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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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Christmas Homecoming by MaryAnn Diorio

A Christmas Homecoming weaves a tale of regrets, forgiveness, reconciliation and hope wrapped up in this book by MaryAnn Diorio. It's a great reminder of the reason why we celebrate this Christmas season - Jesus.

Sonia Pettit finds it difficult to prepare for the holidays. Without her husband living anymore, and her daughter missing for the past seven years, it just doesn't seem like Christmas with just her and her son Ben.

Jody Pettit O'Dair has many regrets, the biggest is never letting her family know what happened to her. But now she lives half the world away and there is no hope of ever seeing them again. Besides, why would they want to?

I found this book to be a delightful read, and enjoyed the reminder of the reconciliation we can have with our Lord and Savior.

This book was provided free for review by Pelican Ventures Book Group-Harbourlight Books.


To learn more about the blog tour on this book http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/achristmashomecoming


About A Christmas Homecoming

Seven Christmases have passed since Sonia Pettit last heard from her daughter Jody. Since Jody's departure, Sonia's world has been turned upside down. Her husband has died of a broken heart, and her son, bitter over his sister's destructive actions, has become rebellious.
Her greatest desire is to have her family together at Christmas, but after what Jody has put them all through, can Sonia truly forgive her daughter?
Jody Pettit O'Dair ran away to experience a life of adventure and excitement, but since her departure, her world has been turned upside down. She's been abandoned by the man she met and married, lost her job, and is unable to care for her two children. With nowhere else to turn, this prodigal daughter begins the long journey home and prays she will be welcomed after walking away so long ago.
Will Jody find forgiveness in the arms of her family as easily as she received it from God? 
Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/fKkNc   

Meet MaryAnn:  

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio loves God, people, children, and dogs, in that order. She also is passionate about story and its power to transform the human heart. Dr. MaryAnn, as she is affectionately called, writes compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of life. She is Adjunct Online Professor of Fiction Writing for Regent University and coaches writers on their journey to publication. MaryAnn and her husband Dominic are the blessed parents of two wonderful daughters and a fantastic son-in-law.
Find out more about MaryAnn at http://maryanndiorio.com/. 
 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Threads of Faith by Andrea Boeshaar

Threads of Faith by Andrea Boeshaar is a mixture of adventure and romance.  Julianna Wayland is a young housemaid in 1877 London who is on the run. When the young master has designs for her, she flees, hiding in a crate on the docks. Before she can cry out, a lid is nailed to her hideaway and she gets loaded into the hold of a ship.

Captain Daniel Sundberg doesn't take kindly to stowaways, intended or accidental. But with a crew of all men, he feels obligated to protect the young miss. He needs to keep on schedule to sail to America, and doesn't have time to stop at a port to drop off Julianna.

Once they reach America he finds the desire to continue to provide for her confusing, but makes plans for her to help his mother with the family farm. As the couple journey they both are challenged to a deeper faith in God.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am excited to find a new historical Christian writer.

This book was provided free for review by the author and Realms.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Jen Turano weaves a delightful tale in A Change of Fortune. Lady Eliza Sumner has lost everything - her family, her fortune, her fiance, and her faith in God. She travels to America from England with one thought - to find the man who ran off with her fortune and regain her inheritance and return to her homeland.

In New York City she must go under cover as a governess, so as not to reveal her true identity. At the insistence of her employer, she attends a dinner party and meets Mr. Hamilton Beckett. He is the much sought after bachelor in New York society. As Eliza seeks information about the thief who stole everything from her, she continues to bump into Hamilton Beckett.

The duo undergo many twists and turns as they join forces. Will they choose to have more than a dwindling faith in God, or will they seek Him with their future?

This book was provided free for review by the author and Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman

What better way to prepare for the Christmas season than to snuggle down with a good Christmas novel while listening to music of the holiday. A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman is a sweet tale set in Oklahoma in 1961. It explores the world of Franny Martin, a pig farmer in her 30's with no prospects of marriage. She has a love of music and her farm. Set in an era of racial tension, Franny is unafraid to express her thoughts on the ugliness of the situation.

Charlie Landau has been raised in wealth by a distant father with whom he can never seem to find favor. He offers to buy Franny's farm. They discover a mutual love of music as he learns how to take care for the pigs.

Anita Higman created a tale of hope and love when you least expect it. It is sure to enrich your Christmas holiday.

This book was provided free for review by that author and Summerside Press.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

What's Your Passion?

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

The topic of passions has been brought to my attention on numerous occasions over the past couple weeks, in different ways and situations. We talked about it during our first ladies Bible study of the season. Our group is studying Balance - Six Basics of a Balanced Life by Carol Kent & Karen Lee-Thorp. We were encouraged to write a purpose statement to include the things we are passionate about, and also our unique gifts.

