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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Monday, October 31, 2011

Snow and Paint

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

My friend and I spent the past week or so working on painting my oldest son's former bedroom. Before we started painting, the walls were filled with scuffs, blemishes and spackling patches. The walls were in pretty sad shape. But all it took was a coat of primer to cover all those blemishes and make the wall sparkling new again. As we painted that day, adding color to the walls after the primer dried, I was reminded again of how Christ washes our sins away when we give them to Him.

Then this past weekend when we had 10-12 inches of fresh snowfall, this image again came to mind. I'm so thankful for a God who forgives us, turning our sinful hearts into ones washed cleaned.

Deeply Devoted by Maggie Brendan

Deeply Devoted by Maggie Brendan is a delightful read about a mail order bride, Catharine Olsen, from Amsterdam, Holland. She arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming to marry the man she's been exchanging letters with, Peter Andersen. Catharine hopes he won't mind she brought along her two younger sisters, her mother's Blue Willow tea set, and a past full of heartbreak.

Struggling whether or not to share her past, Catharine also must contend with Peter's mother who seems intent on sabotaging their marriage. She lives in fear that Peter or his mother will discover her secrets before she's ready to share them. Will Peter love her when he finds out the truth?

I enjoyed reading this book with a new twist on the mail order bride era of American history.

This book was provided free for review by Revell.

Christmas at Barncastle Inn

Christmas at Barncastle Inn is a collection of four stories that take place at a Victorian bed and breakfast set in Vermont. The first story, Love Comes to the Castle by Susan Page Davis follows Jayne Barncastle as she wavers on the decision to purchase the inn from her parents and provide specialized Christmas celebrations for families. The Dillards are her first opportunity to test whether or not her entrepreneurial idea will work.

Christmas Duets by Lynette Sowell tells the story of two sisters who are trying to recreate the World War II era with hopes of bringing their grandparents back together after an estrangement. Marcella Gordeau and Amity Carruthers decide to perform songs from White Christmas. What they didn't count on was their grandfather bringing along Sean McSweeney, the man they feel is partially responsible for their grandparents split-up.

Where Your Heart Is by Janelle Mowery weaves the tale of Stephanie Minter, nanny to the Tolliver siblings. She hopes to recreate a swashbuckling Christmas for the children. Stephanie wasn't anticipating Matthew Raynor to be part of the Barncastle Inn staff, the man she walked out on years ago.

First Christmas by Darlene Franklin follows unwed mother Waverly Coe, veterinary assistant to Alec Ross as they work together as animal specialists at Barncastle Inn for their production of the first Christmas. Waverly's long time crush on the veterinarian still burns, although she feel unworthy of love.

I found this collection of four different Christmas mini-novels a delightful read, and highly encourage others to pick up a copy. Snuggle up with this book as you prepare for the holidays. You won't be disappointed.

This book was provided free for review by Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seasons and Changes

There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under heaven:
  a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Ever feel like you're stuck in a rut and you can't get out of it, no matter how hard you try? Perhaps you made your way a foot or two higher in the hole, only to slide back down, maybe deeper than you already were.

I love this scripture from Ecclesiastes which describes the different seasons of life we experience. As I read through the verses, so many of them depict the season of life I see set before me. I find myself excited about the future and what God has in store for me and my family. It's time to move on to a new season.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Start

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

I realize it's been quite a while since I've regularly posted on my blog. This fall has been a blur for me. Things have been exceptionally busy with being my son's senior year of homeschooling. Then throw in there finalizing editing my novel, dealing with laser procedures on my eyes, working on preparing a bedroom for cleaning, painting, and turned into a different use, a mini-vacation to the Poconos and the struggle of an ongoing stomach virus, and you have the formula for what the past two months have looked like. I'm thankful for each new day and how we can forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. This is where I am right now - straining toward what is ahead. I think it has a nice ring. No pressure from the past, but instead the chance to start fresh and new.

At times it's tempting to look back and lament at missed opportunities, etc. But for now I'm thankful for the chance to have my gaze forward, anticipating what God has in store around the corner.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Winner of Captive Trail

Congratulations to Janice. You are the winner of Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis. I'll make sure you get it. :)