Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Book Review: Until I Met You (Restoring Heritage Book #2) by Tari Faris

Book Description:
When she hears that the small town of Heritage, Michigan, is looking for a new librarian, Libby Kingsley jumps at the opportunity. Little did she know the library is barely more than a storage closet stuffed with dusty, outdated books. What the community really needs is a new building. But the only funds available are those being channeled into the new town square, and the landscape architect in charge of the project wants nothing to do with her plans.

All Austin Williams wants to do is get the town square project finished so he can do right by the family business and then extricate himself from the town that reveres the brother who cost him so much. But the local media and the town's new librarian seem to be conspiring against him at every turn. Will the determined bookworm find her way into his blueprints--and possibly even his heart?

My Review:
I love Tari Faris's books. This is her second in the series and her second book published. Tari's fresh, fun voice gives a unique flare to her characters. In Until I Met You, we see the flaws, warts and all, as the emotions fly. Libby has issues, but she also has a heart for the new project she's faced with. Austin expects too much of everyone, including himself. The town of Heritage is the perfect stage for Tari's stories. I love what they are doing with the library as they make the town come to life. Along with Libby and Austin's stories, we get a bonus. Olivia, Libby's roommate and Nate, Austin's brother, have their own relationship to work through. If you are looking for a fresh new voice in inspirational fiction, pick up a copy of Until I Met You. If you haven't read it, you'll also want to read the first Restoring Heritage book, You Belong With Me
.  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Voices of kindness, listening for compassion, generous charity, 

minds for truth, and hearts of love...

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Fiction Suspense Review: Two Reasons to Run (The Pelican Harbor Series Book 2) by Colleen Coble


Book Description:
A lie changed her world.

Police Chief Jane Hardy is still reeling from the scandal that rocked her small-town department just as she took over for her retired father—the man who wrecked her life with one little lie. Now she’s finally been reunited with her presumed-dead fifteen-year-old son, Will, and his father, documentarian Reid Bechtol. 

A crisis looms. 

When a murder aboard the oil platform Zeus exposes an environmental terrorist’s plot to flood Mobile Bay with crude oil, Jane and Reid must put their feelings for each other behind them and work together to prevent the rig from being sabotaged. 

A killer targets her son. 

Then the terrorist puts her son Will’s life on the line. Protecting him could be the common ground they need . . . but then ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Jane and Reid for good. 

She’s got plenty of reasons to run. But what if she stays? 


My Review:
Colleen Coble has written another satisfying page-turner. I love her character, Jane Hardy. The woman has overcome so many obstacles but still moves forward with a heart for justice, even as problems mount up. On top of that, there's something evil going down at the oil platform in the Gulf. As the Police Chief, Jane must put others before herself and go down a rocky road to find the truth. I enjoyed the role her son, Will, and his father, Reid, played, and the thread of faith that runs through this suspense-filled story. If you haven't read Colleen's books, this a great series to start with. If you are a regular Coble fan, you won't be disappointed. Start with book one, One Little Lie. Watch for book three, Three Buried Secrets coming in the fall. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

He Knows my Name

John 10:14-15

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

It's good to be known.

In my endeavor to learn more about needle felting, I ordered a couple of hanks of roving from an online vendor. Most of the time I purchase dyed wools, but this time I found natural black Welsh Mountain Top and a beautiful variegated Bluefaced Leicester Top. I'm not sure what I'll make, but the lovely colors and textures drew me to them.

When the bundle arrived in the mail the other day I couldn't wait to open the package. As I drew the scissors through the plastic and pulled the first roving out I stopped. My nose wrinkled. "What's that smell?"

As soon as I opened the bag, I knew the sheepish odor. I recognized the farm fragrance because I grew up next to a sheep farmer. Mind you, it wasn't repulsive, but it was unexpected.

In John 10, Jesus reminded his followers that he knows his sheep and his sheep know him. Maybe he recognized some of the stinky shepherds, or the salty fishermen by their aroma. But more likely, he knew them by their heart.

The shepherd and the sheep are loyal to each other.

When Jesus lived on earth sheep wandered the hills, sometimes falling into a crevice or walking to another territory. You know what the shepherds did? When they noticed one missing, they pursued that lost one because they knew them and missed them from the herd. When the sheep were found they followed the shepherd home.

Jesus knows our names and our hearts. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. If we wander he will pursue us. He loves us so much that he sacrificed his life for us, to give us the gift of grace and a life in heaven.

