Showing posts with label Hope for Today's Heart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hope for Today's Heart. Show all posts

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Heavenly Delight

Matthew 2:10
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 

Jesus gives the true joy of the season.

In the book, Blessed are the Misfits, Brant Hansen, Star 93.3 radio DJ, poses the question, "Can a person have depression and joy at the same time?" That got me to thinking, can we invite joy into our hearts during the holidays, regardless of our circumstances or our feelings? Can I be joyful during the holidays even when...

I'm a single parent and, by America's standards, I can't buy what my children want...

I've lost a loved one who won't be there to wish a Merry Christmas...

I'm a high school student who has no close friends...

I'm a college student struggling to balance work and school...

I'm a parent rushing from activity to activity just trying to get it all done...

I’m single and all my friends are in couples...

I'm a soldier, out of the country, with no hope of being home for the holidays...

I’m sick and not sure I can celebrate...

I'm just overwhelmed with all the preparation of Christmas...

I haven't experienced all of these scenarios, but I've had my share of struggles
during the holidays. Circumstances that could have stolen every speck of joy from my heart. Yet, God shined on me through His people and His word. I found if I could hold on to one little twinkle of joy in my heart, the fire would burn and spark delight in my soul. 

Joy filled the wise men's hearts when they saw the star and realized Jesus was nearby. He is for us, too. Jesus is here with the joy we desire. Not happiness that's fleeting, but joy that underlies all circumstances. Even when everything seems difficult, frustrating, or hopeless Jesus' joy is like a buoy that helps me through the tough times. I think of it as heavenly delight that fills my soul.

I pray this Christmas you’ll seek hope in Jesus and discover His spark of amazing joy.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Historical Fiction: The Seasoning of Elizabella: A Jamestown Bride Story by Tamera Lynn Kraft

What it’s about:

Elizabella can't imagine anything worse than being a Jamestown bride -- but her sister is determined to do just that. On the way to the ship to stop her sister, she witnesses a brutal murder and must flee for her life. She takes refuge on the ship, pretending to be her sister, intending to leave as soon as she is safe. Before she knows it, she is headed for the New World, trapped by desperation and deception.


Miles fled to Jamestown with his family to escape the shame from their father's actions. Tragedy has tested his faith, including the loss of his wife and newborn son. His grief makes him more determined than ever to keep his one remaining brother from following in their father's footsteps.

Will God heal their pain? How can their love grow when Elizabella desires nothing more than to return to London, and Miles desires nothing more than to remain in Jamestown?

My Thoughts:

Set in the 1620s, The Seasoning of Elizabella captures the early days of Jamestown, Virginia and the difficult time the settlers faced. Elizabella is content to run her sewing shop in London, but her sister is intent on travelling to Jamestown to find a husband. Elizabella wants to protect her sister, but after a tragic event she accidentally ends up on a ship sailing to America. Miles has lost so much and he wants nothing more than to protect his brother in Jamestown. As the settlers wrestle with the difficult life there, the brides arrive and Elizabella, much to her dismay, is with them. Kraft doesn’t sugar coat the way many of the settlers lived in those difficult times. I appreciate that Miles loves and respects God, as does Elizabella which adds a beautiful thread of hope. With a thorough understanding of the history which surrounded Jamestown, Kraft has written a story historical fiction readers will enjoy. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Meet JPC Allen, Author of A Shadow on the Snow

Meet teen detective Rae Riley in her first mystery "A Rose from the Ashes" 
collected in Christmas Fiction off the Beaten Path. Then follow her to her next adventure A Shadow in the Snow by author JPC Allen.


Enjoy an excerpt from A Rose from Ashes:

        Glancing left and right, I crunched across the frozen weeds to the abandoned children’s home. I could not afford to be spotted now. If only I could take a few seconds and snap some pictures. The light from the early December sunset was perfect. Gashes of blood-red light seeped through the clotted clouds, creating an ominous background for the gray stone building that was rumored to be the scene of a murder.

        At the back wall of the home, I slung the strap for my camera across my chest and climbed through an opening that once held a window. I dropped to the bare ground, my long, dark gold braid catching on a loose nail in the sill. I disentangled myself and crossed the dirt floor. The fire had burned the wooden floor away. And the roof and the whole interior. The four stone walls loomed above me like a medieval fortress as the sunset’s rays spotlighted sections of the garbage-strewn floor.

