Saturday, November 17, 2018

When God Calls the Heart at Christmas by Brian Bird & Michelle Cox {Devotional Review + Spotlight}


~ SYNOPSIS

Celebrate Christmas in Hope Valley

Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Whether it’s in the fictional town of Hope Valley in the early 1900s or in our lives today, nothing is more profound than celebrating God’s most important gift to the world.

When God Calls the Heart at Christmas is about a celebration of faith, family, friends, and the most meaningful Yuletide traditions. Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, these twenty-five devotions not only explore “God-moments” from the series, but also commemorate favorite holiday recipes, stories, and traditions—many of them contributed by the Hearties, the beloved fans of the show.

Journey with us to Hope Valley as we focus on all the reasons for this most blessed season. As shepherds and angels learned on that holy night so long ago, when God calls the heart at Christmas, you can expect a celebration.




~ REVIEW

5 stars

What a darling Christmas devotional!

When God Calls the Heart at Christmas is a beautiful book, filled to the brim with Christmas merriment. The devotional is divided into twenty-five days, or chapters, each one containing a lesson that somehow connects to the When Calls the Heart TV show, a Bible verse, a prayer, a list of related questions, a recipe, and a few Christmas traditions.

The Christmas stories and traditions were my favorite parts! Those, along with the recipes, were submitted by the Hearties, the fans of the TV show. I love Christmas and Christmas traditions, so hearing others' Christmas stories was special and sweet. <3

Between the photos, the stories, and the beautiful formatting, this book isn't one to be missed!


**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Sirens Media and BroadStreet Publishing.**


~ SERIES


Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart.

In this collection of devotionals and journals, Brian Bird, executive producer and co-creator of When Calls the Heart and Michelle Cox illuminate the “God-moments” from the fictional, 1910 mining town of Hope Valley. The stories of faith, hope, and love from each episode will touch your soul, inspire, and encourage you with wonderful virtues and relatable life lessons.


~ AUTHORS 


Brian Bird is executive producer and co-creator of the Hallmark Channel original series When Calls the Heart. In his three decades in Hollywood, he has writtien or produced two dozen films, including The Case for Christ, Captive and Not Easily Broken, and more than 250 episodes of such shows as Touched By An Angel, Step By Step and Evening Shade.



Known for her “encouragement with a Southern drawl,” Michelle Cox is an award-winning, best-selling author and the creator of the Just 18 Summers® brand of paren ng products and resources. She’s wri en for Guideposts, Christian Cinema, FoxNews.com, Focus on the Family, and numerous other publica ons. Her favorite roles, though, are as wife, mom, and grandmama to six perfect grandchildren.




Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli {Book Review}


~ Description 

Boston, 2015
Two years after nearly losing her life in the Boston Marathon bombing, Annie David is still far from “Boston strong.” Instead she remains isolated and defeated—plagued by guilt over her niece, crippled in the blast, and by an antique ring alongside a hazy hero’s face. But when she learns the identity of her rescuer, will he be the hero she’s imagined? And can the long-past history of the woman behind the ring set her free from the guilt and fears of the present?

Boston, 1770
As a woman alone in a rebellious town, Liberty Caldwell finds herself in a dangerous predicament. When a British lieutenant, Alexander Smythe, comes to her rescue and offers her employment, Liberty accepts. As months go by, Alexander not only begins to share his love of poetry with her, but protects Liberty from the advances of a lecherous captain living in the officers’ house where she works.

Mounting tensions explode in the Boston Massacre, and Liberty’s world is shattered as her brother, with whom she has just reunited, is killed in the fray. Desperate and alone, she returns home, only to be assaulted by the captain. Afraid and furious toward redcoats, Liberty leaves the officers’ home, taking with her a ring that belonged to Alexander.

Two women, separated by centuries, must learn to face their fears. And when they feel they must be strong, they learn that sometimes true strength is found in surrender.


~ My Rating 

4 stars


~ My Review 

An eloquent, intriguing tale of brokenness and healing. <3

I'm settling in to write this review over a week after reading the book—and honestly? I feel like I'm still sorting through everything that happened in those 380-something pages. So many events. So many plot-twists. It was fantastic, but a lot to keep up with. 

This was my first dual-timeline novel, and I absolutely ADORED that aspect of the book. Anaya's and Liberty's stories wove together very well to create a deeply-layered tale of pain, loss, hope, and forgiveness. The connection of the ring was perfect and so nicely done. The historical details were amazing—this author knows her Boston. 