Do you know the Good Shepherd?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Historical Fiction Review: Something Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick

Book Description:
In 1853, Abigail Scott was a 19-year-old school teacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway. Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother. When financial mistakes and an injury force Ben to stop working, Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family. What she sees as a working woman appalls her, and she devotes her life to fighting for the rights of women, including their right to vote. 

Following Abigail as she bears six children, runs a millinery and a private school, helps on the farm, writes novels, gives speeches, and eventually runs a newspaper supporting women's suffrage, Something Worth Doing explores issues that will resonate strongly with modern women: the pull between career and family, finding one's place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices women encounter when they compete in male-dominated spaces. Based on a true story of a pioneer for women's rights from award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick will inspire you to believe that some things are worth doing--even when the cost is great.

My Review:
I had a hard time finishing Something Worth Doing. Although the story of Abigail Scott Duniway was one to be noted because of her hard work in the women's suffrage movement, I felt like I was reading the author's research, rather than the fictionalized story she drew from it. I appreciated that her husband Ben loved her so much and supported her, but I didn't like the main character Abigail, also called Jenny in the story. The beginning of the book was slow and the end sped through the last years. I'm sorry to say I cannot recommend this story. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We are His

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.



Monday, September 14, 2020

Friends in the Garden

I never know who I'll see in my garden.

As I watered my flowers and poked around, 

I almost missed a brown mantis as it climbed the zinnia leaves. 

Tiny foot by tiny foot.

A bee buzzed the virginiana Bouquet Rose and searched for sweet pollen.

Wing beat by wing beat.

I love meeting creatures who enjoy my flowers as much as I do.





Saturday, September 12, 2020

Hands in Cement

Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Remember plaster handprints?

I remember when the teacher poured plaster of Paris into a paper plate and let it set up. Then I pressed my hand into it to leave my unique imprint. After the plaster dried, I painted the print a pretty color, probably pink, and tied a ribbon through the hole the teacher made with a plastic straw.

Last week I watched as two of my grandchildren got to push their hands into the cement for their new deck. They waited with excitement as they anticipated their turn to make a permanent imprint. As the man pouring the concrete gave them permission, they pushed their hands into the corner. They loved leaving their handprints in the cement. Now they can compare their hand to the print and see how they grow.

In Jeremiah, God told him he had plans for him. The Lord gave him hope for the future. He placed his handprint on Jeremiah's life and watched him grow in the Lord.

A preacher spoke of looking back over his time here on earth and seeing God's fingerprints all over his life. As I look back at my life, I see the many times God's hand rested on me. Even when I've headed into a situation I didn't particularly like, God knew what was best for me.

My plans may not always match God's, but I know with confidence I can seek him and he listens. I know he guides me and keeps his hand on me. He knows the plans he has for me. I pray for his direction and help. In my rear view mirror, I see God's handprints all over my life.

Seek God with your whole heart and welcome his hand on your life.

"In his heart a man plans his course; but the Lord determines his steps."

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Fiction Book Review: Callie (Ladies of Garfield book 1) and Terri (Ladies of Garfield book 2) by Sharon Srock

Book Description:

Callie

She can’t escape the mistakes of her past…

Callie Stillman has done everything she can to bury the memories of a tiny, baby-sized coffin. She lives life one day at a time, basking in the love of a good man and doting on her grandchildren. Until she crosses paths with a little girl who is obviously in trouble—but tries to hide it.

They can’t trust anyone…

Iris and Samantha Evans are living on borrowed time. Deserted, orphaned, betrayed, and deceived, they need rescuing in the worst way.

He’s praying for a miracle…

Steve Evans had his life changed by God. A reformed drug addict, he’s searching for the family he abandoned ten years ago…

When Callie can no longer ignore the signs that Iris needs help, her interference sends four people on a collision course that will force her to face the past she’d rather forget.

Terri

She’s always longed for more…

Running a thriving daycare keeps Terri Hayes busy. Add a new foster daughter to the mix and Terri shouldn’t have time to want more—but she does. At twenty-nine, her biological clock is ticking away. When a busted pipe floods her home, she finds temporary sanctuary in a basement apartment—one that just happens to be owned by her long-time crush, single dad Steve Evans.

Is he ready to date again?

Steve is widower, a father of two teenaged girls, and a successful writer. His life is full, but he wouldn’t mind exploring a romance with Terri. But when lines of communication get crossed, the budding relationship grounds to a halt.

