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!  



Friday, July 13, 2018

Historical Fiction Review: Minding the Light (Nantucket Legacy series) by: Suzanne Woods Fisher


Description:
"How could I have expected so much? How could I have given her so little in return?"

Six long years ago, Captain Reynolds Macy sailed away from his bride, looking forward to the day when he would return to Nantucket Island with a ship's hold full of whale oil. But when that momentous day finally arrives, Ren soon discovers that everything has changed in his absence. Everything.

Unlike most islanders, bold and spirited Daphne Coffin doesn't defer to Ren as an authoritative whalemaster, but sees through his aloofness to the aching heart beneath. She encourages him to return to his Quaker roots and "mind the Light," finding solace in God and community. As Ren becomes the man she believes him to be--honorable, wise, faithful--she finds herself falling in love with him.
But how can she, when her heart is spoken for? 


My Review:
Minding the Light is one of the most interesting historical settings I've read. I found the history of the Quakers on Nantucket fascinating. As I read the story of Daphne and Ren and continued following the diary of Daphne's great-great-great grandmother, the smells and sounds of a whaling town came to life from Suzanne Woods Fisher's pen. I could picture every detail. The characters vivid personalities made for an intriguing story. I'm looking forward to reading book three, The Light Before Day. If you are a historical fiction fan, you'll love this book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Two Defining Forces


Romans 3:22-26
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

I just finished reading a book based on a letter written during the American Revolution. In the story one of the main character, along with an army of men, went to war with his muzzle loader to acquire the freedom of all Americans. Since that time, we've had countless soldiers continue to fight for the freedom of America. I thank God for those who have given their lives, their time and their families to allow me to worship God.
I've read a saying that says something like this: "Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G. I. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom." -Author: Unknown
Jesus died to free me from the weight of sin in this world. He came to earth and took on the burden of any who believe in him. He gave his life. That's true freedom! The freedom to live in this world without the burden of sin. The freedom to live in this world and not of this world. The freedom to love God and love people. I thank the Lord for sending his son. To live in this world without Jesus would be hopeless. To live in this world with Jesus means to live with hope and joy. I love Jesus and thank him for his sacrifice!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Fiction Book Review: The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck


Description:
Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.
When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.

Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved 
Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.  

Set in stunning upcountry South Carolina, The Love Letter is a beautifully crafted story of the courage it takes to face down fear and chase after love, even in the darkest of times. And just maybe, all these generations later, love can come home in a way not even Hollywood could imagine.

My Review:
When I started reading The Love Letter, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a story of faith. It took me a bit to adjust to going between Hollywood and the Revolutionary War, but once I got the hang of it, the story unfolded beautifully. Chloe is an amazing character who struggles and faces obstacles; but relies on her faith to help her. And that's not the norm in the acting industry. Esther, also an amazing character for her time, carries the Esther/Hamilton story into unknown territory for that day. The parallel stories create an interesting journey and a superb ending. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hello, Black-eyed Susan!

Every year I look for the first black-eyed Susans of the the summer. I love to see them dance in the fields and along the roads. My favorite flower arrives just in time for my birthday. I believe they are God's way of reminding me he created me and he loves me. Today I discovered the first Susan bloom in my own flower bed. She smiled and said, "Hello! I'm here." 


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Shout like the Lilies


Isaiah 40:28-31
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.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Tim and I stopped by the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Park to gaze at the Ohio River and watch the birds and other wildlife. Across the road we checked out the bridge dedicated to the 18th President. I enjoyed seeing the plaque of Grant in his Civil War Uniform and the lanterns and miniature cannon that graced the corners. On the way back to the Jeep, I noticed a wooden fence row that stretched across one end of the small park. Tiger lilies shot up through the slats as if they were poised to announce, "Attention, please. This is where Ulysses S. Grant was born."

The lilies appeared to trumpet good news. Just like Isaiah 40 proclaims—"Do you not know? Have you not heard?" I have heard the news, and I am so grateful. Some days I am exhausted. My energy wanes and I crave rest. But guess what, God renews my strength, because I place my hope in him. He alone gives me the energy I need. He helps me walk, when I can no longer go. I mean that literally and spiritually. There are days when my bum knee doesn't want to move, but God lifts me up with his encouragement and keeps me on my feet. Because I know Jesus loves me and supports me, I want to shout like the lilies, "The Lord is the everlasting God." He loves me and cares for me, even the everyday things. He is the hope this world needs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Fantasy Fiction Review: The Story Peddler (The Weaver Trilogy Book 1) by Lindsay A. Franklin


Description:
Selling stories is a deadly business---

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

My Review:
Lindsay A. Franklin is one imaginative and talented writer. The Story Peddler may not have crystallized in my hand, but the descriptions came to life in my head. The characters are fantastic, the setting spectacular, and the story is amazing. I love that Tanwen is a spunky character ready to discover her life. The many folks she meets along the way add a flair that only a good fantasy can boast. The Christian truths woven throughout the story add an element of depth and wisdom. The Story Peddler reminds me of one of my favorite fantasy books, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (but written for adults.) This book is every bit as good. The first book in the trilogy, I guarantee, will leave you wanting more. I received this e-book free from NetGalley with no expectation of a good or bad review.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stand Like a Deer


Psalm 18:30-36
As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

On my way up the driveway, to the college where I work, a deer stood in the middle of the pavement. I stopped the Jeep and watched her. In slow motion, she sauntered off the drive and headed toward the forest. Just before I pulled away, she seemed to nod at me, then take off at a run. The next day, in the same spot, she stood along the road, while another one sipped water from the pond. We often see wildlife on campus, but I don't think I'd seen the deer two days in a row. But the sightings didn't stop there. The next day, I walked to the Westwood building where the windows look out over the woods. Lo and behold (I say that with amazement) a doe preened her fawn.