Liberty's story was...complicated. I didn't feel like I could connect with her very well. Originally, I liked Alexander...but I never really "believed" that she loved him. Cared for him, yes, but I'm not so sure it was love. Her relationship with James was precious, though cut short. She didn't treat Hugh like he deserved. (C'mon, honey, he loves you and your child. Either let yourself love him or break it off already.) 

Anaya/Annie's story was my favorite. Dealing with post-traumatic stress nearly two years after being a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, befriending a veteran who can relate to her struggles, carrying guilt over her family's pain and loss from the same attack...I just loved her story. (I also loved Brad. Brad is mine, y'all.) 

Annie and Brad's search for the origin of the ring that brought them together—along with their relationship in general—were some of my favorite parts. I always enjoy a good genealogical search. ;)

As far as content, there's a rape and an illegitimate child, detailed kissing, and several deaths. Characters recalling bombings and blown-apart bodies—both at the Boston Marathon bombing and in the Iraqi War—and a woman who decides she's in love with two men (hey, it's disturbing, it's going in the content paragraph xD). Overall, I'd say 14+. 

So yup. Knocking off a star because of my confusion and annoyance with Liberty's love life. Otherwise? A fabulous book. <3


**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.**

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Veterans Day + Marine Corps Birthday {faith rambles}



So, this isn't what I'd planned to post today.

Actually, I didn't have a post planned for this weekend, which is probably part of the reason I'm sitting down to write something random at 7:20 p.m. I don't want to get out of the habit of posting every week, but it was either this or an overdue book review. So you're stuck with a few paragraphs of my rambles. :P

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, the specific day set aside each year in the US to honor those who have served our country in the armed forces. It's also Armistice Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

And today is the 243rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps! I wrote a short story about twin brothers—Marines—which I posted on my writing blog. (Read it here, if ya like.)

So yeah, there's a quick history lesson for y'all. :P

How has your week been, my friend? I worked a few days, sorted through the final edits of Behold, made plans for the 12 Days of Christmas blog party, and read some books. So Christmasy. ;)


Well, that's all I've got this week... How are you, dears? 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Not by Sight.

Do you ever read a verse from God's Word, maybe even a verse you've read many times, but it just slams you? Knocks you down and washes over and suddenly everything just.makes.more.sense. 




YouVersion's verse of the day for Monday was 2 Corinthians 5:7. I'd already read the verse more than once that afternoon, working around it in my inbox. (I usually don't delete the notifs until the next day, to make sure I read them at least a time or two throughout the day.) 


For we walk by faith, not by sight.  
// 2 Corinthians 5:7 kjv


At that particular knock-your-socks-off moment, I had finished homework and was clicking through a few email that had appeared in the meanwhile. I came back to the verse and my eyes landed on the words. 

I read it. And stopped. Stared. Read it again. 

Paul wrote to the church of Corinth that we walk by faith and not by sight. 

By faith, y'all. Faith means believing that He's in control, even we when can't see His presence. Faith means trusting that He has a plan, even in the chaos. Faith means knowing there is light even when all we see is darkness. 


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
// Hebrews 11:1 kjv


Not by sight. Ya know, it doesn't matter what we can or can't see. Things in our lives that we have no idea how they can work out. Relationships that are so strained and distant we wonder if they'll ever be as strong as they once were. We can't see how God will work in these situations. But I promise you, friend. He will. He is right now, even as you read these scribblings from my heart. 

You know what else we don't have to see? Our futures. 

Can you envision what your life will be like five years from now? If so, super. Follow God and I'm sure the outcome will be amazing. But what if we can't? Are we doing something wrong? 

No, my friend, we're not. Because we're having the chance to walk by faith, and not by sight. Trusting that His plans are good, even when we have no idea what they are. Believe that His timing is best, even when you're so tired of waiting. 

There is always a reason, for the pain and the waiting and the unknowns. Hold to His promises, walk by faith, and one day—it'll all make sense. 



I literally wrote this in, like, ten minutes on Monday evening. I'm quite certian God intended the message for me, but maybe it will touch you too. <33

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dear Hurting.


Dear Hurting... 

Yes, you. The one putting on a brave face and praying no one will see through it. The one who smiles in the daylight, but cries in the darkness. The one who's there for everyone else, but just needs someone to be there for them.

Because someone is—and He loves you so much more than you can comprehend. He feels your breaking heart and wants to hold you through this pain-ladened season.

