Friday, October 30, 2015

Won't You Be My Neighbor

Matthew 22:36-40
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Farmers Mural in Wilmington, OH
I didn't grow up in a neighborhood, but I knew my neighbors. We lived in the country on five acres where I could roam the woods, fish in the pond, and read on the front porch. More than a few times I remember my dad welding machinery for the local farmers who lived nearby. A couple of times I helped bale hay. I learned about sheep and goats from the farm on the hill. When we weren't working on something, all the kids got together and played softball, tag, and hide and seek. We were neighbors who watched out for each other, visited, and cared. We loved the folks around us.

Jesus knew about neighbors. He loved the people who surrounded him. When asked which commands to follow, he was clear in his answer. Love God, love people. This is not just an Old Testament law, but also words spoken by the prophets, reiterated in the New Testament. Love God with all I have and have compassion for the people around me. Not just neighbors who live next door, but people who weave in and out of my life. It's not easy sometimes, as I'm sure it's not easy to love me at times. Never-the-less, I continue to obey Jesus. Praise God for his love and for his commands.

Children's Book Review: Thank You, Lord, for Everything by P.J. Lyons, illustrated by Tim Warnes

Book Description:
Love surrounds you, beauty, too.
Notice how God blesses you!
Clap your hands, shout and sing:
Thank you, Lord, for everything.

A comfortable and relaxing rhyme tells the story of God’s great blessings in this padded cover board book. P.J. Lyons’ engaging text and Tim Warnes’ playful illustrations remind readers how much they have to be thankful for.

My Review:
This soft-cover board  book is perfect for little hands and as a read aloud. The little bear in the story is so enthusiastic, his thankful attitude will rub off on the reader. They'll be repeating the thank you chorus along with the reader. What a positive example.

P.J. Lyon's sweet poetry, "Jeweled flower, stained glass wing..." paints a delightful picture of bear's day. Children will enjoy Tim Warnes' soft and colorful illustrations. I love reading rhyming books to my grandchildren. I'll definitely share this one with them. Thank You, Lord, for Everything is a great book for Thanksgiving or as a Christmas gift. 

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nonfiction Book Review: Best Hair Book Ever!

Best Hair Book Ever!
Book description:
We’ve all had bad hair days—be it hair that won’t curl or is way too curly, a cut that won’t grow out fast enough, or a do that just feels like an absolute don’t even after hours of pinning and spraying. But we have good news for you. Inside Best Hair Book Ever! are killer tricks and tips on having amazing hair every day, from the best cut for your lovely locks to simple-yet-stunning updos and gorgeous styles, and even the secrets guaranteed to make your hair behave. So put down that straightening iron and pick up this book! -From the editors of Faithgirlz and Girls' Life magazine.

My review:
This entertaining hair book for tweens and teens is filled with tips and tricks to have a good hair day every day. Along with instructions on braiding and styling, the authors encourage girls to embrace the hair God gave them. Whether curly, straight, thick or fine, there are ideas for every young lady. I like the pages that explain the different hair types and face shapes that show the reader the best ideas for them. Rather than focusing on looking sexy, the Best Hair Book Ever! shows girls how to have healthy hair that fits their lifestyle. This is a fun book for moms and daughters to share. Keep it in mind as a great Christmas gift bundled with some cute hair accessories.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Out of the Forest

Monday, October 26, 2015

An Author's Love for Jesus and Writing: Meet Joi Copeland

Joi's desire to write began like many others, at an early age. She loved writing short stories as early as fourth grade. During her college years, she wrote stories that depicted where she was on her journey with Jesus. In 1999, she married her best friend, Chris, and put writing aside to focus on building her family. Her three boys kept her busy for many years. After moving to Colorado in 2008, Joi was encouraged by her sister, brother--in-law, and husband to pick up her writing once again.

Not long after that, her first novel, Hope for Tomorrow, published by Comfort Publishing, was released, followed by Hope for Journey. The third and final book in this trilogy, Hope from the Past was published and released in June, 2013. She's written two novellas, Christmas Rayne and Sheriff Bride, Rob's Story. Her short book, Letters of Love, hit closer to home for her than any other she'd written so far. Actual letters from her grandfather to her grandmother while he was stationed in China during WWII became the center of this fictional novel.

Joi continues to write. Her love for stories allows her to come up with many different themes. Though, hope and forgiveness seem to be one of the constant themes in her writing.

Joi makes her home in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three boys. On occasion, you can find her sitting at Starbucks with her laptop working, or enjoying coffee with a friend. She not only writes, but is currently employed with Executive Scheduling Associates where she spends much of her time filling up calendars.

