Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Child of the River by Irma Joubert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loree Lough with nearly five million 4 and 5 star rated books in circulation, Loree Lough has been called by reviewers and readers alike a "gifted storyteller whose novels touch hearts and change lives." Guardians of the Heart follows Currency of the Heart in the historical series Secrets on Sterling Street, published by Whitaker House. 

Loree lives near Baltimore and enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, and "grandorables" at their cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she delights in showing off her skill at identifying critter tracks. She loves interacting with readers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and via e-mail (she answers every letter, personally!) at loree@loreelough.com.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mangled Grace

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

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

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

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

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

On our drive home my husband begins to share with me how he was sitting at a stop light as a driver crashed into him. She never tried to stop. She crashed into my husband at a full speed. She hit my husband so hard she went under him, pushing the back of his truck up to where you cannot even tell there was a bed on his truck. He flipped end over end, spinning to a stop. She hit him so hard she ruptured the gas tank. Later we would hear from a fireman that in his opinion if my husband would have stopped to fill up his truck could have blown up on impact.

See, my husband wasn't just hit on impact. He took three massive hits. First being hit from behind, then when he slammed on the roof going upside down, and then slamming into the concrete electrical post. Finally coming to a stop one hundred feet away from impact. 

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

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

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

See, this person arrested on this night for DWI had no regard for life. She placed my husband's life in the pathway of her poor choice to get behind the wheel. In my opinion this nothing less than attempted murder. Is the passenger guilty as well? In my opinion, yes. She too had an obligation to check themselves. If the driver was impaired all it would have taken is one person to speak up. One person to not allow the keys to enter the ignition. This driver could have taken the life of my husband, our children's father, our grandchildren's Papa, his parents youngest son. They had a choice. My husband did not. He was on the receiving end of the choices made. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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