Thursday, July 31, 2014

Color Me Beautiful

 My granddaughter loves flowers. She brings them to my nose and says, "Smell, Nanny. Isn't it pretty?". As I have now inhaled the dust from the flowers (lol) I look at her with a smile and say, "I have an idea". Which she is immediately excited about! 

I had purchased a pack of food coloring. Blue, red, green, and yellow. We set out with scissors and a pitcher in hand to capture all the Queen Anne's Lace we could find. Peyton gathered all the flowers we needed. Giggling with joy we went inside and prepared to create some color. 

As you know Queen Anne's Lace is white. They are delicate and spectacular all the same. I filled some mason jars with water and Peyton pinched the bottles of coloring into each. As I trimmed the flowers she placed them in the jars. She may have enjoyed just a bit more of green coloring than needed. (lol sorry momma). And now the waiting came. Peyton says, "Nanny, they aren't turning yet". So, I share with her again that it takes time. Over the next few hours of play she would continue to run back to the kitchen just to check. 

Then it happened! I think the neighbors a mile down could have heard Peyton's squeals of joy. "Nanny, Nanny, hurry! Come look! They changed, they changed! Oh, Nanny, they are so pretty!" 

Over the next few hours they continued to brighten and change deeper shades of the colors we added. I shared with Peyton the science of what was happening. Although she thought that was super cool, all she really cared about was the fact that she made something change. She created beauty. When her momma and daddy came to pick her up she couldn't wait to show them her masterpiece of beauty. 

I've always loved these tender beauties and now what a blessing to have passed down that same joy to my granddaughter. What a sweet day it was to spend with her making beauty that expresses such a valuable lesson. 

"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

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 
Romans 12:2

As I thought about our day I thought about my heart. All that I allow in my life. You know, everything that touches my life. See, the more I soak in Jesus, the more of Him I want. The more time I spend in prayer the more I  know Him. The more time I spend in praising Him the more my attitude changes. I'm colored beautiful. Not by anything I have done, but by all that He is doing. 

Change isn't always easy. Waiting teaching us lessons in patience. Another difficult life lesson. But as Peyton and I seen, change often creates unexpected beauty. Waiting gives God an opportunity for us to be ready to experience His glory in such a way that we couldn't have if it had not been for the waiting. 

I left these flowers on my table for an entire week. The precious flowers were falling off and spreading themselves around the table. For me, this was beauty. It was a reminder of the sweet time I had spent with my granddaughter. This colorful flower dust seemed to get on everything I laid on the table. Another sweet reminder! You gotta love how our Jesus moves in the heart. When I am aware of all that He has filled me with it my joy is contagious. His love spreads to others. It flows everywhere. Simply by one action another is created. On this special day, a lot of love was created and illuminated the hearts of a Nanny and a granddaughter. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Strange Glory 'A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer' written by Charles Marsh

It's always an honor to get to know someone even if it is through another's penned words. We all have a story. A story worth sharing. Bonhoeffer is one of those men I could never read enough about. This is a beautiful selection. Charles Marsh brings Bonhoeffer to life through these pages. 

I usually don't choose biographies, but this one stood out to me. Sadly, I must admit, until I began reading novels based during WWII I had never heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Terribly sad, right? Once I began reading about him I was fascinated. His life speaks volumes of what honor and character are. He encompasses surrender. He fought the good fight. He set out to change the world and in doing so he empowered others to follow in his footsteps and become leaders in their own right. 

I feel Marsh did a spectacular presentation of allowing me to know Bonhoeffer better than before. His words flow. He gives just enough and then allows room for the imagination to embrace what it would have been like to stand next to this heroic man. 

This biography is enlightening and challenging to the reader. It gives a platform to inspiring others to walk in faith and live the life that God has chosen for us. To live without fear! This is the example of life Bonhoeffer gives us. 

I will definitely pass this biography on to a friend. I enjoyed every chapter. From his early childhood to his last years. His life will forever impact our history. 

This biography was a gift from the Blogging for Books program and is published by Knopf Publishing

Charles Marsh is a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and director of the Project on Lived Theology. He is the author of seven previous books, including God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights, which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Of Marsh’s earlier volumes Reclaiming Bonhoeffer, the late Eberhand Bethge, Bonhoeffer’s closest friend and first biographer, wrote: “This book is a theological sensation—an exciting event. Nobody who attempts to define Bonhoeffer’s legacy today will able to ignore Marsh’s book.”Marsh was a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 2009 and the 2010 Ellen Maria Gorrissen Berlin Prize fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Dandelion Beautiful

How often do be pass by beautiful? Beautiful is all around us. We focus on so much in life that takes away from beautiful. Why do we allow ourselves to miss out on all the beautiful? 

Yesterday I was blessed to spend the day with my grandson. While playing outside he noticed the dandelions. He spotted them right off. He says, "Nana, let's make some beautiful together!". I can tell you that this Nana's heart melted. With tears I said, "Jack, yes, let's make some beautiful today!". We picked dandelions and blew little flutters of pixie dust across the yard. Jack would say, "Look, Nana, isn't it just beautiful!". 

When do we lose our vision of beautiful? To Jack everything is precious. He's excited about everything great and small. He's ready to experience laughter and fun. 

My grandchildren teach me so much about letting go and simply experiencing life in the fullest way possible. That can't happen when I allow the junk of this world to get in the way. 

I encourage you today to experience some beautiful. I hope Jack inspires you to open your eyes to the beauty that surrounds you. We don't have to look far. Let the beauty around you transform you today!

"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

Defying Autism by Karen Mayer Cunningham

I received Karen's book for review. This is the first book I've read on autism. Let me begin by sharing that this is Karen's story. This is her journey. Each journey is unique. 

Karen begins her story with the early years of her life before she was ever married. She shares her dreams and her fears. She truly shares her heart.  It takes a brave woman to bare her soul.

What I admire about Karen is her transparency. She shares the ups and downs. The everyday life. She opens up about her struggles. She too bares her soul about her marriage and all the struggles there. Her husband seems very passive. Having the attitude that everything is going to be okay. They know that something is different, but in the beginning years are almost in denial. 

I too love how Karen never gives up on her son. She shares how difficult it was to have others to truly reach out and help them in this area. Finally, through years of determination she finds answers. She finds the help her family needs. She is so determined.

Some may read this book and get toward the end and find issue. Others will totally agree with Karen. If I was searching for books on Autism this probably wouldn't be my first choice, but like I say, Karen is transparent and I think many can learn from her experiences. 

So, what is it that I take issue with? Well, Karen is involved with a healing church. I must say, God heals! But it seems Karen is put to the test. She must straighten out her own life before healing will come to her son. There are also members of this church who bring about that her son could be filled with a demon. Now, again, demonic presence is reality, but with the way these last chapters are worded doesn't sit well and I can't obviously share what I did like without sharing the issues that trouble me. But, with that being said, this is Karen's experience. She isn't saying this is everyone's experience, but being transparent, and this I LOVE! 

I want to thank Karen for trusting me with her penned words and trusting me to give an honest review. 

This book was a gift from Karen Cunningham for sharing my review with you. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Help Find Missing Friend Lynn Messer

Friends, I am asking you to please join me in praying for friend, Lynn Messer. Lynn has been missing since July 8.  She is from Festus, Missouri which is in Ste. Genevieve County

Days continue to pass and there is no new information on Lynn. It is heartbreaking. Please pray her home. Pray for her safety. Someone has to know something. This precious woman did not just disappear. If you have any information about Lynn at all you can contact the police in Ste. Genevieve County.

You may not know Lynn. You may not live in or even near our area, but what you can do is pray. You can help in getting the word out. You can share her photo and information. The more who know about her story the more can pray and possibly come together in helping to bring Lynn home. You can saturate the floors of heaven with your prayers. You can visit the FB page that has been created for Lynn. You can share with your friends and church family. {Like} her FB page and continue to receive updates on Lynn. Prayer is powerful, friends.

Lynn is a sweet, beautiful, woman of God. Please pray for the Messer/Rayfield family. I cannot imagine what they are facing. This is a trial that truly brings you to the edge of everything you believe. This is a faith filled family. Lynn is friend, mother, wife, sister, daughter, and aunt. She is truly so much to so many. She is that lovely woman next door that you want to chat with over coffee. Once you meet Lynn you immediately see her sweet spirit.

Here is a number created for a tip line: The public can call 573-883-5820 at extension 27463

This woman of God is so inspiring. She loves the Word of God. She's one of those girls you could talk with for hours and simply share Jesus. She is truly a beautiful woman with a spirit that brings such calm. 

Pray for her safe return home. I have added her photo and link to the FB page to the side bar of my blog. Just click on any highlighted area and it will take you directly to her page. This page will give you all of the information you need and will keep you updated. Please, pray Lynn Messer, home. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Book of Revelation Made Clear by Tim LaHaye and Timothy E. Parker

I was excited to receive, "The Book of Revelation Made Clear". I am a huge fan of Tim LaHaye. Now, when I seen the cover I was immediately intrigued. The Book of Revelation is one of those books many skip. They think it's too difficult to read. That is one reason I chose this selection. I wanted to share with my readers a great find in studying the Book of Revelation. I had no idea that Timothy E. Parker created the Sudoko puzzles. 

First the good news. I really enjoyed this book! I made my way through it pretty quickly. It was easy to understand. I do love how the book flows. It takes each scripture verse from Revelation and breaks it down. First we are given a pre-quiz. Usually three questions to just see how much we do know. Then we are given the scripture. Next is the explanation of the verse. It ends with the answers to the quiz. Sounds easy, right? It is. This is a great tool for those studying the Book of Revelation. The book is illuminated. It doesn't give too much information.  I LOVE this!! Too much information makes me lazy in study, but just enough information to explain then gives room for the Spirit to move. I love digging deeper and this is a great gem for just that! 

This book could easily be used in a Sunday school class or a small setting. For me, I moved through it quickly and will now take my time with my Bible open to really dig deep into the Word. I think it's great for all ages. This is a great gift whether you have read the Bible many times or you are a new Christian. 

Now, for my let down. In bold blackened print on the cover it says, "Includes 77 Master Quizzes". I was super excited about this!! I'm a huge puzzle and quiz lover. Well, there are no puzzles and the quizzes are just the pre-quizzes. I'm not sure what I expected, but I know I expected more in this area. 

One of my favorite sections is found in the back of the book. The names of God are shared with the scripture addresses to find just where they are located. This is a tool I can use daily. I can read one of the names of God, search it and meditate upon it throughout the day. 

I really did enjoy this book. Any tool that I can use that brings me closer to understanding the Word of God is a great gift. Here in these pages we are given information on what the Word says and what the Word means. These two brilliant men offer us a gem of information that if used correctly will only lead the reader to open the Word of God more. 

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

Tim LaHaye Dr. Tim LaHaye is president of Tim LaHaye Ministries and founder of the Pre Trib Research Center. He has written more than sixty non-fiction books. Dr. LaHaye holds a D.Min. degree from Western Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Literature degree from Liberty University. He and his wife, Beverly, have been married more than sixty-five years.

Timothy E. Parker Puzzle master Timothy E. Parker is Senior Crossword Puzzle Editor of USA Today Crosswords and the “World’s Most Syndicated Puzzle Compiler,” according to Guinness World Records. Parker is the founder of the television show Bible Brilliant and constructs crosswords, word searches, anagrams, cryptograms, mazes, column raises, slide-n-solves, the Japanese games Sudoku and Kakuro, hangman, and a mass array of trivia and original games. 

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Friends, I'm so excited to share this beautiful novel with you. What caught my eye was the cover. Exquisite! Absolutely elegant and breathtaking.

This is by far the most beautiful novel I have read this year. Most of the time I hurry my way through a great novel. I let things go and absorb myself in another time and place. This is the first novel that I have simply taken my time. I didn't want it to end. Each day I looked forward to just sitting down for a few minutes and traveling to years past. 

My heart loved these characters. This is an unforgettable read! Adele and Vladimir danced in my soul. I walked through Auschwitz with them. I trembled in fear for them. Most of all I admired them. I ached to read more of them. Their story is one of beauty. We truly see God's glory in a place of death. From ashes to beauty. 

Sera and William were characters that I longed to read more about. I wanted them to find love. To move past yesterday and embrace today. To let go and trust again. To truly find freedom. Oh, I cannot tell you how much these characters moved me! 

Kristy Cambron is brilliant! I cannot wait to read more! Yes, I am anticipating the release of the next book in this series. The story of Vladimir and Adele doesn't end here. It continues on. A legacy that all can learn from. I love a novel that can change my heart. That makes me experience such emotion. 

I loved reading the present and walking with Sera and William, but I simply couldn't get enough of Adele and Vladimir. This author's words flow so easily. She brings to life these characters before us in a profound and personable way. With tears streaming I closed the last page. A masterpiece novel!!

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

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with WWII since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an Art History degree from Indiana University and works as Communications Consultant. Kristy writes WWII and Regency fiction and placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons. Website: Twitter: @KCambronAuthor Facebook: Kristy-L-Cambron-Author

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Exploring New Ground

To explore we gotta move. I found myself feeling comfy cozy in my little pew off to the side at church. We had raised our five children in the second pew on the right side of church. After our children grew and we out grew our pew we switched spots. It's amazing how things can look different just by moving. But there was a problem. My bottom was getting awfully cozy in my pew. It was as though my name was carved in the wood. 

Then I began to hear the Lord speak to my heart, "Let's go exploring". See, God doesn't want us to get too comfortable. We can get lazy. Church can just become routine. Same old same old stuff. When I noticed I was leaving church unchanged I knew things had to change. I was suffering from root rot. 

I was surrounding myself in a circle of easy. Oh, I was busy. Super busy. I was teaching and involved in many different activities. Are you ready? Yep, it's hard to admit, but I was busy in the busy. I'm not so sure it was about God anymore. It was just me saying, "Sure, I can do that",  to every opportunity. It was about me thinking the more I did for the church the better Christian I was becoming. Friends, that isn't what God wants for us. It wasn't what He wanted for me. It's not what we do. It's our heart. It's me getting closer to Him. 

When I say I was sitting in the circle of easy I mean that nothing was challenging me any longer. I wasn't growing. It was just me continually moving and now I can see that it wasn't in a direction that was leading me closer to Jesus. 

Uncomfortable isn't easy, but it's necessary. In uncomfortable I depend on God. I have to look to Him for guidance and strength. He doesn't call us to easy. He gives us these jobs that seem impossible, but when we realize that with God everything is possible, it changes our view. Those impossible situations become opportunities for growth. For me, I had to walk away. I walked away from everything that was holding me down in that comfy pew. 

In my comfy pew I was limiting God. Same old Sunday every week. I was no longer excited for church. It became routine and that isn't what God wants for us at all. We are to be sitting on the edge of our seat, ready, willing, and excited to explore all possibilities. 

I realized I was putting my exploring in the hands of others. Yes, the pastor gives us the sermon. The Sunday school teacher gives us the lesson. But we have to dig deeper. My relationship with Jesus isn't their responsibility. It's mine. I was dependent on others to lead me to where I needed to be. But see, they don't know the plan God has for me. Only He does and He shares that with me through the Holy Spirit. Of course, we learn from others and with others, but I needed time with Jesus. I needed to learn how to explore on my own. 

Honest time. I wanted to experience God in different ways. The only way for me to do this was to get out of my pew and simply do it. I needed to understand that the Holy Spirit is my guide. He's my Forever North. He wants me to listen and tune in to all He has for me. I grew accustomed to relying on others, when what I needed to learn to do was rely on the Spirit. 

This was difficult for me. I had to let down my guard. I had to move and not worry what others thought or understood. People were hurt because I left my home church. I was hurt in many ways and I still carry those hurts. They were wounded because I had to make a change and I was wounded because they really didn't seem to care where God was leading me. It didn't mean I no longer loved them. But once I left I felt unloved and misunderstood. But this is where God began to change me. Forgiveness is a life long lesson. It doesn't come easy and God wasn't asking easy of me. 

When we go exploring sometimes others don't understand. They take it personal. What we need to remember is, our walk is about obedience. This mercy doesn't like to see others unhappy. I've always been that people pleasing girl. Another life lesson that isn't easy, but one that I'm learning. Others may have been unhappy that I left, but more importantly, my soul was unhappy. It had lost the joy it once held. Too much junk was in the way. It was as thought there was a lid on top of my experiences. I was only experiencing God in certain ways and He was telling me, "I have so much more for you". 

"All those led by God's Spirit are God's sons. For you did not received a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children, and if children, also heirs-heirs of God and coheirs with Christ-seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." Romans 8:14-17

"For I know the plans I have for you-this is the Lord's declaration-plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

I can tell you that I have thought about going back. In many ways it would be easier. But that isn't what exploring is all about. In this new journey I'm not only finding more of me, but so much more of God. He is showing me the real me He wants me to be. Change isn't easy. It begins within the heart. We cannot walk our walk worrying what others are going to think. We put God first and as He gives direction, we follow with trust and obedience. 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6  

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:4, 7a

I'm not perfect. I am a Jesus girl. I want to seek Him and live all that He has for me. That wasn't happening in living in my easy. I had to leave the comfort of the circle that surrounded me. I needed to learn to depend on God first. I needed to learn how to discern the voice of God. Praise Jesus! He is doing a work in me. I feel His peace and grace now more than ever. I'm in His Word and seeking His quiet and His voice to move. 

Change isn't easy, but learning to explore is life changing. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Life Interrupted (Navigating the Unexpected) by Priscilla Shirer

Wow!! I have been reading book after book by Priscilla Shirer and let me tell you that this God chick is on fire! Every single book I pick up and close the last page and have gained a library of wisdom to carry in my heart. 

She's honest. She's transparent and I absolutely love that about her. Priscilla writes like she is that girl next door you could share coffee with and feel completely comfortable with. The girl who can relate and so wants you to soar high with a Jesus life. 

In this selection she brings us to travel along with Jonah. She not only shares the Book of Jonah, but she makes it personal. I love the way she pens from her heart. Her words flow. It makes sense. She writes it in a way that I have yet to see in another writer. 

"Every interruption is a divine intervention." 

"When we follow God through our interruptions, when we back away from the immediate shock to realize there's more to this issue than meets the eye, we become people who can say, "We're not sure what our next assignment will be, but we only want to be where God wants us to be.""

"We've all got a Nineveh of our own."

"We'll look up one day and be completely shocked to find ourselves face-to-face with the one thing we thought we'd never want and realize it's not so bad after all."

"What if we knew this interrupted life was less about the problem and more about the process? What if we knew this roadblock or aggravation hadn't caught God by surprise even if it's come as a shock to us? What if we knew that the direction He was taking us provided opportunities we'd always dreamed about, even if they didn't look exactly the way we thought they would? What if we knew, by not getting what we want, God was ultimately giving us something better?" 

Friends, I could go on and on. This is good stuff! I have walked away again filled with encouragement and inspiration. Yes, this is one of those books that every person can relate to. We all have our own Nineveh. We can either run or follow the path God is calling us toward. It's up to us. Priscilla takes us on a journey of growth and inner choice. Choosing to see that every interruption is divine intervention is huge for me! Life changing. 

With each chapter Priscilla opens up the Book of Jonah and makes it real for us. In the back of the book she gives a sample of the workbook. I believe I'm going to grab this up. You can check it out here on Amazon

This book was a gift from B&H Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Priscilla Shirer is a Bible teacher and conference speaker with a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is also the author of popular books including A Jewel in His Crown, He Speaks to Me, Discerning the Voice of God, and One in a Million. The daughter of author Dr. Tony Evans, Priscilla is married to Jerry with whom she founded Going Beyond Ministries. They have three sons and live in Dallas, Texas.

Veil of Secrets by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel

I read the description of this novel and was intrigued. I thought the cover told the story. A husband and wife together, but so far apart. I started reading and I wanted to love this novel. I wanted to escape into their world, their way of life. I wanted to connect with the characters and fall in love with them. But, it didn't happen for me. 

It's campaign season. Seems like everything goes. Priorities are all mixed up. I can totally understand why this couple had so many issues. I found the characters to be selfish. Each wanting what they want and not really concerned about the needs of others. 

This couple has a teenage daughter who is now helping dad out with the campaign. Mom isn't thrilled. She was young once and doesn't want her daughter to follow in her footsteps. Some might call her a helicopter mom. Others would say she is just trying to protect her daughter from the evils of the world they live in. 

There are many characters in this novel. I found that the story didn't really flow easily. It traveled from day to day and the reader is being tossed about from situation to situation. If I can be honest. I didn't really care about these characters. There wasn't enough heart and emotion. It seemed everything stayed on the surface and never really dug deep. Yes, the issues this couple and other characters are facing are brought to the readers attention, but like I said, they seemed so selfish and inconsiderate of others. 

If there was a character that I was touched by it would be Tuck. He comes from a prominent family. He has never had to do anything, but live his fun and his fun is really soaking in the hurt he is desperately trying to cover up. His grandfather doesn't really consider him important. He's almost just a name. My heart went out to this character. Circumstances occur and change is comes for this young man. He wants to be more than a name. In fact, he wants to do more than make his grandfather proud. He wants to make himself proud and make a real difference. 

If the writers were trying to convey the hurry and selfishness of running a campaign they did a wonderful job. Integrity is huge and it's missing in most of these characters. I did enjoy seeing them grow and come to realize what is truly important in life. 

I was so excited to receive this copy, but when I began reading I never connected. I tried to be understanding to these characters, but they really weren't people I enjoyed reading about. You may pick up this selection and feel totally different. You may connect in ways that I wasn't able to. You may enjoy the fast past and hurried characters pulling you here and there. I would have enjoyed getting to know the characters more closely. I think that would have made a huge difference for me. 

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

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Revealing by Suzanne Woods Fisher

No one does Amish fiction like Suzanne Woods Fisher. She ROCKS! She reveals the heart of the character. She takes us to places unknown and brings out a fresh new perspective about love, life, and faith. 

Her writing is easy to get absorbed in. Yes, it's that type of novel that you let everything else go and grab every bit of extra reading time you can. 

I loved returning to Eagle Hill. I missed out on the first book in the series, "The Lesson", but was able to catch up in book two, "The Calling", (check out my review). I encourage you to read these novels in order as a series. You are able to capture so much more about the characters and as Suzanne brings this wonderful series to a conclusion we are able to have a greater understanding about the choices they have made and where they are today. 

I've been blessed to read many novels penned by Suzanne. I can tell you that you will never be disappointed by choosing a Suzanne Woods Fisher novel. The title truly gives great meaning. There is much revealed in this third and final visit to Eagle Inn. These characters are so charming, warm and loving. Kindness flows from their very actions. But as we see, we all struggle at times. Secrets take hold. Do we share? Do we keep hiding things so others don't become wounded? Yes, within the kindness of the heart of these characters, striving to live godly lives, we see the real struggle that they too face. 

Forgiveness is a key aspect in this final book. So much has happened. I found this novel to hold a bit of mystery. We see the characters transform, but we also see them transparent. When hearts become humble, God is allowed the room He needs to bring about change. 

A love story, yes, but there is so much more. Family issues are very real. I must admit I am sad to see these characters go. This series carries such valuable life lessons. I admire writers who pen a life changing story. A story that is able to make the reader ponder their own life and just how they would respond if this was their life. This is a gift that Suzanne has. 

If you are a lover of Amish fiction this is a selection you are going to enjoy. If you have never read Amish fiction before, this series is a perfect place to start!

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

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Letters, The Calling, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace, and an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Learn more at and connect with Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Love Comes Home by Ann Gabhart

I love being able to share with you my favorite writers. Friends, Ann Gabhart is at the top of that list. I fell in love with Ann's writing when I read, "Angel Sister", (check out my review). Ann took us back to Rosey Corner in, "Small Town Girl", (check out my review), and once again my heart was moved by these characters. Now we are blessed with the conclusion of this beautiful series with, "Love Comes Home". 

I love visiting Rosey Corner. It has become like home. A sweet vacationing spot. These characters seem like family. Yes, that's what you can expect when you choose a novel penned by Ann. When you pick up a book by Ann, you know without a doubt your heart is going to be moved. Emotions you've had tucked away are going to surface. 

World War II is ending. Everything is uncertain for this family. They seem to face one trial after another. This is real life for many of us. The Merritt sisters have become old friends. Kate, Evangeline, and Victoria. And Lorena is also part of the family. In fact, in many ways, she is what connects everyone. She is a keeper. A gift they never expected. But one that they loved from the very first moment they met. 

These sisters all face trial and change. Nothing is certain. Nothing remains the same. Yet, together they face the unknown challenges. Love, loss, fear, unexpected blessings. It's all here in Rosey Corner. What I love is that it's all wrapped in faith. As these family members face change, their faith also goes through change. Some are strengthened. Some begin to ask questions like never before. As love comes home faith is renewed and lives are restored. Not restored to what they once were, but new. We see that God is always at work in our lives and is always pressing us onward to a life filled with possibility. 

We don't just see the heart of the sisters. We too see the heart of the men they love. They are returning from war. Ready to get back to normal, but somehow normal doesn't exist. Mike and Jay are such characters. Sammy is missed. (Don't worry. I wouldn't dare give anything away). As these men are trying to adjust, their wives are finding it hard also. Everything is so unexpected and new. This is why I love Ann so very much. She is able to bring us characters we can relate to. Characters we fall in love with and want more of. 

Everyone needs an Aunt Hattie. She gives such strength to this family. A woman of wisdom. Fern is here too. We see her in and out of the woods. She holds such secrets. A true friend, indeed. She seems to come at the perfect time. Just when she's needed. Somehow in a quirky way, Fern brings such peace. 

I loved this novel so very much. If you're on the search for a summer series, this is just what you need! A little shade and a glass of ice tea and some time spent in Rosey Corner will do the trick.

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

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Words Spoken True, as well as several Shaker novels--The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted--and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Atlas Girl by Emily T. Wierenga

What a perfect title and cover for this poetically written memoir. Emily T. Wierenga is transparently beautiful. I love when a girl bares her soul for the world to see. Not so the world can see her, but so that the world can see her Jesus. Emily opens up in a way that makes you feel like sisters. 

Emily shares her life. Her struggles. Her passions. Her ministry today. We journey with her as she travels back remembering the days that have brought her to the here and now. Days that have torn her, to those that have encouraged her. She shares the ugly that lies deep in the haunting night and the light of day that she has learned to trust and follow. 

I found her words to be inspiring. As my own mother grows in age and struggles, Emily gives me encouragement to carry on and make memories of each moment. She inspires us to live life. She has faced anorexia. I could relate with her on so many levels. My heart ached for her, yet it soared in seeing her spread her wings to healthy living. 

She shares life at home, the day she decided to leave home, and takes us traveling with her as she journeys through many areas in life. She desired so much, yet was lost at where to find it. Most of all, she had to find herself in the atlas given her. I love how we see Emily come to understand when God says, "Watch Me take care of you". 

Emily inspires us all to share our story. To pen the journey and to learn. Life is worth living to the fullest. This is one of the sweetest memoirs I've had the pleasure of reading. 

This memoir was a gift from Baker Books for sharing my review with you. 

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, columnist, artist, author, and blogger at Her work has appeared in many publications, including Prodigal Magazine, A Deeper Story, Christianity Today, Dayspring's (in)courage, and Focus on the Family. She speaks regularly about her journey with anorexia. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Trenton, and their two sons.

Shadowed By Grace by Cara C. Putman

The cover of the novel is what caught my attention. Simply beautiful. I am fascinated with novels that take me back in time to World War II. This is exactly what Cara does for the reader. I was immediately drawn to the characters and their personal stories. We see the heart of the character. Each with their own reason for being in Italy. One wanting to save the masterpieces that would bring history together and the other wanting to capture the story with film. 

Who doesn't love a story about the Monuments Men? These men were ready to give all of themselves to restore history. To make safe what was created by the hands of man. 

We get to witness a wonderful romance blossom between these characters. The story flows so easily and with each passing chapter the reader is stirred to keep turning pages. 

I admired the character, Rachel. A woman who seems to be out of place in a country at war, but to her, she is right where she needs to be. Her assignment is to capture the images of war and make America aware of emotion. She does her job beautifully, but there is so much more that she's after. 

This is my first novel penned by Cara and it will not be my last. I admire writers who draw the reader in and invite them to journey to another place and time. 

In the discussion questions, Cara asks: Rachel's travels to Italy during World War II for the love of a parent. Do you think she made the right decision? Why or why not? Yes, for me she made the right choice. In traveling to Italy Rachel was trying to save her mother's life. She was seeking the father she never knew. Rachel didn't know if she would ever find her father. All she had to go on was her mother's journal. I found this journal to be absolutely beautiful. It brought mother and daughter together with miles separating them. I think Rachel found a new love for her mother. A new appreciation of all she felt while in Italy years before Rachel would have her chance to find love. 

Cara masterfully weaves this story. I read slowly to absorb the era and the surroundings. This is one I can greatly say is a hit. If you're searching for a great summer read, this is a beautiful choice. You won't be disappointed. 

