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

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.