Saturday, June 12, 2021

God Hems Me In

Psalm 139:1-6
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

How do I want to be known?

Who am I? Tim’s wife, my children’s mother, my parents’ daughter, Babbaw or Grammy Penny. Or perhaps you knew me when I was a quilter and crafter, a librarian who read to your children, the volleyball coach, or the lady who rode her bicycle all over town. Maybe you know me nowas a writer, a reader, or a reviewer.

In whatever phase of life I’ve been known, I strive to be recognized as a follower of Jesus. As I continue to work through my story and purpose along the path God sets for me, I pray I leave a trail of kindness and encouragement.

In the psalm, the writer, David, confirms God knows him. Not as a passerby, but as an in-depth relational bond. The Father sees when he gets up, lays down, comes and goes, and every word on his heart and tongue. David must have been humbled by this realization, as I am. When I stop and think about God seeing, hearing, and knowing everything I do, I’m a little taken back. He’s known me since I was a tiny embryo, and now he sees me with white hair and (ahem) a few wrinkles.

He sees my ugly and my beautiful. And loves me anyway.

God hems me inin other words, I cannot hide from Him. There is not one thing I can bury, cover up, or camouflage. He sees my heart, my intentions, and my failures. He hears my words and follows me on social media. Seriously, God is aware of all of our comings and goings. Sounds a bit overwhelming, right?

But it’s not. When we live as though our heavenly Father knows us, then we live in obedience, serving one another in love.

Be the person God nods at and acknowledges as the one trying to do his or her best.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Historical Fiction Review: A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham

Book Description:
Five years in a New York state reformatory have left a blemish on Hazel's real name. So when she takes a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts's lady in attendance in 1898, she does so under an alias. In the presence of her quiet and pious employer, Hazel finds more than an income. She finds a friend and a hope that if she can set her tarnished past in order, she might have a future after all.

As Gilbert becomes accustomed to the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, he can't help but sense something secretive about her. Perhaps there is more to this woman than meets the eye. Can the questions that loom between them ever be answered? Or will the deeds of days gone by forever rob the future of its possibilities?

Rachel Fordham pens a tender tale of a soft-spoken man, a hardened woman, and the friends that stand by them as they work toward a common purpose--to expunge the record of someone society deemed beyond saving--and perhaps find love along the way.

My Thoughts:
I ended this book wondering what the rest of Hazel and Gilbert’s life would look like. If an author gets me to think about the characters long after I’ve closed the final chapter, they’ve written a book worth reading. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the story, but once the characters got into my head and heart, I loved this tale of redemption and second chances. Hazel is forth coming and bold, Gilbert is quiet and serious. But don’t be fooled by Gilbert’s soft-spoken ways, he is a true hero who comes to the rescue in times of trouble. As friendships unfold and foes join forces with them, Hazel finds out who truly cares. If you enjoy historical fiction with well-written characters and an interesting story, you’ll want to read A Lady in Attendance. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

What a Way to Start the Day!

What a joy to wake up each morning to a new day
and know God's love is unfailing..

No matter what my day brings, the Holy Spirit assures me 
Jesus loves me and is with me.

Start the day trusting God.


 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Children’s Book Review: Meet Fiona the Hippo by Richard Cowdrey with Donald Wu

Book Description:
Meet Fiona, the adorable hippo who became a worldwide internet sensation. Learn how Fiona came to live at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and what this fun, fearless hippo hero loves to do!

Created by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey, beginning readers will enjoy learning more about Fiona in this Level One I Can Read book. Fiona the hippo was born six weeks before her due date. The whole world watched as this tiny baby hippo learned to eat, walk, and swim. Her courage and spunk helped her become a happy, healthy hippopotamus.

