Friday, December 30, 2011

First Date - A Review

Addy Davidson doesn't want to be on TV. Let alone a reality TV show that the prize is being the prom date for the President's son. But she is. And then she meets Jonathon, the President's son, and sure he's cute, and now she only halfway doesn't want to be there. But evidently she's exactly where God wants her and the sooner she figures out that, the happier she'll be.

Let me just say that I loved this book. I got it in yesterday and started reading it about 3 hours ago. The story is a loose re-telling of the story of Esther. Once Addy accepts that she's where God wants her to be, she starts showing grace to the other contestants and being a genuine sweetheart. Her roommate, Kara, is such a likeable girl. Kara's the one that gets Addy to talk about her parents and their deaths on the mission field. Kara's also first one that Addy lets know she's a Christian. Jonathon is an amazing guy that has liked Addy from the first time that he saw her and she tells him that she doesn't want to be there. I love the fact that even though he didn't want to do the show either, he's doing it because he loves his family and that's important to him. Addy's Uncle Mike is the one that keeps telling Addy that God has a plan. The producer, Hank, is not a guy I liked. That's the way that it's supposed to be. I loved the way that Addy shared her faith with not only the President's son but also the producer who had been trying to get her off of the show from the start. While Addy wasn't the winner, she found that she was in God's eyes. He had placed her there at that time in order to be a light for Him. That made me think. Have I been in places that I normally wouldn't have been at just to glorify God? I can't honestly say that I have.

I am so happy to know that this is the first in a series or at least that there will be a sequel to it due out this next summer. I can't wait to read it.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson's program to review. I was only asked to give my honest opinion. The fact that I loved the book is a bonus!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck - A Review

Spoiled Charlotte Beck is on the verge of entering adulthood, but trouble still manages to follow her. British astronomer, Alex Hambly, needs to marry a wealthy American in order to save his family from ruin. Charlotte's father, Daniel, comes up with a plan that is mutually beneficial to both Alex and Charlotte - marry and not only will the Hambly family be saved from ruin, but Charlotte will get the college education that she longs for. Even though the couple can't stand each other, they agree to her father's terms. But what happens when their feelings change? Will they end the marriage or find a true love?

I really enjoyed this book. Kathleen Y'Barbo is humorous and I loved the situations that Charlotte frequently found herself in. This is the 3rd book in Kathleen's Women of the West series, but the other two books don't have to be read in order to understand this. Charlotte refuses to admit that her biggest fear is related to her late mother. Alex is very gentle with her when he finds that out. And it takes a heart to heart talk with her father to finally come to peace with things. Alex is a strong character that doesn't really like being told what to do. I admire his determination to save his family.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah for the purpose of review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A short fan fiction piece

Most of my friends and family know that I love the Harry Potter books. I'm involved in one of the online communities and every year, that community has a Holiday Calendar for the month of December.

This year, I wrote a short piece for it. I decided to post it here as well.

I won't usually use my blog to share any fan fiction pieces that I write. Just this one.

Rose's Christmas Miracle - a Harry Potter fan fiction

“…and that’s how it happened. The troll fell to the ground and your Grandma and I became inseparable,” Rose heard her father tell her children as she walked into the living room.

“Now Ron, don’t be telling those children things that will scare them,” Hermione admonished walking in a step behind her daughter. “I’m sure that Violet and Cassiopeia would much rather hear a Christmas tale as opposed to an old scary story. Wouldn’t you girls?”

The girls nodded at their grandmother, and catching sight of their mother began clamoring for a Christmas tale.

“Please Mum, tell us a story,” Cassie begged.

“Yes Mum, a Christmas story,” her twin, Violet begged.

Rose grinned as she joined her daughters by the fire. “I don’t think you’ve heard about how your father and I got together, finally, right girls?” Two curly heads shook their heads no.

“Well then, let me begin,” Rose exclaimed as she pulled her daughters close to snuggle while she told the tale. “Once upon a time…”

It was the week before Christmas and Rose Weasley was tired. She’d been burning the candle at both ends to keep up with her work in the Department of Mysteries as well as studying for the boards she needed to take to truly become an Unspeakable. Becoming an Unspeakable was unheard of for someone fresh out of Hogwarts. The usually organized young woman had somehow managed to not notice that Christmas had snuck up on her.

“Well, that’s it,” she announced to no one in particular as she surveyed her office. “I think I’m just going to have stop. My brain can’t take in any more.”

“Talking to yourself Weasley,” a masculine voice rang from the doorway. “You know what they say; talking to oneself is the first sign of going crazy.”

Rose started and with a glare turned toward the intruder.

“What’s it to you if I talk to myself? At least then, I don’t have to listen to your snide comments.” And with that, she gathered up her things and flounced out of the office without a look back at the young man who ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.

Why of all days does HE pick today to torment me,” she thought. She couldn’t help but noticing how tall he appeared or that he filled out his robes rather nicely after all of the Quidditch he’d played for his House at school. True, in school he only noticed her as competition for the top marks. He’d never noticed that she actually wanted him to see her for who she was and not for her family or her red hair or her intelligence. But to see her.

She’d known for the past couple of months that he was back from his trip abroad. He seemed to make it a point to make a snide remark whenever he saw her around the Ministry. And she usually had an apt comeback, but today she was just too tired and emotionally not up for their usual sparring.

The young man stood in the doorway of Rose’s office and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration as he watched the pretty young woman’s red curls bounce down her back as she stalked away from him.

Why do I always make a fool of myself around her,” he thought as he sighed and walked towards the lifts. “Even back in school when we were competing for the top spot, I couldn’t help it. She’s always been beautiful.”

Back in school, he did anything he could to get her to speak to him. Typically that ended up being some sort of prank or comment to get a rise out of her. They’d always shared a rivalry. But now that he’d been back in the country for the past couple of months, he knew he wanted more. He just couldn’t figure out how to stop making a fool of himself around her and let her see how much he fancied her.

Perhaps, I need a new approach,” he thought as he left the Ministry and headed towards the Leaky Cauldron.

Rose wandered aimlessly around Diagon Alley trying to get her temper under control. She didn’t notice the forlorn young man just inside the Leaky as she walked. She also didn’t notice the snow falling softly around her.

“Why can’t he just be nice to me? Why does he always make me so mad? Why can’t I let his teasing not bother me the way that I do James’, Teddy’s or Uncle George’s,” she asked herself stopping in front of Flourish & Blotts. She caught a glimpse of herself in the store’s window and looked hard. She saw a young woman with blue eyes, red curls, freckles, overall not beautiful, but certainly not a troll either.

“Because you love him Rosie,” she murmured softly. “And it hurts more than your cousins’ teasing because it’s him and he doesn’t see you as anything more than a pest.”

She reached up and brushed away the tear that escaped from her eye before squaring her shoulders and heading into Flourish & Blotts.

“Great. You idiot. You made her cry,” the young man muttered as he tossed some money on the table and hurried out of the Leaky. He knew that he had to figure out a way to tell her exactly how much she meant to him.

