Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

I'm off this week wrapping up the last week of our homeschool year and celebrating the Holiday. But I couldn't leave this day empty without simply saying THANK YOU to those who give daily for the freedoms I enjoy. For protecting me and my family even at a huge sacrifice to you and yours. Thank you could never be said enough.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - The Wood's Edge by Lori Benton

I must confess, Lori Benton isn't someone I've read a lot of. But this book intrigued me. It was the cover that first pulled me in, then the blurb sealed the deal. Well, that, and I so often hear how wonderful her books are. I'm so glad I picked this one up. Here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!


The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths. 
 
On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples. 
 
When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

Lori Benton has a way with words, and this book proves that point. This story spans nearly twenty years and is seen from many of the character's viewpoints. While that's not typical for this genre, Lori balances their voices well and uses it to pull your emotions straight onto the page. While the middle slows a tad, the beginning starts at a fast pace and the ending is more than satisfying. 

Another aspect that helps broaden the depth of this book is the amount of research Benton had to put into it. I love history, and this definitely dug into the setting she used without once reading like a dry history book. It was rich, colorful, endearing...and I could definitely see why so many people are fan's of Benton's books.

I happily give The Wood's Edge 4 out of 5 stars and you can purchase it here

Happy reading, friends!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Uniquely You


Sixty queens there may be, and eighty concubines, and virgins beyond number, but my dove, my perfect one, is unique…Song of Songs 6:8-9

That verse is packed with so much. King Solomon had many women before him. As women, we can relate to feeling lost in the middle of a group. Unable to stand out. We compare ourselves and our bodies to the women beside us. For whatever reason, it’s how we are wired, and we have a love/hate relationship with it.

But what does God say? See, the Song of Songs was written really from His heart to ours, He simply used Solomon as a stand-in. Knowing that fact makes the above Truth stand out all the more. He’s saying that no matter how many people surround us, no matter how our voices may blend with theirs, how our stories may sound similar, our abilities overlap, or even how we may see their reflection when we look in the mirror, we are unique. A one-of-a-kind where God is concerned.

Oh, He may have created us similar to others in many ways, but He did not use the same mold. No carbon copies here. Reread today’s verse. It makes a point of showing a roomful of women, and yet God’s Beloved (hint, that’s you) isn’t lost inside. He sees her and calls her unique.

Similarities are wonderful. They draw us together as friends, allow us to help each other along life’s path, even double our power when reaching others. Yet it’s our tiny little differences that make a huge impact on the world. Differences that we may not be able to spot, but that God put in us and wants to cultivate if we’ll let him.

To do that we need to stop thinking we are lost in a crowd and start realizing that no matter how much we may look like the person beside us, we are 100% unique.

Lord, help us today to see the unique abilities you’ve given us. Open our eyes to the way our stories and talents are different from those around us. Give us fresh eyes to the matchless person you created us to be and flood us with excitement and ideas on how we can best reach others for you.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - A Bouquet of Novellas

So life has been crazy busy lately. But I'm a reader. I seriously love books (probably why I write, huh?). With limited time what's a girl to do? Easy: novellas! And there's tons of great ones out there. One of the best things about novellas isn't just a great story in a short time, but it's getting to know a new author. Like that handshake spot before you realize you want to become lifelong friends:) So today I'm sharing novellas from some of my favorite authors. Fun stories at a great price! Cannot beat that.

First up is Jessica Patch. This is the second novella in her "Season's of Hope" series. Sign up for her newsletter (here) and you'll receive her novellas free before they go up on Amazon!

When Pastor Gabe asks Audrey Gilbraith to use her mad florist skills to help him design a prayer garden, she’s all in, especially since it helps take her mind off the fact she’s about to lose her job and her apartment. But working closely with Gabe without falling for him is complicated. She’s not pastor’s wife material, and she has the past to prove it. 

Gabriel Brookson wants out of Audrey’s friend-zone, but when he pursues her romantically, he ruffles more than a few feathers in his congregation. How much is he willing to give up for this wonderful, quirky woman, and will Audrey accept him if he risks it all? 


