Friday, October 24, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Kept by Sally Bradley

Today's book is another I literally stumbled across. After reading the blurb I snapped it up, and the timing was perfect! I got a cold and needed to rest, so I curled up with this book. Tough times, I tell ya, but somebody had to do it:) Here's the blurb for you all, and we'll chat on the other side!

Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago's lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman. 

Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father's sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can't help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she's longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again. 

When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes that her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who's gone too far and done too much. 

There was so much to love about this book. First off, the setting of Chicago was well described. I actually want the apartment Miska lived in, and that's saying a lot because I'm not a city girl. Second, the plot delivered a huge dose of hope. It may have come out of dark places, but isn't that where hope is needed the most and the backdrop with which we see it the best? And the characters? They were fully fleshed out and incredibly believable. Because of this, at times the book was hard to read. It's not a light, fluffy story, though Bradlely does an amazing job with layering in humor throughout her dialogue and character interactions. It was one thing I loved about Miska and Dillan, they'd make each other laugh which made me laugh. Still, it was hard to watch the choices Miska made, even if they were completely believable. Also, I struggled at times with Dillan's internals. It wasn't the negative thoughts or biases he portratyed internally at times--because as Christians we can all struggle through those thoughts--it was that I'd like to have seen him come to grips with them in a more concrete way. To acknowledge that perhaps, his heart needed a little changing too. While this was shown by the end in his actions, I'd have liked to see the full internal of these changing thoughts as well.

All that being said, this was a very well written and truthful book. It doesn't shy away from any of the hard issues many people are facing today. The lies they believe as truths and the actions they think are perfectly normal to take. It also deals with forgiveness and redemption in a beautiful way, and the hope that it leaves with the reader is the entire point of this story. God is seen in a big way, and that made me enjoy the story all the more.

I happily give Kept 4 out of 5 stars and you can purchase it here. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Quotable Wednesdays

I think this quote hits at the heart of one of the hardest things for us humans to do. Forgive ourselves. Our mistakes can play over and over and over again in our minds. But what if we looked at forgiving ourselves as CS Lewis suggests here? That to not forgive ourselves is setting ourselves above God?

If you've sat at his feet and asked for forgiveness, no matter what it was for, he's forgiven you.

Now it's time to stop playing God and forgive yourself.

Let it go.

And move on.

In complete freedom. Yes, there are consequences to our sin and poor choices, but there's also freedom when we release them.

I challenge you to lay it all at his feet and live in that freedom today:)

The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. John 8:36 (MSG)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spiritual Reflexes

I'd planned on posting last Friday, but due to being under the weather and my internet being down, well, I just missed it:) But I'm back today, feeling tons better and with wi-fi that works. So let's get a move on!

I took my kiddos to the doctor lately, a trip we all look so forward too...but it's necessary, so we go. While there, he performed this little test:

Praisaeng on Free Digital Photo's.

and my daughter's leg went flying.

She didn't think about it. It was a reflex. That is because a reflex, as defined in the dictionary, is an action "performed without conscious thought as an automatic response to a stimulus".  My Little didn't put any thought into her reaction, her body was conditioned to react the way it did.

Made me think. When I run into tough times in life or moments where I'm at a loss what to do, what is my spiritual reflex? Do I reach for my Bible? Hit my knees in prayer? Seek God's wisdom? Or do I fold under pressure and stress?

What about you?

Because we all have moments where life is hard. Sometimes it can seem to hit us from all angles, and the only way we'll make it through is if our reflex is to reach for God. No thought, no hesitation, but an immediate response to cling to Him. 

And He'll be there. Every time.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Short Break:)

I am currently with my BFF taking our youngests on a short trip to visit The American Girl Store while they're still young enough to want to go. Time moves too fast! And I don't want it to pass me by, so that means I'm gone today and Wednesday from here, but will be back Friday.

Breaks are good. Breaks to spend time with the people around you are even better! Take a second this week and have coffee with someone dear to you, call your mom, or hug your kiddo extra close. Stop and breath in the moment and take a mental picture! They're the best photos around.

Have a great week, friends!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Unraveled by Heidi McCahan

First off, the winner of my September Bookshelf giveaway is:

Carol Alexander!

Carol, email or Facebook me your choice from last month's Bookshelf Reviews, and I'll get it to you:)

Now onto building October's bookshelf...
I actually found Unraveled on Twitter when I connected with the author, Heidi McCahan. So for all you authors out there, Twitter does work:) Here's a blurb on the book, and we'll chat on the other side!