He stopped by the flower vendor just outside of Ollivander’s. “Flowers! That’s it! I can let her know how I feel with flowers. Today’s the 18th. So that means, a different bouquet every day until Christmas.”

He arranged with the vendor to have delivered to Rose that very day a bouquet of daisies and orchids. He took a minute to write a short note.

Rose – A beautiful flower such as yourself should have
someone who believes in the magic of romance (the orchids) and
loves your pure beauty (daisies). This is the first. Look for more.
Because I want to convince you that I love you. ~ Yours always.

He paid the vendor and arranged to have the bouquets, all but the last, he would deliver that himself on Christmas, delivered. The happy vendor set off to Flourish & Blotts to find the young lady while the young man melted into the shadows to watch quietly.

“Excuse me, miss,” a voice drew Rose out of the book she’d settled in with. “These are for you.”

She took the flowers from the vendor and breathed deeply of their fragrance. She read the short note and turned to the florist with a question.

“Do you know who these are from? I’m not seeing anyone.”

“Well miss, you must have an admirer – a secret one at that,” the florist said with a smile and left her to her flowers.

Over the next several days, Rose received bouquets of irises, sunflowers, carnations, wildflowers, and tulips.

She lined them up along her desk. “There’s magic of romance, purity, faith & hope, adoration, longevity, free-spiritedness, and perfect love. Someone’s obviously trying to tell me that he loves me, but who?”

She pulled out the note that was attached to the last bouquet of tulips.

My love for you is perfect. Like this tulip. I don’t deserve you.
Tomorrow’s Christmas. Meet me at noon at the Leaky. I’ll be
wearing your namesake. ~Yours always

Rose knew that she’d meet her admirer at noon. Partly to satisfy her curiosity and partly because her heart was hopeful.

Snow was falling softly as Rose approached the Leaky on Christmas Day a few minutes before noon. She was nervous. For all she knew, it could be one elaborate prank that her cousins dreamed up.

Inside, at a table by the window, the young man wearing a single red rose in his lapel was outwardly calm, but inside was a wreck. “What if she doesn’t come? Or what if she comes and sees me and doesn’t give me a chance?

Rose stepped inside the cozy inn and stood still for a moment not believing what her eyes were telling her.

“You,” she spat as she stalked towards his table. “How could you? Was this all some big joke to you? Obviously, I’m not a person to you. You take joy in seeing me hurt. Well, I’ll tell you this – I’m crushed. You’ve ruined my Christmas!” And with those words she turned and ran from the restaurant paying no heed to the tears falling freely down her cheeks.

“Rose, wait,” he said running to catch up. “Please listen.” He reached out and grabbed her arm. “This wasn’t a joke. And I hate seeing you hurt. Please. I’m sorry. I make a complete fool of myself every time I’m around you. I always have. But it’s only because I never knew what to say to you. Even in school. It was easier to spar with you than to talk to you. I’ve spent this past week trying to show you how much I care and kept hoping that you’d give me a chance. Oh sweetheart, please don’t cry.”

He pulled her into his arms and held her as she cried.

“Do you mean that,” she asked looking up at him with tears standing in her blue eyes. “Do you really mean you’re sorry?”

“So very much,” he replied as he wiped the tears from her cheeks. “And I know you hate me right now, but I hope that someday you’ll know just how much I love you. Here these are for you. Roses because they’re the flower that shows just how deeply I love you and red because I couldn’t think of any other color. I’ll do anything to let you believe that my love is true and to win yours, even if it takes an eternity.”

“I don’t think it’ll take that long,” she said as she nestled closer. “You see, I’ve loved you since our second year.”

At hearing those words from her, he bent his head and gently kissed her.

“Did they live happily ever after Mum,” Violet asked.

“Yes my dear they did,” Rose replied brushing a blonde curl off of her daughter’s forehead.

“So that’s why Daddy always gives you flowers every Christmas,” Cassie announced causing the adults to laugh.

“Speaking of him, where is that son-in-law of mine,” Ron asked his daughter.

“He had to work late. He’ll be here just as soon as he can,” she replied with a smile towards the doorway where her husband stood unnoticed by the rest of the room’s occupants.

“You mean right now,” Scorpius announced his presence as he stepped fully into the room.

“Daddy,” the twins squealed as a flurry of red and gold curls hurled across the room into his arms.

“I’m sorry I’m late. I got here just as soon as I could. Merry Christmas Ron, Hermione. Merry Christmas you two munchkins,” he said as he crossed the room to greet his wife.

“And Merry Christmas my sweet flower, my love,” he whispered to her. “Those bouquets were by far the best present I’ve ever given.”

“How much did you hear,” Rose asked softly.

“Only all of it,” he replied with a grin as he claimed her lips with his own. “You’re my Christmas miracle.”

The End

Disclaimer: The only things I own are my plotline, and Cassie and Violet. Everything else belongs to JK Rowling and the Harry Potter universe.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My two best friends finally got to meet

It's been a great week. I took Thursday off to go Christmas shopping. And I'm happy to say that I'm done. I spent 4 and a half hours and got it all done. Yay! My best friend, the one I refer to as my sister, is in town right now. I was so excited that she got to join me and my other best friend for our weekly Movie night. And I was so glad that they finally got to meet. Both had heard so much about the other one and had seen pictures, but now got to meet. I love both of these girls so much. They're the type of friend who cries with you, prays with you, will do crazy things with you, and supports you in everything. My life is so much fuller for knowing these two women.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grumble Hallelujah by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira

If you've ever been at the point where you're crying out to God, trying to find a way to praise Him in the midst of all the low moments in life, then you'd be please to know that there is hope. Written with a touch of humor, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivandeneria shares her experiences that show that there is a way out of that pit and that even while being in, the praise to God might not be shouted, but rather grumbled.

I found I could easily relate to some of the things that the author brings up. I've been at points in my life where my world's completely fallen apart and I don't begin to know how I'm supposed to praise God. But I've also had those mountaintop experiences too. She talks about how her outwardly her life was all put together, but then she admits that she was broken inside. She said that these hurts are meant to be grieved. When I read that, I was like "WOW." And my first thoughts went to the 10 year period I'd spent burying a deep hurt and not allowing myself to fully grieve. But what I also loved about this book was that she tells of how several different Bible characters had to reach that point where they begged for God to intervene so that they could fully enjoy their relationship with Him. Another thing that I loved about this book was that each chapter had both discussion questions and a prayer to make your own. Unlike most nonfiction books that had discussion questions that I'd ignore, I actually took the time to answer some, if not all of these.

I'm not a nonfiction reader. I typically don't like things that will make me face my faults. But I found I really enjoyed this book. I gained an understanding of how to really praise God through even the points in my life that aren't going the way that I'd like.

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Three years ago, Gideon Beiler broke Mattie Eash's heart when he ended their engagement. She left their small Amish community and moved to her brother's community where she started a successful cake making business and started to see someone new. When a devastating fire to her shop sends Mattie back home, she is forced to work closely with Gideon again. Gideon still loves her. Now she has to figure out exactly what she wants.

