Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Progeny by Tosca Lee

Wow!!! My first novel from Tosca Lee and I am blown away. I have been waiting to read a book that allowed me to escape into its pages. This was an unputdownable for me! I loved it!

Good verses evil. This was certainly a page turner. What's amazing is that as I turned pages it became better and better. Each chapter more unveiling and dazzling than the one previous. Tosca is a master weaver! 

Superb writing. For my Christian friends who only choose Christian fiction this book may not be for you, but I can tell you that with all the Christian fiction books on my shelves this is one of the best reads I have had the pleasure of reviewing. For me, I could see a strong Christian theme throughout this book. If you loved Tosca before you will still greatly admire this woman's gift of writing. 

The characters jump off the pages. Can you imagine having your memory wiped clean? Nothing left to remind you of who you were yesterday? I could relate so well with this. We each have a past. We each have things we wish we could have done different. But even past that what about forgetting to protect someone you loved? Of course! 

Emily Porter is such a strong and courageous female character. A past that haunts her, a past that is chasing her, and she is fighting the evil by seeking the truth! LOVE IT!! In her weaknesses she seeks out the aid of others who will lift her up. She lives by a code of courage and strength. I love this character and those she has surrounded herself with for this journey. 

A thrilling ride! Fast paced and riveting. I had never heard of Elizabeth Bathory, The Blood Countess, the serial killer. Can you imagine being a descendant of someone so evil? The story may begin with the history of this woman, but it goes far beyond her and takes us on a journey all over the world as Emily tries to escape the evil, but is desperately seeking to uncover the truth and allow the light to shine on the evil that is persisting. 

So many twists and turns to keep the reader captivated. I love how the story began and how it too came to a close. Tosca knows how to keep the reader excited for book 2! 

I see many say Tosca has made a switch in genre, but I can still see a Christian theme throughout her writing. Although I haven't read any of her early works I can only imagine them as strong and magnificent as this. 

I have to say that I am still processing this novel. I love putting down a novel and still days later am pondering the words that have come to life for me. story will continue this spring. I will be waiting eagerly for this release and can't wait to share with you!

Tosca, thanks for the adventure!!

This novel was a gift from Simon and Schuster for sharing my review with you.

Tosca Lee is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of The Legend of Sheba; Iscariot; Demon: A Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve; and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. She received her B.A. in English from Smith College. A lifelong world-adventure traveler, Tosca makes her home in the Midwest with her husband and children.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible by B&H Publishing Group

Take a trip to your local craft shop and you will find a section of adult coloring books. This is the new rage for people who loved to color as a child and now have the opportunity to do it adult style with their own flair and uniqueness. Relaxing and comforting to the soul. An expression of the colorful soul of emotion. 

Now B&H Publishing has joined in and combined something pretty amazing. They have taken their notetaking Bible and combined it with illustrating. How fun! 

This Bible is not a study Bible. There are not study notes throughout. What it is is simple. It holds a concordance, bullet notes, and colorful maps. Along the side margin of the Bible is room for note-taking and throughout the Bible are illustrations for one to uniquely add one's own flair to the pages. 

How awesome to grab this Bible, curl up with your favorite quilt, grabbing a cup of coffee, your favorite colors, and do some exploring of the soul. Time for reading and then expressing yourself through your unique design. 

This would make a great gift for the one in your life who not only loves the Word, but has a creative soul and loves to express themselves through color. This would make a great treasure. What a gift to leave to one you love. Sharing your words and expression your soul felt in reading the Word. I love this idea! 

If you're searching for something different, this is it! I already know who I'm sending this treasure to and she's going to love it!

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

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Let God Be The Healer

Have you ever been that friend others come to for advice? You know, that one on the receiving end of those late night calls? The girl asked to come over to share iced tea and chat? 

I have been that friend. I too have been the girl calling friends as tears streamed when I thought there was no end in sight as my breath was stopped.

My friend, Bobbie, would call me. I was always happy to hear her beautiful voice. We have shared so many laughs through the years. Two years ago our calls changed from simple laughter. See, Bobbie's son, Donnie, was hit and killed by a drunk driver. She no longer was calling with laughter spewing through the phone. That laughter became hot tears, filled with agony. Her voice now carried a shakiness filled with words so broken I could no longer understand.

I would hear my phone ring and I knew something was wrong. I knew those happy calls weren't in existence any longer. If so, they were far and few in
between the falling tears of my friend that was now searching for healing. So, before answering I'd pray. Sometimes a quick prayer, but one asking the Lord to be present, to speak in me, through me, and to be our source of strength. 

See, I knew the difference in those calls when I hadn't prayed and in those where I prayed before picking up. There too was a difference in my returning texts after I had taken time to pray. Yes, I could clearly see when God's presence was invited in to share in our time and when He was given room to move. 

Sometimes our roll as friend isn't to give advice. There are circumstances like with my friend that we can in no way understand. Oh, we can imagine, but we cannot relate to the agony they are now living. So, we shouldn't try to pretend with words that are just fillers. 

