Monday, September 18, 2017

These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart

Product Details

Set in Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains during the time of the Frontier Nursing Service and the end of World War II comes a story that features love, adventure, and caring compassion. The Frontier Nursing Service was established by Mary Breckinridge and it still serves southeastern Kentucky and the midwifery school continues to train nurse-midwives. I really like when fiction books incorporate true history into their stories.

Francine Howard comes to the Frontier Nursing Service to run away from a botched relationship back home and, of course, you know what happens.

The book is more than that though too. There are tales of treating a moonshiner's accidental gunshot wound, Granny Em with her herbs and wisdom, a baby being born on the back of a truck in the middle of winter enroute to the hospital, and so on.

Francine embraces the mountain people, seeks to understand them and develops rich friendships because of that. She gets hopelessly lost very quickly in the mountains, but someone always comes along to rescue her.

There was a saying among the nurses that nobody comes there by accident. Isn't that true in life as well? We are not accidents. God has a plan for us and sometimes the way may seem muddled and we may feel lost, but God is there.

I enjoyed the book and thought it was well-written.

I received this book from Revell Publishers. A positive review was not required.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Product Details
Living out the beauty of the Gospel Together

Many of you might know her as Nancy Leigh DeMoss, or as the founder, I believe, of Revive our Hearts. She has written a number of books, of which I have read very few. Right now I can't think of any other ones I have read. But I have listened to her broadcasts and inspired and challenged by what she has to say. This book was no different.

Taken from Titus 2: 1-5, 10, this is Paul's challenge for the older women to be "reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine." Then they are to teach the younger women "to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands." That is what Adorned is about, talking about each of these characteristics and encouraging the older women to get involved in the life of a younger woman, to not check out and think their work is done, but to mentor and teach. And to the younger woman, the encouragement is to seek out an older woman who will mentor them and provide wisdom and practical advice and encouragement in the day to day struggles of life.

There was some very thought provoking and challenging chapters in this book to be sure. Creating a home that is welcoming, loving your husband and children and being dedicated to mothering and being kind regardless, those are all needed reminders for me. It all is really.

Again a few quotes: "When we serve people, we serve Christ."

"Nowhere am I more tempted to be selfish and lazy than in my home with my closest relationships. Too often, we show more concern and kindness for a complete stranger than for those who live under the same roof with us." Ouch, this hits very close to home. It is so true.

"Self-control is both a lifetime need and a lifetime pursuit."

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to become a Titus 2 woman.

I received this book from Moody. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick

Product Details

This story is set in the late 1800's and is based on a true story. Jennie is a young woman married to an alcoholic. He divorces her and she goes to work as a caregiver/nurse for an older lady in failing health. In a bizarre turn of events, after the lady dies, her husband, a 64 year old man and Jennie, a 26-year old, fall in love and get married. She goes on to become a doctor and to say much more would be to give away some of the story line.  From what I was able to gather in the author's notes is that this is all true.

Knowing that this book was based on a true story does help the story line a bit, but I will have to say the book had a hard time pulling me in. There really seemed to be no plot, nothing that just grabbed my attention. The references to God were somewhat minimal, it didn't seem like a real relationship with God. There was a piece about guilt, where Jennie's friend would have said, you need to confess your failings to God, then forgive yourself, and rather than drowning in guilt over some supposed wrong, to pick up and move on and make something of yourself. Those are my own words, but I thought that was good. Sometimes, I think, we know, in our brain, that God forgives us, and yet we struggle to forgive ourselves thinking we aren't worthy of forgiveness.

So my final conclusion is that this is not my style of book at all. I'd like to think you could write a down-to-earth, true-to-life story and have it pull the reader in, this book did not do that for me at all. I can't really tell you what it was missing, but I was somewhat disappointed overall.

I received this book from Revell Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gobi by Dion Leonard

Product Details

Illustrated by Lisa Manuzak

A little dog with a big heart.

This is a hardback children's book that is beautifully illustrated and tells a true story. It's a standard hardback size, maybe around a 10x12 with a cover jacket. I'm not sure what kind of illustrations they are. The people are not real to life and yet they are not caricatures either or I wouldn't call them that anyway.

The story is about Dion's run through the Gobi Desert. On the second day of the race, a little stray desert dog finds the runners and attaches himself to Dion and runs the remainder of the race with him. Dion doesn't have extra food, but he shares a little with the dog. Other runners also share food with Gobi from their own stashes.

The dog wants to stick with Dion and be his forever friend. This is challenged when Dion goes to run through a river and the dog knows he couldn't make it. Just in time, Dion remembers and comes back and carries the dog across the river.

It's a nice story that can also bring home the character qualities of faithfulness and loyalty and kindness.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Due to some spamming comments, I have changed the ability to comment. You now cannot comment anonymously, but need to have a Google ID and will have to do a word verification. Not that I get that many comments, but it has been very frustrating to have all these spam comments, some of which are very inappropriate.

Why would people want to spam my blog? I mean really, I am so active on it and it is such a money-making account and reaches so many people..... Okay, that's all. I just wanted to rant a little on it. Oh and if you ever need some risque comment ideas, you can check with me I can help you out.

5 Minute Bible Stories by Stephen Elkins

Product Details

100 stories and 100 songs

Created by Stephen Elkins
Illustrated by Tim O'Connor

100 Bible stories that are short and easy to understand and can be read in five minutes or less. Each story is accompanied by a song that goes along with the story. The book seems to be pretty comprehensive as far as capturing the popular Bible stories: Creation, Noah, Job, four stories about David, Jonah, birth of Jesus, some parables and miracles and ending with heaven. Some of the songs include Amazing Grace to go with the Beatitudes, Be Kind to go with the story of David and Mephibosheth, He is Lord with the story of Samson and so on.

In paging through the book, a lot of the songs look familiar to me and I am guessing you could find the music on YouTube for the ones that you don't know. I would wish there was either music to go with the songs, not just the lyrics or that there was a CD with all the songs on it. If someone doesn't know a lot of Bible songs or hasn't had a two year old who loves music and we listen to a lot of children's Bible songs, it would be rather time consuming to have to look up a lot of the songs on YouTube or some other place. There is a website that is supposed to contain the full song lyrics as not all of the songs are listed in their entirety, but it appears to not be up and working yet. When I typed in that address, I got a message that the My Wonder Kids site is coming soon.

While I haven't read all the stories, they look interesting and like something my 2.5 year old will love. I'm not necessarily a good judge of ages for children's books as my daughter loves books and will listen to books that I thought she would find boring (too many words, not enough pictures). But I would say this book would be good for two year olds on up to lower grades in school as they would be able to read it for themselves.

I think this is a lovely book and I'm trying to decide if I will use it now or save it for a birthday or Christmas gift this coming year.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Logan Isaiah Glick
Born on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 7:05 PM
He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and was 21 inches long. 
We have all fallen in love with him. 

So far he has been the model child, even sleeping decently at night. However, I know that is all subject to change, but I am going to enjoy it while it lasts. 

His big sister is smitten, though she needs a little guidance and counseling on how to relate to him. She is also dearly in love with all the books that Logan has received since his arrival. 

The Mission Walker by Edie Littlefield Sundby

Product Details

I was given three months to live....

Edie was diagnosed with stage 4 gallbladder cancer and went through extreme chemotherapy and surgery to rid herself of the cancer. After being given an all clear five years later, Edie determines to walk the old California Mission Trail, a length of 800 miles. She does it with the help of friends. Two years later the cancer is back. This time her dream is to walk the rest of the trail that goes down into Mexico, the El Camino Real Trail, another 800 miles of mission trail. If she accomplishes this, she would be the first person since the Franciscan Father Junipero Serra walked the 1600 miles in the 1770s.