Blind-sided by her questionable fiance, Lauren Carter returns to the one place she's been avoiding, the place she used to call home. As she's forced to look into the eyes of her past and even worse, her unraveling future she discovers that running only leaves you out of breath on a dead end street. Will she choose to unveil the secrets that haunt her? Or will she bury them once and for all and embrace a new life so different from the one she once held dear?

Blake Tully, wildly successful and breathtakingly winsome owner of a new rafting business, finds Lauren's unexpected reappearance confusing. As he torments himself with what if's and what should've been's, he can't mistake the feeling that crawls down his spine every time he looks at her. Although she broke his heart once, he longs to give his childhood sweetheart another chance, but can he convince her to stop running away when life gets tough? And can he forgive her when he discovers the reason she's been hiding?

Follow the story of these two shattered hearts as they discover the beauty of grace and forgiveness.

There was so much to enjoy about this book. The rugged and beautiful state of Alaska as the setting, an old love reawakened, a small hint of mystery in our main character's past and the curiosity of what her future held. All those elements played together wonderfully in a mixture that pulled you forward through the book.

Blake and Lauren still very much have feelings for one another, but are the feelings simply nostalgia for the past or are they still in love today? And can they overcome the hurts from when Lauren left to build a future? 

I enjoyed getting to know these characters along with the town they lived in. There was just enough going on with secondary characters that the story felt fully fleshed out and three dimensional. There were a few editing issues, but not enough to bug me too much. Also, at times during the second half of the story things were not as smooth as the first. The story elements were all there, but at moments they felt rushed or not as seamlessly connected as the author stitched together in the beginning. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed this story and would definitely read another of Heidi's books. Neither points were enough to stop me from picking up her work again. Her characters were intriguing, the setting was gorgeous, and the story was full of forgiveness and love.

I happily give Unraveled 4 out of 5 stars, and you can purchase it here.

Happy Friday everyone!

Here’s the scoop from Heidi: I am a Northwest girl recently transplanted in the South, where I’m cultivating a writing career in the midst of mothering our three fabulous boys. When I’m not stepping on Legos, chauffeuring the fellas around suburbia or folding laundry, I like nothing more than to curl up with a great cup of coffee and a compelling read.

You can meet her at her site:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

Kind words make such a difference. They don't have to be flowery or full of beautiful prose, they simply need to be, well, kind.

Thank you
Good job
Cute outfit
Gorgeous smile
You CAN do it
You're such a help
and so on...

Their echoes truly are endless. Not only that, they spread. People who receive kindness are quicker to pass it on. So who can you pass kind words on to today?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Like a Pack of Wild Animals

So last week I was teaching my littlest all about environments, ecosystems, and all the living and non-living things in them. Not my favorite subject, but someone has to teach it and there were no subs available in the Tuttle household that day:)  Then that night a good friend of mine posed a question about church: why do we attend?

I watched the answers she received with great interest, and the question so stuck with me I was even thinking about it the next morning. It was as I lay in bed pondering that my youngest's science lesson collided with my friend's question.

Have you ever watched a pack of wild animals? Take zebras for instance. They travel in a herd and with good reasons. For food, raising their young, and most of all, protection. They circle around the youngest and weakest when lions come prowling for their dinner. Made me think of:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

And that then paired in my mind with this verse:

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help him up. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10

And then I began to think about how in Titus it talks about the older teaching the younger, being examples for them as they grow. As verse after verse about how we are called to help one another rose in my mind, I began to think how smart that pack of zebras was. What amazed me even more is how God truly created everything in nature as a picture of His perfect plan.

Bottom line? We go to church to praise, for sure. We go to church to take a dedicated moment of our busy weeks to connect with God. We go to church to grow and learn. But we also go to church for the community it builds around us. God is relational. He didn't create us to be alone on this earth. I mean, if that were the case he'd never have created Eve. But God didn't think it was good for man to be alone.

Can people in the church hurt us? For sure. Whenever you're dealing with people there's the chance of getting hurt. They are messy, imperfect, and rough on the edges...just like a pack of wild animals. But those wild animals seem to be onto something, because even when church resembles the rough edges more than the smooth, hopefully the people there are growing and connecting with grace.

Holding one another accountable.

Circling around those under attack.

Using their wisdom to help those spiritually younger than them.

And actively loving.

They are out there. I've seen both sides and can honestly say to you, loving churches are out there. Not perfect churches, but churches so full of God's love that it spills over from them and splashes all over you the minute you walk through their door.

Don't let yourself wander alone because of a bad experience when God so wants you to be part of a community. For someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Be where a hand is waiting to hold you up. Church.

If you live in the West Michigan area come check out Grand Rapids First.  But if you're from out of town and looking for a church in your area, check out Faith Happenings.