Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon (Men of Valor Series book 3)

If you have yet to read an Irene Hannon novel this is a great place to begin. But I encourage you to go back and start at the beginning of the series. Yes, this could be read and enjoyed as a stand alone, but in first reading, Buried Secrets and Thin Ice, you will grasp so much more and be introduced to one of the main characters of this story. 

How's this for choosing a novel that is super close to home? The characters are very close to Potosi, Missouri, which is right down the road from where I live. The main character is battling Post Concussive Syndrome which my husband is now battling after being hit by a drunk driver. Coincidence? I don't think so. This was perfect timing! 

Irene Hannon is a favorite of mine. I love this Missouri girl who writes about places I visit. Her attention to detail is a marvel as it allows me to feel as if I am present in the story. 

Storytelling is a gift of Hannon. She knows how to bring a story to life through using characters that we can relate to. We are able to feel their emotion in so many ways. The fear they feel jumps off the pages to make the reader ponder what they would do in that circumstance. We feel their wounds, anger, and most importantly their hope! Hannon magically weaves faith into something believable for us. It is something the reader not only desires for the characters, but for their own life. 

Yes, Hannon not only weaves a magnificent story, but brings a message of healing, hope, and finding faith in the midst of any circumstance. She is brilliant! Nothing better than closing the last page and marveling over the pages you were gifted to read. 

This is the third and last novel in the Men of Valor series. Oh, I have loved this just as much as every other novel and series I have had the pleasure of reading. The story flows quickly. It moves at a pace that keep you turning pages with a curiosity as to what is to come. 

We once again meet Finn McGregor. With a name like that you just expect hero, right? He is a strong character. Wounded, but living with a faith that will allow him to overcome. He's seeking some time of rest and decision making. His neighbor across the woods is Dana Lewis. She too is searching for solitude and healing. Her character is just as strong. I love that both of these characters have been through such trials, but they are not about to give up. These two together bring something really special for the reader. 

Another character is the sheriff. He is placed in a circumstance that brings the reader to wonder just what they would do in his position. He has to make some difficult decisions. These are decisions of right or wrong. But as his character develops I found myself feeling so sorry for him. Of course he knows what is right. He is an honorable man, but that man also has a wife battling early onset Alzheimers and he is determined she has the best care possible. Wouldn't we all what the same? I find him trying to turn things to make them seem right even though in his heart he knows what he is about to do is so very wrong. 

Now, of course in this area it wouldn't do to tell a story without something sinister taking place in the woods, right? Oh, the evils that take part in the dark when you think no one is looking. 

A Romantic Suspense filled with so much more. That's what I love about Hannon. She brings so many aspects to a novel other than just a great story. For me that's what writing is all about and that's the kind of novels I want to be a part of. 

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

Irene Hannon is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty novels, including Buried Secrets, Thin Ice, and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. In addition to many other honors, she is a seven-time finalist for and three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of that organization's elite Hall of Fame. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Child of the River by Irma Joubert

I have been blessed to read some amazing books. I can now add this novel to my list of gems. Beauty from the very first pages. The story seemed to just begin and grow from there. A page turner that keep me wanting to know more about Persomi. 

We are transported to another time and place in history. A place I have yet to visit in black and white. What is amazing is the detail and story Joubert gives makes you feel as if you are there seeing this story on the big screen. 

With her writing style everything flows in a way that it gives you time to mull over what's taking place. The story begins in the year of 1938. We find ourselves in South Africa as Joubert weaves this magical story about a sharecroppers daughter. We see her struggle through so much, but she isn't one to give up. She dreams big and we are blessed to see her overcome. There is so much to be learned from her life as well as from the lives of the other characters. 

What caught my attention was the beautiful cover. When I seen Joubert was the writer I knew I was in for another wonderful story. After reading, The Girl From the Train, I couldn't wait to see what was next for this author. 

WWII is alive and tragedies seem to be all around. I loved the historical detail Joubert gives the reader. She has a gift to take the reader on a journey well traveled. One where the reader can find themselves within the characters portrayed before them. 

I was drawn to the heart of the characters. Joubert writes transparent, opening up every character in such a way that they are real before our eyes. Nothing imagined, but life as it is. 

A coming of age story for any age. A tender read about relationships, growing, and experiencing life by being on the front lines, not allowing fear to hold you back, but grasping what seems impossible and having the faith to know all things are possible.

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

Irma Joubert International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing fiction. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She is the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on the bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels. 

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

A Charles Martin novel is like poetry for the soul. There is simple beauty in his words. Words that touch the spirit in a way that makes a sentence linger. That's a novel that is lasting. One that leaves behind a story to ponder in your heart.

A prodigal child story. Not just of a son coming home, but of a father too. Not just living a life, but finding what matters in each moment shared. This remarkable novel holds such poignancy in leaving the reader to not only love the characters, but to find myself within them. That is the beauty of a shared story.

None of us are ever too far gone. Our lives should be a love song to our Father. These are just a few things that I walked away with after closing the last page. 

