Friday, January 20, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

I've only read one other book by Michelle Griep, and I liked it well enough to keep a watch on her name. The Captive Heart released in October, and I finally had a chance to read it. I'm so glad I did! Here's a short blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

Proper English governess Eleanor Morgan flees to the colonies to escape the wrath of a brute of an employer. When the Charles Town family she’s to work for never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is forced to settle for the only reputable choice remaining to her—marriage to a man she’s never met. Trapper and tracker Samuel Heath is a hardened survivor used to getting his own way by brain or by brawn, and he’s determined to find a mother for his young daughter. But finding a wife proves to be impossible. No upstanding woman wants to marry a murderer.

The Captive Heart was one of my favorite novels in some time. Maybe because Griep did such an amazing job of sweeping me straight into the wooded colonies and the struggles occurring there. At times I felt more as if I was watching a movie than reading, and that only enhanced my enjoyment of this book.

I fell in love not only with the setting, but with these two characters--three if you count Samuel's daughter, Grace. Samuel was such a strong male lead, and Griep balanced that strength with emotion that only served to deepen his character on every page. Adding Eleanor into the mix, a woman who only rose to the challenges placed in front of her, made this book a story I didn't want to put down. The plot was well paced, the story elements organic, and the ending...well one that definitely delivered a sigh-worthy smile. I happily recommend The Captive Heart, and you can purchase it here.

Happy reading, Friends!

Monday, January 16, 2017

God Interrupted

Recently I was having a quiet morning with God. It'd been a busy week, and I'll be honest, I was beyond spiritually dry. I'd sat my devotional and my Bible on the counter, grabbed a cup of coffee, and perched on my stool. Then I invited God to just talk to me right there at my counter. And you know what, he did:) Isn't that just like our Father? He longs for time with us.

The conversation flowed as I flipped through the passages he directed me to and pondered the insight he delivered. It soothed my soul. Then right in the middle of our talk, my phone dinged. I'd had it near me because one of the devotionals I do is on it. I couldn't help my eyes, they cut to the side to see who'd texted or emailed. Turns out it was an important text that I believed I needed to answer. So I grabbed my phone and did just that, then sat it down and picked up with where God and I were at. Another minute and another ding from my phone. Another item I felt I needed to answer, so I did. As I returned once again to my Bible, another beep erupted from my phone and as I reached for it, God delivered a picture straight to my heart.

It was of myself at a dinner table in deep, intimate conversation with a friend. I never saw their face, but I know our conversation was important. Right in the middle of their speaking, another person approached and interrupted...and I gave them my full attention leaving my friend open-mouthed and mid-sentence. Then after I finished my new conversation, I turned and expected for my friend to continue as if nothing strange had occurred.

And I thought, Lord, I'd never do that to someone. To which he replied, "You just did. To me."

Friends, how easy it is to let distractions around us interrupt God's voice. Oh, may we not do that! If we wouldn't let someone break into our conversation with a friend, let us definitely not do it with our God. Protect your time. God may not be physically present in it, but his presence is still there. He is still there. Wanting to talk if we'll only stay engaged and focused with him.

So put aside the distractions. Sit with him. Listen to him. Commune with him. You'll be amazed at all he has to say if you'll only listen.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - Never Forget by Jody Hedlund

I've been a fan of Jody Hedlund's for several years now, so I was anxiously awaiting her newest book in the "Beacons of Hope" series (which I'd thought she'd finished!), Never Forget. I had it in my hands towards the tail end of our Christmas Break and enjoyed my last weekend off snuggled up and reading it. It was wonderful--no surprise there:) Here's a short blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island June 1880 Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves? Abbie Watson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves. Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past. Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse. The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband? 

The set-up for this book completely intrigued me. I was hooked as soon as I saw the blurb. And the story did not disappoint. The interactions between Abbie and Nathanial...well, let's just say they were exactly what each other needed. But not only did I love watching their relationship develop--and wonder how it could survive the truth once it inevitably came out--I also loved Abby's relationship with her Gramps. He was a wonderful addition to the story that only deepened its layers.

Never Forget was a treat to read. I've come to know what to expect from Hedlund's books, yet they never feel like I've read them before. She's a trusted author who once again weaved a unique story that still delivers a fresh happy ending. And while this is book 5 in the "Beacons of Hope" series, it is very much a stand-alone as well. Feel free to start with this one and work your way through the others:) You can purchase Never Forget here

Happy reading, Friends!

***I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.***

Monday, January 9, 2017

Whose Side is He On Anyway?

I was reading recently in Joshua right at the point where Joshua is nearing Jericho. You know, that large city with an even larger wall around it? The one he was supposed to conquer? Well, that evening he camped beside city and the commander of the Lord's army came to speak to him. Here's the passage that stopped me:

Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"
"Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come." Joshua 5:13-14

That one little word neither is what hitched me up. I'd never really paused on it before because I was so excited that Joshua had this encounter. But this time that word caused me to stop. See, so often when God shows up in the midst of our circumstances in a big way, we naturally assume he's on our side! He's here to fight on our behalf and take down our enemies--and he does fight for us! Yet look again at that passage. Whose side is he on? Neither.

