Thursday, October 30, 2014

A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

I'm a fan of Ted Dekker. Love his work, but I can tell you that this novel is his best yet! I didn't want it to end. Once I began reading I couldn't put this masterpiece down. It stuck with me. During the day I imagined the desert. At night in my dreams I followed Mavia and dreamed of Judah, the love of her life. This book is simply riveting! It's engaging and captivated me. You might say it took me hostage. 

I didn't want it to end. I turned each page in the last chapter knowing that it was coming to a close and I just wanted more of this story. Yes, this is the best novel I have this year, maybe in many years! I'm not sure how I'm ever going to wait until A.D 33 comes out. 

This story was beauty in every way. Dekker brought out each character perfectly. He gave us just enough and then gave us room to use our imagination. I love that! 

When I opened this book and read the words of Ted Dekker and how he wanted to experience God in a new way I knew without a doubt this was going to be one of those books that leaves behind a legacy. One that grips the soul and changes lives. The story is far from over. It's just beginning and I cannot wait to see where he takes us next. 

The story flowed, it quickened, my heart skipped a beat many times. I felt the pain the characters. The unknown ahead, the tragedies that changed them forever. This is just a magnificent novel!

This has certainly been a journey back in time to another place, unknown in many ways. Secret and untamed. Dekker brings the desert to life. The characters bleed raw beauty and integrity. I love everything about this novel. 

It's kind of difficult as a reviewer now, after reading this novel, I find myself comparing other books to it. You know, there just isn't any comparison to this unputdownable Dekker masterpiece!! 

This novel was given to me as a gift from Center Street Books for sharing my review with you. 


TED DEKKER is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 novels with a total of more than 10 million books in print. He is known for thrillers that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil.



"Surprised by Love" by Julie Lessman

San Francisco here we come! I am loving my visit here with each new gem Julie adds to this series. Once again she delivers a romantic love story that shines faith through and through. 

The Characters are those in which we can relate to. They are not so far out there that they are unreachable for the reader. Julie is gifted in bringing the reader into the story and weaving it so that the reader isn't just upfront with popcorn looking at the big screen, but making us feel like we are a part of the story. 

I have loved this journey with the McClare sisters. With each story Julie allows us to better know each sister, but still interweaving the sisters in the story-line. We not only meet them once again and catch up like old friends, but we too meet new friends. 

What I love about this story is how the characters plan their lives in the way they see it should go, but find out that God has other plans. When we leave God out of the planning things tend to get confusing and we lose track of who we truly are and what is important in life. His plans are perfect and come together in perfect timing. For us to see all He has for us we often have to surrender and go through a bit of a struggle letting go of what we think life should be and embracing the life He has for us. 

I am a huge Julie Lessman fan! This girl can pen a novel that grabs the heart and tugs at every emotion. If you haven't read the first two books in this series I suggest that you begin with them. Follow my links and you can check out the reviews for each in this series. I'm never let down by Julie. She is a gem!! There's a reason she has received seventeen Romance Writers of America Awards!! 

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

Check out my reviews of the first two books in this series, Love At Any Cost, and Dare To Love Again

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston series, the Winds of Change series, and The Heart of San Francisco series. The recipient of seventeen Romance Writers of America and other awards, Lessman was chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 and 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. She resides in Missouri with her family. Learn more at www.julielessman.com.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lord, Please Heal My Friend


What do you say to your friend who was forced to say goodbye to her son much too soon? She didn't know that the morning of September 12, would be the last time he would ready for school. This is forever a morning she replays in  her mind every day. This horror caused by five reckless and irrational people, who chose to act selfishly, changed the life of this mother forever. 

As many of you know, my friend, Bobbie, lost her son, Donnie, to the actions of a drunk driver and his four friends, who were racing after getting off of work.(You can read, My Letter To My Friend, Bobbie.) 

Nothing is the same. Life has changed forever. My friend is broken. Her heart has been ripped from her chest. She feels an emptiness she never knew could exist. She now needs God as never before. But how does she even begin? She wants to move forward, but her heart doesn't want to leave behind yesterday. A mixture of emotions that doesn't add up. This kind of pain cannot be measured. There is no scale of 1-10. This is something off the charts. An injustice that no mother should have to face. She is overtaken by an immensity of affliction. 

She can't breathe. Her mornings have changed. It's as though 7:00am no longer chimes a sweet melody but now a turbulent siren blasts and her heart skips a beat. Everything slows down. Time isn't passing, but standing still. She is motionless. She wants to go back to the normal. She wants to kiss her son again. She wants to hear his laugh. Touch his face. Just one more day. One more moment. But would that be enough? 

