Saturday, February 27, 2021

Start Fresh

1 John 1:8-9
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 

I’m sorry Mrs. McGinnis.

He looked at his feet as he placed the picture book, swollen with water damage, on my desk. Every single page rippled. Mold had started growing around the edges. The book, deemed ruined, lay there like a sad proclamation of what not to do. The little guy had left the book under the tree in his backyard. That evening the skies opened and the rain poured. By the time he found the book, the water had done its damage.

What a brave boy to bring the book back to me and confess what happened. Embarrassed, he stood before me no doubt wondering what kind of punishment he’d receive. I knew he had little money and couldn’t replace the book, so I had to think of a way to instill the care of books without him thinking it was okay to leave a book outside.

I knelt in front of him, and we talked about what happened. He understood he couldn’t do it again, but there might be consequences. I asked him if it was okay with him if I showed the book to the class and talked about what water damage does to a book. I promised not to use his name. He beamed over helping the class, even as he showed remorse over his mistake. You see, I forgave him, and he knew he got a second chance.

God gives me second chances (notice the plural.) I know I sin. Whatever the sin is, God has mercy and grace and will forgive me, if I ask. Yes, it’s on me to communicate with God and let him know how sorry I am, and I won’t do it again.

Often, consequences result from sin. Like the little guy with the book. He had to own up to his error and he knew there would be some repercussion. But he was willing to seek forgiveness and do what needed done to right the wrong.

When I sin and seek forgiveness, God pours his grace over me and says try again. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead as a sacrifice for all sins. He gave his life for mine. That blows my mind, he loves me so much.

I am overwhelmed by the beauty of Jesus' love for me.

When you sin, seek God. In his great wisdom, with grace and mercy, he forgives. Then start fresh with renewed hope.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Seek the Light

A lighthouse symbolizes the hope I have in Jesus.
He is the light in this dark world.

Jesus offers illumination when the shroud of sin tries to envelop us.

Seek the light of Jesus.


Monday, February 22, 2021

Book Review: Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter

Book Description:
Sophie Lawson should be enjoying her sister’s wedding day. But nothing could have prepared her to see the best man again.

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?

My Thoughts:
I love the beautiful cover of Bookshop by the Sea, set in the lovely town of Piper’s Cove, along the Atlantic Ocean. Can I say perfect setting? A dream come true for Sophie who has struggled to finally live the life she wants and needs. Denise Hunter tells a beautiful story as she delves into abandonment issues. Both Sophie and Aiden must come to grips with the emotions that have kept them apart for seven years. A hurricane, a wind storm, and rain tossed on top of the turmoil in their hearts makes for a captivating story. And the bookstore takes on a life of its own, as friends help Sophie realize her dream. I love the nod to Hunter’s Bluebell Inn series. If you haven’t read those yet, you should. If you enjoy a beautiful setting, a riveting story, and well-written characters, you’ll love Bookshop by the Sea. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Whatever is Lovely

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

A penny for your thoughts.

As the snow flew and the ice pelted the ground, I browned hamburger in my soup pot. I crushed stewed tomatoes and chopped potatoes. The mixed vegetables cooked in the microwave, while I prepared the rest. With salt and pepper, I mixed all the ingredients with tomato juice and set the pot to simmer.

What if I’d added dirt or dried, crunchy maple leaves? How about an old shoe or a stinky sock? Disgusting… right? I wanted the soup to be edible and tasty, but if I’d added something other than the delicious vegetables, no one would partake of the soup.

In the times we’re living, what am I allowing into my brain? Or my heart? Like my soup, am I adding ingredients that will make me sick? Not just physically, but heartsick.

With the news and social media constantly throwing drama, pessimism, gloom, and despair at us, how do we fight back?

Paul encouraged the Philippian church to think about positive, uplifting things, instead of negative and stressful. The apostle worked to set a positive example for his friends. He focused on what’s true, pure, and admirable.

Paul’s words make me pause and consider what I allow into my head and heart. Am I contemplating God’s truth or the thoughts the media spouts? Am I reading, watching, or listening to things that encourage and glorify God? Does my heart fill with joy as I take in these things? Do I delight in the lovely?

And how do the things I think about bless others?

I need to answer these questions and determine whether I’ll have the peace of God in my heart or stress and anxiety.

Strive to embrace God’s hope and peace.