This second 800 miles is no walk in the park. There is virtually no trail, she has to have a vaquero or guide for the entire trip and is constantly changing guides. Some of them know the trail well and others lead her needlessly in wrong directions. Finally, 38  miles from the end of the trail, Christmas is a few days away, and a PET scan a few days after that and so she gets a ride to the border. She determines to come back and finish the trail at a later date. And that is where the book ends. I don't know what has happened to her cancer or whether she came back and finished the trail. She wrote the book, so I'm assuming she beat cancer again and also walked the trail, but the book doesn't tell us that. That's sort of sad, though I'm sure if you searched the world wide web, I'm sure you could find out more information.

It's a fascinating story of her extreme struggle to survive both the cancer and then later the El Camino Real trail. I have to admire the sense of adventure and the strong determination that Edie displayed. I don't think I would have it in me to endure what she did just to walk the trail.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

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I'm not generally a big fan of crime and mystery books, but Janice does an excellent job of making the books interesting and fun and intriguing.

In this first in "The Line of Duty" series, Tess has shot an unarmed 14-year-old who she thought was going for a gun on a fallen officer. This brings down the wrath of the anti-police people in her hometown and basically forces her to resign even though she has been acquitted of all wrong doing.

She is able to get a job up in Oregon in a small town that has no crime until she shows up. Then things fall apart, but, of course, she does a good job solving the mysteries.

Probably one of the things I like about Janice Cantore's writing is it doesn't all end up happily ever after. Sometimes the innocent do die, the guilty are always caught of course. In this book, Tess has no real faith in God, but she is put in close working relation with a pastor who has a solid faith in God. There isn't a lot of faith talk/Christianity in this book, but I am guessing as the first in a series, Tess' faith will become alive in future books, but that's just my idea.

The one thing I don't like about the book is that Tess is a divorced woman and there are hints of a romantic relationship with a fellow police officer. That is a downer for me, as someone who doesn't believe divorce and remarriage is right in God's eyes.

The rest of the story was compelling and very interesting. The "obvious" pieces of the puzzle turn out to not be the correct pieces and there is a little bit of a twist at the end.

I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

Product Details

Awhile ago, I reviewed her book of 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart. This is very similar to that book. It's been awhile since I read that book, but I think I liked this one better, but I have no idea why.

This would be a great book to take a month to read and read one chapter a day. She expounds on each phrase in the verse and most chapters start with an illustration or story of some kind. Some of the verses were quite applicable to my life. At the end of the chapter, she has a short one minute exercise she wants the reader to do. This can be anything from putting some cash in an envelope to give to the person the Lord prompts you to give to, to listing all the things you can think of to be grateful for in 60 seconds, to laying your clothes out for the next morning. It appears random, but does go along with the context of the verse that was just studied.

There is also a study guide at the back of the book to go with each chapter, so you could do it as a devotional for yourself or as a Bible study with your friends or Bible study group. One thing I like about the book is that Liz uses a lot of different Bible translations and uses them to help interpret what the verse is saying.

Some of my favorite verses or verses that I needed to hear right now are: "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness." Proverbs 16:31.  As I fight against the increasing gray that is coming on the top of my head!!!

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." Proverbs 27:1. I like to have a plan in place and then execute my plan and I can be frustrated with interruptions and spontaneity. This is a good reminder for me to leave everything open-ended or open-handed for God to use my day as He sees fit, not as I see fit.

I received this book from Blogging for Books and was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling

Product Details

This is the first book in a new series called "Under the Northern Skies" and it is definitely a series I want to follow. None of this fluffy romance of boy meets girl in this book, rather it is the conditioned, committed love that carries through the rough and tumble of life, a move across the ocean, an impertinent and aggressive uncle and so on.

We need more books like this. The boy meets girl is the fun stuff of life, but the commitment and sacrifice and courage required to make a marriage work is the stuff of life, the stuff we face every day and it's what our younger people need to read about. A young family uproots from Norway, moves to Minnesota, and is sharing a house with a mean workaholic uncle and his bedridden wife who screams and screeches about everything. The family deals with a lot, but the husband and wife are committed to each other and they stick it out. The aunt does get better under the care of the wife who will not allow her to just lie in bed and she becomes a friend. The uncle? Well, after going to the sheriff about the family, the tables are turned and he forced to make some changes.

I just really liked this book. It's the story of every day life in the hard days of settling the land, cutting trees by hand, cooking on a woodstove, and so on. Things I only have read about and have no idea what it was like. Yet, the commitment required to make relationships work is the same commitment that is required today.  And we need more of that.

This book was given me by Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. I will be eagerly looking forward to the next book in this series. If anyone has read Lauraine's Red River of the North series, this series is based loosely from that one. I think I read it quite awhile ago and there would be some of the same family lines in it, though not set in the same place.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Deal with It

Yep, I'm well aware that my title could be entirely inappropriate, but right now I'm not sure I care. But I might change it, but I don't know if I will change these sentences and then you will be left wondering what I originally put there. HA!!

So first off, try explaining the concept of a wedgie to a 2 year old who's complaining of something being in her butt. It's interesting and humorous, at least to her mom.

If you want to see how you handle criticism, list your car on Facebook. People are more than willing to tell you that you are asking too much money for your vehicle. They know nothing more than what the pics are showing, but they know that $3,000 is too much. Well, kudos to you. And guess what? We know that too, but since when do you actually put your actual selling price on items like this? Everyone wants to have the option of chewing you down, so we started high so they have that option. Then they can feel good about the deal they got and we can feel good that we sold it for what we wanted anyway. And besides? Why is it your business to tell us what our vehicle is worth? Had I been wondering, then instead of putting a price on the vehicle, I would have asked for people to comment on what they think the vehicle is worth and then we could have done a poll and drawn numbers and decided on a price from there.

And if you were to look at the actual car or on Craigslist, you would see that we also listed OBO, which means that we are not set on $3,000 for said car because yes we know that it's rusty and we know that it needs new tires. I chose not to list OBO on Facebook, because my observation of Facebook Buy and Sell is that people love to chew you down anyway, so I didn't think listing that as an option was really necessary. And after the comments, I was too stubborn to go back and add it in. It took an exercise in willpower not to comment sarcastically back. But in the end, I tried to put on my big girl panties and not take offense.

I'm also trying to do that this week as I deal with a large protruding belly that wiggles and giggles and contracts at random, leaving me pretty much constantly uncertain about when the D-Day is actually going to happen. Yes, I know I'm still early and I should just shut up, but hey read my title. It's what I'm trying to do. And what I'm trying to do as I send my husband out the door in the morning (wait, who am I kidding? I'm lucky enough to wake up well enough to say goodbye.) knowing he is going into the land of no cell phone service and from there he's heading about two or three hours from home. But I'm trying to be okay with it.

I will spend my week getting most of the last of my to-do list done. I cannot express enough gratitude to my sis-in-law for coming to help me for a day and a half this last week. We did applesauce and cleaned the kitchen. My appliances haven't shone like that ever!! It was a huge blessing.

There are other areas that I need to just grow up and deal with life too, but I'm not sure if I want to go into those right now. Things like realizing that people do things differently, people host differently, people respond differently, people do things differently than I do and that is okay. I can still love them and still be gracious to them. Yes, I can learn from them and try to do things differently for me, but I need to remember that what feels like inhospitality to me might just be their love language and how they feel they are taking care of people. That because people don't gush in the same manner I do doesn't mean they don't like the same things, etc. etc.

So basically what I'm saying today might be a rerun of what I said on my last personal blog post. We have a choice on how to respond and how to live with the life we've been given. I want to make the most of it. I want to face it with courage and joy, to put my big girl panties on and deal with what life hands me and walk the path with grace and courage and most of all, with Jesus.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

Product Details

Wrangling Delight out of this Wild and Glorious Life

Mess, I think we can all relate too. Life is messy and it can be hard and that's okay. Moxie, this word seems a little more foreign to us. According to Jen, "It is a throwback to women with pluck, with chutzpah, with a bit of razzle dazzle. It says: I got this...we got this together. It evokes a twinkle in the eye, a smidge of daring and stubbornness in the face of actual, hard, real, beautiful life."