He's not on our side or our enemy's side...he just IS. He's the Great I Am, and his ultimate goal is for HIS success, not ours. Saying that, however, doesn't diminish his love for us, because nothing can dim the light of his love--it's bottomless, unfailing, and soul-quenching. But at the end of the day it's not about his being on our side, it's about his glory being seen, and if we experience a success because of that then wonderful! But if we experience a set-back, then let's remember there's a much bigger picture than the tiny piece of it we see.

God is our protector. He's our provider. He's our healer. He lights our way, gives us guidance, and delivers us from our enemies. But he is not our teammate. He's our Sovereign Father. He sees the beginning from the end and holds time in his hand. Let's trust him with whatever we're facing right now knowing that every success points to him and every set-back has a reason. Nothing is wasted with our God. Nothing.

And he loves you so very much.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - Concealed Identity by Jessica Patch

Christmas Break is officially ending at the Tuttle household. I've been especially quiet over here as I've been hanging out with my family and taking a bit of a social media break. Or at least a pause:) Which has also allowed me to do some reading! I'm excited today to share Jessica Patch's newest LIS. Here's a blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

After Holt McKnight's criminal informant disappears, the DEA agent must go undercover to get close to the missing man's sister, who may know more than she's letting on. But when Blair Sullivan's attacked, it's up to him to protect her—without blowing his cover. Blair isn't sure she can trust her new neighbor, Holt. After all, the last charming and handsome man she fell for was her late husband, and he turned out to be the brother of a ruthless drug lord. Yet when it's clear the target on her back is somehow linked to her past, she has no choice but to accept Holt's protection. Even if getting close is the last thing her scarred heart can handle.

With her strong leads that match each other so well, the twists you never see coming, and those little bits of humor that perfectly balance the suspense, Patch is an author whose books I cannot wait to read. Concealed Identity gives us another story filled with everything you've come to expect from her books. The plot moves quickly and intricately even within the shorter length LIS tend to be. Patch connects you well to her characters and the setting, bringing you directly into the story within the first pages. And even though conflict comes up, it's always resolved into a very happily (and believable) ever after.

Looking forward to the next of her books--which should be here yet this year! For now you can purchase Concealed Identity here :) Happy reading, Friends!

***I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.***

Monday, December 19, 2016

What a Gift!

I was thinking of John 3:16 this week. Well, can't say I was really thinking of the exact words, but I was thinking of gifts. Which made me think of God's big gift: His son. Which then led me to the words I learned before I can ever first memory verse...probably yours too:

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NASV

Now that's the version I learned it in and still the one that rolls through my mind, but I have to say I do love swapping out the "begotten" for "one and only". Jesus was God's "one and only" son.

Anyway, as I sat there with those familiar words, God does as only He can do and gave me a new insight on them. It's stuck with me this week, and while this may be an insight you've already been given, it was powerful to me and I wanted to share. You know, sometimes the most obvious of things we don't see. So here it is...

We envision this verse through our eyes today. Eyes that haven't really observed the offering of our children toward gods as a sacrifice. But back then? gods demanded sacrifice and so often it involved the peoples' children. What a price to pay...and they did! But the One true God flipped that on its end when He sent his son. See, while all the other gods asked for the peoples' children as a sacrifice to please them, God sent His as a sacrifice to save us.

Can you even imagine how they read this verse? What it meant to them? What God truly did? Oh what a bottomless love for us! And it wasn't the first time. Go back to the foreshadowing of all this, when Abraham took Isaac up to that mountain, and God had him put his son on an altar. Only He didn't allow Abraham to sacrifice him, instead He sent a ram. And the blood of the animals for years to come would have to try to meet what no one could until Jesus Christ came and died on that cross.

The one true sacrifice. Perfectly blameless and holy. Infinite wrapped in finite clothing. The only One who could truly pay the cost for our sins. God's son.

God didn't hold back. He gave once--to us--what all the other gods had asked for repeatedly, from us. And His gift still gives today. It still covers every mistake, every dark moment, every sin we've every even thought of. The gift of His son is one that cannot be taken back or exchanged. It's one-size-fits-all and can be afforded by anyone. All you have to do is ask, and then believe in faith. The only sacrifice God wants on your part is to lay down your will and take his. That's it.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8

***this is a repost from December 2013

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bookshelf Friday - The Thorn Healer by Pepper D. Basham

Christmas is coming!! That means two things when it comes to books. First, you'll have a few days to treat yourself to a new read while you snuggle up by your twinkling Christmas tree lights. Second, you're making your list and checking it twice! Well, this book should be on it. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of a world at war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans and, much to Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of them. August Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents, but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he find Hot Springs and the intriguing, Jessica Ross, a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance, but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs. Will August’s tender pursuit show Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a ‘true’ enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?

The Thorn Healer is the third and final in the "Penned in Time" series from Basham. However, if you haven't read the other two, you will easily be able to jump into this book as a stand-alone title. While you'll most likely return for the other two, starting here is fine.

Basham has a way with words that suits her to this time period. Her characters are always well fleshed out, believable, and multi-layered--as are her plots. Her stories move at a pace that is neither rushed or stilted, and The Thorn Healer only reinforces this fact. I loved that in this book Basham didn't shy away from a tough subject like prejudice and that we were allowed to see a slice of history others may have overlooked. Basham is known for doing her research of both the time period and locale for her books, and it only enriches the story she weaves.

If you're looking for a read for yourself or a friend, I highly recommend the entire "Penned in Time" series. You can purchase The Thorn Healer here or find out more info on the others.

Happy reading, friends!