Monday, March 13, 2017

IBC Princess Bible with Coloring Sticker Book by Thomas Nelson

This is a cute Bible. I was excited to order it in hopes this would be the Bible I would choose for my granddaughter. I was a little let down, mostly because I expected more. 

I have the hardback edition. It comes with a very small coloring book with stickers inside. It has sixteen coloring pages with a little insert of stickers. 

The Bible contains three sections where the pages are full color. These sections contain four pages. One in the beginning where there is a Bible timeline. One closer to the middle, and another closer to the back of the Bible. Within these pages there are questions for little ones. How do I know Jesus loves me? How do I pray. How do I forgive? How can I let God's love shine through me? How do I study the Bible? There are other aspects included like, Bible verses to know, an area where you can write your favorite verses. If it were not for these small sections of color the Bible is very plain, just black and white throughout. 

In the back of the Bible you will find a page of The Miracles of Jesus, The Disciples, The Names of God, and Kids in the Bible. There is  small concordance, a dictionary, and Memory Verses For my Life, What God Promises About, and a few pages of color maps. 

This Bible has 365 highlighted verses, but these are highlighted in a just a dark gray color. Not something bright. I expected the inside pages to be more colorful and something a little girl would be drawn to pick up. The pages are not very strong. As I was making my way through the Bible I tore a page corner. So for a child I am not sure it is something that will be long lasting. 

It is written in such a way that is easy for little ones to understand. This is a great blessing. If I was purchasing a Bible for my granddaughter this just isn't the one I would choose. 

This Bible was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Rabbit Ear Reception

Are we tuning in? Are we waiting with hope and assurance? We need to be waiting with anticipation and readiness. 

We have become a people that tunes everything out. We zone in to our phone, put our earbuds in, and let everything else around us go. Can you imagine the daily blessings we miss out on by living in our little zone? We live in such a way that we try to quiet all the noise around us. So much so that it causes us to become numb to our very own senses. 

Long ago when my children were young, well, not so long ago, but it seems a lifetime ago, we would gather together and watch American Idol. My husband would be working at night, so it was just me and the kids. We would get snacks and all scrunch in close on the bed and get ready to be wowed. 

On one particular night we weren't getting good reception. At the time we had rabbit ears for our antennae. Those were the good days, right? Well, up until they wouldn't give clear reception. One of the kids had knocked over the antennae. Upon crashing on the floor we all watched in horror as one of the antennae broke off. Oh mercy. Not on this night. Not on the finale. 

What would we do? Oh, this country girl has learned a thing or two about living in a rural area lol. I ran and got the foil paper. I glued that antennae back together with as much foil as possible. I think we could have reached aliens on Mars this night. 

Well, there was a catch to this creation of mine. One of us would have to hold the antennae to make it work. Let me tell ya. That's a LOT of American Idol love, right? So, that's exactly what we did. For the next two hours we took turns holding the antennae so we could tune in to see who would be the season winner. 

There wasn't any complaining. Just great laughter at our antics to watch this show that had captivated us. We couldn't watch the entire season and miss out on who would win, right? We went to great efforts that night to make sure we were tuned in. 

Everyone headed off to bed after the winner was announced. That night we were totally connected in. We were glued to the television and for us it was worth every effort with all of us working together to make sure that all of us got to watch together. Yep, a family thing for sure. 

How's your reception? How closely are you tuning in? Maybe the question we need to ponder is, just what are we willing to do to make sure we are getting the best reception possible? For one thing, we just gotta stop tuning out everything around us. We gotta set down those phones, take out those earbuds, and start paying attention. 

So often we are working so hard to tune out the world around us that we are missing out on the obvious. We are ignoring the very things right in front of our eyes. The thing is, we are trying to connect to all the wrong things. Our focus needs to be on Jesus. How long are we willing to hang on to the antennae?

Amazingly when we tune in to Jesus, seeking Him with everything in us, He is good to open our eyes and ears to the blessings around us. He is good to show us where to reach out and where there are needs. It is in our actions of helping others that His love his shown in a mighty way. If we are willing, if our hearts are ready, He will send us and equip us with everything we need. 

