Monday, October 15, 2018

Fiction Review: A Sparkle of Silver (Georgia Coast Romance Book #1) by Liz Johnson


Book Description:
Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan's great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins' palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie's great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage--and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate's private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

My Review:
Some things I love about Liz Johnson's books: the intrinsic humor, the quirky characters and the amazing settings. I've read Liz's books set on Prince Edward Island and loved them. Now she's moved south with her Georgia coast series and landed on St. Simon's Island. Since I visited the island several years ago, I had to read this book. And she did not disappoint. As Millie feels the stress of needing to help her grandmother, she doesn't just sit and hope for a remedy. Instead she takes on an almost mythical legend with determination. Millie is a delightful character who has lived through disappointment and challenges. Yet she's ready to tackle a new obstacle with aplomb and hope. Ben suffers from the destructive path left by his mother. He wants nothing more than to right a terrible wrong. He finds himself entangled in Millie's scheme. I like Ben because he wants to better himself and break the cycle his mom pushed upon him. The history woven throughout the story represents the times of the rich and famous quite well. If you enjoy women's fiction with a dash of mystery and romance, you'll enjoy A Sparkle of Silver. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell books. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Even if You Just Say Hello


Ephesians 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

As I scooted into the restaurant booth beside my granddaughter, Ella Cate, she noticed the band aid on my arm. With the sincerity of a four year old, she asked me what happened. I said, "I have a scratch that needs covered." She tilted her head, as if in thought, and replied, "Awww...I'll pray for you tonight, Grammy Penny." My heart melted, and I thanked the Lord that this little girl already knows about the power of prayer. This is one of many reasons Jesus told us to be like children. They don't complicate things. Instead if they've been taught about leaning on Jesus through prayer, they take it straight to him.

I am blessed with an amazing group of friends who pray for me and I for them. No matter what we share, we pray. Why? Because we know God's desire is that we bring our needs and praises to him. In all the letters the apostle Paul wrote in the Bible, he often tells the people he's praying for them. He either thanks God for their friendship or lifts up their needs. He also asks them to pray for him. Prayer is an important part of being in God's family. So why don't we pray more often? I could say: too many distractions, too much social media, too busy. But the truth may be that we just don't think to do it. We haven't trained our minds to go to God first. I want to challenge anyone reading this post to stop and talk to God. Right now. Even if you just say hello to him. Reacquaint yourself. Create a new habit. Pray.

God wants to hear from you because, he loves you.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Children's Book Review: Rex's Winning Day written by Mary Neville, Illustrated by Francesca Cecioni


Book Description:
Last year's Annual Wiener Dog Race had been a disaster for Rex! But this year was going to be different. He would make sure of it.

Will Rex finally get his winning day?



My Review:
Rex's Winning Day is a delightful book. This little wiener dog just wants to have a perfect race, where everyone cheers and is happy. Drawn from the inspiration of Mary Neville's granddogs, she penned a fun story children will enjoy. Rex and Trixie's photos are even posted in the back of the book. The illustrations Francesca Cecioni created for the story are incredible. Colorful and filled with detail, she placed all manner of people and dogs at the race. I especially like the multi-colored storefronts in the background. I've had the privilege of knowing Francesca and watching her create her art. She's done a fantastic job drawing pictures that capture the fun and excitement of Rex's Winning Day.  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fiction Book Review: Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock


Book Description:
As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.
The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. 

Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.
When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. 

Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

My Review:
I loved this amusing story of a grandmother's attempt to give her granddaughter the perfect Christmas. My heart went out to Sydney. Her life is a bit of a mess, but she's trying to do the best she can. Finn is drifting along when his days are taken over by Miss Callie. A comical yet heartwarming tale blooms from their predicaments and a grandmother's amazing love. In the midst of your holiday preparation, this story would provide the perfect break, or a great gift. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson
 through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

God's Peace


Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What is the most peaceful thing you can think of? A baby sleeping in your arms. A stream flowing through a meadow on a summer day. A fresh layer of undisturbed snow in the woods. That perfect song that takes you to a place of rest and renewal.