Sometimes our role is to listen and be present. We are to pray and to take an active roll in the life of our friends. We simply need to love and be the friend we would want in our most desperate time. We don't have to be the perfect friend. That girl doesn't exist. It is such a blessing to know that I don't have to know all the answers. I can trust our God who does know. I can pray with my friend, read scripture, and point my friend to Jesus. When we just love the Lord's love flows through us like a warm light that makes way for heart to feel some sort of comfort and peace in the midst of the tornado that has blown destruction our way. 

It isn't easy. Oh, the fun loving times make a friendship easy peasy, but tragedy makes for a friendship to show itself true. There were times no words were spoken. Just shared tears. When we ask our Lord to be present everything changes. There is comfort in just knowing a friend is present with us. 

It doesn't matter our circumstance. Maybe a friend is asking for advice. Point them to Jesus. Maybe we are at the grocery store, see a friend in passing and say, "Hey, how ya doing?", but really never expect them to reply, "Oh, my life is horrible. Listen to all that is happening". Those words spill so easily from our lips. We speak them and when someone replies and interrupts our time. Well, let's face it, we are a bit perplexed. I mean do we attempt to share right there in the aisle or do we share that we will call them later? Let's be real. We have all been there wishing we had never asked the question. This is where we need to ask God to grow us a heart of mercy. 

People around us are hurting. That hurt is caused by many different circumstances. People are waiting for someone to take notice and to care enough to ask. We walk around with our heart broken and just want to share, but should we really be transparent? Yes, we should. We need to be real with those around us. This is how we share the Jesus in our lives. Let us ask that question in love and with patience. The next time those words of, "How ya doing?", flow from our lips, let us be prepared and ready.

Before we walk out the door let us pray. Let us pray for God to make a way. To use us in a mighty way to bring Him glory, making us aware of His presence, moving in us and through us, giving witness to His glory and honor. I have witnessed God do a mighty work at Walmart. It happens if we just invite Him to join us.

We are to be in the people business and allow God to be in the healing business. It isn't for us to heal others, but to point them to our Jesus, the One who is our Healer. 

We don't always know what to say. We don't always have the right answers. What we can do is love. Just simply love as we want to be loved. To give our time and our heart. Not just listening, but hearing. There is a difference in a hurried listener and a patient hearer. 

As with my friend I learned to ask, "How are you doing right now?" I knew she wasn't doing well. Her heart was shattered, but I too knew she lived moment by moment with emotion changing with each breath. She appreciated me asking in this way. For Bobbie, it allowed her room to speak freely because she knew that in me asking in this way I really wanted to know. 

When we ask, "How are you?", let us just not throw those words in the air, but ask because we value the one speaking. Make sure we make room for God to move. Make room for the Holy Spirit to speak. Make room for our Savior to intervene. When we do these things we are sure to see His blessings of our Healer treasure our lives.

"My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips."
 Psalm 63:5

"Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You." 
Psalm 143:8

"Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." 
Exodus 3:5

Stepping With Security

My path is before me. Each step has already been planned for me. Where are my eyes focused? The steps already behind me? Those miles ahead that I cannot yet see? 

I need to be focused on my step right now. This path goes in many directions. I have a choice to go to the right or to the left. Each step will lead to another. I need to be sure of where I am headed. I am in need of a guide. In fact, not just any guide, but the One who knows my steps behind me and those steps I will take tomorrow.

I am not sure how many tomorrows I have in my quiver, nor how many steps today will hold for me, but I know the One who does. Why would I trust another with my future? Why would I take those steps alone, all on my own, without any guidance? 

That's like walking through a dark, unknown house, without a flashlight. A stumble is certain to take place. Just ask my husband who would frequently come home from work only to find his foot aching from the couch leg or an end table being in his way. Okay, I just happen to enjoy moving our furniture. He just happened to arrive home at night lol. 

But, everything changes when our path is clear of shadows and uneven planks can now be seen clearly. Oh, and if someone informs us they has moved the furniture it gives us a heads up lol. Our God is the One who is able and willing to do that for us. No, we cannot possibly foresee what will come tomorrow, but we can be prepared by making sure our focus is on the light ahead of us and not the circumstance filled with darkness and unknown. 

Our Lord has no intention of planning our path and having us walk it alone. He doesn't want us walking unsure in the dark. Part of His plan is to be the Guide for the journey, wherever that journey takes us. He knows every complication, every circumstance, and every distraction that will try to steal our focus. 

If I remain focused on Him, seek Him before I step, and trust Him as my Light, He will supply my every need for each and every step that is before me. When I take His hand and allow Him to lead it is there that I will experience extraordinary along the way. 

"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall not run and be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand." Psalm 37:23-24

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Look Out Mountain

We travel unknown highways in search of something new to fill our senses and capture something spectacular within us. Here in Missouri there are several places where the driver is given the opportunity to pull over into a park area for a photo of the green covered mountains and rolling hills. What if we were constantly on the look out for all God has prepared for us? Too often we are looking in another direction and we miss our invitation with Him for adventure.

My husband never gets lost. I was always the opposite. I was always getting lost until he taught me my sense of direction, the paths of the highways and how they all connect in one way or another. 

I use to get so anxious if I lost my way. Not any longer. I calmly remind myself that even if my road dead-ends, I can turn around, head back, get my baring, and find my way. 

I'm so thankful my husband taught me so many different ways to travel to the same place. It makes Monday grocery shopping much more exciting. I would continue to travel the same path, but where is my adventure in that? There can be comfort in sameness, but exploring gives us another opportunity to live out something new instead of clinging to old ways. 

There are times I love driving and being alone for a few hours. I can turn on the radio and right there in the midst of the music  and the unexpected I can have church. I can sing and praise in thanksgiving. My heart opens and I continue in conversation with my Lord. 

Today I took a path my husband had taught me. I was looking at the hay bales scattered across the fields. I looked over and seen a beautiful mama doe with her spotted fawn. In all I seen six deer and so much of God's beauty in sights that captured my senses to praise all the more. 

As the words of the songs saturated my heart, tears easily wet my cheeks. God's wonder never ceases. My time spent with Him never leaves me empty. I no longer look for the easiest, most traveled path, but am always on the look out for the path that leads me to experience my Savior.

"Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." 
Isaiah 43:19

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Take Part In God's Extraordinary

We should take part in God's extraordinary because we can trust Him with our everything. There isn't much we can control in our lives. What should bring us great comfort is knowing God is in control of our lives. 

"You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?" Psalm 56:8

This verse brings such beauty and safety for my day. There is such comfort within these words. Don't you think? To trust my Savior, the One who knows each and every step. The One who catches my tears and fills them in golden bowls tells me how each tear is valued by Him. He is the One who remembers. This is the God with the Book of Remembrance. The God who is my eternal breath, my Love. 

Knowing this makes my hours today mean even more. I can live thankful and know that each moment holds a vast meaning that I may not understand at this very moment, but there will come a time when I realize just how important today is. 

Rev. 5:8, 8:3-4, Rev. 7:17; 21:4, Danial 7:10; Mal. 3:16

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? " Romans 8:38

God keeps constant track of His people. There is no detail in our lives void to our God. Isn't that wonderful? I mean, really, isn't that just a love like no other kind of love? How amazingly magnificent to have a God who not only knows every detail, but wants to know us, to spend time with us, to have His children seek Him.

Not only did God part the sea, but He makes a way in the desert for us today! He knows the road before us. His steps were there before our toes touched the chilled floor this morning. There isn't a place we will walk today that has not been prepared for us! Love it!

"Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and the rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19

Isaiah 43:1-3

He is always doing a new thing for us. There is nothing about today He doesn't know about. That should remove the fear for us. That should set us on a course to live extraordinary today. Although we walk through the fire we will not be burned. A road in the wilderness just for us. This is preparation from a God who watches over His children. 

Why do we live without seeking adventure? Why are we so fearful of living? With our Jesus there is nothing to fear of this life. May we not allow fear to interrupt our lives in such a way that we just live empty. Let us not live predictable today, but be in anticipation for the unexpected. 

Be the face of love today. Speak to a stranger today as if you have known them for years. Step outside the comfort zone we so easily live and there we will take part in God's extraordinary today!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Apache Wars by Paul Timothy Hutton

I have had this book for a while now. This isn't a hurried read and is certainly not a light read. This is a complex and detailed read. 

I chose this selection because my husband enjoys the Native American history. I do as well. It seems in today's world yesterday is forgotten, but this is a time in history that should be taught in every school room and in every home. 

This is such a powerful read. How many of us know this was the longest war in history? Sadly, I cannot say that I knew this. That is heartbreaking. 

Paul Andrew Hutton takes us on a journey that is intriguing, intense, and sometimes gruesome. We learn of Mickey Free, the only person Geronimo ever feared. Half Irish, half Mexican, he lived in both worlds of the American soldiers and the Apaches. His life gives tale of this mountainous story that builds with chapter. 

If you love history you are going to dive into this novel and appreciate our history even more so. If you're not such a fan, well, this book just may set you on the course of discovering history that was never taught in school. 

I have to be honest. This was a hard read for me. It wasn't a book I continually grabbed first for my nightly reading. As I stated I picked this selection for my husband, knowing I too would have to read it for review. I wasn't overly excited, but let me share with you, I am so happy I chose this book! So much to uncover and Hutton does a fantastically gifted job of keeping the reader on course and not flipping from one subject to the next. The words flow and as each chapter passes the next is even more intriguing. 

So, yes, I would greatly encourage this as a summer read. Purchase now and save it for a fall evening, just don't skip it because you think it would be boring. Not boring at all, but extremely deep. 

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

Paul Andrew Hutton is an American cultural historian, author, documentary writer, and television personality. He is a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of New Mexico, a former executive director of the Western History Association, and former president of the Western Writers of America.


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