Through being His hands and feet we not only reach others, but our heart changes. Every time we see His glory in impossible situations our faith grows. The more willing we are, the more perceptive we will become to the Spirit moving within us. 

May we keep up those rabbit ears. Keep them ready in expectation at the amazing show before us. After all, we wouldn't want to miss one minute that leads to the long awaited finale, right?

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Galatians 5:16-17

"Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind." Philippians 3:15-16

"Set your mind on things above, not on things of this earth." Colossians 3:2

"My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:1-5

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Katie Ganshert is that author that gets a reader excited. I was thrilled to be receiving her newest release, Life After. I invite you to take a peek at all of my reviews of Katie's penned gems.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful, Wild Flowers from Winter, Wishing on Willows, and The Art of Losing Yourself, are all wonderful creations penned by this gifted writer (check out my reviews).

I may be all alone here in my review, but this wasn't my favorite. This was a difficult read. There was a great deal of anger, resentment, and blame. Now, with saying that, I understand why there was so much anger. A crazy man set off a bomb and families were destroyed as their loved ones were killed. 

There is one survivor of this day, but she didn't go unharmed. In fact, she carries within her soul scars of this day. Some she remembers, but much she cannot. She blames herself for surviving. Autumn Manning is a woman burdened with a great deal of emotion she has yet to understand. We journey with her as she wants to be normal but is so far from it. Everyone tells her to move on, but to her that thought seems ridiculous in the midst of all the questions she has erupting in every thought. 

There is a family who intertwines in Autumn's healing. See, they too are hurting. A husband lost his wife on this day and a daughter and son lost their mother. Their story, their secrets uncover as truth surfaces. The husband is a therapist who feels as though his life is an altered illusion. His daughter reaches out to Autumn. She begins writing secretly to her. This is where the story really takes off. 

The title is Life After, but really it is so much more about life before. Yes, how to live after such a tragedy, but this brings these characters to ponder even more deeply their life before this day. Their lives are changed forever and making sense of that takes on the last part of this novel. 

These characters are in a whirlwind of wounds of lose, but also of healing that we see come in small wonders. We see God move in this mess and bring these characters together. They never imagined meeting. We see that God is in the unexpected and once we allow Him room wonders of mercy and grace overflow. 

Reese Elliott is the standout character of this novel. Oh, the heart of a little girl only wanting to remember good and not wanting to make the reality of what was her truth for now. I love the heart of this child. Through her the other characters learn much about themselves. 

It is categorized as romance, but I didn't grasp a lot of romance. By the end of the novel the characters were just starting to know one another beyond that tragic day and all the emotion that they had lived with since. The relationship that stands out is between Autumn and Reese. As the story comes to an end the characters are just then coming to life out a darkness that has surrounded them. I guess for me I just needed more. 

With that said, I am still a huge Katie Ganshert fan. You may pick up this novel and find that it is just what your heart needs. It may be that novel that I can go back and read later and find a nugget of sweetness I had yet to uncover in my reading. I will be excited to see where the pen takes Ganshert next!

Happy reading 📕

This novel was a gift from Waterbrook Multnomah for sharing my review with you. 

Katie Ganshert is the author of several books and works of short fiction, including the Christy Award-winning A Broken Kind of Beautiful and Carol Award-winner The Art of Losing Yourself. Katie lives in eastern Iowa with her family. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning

I came across this selection on Amazon. I had seen so many reviews that it intrigued me. I had never read anything from this German author. The cover caught my attention as did the description of this novel. 

It's a part of a trilogy. I am getting ready to open up book 2, The American Lady. I cannot wait to begin. I tell you this book marveled me. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. What a journey into another time and place. 

We travel to Germany where this novel is set. The year is 1890 and we find ourselves in Lauscha, Germany. The author did a fantastic job at the perfect description of not only the area, but circumstance, and heart of the characters. Her writing style flows so easily that the pages almost turn themselves. 

The characters are easy to love. Three sisters who are now wondering, after their father had passed from this earth,  how they will now provide for themselves. It isn't going to be easy, but these sisters show us how to prevail over challenges that would keep some from taking a step forward for fear of failure. 