The story flows so easily. I enjoyed how the story continued to grow. The characters lives are unveiled to us in perfect timing. Just everything about this novel was spectacular!

The characters are rich and transparent. They are people just like us trying to find their way in a world that tries to hold us still.  Everything in our life matters. Every choice, every action. Not only does it touch our lives, but the lives of those around us. No one is untouched by choice. 

Oh, to see this broken man find his way home. Isn't that what we are all trying to do? I loved this novel so very much. It is a keeper for sure. A story to share with others. Love, redemption, forgiveness, friendship, grace, and mercy. If you are searching for a great novel don't pass by this gem of a read. You will find yourself lingering over portions and reading them again to grasp it all. At least I did. 

Even if you choose this novel for simple pleasure there is no way you can walk away and not be moved. We are all prodigals in a borrowed land seeking to find our way home. Within these pages you will find yourself in these wounded hearts. Oh, but these characters are bathed in strength and grace. Beautiful wounds scarred to perfection. 

We can choose to give up way too soon or we can choose to live a life with a destination in mind and a Savior leading the way. 

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

Charles Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels. He and his wife, Christy, live in Jacksonville, Florida. Learn more about him at charlesmartinbooks.com .

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jericho High

Walls of anger. That's what is surrounding me right now. Since the early morning hour of 1:30 on October 12th when I received a call from my husband that he had been in a crash this anger has been taking hold of me. On his way home from work, the only car on the highway, except for the drunk driver who crashed into him at approximately seventy-five miles per hour, he was hit from behind. This wasn't just one hit. First it was the impact hit. The next came when he was flipped upside down and slammed down on the roof of his truck. The final hit was when he slid one hundred feet into a utility poll. 

Needless to say, I have no use for drunk drivers. My best friend's son was only fifteen when he was killed by a drunk driver. Not just one, but four, as they raced from where they partied to the local diner for breakfast. Only they never made it for breakfast. Donnie was in their path of destruction. 

My husband is suffering from Post Concussive Syndrome. Serious? Yes. It has changed every aspect of who he is. Think of a broken bone in the leg. This is like a broken bone in the head. A traumatic brain injury. Months, maybe years of healing before he is back to normal, and that is if that ever happens. Anger? It boils within me. 

At night after my husband goes to sleep, I lay in bed and cry for hours. Each day I have to keep a health journal for my husband. Every single time I have to pen about the day he has lived I go right back to October 12 all over again. It is like living this crash day after day and for right now there is no end in sight. 

Doctor visits are weekly. I am tired of hearing from people, "He will be okay". I don't know that. Doctors do not know that. No one can promise that. I see my husband daily as others don't have the opportunity to see him suffer. He isn't himself. He cannot return to work. He cannot work the farm, nor can he help his parents. This is a man who is continually busy. A man with much responsibility and now everything has changed. And why? Because two pathetic people chose to drink and get into a car, neither thinking of the consequences of their actions. Neither paying any mind to my husband who was innocently in their path of destruction. 

As my husband was being loaded into the ambulance these two women were found laughing hysterically, saying, "What the hell just happened? Check it out.We didn't even get hurt". No regard for life. Never checking on my husband. A stranger, a witness, called 911. Praise Jesus for this man! Anger? How can there not be anger? 

When my husband was hit the impact was so great his gas tank ruptured. It has been shared by firefighters that if he would have stopped to fill up on the way home his truck would have blown up on impact. It is this that I see at night in my dreams. I see my husband's truck on fire and he inside. This is an image that I cannot escape. 

As my husband has described to me that night it is terrifying to envision my husband actually trying to crawl outside a side window as gas is pouring on him. He makes his way out and he can hear the laughter of these two women. Pathetic. My anger stems from just the blindsided destructive decision of another human being. 

These were not young kids. No, this driver is forty-six years old and is the owner of a local bar and brewery. That adds a nice touch doesn't it? It makes me sick in the pit of my stomach. Anger? It is Jericho high!

As we now live the repercussions of this woman's actions, we struggle in such a way that one cannot just let the anger go. This is our life now. It is very real for us. Everything has changed. But for this bar owner? She can be found living it up at local winery's and bars. She can be seen at concerts with friends with a drink in hand. Anger? 

This woman could have killed my husband. I think of all that could have happened. In the blink of an eye everything has changed. Next week is filled with doctor visits and more tests. In the twenty-seven years my husband and I have been married I can count on one hand the times he has visited the doctor. Now each week is filled. Anger? Yes. This was not by choice. This wasn't something that my husband chose. This wasn't because of any action of his. He was innocently in the path of a drunk's destructive obsession with themselves. 

At each doctor visit with a new specialist I have to retell the crash and how my husband came to be injured and all that he is living with now. Every single time I have to retell this my heart feels like it will beat right outside my chest. I feel this burn inside of me right in my gut. 

I am not the girl who carries anger. I am that girl who walks in grace and mercy. But now? I am not so sure. I hate that I have changed. I hate that my heart is struggling with such anger. I am not ready to forgive. I cannot believe I am saying that, but it is truth. So, this is where my heart lies. In the middle of anger that is Jericho high.  