Having read a few Amish books in the past and found them terribly lacking, I typically stay away from Amish books. I've never given Cindy Woodsmall a chance due to my past experience with another author. This book pleasantly surprised me. It was a sweet story.

Mattie must learn to forgive Gideon for his past and attempt to work with him. She does that. But only after the man she's seeing visits and tells her what he sees. I loved Gideon. He kept doing little things to show Mattie how much he loved her. When they both are able to talk, Mattie's too scared to admit that she also still loves Gideon, but instead hides behind her current boyfriend as an excuse. What I loved about this is that she had to get to the point where she puts her fear aside and steps out on faith.

Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The Amish genre still isn't my favorite, but I wouldn't mind reading more by Cindy Woodsmall.

I received this book for free as a part of Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books Program to review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter

Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese share more than just a really close friendship. The four women are as close as sisters. They pray for each other, support each other in their various adventures, and they each want to find love. When the lumber mill closes and it appears that their little town is going to die, they formulate a plan to turn their small town into the romance capital by capitalizing on the name of the town, Smitten. Along the way, a little girl's faith, a country sensation hometown hero, and four different men help the girls to not only believe in the town but to also find their own happily ever afters.

I've read several novellas in the past that were written by various authors. None of them had the cohesiveness that this one shared. I've read books by Colleen Coble, but never anything by the other three authors in this book. I found the stories to be funny and unique. Each story itself tells of one particular couple - Natalie & Carson, Julia & Zak, Shelby & Nick, and Reese & Griffen. Yes, they are all in the others' "story" as well, but what also makes this book so different is that the story of the town and it's struggle and growth carries through all four stories.

The authors are real life best friends and I loved reading the interview with them about how each heroine is a little like one of them. Perhaps that's why this book worked so well when other novellas haven't. The authors really know each other and are familiar with their personalities. I look forward to reading the next Smitten book due out next year.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Today is a day to stop and give thanks. Today, households around the nation are going to be having family over and spending time together.

A brief History
Tradition holds that the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 between the Pilgrims and the Indians at Plymouth Rock. It was a way for the Pilgrims to thank the Indians for helping them to survive the harsh conditions of the New World and to thank God for a successful first harvest. President Lincoln is frequently credited with establishing Thanksgiving as we know it today. In October of 1863, he declared that the last Thursday in November would be a day set aside to give thanks to God and to pause in fighting. I find that rather interesting as the Civil War was at it's height during this time. Our country has been celebrating Thanksgiving since 1863 on an annual basis.

The traditions of football and parades started in the late 1800's and early 1900's. By the time of 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt felt that the country needed a specific day in which to set aside. He set aside the 4th Thursday in November as Thanksgiving day. His main reason was to give retailers more time before Christmas to sell their goods. This is especially important considering that the Great Depression was going on at this time and money was tight around the nation. On December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed the bill into law that officially set the date for Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November.

Things that I am thankful for

There are so many things I'm thankful for this year. I am thankful for...
  •  Family that love me
  • Friends
  •  A job that pays my bills
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Spending time every week with one of my best friends to watch a movie
  • My Mary Kay business and the things I've learned from it.
  • My sweet Kiki kitty who loves to cuddle with me
  • The freedom to worship God without being put to death
  • Salvation
  • The chance to read books and watch TV
  • Having friends that hold me accountable for all that I'm doing and learning.
  • The ability to laugh at my mistakes and to just enjoy life

I could go on and on with this list. Take some time today to remember this almost forgotten holiday. The stores will be there tomorrow. But today's a day to give thanks for what you have and to remember the One who gave it all to you. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

*history info came from Wikipedia, images from a google image thanksgiving search

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Georgie Gail is a telephone operator in Brenham, Texas. Luke Palmer is her new troubleman and bill collector. He's actually Lucious Landrum,an undercover Texas Ranger who is trying to capture a gang of train robbers. He doesn't expect a bird loving, outspoken telephone operator to get under his skin and become a distraction. She wasn't expecting her troubleman to steal her heart. When she is put in danger because of his mission, he realizes that there's more at stake than just the capture of the gang.

I've read several of Deeanne's books in the past. Like I've come to expect from her books, she had me laughing pretty early in the book. One of the things that I loved about both the hero and the heroine was that they had major faults. Georgie's was that she loved and wanted to preserve birds so much that she couldn't stand the thought or the site of bird parts being used in decorating women's hats, which caused her to snub the milliner. Luke's biggest fault is the fact that he's way too cocky. As a Ranger, he wears his arrogance on his sleeve. But as a troubleman, he's having to let others in and get close to them.

I loved the fact that the book was set in Brenham. I'm from Houston, and I've been to Brenham several times over the years. I could picture this little town in the early 1900's very easily. I also loved reading about the Rangers, especially in the author's note at the end. I learned a few things about Brenham and the Rangers that I didn't know before. Overall, this is a very light-hearted and fun book.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shadows in the Sand by Gayle Roper

Carrie is the owner of Carrie's Cafe in Seaside, New Jersey. Greg is the ex-cop & widower who is trying to live with the demons of his past. Carrie's past isn't all roses either. But when her dishwasher goes missing and then later turns up dead, and her waitress's strange behavior starts raising eyebrows, Carrie and Greg work together to figure out what exactly is going on. In the course of doing so, both must come face to face with past fears and learn to trust God and each other.

What a delight to be able to return to Seaside, New Jersey. I remember first "meeting" Greg back in Spring Rain. The story is fast paced and filled with touches of humor and suspense. One of the things that I loved about this book is the fact that forgivenss is one of the biggest themes in the book. Carrie must forgive her mother if she hopes to have a future free of anger and resentment. Greg must forgive himself for allowing his late wife to drive his car which resulted in the deaths of her and their children otherwise his guilt will eat him away. Andi, Carrie's waitress, must forgive her parents for taking her into a cult called The Pathway. Another thing I loved about this book is the fact that the characters felt real to me. I'd met a few of them before in the other Seaside books, and it was good to catch up with them. I loved the way that Twitter and Facebook played such a role in helping the cops apprehend the killer and all the other little details. Used to be the case that in a small town, everyone knew everyone's business. Now, while that's still true, Twitter and Facebook made it so much easier for the officials to know what was happening.

I really enjoyed this book. It's been a long time since I read one of Gayle Roper's books, and I plan on soon dusting off the ones I own and reading them again. I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am nature's greatest miracle

For the past several weeks, my sales director has had us reading certain scrolls from the book The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino (excellent book, I highly recommend it). Since early this summer, I've probably read this book at least 4 or 5 times. I should probably buy a copy as I keep checking out from the library.

But this week it's been really funny. All day, I've had running through my mind, the words from scroll 4, "I am nature's greatest miracle." Think about those words a minute. I'm a miracle. God knew me before I was born. It's really rather awesome to think about. And of all of the creations in nature, we as human beings are the only ones who are given the ability to appreciate the creation and nature. I mean, here I sit in my nice cozy apartment, listening to the rain (so desperately needed) pound against the pavement outside. My sweet, sweet Kiki (my cat, picture below) is currently no longer hiding behind the dryer or beneath the bed, but is curled up in my lap. And I've realized that I truly am nature's greatest miracle. I have the ear of One who love me. I can appreciate all that He's made.

