Friday, December 19, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

I have loved this series by Denise Hunter, so when The Wishing Season released last week, I knew I was going to read it. It's the third in the group, so let's look at the blurb, and I'll see you on the other side:)

Spirited PJ McKinley has the touch when it comes to food. Her dream of opening her own restaurant is just one building short of reality. So when a Chapel Springs resident offers her beloved ancestral home to the applicant with the best plan for the house, PJ believes it’s a contest she was meant to win.

Contractor ColeEvans is confident, professional, and swoon-worthy—but this former foster kid knows his life could have turned out very differently. When Cole discovers the contest, he believes his home for foster kids in transition has found its saving grace. All he has to do is convince the owner that an out-of-towner with a not-for-profit enterprise is good for the community.

But when the eccentric philanthropist sees PJ and Cole’s proposals, she makes an unexpected decision: the pair will share the house for a year to show what their ideas are made of. Now, with Cole and the foster kids upstairs and PJ and the restaurant below, day-to-day life has turned into out-and-out competition—with some seriously flirtatious hallway encounters on the side. Turns out in this competition, it’s not just the house on the line, it’s their hearts.

Ok, so first that cover is amazing. I love the color and their smiles; a total win. Second, the story completely captivated me (side note: I happen to have a current hero who I think would be BFF's with Cole, so that drew me in even more) from the moment I read the first sentence. Denise opens this book with the H/H meeting in an unconventional way. It made me laugh, while also setting up immediate obstacles for them to overcome.

As usual, Denise is amazing with the chemistry between her two leads. She also writes some of the best leading men out there. Here characters are always imperfect and relatable, which allows her to organically weave in a story of grace and faith...because we are all imperfect. We are all in need of God. And rather than preaching at us, her stories simply show the testimony of her characters' lives. The Wishing Season was no exception. In fact, I think it may now be my favorite in the series with PJ's quirky ways and Cole's past hurts that are handled so well. They made a great pair.

Once again you'll be treated to laughter, love, and hope when you pick up this book. A wonderful way to enjoy time by the Christmas tree and a few moments of rest in the middle of this season. I give The Wishing Season 5 out of 5 stars and you can purchase it here.

And speaking of rest, I'll be taking time with the family to unwind and unplug over the next couple of weeks. I'll be back January 5th for the new year.

Merry Christmas everyone!

If you'd like to see a break-down of what my stars equal, check out my page My Ratings System to the right there. And a big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.
Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the experience of falling in love vicariously through her characters and can expect a happily-ever-after sigh as they close the pages of her books.
In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!
When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys.

Learn more about Denise when you visit her website:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

A quote from the best book on earth.

The true Reason for the season. Merry Christmas friends:)

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Believe...

We hear this word a LOT this season, but believe in what? A red man and eight flying reindeer? Nine if you count the one with the shiny red nose.

Or is it believe in the goodness of man? Joy? Happiness? Kindness? Humanity.

What exactly are we supposed to believe in?

Can I share that there's only one thing to believe in, not only this season but in all the seasons of our lives? Only one thing that brings goodness, joy, happiness, and laughter. Only one thing that pulls us from the depths of sadness or depression and sets our feet firmly in the light. Only one thing that washes us whiter than the snow many of us see. Only one thing that can remove our past and gives us a future.

Only One who has given the ultimate gift that is soaked in unconditional love. One who wants nothing more than for you to place your belief in Him.

Because every day you believe in something. And while believing in joy is wonderful, how about believing in the One who created it? Believing in kindness is beautiful, but why not believe in the One who enables us to be kind? Believing in a man with a red suit is a fun tradition, but believing in the One who's red blood fell as a sacrifice for every single one of us will change your life.

What are you believing in this Christmas?

But these [the gospel] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - One December Night by Melissa Tagg and other fun stuff:)

Before I get started I need to let you know who won my November Bookshelf...
Jessica Jaroch
you win the book of your choice. Just let me know which you'd like and I"ll get it to you!

As for today's bookshelf, I wanted to highlight one of my friend's books because she's doing something super cool, she's giving it away for free! It's a novella ebook that ties into a small town she created called Whisper Shore. If you've read other books by Melissa Tagg, you'll not only recognize the town but maybe even some of the people:) Here's a blurb and then I'll tell you how to snag it on the other side.