But see, I too have a choice. I have the choice to allow this anger to eat at me every day stealing away all joy or I can choose to open my hands and give God room to remove it. Holding on to anger isn't going to do anything good in me. It will only destroy me. My problem is that I am asking God to remove it, but as He does I grab it back and hang on tight. Anger is ugly and destructive. Nothing in it's path gives beauty. This anger isn't me. I don't want it any longer! Why can't I just let this go? Because the love of my life was injured by someone so reckless and no regard for his precious life. But evil doesn't care about good. 

Oh, Jesus, please tear down these walls. Destroy these walls of anger and bitterness that scares me to my knees. It is one day away from Thanksgiving. I wake every day with thanksgiving. My Savior and I share so much. He knows my heart like no other. He knows the grace and love I carry and He understands my pain and anger. I know in time forgiveness will cover this heart of mine as the anger resides to peace. But not yet. Not now. How can it? I struggle each day as anger boils and I try to replace it with joy. 

See, that's the thing. I cannot imagine living this journey without our Savior walking it every step of the way with us. This journey into the unknown is one no one should have to walk. I understand people make mistakes. I understand people have accidents. This was neither. This was a choice. This is attempted murder. This was two selfish women who used their car as a lethal weapon. Anger? Even as I share this transparent pain with you anger rises inside me. I wish it would just escape and leave me. Tears come as I know the depth of my husband's every day life and how it is even a struggle to remember the day. 

Knowing that Air Evac was on standby. Knowing that when that call was cancelled firefighters and EMS workers thought my husband to be dead. These thoughts are not those that can escape my head. I fear being inside our car. I fear the highway. The places my head now goes are areas they have never traveled. Why did this have to happen? Why did these two selfish women have to be on the road this night? Why couldn't they just make the decision to not get in the car, but to remain where they were until they were no longer drunk? Why didn't the life of my husband matter to them? 

As my anger is Jericho high, I too know that my Savior's grace is even higher. His love is mighty and His provisions are unlike anything of this world. He has walked our steps. He was there at that stoplight on October 12 before my husband every arrived to a stop. His hands wrapped around my husband and rolled that crash with him. Praise Jesus! His protective angels knew what was coming and shielded him from the death that could have happened. 

I am learning the height of anger and the depth of pain as I live this journey with my husband. We live in hope that the day of healing will come. We live with faith, knowing our Jesus is already in our tomorrow. 

Friends, if you too are going through uncharted territory, don't give up. Hold on tight to what you know to be true. In this life we don't always get the answers we so desire. Trial is inevitable for each of us. Struggle is real. Heartache crushes the strongest of hearts. But there in our Savior hope is found. We can rejoice because of Him. The evils of this world will never stop trying to destroy the heart of those who believe. Each day we put on our armor and we don't just live to survive, but we live as if we are in a battle. We are indeed in a battle. It is a spiritual battle. Although this world can steal much away from us, it cannot take from us our faith in a Savior we know is battling for us each and every day as He intercedes on our behalf. 

Being angry isn't a sin. But, being controlled by anger is. I don't want to be controlled by anger. I don't want this woman to live rent free in my head. But where can I escape all that I feel? My Jesus. Oh, how He comforts me. If not for my Savior I would be lost in this anger and see no end in sight. 

Your anger is just as real as mine. It may be Jericho high too. Friend, don't allow that wall of anger to swallow you. Give God the room He needs to bring healing, mind, body, and soul. Open your hands daily, giving to Him all that belongs to Him. Trust Him with everything. What Satan meant for destruction, our Savior will use for His glory. Even though that wall is high, don't close off your heart to God. Allow Him the room He needs to bring down that wall. It may be brick by brick. We may try to rebuild it as He is tearing it down, but let us hold to the hope that our Savior will never stop interceding for us. Let that trumpet blow the anger down!

"Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward." 
C.S. Lewis

"Be angry and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." 
Ephesians 4:26-27

You can read more of our story in Mangled Grace

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Guardians Of The Heart (Secrets on Sterling Street Book 2)


You know how you tell when you have loved a book? When you close the last page you are sad to see it come to a close. A gifted writer leaves a reader feeling as though they have taken a journey to another time and place. A place that has left an empty spot full. One they so enjoyed that they would love to return again. This is Sterling Street. 

Loree Lough never ceases to move my heart, make me smile, and bring something special to my soul. She's that writer that has a passionate pen with a motive far beyond just writing a story. She's about leaving a legacy of faith in the heart of every reader. 

Oh, where do I begin? The characters are so well developed, so real, and those that speak to my heart. Asa Stone, now that's a cool name! Asa is that character that seems secretive, closed off, and keeps to himself. But what I see is a man who speaks wisdom without talking up an entire conversation. He observes and sees such beauty. He is that character that so many of us can relate to. He feels he is unworthy of so much. He sees his past as something unforgivable. He wishes he would have made better choices, but he certainly doesn't blame anyone else for choices. He owns them all full and well, but what he is about to really understand is there is One who came and gave ALL, paying in full Asa's past, present and future. 