For me a peaceful time is sitting in the living room with my husband on a quiet Saturday morning. Having my family gathered around me. Walking in the woods on a spring day. Watching the snow fall and glisten. Sitting under my favorite lighthouse and listening to the water strike the rocks. 

Peace on this earth seems harder to come by every day. With so much negative noise in the world, I find it difficult at times to come to a moment of calm. Yet knowing what I do about Jesus, I understand that peace is near.

When I chose to follow Jesus, I gained a serenity that is incomprehensible on this earth. Because of my relationship with him, I know the peace of God will guard my heart. His grace pours over me and offers hope. His Spirit dwells in me and comforts me. When I feel anxious, I know I can go to Jesus and seek his quiet reassurance. I love the verses in Philippians that remind me that God has a peace to pour over me that is beyond my comprehension. He has a peace that transcends understanding. The very peace he fills my heart with is the same one Jesus experienced when he died on the cross and rose again. Jesus knew God held his heart.
God's peace is a gift; given to anyone who chooses to follow Jesus.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Young Adult Fiction Review: The Bridge to Cutter Gap (Christy of Cutter Gap Book 1) by Catherine Marshall


Book Description:
The injured man lay limp and unconscious. A horrible feeling of guilt swept over Christy as she realized, "This happened because of me!"

Christy Huddleston's dream was to teach the poor mountain children. But she never imagined that the treacherous journey from Asheville into the heart of the Smoky Mountains would bring danger into the lives of one mountain family.

Join Christy as she crosses the bridge from the familiar world of city life to the strange, new world of Cutter Gap.

Based on Catherine Marshall's novel Christy—a New York Times bestseller—the Christy® of Cutter Gap series contains expanded adventures filled with romance, intrigue, and excitement. 

My Review:
I am so excited that Gilead Publishing's branch, Evergreen Farm, has created a series for young adults from the beautiful Catherine Marshall classic, Christy. I absolutely love the original text. Upon reading book one in the Christy of Cutter Gap series, I was not disappointed. This rendition of the beginning of Christy's story stayed true to the original. I highly recommend this series for twelve years old and up. Christy's story is one of integrity and growth. She's trying to follow God's lead as she learns to live in a very different culture than her own. I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fiction Review: Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh


Book Description:
For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.
Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out—and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town—and Quinn’s life—possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.


My Review:
I like Just Let Go because the characters are flawed, just like me. Courtney Walsh has written a story about people who have lived life. They've failed, they've triumphed, but they've carried baggage. Heavy suitcases filled with burden. While one holds on to their faith, the other has let go and gone off the edge. This is a beautiful story of realization and redemption. A story of forgiveness in the most personal sense. I love Courtney's books, and this one is no exception. It is refreshing to read the story of people who demonstrate how the love of God brings hope. I purchased a Kindle copy from Amazon. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Peace-


Saturday, September 29, 2018

I Believe


1 Corinthians 13:11-12
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Under the tall maple trees in the grass as soft as silk, I gathered sticks, fallen tree bark, and leaves. I huddled under the trees and built tiny structures from my found treasures. I was sure, at seven years old, that the fairies who fluttered among the snapdragons and poppies, needed a home. Sometimes in the early morning, I'd run out to see if these beautiful winged creatures slept under the tree bark. I never saw them, but I did discover a fairy ring (mushrooms dancing in a circle) on occasion. You see when I was a child, I believed that fairies and trolls and all manner of make believe  existed. As an adult, I know now that those were great stories of my imagination.