And I suppose that really is how life is. It's messy, but it's beautiful, but takes courage to live it and live it well. It's the resilience in the face of the pain and the heartbreak. I think I maybe just now understood this better than I did while reading the book. It all felt a little out there to me, like I couldn't quite grab a hold of it, but writing this out, it makes sense. It is that looking for the beauty in the bleak, the joy in the juggling of the baby years, the intentionality when the days feel intense with just doing what needs to be done. Okay, that's all my rambling now, what about the book?

I think this is the second book I have read by Jen. I read Seven and loved it. This book was a  little harder for me and I think it might have a lot to do with the stage of life I'm in right now. I feel large and pregnant and duckish and ready to have a newborn in my arms and so books that require too much thought processing right now might not have the same appeal to me that they might in two years from now. I'm not sure that's the reason, but I struggled a bit with this book. I love a book that looks at life in a humorous way and yet pulls out truths to live by. I struggle with a book that can feel a little sacrilegiously humorous to me. And yet, that wasn't really this book either. Basically I finished the book and am still unsure what I think about it. The style of the book is in many ways so me, and yet I couldn't quite get into it.

One chapter Jen talks about the church and how the church needs to be geared for more people than the typical mom and dad with children. How it needs to be accepting of other types of people, how there needs to be room for the LGBTQ community, etc. I absolutely agree with this, but I was uncomfortable with what feels like acceptance of them and their lifestyles. Jesus loves everyone, absolutely, but he didn't love their sin. To me, church should be the same way, we accept everyone, but we do need to address the sin. And maybe that is what she meant, I don't know. That chapter just disturbed me a bit. I also am not a proponent of women in leadership as a pastor. Definitely use women to lead ladies' groups, etc. But yet, I really like the idea of church being a sanctuary that we can come to and be accepted.

Jen has some funny stories, including some great How To's, like How to Dress a Toddler in Three Easy Steps, How to Get Uninvited Back to a Home Decor Store, How to Mother Adult Children, etc.

So overall I did like the book. I think I struggled a bit to go back and forth between the humor and the serious and I think that might be some my personality (though I do love sarcasm) and some might be a temporary decrease in processing ability from which I hope to fully recover. Because most of the time, I think I can appreciate humor from which you can learn a good lesson.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Included in Christ Bible Study by Heather Holleman

Product Details

I think I have a thing for Bible Study guides. Actually, let's face it, I have a thing for anything that is in a book form and is set up as a question/answer system. So give me Bible Study guides, quiz books, activity books, coloring books, etc. and I will be all in.

So it's no surprise that I requested another Bible study book. I need to get going on doing all the ones that I have.

Heather is a college instructor on writing and composition. She is into verbs that stick out and make an impact, so she chose seven verbs for this eight week study of the book of Ephesians: included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, and proclaiming. Those words do sound enticing, don't they?

Now, I haven't gone through this Bible study day by day, but I have looked through it and read the introduction to try and get a feel for the way it is laid out. It's not as much of a verse by verse as I was hoping for when I requested it, but I do like the idea of these seven words and searching them out a bit more. Heather also seems to do a lot more writing in her daily guides than what some Bible study writers do. Beings she teaches writing, I think this does make sense. It also seemed there maybe wasn't as much Bible reading, though I also noticed she included some of the verses right into her text so maybe that's why it seems that way.

The one thing I noticed that is different in this study guide from others is the emphasis Heather places on writing your Savior story and your shadow narrative. Your Savior story is what she calls the story of your life in Christ and what led you to where you are today, while your shadow narrative is what keeps you from experiencing full life in Christ. She puts emphasis on journaling. She also emphasizes learning by comparing and contrasting and providing visual images. To her, the mosaic on the front cover of this guide signifies her included identity in Christ.

I think the book of Ephesians is a powerful book and I am looking forward to going through this study.

I received this book from Moody Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

Freedom's Ring by [Chiavaroli, Heidi]

And another new author for me to read and analyze and decide if I would read more of her books.

Freedom's Ring is set in Boston in two time periods the time of the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the time of the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 and beyond. At least, that's where the stories start. Again, I would say the author did a good job of flipping back and forth between the two time periods.

Connecting the two is a ring that Anaya and Brad are determined to find out the history of. I'm not going to give you much more than that. There was the usual romance, blah, blah, blah, blah, but again the parts I look for are the parts you can take with you and think about later.

After the bombing, Anaya walked away from her family in the midst of their grief and struggles. Now two years later, she's trying to pick up the pieces with her niece and sister and her sister is having a hard time forgiving Anaya for walking away and deserting family at a time of great need. But she has also found Jesus in the two years and realizes what a hypocrite she is being by talking about God's grace and yet being unwilling to forgive. They are able to come to a place of wanting to start over again.

Anaya must also learn to quit letting fear and even guilt control her. She feels responsible for her niece's injuries. If only she had run the Marathon a little faster, they would have been gone by the time the bomb went off. Anaya also needs to learn to let God carry her through, not to depend on herself and allow her fears to control her. She wants God to hold her fast and by the end of the book, she is slowly starting to allow that.

That is what we all need, God to hold us fast. Otherwise wouldn't we all be carried away by our fears and griefs and torments?

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It's a Choice People

I'm sitting here on my couch this morning, feeling like it's time again to post something other than a book review. I actually want to post something other than a book review, but will admit to feeling a little uninspired, so I'm not sure what is going to come spewing out from under my fingertips.

It's 7:15 in the morning, the house is quiet, the sun is shining, the corn is providing a beautiful privacy fence for us this time of year, the AC is humming (which makes me happy in and of itself these days), and I realize anew that life is really good right now. Yes, I feel like an off-balanced duck right now, waddling around. D was mocking me the other day when I said that and was saying, "quack quack" and outside the door I hear our own little echo going "quack quack". There's no good reason to get mad at the mocking at that point!!!!

But again, I realize I have so much to be thankful for. I have made it to the final four weeks, I have made it past the dangers and scariness of a premature baby. I'm in the home stretch. And yes, I feel like that home stretch has the potential to stretch out for way longer than I want it to, but it's there and I can do this thing. So I am blessed.

My house is getting a much needed cleaning and organizing, which makes me happy. I am learning to love cleaned off spaces and so our dresser is rather bare with a doily on which sits a very dusty unity candle set that I am determined to burn and an alarm clock and it just makes me so happy!!!  The children's room is ready to accept another occupant, oh wait, the new guy goes in our room for the first while. We aren't ready there. I still need to get the cradle upstairs, but that's for another day. I still need to make a sheet for the cradle that isn't pink and flowery and I'm sure dust the cradle well. But all in good time.

I nearly had a meltdown last night. Amber decided she wanted to sleep in the big bed which she lovingly calls "Hannah's bed". She was all tucked in complete with a comforter rolled up along the edge of the bed to hopefully prevent her from falling out. I could feel the tears in the back of my eyes longing to come leaking out as I looked at her looking all big and grown up in her big bed. And I knew, I knew if she stayed in there all night, that my little girl would be one more step closer to growing up and I knew this momma heart was going to get squeezed a little tighter and there was going to be a moment of panic as I wondered what had happened to her. But as she realized that we were really and truly going to let her sleep there, she popped up and decided she wanted to sleep in her crib after all. Whew!! Meltdown procrastinated. In the three minutes, she had been in the big bed, she had already proclaimed that she just wanted to "lax a little" and then that she couldn't sleep anyway.

I am back in the kitchen and cooking again, another big, big, thing to be grateful for that makes me all happy again. And we have fresh New Jersey peaches to eat. They are well past their prime and I need to throw the rest in the freezer today, but they are so yummy and the Peaches and Cream Sensation and the Peach Cobbler that I made and the Peach Shakes that Dave made have been so utterly yummy. I forget how wonderful and tasty fresh peaches are.  And making food? Fun, fun, fun again. I still have lots of freezer meals for after the young man's debut, but in the meantime, I think I'm going to enjoy some cooking.

So I've only named a few things, but I am so incredibly blessed. And I firmly believe the title of this post, it is a choice. I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be grumpy. And let's face it, I'm not perfect, some days I choose, rather happily even, to be grumpy. But as Amber even knows, it's much happier to be happy.