The breaking of your heart isn't something to be feared, no matter the cause. Loving people may always bring us pain, but that's okay. Don't let the ache you carry hold you back from loving deeply the next time, and the next...and the time after that.

Don't fear the pain. Embrace it. For it's through the season of hurt that you will grow and you will bloom.

Broken is a state, but breaking is only a season. You may be breaking, but you're not broken. This isn't forever, dears. <3


The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 
// Psalms 34:18 kjv

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 
// Isaiah 26:3 kjv 


Praying for everyone who reads these words, that someone's heart will be strengthened. <3

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Read the Instructions.



If you're setting out to start a new craft project, you may read some tips, tricks, or watch some DIY videos.

When you take a test, you carefully read the instructions before beginning.

If you're taking a medication, you follow the directions on the box or bottle for the correct dosage.

Basically, when you need to know how to do something, you read the instructions.


Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. 
// Psalms 119:11 kjv


Did you know life comes with an instruction manual too?

Because it does, friends. God gave us His Word to cling to through the trials of life. The answers to all the questions. The reasons to all the whys. It's all in there, and we'll find it if we search long enough.


Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 
// Matthew 7:7-8 kjv


Let me take this a step further. What if you have the instructions, you've read them...but you still don't  understand. You don't know how to proceed. What do you do?

Ask the Teacher.

If you ask a teacher about something you don't understand, they may not give you the exact answer. But they'll always point you in the right direction.



How are y'all doing? Can I pray for you? What are you needing instruction and direction on currently? Let's talk. <33

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Falling for You by Becky Wade {Book Review}


~ Description

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family's small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin--and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he's never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he's determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they're forced to confront their past and who they've become--and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again. 


~ My Rating

3/3.5 stars


~ My Review 

I have such mixed feelings over this book. (I procrastinated writing this review for over a week—which didn't help, for the record.) It definitely had it's strong points, but I waffled between adoring and despising both of the main characters for most of the book.

First, Corbin. Honestly, the dude is fabulous sometimes. (Spoiler: He toilet-papered Willow's security gate...because she told him not to. What's not to love?!) I liked this guy more than I ever liked Willow, except when all he can think about is kissing her or pulling her shirt off her shoulder...(Get a grip, man.) The side of the story dealing with Corbin, his dad, and their relationship was wonderful, though.

Then there's Willow. Besides the fact that I don't have much in common with the gorgeous model gal, I liked her character most of the time. Aside from when she wanted to cast all the blame for everything that is wrong in the world—or ever has been—on Corbin. Still, she was badly hurt by him in years past, so I made a face and pushed through.

(Spoilers in this paragraph.) My main "gripe" with these two wasn't even the sins in their past. It was the way they handled their current relationship. Corbin is convinced he can win Willow back, so he sets out to do that. But Willow, even while making out with the guy on her couch, keeps telling that they're not together. They're not a couple. This is all over when she goes back to Cali in a few weeks. And that bothered me. She led him on for months—and he let himself be led on—and didn't seem to have a bit of remorse over it, until afterwards. (End of spoilers.)

All that aside... the murder mystery was rather intriguing and not at all something I expected to find in this book. Charlotte was such a fabulous example of a middle-school-aged girl, and I loved her character and her family.

Mrs. Wade is an amazing writer. Her prose is fabulous, her plots are well-woven, and her characters are solid. I just...had problems with some of the content in this one. That said, I'm looking forward to Britt and Zander's story. :)


**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.** 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kaylee's Kind of Writes 2.0 {Blog Launch}

Happy Saturday, dear readers! (I mean, y'all have to be like the best if you're still here....) 

Has it seriously been over a month since I blogged regularly? According to the calendar, yes, it has. It doesn't feel like it, and yet...yeah, maybe it does. 

I'm not going to promise to do better, because I honestly don't know how the rest of the year is going to play out, but I hope to have a Saturday post up every week for the remainder of this month. Beyond that, we'll see. I may fall back to every other week. ;)




I'm here today with my friend Kaylee's blog launch! Kaylee's blog, Kaylee Kind of Writes, is branching out to Kaylee's Kind of Writes 2.0, which will focus on her writing, WIPs, and that type of thing. 



About the Blog

Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes 2.0 is a random writing and fun blog! Otherwise, that means that it is a less professional blog, and where you can find posts of Kaylee’s writing. (She will still do book reviews, spotlights, and such on Kaylee's Kind of Writes.) You’ll find writing snippets, updates on writing, and lots of other fun stuff!