        I knelt by a large fireplace, straining to detect any sound of psychics, ghost hunters, or thrill-seeking high school kids who had come to catch sight of the ghost of Bella Rydell.

        Nothing but a few caws from crows and sighs as gusts of wind sailed through the empty window frames.

        A lonely place. Very lonely, stuck on twenty acres of unused county land.

        Shaking off a shiver, I unzipped my down vest and removed the two roses. I laid them on the rusty iron grate of the fireplace.

        These would start everyone in the county talking again.

        I retraced my path to the window opening, hoisted myself onto the sill, then sat suspended, my right leg swaying.

What was that?

        Scrutinizing the naked trees, black against the dimming sun, I held my breath.

        Wind. Just wind, rattling the dried-up weeds. No people.

        Exhaling, I landed on the brittle grass and ran into the woods. As I approached my battered, black truck, I took a few pictures. If someone spotted me, I could say, with halfway honesty, I was out here capturing the sunset.

An hour later, in my one-room apartment over Mrs. Blaney’s garage, I warmed my hands around a mug of tea and stared at three wrinkled envelopes.

        Jason Carlisle. Walter R. Malinowski IV. Terence O’Neil.

        Those names on the envelopes were burned into my brain.

        I set down my mug, picked up my phone, and scrolled through photos until I found my favorite. My mom and I stood on a beach in North Carolina. She was in front since she didn’t even come to my shoulder. Her brown hair had grown back long enough to mousse and brush back, and her cheeks had filled out so the bones didn’t look razor sharp. I touched her beaming smile.

        Mom, I will do what you want. I promised. But I’ve got to do it my own way.

        Since I’d placed the first pair of roses in the grate on Halloween night, I’d gotten to know the men attached to the names a little better.

        But I still didn’t know which one was my father.

        Or which one tried to murder my mother twenty years ago.

        Or if my father and her attacker were one and the same.

Purchase link: Christmas Fiction off the Beaten Path


Chapter 1

I’M NOT FOOLED, RAE. YOU’RE JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER.

I stared at the sheet of copier paper in my hand as the note fluttered in a gust of January wind.

Really? It had only taken three weeks for someone to hate me and my mom enough to leave an anonymous insult?

Turning over the envelope, I saw my address was written in the same marker, same all-caps style. It was postmarked. I must have missed it when I grabbed my mail last night.

Shivering on the miniscule landing to my apartment, I blew out a sigh, which formed a little cloud in the freezing air. At least the idiot hadn’t crept up to my mailbox in the dead of night. I shivered again, and it wasn’t from another gust.

People could hold a grudge in Marlin County, Ohio. I’d learned that in the last three weeks since I discovered Mal was my dad and announced Bella Rydell was my mother. The strained smiles, cold stares, conversations that didn’t get much past “hello” and “I’m fine.” Mom had made a lot of enemies, but that was twenty years ago. I’d told everyone who asked the story of how she’d been saved and changed her life. Well, most of it.

I shoved the piece of paper back in the envelope, tossed it inside my apartment, and locked the door behind me.

Holding my tripod and a roll of leftover bulletin board paper in one hand, I clutched the strap of my backpack with the other and climbed down the icy steps to the pad in front of the garage. Picking my way across Mrs. Blaney’s snow-covered lawn, I pulled the keys to my ancient truck from the pocket of my down vest. The Rust Bucket sat by the curb, draped in a thin layer of snow that couldn’t disguise its demolition derby appearance.

After ten cranks of the key, the engine caught. I grabbed the gear shift, and it didn’t move. Not a millimeter. I hit the steering wheel. Not this morning. Why this morning?

I fished my phone out of the other vest pocket and checked the time. If I walked fast and ran where it was safe on the slick pavement, I’d still make it to the library on time. Although Mal had shown me how, I still couldn’t unjam the gears without someone helping.

Grabbing my backpack, and leaving the paper and tripod behind, I slammed out of the truck. Some snow fell off. I wouldn’t have been surprised if both bumpers had too.

Avoiding the slick sidewalk, I ran along the edges of the yards, heading

uphill to Main Street. In Marlin County, if you weren’t going uphill, you were going downhill, sort of a scaled down version of the West Virginia county Mom and I had lived in when I was in middle school.

The sun shone ice white in a clear sky so blue it looked like an illustration in a hyper-cheerful picture book. But despite the sun’s dazzling appearance, not an ounce of warmth made it to the hilly streets. I pulled my scarf over my mouth and nose and held my arms tight against my sides. Maybe I should have taken Mal up on his offer to buy me a proper winter coat.

