Wednesday, October 21, 2020

As Long As It Takes

In my sixty-three years, I've found that I don't enjoy hurrying. 
I doubt most of us do.

When I was younger with children at home, no doubt we hustled about, 
keeping up with all of our obligations. 

Whether you find yourself in the hustle and bustle or the slow rolling waves, 
be gentle on yourself.

Take what time you can to slow down, and just be.


 

Historical Fiction Review: The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

 Book Description:

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1865 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelings--mostly negative ones--about the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa's search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words. 

My Review:
I enjoyed reading Willa's story in The Love Note. She's a woman on a mission that goes a bit sideways, which makes for a wonderful story. The characters at Crestwicke won my heart, even the ones who were a bit difficult. I loved the twists and turns the note caused and the story of why the note was written. The setting adds to the story, especially the place where Willa goes to think and pray. Joanna Davidson Politano has written a beautiful story to be savored. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Romantic Suspense Book Review: Point of Danger (Triple Threat Book #1) by Irene Hannon

Book Description:

Radio talk show host Eve Reilly is used to backlash from her pot-stirring on-air commentary and interviews, but now it seems a disgruntled listener is resorting to more than angry words to express their displeasure. When a suspicious package arrives on her doorstep, Eve turns to law enforcement for help.

Police detective Brent Lange can't find any evidence to link the string of unsettling incidents that follows, but he's convinced they're connected. As the harassment grows more menacing, it becomes clear someone wants Eve's voice silenced--permanently. 

But unless he can track down her foe, fast, the gutsy woman who is willing to take risks for what she believes--and who is swiftly winning his heart--may not survive.

My Review:
I'm so excited to share a new series by Irene Hannon. Whether her Hope Harbor novels or her latest romantic suspense, Irene's stories entertain. In her latest, Point of Danger, radio personality, Eve Reilly, has stirred up a listener with her straight-forward comments and opinions. Now her life is in danger. Detective Brent Lange is determined to keep Eve safe and find the person behind the threats. Hannon has written an exciting, fast-paced novel woven with current events. She's written some awesome twists and interesting characters. I love the relationship Eve has with her sisters and enjoyed the honesty between Eve and Brent. If you enjoy contemporary romantic suspense, you don't want to miss Point of Danger. I'm already looking forward to book #2. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Fiction Review: Autumn Skies (A Bluebell Inn Romance Book 3) by Denise Hunter

Book Description:
When a mysterious man turns up at Grace’s family-run inn, it’s instant attraction. But she’s already got a lot on her plate: running the Bluebell Inn, getting Blue Ridge Outfitters off the ground, and coping with a childhood event she’d thought was long past.
A gunshot wound has resurrected the past for secret service agent Wyatt Jennings, and a mandatory leave of absence lands him in Bluebell, North Carolina. There he must try and come to grips with the crisis that altered his life forever.

Grace needs experience for her new outfitters business, so when Wyatt needs a mountain guide, she’s more than happy to step up to the plate. As their journey progresses, Grace soon has an elusive Wyatt opening up, and Wyatt is unwittingly drawn to Grace’s fresh outlook and sense of humor.

There’s no doubt the two have formed a special bond, but will Wyatt’s secrets bring Grace’s world crashing down? Or will those secrets end up healing them both?

My Review:
Denise finished this series with an amazing story of courage, love, and mystery. Grace may be young, but she's had to grow up and help her siblings with the inn. Wyatt carries an air of mystery and sorrow. While Grace's sister and brother are busy with their own lives, Grace wants nothing more than to get her business up and running. In the mean time, Wyatt's story tugs at Grace's heart. As the story unfolds I was drawn into the Blue Ridge Mountains and the quaint town of Bluebell. The inn is lovely and the setting beautiful. If you have read the first two in the series, you can't miss Autumn Skies. If you haven't read any of them, start with book one. This can be a stand alone, but you don't want to miss out on Molly and Levi's stories. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Palms up...Let Go

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

My flower bed looked kind of pitiful.

The black-eyed Susan's blossoms had dropped and their leaves had turned reddish brown like some of the autumn trees. The wind had knocked them down for the count. My lavender plants stretched until they looked lanky and the woody under part showed. The blazing stars' heads looked more like cattails than purple flowers. My zinnias were the only plants hanging on to summer.

I could wait for the first frost to kill more foliage or I could start the process of cutting the plants back. With clippers in hand I attacked the lavender. A lovely scent filled my nose as I snipped the branches. With just two plants, the trimming took minutes. But what a difference the pruning would make for spring growth.