Just think about it.

And if you find the time, go check out the Greatest Salesman in the World. For someone who doesn't usually read nonfiction, I found it to be very good. There are nuggets of wisdom all through it, like "today I will master my emotions," or "I will greet each day with love in my heart."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wedding Invitation by Alice J Wisler Review

Samantha Bravencourt receives an invitation to a wedding that changes her life. She attends the wedding only to discover that she's at the wrong one. But while staying with her aunt for the wedding, she runs into a former student of hers from the Philippines. This encounter with her former student eventually brings Carson Brylie, the only man she's ever loved and who broke her heart years ago, back into her life. Together Samantha and Carson face their shared past as they help one of their former students, Lien, in locating her mother.

This was a really good book. Interwoven with Sam's experience in the Philippines and the events that have brought Sam and Carson together, I found myself drawn into the story from the beginning. Sam isn't perfect. And each trip to North Carolina brings her failings a little more to light. It's while she's there at her aunt's home that Sam comes to the realization that perhaps she was wrong about Lien so many years ago. She realizes that she needs to let go of the past and ask Lien's forgiveness, which the girl graciously gives. Yet through it all, Sam is trying hard to deny her feelings for Carson. Feelings that she believes she has no right in feeling after their time in the Philippines. Carson's a gentle, yet strong, presence in her life. He pursues her relentlessly until they both admit how they feel about each other.

One of the things I loved about this book, was the mother-daughter or aunt-niece relationships that were built. Sam is very close to her mother. Yet she resents her mother's independence. Her aunt offers genuine love and encouragement that Sam's mother doesn't give her. Not that Sam's mother doesn't love her - she does; she just has a hard time telling Sam that. The bond of friendship is also very prevalent in the book. Sam's aunt shares a deep bond with the women who board at her home. A bond of friendship that goes very very deep. And she shows Sam how important little things are in life. Forgiveness is another big theme in the book. Sam must forgive Carson for breaking her heart and learn to trust him again. She seeks Lien's forgiveness for not believing in her innocence while in the Philippines. And overall, Sam must really learn to trust God when things are out of control.

I'd never read anything by Alice J Wisler before. In fact, I'd never even heard of her. I'm pleased to admit that I will be willing to try out some of her other books and see if I enjoyed them as much as I did this one.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review. I was not required to like the book, though I did so very much. My thoughts and my opinions are my own.

Couldn't Stay Awake - Review of Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Summary from the back of the book
Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely. Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands. But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find? Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

My thoughts
I am a huge fan of fantasy. I've read things from Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, to CS Lewis and Kathy Tyers. When I first saw this book, I was intrigued by the back cover summary as well as by the beautiful cover. As I started to read it, I grew more and more disappointed and frustrated. Maybe it's because this is book two in a series and I hadn't read the first one. Maybe it's because I couldn't get a good sense of what was really going on. I don't know. I just know that I struggled to read and to complete the book. I would read a couple of pages and then promptly fall asleep - even when I wasn't tired. It got to the point that I took the book with me to work to read on my lunch breaks, and that did help me to finish it.

I really liked Rose Red's character. She was fun and a free spirit. But she was in bondage and felt that her secret was dangerous. Prince Leo, I found him to be arrogant and rather spoiled. It seemed to me that he was determined to find this monster no matter the cost to him, Rose Red, or to his kingdom. I admit that the monster is supposed to show our own sinful natures and that each person must come to the recognition that they have a sinful nature. But I found it to be very disjointed in the plot.

I will give the author credit. She took her time in developing the characters and the story. Though she was a bit too descriptive and wordy for my tastes, she did a good job in writing her book.

As much as I adore fantasy novels and know how hard it is to find quality fantasy novels in the Christian fiction market, I'm sorry to say that I will not be reading anything else that Anne Elisabeth Stengl writes because I honestly did not like the book. Typically if I don't like a book by about the 4th or 5th chapter, I won't finish it. But I did force myself to finish the book so that I could leave an honest review.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to like the book. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons

Texan beauty, Amanda Belle, never really had to pay much attention to politics until the Civil War hits close to home for her. Prior to the outbreak of the war, she's been entertaining the company of Kent Littlefield, an officer in the Union Army. When Texas joins the Confederacy, her brother Daniel signs up with the men in gray. As the years of the war pass, Amanda's loyalty is divided between the man she loves and the family she holds dear. She questions her very faith when circumstances arise that shake her to her core. But through the course of the brutal war, will she rediscover her faith and who will be hurt by whatever decision she makes?

I love to read about the Civil War. It's really my favorite time period in history. To be perfectly honest, I felt that the book dragged a little at first. But once I got into it, I enjoyed it.

Most books that I've read about the Civil War, don't focus on Texas. As a Texan, I was happy to read one that focuses on my state. Amanda's in a hard position. She loves her brother. And she's in love with Kent. But her biggest fear is that they will face each other on the field of battle and one of the men she loves will be lost forever. She questions where is God in the midst of the conflict and whose side is He on? At one point she even goes so far to inform her pastor father that she wants nothing to do with a God who evidently doesn't care. Of course her mind changes when she must cling to her faith.

When her brother returns home injured, Amanda must come face to face with where her feelings really lie. War's changed her brother from the boy he was before heading off into a man full of bitterness. She realizes that it's not a good thing to keep so much bitterness bottled up inside and makes the decision that should Kent ask her, she will marry him and try to help heal both families.

Amanda's character develops and changes the most in the book. She goes from the naive young girl to a mature woman. War and death will do that. She also realizes that she's not the pampered girl that she once was. She's learned the benefit of hard work.

While I did enjoy the book, there were parts I didn't care for. At times, it felt that the writing was very stilted and that the author expected the reader to have an understanding of what makes the characters tick. I could never make up my mind completely where Amanda stood on the issue of slavery despite being a slave owner.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson's Blogging for Books program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Legacy - What Kind Do I want to leave?

I saw this quote on a friend's facebook status this afternoon. "What will your legacy be? Smile or frown? Give or take? Love or hate? Compliment or complain? Help or hurt?" And it made me think. What do I want my legacy to be? I look at my family members who have passed on. Daddy - his legacy is the AWANA program at the church I grew up in. Grandma B. - her legacy is probably her quilts and cooking. Grandma J. - definitely her love of her family and her husband. Grandpa - his is a legacy of faith. And I really mean that. He has always lived his life for Jesus. And he instilled that into his four children and all of his grandchildren. I want a legacy like that. But I also want to be know for who I am. I am a woman who loves God. I am a woman who loves to do little things (or make them) for others. I am a woman that still hasn't really figured out how to say no. But I love people. I love to share what I have, even when I don't feel that I have a lot.

I want people to remember me for the legacy I leave behind. For my faith. More than anything else, I want them to know that I am who I am because of the One who made me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund - A Book Review

Priscilla White yearns to be a missionary. Dr Eli Ernest also longs to serve God as a missionary. Both fully expect to be able to serve as single people, but when the Mission Board declares that they only send out married couples, the two agree to a marriage of convenience so that both can become missionaries. Priscilla leaves her comfortable life in New York behind and travels the treacherous Oregon Trail with her husband and another couple. Through all the hardships they face, she and Eil find both find themselves wishing and longing for the other. Will they admit to having fallen in love or will they keep their marriage as an in-name only business arrangement?