Nights are no longer calm, but are now overtaken as nightmares quicken the beat of her heart. She rises as screams can be heard. They aren't coming from someone else. These screams now belong to her. She doesn't want to claim them. She wants them gone and wants her son back. 

These are her shared words today: 
"My heart is crushed...I cant have my baby back...everything hurts...looking at his beautiful face hurts...then I feel I have betrayed him. Hes touched everything in this house, but I cant hold him...I cant see him...why cant heaven be enough...why....I know my baby boy is in the presents of the King of kings....and if I can only keep my mind on heaven for those brief moments....grasping tight before they fade ..then they are replaced with.....'he was such a wonderful young man....he was going to be an excellent dad...his witty humor...his hugs. ..Our long talks...star gazing....its gone....why cant I just let heaven be enough."

My heart aches for my friend. As a mother I can only imagine the burning fire in her chest. How do I bring comfort? Is there anything at all I can do? I find myself praying throughout the day and waking at night to pray. I pray for God to give her strength. To wash her in His sweet comfort. May He just surround her with His presence. Lord, give her breath. 

I know the pain of losing a parent. A childhood friend. But this is something much different. I remember all the well intended words spoken after the death of my dad. Those words seemed to only aggravate me. I wanted to scream at those who said that time healed all wounds, "Are you kidding me? Time? I didn't have enough time. Screw time!" 

I was angry at a God I had yet to know. I didn't want anything to do with God. Bobbie loves the Lord. She is a woman of strong faith, but with this? With losing her son? Can God understand her anger? I think He can. He knows her heart and the wrenching anguish she breathes. This is that shaky ground that our faith becomes our everything. This is the time she needs God more than ever. In a way she never expected. Lost and lonely, grieving and raw, she tries to live. She wishes for the days of normal again. Not this madness that is life for her now. 

What can I say? What can I do? I can love her. I can be there. Most of all I can pray. God knows the deepest parts of her heart. He knows her every need. The Spirit intercedes and calls me to prayer. I can wrap my arms around her by covering her in prayer. 

This is my friend who was so full of life and laughter. An infectious laughter! My pink and purple colored hair girlfriend who could make me laugh until I cried. My friend who would sent me goofy texts that made my day. My friend who would dream with me. Help conjure up plot lines for stories that we could write together that would for sure be number one on the best-selling list. Movies and shopping. Perfume hunting and gathering samples and more samples. We could talk about Jesus for hours. It seems every conversation we had would always lead to our Jesus and our love for Him. 

There have been times in my life where she stood right by my side. Times when I needed a friend the most. She helped me through some tough times. Times that I never thought I would make it through. And look, here I am. I made it through. There have been many times we have prayed together. She was there to encourage me and pray me through. But now it's my turn, God, and I don't know how to help. I'm lost at what I should do. This is something that I myself cannot make right. This is a healing that only You can do. I know You have perfect timing and a purpose and plan for everything. I know we are Your vessels and You can use us in mighty ways to do Your will. Lord, please share with me what I am to do. My heart breaks that I cannot reach her and bring comfort.

She has inspired me to write and share the gifts that God has given me. She inspires me to simply be me. The me God has created me to be. She inspires me through her life and actions. This is what friends do. They are there for each other. I try with all my might to gently guide her to Your promises. May the Psalms be soothing ointment to her broken soul. Lord, You are enough. Reach her. Touch her. Bless her. Please keep the darkness from reaching her. Protect her as only You can. Fill her with Your everything so that one day she can smile again. That hope is not lost by this great despair that has robbed her of her son. 

Our community has come together with benefits to bless this family. With all of this Bobbie is so grateful. Most of all she is proud of the impact her baby boy has made on the community. She has been touched mightily by his school friends. This is a mother's hope. That her son will forever be remembered. 

I text her every morning and every evening. Many times throughout the day. I send words of hope and encouragement. Scripture that reminds her where her strength comes from and who is holding her tight. But is this enough? Even as I type these words tears fall. If only God could catch every tear and turn them all into blessings that unfold before her eyes today and for all the days to come that she must live without her son.

Lord, I want her to enjoy her favorite rainy days once again. I want her to look up in the heavens of night and be in awe of Your glory. I want her to be able to pick up a book and get lost in it again. I just want her to feel again. Feel something besides this anguish that isn't fair. I just want her to breathe You in and be able to breathe out Your peace and bask in Your comforting salve of Your Word. I want her to be whole. 