Then a few days ago, a video we had on hold at the public library finally came available. It's called Seven Days in Utopia. It's the story of a discouraged golfer. Now I'm not usually overly excited about sports movies, but I found this one to be quite gripping. It too mentioned the topic of discovering what we are passionate about, and where our passions lie. It talked about the importance of finding the passion God has given us, and walking in it. Sometimes in order to move forward in our passion, we need to break free of the lies from our past that may be holding us captive.

Yesterday I was finishing up revisions on my current novel, and had to rewrite part of the ending to make it fit the editor's suggestions. As I rewrote that chapter, making it something totally new and different, I had such joy and pleasure as I wrote. You may have guessed by now, that writing is my passion. 

There used to be an old TV series, The A-Team, and I think one of the characters, Hannibal used to say. "I love it when a plan comes together." Yesterday while I was writing, I kept thinking, "I love when a book comes together." :)

Writing is my passion. What passion has God given to you? 

Friday, September 28, 2012

To the Ends of the Earth

 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8

This scripture was used in a recent Our Daily Bread devotion. It may have even been this morning, I can't remember for sure. But as I read it, I was struck by it. With the advent of our current technology, we are able to reach the ends of the earth with the things we write.
 
I'm particularly aware of this with writing a blog. I can check the stats on my account. It's been amazing to see where I get hits. People from all over the world, in various countries, and also places in the United States, towns, cities, and out lying areas. Somehow they each have stumbled upon my blog, and the words that I have written. My prayer is for my words to somehow touch hearts, not because of me, but because of my Heavenly Father. He is my reason for existence.

Thank you for chosing to read the words I write. May they be a blessing to you, and help you on your journey of growing closer to the Lord.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer

I was swept away as I began When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer. I entered the world of young Old Order Mennonite widow Amy Knackstedt, trying to raise three young children on her own. The family settles down in a new town, hoping to get over the pain and loss of the husband and father.

Tim Roper, their nearest neighbor, doesn't want any reminders of the faith that he left many years ago. Nor does he want to be attached to anyone after the loss of his wife and son, but the neighbor children have found a way of sneaking into his heart. Will he be able to find a way to come to grips with his past, or forever remain alone?

This book moved me to tears and laughter. Kim has a unique way of weaving words that touch the hearts of her readers. I highly recommend reading this book.

This book was provided free for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Keeping Up Appearances

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

I've been thinking a lot lately about this concept. Sometimes, even as Christians we struggle with looking good on the outside, or keeping up appearances. We can look great in what others physically see, but be a complete mess inside, in our hearts. Maybe our lives are filled with turmoil or strife and it splashes out onto those we meet or come in contact. Or perhaps we lash out, but then make excuses or justify our responses instead of choosing to be humble and accept ownership to how we acted.

The Lord never promised that we would have an easy road ahead of us as we walk this path as a Christian, but most important is that He promised to be with us and to not give us more than we can endure.

So have you been merely keeping up appearances lately, or are the spiritual truths and God's love bursting through in your actions and responses?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Love In Disguise by Carol Cox

Love in Disguise by Carol Cox depicts a fascinating time period in history - the era of the Pinkerton detectives. I liked the twist in the story in that the heroine was the lead detective through a chance of circumstances. When Ellie Moore found herself jobless, she never contemplated a career in sleuthing until, an overheard conversation and a trunk of costumes and wigs inspire her to start on the track as a detective.

Steven Pierce is on the brink of ruin unless he can find out who has been stealing the silver shipments from the local miner owners, himself included. The miners throw in money as a deposit, hoping to encourage a Pinkerton detective to come and sort out the mess. Not even Steven suspects a young woman, nor does he realize that she is playing two roles as she tries to ferret out information before more is stolen. In the process of the investigation, he finds himself falling in love.

I found this book to be an interesting read on this era of history.

This book was provided free for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Do you ever have days where everything seems to be hitting you all at once? Today has been one of those times for me. I know a lot of it has to do with the pain I'm experiencing from a pesky kidney stone that has lodged in my body and refused to move. Today it's been a week since it first began. Then add on raging hormones and not being able to do a whole lot, makes for a day of feeling blue.

But even in the midst of my struggles God provided His comfort. A friend called who has also undergone kidney stones and let me know she is praying. Two other friends emailed to let me know they too are praying. I praise God who comforts us when we most need it. I pray He uses me to comfort others as well. Perhaps we need to live each day looking for someone who needs to hear and experience God's comfort, and make an effort to share it. 

What do you think? Who can you comfort today?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Over the Edge by Mary Connealy

Over the Edge by Mary Connealy is book three in the Kincaid Brides series. It was my first one to read of this series, and I found it to be typical of Mary Connealy - lots of fun, laughter, action, and excitement. The book begins with a shootout and attempted robbery of a stagecoach. Young mother, Callie Kincaid scrambles to save her infant son and the people on board.