When I first saw this book featured in one of the Christian fiction newsletters I receive via email, I wanted to read it. So I was very excited to be able to obtain a copy to review.

I found the book to be very good. There were a couple of nights I looked at the clock and saw that it was already midnight and I knew I had to put the book down so that I could get up for work the next morning. The characters are real. They have faults and they work hard to overcome them. But they also have great strengths that show how deeply developed they are.

Priscilla struggles with infertility and jealousy around any woman with a baby, or pregnant. She also struggles on her journey West to prove to both herself and her husband that she isn't some society maiden that will run away at the first sign of hardship. Eli struggles with his pride. He's too proud to seek the assistance of others and even accept their advice at times. He's also trying to do God's job quite a lot. The trip West is a huge lesson for both of them. Together they learn that God made them to compliment the other one and each one must come to the realization that they need to be who they were created to be.

I've never had to face issues like Priscilla faces. I've never had to move across the country far from friends and family and all that is held dear. I pray I never have to. Because I seriously don't think I'd have the strength to do it. But she did. And she fell in love with not only her husband, but the Indians to whom they were going to minister to. When I think about how easy we, as women, have things today and don't have the worries like Priscilla had, I realize how strong she was. She faced things like cholera, marriage to a total stranger, leaving all that is familiar without the modern conveniences of things like cell phones and computers. Her faith was strong. She did what she had to do without question.

Having read Jody Hedlund's other book before reading this one, I knew I'd enjoy this. And I wasn't wrong. I will definitely be keeping an eye out any additional books that she writes.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Christmas traditions

You know it's funny. Traditions. Sometimes they make a lot of sense. Sometimes they don't. I was talking to a friend of mine last night about some random traditions my family has. One of our Christmas traditions was to watch the original Star Wars trilogy on Christmas Eve. I'm not sure exactly how that started, but we did that for several years. Also growing up, we'd go out to one of the Christmas tree farms and cut down a tree. We still do that if we can arrange everyone's schedules.

A tradition I've recently started is what I make for Christmas. I put together a bundle of cookies and treats and give them out to my friends. I've recently started doing edible gifts in a jar. You know things like soup mixes, cookie mixes, etc. I'm finding I'm liking that a whole lot more. This year, I've found several websites that have recipes for these gifts in a jar. One of the ones I'm going to do the cornbread mix. It'll go great with one of the soups on the list too.

So I start thinking. Who will make it on my list? I've got some friends that are obviously on the list. And I've got others that I may surprise this year. I also want to add a batch of cookies to each little gift basket. Like for one set of friends, my snickerdoodles and chocolate chip meltaways. For another friend, my gingerbread. The others, I think I'll do sugar cookies with their jars. I don't know yet. It depends on how many jars I have and how many I'd need to buy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review of Love Finds You in Sunset Beach Hawaii by Robin Jones Gunn

Adventurous, independent Sierra Jensen suddenly finds herself at a crossroads in her life. She's spent the last four years doing ministry in Brazil. When her work comes to an abrupt end, she doesn't know what to do next. Accepting the offer of a week in Hawaii with her friend, Sierra hopes to seek God and find out where life's going to take her next. Jordan Bryce is an upcoming professional photographer sent to Hawaii to capture photos of the surfing competition. He's seeking to start making a name for himself and finds himself captivated by the lovely Sierra. When a series of "God-things" keep throwing the two of them together, they both question if this is God's will. Will they be willing to take a chance on love or will they go their separate ways?

I was so thrilled to pick up this story about Sierra. I've watched her grow up through Robin's books. I've always felt that Sierra's story wasn't finished and kept hoping that one day Robin would write more to Sierra's story. I got my wish with Love Finds You in Sunset Beach. Please be aware that spoilers will follow.

It was such a delight to come back into Sierra's world. Like most fans who grew up with Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen, I wanted to know answers to some very important questions. Did Sierra ever end up with Paul? Is she still the free-spirit that she was as a teenager? And is her heart for God as big as it was in her teens? Yes my questions were answered. There was finally a chance for closure with her relationship with Paul. I admit that I loved Jordan. He's not like most heroes. He's quirky and funny and has his faults. Yet he's a man that seeks God with all of his heart. And I loved him with Sierra.

I think that what really helped Sierra to make a decision about coming back to the States as opposed to staying in Brazil was her friend Mariana. When Mariana calls on Sierra to pick her up from a wild night, Sierra goes. But it's while the girls are together that Mariana admits that she's needing what Sierra, Jordan, and Derek all have - a personal relationship with God. I think that Mariana's salvation was God's way of closing the door on the Brazil chapter of Sierra's life. One of the thoughts that really stood out to me though was when Mariana told Sierra to stop trying to make God proud of her. I had to stop reading for a minute and think about that. So often in own life, I've felt that I was trying to make my Daddy God proud of me. I wanted Him to be able to be proud to call me His daughter. I realized, like Sierra, that God's already proud of me and that all I have to do is to just keep loving Him. With that thought in mind, I'm looking forward to my retreat this weekend where I'll spend some time with some of my sisters and be able to escape for a few days.

Robin, thank you so much for writing more of Sierra's story. I'm eagerly awaiting the book mentioned in your author's note, Cottage By the Sea. I know that when I read it, not only will I fall in love with additional characters, I'll get to meet up with one of my favorite friends again.

My thoughts and my opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review of There You'll Find Me by Jenny B Jones

Finely Sinclair travels to Ireland to retrace the footsteps of her brother, Will, who had been killed in a terrorist attack two years previously. She's attempting to compose a song that will honor her brother's memory and use as her audition piece for the Manhattan Music Conservatory. On the plane, she meets Hollywood teen heartthrob, Beckett Rush, who is wrapping up the filming of his latest vampire movie in Ireland. Since she needs a tour guide and he needs an assistant, the two pair up. He's fascinated that she appears to be the only girl immune to his charm. In the midst of Finely's quest for her song, she breaks down and struggles with school, her feelings for Beckett, the overwhelming grief still plaguing her from the loss of her brother, and an English assignment at a local nursing home. Finely knows she's searching, but feels that God isn't listening. It'll take a miracle for her to find what she's searching for.

I selected this book to review because it's set in Ireland. That's really the only reason I selected - because I love anything Irish. I'd never read anything written by Jenny B Jones before, though I have several friends who have recommend her to me multiple times. I started the book thinking it'd be a light, sweet read. I was not prepared for the depths of emotions I felt while reading the book. Finely's soul searching is the biggest theme throughout the book. She's questioning if God is even listening to her anymore. Her host family, specifically the daughter Erin and the mother Nora, are concerned about her health. They can see right through the excuses that she gives. Her music teacher, Sister Maria, hears her play and tells her to follow Will's footsteps and listen to what God is telling her. Yet Finely has a hard time doing that. I've been there. Well not with the composing music part, but the part of having a hard time hearing God. I've questioned if God was even listening, and if He was, then why weren't things better? And I've asked why this had to happen, and I don't understand. All questions that Finely struggled with and discussed with Beckett about. But God still gets through in the end. The search for a specific cross proves to be Finely's breaking point. That and Mrs. Sweeney, her English assignment. Finely must find her hope in order to be able to soar freely.

