Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy by Dorcas Smucker (It's Giveaway time)

Product Details

Ah yes, this was just what the doctor ordered. I've wanted to review Dorcas' last book or two and was always too chicken to ask, but this time I threw caution to the wind and said, "Yes, I want to review your book." And I'm so glad I did. It was the perfect book for this stage in my life.

Short, easy to read chapters that can be picked up and read whenever and wherever. They are guaranteed to either make you laugh, smile, cry, or or just give you that ah-ha feeling that someone else experiences life like that too.  I could quote from pretty much every chapter something that struck me in one of those ways, but I really want you to go buy the book so I won't do that many spoilers. I only want to give you a hint of what is to come in the book.

First off, isn't the cover beautiful? I can dream of a kitchen table like that with the apple pie still steaming and the tea pot, or coffee pot more likely, full to the brim and a beautiful arrangement of flowers hand picked from my profusely blooming flower garden, all arranged on a perfectly cleared off table. Oh and the friendship and chatter would be of the most upbuilding and edifying sort around. Ah, the stuff dreams are made of.

Anyway, more on to the meat of the book. One chapter in particular resonated deep in my soul right now and it's called "The Dark Clouds of Winter". Thank you Dorcas for being willing to share your struggle with SAD and the things you've found that have helped. I don't think I struggle with SAD, but adjusting to two littles has taken its toll on me and I've not been the nicest person to be around always. So vitamin D, exercise, and veggies here I come.

I laughed over the story of Dorcas' dad tipping over in his lawn chair in the doomed-to-failure trip to the beach one cold day. I also loved the story of him faithfully writing his letters and the magic he seemed to bring with him that caused the chickens to lay eggs in abundance, the grapes to produce prolifically and so on.

And then the chapter on The Words I Said I'd Never Say reminds me to cherish this littles season. Right now, I cannot imagine looking back with nostalgia on the middle of the night feedings for the baby or the inconsolable crying fits of the two year old, also in the middle of the night. I can't imagine missing the daily reminders to stop whining and the frequent trips to the bathroom to aid in the elimination process. But maybe I will someday miss that, so it's a good reminder for me to hang on to those moments.

I've gone on enough, but I want to leave you with one quote that I think can resonate with all of us, especially those of us who like to write.  "You don't have to live someone else's life or write another culture's story. You have a life, a history, a story of your own. It is worthy of telling, and no one else will ever tell it quite like you can. It is yours to tell and if you tell it well, I promise we will all be eagerly listening." I need this reminder too when I want to look around at others' lives and think they have it so much better than me.

Thank you Dorcas for the chance to read your newest book and review it. If I have it figured right, there are 36 chapters in this book. This book is composed of her once a month essays for the Register Guard. That means in 2020, we should be looking for a new book!!! At least I hope so.

And now the important things: how to buy this book and all of Dorcas' other ones for Christmas gifts.  
Order the book from Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. 
Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. 
Checks or PayPal accepted. (
Or you can go to Amazon and buy it for $1 more without the personal interaction with the author. Just saying.
You can also order her other books from her at the same time. If you go to this post she lists them all, along with her dad's and her daughter's books.

And the next most important thing: a giveaway. I was given three copies from Dorcas, one to giveaway through this post, one to give to someone who needs a fragrant whiff of joy, and one for me to keep. And so, drum roll please, to enter to win a copy of this book, please comment below one thing that brought you joy today. And if you had no joy, you should buy this book pronto, because it will bring you some. Also, to help advertise this book, if you share it on Facebook and let me know that you shared it, I will give you a second entry in the drawing!!  The contest will end November 22 at noon and I will try to announce a winner that day yet, but be patient if I don't get it done. We are going to be gone for Thanksgiving weekend, leaving that evening.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Blind Spot #3

As I've said before, I'm not generally big into mystery suspense books, especially if it involves murder etc. But Dani Pettrey does a superb job of writing that makes me hang on to the edge of my seat. It definitely makes middle of the night feedings almost fun and I can for sure stay awake.

This is the third book in the Chesapeake Valor series and it better not be the last one because the book ends on a cliff hanger. There are two main threads running through the book. A group of friends are all involved in investigation work of some sort, either independently, with the FBI or with the local police. A couple are investigating a coach's murder and another couple are trying to figure out what big terrorist threat is coming to the US soil and how to stop it in time. Combine that with sightings of a long-lost friend who's working undercover and you have a really good story. And while the one terrorist attack does get stopped, there's another in the works and that's where the book ends. So if you don't like cliff hangers, I recommend waiting to read this book until the next one comes out.