Seth Kincaid struggles with emotions and hurts from his past, and the aftermath from fighting in the war between the States. Some say he isn't quite right in the head. His memory is patchy at times, but it seems he has forgotten one important detail - that he is married. He isn't prepared when the feisty woman shows up with an infant in tow.

This book is a great read and one I highly recommend. I look forward to going back and reading the first two in the series.

This book was provided free for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot

Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot was my first new Christmas book of the season to read, and I found it to be delightful. Set in Wyoming Territory in 1882 it weaves the tale of Celia Anderson, young widow trying to make ends meet, and raise her infant daughter on her own. She doesn't see a need for a new husband, unless she can find one who will love her and be spontaneous enough to bring her roses in December - not an easy feat when she lives in a cold and snowy land.

Mark Williams has no intention on staying more than a night or two in the sleepy little town of Easton, in Wyoming Territory. In fact, he is only there in hopes of finding his delinquent father. He has been searching for over two years and believes that his search may finally come to an end. Helping the young widow with a sickly infant, and a snowstorm delay his plans to leave.

I found this book to be a quick and enjoyable read, and was disappointed when it was over.

This book was provided free for review by the author and Revell.

The Preacher's Bride by Laurie Kingery

The Preacher's Bride by Laurie Kingery is one of the Love Inspired Historical books for October 2012. I had the distinct pleasure of reading this tale about a young woman named Faith Bennett, who is attracted to the new preacher, Gil Chadwick. Only one problem - she has lost her faith in God and questions whether He really exists, and if He does, then how could He have let her brother die.

Her friendship with the minister deepens as she helps to take care of his ailing father. Will she be able to overcome her doubts about the Lord and find love in the process? This book by Laurie Kingery is a delightful read.

This book was provided free for review by the author and Love Inspired Books.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Become a Forgetter

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

In my devotions this morning I stumbled across the verses above and also Psalm 130:3, which says: If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? Now it isn't very often that being forgetful is exalted or encouraged, but this is what God is calling us to do - to forget and let go of the hurts and learn to be thankful for what He has given us.

How are you doing today with being thankful and letting go of the hurts from the past...or even the hurts from today? Let's work toward that goal and forget instead of harboring pain and bitterness.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Beginnings

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

Today was the first day of school for the local school system and state university - a time of new beginnings. Usually by now, my sons and I would have already put in several weeks to a month of homeschooling before this date, but this is the first year for me to be officially 'retired.' Even though I'm not in the class with many others who had a first day of school today, the fall season still gets me in the mood for a fresh start. What better time to look at our priorities and make sure you aren't over extended as you begin new things.

Right now I'm in the process of 'a time to keep and a time to throw away' as I start the lengthy chore of downsizing and cleaning things. It's something that won't happen overnight, but I'm slowly making progress.

I'm looking forward to a Bible study I'm leading this fall called Six Basics of a Balanced Life by Carol Kent & Karen Lee-Thorp. What things are you doing this fall? What are your new beginnings? I'll soon be starting to write book two in a series I started. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

End of the Trail by Vickie McDonough

End of the Trail is the sixth book in the Texas Trails series. Vickie McDonough weaves the tale of Brooks Morgan and Keri Langston. Brooks has been drifting in life for the past ten years, with no real ambition until he stumbles upon the small town of Shoofly, Texas. Brooks comes to the aid of an old man, and wins the deed to a ranch in a high-stakes poker game. Before the old man dies, he quips to Brooks to "take care of Keri." No problem, he grew up on a ranch and knows how to handle critters.

Except Keri isn't the animal he was anticipating, but a beautiful young woman instead. Brooks doesn't know the first thing about what to do with her, and isn't about to give up his opportunity of a home of his own. Will they be able to solve their differences or will one of them need to go packing? I'm sure you'll enjoy this delightful tale set in 1896.

This book was provided free for review by Moody Publishers and the author.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cowgirl Trail by Susan Page Davis

Cowgirl Trail by Susan Page Davis is a delightful tale in the Texas Trails series. This fifth book in the series shares the wonderful story of Maggie Porter. This young woman returns home after a couple years away to discover her childhood home, the Rocking P Ranch is in failing conditions and the cowboys are threatening to strike. Her father is in desperate financial straits and failing health. It's up to Maggie to round up the cattle and prepare them for the cattle drive. She enlists the helps of her friends to have the first all female cowgirl drive.

Alex Bright, her former foreman, is caught between honoring the family he has served for many years or sticking with the men striking for better working conditions. His heart is caught in the middle. Will he choose to follow it, or choose to lose his only chance to attain Maggie's favor?