Meet Fiona the Hippo is:

An easy-to-read inspirational story of courage and perseverance

A Level One I Can Read story geared for children learning to sound out words and sentences

Great for kids that love learning about animals

Also available:
Fiona and the Rainy Day

Fiona Saves the Day

Fantastic Fiona

My Thoughts:
Fiona is a real Hippo who lives at the Cincinnati Zoo. I’ve seen her, and she’s been a delight to everyone. Meet Fiona the Hippo, Fiona and the Rainy Day, Fiona Saves the Day, and Fantastic Fiona are delightful books for early readers. I love Cowdrey’s illustrations and enjoy these fun stories about this beloved hippo. They are easy to read and engaging for beginning readers. The colorful, playful illustrations of the many animals in the zoo bring them to life and add an element of fun. Each book shares an encouragement for little ones. These are great to keep kids reading this summer.  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Don't Worry

Luke 12:22-25
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

We can worry something or worry about something.

The dictionary says worry is used two ways. Snapping, biting, and tearing particularly at the throat or mental distress, anxiety, pondering on something that might or might not happen.

From the definitions I read, it sounds like the act of worrying could go either way. The tearing at the throat is pictured as a terrier going after a rat, but sometimes I feel like worry tears at me, not just mentally, but physically, too. Worry has a way of beating a person down.

Jesus, in his great wisdom, knew worry was an enemy. He taught his disciples not to be anxious about what was to come. Imagine being Jesus’ followers. They had to sense danger with so many people against Jesus.

But in his way of teaching, he assured them God would take care of them. He provides for the ravens, of course he’d take care of his followers.

Worrying adds nothing to our lives. As we’ve found with modern medicine, stressing about life contributes to high blood pressure and anxiety. Yet in our society, worry has almost become an obsession. Jesus wants me to spend my energy on my faith and the way I treat others, instead of fretting over things I have no control over. He wants me to use my time loving him and loving people, and the rest will fall into place.

To keep worry from strangling me, I’ve learned to turn my thoughts to Jesus, and if I wait most issues work themselves out. As I’m a work in progress—prayer and time spent in the Bible help me balance my worry with trust. Instead of imagining all the terrible scenarios that could happen, I accept God’s providence and pray my faith outshines my worries.

Cast your cares on Jesus because he cares for you.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Time-Travel Fiction Review: Come Back to Me (Waters of Time Book #1) by Jody Hedlund

Book Description:
The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.

That's exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father's quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He's left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he's crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.

William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian's rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund is your guide down the twisting waters of time to a volatile era of superstition, revolts, and chivalry in this suspenseful story.

My Thoughts:
Wow! I’ve never read a book like Come Back to Me. I’ve read time travel, but not with the intricate details and constant danger Jody Hedlund writes. One thing I love about this story is the imagination Hedlund uses to set up the story, but also the hope threaded throughout the book that life can be better, miracles still happen, and love remains as a healing balm. Marian moves between two worlds, very different times, yet she carries with her a faith and conviction to help her father and heal her sister. William Durham is the ultimate medieval knight, he’s brave, caring, and would do anything to keep his people safe. If you enjoy time travel stories with twists, you’ll love this story. I listened to Jody Hedlund in an interview. The research she’s done gives the story depth and believability. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Be Still and Listen


This world is a noisy place. 
Constant clamoring for our attention.
The radio, television, social media, loud speakers in the grocery store.
Good grief!

It's time to be still and listen to the Lord.
Hear his voice in the din. 

Close our eyes and open our hearts and ears to listen 
to the one who speaks with wisdom.



 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Historical Fiction Review: Along a Storied Trail by Ann H. Gabhart

Book Description:
Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn't mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in her books. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it--or is the perfect man actually closer than she thinks?

Perdita Sweet has called these mountains home for so long she's nearly as rocky as the soil around her small cabin. Long ago she thought she could love, but when the object of her affection up and married someone else, she stopped giving too much of herself away to others.

As is so often the case, it's easier to see what's best for others than to see what's best for oneself, and Perdita knows who Tansy should choose. But why would anyone listen to the romantic advice of an old spinster?

My Review:
Ann H. Gabhart has a way of bringing the mountains of eastern Kentucky to life. I enjoyed her story of packhorse librarian, Tansy Calhoun, as she traversed the hollows and hills of the mountain. Tansy treasured her books more than anything. So much so, she chose to be single until she found a love to measure up against her stories. When an old friend returns home and a new fellow arrives from New York City, Tansy has to sort through her idea of the man she’s meant to marry. There are three romances in Along a Storied Trail, each one charming and enjoyable. At first, I wasn’t sure about Perdita, but by the end of the book I found her a delight. If you’d like to get lost in a great story, read Along a Storied Trail. As a former library worker, I admire the packhorse librarians and their tenacity and determination to deliver books to all the folks on the mountain, no matter the weather. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Remember

Today—remember the many men and women 

who died in service.

