocation. Most significantly, she reminds readers that when generations get together, they can have a global impact— and experience a deeper personal faith than they’ve ever known.

Pam Lau shares hauntingly beautiful stories of sorrow as she fiercely questions the global impact women’s relationships can make when we pattern our lives after Jesus’ example.  A Friend in Me leaves the reader free to love and serve the women closest to them.

My Review:

A Friend in Me is filled with heart-changing advice every woman should read. So many of us are so busy with day to day life, we forget to seek out help from women who have experienced life. On the other hand so many young ladies aren't sure who to turn to. This book is essential for women who follow Christ and wish to make a difference.

I love the five patterns Pamela points out to encourage women to be a more Christ-like influence on one another. She digs into each one with great examples of women she's mentored or ladies who mentored her. She even delves into areas that are hard to talk about, in a way that brings to light the great need for woman to woman conversations. This is not a work book. It's a heart book that can make a difference to the reader and anyone the reader encounters. I recommend A Friend in Me for a women's Bible study group because it would open faith building conversations. 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of A Friend in Me in exchange for an honest review.

Pamela Havey Lau is the author of A Friend in Me, Soul Strength, and numerous articles for such publications as Christian Scholar’s Review and Christianity Today. A graduate of Liberty University and Colorado State University, she has taught writing at George Fox University and speaks around the country at conferences and retreats. After her three daughters were born, she began teaching writing at private day schools until 2010 when she started her own business, Real Life Real Image, where she writes, edits and speaks. Pam is married to Dr. Brad Lau, a college administrator. The two make their home near Portland, OR with their three daughters.

Book Review: Summer's List by Anita Higman

About the book:
Summer's List (River North, June 2015)

A dying wish alters the course of a young woman's life.

Life hadn't been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness---caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother's bookstore---she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love . . . didn't turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something---or someone.

Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer's past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

My Review:

Every book I've read by Anita Higman is like an enchanting holiday away from the chaos of life. I love her ability to write beautiful stories in modern day settings that read like fairy tales. Summer's List is a delightful story of friendship and love. I once read a quote, "Let's put the fun back in dysfunctional." Summer and Martin experience the fall-out of a family hurt by circumstance, but believe faith can make a difference.

As always, Anita's characters come to life on the page and find their way into the heart. I especially liked Summer's grandmother and strive to have the insight and faith she showed her granddaughter. Summer's List is a charming tale and excellent choice for a summer read.

Disclaimer: I received Summer's List in exchange for an honest review.


Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1GKqprL
About the author: 
Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Find Anita online: website, Twitter, 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Be Aware

1 Peter 5:8-9
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

On Thursday, I spent the day with colleagues in the beautiful surroundings of the local nature center. We met for a day of learning and team building about the nature of character. Our speaker expounded on the forty-nine character traits important to being a good person. I'm guessing I could find them all in the Bible. Sure enough the very first one-alertness is mentioned several times.

Alertness-- "being aware of what is taking place around me so I can have the right responses." Peter warned the elders to be alert. Pay attention. The devil is lurking. That's what he does. He hangs out until he can find a foothold, a thin area to poke and prod. Peter's advice, stay in tune with what's happening. Be alert! Then stand firm in faith and resist. Send up a prayer and engage the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation. Know that we're not alone and pray for one another. God has our backs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: Hearts Made Whole

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. Caroline's two little brothers 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. Also, I loaned the book to a friend and she absolutely loved it. 

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

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1eN4pC8
About the author:
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling historical fiction author. She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.

Find Jody online: websiteTwitterFacebook

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Jody Hedlund’s Afternoon at the Beach Giveaway

Don't miss Jody Hedlund's new book, Hearts Made Whole, a story of loss, forgiveness, hope, and true love set in 1865 Michigan. When Ryan's 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. Can Caroline forgive the hurting man who costs her the role she loves?

Celebrate the release of Hearts Made Whole by entering to win an Afternoon at the Beach prize pack and RSVPing to Jody's June 23rd author chat party!

hearts made whole - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:

One second-place winner will receive:

One third-place winner will receive:
hearts made whole - prize colalge 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 23rd.Winner will be announced June 23rd at Jody's Facebook partyRSVP here!

hearts made whole - enter banner

Book Review: Centralia by Mike Dellosso

                                       Book Description:

Peter Ryan wakes up on a typical morning only to find his house empty, his wife and daughter nowhere to be found. His world is shattered after a phone call to a friend confirms the impossible: his wife and daughter died in a car accident he does not remember. Haunted by faint memories and flashes of details, Peter becomes convinced that something isn’t right and begins to question reality. When he discovers a note in his daughter’s handwriting, strange memories begin to surface that cause him to second-guess nearly everything he once believed. Suddenly armed men show up at Peter’s home, turning the mysterious puzzle of his past into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. On the run and unsure whom to trust, Peter has to discover what’s real and what isn’t . . . before he loses everything.
My Review:

Centralia is one of those books I wanted to read in one sitting. The fast-paced, pull-me-through the pages of this psychological thriller kept me wanting more. I rooted for Ryan and couldn't wait to find out what happened, then wanted to read more when I finished. Dellosso knows how to write a story and weave in elements of faith. I loved how he sewed God into the fabric of the story and showed the reader what faith can do. If you enjoy Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti you'll love Mike Dellosso.

Warning: There is violence throughout the story.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Where's the Beauty in Serving?

Galatians:5:13 ...serve one another humbly in love.

To serve. To wait on another person. To be of use. To answer a need. I heard a minister talk about an aspect of service I hadn't heard before. "Job crafting"-- expanding a job in order to make a difference and serve others in a beneficial way. In other words, whatever vocation a job crafter is in, they intentionally look for ways to meet the needs of fellow employees, and find ways to make a difference at work.

I'm busy at work. But according to Paul in Galatians, Jesus expects me to take the time to serve. Maybe something as simple as taking a cup of coffee to an office mate, or sharing a skill with a co-worker. Service is part of obedience to Christ. 

How do I know what someone else needs? Listen, observe, be aware of my surroundings, and I'll see the needs of people.  

Whether you're a stay-at-home mom who takes the kids to plant flowers for an elderly neighbor, the person in the office who knows how to unjam the copier and does it with a smile, or a construction worker who listens to a co-worker at lunch and gives him a word of encouragement, you make a difference.

The examples may sound obvious, but how many times do we get caught up in our projects, issues, or problems, and forget the people around us.

Service requires hearing the message between the words, seeing changes in attitude, and watching actions of other people. Then seek a way to help, no matter how small.

Because no service is too small when done with a caring and open heart.