This book was provided free for review by River North Fiction from Moody Publishers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Take My Burden

 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
Psalm 68:19
 
I was talking to a dear friend of mine on the phone today. Our time was limited since she needed to hurry off to an appointment, and I had writing deadlines I needed to be working on. In the few moments that we spoke, I poured out my heart to her, sharing several things that have been burdening my soul. She asked if there is anything she can do, and I replied flippantly about taking my burdens for a while.

It was in that moment that I realized that I have someone who daily does this for me, when I allow Him to do so. But I have to make an active choice to place my burdens on God's shoulders, and allow Him to carry them for me. Which means not taking them back again, but trusting that somehow He is going to work in them. So today, I choose to lay my burdens at His feet, knowing He will take care of them for me. I don't need to worry. Instead I choose to worship Him.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
    for you will answer me.
Psalm 86:6-7

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

I found Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer to be one of the best books I've read so far this year. Karen's tale delighted me as both a reader and a writer. She weaves words and uses verbs in a way I never imagined, and the product is incredible.

I fell in love with young Meredith Hayes from the first few sentences of Karen's book. Meredith is a sweet, young woman with longings for a marriage of love, not convenience. When she overhears a plot to burn their property, she feels duty-bound to warn the Archer brothers, even at the risk of her own life.

Travis Archer, is Meredith's childhood hero and rescuer, but twelve years of living in seclusion has hardened the man. When circumstances demand a marriage of convenience, will they ever be able to experience true love?

I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from this author.

This book was provided free for review by Bethany House Publishers.

A Texan's Promise by Shelley Gray

A Texan's Promise by Shelley Gray is a delightful tale set in Texas in 1873. Shelley weaves a story about Vanessa Grant, a young woman who has suffered tremendously, after undergoing advances from her stepfather. Clayton Proffitt, foreman of the ranch, comes to her rescue.

Clayton chooses the honorable thing in taking care of Vanessa, and getting her away from her stepfather's evil clutches. But will he ever choose to love her or will he always just be honor bound?

I found A Texan's Promise to be a wonderfully written novel and highly recommend it.

* This book was provided free for review by Abingdon Press.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Trust

I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
    for you saw my affliction
    and knew the anguish of my soul.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”

Psalm 31:7 & 14

I praise God for His word, His promises, and His encouragement when He knows we need it the most. My heart was in utter anguish earlier this morning, as I faced yet again a situation that is heavy and hurtful in my life. I cried out to the Lord, not only because of the heartache and turmoil, but also the desire not to be embittered by the circumstance.

As I cried out to the Lord, I happened to hear a short blip on the radio, and one word stood out - Trust. Through my prayers and tears, I opened up a book I'm reading by Debbie Macomber called One Perfect Word and read the title of the next chapter - Trust. Coincidence? No, I'm sure it was part of God's ultimate timing, knowing what I needed to hear today.

I call to you, O Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands to you. 
Psalm 88:9

I praise God for His encouragement when we need it the most.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Calling

I came across this quote this morning while working through my devotions. It's taken from Listening to God Day by Day by Sharon Jaynes.

      "The Hebrew word for "Bible" actually means, "The calling out of God." He's calling
        out to us from the pages of our Bibles."

When's the last time you sat down to listen to His calling to you? Open the pages of your Bible and see what He has to say each day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Full Dance Card

With the end of May soon approaching, I find my 'dance card filling' as a dear friend said recently. Today I finished my Apprentice writing course with Christian Writers Guild after two years and 50 lessons. I'm so thankful and excited that I was accepted into the Craftsman Advanced fiction writing course, starting in November. Lots of fun, excitement, and learning ahead of me.

I still continue to write for Home School Enrichment magazine. I've been writing a unit study column for them for three and a half years. Even though I have resigned from homeschooling, for now I will continue to write for them.

Last week I started writing a new Christian historical romance novel set in Kansas in 1875. This is a fun mail-order-bride book with lots of action, fun, and excitement. I think a novel is a continual process. I will soon start work on some more editing of my other novel. The key is learning how to balance everything as my dance card fills. I praise God for the opportunity to finally be writing full time. It's always been my desire and dream.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Passing the Mantle

"And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him." 2 Kings 2:9-15

This story of Elijah passing his mantle on to Elisha has been on my mind the past week or so. You may be wondering, "What exactly is a mantle?" According to the online dictionary it refers to 'a garment regarded as a symbol of someone's power or authority.' The theme for my youngest son's homeschool graduation on May 11th was taken from Acts 13:47, "For so the Lord has commanded us saying, 'I have made you a light for the gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" The program cover said, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!"

At the beginning of the ceremony, each graduate filed into the auditorium followed by their parents. One parent held a lit candle. As each family approached the stage, we stopped, and passed the lit candle off to our child, symbolizing this passing the mantle on to the next generation. I've been ruminating on this ever since - the significance of passing on to our children the importance of letting our lights shine in the world around us. I pray that my light will continue to shine for Christ as I follow His call on my life, but I also pray that my children and their children will also shine their light to the future generation, so that others will see Jesus in our lives.