These sisters, Johanna, Ruth, and Marie, are close-knit. I love that they are all so different. Throughout this novel we see them grow, become stronger, become more sure of themselves in this world where men are in charge. 

They have tender hearts, and walk with grace. These sisters were raised with values and to treasure themselves, never allowing another to take advantage of them.

This novel is about family, love, sisterhood, trust, and prevailing against the circumstance of life. Glassblowing in this time was only accomplished by men. It was unspeakable for women to design such beauty. 

Each of these girls journey into finding themselves as trial seems to come from every corner, each facing something different, but all overcoming with a strength and a bond that comes from such a loving family. 

Now, for me I usually only review Christian novels, but there was something about this one that drew me in and I had to see what this writer and her work was all about. For my Christian readers this may not be the book for you. This is why. On two different occasions there are sex scenes. At first I struggle with these. I wondered what the book would have been without them and just how was I going to write a review to a mostly Christian audience about a book that contained sex. 

Well, I never share spoilers. I just really dislike when people do that, but this time I just cannot go around it. Could the novel been written without the sex scenes and prevailed as a great novel? Of course it could have. The writer could have shared other challenges these women faced. But these are also times where men held a hand over women and these women were expected to keep quiet about it. 

One sex scene is when one of the characters, Ruth, is falling deeply for a young man. This is the first man she has really known. In this scene he is extremely rough, no tenderness, and nothing as she thought her first time would be. Later we see this character being abused by her husband. 

The next is when her sister, Johanna,  is raped by the shop owner where they are all employed. Of course there isn't going to be anything gentle about this scene. Now, there is one more sex scene for Ruth. She has finally found love. She finds the tenderness of a man, his heart, and finds real value. She is a gem to this man and he truly cares for her. This scene is tender and intimate as it should be when there is love. 

For me, I can look at these scenes and take away the importance to the character, Ruth, and to her growth. It shows how many of us young women meet a young man and think that this is reality. But Ruth shows women they do not have to remain in a relationship where they are being abused. This was something very difficult to walk away from during this time in history. 

For these characters to overcome issues that women face is of value to this story that will continue on in this trilogy. As for Johanna, being raped, she feels she is now unworthy of love. No one would want to have her. But this isn't what we uncover in the novel. We too see her find unconditional love. 

So, I wasn't a fan of these very small sex scenes, but I do understand why the writer added them. I still must give this novel a five star because the story weaves such a connection between the reader and the characters. I love seeing characters overcome. Before they overcome they must face the struggle head on and that is exactly what these characters did. 

I love the idea of glassblowing. The beauty cannot be found until the glass undergoes change. Another great illustration of beauty from ash. 

Happy Reading📘

This novel was a gift from Amazon Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Petra Durst-Benning lives near Stuttgart, Germany, with her husband, Bertram, and their dog, Eric. Before writing her first novel she worked as an import/export translator and edited a magazine for dog owners. All this changed with the publication of The Silver Thistle, which was set against the background of the peasant uprising in Germany in 1514. Her next dozen books take place in times ranging from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century, and are set in Germany, France, Russia, and America. They bring tales of historical times, love and family, happiness, and hardship to an ever-growing readership. The Glassblower is the first part of a trilogy. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The" I Am" Makes Us Think About What "i am"

In Genesis 1:26-27 it shares something valuable to each of us about who we are in God. We are created in His image. What I love about this verse below is that is says, "make man in OUR image". What's OUR? The trinity, God, the Holy Spirit, and Christ Jesus. Ponder that. I mean really go deep. We are make in THEIR image. 

"Then God said, "Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them."

We are His workmanship. He knew us before we were ever born. He weaved us together within the womb, but even before then He planned our life perfectly for us. That's so much to ponder isn't it? 

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in Him." Ephesians 2:10

"and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:24

So, we were created in God's image, we were created as His workmanship, and in Him we are found to be to made new. Scripture takes us deeper even. We are told that He lives within us! Yes, our bodies, that He created, He too made to be a temple, a holy temple, for the Spirit to abide within us. When we come to personally know Christ, when we invite Him into our heart, at the moment we believe He is our Savior, He sends the Holy Spirit to live within us. 