I zipped my vest to my chin. I hadn’t spent the past seven months figuring out who my father was and if he had tried to murder my mom when she was pregnant with me so I could live off of him. I was nineteen. I’d been on my own pretty much since Mom’s last round with cancer. If I froze to the bone because my jean jacket and vest only kept me warm above fifty degrees, fine with me. Nobody in Marlin County was going to accuse me of being a manipulator. That’s what a lot of people thought the daughter of Bella Rydell would be like.

Whoever sent the note thought manipulation was an inherited trait.

My left boot hit a slippery spot. I flung out my arms, steadying myself. With my camera only wrapped in a towel in my backpack, I didn’t want to fall. Avoiding broken bones was a good idea too.

At the top of the hill, I passed the sandstone courthouse, decorated in icicles like a giant wedding cake, glittering in the piercing sunlight. No time for a photo shoot, although if I could capture the way the icicles glistened, it could look like an ice castle in a fairy tale without any filters or photo editing.

I crossed Main Street, striped with white streaks of salt, followed Woodward Avenue down along the side of the library, and turned into the parking lot.

Jill Cerda, second-in-command and my boss when the library director wasn’t working, tromped over to the employees’ entrance through piles of snow, her unzipped coat flapping in the wind, her fine, graying hair dancing around her face. The cold must not have bothered her. She had plenty of insulation—at least 200 pounds packed onto a body that was a lot shorter than my five-eleven.

I assembled my professional smile, friendly but not too familiar. “Morning.”

The slight tilt of her head might have been a nod back. Jill punched in the code on the security keypad and sauntered inside. I hurried in as fast as I could without running her over. Lowering my scarf, I drew in a deep breath of unfrozen air, and my lungs appreciated it.

Jill glanced at her phone. “Leandra is late.”

“She’s not working today, ma’am. Leandra and Devon switched morning shifts, and Devon won’t get here until after her girls head to school.”

“I wasn’t informed of the switch.” Jill made a scolding noise with her tongue. “Did they clear it with Barb?”

“I’m sure they did, ma’am.” I took off my hat and fluffed my tangle of dark gold hair.

“That means you’re opening alone.” Jill aimed a finger at me. “You can’t goof off. Keep your mind on your work.”

A protest came to my lips, but I clamped them shut. Better to say nothing and get away from her.

In silence, we walked down the hall to the employees’ kitchen, flipping on lights along the way. Three weeks ago, she wouldn’t have spoken to me like that. Since she’d found out who my mom was, she hadn’t had a nice word for me.

I hung up my coat on a rack, changed from boots to loafers, and put my lunch in the fridge. From my backpack, I took out two books on photography I had to return. I placed my backpack inside an empty cupboard. Leaving it by the coat rack seemed a certain way to get my camera broken.

When I entered the two-story lobby, the brilliant sunshine pouring through the tall, narrow windows that faced Main Street almost made the overhead lighting unnecessary. The harsh ceiling fixtures lit the room in a consistent, ugly glare, killing the homey atmosphere the fireplace, overstuffed chairs, and couch gave to the stacks and racks of books, magazines, and newspapers. But I switched them on as part of opening procedures and smiled when they made almost no difference.

Behind the checkout desk, I turned on the computers and pushed the bin with items patrons had dropped off overnight from the slot in the front wall. As I bent over, my hair tried to blind me, and I lifted it up and back. So, it was going to be one of those days when my hair was out to get me. Unless I braided it or secured it somehow, I could never be sure it wouldn’t turn on me.

I lifted a mass of books and DVDs from the bin. Could Jill have sent the anonymous note? It didn’t seem like something a person in her fifties would do. She would have been in her thirties when Mom lived here and preyed on any guy with a decent bank account. Had Mom had an affair with Jill’s husband? But the unsigned note indicated someone afraid of revealing his or her true feelings. Jill had no problem showing me how much she disliked me.

I had almost finished scanning in the materials when Devon Majors and her two daughters, bundled to their eyes, rushed past the windows. I got the keys from the drawer, went to the inner doors, unlocked them, crossed the tiny room with the mat —what was the special name for this little room?—and opened the outer doors.