May your light shine for Him! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brief Hiatus

I've decided to take a brief hiatus from blogging. Things have been really busy with the final days of homeschooling, and preparing for my son's final evaluation, and graduation in less than three weeks. I look forward to getting back to writing once we've accomplished this mile stone in our lives - completing 16 years of homeschooling. Whew! I hope to return in mid May. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Race Against Time by Kimberley and Kayla R. Woodhouse

Race Against Time by Kimberley and Kayla R. Woodhouse weaves the tale of lonely, Anesia Naltsiine and her thirteen-year-old daughter, Zoya. The duo are champion sprint dog racers in North Pole, Alaska. Anesia has worked hard and long to become a reputable dog breeder, drawing buyers from all around the world.

Zoya longs for the dad she’s never met. She’s driven to succeed, to be like him. Zoya finds herself thrown into intrigue and suspense when she witnesses a murder while exercising her dog sled team. Her life is plunged into continual threats of danger and she struggles with conflicting emotions in all areas of her life, particularly with her relationship with the Lord.

Anesia is forced to face the fact that she can’t fully protect her daughter, and deals with learning to step out in faith and trust God with her daughter’s life. Both battle feelings of jealousy toward the relationship of their dear friends, Cole, Jenna, and Andie Maddox.

Sean Connelly desires a fresh start and takes a job at Anesia’s kennels after walking to Alaska from Boston. He’s hired as a worker, but also to help protect Zoya. The story escalates when Sean finds macro-chips with military secrets embedded under the skin of Anesia’s dogs. With the discovery, threats on Zoya’s life escalate. He needs to overcome the issues from his past in order to have a future with this mother and daughter.

I found Race Against Time to be a wonderful read which I highly recommend.

* This book was provided free for review by the authors and B & H Publishing Group.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy 18th Birthday Jeremiah!

Today has been a wonderful day celebrating my son's 18th birthday. A highlight for him was being able to take off and fly an airplane. What a privilege to be his parents. We pray for great things in his life as he follows God.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Peace - A Multi-Faceted Characteristic

It's been a little over two months since I began my journey to learn more about peace. The more I read and study about this word using God's Word as my reference, I have been discovering many layered meanings to it. My first area of focus has been on anxiety and peace. One of my favorite scriptures that addresses this is Philippians 4:6-7. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I've been amazed at how far God has brought me in the past two months, and how much I've grown in this area. Anxiety and worry have been an area I've struggled with most of my life. But I can honestly say that it now is an area that I've conquered. I've learned the only way to be free from worry and anxiety is by following Philippians 4:8-9. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

As I've been reading through my Bible, I have learned that peace is often used in conjunction with other attributes as well. here are just a few examples.

Peace and Joy - Romans 15:13
Peace and Thankful - Colossians 3:15
Peace and Quiet - Proverbs 17:1
Peace and Rest - 1 Chronicles 22:9
Peace and Security - Isaiah 39:8
Peace and Uprightness - Malachi 2:6
Peace and Grace - 1 Corinthians 1:3
Peace and Love - 2 Corinthians 13:11
Peace and Mercy - Galatians 6:16
Peace and Safety - 1 Thessalonians 5:3

Many of these topics have more than one scripture associated with them. I listed one with each to get you started in discovering more about God's peace. I look forward to learning more along this journey I'm on, growing in peace. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Give Up Worry

As Lent was beginning, I came across an article online called 'I Gave Up Worry for Lent'. I was intrigued by the title. In early February, I attended a women's conference where I was challenged to pick a word that I could learn about throughout the year, and have God direct and teach me in the area. I already had a word that God kept impressing upon my heart - peace.

The more I studied about peace, the more I realized how difficult it is to maintain peace when you struggle with worry. So I ordered a book by John MacArthur entitled Anxious for Nothing. I still am in the process of working my way through this incredible resource. I've learned so much from reading it, and also from this scripture. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:6-9

As I've read through this scripture and have mulled over it, I've learned that the key to not worrying is to be in constant prayer, and praise to God. As we concentrate on what He has done for us, choosjng to be thankful, and thinking about how Chist is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, only then are we able to properly put things into perspective. As I began the Lent season, I decided to work on giving up worry, and have found myself successful. With giving up worry, I find myself more at peace.

I've been at peace even through three weeks of being sick. I praise God for how He teaches us new things.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot weaves the tale of Abigail Harding and her journey west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming to spend the summer with her older sister, Charlotte. While en route her stagecoach is attacked by bandits. Fellow passenger Lieutenant Ethan Bowles comes to their rescue.

Abigail intends to return to her teaching position in Vermont and her beau once the summer ends. But the longer she resides in Wyoming, the more she is attracted to its rugged beauty, and a young soldier who draws her attention. When summer ends will she decide to return to her responsibilities in the East or forge a new future in the West?

