Friday, July 31, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth Vogt

Beth Vogt was here earlier this week talking about finding beauty in imperfection. If you missed it, you can read the post here:) Today we're taking time to check out her newest book, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Beth's one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, so I've been waiting for this book to release. It came out earlier this month, and I was excited to get my hands on it. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side.

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

First, I'll admit to pure excitement over the setting of this book. Destin, Florida is one of my favorite places to be, so seeing it front and center in Vogt's book only created a familiar feel for this story. Beyond that though, the characters were two I truly enjoyed growing to know. Both Vanessa and Logan are well fleshed out with believable struggles that lend themselves to their conflict. It makes sense why these two aren't together, and there's enough to question whether or not this reconciliation will happen.

But, it's a contemporary romance, so the reader goes into the book knowing the happily-ever-after will happen, and Vogt does not disappoint! Being able to balance that given and yet entertain a reader is no easy task, and Vogt delivers along with laughter and grace and just enough unexpected moments to keep the reader turning the page. And the wedding when it finally arrives? Definitely worth every minute leading up to it.

Another great book by Beth Vogt. A clean romance with two engaging leads, a spiritual thread that isn't preachy, and a sigh-worthy ending, Crazy Little Thing Called Love is the must-read beginning to this new series.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Beauty of Imperfection by Beth Vogt

So excited to welcome Beth Vogt here today:) I've had the joy of becoming friends with this amazing author, grandmother, mom, encourager and above all, woman of God. It's such a treat to have her here sharing her heart on my One Word theme this year: Masterpiece. Let me get out of the way and allow her the floor!

Beth Vogt: The Beauty of Imperfection

If I’m not careful, I can stumble over the word masterpiece.

Michelangelo’s David.
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

World-renowned masterpieces. Perfect pieces of art, right?

But if we were able to have a conversation with the artists, they would know where the imperfections were in their creations. The “oh, I hope no one sees that mistake” moments that happened during the creative process. Maybe the slip-ups are hidden – but they are still there.

And the masterpiece is no less beautiful.

The Japanese have a cultural thread known as “wabi-sabi.” At it’s core, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and insight in earthiness – of desiring authenticity above all else.

“Wabi-sabi understands the tender, raw beauty of a gray December landscape and the aching elegance of an abandoned building or shed. It celebrates cracks and crevices and rot and all the other marks that time and weather and use leave behind. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly.” ~Robyn Griggs Lawrence, “Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Imperfection”

Embracing imperfection – finding beauty in something that is marred, faulty? What a reflection of God’s love for us. While we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), God showed his love for imperfect us.

And because of God’s life-changing love for me, I am able to see myself as beautiful – imperfectly so. 

LOVE!! Thanks so much for stopping by, Beth!

I'll be reviewing Beth's new book, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, this Friday. For now, you can learn more about it or Beth here:

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A 2015 RITA® Finalist and a 2015 and 2014 Carol Award finalist, Beth is a contemporary romance novelist with Howard Books. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015 she introduced her destination wedding series with both an e-novella, Can’t Buy Me Love (May) and a novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (June). Connect with Beth at

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Siren's Fury by Mary Weber

I'm not sure who was more excited for this book to come out, my daughter or me. Siren's Fury is the sequel to Mary Weber's Siren's Storm, which ended on a cliff-hanger. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

Nym risked her life to save Faelen, her homeland, from a losing war, only to discover that the shapeshifter Draewulf has stolen everything she holds dear. But when the repulsive monster robs Nym of her storm-summoning abilities as well, the beautiful Elemental realizes her war is only just beginning.
Now powerless to control the elements that once emboldened her, Nym stows away on an airship traveling to the metallic kingdom of Bron. She must stop Draewulf. But the horrors he’s brought to life and the secrets of Bron are more than Nym bargained for. Then the disturbing Lord Myles tempts her with new powers that could destroy the monster, and Nym must decide whether she can compromise in the name of good even if it costs her very soul.
As she navigates the stark industrial cityscape of Bron, Nym is faced with an impossible choice: change the future with one slice of a blade . . . or sacrifice the entire kingdom for the one thing her heart just can’t let go.

I'll be honest here, I'm only at the beginning of this book--my daughter had her hands on it first. But what I can tell you is this, Weber is masterful at pulling you fully into her story world. Nothing she writes about actually exists, and yet I feel I've traveled there and met these people myself. Each character is unique and 100% true to their personality. Each home, town, and kingdom vividly plays in my mind because of Weber's descriptions. And the storyline snags you immediately.