Sometimes life mirrors a flower garden. I plant, fertilize, water, and prune my flowers, and God waters, prunes, and encourages growth. Sometimes I need more than a trim. Old habits, like worry, need chopped out to allow for more positive behavior. Worry produces about as much good as a gangly plant that languishes and flops in the garden. While some plants survive and even flourish with a quick trim, others like the black-eyed Susan and blazing star must be cut to the ground in order to grow the following spring.

Paul calls us to pray instead of worry. Our heavenly father asks us to talk to him instead of keeping our concerns balled up inside or wringing our hands with frustration.

I sat on my porch the other day and tried something I'd read about, but not done. I opened my hands, palms up, and held them in front of me. Then I prayed. This small gesture of letting go of my requests brought me peace as I spoke to my Father in heaven. Worry steals the peace that encourages my faith. God listens. He loves to hear from us.

Pray instead of worry. God's peace guards the most vulnerable parts of our being.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Fiction Book Review: Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant

Book Description:

The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so, she's created her own version of the famous Parisian lovelock wall at her bakery in Story, Kansas. She never expects it to go viral--or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He's definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for a love story like the one her parents had, and that certainly will not include the love-scorned-and-therefore-love-scorning Gerard.

Just when it seems Bri's bakery is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just her business but the pedestal she's kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri's recipe just needs to be tweaked.

My Review:
Paris has nothing on Story, Kansas. Key to Love is a sweet story (literally.) Bri, following in her mother's footsteps, bakes macarons and petit fours at the local bakery. She's determined to tread the perfect path to romance, like her parents, until a secret changes her perspective. Oh and there's Gerard, an attractive, single man who swings a wide berth around romance. What a story these two make with their back and forth bantering and polar opposite view points. Key to Love is a delightful romance filed with dreamy scenarios and likable characters. Dive into this delicious tale and escape for a few hours into a modern romance. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Worry or Pray

I'm not sure why it is so much easier to worry than pray.

When I worry, I tend to imagine the most ridiculous outcomes.

When I pray, I place those worries in the hands of the one who created me,
the only one who can give me peace.

Repeat after me-pray instead of worry.
Not easy, but so much better!


 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Look in God's Mirror

Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

As a writer, I think about words a lot.

When I was a teenager, I spent too much time in front of the mirror. I didn't wear makeup, but I brushed my long straight hair for hours. I checked my outfits to make sure I conformed to strict school rules. And I talked to myself. The words weren't positive. I didn't like my ears or nose. I wasn't as pretty as my friends. The lies I told myself hurt and beat up any confidence I had. Unfortunately, this is typical behavior for many teenagers and adults.

I still talk to myself but not in the same demeaning way I did as a young person. Over the years my attitude changed, one of the benefits of growing older and wiser. I learned to listen to the words of God, my husband, my family, and my friends. You see—they value me as a person. Oh, I'm not perfect and I make plenty of mistakes, yet I'm a useful and unique person who loves God and seeks his purpose.

God created me, not to knock myself down, but to soar.

I love Psalm 139:13-14
For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
 I know that full well.

If my words are negative, self-talk is unwholesome and detrimental. Our minister said, "Stop beating yourself up with self-talk." He instructed us to "Look in the mirror of God's truth." God made you and me as a wonderful work of his creation. He made us on purpose. Look in the mirror and see the potential God sees. Ephesians 4:29 tells us to build each other up, not to let negative talk pour from our mouths. That applies to talking to ourselves too. Spill out the positive on others and yourself.

Whether you've been treasured by family and friends or sent into a tailspin of abuse. God sees your value. He cherishes you. Change self-talk from negative to positive and know God created you as a beautiful person with joy and hope in His heart.

 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Christmas Book Review: The Christmas Table: A Novel by Donna VanLiere

Book Description:
In June 1972, John Creighton determines to build his wife Joan a kitchen table. His largest project to date had been picture frames but he promises to have the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired to put something delicious on the table, Joan turns to her mother’s recipes she had given to Joan when she and John married.

In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers she’s pregnant. Gloria, Miriam, and the rest of her friends at Glory’s Place begin to pitch in, helping Lauren prepare their home for the baby. On a visit to the local furniture builder, Lauren finds a table that he bought at a garage sale but has recently refinished. Once home, a drawer is discovered under the table which contains a stack of recipe cards. Growing up in one foster home after another, Lauren never learned to cook and is fascinated as she reads through the cards. Personal notes have been written on each one from the mother to her daughter and time and again Lauren wonders where they lived, when they lived, and in a strange way, she feels connected to this mother and her daughter and wants to make the mother proud.

The story continues to from 1972 to 2012 as Joan battles breast cancer and Lauren learns to cook, preparing for the baby’s arrival. As Christmas nears, can Lauren unlock the mystery of the table, and find the peace she's always longed for?