Librarian Pennilynn Baxter likes life the way she likes her bookshelves—neat and tidy, arranged just so. Niggling doubts aside, getting engaged to the nice man she’s been dating for two years is the obvious next step, right?
But on the snowy evening of the expected proposal, Penn discovers someone’s been squatting in the old Victorian house she inherited from her grandparents. She finds herself back in picturesque Whisper Shore, Michigan, facing off with an intruder named Will who may not be what he seems.
As charming as the house he’s taken over, Will pushes past the reserve that has kept Penn from living the brave life she craves. And one December night in the house she used to love in the town she used to adore changes everything.
With cold nights and brightly lit Christmas trees to curl up next to, tis the season for reading. It you'd like to snag Melissa's novella, just click right here and download it from the blog post. And while you're there, check out her website and learn more about her and her books. Trust me, you'll LOVE them...and they make great stocking stuffers:)
Oh, and here's two other pretty neat giveaways going on right now by a few other friends. Each giveaway involves one of my favorite things...books! Enjoy:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Don't Pull That Trigger

credit: lamnee on
I was having a talk with a group of ladies this week and somehow we ended up on the subject of rejection. And believe me, it's a subject I know well. I'm a writer who's yet to be published:) But it's also a subject so many of us feel. We're women. We've been through junior high and high school. We've had relationships and friendships. We've walked into a room where no one talks to us or we've had people, friends, husbands, or family members turn on us. If we're walking on this earth, we've experienced rejection. And for women who are so relational it can cut deep.

But here's the thing, while we can't stop rejection, we can stop letting it be a trigger. Stop letting it determine how we feel, the decisions we make, or how we see ourselves. Because while living down here on this terra firma means we'll encounter rejection, being a daughter of the King means we'll never be rejected.

When we know who we are in Him, we can be secure in how people see us. Oh, rejection will never cause us to break into song or skip down our path, but we don't have to allow ourselves to be defined by it. Our emotions and well-being don't have to be swayed by it. We can realize that our acceptance need only be found in our Father. We can decide that when the answer is "no" that He's still working out the plan for our lives. We can understand that not everyone is going to love us, but God always has and always will.

And that is when we start to overcome rejection rather than letting it overcome us.

How do you handle rejection when it comes your way? Are you standing on the firm ground of who God created you to be and resting in His arms? I pray today you find that spot and stick:) 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Storm Siren by Mary Weber and my monthly giveaway

This book kept making an appearance around my other author friends' pages and posts. The cover intrigued me, but I'm not a huge YA reader and definitely not big on fantasy. Finally curiosity (and amazing reviews) tugged me over, and I purchased a copy. I am beyond giddy that I did! Here's a blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

In a world at war, a slave girl's lethal curse could become one kingdom's weapon of salvation. If the curse - and the girl - can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn't merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth - meaning, she shouldn't even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she's being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn't want to be the weapon they've all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

It took me a few chapters to sink into the world of Faelen, but I honestly cannot say if that was me or the writing. I did feel the pace pick up around chapter five for me, and by that point I was so sucked in I struggled to put the book down and stay productive in my own little world. With each page I fell deeper into this story, hungry to know what would happen, how things would work out for Nym, and what, exactly, was going on around her. Tears were shed, gasps were made, heart fluttering occurred, and by the time I flipped the last page of this book in a genre I hardly ever touch I was reminded of a fact I've forgotten in the last few years...

Great writing, great characters, and great story all eclipse genre.

Mary Weber has crafted a world and characters that will attach themselves to you, staying alive in your heart and mind long after you put this book down. She also will leave you counting down the days until Siren's Fury (the sequel) comes out. And let me tell you, currently there's 180 days and counting...

Until then, if you haven't already, I highly suggest picking up Storm Siren and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Happy Friday!

And it's also time for my monthly bookshelf giveaway. If you would like a chance at one of the books I reviewed in November, just leave a comment here (the list and links of those reviews is at the very bottom of this post). I'll announce the winner on next week's Bookshelf Friday, and that person can pick a book from my November shelf, and I'll mail it to them. Happy reading:)

M. Christine Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. She lives on the breathtaking California coast with her three homeschooled children and an engineering husband who looks strikingly similar to Wolverine. 