So you all have a happy August 2nd.

The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn

Product Details

Reigniting the Mission of the Early Believers

I was happy to find this book. I have "The Unexplainable Life" by Erica which is a 10 week Bible Study on the first part of Acts. Now this book, "the Unexplainable Church" is a 10 week Bible Study on the last part of Acts, Acts 13 to 22 to be exact.

I am currently working my way, very slowly through "The Unexplainable Life" and will likely go straight into "The Unexplainable Church" when I am done. I looked through this book and it seems like both books are set up very similar so I will give my opinion based on how I am enjoying "The Unexplainable Life."

Each week is broken down into 5 lessons and each lesson takes a few verses in consecutive order and dissects them down. There are questions to answer and ponder and then Erica shares some thoughts as well. Some of the questions are very basic and simple to answer, some require much more thought and a look inside our own hearts to see where we come out at.

There is a separate "Unexplainable" for each week like Beginnings, Grace, Riches, and Protection. I tend to split each day's lesson into at least two days. Maybe I don't spend enough time in Bible Study, but I find that it would take quite a bit of time for a lot of the lessons to do them all in one day. Now, I'm not saying it wouldn't be a good idea to do them all in one day, but I would say you would be looking at close to an hour for some lessons to do them all at once and to do a good job and get something out of it. Other lessons would be quicker.

I am looking forward to being able to complete my study of Acts through the use of this Bible Study tool and am grateful to Moody Publishers for providing me a copy of the Bible Study without requiring a positive review.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Berenstain Bears Bless our Gramps and Gran

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By Mike Berenstain

I have enjoyed the Living Lights series of the Berenstain Bears because they teach a good life lesson along with being a fun story. I have always been a fan of the Berenstain Bears. I remember reading them at book stands in the stores when I was a little girl

This one talked about Grandparent's Day and I really, really like that aspect of the book. We put a lot of focus and attention on Mother's Day and Father's Day, but can tend to forget the Grandparents, so I really liked that aspect of the book.

The story line itself was a little unique in my book. The Bears talked about what Gramps and Gran did for them and what they could do for Gramps and Gran for Grandparent's Day. What they decided to do was make a book about Noah's grandchildren and give it to Gramps and Gran because, I guess, Gramps and Gran had made them a Noah's ark set.

Now while I didn't go to the Bible and double check, I do think they used the Biblical names for Noah's grandsons. But then to make it even, they made up 16 granddaughters and gave them modern names. The story was nice, it just didn't ring as true for me as some of the other books have.

My daughter still enjoyed the story and there's nothing wrong with it, it just didn't click with me as well. I thought it a little odd, I guess. But I did appreciate the reminder to celebrate Grandparent's Day and want to endeavor to remember to do that. According to the book, it is always the first Sunday after Labor Day, so it is coming right up.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Why God Calls us to Dangerous Places by Kate McCord

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Not that long ago, I posted a review for the book Farewell, Four Waters, a novel based on truth about the work being done by aid workers in Afghanistan. This is another book by the same author. I don't know her real name, Kate is a pseudonym.

This book shares some of her experiences, but is more of a devotional/inspirational book that looks at why God would call people to go to dangerous places like Afghanistan or even inner city areas that are laden with crime. Some reasons she gives is because God went first to these areas, He loves these people so much, He wants to fill His table, and these people need to see and hear and touch a Christian. She says there are six common experiences that almost all Afghans share who have come to Christ. They have met a Christ-follower, they have read or heard a portion of Scripture through stories, radio programs, etc. They've experienced a dream or a vision in which God revealed Himself. That combination of experiences led them to count the cost. When they did become a Christian, they did so alone and usually in the dark. They experienced persecution, but if they remained faithful they would return to tell the story. These things often took place over years.

Another thing she brought out is how it affects families and friends and churches of people who are called to dangerous places. They are called to trust and walk through the dangerous places with the called, even if they never set foot in the dangerous land themselves. She used the example of Zebedee allowing his sons to walk with Jesus. How must he have felt, how must he have grieved the loss of his boys in the family business and yet you don't read that he held back.

She brought out the importance of surrendering all to God. God may not call me to a dangerous place, but He does call me to a surrendered life and what can I do to support those in dangerous places? It was a good thought-provoking book. At the end of every chapter, she has some really good questions to think on and journal about, often accompanied with Scripture to look up and read. The book is covered in Scripture, either quoted to or alluded to with footnotes directing you where to go.

This book makes me want to be a more committed Christian right here in my little town with my little family. No, it's not considered a dangerou place by any means, but I am still called to be committed wholeheartedly to God and to be faithful right here.

I received this book from Moody Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Beloved Hope by Tracie Peterson

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This is the second book in a series about three sisters, Grace, Hope, and Mercy. It being a sequel is the main reason I requested this book to read. Hope and Mercy had been at the Whitman mission at the time of the Whitman Massacre by the Indians. Hope had been raped repeatedly, became pregnant, and gave the child away at birth to a friend who was unable to have children.

Because of all this, she struggles very hard to forgive the Indians and to move on with her life. She is consumed with a desire for revenge and believes that seeing the Indians come to justice would end her struggle. After five Indians are hanged, she realizes that will not bring her closure like she hoped for. Anyway, I don't want to give away too much of the story. As you can imagine, there is a man involved and even though Hope has resolved to never marry, he wins her heart, etc. etc.

But there are a few key things in this book that stuck out to me: forgiveness and releasing fear. Hope came to realize that she was afraid of about everything and while, even at the beginning of the book, she was trying to trust God again, fear was holding her back. She was learning slowly to give that fear over and recognize it as coming from the Devil and not from God.

On the issue of forgiveness and holding grudges, I would like to quote something said by her younger sister Mercy, which I think is very good. "Grace helped me see that when you hate someone, it's like a chain wrapped around your heart that reminds you of all the ugly, bad things that person did to you. Holding a grudge takes a great deal of strength. You keep carrying it, and it wears you down. You can hate so much and get so worn out from it that it makes you ill and ruins your life. It's better to let bad things stay in the past and put the chain down. Leave it to rust. You don't have to carry it and be reminded of what happened....and you don't have to get worn out and sick."  I like the image of a chain around your heart, because that is really what it is, grudges and unforgiveness holds me hostage far more than it does the person I am angry at.

I did enjoy this book, but it is one of your more predictable chick flicks, in my opinion. I do, however, think that there are some good words of wisdom in this book as well.

I received this book from Bethany House and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Great Big God by Andy Holmes

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Illustrated by Marta Alvarez

20 Bible Stories to Build a Great Big Faith

This is a beautiful hardcover board book that tells 20 Bible stories in rhyme. Each story has 2 four line stanzas and is preceded by "My great big God...." And then it launches into the story about something God did, from Creation to Samson to Esther to Jesus' Birth, the Feeding the 5,000, His death and so on. Each story ends with a clinching sentence such as "My great big God keeps me safe!" "My great big God guides me!" "My great big God does amazing things."  I think that is my favorite part of the book, because to me, it just reinforces the great God we serve and helps to drive home the point of the story. You can't tell much of a story in 8 rhyming lines.

The pictures are brightly colored and nicely done, through they are more cartoonish rather than realistic. I would say that book is about a 5 by 7 for size. Age wise, I would put it at about a year up to maybe five years old? Board books, I tend to classify as much younger books and books children would grow out of sooner, but I think this book might even be fun for a young reader to read through. I don't know, I don't have a young reader to test my theory out on.

I was just very impressed by this book when I first looked at and am now trying to decide if it's going to gain immediate access to our bookshelves or be shelved away for a gift.

This book was given to me by Book Look Bloggers and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Ambivalent Love of a Mother

Ambivalence[1] is a state of having simultaneous conflicting reactions, beliefs, or feelings towards some object.[2][3][4][5] Stated another way, ambivalence is the experience of having an attitude towards someone or something that contains both positively and negatively valenced components.[6] The term also refers to situations where "mixed feelings" of a more general sort are experienced, or where a person experiences uncertainty or indecisiveness.