Nell Holstrom is that woman, well, she's the Proverbs 31 woman for me. In everything she does she gives 100%. Her faith is strong. She isn't trying to be someone other than who she is. Even though Nell is in this world without any family to speak of, everyone who knows Nell loves her. She's that girl who lights up a room by just entering. She carries joy that sings itself a song in every activity. Nell doesn't have a lot. In fact, as she enters this story she is about to lose everything all over again, but there is that opportunity again that she knows God forever provides for her. Nell comes with her own past of hurts. Funny how those past hurts can haunt us for a good while of our entire lives. Well, until we finally give everything over to our Lord. Nell is that example of a girl on fire for Jesus. Even though circumstance may not look so good, she knows her God isn't leaving her any time soon and is always going to provide. 

This story sets itself in Denver, Colorado in the year of 1883. It follows the first of this series, Currency Of The Heart, (check out my review). Now, you could very well read this as a stand alone novel, but I would suggest you read them in order for the very reason that the first one is just as amazing! Of course you too understand more of Sterling Street and the characters that also find themselves in this novel as well. 

Asa and Nell join together to rebuild Asa's grandparents inn. What I love is that while they are rebuilding this old inn they are doing the same with their hearts. Such a beautiful friendship and we see the lovely friends that have surrounded them that give such encouragement. A beautiful portrait of what community should be. 

Throughout the novel there is someone lurking in the shadows. Dark and intruding, only a few have caught sight of him, but all know he's there. Isn't that just like Satan? He's always stalking us, wanting us to see something in the shadows. While we focus on the darkness around the corner we some how lose sight of what's in front of us and lose our step. A lesson from this novel? Keep our focus on Jesus and our steps will be sure. 

Forgiveness, family, romance, healing, a little suspense, a little humor, all intertwined with faith. Inheritance doesn't always mean things of material wealth, but sometimes something far more valuable like faith, hope, and love.  

Grab a warm drink, your favorite quilt, and enjoy an afternoon on Sterling Street. I promise, it's a place you will want to revisit again and again! This is a keeper for sure. One that I loved. I hope you do as well.

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." Guardians of the Heart follows Currency of the Heart in the historical 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 loree@loreelough.com.







Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mangled Grace


It's 1:30 in the morning. I'm curled up with Stanley cuddled in close. As sleep has captured me my phone begins to chime. I see I have missed a call, but this is from an unknown number. I never answer when it's an unknown number calling. I look at this call and wonder, who in the world is calling at this hour. But with my eyes still sleepy I don't notice the time until it rings again. This time I see that my husband should be walking through the door. The only thing that leaves my lips is, "Oh, sweet Jesus, please help". 

Fear of answering grabs hold of everything in me. But I hold my phone in hand and swipe, saying, "Hello". My husband's shaken voice is on the other end. He tells me he has been in an accident and is at the hospital. I've never heard my husband's voice so shaken. He tells me I need to come. He assures me that he is okay. I again ask, "Are you okay?", and he tells me, he has a very large bump on his head, a cut on his hand, bruises, and cuts on his hands. But see, I know that he isn't going to tell me if something is seriously wrong because he knows I have to drive to a hospital I have never been to before and it will take me a while to get there. See, he's all about protecting me. 

I gather my clothes. I can feel myself shaking. I still don't know all that happened. I just know I have to get to my husband. I seek my keys and head out in the dark. I hate driving in the night hours. My husband has always been here for these late night calls that bring fear. He would be the one driving us, but tonight it's my husband on the other end of that call and here I am driving in the darkness of the unknown. This just isn't suppose to happen, right? We never expect this to happen.

Tears but can't help to fall. I start the engine and the Christian music station begins to play. I pull out of my drive and ask for God's protection. Tears are falling and all that I speak is words to my Jesus. "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You." I don't know how long I say these words until prayer escapes. I am crying so hard now it's hard to catch my breath. I raise my hand in praise. I then open my hands and share with Jesus, "All I have belongs to You, Jesus. Everything I am and all that I love I place back in Your hands. Forgive me for trying to hold on to all that You love." I pray peace and healing over my husband from head to toe. I have no idea what I will see when I finally get to him. 

The hospital is releasing him. I pull up to the ER and there is my husband. I touch him. I look him over. I feel the lump on his head. A lump so big that it feels like two eggs on top his head. He still has blood on him from his cuts. They have given him pain medication. He seems to ramble a bit as he shares what happened. He is still so shaken over what he has lived through. As I listen I feel like I'm in another dimension.  Can this really be happening? I listen with such unbelief that my husband just went through such a traumatic experience. I just want to get him home.  "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for protecting my husband." 

