Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Don't Say Thanks

Don't Say Thanks

They said I 
couldn't thank you
for the plants.
Bad luck they said.

Those old wives.
The ones who
hung over the fence.
Made up tales.

I'm not saying thanks-
so the black-eyed Susans 
and bleeding hearts 
may live. 


After a conversation with a friend about the etiquette of not saying thanks for plants, I had to look up the source for such a belief.

"Never say thank you if someone shares their flowers or plant cuttings with you-if you do they (the plants) will die. (I've heard this one my whole life-and man is it hard not to automatically say thank you when someone gives you plants)"

Check out Putting on the New

Here is a link to my post on the Putting on the New blog:

I post there once a month.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Children's Book Review: Waiting by Kevin Henkes

I've met author and Illustrator, Kevin Henkes, several times. Each time I'm impressed with his humble attitude and easy-going personality. Over the years, as a children's librarian,  I've read many of his books to students. Chrysanthemum, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, and Owen were staples on my reading list. I've also enjoyed Henkes's chapter books, Olive's Ocean and Sun & Spoon. Of course I'm partial to his Penny books. But I think my favorites are his recent books where he uses brown ink, colored pencils, and water color to create gorgeous pictures of adorable characters and tells sweet stories.

At a visit at the Blue Marble bookstore, Kevin explained  that Old Bear had been inspired by the inevitable life event of aging. A book I relate to! My latest favorite is called Waiting. In San Francisco I met Kevin Henkes once again and received a signed copy of a print created from a page in Waiting. I carried that print home on the airplane, framed it, and hung it in a prominent place in my home. While I had the beautiful print, the book was not yet available. So I waited on Waiting. AND it was well worth it. I love it. The beauty of being patient and spending time with friends is lovely. The sweet illustrations remind me of porcelain animals I played with at my great-aunt's home. Waiting won a Caldecott Honor and the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor. Both well warranted. This is a beautiful book to read to a child or just add to your collection.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Book Review: NIrV, Under The Sea Holy Bible

Book Description:
The Underthe Sea Holy Bible, NIrV is a perfect gift for children ages 6 to 10. Themes of underwater fun and sparkling fish grace the interior of this wonderful children’s Bible. The outside is covered in foil and sparkle. The interior has color inserts featuring whimsical underwater scenes with themes of God’s care and love for each of us and all of creation.

My Review:
Children will find the outside cover and the special insert pages appealing. The art work is fun, shiny, and glittery. The information on the inserts is good, but for me they didn't give enough information on becoming a Christian. I liked the pages on prayer and love. As far as the NIrV, I appreciate the explanation of how the writers came up with their version. They do refer to the NIV translation, but do some simplification of the more elaborate language to create an easier to read version. I also like the list of Bible stories and the dictionary in the back. This would be a good beginner Bible for a young person with the understanding that it is not a direct translation.

I received this in exchange for a fair review.

It's All About that Grace, 'bout that Grace, 'bout that Grace

Luke 24:1-6
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! 

After the spring plows turned the dirt in the fields, my family and I would walk the rows searching for arrowheads. While everyone else in my family seemed to have a knack for finding tips and pieces of flint tools I wandered off, as most little girls would, to find shiny, pretty stones. I got especially excited when I found a rock with "glitter."

But my childish excitement for a sparkly rock diminishes in comparison to the awe Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome must have felt the day they found a stone, or should I say "the stone" rolled away from Jesus' tomb. After witnessing their friend's terrible death on Friday, they'd gone home and rested on the Sabbath before they'd prepared the spices needed to anoint Jesus' body. On Sunday morning, they gathered their supplies and walked to the tomb. The book of Mark reports that the women wondered who might roll away the huge stone that blocked the entrance to Jesus' burial place. But when they arrived, WOW! the huge rock had been rolled to the side of the tomb. And their beloved friend was gone. Not stolen, not placed in another cave, but gone, of his own volition.

And those angels, those wonderful good-news bringing, dressed in white angels, shared the fantastic news with those precious ladies that Jesus had conquered death. Blessed Jesus died a cruel death so that I might live forever. Then God raised him up and breathed life back into him. Can you feel the amazement and excitement? I can. Are you overwhelmed with the mercy and grace Jesus poured out? I am. Praise God for this beautiful joy-filled reason we celebrate Easter.

Rejoice in the Lord! He is risen!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

YA Book Review: A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund

Book Description:
In a reverse twist on the Robin Hood story, a young medieval maiden stands up for the rights of the mistreated, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. All the while, she fights against her cruel uncle who has taken over the land that is rightfully hers. Forced to live in the woods and hide with the poor people she's grown to love, she works to save and protect them, but she never anticipates falling in love with the wealthy knight who represents all she's come to despise.

My Review:
I love fairy tales, especially when they involve a brave young woman. Jody Hedlund's latest book, A Daring Sacrifice, meets my criteria of a well-made fairy tale, from castles to knights, and horses to kingdoms. It's refreshing to read a story written for young adults with a positive uplifting theme and a sweetness, rather than the dark fiction so often aimed at this age group. The main character is daring, she pushes the limits. But she has some intense conversations with God that reveal her true heart. The wealthy knight she meets gives her a run for her money (pun intended) but he too looks to God for guidance. I love the medieval setting, the forest, and the well-developed characters. This is Jody's second YA novel. She does the genre proud. I recommend this to every public library. If you enjoy a good story with adventure and a touch of romance, you'll love this book whether you're a young adult or a more seasoned adult like me.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fiction Review: Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Book Description:
She doesn't know why her enigmatic uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He's left her with a few German words, a barely controlled guard dog, and a single command: "Don't open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me."

Miles away in Atlanta, private investigator Trudi Coffey is visited by a mysterious older
man calling himself Dr. Smith. He's been trailing a man for a decade--a man she met through her ex-partner Samuel Hill--and the trail has led him to her office. The last thing Trudi wants to do is to contact Samuel. But it will take both of them to unravel this mystery--before it's too late.

My Review:
Annabel Lee is a mixture of mystery and thriller with a touch of military warfare. I found the beginning of the book to be rather slow, but once all the characters came into play the story picked up. Trudi and Samuel brought a much needed lighter side to the story at times when the darkness of evil dominated the page. I appreciate the intelligence of the main character, Annabel Lee, and her determination to survive. The story is quite violent at times, but also shows heartfelt commitment and love. Overall, I'd give the book a three and a half. The story is unique and picks up the pace about a third of the way in with some interesting twists at the end.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Even Thomas Barrow Found Redemption

2 Timothy 1:9-10
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Thomas Barrow coerced people, manipulated the people he worked with, lied, and spied. For five seasons on Downton Abbey, he was treacherous, a sinner by any standard. As a result he was lonely, disheartened with life, and downright miserable. Sinning doesn't produce a beautiful life. Yet, even Thomas Barrett found redemption. By season six his life took a tragic turn and the very people he hurt and manipulated came to his rescue and forgave him. What? Forgave the guy who was so mean. Yes. They rallied around him and welcomed him into their family and loved him. And you know what, he smiled, he loved back, and he found peace.

I realize Thomas was a character with a scripted life, but how much does this reflect reality? I sin. The Bible says we all do. And yes other people's sin has hurt me just as my sins have hurt others. Yet, I am forgiven. Because Jesus gave his life for me. No matter how good I try to be, goodness won't save me from eternal hell. But Jesus will. He died for me, for everyone. He came to earth as human, experienced life here and suffered through death. But the beautiful that resulted is indescribable. God brought Jesus back to life. His resurrection is pure hope. The hope I recognized when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, my friend, my redeemer. As Easter approaches think on these things. Through Jesus I received forgiveness and continue to, because I follow Jesus, obey his teachings, and pray for mercy. I'm not saved by my power but by grace. Praise God for Jesus!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pre-K Board Book Review: God Is Watching Over You by P.J. Lyons

Book Description:
God Is Watching Over You, written by P.J. Lyons and illustrated by Tim Warnes, is a sweet and gentle bedtime rhyme that reminds us that God is taking care of all of us from above.
As a follow up to their bestselling Thank You, Lord, for Everything, P.J. Lyons and Tim Warnes have created a sweet and relaxing padded cover board book that tells the story of God's constant presence around you. Meant to be read at night, when a child is warm and snug in their bed, the rhyming text and adorable illustrations in God Is Watching Over You gently remind us that God is constantly watching over us, protecting us, and caring for us.

My Review:
P.J. Lyons new book for little ones is the perfect example of how a child's night time routine can result in a peaceful sleepy time. I see this book as a good read for parents and children. Young children will love the bright and engaging illustrations by Tim Warnes and the delightful rhyme of the lamb's sweet day. Parents will enjoy sharing P.J.'s story with their little one as they put them to bed. And the comfort of knowing God is watching over them gives both child and adult a sense of security and peace. Reading is such an important element to raising children, especially when the story brings the truth of God to the listener. This would make a sweet gift for Easter or just a nice surprise for the end of the day. I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fiction Book Review: The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Book Description:
Marie Carrington is broke, desperate, and hoping to find sanctuary on Prince Edward Island while decorating a renovated bed-and-breakfast. Seth Sloane moved three thousand miles to help restore his uncle's Victorian B and B--and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart. He wasn't expecting to have to babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her.

The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just two months will take everything they've got--and they have to find a way to work together. In the process, they may find something infinitely sweeter than they ever imagined on this island of dreams.

My Review:
I totally enjoyed The Red Door Inn. Liz Johnson's description of Prince Edward Island drew me in as soon as Marie stepped off the ferry. I loved the references to Anne of Green Gables. Liz did a super job weaving some of Anne's characteristics into Marie. Going through the ups and downs of restoring the inn from a dilapidated building to a beautiful place for the hurting, the lonely, and the loved was a delight. I enjoyed the characters and their stories. Along with Marie and Seth, you'll meet Jack, a dear man missing his wife and seeking to fulfill a promise. By the time I finished this beautiful story filled with faith and hope, I wanted to book a night at the inn. If you're looking for a pleasant read with a compelling story, check out The Red Door Inn. This is the first in a series. I can't wait for book 2.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye (David C Cook, March 2016)

Book Description:
"I was here. I saw beauty. I embraced it." -Kara Tippetts

How do you live out extravagant love in the everyday moments? How do you celebrate grace when your life turns out differently than the one you dreamed?

Kara Tippetts discovered how to find joy in the small moments of life. She learned how to hold tight to hope even while battling intense physical and emotional pain. And she lived out the truth that God can redeem any story.

In her final book, Kara offers gentle reflections on living and dying well. She invites us to cultivate soft hearts even when we face great disappointment. Her ideas for living are hard-won, wrestled with in the crucible of family, illness, and faith. And her constant reminder is that whether we are in the midst of dark days or mundane moments Jesus is always there, life is surprisingly beautiful, and God is forever good.

My Review:
Kara Tippets final book is a gift; beautiful, sad, and insightful. I'll admit it's not an easy read because of the emotion packed in every page, but was it worth the tug at my heart? Yes! Kara's story is a tough one. She struggled with pain and the knowledge that her days were numbered. Yet amidst the difficult days she found reasons to rejoice and times to find peace. She shares her family's life and the joy they share as well as the sorrow. Life through Kara's eyes includes her strong faith and the love she shared with her family and friends. Through her attitude about life I'm reminded to take the mundane and find the joy. Take the everyday and find beauty. Be honest and never stop thanking and loving God. My heart is blessed by Kara's story.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Purchase a copy: 

About the author: 
Kara Tippetts was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. She blogged faithfully at Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, has been parenting their four children and leading the church the couple founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Who's Your Ringmaster?

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Recently, I've heard people say, "That's not my circus and they aren't my monkeys."  Then whose are they? I'm pretty sure the circumstances that surround my life are mine. The question is what am doing with them?

I've been to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus a couple of times. The discipline and practice that goes into each act amazes me. The performers who swing from the trapeze bars in sync must have rehearsed for hours on end. They didn't miss a beat. Even the clowns moved in trained step.

Living a spiritual life sometimes feels like a circus act. Imagine walking the highwire, holding onto a balancing pole. You're holding steady until Satan adds the weight of worry to one end. The pole begins to dip and tugs you down. The Holy Spirit nudges and says trust your master. Whew...back in balance. A few steps later, boom...fear is hanging on the other end of the pole. No, I'm going to fall. Then I remember to pray and seek God's guidance. Back in step just a little farther to go. My footing slips. Anger tips the balance. I think on a scripture that fills my heart with peace. He's straightened my path. I'm almost to the platform. With joy, I step onto the safe surface and bow before Jesus, my Ringmaster. If I trust him, lean on him and submit to him, he'll be with me every step. Praise God for his son!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Nonfiction Book Review: I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact by Gwen Smith

Book Description:

God created you for exceptional impact. Exceptional power. And exceptional blessings.

Gwen Smith knows how easy it is to dismiss God's plans with the thoughts, I can't make a big difference for God because I'm just an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. Yet God created us to join Him in doing amazing work in the world. He created us to live with abundant joy, courage, and influence. But not the joy, courage, and influence of the world. He offers His grace for each failure, His love that shatters hate, His peace that soothes the turmoil, His comfort, guidance, wisdom, rest, power, and significance. Every blessing He has for us is ours for the taking.

I Want It All will ignite a fire in your heart to experience more faith, more power, and more impact. More of Jesus. All of Jesus. Everything that God has for you.

My Review:

When I first saw the title of this book, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it. I've read many books about living a better life for Jesus and figured this was one more book that told me to pray and serve more. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to select it. It didn't take me long to realize Gwen's book was so much more than a how-to book. In her transparent and honest voice, Gwen touches on several areas of what it means to have a relationship with God. Not just any relationship, but a deep friendship with the creator. An understanding of all he offers. In every chapter she zeroes in on his truth. As a follower of Jesus, I can have all the love, peace, joy, and grace God has to offer. All of it! Through life examples, scripture, and friendly conversation Gwen opens her heart to share how to have all God has to offer. If you are seeking a closer walk with the Father I highly recommend I Want It All. It's filled with wisdom from a humble writer who's chasing God with all her heart.
"I am free and forgiven because of Jesus, not because of me. When I say that grace changes everything, I mean everything."
Now that I've read I Want It All cover to cover, I plan to go back and use the chapters for study. At the end of each chapter Gwen asks probing, personal questions and at the end of the book is a study guide. I look forward to re-reading the chapters and digging deeper into God's word. Every woman should read this book as she seeks out God.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Purchase a copy:

About the author: 
Gwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women's events everywhere, and she is a co-founder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Nooks and Crannies

Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
from wikipedia

Steam rose from the toasted English muffin. I popped it onto my plate then scooped butter from the plastic tub. As I spread the dairy goodness over the muffin, the butter melted and oozed into every nook and cranny and soaked deep into the bread.

The way the butter melted into every space and filled up all the dips reminded me of the way Jesus' love pours over me. His compassion saturates my heart, mind, soul, and very being. He replaces the emptiness in my soul with his power and strength. I wish I could say everyday life is easy because of Jesus' love, but that would be a lie. Pain and sin creep in. Despair and stress take over. But we have the promise to be filled to fullness, totally drenched with the love and joy of Jesus. Praise God for sharing his love through Jesus. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Me and Dr. Seuss

“Step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.”-Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. You could say he helped me learn to read. When I was a child, my mom bought me a subscription to the I Can Read It All by Myself book club. Dr. Seuss wrote many of the books, like Hop on Pop and the Cat in the Hat. I loved receiving a new book in the mail and couldn't wait to see what crazy story he had to tell.

Fast forward several years and I would be reading the same books (literally) to my children. We giggled over Green Eggs and Ham and didn't let a Christmas pass without reading and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”-Dr. Seuss

As a children's librarian for many years, I shared my love of Dr. Seuss with my students. We read The Lorax and The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and many others. I even dressed up like the fish in the bowl in the Cat in the Hat, with the help of bubble wrap one year.

And I don't know how many copies of Oh, the Places You'll Go I purchased for graduates.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”-Dr. Seuss

I also credit Dr. Seuss for giving me a love of poetry. Reading his rhymes is still great fun.

So I say thanks and Happy Birthday to one of my favorite authors of children's literature.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”-Dr. Seuss