I think that the message of searching for something that you don't even know about is the ultimate truth in the book. Finely didn't realize she needed hope. She wanted answers to her questions. And I know that those questions are ones I've asked over and over again as I've grown up. But it's the searching and the seeking that helps me grow. Because I discover, as Finely eventually does, that God is always listening and hadn't left. We just aren't truly hearing what He says.

I received this book for free for the purpose of review from My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


You know, I never really thought about how much I have spent on books in the past. I thought about that yesterday. Since I've started this blog and been reviewing books for Waterbrook, Bethany House, Thomas Nelson, and Tyndale, I've received (or will be receiving soon) 10 books to review. I've finished half of them. Am currently reading 2 more. Have 2 in transit. And 1 waiting for me to read. I added up the retail cost of each of these books. If I'd had bought them at the store, I'd have paid close to $140 total! Wow! That's 10 books I've received for free and I save $140! Good thing that my budget had already allocated that money onto other things.

My sales director picked up her hot new Mustang on Wednesday. We had a car party today at our sales meeting. It was fun! And then when I helped Laura to her car because she'd had so much with her, she gave me a ride to my car in the Mustang! I decided it's time to get to work and hold parties and team build so that I can get my own brand new Malibu! And so I've already got one party booked. Need to get 9 more on my books before next Saturday. Of course, the parties don't have to be held this week - just anytime between now and December. Also I need to place my order to get my holiday products before they sell out!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review of Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

When Marielle marries Carson Bishop and moves into the family home of his first wife, Sara, she is immersed into a house that is shrouded in grief and secrets. Holly Oak, the house, is a pre-Civil War antebellum home that survived the devastation of Fredericksburg, Virginia during the war. Marielle first hears of the alleged ghost, Susannah Page, haunting the house from Susannah's great-granddaughter, Adelaide, shortly after her arrival. Each of the women who have lived in the house have suffered deep sorrows. But is it the house seeking atonement or is it Susannah's ghost causing the women to suffer? Marielle must discover the truth for herself by reading Susannah's story and make up her own mind whether or not Susannah's ghost haunts the house. Was Susannah wrongly accused of being a Northern spy and sympathizer despite being married to a Confederate officer or was there something else behind the mystery that is Susannah is the question Marielle hopes to find an answer to so that she, her husband, and her stepchildren can put the past behind them and live as a new family.

Contemporary meets the Civil War. The setting was truly right up my alley as I'm long time fan of the Civil War period. The way that the mystery surrounding Susannah and her story in the contemporary portion of the book gripped me. I couldn't wait to uncover the truth along with Marielle. When I got to the portion of the book that told Susannah's story through letters to her cousin, I was even more fascinated. I finally understood the sacrifices that Susannah made to save the ones she loved.

I'd never read any of Susan Meissner's books before, and I have to wonder why. I'm not sure why I never gave her a chance, but I will definitely keep my eyes open for additional ones by her to read. I really enjoyed this book. Usually I'm reading 3 or 4 books at one time, and yes that was true in this case. But this was one I started on Sunday night and finished on Friday because I couldn't put it down. I found the book to be intriguing and different than most of the books I read as there were really two stories in the book - Susannah's and Marielle's.

I'd have to say that there were a total of four major characters in the book - Adelaide, Susannah, Marielle, and the house itself. I'd never really thought about a house as a character but because the house was so pivotal in each of the lives of the women, it was a character of its own. The understanding of love and sacrifice and survival is a strong theme in the book. Each human character must come to her own understanding of Susannah's past and the house in order to move on with her life. This appears to be easier for some than for others. I found myself thinking too about Susannah's story. And if I'd been in her shoes. Would I have had the strength and the courage to do what she did to save the ones she loved? Or would I have taken an easy way out? I don't know.

Overall, I'd rate this book four out five stars. I received this advance readers copy for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah for review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review - Out of Control by Mary Connealy

Rafe Kincaid is a man who is used to be in control. He runs a successful ranch and growing up had a tendency to control aspects of his younger brothers' lives. His perfectly controlled life is about to spin a bit out of control when he meets the beautiful Julia Gilliland. Julia is also used to being in control, specifically of her family. She is fascinated with geology and is enthralled by the idea of exploring the cavern she has found near her father's cabin. When she gets trapped in the cavern and Rafe rescues her, he takes control of the situation in the only way he can - he kisses her. Sparks begin to fly as these two battle over exploring the cavern. Add to the mix, Rafe's brothers and Julia's very pregnant stepmother, and a mysterious man bent on harming Julia and the result is that not only are sparks flying like crazy, but Rafe also has to come face to face with demons of his past.

This is the first book I've ever read by Mary Connealy. My cousin loves her books, so when this was a selection for me to pick for review, I picked it. I enjoyed the book. I found the characters to be very lively and engaging. I loved the humor that was laced through the book as well. I did think that the spiritual element could have been a little more entwined into the story and the characters' lives. There are really almost two budding romances in the story. Rafe and Julia is one. Ethan and Audra is the other. I will be passing this along to my cousin to read and I look forward to the next one in this series.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering...10 years ago

I look back 10 years ago...

That Tuesday morning started off just like any other morning for me. I got up. Got ready for work. I was finishing up my 3rd or 4th week of teaching 3rd grade. The world was still a safe place.

You see, I'd graduated from college the previous December and here I was, fulfilling my dream, teaching 3rd grade. I'd always wanted to be a teacher. Ever since I was in 3rd grade and decided I wanted to grow up to be just like Mrs. Clark. But anyway, I digress.

The schoolday started off like the others so far this year. My class of 19 arrived and we started our day with Math. Then around 8:30, my kids joined another class for PE. This was my conference period. I remember it clearly. I was on the phone with a parent when the teacher in the room next to mine screamed. I dropped the phone and ran to her room. She had tears streaming down her face and said that her husband called to tell her to turn on the TV. And that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I shook my head to fully grasp it. And my eyes were drawn to the TV. I was watching a replay of what only moments before had happened. There was smoke coming out of the top floors of the World Trade Center. And then the second plane hit. And not long after, the Pentagon.

I couldn't believe what I was watching. All of a sudden, my mental image of a safe, secure world was shattered. I was numb. The parent conference I was in the midst of conducting all of a sudden didn't really matter anymore. I don't remember if I finished the conference or not. The rest of the day was rather subdued. Parents started picking up their kids. The administration would send the librarian or one of the music teachers or someone from the office to the classrooms to get the child or children whose parents were there to pick up the kid. Sure the kids were wondering what was going on and why this child or that child was going home. They were also wondering why the teachers were not teaching class as usual. By lunchtime I had about 5 kids left in my class. I combined my class with two other teachers and we plugged in an educational video (or several of them) and let the kids watch them. We were glued to the news. The scheduled faculty meeting was canceled.