On our drive home my husband shares with me how he was at a stop light and a drunk driver crashed into him. She and her passenger were so intoxicated they never tried to stop. They crashed into my husband at a full speed of at least seventy-five miles per hour. She hit my husband so hard she went under him, pushing the back of his truck up to where you cannot even tell there was a bed on his truck. He flipped end over end, spinning to a stop. She hit him so hard she ruptured the gas tank. Later we would hear from a fireman that if my husband would have stopped to fill up his truck would have blown up on impact. 

Upside down, my husband is disoriented. He smells gas. He soon feels gas pouring on him. His pants and boots were covered in gasoline. He is fearful his truck is going to blow. He crawls out the side window. I cannot imagine the fear he was feeling. He was afraid of crawling out and having another car hit him. Once he is out he hears the people in the car who just crashed into him laughing. Can you imagine the horror of hearing people laughing and saying, "What the hell just happened?" They have no idea if my husband is dead or alive. Haven't checked on him at all. A witness calls 911. 

The ambulance arrives. The drunk driver and her drunk passenger are handcuffed along with the witness. The EMT in the ambulance shares with my husband, "There aren't enough officers to haul to jail all of these people cuffed."

I am listening to my husband tell this story and all I can feel at the moment is God's grace for allowing my husband to survive. We would later know they had Air Evac on standby. We too would later hear that when the firemen and EMT heard the helicopter to be cancelled they thought my husband had died. 

I would get my husband home, help him inside, and once again look him over. Adrenaline is still flowing in my husband. It's just so unbelievable. There would be no sleep for us on this early morning. But my husband would soon close his eyes trying to relieve the pain. I laid next to him with quiet tears flowing. "Oh, sweet Jesus, thank You." 

See, these intoxicated people had no regard for life. They placed my husband's life in the pathway of their poor choice to get behind the wheel. This is nothing less than attempted murder. Is the passenger guilty as well? Yes. She too had an obligation to check themselves and if they were drunk all it would have taken is one person to speak up. One person to not allow the keys to enter the ignition. These people could have taken the life of my husband, our children's father, our grandchildren's Papa, his parents youngest son. They had a choice. My husband did not. He was on the receiving end of their choice. 

Grace. I could have received a different call. I could have received a call that husband was not coming home. I would have woken to a different life all together. If you were to ask me where my thoughts are today I would share with you all the different scenarios that could have been because of the poor choices of others. 

Today my husband is suffering from Post Concussive Syndrome. It has not been easy. He has a long road ahead of him. Healing is coming. Patience isn't easy, but this is where we are and this is what our Lord has called us to do. 

I am blessed to kiss my husband good night tonight. But I know what happens on the other side of a drunk driver. My friend, Bobbie, lost her son on September 12, 2014 to drunk drivers who decided to race at extremely high speeds. The lead driver would crash his car into Donnie as he waited for the school bus. To read of Donnie's story follow the link: http://robinsnest66.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-letter-to-my-friend-bobbie.html.

In these past weeks I haven't slept much. I wake at night and I envision my husband covered in gasoline, crawling out of his truck. I can see his truck on fire. I can envision all that could have happened. I can even tell you I hate answering my phone. Anxiety has blanketed my life once again. I can't think of my husband's crash without thinking about Donnie. My mind churns from peace to anger.

Oh, yes, the sweet grace of God, has blessed our lives. What else do I envision? God knew this was going to happen. He knew these people would make the poor choice to drink and drive. He knew my husband would be in their path. I can so clearly see the hand of God upon my husband. I see His hands cradling my husband's head, where the top of his truck was crunched right above his head. The back of his truck had pushed into his seat. This is nothing short of the grace of God. 

Where there is evil there are angels presiding. These angels covered my husband with their mighty hand. What Satan has meant for evil God will use for His glory. I have no doubt more of His glory will be unveiled to us. He has already shown us so much of Himself. Oh, if we could only see the spiritual side of this life as angels protect and as God's hand covers us. 

My husband asks me, "Rob, what's wrong? I know you're so tired, but what else is it?" Tears come so easily. I can't imagine my life without my husband. There is a battle ragging within me. I know God's grace. I feel His presence with us. But there is also anger. The moment I seen my husband's truck I thought for sure my knees would give way. I couldn't breath. The only word that would escape was, "Jesus". In all this mangled mess was God's grace! God gives opportunity for me to share the grace of God saved my husband. Not luck. No happenstance. I too am given opportunity to share Donnie's story.  God is so good to give us opportunity to share of His love. 

These past weeks have been so difficult for my husband. I wish I could share those aspects of his healing, but that story just can't be shared yet. I can tell you that these weeks have taken a toll and the unknown of tomorrow brings its own set of frustration. Which leads me to share the what if it had been a different call? 

If it had been a different call, would I still be praising God? Would my faith still be mighty or would I be struggling with questions that I don't even want to speak? I can only hope I would be praising Him, but as for now, I know He is with me as I battle all of these emotions that have seemed to block me in. 