In Siren's Fury I love the choices Nym must face. They seem larger than life on the page and yet remain relatable to anyone reading. And while I beyond enjoy reading these books too, they are written for the YA crowd who need an alternative to the darker choices currently flooding shelves in their section. Weber not only provides a striking alternative, she does it amazingly well. She doesn't shrink away from the topic of darkness or evil but uses it to let light and hope shine brightly in authentic ways. She never contrives situations to preach at her audience, but simply shares truth as it pours naturally from her through these characters and this story.

And she always leaves you waiting for the next book. (or so I'm told...again, my daughter finished it first!)

I highly recommend Mary Weber's books. If you haven't read Storm Siren you should start there. But I warn you, pick up Siren's Fury at the same time because you'll want it beside you when you finish the first. You can purchase them both here and here.

Happy reading, friends!

PS - If you haven't gotten to know the author behind the books, you need to. She is an amazingly cool and sweet woman who loves her readers. You can meet her at her website here or follow her on Facebook here

Monday, July 20, 2015

Beautiful Fragrance

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7 

Last week we talked about how Jesus removes the stench of our past, and I wanted to return to it today. Because he doesn’t simply remove the odor, he replaces it with something of beauty; something fresh and clean.
Hyssop was used in some very key points in the Bible; it's sturdy build and aromatic scent made it an herb often chosen. It’s no surprise that we see it here too in reference to cleansing us. And as a girl, I love this passage.
See, there’s this huge business out there for all these pretty body scrubs and special soaps. There are stores that specialize strictly in this industry. And we women love it. Sure, we could take a shower with a bar of Dial soap and be clean, but we want to smell pretty. There’s just something about walking out of a shower not only spotless but with a fresh aroma radiating off of us.
Do we really thing Jesus would do anything less with us spiritually?
He is a God who loves to delight. He specializes in details. His love for you knows no bounds. So there’s no way he’s stopping at making us white as snow. Oh, that part is the amazing part. The extension of mercy and grace. The beautiful sacrifice he made to remove our sins from us because of his great love. And he could have stopped there.
But he didn’t. He covers us in a new aroma so that we are not only clean, we smell amazing too.
Don’t ever doubt that the God who is crazy-in-love with you isn’t extravagant with that same love. He’s not a just-enough God, he’s an God of abundance. And his love is focused squarely on you. He’s removed your past as far as the east is from the west and then drenched you in a new scent that is pleasing not only to him but to those around you.
Breath it in today.

Lord, today let me stop breathing in the smell of my past and help me to inhale the beautiful new aroma you’ve bathed me in. Let it fill my senses until the only thing I know is you. Help me to see the burning brightness of my new life in you and to walk in the confidence of someone washed cleaned by your love and spritzed by your spirit.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah Ladd

I had the joy and pleasure of meeting Sarah Ladd a few years back. She was an incredibly sweet woman, and I couldn't wait to pick up one of her books--which ended up pulling me into her first series, "Whispers on the Moors". Having thoroughly enjoyed it, I then waited for The Curiosity Keeper to come out. It recently did, so here's a small blurb and then we'll chat on the other side!

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

From the first pages I liked Camille. It was easy to see she had a less than ideal relationship with her parents--her mother wasn't there and her father wished she was a boy--but even in the face of her situation, she has a strength. Along with, what I felt, was a quick wit. She definitely can take care of herself.

Jonathan is a wonderful match for Camille. Strong and caring, he winds up at her doorstep when she needs him most. This first interaction leads to him protecting Camille when she is snagged deeper into the plot of the missing ruby.

Ladd does a fantastic job of embedding the reader into the setting of each scene. Her descriptions are so natural they simply weave throughout the passage until the world builds around you, be it a dark alley of London, Camille's run-down curiosity shop, lush gardens, or great halls. There is also enough suspense to keep you turning pages while never too much to overshadow the sweet romance growing between Camille and Jonathan. I truly enjoyed how all the pieces of this novel fit together and simultaneously couldn't wait for the end but also didn't want it--I hate closing the book on a wonderful novel:)

If you love this time period, sweet romances, or even a hint of suspense, I highly recommend The Curiosity Keeper. You can purchase it here. Happy reading, friends!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Fresh Clothes

