Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Fiction Review: Lake Season by Denise Hunter

Book Description:
A lost letter, a new love, and old secrets beckon this summer at the Bluebell Inn.

When their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic Bluebell, North Carolina home back into an inn. The situation would just be temporary—three years at the most—then they would sell the inn and Molly could get back to chasing her own dreams.

Adam Bradford (aka bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive novelist with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to the setting of his next book, a North Carolina lake town. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

Molly and Adam strike up an instant friendship. When Molly finds a long-lost letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But Adam has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.


My Review:
Lake Season is such a wonderful story. I enjoyed the camaraderie between the siblings as they attempt to fulfill their parents' dream of opening the inn. When their first customer stops in to book a room the scene is so funny. Molly's vulnerability is revealed and Adam's sweet side shines. I love how Molly fancies herself in love with a famous author and the joy she finds in reading his novels. But when Molly finds the old letter in the wall the story really takes off. As they work to solve an old mystery, a beautiful story unfolds. Denise Hunter has written another lovely story filled with delightful characters. If you are looking for a great read, check out Lake Season. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Thank You

Veterans Day is a day to honor those who have served in the armed forces. 
The folks who fought to give us freedom. 
I'm thankful for the sacrifices of the vets and their families. 
Recently, a little boy told me his dad is a veteran and his brother is in the service now. 
With heartfelt respect he honored his dad and brother. 

I lift up the families of those who serve and have served. Thank you!

My dad served in WW2. Love this photo my daughter, Maggie, snapped.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Gratitude Brings Joy!

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. 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. 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.

Christmas decorations have hit the stores before November 1. Hallmark launched their holiday movies, October 25. Radio stations are already blasting Christmas cheer.

I admit, I'm watching the Christmas movies and listening to the music. I'm making gifts and have a running holiday list.

In the midst of this holiday flurry, my husband asked, "What happened to Thanksgiving?"

I've pondered Tim's question for a few days now. What did happen to Thanksgiving? Not just the holiday, but the earnest, sincere act of thankfulness. When I volunteer at school, it does my heart good when I hear a child say thank you. Let's model this simple act of appreciation for children so they might pass it on. 

The apostle Paul penned a letter to the people of Colossians. He urged them to give thanks to God in everything. How much better would the day be if we lived with a grateful heart? As we prepare for the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, let's stop and praise God. A grateful heart spills joy and hope onto others.
Let's thank God for his love and grace and revive the practice of saying thank you to the people around us.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Fall Findings Friday: A Little Country in the City

Stacked on bales of straw and complimented by a purple mum, I caught this little taste of fall at Newport on the Levee. We'd visited a book festival, Books by the Banks, in Cincinnati, then stopped by Tom & Chee for lunch. 

I grew up in the country and love the fall decorations that echo our agricultural heritage. 
Pumpkins, corn, and chrysanthemum all reflect the beauty of the season.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Historical Fiction Review: When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas


Book Description:
Colman Harpe works for the C&O in the Appalachian rail town of Thurmond, West Virginia, but he'd rather be a preacher and lead his own congregation. When a member of the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin and the clan matriarch, Serepta McLean, taunts the Harpes by coming to a tent revival in their territory, Colman chooses peace over seeking revenge with the rest of his family.

Colman, known for an unnaturally keen sense of hearing, is shocked when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans. A failed attempt to run away leaves Colman sick and suffering in the last place he wanted to be--McLean territory. Nursed by herbalist Ivy Gordon--a woman whose birthmark has made her an outcast--he's hindered in his calling by Serepta's iron grip on the region and his uncle's desire to break that grip. But appearances can be deceiving, and he soon learns that the face of evil doesn't look like he expected.

My Review:
I requested to review When Silence Sings because I enjoy historical fiction set in the Appalachian Mountains. I'm so glad I did. Sarah Loudin Thomas has written a stunning story that encompasses so much of what life looks like when we listen to God. In the time of feuding families, Colman Harpe hears God's call. He wants to run away. As a matter of fact he tries. But after wrestling with angels, a beautiful story unfolds. I loved the journey of Coleman's character. Then there is Ivy. She's just lovely. A sweet woman with a huge heart. I can't forget Serepta. What an interesting character. She brings a dose of apprehension to the story. But in the midst of all the feuding, fear, and family there is faith. Sprinkled with mountain folktales and anecdotes, When Silence Sings is an excellent novel. Cozy up by the fire and soak in this hopeful tale. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Fiction Book Review: Chasing Dreams by Deborah Raney


Book Description:
Joanna Chandler always dreamed of becoming an attorney. But when she left law school to help care for her dying mother, stepping away from her single-minded pursuit gave her space to reconsider. The only question is, if not law, what should she do with her life?