Her writing experience includes card copy for Hallmark, articles and short stories for newspapers and e-zines, and educational curriculum for a non-profit, although she can also type a mean grocery list when necessary. On her days off, you can find her penning book reviews or conducting silly interviews here at amid drinking lattes and instructing her kids on the finer aspects of world domination.

You can connect with Mary on her website:

November Bookshelf:
Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund
A November Bride by Beth Vogt
The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thinking Outside the Box - a guest post by the awesome Jessica Patch

Hey all, I wanted to welcome my dear friend, Jess Patch here today. She's taking the floor with a devotion and a glimpse at her new Christmas Novella, Hope Under Mistletoe. Oh, and she's even giving it away for free! So keep reading to get to know Jess, her heart, and her sweet and sassy Christmas novella.

Thank you, Susan, for having me today! I feel taller over here. I like it. (Hardy har 
har... I may or may not be slightly taller than shorty here.) 

But I digress, so back to Jess...
Today, I want to talk about thinking outside the box. Doing things differently.

Let’s take a look at a small excerpt from Hope Under Mistletoe, my Christmas novella:

     He placed a cup of steaming coffee at her fingertips. She lifted it and savored the warm rush down to her stomach. “This is good.”
     “I can pour more than a nickel draft.”
     Eden winced. “I didn’t mean to imply that.”
     “Sure you didn’t.”
     Eden scanned the room. Walnut tables. Shiny hardwood flooring and walls. An old-fashioned juke box in the corner.
     The awkward silence grew deafening.
     “What’s back there?” She pointed to the archway beside the bathrooms.
     “Game room. Pool tables…air hockey.” He crunched into the peppermint.
     She chuckled. “You can take the boy out of the minor hockey leagues but…”
     Knox’s grin faded. “Yeah.” Longing filled his eyes. He’d come home six years earlier when his mother had taken ill with cancer, bought this old building and remodeled it himself.
     “How big is it?” This place was huge.
     “Go see for yourself.”
     Eden marched into the back room. Spacious. A stage. A drum set and keys. “Is there sound equipment in here, too?”
     Knox nodded. “Live bands.”
     She whirled around. “I need this bar.”
     Knox popped another peppermint stick. “You sound like half the town now.”
     She frowned. “We have no place to hold our Christmas cantata practices or fill Christmas baskets, hold the coat drive…have Sunday morning services.”
     Knox crossed his arms and cocked his head. “Whoa. Wait a minute. You want to have church…in my bar?”
     “Yes, and I want you to offer it free of charge.”
     Knox’s raspy laugh bounced off the high wooden ceiling. He bent over cackling. Mocking her. “You been checked against the boards one too many times? I can’t have you coming in here converting customers. I’ll go broke.”
     “I’m not asking to hand out tracts on Saturday nights. We need a place.” And if a few patrons heard the Good News, so be it. Maybe Pop would come back to church—if they brought church to him.

Prior to this, Eden’s church has burned to the ground and they didn’t have the funds to purchase new equipment or even rent a place. Looking at Knox’s bar, she saw an opportunity. She thought outside the box. Here are a few of her thoughts:

     Pastor Gabe inhaled. “I have to agree with Eden. The truth is we might be able to make a difference in the lives of those who frequent the bar, people who try to numb their pain with the bottle and drink away their problems. We have a real solution. Plus, we’re not paying a dime, we have free use of sound equipment and instruments—which we can’t afford to buy or rent—and it seems like Mr. Everhart is rather agreeable to our needs.”
    Thank you, Gabe. Eden leaned forward. “The hurting people in the bars aren’t going to waltz through the church doors. We’re going to have to take the church to them. It’s a mission field.” Excitement bubbled in Eden’s chest. “Who knows what God will do? This is the season for miracles, isn’t it? New birth. Good tidings of joy and peace. We could be a Christmas miracle for someone…for many.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NET) says, “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We’re instructed to go out and be the hands and feet of Christ. As the body of Christ. I think sometimes we tend to get set in our ways, and while the Gospel and message of truth remain the same, our approach at times need to change. I’m not talking about gimmicks or marketing the church. I’m not for that at all. I’m talking about finding new ways to cultivate relationships with people. Instead of expecting them to simply come to us. I’m talking about going to them and building relationships. Showing them through actions that Christ loves everyone.

This is what happens when Eden and the new pastor of the church think outside the box. The bar won’t come to them. So they go to the bar. Not to Bible thump. Not to preach hell and damnation.