Now when I sit under a maple tree or touch the silky soft grass, I thank the great Creator of all things. I praise God who is the way, the truth, and the life. With every part of my being, I believe that Jesus came to this earth and suffered and died for me. I believe he rose from the dead and offers new life for anyone who will follow him. When I was 14, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I was baptized and started living my life for him. I'm 61 now, and I've had my share of difficulty and grief. I've sinned and been forgiven. I've experienced great joy and many blessings. Through it all, Jesus held my hand. He poured his love and grace over me.
I believe in God as my Father, Jesus as my Savior, and the Holy Spirit as my guide. As an adult, I put away my childhood imaginings and embraced the truth of the Bible. Jesus offers forgiveness, grace, and eternal life to all who choose to believe. He is the hope for this weary world.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fiction Review: The Whisper of the Palms by Harriet E. Michael


Book Description:
Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina, Ali Blackwell dreamed of going places she had only seen in books and magazines. She lived in a small farmhouse that her farmer father had built with his own hands, and the prospects of ever leaving her little town of Union Mills appeared unlikely. Her family barely scraped by on the sale of produce grown by her dad and brothers and the supplemental income they earned working at the nearby textile mill. 


Kyle Edmonds, a few years her elder, lived in a larger house in South Carolina. He possessed things Ali only dreamed of—extra clothes and shoes, a house with indoor plumbing and electricity, a family car, a bicycle and other toys, just to name some.
They could not have been more different. 

However, both heard God's still small voice calling them to foreign missions. How will their paths cross? What obstacles will they face? What will their future hold?

My Review:
Through the mode of fiction, Harriet tells the inspiring story of her parents' young lives as they figure out where God is leading them. As I thought about how I wanted to review The Whisper of the Palms, the word that kept coming to mind was listen. Ali and Kyle both spent time listening for God's call. Regardless of the many obstacles and life events, they set their hearts on God. And that was refreshing. I enjoyed following their growing faith and reading about their vastly different backgrounds. I especially loved Ali's story, from where she was raised to where God called her. For an uplifting read, get your copy of The Whisper of the Palms. I purchased a Kindle copy on Amazon. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Fiction Suspense Review: A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris


Book Description:
Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret--one worth killing for. But when she finds out one of her clients has been murdered, she quickly realizes that the computer security specialist wasn't simply suffering from paranoia.

Detective Nate Quinn has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed eighteen people, including his partner, and left him dealing with PTSD. His first case back on the job involves the murder of Stephen Shaw, and his only lead turns out to be an old friend, Grace Callahan--and her life is in grave danger. Someone believes Shaw gave his psychologist information before he died. Information they are willing to kill for.

With her signature pulse-pounding suspense, Lisa Harris takes readers deep into the heart of fear in this race against the clock.

My Review:
Lisa Harris did an amazing job interlocking the pieces of this fast-paced, page turner, A Secret to Die For. I loved the thread of faith that Grace continued to hold on to, no matter what happened to her. And a lot happened! I enjoyed how Lisa created Nate's character to deal with loss and grief, which made him more realistic and believable. One of my favorite characters in the story was Grace's friend, Becca. She was that friend who, no matter what happened, was there to help Grace. She was God's servant in the flesh as well as Grace's BFF. Sometimes I enjoy supporting characters as much as the main ones. The story is full of action and danger and maybe a touch of romance. I'm a huge Hallmark fan, so as I read sometimes the actors from Hallmark pop into my head. I'd love to see Cameron Mathison and Nikki DeLoach in a movie version of, A Secret to Die For. If you love heart-pounding suspense, you'll want to read A Secret to Die For. I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Gotta Love Autumn!


A Brave Turtle


Joshua 1:5-7
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go."

The little box turtle crept across the four-lane highway, attempting to reach the other
side. We saw him crawl across the second lane and believe he reached the grassy median. But I have no idea whether he completed his journey. That turtle faced the oncoming traffic to fight his way across the vast expanse (I'm sure that's what it looked like to him.)
Too many times in my life I've faced four-lane highways. I've either had to summon courage or chicken out. So did God's servant Joshua.
As the predecessor of Moses, God called Joshua to fill some big shoes. Moses had groomed him and encouraged him. Yet, Joshua didn't always get it right. Despite his failed attempts at going for the win on his own, God continued to call him to be strong and courageous. When Joshua obeyed, miracles happened. As Joshua chose to listen to God and put on his courage and strength, Joshua found true victory. He led the Israelites into the Promised Land and the walls of Jericho fell. With courage and strength given by God, Joshua moved his people forward.

