Saturday, March 16, 2019

Deserve or Serve?

Ephesians 6:7 
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people

As I close in on the last days of working at the college, I'm reflecting on the many tasks I've had as technical services manager in the library. This week, in particular, has been filled with events and activities. Some generous folks in the county donated money for beautiful new study rooms to be built in the library. On Wednesday, many of us buzzed around like bees to put the final touches on the rooms and the library so we could honor the donors at a special event, planned for the afternoon. We cleaned, set-up tables, decorated, and prepped food. My co-workers and I served. We honored people who deserved to be appreciated and thanked.

I'm thankful there are people who do good and deserve appreciation. But even more, I love when those folks are humble and don't want the praise. Our library donors just wanted to make a difference. They didn't seek praise, they didn't want attention. Instead through their attitude they served our students.
When I place the words serve and deserve beside each other, the difference jumps at me. Do I quietly help others or do I seek attention because I think I'm worthy?
Paul wrote to the Ephesians to serve as if they are serving the Lord himself. That's not an attitude of deserving, instead, Jesus wants us to have an attitude focused on serving. Humble, giving, and grateful, Jesus helped others even though he deserved to be served. 
May my heart be filled with the desire to serve.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Fiction Review: Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson

When the fun-loving and spontaneous artist Willow West meets buttoned-up, retired English teacher George Emerson, it's not exactly love at first sight. Though she does find the obsessive-compulsive man intriguing. Making it her mission to get him to loosen up and embrace life, she embarks on what seems like a lost cause--and finds herself falling for him in the process.

A confirmed bachelor, George vacillates between irritation and attraction whenever Willow is around--which to him seems like all too often. He's not interested in expanding his horizons or making new friends; it just hurts too much when you lose them.

But as the summer progresses, George feels his defenses crumbling. The question is, will his change of heart be too late for Willow?

With her signature heart and touches of humor, fan favorite Melody Carlson pens a story of two delightfully eccentric characters who get a second chance at life and love.

My Review:
Courting Mr. Emerson is one of the most delightful books I've read in a while. I loved the quirky characters and the lovely little town they live in. George reminds me of a couple of people I've met through the years. Willow's free spirit pops from the pages. One of the things I like most about Melody Carlson's writing is her ability to tell more than one story at a time and weave them together so beautifully. With comedy and endearment, she's penned a lovely story filled with complex and lovable characters. I also like the art angle as a nice backdrop for several scenes and the charming cover. If you want an enjoyable story to curl up with and feel good about, pick up a copy of Courting Mr. Emerson. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Books. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I'm Thankful we don't have to do That!

Leviticus 1:3-5
If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. You are to slaughter the young bull before the Lord, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting...

Luke 23:44-46
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

As I read through the book of Leviticus, my heart skipped a beat when I came across the verses about sacrifice. When the folks in the old testament presented a sacrifice to God, they sorted through their herd and found a blemish free animal, "a male without defect." Not only did they give up their best, they had to kill it and burn it themselves—among other things. If you read the first few chapters of Leviticus, you get the picture that the business of sacrifice was messy, the kind of mess that would make me turn my head away. The people responsible for making the sacrifice literally got their hands dirty. They dealt with the blood and the cleansing.

But then something miraculous happened. Jesus came to live as a man on this earth. At the end of his short life here, he took the place of that perfect, spotless animal. Soldiers walked him through the streets, beaten and bloody, carrying his cross. On Golgotha, men nailed Jesus to the cross. His blood spilled when they sunk a spear into his side and stuck a wreath of thorns on his head. Jesus died as the sacrifice for our sins. We no longer need to offer animals to be forgiven or accepted by God. The Lord who loves us more than we understand, gave his life. HIS LIFE. We don't need to sort through a herd or flock, we just need to look to God and ask forgiveness.
I don't know about you, but I praise God that I no longer need to carry a lamb to the altar, instead Jesus is the only sacrifice I need. He's the ultimate offering. Thank you God for your grace.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Fiction Review: The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

Brought together by a charming bookstore in England, three women fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives. 

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature. 

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance. 

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch. 