I found Amanda Cabot's book to be a delightful and intriguing read. I enjoyed reading about a part of our Nation I've never visited before. It is a book I recommend.

This book was provided free for review by Revell.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen weaves the tale of aristocrat Margaret Macy escaping her spoiled lifestyle to avoid an unwanted marriage. If she can remain unwed for several months, until her next birthday, she will receive her inheritance. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is a delightful saga of a spoiled, rich, young woman going in disguise as a maid in England during the early 1800's. Not until after she arrives at her employment, does Margaret realize she'll be working in the home of the man who proposed marriage several years ago. She spurned Nathaniel Upchurch in favor of his brother.

I love the way Margaret learns the hard way to appreciate people for who they are, no matter what station of life they are in. She discovers many valuable lessons along the way, as she adjusts to poverty and being a servant. Through working, Margaret acquires the ability to see beyond herself and her own needs. She also finds out what it means to sacrifice.

I found The Maid of Fairbourne Hall to be a delightful read, and one I highly recommend.

* This book was provided free for review by Bethany House Publishers.

About the book:
 
To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch--both former suitors.

As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?
 
 
About Julie:
 
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com
Link to buy the book:http://www.amazon.com/dp/0764207091/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=sprightly-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0764207091&adid=1TCYV1DRSTV23NKEQ170

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble weaves the tale of Lucy Marsh and her struggle to be in control of her life, as she tries to take care of her two younger siblings. When faced with the loss of her job, home, and threat on their lives, she feels her only option is to marry by proxy to a man she has never met. Lucy travels with her father-in-law to far off Texas.

Only problem, the groom has never been made aware of his marriage until Lucy appears on his doorstop with two kids in tow. Nate Stanton doesn't desire a wife, particularly not a scrawny one who isn't strong enough for life on a ranch. Will they ever learn to accept each other and find love, or will Lucy's desire to be in charge threaten their future.

I enjoyed reading Colleen's first book in her Under Texas Stars series. Not only was it a pleasurable read, but it also made me examine my own life to identify those times when I choose to be in control, instead of allowing God to work in my life. Letting go is never an easy thing, but necessary in our lives as Christians.

This book was provided free for review by Thomas Nelson.

About the book:

Book Number One in the Under Texas Stars series

A love like Lucy and Nate’s only comes along once in a blue moon . . .

Lucy Marsh's worldly resources are running out, but she's fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father's recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.

Nate Stanton always hoped he'd marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh—a city girl—on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he'd give anything to protect Lucy and the children he's grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.
About Colleen:
Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.
For more about Colleen and her other books visit www.colleencoble.com 

Link to buy the book  http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=1595549153&title=Under_Texas_Stars_#1__:_Blue_Moon_Promise 

Blog Tour :  http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13458569/bluemoonpromise)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No More Procrastinating

I started a new practice recently. I don't know why, but I often (used to) wait to the last minute to get things accomplished. Which is a puzzlement, since I don't like stress or feeling pressured. Perhaps it's old patterns from years ago, when I was in college and had so many projects to get done at one time. I don't know. But I've started working ahead with things. I have a homeschool article due on April 1st, and I already have books out from the library, researching my topic. I even have a few ideas for the article.

I have a writing lesson due next week and I just finished it this evening. I worked on each item, a little bit each day, and guess what I discovered? I'm not stressed, and find more pleasure working on the various assignments, when I'm not down to the wire. Who knew that was possible? Ha! Ha! I know, not rocket science here! :)

I've applied this truth to various areas of my life and am finding myself much more relaxed, and less stressed. I'm finding pleasure in getting things accomplished, regularly crossing off things on my 'to do' list, and much more at peace. I realize I have a long way to go in being organized, but I figure at least I'm making small steps toward that goal. Someday I'll be so much closer! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Filled to Overflowing

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

I've been thinking a lot about this verse lately. God calls us to single-minded focus on Him. When we choose to do that, He fills us with hope, joy and peace. Sounds like a pretty good exchange if you ask me. So many of us long to have these three qualities - hope, joy, and peace in the midst of our everyday lives. When we choose Jesus, He takes care of the rest.

I think it all boils down to TRUST. Do we fully trust God with our lives? If you've asked Jesus into your heart, and asked for His forgiveness, you know that God promised you would one day go to heaven. You believe God at His word. So why do we struggle with the smaller, simpler things? Like trusting that He will help us in all the situations we face. I think it's time to get our focus off ourselves and our struggles, and instead place them on our Heavenly Father, and the truths in His Word.

When we choose to direct our attention to God, He fills us to overflowing, and what spills out of our lives is love, joy, peace, hope, and thanksgiving. It all is a matter of our wills - who will we decide to follow. Will we get caught up in the stresses of life, or choose to look to the One who can calm all our fears.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fear Not

"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." Isaiah 43:1

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Matthew 6:25-31

Both of these scripture passages have been on my heart this afternoon. I'm reading through a book by John MacArthur entitled Anxious for Nothing. He cites this scripture in Matthew and comments, "Stop worrying"..."Don't start worrying." and "If you are worrying, quit; if you haven't started, don't." I guess you can't get any more blatant than that! :) MacArthur points out that worry is a sin. Ouch!

I admit, I gave in to worry this week over a potential situation - one that had me on edge with the possible ramifications. I couldn't move past it and was stuck in the mire of fear, worry and anxiousness. When I finally got my nerve up to broach the topic with my husband, he pretty much bluntly pointed out the need to stop worrying, and how it was wrong to worry, and that I needed to move on beyond the circumstances. Now, I already knew this, but hearing it, somehow broke through the fog surrounding my heart, and I was finally able to release the situation to God - completely, without trying to take a hold of it again.

Whew! I rested for two full days in God's peace and knowing He would take care of the situation. Then today, I heard back an answer in regard to the struggle, and guess what? None of the things I imagined came to fruition. I worried, stewed, and fretted over nothing. Even though it's been a long, painful, and stressful week (brought on by my own worry), it's been an incredible learning experience on my road to discovering God's peace. I spent far too much time worrying over something I had no control over, and wasting time that could have been used somewhere else. Perhaps this is what Satan often tries to do - get us so overwrought that we lose sight of following and serving God each day. My vision became focused on me instead of my Heavenly Father.  I trust next time I will remember this lesson learned, and not fall into the same crazy cycle of worry. May I remember to 'Fear not!'  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

God of Comfort

In Elyse Fitzpatrick's book Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety she says the following. "He (God) worked in mighty ways through Abraham and Sarah in spite of their weaknesses, and He can do the same through you and me."

Sarah struggled with fear and how to work God's blessing into her childless life. He promised a child to her and Abraham, but many years passed, and nothing happened. She did like most women do in this type of situation, try to figure out a way to 'help' God along in the process. She rationalized. "Perhaps God really meant for Abraham's child to come through my handmaid Hagar." But the results of this union didn't bring peace, joy, comfort, or contentment to Sarah.

Sometimes we mess up in our own lives. We make wrong decisions and choices, or we just feel the affects of living in a sin-filled world. Perhaps the key to repentance, is being able to let go, and move on to what God is calling us to do, despite what we currently see. I like what it says in 2 Corinthians 1:2-7. "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort." 

May you rest in His comfort today.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Single-Minded Focus

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Luke 10:41-42a 

I came across this passage this morning while reading my various devotional materials. It was a reminder of how often we get distracted, or stressed out by things going on in our life. We stew and fret. But in this verse, Jesus said to Martha (and is also saying to each one of us), we only need to be focused on one thing - or more importantly, one person - Jesus Christ. Sometimes it's a continual battle not to be distracted, 'worried and upset about many things'. God is calling us to so much more than this.

"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 3:12b-14 

I'm pressing on toward the goal of continually abiding in Christ Jesus.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Freedom

In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
   and he answered by setting me free.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
   What can man do to me? 
Psalm 118:5-6 

I've been thinking this morning about freedom. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the worries and concerns of this life we experience on planet Earth. So many things demand our attention. But God calls us to put a lid on the worries and concerns and instead focus on the 'one thing.' 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

Sometimes He asks us to give up good things in our lives for something that is better. Jesus Christ is the one thing we should be pursuing. It is Him we should follow, and when we have wholehearted abandon to Him, we experience freedom and His peace.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mornings with Jesus 2012

Mornings with Jesus 2012 put out by Guideposts is a delightful devotional from authors: Judy Baer, Gwen Ford Faulenberry, Tricia Goyer, Sharon Hinck, Keri Wyatt Kent, Erin Keeley Marshall and Camy Tang.

I find this devotional to prompt thought-provoking and soul-searching in my own life as I read each entry. Often I'm called to examine my own life. On February 16th Keri Wyatt Kent used the scripture, "He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." Psalm 18:19 Keri talked about a time in her life when she was questioning God, and seeking His heart about a certain matter. Sometimes as Christians, we forget that it's all right to ask God questions, and to try and discern His heart. We don't always receive an answer right away, but He does promise to provide His peace when we choose to trust in Him. We can take comfort in the fact that He delights in us.