Click to Tweet: Think on these things...

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Romantic Suspense Book Review: Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble (Book #3, Pelican Harbor series)

Book Description:
Book Three in the gripping romantic suspense series from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

A chilling murder.

Chief of Police Jane Hardy plunges into the investigation of a house fire that claimed the life of a local woman as well as one of the firefighters. It’s clear the woman was murdered. But why? The unraveling of Jane’s personal life only makes the answers in the case more difficult to find.

Her son’s arrest.

Then Jane’s fifteen-year-old son is accused of a horrific crime, and she has to decide whether or not she can trust her ex, Reid, in the attempt to prove Will’s innocence—and whether she can trust Reid with her heart.

Her stolen memories.

Three days of Jane’s past are missing from her memory, and that’s not all that has been stolen from her. As she works to find the woman’s murdered and clear her son’s name, finding out what happened in those three days could change everything.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read all three books in the Pelican Harbor series, and this one is so, so good. Colleen Coble never disappoints as she delves into mystery and romance. Jane’s son is accused of murderas mother and Chief of Policeshe must find the real killer with the help of his dad, Reid. Coble twists and weaves unexpected elements, as well as familial ties, into this excellent third book. Pelican Harbor, a charming place to live, goes through some tough times along with Jane as she races to right the wrongs in her small town. Colleen Coble does a beautiful job setting up the story and creating the atmosphere. Love the description woven into her prose. This book can now be pre-ordered. If you enjoy romance laced with suspense, you’ll love Three Missing Days. If you haven’t read One Little Lie or Two Reasons to Run, I recommend you pick them up to get Jane’s whole story. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Guard Your Heart and Mind

Our minds hold an incredible amount of information. 
We process and reason, memorize and learn.

We choose what goes in and what comes out.
Feed your mind the word of God, so that...

"... the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:7


Saturday, February 13, 2021

New Every Morning

Lamentations 3:22-24
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

God meets me every morning.

Dad rattled around the kitchen, early in the morning. The clinking of the spoon against his cup of tea, laced with milk and sugar, greeted us with the sunrise. On Saturdays, he often made French toast for our family, while Mom filled our hungry bellies with oatmeal and other favorites the rest of the week.

I tried to do the same for my children. On winter days, I even crafted snowman pancakes. But the food wasn’t the best part. Mom and Dad’s presence in the morning added a layer of love and assurance. I was fortunate to have parents who cared about my wellbeing and shared the early hours.

Even though I’m not an early morning person anymore, I still enjoy breakfast. With my bagel or cereal, I open my Bible and read God’s word. And he meets me—right where I am.

Jeremiah, who is believed to have written the book of Lamentations, mourns the devastation and falling away of the city of Jerusalem. All five chapters are his cry for mercy. Yet in chapter three, Jeremiah reminds readers God’s compassions never fail, “they are new every morning.”

God loves us. No matter where we are or what we’re doing. He longs to gather all his children and bring them home. And he gives every one of us a chance to start over again every day.

He has his arms open to meet us and embrace us. Even as I experience him through his word, he sits with me just as I am, a person who has sinned and seeks His forgiveness; a person who desires to serve and love others.

He offers his forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love.

The Lord loves you. Will you seek him?

Friday, February 12, 2021

Historical Fiction Review: A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

Book Description:
All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother's descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother's wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira's mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she's journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends--and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced--as she seeks to navigate a life she'd never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

My thoughts:
Jennifer Deibel creates an incredible picture of life in a small 1920s village. A Dance in Donegal engaged the senses and left me wanting to walk in the village and on the shore. Moira’s story is one of delight and despair. She’s traveled to a foreign country and knows no one, as she strives to fulfill her mother’s last wish. She meets some charming, warm, and friendly people and some who scare the wits out of her. In the book Moira meets Sean, a kind-hearted man who loves his village and people. I am fascinated by the legend and lore in the story, as well as the sprinkling of dialect. Jennifer Deibel lived in Ireland for six years and has captured the magic and beauty of the island. If you enjoy a tale well told, you’ll love this book as much I do. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Good Morning!

Sometimes as I fall asleep, my mind tumbles into itself with anxious thoughts.

My remedy is to bend God's ear with my concerns.

I love that God wakes me in the morning, with the assurance he loves me.

He loves you, too!