Two matchmakers to the rescue…

Iris and Samantha Evans want a stepmother and have set their sights on Terri. Their matchmaking includes equal parts prayer and deception. Will their scheming result in the wedding of their dreams, or will the harsh confrontation between Steve and the parents of Terri’s foster child be an obstacle they can’t overcome?

My Review:
Sharon Srock writes books with heart. Callie is a woman troubled by an instance that she thinks was her fault. Iris and Sam need a mentor. In this heartfelt book, Sharon weaves a beautiful story. Inspirational and entertaining, she takes the reader on a soul searching journey, with characters who live authentic lives. I went on to read book 2 in the series, Terri, where the story continues. I enjoyed Terri's story as much as Callie's. I loved the threads of faith and hope that ran through both books. If you enjoy good inspirational fiction, you'll love these. There are more in the series I hope to read soon. I purchased my own copies of each book. My opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Posture of Prayer

Watering flowers this morning, I spied this praying mantis. 
I've always enjoyed seeing these beauties in the garden.
There posture is always one of prayer. 

This beautiful creature reminded me no matter what I am doing, 
I need to take it before the Lord.


Monday, September 7, 2020

Woodland Santa

Woodland Santa is my latest needle felting project. 
I love his curly beard!

I started in the spring, but couldn't muster the desire to needle felt 
in summer's 90 degree temps. 
So as the weather cooled down last week, I finished the tree and put it all together.

Even with learning curves and a few broken needles, I enjoyed the process. 
One thing I learned is to use a lighter hand and not punch the needle so hard. 
Smaller jabs meant less broken needles and less frustration. 

Needle felting is a satisfying craft. 
There is no such thing as perfection.
Each piece is unique. 
The process relieves stress.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Choose Wisely


Ecclesiastes 4:12
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

The trees embraced.

As I finished my walk around the neighborhood, I noticed two shaggy birch trees hugging. They had obviously grown side-by-side, whether planted that way on purpose or by chance. As they'd reached their full height, the trunks had twisted together. Maybe in the process one held the other up, or they grew together like twins. Either way they were a beautiful sight.

The two trees got me thinking. Who do I cling to and grow with in life? As a child I grew into myself alongside my family. 

I am twined with my husband and my children. Most important, I've asked God into my life to weave his beautiful pattern.

But, God isn't the only one vying for our commitment and love. He's not the only one who wants to get close.

In the plant kingdom, there are lovely green vines that choke the life out of other plants. The Dodder vine, also known as "devil's guts" and "strangleweed" destroys the host plant by sucking the life out of it. Much like Satan, who sucks the life out of people.

I am astounded by the amount of evil in the world. If I spend a few minutes with the news or social media, I'm sick to my stomach. Satan runs his tentacles out into society to grab anyone who will listen. The Devil is real, and he's reeling in anyone who will associate with him and act out his evil plans. You see, the Devil uses a choke hold to suck the life out then fills minds with his desires.

On the other hand, God doesn't force me to love him or obey him. He's given me free will to choose to follow him. His hugs are open, not choking. When I intertwine with God—Jesus and the Holy Spirit also wrap me in their love. They give me hope and encouragement. They are the strongest cord I could hold on to. God doesn't choke out the weeds, he invites them in to love and be loved. God gives life to the broken and heals the wounded. I want his embrace.

Choose wisely who you welcome into your life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Christmas Book Review: Love's Pure Light by Susanne Dietze, Shannon McNear, Deborah Raney, & Janine Rosche


Book Description:
Be transported to unique time periods as you follow a treasured family nativity set through four generations of the Shepherd family.

While Shepherds Watch Are Keeping by Susanne Dietze
Massachusetts, 1899
This Christmas, Pastor Seth Shepherd has little to offer his flock of congregants in their time of need until Jessalyn Grant, a mysterious newcomer, comes to his aid.

The Wise Guy and the Star by Shannon McNear
Charleston, South Carolina, to Kansas City, Missouri, 1919
While journeying by train, Stella Shepherd befriends war veteran Nat Wise. She helps him find renewed faith in God, but could he also be the answer to the wanderings of her own heart?

On Angel Wings by Janine Rosche
Kansas City, Missouri, 1945
Elodie Wise plans a fundraising ball with the help of her friend Benjamin Gabriel. But can she look past the swanky Hollywood headliner to see the man who truly loves her?