I highly recommend this devotional, and find it will be one I can reread in the future too. If you are interested in purchasing it, check this out: http://ow.ly/8BbyO

About the book:
"Be still and know that I am God.” is one of the most beautiful verses from the Bible, but it’s not easy to practice in this busy world. Mornings with Jesus will help you do just that—“be still” in Jesus’ beautiful and powerful presence. For those who are seeking a deeper experience in their relationship with Christ, Mornings with Jesus offers a fresh perspective of who Jesus is (the Healer, the Son of God, the Comforter, the Good Shepherd) and what that means for day-to-day life. With a warm and friendly voice, 365 short devotional writings on the character and teachings of Jesus encourage readers to greet each day by drawing near to Him and inviting His presence into their day. Spend time with Jesus at the beginning of each day and experience His nearness and peace in a new way throughout the year. Each day’s selection includes: • a Bible verse • an entry based on Jesus: His words, miracles, and parables; His wisdom, compassion, and comfort; His mystery, power, divinity, and humanity • a “faith step” that will inspire and challenge readers to apply the day’s message to their lives.

Check out the blog tour at: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13452857
* This book was provided free for review by Guideposts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mornings with Jesus 2012 Book Giveaway

Thank you to all who entered the contest via a comment here or on my facebook page. The winner of the devotional is Susan. Congratulations.

Next week I'll be posting a review on this great devotional book. Leave a comment on any blog post between now and Monday, February 20th for an opportunity to win a free copy of this book.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Word for the Year

Over the course of the past several weeks I've heard/read various resources that mention the idea of having a word for the year to camp out on. What exactly does it look like? I take it to mean intentionally focusing on a certain area or concept throughout the year and to see what you can learn in the process, and what God desires to show you. So after much thought, prayer, and consideration I have decided to proceed, and the word God has been impressing upon my heart is 'peace'. With that in mind I ordered the following materials from Amazon.com to aid me in my quest.

  • Peace: Overcoming Anxiety and Conflict (Fruit of the Spirit Bible Studies) by Jack Kuhatschek
  • Free From Worry (Women of the Word Bible Study) by Janet Wise
  • Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety: Becoming a Woman of Faith and Confidence by Elyse Fitzpatrick
  • Anxious for Nothing: God's Cure for the Cares of Your Soul by John MacArthur
 I'm working my way through a Bible study by Calvin Miller entitled Peace. I also am on the hold list at my public library for Debbie Macomber's new book entitled One Perfect Word: One Word Can Make All the Difference. 

The past several days in my daily devotions, whether Bible ready or in actual devotionals, there has either been a verse about peace, or it was the topic of that day's devotional reading. Ever feel that God couldn't make something anymore clear because you keep getting hit with it wherever you go? :) I'm looking forward to what God has to show me about peace in 2012.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Step of Faith

"If the LORD delights in a man’s way,
   he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
   for the LORD upholds him with his hand."
Psalm 37:23-24

"I guide you in the way of wisdom
   and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
   when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
   guard it well, for it is your life."
Proverbs 4:11-13

"In his heart a man plans his course,
   but the LORD determines his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

I can't help but think about the faith of various people throughout scripture. Abraham as he started on the trek to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac; Moses as he headed back to Egypt to lead the Israelites to the promised land; and the disciples as they chose to follow Christ's teachings despite persecution. Throughout the Bible there are continuous examples of men and women who lived out their faith and followed what God called them to do. So too, Christ calls us to step out in faith and trust Him.

Dictionary.com defines faith as 'confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof.' Faith requires trust even when we can't see or know what the result will be. The easy way would be to not progress forward, but this can lead to becoming stagnant.

I pray I will live my life like those who have gone before me - not afraid to step out in faith and follow God's calling, no matter how difficult it may seem. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Power of a Word of Encouragement

"A word aptly spoken
   is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11


For months I've been crippled from moving forward - stagnant and unable to see past some criticism I received. Those words caused me to question a call I know God placed on my life. I didn't deny or reject God's calling, but was paralyzed to break free from the shroud of doubt and move forward. I knew I needed to get past the situation, but seemed immobilized. I had the image of drowning and reaching out for a hand to help pull me above the abyss, but finding none.

Words of affirmation and encouragement from my husband and friends didn't penetrate the fog I found myself in the middle of. I prayed and prayed, but still no direction or answers or leadings. I was at an impasse. Then yesterday I received words of affirmation from a colleague. They weren't much different from what I had been hearing from my support system, but for some reason it finally broke through and changed my outlook on the situation. Since then, creativity and ideas are flowing.

What a blessing to receive a word of encouragement when I needed it the most. My friend Sandra's words were aptly spoken, like apples of gold in settings of silver. May I look for those opportunities to speak words of encouragement in a dark situation to those I meet.

Thanks Sandra. This one's for you! :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Thoughts - Part Two

A fresh pallet, a blank page, an open calendar, with days stretched before us, awaiting God's touch in our lives. May 2012 be a year of new opportunities and horizons. A chance to stretch and grow in our faith. Another moment of choosing to rest in God's presence and to be the person He desires for us to be. May this be the year we draw in a deeper and closer relationship with our Heavenly Father. He's reaching out....will you answer His call?