 

Today—pray for the families and friends who have 

lost loved ones in the fight.

 

Today—appreciate the freedom our soldiers protect. 



 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

What's in Their Future?

Proverbs 16:9
In their hearts—humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

The gold and black robes fluttered in the breeze.

Saturday morning, the sun shone on the rows of graduates and their teachers. Emily sat in the second row, ready to receive her high school diploma. The superintendent and principal poured words of wisdom and encouragement over the seniors. In a few short minutes, the young men and women would lift their tassels and place them on the other side of their mortarboards as a symbol of their future endeavors and freedom.

Several of the graduates would take jobs in the workforce (we certainly need them right now.) Many planned to head to college for more education and preparation, a few planned to head into the military. I applaud them all and pray for their futures.

Throughout my life, I’ve been privileged to work with books. If I were to choose one earthly element, besides people, that I truly love and couldn’t live without, it would be books (well, books and chocolate.) I’ve worked in libraries, read out loud to hundreds of children, reviewed many books, critiqued books for folks, and I write. As a follower of Jesus, I believe he has called me to his work. He equipped me for a future that included books, because he knew my heart and understood my love of the written word.

As the students stood before us and tossed their hats in the air, I wondered where each one would go in their life. I know Emily has a future in the art world. God has gifted her with great talent. From my perspective and experience, I can say their paths will curve and twist, and there will be starts and stops. Maybe the dreams will change. But if God calls us to his work, he will equip us and opens doors of opportunity.

Where is God leading you? Who has he created you to be? Are you listening? He’s offering his guidance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Discover Who God Meant You to Be

In the 70s, it was all about figuring out who you were.

I remember reading a book called I'm Okay, You're Okay. 
I honestly don't remember much about the book.
But one thing I know now, none of us are okay without Jesus.

Instead of finding yourself, 
seek the gifts and desires God has placed on your heart.

Long for his input and guidance. 
Discover who God intends you to be.




 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Valued and Loved

Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha or Mary.

I’ve heard the question, “Are you a Martha or a Mary?” I may have even asked that myself. But in seeking an answer to the inquiry, I think I missed the point of this story.

Imagine preparing for a visit from the one person on this earth who you’ve been waiting for; that one man who came to save all people from sin. Let that sink in. Jesus is coming to visit. The Messiah himself will be dining at your table.

Martha, the obvious caregiver in the story, seeks to prepare her home for her guest. Yet, her sister Mary, instead of mixing the bread dough or setting the table, sits at Jesus’ feet to soak in his wisdom.

Again with the question, “Are you a Martha or a Mary?” According to what Jesus says, it doesn’t matter. Both women are valued and loved.

When Martha called for Mary to help her, Jesus stopped her. You see, Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher. He didn’t condemn Martha for her efforts to host him, instead he offered her an invitation. He didn’t say don’t be like Martha, instead he reached out and invited her to stop what she was doing and join him as he taught God’s truth.

He didn’t condemn Martha, he invited her to join him. This is kind of a big deal. In Jesus’ day women didn’t sit at a teacher’s feet and learn. But Jesus invited all men, women, and children to hear God’s truth.

Jesus still calls every one of us to read his word, share in his wisdom, believe in him, and accept his grace.

Sit at Rabbi Jesus’ feet and hear his truth.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Every Flower Waits


As I watch my little flower garden bloom, it's like a play 
with main characters in different scenes.

The tulips take the stage with the daffodils, in act one. 
As the acts change, different blooms step to the front. 

Today, the corral bells, in their pink, 
dance with the white and purple columbine.

Each act is lovely, as every flower waits for its turn to bloom. 

No one is expected to flower every day.
Be kind to yourself.


 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Follow the Best GPS

Psalm 121:1-2
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
 where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
 the Maker of heaven and earth.