What is it that I can do, Lord? Please show me how I can reach out. I want to protect her. To cover her in every way. I want to stand with her. Lord, I'll carry her. I'll do whatever You ask of me. I want my friend back. I want my friend whole again. But even as I pen these words I know that isn't happening any time soon. 

I think of something funny and I want to shoot a text her way. But then I remember I can't. Not today. I want to call her and make plans for something fun only for us to cancel at the last minute and then laugh because we never quite it make it out the door and in the same the car. But now life is different. My friend is so broken. All I want to do is help her heal. Lord, I lift her up to You! 

Lord, how can you know a friend so well and not know how to help them? I want to place all five of these senseless people in a room and scream at the top of lungs. I want them to know what their thoughtless actions has created. I know, but only by the grace of God there go I. But right now, I feel anger. I see what they have caused. I write letters to the prosecutors and the judges. I pray for justice. 

Friends, if you live here in Franklin County, regardless if you knew Donnie, you can write a letter to our County Prosecutor Bob Parks. If you knew Donnie, write and share about him and his life. Help the prosecutor know just who Donnie was on this earth and the impact his life has made. If you have never met Donnie and don't know the Tipton/Boyer family, you can still make an impact by writing a letter and taking a stand against drunk driving and racing. You may think that your letter isn't enough, but it is. Your words could change everything. Most of all, it gives this family great hope that no other family would have to face the tragedy they are living with today. 

Prosecuting Attorney Robert E. Parks 
15 S Church St Room 204 
Union, MO 63084. 

I know it would be a blessing to Bobbie and her family if you could send a card of encouragement. I ask that you please pray for this family as they find their way through this new life that was forced upon them. In these coming days as trials begin for those charged in the death of Donnie this family is going to need prayer. Please intercede. Pray for peace and for justice. 

Bethel Baptist Church
c/o Bobbie and Jeremy Boyer
569 Bethel Church Road
Lonedell, Missouri 63060

Bobbie, my beautiful friend, I love you. I simply love you. This is my prayer for you:

You, Lord, are close to the brokenhearted, and You save those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18). You are surely so close to me, Lord. Help me to sense Your presence in my life. I need You more than I need the next breath. I am still confident of this: I will see Your goodness, Lord, in the land of the living. I will wait for You, Lord. I will be strong and take heart and wait for You (Ps. 27:13-14).


The Wonderful Gifts of Winter by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrations by Katherine Blackmore

I LOVE Christmas books! What a wonderful way to snuggle in with our little ones and enjoy some cuddle time together. This book makes for a great start to being grateful during this winter season. Not only is the story precious and fun, but our children are introduced to scripture. 

The illustrations are bright and fun. Even though it may be cold out this book is an invitation to a loving warmth of our God who gives us each and every season to enjoy. 

"God created everything-
Summer, autumn, winter, spring.
See what winter blessings bring...
Thank You, God, for winter."

I'm a winter loving girl, so this is perfect for me to share with my grandchildren. It invites children to experience winter. To see all the wonders of winter as treasures from God. 

This is one for all ages to love. In the back of the book there are a few ideas that you can share with your children. Like making a snow mobile. This is one that is certainly fun!

I encourage you to check out, "The Super Gifts of Spring", and more to come by Dandi Daley Mackall. 

This children's book is a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you.

Dandi Daley Mackall always wanted to be a writer, even before she could hold a pencil.  Her parents were great storytellers, so bringing characters to life seemed as natural as riding horses bareback, which she also grew up doing.  She won her first writing contest as a 10-year-old tomboy.  Today, she has over 400 children’s books published and has won numerous awards for her writing.


Katherine Blackmore was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. With a BFA in Illustration from the Cleveland Institute of Art, Katherine has been a professional artist for 20 years. She moved to Florida in 1995 to learn traditional animation at The Walt Disney Feature Animation Studio. Today, she resides in Edgewood, Florida, with her husband, Eric, and their 3 cats.

The Donkey In The Living Room by Sarah Raymond Cunningham with illustrations by Michael Foster

What a sweet book Sarah Raymond Cunningham introduces us to. She shares with us what could be a new family tradition to share with our children for years to come. 

I am reviewing the book. With the book you can purchase the box set which I would highly recommend. Your children and grandchildren will love this idea!! 