Blogger Bio

Abigail writes under the pen name Kaylee since Abigail is a pretty popular name (Seeing as she’s in a group of Abigails in a writing community she thought that Kaylee would stand out more.).
She does writing, blogging, and digital designing at Kayleeskindofwrites.blogspot.com. She's a Christian homeschooling bookworm, With One Amazing Savior, Two great parents, Three Brothers, Four Sisters,
She likes to listen to music when she's writing.


Facebook  ||  Goodreads  ||  Pinterest  ||  Blogger  ||  WordPress



Schedule 


October 10th

October 11th
Character Interview on Julia is Fictional
Interview of three characters on Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes 2.0

October 12th
Spotlight on Beautiful Things
First chapter of two WIPs on Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes 2.0

October 13th
Spotlight at Chosen Vessels


 

Giveaway

Doesn't this giveaway look fabulous? Here's the link to the form! Head on over and claim your entries. :D 



Did you follow Kaylee's blog(s)? Enter the giveaway? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

God in a God-Forsaken Land by Gene R. Stark {Book Review}


~ Description 

"I had never wondered before if I would see another summer. Yet on that day the question crossed my mind." The frontier town of Alexandria, Minnesota in 1874 attracted immigrants longing for land and freedom. Yet the newcomers to this wild, beautiful, and dangerous landscape needed the stability, love, and peace found in the Word of Life.

Pastor August Hertwig, called to this ministry and dropped from a stagecoach into a stunning, yet hostile place, faced isolation, severe weather, and plagues of locusts as he struggled to bring the permanence of Church and Faith to settlers striving to carve out a life in this new land. God led him to the love of his life in the strong, determined Elizabeth and together, in faith, they forged a powerful ministry based on the eternal Word and manifested in vibrant Christian congregations.

Pastor Hertwig tells his own story of immigration which takes him from his childhood Germany to the very "ends of the earth." Traveling on foot and by horse, his ministry covered several counties where he started sixteen congregations, many of which still exist today.


~ My Rating 

2.5 stars


~ My Review 

DNF at 49 pages in—25%. 

I'm literally bored to death. I've been "trying" to read this for over a month, because it's a review book and I feel guilty for giving up on books when there's nothing wrong with it content-wise, but I'm done. Life is too short to read books that are "bad," boring, or just plain ol' bleh. 

A story of a missionary in the midwest in the 1800s. Sounded interesting enough when I nabbed a review copy (mostly for the cover, if we're going to be honest here), but it just...lacked? 

The telling-not-showing writing style grated on my nerves. Like, the main character falls into a raging river in the middle of a snowstorm in Nowheresville, Minnesota, yet as the reader, I felt absolutely none of his fear or panic. (Not to mention, I already didn't really care if he lived or died. I'm just sayin'.) 

And another thing. At one-quarter of the way through, I was still confused on the beliefs and doctrine of the main character. He just decides he'll be a preacher and goes to seminary because it seemed like a good idea when someone suggested it...? Yeah, okay. 

All that to say... If you enjoy based-on-a-true-story missionary books, you may enjoy this one. :)

2/2.5 stars, rounding up to 3 stars to give the remainder of the book the benefit of the doubt. 


**I received a review copy of this book from BookCrash and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.** 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

We Have Forgotten.


It's Tuesday morning.

September 11th.

8:46 AM.


If you weren't already aware, hopefully you now remember what today is. Seventeen years ago right now (supposing you're reading this within one hour and forty-two minutes of when I posted), a terrorist attack was taking place on American soil. The first since Pearl Harbor—sixty years prior.

Hijacked planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Another hit the Pentagon—the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense—in Arlington County, Virginia.

A fourth, which was intended for the White House, was overtaken by heroic passengers and crashed in a field in Stonycreek, Pennsylvania.

2,996 people lost their lives—2,562 civilian victims, 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, and the 19 hijackers. Not to mention the over six thousand who were injured and lived to tell about it.


Was any of this news to you? Was a lot of it?

These are questions, among others, that I had to painfully answer as I did some research before setting out to write this post. There are a lot of things about that day and the subsequent war that I didn't know and still do not know.

But I want to know. Because, friends, although it may hurt, we need to know our history. We need to remember the sacrifice, the bravery, the heroism of our fellow Americans.

As Americans today, we have it so good. Anything we could want is at our fingertips. But in all that, we've lost sight of what really matters. We proudly proclaim 'never forget', but we have forgotten.


If one of our loved ones was killed that day, we would not have forgotten.