I’m thankful for GPS, Global Positioning Systems, like Google Maps.

Although I’ve improved with age, I tend to be directionally impaired. Before GPS saved me from my wandering ways, I depended on a map or written directions. I still prefer landmarks to highway numbers, and I still get my left and right mixed up. But I’ve learned to listen to the little voice inside my phone as she speaks directions, and I’ve learned to read road signs.

Years ago, before GPS was an app on our smartphones, we owned a box we’d attach to the dash, I think it was a Garmin. I named her Vera. Vera took me wherever I needed to go, unless I didn’t listen.

The key to overcoming my impaired directional instincts was paying attention and following Vera’s lead.

As I wander about in life, I need direction. When I go off on my own, I get lost and stumble. But when I lift my eyes to the one who leads my way, I follow a better path. There may be roadblocks or construction, but Jesus walks me through it. He’s not going to take me on a trail that leads to destruction. Instead his voice gives me the guidance I need on the rocky roads of life.

He whispers to me from the Bible and answers my prayers. He speaks to me through trusted family and friends and helps me navigate choppy water.

Jesus is the best GPS, God’s Perfect Son, to follow. He will never lead us down the wrong path. Instead, he’ll guide us on the road God created us for.

Seek Jesus as he maps out the road to heaven.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Gratitude and Peace

The more grateful I am, the more peaceful I become.

It's an ongoing work to remind myself 
to thank God for everything--
but it's so worth the effort.

Walk with gratitude to find peace.


 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

She Washed His Feet With Her Tears

Luke 7:44-47
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Washing another person’s feet is a humbling experience.

At church camp, the counselors and teachers taught us to experience the times that Jesus lived. In Jesus day, folks wore sandals or walked barefoot on the dusty roads. They didn’t wear the latest model of tennis shoes or work boots. As a greeting and welcome to visitors, the host provided water and washed the feet of their guests.

Our camp teacher paired us up, and we removed each other’s shoes and rinsed each other’s feet. I’ll admit as a teenager I thought it a bit weird, but the act increased my understanding of the ancient times.

When a Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner, he failed to provide water for Jesus’ feet. Jesus never complained or questioned, but when the woman who stood in the shadows approached him, he welcomed her. She bowed before him and cleansed his feet with her tears. The tears may have been carried in a jar where she collected them, or she may have cried over him. Either way, she humbled herself before Jesus and as an act of worship poured perfume over his feet.

The most beautiful part of the story is Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. Because the woman humbled herself and believed in Jesus as Savior, he forgave her sins on the spot. She walked away free of the burden of her past into a life of gratitude and love.

She loved much, because she was forgiven of much.

Jesus arms are open to invite you in. He loves us so much and wants nothing more than for us to believe and live for him.

Be the person who loves much.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Jesus Delivers and Forgives

Jesus forgives.
Jesus loves.
Jesus restores life.

I live a life of gratitude and praise because of Jesus' grace.
Had I not experienced sin on this earth, I wouldn't understand the love Jesus offers.

He comforts me and guides me. 

Jesus grace has saved my soul.



 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Expected or Unexpected: Am I Ready

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 

April 21, 2021 surprised us with about two inches of snow. When Tim told me to look out the window and see the surprise, I had mixed feelings. I love snow, but I adore the beauty of spring. Now the plants that thrived with green wore white coats, and crystal crowns. I hadn’t covered my plants, yet my lovely lavender tulip survived the unexpected chill, as did the columbine. Many of the flowers who peaked from the ground could endure the weather, because their roots dug deep and their stems had soaked in sun. God created spring flowers with durability, for all kinds of weather.

The unexpected snow made me wonder how prepared I am. 1 Peter says to be ready to give an answer for my faith, and Matthew 24:42-44 says to prepare my heart for Jesus second coming.  

When I’m traveling, I fill up my fuel tank and pack a bag of snacks. Both prepare me for the trip. But how do I ready myself for the time someone asks me about Jesus and my faith? I fill my heart and mind with the wisdom of Jesus and the scripture. I eat the words of the Bible in order to fill my spiritual tank and increase my understanding of God and grace.