To keep her mind off an uncertain future, Joanna helps her older sister, Phylicia, throw an amazing outdoor wedding on the charming Missouri property the three Chandler sisters own together. That's when she realizes wedding planning could be a thriving business of its own. And Lukas Blaine, the handsome wedding DJ, opens her mind to the possibility of love on the horizon.

But there's more to Luke than meets the eye. The young boy he's been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke's ward. Mateo is sullen and angry and needs constant attention. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams--and crush her dreams at the same time.

My Review:
I love Deb Raney's books because she delves into the heart of life. Her books dig deep and deal with real struggles as the characters find the desire of their heart. In Chasing Dreams, Jo, the main character, lays out her feelings and fears. She's honest with herself, which brings her great angst. Luke is a sweetheart who has dedicated himself to Mateo. He's a gentleman who wants to draw Jo into his life, yet hesitates because he cares so much. As always, Deb takes the reader through the struggle with the characters and shows how they confront themselves before God. If you enjoy great fiction with an inspirational thread, read Deb's books. Chasing Dreams is book two in the Chandler Sisters' series. Read Phylicia and Quinn's story in book one, Reason to Breathe. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Two Plates

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Sometimes on my morning walk God hits me with a thought.
As I admired the orange and red leaves on the trees in our neighborhood, they reminded me of the many people I wanted to pray for. When I wandered through my mental list of friends and family and sought God's attention, I pictured two ordinary white plates. One empty and one full. The full one was piled with slips of paper where I'd scribbled the needs of the folks I wanted to pray for. Some had more writing than others. The empty plate showed me I had taken the needs before the Father.

But, here's what sometimes happens. I say "Yes, I'll pray for you." Then I mentally place the prayer request on the serving dish to offer up to Jesus later. Then I forget about the plate and it piles up. Some might even fall off. That's a fail for me.

On my walk, God reminded me to empty my plate. Kind of like when a you're kid and your parents tell you to clean your plate. In James, we're told as Christians to pray for one another. Prayers for our friends, family, or enemy will be heard by God. Our prayers are fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I don't know about you, but I want my prayer plate to be empty. I desire a prayer life that pours the needs of people out to the heavenly Father. He wants to hear our simple and humble words. Seek him and speak from the heart. He's all ears.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Fall Findings Friday: Whoooo???

I found this little owl, Jack-o-lantern, on my neighbor's porch. How cute! I've loved owls for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure if I admired them because they are associated with wisdom, or I just thought they were adorable creatures. I was blessed to see a baby owl in the woods one time. What a joy! God's creation amazes me everyday. 
What's your favorite animal?


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Glory

John 3:34-36
For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Since mid-September I've pulled out yarn, wool, crochet hooks and felting needles to create Christmas gifts. If I didn't start early and work faithfully to complete the items, I'd never finish on time. Handmade gifts take time, energy, a dose of love and discipline. Along with creating I've been gathering, making purchases here and there as we find things our family might enjoy. Next week I plan to scribble a list of everything we've tucked away so far and start sorting (and maybe even wrapping.) Yes, I know Christmas is about two months away, but I want to be ready. Why go to all the effort? Because we have family and friends we love. It's that simple.

If I'm spending that much time preparing for the holidays, how much more should I do to be ready for eternity? Everything! Not that what I do will get me into heaven (that's all Jesus love and grace.) Yet for me to have the hope of eternal life with God, I need to keep my focus on heaven, even as I live on earth. Even though I often fail, I start fresh every day and measure life against the truth of the Bible, prepare my heart with an ongoing dialogue between Jesus and me and appreciate the Holy Spirit's work in my heart that helps me produce God's fruit. With discipline, obedience, and faith, I challenge myself to a life dedicated to God.

I pray when I'm finished in this world, that I'll meet Jesus face-to-face. What a glory that will be. In the meantime, I prepare. Why? Because I love Jesus. It's that simple.
Think about life with Jesus in eternity.    