I got home. Somehow. Mom hadn't gotten home yet. But she got there shortly. I turned on the TV. I didn't care what channel I put it on, I just wanted it on. I saw the towers collapse.

The images that poured over the news that day and the rest of the week were startling. We may have had Bible Study that night. I don't really know. I remember that even if we didn't, the house was soon filled with the members of the Bible Study. There was a special service at the church the next night. I'd never seen the place so packed. And again on Sunday.

War and terrorism were real to me now. And I realized that in those moments I grew up. I no longer thought that America was safe. Safe from terrorism. Safe from attack. No longer.

I remember also sitting at lunch with my other teachers and one of them asking me how I could be so calm. I didn't feel calm. But I guess I had an outward appearance of calm. My reply to her was this "Even if something were to happen right here right now, I'm not worried. If I die, I'll immediately be sheltered in the arms of Jesus." I'd never been quite that bold before.

Words of patriotic songs took on new meanings. Heroes were found in the ordinary. I know that I gained a new appreciation for the police and the fire departments.


The last few days I've had the Alan Jackson song "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" running through my mind. I'm not the biggest fan of country music. Yet for some reason, these lines "Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children" kept going through my head. Probably because I was teaching a class of innocent children.

I've grown up hearing how my mom felt when she got the news that Kennedy had been shot. My grandparents telling stories of December 7, 1941. Sure, I remember the Challenger explosion. I was actually sitting at school watching it. But as a child, it didn't register with me. This did. It's knowing that I was an adult at the time that this major piece of history happened. And that the world will never be the same again.

I'm linking a few of youtube videos that I think pay a powerful tribute. I take no credit for these videos. I think they're beautiful.

I'd love to be able to share the video lesson that my brother put together (or found) for his teaching on 9-11.

I know that this post is a bit different than most of mine. But I really wanted to reflect.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dreams aren't they funny

The other night I had some pretty crazy dreams. I don't know if it was entirely due to the combination of watching NCIS, NCIS LA, reading, and being really tired or not. But in my dreams, somehow I was the main character in the historical fiction book I'm reading but it was combined with the investigations of NCIS and NCIS LA. Very strange. Because there I was in the long dress of the late 1800's being a part of crime solving with modern technology. I'm awfully glad that no one could analyze my dreams and tell me I'm crazy or something. :)

I know God uses and gives dreams to people to talk to them. The Bible is full of those incidents. I'm not sure if I've ever had God speak to me directly via a dream. I know of people who have though. And those people hold onto the promise they were given. I think it's neat to have faith like that.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review of Mercy Come Morning

Krista's mother is in a top care facility for Alzheimer's patients. Krista travels to New Mexico to spend the last weeks of her mother's life with her. They've been estranged for years. Krista never understood her mother and feels that her mother never understood her. While there, she reconnects with her high school sweetheart, Dane. He tenderly cares for Krista's mother and for Krista while she searches for answers about her life, her mother's life, and her relationship with Dane.

I enjoyed this book. I've read several of Lisa Tawn Bergern's books before but it's been a long time. True the story started off a little slow, but it picked up as it moved along. Seeing how Dane's care facility was built around the Alzheimer's patients so that the patients could have the best care while still being free to live in their own worlds was very neat. What really got me though was seeing Krista let go and finally learn that her mother has always loved her - she just didn't know how to say the words.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

God's Love Letters to You by Dr. Larry Crabb

Designed to be read as a daily devotional over a period of 40 days, Dr Larry Crabb highlights specific "Love Letters" from God, meaning books of the Bible. Each book is set up with a short letter where God is talking directly to you the reader. It then has a few thought provoking questions and a prayer to pray to help you get your mind onto the things God's teaching you in the chapters.

I've never read a devotional book that is set up as specific love letters. It was neat to find something that was out of my normal realm of reading. The nuggets gleaned from some of the chapters did make me want to turn to my Bible and read that particular book. I'm sad to say that I didn't act upon my instincts though. There were several letters that I enjoyed more than the rest. These included Ruth, Habakkuk, Luke, Ephesians, 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 John, and Revelation. Why did these particular letters stand out to me? Well aside from Ruth being my favorite book of the Bible, there was a lot I could learn about overcoming obstacles. The others did make me think or look at a concept in a different way.

For the most part, as a primarily fiction reader, this non-fiction book held my attention better than most nonfiction. I probably wouldn't have picked it up at the bookstore simply because it is nonfiction. But having given it a fair shot, I did enjoy it overall.

I received this book for free from Booksneeze for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Questions with no specific answer

I got an email the other day that literally had me in tears. No it wasn't one of those sappy forwards. You know the ones that have a tear-jerker story in them and you're supposed to forward them? Well this was an actual email from a very sweet woman.

And I found myself asking Why? Why was this happening to them? What is the lesson that we are going to learn by watching them with this struggle? How will it eventually glorify God?

I have no answers. I have deep admiration for them as they cling to their faith. But no hard and fast answers. And I don't understand. I know that for me, I'm going seek to gain understanding, even though I don't understand. I can only continue to pray and pray and love them and be inspired by their faith.

On a totally different note, I'm learning (and seeing) how God's will isn't exactly what I want. That didn't sound right. What I mean is that I have a very dear friend who has a very difficult time within the last eighteen months or so. And I know that I would selfishly pray for one outcome, but the outcome I'm seeing isn't the one that I wanted for her. But it's obvious that it's what God is wanting. And I'm ok with that. Especially since it seems that both she and her husband are growing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Have you ever thought about it

Have you ever thought about the lives of the people who are mentioned in Hebrews 11, the By Faith chapter? I mean, what the people did what they did and had faith that God would do His part.

Abel - faithfully gave God his best. Sure he was later murdered for it by his brother, but he faithfully gave.

Enoch - the only person in the Bible to ever not die. Because God had him taken up. What was so special about Enoch? What sets him apart from the other prophets?

Noah - builds a boat in the middle of a desert. He stayed faithful to God despite what his family and friends probably thought of him.

Abraham - he faithfully moves from the land he'd been living in to follow God. He also faithfully places his son to be sacrificed, trusting God to somehow someway fulfill His promise.

Isaac - faithfully blesses both of his sons even though Jacob had stolen the firstborn blessing.

Jacob - blesses the sons of Joseph and still worships as he dies.

Joseph - has faith that someday the people of Israel will leave Egypt and return back to where the covenant between God and Abraham was made.

Moses - his parents faithfully saved their baby boy from Pharaoh's edict. He later faithfully listens to the words of the burning bush and then follows a cloud.

Joshua & the army at Jericho - were probably thinking that this was a crazy way to capture a city. March around it daily and then blow the horns.

Rahab - faithfully hid the spies and even believed in a God that was foreign to her.