Monday, February 8, 2021

Suspense Fiction Review: Obsession (Natchez Trace Park Rangers Book #2) by Patricia Bradley

Book Description:
Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she's forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed.

Sam knows that he has failed Emma in the past and he doesn't intend to let her down again. Especially since her life is on the line. As the threads of the investigation cross and tangle with their own personal history, Sam and Emma have a chance to discover the truth, not only about the victim but about what went wrong in their relationship.

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley will have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck with this nail-biting tale of obsession, misunderstanding, and forgiveness.

My Thoughts:
Obsession is a great title for this book, because I didn’t want to put it down. Sam Ryker must protect Emma Winters at any cost, but their feelings and families push and shove for and against them. As Sam deals with family baggage and Emma longs to find her beloved brother, the two are tangled in a mess of lies and danger. Patricia Bradley has written another suspense filled mystery that will have readers wondering what really happened, and who is chasing who. I love the setting of Natchez Trace and the nod to parks and historical remembrance. If you enjoy suspense with twists and turns, you’ll want to read Obsession
. Even though this is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Newsletter Sign-Up


As a writer, I've been encouraged to create a newsletter and share about my writing journey. My work-in-progress, Island Girl is a romance novel with some suspense.

Here is a blurb about the story:

Sadie ran away. Tired of being a pawn for her father and an emotional punching bag for her ex-boyfriend, she escaped to her safe place—Abbott Island.

Joel, a police officer on the island, never expected to see his childhood friend again. When he does—his heart skips a beat.

Sadie longs to trust God with her new life. But can she wrap her head around a Father who loves her and a man who cares?

If you'd be interested in signing up to receive my newsletter click to add your name and email address, then check your email for a confirmation.

That will also enter you for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. The winner will be listed in the newsletter, February 11, 2021.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Winter Season or Season of Winter

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I love winter, but not so much the winter seasons of life.

About a year ago, not knowing a pandemic was hurdling toward us, my siblings and I fretted over where our mom would live. After hospital stays and time spent in a nursing home, we pondered whether she should remain in the nursing facility, return to her current apartment, or live in an apartment next to our brother. The ultimate decision was up to Mom.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, my siblings and several of our children and grandchildren gathered at the apartment she lived in before the hospitalization. As we prayed for guidance, we packed all her earthly possessions and moved them to my brother’s home, still not knowing her final decision.

Thankfully, Mom moved to the apartment beside my brother just before the pandemic locked down the nursing home. God led us through this difficult winter season just as the door closed on any other possibilities.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote about the thorn in his flesh. In his winter season of life, something difficult plagued him. We aren’t told what the thorn was, only that he had something he referred to as a weakness and hardship. For Paul this must have weighed on him because he wanted nothing more than to serve Jesus. But even in his despair, he thanked God for his trials and claimed delight in his difficult times.

We all go though winter seasons in life. Being with mom through those difficult times of illness and decisions left us all worn and concerned. But Mom pulled through and celebrated her 94th birthday in January, in her new apartment.

The pandemic has been one long winter season for many of us. Prompted by Ann Voscamp’s book, I’ve been writing a list of 1,000 blessings. It’s a bit harder right now, but the list keeps me focused on my journey of gratitude for 2021.

Won’t you join me and seek the blessings, even in the seasons of winter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Something I'll Never Outgrow

I've been a winter person for as long as I can remember.
I practiced hygge before I knew it was a thing.
Cozy sweaters, quilts, a fire in the fireplace 
(or in my case a recording of a fire on my TV)
are all things I adore in the winter.

So when the snow flies and the ground is immersed in white, I love it.

I'll never outgrow the delight I find in the twirling snowflakes of winter.

If you aren't a winter person, take heart--spring is just around the corner.


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Time-Slip Novel Review: Roots of Wood and Stone (Sedgwick County Chronicles) by Amanda Wen

Book Description:

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

My Thoughts:

Roots of Wood and Stone is a pleasure to read. Whether I was reading Sloane and Garrett’s story (modern day) or Annabelle’s (in the 1800s), the chapters are filled with beautiful words, descriptions you can sink into, and deep emotional insight. The rich history of the house and land drew me in as much as the people. Amanda Wen has taken two stories and intertwined them in unexpected ways. This a perfect winter read that will warm your heart. I love the faith thread that runs between the two eras. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.