Here's what I love about Joshua's story. God had given him three directives: be strong and courageous, be obedient to God, and continually read and study the Bible. God's formula for success. Maybe not the world's way, but God's way. Our Father wants us to be brave, pray and listen, and study his word. Then we can tap into the courage and strength he offers.

God is with us as we journey the vast expanse called life. He will not leave us—if we embrace him. Seek his courage and strength every day.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

He Stills the Storm


Psalm 107:28-31
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

We witnessed the remnants of Hurricane Gordon as the winds and rain carried through Northern Ohio. The high waves on Lake Erie threw water and rocks on the road in front of Lake Point Hotel, where we stayed. Down the road, the tide swelled around the foot of Marblehead Lighthouse as it splashed over the huge rock barrier.

Later, from our hotel room we listened to the crashing and splashing as it echoed through the night. The thought of being out on a boat in the stormy waters made me shutter. Yet I found the storm fascinating. The power behind the waves reminded me of the authority of our all powerful God.

Psalm 107 reminds me that God calms storms, whether natures tempest or the day-to-day gales of life. Sometimes, life feels like a hurricane, being hit by wave after wave of disappointment, disaster, or depression. If you feel like you've been in the eye of life's storms, pray. God listens. He loves. He cares. Sometimes the squalls leave debris in their wake. Junk we have to clean up. God offers strength. Sometimes a flood of sadness wraps around our hearts. God comforts. With hope, the sun comes out after the showers pass. That's when we praise God who helped us weather the storm.
No matter what we struggle through, God walks with us. He hushes the sea, he guides us home.
As I'm writing this, Hurricane Florence is striking the east coast. My heart goes out to the people dealing with this disaster. Pray with me and find ways to help our friends in need.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fiction Book Review: Freedom's Light by Colleen Coble


Description:
A young lighthouse keeper must navigate the dangerous waters of revolution and one man’s obsession with her to find safe harbor with the sea captain she loves. 


Hannah Thomas believes she’s escaped Galen Wright’s evil intentions by marrying an older lighthouse keeper. Seemingly safe in faraway Massachusetts, her world is upended when John is killed in one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Hannah is allowed to continue the difficult task of tending the twin lighthouses in John’s place, though she faces daily disapproval from John’s family. She thinks her loneliness will subside when her younger sister arrives, but she finds Lydia’s obsession with Galen only escalates the dangerous tides swirling around her.

A stormy night brings a shipwrecked sea captain to Hannah’s door, and though he is a Tory, her heart is as traitorous as the dark-eyed captain. Even though she discovers Birch Meredith isn’t the enemy he seemed at first, Hannah isn’t sure their love will ever see the light of freedom.

My Review:
I was drawn to the book because I am huge fan of lighthouses. The story of Hannah taking care of the lighthouse by herself was fascinating. She worked so hard to do the right thing and be the person God wanted her to be. But tough situations kept pounding on her door. This made for a constant test of her faith. Colleen's book portrays the realities of the Revolutionary War times. An extremely trying time for so many reasons. The history of the times caused me to make a reality check and realize life now is filled with difficulty, but not the kind poor Hannah had to face. Birch Meredith adds a whole other dimension to the story. I'm pretty sure he'd be swoon worthy in person. This story has several layers that all intertwine perfectly. I learned that this is a book Colleen wrote years ago. How exciting that it's finally published.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Friday, September 7, 2018

God Doesn't Change


Psalm 28:7-8
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
    a fortress of salvation for his anointed one (Jesus).