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

My Review:
I enjoyed this enchanting story of friendship, healing and love. The English village where  this delightful little bookstore is set is a wonderful place to get lost for a few hours. The characters are just quirky enough to be charming. Sophia, Ginny and Emily all have stories that draw on encouragement, friendship and courage. I also liked that Sophia's mom was supportive and caring. This is a story I will revisit in the future. Grab a copy of The Secrets of Paper and Ink, a cup of tea, and a comfy chair and enjoy these delightful characters and their stories of hope. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

What I've Learned

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

Retirement has been a dream for me for the last five years. On May 1st it will be a reality. I've worked in libraries for twenty-four plus years; public, school, and academic. Twelve of those years, I spent encouraging children to read. I loved the joy on their faces when they found a book they liked. Reading to the kids in storytime and library class made my day. The other twelve years, I've worked as a technical services manager; the person who makes sure the books are searchable in the catalog. Through all of this, I've learned one thing—Trust God!

Even in a line of work where you'd think the environment would be quiet and calm, stress availed. On the days I wondered why God led me to work in libraries, I heard the Holy Spirit say, "trust God." So many times, I didn't understand decisions people made, the anxiety they caused or negative attitudes. God said, "trust me." So I did. On my desk I have a little sign that says pray.  And I do, everyday.

As I reminisce about my journey in the libraries, I see God's hand all over those days. Amid the negative and stress, many positive, happy memories pop up. I made some great friends and learned more than I can even write about. God knew what I needed far before I did. I just needed to trust him.
He knows my future and I trust him to guide me.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pure Joy

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

It's pothole season in Ohio again, that time between winter and spring when the snow and ice have melted and the blacktop gives way to winter's damage. After church Sunday, Tim and I noticed several deep divots chiseled out of the pavement. Some of them were crater sized. One wrong clunk into the hole could cause a tire puncture, damage to the wheel rim, problems with shocks, suspension or alignment. If the damage isn't repaired one problem may lead to another.
Pothole in the Road 

Sometimes in life, potholes are unavoidable and do a lot of damage. Some are deeper than others. Imagine traveling down a perfectly paved road, then all of a sudden a hole appears in front of you, but you can't avoid it; swerving around it would cause you to hit another car. So you drive over it and bumpety-bump you go. The tire blows, the rim gets bent and the suspension is a mess. Now what! You take the car to a mechanic who knows how to repair the mess.

Life's potholes are often unavoidable. We find out we have cancer, break a leg or have surgery. A friend disappoints us, or a child turns away from God. There are so many holes in the roads we travel. But like the mechanic, we know someone who wants to help us through the potholes. God's waiting to take your burden, he's waiting to hear from you. There's no magical shield to protect us from potholes. But we do have someone who loves us and offers comfort and guidance through the rough bumps of life. When we turn the troubles in life over to Jesus, we gain strength in our faith, perseverance and maturity which results in joy. Beautiful joy!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Work With my Hands

Exodus 35:35
He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

This verse in Exodus 35 made my heart happy. God gave instructions to the Israelites on how to build, design and decorate the tabernacle. Every Israelite was asked to gather supplies, then God called those with the gifts of crafting to work together and create a place of worship. My heart smiled at this verse because I am an embroiderer, a crafter. If I'd lived back then, I may have had the opportunity to put my hands to the task and please God with my work.

God called his people to use their skills, their gifts to work together and accomplish his request. Even though we may not be building a tabernacle, we are building God's kingdom on this earth. When God created me, he knew what my abilities would be. He made me to work with my hands. I love creating. Embroidering beauty, crocheting, and writing. I have been instilled with a love of nature and sharing what I know about God's creation. When I chose to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit added to those skills. He gave me spiritual gifts enhanced by my natural abilities.

I love this about God. He knew me before I was born. He understood my purpose. He calls me where he needs me. I'm thankful for the gifts God has given me, and I pray each day for his guidance as I work for him.
My life verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:11-2 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.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Fiction Review: A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

Book Description:
Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning--together.

My Review:
I like a good book with a Scottish setting and characters. Laura Frantz penned both. The story of Magnus and Lark spans two continents. The Isle of Kerrera seems like a beautiful place that fairy tales are set in. While the ship ride across the Atlantic is filled with danger, excitement, and a few unseemly characters. Then to the land of hope, America in its early stages. As beekeeper and botanist on the Isle, Lark is quite content. But as her world is turned upside down, she not only depends on what she knows, but Who she knows. The story is filled with twists and turns. I felt like a few ends needed tied up a bit neater. But overall, I enjoyed Lark's story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Rain

Psalm 51:1-2
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

A downpour, gully washer, spilled buckets, whatever you call it, the rain drenched our little part of the planet. As I drove and listened to the drum of drops on my rag top, I thought about how the rain cleans as it falls. Those fine drops of water wash the salt off cars, dirt from the sidewalks and snow from the yards. The rain scrubs the atmosphere and pushes dirt off the streets.