Connect with Jessica at: jessicarpatch.com

You can purchase Just the Way You Are here.



Next is Melissa Tagg. She put this novella out as a way to introduce her new "Walker Family" series. With a quaint town and fun characters, you'll love not only this story but the full-length novels that follow.
Ava Kingsley and Seth Walker might be the most unlikely friends ever. The only thing these two polar opposites have in common is a knack for wordsmithing. Back in college, they were known for their written sparring in the campus newspaper's popular "He Says/She Says" column. 

At their ten-year college reunion, they pick up right where they left off. Except this time their squabbling leads to a surprising turn: friendship and a year-long exchange of emails. So when Ava approaches a crossroads in her athletics department career in Minnesota, Seth is quick to offer the open apartment above the restaurant he's been remodeling in Maple Valley, Iowa.

Ava doesn't know where her career will lead her next, but she's starting to suspect she might see Seth as more than a pen pal. Which would be exciting...except for the fact that he only sees her as a friend.

As Maple Valley grows on her, Ava wonders if there might be something here for her even though Seth is unavailable. And maybe, just maybe, after all the words the two of them have exchanged over the years, they'll finally be able to say the three that matter most.


Connect with Melissa at melissatagg.com and download her novella here.

This next novella is hot off the press. It's by the amazing Beth Vogt and sets up her upcoming "Destination Wedding" series. I'm in love with her heroine's name.
Bellamy grew up in a large, boisterous family. The Hillmans may not have had it all, but Bellamy learned how to stretch a dollar and make it look like she did. Now she’s marrying Reid Stanton, the man of her dreams. While planning their one-of-a-kind Manhattan destination wedding, Bellamy gets caught up in all things Pinterest. It starts out simply enough with a “Save the Date Destination Wedding” board. Then it’s the “Destination Wedding Dresses” and “Invitations” boards. As her ideas multiply, so does the cost of the wedding.

Before she realizes it, all her creative planning has decimated the budget. Can Bellamy make things right, or will the cost of the ultimate wedding be losing the man she loves?


Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com 

You can purchase Can't Buy Me Love here.




The final novella is by an author I haven't read in some time, but Janice Thompson always makes me laugh when I do. This is from a line of novellas released by Zondervan called "A Year of Weddings" and a new one comes out each month. So really, you could look up all of them and be set for the entire summer!

Mari Hays’s older sister Crystal is getting married, and Mari is ecstatic to be part of the wedding. But she soon finds her expected role of maid of honor has been delegated to the worst possible choice: Sienna Jameson. She’s catty, selfish, and totally into herself, and when Sienna discovers handsome professional baseball player Derrick Richardson is the best man, she sets her sights on her next boyfriend instead of on the wedding plans.

Meanwhile, Mari is determined to keep the glamorous event afloat. Wrapped up in dress fittings, bridal showers, and baking teacup-shaped cookies, she is shocked when Derrick has taken notice of her. In fact, he treats her like she’s a home run.

With the wedding day looming, an emotional and sensitive sister, a selfish maid of honor, and intense pressure from Crystal’s soon-to-be in-laws, Mari fears her attempts to make her sister’s wedding perfect will be for naught. Can Mari keep the waters calm until the bride and groom jet off for their honeymoon? And will she allow herself to be caught by Houston’s most eligible bachelor?

You can connect with Janice at janiceathompson.com and purchase her novella here.

There you have it! I'm sure there's many more out there, but this is a taste. If you know of others I might like, I'd love to hear it. In the meantime, if any of these authors are new to you, go check them out. And keep an eye out for their new releases:)

Happy reading, friends!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Every Detail


“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

I love this verse because it shows how God spares no expense on us. How he takes everything to completion, looks at every detail, and gives us even more than we need. He’s a God of details, and a God who loves to lavish us sometimes simply because he’s crazy in love with us.