I love the words that David wrote in this psalm. He’d been through so many trials,
temptations and tribulations, yet he looked to God. He’d tried doing things his own way and failed. But he knew where to turn. He fell before the Lord with praise because his strength came from Him. He trusted completely and understood that God shielded him from danger.
God hasn’t changed. He remains the strength of his people.
Gathering with folks each week for worship reminds me that God is my fortress of salvation.  We sing, pray, listen to the wisdom of the Bible, share in communion and dwell in His presence. There are times that my soul is so stirred that my heart leaps for joy, just like the psalm says. What a glorious reminder of His love.
Continue to seek God's joy and peace in this broken world.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Fiction Book Review: Alaskan Holiday: A Novel by Debbie Macomber


Book Description:
Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle’s hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community—including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder’s famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.

Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she’ll be returning to reality and the career she’s worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can’t imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town—not even for a man she’s quickly coming to love.

Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love.

My Review:
I enjoyed reading this fun story of love in Alaska. Macomber does a beautiful job creating an incredible setting. I felt like I was shivering in the cold along with Josie. Palmer is a sweet guy with a big heart. I found his swordsmithing to be an interesting occupation. And Jack is a hoot. He adds a comedic air to the story. If you enjoy a sweet, holiday romance with quirky characters and a beautiful setting, you'll enjoy Debbie Macomber's latest book, Alaskan Holiday. By the way, be prepared for a few surprises! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Ballantine Books
 through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

When Heaven Means Healing


Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When my phone chimed before seven in the morning, apprehension echoed through me. My daughter, Maggie, had news—sad news. A dear friend of Maggie's and co-worker and close friend of my daughter Sara's had passed away from cancer. We'd prayed for Tina for a year. My grandchildren, who had Tina as their teacher, lifted her up to the Lord every night. Yet, she left this world anyway. I know my daughters struggled with how to tell their kids. They all loved Tina and had faith in God's healing. I could only think to tell them that sometimes healing means heaven.

Now and then I wish I still had the innocence of a child. I love their unmarred viewpoint that shows pure faith and compassion. After Maggie talked to eight-year-old Zeke about Tina's passing, he expressed to his momma that he wanted to visit Tina's mom Sandy, because he knew as sad as he was, Miss Sandy was sadder. Bless his heart.

Sometimes I don't understand why life gives so much heartache. Some days I can't comprehend God's plan. But what I do know is that I can trust my heavenly Father. Jesus knows grief. He lived it. When his good friend Lazarus died, the Bible says, "Jesus wept." He cried tears of sorrow. Granted, Jesus had the ability to raise his friend from the dead, but he gets it. He understands the sadness, the sorrow, the brokenhearted. And for those who love and follow Jesus, he raises them up too; totally healed and dancing in heaven.
Even when grief weighs me down and I struggle with reality, God guards my heart and holds my hand.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Jesus was a Carpenter

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

The old house echoed with loneliness. The floors sagged, and the lighting cried to be replaced. As we walked through the abandoned place, we wondered what we were getting ourselves into. No one had lived in the home for a few years. The sharp smell of emptiness made me cover my nose. But when I walked into the middle room, I spied potential for a cozy place to create memories with my family. A lovely built-in tea
A beautiful home we saw on vacation
A beautiful home we saw on vacation
cupboard reminded me of the beauty the old place once had. In the front room's bay window, I imagined a twinkling tree covered in ornaments. Then there was the porch with the Victorian ginger breading, a wonderful place to contemplate and pray.
With help from our families, we made the old house livable and spent many years there celebrating life together.
The other day my husband reminded me how much people can be like an old, forgotten house. Hearts may echo with loneliness. Neglect of our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs cause us to crumble and fall apart. Our foundation cracks and the walls shift. Sounds depressing. But it doesn't have to be.