This novel was a gift from B&H Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Cara Putman is an award-winning author with seven World War II homefront books in print. Her minor in history combined with her love of World War II history and the generation that fought then as heroes compel her to take the steps to get the historical details and research right. As a result, her readers have come to expect stories that sweep them back in time while illustrating a facet of the war they didn’t know existed. While her prior books have focused on homefront stories, this series will broaden to reach the European theater, without the battlefield scenes one would expect.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Shaping My Heart

If you have been following me for a while now you know that I have had a bit of waiting to do. Back in March I had surgery on my thumb. That next month I found a lump in my neck. (Check out my blog post, "Fears Come in All Kinds of Shapes and Sizes Especially a Lump"). I have felt a bit like my heart has been in my throat. You know that feeling. You're wondering. You're scared. Your mind is already wandering in every direction even before you know the direction you're about to go.

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways." Psalm 139:1-3

The week after finding the lump I found myself at the doctor. Next month I found myself sitting in the surgeon's office. He ordered an ultrasound. More waiting. Waiting to see the results. Waiting to know the next steps we would be taking. My heart was in a stir.

"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You." Psalm 25:4-5

My husband sat yesterday in the doctor's office with me. My knees weren't shaking. My heart was calm. Everything about me felt safe and secure. Yes, some of that was felt because of my sweet husband, but my soul was feeling comfort and strength from our mighty Lord. Oh, there is nothing as sweet as His presence with us. He turns fear into calm. I can attest that you can have shaky knees and still know without a doubt God is in control. I have come to understand that I can still feel fear even in the midst of my great faith.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

A few days earlier I had been walking out in our front yard just enjoying the day. I am geek of trees and birds. (Lol That's a whole other post waiting). Here I was in awe of the Red Bud tree my husband had planted for me years before. It stands much taller than me now. Over the years I've watched the seed pods slowly open and the leaves float gently through the breeze, but as I stood there I seen something so different. I noticed the shape of the leaf. Yes, these shaky leaves, blowing and twisting through the wind on this blustery afternoon, were in the shape of a heart. Steady and strong. Hanging on and the winds twisted them. This was my heart! This ever changing heart of mine. Sometimes so gentle and calm. Others, hanging on for dear life as I feel twisted and blown shaky.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heat greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise His name." Psalm 28:7

These little leaves open in God's perfect timing. Everything is in His perfect timing. Some were just forming. Some were half open. But they were all waiting. Waiting just as I have been waiting. We want to hurry our waiting, don't we?

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" Psalm 27:14

I can tell you that my news was good. My lump is still there. Hasn't budged an inch. But the doctor isn't worried. He wants to watch it. It's very tiny. In three months we will do another ultrasound and follow-up. If all is good and unchanged then we will repeat that in another six months. But, if there is any kind of change at all he is going to get in there and remove it. Praise Jesus!

Friends, my news could have gone either way. I just as easily could have received news I didn't want to hear. But as my heart grows closer to Jesus I'm understanding more and more that faith comes in all different sizes and shapes. Sometimes our faith is big and sometimes it's small. But God remains the same. He is ever-present and true. He was already waiting at my appointment. He already knew the answers I would be hearing. He knew the questions that would fall from my lips. He knew my entire day.

"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1

I've had to remind myself that I am God's masterpiece. 

"For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

I can trust in Him. 

"For the word of the Lord is right and all His work is trustworthy." Psalm 33:4

He brings everything together in His perfect timing. 

"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

I too am to live by faith.

"For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous shall live by faith." Romans 1:17

When my knees are shaky and I feel the stem of fear rising up I am to remember that I am a child of the King of kings, Lord of lords! I am to remember where my strength comes from. 

"Yahweh my Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights! 

I still wake to this lump. It could simply disappear. That is my prayer. But it too could grow. That isn't my wish, but just what if God has a plan? There's no what if about it. He does have a plan. Right now part of that plan is for me to share my journey. My strengths and my fears. My shaky knees and my wobbly faith. But one thing I know for certain. I never have to walk my journey alone. He's right here with me. Reminding me in so many ways of His glorious presence.

He too reminds me to continue to pray. I am to pray for His will. In doing so, He is growing in me a, 'no matter what', kind of faith. No matter what is to come, He is with me. I can trust Him in my today because He's already in my tomorrow.

"Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:6-7

"God can and will deliver whatever He has promised to us. Do we believe that? If we do, then it only makes sense to put our complete trust in Him, regardless of how dark our circumstances might appear." 
Charles F. Stanley


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