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fall Findings Friday: A Truck Full of Fun

Love this old truck I saw at Burger Farms. 
The lovely plants, scarecrow, and pretty little girl in her pumpkin patch dress 
add joy to my autumn.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Historical Fiction Review: A Distance Too Grand (American Wonders Collection Book #1) by Regina Scott


Description:
Meg Pero has been assisting her photographer father since she was big enough to carry his equipment, so when he dies she is determined to take over his profession--starting with fulfilling the contract he signed to serve on an Army survey of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1871. What she doesn't realize is that the leader of the expedition is none other than the man she once refused to marry.

Captain Ben Coleridge would like nothing more than to leave without the woman who broke his heart, but he refuses to wait even one more day to get started. This survey is a screen for another, more personal mission, one he cannot share with any member of his team.

As dangers arise from all sides, including within the survey party, Meg and Ben must work together to stay alive, fulfill their duties, and, just maybe, rekindle a love that neither had completely left behind.

My Review:
I enjoyed, A Distance Too Grand. The story is filled with mystery, adventure and romance. Meg is a strong woman determined to accomplish her goal to be an excellent photographer. Regina Scott created Meg's character as a great example of a lady who not only respects the beauty God created, but a woman willing to take risks. Ben's character has a great capacity for love and adventure. One of the things I like most about the story is the thread of hope, where Meg and Ben both contemplate the love God has for them. The other character that takes center stage in this story is the Grand Canyon. You get an up close view of this incredible work of art. If you enjoy historical fiction set in natural surroundings and filled with adventure, 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, October 19, 2019

God Promises Restoration

1 Peter 5:6-10
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 

Living life as a Christ follower is no picnic.
At fourteen years old, I walked down the church aisle and gave my life to Jesus. If you remember anything about the teen years, peer pressure and mean girls infiltrated the school. I'd accepted Jesus the summer between my eighth and ninth grade year. When I entered the doors to my high school years, I waltzed in as a shiny new Christian. Even though many of my friends went to church, my heartfelt love for God took a hit. For some reason, friends turned on me and made fun of me. They couldn't understand why I wanted to devote my life to Jesus. Thankfully, I was part of a great youth group. But even at that, I sometimes felt alone in my stand for Christ. Satan never let up. 

Fast forward to many years later. I worked in an academic library. My surroundings felt like high school all over again. As a believer working in a liberal setting, my faith remained challenged. But this time, I understood why.

God's people are tested every day, all over the world. Satan is relentless. But so is God.  His love and grace surpass anything the devil temps us with. No matter what damage we suffer in this world, God promises to restore his children. He offers his strength and support to give us the courage to continue life for him and the hope of eternal life in heaven.
No matter the struggle, the broken heart, the disappointment, the sorrow, God promises restoration.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Fall Findings Friday: Autumn Through the Eyes of a Child

As an elementary student, I loved kindergarten art. I remember the teacher giving us screens, construction paper, leaves, toothbrushes and cups of paint. We placed the leaves on the paper, dipped the brush in the paint and rubbed it over the screen. The red, yellow, and orange paint splattered over the leaves and left a delightful pattern. 

The other day, as I walked through the elementary where my daughter works, I noticed these colorful works of art on the kindergarten wall. How lovely for the children to express their vision of fall. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Saturday, October 12, 2019

So Will I

Psalm 96:11-13
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Autumn, like spring, reminds me that nature calls to those who enjoy the beauty of the earth. This week I was privileged to hang out with grandkids on two different field trips. Two of my grandsons, both in fourth grade, went to a nature center in southwest Ohio. The instructors led them through activities focused on fossils. We hiked to a creek and searched for rocks with impressions left, from years ago. The kids learned about erosion and discovered crawdads and plant life in the water. We went home dirty, tired and happy to have been outside all day. The next day I joined my granddaughter, along with her mommy and daddy, on the preschool trip to the pumpkin farm. She played on the straw castle, we rode on a hayride and picked out pumpkins.
All this outdoor time speaks to my heart about the joy I find in God's creation.
When I am out tromping in the woods or walking in a pumpkin patch, I am amazed once again at all that God gifted us with. I stroll out my door to be greeted by zinnias and maple trees. We ambled by a field yesterday, and heard the killdeer's call and the cardinal's song. In the woods, a deer might peek out or a squirrel scamper. Even as I write these words, I feel excited about not just the beauty of the earth, but the resources. Our Father provides for us and all he asks is for us to be faithful. He hopes his children will join him in taking care of the gifts he's given and use them to his glory.

