Sunday, January 31, 2016

Houses in Colored Pencil

Book Review: The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

Book Description:
Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious liberties to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend, James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother, Helen, hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom as Helen confronts ghosts from her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of impossible circumstances.

Now Lucy must face her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

My Review:
In January, I have a habit of reading a literary novel I can savor as I snuggle into my home during winter. This year I chose Katherine Reay's latest novel. Filled with quirky and interesting characters, I enjoyed following Lucy's story across continents. I particularly liked the journey to England and the literary references. Katherine Reay knows how to write an entertaining story. If you're a fan of British television, you'll enjoy The Bronte Plot. Even though the characters are American, their journey across the pond makes for a wonderful story of love, forgiveness, and self-awareness.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Just Be Held

Deuteronomy 31:8
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Have you had someone who loves you give you a hug? A parent, grandparent, spouse, or friend? What comfort the warmth of a precious hug holds. Or how about the days when you are barely able to hold on? Discouragement whispers in your ear, stress knocks on the door, frustration drags you down. How about the times decisions weigh on your heart? What then?

Mark Hall the lead singer of Casting Crowns wrote the song, Just Be Held. At the time he didn't know why God gave him the powerful words about letting go and letting God hold him. A few years later he went through cancer and it hit him. He had to let go of the fear, the pain, the future and let God wrap his arms around him and just be held. In my big imagination, I sometimes picture myself crawling into my Father's lap. He wraps his arms around me and whispers in my ear, "Don't be afraid. I've got you, and I've got the situation." God walks before me. He knows my future and He will not leave me. I love and praise God for the hope he promises.  

Here is a link to Mark's story about Just Be Held.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Beauty in today 1/24/16

I love winter and walking in the woods in winter after a snow makes me happy. Tim and I stopped by the Withrow Nature Preserve after church.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

He's My Strength

Isaiah 40:28-29
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Riding up 71, I noticed a weathered lighthouse statue. The once new white yard ornament had withstood storms, the sun beating down, wind, and snow. Yet it stood in the yard and still shined as a lighthouse should. I found beauty in the weathering.

As a wife, mom, grandma, and coworker I've been around awhile and feel weathered at times. Stress in life wears me down. But I have God who lifts me up. He increases my strength and I depend on him to give me energy to keep moving. I love that I have the power of the Creator who lifts me up. Praise God for his strength.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Beauty in Today 1/20/16


Snow covered the ground this morning and continued to come down all day. I've always loved snow. It gives the world a clean crispness. No matter how I feel, if I step out into fresh snow and feel the flakes touch my face, joy flutters inside me. Sounds crazy, I know. But I just love snow. 

Our dogs do too. Olive decided to have a snack and eat the snow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pre-K Book Review: Snuggle Time Prayers by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Cee Biscoe

Book Description:
Snuggle Time Prayers, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Cee Biscoe, is a perfect bedtime collection of fifteen prayers. This padded cover board book will help children settle down at bedtime and remind them of their blessings as they draw closer to God.

My Review:
Glenys Nellist has written beautiful rhyming prayers for little ones. Parents will enjoy sharing these with their children. I love that there's a Bible verse that introduces each prayer. Children will love Cee Biscoe's lovely illustrations. The sweet animals are endearing. If you have a pre-schooler you'll want to buy this book. Snuggle Time Prayers is a precious avenue to share God's love.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Children's Nonfiction Book Review: Lots of Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids by Whee WInn

Book Description:
New from Zonderkidz, here’s a collection of knock-knock jokes that is both hilarious and wholesome. Lots of Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids is sure to send every kid you know to his knees in a breath-stealing, side-splitting, uncontrollable fit of giggles. It’s that funny. And with more than 350 jokes, the laughs are sure to never quit.
This collection provides fun for the whole family and includes bonus Q& A jokes and riddles too!

My Review:
My grandchildren and I had a great laugh from the jokes in this book. I didn't know there were so many knock-knock jokes. We like the way the book is divided into sections, such as, Name Jokes, Food Jokes, Holiday Jokes and more. I asked the kids which ones they liked best. They both replied "the food jokes." When my daughter came in, my granddaughter read several of them to her. This book can be great fun for all ages and a fun family activity.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Chapter Book Fiction Book Review: London Art Chase and A Dolphin Wish by Natalie Grant

Natalie Grant's Glimmer Girls Series

Join twins Mia and Maddie and their sidekick little sister, LuLu, as they travel the country finding adventure, mystery, and sometimes mischief along the way. Together with their famous mother, singer Gloria Glimmer, and their slightly wacky nanny Miss Twist, the sisters learn lessons about being good friends, telling the truth, and a whole lot more. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Book Description:
In London Art Chase, the first title in the new Faithgirlz Glimmer Girls series, readers meet 10-year-old twins Mia and Maddie and their adorable little sister, LuLu. All the girls are smart, sassy, and unique in their own way, each with a special little something that adds to great family adventures.

There is pure excitement in the family as the group heads to London for the first time to watch mom, famous singer Gloria Glimmer, perform. But on a day trip to the National Gallery, Maddie witnesses what she believes to be an art theft and takes her sisters and their beloved and wacky nanny Miss Julia, on a wild and crazy adventure as they follow the supposed thief to his lair. Will the Glimmer Girls save the day? And will Maddie find what makes her shine?

My Review:
When I was a young girl, I would have loved this story. And I think young girls today will enjoy the adventure as the Glimmer Girls travel the world. Natalie Grant gives readers a peek into the world her family lives in as she bases the characters on her family. In London, the reader will learn about Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and the National Gallery as they follow the girls on the trail of a thief. Throughout the story, the girls learn about prayer and trusting God. This would be a great book for a mom and daughter to read together. 

Book Description:
In A Dolphin Wish a three-night stop in the city of San Diego seems like it might be just the break the girls need—lovely weather and great sights to see. That is until they hear animal handlers at “Watery World” talking about the trouble they’ve been having keeping the animals in their habitats. Mia and her sisters cannot resist a challenge and they talk Miss Twist into another visit to the educational amusement park to search for clues as to what or who is helping the animals escape.

My Review:
In this second book of the series, readers will enjoy following the girls around Watery World as they explore the world at sea. The story is both educational and uplifting with a mystery in the mix. One of the things I like most about the Glimmer Girls books, is the emphasis that each girls has her own personality, talents and desires. And they learn about what it means to follow God, obey their parents, and love each other.  

I received both books in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fiction Book Review: Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble

Fiction Book Review: Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble
Book Description:
Mallory's mother died fifteen years ago. But her father's last words on the phone were unmistakable: "Find . . . mother."

Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn't have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point.

Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O'Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart---and left---without a word, years ago.

When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life---and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie---their search intensifies. There's a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye.

As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father's killer---it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

My Review:
Colleen Coble's books rock. Her new Sunset Cove series beginning with The Inn at Sunset Cove, left me wanting more. The coastal Maine setting lends itself to mystery and intrigue. In the latest novel, Mermaid Moon, the twists and turns kept me up too late. And I loved it.

Going home after being away for a long time and under stressful circumstances is never easy.  After Mallory receives a phone call, her journey home tests her faith, her ability to forgive herself, and her feelings for people from the past. As I read the story and thought I knew who did it, another twist turned the corner and made me doubt my conclusion. The book held me in suspense right to the end.  The romantic touches and the beautiful setting added appeal. If you enjoy suspense, you'll love Colleen's latest book.  
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

Purchase a copy:

About the author: 
USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble has written several romantic suspense novels including Tidewater Inn,Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. Her books have sold more than 3 million copies.

Connect with Coble: websiteTwitterFacebook

Life is Good...

Galatians 5:16-23
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Jack in the Pulpit
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

As a woodsy, nature loving person, I enjoy looking at the Life is Good t-shirts and hats. I even have one with my orange Jeep on it. Much of the time life is good. But too often life is just plain hard. I struggle with decisions, whether to speak up or keep quiet. Whether to be angry or let it go. Whether to stand up for Jesus or hide in the shadows. Sin bombards our world. Satan runs around pushing temptation at people.  Where do I go for protection?

We sing a song at church about welcoming the Holy Spirit in. As a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwells in me. He grieves when I sin, and rejoices when I bear His fruit. God gives everyone who accepts Jesus as Savior the gift of the Holy Spirit. I love that the Spirit is a gift. He's given out of love from the Father. I rely on the Spirit to make decisions, to encourage my faith, and to help me produce the fruit Jesus longs for me to bear. Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Children's Book Review: Big Dreams Big Prayers Bible for Kids

Book Description:
The Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible forKids, NIV includes the complete New International Version (NIV) of the Bible along with devotions, prayers, and highlighted verses to help kids pray and listen for God’s answers to their prayers.

My Review:
Sometimes prayer is a difficult concept to understand. The Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible begins with an excellent explanation of what prayer is and how to talk to God. Throughout the scripture you'll find devotions written just for kids. They speak about prayer and give great examples and explanations children can understand. In the back you'll find a list of the devotions and the page number they're on. There are also three reading plans to engage the reader in doable segments. I really like the journal pages in the back where the reader can write down prayer requests and keep track of the answers. Each Bible book has a brief information page. This is a great Bible for students age 10+. Five stars.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Beauty of today 1/13/16

Love this beautiful lavender Hannah brought me for Christmas. 
Scented with essential lavender oil. A little spring in the winter.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beauty in Today 1/10/16

"Everything's magical when it snows, everything looks pretty."-Lorelai Gilmore


Anyone who knows me, knows I love snow. Beautiful, soft, glimmering snow. It's kind of like God's glitter.


YA Fiction Book Review: Curio by Evangeline Denmark

YA Fiction Book Review: Curio by Evangeline Denmark
Book Description:
Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.

By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.

But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.

My Review:
Curio is the first steampunk I've read. That being said, Evangeline Denmark has an incredible imagination and has created an other world that's both fascinating and frightening. Grey is a wonderful, strong female character who's willing to take risks and step up to do the right thing.  Whit is a sweet young man willing to do what it takes to save the lives of the people he loves. As the two of them seek answers to help their family and friends, they venture into worlds they've never known and make sacrifices and selfless decisions. They're brave young people who want to make a difference. I'd recommend the book for 14 years and up. If you enjoy reading steampunk and fantasy worlds, you'll enjoy this adventure.