Seeing the deer reminded me of the verses King David penned in Psalm 18. Even though the deer in Ohio don't have mountains to climb, mule deer in the Rocky Mountains climb like mountain goats. They're sure-footed and able to make their way up a steep path. David claims that God gave him the balance and ruggedness of a deer, with the ability to take to a path without his ankles giving way. David's words tell me that God equips me to meet my needs. Too often I fear that I don't have the talent I need to complete a task, or the words to write, or the wisdom to understand. I imagine God is probably shaking his head at me, saying "Silly woman, I'm giving you all you need. I always have and I always will." Yes he has, and he will. My unfounded doubts lead me to worry when there is no need.

David, considered a mighty warrior, composed these words before he went to battle. He knew he needed God and God prepared him. We go to war every day against the enemy. Satan creeps around every corner and slings doubt and fear at us. But God has given us the weapons we need to fight him off. Like a deer, I'll climb up the mountain away from Satan and make my way to stand close to Jesus. Praise God he watches out for me.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fiction Book Review: The House at Saltwater Point (A Lavender Tides Novel) by Colleen Coble


Book Description:
The dangerous beauty of Lavender Tides is harboring secrets that reach around the world.

Ellie Blackmore is making a name for herself as a house flipper. But when her sister
Mackenzie disappears, Ellie can’t focus on anything but uncovering what happened. Her only clue is the bloodstain on the deck of Mackenzie’s boat. Ellie knows her sister isn’t on the best of terms with her ex-husband, Jason, but he wouldn’t kill her—would he? 
Coast Guard intelligence officer Grayson Bradshaw believes Mackenzie faked her own death after stealing a seized cocaine shipment. The problem is convincing Ellie, who seems to view him as the true enemy.

Both Ellie and Grayson want truth, but truth—and family—is often more complex than it first appears. From international terrorism to the peaceful lavender fields of Puget Sound, The House at Saltwater Point is a thrilling race to uncover the truth before it’s too late.

My Review:
Colleen Coble is an excellent writer of suspense, taking the reader to the edge. Two of the things I loved about this story involve the sisters, Ellie and MacKenzie. One is a true hero in the strongest sense of the word. She puts her life on the line for the people she loves. The other is shown as a totally flawed human being in need of grace. The setting is lovely, I could almost smell the lavender. Grayson Bradshaw's story is complicated. But in the midst of the craziness, it is good to meet a man of honor. Coble's story is timely and in accord with current events. The book reminded me to give thanks for people putting their lives on the line every day. Both military and investigative units—so we can be free. If you enjoy NCIS Los Angeles or any of the shows or stories that focus on those who keep us safe, you'll love The House at SaltwaterPoint. I received this book from NetGalley with no expectation of a good or bad review.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fiction Book Review: Where the Fire Falls: A Vintage National Parks Novel by Karen Barnett


Book Description:
Stunning Yosemite National Park sets the stage for this late 1920s historical romance with mystery, adventure, heart, and a sense of the place John Muir described as "pervaded with divine light."

Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shed her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region's wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty.

    After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he's faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling?

    As Clark opens Olivia's eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park's story as its vistas--a revelation that may bring her charade to an end.

My Review:
Where the Fire Falls is a refreshing and exciting read with some unexpected twists and turns. Karen Barnett captures the amazing essence of Yosemite National Park. Even though I've never been there, I feel like I went on vacation. Her description of the scenery pulled me into the majestic outdoor space. I loved Olivia and Clark's stories. They grabbed my attention from the first page. I also appreciate the way Karen weaves the gospel in throughout the story. Reading about Clark's journey encouraged me as his faith grew. Olivia's story was original, creative, and well done. I've not read many books set in the 1920s. That was a nice change. This book is a five star for sure. I received this book for free from NetGalley with not expectation of a good or bad review.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blessed to Work


1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12
Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

My dad shared his wisdom through actions more than his words. He taught my siblings and me to be responsible and have a solid work ethic. How did he do that? He set the standard by working hard himself. By trade he was a welder. But he was also a man who could fix most anything. I remember when Tim and I purchased a house that needed a lot of fixing, I came home from work and found him and my daughter, Hannah, on the roof repairing the shingles. He was in his seventies. After I finished freaking out a little, he assured me he was fine and not to worry. He went back to his work and patched up the roof.
I'm thankful I learned to work hard. Both Dad and Mom taught us to be responsible and respectful. Not just in our daily labor, but in the work we do for Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4 is one of my favorite passages. I've been a crafter for years, and I work on the computer every day. So I've literally worked with my hands my whole life. In leading a quiet life, I hope I've blessed others as I've labored for Jesus. In Thessalonians, Paul is telling the people not to rest on their laurels, but to continue in their daily work and their efforts for the Lord. I pray we can instill responsibility and respect in younger folks, so that they will learn the value of hard work, both in their jobs and in loving Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.