I hold my husband's hand a little tighter. I am so grateful to have him with me. I don't know when he will be 100%. That may be a long time off. It could be tomorrow. But with all the unknowns what I do know is that every step of the way our Jesus is with us. I know that He has changed both of us in ways we never imagined. He has brought us this far and He isn't about to leave us where we are. We are in for the journey as long as our Jesus is leading the way. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Currency Of The Heart (Secrets on Sterling Street Book 1) by Loree Lough

You can give me a Loree Lough novel every day of the week and twice on Sunday. She writes real and poignant. She brings characters that battle circumstances that can touch our lives today. Yes, characters I can relate to makes me care even more about those that are being unveiled before my eyes. Loree allows us the see the heart of the character, the good, the bad, and the ugly, but never without hope. 

You can easily pick up any of her books for simple enjoyment of reading, but you too know when you close the last page you are walking away with something more, something of the heart to ponder.

I first fell in love with Loree's writing when she sent me a copies of Maverick's Heart and Beautiful Bandit. I knew then that her writing was special and set apart from others. There's just something so personal about her writing. 

Welcome to Colorado in the 1880s. We meet such strong characters. Characters with integrity and honor. Okay, everyone needs a Sloan Remington in their life. Just the name alone says, man of strength, right? 

His character leaps off these pages. Oh, the depth Loree can go by sharing such generous details and bringing these black and white pages to life. Courage is another attribute Sloan carries, but he too carries a deep wound. A burden secret that he has kept all his life.

It isn't a secret for him to carry any longer. We are introduced to Shaina Sterling. Oh, what a beauty she is. At first glace she is a women who has had an easy and carefree life. True on many levels, but she has carried her own burdens. As Loree weaves her story more of her personality is revealed and we are blessed to see the life she has lived. Through her life we are able to see the grace of God, His strength living in those who love Him, and a profoundly grateful heart. 

Together these characters teach us so very much about letting go and trusting. Taking a chance and taking that leap of faith, knowing that God is always in control. 

There are so many characters to love in this novel. One of my favorites was Mable. Just like we could all use a Sloan Remington in our life, we too need a Mable. That strong and steady woman who loves mighty and gives advice with grace. That woman to stand with us and to be there in times of need, never judging, but always reaching out, leaving a legacy to follow. 

A favorite line in the novel? Yep, I have one of those. "Never let what you want become more important than what your mate needs." That is powerful, right? That's what I mean about a Loree Lough novel. You get everything you are searching for and so much more!

I fell in love with Abe and Elsie. These two characters are so young and innocent, but even in their youth they are wise beyond years and both have hearts that reach beyond themselves. They are characters that leave a smile on your face. 

Oh, and something remarkable. Shaina Sterling is from Missouri. She's from Portage Des Sioux. That's right where I spend much of my young years growing to be a young woman. Even in something so simple it was super cool connecting with this character in such a way. 

Sterling Street is a place you are going to love visiting. You're going to want to return in book 2, Guardians Of The Heart, which I am reading now. I cannot wait to share with you! 

If you are searching for a great fall read this series is perfect! Love, friendship, romance, faith, a little suspense and a whole lot of awesomeness!!
  
This book was a gift from Whitaker House Publishing for sharing my review with you.

Loree Lough Once upon a time, best-selling author Loree Lough literally sang for her supper, performing before packed audiences throughout the Midwest. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two for her grandkids or to sing at weddings or funerals, but she mostly just writes. Over the years, her stories have earned hundreds of industry and Readers' Choice awards and 4- and 5-star reviews.
Loree has nearly five million copies of her books in circulation, and in March 2014, she added her hundredth published book to the shelves. She has written fiction and nonfiction for kids and adults (2,500-plus articles and 68 short stories), and four of her novels have been optioned for movies.
To date, there are almost 66,000 letters in her "Reader Mail" file, and she has answered every one, personally. (A carton of books is on its way to Corinna P. of San Antonio, Texas, for writing the 65,999th letter. Corinna said she plans to donate the books to her local library!)
Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach to teaching makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the U.S. and abroad.
A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and several other worthwhile organizations (see the "Giving Back" tab at her Web site, http://www.loreelough.com, for a complete list). She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she continues to perfect her Critter Tracks Identification skills. She shares her life with her real-life hero, Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of "wolf stuff."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What's In A King's Hands?


Get this. The King of the world loves you!! I know, how can it be that you and I are known and loved by the One who created the universe and all it holds?! 

He created the gigantic and the tiny. The wide and narrow. The highest of mountains and lowest of valleys. But He didn't stop there. He created love, hope, and faith!! 

In His hands He wove this world for you and me!! That's not just fascinating, that's extraordinary! There is nothing more powerful than His love. Within His hands He molded our lives and set in motion perfection for our days. 

Although we don't always understand, how can we doubt Him? How do I doubt a love so mighty? A Creator who not only created this vast world and everything in it, but me. He created me! I am known and I am valued by my Lord. 

I always try to take in my tiny hands what He holds so masterfully in His. His hands are strong, yet they are gentle. Why are we always trying to take from Him, know more than Him, and reconstruct with our own thinking what we think to be best? 