"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:13-14

"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ Jesus should be to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:11-12

We are now sealed with a promise. We have an inheritance that is only found when we accept Christ Jesus as our Savior. Once we do, at that very moment, the Spirit abides within us. In our temple, designed specifically made for Him. 

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19

What was the price for us to have life? Christ Jesus. His life was the price in which was paid so that we could have everlasting life. This isn't just a life on this earth. Our life here is rather short compared to the everlasting life in heaven, our destination, our home, that was created for us by the God who gave it all. It is in Him that we find redemption. 

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him." Ephesians 1:7-10

This God who created us, gave us not only purpose, but one to bring glory to God. He didn't just create us and let us be. He loves us so much more that to do that. He planned our lives. Each moment, each breath before us, He planned. I tell you, it's difficult for me to take in that kind of love. A love that goes far beyond the love we feel on earth. Oh, don't get me wrong. We love deep, right? But see, God's love is deeper. 

"And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." Exodus 3:14

Our God is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As He remains the same, we change as we walk with Him. The closer we abide with Him the more we are going to be in constant change. As we are always changing we are being made new. This remarkable metamorphosis can only happen through our Lord. 

"Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to you in order; If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Psalm 40:5

"For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

His thoughts toward me are good. My Savior intercedes for me. He goes before the Father on my behalf. What a mighty love. There are so many scriptures that share of who I AM is to us. He is our Everything. Through Him we are found righteousness. But what about my thoughts? Those daily thoughts that I have toward myself? 

In the Bible we see I AM over Seven hundred times in the Old and New Testament. These are places were God is described to us. He is the I AM. See, every time we speak, "I am", that is a description of God. We are made in His image, right? Everything good about us is His creation. But how often does our daily description of oursselves look like this?

I am so fat.
I am so ugly.
I am so lazy.
I am so stupid.
I am so...You fill in the blank. We do a lot looking down on ourselves, don't we? We speak a lot of, "I am", but when we speak of ourselves in such a way what is this saving of our Creator? That "I am" list could be pages long. It too could go to the other extreme and be a very prideful list. 

But somewhere in there we must instead of looking in the mirror and judging ourselves to this world's standards, let us look instead at our Creator and all that He is within us. That's extraordinary. 

See, every time we put ourselves down, we put down our God, our Creator. We are saying to Him, "What You created in me isn't good enough. You didn't do a good job with me. You made a huge mistake when you created me". Imagine Him designing each of us. Imagine our God creating us to be spectacular and unique in every way possible.

Think about for a bit. We say, "I am", all throughout the day.
I am so sad.
I am so hungry.
I am so happy.
I am so excited.

Yes, every single time we introduce ourselves to another we say, "Hi, I am Robin." That's something to really ponder! I AM is in everything about the people He created! This is remarkable to me to even ponder. 

Let us instead praise our Savior with words of edification. Let us be thankful. Let us speak with gratitude, finding the beauty within the ash. We are pearls of beauty to our Savior. I want to see myself as He sees me. I don't want to compare myself to others or judge myself as this world finds beauty. 

As I glorify my God with my words I too need to glorify Him as I describe myself. Give it a try today. See how it goes. Each day find something extraordinary about yourself and praise God by living a life of gratitude. It changes us. It also helps us to be examples for others. It's easy for me to praise Him for His creation. I easily see His beauty in others. But when it comes to myself, well, that's a bit more difficult. But we are always harder on ourselves than on others, right? 

Changing my attitude, catching myself when I say, "I am....", and then pondering my thoughts before I speak them brings me to ponder God all the more. I am not only thinking of my words I would use to describe myself today. How I look and how I feel. But going beyond appearance and thinking about my use of language and my actions throughout the day. It seems we talk differently when others are around. You know, when we are all alone? Yeah, those thoughts and deeds. I want everything about me to give praise to my Savior. To this God who create me, planned my life, gave me life, and continues to live within me. 