Thank you Wikipedia for your definition.

I'm not even sure how to broach this topic, but it's been rattling around in my head the last couple days and I need to post something other than book reviews on this blog. I don't even know if I can adequately explain what I am even feeling, but here goes.

Almost two and a half years ago, this little bundle made me a "real" mom. I now had a live baby to hold in my arms and play doll with. It was exciting after the hard times of the previous year and a half. And a rather difficult nine months on top of that. But sometimes, I wondered: do I really love her? Where is this pitter-patter, jump for joy, hold my baby close feeling that I thought I should have? Where is this I don't want to lay you down, I want to hold you forever feeling? Would I even miss her if she died? These thoughts would go through my head and I would wonder, do I really love my little girl? And what is wrong with me if I am struggling with this? Why am I not just giddy at the idea of being a mom to her?

The first year passed and it was good. I loved her, I told myself I did. I took care of her, but I was tired. She took a lot of care. And she was a good baby, but it felt like she needed a lot of entertaining. But she had a good daddy, she really did. Her mom sometimes felt like she single momming it, but that was more my fault and my attitude than anything her dad did. I still struggled with wondering how much I loved her. 

And now another year has gone by, another baby has gone to be with Jesus and my heart is full. She is two on this picture and she is sick, but she is my joy. That time between one and two has solidified the fact that I do really love this little girl. She plays by herself, she plays at my feet, and she loves to "help" me. I don't really feel ambivalent in my love anymore. I still stare at her sometimes and get tears in my eyes over the way God has blessed us with this amazing, healthy, little girl. I stare at her and listen to her talk and wonder what in the world we are doing as parents and how we think we even have the right to try and parent. I'm still growing up myself. She still has the best dad ever and she has him solidly wrapped around her finger. She talks constantly, gathers big piles of books to look at and has been a little obsessed about playing with "baby brother's toys". 

But now baby two is on the verge of making his debut: is it going to be the same thing? Am I going to look at him and wonder if I really love him? Am I going to have the pitter patter in my heart, the joy in the middle of the night, the "I can't live without him" feelings? I don't know. I somewhat dread the first year because I know how it was with Amber. But I'm better now, right? I know how quickly that stage passes and what fun it can be, right? I'll grin and bear it, right? I'll hold the memories tight in my heart, right? Someone tell me!! I need to know it's okay. Or isn't it? 

I feel a little vulnerable with this post. I look at moms around me, my friends, and they make mothering seem so natural, so a part of them. And somedays I still want to just walk away and go to town and sit down at a coffee shop or even McDonald's without a care in the world. And yet, I remind myself, that day will come soon enough. In four years, she will be off to school and a whole new life will open up for her. And then I get excited and a little bit sad all at once. So is the ambivalence a part of being a mom? Is it the same thing we discuss about marriage, that you don't always have those feelings, but you choose to love and do the right thing in spite of it all?

And my answer to that is, yes, I think so. I think if my little girl had been taken from me in that first year, she would have left a hole so big, it could never have been filled in completely. I think I would have cried buckets of tears and probably fought off some guilt, (I've already had to apologize so many times to her for an improper attitude or improper discipline, etc) So yes, in the midst of feeling ambivalent, I think I still made the choice to love, at least most days.

And that is what I want to continue to do, for my children, for my husband, for those around me. Ambivalence is a feeling and it will come, but the choice remains mine. And I want to choose rightly. 

And now just some fun stuff: that was a well-spent 75 cents. She calls it her "puzzle" and I'm sure if you were to ask what color it was, she would say green. Instead of rose-colored glasses, she lives her life through green-colored glasses.

She is wondering these days if she should "be excited" or not. And yesterday, the prospect of a four-wheeler ride to watch Daddy get his paperwork was met with much hopping up and down and running and jumping.

I am amazed how much she catches. She can pretty much pray "God is Great", a lot of "Our Father, which art in Heaven", and sing snippets of songs like Jesus Loves Me and Behold, Behold. She also has a book or two that she can recite pretty much from memory. I stand agape and in awe and in fear as well. What am I teaching her that I don't even know I'm teaching her?

It melts my heart, when after getting disciplined, she will look at me and say, "I'm sorry, Mama."

And yes, the teacher in me has bought her a preschool program that I am excited about starting with her. It will wait until life has become a bit more normal for us, after the baby and maybe even after our trip to New Jersey. It's more for the mom at this point in my endeavor to be intentional and in order to make sure I spend time with her after the baby. She is used to my full attention now and I want to make sure she doesn't feel left out after "little brother" comes. And because her mom loves stuff like that. 

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

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I have read a few of Rachel's book and some of them have been pretty good, some of them have been terrific. If you get a chance to read her Wedding series or whatever it's called: The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Chapel, and The Wedding Shop, do. If you like fiction anyway.

The Writing Desk comes in just under the above mentioned books, which I should mention, I don't think I've ever read The Wedding Shop, so I can't testify to its goodness. But Rachel is able to shift between time periods and between main characters, at least two from each time period in an effortless manner that makes it easy to follow along. Sometimes, when authors do this,  I find myself chafing at the bit as I read the one section, just wanting to get back to the other time period and the other main characters. But Rachel keeps you interested in both throughout the book. You know the two are going to tie together somehow and you're wondering how it will work.

This book it's a writing desk. For the one, it has produced many books where she wrote as the ghost writer for a famous author. For the other, it was supposed to be her muse, her "people", her inspiration, but it didn't work that way.

This is a book about mending relationships. Tenley, the modern day character, learns to love Blanche, her mother, and to, I think, even forgive her for abandoning her at a young age. Birdie, the Gilded Age character, is manipulated and controlled by her mother, but is actually given a chance at love at the altar. Her and her mother do come to a truce of sorts too. Both find comfort in the same Bible, in learning to know who Jesus is. I'm not sure where Birdie comes out on, but Tenley, I believe does come to believe in God and to trust Him for her salvation as well as for guidance on what to do.

Of course, there's the heroes who sweep in to rescue the ladies, but that's for you to read about.

I did enjoy this book. I was reminded again that I don't need to be afraid or dismayed because God is with me and I can trust Him to guide me and lead me. And I'm so grateful for that fact.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Farewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord

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One aid worker's sudden escape from Afghanistan

This book, this book, if you have time for only one book, make it this one. Yes, it's called a novel, but it's based on true events though they have been mixed and match for security reasons. I just am not sure you could make up these kinds of stories. It's the kind of book I dreamt about at night. And last night, I confess, I had skimmed ahead just a bit and I think I thought about the book every time I woke up last night. So it wasn't a wise move on my part.

Kate McCord has written three books about her time in Afghanistan. Kate is not her real name either, again for security reasons. Her first book is called "In the Land of Blue Burqas" and it's on my to-read list. Then this one is next and her last book is called "Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places" and is next on my list to request to review.

Now on to a look at the book. It only covers a two week span, starting with an NGO worker being killed in Kabul to Marie's (the main character) sudden flight from Shehktan and eventually out of the country. You don't think about the disorientation and mind chaos that can result from needing to flee, but this book very vividly portrays that.

It also portrays Marie's method of working through it, of learning to see God in her situation with her heart and not just her brain and mind. It shows her learning and believing that God is there, He does see and He does care.

It shows the risk NGO workers could live with on a daily basis, unable to trust anyone, constantly on the alert and yet willing to give themselves for the cause of helping the Afghan people. Marie's latest project had been starting a literacy program for the woman to teach them to learn to read for themselves.

I don't want to give a lot of details about the story, because I really think you need to go read the book. It's just that good.

This book was given to me by Moody Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, July 3, 2017

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

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This is the first in a series called the Orphan Train Series by Jody Hedlund. I think this is also one of the first books I've ever read by Jody. It was definitely rather predictable with the normal fairy tale ending. That was a little disappointing, but it's what we expect in historical fiction.