Oh, if only we could worship Him with all of our being, remaining focused on Him, and never wavering. Ah, but He knows us, remember? He knows we will waver. He knows we will question. He knows we will stumble. But there He is always reaching out. Forever making a way for us. Always giving us room and opportunity to see His beauty. 

Today will hold so much we do not yet know. How could we possibly know? But the King of the universe knows and He holds in His hands all that love Him. Today we can open our hands with trust and He will place in our heart a kind of peace that will carry us through this day of unknown minutes. It's up to us to see Him and all His glory. 

He's waiting to show us so much of Himself. In fear we hold back. I open my hands to give Him everything, but then it gets scary and I take it back. I am trying to wrap my mind around why I so easily try to take back what I give Him. I mean, all I am and all I love belongs to Him. I so want to just leave things in His hands, but at what cost? Didn't He already give everything of Himself for me? The cross says it all. 

This life isn't about easy. In our uneasy He will cover us and fill us with everything of Him. Right now in this very minute His glory is being unveiled to us. Let's choose to see all the King of the universe is doing on behalf of all who love Him and even those who yet know know Him. We don't want to miss out on what He has for us today.

I easily accept the love and laughter. All the good things that come that give such joy. These are from Him. I open my hands and say, "Yes, Lord, more of this, please"! But when things get difficult how can I not open my hands? It's easy to close up my hands and say, "No, Lord, not this". Doesn't everything that touches my life first go through His hands? The same hands that molded me into life? 

I'm learning that when I fully open my hands to Him my faith comes alive. Hope and trust come with obedience. I either believe in all of Him or none of Him. So, here I am today opening my hands to Him. Laying everything in my life before Him. 

He is capable, isn't He? Of course He is. I give to Him and then I try to take it back as if I can somehow protect my family better. I can rest in Him, weary and anxious, with every amount of trust He has instilled within me. 

Where is my belief? Why am I constantly waiting for disaster to happen? This fear comes in the middle of the night. So, I open my hands. I pour out each of my loved ones to the Lord and pray. His ways are higher than mine. He sees far past my vision. He knows the heart of each of my children and grandchildren. He sees the needs of parents and friends. He sees the depth of my love for my husband. Yes, He knows every exact need. 

I am a warrior when I'm praying! Sometimes it is just all overwhelming, isn't it? Do you too know these fears?  As these fears overwhelm me I pray for protection, mind, body, and soul. The names of many flow from my lips. I pray for their heart to fall into place exactly where God wants them to be in this life's journey. 

To be known and loved by a King, not just any king, but the King of kings, tells me that I am valued and precious to the One who created me. In that alone, it is enough. It is enough to be loved by Him. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is He who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword> As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:31-39

"See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me." Isaiah 49:16

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:4-5

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Jesus Always (Embracing Joy in His Presence) by Sarah Young

I love devotionals. How about you? There are some that stand out among others. This is one of those special gems. Like me, maybe you have read Jesus Calling. It's a devotional that changed my sweet times with Jesus. Maybe you have never picked up a devotional. This is your opportunity to pick up something that will bring blessings you have yet to experience. 

Sarah Young opened up a whole new world for me through this one gem of a book. Why? We often think we don't have time to study. Mornings are rushed and well, lets face it, nights are just exhaustion waiting to meet our pillow. Sarah Young brought about a devotional to help people like me know that all it takes is a moment and a willing heart to meet with God. When we make time for our Jesus, life changes. 

I too have Sarah's devotional, Jesus Calling (Morning and Evening). I absolutely LOVE this and use it daily. How does Sarah's devotionals help me in my faith journey? They are personal. Written as if it were God speaking to my heart. His words and Sarah's passion brings the Word alive more and more for me. 

As I have followed the dates I can share that there have been many times that what I read that morning applied to my day! Reading it sets me on a course to a deeper relationship with Jesus. The devotionals are one page, just two paragraphs, and include two or three verses for deeper reading. It's Sarah's devotional that speaks to me, gets me pondering the Word, my Jesus, my heart and where I am in my walk. As I dig into the verses it's there that the Spirit speaks to me, bringing me to the place where I say, "Yes, Jesus"! 

Sarah's newest gem is just awesomeness of 365 devotionals that are powerful and poignant leading the reader to a deeper walk with Jesus. Who doesn't need joy? Even more joy! Can we ever be too full of joy? This devotional is concentrated on bringing us to the place of embracing joy in a whole new way. This is why Sarah's devotionals are so wonderful. They are life changing. 

I use them in many ways. I follow the date, but sometimes, especially if I'm having a day I just open up one of them and read until I feel the Spirit move in me, lifting my weary soul and replacing it with peace, joy, and hope. 

They can be used for teaching tools, for added study, and this gem would make a great gift for anyone. These are not just geared toward women, but anyone seeking to walk with Jesus.

This devotional is small enough to carry in a purse, a bag, keep it on a desk, and even in the car. It's an easy access to finding joy in a day that is a  mess of emotion. 