They go and hold their services, serve the community, and hold Bible studies. What happens inside that bar? Well, you’ll have to read the novella. But I can tell you that living a life devoted to God, showing compassion and love without any judgment brings hope and while not every person may slip into the back room and cling to the life, some will. And you don’t need to feel as if you’ve labored in vain. You never know when you’re sowing seeds or watering them.

But you have to think outside the box. Miracles can happen!

How has someone shown you the love of Jesus with their simple actions?

Have you subscribed to the Patched In Newsletter? I’d love for you to and as a thank you gift, you’ll receive Hope Under Mistletoe for FREE! (Susan again...if you haven't, you really, really should! Not only is this an amazing novella, but Jess's newsletters are packed with not only news but fun and tons of encouragement. And she won't spam you, promise. )

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational romantic suspense and contemporary romance. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with ice-cold Perrier and adventurous trips in the name of research. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer's class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, dominating her son at board games, and collecting recipes to wonderful dishes she'll probably never cook. She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

Connect with Jessica on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and her WEBSITE.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time for Thanks:)

I'm interrupting my normal Quotable Wednesday to give thanks. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving after all:)

It's been one long year, but as we're nearing the end of it, all I can say is God is so very, very good. He is faithful and extraordinary in his love. I've been blessed with family and friends who make me smile every single day. I have shelter and food and warmth. I am free from my past and have an abundant future, freedom in my Lord. 

There is nothing more this girl needs:)

Share your thanks today! And have a blessed Thanksgiving. I'm taking the rest of the week off and the weekend. My good friend, Jessica Patch, will be here on Monday with a post. Don't miss it. Her humor and her heart for God are amazing! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Going on a Treasure Hunt

I read this verse recently and it so stuck with me:

"Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. That’s right—if you make Insight your priority, and won’t take no for an answer, Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:1-5
photo credit: Stoon at

Ok. First of all, who out of us as kids didn't like going on a treasure hunt? We were all sure we could find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the "X" that marked the spot. Not only was there fun in the expedition, but there was the anticipation of the end of the journey. We were on a hunt for treasure and nothing would stop us!

I want that same feeling when pursuing God's wisdom. When pursuing him. And that's what this verse is all about. And let's be clear, this verse doesn't reference "fear-of-God" as us cowering in the corner...I mean, how is that fun to find? It's referring to a holy reverence of God. Our pastor often relates this to electricity. You have a healthy fear of its power, don't you? You're not trembling every time you flip on a light switch and are in relationship with it, but you're not about to hold a live wire and step into a puddle. You understand the amazing power behind electricity.

That's what the fear of God is. Knowing him so intimately that you understand his awesome power and thus have a complete respect for it. But you don't simply know and respect that power, no, you understand that power is focused on you. On helping you live an abundant life and on protecting you.

But the verse above digs even deeper for that treasure. It's not only the intimate relationship with God, it's the knowledge of God. Left to our own we don't always make the best decisions. We can't see the whole picture. We are easily swayed by feelings. But when we consult God we tap into a bottomless wisdom that will never steer us wrong. I'd rather use his wisdom any day over my own.

So, I'm ready to go on that treasure hunt. How about you?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

I was beyond excited when this book came in the mail this week. Even better? A snow storm arrived at the same time. What's a girl to do when snowed in with a great book? Lose herself in it:) Here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side.

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she's left destitute and with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He's just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other's dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife's death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.

This story took off at a great pace with Emma's boat sinking and her near drowning. I immediately loved the relationship between her and her brother. When they are rescued and brought to town, Emma's plight continued. Young and single, always desiring a home of her own, it made sense for her to marry Patrick. Still, I did struggle with how quickly the thought was introduced to the two and how they both went through with it.

That struggle was a very minor blip on my enjoyment of this book. Patrick was so incredibly sweet and true, and yet possessed such strength. I loved seeing the theme of forgiveness woven through his story and his never-failing integrity. Each decision he made was true to his character and made sense with the outside circumstances, even if it didn't immediately seem to. Hedlund made sure to tie up all the threads.

As for Emma, her journey of finding a home drove all she did. She's loyal and loving, and though she makes mistakes, she learns. Her biggest lesson? Home is found with God. She and Patrick were a pair I won't soon forget.