If a family member of ours was off fighting, we wouldn't forget about the war in the Middle East.

If we fully understood the magnitude of the sacrifices that have been made for the freedom we experience today, we wouldn't take it for granted.


Today, let's stop forgetting. Let's remember. Let's honor the flag and what it stands for. Let's say "never forget" and truly mean it, from the bottom of our hearts.




What will you do today to remember what happened seventeen years ago this morning? 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Goldfish Secrets by Kellyn Roth {Book Review}


~ Description 

Judy only has one friend: her goldfish, Marlie.

With Marlie gone, who can Judy rely on?

Goldfish Secrets is the short story prequel to The Lady of the Vineyard.



~ My Rating 

4 stars


~ My Review 

What a sweet little story!

Goldfish Secrets, a short story prequel to Kellyn's novella The Lady of the Vineyard, is a delightful look into the early days of Judy's life and relationship with her mother, Adele.

It was a darling story that would be perfect for any age! While reading it, I was thinking that it would be great for a read-aloud for small children. Although it was more enjoyable to me since I'm familiar with the characters, but it could be read as a stand-alone.

Definitely recommended! <3


**I received a free copy of this story from the author in exchange for my honest review.** 


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hello September {blog tag}

Hello, readers! Welcome to September. <3 Wow, can you believe fall is here? I've fallen bid farewell to summer and now I'm welcoming in the season of apples, hoodies, cool weather, and bonfires. <3

My friend Amy Lane came up with a lovely tag to usher in fall! Let's get started. :)


How to participate... 

> Please copy these questions (below), answer them, and then write out new questions (or just copy these) for the people you nominate below your answered questions.
> Please nominate at least 3 bloggers, but try to avoid ones that you know have already been nominated.
> Lastly, include these guidelines in your post, and use the tag picture!


Questions...

Windy or rainy autumn?
Can I choose both? Please? *angel face* If not, I guess I would go with windy.


Do you like chai tea?
Not sure I've ever had it!


Tea or coffee?
Coffee, all the way.


If you could go to one state in the U.S.A. just for autumn scenery, where would you go?
From what I've saw in pictures, Maine has some lovely autumn scenery. I would love to visit the New England states, all the way up to Maine.


Do you like any kind of soup in the autumn? What's one of your favorites?
Ooohh, yes! Potato soup is probably my favorite.


What color of leaves do you like best?
Reds and yellows. :)


If you could go to another country just for autumn scenery, where would you go?
I never really thought of traveling to another country to see autumn scenery! Hmm, probably England...or France...Germany, Scotland, Austria... Ya know, I may or may not have a list. ;D


Sweater or hoodie?
Hoodie! Preferably with long, floppy sleeves and a pocket big enough to cram a phone, earbuds, money, and anything else I might need into it.


A hazelnut or apple cinnamon candle?
I'm not sure I've ever smelled a hazelnut scented candle, but I love hazelnut coffee creamer... We'll go with that.


Cookies or brownies?
Both? Oh, I can't do that again? Brownies, then. ;)


I tag... 

Brooklyne @ Showers of Blessings
Rebekah @ RebekahAshleigh
Kaylee @ Kaylee's Kind of Writes

Here's y'all's questions!

Windy or rainy autumn?
Do you like chai tea?
Tea or coffee?
If you could go to one state in the U.S.A. just for autumn scenery, where would you go?
Do you like any kind of soup in the autumn? What's one of your favorites?
What color of leaves do you like best?
If you could go to another country just for autumn scenery, where would you go?
Sweater or hoodie?
A hazelnut or apple cinnamon candle?
Cookies or brownies?


I'm scheduling this post ahead of time, as I'm going to have a table at a local author's fair at my library today. Prayers that all goes well would be appreciated! <3

Do you like autumn? What's your favorite tradition or pastime for this time of year? 