The most important decision of her life happened March 18, 1990, when she accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. Following Him has been a journey, and not always an easy one, but she's never regretted it. She feels like the disciples when Jesus asked if they were going to turn away also. Their response, like hers, was this, "Where would we go?" That's exactly how she feels. Jesus has been her life for over twenty years, and will continue to be so as long as she lives.

Her prayer is through her writing, you will come closer to Him as she has through so many Christian authors.

One huge recent development this year was God's calling for Joi and her family to move to Ireland to church plant. It's an exciting time in her life, and she prays she will continue to write once overseas. Those stories will be focused on redemption and hope to a society that has lost its hope. Joi and her family will be church planting in Ireland, building disciples for Christ, and raising ambassadors to the nations.

For more information on that or on any of Joi’s books, contact her at

Visit her on Facebook or her author page 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Road Not Taken

Psalm 23:2-3
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

What path should I take? One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. A man walking along the woods comes to a Y in the road and wonders which path to take. He talks about the yellow of the forest, I imagine a beautiful autumn day with the breeze waving. One path he describes has marks of wear, where another may have trod. But he chooses the one with grass still green and leaves untouched, the one less traveled. He even considers that he might come back to take the other road someday, but doubts that because one road leads off to another. In his final words, he claims that the road less traveled has made all the difference.

I used to think I related to the poem just because I wanted to be different. Take the less traveled road because no one else did. But I believe there was a deeper stirring in my soul. God's Holy Spirit encouraged me to swim with the salmon. Take the less traveled path. So I chose to follow Jesus. His road isn't easy, there are bumps and curves but I know with all my heart His road leads to joy and abundant life, both here on earth and in heaven. By following the trail He's created for me, I accept my role in life and intertwine with the people He wants me to meet. And it has made all the difference. Praise God for leading on His path.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Children's Book Review: A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest by J. A. Myhre

About the book: 

Mu, a ten-year-old orphan, has lived his entire life in the heart of Africa. For as long as he can remember he has served in the household of a great-uncle where he is unloved and ignored. In his drudgery-filled life, Mu has little hope of happiness, and little hope that anything will ever change.

But one day, everything does change. On his way to draw water one morning, Mu is astonished when a chameleon greets him by name and announces that they will embark on a quest together. And what a quest it turns out to be! Mu faces danger and finds unexpected allies as they journey through a fascinating and ever-changing landscape.

My Review:
My favorite character in the story is a chameleon named Tita who guides Mu through the mountains and valleys of Africa. The two encounter natural elements that hinder their path as well as evil soldiers. They also find animal friends along the way. I wanted to like this story because it does introduce the reader to Africa. And the adventure is great. But I cannot endorse this book due to a violent scene, I found unnecessary, even though the purpose is explained at the end of the story. If you buy this book for a child, please read it first and see what you think. 

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

About the author: 

J. A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades. She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places. She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom many of her stories were written as Christmas presents.

Find Jennifer online: website

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: Love You More Than Anything by Anna Harber Freeman, illustrated by Jed Henry

If you enjoy reading aloud to your children, you'll love this little gem. At the end of the story ask them to fill in the blank, "love you more than..."

A family of chipmunks celebrates the love they share as they do life together. Anna Harber Freeman's delightful rhyming book is perfect to read to your little ones. As the family scampers to the park they repeat the phrase "Love you more than..." and fill in the blank with everything from ladybugs to chocolate cake. Jed Henry's charming illustrations reflect the joy and fun-filled day the family shares.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fiction Book Review: A Question of Destiny by Anita Higman

Book Description:
Lucy O’Brien is about to be given ten million dollars and a chance to live a life she never imagined. Will this new found wealth be Lucy’s undoing, or can she rise above the temptations within high society and choose to become a nobler version of herself? And will the solitary Andrew Whitfield—a man who watches over Lucy as she adapts to her new lifestyle—cause her to close the door on her dreams or be the key that opens the rest of Lucy’s destiny?