All together I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I shouldn't be surprised. Jody Hedlund has a way of weaving a tale that always pulls you in. She never delivers needless angst, but rather let's the plot develop in an authentic way. And she's great at romance. Like amazing.

I happily give Love Unexpected 5 out of 5 stars. If you'd like to purchase it, you can here. After all that shopping next week, you'll want to curl up and relax with this wonderful book!

Jody has written novels for the last 20 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).
Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), became a best seller and has won multiple awards.
Since then she’s gone on to publish numerous best-selling and award-winning books. You can learn more about Jody at her website, here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

I love this quote. Yes, I know CS Lewis used it in relation to the story of Narnia, but as with everything in that book it also points to our relationship with God. This quote reminds me to keep my eyes on God rather than what I'm seeking (because really, isn't he all we should seek?) and somehow in doing that, He'll get me right to where I need to be. And it's never by the same path I took last time, and definitely not a path someone else has taken. 

Love that!

Anyone else experience this in their life?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Who Needs to be Still?

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

A few months back this verse came up in our Sunday service and our pastor served it up with a twist. After going home and looking at the context of this Psalm along with several commentaries, I could see this verse in a different light, and it's stuck with me ever since.

See, we believe this verse is written to us. Encouraging us to be still and know that God is in control. To stop our worrying and working and simply be in His presence allowing Him to do His work. And I believe that idea to be Biblical. It's something we see over and over in Scripture and such an important part of our walk to learn. But that's not what I believe this verse is referring to anymore. If you study this verse you see it's God talking to those who oppose His people. It's His commanding voice saying to those who dare fight against His beloved:

Be still and know that I am God!

In other words, quit it! Stop it! Back off! Do you hear His voice here? Can you see Him saying this to our enemies? How often we forget His power! How often we forget that in His presence ALL must bow. That with one word He can calm any storm. He doesn't simply have authority, He is authority! Oh, amen!

So whatever you are facing today know you don't have to face it alone. Understand that with one word from His mouth God can bring stillness, peace, reconciliation, wholeness, victory, because He is God. And the enemy knows it.

Now we need to believe it. I challenge you today, for whatever circumstance that feels like it is advancing on you, speak back to it: Be still and know that HE is God! And I am His!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - A November Bride by Beth Vogt

First, the winner of my October Bookshelf is Sarah Monzon! Sarah, catch me here or message me on Facebook which of my October Books you'll like, and I'll get it to you.

As for what's on November's shelf...
Wrapping up the Year of Weddings novellas by Zondervan's is Beth Vogt, and I just love her:) One of the sweetest ladies you'll meet, a friend, and a wonderful writer, I was super-excited to pick up this book. Here's a short blurb:

Can a decades-long friendship marred by two romantic missteps ever lead to happily ever after? Sadie McAllister's clients know how lucky they are to have her: an ultra-fastidious personal chef who leaves behind a spotless kitchen and a week's worth of mouth-watering meals. Erik Davis, her best friend since middle school, is content to enjoy Sadie's culinary skills too while maintaining their "friends only" status. Most of his energy is focused on his just-launched freelance business and casual dates that never come close to a commitment. But when Sadie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime cooking job across country, Erik realizes maybe he's taken his best friend for granted. 
Even more, he's about to lose his only chance for lasting love. How can Erik convince Sadie that the well-known adage "Marry your best friend" just might apply to them? With God's help, can they both move past their assumptions about each other and their future? Should Sadie and Erik risk taking their relationship to the romantic point of no return? If they do, their decades-long friendship is as a good as done... unless it ends at the altar.

Let me start by saying how much I've loved the covers of these novellas, and Beth's is no different. Absolutely gorgeous! Personally I think a girl should get to wear a wedding dress every decade or so:) As for the story. I'll admit the idea of two friends falling in love grabbed me since I married my "just friend" and we've been happily-ever-after ever since, so I have a soft spot for these stories. Beth's characters didn't disappoint. I loved their laughter and their relationship that already was, so I was quickly invested into what would happen if they tried to navigate it into something more. They had good reasons for hesitation, knowing each other as well as they did and their weaknesses, but doesn't that make love stronger? Knowing the weaknesses and loving in spite?