Devon waved to Liberty and Serenity as they trudged down Main Street. She ducked inside and tugged off her knit hat. The sides of her long, dark brown hair were pulled back in a series of braids, revealing the studs that lined the edges of her ears and a glimpse of the vivid feathered serpent tattooed on the back of her neck, while the rest of her hair poured over her shoulders like molasses.

“Rae.” Jill’s heavy voice dropped from the balcony overlooking the lobby. “Have you pulled the items for the hold shelf?”

“Just about to print the list.” I hurried behind the desk.

“You haven’t even printed it?” Jill sounded outraged, like I’d let the toddlers in Storytime make a collage with broken glass.

“Rae’s working alone this morning.” Devon looked up to Jill, shrugging out her red parka. “I just got here.”

“I know that.” She planted meaty hands on the black metal railing. “I’m not sure the library can afford to have you come in after your daughters go to school, Devon. Perhaps you’ll have to stick to the regular schedule like the rest of us.”

A fire leaped into Devon’s forest green eyes. She might have been more than half a foot shorter than I was, but she never looked small, especially when she was mad.

She glared up at Jill. “Don’t you think—”

“Here’s the list.” I waved the sheets. “We’ll get the items pulled and set aside in no time, ma’am.”

“You’d better.” Jill disappeared into the shelves of nonfiction adult books, the floorboards creaking under her footsteps.

Devon tossed a braid behind her shoulder. “I owe you. I was about to tell Jill what I thought of her, and I can’t afford to lose my job.”

One of the million things I liked about Devon was that she didn’t filter her words or her feelings. I also liked that although she was thirty- two, she treated me like a friend, not a kid. The only real friend I’d made in the county before I discovered who my father was and that I had about 6,000 relatives.

“I can’t afford for you to lose your job either.” I handed her half of the list. “You’re one of the few people around here who doesn’t care that I’m the daughter of Bella Rydell.”

“Don’t let Jill, or anybody else, get you down.” She glanced at the sheets. “Everyone will get used to the truth about you, and most of them won’t care. But that’s one of the problems of living in a small town or a rural county like Marlin. There’s not a lot of new blood moving in. It gives people time to hold on to old wrongs.”

 “Mom and I usually lived in small towns. It was cheaper and safer than the city. But it was hard getting accepted.”

“Wellesville is better than most in that area. I wasn’t sure how people would react to two little girls who were half Native American in a county that’s ninety percent white. When Shayne and I were traveling around the country, we never knew when someone would take offense to his non- white bread looks. But, except for a few losers, no one has made any nasty comments. The kids at school think it’s cool.”

Devon stepped closer and added, “Give it time, Rae. It’ll get better.”

I rolled the hem of my sweater. “I don’t like how people treat Mal because of me. Even people at church. I don’t want to cause him trouble.” “Your dad knew what a storm he’d stir up if he acknowledged you. He’s an adult. He can take it.”

I hoped she was right. I prayed she was right. Since early Christmas morning,

when Mal and I figured out he was the only one who could be my dad out of the three men my mother had told me were possible candidates, getting to know him and his family had gone better than anything I had imagined.

My stomach tensing, I swallowed hard.

I didn’t want to mess things up now.

Purchase Link: A Shadow on the Snow 



Praise God!


The Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, but I want to keep 
a grateful heart and honor God as we roll into the Christmas season.

His name is glorious. His love is exceptional. His name deserves praise!


 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Melody's Song by Kathleen E. Friesen

I've read this beautiful story by Kathleen E. Friesen 
and highly recommend Melody's Song.  

Here's a peek at the first chapter:

Whap! The old screen door slammed and echoed through the nearly empty farmhouse. Melody Jamison startled and bumped her head in the cavernous refrigerator she’d been cleaning. She struggled to her feet as her daughter Faith rushed into the kitchen, her hair a white-gold banner streaming behind her. 

“Mom? Oh, there you are. Sorry we’re late, but Jessica decided to nap an extra hour, and then she filled her diaper at the last minute, and… Are you okay?”

