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 Little did she know the library is barely more than a storage closet stuffed with dusty, outdated books.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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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.