I've been called a tree-hugger before. That's not really accurate. I'm just somebody who appreciates the natural gifts God supplies. I'm thankful for all he provides and want to do what I can in my little corner of the world, to show appreciation. I thank God for all He gives.

This song says what I feel!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fall Findings Friday: Pumpkin on a Stick

Who knew pumpkins grew on sticks? 

I was visiting my mom and noticed tiny pumpkins on cut vines,
tucked into her pitcher. She'd purchased them at an Amish market. 
The lady who sold them told Mom to leave them in the pitcher 
without water, so they'd dry out
and serve as a decoration for several months. 

When I Googled miniature pumpkins, the search popped up with
"pumpkins on a stick, red China eggplant seeds." 
I've never seen such a thing. But, they are pretty cute!


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Children's Book Review: Love is Kind by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Lison Chaperon


Book Description:
Love Is Kind is a heartwarming story about Little Owl who hopes to buy his grammy a heart-shaped box of chocolates for her birthday. On his quest for the chocolates, he’s thwarted at every turn, but ends up discovering the real meaning of love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. Told in simple prose by bestselling author Laura Sassi, this heartfelt and humorous picture book is a sweet reminder that real love isn’t found in a box – even one filled with chocolates. Love Is Kind takes a charming and gentle approach to teaching kids the true meaning of love, while celebrating the bonds that kids have with their grandparents, and the many forms that love and happiness can take.

My Review:
I love this book. Laura Sassy has written a great read-aloud that should be shared with children, especially grandparent to grandchild. I especially like how Chaperon hid the words from Corinthians 13 in plain sight, amidst the delightful illustrations. The autumn setting makes me want to snuggle with my granddaughter and read the story together. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zonderkidz. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Children's Board Book Review: Thankful by Eileen Spinelli, illustrations by Archie Preston


Book Description:
Thankful, by bestselling and award-winning children’s author Eileen Spinelli, combines charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the fireman, for putting the fire out, readers are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives. Spinelli exhibits her endearing storytelling with this engaging poem, reminding children how blessed and special they are. Meant to be read aloud, this heartwarming picture book will be a treasured keepsake for parents and children alike.

My Review:
What a fun book for fall! This version of Thankful, made into a board book for little ones, is as delightful as the original hardcover. As the child in the story dresses up for various vocations, Spinelli's lovely rhymes tell the story of what each person is thankful for in their line of work. This book is great for little ones up through five years old. Although shortened from the original, the book is just long enough to hold the attention of a young child. The whimsical illustrations will delight the readers. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zonderkidz. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Historical Fiction Review: Hope's Highest Mountain by Misty Beller


Book Description:
Ingrid Chastain readily agreed to accompany her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. She never could have anticipated a terrible accident would leave her alone and badly injured in the wilderness. When rescue comes in the form of a mysterious mountain man who tends her injuries, she's hesitant to put her trust in this quiet man who seems to have his own wounds.

Micah Bradley left his work as a doctor after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. But his self-imposed solitude in the wilds of Montana is broken when he finds Ingrid in desperate need of medical attention, and he's forced to face his regret and call on his doctoring skills once again.

Micah can't help but admire Ingrid's tenacious determination despite the severity of her injuries, until he learns the crate she brought contains smallpox vaccines to help quell a nearby outbreak. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine--with or without his help--he has no choice but to accompany her. As they set off through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains against all odds, the journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known.

My Review:
This story will sweep you into the mountains where a strong woman is determined to complete the task she and her father set out to do. Ingrid may be small in stature, but she's larger than life when it comes to compassion. I liked the evolution of Micah's character as he realizes nothing will stop Ingrid. He's the perfect hero for this story. The book moves along at a clip, as unfathomable circumstances surround the characters. Folks in that time period survived things we can't even ponder as Misty Beller gives readers a glimpse into the days of the smallpox epidemic. If you enjoy historical fiction that challenges the characters, you'll love Hope's Highest Mountain
. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Fiction Review: Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson


I'm already reading Christmas books to review! I love a good holiday story. This puts me in the mood to make Christmas gifts and prepare for my favorite time of the year!

Book Description:
Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn't always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, "Where's the snow?" Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista's Christmas spirit before the big day?