What I did like about the book was, at the end, Jody mentioned the Orphan Trains, led by the Children's Aid Society, which were a real thing in the 1800's. In 1857, the era this book was written, there was a financial crisis and economic panic with women laborers being at a disadvantage and having a hard time finding working in New York. The Children's Aid Society, in addition to sending orphans out West, set up special placement offices to send women out West to find jobs as seamstresses, cooks, launderers etc. They were placed in the Midwest, most often central Illinois in the hopes of a better life.

This is the premise that this book is based on. Elise, the main character in this book, is the oldest of three girls and they have taken in two orphan children as well. When the financial crisis hit, she was without a job and so took the train West to the town of Quincy in the hopes of securing a little financial freedom and being able to send for her sisters and the two orphans. I like Elise. She is outspoken and witty and she challenges the status quo. Of course, she also falls in love with the founder of the town, who is the son of one of the richest men in New York City. Hence the fairy tale.

I don't want to give away any more clues to the story. I did like that the story is based on actual fact, though obviously Elise's story was an extreme case. But it is definitely in the light-hearted chick flick reading category for me.

This book was given me by Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

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I think this is the first book I have ever ready by Courtney and I hope it isn't the last. I really enjoyed this book. Yes, it had the predictable romance in it, but there was something else in here, something that I think a lot of use could relate to if we are willing.

Look at the title for instance. On first glance, if you think about why that title, you would assume, because the book is Christian fiction, that it would mean looking up to Jesus. Well, in all actuality, the main characters in this book don't seem to have a real close, walking relationship with Jesus. There isn't a lot of prayer mentioned, which could be the biggest downfall of the book to me. But still the main character, Lane, by the end has uttered at least one desperate prayer and I have to believe God is working in her life in some way. Again, I think we can all relate, at least I can, to the desperate prayers being shot heavenward as one sentence snippets. But when I read the author's note at the end of the book, I don't think that was the purpose of the title at all. She talked about being in New York and watching people and realizing they were all glued to their phones looking down. And she just wanted to tell them to look up, to look around, to take in the sights.

And that is how Lane was too, for most of the book. Her phone was her lifeline, her job, her security, her identity. She was wrapped up in it and wasn't looking up and around. How many of us can relate?

Lane has some real identity issues. Work was her security, hence the solid connection to her phone. She had grown up feeling like a misfit, feeling like very few people really cared for her, including her parents. She was overweight and people called her Pudge. She was serious, not the fun loving thrill-seeking girl. Her brother would come home early on Friday nights just to hang out with her because he knew she would be home alone. So she left her small town and didn't look back until an accident brought her home and face to face with all these people. I'm not going to tell you how it ends, you can probably already figure it out.

But the bigger issue is where do we put our identity? Do we shut people out because we have been hurt and betrayed and are unwilling to take a risk on people again? Do we put too much emphasis on our productive identity and not on our social relationships? Is it time to untether from our phones and look up and around and see the blessings all around us?

I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more by Courtney Walsh. I received this book from Tyndale and was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Run with Me by Sanya Richards-Ross

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The Story of a U.S. Olympic Champion

I had never heard of Sanya Richards-Ross before I read this book, which I suppose is not that surprising as I don't keep up with athletes and their performances all that much. I will have to say that, after reading this book, I am very impressed with the dedication and hard work required of someone who makes running their career.

Let's be honest here, I hate running. I am out of breath before I've run 10 meters, much less 400 meters, so the story of Sanya and her dedication to running since she was 9 is impressive to me.

This book was written with the 8 to 12 year old audience in mind. It's been awhile since I've been that age and I don't have any children that age to use as a comparison. I thought the book was definitely written in easy to understand language. I would say that some of the concepts seemed like they might be a bit hard to understand, especially for an 8 year old, concepts about God's grace and things. On the other hand, the personal discipline that Sanya had at that age would be a great challenge for that age group to emulate. The book was about 99% about her running and her races and her championships which could get a little boring for this age group.

I did enjoy the book, but I wouldn't have minded hearing about other parts of her life, things she did besides running, what Sanya's doing now, and so on. That would have added a bit more interest for me.

But again on the flip side, I really liked how Sanya brought God into the running aspect of her life. She relied on Him in her races and made comparisons of how the various aspects of racing can be applied to the race of life.

All in all, it's a good book and will go into my library of children's books and I will hope that in a few years my own children will enjoy reading it.

This book was given me by BookLookBloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Glad News! by Samy Tanagho

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I did not read the description of this book very well when I asked to review it. I was thinking it was a book that was going to explain how to refute Islam and give me a good background for that.

It does that, in a way, but it is geared to be read by a Muslim. Samy does a very good job of incorporating verses from both the Koran and the Bible and showing how Christianity is superior. It was interesting to me to note how much the Koran approves of the Bible and recommends it, even above their own book.

The book is written is a very simple easy-to-understand format. Like I said, it was very different from what I was expecting, but that was my own fault. I found it a little hard to follow because I know virtually nothing about the Koran, so all the references got a little mind-boggling, but I think for a Muslim well-versed in the Koran, Samy did an very good job of taking the concepts apart piece by piece and explaining Christianity.

One advantage that Samy has too is he learned Arabic, so he has been able to read the Koran in the Arabic language and also read the books of the most important Muslim scholars and commentaries would wrote about the Koran and Islam. He has spent 30 years sharing Christ with Muslims and his wife, Hala, often joins him to share her story of being imprisoned for becoming a Christian.

This is a very good book and I would recommend it if you have a Muslim friend with questions about Christianity.

I received this book from Moody Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Threads of Suspicion By Dee Henderson

Threads of Suspicion (An Evie Blackwell Cold Case) by [Henderson, Dee]

I am a Dee Henderson fan. She is a good author that mixes mystery, crime with romance and can write a pretty good story. But she totally outdid herself on this one. I could totally read lots of this style of fiction.

Cold cases are very interesting to me because they involve a lot of digging and a lot of guess work and not so much  in your fact, heart-stopping crime scenes. It's fascinating to me to watch Evie dig into an old case and see what she can come up with that is different from all the detectives before her. How accurate it is to real life I don't know, but I find it very interesting.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

So in this book, I don't want to give away too much about the book, but she is working with David, another detective. They are each working their own crime, but float ideas off each other and work back and forth. So you already know where the story is going, right? Wrong. David is in a long-term relationship with a very popular singer.

Why aren't they married, you might ask? Because David became a Christian before they were married and he believes the Bible when it says not to marry an unbeliever and so he refuses to marry his girlfriend as long as she is not a Christian. I really liked David in this book. He is very devoted to God, talks to Him about his job, sees Him as a very personal, all-knowing God. He is committed. And this is good for Evie, the main character, in strengthening her relationship with God. She is also in a relationship, one in which she needs to decide if she wants to get married or not.

This was another reason I loved the book. It didn't turn out as expected and I love that, while there was still a bit of romance, it was actually somewhat of a real-life thing. The two partners working together didn't magically fall in love, etc. etc.

Okay, I feel like I've given enough spoilers about this book. I don't like to do that, but in order to really express why I liked the book, I felt like I needed to. That being said, I said nothing about the cold case files being worked and those are interesting in and of themselves, so go read the book.

I received this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I'll Push You by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck

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A Journey of 500 miles
Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair

This is an amazing story. Justin was diagnosed with a rare muscular disease and has lost the use of his hands and arms. He is unable to take care of himself anymore. Patrick is his best friend basically since birth. Their families have taken trips together and spend time at each other's houses every year. Patrick will take time off of work to go to Justin's house to take care of him to give Justin's wife a break. This is dedication and true friendship.

Now Justin has the dream of walking the famous Camino de Santiago, a spiritual pilgrimage through the mountains and rough terrain of northern Spain. Patrick volunteers to push him these 500 miles. It is an arduous trip requiring much planning, many resources, a new wheelchair and even so, many tired and sore muscles. It cannot be done on their own. People volunteer to come along and help, pilgrims walking the journey with them stop and help. Complete strangers become friends united on this journey, maybe only for a couple hours, maybe a couple days.