That's how Jesus' blood and grace works. They pour over me and wash away my sins. Jesus heart beats with mine, just like the rain tapping on the top of my Jeep. He knows me, he understands me, and he loves me so much that he died for me. He became the sacrifice for you and me.

I've been reading about sacrifices in the book of Exodus and wow was that an interesting time to follow God. I'm thankful I'm under the blood of Jesus. Like the rain, his sacrifice scrubs away my wrongs. He cleanses me with his grace. Grace that's offered to whomever will follow Jesus.

Sin binds us to this world, but Jesus cleansing blood sets us free.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Suspense Book Review: Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard


The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up

Forensic genealogist Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather's footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from a hospital more than twenty years ago. When someone makes an attempt on Willow's life to keep her from discovering the truth, help will come from an unexpected source.

Ex-FBI agent--and Willow's ex-flame--Austin McKade readily offers to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they'll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he's spent much of his life trying to forget--and put Willow's tender heart at risk.

My Review:
Elizabeth Goddard's fast paced suspense takes Willow Anderson on a crazy trip into the Wyoming wilderness. This is one of those books that's tough to put down, especially toward the end. The plot twists and turns as much as the Wyoming trails. At one point I didn't even trust one of the innocent people in the story. Willow's character is strong but vulnerable, and Austin's story broke my heart. As the two travel a difficult road to crack a case, they discover they aren't alone. I also like the spiritual thread that flows through the book. If you enjoy well-written suspense, you'll want to pick up a copy of Never Let Go. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

There is Joy

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I was helping my grandson, Zeke, with his weekly vocabulary words. I enjoy helping the kids with homework. Watching their young minds work fascinates me. One of the words he needed to know was glee. Not a common word in the third grade. He had to tell me the meaning, a synonym, and an antonym. Can you guess the synonym? JOY! The antonym ? Sorrow, suffering. As we worked, my mind returned to the word glee and how I prayed that joy would fill this young man's heart. But as I well know, his life will also meet with sorrow and suffering. It's not possible to live on this earth and not feel the effects of sadness. But the beautiful thing, the best thing is that through the sorrow and suffering, Jesus offers joy.

James, the brother of Jesus, says to count it all joy when we go through trials. James should know, he watched his brother, Jesus, die a cruel death. But he also knows that Jesus came back to life to bring grace and forgiveness. Even as I walk through the valley of sorrow, my heart holds joy knowing Jesus lives for me. I love what James says in the later part of the verses. " Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete..." That's what growing in Christ is all about; letting the Holy Spirit help us work through the difficult times so we come out on the other side a stronger more mature person in Christ.
There is joy in the journey. Let it be Jesus' joy.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Cozy Mystery Review: The Coffee Club Mysteries: 6 Whodunits by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, Janice Thompson

Six Mysteries Are Brewing in Small-Town Kansas

The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . .

Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop.

Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead.

Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought.

Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing.

Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock.

Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives.

Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care.

My Review:
The Coffee Club Mysteries is a delectable collection of cozy mysteries. I enjoyed each of the six stories. Even though they are all written by different authors, they connect in unique ways. I love that the ladies are tied together as a book club, even though they spend more time solving crimes than discussing books. If you enjoy mysteries, this is the perfect book to cozy up with on a winter day. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing, Inc. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Little Country Ingenuity

I love rural America.

Growing up, we lived in the country surrounded by farm land. On any given day a tractor might scuttle by the house. So when my husband sent me this photo recently, I had to smile.

Tim shuttles books from library to library in our county. We'd had some snow and ice which made me a bit concerned about his travels. He managed to drive between branches without any problem. At one of the southern-most branches that had more snow, he snapped a picture in the parking lot. An older lady had journeyed across the ice and snow on her tractor, with a heated cab, because she didn't want her books to be overdue.

I've worked in libraries for twenty-four years. Her ingenuity touched my heart. If only we could all muster up the responsibility to be that conscientious.
If you're raising children, teach them to be thoughtful, adventurous, and practical like the woman on the tractor. They'll live a better life for it.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Who's the Coach?

