Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Romance Fiction Review: Make You Feel My Love by Robin Lee Hatcher

Book Description:
One broken woman. One lost man. And the long-buried secrets tying them together.

After escaping an abusive relationship, Chelsea Spencer flees to Chickadee Creek—the town where her great aunt Rosemary owns a quaint little antique shop. There, Chelsea plans to help with the shop as her aunt heals from an accident—and perhaps find some healing of her own.

Liam Chandler was one film away from a leading role when his brother Jacob was stricken with cancer. After spending the last months of Jacob’s life with him in Boise, Liam heads to the vacation home he built outside of Chickadee Creek to get his life and his faith back on track.

While working to clean out a storage room in the antique shop, Chelsea finds an old violin. Aunt Rosemary says she may have the instrument, but they soon learn it is very valuable and once belonged to Cora Chandler, Liam’s great-great-grandmother.

Drawn together by the old violin and stories from the past, Chelsea and Liam begin to find answers for their present and the future God has in store for them.

My Thoughts:
Robin Lee Hatcher, a talented story teller, has written a beautiful story of hope. Chelsea left behind an abusive boyfriend. Liam is healing from family wounds. Both characters prefer to hide instead of opening themselves up to more hurt. A violin connects them to the past and a woman named Cora, who longed for a new beginning. I loved reading Cora’s story as she set out on her own in the 1800s. Hatcher sprinkles Chelsea and Liam’s heart wrenching stories with encouragement and weaves in Bible verses filled with wisdom. I hope this story is read by anyone who feels lost or overwhelmed by a difficult situation, because the reader can gain confidence and know God offers peace and joy. If you enjoy stories set in small towns, with good characters or stories that point to a better way, read Make You Feel My Love. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Assurance of God

Philippians 4:6-7
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.

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I am the most peaceful—when I’m by the water, listening to the waves lap.

We spent a couple of days at Lake Erie. I could sit and listen to the water race to shore and lap back out all day. There is something about the sound and the motion that covers me with calm. Perhaps the lull or the push and pull, or maybe the overwhelming feeling that God is in control, and I don’t need to worry about one little thingbecause the crashing waves remind me of the incredible power of God and his love for us.

As I sat by the lake, on a huge rock at Marblehead State Park, I closed my eyes and my mind painted a picture of the Father who loves me. I imagined him reaching over and giving me a hug. At that point, I understood, a little more, the peace that surpasses my comprehensionthe peace I feel in times of trouble. Only then did I get a glimpse of Jesus’ gift of calm.

In John 16, Jesus preps his disciples, the twelve he chose, to understand his future. He laid out God’s plan and assured them that whatever happened to him, he was with God. He revealed to them their future, too. They would all go to their own homes, their villages, back to their work, and he’d be with his Father in heaven. Even as Jesus assured these men, who traveled and taught with him for three years, that they’d experience peace, he reminded them they’d have trouble.

The presence of trouble doesn’t mean we are without the assurance of God.

Isn’t that the way of the world? We all experience problems, obstacles, and doubts. Yet, Jesus offers peace. As his followers, we have the same assurance as the disciples. A peace planted in our hearts by God.

Seek his peace.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Book Review: This Time Around: Three Romances by Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson, & Kathleen Fuller

Book Description:

For lovers of happily ever afters—this collection of three light and sweet romance stories will sweep you off your feet.

In A Summer Detour by Denise Hunter, you’ll meet free-spirited Allie Adams, who undertakes a road trip to deliver her grandparents’ newly restored ’57 Chevy in time for their fiftieth anniversary party . . . along with Luke Fletcher, the former boy-next-door who callously crushed her heart.

Pining for You by Melissa Ferguson invites you to a cozy Virginia mountain town where Christmas tree farm owner Theo Watkins III has the opportunity to drop everything for one weekend to play farmer and potentially win back the heart of his childhood best friend, Skye Fuller. Only problem? He’s the kind of man who drives a Tesla, not a tractor. 

Last but not least, He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not by Kathleen Fuller will transport you to a small town in Arkansas where thirty-five-year-old Sophie Morgan has spent years making her flower shop a success. But when this workaholic decides she’s ready to make time for dating again, she finds herself with two handsome men vying for her attention.

Whether your perfect romance involves rows and rows of Fraser firs and white pines glinting in the moonlight, childhood love that never ends, or a second chance at a happily ever after, you’re sure to find a story within this collection to warm your heart any day of the year.

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for a beach read, a lazy afternoon escape, or just a happy ending, you’ll enjoy This Time Around. I reviewed this book, of three romances, because I love Denise Hunter’s stories. And she did not disappoint. A Summer Detour is delightful and fun as Allie and Luke try to get the star of the story, a ’57 Chevy, to her grandparents’ party. Melissa Ferguson's story, Pining for You, made me laugh as Skye and Theo, very opposite people, attempt to get to know one another again. Kathleen Fuller entertained with Sophie and her jump back into the dating world in He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not. Each author has a unique voice and a charming story to tell. Grab this three-in-one and sit back and enjoy. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

God, Pour Your Peace

 We fill our minds and hearts with so much stuff

Social media, TV, radio, gossip, negative thoughts.

How about allowing God to pour his peace in instead?


In a world of chaos, God's peace brings comfort and confidence. 

Let's open our souls to the peace that passes understanding,

the calm that only comes from God.





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.