Jesus recognizes the potential he created in me, just as I saw the possibilities in that old house. We filled the rooms with laughter and love. Jesus fills me with peace and hope. We built new cabinets, repaired the roof, and painted the walls. My Savior gave me purpose, poured his grace over me, and mended my soul. The Holy Spirit continues to work in me, because like an old house, repairs and upkeep are a necessity.
Jesus was a carpenter, a fixer of the broken; mender of the damaged. He still repairs hearts with his generous, abundant grace.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Are You Ready for School?


Psalm 143:10
Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.

Galatians 5:22-23
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.

Towards the end of second grade, I moved with my family to Lynchburg. For me this meant a new school with only six weeks left in the school year. My shy, anxious little self couldn't quite comprehend what that meant. I understood we had a new house, with a big yard and lots of beautiful trees. I occupied a larger room with my older sister. I finally had my own closet. But even with all the goodness, came the dread. I had to meet new people, learn from a different teacher. I left my friends behind in Pricetown. Now what?

Fortunately for me, Miss Mercer was a sweet and an amazing teacher. She taught me phonics, which I hadn't learned at my old school. She poured kindness over this nervous little girl. Plus, there was a girl who "friended" me. Not like Facebook, but real life, in person friendship. To this day Garnet and I still keep in touch.

Most local schools have already started or are about to begin. A lot of preparation goes into the classrooms and at home. We buy notebooks, pencils, clothes, and tissues. But the most important groundwork doesn't come from the store, instead it comes from the heart. Have you prayed for your child's teacher? How about the principal? The janitors, secretaries, aides, bus drivers, cafeteria ladies. The list goes on. And what about the children? Have you taught your child to be the kind one who shows compassion instead of being mean? I pray for my grandchildren every day. I pray for their safety, that they open their minds to learning, and that they are the "kind kids." I want them to show Jesus love to the people they encounter.

Let's lead our children by example and be the encouraging adults who follow the Holy Spirit's guidance. Jesus wants us to love each other.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

He Created us on Purpose

GiraffePsalm 65:8
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy.

Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

Some days I feel like Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit when he yells, "I'm going on an adventure!" And we did, to an African savanna. As I sat on a motorized scooter, (because of my bum knee) I watched giraffes, ostriches, lions, and zebras roam together on the grassy plain. Fascinated by the elegant and graceful giraffes, I thought about the wonders God has made. It kind of blows my mind when I consider how many different animals God has created. Each time we've toured the Columbus Zoo, where our daughter works, we've never visited every exhibit in one trip.

God's creation is vast. So many incredible creatures roam the earth, and God designed them all. Just imagine God's love pouring over the earth as he formed and placed each creature in its home. Every animal roams their part of the world on purpose,  because of God's plan.

The almighty father who put the creatures on the earth, also made you and me. He designed us with purpose, to love him and to love each other. Like the animals, each individual has a role in this life. We have people to encourage and influence. We have work to do. We have a Savior to worship. Whatever situation I find myself in, I've learned to pray for God's guidance and purpose. I want to be a positive, encouraging influence for Jesus, even when I don't feel like it. 

Ask God what you can do for him each day. He loves us so much and wants to speak into our lives. Pray for purpose.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

No Matter What, Pray


Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 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.



Some years ago, I reconnected with my college girlfriends. Since then we've renewed our strong bond of love for one another. Thanks to social media, we "talk" every week. Our Messenger thread is long and filled with our hearts' needs and joys. One of the beautiful things about our 40+ year friendship is our collective desire to follow and worship Jesus. Which makes it easy to share prayer requests. And we do. We pray for each other on a constant basis. There are days, I know my prayer warriors are raising me up to God, and I feel the love. I've sought prayer for other friends and my family, and they prayed. We do this because we love each other and we love our great Father, God.