Melody tossed her cleaning cloth into the sink, feeling much older than her forty-four years. She leaned against the blue-tiled counter and rolled her aching shoulders. “I think so.” She sighed, shoulders dropping. “I knew this move would be hard, leaving this old farm…saying goodbye…but it’s even harder than I’d expected.” Her eyes welled up and she wiped them with the frayed hem of Tom’s old denim shirt. “I just can’t help feeling as though I’ve failed your father. You know how he loved this place. And after four generations of Jamisons…” 

Faith circled slowly, looking like a sad ballerina as her chin quivered at the barrenness of what used to be their home. Then she crossed the room and wrapped Melody in a hug. “Yeah, I know.” Her daughter pulled back but didn’t let go. “But you are doing the right thing. I still wish you were moving to a better part of the city, but at least you’ll be in Saskatoon. I’ve been worried about you being out here all alone, working yourself into the ground. I couldn’t bear to lose you, too. Dad would never expect you to run the farm by yourself.” She paused. “You do know that, right?” She pressed her cheek to her mother’s. “And we prayed about this, remember?” Faith stepped back, peered into her mother’s eyes. 

Melody looked away—too late. “You look exhausted. How long has it been since you’ve slept?” Melody didn’t want to answer. Nightmares had haunted her days and devoured her nights ever since Tom’s death, but she wasn’t about to admit it to her daughter. She leaned into the hug and rested her head on Faith’s slender shoulder.

Purchase: Melody's Song

Monday, November 28, 2022

A Christmas Blessing: A Tranquil Shores Novella (A Tranquil Shores Romance) by Judith McNees

I'm excited to share a new to me author. 
Judith McNees says her novella A Christmas Blessing 
is "a sweet romance with a Hallmark vibe." 

A Christmas Blessing can be read as a standalone, 
but it is the first in the Tranquil Shores Novella series.


 
For a taste of the first chapter and to purchase, go to: 

 A Christmas Blessing and click "Look Inside."

My review:
I enjoyed this quick read. McNees writes a romance filled with hope that’s perfect to set you in the holiday mood. Parker has social anxiety, something many of us deal with, while Lauren is a social butterfly, with her eyes on the wrong guys, until her friends dive in to help her out. McNees weaves the holiday spirit with faith and hope to create a delightful Christmas story. I purchased my copy. Opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Love Has Come

Romans 12: 9-10
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

The holidays bring out the best in us and sometimes the not so good. As I say good-bye to another Thanksgiving and hello to Christmas, I aspire to focus on the fruit I'm to produce as a follower of Jesus. In Galatians 5, Paul shares the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit Jesus followers strive to produce.

I love the spirit of Christmas. The happiness that seems to float in the air. The holidays are certainly a time of love. A time to honor family and friends. And a time to offer love to the people we don't know by giving.  God calls us to love, not just those who are easy to love, but all people.

When I’m out and about, shopping, at the post office, at church, or with my family, I long to put my best foot forward and be an encourager to those who are stressed. This is a time when believers can show God’s love, be a light, and shine for Jesus.

Jesus tells his disciples, in John 13, to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He knew that when He went to heaven He needed to leave his disciples with a direct command. Those words are for us, too. Jesus wants us to love each other and to show that love by listening, showing compassion, meeting needs and sharing Jesus. Loving others is not always easy, but God gives us the tools we need and if we tap into his tool box, the Bible, we find love enough to share.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Give Thanks and Praise

For the Lord is good!

Thank you Lord, for your love and grace.
Thank you for your Son and for the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for the hope we have in heaven.

For the Lord is good!


 

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Grateful

1 John 4:9-10
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

I thank God for the gift of His Son.

When I volunteered in Sara’s first grade class, she had the children write three things they were thankful for. In this process, they learned to write words and understand how to form sentences. At the same time, they thought about what they appreciated. Many of the children wrote family and pets. I had to chuckle when a couple of kids added Taco Bell to their list. One little guy even said he was grateful for George Washington. Through their sincerity, they expressed what they appreciated most.

If I were asked to write three things I’m thankful for, I’d certainly say family and my dog, but I’m not sure Taco Bell would make my list. I do appreciate George Washington and the early settlers of our country and the sacrifices they made for our freedom, but I have another sacrifice I appreciate more.

I am so thankful for Jesus. You see Jesus’ sacrifice of His life on the cross and His incredible resurrection give me hope, because when I leave this world I’ll have a home in heaven. His sacrifice also gives me freedom. Freedom from Satan and his cronies, freedom to worship and live my life in peace. Jesus’ sacrifice gives me joy and a peace that passes understanding. God fills my heart with love I can pour over my family, friends, and neighbors.

In this season of thanksgiving, I am beyond grateful for Jesus.

What are you thankful for?  

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

We All Struggle

Every person faces trials in life. 

Every person has the ability to show kindness.