There is a prequel available as well, Mark of Blood and Alchemy: The Prequel to Curio.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

What Am I Wearing Today?

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Working at a public college, I see all kinds of people. Every day I cross paths with folks I don't know; young people just starting their adult lives, weary parents taking classes and working, veterans of the military and veterans of life. I receive many smiles, but I also see sadness and a lot of stress. As I walk my path I'm reminded that everyone of these people has a story.

I read a quote recently that went something like this, If we could look into everyone's eyes, we'd see that each person is wrestling with a challenge. Everyone has their own experience with life and may be facing a battle this very day. I love Paul's reminder to the Colossians and to me. As I get dressed every morning I want to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Sometimes I'm the one in the battle, but even so, I still need to gather these weapons of beauty and make the day better for those I meet. It's a challenge, but with the Holy Spirit's help, it can be done. Will you help me spread kindness? Praise God for the  loving and caring spirits who've ministered to me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Review: Inspiring Words: 30 Verses from the Bible You Can Color

Book Description:
Take time to relax, sit back, and meditate on God’s Word. Inside these pages, you’ll find thirty unique and creative illustrations focusing on key verses from the Bible, each offering an opportunity to connect with Scripture while exploring your creativity. Throughout, NIV verses are paired with detailed line art, and each page is printed on high-quality, thick paper stock that won’t bleed through. And when you’re finished coloring with markers, pens, watercolors, or colored pencils, the completed page can be removed, allowing you to display your work for even more daily inspiration.

My Review:
One of the things I enjoy about reviewing books is finding packages on my porch or in my mailbox. I especially like it when I open the box and find a beautiful book like Inspiring Words. I've seen so many adult coloring books in the stores, but I believe this is one of my favorites. You not only have lovely designs to color, but words from God to meditate on. What a perfect combination for a relaxing, restorative winter activity. This would also make a great gift bundled with a set of colored pencils.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Beauty in Today 1/5/16

It's a beautiful thing when I come home from work exhausted, and my husband makes us dinner. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Beauty in Today 1/4/16

A friend posted this verse on Facebook today. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8 

My first thought-Thank goodness! 

The rapid changes of every day life can be exhausting. Of course some change is for the good, but even that is tough to keep up with. Thank goodness Jesus never changes. That's a beautiful thing. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Beauty in Today 1/3/16

After church, Tim and I stopped at a local restaurant for Sunday dinner. A nice end to our holiday break. The young lady who waited on us had a sweet smile and pleasant demeanor. She answered my food questions with patience. 

I couldn't help but notice the table next to us. The people somehow ended up with the wrong order. Our waitress offered to take the food back, but they preferred to keep it and have a reduction made to their check. 

I know this doesn't sound like a moment of beauty...but here's the rest of the story.

Toward the end of our meal, the manager made his way from table to table inquiring about customer satisfaction. When he stopped at the table next to us, they once again complained. Even though the waitress had assured them their bill would be reduced, they replayed the entire scene. Sadly, the waitress overheard and saw the manager offer them a gift card. Instead of being embarrassed, or angry, our waitress went to the table, smiled, and wished them a good day. She had an attitude that helped her rise above the grumblings. Now that's beauty in the day. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Beauty in today 1/2/16

1/2/16-As I was working on my computer, I caught the reflection of a sweet little bird on my screen. He'd landed on a branch outside the window. God's engineering of that little guy amazes me. What a beautiful sight to start my day.
From Wikimedia Commons

Beauty in Today 1/1/16

Since my blog is about finding the beauty in every day things, I've added a new page to reflect the beautiful things I come across. They may include nature's beauty, people, my reflections or anything that shows the lovely side of life. You can find my musings at Beauty in Today, one of the tabs under the header. 

I encourage you to leave a comment about something you've found that shows beauty in the every day.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Value of People

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
 Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

A young man in our tri-state area worked hard to make a difference this holiday season. Noah wanted to help people who have no home. He knew they were cold and needed comfort. On Facebook I saw his challenge. He asked everyone to gather socks and blankets to give to folks who are homeless. In his challenge, I saw an opportunity to share with my granddaughter. We went shopping for items the homeless shelter near me might use. I explained to her that there may be children who have nowhere to live. She carefully chose a beautiful scarf and gloves for a child her age.

After we paid for the items, we drove to the shelter and delivered the bags. The people staying at the shelter were so appreciative. I'm so glad Noah set the wheels in motion. Jesus wants me to see the needs of others before mine. I've been blessed at times in my life with help when I needed it. I want to pass that on. Paul's words in Philippians speak to the church, God's people. As I enter this new year I pray I can keep these words close to my heart. Value others above myself and look to their interests. Praise God for people who care.

The Beginning of my Colored Pencil Journey

Christmas in the Forest
Pink and the Butterfly

Purple on canvas