In Ephesians 3, I love how Paul prays for his friends. He kneels before his Father and pours out his heart. He asks for strength and power through the Holy Spirit. And seeks to have Jesus fill their hearts with faith. Paul understood the magnitude and necessity of prayer. He knew that God wanted to hear from his people. That hasn't changed. God asks us to talk to him. He wants to hear from us. Simply because he loves us.
Pray when you're happy. Pray when you're sad. Pray with joy. Pray in fear. No matter what, pray. Talk to God. He's listening, always.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Historical Fiction Review: River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart


Book Description:
Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who stayed in Springfield, Kentucky, when anyone with means had fled. A man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions. Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She's determined to find a way to buy Louis's freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she'll face an uphill battle.

Based partly on a true story, Ann H. Gabhart's latest historical novel is a tour de force. The vividly rendered town of Springfield and its citizens immerse readers in a story of courage, betrayal, and honor that will stick with them long after they turn the last page.

My Review:
River to Redemption is a wonderful story, laced with hope. Ann Gabhart's research shines as she recounts the horrendous effects of cholera on a small town, plus the miserable circumstances of slavery. Even from the negative, she shares a beautiful story of love. The main character, Adria, is a brave young woman with a heart of gold and enough spunk to shake things up. Another character who touched my heart was Aunt Tilda. I've read several of Ann's books. I believe this is my favorite, so far. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I'll read Ann's every time. She's that good.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Planting Seeds

Acts 4:1-4
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

Our neighbor plants hyacinth bean vine every summer. From the large terracotta pot, he strings wire from stakes in the dirt to a beam, so the plant will train its way up and stretch toward the sun. I enjoy watching the progress as the seeds germinate and push through the dirt and become seedlings. As they grow, large heart-shaped leaves emerge with pretty purple veins. By the end of summer purple blossoms spike from the stem, and deep purple seed pods dangle.

Like my neighbor's plant, my faith started from a seed sown by folks in my life who loved Jesus. The seed germinated because someone watered my faith with teaching and love, as God poured his grace over me. During challenging times I've pushed through the dirt of grief, stress, and sin to reach the Son. My stems have grown and stretched until I've produced flowers to encourage others and seeds to plant in someone else's life. What a beautiful process God has established. Love for Jesus begins with the tiniest kernel and stretches and grows throughout life to produce the glorious blossoms of his love.

In Acts 4, Peter and John planted the seeds of truth as they preached about Jesus. Even though the Sadducees were angered and threw Peter and John in jail, the people who heard the message took that seed and believed. "But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand." Jail time didn't stop Jesus' seeds of truth from sprouting and growing.
Who plants seeds in your life? Are you planting seeds?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Historical Fiction Book Review: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright


Book Description:
For over a century, the town of Gossamer Grove has thrived on its charm and Midwestern values, but Annalise Forsythe knows painful secrets, including her own, hover just beneath the pleasant facade. Yet her strange and sudden inheritance of a run-down trailer home--full of pictures, vintage obituaries, and old revival posters--leaves her wholly unprepared for how truly dark and deadly those secrets may be.

A century earlier, Gossamer Grove is stirred into chaos by the arrival of controversial and charismatic twin revivalists. The chaos takes a murderous turn when Libby Sheffield, while working at her father's newspaper, receives an obituary for a reputable church deacon hours before his death. As she works with the deacon's son to solve the crime, it becomes clear that a reckoning has come to town--but it isn't until another obituary arrives at the paper that they realize the true depths of the danger they've waded into.

Two women, separated by a hundred years, must unravel the mysteries of their own town before it's too late and they lose their future--or their very souls.


My Review:
I've never read a book quite like The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. Moving between two centuries was fascinating but a bit difficult for me. However, the story is well written and interesting. Jaime Jo Wright's research into old-time tent revivals adds a mysterious and at times frightening aspect to the story. The twin revivalists, based on real people—provoke thought about how the approach of teaching Jesus matters and adds a dark note of suspense to an already mind bending story. I loved the part of the story where redemption steps into the lime light. Annalise's story made me want to turn the pages faster to see what happened next. The characters learn some hard lessons, but in the end..well I can't tell you that. You'll have to read for yourself. If you enjoy suspense and mystery mixed with history, you'll want to read The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House by way of NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.