~Faith

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Just Because // a poem



just because
someone acts okay
it doesn't mean they are

just because
their face doesn't show their hurt
just because
tears aren't streaming down their face
it doesn't mean they aren't hurting

just because
they haven't told you about
the burdens they carry alone
the tears they cry in silence
the battles they fight each night
the pain they fear will never fade
it doesn't mean they don't want to

be open, dears
be there for each other
be the listening ear
to the one who needs to talk
be a caring soul
to a heart that needs hope
be the shoulder
someone needs to cry on

just because
they don't wear their heart on their sleeve
it doesn't mean they don't want our love

let's love boldly
let's love until it hurts
let's love like Jesus loves

just because
one day you'll be the one
who needs someone to pray for them
but is afraid to ask



Sometimes I write poems on my phone at 11:40 PM and email them to myself so I'll find them in the morning... And sometimes I decide to share them with y'all a month later, just because maybe someone needs to hear this. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

When Beauty Blooms by Victoria Lynn {Book Review + Blog Tour}


Happy Saturday, readers! Today I'm a stop on Victoria Lynn's blog tour for her new historical novelette, Where Beauty Blooms. It's a darling story with a super cute cover! <3


Synopsis

Revolutionary War Era England

Marjorie Kirk is a woman with no fortune, no prospects, no family, and no skills. Or so she thinks. She is awkward, shy, and the farthest thing from any semblance of a society lady. 

The new minister keeps turning up in the most awkward of places and she can’t help but feel that her life is doomed to one of embarrassment. But will her flaws actually be the thing that others find the most attractive? 

A story of a young woman with social anxiety and how she learned to bloom.



Review

When Beauty Blooms was such a darling little story! Short and simple, but filled with whimsy and heart. This book holds a valuable lesson for every gal who's ever felt awkward or 'less than', especially in social settings. 

I felt for Marjorie as she—quite unknowingly—embarked upon her own journey toward discovering that she's beautiful and loved just as she is, how God created her to be. It was nicely done and quite relatable. 

On another note, her dear friends and their humorous attempts to 'help' Marjorie were amusing. I laughed and smiled through those parts of the book. 

The ending was about what I expected as soon as I met a certain character, but it was a sweet and satisfying conclusion to the story.

4 stars!

* I received an e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.


Author Bio

Victoria Lynn is in her 20s and if she's not writing, she is probably sewing, singing, playing the piano, washing dishes, creating something with her hands, or learning something new. She has a passion for serving her Creator, encouraging others and being creative. She blogs at www.rufflesandgrace.com about writing, fashion, modesty, her walk with God and life. She lives in Michigan with her parents and 8 siblings.

Giveaway


One winner will receive a signed copy of the book and a $10 Amazon gift card! 



Have you read any of Victoria Lynn's books? Are you interested in this one? Favorite Revolutionary War era book? 

~Faith

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Looking into the Future.



As every high senior or recent graduate can probably relate, I've got the "so what's happening next?" question about 92,745.3 times. (Not that I'm counting.) And, because I don't have a very good answer, I've given half a dozen different responses.

But in recent weeks, the answer to those questions (both the ones asked of me by others, and the ones asked by me of God) have became more clear. Not definite, but possible. And I currently have a slight idea of what my life will look like for the next few years, which is very encouraging to me.

Today, I'm going to give y'all an insider glimpse into my plans for the future...

Writing 

Even before those last, bittersweet months of high school, I knew that writing wasn't something I would be giving up with the receiving of a diploma. Although 'author' or 'writer' was never (read: N.E.V.E.R.) on my list of possible careers, it's became a dream of mine.

And it seems to be the only thing I have total peace pursuing at this time. For now, that means writing the story God lays on my heart, indie authoring, and looking into pursuing traditional publishing.

Will I still be cranking out books 10 years from now? I don't know, but that's okay. I'll have the answers when I need them, not when I want them. 

College 

When I tell people that I'm not going to college this month, a second question usually follows. Namely, whether I'm going at all. And I honestly don't know the answer to that right now. I think so. I want to, next year. But I'm not sure yet.

I want to pursue American Sign Language interpreting and become a licensed interpreter. Theoretically, I could be licensed by the time I'm 21, if I start next fall. But as I said, I'm not 100% sure that this is what God wants yet. 

So I'm taking a third year of ASL this fall, looking into interpreting license requirements, and waiting for a definite yes or no from the Man upstairs.

Will I ever go to college and get a degree? I don't know, but I have an idea of where I'm headed. And for now, that is enough. 



Bible

Over the past year and a half some radical changes have taken place in my walk with God. I crave time spent in the Word. I pray more, deeper, and better. And mostly, I'm content. I'm not freaking out of what the future may or may not hold. I know He holds the pen to my life story in His loving hands. He loves me unconditionally and has a beautiful plan. Who am I to doubt that? 

Will I ever have an answer to some of the questions I ask? I don't know, but He is enough. He is my answer. <3


Love

Recently, God has been teaching me a lot about love. (No, not just guy-girl love. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not ready for marriage. xD) About what love is, and about what it isn't. About how I should love Him and others. 1 Corinthians 13 type love.