Even as I prepare for the unexpected, what about the expected. I know Jesus will return to this earth to take his children home, even though I don’t know the day or hour. Even in not knowing the time, I know he’s coming. I want to have my heart ready. The hope I have in God and the promise of eternal life bolster me as his words feed me.

I may not know when Jesus will return. I may not be on this earth any longer, regardless, my heart and soul need to be ready for that glorious day.

Be ready for the unexpected and the expected. Jesus is coming again.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Perfect Preparation

God knows our story before we do.
He prepares us for the future, whether we realize it or not.

I love Corrie ten Boom's positive outlook!

 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Book Review: Castle of Refuge (A Dericott Tale Book 2) by Melanie Dickerson

Book Description:

To live an unforgettable life, she would defy all expectations—including her own.

Ever since she was a child, Audrey wanted her life to be extraordinary. But as the daughter of a viscount born in late fourteenth-century England, the only thing expected of her was to marry—until an act of malice by her sister, Maris, four years ago damaged her prospects even further. Though Maris was sent away, twenty-year-old Audrey is still suffering the scars of her sister’s cruelty. So when her father announces his plans to marry off his damaged daughter and bring Maris back home, Audrey decides to flee in search of her true destiny.

However, life outside her home is dangerous, and she soon finds herself attacked, sick, and in dire straits. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier and bears scars of his own.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, each must make a life-changing decision about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

In this Ugly Duckling retelling, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson brilliantly crafts a highstakes, encouraging tale about the power of love.

My Thoughts:
I love a good fairy tale, and Melanie Dickerson always delivers. In Castle of Refuge, Audrey has a formidable enemy, her own sister. Edwin has an unexpected burden to bear. Brought together by Audrey’s desperation to leave home, the two fight the evil that surrounds them. Castle of Refuge is a beautiful tale of hope. Audrey and Edwin must both confront their self-identity and see themselves as those dear to them see them. This story has so many wonderful characters, even the evil Maris. Dickerson does a wonderful job showing why Maris is the way she is and how Audrey loves her sister despite her nasty ways. If you enjoy fairy tales and Medieval times, or a good romance, you’ll love Castle of Refuge. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Living Water

John 4:39-42
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

I was thirsty.

After knee replacement and other surgeries, I experienced the ice chip diet. To keep my stomach from upset, the nurse offered me small chips of frozen water. As refreshing as the chips were, they didn’t quench my thirst. I longed for more.

In life, searching and reaching for dreams has led me down some roads that didn’t satisfy. A rabbit trail into a writing foray God never intended. A job that led to frustration. No matter how hard I tried to make them fit my life, they didn’t.

We tend to search for answers and not like the results. The Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well had struggled with relationships. She’d veered from God’s path for her life and found herself thirsty. When she met Jesus, she realized she’d been missing out on the living water. The water that quenches all thirst. She’d lifted the bucket and dipped from Jacob’s well many times, but she’d never tasted from the living water Jesus offered.

When he opened his heart to this woman and spoke truth to her, she believed in the power of Jesus to save her from a life of sin. She longed to dip into the waters of eternal life, and she shared her experience with everyone in her town.

Whether you’ve dipped in Jesus’ well or are drawn to consider his plan of salvation, know that his well of living water never runs dry. He asks us to believe then he offers understanding. With his living water he promises life everlasting.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Children’s Picture Book Review: Stay This Way Forever by Linsey Davis, Illustrated by Lucy Fleming

Book Description:
Celebrate the joy, wonder, and innocence of being a child with this love letter to the loved ones in your life that encourages them to celebrate their own special qualities now and into the future.

Inspired by the endearing qualities she sees in her own son, Linsey Davis, ABC News correspondent and bestselling author of The World Is Awake and One Big Heart, has written another beautiful book that parents and grandparents can share with their little ones to let them know how special they are. With charming illustrations from bestselling artist Lucy Fleming paired with playful and heartwarming read-aloud rhymes, this book can help make a lasting impact on young minds as they discover their own unique qualities.