One thing I had to learn about people is it's not about me.
When someone is struggling, they may be grumpy, sad or quiet,
not upset with me, but dwelling in their own stress.

There are three things I can do when I know people are struggling.

Pray

Be kind

Love 



 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Hope from a Thankful Heart

Anxiety is so common in our society. 
I don't have the answers as to why,
 but I do know when I spend time
thanking God, my anxiety eases. 

The more I thank Him, the less I have to be anxious about.
The apostle Paul must have known this too.
His advice to present our requests,
to God gives us hope and much to be thankful for.


 

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Thankful for Communion

Mark 14:22-25

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

I remember getting into trouble as a child during communion.

When I was a little girl, before the establishment of junior church, I sat with my parents in the pew and listened to the sermon, sang the songs, and tried to behave. One Sunday, when the deacons passed the communion plates of little wafers of bread and tiny cups of juice, I got curious. I reached to take a piece and my mom let me know that was not the thing to do. If I remember correctly, she took me by the hand and took me outside to explain why. From that point on I didn’t touch the trays until I confessed my love for Jesus and was baptized.

From the day I became a believer, I’ve been enamored with the time of communion at church. That moment when I bow my head and consider the sacrifice Jesus gave for me and the grace He pours over me. He didn’t have to die. He could have lived on earth and just been a good guy. Instead, Jesus came and took on my sins and burdens. He called the weary, the poor, the hurting, the sinners, and the saints to Him. I’m beyond thankful that God created a way for people to come into a relationship with Him. I’m also thankful my mom taught me what communing with God meant. I’d be lost without my Jesus.

In this month of Thanksgiving, reflect on Jesus and the burden He carries for us.


Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Peaceful and Thankful

My daughter, Hannah and I visited a pumpkin farm in Kentucky, 
where they had the most beautiful chrysanthemums.
When I snapped photos of them, 
I knew I wanted to share their beauty on my blog.
What better time, than November-
the month we think about Thanksgiving.

In Colossians 3:15, the Apostle Paul reminded the church
to be at peace and to be thankful.

God still calls us to live a peaceful life, with Christ in our hearts, 
and to express our thankfulness for all of His amazing gifts.


 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Historical Fiction/split-time Review: Free to Love by Bettie Boswell

What It’s About:

This is a prequel to Bettie’s book, ON CUE

As Ginny writes her musical, inspiration comes from journal entries, letters and poems, telling the story of a mistress and her maid, bound together by slavery and blood, journeying toward freedom and love.

Early and Missy Hollings, her mistress, have always been together. Missy keeps a journal of the dangers both young women face while living with her nefarious stepbrother. Her father seems oblivious to their safety until the stepbrother's threatening advances increase. When Missy's father realizes both young women are in danger, he allows them to leave on a journey north with an aunt. He also reveals the shameful secret behind the young women's true relationship. The aunt insists that George, another slave, must be part of their journey, to keep Early safe. When Missy's family forces Early into marriage with George, will their relationship be forever changed?

They encounter dangers and help on their journey north. Will Early and George's forced marriage survive the dangers along the way when their path separates them from Missy?

My Thoughts:
I read On Cue and enjoyed the story, so I wanted to check out this prequel. I love this story of these two strong women as they navigate the horrors of slavery in the south. Early and Missy grew up like sisters, but as adults they face trials that may break them apart. Boswell does a beautiful job showing the turmoil and dedication these two share through decisions they must make. One of my favorite characters is their aunt who takes them north to find freedom and the promise of a new life. Throughout the story, Ginny, from On Cue, reflects on the journal and other ephemera she finds as she writes her musical. If you enjoy stories set in the south, historical accounts of that time period, or simply a great story, you’ll want to read Free to Love. I purchased a copy from Amazon. Opinions are my own.

My review for On Cue

Saturday, October 29, 2022

What Do You Fear?

Psalm 33:18-22

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

Our Golden, Rosie, shakes when she hears loud noise.

Monday morning, we awoke to a crew of roofers ripping off the shingles on the building next door. When I tried to take Rosie out to do her business, she trotted to the edge of the grass, squatted, then ran back inside. She refused to take her walk. Thankfully, Tim drove her to a safe place, and she was happy.

Like Rosie, I fear certain thingsfailure in my writing, making a mistake and hurting another person, letting someone down, and worst of allspiders. Yes, those creepy, crawly creatures freak me out. But seriously, fear is real. We all fear something.