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

From the bleachers we watched our granddaughter rebound the basketball. As the girls hustled up and down the court, the coach shouted plays. Then she'd call a time-out and advise the girls on what to do, and correct them where they'd made mistakes. She was in the game with them.

I coached volleyball for a few years. Honestly, I didn't have the confidence or experience I needed. But I tried. I loved the girls and the game. As I learned along with them, we grew together as a team. As a coach I took on the role of adviser, instructor, and example. 

In life, Jesus is my coach, mentor, and leader. Jesus had the ultimate experience in living life on earth. He was born and raised to live like his brothers and sisters. He worked with his dad, and walked with the disciples. Jesus experienced sorrow and joy. He loved and lost. Satan tempted him, but he didn't partake in sin. He understood the circumstances men and women live in. That's why we can go to Jesus and talk to him. He understands. He's not some lofty spirit who is out of reach. He's the one who lived on earth and knows how difficult life can be. Jesus wants to grant grace and mercy, if we just ask. Even though he knows our needs, he longs for us to talk to him.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fiction/Suspense Review: Secrets at Cedar Cabin (A Lavender Tides Novel Book 3) by Colleen Coble

Book Description:
Her mother lied about her identity and her husband wasn’t who she thought he was—can Bailey even trust herself anymore?

Running for her life in the wake of her mother’s murder, Bailey Fleming escapes to the only place she can think of—a remote, dilapidated cabin in Lavender Tides. Intending to finally get to the truth behind the lies of her past, Bailey only finds more questions when bodies are discovered near her cabin hideout along with traces of a dangerous human trafficking ring. In an unlikely partnership with FBI agent Lance Phoenix, Bailey races to understand the mystery surrounding her life and circumstances before the murderer tracks her down. 

Meanwhile, Lance is determined to rescue his sister, Ava, who was abducted after running away from home as a teenager. An unexpected lead brings him to the remote cabin, and he wonders if Bailey—with her suspicious past and strange connections to his sister’s case—is really who she claims to be and if she can somehow lead him to Ava. 

Filled with Colleen Coble's custom blend of suspense and romance, Secrets at Cedar Cabin takes us back to the evocative landscape of Washington's coast where nothing is quite as it seems. 

My Review:
In Secrets at Cedar Cabin, Colleen Coble takes us back to Lavender Tides and several of the characters from the first and second book in the series. I loved seeing some loose ends tied up from the previous stories. But I have to say, Bailey's story is the most dramatic and stirring of the three books. This story has a beautiful thread of hope, but also speaks out against one of the most horrific crimes of our time, human trafficking; making the reader aware of the dangers. The suspense and drama are spot on. The story brings light to the devastation of lies, then shows what can happen when people work together and reach out to God. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

You are Loved

1 John 4:10-12
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

I've been reading the book of Genesis. Those people were a mess. After Adam and Eve exited the Garden of Eden, things went downhill from there. Bad behavior got out of hand so God sent the flood. Thank goodness Noah and his family still loved God and could climb on the ark with the animals and start again. Abraham and Sarah tried to hang in there and follow God, but ended up lying to protect themselves. As the population once again increased, sin enticed people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God destroyed them. Later Joseph, who loved God, was sold off by his own brothers and accused of things he didn't do. That's as far as I've read.  

How does God keep his patience with the very people he created? From the beginning, God loved Adam and Eve, he tried to direct them on what they needed to do to continue to live in the beautiful garden. But they couldn't control their desires. They believed their tempter and fell into sin. Yet God still loved them.

God's love is greater than anything we can imagine. He out loves us. How do I know that? Because he sacrificed his own son who took our sin on his heart and died for us. God knew he needed to pave a way for people to find their way back to him. He knew if people wanted a relationship with him, he'd need to make a new path. That path is Jesus. God raised Jesus from the dead to give us hope and grace.
God doesn't give up on us, he LOVES us. All he wants is for us to love him back.  

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Before the Time Runs Out

Acts 20:24
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

The clock ticks down to thirty seconds. The team needs to score three points to win. Do the players give up? No. The coach uses the clock—down to the last seconds of the game to encourage the players to make a pass, a basket, a win.