Making Room at the Inn by Deborah Raney
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Present Day
Benjie Gabriel thinks the chef’s position she’s just taken at an award-winning bed and breakfast is temporary—just a stepping stone. The B&B’s owner, Trevor Keye, thinks the same. Will five months be long enough for them to figure out that what they’ve each been longing for, praying for, is right beneath their noses? 

My Review:
I enjoyed these multi-generational novellas set during the holidays. The continuity of the stories comes from a lovely hand-carved Nativity set. With each story the reader finds out a bit more about the family and how the Nativity plays a role in their lives. Each romance opens in a specific era. I am a little partial to On Angel Wings because it reminds me of my parents. My dad served in WW2 while mom waited on him at home. After I finished each novella, I was anxious to read the next. I recommend Love's Pure Light as a gift for Christmas or to read yourself. It will fill you with the holiday spirit. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Christmas Fiction Review: The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson

Book Description:
All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can't find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there's someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the house guests would be so sweet--or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house's caretaker. But when Emma's friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.

My Review:
How about a little Christmas in September! Melody Carlson has written another fun holiday story for 2020. Something to take your mind off of this dreary year! Ski in the mountains with Emma and Tyler. Sip hot chocolate with GIllian and the family. You'll find all this in Melody's latest story. Emma is a sweetheart, Tyler has a kind heart, but will they finally have a chance to get to know each other despite Gillian's devious ways. This light-hearted romance is not my favorite holiday story from Melody Carlson, but it is a great escape to the mountains for the holidays. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Joy of Discovery

Proverbs 2:1-6
My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

I love learning.

I wasn't fond of school, but I enjoyed the process of discovering new and interesting things. Even as a child, I challenged myself to study the Little Golden Guides to identify butterflies and flowers. Recently, I found a couple of these timely little books in one of the local park shops. I bought them for nostalgic reasons, plus I still enjoy identifying God's creatures. The fields and woods that surrounded my childhood home offered a fascinating classroom for my curious mind. I'd trudge through the field looking for insects, especially butterflies. Along with my love of nature, I enjoyed arts and crafts. I embroidered and sewed from a young age then as an adult I've added quilting and needle felting to my repertoire.

As I've aged, my curiosity has grown. Not just with my hobbies, but with my desire to dig up nuggets of wisdom in the Bible. As I open God's word, I long to understand the teachings. The scripture says I should seek out understanding and insight as if I'm searching for a buried treasure. Once I find even a grain of the knowledge God offers, I need to tuck those words into my heart.

Through his words of wisdom, I have come to understand what it means to fear the Lord. I've asked myself at times why I should fear the one who loves me. My answer: I fear the Lord with a respectful fear, he is all knowing and all powerful. He's my Father, and I trust him.

Seek God's wisdom and he will give you knowledge and understanding.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Children's Middle Grade Fiction Review: Wish by Barbara O'Connor


Book Description:
A touching story about a girl and her dog, perfect for young animal lovers.

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite.

But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is, until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

From award-winning author Barbara O'Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

My Review:
I'm so glad my friend recommended this book. The Blue Ridge Mountain setting is beautiful. The story heartwarming. Filled with wonderful characters, the further I read in the story, the more I fell in love with the children in this book. Even though Charlie has a rough row to hoe and a tough exterior, she wormed her way into my heart. I don't want to give away too much about Howard, but we all need a friend like Howard. And who wouldn't love a skinny stray dog who wanders into your life? Wishbone is just the thing Charlie needs to soften her heart and keep her life on the new track she has to walk. One thing I learned from Charlie—so many crazy ways to make a wish. This is a lovely well written story that stays with you a while. I purchased a copy of this book.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Trust Him!

God calls us to trust Him. 
Not easy, I know.

But I also understand that the God who created the universe, 
the God who makes the flowers bloom and the birds sing,
 loves me so much He wants to give me His wisdom and guidance.
Just give it to me. Free of charge! You can't beat that.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

How Beautiful

Ecclesiastes 3:11a
He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Typical for a teenage girl—I thought I was ugly. 


I giggled over Tiger Beat and 'Teen magazines and plastered posters of the Mod Squad, Brady Bunch, and the Monkees on my bedroom walls. Even though the celebrity rags were much more innocent in my time, they were covered with what Hollywood considered beautiful people.


As a tomboy, growing up in the country, I knew I'd never look like any of the beauties who graced the screen. I wasn't skinny (anyone remember a model called Twiggy,) my clothes were determined by our high school's strict dress code, girls in dresses and boys in business casual. We wore our hair long and straight and had some interesting eye wear.