My Thoughts:
With Lindsey Davis’s beautiful words, celebrate the joy and innocence of childhood. In this rhyming picture book, an adult expresses their love for a child and the wonder of a child’s heart. The message resonates to keep some of the delight and purity of childhood. As I read the lovely sentiment of this gorgeous book, I choked up a bit. Having lived life loving the pure joy children and grandchildren can express, I have to say, Ms. Davis captured my thoughts. This is a wonderful book to read to any child to encourage them to explore and experience the beauty of the world. Enjoy Lucy Fleming’s lively, imaginative, and vibrant illustrations. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Faith then Understanding

Sometimes I try too hard to understand God's plan.
I'm learning to have faith, then be obedient and understand.

It's not easy, but it is a much better experience.
I have less stress and anxiety when I choose to believe and follow, 
instead of push and plod.


 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Children’s Board Book Review: Pugtato, Let’s Be Best Spuddies by Sophie Corrigan

Book Description:
What does it mean to be a best spuddy? Spend the day with Pugtato and his very best spuddies and find out! A best spuddy likes to play and listen, share, and give a helping hand. Spend time with Pugtato and his very best spuddies as they show us exactly how to be a best spuddy too.

Pugtato, Let’s Be Best Spuddies:

  • Features adorable and silly illustrations by Sophie Corrigan
  • Shows the youngest readers ages 0-4 how to be a good friend
  • Written in delightful, giggle-inducing rhyming text
  • Is great for discussions and story times focusing on friendship, sharing and helping others

My Thoughts:
Children will love the fun illustrations in Pugtato, Let’s Be Best Spuddies while adults will enjoy the thoughtful lessons the Spuddies share. From Tomatoad to Croccoli to Unicorn on the Cob, little ones will laugh and learn as they read this delightful book. This would be perfect for family time, preschool, or grandma’s lap. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Anxiety is a Beast

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

“Life is better when you cry a little, laugh a lot, and are thankful for everything you’ve got.”

As one who lives with anxiety, I cling to Philippians 4:6.

When I look back over my life, anxiety raised its hand way too often. In school, I was the kid who wanted to hide when we read aloud in class. I’d just as soon fade into the brick wall as wait to be called on for the kickball team. I wasn’t just shy (although I was shy) I was terrified of attention.

That was my anxiety. The beast has a unique way of manifesting itself in all of us. Most of us feel anxious in certain situations due to stress. Some anxiety is normal.

As an adult, my anxiety reared its head as panic attacks. In my forties, I returned to college to finish my Bachelor’s degree, but I absorbed more information, at one time, than my brain could handle. To get technical—the serotonin didn’t hang out long enough for the process. The doctor figured out the problem and recommended medication. To me the meds are no different than if I was diabetic and had to take insulin. I need them.

But along with the medication, I have another healer in my pocket. Prayer. When I seek God’s attention and pour out all that I’m thankful for—the anxiety dissipates. Yes, I cry and laugh. Laughter is wonderful, tears sometimes help, but the best antidote for anxiety is gratitude. I can sit and talk to my heavenly Father about all the wonders of spring. As I observe my flowers, I say thank you. When I think of my loved ones, I pray thanks. When I consider Jesus’ sacrifice for me, I bow in appreciation.

God created the science behind the meds which help my anxiety, and he’s given me joy and peace in place of fear.

Replace anxiety with gratitude.

Click to tweet: Anxiety is a Beast

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Sit Quietly and Be Thankful

As I sit in my chair

I'm thankful for God, who loves me no matter what,
for Jesus, who covers me with grace,
for the new life of spring,
and for you.

May God bless your day with peace.

 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Contemporary Fiction Book Review: At Lighthouse Point (Three Sisters Island Book #3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Book Description:
Blaine Grayson returns to Three Sisters Island with a grand plan--to take Camp Kicking Moose to the next level. Her dream starts to unravel when she discovers Moose Manor's kitchen has been badly remodeled by her sister, Cam, who doesn't know how to cook. Added to that blow is the cold shoulder given by her best friend, Artie Lotosky, now a doctor to the unbridged Maine islands.
 

As old wounds are opened, Blaine starts to wonder if she made a mistake by coming home. Little by little, she must let go of one dream to discover a new one, opening her heart to a purpose and a future she had never imagined. 

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the coast of Maine for a story that reminds you to release what doesn't matter and cling to what does: faith, family, and friendships.