Of course, I can never repay Him for all He has done. If I could it would no longer be about my Savior. It would be about me. But see, it's about grace and mercy. And that's all about Him.

Of course we are going to have bad days. Things are always going to happen. But it isn't that circumstance that defines us. It is who we are in Christ and let me tell you, through Him, we are children of God. In that alone there is much to be praised. 

All those I am's I speak daily need to change. What about you? 

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why So Much Worried Waste?

Why so much worried waste? God is not limited in time, power, or space. We limit Him in our lives through our lack of faith and our lack of obedience. His presence is promised to us who believe. So, why do we fear? He is either in control or He isn't. I choose to believe that He is in total control.

He's already in our tomorrow. He has heaven awaiting us who choose to believe. There is no greater inheritance.  So, knowing that, having our faith grounded in our future with Him, what do we really have to fear? 

We can't stop life from happening. Some things, actions, and reactions, are of our own choice. Some circumstances are not of our choice or making. But no matter how the circumstance around us, God is still present. Still in control. That's living a "no matter what" kind of faith. 

Fear is a natural instinct when something dangerous is happening to us. But what about the fear we hold for things that have yet to happen? Things that may never happen? That is the precious time stolen away from us by the great deceiver, Satan. If we are living in fear we are without peace and joy. 

God releases life to us moment by moment, breath by breath. Can you imagine if He released all of life upon us at once? Think about that. We simply couldn't handle it. We would live in constant overload. 

His yoke is easy. His burden light. We become fearful when we try to take it all in at once and hold life itself within our own hands. You know that saying, He doesn't give us more than we can handle? That is so off from His Word. Scripture doesn't say anything of the sort. Life unfolds before us with measured time. What is too much for us, we can with His power and strength. We faith to allow God the room He needs to move on our behalf. 

He's capable, isn't He? I give to Him and then I try to take it back as if I can somehow protect my family better than He. I can rest in Him, weary and anxious. See, I've learned it's when I am so scared, when I choose to open my hands to Him, and say, "Yes, Jesus, my life is Yours. Use every circumstance in my life to grow me closer to You", that I see Him move in extraordinary ways. 

Where is my belief? Why am I constantly waiting for disaster to happen? His ways are higher than mine. He sees far beyond my vision. His capabilities surpass anything I can do on my own. Peace isn't all flowers and sunshine. Peace comes in our darkest hours when we give over our fear to God as the storm rages wildly around us. 

There is nothing that I will face today that He is not already prepared for. What a mighty love, right? He isn't leaving us to our own devices. He comes in our darkest moment, and says, "Trust Me". I see my weaknesses and question myself, when instead I should be focused on my Jesus and His mighty strength. 

Let us not go through life starving ourselves of faith. Let us today empty ourselves of all fear and anxiety. Instead of hanging on to fear of what hasn't yet happened, let us open our hands wide and say to our God, the God who created our lives, who knows every step, "Lord, Your will and not mine." 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundant." John 10:10

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." James 4:13-15

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

This novel kept me company while spending long hours at the hospital with my mother. It's one of those easy reads. One you can curl up with and simply enjoy the wonderful story before you. 

This is the first writing I have enjoyed by this author. I found her use of words marvelous as she described a time and place far from anything I have experienced. Her words brought this country to life for me as the characters too found a place in my heart. 

We are all just travelers in an unknown land, searching for home. There are times we are comfortable and those in which all is new. It is these times where we find ourselves uncomfortable and unsure that we grow as people and find our place and treasure where we are planted at the time. 

I really enjoyed the main character and all the writer brought out about her. She made her transparent for the reader to understand her heart. Of course some characters are more enjoyable than others. Some are easy to like where others try our patience. The writer did an excellent job of bringing out the completeness of each character. 

I usually only review Christian works, but this selection's description and cover captivated me. I was curious and wasn't let down at all. I will look forward to the next work from this author. 

This novel was a gift from Crown Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Because you're Mine by Colleen Coble

I became a Coble fan with her Rock Harbor Series. My admiration for her grew from there. It seemed I loved every series and every stand alone. I was excited every time there was a new release. 