Sadie and Erik were two very likable characters who you'll root for. The story, being a novella, was truly short and sweet. Another great read from Beth, and a great way to wrap up a fun year of this collection. You can purchase A November Bride here.
Beth is also writing a destination wedding series which she'll lead into with another novella called Can't Buy Me Love in spring, so watch for it! In the meantime you can learn a little more about Beth below:)
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth on her website.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

It's a hard truth, but a truth nonetheless. But an even bigger truth is that God is in every single low point with us. He walks through the valleys just as much as he does over the mountaintops. We are never alone. And the lessons from the valleys often become our most cherished.

Praying you feel him holding you close today:)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tilling the Ground

So we're working on a few home improvement projects around our house. It keeps snowballing too! Hubby and I tend to be a bit OCD, so having things all over the place tends to make us feel a bit out of control, but this weekend I looked around and realized we had to have the mess if we were ever going to enjoy the finished project.

Isn't that true about life? It made me think of all the verses about planting, watering, and harvesting. There's one specific step that came to mind as I was reading these; tilling. Breaking up the ground. It's hard work. It causes a mess. It's destructive...but with a purpose. And I see that in our lives and relationships at times.

Sometimes in life we get to plant seeds in others; we're there but for a moment, dropping into their lives something that will begin to germinate. Other times we get to water; be the encouragement, the laughter, simply the fun and love in their lives. Still at different times we get to reap the harvest; walk them into a relationship with the Lord. Oh the pure excitement and joy! But there's one other step that none of us really like. It's when we're the tillers. Our role is to break up that ground, be the friction, cause disruption. No, not purposefully out of spite, but for whatever reason it's the role you play in someone's life in that moment.

You're causing a mess so that God can clean it up.

And let me be clear, I've been on both ends of this tilling. That's because for God to do a work sometimes he needs to break things in us first, and he often uses others to do this. But he never leaves things broken. He smooths it over and cleans it up.

Where are you at today? Planting, watering, harvesting, or tilling? Wherever it is remember, God is working his best in your life. Even when it doesn't look it, even when things around you are a mess, he's bringing order smack dab into the middle of it. Wait for it:)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall (and my monthly giveaway)

Earlier this year one of my dear friends released her first book, The Hesitant Heiress, to amazing reviews. Now her second book in this series is being released. Here's a blurb on The Bound Heart, and we'll chat on the other side!

One accidental kiss—that was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or desire to fall for her best friend Lawry Hampton. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn—Meredyth can’t deny that what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web of deceit she’s convinced she deserves, and accept that God’s plan for her life includes redemption…and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?

I'll admit to this one being my favorite of the bunch. There was just something so sweet about Meredith and Lawry's relationship. Add to it the redemption of Meredith as she realizes God's forgiveness and grace in the middle of her was a beautiful story! I love stories that give hope, that show that no one is perfect and then use that backdrop to bring in God's all-consuming love, removing chains and setting captives free. That's exactly what The Bound Heart does.

It's also an amazing romance between two characters you root for from their first kiss in chapter one. One kiss truly did throw both their worlds upside down, and the rest of the book is them tilting back to exactly where they belong. 

If you're looking for a heartfelt weekend read, you'll love The Bound Heart and can purchase it here. Dawn's doing a giveaway on her blog too, which you can enter here!

Also, it's time for my monthly bookshelf giveaway. If you need to read any of the reviews off my October bookshelf, the links are below. Just leave a comment if you're interested in winning your choice of one of them! Winner announced next Friday:)

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

Kept by Sally Bradley

Unraveled by Heidi McCahan

Streams in the Desert by LB Cowman

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

Having done this a time or two in my life, I realize the truth in this statement. Sometimes we so badly want to do things our way that we step out of his will and onto our own path, and yet our way only leads to failed plans. And while there are moments along God's path that feel like failure, I've also discover those failures He'll always use. Moments with Him are never wasted, and they always lead to the best destinations.

Keep your feet firmly planted in Him:)

Monday, November 3, 2014



They are everywhere. Especially in this day and age. And more and more we are trying to identify ourselves by them.

How many followers do I have? How many likes? What does the scale say? My age. Number of friends. How many miles I ran or calories I inhaled. Even how many grey hairs are on this head.  I am sure you can add other numbers that are out there. If you're a writer, a homeschool mom, a business owner or even in ministry, you have numbers you watch. Thing is, we can watch them too closely. We can start to allow them to tell us who we are and what we are worth; our significance. Yet there is only one number we need to look toward. Only one number that can save and tell us anything about ourselves. Only one number that can show us our worth: One.