My Review:
Christmas in Winter Hill is one of those books that scoops you up and drops you into a delightful setting with wonderful characters. By the time I was halfway through the story, I wanted to live in Winter Hill. Melody Carlson has delivered another charming holiday tale. I think I've read all of her Christmas books, and this is one of my favorites. Christmas in Winter Hill is a quick read and perfect to get you in the holiday spirit. Plus the cover is beautiful! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sparkle

Philippians 2:1-4
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

More than 40 years after living life with the class of '79, we gathered together on the campus of Kentucky Christian University, and the years melted away. My dear friends, Helen and Terry, hosted a picnic. What a grand time of visiting and singing! Even though I had not seen some of these fine folks since 1977, we fell right into step with one another.

Among those who attended the Alumni weekend, our core group (who keep in touch almost daily) visited in person with joy and many hugs. When we arrived, our sweet Holly gifted each of us with a handmade package filled with tea and chocolate. I tucked the little treat in my suitcase. After I arrived home, I unpacked and pulled out the bundle of goodness. When I went to place it on my microwave beside some pretty cups, I noticed cards sticking out. I pulled them from the package and found words of encouragement. Holly not only gifted me with goodies, she gave me expressions of love. "You are inscribed on the palm of His hand." Isaiah 49:16. Plus other verses about being created in Christ and letting my light shine. At that moment I wanted to cry tears of joy.

Holly's bundle reminds me of the joy I find in Jesus. On what seems like an ordinary day, God surprises me with his encouragement. Somewhere tucked into the day, if I take the time to look, Jesus shows me that I'm his child, and He loves me. Maybe through nature or my husband or a friend, He lets me know I am his. God wants me to pass the same encouragement He pours over me to the individuals He places in my path. Whether family, friends, or strangers God calls me to value people. Philippians 2:15-16 reminds us to "shine like stars in the universe" as we hold on to the word of God.  
You were created to sparkle for Jesus.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Fall Findings Friday: A Poem for Fall


Apples and pumpkins made into pie
Warm shades of leaves, a brilliant blue sky.
Cook up the chili.
Wrap in a sweater.
Let's get ready for cool autumn weather!


I love the crispness of fall. 
What do you like about fall?

Gourds at Young's Dairy Farm

Monday, September 30, 2019

Children's Board Book Review: Snuggle Time Fall Blessings by Glenys Nellist , Illustrated by Cee Biscoe


Book Description:
Snuggle up with your little one and enjoy all the best parts of autumn together—pumpkin picking, colored leaves, hayrides, and more—with this adorable padded-cover board book. Get ready for repeated readings and lots of hugs!

Carving pumpkins. Fresh baked apple pie. Leaf piles. Jack-o'-lanterns. Featuring Glenys Nellist’s whimsical read-aloud rhymes and Cee Biscoe’s cuddly illustrations, the Snuggle Time Fall Blessings board book will become part of your new autumn reading tradition.

My Review:
I love everything Glenys Nellist writes for children. Her sweet poems are paired well with the adorable, whimsical illustrations of Cee Biscoe. Fall is the perfect time to tuck into the house and snuggle with a child or grandchild and this delightful little book. I know my five-year-old granddaughter will enjoy the poems and pictures with me. This is also a perfect way to share the change of seasons with little ones. Grab some hot chocolate and cuddle up and read Snuggle Time Fall Blessings with your favorite child. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zonderkidz. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

She Gives Me Hope

Mark 5:25-29; 32-34
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I've been sewing a Mary Poppin's coat for my granddaughter. She wants to dress up like Mary for Trunk-and-Treat. Her mama provided the hat and parrot-headed umbrella, but we couldn't find a child-sized Poppin's coat, anywhere. So Grammy Penny (that's me!) searched high and low to find a pattern and blue wool to create the perfect costume/winter coat. I've stitched for several days and finally come to the finishing touches. Yesterday, I laid the coat out and started pinning the hem. As I rounded the garment, my mind drifted to the woman who touched the edge of Jesus' robe.

The woman, who had bleed for years from a disease no one could heal, placed her hand on the cloth of Jesus' cloak. She didn't ask. Instead she reached out in faith and hope. She believed she'd be healed by the Great Physician. Indeed, her aliment left her body. More important, her healing brought recognition from Jesus. He saw and felt her faith as she touched his clothes. Jesus freed her from her suffering because of her trust.