Basketball game
We're in basketball season in our family. Three grandchildren play and our son coaches. We watch college teams on TV and in person. Intensity of the games can be exciting. We've witnessed fantastic plays and some that just stink. In basketball, players need to finish what they start. When a player shoots the ball they need to follow through. When the other team shoots, a player needs to rebound. When the point person sets a play in motion, the team can execute a pick or screen. The team pushes through until the final buzzer rings. That's what they signed up for, to finish the game.

As a believer in Jesus, I want to follow through. I need to finish strong. Sometimes I want to give up and take the lazy route. But, Jesus didn't call me to be a slouch. He wants me to be a team player and one who finishes the tasks he sets before me. Maybe it's my age, but I've finally figured out that I just need to plow ahead with what God puts on my heart and not worry. God wants me to continue to serve him and step up before my time runs out.
My aim is to finish the tasks God sets before me; to continue to give glory to God and share the news of his grace.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Fiction Review: Under the Midnight Sun (The Heart of Alaska Book #3) by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

Book Description:
Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems
she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska.

The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated.

The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows?

My Review:
I love this well-written story set in beautiful Alaska! I haven't read the first two in the series and didn't feel I needed to in order to enjoy Under the Midnight Sun. Tayler's character is complex and inspiring. For that reason, I'd recommend this book to young adult women; although I am getting ready to retire and she inspired me. The descriptions are lovely and the story line flows well. Female readers will fall in love with Thomas. He's a hardworking, kind-hearted man. And I got tickled over the secondary story of Mrs. Johnson and her suitors. I was a little sad when the book ended, not because the ending was sad but because I wanted to read more. This is a perfect book to snuggle up with on a cold winter day. Get a cup of coffee or tea and a cozy blanket and enjoy. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Courage Scares me a Little

2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 
Cowardly Lion: [crying] You're right, I am a coward! I haven't any courage at all. I even scare myself. [sobbing] Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven't slept in weeks! Tin Man: Why don't you try counting sheep? Cowardly Lion: That doesn't do any good, I'm afraid of 'em.

The Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz feared everything, even the sweet sheep you count in your sleep. I remember watching the movie and getting frustrated with the "king of the forest." He drove me crazy because he was so timid. But as an adult, I've found myself in the same boat. Afraid I'll fail. Scared I won't say or do the right thing. Uncomfortable making decisions. Paralyzed by fear that stops me in my tracks. I may not be afraid of sheep, but sometimes anxiety has kept me from moving forward.

I wrote earlier this week that my word for 2019 is courage. That scares me a little bit because God asked me to be brave. Not just for myself, but for Him. I feel a tug and a nudge from Him to be bold and move forward for Him. To take my writing goals and conquer them. To speak up for Him. To show the world I love Jesus. As I read this morning, I came across 2 Timothy 1:7. The Holy Spirit gives me power mixed with love and self-discipline. What a perfect verse for me for 2019. Courage, love and self-discipline. Wow! This little verse Paul wrote to Timothy bolstered my confidence. I want to remind myself every day that God placed this on my heart.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018 Fiction Favorites!

Out of the numerous books I read last year and the many I've reviewed, I decided to choose the top five fiction favorites for 2018; in no particular order. I've enjoyed each one. The authors' excellent writing and wonderful stories stood out to me. I was surprised to see that three of the five are historical fiction, since I usually read contemporary. Each title is linked to my original review. If you're looking for a good book to read this winter, check out my favorites!

I have to sneak in at least one picture book my first love in books!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Do you Have a Word?

My daughter, Maggie, has a Cricut, a template cutting tool. She creates beautiful designs for shirts, pillows, and so much more. When I was visiting the other day, I wore a plain pink sweatshirt. She knows I love a particular quote from Cinderella. Before the day was over, I had a newly designed pink sweatshirt that quoted Cinderella's mother, "Have courage, be kind." I love it!

The next day, I saw that Dayspring, a Christian card and inspirational gift company, shared a "Word of the Year" quiz On Facebook. I've chosen a word for the new year before, but hadn't settled on anything for 2019. I trust Dayspring so I thought why not.

My word? COURAGE! Not a coincidence.

My new shirt proclaims to have courage and be kind. Bravery, with a peaceful, loving spirit.  The Holy Spirit is nudging me to have courage in 2019. I love that. God knows what lies ahead. He gives me what I need. May the courage I muster come from Him.