Sarah begins with sharing that this is a sweet family tradition that she was gifted with as a child. This book is to be read each day nine days before Christmas. In the box set you will find wooden treasures that will help tell the story. 

9 Days Before Christmas- Mary, Mother of Jesus
8 Days Before Christmas- The Donkey
7 Days Before Christmas- The Cow
6 Days Before Christmas- The Sheep
5 Days Before Christmas- The Shepherd
4 Days Before Christmas- The Angel
3 Days Before Christmas- The Camel
2 Days Before Christmas- The Wise Men
1 Day Before Christmas- Joseph, Father of Jesus
Christmas Day- Baby Jesus

With each wooden figure, you could wrap them as a gift, and hide them in your home, ready for your children to discover. When your children uncover the piece for the day it's time to sit down with the book and share the story that goes with each figurine

I absolutely love this idea! Family traditions are so special. Our children not only cherish them, but they pass them on to their children. This is a wonderful way to bring our family together and a new way to enjoy the nativity scene. 

What a wonderful way to begin each day or to close each night before bed. This is one I believe you will enjoy immensely

This children's book is a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

Sarah Raymond Cunningham is the author of Portable Faith and The Well Balanced World Changer and the creator of the children's Christmas book, The Donkey in the Living Room. As a freelance consultant, she has also helped develop some of the top Christian events in the country. She blogs about finding extraordinary friendships in an ordinary world at sarahcunningham.org.

Michael K. Foster is the owner of Foster Animation, a cartoon and animation studio located in upstate New York. With over twenty years experience in design, illustration, and animation Michael provides quality design for many leading Christian and family oriented companies such as, The God Fish Guys, Phil Vischer's What's In The Bible DVD series, The Rizers, Hasbro Toys & Anagram International. 

Can you see her?

While shopping you always see one girl that stands out. One girl that seems to be searching for that perfect thing. There is always one girl, walking about, with her shoulders curved and her make up dark. If you look close enough you can see her pain. You can see the burden she carries as she walks.

It is almost as though she walks silently through each aisle. She picks up each item, just touching, never purchasing anything. She searches the aisles for that one thing to make her smile, but nothing seems to fit. Nothing is the right color. Nothing is the right size. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

She dreams as she looks around at the other shoppers with bags full and laughter echoing. She watches other families as they shop. You can see her watching them, wondering, "What is it like? What is it like to have a mother like that? To have a sister like that? To carry a little brother on your hip?" She doesn't say anything, she just simply watches, wanting and in search of something to fill her. A something. A anything to make her feel loved. To make her feel important. To make her feel needed.

She has learned to hide all her scars. She simply buries them deep within. So deep, she tries to forget the pain, but the pain remains. She cannot escape yesterday no matter how much she dreams about tomorrow.

This girl knows loss. She is the girl you see everywhere you go. She is lonely and she is calling out, but no one seems to notice her. No one sees the pain she is hiding. She wonders, "Does anyone really care? Why can't anyone see me?" All she wants is to feel loved. To be accepted. But she is hidden from our view. We turn away from her so often. We walk the other way. We turn into another aisle. Why? Why can't we see her? We simply don't want to. If we reach out to her we too then must see our own pain. We must let go of our yesterday before we see an other's. We are so use to hiding our own pain, we soon become numb to an other's pain. We dull the feeling by ignoring what we see. We tell ourselves it's okay not to notice. Someone else will care for her. Someone else will reach out.

But what happens? She leaves the store, only to go home in silence. She pulls into her drive way and only wishes she was somewhere else. Another time and another place. As she walks into the door she prays things will be different. She prays God will hear her prayers. But there it is again. The screaming. The fighting. The emptiness of love in a home. The love that makes a house a home. She goes into her room. She takes out her little knife and begins to cut. She begins to cut herself where only she knows it's there. She wants the pain to leave. She wants healing. She wants peace. She wants her mother to stop hitting her. She wants her father to stop drinking. She wants her brother to stop touching her. She wants the kids at school to like her. She wants a boy to notice her beyond her body. She wants a friendship with another to last. She wants all the hurt to stop. She stays in her room. She waits for darkness, but only sadness is there. She reaches for morning, but there to is a pain deep within that she cannot escape from.

Where is this girl? She is sitting in the pews of your church. She is walking the halls of your school you attend everyday. She is at the games on Friday night as you cheer the team on. She is at the local grocery, checking out customers, wishing she too could fall in a bag and simply wake up in another home. Another town, just anywhere, but where she is.