All I wanted was to dress in my bell bottoms, sneakers, and t-shirts.
Even as I read about Bobby Sherman and Marcia Brady, I also learned about a man called Jesus. On Wednesday and Sunday evenings our youth leaders shared Bible verses about true beauty that blossoms from the inside out. They watered us like flowers with verses about joy, love, kindness, faith, and peace.

It took me years to truly accept the beauty the Holy Spirit planted in my heart and to understand that "pretty" blooms from within. There's nothing wrong with looking nice, neat, and clean. But the outward appearance is only a fraction of true beauty.

I'm thankful those adults brought the "good news" of Jesus to us.
Sharing about Jesus love and grace, and the eternal hope I have in him opens my soul. Living a life where Jesus shines through me wherever I'm planted reflects the wonder of daily life with him. My outward appearance may not be Hollywood standards, but my heart is filled with the beauty of Jesus' love and grace. I pray I mirror Him in all I do. 

"If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies. How very different our ideals of beauty would be." ~Unknown

Seek Jesus and share his beautiful story.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Laugh with the Flowers

I love this time of year because my flowers are laughing with color.

God created so much beauty for us to enjoy. 
When I stop and admire the Black-eyed Susans, zinnias, and lavender, 
I find balance to the stresses of daily life. 
I smile and sometimes even laugh.

Their glory reminds me to acknowledge the one who created them.
Praise God for his amazing creation!


Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Spirit Leads Me

Psalm 143:8-10
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

Oh the adventures we shared.

As kids, the neighbors, my cousin, and I played in the creek across the field. We couldn't resist the challenge of crossing from one bank to the other. We'd climb across fallen trees and try not to tumble into the not so deep water. We'd clamber over the slippery rocks
and balance on wet moss and rocky surfaces. One slip of the foot and we'd splash in the creek or maybe injure ourselves. But we climbed anyway. If we didn't challenge ourselves to conquer the creek, one of us would dare the other.

What I remember most—we weren't afraid. We took the challenge. We knew if we fell, one of our friends would help us up.

Seems like the life we live these days resembles the climb over slippery, uneven rocks. Jagged stones fill our paths and fallen trees offer a way out, but they may be dangerous, too.

With all the uncertainty, disagreements on how to move forward, and frustration over the changes life has taken, I have to trust God. Or I'd fall apart. Or worse tumble into the cold waters of fear. Believe me when I say, "COVID-19 is a scary uncertainty. The divide in our country frightens me." Yet I know I can face my fears and stare them down; because I trust in the one who will lead me away from the rocky terrain and take me to level ground. The Holy Spirit is working amidst all the chaos. He's holding my hand and giving me hope.

I love that I have God to trust in, Jesus to cling to, and the Holy Spirit to guide my way.

Trust God with the difficult stuff.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A Pop of Color

Every year the mimosa trees bloom. 
Like clockwork their pinkish puffs shoot from their fern-like leaves.

I trust they will pop with color every August. 

If I can trust a tree to bloom year after year,
I can certainly trust God.

He's bigger than anything that goes on in our world.
And He shows up every day.

For that I am thankful.


Monday, August 10, 2020

Fiction Review: A Dazzle of Diamonds (Georgia Coast Romance Book #3) by Liz Johnson


Book Description:
Penelope Hunter loves her job as the events manager at one of Savannah's premier historic venues--until her ex-fiancé walks into her office with his new bride-to-be. To make matters worse, a scheming social matriarch is intent on seeing Penelope fired, especially if she insists on being seen with Tucker Westbrook.

Since returning from serving two tours in the Middle East, Tucker has built a thriving security company. His work is nearly as stabilizing as his friendship with Penelope, who has been by his side since childhood. But when the lone candidate for county sheriff goads him, Tucker loses his cool and ends up on the ballot--and on the receiving end of a smear campaign claiming the Westbrooks were traitors to the South.

To clear his name, Tucker and Penelope must join forces to find the truth behind a 150-year-old lost treasure. But the more time they spend together, the closer she comes to losing her job--and falling helplessly in love.