Jesus wants me to believe. I admit, my faith has been shaken when friends I've prayed for died. I didn't understand. I tried not to question, but I did, yet I'm drawn back to this woman who's faith healed her. She gives me hope. I'm reminded, sometimes the healing comes on earth and sometimes in heaven. I may not like the answer to my prayers. But I have faith in Jesus to heal the wounds the world opens. As the woman knelt down to touch Jesus' garment, I kneel to praise my Lord and my Savior and to proclaim my trust in him.
Have faith in the One who saves.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Flower Friday: Mandevilla Sanderi

The Mandevilla Sanderi, new to me this summer, grows in a variety of colors. My step-daughter has a lovely white one on her front steps. I discovered the pink ones at the Book Loft in Columbus. Also called Brazilian jasmine, this vining plant adds a fun flair to summer flowers. 


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What we do not See

Just looking at Lake Michigan, I have to wonder what is under the water. Like the ocean or any large body of water, we can't see what's there. Yet we venture in with the hope all will be well. How much more faith does it take to venture into a life with Jesus? 

Have faith!


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Fiction Review: One More River to Cross by Jane Kirkpatrick


Book Description:
In 1844, two years before the Donner Party, the Stevens-Murphy company left Missouri to be the first wagons into California through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Mostly Irish Catholics, the party sought religious freedom and education in the mission-dominated land and enjoyed a safe journey--until October, when a heavy snowstorm forced difficult decisions. The first of many for young Mary Sullivan, newlywed Sarah Montgomery, the widow Ellen Murphy, and her pregnant sister-in-law Maolisa.

When the party separates in three directions, each risks losing those they loved and faces the prospect of learning that adversity can destroy or redefine. Two women and four men go overland around Lake Tahoe, three men stay to guard the heaviest wagons--and the rest of the party, including eight women and seventeen children, huddle in a makeshift cabin at the headwaters of the Yuba River waiting for rescue... or their deaths.

My Review:
One More River to Cross is a musical chorus with high and low chords woven together to create a dramatic melody of fear, faith, and triumph. The folks who pioneered the west were tough people. The men and women in this story showed a strength I can't imagine. As the story jumped among three different groups, I cheered for those who took on the task of leadership and hoped for those who were losing focus. Their faith kept them from giving up. I especially enjoyed Daniel, Beth, Ellen and Mary's stories. If you love historical fiction based on true experiences, you'll want to read One More River to Cross. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Sweet or Stinky, How do you Smell?

2 Corinthians 2:15
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Big Apple Bagel serves the best bagels in Cincinnati. They are the perfect balance of chewy and light. If you stand outside in front of the big picture window, you can watch the bakers process the delicious treats. They pull the dough into an "o" shape, boil them in water, then bake them to a golden brown. When you walk in the door, the smell hits you. That luscious fragrance of fresh baked bread.

Research has shown that smells tug at our memory. Every time I inhale the scent of fresh cut wood, visions of my grandpa come back to me. We had an elevator at work that smelled like oil and metal and reminded me of my dad. A fragrance can conjure up a happy moment and bring back sweet memories.
Odors attract or repel.
As followers of Jesus, Paul says we are the "pleasing aroma" for people who believe and those who don't. As the odor of Jesus, we should smell sweet, drawing others to him. Most everyone has gotten a whiff of a skunk. They reek. The stench they give off isn't a pleasing aroma, instead their smell insults the senses. We've all sniffed a flower. Flowers spread a lovely perfume that draws bees and butterflies. Jesus wants his followers to smell like flowers instead of skunks. Our fragrance reflects our behavior and our faith. People will know Jesus by our aroma of grace and kindness.
Are people attracted to Jesus by your scent? Or are they repelled?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Flower Friday: Love-in-a-mist

I was introduced to Love-in-a-mist by a dear friend. This gorgeous flower belongs to the buttercup family. Once you sow the seed in spring, expect these beauties to bloom and produce seed pods for the next year. They'd be a lovely addition to a cottage garden.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Be Caught by the Spirit

Acts 2:38
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Tim and I kayaked on Cowan Lake, a small lake that doesn't allow speedboats. The calm water was perfect for a day of paddling. As we floated along, I watched somewhere around 15-20 sailboats take to the water. The way the boats glided across the inlets reminded me of a graceful heron soaring through the air.