She sees her mistakes. She sees life as never changing. She sees pain in others. For she knows what it looks like. She knows that look in an other's eye that holds a quiet thunder.

As she is dreaming of another day and time, there is One who reaches out to her. There is One who sees her pain. There is One who sends another to rescue her. There is One who loves her more than she knows. All it takes is one willing vessel. All it takes is for one person, not afraid to reach out to another and ask questions. All it takes is for one person to look beyond themselves. She needs someone brave. She needs a hero. She needs someone to step out and see her for who she really is. Will you be that person? Will you reach out beyond yourself? Will you look into her eyes for more than one minute and see her hurting soul?

Jesus sees her life. He sees her crying at night. Is it you He is calling to reach her? Is it you that He needs to be His hands and feet? I know it is me. I know I am to do more than to just see myself and live this life for me. I am to be a light in this dark world. I am to live a life of faith. I am to reach others for Him. Jesus did a mighty work with just twelve. Jesus can do a mighty work with just one willing soul. Will you? Will you go? Will you take that step? I will go wherever You call, Jesus. Yes, I pray that I can see her, Jesus. 

"Is there any encouragement form belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Than make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."
Philippians 2:1-5 

"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God."
Ephesians 5:1-2

Monday, October 13, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin

When you put three outstanding writers together to write a Christmas novel you are going to get one unputdownable!! Grab your cozy quilt and your favorite drink. These ladies ROCK! They are all at the top of my favorites list of writers. 

I must share that I have read every book penned by Sarah Sundin. I just read Shadowed by Grace, by Cara Putnam, and one of the best series I've read to date is Tricia Goyer's WWII Series: From Dust and Ashes, Night Song, Dawn of a Thousand Nights, and Arms of Deliverance. These ladies stand out among historical writers. 

First, I love the cover. The cover means a great deal. It creates in the readers mind what to expect and with these ladies you expect nothing less than great story writing. Get ready to travel back in time to WWII. The history and romance in these stories is going to warm your heart and give you an opportunity to count your blessings. 

Here we have three stories in one. White Christmas, penned by Cara Putnam, I'll Be Home for Christmas, penned by Sarah Sundin, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, penned by Tricia Goyer. I adore and admire these ladies who can take three Christmas songs and pen a wonderful Christmas gift. Here's some fun trivia that I learned. "White Christmas" came out in 1942. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" in 1943, and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in 1944. Each of the stories follow the years in which these songs were released. 

We meet the Turner family and follow their lives during these turbulent years. These characters are so rich and lovely. Each story separate, but all combined to bring about a timeless story that touches the heart and brings emotion with each chapter. Faith, hope, and love are intertwined in these pages. Oh, I just love how these ladies weave a story together. 

This is going to be one story that you will want to pass on to your friends. This is sure to get you into the season and leave you feeling as if you have just journeyed back in time. 

The reader gets an added bonus with delicious recipes and an interview with the authors.

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

Cara Putnam is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. Sarah Sundin is the critically-acclaimed author of Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels. Tricia Goyer is a prolific author for nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 


Between Us Girls by Sally John

I have read a few novels penned by Sally John. I learned that she is a truly gifted writer as I found myself lost in her novels. Desert Gift, Ransomed and Heart Echos, are the three novels that I have read by Sally John. Some of the best novels I've had the pleasure of reading. 

Between Us Girls is the first in a new series.  This is a much different read than what I have experienced from Sally John. This is a more laid back, beach read. An easy afternoon read. One that you can totally absorb yourself in and forget all the hustle and bustle of the day. 

Casa De-Vida is the place to be. There are many characters to keep up with, but John does a great job at allowing us to get to know each of them. Some peek in the story while others make a deeper impact, but somehow John makes them all connect and brings a terrific read. 

I love the idea of a place a refuge. So many of these characters are in need of something, and here at Casa De-Vida they find what they are searching for. Friendship is a treasure and as we see here in this novel many times we find the best of friends in the most unexpected places. 

This is an oasis for hearts aching. A place where strangers become friends and learn to depend upon one another. A story that truly shows the beauty of giving and receiving. I enjoyed spending an afternoon getting to know these characters. A good reminder to be heart ready to help another. We never know the need of another until we truly give God room in our hearts to see beyond ourselves.

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

Sally John is the bestselling author of 18 novels, including the popular series The Other Way Home, The Beach House, and In a Heartbeat. A three-time finalist for the Christy Award and former teacher, Sally lives in Southern California with her husband Tim. Writing fiction takes a backseat only to her cherished roles of wife, mom, mom-in-law, and grandma. Find out more about Sally at www.sally-john.com.

Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson

Jan Watson writes easy. Her words flow like sweet honey. On a blustery, overcast day, pick up a book penned by Jan Watson and you are off to another place and time. A place that you are sure to enjoy. I have had the pleasure of reading a few of Jan's novels. She is just a downright refreshing writer. The cover is what caught my attention. Exquisitely beautiful. I just had to find out more about this girl on the cover. I'm so happy the cover was so inviting. 

I must share with you that Jan's novels follow one another. All eight are a part of a series. Reading in order is going to be a HUGE blessing. Yes, you could read this novel as a stand alone, but reading it in the series gives you a better understanding the characters. You fall in love with them as you learn more and more about them.

Her stories are set in Lexington, Kentucky. A bit before WWII. That gives you a sense of the time period. I love where she took the characters in this novel. Seems the main character, Mazy, thinks she wants one thing, but after leaving home, hitting the big city, and seeing that things aren't always as they seem, she is ready to experience some comfort of home. Funny, we are always searching for something more, but many times what we have wanted and needed has been right in under our nose all along. But in order for us to realize the real blessings that we have, we sometimes find out while we are traveling another road. 

This a sweet story of faith, romance and just a bit of suspense. We see the strength in this young woman, and we too meet other characters that we wish we could be more like. I truly enjoyed this selection. I always enjoy a novel penned by Jan Watson. 

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

Jan Watson's first novel, Troublesome Creek, was the 2004 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Gild Operation First Novel contest. Buttermilk Sky is Jan's eight novel. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and has three grown sons and a daughter-in-law.

The Legend of St. Nicholas written by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

Christmas stories warm the heart. Reading with our children and grandchildren is a cherished gift. Anytime we can place a book in a child's hands it gives an opportunity for their imagination to travel to another place and time. 

The illustrations are beautifully done. The colors are bright and inviting. Richard Cowdrey is  talented at giving the reader a magical portrait of the scene. 

I love how the story begins. A young boy and his dad off shopping for the family. That's tough for children and if we are honest, even tough for adults at times. We have a pocket full of money, but instead of purchasing for others we see something that catches are eye and would just as soon spend the money on ourselves. 

As the young boy selfishness is jiggling his coins in his pocket he overhears the story of St. Nicholas being told by a store Santa. This story changes the young boy. He has a greater understanding of giving. And now begins the story of St. Nicholas. 

This is one of those treasured stories to pass on to children. As we read the story of St. Nicholas we too hear the story of baby Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas. He is our greatest gift. The story begins for St. Nicholas when he is at the age of ten. His parents are very wealthy. He never ached for anything. He turns twelve and is riding in a carriage with his parents. He isn't quite sure why the children playing outside don't have coats and hats. His parents explain they most likely don't have any. The story continues as Nick and his family travel to the Holy Land where baby Jesus was born. This is where the story may get a little difficult for little ones. Nick's parents die. Not something you really want to explain to your children while reading a Christmas story. 

Outside of that the story continues with Nick seeing the needs of his friends. They share with him not toys and such, but true needs. Nick is left with all the wealth of his parents and he now knows just how he can help  his friends. He can give. What I love is that he does it secretly. They come to him later sharing the wonderful treasures they found on Christmas morning, but Nick never shares just who that giver was. 

The story moves on to share just how the treasured story of St. Nicholas came about. Here is the last paragraph in the story:

"Nick felt sure he'd never look at Christmas the same way. He wanted to remember the gifts of Saint Nicholas, the gifts of the wise kings, and most of all, God's gift of baby Jesus." 

This is a sweet story, but one that I feel is more for older children. I will still open the pages for my grandchildren and allow them to dream. There are just a few places I will add to the story and a few things like the death the Nick's parents that I will leave out. 

This children's book is a gift from Zondervan for sharing my review with you. 

Dandi Daley Mackall is the author of over 400 books and still can’t believe she gets to write for a living, helping children of all ages grow spiritually. She and her husband, Joe, both write from rural Ohio, where they’re blessed with three children and a variety of horses, dogs, and cats.

Richard Cowdrey’s favorite things to draw and paint are the things that reflect the awesomeness of God and His creation. From vast landscapes to the littlest bug on a leaf, Richard marvels at the beauty in the details. Richard's bestselling children's books include Bad Dog, Marley and A Very Marley Christmas.
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