My Review:
Liz Johnson's writing is a breath of fresh air when it comes to fiction. The books in the Georgia Coast series host a bit of intrigue with the history of the area mixed with sweet and (sometimes humorous) romance. All three in the series are entertaining, but I enjoyed this one, A Dazzle of Diamonds, the most. Tucker is a sweetheart and Penelope is a straightforward, hardworking, intelligent young lady who would do anything for her dear friend. The mystery of the treasure is fun to follow and adds an exciting thread to the story. The people Penelope and Tucker interact with are quirky in a lovable, but sometimes annoying, sort of way. With Savannah as the setting, you can't go wrong. If you enjoy southern romance with a bit of mystery, you'll love Liz's latest book. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Training for the Race

1 Timothy 4:7-8
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 

He ran the race.

In the 1970s and 80s my husband, Tim, ran marathons; those twenty-six mile races created for people with great endurance. I can't imagine having the determination or fortitude to take on such a challenge.

But he did. He prepared every day right up to the race. He practiced until the running became a habit. Some days he prepared his muscles with a fifteen mile run at the pace he'd do in the marathon. Other days, he called recovery days, he slowed his steps and ran a shorter distance. Some days he sprinted. He varied his exercise as he created the habit of daily runs.

Over the last two years, Tim took another challenge. The doctor wanted him to lose weight. And he did. He changed his eating habits and started walking every day, at least five miles. He lost over seventy pounds.
Physical training is valuable.

Godly training is golden. It infiltrates every aspect of life. Which exercise pumps up spiritual muscles? Praying, reading the Bible, taking a walk and appreciating God's creation, sharing Jesus with children or a friend, listening to praise music, and attending church (in person or online.) And breaking bad habits—like self-doubt, fear, and worry.
Godly training looks different for each person.

Just as Tim made a habit of running every day to prepare for the race, we work to make a habit of learning more about Jesus and praying as we run with God.

Is there a habit that might bring you closer to Jesus? Or one that keeps you apart?


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Necessary, Possible, Impossible

We've all heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect."
I'm not sure about perfect, but I do believe if I want to learn something new, 
or establish a new habit, 
I need to do it, not just talk about it.

If I want to understand something, I may need to read it several times.
If I want to write well, I need to write a lot.
If I want to run a marathon, I need to train on a regular basis.
If I want to change how I eat, I need to pay attention to what I put in my mouth.

Do the necessary-do the possible-do the impossible.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Fear-He is a Liar

Isaiah 41:13
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

I thought I was going to drowned.

Our neighbors pond was nestled in the middle of a field. As teenagers, I'd get together with my next-door friends, Cheryl, Brant and Mark, and we'd swim on those hot summer days. One day we played in the water, as usual, but something wasn't right. I'd swam out from the pond's bank, and I couldn't get back. I don't know what happened. I may have gotten my foot caught on something, for whatever reason, I got pulled under and couldn't get my bearings to stay above the water. The happy ending to the storyBrant jumped in and pulled me out. Ever since then I've feared putting my head under the water.

When I swim in the pool with my grandkids, I keep my head above the water. Because of that fear, I don't really swim. I know how, but I lost the desire. I love to splash and walk around in the pool, but I am afraid to go under.
Fear is vicious. Once it grabbed me, it wouldn't let go. The sad part is, I fear a fabricated "what if" that MIGHT happen.
This year has been difficult to say the least. When I went to the doctor's office the other day, I had an overwhelming fear of touching any surfaces. I've not experienced that until COVID-19. I have a feeling I'm not the only one. As I sat in the patient room, I asked God to help me, to calm my nerves and give me peace. And he did.

Instead of living in a state of fear, I want to live in peace. Instead of fear, I choose to trust the God of the universe, who cares for me more than I understand. The Bible says love casts out fear. That's God's love for us. His love pushes fear out the door.

I'm not sure I'll put my head under the water any time soon, but I know if I do, God is with me. That's comforting.

His love brings peace.



I fear a fabricated "what if" that MIGHT happen. Click to Tweet

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Historical Fiction Book Review: An Appalachian Summer by Ann H. Gabhart


Book Description:
In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Piper Danson's parents from insisting on a debut party. After all, their fortune came through the market crash intact, and they've picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter. Braxton Crandall can give her the kind of life she's used to. The only problem? This is not the man--or the life--she really wants.

When Piper gets the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer, she jumps at the chance to be something other than a dutiful daughter or a kept wife in a loveless marriage. The work is taxing, the scenery jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open up a whole new world to her. The longer she stays, the more an advantageous marriage slips from her grasp. But something much more precious--true love--is drawing ever closer.