This is a devotional you could easily read together as a family. Oh, and to read it together as a couple! Yes, it's that good. This little gem is a powerful gift for the soul. It is one you will enjoy to read even after the 365 days have pasted. It's a keeper for sure!!

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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

His Guarding Spirit

I dropped my mom off at the front door of the doctor's building. I was then off in search of an empty spot in the crowded parking lot. After driving in circles I finally found a spot. I put the gear shift in park but stopped short of opening my door. I was dreading the walk in the pouring rain to the doctor's building. What a day to forget my umbrella. 

I would just wait until it let up. Christian music played over the radio. It's always amazing how music can set our soul into a rhythm of thanksgiving. Our Lord always seems to give us the quiet time we need. One way or the other. It's our choice if we see it and capture those moments in prayer. This time I seen the opportunity and let my prayers escape like the rains falling around me.

I seen the sky giving way to a little sunshine. It was now my chance to make my way inside and escape being soaked through. I stepped around my vehicle and started making my way through the parking lot when a truck stopped in front of me. 

I see the tires stop as I hear the words, "Could you help us?" I look up with a smile. I start to step, but my feet won't move. I hear a voice within me say, "Don't step toward that truck." What in the world? It's an older couple who is asking for my help. They want to hand me a piece of paper. They are asking me where the cancer center is. Strangely it's right in front of us. Big letters on the sign not far from us and the words Cancer Center are highlighted on the building next to us. There are only two buildings. Something is just not right. 

Now, all of this is taking place in just a few short minutes. My heart is churning inside. Here I am standing in front of this truck and my heart is wanting to reach out and take this paper, but again my feet will not budge. I hear the voice again as I try to step closer. "Do not step toward this truck." Three times this happened. Each time more pronounced and guarded. 

During these few moments I was arguing with this voice. "What? It's only an older couple. I have to help them. What could possibly happen?" I was going back and forth in my thoughts, but my feet never took a step. It wasn't because I was being obedient. I was listening, but I too was arguing in the stillness of my steps. 

I never took a step forward. I guided the couple to where they needed to be. Strangely, they still seemed confused about where to go. I now take a step back. I am feeling this presence around me, protection, guiding, and now I heed His voice. No more arguing. Something is just off here. You know, that unsettling feeling in your gut? But again, it's an older couple. 

I know, three times, right? As I now ponder this my heart goes back to Peter. Why did it take me three times to seriously heed God's voice? Praise to Him for knowing His stubborn daughter so well!

I make my way inside to see my mom has safely made her way to where she needed to be for her appointment. She's called into the doctor's office and I break out my book and prepare to enjoy a few quiet moments of reading. I can't focus on my book because my mind is churning over what just happened. How strange. That had never happened to me before. To have my feet planted firmly and as I try to step a powerful strength holds me back. 

I can tell you as sure as I can be this was the Lord's protection. I felt His hand upon me. Now, I have no idea what He was protecting me from. It could have been danger in the way of being robbed or abducted. What I can't possible understand, He made a way. God foreseen this moment and He was there in full force to protect me. Maybe it was a dangerous virus that could have made me very ill. After all, He has to know I'm the daughter who easily catches everything. 

All I know is that in those few moments He kept me from danger. I could have kept arguing with Him, thinking all was okay and that it was craziness to think something could happen right there in the parking lot. Whatever it was, He knew my steps and He was there before me. Just in that alone I know I am loved and I am known!! My God goes before me, His presence surrounds me, and His protection covers me. 

I learned that morning to walk aware, to listen to His voice, and to heed my God. How many times have we told our children to be aware, to listen to that gut feeling inside of us? We teach our grandchildren that danger doesn't always look bad. There are people around us that look just like us, but they have bad intentions. I always teach my grandchildren it is perfectly okay to offend another person. If something scares them RUN!! But here I was arguing with my own heart. I couldn't see the danger. I still have no idea what it could have been, but my God knows!

He is my force field of protection! My Jesus was there in those moments protecting me. Why me? Why not me? What if this couple was up to no good and they stopped someone totally unaware? I didn't see them as a threat, but something was not right or my God would not have guarded me so powerfully. 

I'm uncertain of what could have taken place if I had not heeded God's voice. Friends, we need to walk aware. Every moment of our lives we need to be aware of His voice. There are so many lessons here for me to absorb. Lessons of listening to my Lord, lessons of how Satan is always placing traps around us, to not being afraid to offend another person by guarding myself. 

Today I am walking differently. I'm walking more aware and I too am walking with a grateful heart for a God who goes before my steps. He goes far beyond just knowing. He reaches down and places His hand before me. I have to ponder how many times I have ignored His voice and pushed away His hand. That thought breaks my heart. I want to be an obedient daughter, aware of His every voice, never again ignoring Him and thinking I know best. 

Here in this parking lot He wasn't having any of my stubbornness. He stepped before me and placed a hedge of protection around me. He was making sure I heard Him. Another reminder for me to keep my eyes upon Him and seek Him before my every step.


"You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:7



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