It's my heart's desire to shine a light, to touch people, to show them His goodness and point the way to the one who loves them no matter what they've done.

I want to love deeply and boldly. I want to love the unlovable and show them grace. I want to love like He loves.

Will I make a difference in the world? Influence lives? I don't know, but I'll follow Him and leave the outcome in His hands. 




Let's talk. <3 When you look into your own future—for this year or next year or 2056—what do you see? 

On another note, I realized I never did a post about the missions trip back in June. Anyone interested in that? xD

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Mere Hope by Jason Duesing {Book Review}


~ Description

How are Christians to live in such difficult times?

Unique of all people, Christians are called to embrace a hopeful outlook on life. Mere Hope offers the core, Christ-centered perspective that all Christians share, and that Christians alone have to offer a world filled with frustration, pain, and disappointment. For those in darkness, despair, and discouragement, for those in the midst of trials, suffering, and injustice, mere hope lives.

The spirit of the age is cynicism. When our leaders, our families, and our friends let us down at every turn, this isn't surprising. But we need another perspective; we need hope. Rather than reflecting resigned despair or distracted indifference, author Jason Duesing argues, our lives ought to be shaped by the gospel of Jesus—a gospel of hope.


~ My Rating

5 stars


~ My Review

An insightful look into the hope we have in Christ, Mere Hope was an encouragement to me that came exactly when I needed it.

When this book showed up on my dashboard for review, I almost skipped it. I had several other nonfiction books that I wanted to read soon, so I didn't see any sense in requesting another that I may end up dreading having to trudge through. But when I saw the title, I knew I needed this one—Hope has became 'my word' in recent months. (Plus, the cover is lovely, so #win <3)

Through this little book, author Jason Duesing challenged me to dig deep into the truths of God's word, to intricately study the beauty of a 'mere' hope, divided into sections of hope's foundation, flourishing, and focus.

Not following the definition of the word that suggests mere hope is a mere, hardly existent topic, but rather to mean it is real, true, and the core to which modern Christianity should be clinging.

A powerful and applicable book. Definitely recommended. <3

** I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H/Lifeway in exchange for my honest review. ** 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Missing Piece by Libby May {Book Review}


~ Description 

K.C. was the girl of the summer in her youth group. She had a lake for her backyard, friends who loved to hang out, and a boyfriend who honestly loved her.
But she wasn't happy. Deep inside she longed for something more. Her relationship with her Savior seemed empty and she did everything in her power to gain His favor, but to no avail. There never was any sort of confirmation.
Will K.C. ever find the piece that's missing in her heart? Or will she drain herself of meaning and forever wallow in this lake we call despair?


~ My Rating 

4 stars


~ My Review 

What a darling little story!

In The Missing Piece, our main character K.C. has everything she could ever want—plenty enough to complete her life—yet she feels that something is lacking. She doesn't know true happiness. 

I loved reading about her journey toward finding the missing piece of her life. I also appreciated the subtle message near the end of the short story—that just because God didn't give you an immediate 'yes', that doesn't mean the answer is 'no.' Sometimes it's 'not yet', 

A well-rounded story about finding our completion in Christ alone. <3 

Favorite Quote ~ "God doesn't need you to mass achieve for Him. He just wants your heart." 


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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Outpourings of a Beloved Heart by Joan Embola {Book Review + Release Day}

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! 

I feel like I wasn't around here at all last month...which is basically true, aside from a few blog tours. But today I'm here with the new book release of an Instagram friend, and I'm hoping to have a 'quality' post up every week this month. Thanks for sticking with me! <3

Let's dive into Joanny's book now, shall we? ;)



Synopsis 

The name "beloved" refers to one who is dearly loved and deeply treasured. God called Jesus His Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased and because of Jesus, we have been accepted into God’s family and given the right to be called His children. So we are deeply loved by our Heavenly Father and He loves us as much as He loves Jesus. But do you believe that with all your heart? What about when you are surrounded by the worries and cares of life? Are you still sensitive to His love then? Do you feel you are too imperfect to be loved by a perfect God? Do you feel you carry so much garbage that His love can't possible take away? Well here's a chance to know more about the Father's love for you through poetry and reflections. It is a chance to find peace, comfort and joy in His presence. A chance to be reassured that His love for you never fails even in the storm. These are the outpourings of a heart that has found true solace in the arms of a loving God.