The sailboat depends on the wind to power it through the water. As the navigator observes the movement and wind power that propels the boat, he listens to what the wind says.
"Sailing is not about catching the wind. Sailing is about being caught by the wind."-Didi Bacon
As the sailboat is powered by the wind, Jesus followers are powered by the Holy Spirit. Understanding that we have a supernatural being living in us as our guide draws some doubt. Yet, the Bible tells us that when we choose to believe and turn our lives toward Jesus, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He's real and He's with us every day. He nudges me to obey God's calling, He comforts me, He loves me, He reminds me that I'm a child of God, He's my counselor, He listens and prays for me when I am without words. The Holy Spirit truly is a gift from God.

Like the navigator of the sailboat, I need to listen and be aware of the Spirit's guidance. My desire is to be caught by the Spirit, just as the sails are caught by the wind.

Ask the Lord to fill you with his Spirit.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Flower Friday: Hibiscus

My daughter, her children and I wandered through Smale Park in Cincinnati. 
The park's landscape overflows with flowers. 
On our trek, I noticed some gorgeous hibiscus in an array of vibrant colors. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fiction Review: Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble


Description:
Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own. 

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name? 

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future. 

My Review:
Colleen Coble delivers another take-your-breath-away romantic suspense. With so many people checking into their heritage through DNA, Colleen has taken it a step further. What happens when the DNA reveals terrible secrets? Strands of Truth is a fast paced story that kept me reading past my bedtime. One of the things I enjoyed, aside from the mystery, was learning about byssus, silk thread made from a clam's filament. I'd never heard of it. But it played into the story in an interesting way. If you love suspense mixed with romance, you'll enjoy reading Strands of Truth. With the Floridian ocean setting, it's the perfect book to read at the end of the summer season. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fiction Review: You Belong with Me (Restoring Heritage) by Tari Faris


Book Description:
Realtor Hannah Thornton has many talents. Unfortunately, selling houses in the town where her family name is practically poison isn't one of them. When a business tycoon determines to raze historic homes in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, and replace them with a strip mall, Hannah resolves to stop him. She sets about helping Heritage win a restoration grant that will put the town back on the map--and hopefully finally repay the financial debt Hannah's mother caused the town. But at first no one supports her efforts--not even her best friend, Luke.

Luke Johnson may have grown up in Heritage, but as a foster kid he never truly felt as if he belonged. Now he has a chance to score a job as assistant fire chief and earn his place in the town. But when the interview process and Hannah's restoration project start unearthing things from his past, Luke must decide if belonging is worth the pain of being honest about who he is--and who he was.

My Review:
Tari Feris's debut is a winner. I enjoyed reading this sweet story filled with honesty and doubt. Tari created flawed characters who live in a town that's losing hope. I love the quirkiness of the town folk, especially Hannah. She's a mess, but she has a big heart. And Luke is that guy you'd fall for...just because. I look forward to more from Feris, especially in the Restoring Heritage series. If you love small town stories, you'll love You Belong with Me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

He Loves Like No Other

Isaiah 40:11
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Matthew 18:12-14
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

I'd find the widest maple tree in the yard and squeeze myself as small as I could, behind it. The child who was 'it' would call out "Ready or not, here I come" to let us know they were searching for our hiding place. As a kid my neighbors, cousins, and I spent endless hours playing hide-and-go-seek. We especially loved playing from dusk to dark. But in the game of hide-and-go-seek, we didn't want to be caught, or we'd be the 'it' person.

As an adult, I rarely play that old childhood game, unless one of my grandkids talks me into it. But I can tell you there have been times when I've played hide-and-go-seek with God. I've buried my head and ignored his wisdom, his call, or his word. I've run the other way in shame, rolled myself in a cocoon of misery and regret. But you know what, he came after me. He sought me out. Why? Because he loves me no matter what. The God who created the universe called me by name and told me I am his child.

Jesus is often called the Good Shepherd. As a shepherd, he searches for that single sheep that strays away from the flock. He chases that one little lamb who lost his way. He seeks in the shadows, climbs the mountains, tears down the walls to find that one who is lost. Once he finds us, he holds us, loves us and gives hope beyond, hope. Jesus said he's happier about finding that one lost sheep than about the ninety-nine who stayed put. Why? Because Jesus wants every child of his to be found, to be saved from the evil in this world. He wants every soul to rest in him.
Jesus loves like no other. Run into his arms.