Her writing style is straight to the heart. It's simple and beauty. She gives heart to the characters and as they come alive on the black and white pages before us we begin to fall in love with them. We can understand them. We have walked where they have walked. They are filled with journey and faith. 

It was the cover that caught my attention. A new novel into a new series. I was excited for the journey before me. 

This novel is fast paced. There is one thing happening right after another. Sometimes predictable, but never boring. The reader will certainly travel a journey into creepiness with these characters. 

I cannot say this is a favorite. I understand the main character, Alanna, is not wanting to lose her son, but to marry the band manager so quickly? How did they not know his creepiness before now? 

There are sinister plots and suspense throughout the novel, but I have to share this one was a bit too creepy for me. Maybe a little too much of the dark side? I needed more faith for this journey into the dark side. 

You may very well pick up this novel and love it from the first to last page. A roller coaster ride for sure. For me, I just needed more substance. I understand like the main character we can feel like life continues to belt us with one hit right after the next. I can relate to her walking with strong faith and then tragedy happens and she walks away from the truths she has known. 

I hope you pick up this novel and enjoy it immensely. This may be a selection I need to put up and read again at another time. Maybe then I will gain more insight to share. Colleen Coble is a favorite of mine and this won't discourage me from choosing another new release from her. There's always a blessing to be found in her writing. 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Colleen Coble is a USA Today bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her romantic suspense novels, including, Tidewater Inn, Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.

Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

This is my first novel read by Michele Phoenix. I love the premise of this novel and all that she opened my eyes to. We always hear of the 'calling' by missionaries. We want to go where God calls us. We want to make a difference. 

To be called by God isn't the same for every soul. We all fit differently into His plan. Our walk with Him isn't ALL we do for His name, but our relationship with Him, our intimate journey with our Savior. 

This novel is raw and transparent. For me, it was the journey of Lauren. We see that her husband feels called to work in Nepal and with the people, but we really don't read about much of his personal journey. 

Their son, Ryan, is struggling. We can see through the conversations he has with his parents that he is truly unhappy. We see the fall, but we don't really get a close glimpse into his heart. 

It is with Lauren that we journey. She feels alone and lost. Through her words we can 'feel' the pain in her heart. She is broken and a mess. We can see that she wants more of a close relationship with her husband, which is clueless to anything she or their son is going through. Nothing seems to matter to him except the call. We see his words of encouragement, but they aren't so much words to inspire his family, but his life and calling and how they fit into it. 

So, as Lauren is lost in her time alone she connects with an old friend. But their relationship grows beyond just a message here and there. They begin chatting through messages daily. She can never seem to find the time to share this with her husband and when she finally does his response is one I wasn't ready for. Their relationship is really strained and pretty much completely lies on his 'feelings' with God and how he says their life should be. 

I enjoyed the rawness and the transparent look into Lauren's life. The novel goes back and forth from her younger years when she and her husband met to present time. So much I enjoyed, but much I didn't. Although the novel took us into her life as a missionary, the missing link was faith. Not much faith being shared, but more so the 'calling' of the husband. 

I enjoyed the writing style. But the novel just kind of ends..period. For me it ended where it should have been more of the middle of the novel. It just left me pondering what life would be for these people we journeyed with through three hundred and sixty something pages. 

I would like to read more of this author. As her words are powerful and she does bring the reader into a world most only hear about as families come to church to share the need. We never really see or hear about the personal struggles of these families. 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Michele Phoenix born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michele Phoenix is a consultant, writer, and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for twenty years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michele travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies, and paths to healing.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Healing Of The Heart (book 3 in the series Secrets on Sterling Street) by Loree Lough

I admire Loree so very much. Love when an author gives a dedication for the novel they poured their heart into. Loree's dedication to her granddaughter touched my heart in a powerful way. Such a love-bond between grandmother and granddaughter. Words for us all to ponder and live in example. 

Currency of the Heart began this series. It was followed by Guardians of the Heart. You can peek at my reviews on both of these gems. I loved the first. After reading the second I was sure it would be my favorite. Then here came the last of the series. Wow! It is difficult to pick a favorite when the pen is in the hand of Loree, but book 3 is my absolute fave of this series! 