Review

Outpourings of a Beloved Heart: A 30 Day Poetry Devotional about God's Love is a well-written, inspiring, and encouraging devotional centered around and focusing on the love of God. 

I really loved how the interior of the devotional is set up. Each day is arranged with a title, a scripture passage or inspiring quote that relates to the day's theme, an original poem written by the author, a suggested Bible reading, and text that correlates the entire reading and connects the Bible passage to the theme—often including other scripture references. 

While reading this book, I thumbed back and forth all over the Old and New Testaments to read the suggested passages, and look up and compare other references. It dives deep into the character of God, the sacrifice of Christ, and God's all-compassing love for us, His children. The segments on hope and waiting were especially lovely and spoke to me. 

If you're looking for a wonderful, month-long devotional that speaks to the soul, this one is for you! 

5 stars! 

* I received an e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. *


Author Bio

Author Joan N. Embola is a Cameroonian/Nigerian girl born and raised in Cameroon. She currently lives in the UK and is studying in London. When not revising or preparing for exams, she loves to write, blog, journal and make videos for her YouTube channel where she encourages others in their Christian journey. She is the founder of “Love Qualified” - a ministry dedicated to encouraging others to experience the sovereign love of the one true God who has qualified us to be His beloved ones. She hopes that God uses her work to richly bless and encourage you. You can connect with her on the various platforms below.



Monday, July 30, 2018

Finding Christmas Joy by Amanda Tero {Blog Tour + Book Review}


Hello lovelies! I'm here today with Amanda Tero's latest release, a Christmas short story in participation with the Christmas in July collaboration. Finding Christmas Joy releases tomorrow, so snag it soon and enjoy a snowy read amidst the hot weather—or save it for the Christmas season! 



~ About the Book 

Melonie Brown just wants to get away from all of the pain and heartache that this year has brought upon her, and Starlight Lodge seems like the perfect place to do so. With no plans beyond a Christmas escape, she drives out to the lodge. Can she bottle up the peace and joy that she finds in this special place to help her face the challenges she may have in the upcoming year?



~ My Review


Finding Christmas Joy is a sweet salvation story, written through the eyes of a young woman with a broken heart. Her struggles over finding purpose and joy in her life were dear and delicately shown.

The setting of Starlight Christmas Lodge was so darling!! Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year, and I loved reading about the lodge and the family who ran it.

I would've liked to see more details of Melonie's past and of her breakup. I understand that that wasn't the focus of the story, but I would've been able to feel for her easier if I knew more of what she'd been through. I also would've liked for her ex-fiance to have at least been mentioned after her salvation. Christ brought joy to her heart, but those heartaches still shaped her and brought her to that time in her life.

While not my favorite by this author, Finding Christmas Joy was an enjoyable read with a message I appreciated. Recommended to anyone who loves a good Christmas story!

**I received a free copy of this story from the author in exchange for my honest review.**


~ Giveaway 




~ Blog Tour 

July 28, 2018

July 30, 2018

July 31, 2018


Friday, July 20, 2018

Overrun By Your Love by Erika Mathews {Book Spotlight + Blog Tour}

Greetings, friends! Today I'm here in celebration of indie author Erika Mathews latest release! :) 

Blog Tour - Overrun

Overrun By Your Love, a collection of inspirational poetry by Erika Mathews, has been released! Join in the excitement with the giveaway below, and don't forget to check out the other blog tour stops here.

About the Book

2 Cor 4


kindle cover overrun
Immerse yourself in a lyrical, artistic story older than time: the story of the kingdom of God.

Receive encouragement and refreshment in your spiritual walk with a collection of poems on our awesome God, trusting God, family, God’s creation, special occasions, and ministering Christ.

Inspirational and joyful poetry hones in on Biblical truth in a meditative manner.  

 About the Author

Erika Mathews Author

Erika Mathews is the author of Promise’s Prayer and an editor who lives in the farm country of Minnesota with her husband and young children. She’s a homeschool graduate with a Bachelor’s in Communications, a Master’s in Biblical Ministries, and a passion for sharing Jesus Christ and His truth. When she’s writing, she enjoys letting God’s message shine through her, crafting pleasing sentences, and using the Oxford comma. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, outdoor activities, music, and organizing. She's been writing poems since she was four years old. Swings, hammocks, fields, waterfalls, and lakes near her Minnesota home are her favorite places for Scripture meditation. You can connect with Erika at restinglife.com.

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Giveaway

Click here to enter to win Overrun By Your Love in paperback or ebook!

overrun quote 2nd verse