My Review:
The Christmas Table
is a lovely holiday story that will fill your heart with joy and hope. Donna VanLiere did a great job with the time slip between 1972 and 2012. I enjoyed reading about Joan and Lauren learning to cook and the stories behind the recipes. Joan's story touched my heart as her husband, John, poured his love for her into building her a kitchen table. I love that Lauren, with great determination, sought out a significant piece to an important puzzle. The folks who work at Glory's Place are delightfully funny and caring. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Great Tragedy

 

Look in the mirror to see the truth God sees. 
We are his children and he loves us.
We are valued by Him.

Even the humble bee is treasured by his creator.


Saturday, October 3, 2020

It's Messy

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Forgiveness is hard.

I was probably five years old when I learned my first lesson in forgiveness. Our family visited my aunt and uncle. On their coffee table sat an enticing bowl of candy (I'm trying to blame the bowl.) When we got ready to leave, I snatched a couple of pieces and stuck them in my pocket. When Mom tucked me in she
picked up my pants and out fell the two pieces of foil wrapped delight. "Did Uncle Lynn give these to you?" My little head shook a slow no. "Did you ask before you took them?" Another head shake no. "Tomorrow we'll take them back and you can apologize to your aunt and uncle." I'm sure my eyes were big as saucers as I nodded. "Now you need to tell God you're sorry for taking something that didn't belong to you." I prayed and asked God to forgive me.

I often write about grace and the beautiful act of God's love. But I think sometimes I forget about the messiness of forgiveness. The word of God, in black and white (sometimes red) lays out what God considers sin. As I think about the many acts God points out as sin, He's selected them to protect me. But the thing is, God gives me the choice to follow his wisdom or not. But I know, even when I fail, God has my back. He's given me a way to come clean through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness frees us from sin, and the act of forgiving another person frees us from hate and anger. Yes—it's messy. Sometimes it's easier to hold a grudge or become complacent. But the anger toward the other person burns a hole in the heart. I've been there, both needing forgiveness and offering forgiveness. In both situations, God lifted my burden and filled me with peace.

God offers forgiveness and hope to everyone. Seek him.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Historical Fiction Review: Her Secret Song (Brides of Hope Mountain #3) by Mary Connealy

Book Description:
After a rough winter spent alone, Ursula Nordegren realizes she must overcome her fears of the outside world and begins a trek down Hope Mountain. Along the way she finds a badly wounded stranger and realizes God may have used her decision to leave as a way of saving the man.

Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he's wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they're joined by Ursula's sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring.

My Review:
Ursula's story is one of fear, hope, and reconciliation. She's a strong mountain woman, which I love, who steps out on faith and follows God's call down the mountain. The story moves on to her pouring grace over a man she finds injured and coming down the mountain to find her life. There are scenes worthy of an old western as the good folks fight off the bad. Her Secret Song is book 3 in the series Brides of Hope Mountain. I have not read books 1 or 2, but the author reflects enough on Ursula's sisters' stories from the previous books to pick up the thread. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Bible Review: NIV, Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls by Zondervan

Book Description:
Girls will get creative through coloring and journaling in the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible for Girls. Included are pencils to color, blend and shade the
detailed line art surrounding hundreds of inspiring verses. This Bible gift set is perfect for the special young girl in your life and will become a cherished keepsake full of personalized creative expressions of faith.

Features include:
  • Complete text of the accurate, readable and clear New International Version (NIV)
  • Over 600 verses illustrated in ready-to-color line art
  • Four colored pencils
  • Six sheets of stickers designed for girls
  • Thick white paper for writing and doodling
  • Lined, wide margins for notes and reflections
  • Satin ribbon marker
  • Beautifully debossed and screen-printed cover
  • Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print® typeface in a readable 8-point print size

Using the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV) text makes the Bible accessible and easy-to-read for kids. The NIV is the result of over 50 years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, who oversee the efforts of many contributing scholars. Representing the spectrum of evangelicalism, the translators come from a wide range of denominations and various countries and continually review new research to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance, and authority. Every NIV Bible that is purchased helps Biblica translate and give Bibles to people in need around the world. 

My Review:
This Bible has some great features. The books of the Bible are listed in the order we are familiar with as well as in alphabetical order, making access easy. Girls can read the tips for Bible journaling and learn how to make this a great Bible reading experience. The illustrations are inviting, and there is room for notes in the margins and the back. The white pages with the black ink is printed with an easy to read font. The cover is sturdy, colorful, and well made. The colored pencils twist out from the top and come in four colors: blue, red, purple and yellow. The stickers offer encouraging messages on flat finish paper, for easy coloring. This would make a lovely gift for twelve years and up. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.