My Review:
When I read Anita Higman's stories I can almost hear her telling the tale. Her unique voice shines through in her quirky and lovable characters. I especially enjoyed Lucy  because of her positive, no-nonsense attitude. She spoke her mind in the midst of people she wasn't familiar with. And did it in a loving manner. Andrew's story warms the heart as he's overcome some tough obstacles. A Question of Destiny reminds me of an old fashioned love story with an ounce of whimsy and an extra measure of sweetness. If you're looking for a relaxing read, this one fits the bill. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review: Faithgirlz Bible NKJV


Every girl wants to know she’s totally unique and special. This Bible says that with Faithgirlz sparkle. Through the many in-text features found only in the Faithgirlz Bible, girls will grow closer to God as they discover the journey of a lifetime.
Features include:
• Book introductions—Read about the who, when, where, and what of each book
• Dream Girl—Use your imagination to put yourself in the story
• Bring It On!—Take quizzes to really get to know yourself
• Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth, Isaiah) in You?—See for yourself what you have in common
• Words to Live By—Check out these Bible verses that are great for memorizing
• What Happens Next?—Create a list of events to tell a Bible story in your own words
• Oh, I Get It!—Find answers to Bible questions you've wondered about
• The complete New King James Version (NKJV) translation
• Features written by bestselling author Nancy Rue

My Review:
Faithgirlz Bible is the perfect gift for pre-teens and teens. I especially like the features that make the scriptures approachable. Through the "Dream Girl" segments young ladies are encouraged to think about and imagine what people went through in their time. The "Oh, I Get It" sections help girls understand concepts that can be somewhat difficult.
The pink and purple illustrations and feminine designs make the book appealing. Introductions of each book give information to help the reader understand who wrote the book, where and when the events took place, the characters they'll meet, and the lessons and connections the reader's will find.
I wish I'd had a Bible like this for myself and my daughters. I recommend Faithgirlz Bible for young ladies ages 10+.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

The leaves, they are a-changing. As the green fades and the reds, oranges, and golds hang like jewels from the branches, I once again stand in awe of God's creation. On my drive to work, I take in the amazing changes on the hills that surround us. While I'm excited to see the season gradually fade into the next one, I'm not a huge fan of change in general. I get a little nervous when plans are altered. I struggle a little when I'm told I have one more new thing to learn for work. I need to adjust and that rattles my confidence. When life throws a curveball what do I do?   

I turn to the one I can depend on. Jesus. He never changes. He's the same every day. His love and compassion stay steady. When Peter betrayed him, Jesus kept loving him. Even though religious leaders mocked him, he continued to speak to sinners. Against the custom of his day, he spoke to women in a respectful manner. Jesus made changes happen, yet he remained the same. He's the one consistent anchor. No matter what kind of crazy day I've had, I can open my heart and pour out my prayers to the one who always cares. As the leaves change, I know Jesus stays the same. For this I am thankful. Praise God for Jesus.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fiction Book Review: The Splendor of Ordinary Days by Jeff High

About the book: 
The pastoral charm of small-town Watervalley, Tennessee, can be deceptive, as young Dr. Luke Bradford discovers when he's caught in the fallout of a decades-old conflict.

After a rocky start as Watervalley's only doctor, Luke Bradford has decided to stay in town, honoring the three-year commitment he made to pay off his medical school debts. But even as his friendships with the quirky townsfolk deepen, and he pursues a romance with lovely schoolteacher Christine Chambers, several military veterans' emotional wounds trigger anger and unrest in Watervalley.

At the center of the clash is the curmudgeonly publisher of the local newspaper, Luther Whitmore. Luther grew up in Watervalley, but he returned from combat in Vietnam a changed man. He fenced in beautiful Moon Lake, posting "Keep Out" notices at the beloved spot, and provokes the townspeople with his incendiary newspaper.

As Luke struggles to understand Luther's past, and restore harmony in Watervalley, an unforeseen crisis shatters a relationship he values dearly. Suddenly Luke must answer life's toughest questions about service, courage, love, and sacrifice.

My Review:
Since I had not read any of the  Novels of Watervalley, I ordered the first, More Things in Heaven and Earth, and second one, Each Shining Hour from the library and read them before I opened The Splendor of Ordinary Days. Jeff High's writing is a dream to read. The emotion and explicit description are so well done I felt like I was living in the small town. I found all three books relaxing and enjoyable. Book three, laced with mystery and romance, can stand alone, but I'd recommend reading all three; simply because they're good. I'm hoping there's a fourth book soon. The only down side I can find is some of the language; I'd rate the series PG-13. The stories are not overtly religious. Instead they're a glimpse into the lives of Christian folk and a few skeptics who are trying to live everyday lives in the midst of a small town, country atmosphere. For me the stories are refreshing and reminiscent of my growing up years.

About the author: 
After growing up on a farm in rural Tennessee, Jeff High attained degrees in literature and nursing. He is the three-time winner, in fiction and poetry, of an annual writing contest held by Vanderbilt Medical Center. He lived in Nashville for many years, and throughout the country as a travel nurse, before returning to his original hometown, near where he now works as an operating room RN in open-heart surgery. He is the author of the Watervalley novels, including More Things in Heaven and Earth and Each Shining Hour.