Now, why would I pick this novel for my fave? There isn't a character in this novel that doesn't leave a heart-message for one to ponder. That's powerful stuff right there. 

Okay, so you can know the gist of the story by reading the description. I won't do that for you and I won't give away any secrets😏. Oh, the keeping of secrets! These characters have secrets they want to keep from others for many different reasons. Some are because they are afraid of judgement. Some secrets are kept in hope that love will continue. There are those secrets we keep not because we are afraid of how others will react, but because we are afraid if we speak them our own heart will be changed in some way. Maybe we lose a friendship, a loved one, or we simply fear exposing too much of ourselves and we just won't be accepted. 

This tale begins in the year of 1879 in Baltimore, Maryland and takes us on a journey to Sterling Street in Fairplay, Colorado in 1884. I tell you that I have loved visiting Sterling Street and getting to know these characters that make us feel right at home. 

We meet Ruby McCoy and her mother. Now this is a relationship that at times made me giggle. It's almost as though Ruby has taken charge and is in the leadership role. As they visit each town we witness this relationship of mother and daughter grow as Ruby tries to make amends for the actions of another. 

This is something we can easily relate to if you're a "fixer". A heart of grace always wants to make things right, even when the actions are not of their own doing. Ruby is a character with a heart of grace. Mercy seems to flow easily as she knows the actions of her father has caused such grief for so many. She wants to right each wrong, placing herself in a position of not wanting anyone to know who she is or why she is spending so much time in each town her father visited. 

Her mother doesn't quite get it. She isn't really concerned with what other people think. She thinks very highly of herself as she looks down on others. She would rather go shopping and get back to the life she has always known. But in a few twists even mama begins to grow in ways she never expected. 

Ruby is that strong woman that we all hope to be. She's that girl that doesn't easily give up. She lives determined to make a difference. Trying to right all the wrongs made before her doesn't make an easy road for Ruby who carries upon her shoulders the sins of her father. She is ashamed of her last name and would rather no one ever know who she really is. 

Now there is Rex Truett. The name speaks strength and honor. Truth flows from his life. He's the sheriff in Fairplay. Okay, just the name Fairplay speaks volumes!! Rex is that guy you want on your side. He is ready to stand up for those who have been wronged. He is all about justice. Rex lives with his Aunt Mavis, another strong character, and two children, Arlo and Payton, who will make your heart smile. 

Rex is a man who isn't easy on trust. He sees all that Ruby is doing with the townsfolk and he begins to question who she is and the truth behind her actions. Here is where the story begins to grow. It easily flows as these characters come to life before our very eyes. Loree allows us to see the heart of each one. Their background plays a huge roll in who they are today. It is always a blessing to see the growth in characters as they face trial and circumstance. 

These characters are not just their past. We see one try desperately to be nothing at all like the man who raised them. Another we see them work hard to fill the shoes of the one before them.  We learn that the choices of others leave behind something in all of us. How we perceive that is our choice. What we inherit is not always our choice, but how we live with that inheritance is. 

There is much to take away from this novel where faith weaves its way through the pages. Life lessons of grace, forgiveness, redemption, and healing. These characters each carry different burdens of the heart. Secrets of their own kind. But when they choose to let them go something magical happens. Healing begins and they are able to truly be themselves without any kind of fear of not being accepted and loved for who they truly are. 

Happy reading📘!! I have a feeling you're going to love it!

This novel was a gift from Whitaker House for sharing my review with you. 

Loree Lough with nearly five million 4-and 5-star rated books in circulation, Loree Lough has been called by reviewers and readers alike a "gifted storyteller whose novels touch hearts and change lives." Healing of the Heart follows Guardians of the Heart and Currency of the Heart in the series Secrets on Sterling Street, published by Whitaker House. Loree lives near Baltimore and enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, and "grandorables" at their cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she delights in showing off her skill at identifying critter tracks. She loves interacting with readers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and via e-mail (she answers every letter, personally!) at
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