My Review:
I love that Piper, a reluctant debutante, left behind her life of wealth to work in the horse stalls for Mary Breckenridge's Frontier Nursing Service. The girl digs in and tries to forget about the possibility of marriage and instead turns her attention to the horses and people she meets. Along with Piper's tale, Ann delights the reader with the story of Piper's aunt. I won't tell too much on her—just that I enjoyed Truda's character very much. Ann draws the reader into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, a lovely respite from the world. An Appalachian Summer is Ann's second book featuring the horseback Frontier Nursing Service. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Check out my review of These Healing Hills Ann's first story on the Frontier Nursing Service.

Children's Board Book Review: Grandma Snuggles by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Gail Yerril


Book Description:
Grandma, this one’s especially for you! Cuddle your grandchildren close with this adorable book. Written by bestselling author Glenys Nellist, this board book celebrates the loving relationship between a grandma and her little ones with sweet animal rhymes and charming illustrations.

Whether it’s Grandma Mouse who shares her cheese or Grandma Duck who splashes in the lake, this book shows special cuddles and love, relaying a message that all grandmas are special in their own ways.

So, hop, skip, and run with Grandma Rabbit and roll into a ball with Grandma Hedgehog. Most of all, celebrate Grandma who’s as sweet as pie!

Through the fields and gardens,
We hop, and skip, and run.
God made the world’s best Grandma—
She’s really lots of fun.

My Review:
I love everything by Glenys Nellist. Her beautifully written books are a joy to read and share. Grandma Snuggles is especially dear to me, as I see myself reading this to my youngest granddaughter. The lovely rhymes and the delightful illustrations make this book a keeper. Children will enjoy the animals and the sweet message of a loving Grandma. This would be a perfect gift for a grandchild to give to their grandma. Something they can enjoy together. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Instead of Fear

Instead of fear, trust. Instead of fear, sing. 
Instead of fear, believe in the good. 
Instead of fear, embrace the power of God's Spirit.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,
but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
~2 Timothy 1:7

Monday, July 27, 2020

Cozy Mystery Review: Bite the Dust: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery by Jackie Layton


Book Description:
Secrets can be deadly.

One steamy South Carolina morning, Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott discovers a client’s dead body. Police quickly decide she’s the prime suspect. Horrified, she knows she’ll have to turn detective if she’s going to convince them they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Proving her innocence could be a tall order. The local police never solved the hit-and-run that killed her parents; Andi Grace isn’t sure they’ll solve this crime either…not when they have a convenient suspect—one caught with the possible murder weapon in her hand. She’ll have to follow every clue and call in every favor, even if that puts her in danger.

My Review:
I love Jackie's cozy mysteries. Andi Grace is a plucky, determined, and caring dog walker. In book one she's trying to get her business off the ground when her dear friend and client is killed. Unfortunately the detective on the case pegs Andi Grace as a suspect. With help from a handsome new friend, she investigates the murder and discovers an unbelievable secret. The Low Country is the perfect place to spend some time as the story unfolds. I've read and reviewed book two of the series, Dog-Gone Dead, and loved it, too. If you enjoy clean, cozy mysteries, you'll love this book. Take this one on vacation! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  

Read about Jackie here.




Saturday, July 25, 2020

A Fountain Mist of Refreshment


Philemon 1:4-6
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

If I could paint the feeling of peace, I'd paint it the new color of my walls— 
Fountain Mist.

My daughter, Maggie, planned to paint our living room, dining area, and hallway last fall. Circumstances rearranged the timing. Seven months later, she edged, rolled, and feathered with a brush a beautiful shade of light aqua-blue on our walls. As I watched and played gopher, a gorgeous transformation took place. The dingy white/gray walls disappeared and a refreshing peacefulness covered our home. With Maggie's expertise, she revived the dreary rooms and created a space for inspiration and contentment.

I love the new color and Maggie's generous spirit. Both brought a feeling of gratitude.

Going through this difficult year of 2020, my spirit needs refreshment. Whether from new wall color, time in God's word, praying, writing, reading, or enjoying nature, I seek God's encouragement. With all the negative news and comments, I beg for peace and search for understanding.

The Apostle Paul writes the best greetings in his letters to the churches and his friends. Philemon, must have been a man who encouraged and loved his brothers and sisters in Christ. He was a servant who "refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people." In this time of fear and doubt I pray I can be a servant who refreshes and encourages. I pray for peace to fill all hearts.

How can you refresh the people around you?

How can I encourage you?

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11