Connect with Jeff: websiteTwitterFacebook

I received The Splendor of Ordinary Days in exchange for a fair review.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Nonfiction Book Review - Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together by Kara Tippetts & Jill Lynn Buteyn

Kara Tippetts was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. You may remember that during her illness she reached out to Brittany Maynard as a voice against assisted dying. Kara's story involves more than dying; her story reflects the life and love of family and friends.

Kara and Jill joined forces to write about their difficult journey. These two young women shared a give and take friendship while Kara went through cancer treatment and eventually hospice. You might think Jill did all the giving and Kara all the taking, but that would be wrong. Through their fresh, new relationship each one learned from the other and depended on each other, as well as a slew of friends God set in their path.

Just Show Up is the most honest book I've ever read. Both authors bared their souls and wrote about the hard times, the good days, the laughter, and the tears. Most of all they shared their journey as a transparent story for the reader to experience in full. Many of Jill's chapters are prefaced by the notes she wrote in reaction to Kara's blog posts, but never mailed. As a relatively new friend of Kara's she shares the insecurity she felt as she plodded her way through giving. Kara gave excellent and raw insight into what it's like to be the person receiving the gifts. As I read the book, I witnessed an amazing faith.

This is not a my friend's sick, let's take a casserole sort of book. This is an inside look at what it's like to live out the end of life with a friend and the friend's family. This is a practical guide about when to call ahead, when to volunteer to watch the kids, and when to send a prayer up and remain quiet. As I read Just Show Up my heart went out to the women who circled around Kara and gave of themselves.  But at the same time, I saw how these young mothers were blessed beyond measure because they trusted God and just showed up. Five star and highly recommended.

The late Kara Tippetts was the author of "The Hardest Peace" and blogged faithfully at Cancer was only a part of Kara's story. Her real fight was to truly live while facing a crushing reality. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Read Kara's blog.

Jill Lynn Buteyn is the author of "Falling for Texas," an inspirational novel, and a recipient of the ACFW Genesis Award for her fiction work. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children.

Connect with Jill: websiteTwitterFacebookInstagram

Read more about Just Show Up

I received Just Show Up free in exchange for a fair review.

Wait for It...

Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait patiently.

Small tan chapel
When I got home from work, I was all set to write a devotion about the beauty of the changing seasons. I opened my computer and prepared to search for a scripture. I popped open Google Chrome to get to Bible Gateway and lo and behold, I had no signal. No wi-fi, no anything. I tried reconnecting and rebooting. Nothing. Let me say this, I thought about taking a walk before I settled in with the laptop. I probably should have but I saw a window of quiet time where I could get a little bit of writing done. I wanted to write and post this devotion and a book review that's due tomorrow. Instead I called the cable company, who couldn't help me over the phone, and scheduled an appointment with them for Saturday morning.

Two things in this world try my patience more than anything else, a car problem or a technology issue. I like my laptop, I have access to so much through the internet. But, when the connection doesn't work, I'm frustrated. I enjoy posting on my blog and on Facebook. I like being connected to friends and family. What I don't like is trying to be patient when my resources stop working. But I've learned from a young age that one of the fruits I'm supposed to produce as a follower of Jesus is patience. At times I struggle. Yet, I still try. For now I'm going to close the lid on my laptop, enjoy the beautiful weather and work on my patience. Praise God for his patience with me.

What tries your patience? I shared mine :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Goodwill Finds

I found this gem at Goodwill today. A Homer Laughlin Oven Serve baking dish.

I'm excited because I already have two small pieces and two pie plates that belonged to my mom.
All the pieces but one are the green embossed collection. The other piece has colorful flowers on top. I've always loved these dishes and am so glad mom gave them to me.
I also found this cute teapot.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Heart Breaks

1 Peter 4:12-16
 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

As part of my job as the marketing manager in our library, I follow Twitter so I can tweet and retweet college and library activity. On Thursday, I checked the feed and as I glanced through the list of words, my heart froze when I saw the headlines. Another mass shooting. This time at a community college. Later I found out the shooter asked what the victims believed. If they were Christians, he pulled the trigger.

My heart breaks for the families of the ones who died and for the perpetrator's family. I'm distraught by the hate, the tormented mindset, and Satan's victory. People ask, "When will it stop?" It won't. We live in a world filled with sin. But even in that there's hope. Christians will be tested. All over the world people are tried due to their faith. But what we have in Jesus gives us hope. Hope of salvation. Hope of heaven. Hang on to that. Praise God for perseverance.

Please pray with me for the folks in Oregon and those affected by this tragedy.