Sunday, July 22, 2018

Historical Fiction Book Review: A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden


Book Description:
As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city--but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York, Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team's techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist.

While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.

My Review:
A Daring Venture is a fascinating story about scientist, Doctor Rosalind Werner and her struggle as a woman in an all male science field. She works to prove that her theories can save lives, even when her methods may be questionable. She's a strong character with a heart for saving people from water born disease. But who wants to listen to a petite lady when money and power are on the line. Nicholas Drake, charming and a little dangerous, climbed the ranks from plumber to a man who decides life and death decisions. But he has a soft spot for Rosalind. The back and forth of their relationship entertains. One of the things I like about this story is the light it brings to the conditions of living with contaminated water. Many countries still do. We can't take it for granted. Elizabeth Camden's research into the time period illuminates her wonderful writing. If you enjoy historical fiction, I recommend you read A Daring Venture. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Light of Hope

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Tim and I arrived at Marblehead, on Lake Erie, just in time to see the sunset and watch (my favorite ever) lighthouse signal a green light over the water. As I watched the waves lap, I tried to imagine navigating the lake in a seventeenth century schooner. Masts flapping in the wind, bobbing up and down in rhythm with the water sounds appealing, but no electricity and little privacy left me with no desire to sail the seas on an ancient vessel. But people did, many folks sailed the Great Lakes. When they neared land at night or in a storm they depended on the lighthouse to keep them from crashing into the shore. The glow of the Fresnel lens not only provided light, but safety, and comfort.

When Jesus proclaimed "I am the light of the world," the Pharisees questioned his integrity. They didn't understand that he'd come to bring grace and forgiveness to a troubled world. They didn't believe he was the hope God promised.

But I do. Jesus assures us whoever follows him will not walk in darkness. As I trust him, my path is illuminated by the hope Jesus offers. Like the lighthouse, he sheds light and gives warning even in the darkest night or the most tumultuous storm. He sheds the light that provides safety and peace. Yet unlike the lighthouse, Jesus hope doesn't sit on a majestic pinnacle. His light doesn't wait at the end of a tunnel. Instead, his radiance wraps itself around his followers. His light reflects on the heart as a constant companion, a steady ray of hope.
Jesus' light is with us—All.The.Time. Through loss, illness, frustration, indecision, depression, anxiety, stress. He never leaves. His light gives guidance and comfort. Open your heart to his light of hope.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Pitiful and Prayerful

Colossians 3:15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Monday morning, back to work...

I took a couple of vacation days last week to hang out with my daughters, Hannah, Maggie, and Sara and their families. We played in the pool, watched grandsons play baseball, and enjoyed pedicures (thanks to Hannah.) Tim and I enjoyed a quiet Sunday. Then the dreaded Monday rolled around. Back to work and the daily grind. Ugh! After I dragged through my morning routine, I climbed in the Jeep, then headed to work. As I zipped along the familiar road, the pity party that danced in my head came to a screeching halt.

What was I thinking? Not what I should have been. My friend, Lori, faced an extensive surgery Monday morning. She found out she had cancer after a routine gall bladder surgery. And she could still find joy. Here I was acting pathetic because I had to go back to work. Shame on me. At that moment I realized my selfishness, and I prayed. First for forgiveness for being pitiful, then for Lori. I prayed hard because I want Lori to heal and be fully recovered from the cancer. She's a warrior for God who ministers in countless ways. Even through this tough time, she gives thanks to God.

Can you relate? Have you found yourself in the midst of a pity party, then realized how pathetic that is? We have so much to thank God for. My health isn't perfect, but I can get up and go to work. I get to spend time with my family and friends. I have people who love me. And so much more...
Today, I choose to thank God first thing in the morning.
There is a song on the radio right now that reminds me to be joy filled and grateful. 
Old Church Choir . Give it a listen!