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. John 11: 33

There is so much about this actual passage of Lazarus’ death that shows such a tender concern for us. Your worries Jesus shows up for, your sorrows he weeps with, and your burdens he carries. Why? Because he is deeply in love with you. He knows your heart. He holds it in his hand. What touches your heart touches his. Don’t ever think differently.
If you have time, read all of John 11 and you’ll see this play out. The other point that we need to see today is Martha’s reactions to Jesus in this passage. When he first shows up, Lazarus is dead. Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again, and she does not doubt who Jesus is or the power he holds. She believes. Believes that anything Jesus says he can do, he can do. But if you drop down in the passage a little ways, you’ll see when Jesus stands before Lazarus’ tomb and tells them to roll away the stone, Martha’s reaction changes slightly. She questions him about the stench that will come when they roll away the stone.
For Mary, Jesus could do anything except take away the nasty odor clinging to the grave.
Oh, are we like Mary. So many of us believe in the power of Jesus. We believe he is the Son of God sent to die on a cross. We believe he conquered death so we can live. Yet when it comes to our sins, we don’t believe he can remove the stink of them from our lives.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus’ power does not stop at simply resurrecting our spiritual lives. He doesn’t only give life, he gives life abundantly. Life filled with a beautiful aroma. He loves us enough to weep with us, and too much to leave us wrapped in old stinky clothes.
You are his child, and you receive his best.
Which means wiping your tears, removing the odor from your past life, and wrapping you in fresh clothes.

Lord today let me know without question that you have removed all of my past. There is no stink left because you’ve washed me clean. Anything that has tried to cling to me, let it be gone today in this moment. Help me to see myself as you have made me. Loved and radiant in you. Amen.

Note for today: I had the joy of writing for Happy Sis Magazine's current issue - a new magazine for women. You can check out their site here and look for my article, "A Confident Clean" in their third issue, Self-Confidence.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Married 'til Monday by Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter has long been one of my favorite authors. If she has a book out, I pick it up. A series? Even better. And Married "til Monday is the final in her Chapel Springs Series--one I've loved. Here's a small blurb, and we'll chat on the other side:)

Ryan McKinley has tried to move on from his ex-wife, Abby. He’s sulked, he’s gotten angry, and ultimately he bought her dream house. Big mistake. Living alone in the massive two-story has only made him miss her more. When her parents call him out of the blue about their anniversary party in Summer Harbor, Maine, Ryan believes God has dropped a golden opportunity straight in his lap.
Abby McKinley never exactly told her parents about the divorce. A strained relationship with her dad has culminated in a distant relationship with her parents, but she’s finally succumbed to her mom’s pressure to make the drive for their 35th-anniversary party.
Then Ryan shows up on her doorstep, looking as handsome as ever. When he insists he’s going to Summer Harbor, with or without her, Abby knows she can’t say no. Her parents still think they’re married and now Ryan knows it too. It’s just a one-week road trip with the man who broke her heart. What could possibly go wrong?

In Married 'til Monday, Denise takes a small departure from your typical romance to give us a story of reconciliation. Still, this story is packed full of pursuit and romance in much the way readers have come to expect from Denise. She writes strong leads, and this book is no exception.

What I loved about this book was that the finger of blame didn't point in one direction. This was truly a story of growth for both characters. Moments of humbleness, moments of understanding, and a true picture of forgiveness and love. Healing occurred on so many levels though these characters, and hope was seen in their relationship. No easy answers were reached, which rang true to life. Life is messy, but there is hope in it--especially when we're willing to wade through the muck of our past, dig deep, and allow God to heal us.

Even in the midst of all these pages, Denise does a beautiful job of showing true romance. Maybe because true romance and love isn't always pretty. In fact, it's in the messes that love can be seen best. It's easy to love someone when things are going well, but to walk them through some ugly places? To forgive? To keep loving? That's the love that stands strong, and it's also an amazing picture of God's love.

Married 'til Monday was a wonderful end to this series. As a returning reader you get to see all the characters you fell in love with over the first books. If you're a new reader to the series, you'll easily jump right in without feeling lost, but you'll want to go back and get to know this family by the time you're done:) It's definitely a series I'll keep on my shelf.

Married 'til Monday can be purchased here. Happy reading, friends!

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Display of His Splendor

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Have you ever collected anything? Or known someone who did? It became their pride and joy. Each one accounted for, kept perfectly clean, restored to its original beauty, and often on display for all to see. It’s something dearly loved and you desire to share it.
I see a lot of the same thing when I read this verse. Oh, God doesn’t collect us like some sort of hobby; frankly, we’re far too valuable for that. Like a collection, we belong to him, but rather than an inanimate object to stick on a shelf, we are his children. Of far more worth than any other possession he has. (And he owns the entire world, so let that sink in a moment.)
What I love so much about this verse is how God cares for us. He doesn’t leave us with the dust of life, the grime of our days. No, he places beauty over our hurts, and gives us joy in our sadness so that we can once again sing. Then he sets us out for all to see, because he takes such joy in us.
It’s like a parent showing off his child. And God is the biggest show-off when it comes to his children. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for us. His love knows no bounds. We are a display of his splendor, bursting with beauty for all to see.
Including him.
Because where he finds his greatest joy is in you.

Lord today wash over me with a new crown. Let all the ashes of my days be swept away. Fill me with joy and singing. Let me become a walking display of your splendor for all to see, and reveal to me a heavenly glimpse of your abounding delight and love for me. Amen.