In the Psalm we are called to fear the Lord. Not the fear that causes me to hide, or curl up in a ball, or throw my shoe at an eight-legged creature, but a fear of reverence. Healthy fear of God involves, adoration, devotion, respect, wonder, and worship. As a young Christian, the thought of being afraid of God confused me. Why fear someone who loves you? After becoming a parent I understood much better. Although I don’t think my girls ever truly feared me, they had a healthy respect for me and understood the parameters I set.

God watches over his children, and He loves like no other. Even as I hold a healthy fear for my creator, I also trust Him completely and hope in Him wholly.

Fear the Lord with joy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Plot Twist

Change can be hard. 

Yet, when the seasons shift, I enjoy the beauty. 
Autumn has been especially lovely this year--
the leaves vibrant and the weather glorious.

Change can be beautiful. 
I'm trusting God when life takes twists and turns, 
for He knows my future and my needs.

Like a novel--I can say, "Plot twist!" and keep moving forward.




 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Contemporary Book Review: The Book of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer

What's the Story:

A collection of lost books holds the clues to her family's legacy…and her future.

Hope Sparrow has mastered the art of outrunning her tragic past, learning never to stay anywhere too long and never to allow anyone control over her life again. Coming to Wanishin Falls in search of her family's history already feels too risky. But somewhere in the towering stacks of this dusty old bookshop are the books that hold Hope's last ties to her late mother—and to a rumored family treasure that could help her start over.


Only, the bookshop is in shambles, and the elderly owner is in the beginning stages of dementia and can’t remember where the books lie. To find the last links to the loved ones she's lost, Hope must stay and accept help from the townsfolk to locate the treasured volumes. Each secret she uncovers brings her closer to understanding where she came from. But the longer she stays in the quaint town, the more people find their way into the cracks in her heart. And letting them in may be the greatest risk of all…

My Thoughts:

Hope’s story took my breath away. Set in a small town, we often think of the charm, the shops, the quirky characters, but something seldom revealed is the underside this author captured; the one where grudges are held and gossip is shared. Ronan’s family has caught the brunt of the rumors for years and paid the price. When Hope comes to town to search for the treasured books her mother left her, with plans to leave as quickly as she came, she discovers something she’s been missing for years, the possibility, if somewhat shaky, to put down roots. With Ronan’s lack of self-confidence and Hope’s fragile emotions, the two search with the help of friends for a treasure which may not exist and discover... well, you’ll need to read the book. The characters Rushmeyer created will stick with me for a long time. If you love stories with literary references, faith and hope, incredibly deep characters, and the prospect of love, you’ll want to read The Bookshop of Secrets. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Do Good Work

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Genesis 6:6-8
The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

As a crafter, artist, and writer, I picture God’s hands creating each person with a purpose.

Can you imagine being called by God to build an enormous boat because torrential rain is about to flood the earth and kill off all the sin-filled people? On top of that, fill this ginormous ark with animals who will be hungry, thirsty, and smelly. And you and your family of eight will be the only people to survive.

True story. God called Noah to build an ark because God looked at the world and saw so much evil, that He chose to start over. The only man for the job was Noah because he was faithful, and he was created for this purpose.

My friends, Bev, Krista and I went to visit the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. The Ark is a replica of Noah’s ark built according to the dimensions in the Bible with the folks who created it using an artistic license on the internal structure.

As we walked up and down the three-story boat, along the ramps, I pictured Noah and his family caring for the animals. The feeding and cleanup were enough to overwhelm me. Which got me to thinking about tasks God has called me to do. Was I as willing as Noah to trust God and move forward? I’d like to think so, but at times, I’ve hesitated. When God called me to write novelsI thought there is no way I can do that. Yet I have because I chose to be obedient to God’s calling.

I’m thankful for Noah’s example of obedience and faith. From him and his family, I’ve learned to trust God and His wisdom and obey his calling in my life. It’s not easy, but I know God has created me as His handiwork to do good works.

What is God calling you to do?

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Staying Humble

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. -Colossians 3:12

Some days I learn a lesson by making a mistake. 
Last week on Wednesday, I posted a painting of a beautiful goldfinch, 
which I mistakenly posted as my mom's painting.
My daughter Maggie reminded me she had painted that beautiful bird. 

So this week, I humble myself as I post the lovely house finch my mom painted.

I find as I get older, I still have much to learn, 
mistakes to make, and humbleness to experience.

That's okay, because I want God to keep teaching me in my humility.