God could have stopped at the garments of salvation. It’s all we really need. His largest sacrifice fulfilled a necessity we never could have attained ourselves: eternity with him. And rather than letting us walk around with tattered souls, he made sure we were clothed with his perfect salvation.

But he didn’t simply want for us to wear those basic garments. He went on to add a robe of his righteousness. Rather than saving us with our sins intact, God desired to robe us with freedom. His righteousness is pure beauty, and it’s how he sees us. 

And still he didn’t stop. Both of those coverings would have been more than enough, but then he added jewels. He is a God who loves to delight. Who always goes beyond what we could ask for or even imagine. Who lavishes blessings and beauty on us for one reason and one reason alone: he loves us.

We did nothing to deserve the garment of salvation. We have not earned the robe of righteousness. And we most definitely are not worthy of beautiful jewels…not on our own. But as his? Through him? In him? To him? Our worth is immeasurable because his love for us is incalculable. He’s in the big and the small of our lives. Every detail.

Lord, today we pray first that we can see your hand in every facet of our lives. Beyond that we pray we can accept your love and your desire to lavish that love on us. Help us to open our arms to your blessings. To see every way you pour into us. To feel the immense pleasure you have simply because we are yours. Impress on us today our immeasurable worth in you.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

Having read the first two in "The Porter Family" series by Becky Wade, I eagerly anticipated this book. A Love Like Ours is the third and final in the series, and Becky wraps it up with a cherry on top. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side:)


When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

Honestly, I don't know where to start. There was so, so, so much to love about this book. So let me begin with one of the secondaries, Zoe. It's a small thing, really, but she immediately endeared herself to me with the plight of her height. It was like Zoe had crawled into the younger-me's brain and pulled out my very dialogue. And this is how it is with Becky Wade's characters. Whether they take the main stage or a bit part, they are fully fleshed out and captivating. In all of her books I've never met a character I didn't like (unless, of course, I was supposed to--and even then the writer in me found pieces to like. But I digress...) and it's this very trait that keeps Becky high on my reading list.

Then you add in amazing male leads. Sigh-worthy, strong, flawed, believable guys that pair so well with the heroines of these books. I've come to expect these hero-qualities from Becky's writing, and once again she didn't disappoint. Becky manages to weave similar characteristics into her leading men without them every feeling redundant or stale. Quite the contrary, they leave you trusting her unique voice as an author and standing in line waiting for her next book to come out.

The romance between Lyndie and Jake was so well written and moved at just the right speed. I loved the history they shared and how this added sweet layers to their friendship and budding romance at the beginning. Best of all I truly enjoyed how Becky never fails to weave hope into her manuscripts. With romance, laughter, and engaging characters, Becky doesn't shy away from pointing everything back to God. She doesn't sugar coat, and she doesn't do fluff. She delivers clean entertainment that'll leave a smile on your face, a sigh on your lips, and you passing on the book because you simply can't keep it to yourself.

I highly recommend A Love Like Ours along with the other books in this series. You can purchase them here. Happy reading friends! And for those who might have missed it, here's Becky's devotional from Monday. Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Talking about Masterpiece, Jonah, and that Vine...A Devotional Vlog by Becky Wade

Hey all! I am super excited to welcome Becky Wade today. She's taking over today's post while I"m on vacation, so welcome her warmly:) I actually have been sitting on this vlog for a few weeks and cannot wait to share it. This is a word for you today! For women, moms, stay-at-home or go-to-work, young and old alike. So please pull up a chair and take a few minutes to let God minister through Becky and straight into your hearts today as she shares what God is saying to her about being a Masterpiece.

Go ahead and grab you Bibles (open on up to Jonah 4) and tea or coffee--wish I could have it with you!--and hit play. You're going to be blessed:)

And thank you so much Becky for being here today!
(Just an FYI, her camera wasn't playing nice when she filmed this, so there's a few blips where the picture freezes but the audio continues. So don't start whacking your computer thinking it's at fault. It's innocent, I promise:) )