“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14

Look at that verse. We all want to be perfect, don't we? It's why we look at those numbers so intently. If I could just weight "X" amount. If I could only score an "X" in that game or on that test. If I have "X" dollars in the bank. If I was still "X" years old. If I obtained "X" many followers...then I'd be worth something. I'd be a type of perfect the world accepts and can use.

But we are missing out on what God has already done. No number can replace what his one sacrifice did on that cross, and when we accept him as Lord and Savior we are viewed as perfect in his sight. Oh, here on earth we are still in the process of being made holy (see the 2nd half of that verse) but in Heaven our names are written down, and God only sees us through the lens of his son's sacrifice.

One God.
One sacrifice.
One truth.

One. It is the only number that can tell you your worth. He created you. He knows how valuable you are. How beautiful. How unique. And even if you had been the only one on this planet, he still would have died just for you.

So today let's stop looking at all the numbers swirling around us and look to the One who loves us beyond measure:)

What numbers do you struggle attaching significance to in your life?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay's debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was one of my favorite reads last year. And I wasn't the only one to love this book. Katherine has won several awards for her debut, and they were all well-deserved. So when her second book came out, I knew I had to snap it up! Here's a blurb, and we'll chat on the other side:)

Sometimes the courage to face your greatest fears comes only when you've run out of ways to escape.

At the end of a long night, Elizabeth leans against the industrial oven and takes in her kingdom. Once vibrant and flawless, evenings in the kitchen now feel chaotic and exhausting. She's lost her culinary magic, and business is slowing down.

When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvyc elebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shift beneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she's losing her dream.

And her means of escape.

When her mother died, Elizabeth fled home and the overwhelming sense of pain and loss. But fifteen years later, with no other escapes available, she now returns. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabeth finds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister’s side in Seattle as Jane undergoes chemotherapy.

As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature, Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can a New York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she once abandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her?

Ok. First off, this book made me hungry--and in a good way! I'd love to actually meet Lizzy and let her cook for me, because the woman has skills. Setting all that aside though, let's talk about the rest of this book; Lizzy's slow evolution in releasing her past, reestablishing her future, and reclaiming a relationship with her sister...along with finding a handsome man along the way.

One of the things I really enjoy about Katherine's books is how the romance she adds to her stories is always at a slow burn.  It's not the central theme, yet it is still 100% there. I so enjoy watching her characters' lives progress as they work through change and sometimes pain, yet still find happiness--and not simply by falling in love. Lizzy & Jane was no different. Of course with Jane having cancer, this was a hard read, but Katherine handled the situation beautifully. I loved how these two sisters find healing in their relationship after years. I also really, really loved how caring for Jane helped Lizzy rediscover why she's a chef and how she can use that talent.

All together I loved this book. The characters were all rich and so well written. The romance well placed and incredibly sweet. The plot full of healing and restoration. And the ending brought them all full circle and into a new place that left me with hope and joy for their futures. Always a great way to read The End:)

I happily give Lizzy & Jane 5 out of 5 stars and you can purchase Lizzy & Jane  here.

If you'd like to see a break-down of what my stars equal, check out my page My Ratings System to the right there. And a big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Meet Katherine Reay:
What to say? . . . I am a writer, a wife, a mom, a runner, a tennis player, a tae kwon do black belt (how random is that?), a wanna be chef, a disorganized housekeeper, but compulsive vacuumist, and a horrific navigator. One of my son’s favorite stories to tell friends is that I tend to argue with the car’s GPS before going my own way — sure that I know better. It’s a gift…

It’s hard to introduce myself in a few adjectives. We are all such a complex and unique jumble of attributes — God made us that way and he isn’t done yet. So I may have some new adds tomorrow. I started my professional career in marketing and I’ve morphed into a novelist. I like this much better. Fiction is powerful stuff, I think. It allows us to convey truth in meaningful and palatable ways — one reading of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and you’ve got the whole gospel Narnia-style without ever leaving an amazing adventure.
But to have a really good story — you have to engage a complex and authentic character. If I can relate to/empathize with/care about a character, then her journey becomes mine and I learn about myself and the world around me — perhaps in ways I never imagined. And that’s provocative…

You can connect further with Katherine at her website: