Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Devotional Book Review: Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

About the book: 
Do you long for serenity and refuge, peace and hope? Are you seeking a deeper spiritual life through a closer relationship with God?

If you're tired of dwelling in busyness and noise, then perhaps one word a day can change your life. Award-winning author Lucinda Secrest McDowell knows that if you spend time each day turning to God's Word for wisdom and guidance, your faith can flourish and grow.

Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word---such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace---to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

These "dwelling places" that offer the joy of God's promise and presence cover four seasons: fall, Advent, Lent, and summer. Whether in the midst of busy holiday schedules, holy days, ordinary moments, or changing seasons, a deeper faith can be as simple as a single word.

My Review:
I write devotions myself, so I'm kind of picky about the ones I read. When I opened Dwelling Places, I knew I'd found a devotional book I'd love. Each day, I've thoroughly enjoyed my time with Lucinda's beautifully written thoughts.In her simple approach, you'll find devotions filled with the wisdom of God. I've been reading the summer section and particularly connected with #10 "the sea." Because I love water and the power of God, her words resonated with me. If you're looking for a good devotion book with short excerpts and exceptional insight, I highly recommend Dwelling Places. Along with reading the daily words, I write in my prayer journal for a good start to my day.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Purchase a copyhttp://bit.ly/28U4tj1

About the author:
Lucinda Secrest McDowell is the author of 11 books, including Live These Words, Amazed by Grace, and Quilts from Heaven. She has contributed to an additional 25 books and has been published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she speaks internationally through her ministry Encouraging Words. An award-winning writer who has earned accolades from prominent writers' conferences and retreats, McDowell has also worked in radio broadcasting, in retreat planning, and on church pastoral staffs. She writes from "Sunnyside" cottage in Connecticut.

Drown out the busyness and noise of everyday life and find a deeper faith with something as simple as a single word in Lucinda Secrest McDowell's new book, Dwelling Places. Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word—such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace—to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

Join Lucinda in celebrating the release of Dwelling Places by entering to win her Season of Refreshment giveaway.

dwelling places - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
  • A kit full of goodies you'll need to make refreshing lemonade this summer
One second place winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
dwelling places - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 5th. The winner will be announced July 6th on Lucinda's blog.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

When Life Loops

Psalm 25: 4-5
Show me the right path, O
    point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,

    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.

We left the parking lot to drive home. Tim and I enjoy going to Louisville once in a while to watch the Bats, a minor league affiliate of the Reds, play baseball. The game ended in time to get us home by 11pm. Great! Tim navigated to the exit for 71N. We looped around only to find the exit closed. Now what? Our only option was to drive over the bridge in to Indiana. We stopped at a gas station and Tim asked a fellow if he knew of a way for us to get back on 71N. He gave directions. Guess what? They led us right back into Indiana. Long story short, Tim found a different route to get us home, later than intended but home safe and sound.

Sometimes life feels like a loop. We take the same path over and over and get nowhere. Even to the point the rut grows deeper, and we forget the purpose of our steps. Maybe Satan tricks us into thinking we're on the right path. He says, "Take that road it will lead you to a new place," but it's the same old loop. God has so much more in mind for his followers. He doesn't want us in a rut. He wants us to step out, move forward, pray for direction. God didn't create us to be sedentary when it comes to serving him. He has a path for each of us, all we need to do is seek it. Ask God in the morning, "What's up for today?" Then listen and follow. The Holy Spirit's nudges are real. Listen to him.

God, I praise you for the path you lead me on, continue to guide my feet.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

God's Ditch Garden

Music sings~

God's ditch garden stages shows

Chicory's sax runs up and down.
Jazzed scales fill the air
with melodies.

Orange tiger lily trumpets
sharps and flats.

Queen Anne
takes center stage
to bang out~
the piano's notes.

Nodding her head
tapping toes.

An audience?

Orange and black
flutter between green leaves.

Butterfly wings and stems sway.

Tiny finch
golden like day~
black as night
twitters in tune.

Remembering yesterday's
concert in the ditch.

Looking forward to

Penny Frost McGinnis~2006

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fiction Book Review: Sea Rose Lane: A Hope Harbor Novel by Irene Hannon

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up--only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos--and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who's invaded the house with her motley crew.

As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon takes readers back to Hope Harbor for a new season of charm, romance, and second chances.

I've found a new favorite series by a great author. Although I've read some of Irene Hannon's suspense novels, this is the first contemporary fiction I've read of hers. I enjoyed BJ and Eric's stories so much. Not only did Irene create well-developed main characters, she put them in a beautiful setting surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast. Several stories are woven within the context of the beautiful tale where the characters seek hope, peace, and love. If you enjoy Debbie Macomber give Sea Rose Lane a read. I enjoyed it so much I purchased a copy of Hope Harbor, book 1 in the series. Sea Rose Lane can be read as a standalone, as well as part of the series. This is a perfect summer read. Grab it on your way to the pool.

I received this book from Revell in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Whisper of Hope

Psalm 62:5
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
Amethyst Astilbe

Something drew me to the green plant sprouting in a flower bed where I work. The hosta leaves spread and the azaleas had finished blooming. Yet this bushy little plant tucked into the corner of the bed, caught my attention. It was as if it called me to look at it every day. Morning after morning, I'd walk by and check out the greenery. One day I noticed tiny blooms shooting out of stems. They shot up like sparklers on the fourth, but brown, like they'd already bloomed and dried up. I knew they hadn't. So like Alice in Wonderland, I got "Curiouser and curiouser!" I looked forward to seeing whether the brown stayed that way or would they transform into something more colorful. Then one day on my walk in to work, there they were. Lovely, feathery, pink (my favorite color) blooms. Like a whisper, they called me to them and said see this is what you've been waiting for.

Isn't that just how I am with God? I seek the beautiful, the colorful joy, the "happy." But when I spy a brown flower, or a bad day, a sad news story or a horrific one, I forget about the hope. My anger bubbles at the people who judge parents who are hurting instead of comforting them and at the people who kill innocent people. Instead of being curiouser and curiouser and clinging to the hope I know is God, I become discouraged.

Yet I know if I sit at God's feet and seek his wisdom, he provides hope. God is bigger than all that I face here. He's the creator of all things, yet he listens to me and whispers in my ear. He tells me he loves me and loves you. No matter what, God is the one I can count on. He doesn't change. While all the world is falling apart, Jesus is holding me up. He's sitting beside me and sharing his love. I usually end with a praise, today let's end with a prayer.

"Lord, I need to sit quietly at your feet and hear your voice. I lift up the people who are hurting this week. There's so much sadness. Please help me not to judge, but instead to love. I can't begin to thank you enough for the hope I find in you. Thank you so much for your son, Jesus. In his name I pray. Amen"

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Lighthouse

1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

The lighthouse rose from the shore of Lake Erie; a signal to boats that land was near. Marblehead Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on all of the Great Lakes. The 300 mm lens shines a green signal that flashes every six seconds. Without the light at night, boats would crash into the limestone along the shore, causing disaster and possibly death.

I love lighthouses. To me they represent the hope I find in Jesus, in a dark and difficult world. Without Jesus light I'd be floating in troubled water, not sure where I might crash. Sadness and sin are all around me. When I read the news or watch television, I'm sick from the desolation and destruction people create. That's why in all the sadness and frustration, I seek the true light, the one who gives me hope and joy. Jesus is the light that cannot be extinguished. His light of hope is eternal. So even in the midst of darkness I can walk with Him. Praise God for the light of Jesus!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fiction Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

Book Description: 
What happens when a margrave realizes he's fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave's bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina's best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can't deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse---far deadlier---consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost? 

My Review:
Melanie Dickerson is an expert writer of fairy tales. From the setting to the language she uses, I felt ensconced in the story from beginning to end. I loved the story of a maiden servant put in the dilemma of pretending to be a noble lady. Then she was told not to let the margrave (prince) fall in love with her. But she's so sweet and lovable! The internal struggle mixed with physical situations led to some real predicaments. Avelina's brave heart opens for her friends as she shows her true self despite her hidden agenda. Melanie did a superb job developing intriguing  characters and creating a wonderful world to get lost in for awhile. I'm so glad there are fairytales for adults, because I've never outgrown my love of them. Escape into The Beautiful Pretender this summer. I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

About the author:
Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer's Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader's Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Fiction Book Review: Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton

Book Description:
After a murder at the monastery, Sister Eve may need a miracle if she is to prove a dear friend isn't a cold-blooded killer.

Sister Eve, a motorcycle-riding nun with a natural (or is it supernatural?) gift for solving murders returns to the enclave she once called home and quickly finds herself confronting yet another mysterious death.

Someone has poisoned Dr. Kelly Middlesworth---a researcher on the life and ministry of 17th-century's revered "Blue Nun"---and a set of irreplaceable historic documents have disappeared before they could even be examined.

When all evidence seems to point to the victim's brother, Sister Eve sets out to expose the killer and learn the explosive truth those missing manuscripts might contain.

Chasing a killer is dangerous work, and as her two worlds collide, Sister Eve may need some heavenly help simply to survive.

My Review:
Sister Eve and the Blue Nun is one of the most entertaining mysteries I've read in a while. Sister Evangeline Divine is a funny, intelligent woman who's up to her habit (if she wore one) in trouble. I sympathized with Eve as she struggled with the life-changing decision of staying on as a nun or letting go and working as a Private Investigator with her dad. But before Eve can decide, she delves into a murder mystery that's personal and action packed. I enjoyed Eve's story and learned about the Blue Nun, which I found quite interesting. I could tell that Lynne had done the research that played a key role in the story. This is the third book in A Divine Private Detective Agency Mystery. I'm looking forward to number four. If you enjoy a good mystery, you'll love Sister Eve and the Blue Nun. I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1OJcymF

About the author:
Lynne Hinton is the New York Times bestselling author of Friendship Cake and Pie Town. To find out more visit Lynne's Website | Facebook 

Friday, June 3, 2016


©Penny Frost McGinnis

Where is your Faith?

Luke 8:22-25
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Tim and I traveled to the Cleveland area over Memorial Day weekend. On Tuesday, our daughter would be having surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. As we eased into the week with prayer and time reflecting on God's creation, we grabbed some sandwiches and settled into a picnic table by Lake Erie. The water stretched before us much like an ocean; where we couldn't see land on the other side. A few boats bounced along the water. The seagulls squawked. In the distance we saw what the gulls were excited about. A storm with a wall of rain was crawling across the lake. The water turned a deep, dark blue and the temperature dropped about ten degrees. Thunder rumbled and the wind kicked up and lifted the waves. The storm was heading our way. We watched for a while, mesmerized by God's power. The whole scene gave me cold chills. Yet I knew I was safe. Jesus was with us, just as he'd be with our daughter in surgery.

I believe in the power of prayer and the amazing power of God. But, like the disciples I had to find out about that power through experience. The disciples didn't know Jesus well enough to understand that he could speak to the storm and it would obey. They hadn't seen his amazing powers and the miracles he would perform. But in time they would. Like them, I had to spend time with Jesus through prayer and learn about him through the Bible. Every day I get to know him a little bit better. Praise God for Jesus!

P.S. Surgery went well!