While very physically taxing for Patrick to do the hard work of pushing Justin in his wheelchair, Justin is pushing Patrick in a completely different way. (It also is hard on Justin with all the jostling and bumping he experiences in the wheelchair.) Patrick has allowed the need to succeed, to be successful, to take care of himself and his family to get in the way of relationships. He has let his family down. Justin has tried to embrace every moment. He knows his disease will eventually kill him. He misses being able to play with his kids and hug his wife, but he is determined to make the most of every moment. Through this six-week-journey, Patrick has had to face that he has let his family down, that work has taken priority and he is determined to change that. He has also had to face his pride. It was hard for him to accept help in getting Justin over these mountains. Justin has had to learn to accept help because of his many limitations.

It's a beautiful friendship that is rare in today's standards.

There are a few things shared in the book that I wanted to share here, things that struck me. One was the living in the moment, enjoying each and every moment. This is something I have been working on in my own life. But I can get distracted and be only half present. I want to take the time to stop and listen and look and really really see what's going on. They talk about this a bit in a part on Sabbath. "And we're learning how to keep close to use the relationships and moments that define who we are. If we didn't practice this sort of Sabbath in our friendship, if we hadn't taken this break to walk the Camino together, we'd have missed out on all of this.

"Whether resting in my friendship with Justin or in my relationships with my wife and children, I find a greater appreciation for whoever is at my side when I take a moment to keep them close, to be present with them.......Every moment we rest in the presence of others and appreciate the time, beauty, and joy they have to offer, we practice Sabbath. It's a existence...a way of life."

And then this is another quote from Patrick as he wrestled with himself at the Iron Cross. He had really struggled with Justin's diagnosis earlier on and had become bitter at God for it. This is kind of flashback to those times and also to right now where he realizes he needs to relinquish safety in order to really experience life in all fullness.  "That's when I realized that, more often than not, the miracle isn't the absence of struggle, disease, or pain; it is the presence of grace and certainty, the ability to face strife, the unknown, or a slow death, without fear." This is in the flashback section where he had just heard Justin say that he wouldn't trade his current condition to be able to walk again and it had completely shocked Patrick. "Every human interaction, every relationship is an opportunity to provide for one another, to provide time, energy, resources, hope, love, compassion, or grace. There is no limit to what we can provide for others, or what others can provide for us."

This was a great book, filled with good thoughts like this, filled with humor, and just good human kindness. I highly recommend it. It's an easy and fast read. There is also a documentary out about their journey. A film crew went along at the request of Patrick's boss who said it would be selfish for them not to share this unusual friendship with the world.

I received this book from Tyndale and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Beginner's Bible Carry-Along Treasury

The Beginner's Bible Carry-Along Treasury

By Zondervan 

So I got this book with the deluded hope, I'm sure, that this would be a good book for Amber to take along to church and look at and hopefully keep her occupied for the two hours that church lasts. However that turns out, the book is a delight either way.

The handle feels like a cheap little plastic thing in comparison with the rest of the book, but I think it will hold up all right. The book is on the smaller side so perfect to carry along. The closure is magnetic so a child can easily open and close. The pictures are bright and colorful. The stories cover some of the popular stories from both the Old and New Testaments. 

We haven't sat down and read any stories, but I'm confident they will hold my two-year-olds attention, but she loves books and these stories are short. 

I am very pleased with the book and even if it doesn't help with sitting still in church, it looks like such a fun book/Bible to carry along. I should clarify, it is more of a Bible story book than Bible. Though it's called a Bible, it is just the common Bible stories. 

I would recommend this book for 2 to 5 year olds. It would make a great gift for that little person in your life.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Monday, June 12, 2017


I have been convicted.

I taught Sunday School yesterday on the Israelites and their rebellion about entering Canaan. I asked the question about attitudes and preconceptions affecting our situations and experiences. And how to keep a positive perspective, even when life looks hard.

And one lady made the comment about gratitude and it has stuck with me. Isn't that pretty much the answer?

How you can grumble about a situation and crabby and pessimistic and see the worst in the situation if we are grateful? It's hard to complain when you have a grateful spirit.


So D is home late tonight, I'm guessing something didn't go well in the woods. I don't know what, but I know it involved unloading and reloading and that's usually not a normally occurrence, so... I have a choice. I can be grumpy because I don't know if we can wait to eat until he gets home and I just don't want to get supper on and eat by ourselves. Or I can be grateful he had work all day today, and that he tackled what needed to be done and that, Lord willing, he will be home later. And if we need to eat, it will be perfectly okay.

I can grumble and be discontent that this pregnancy has once again landed me on the couch or I can choose to be grateful that so far this baby is still growing and developing as he should inside and not outside in a NICU.  Let's just say, that really helps put things in perspective.

And days when I am discouraged with the job of mothering a high-energy two-year old, I only need to stop and think and really look at her. Then I see a very, Very, VERY chatty little person who is developing her own personality, who loves her music and her schoolwork and was just working on developing her muscles with resistance band (which by the way have got to be about the best toy ever). And when I stop and look, I see a mom who is so blessed beyond measure with a little girl who is mostly good and cheerful and busy and developing on schedule  and then I wonder, what did I do to deserve this?

There are so many things to be grateful for in life and I want to make a commitment to see the good in each day. There are way too many negative people in this world who seem to delight in seeing the worst in every situation. And I've been there, done that, and it isn't that fulfilling or satisfying. I would much prefer to be that annoyingly grateful, optimistic person.

I have tried a bit of this with my Instagram account of trying to post the little moments or the happy moments of the day.

And now, my little girl has climbed up on my legs and is "sitting on mom's lap" behind my computer, going, "ready, set, go." I don't know where she learned that or her other new favorite of "let's race".

Women Who Move Mountains by Sue Detweiler

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Praying with confidence, boldness, and grace

This is a 193 Page book that talks about prayer and then a 21 Days to Spiritual Breakthrough Devotional at the back of the book. The book was in a different format than I am used, but I think there are some good points to the way it is written. The odd chapters talk about "I Am....", "I Am Chosen" "I Am Honored." I Am Secure" and etc. The even chapters talk about learning to pray.. with faith, with conviction, with grace, etc. The even chapters are more like a Bible study with lots of verses to look up and questions to answer. I think those chapters could be very valuable if you took the time to go through them and answer the questions and journal your thoughts.

For me, I didn't find the book to be so much about praying with fervor as getting rid of the things in your life that could hinder your prayer life. Each odd chapter started with a story of someone who had overcome whatever the chapter was about. Maybe I read it too fast, but I was expecting more of a how-to-pray book. Now, this book might actually be more of what we need. If there are things in my life that hinder my communication with God, those need to be dealt with first.

I probably started with a bit of mental block as well. Sue talks about being raised Mennonite and had a story or two of her Mennonite friends. I know there are many "varieties" of Mennonites, but the stories didn't really resonate with me and my own Mennonite culture, so I struggled with that a bit. Also the fact that she is an ordained pastor, which again is contrary to my culture and often makes me treat the author with a little more caution.

All that to say, that I think there is much good to be gained from this book even so.

This book was given me by Bethany Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson

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Yup, this book is pretty much what it looks like. I was a little disappointed in it. I am realizing the more nonfiction I read, the better the fiction has to be to be worth it. I also realize that I look at fiction differently that I have to review than fiction that I just read for the sheer lark of it. Fiction that I review, I want to have more substance and growth. And yes, it's a pride thing because I don't want to look like a shallow reader for the books I read. So maybe that's been the biggest difference rather than my style of reading actually changing.

Now, let me also explain a little bit about why it was disappointing. I haven't read a lot of Melody Carlson's books, but I have one called "Armando's Treasure". I've read it long enough ago that I don't remember a lot of it, but I do remember it being a really, really good book with a fair amount of depth. Now, I could be completely wrong if I were to reread it today, but that was the premise that made me pick this book.