My Thoughts:
At Lighthouse Point
is my favorite of the Three Sisters Island series. Blaine has grown up and come home, bringing along FrenchmanJean Paula delightful, accident prone young man. While her best friend, Artie, doctors Jean Paul underlying tension builds. Her sisters are both expecting, other family members are dealing with health issues, and her dad has a secret. Peg Legg and the other townspeople are back and they are not happy with oldest sister Cam’s push to update the island. The story’s many layers play out into a delightful story of family, friendship, faith and love. I enjoy the setting on a Maine island with a lighthouse and camp. If you enjoy family stories with a spiritual thread, you’ll love At Lighthouse Point. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Praise and Pray

Psalm 145:3-5

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Perhaps winter is a time of meditation, spring a time of praise.

I find the change of seasons remarkable. Snow, rain, sunshine, chill all contribute to the nature God has created. For the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed the daffodils, tulips and hyacinth in my tiny garden. One morning, I observed the yellow and white daffodils bowing their heads. In the same plot of soil, the tulips raised their leaves to the sky. It struck meboth stood in a posture of praise and prayer.

In the winter, I tend to bow down and meditate on God’s word. The quiet, sometimes snow-kissed earth allows me to snuggle into my favorite chair and focus on Jesus. But in the spring, I want to shout with the sunshine that Jesus is Lord. Maybe because we celebrate Easter, I raise my hands to God and praise out loud. For whatever reason, spring is a time to celebrate our Lord and Savior.

In observing the flowers, no matter whether I raise my hands like the tulip or bow my head like the daffodil, I am in a posture of praise and prayer. It doesn’t matter how I praise and pray as much as when. And when is every day. I thank God for the beauty of the earth and the people in my life. I don’t need much, yet God has provided abundantly.

As the psalmist says, God is so great and worthy of praise, I can’t even fathom his greatness.

Praise and pray thanksgiving to God the Father, when you bow down and when you rise up.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Praise and Prayer

One morning while the raindrops dotted the flowers, I snapped this photo.

I noticed the daffodil bowed it's head, and the tulip raised toward heaven.

Both were in a posture to praise God. 

The flowers reminded me to check my stance.

Am I prepared to pray in every situation? 
Am I praising God for his mercy and grace?

Praise and prayer go hand in hand.

Raised up or bent down-
Praise God!


 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Book Review: The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Book Description:
Two years after her husband’s death, Amanda Whittier has two children to raise alone, an abandoned dream of starting a business, and a fixer-upper cottage by the sea. She has no room in her life for anything else and little interest in moving on after losing the man she loved. 

Paul Grant is a relative newcomer to the area, and his work with former military dogs needing rehabilitation has been good for the town. Though he loved once before, he’s convinced he’s not suited for romance and is determined to find meaning—alone—through his work and role in the community. 

Widowed Maeve Lindsay was born and raised on Whelk’s Island. Spirited, kind, and a little mischievous, she pours her life into the town. But she carries a secret that shapes her every move. 

Together, these three souls find encouragement in the most mysterious places and discover a love that’s bigger than their pain, healing their wounded hearts in ways none of them could have hoped for or expected.

My Thoughts:
I adore The Shell Collector. This is one of those rare novels that drips with wisdom in the midst of living and appreciating life. Set on Whelk’s Island, much of the novel takes place along a gorgeous beach with sea gulls swooping and sea glass washing to shore. Widowed two years ago, Amanda is raising two delightful children in a cottage near the beach. She cherishes the memories of her husband’s love even as she tries to start over. As she and her children play on the beach, she meets Maeve, a lovely 80 something woman, who has dealt with her own sorrow. Mauve is the mentor Amanda needs to help her move forward. I love the respect Amanda and Mauve have for each other. It’s wonderful to read a book portraying an older adult with such dignity. Then comes Paul. His story will melt your heart along with his kind personality. The Shell Collector is a beautiful story of friendship, faith, love, heartbreak, and joy. Naigle has written a story to be savored and read again and again. 5+ stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Hope of Easter

Luke 24:36-39
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Luke 24:50-53
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

The disciples grieved Jesus’ death.