And there are so many others. I wonder am I living my life in such a way that I'd someday be able to be listed as having lived by faith? If I'm honest with myself, then I'd have to say no. But wouldn't it be fun to be able to right now say that I'm living my life in such a way that no one would be able to doubt that I live by faith? Yeah that'd be cool.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review of Dragons of Chiril

This is my first book to read by Donita K. Paul. Truthfully, it was very hard for me to get into. Though it did finally catch my attention about halfway through with the book. Tipper is a young lady who sets out on a quest to find and reunite three specific statues that her father sculpted. She is joined on this quest by a wizard, a librarian, an artist, a prince, a grand parrot (yes an actual walking talking giant bird!), her father, and four minor dragons.

Her father needs the statues reunited so that the gateway will be repaired and he can stop vanishing. Tipper's confused by the talk of this Wulder. He's evidently a God that her father has put his faith in. She and her friends are able to locate the statues from the people to whom they were sold. But when they find the final statue, they realize that the current owner is a very very evil man. Her mother joins them and both Tipper and her mother are kidnapped for the purpose of having Peg (Tipper's mother) rule the kingdom. Her friends rescue them and go along with the kidnapper's plan to have Peg appear at the Palace, but they do it only because the gateway has been messing with time and the wizard needs to repair the time shift. The prince, known as Paladin, takes the opportunity to share to the king and queen about Wulder's love and forgiveness. The book ends with Tipper still seeking answers but the universe having been put to rights.

I can't say that I really really loved the book. I do enjoy reading Fantasy but this one was truly just a mediocre read for me. I didn't hate it either. Since the ending did leave me hanging, I'll probably try to find the next one to read it. Overall, I'd have to give this book a 3 star rating out of 5.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Review of Tailor-Made Bride

This was such a delightful book! Hannah and JT are a couple that sees the faults in the other person but doesn't let that bother them. Sure Hannah has her dress shop that JT considers vain, and JT is a grouchy livery owner. But they both learn to look beyond the surface into the heart. This was a book that was fun to read, funny at times, and left me feeling really happy. As I'd rented this book from the library, I will be looking into others by Karen Witemeyer!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Goals & Dreams

Seminar was amazing! I learned so much and found myself setting new goals that I want to achieve in the next year.

Goal 1 - Deadline September 30, 2011. I will be in my red jacket by the end of September. What's that going to entail? Well it'll mean I add at least 2 more team members, Pam stays active, and I remain active. Because that MacKenzie jacket is mine!

Goal 2 - Build to car production. This is one that will be working on together with the third goal. I can start car production when I have 8 team members. Of course once I have 8, I can go with Laura to Atlanta in January for Leadership! That's exciting.

Goal 3 - Sell $36,000 in retail sales from July 1 - June 30th. When I do that I'll earn this fabulous diamond ring. 

Isn't it beautiful? And I've been told several times that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So here's how I'm going to earn this ring. All I have to do is sell $100 a day. Just $100 a day. That's basically a Miracle Set a day. I've already got in $275.00 retail. And I plan on writing $36,000 across a big sheet of paper in big black marker. Then every single time I sell something, I will subtract the sale from the $36,000. I can do it! I will do it! I will be walking across the Seminar stage next year in the Queen's Court of sales!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I'm tired. My church has VBS this week and I'm working in kinder. The kids are cute. But I sure am tired! I go straight from work to the church and then get home and am wired for a couple of hours. Tonight's the last night of it. And then tomorrow after work I've got to pack. Because I leave on Saturday for Waco and then Seminar! I'm excited about that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I had an interview today for an HR Manager position. The company had interviewed me a couple of years ago for an accounting position. I think it went really well. I should know something by the end of the week. They're willing to work with me for my scheduled vacation to Dallas the 30th-Aug 3rd. I think I would like working there. It's more money than what I'm making now, and would offer me more challenges. Plus I'd actually be using my degree!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review of Warlock

Wow! I can't believe that this book ended like that and that I have to wait until next summer for the final book!

In this 5th book of the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, everyone is scattered. Josh has joined forces with John Dee & Virginia Dare. Sophie is with the Japanese Immortal Niten at Aunt Agnes's house. Nicholas and Pernelle are in Prometheus's Shadowrealm, and Scathach, Shakespeare, Joan, St Germain, &  Palamedes have been transported back in time to the ancient world of Danu Talis. The end is drawing near.

Monsters are locked in the cells at Alcrataz. Billy the Kid and Niccolo Machiavelli are hoping to regain the favor of their Elder masters by releasing them onto the unsuspecting population of San Francisco. Will they go through with their orders or will they not?

I rented this copy from the library. And I've had a hard time putting it down. I've become quite attached to the twins, Josh & Sophie, and at times I want to smack them because of the mistakes that one of them keeps making. Sophie must find an Elder to teach her the last of the elemental magics, Earth. And I was not at all expecting the twist regarding who finally is found to teach her. So many little things that appear in this book have made me question who is good, who is bad, and who is more than what they seem. The lines between good and evil have really blurred and it's hard to tell who is who now. The flashbacks got a little confusing but they add to the drama of the book. Overall, a very good read!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Has it been 15 years already?

Has it been 15 years already since I walked across the stage and accepted my diploma? Wow! Time really does fly. I went to my 15th high school reunion last night. Yes, it was a huge step out of my comfort zone. But it was in my budget - FREE! I pretty much only went because my friend Steph asked if I was going. But you know what, I actually had a pretty good time. Got to catch up with a lot of people and met some really nice people. It's surprising how many of us stayed (or came back) to the area. I got to talk a lot about my business and may even have at least one new customer. Which will be really awesome. I may go to the 20th in 5 years. And it would be great if I show up there in the PINK CADILLAC!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review of Thief by Linda Windsor

Book 2 of Linda Windsor's Brides of Alba series is called Thief. Like the Healer (book 1), it's set in the late 6th century of Scotland during the time of King Arthur. Caden is exiled from his home, so he offers his services as a mercenary in the various wars between the Saxons. When he's gravely injured, he calls on Jesus and is spared death. He is then nursed back to health by a woman whose daughter was kidnapped from her many years before. He agrees to try to find the daughter, Sorcha. Sorcha is a young woman who was kidnapped from her home at the age of 7 and sold into slavery by the Saxon captors. Unlike most children though, the people who bought her raised her as a daughter. Now grown, she rescues other children from the same fate. When she's sent to be a companion/interpreter to the new princess, her path crosses Caden's. Then a brutal murder at the court sends them both fleeing for their lives. Miraculous things happen that cause her to question the pagan gods and seem to strengthen Caden's young faith. Will they be captured? Will brother and brother be reunited? And will Caden be able to let go of his past to love again?

I seriously couldn't put this book down. The characters both have flaws and they're well written into the story. The things that they go through makes me both cringe and cheer for them. I've always enjoyed Linda's books and this one is no exception. I can't wait for the third and final book in this series, The Rebel, due out next summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A little tired

I'm a bit tired. I took Mom to the airport this morning and then ran all over creation after work to collect the last few dollars I need to finish my star! I'll be finishing it tomorrow. Kiki was glad to see me when I got home. She was one hungry kitty!

When I finish my star tomorrow, I'll be finishing as a Ruby! I'm so excited. And as soon as Team Member 2 becomes qualified, all I'll need is a third qualified team member and then that MacKenzie red jacket is mine!