There is, of course, the thread of romance that runs through this book as well, but it wasn't overpowering. Faith in God and belief in His timing also runs through the book.

It does appear that there might be a final installment to this series, but no timeline is given for when it will be released.

I enjoyed this book just as I have enjoyed the other books in this series. I haven't read anything else by Dani Pettrey, but I'm guessing they're good as well.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Power of Modesty for Tweens by Dannah Gresh

Secret Keeper Girl: The Power of Modesty for Tweens  -     By: Dannah K. Gresh

This is a little almost pocket sized book filled with some very helpful information for tweens. It's also got a fun, catchy looking cover as well as pictures and illustrations throughout the book that it make it fun and easy to read. It's been awhile since I've been a tween to know on the reading level, but the words are simple and easy to understand, so I think it is suitable for a young girl.

I think Dannah has hit on some very powerful truths in this book. Modesty isn't about being covered from head to toe as much as it is dressing to glorify God and not draw attention to ourselves. As a Mennonite, we have a style of dress to adhere to, but that doesn't guarantee modesty. I have seen our "modest" dress look much more immodest than someone in a skirt or even pants. There's so much attitude that goes into how we dress and who we seek to portray: God or ourselves.

Dannah offers seven truths to being a Secret Keeper Girl:
1. You are a masterpiece created by God
2. True beauty doesn't come from what's on the outside.
3. True beauty is not about how you look. It's about how you see.
4. God wants nothing we wear to distract people from seeing our true beauty.
5. What we wear becomes sin when it says, "look at me" instead of "look at God."
6. If you love God, you will obey Him in the way you dress.
7. The source of true beauty is a love relationship with Jesus!

Each truth has a chapter that's devoted to further developing and explaining that truth along with Scripture to use as power verses.

There is also a mom-daughter devotional available that goes along with this verse.

I think this would be a great book to give to a tween, though it would be even better to walk through the book with your tween.

I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Come as you Aren't

Product Details
A Role-Playing Game for Adventurous Couples

And since this is a family friendly blog, I'm not gonna say too much about this game, if you get my meaning!! I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested it, but it is definitely all about the sexual side of marriage. I guessed as much, but thought there might be some other things included as well.

There are three sets of cards, Who, (which to be honest, make no sense to me at all, though there innuendoes in about every description) Perhaps that is where the role playing comes in and you try to pretend to be somebody else, which sounds tiring and stressful to me, but I'm not much for acting either. I hate the game of Charades, so.....  Then the What and Where are pretty self-explanatory.  There is also an envelope for leaving the cards for your spouse to find  and a little notepad to add a few details.

For those looking for some variety, this might be the game for you. I definitely think it has potential to spice up your marriage. What I am going to do with the cards is for me to know and you to get your own set if you're curious.

Okay, this has taken me way out of my comfort zone and I really haven't said anything, so I will conclude. I received this game from Blogging for Books and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Whatif Monster

This is the book I was talking about in my last blog post. If you are afraid of the future, anxious about all the what ifs in life, then you need this book. It's so true

Some Whatif Monsters like to hang out, and fill up our heads with worry and doubt.
They are sneaky and quiet and quick as a blink, the words that they whisper can change how we think.
Jonathan James heard those words full of dread and all those "what ifs" got stuck in his head.
What if it's hard?
What if you're bad?
What if they laugh and make you feel sad?
What if it's yucky? What if it's icky?
What if Mom yells because you're too picky?
What if you lose? What if you're last?
What if you're slow and never get fast?
And then the tune changes. "But what if you're wrong?" asks Jonathan James
What if I climb to the top of that tree, and I never slip or skin up a knee?
And what if baseball is nothing but fun, and I end up hitting a triple home run?
And what if the chance that I take in the end, is just how I find my very best friend?

Isn't this book so true? We can let the what ifs in life paralyze us from trying anything new, when what if this new thing would be something we excel at or enjoy or allows us to make new friends. So when I am tempted to be afraid and not want to get out of my comfort zone, I need to remember, what if.

This book is available here . There is also a plush you can get to go with it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle

Church of the Small Things   -     By: Melanie Shankle

The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life

If you've never read Melanie Shankle, you need to go do that. Now, just go to Amazon and order it. Or borrow it from the library or something. Only do this if you enjoy humor and little nuggets of truth all mixed up together. Only if you enjoy exaggerated stories and life lessons intermingled. She has written four books now: Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, Nobody's Cuter than You, and now this one. And it looks like she has a devotional coming out entitled Everyday holy, scheduled to release in March of 2018. I haven't read Nobody's Cuter than You and I'm not sure how I missed it, but anyway.