Now this is a very well-written story. Melody is a good author and can tell a good story, but that's pretty much all it was. I didn't find a lot of nuggets to go after, except for one thing. Nicole, who is the main character in the story, is a fill-in manager at an art gallery working with a very difficult employee. Rather than fire the employee like she is encouraged to do, she gives her some boundaries and tries to work with her. At the end of the book, the difficult employee actually gives her a compliment or two. I was impressed with Nicole's persistence to giving second chances. Isn't that what we are all called to do at times? Isn't that what God does with us over and over? He gives us many more chances than just two.

There was really no hold on to your seats drama, just the unfolding of a romantic love story that didn't seem real true to life. But as far as well-written, I would give Melody great kudos for that. I enjoyed the book as it was, simply a book with no high drama and no real inspiring points, just a nice chick flick.

There was also no real faith expressed in this book, a few random prayers by two of the characters, one of which stated he doesn't always pray before meals just when he feels really grateful. Really?

This book was given to me by Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chazown by Craig Groeschel

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Discover and Pursue God's Purpose for Your Life

What makes you want to get up in the morning? What fills you with a sense of passion? What makes you angry with a righteous indignation? What fills you with bliss? These are questions to ask as you seek to find what God's will is for your life.

God has a plan for you and a purpose, and there are many people just aimlessly wondering through life with no purpose and no direction and no fulfillment.

This book was challenging to me to seek out what God has for me and to do my part for His Kingdom. Craig talked about three main areas that can help reveal to us our Chazown: core values, spiritual gifts, and past experiences. What talents do we have? What do we value and hold dear to us? What have our past experiences taught us?

And there are the smaller areas of life, but areas that still need to be guided and disciplined in a godly manner: relationships, finance, work, physical health, and God. He calls these the spokes.

Goal setting was another thing he touched on. Setting short-term goals with a long range plan in mind. And accountability to help you know where you've gotten off track and to keep you on track.

A few quotes:
Key Thought: If you don't know where you're going in life, put aside your pride--stop and ask.
Key Thought: God's gifts in your equip you for your gift to the world.
Key Thought: Accountability closes the gap between intentions and actions.

I really enjoyed this book. For me as a wife and a stay-at-home mom, it's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day and not look at how I could be using my talents right here where I am. Are there things that I would like to do, but am afraid to take the step? Are there people that I can encourage and be a blessing to without even leaving my own home? And my husband and daughter, there are so many ways that I can serve God through serving them. I do feel I am where God has called me, but I also recognize that there are many ways that I could be living more effectively in His will and thriving my way through life and not just merely surviving each day. That was a challenge to me.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell

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Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard

First, let me talk about the beauty of the book itself. When I requested this book, I was expecting a normal paper-back book about 5x7, you know the standard size. But when I got it? I got a beautiful hardcover book that was more 6.5x8. Not only that, but it has a ribbon marker that comes with it. Inside, scattered throughout the book are beautiful pictures. The writing and size of font begs you to grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and start reading, which is sort of what I did, except I couldn't put my feet up and my coffee might have been gone already. (We were on a 15 hour trip.) The book begs to sit on a coffee table, it's so beautiful

The premise of the book is get out of your back yard and into your front yard. Engage the people in your neighborhood. Sit outside, invite people over, keep it simple. Hospitality is different from entertaining. You don't have to have a fancy spread, just have a welcoming heart. Kristin shares how she uses plastic cups and a water pitcher to sit out on her picnic table to welcome people. She also now has a dog water dish and some dog treats as well so that people walking their dogs can stop and get a drink and the dogs can too. Be friendly, be open, be observant.

It was a good read, a reminder that we are here for so much more than just ourselves and I need to be open and willing to engage in community. Now granted, I don't live in town, so there's not a lot of people walking by my house, actually pretty much no one ever walking by my house, but hospitality isn't limited to living in town. It's not even limited to sitting at a turquoise picnic table in your front yard. Hospitality is first cultivated in the heart and then it spills out over into practical living in many different ways.

I don't have any quotes to share from the book, because I left it at my sister's house this weekend. I had to show her the book because it was so pretty and fit something we were talking about and then she started reading it as well. It's a great gift for someone who is looking for ideas and ways to engage people. There are simple tips and tricks as well as some fun little recipes to try. The book is an easy and fast read, and I don't think you'll be sorry you read it.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Gifts from Heaven Compiled by James Stuart Bell

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True Stories of Miraculous Answers to Prayer

Sometimes it's easy to wonder if God is still doing miracles today. It's easy to question if He really cares as much about us today as He did about the people back in the Early Church. And then it becomes easy to question why? If God doesn't perform miracles today, why not? Is it because of our unbelief, our dependence on technology and medicine and our pocket book to save us?

Reading this book helped me realize again that God is still doing miracles today. Sometimes they are big and amazing and over the top and sometimes they are small and hidden and you must look hard to find them. Sometimes the miracle is in what didn't happen. When the little girl was hit by a car, she didn't fly under the vehicle, she flew up. She had very few injuries and nothing permanent as a result of that experience. She was still hit, but God protected her from sever injury. That's a miracle.

This book has a wide variety of miracles, if you want to call it that. Some of them are small miracles, if there is such a thing and some of them are dramatic healings or involve angels. But for me the good reminder is that God is still in the miracle-working business. Maybe it's me who isn't in the miracle-believing or miracle-looking-for business and I need to work to change that.

How many times has God kept me safe without me even being aware of it. We just got back from a 4 day trip out to PA and back. Hundreds of miles passing thousands of cars and nearly hitting several deer. Is safety on trips when traveling within feet of other vehicles not miraculous? Do we take these things for granted?

It was a good book for me to read and be reminded again that God does answer prayer.

This book was given to me by Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Under a Desert Sky by Lynne Hartke

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Redefining Hope, Beauty, and Faith in the Hardest Places

This is a good book. I'm not sure what adjectives to use to describe it. Let me start by saying that I find the back cover synopsis of the book doesn't do it justice. It sounds like it will by Lynne's own journey through cancer, when in reality, while that was a very real part of the story, to me the most talked about story was her own parent's journey through cancer. While it didn't affect the beauty of the book, for me it wasn't quite what I was expecting.

But moving on, there 28 chapters in the book. They are fairly short, but I think each chapter contained some nugget of gold that needs to be pondered and considered. I will also say that Lynne and her family have to be more in shape physically than I can ever hope to be. Granted, that's not saying much for this stage of my life where walking is rather limited for me. However, it seems like a lot of the chapters talked about a hiking trip they had taken into the desert or up the mountains, even in and out of the Grand Canyon. Truly the chapter title, "Under a Desert Sky" is very fitting. Lynne does well to capture on page the beauty of the desert. It makes me want to go see it for myself and even try a bit of amateur hiking.

And now, like I often do, I want to show you a few of those nuggets with you. They might be out of context and a little hard to understand, but hopefully it will make you want to get the book and read it for yourself.

From the preface: "I fix my eyes on her face, for I have learned that sometimes the greatest act of compassion we offer the dying is not to look away."

From Chapter Six: "Love is in the details. Love is found in the bending over. The stooping low. The care shown for the small things."

From Chapter Eleven: "We are in the waiting, when it can be difficult to hold on to promises. To hold on to hope. Every day clouds mushroom the skies, but we are left standing in the dust.....I pick up that anchor, that hope. I throw it out, toward the sound of rain. It is not a hope resting in doctors, in treatment plans, or in the number of days. It is hope based on Someone who stood with those He loved at the edge of a grave and faced death."

From Chapter Twenty Three: "Kindness can lead people to gaze once again into the face of God......Sometimes the desire to do a great thing (fix the entire problem), keeps us from doing a good thing (be kind in a small way)."

I really liked this book and should really take the time sometime to just ponder it more slowly and let some of these truth seep into my soul. I think Lynne talks somewhere about treasuring the moments, which is something I have been trying to do more lately as well.

This book is for more than those battling the fight with cancer. It is for anyone who is struggling in the desert, with dark days, trying times, anything. I think there is something to be learned here.

I received this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review.

These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart

Set in Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains during the time of the Frontier Nursing Service and the end of World War II comes a story tha...