The apostles, Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ mother Mary, and several other followers watched their Lord and Savior die an agonizing death on the cross. I can’t imagine the heartbreak, especially for his mom.  Jesus’ best friends and family witnessed his torture and his final breath. Even as they mourned, their faith in their Lord did not waver.  

In their hearts they tucked the promise of Jesus’ return. What they didn’t realize was how soon they’d see him again.

Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus body to an empty tomb he’d prepared for himself. After the body was wrapped in cloth, he placed him inside, then he rolled a stone in front of the opening. After the Sabbath day passed, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the grave to pour spices over their beloved friend. An earthquake shook them and an angel appeared propped on the rock he’d rolled from the tomb. Then the women received the surprise of their lives—Jesus stood in front of them and greeted them.

Can you imagine?

Jesus keeps his promises. He told his followers he’d raise from the dead, come back to life, and see them again. Yet, they didn’t understand. Kind of like us. The Bible teaches us of Jesus return, his second coming, that will occur so quickly none of us will be expecting him. But Jesus keeps his promises, and he will come here to take his children home to heaven.

Easter is all about HOPE!

Jesus promises new life. Rejoice in the Lord this Easter!

Click to Tweet: The Hope of Easter

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Easter Books for Children


Easter Egg Day by Tara Knudson, illustrated by Pauline Siewert
It’s time for Easter eggs—yellow, green, blue, and red! In Easter Egg Day, written by Tara Knudson and illustrated by Pauline Siewert, kids will love watching how plain white eggs turn to colorful zig-zags, stripes, and patterns as this board book celebrates the classic Easter family tradition.

'Twas the Morning of Easter by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Elena Selivanova
A follow-up to the popular 'Twas the Evening of Christmas from beloved author Glenys Nellist. 'Twas the Morning of Easter tells the story of the resurrection of Jesus in a fresh way, with a familiar rhythm and rhyme that children will love, following the pattern of Clement Moore's iconic "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Mike Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
Young readers will understand the real meaning behind Easter in this addition to the Living Lights™ series of Berenstain Bears books. Children will discover that Easter is more than candy and egg hunts as they read about the Bear cubs at Sunday school learning about Jesus’ resurrection and salvation.

He is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter by Patti Rokus
This unique and unforgettable picture book uses rock art and simple text to tell children the story of the miracle of Easter—the resurrection of Jesus. Through the arrangement of a few rocks and powerful words directly from Scripture, the entire Easter story is told in He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter.

These are all delightful books that celebrate Easter. I particularly like He is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter for its simple, yet powerful format. The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story is a wonderful book to use to teach young children about Jesus, either at home or in Sunday School. The rhyme and rhythm used in Twas the Morning of Easter will entertain and introduce young ones to the morning Mary found Jesus' tomb empty. Easter Egg Day is a sweet book about a family dying eggs and having funI received complimentary copies of these books. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

John 3:16

As I watch my little garden sprout, I'm reminded of new life.
Trees bud, flowers bloom, and herbs green up.

Imagine for a moment what eternal life with Jesus must be like.

A continual spring filled with beauty and joy!



 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Historical Fiction Book Review: The Nature of a Lady (The Secrets of the Isles Book #1) by Roseanna M. White

Book Description:

1906

Lady Elizabeth "Libby" Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn't favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles into the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage's former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished. 

Oliver Tremayne--gentleman and clergyman--is determined to discover what happened to his sister, and he's happy to accept the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth's summer cottage . . . especially when he realizes it's the curious young lady, he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can't quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.

As Libby and Oliver work together, they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.

My Thoughts:
I found the Isles of Scilly in The Nature of a Lady an interesting setting. When Libby escapes the rule laden society she lives in and takes her lady’s maid with her to the islands to explore the flora and fauna, she’s awakened to a life where she can be herself. This book is full of mystery, adventure and romance. With many layers and fascinating characters, Roseanna White has created a tale to savor. The descriptions gave me a feel for the islands, creating an image of life on the sea. The characters, from Oliver’s Mamm-wynn to Libby’s bossy brother, Bram, interlace to make a lovely story of family, faith, and love. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.