Melanie seems to have a flare for the dramatic. I am not sure what she would have been like to parent, but her books are a lot of fun to read. Interestingly enough, she portrays herself very much as an introvert. I find that interesting, because her writing screams extrovert, center of attention, but I'm not sure that is really who she is in real life, but her writing is not hindered by that. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to say I don't think introverts can write good books. I very much believe they can. I consider myself an introvert and I enjoy writing. Okay, I need to just stop with this line of thought and move on.

Let me start by quoting extensively from her second to last paragraph in the book. I think it sums up both the book and life quite nicely.  "In that funny way life has of teaching you as you go, I learned over the years that it's usually not the big moment that make up a life as much as it is the small ones. It's not going to college and setting up a dorm room that makes you an adult but the discipline of showing up for class....It's not the wedding ceremony that makes you a married couple, but the daily commitment to stay in love even when someone is seemingly incapable of throwing away the wrappers from the York Peppermint Patties he eats every night and asks every year if Valentine's Day is the second Tuesday in February. It's not giving birth or signing adoption papers that makes you a mom, but braiding hair and kissing scraped knees and walking the floor at night with a feverish baby in your arms as you whisper a silent prayer.....I've learned that the best way to live is to look for God in the church of small things. The church of small things is where God does his best work. The church of small things is where the majority of us live every single day."

Another thing she talks about that I can so relate to is this thing of worry, fear, and anxiety. She talks of how social media has taken fear and anxiety to a whole new level by all the "information" that gets shared around. As Melanie so aptly says, "One quick question: where can we send the bill for the medication we have to take every night in the hopes of turning off our brains long enough to get some sleep without worrying about all the ways we and our loved ones could possibly die?"

So as I said, she's a good mix of funny and truth. My takeaway from this book is one that I repeat to myself a lot. Enjoy the little moments. It's not the big moments the ultimately define a life, though they may, but it's the little mundane moment, the thousand whys from your toddler and your response to them, the shared looks that remind you of why you fell in love with your husband in the first place, the coffee dates with tried and true friends, and the list goes on. Look for God in the small moments. He is there.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.


So after my last post, someone said to me, I didn't know you had so many fears or something to that effect. Ha, if they only knew. That probably only touched a small portion of them. I was thinking of doing a series on the fears we can have. Fear of losing someone close. Fear of illness. Fear of being a bad parent. Fear of being a bad wife. Fear of failure. Fear of success. The list could go on and on. 

I was looking through my October pics to find a picture to put on here, because hey pictures are nice. I wasn't really looking for anything that went with what I was going to write about and then I saw this picture. Acorns. Tiny little round guys with funny hats scattered all over the ground this time of year. I wonder if they have fears. Do the look down from the branch they are hanging on and freak out over how far it is to the ground? Do they cling to the tree a little longer because they are afraid to take the leap or the drop? 

And once they hit the ground, do they sit there awhile grumbling and complaining and nursing their sore seats and wondering why they couldn't have just stayed up there in the tree where it was comfortable? Do they just lay on the ground with a poor me attitude and do nothing? Or do they get busy trying to grow another beautiful oak tree? 

What about me and my fears? Do I allow my fears to paralyze me or do I allow them to push me to greater heights on this journey of life? Do I fear too much what people will think and so I make disclaimers and side notes to explain why I do what I do, when in reality, nobody probably really cares anyway. Or do I just push down a little more and try to grow my roots a little deeper in Jesus so that I can grow tall and strong and withstand the wind that blows my way, so that I can rise above my fears to face each day secure in who I am and in whom I believe?

Fear will also want to take over. I'm guessing I will always have that niggling in the back of my mind, what if, what if, what if? But what if the worst case scenario doesn't come true? What if God is so much stronger than my fears? That's not a what if question, that is the truth.

So this post went a total different direction than I planned when I clicked New Post, but I'm okay with that. I think I should get a few acorns to put around my house to remind me. And I'm not finished completely with this topic. 

As some of you know, I have become an Usborne consultant and one of the things I want to do on my blog occasionally is showcase a book I really like. Showing lots of pictures and small snippets of the story line. There's a book that goes along really well with this whole fear thing and how it can cripple you if you let the what ifs take over. So next up will be Jonathan James and the What If Monster.

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy by Dorcas Smucker (It's Giveaway time)

Ah yes, this was just what the doctor ordered. I've wanted to review Dorcas' last book or two and was always too chicken to ask, b...