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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spring Hope

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Spring Hope

( Realms (May 15, 2012)


Martha Rogers" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">" width="165" />

Martha Rogers is a freelance author of both fiction and non-fiction and a speaker. Her stories and articles have appeared in a number of compilations and magazines. Her first fiction novella was released in 2007.

Her experiences as a public school teacher, Sunday school teacher, youth leader, First Place leader, Mom and Grandmother give Martha a unique field of ministry.

Martha is am alumni of CLASS and is available to speak at Women's Retreats, conferences, and luncheons on topics of interest to women of all ages.

As an author, she is available to speak at writing conferences and workshops on a variety of topics of interest to writers." imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">" width="133" />

Can runaway Libby Cantrell finally get a new start?Libby Cantrell’s life has gone from bad to worse since her mother’s death. After working in a brothel to support her abusive father, she sees no hope for her future until one cold winter night when she finds the courage to escape.

When she collapses in Portersfield, Texas, exhausted, ill, and hungry, Sheriff Cory Muldoon finds her and takes her to the doctor. Against Cory’s better judgment, Seth and Erin Winston take her in and offer her a job as a nanny for their young son. As a minister, Seth sees it as his duty to take care of her. As a deputy, Cory needs to know the truth about her even as he is attracted to the waif of a young woman.

As Cory’s feelings for her grow and winter becomes spring, will he be able to accept her as she is now and truly forget and forgive her sordid past?
If you would like to read the first chapter of Spring Hope, go HERE.
Happy Reading,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Need You Now

From Wiseman's website:
When a personal crisis tested and strengthened her faith, award-winning journalist Beth Wiseman was advised by her agent to consider writing a Christian novel, particularly an Amish one. Encouraged by her agent’s urging, she began exploring the Amish lifestyle and soon developed a great appreciation for the more peaceful way of life. In 2008 Wiseman wrote her debut novel, Plain Perfect, featuring the Amish lifestyle within the context of a fictional love story. It was a bestseller, as have been all of the full-length novels and novellas she has written since.
 Wiseman’s previous releases have held spots on the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller lists. In 2010, she received the INSPY Award for Amish Fiction (chosen by blog reviewers). In 2011, she received the Carol Award and was the Inspirational Readers Choice winner for her book Plain Paradise. Her novel Seek Me with All Your Heart was the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. In addition, Wiseman has been a Retailers Choice Finalist, a Booksellers Best Finalist and a National Readers Choice Finalist. Prior to becoming a novelist she received many honors for her work as a journalist, including a prestigious First Place News Writing Award from the Texas Press Association.
Today, she and her husband are empty nest parents of two grown sons, enjoying the country lifestyle and living happily with two dogs, two cats, two pot-bellied pigs, two chickens and a single pygmy goat in a small community in South Central Texas. When Beth isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, and watching good movies. Her favorite pastimes, however, are painting (her paintings can be veiwed on her Fans of Beth Wiseman Facebook page) and spending time with friends and family.

Wiseman is widely known for her Amish novels.  Need You Now is her first contemporary novel.

Book Synopsis:
When big-city life threatens the safety of one of their children, Brad and Darlene Henderson move with their three teenagers from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas.
Adjusting to small-town life is difficult for the kids, especially fifteen-year old Grace who is coping in a dangerous way.  Married life hasn't always been bliss, but their strong faith has carried them through the difficult times.  When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises.
While working with special needs children at her new job, the widowed father of one of Darlene's students starts paying more attention to her than is appropriate.  Problem is, she feels like someone is listening to her for the first time in a long time.
If Darlene ever needed's now.  Experience a family's triumph over lies, betrayal, and loss while still clinging to the One who matters most.

Hear Beth talk about why she ventured away from her "Amish roots" in her writing to write Need You Now:

My Thoughts:
I've never read Wiseman's Amish novels.  To be quite honest, I was a little nervous not only to be reading a new author, but to be reading that author's first venture away from her usual genre.  I was not disappointed in Need You Now!  The story contained within the pages of this work of fiction was believable.  There was a genuine tone to the story.  Wiseman does an excellent job of drawing you into the lives of Brad and Darlene and the struggles of their family.  The character development and description is superb.  When I turned the last page, I found myself humming the tune to the hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  According to Wiseman's website, she is already working on her second contemporary novel.  I'll certainly be looking for it!

Need You Now can be ordered from by going HERE.

Thank you B&B Media Group for sending me a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading,

Blue Moon Bay

If you are looking for a story in a place with a little romance, a little mystery and a whole lot of small town charm, then you will want to visit Moses Lake, Texas in Lisa Wingate's Blue Moon Bay.
From the bio section of Lisa's website:
Lisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of 16 books.  Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its fifteenth printing from Penguin Putnam.  Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.
Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, in mainstream fiction.  Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational southern fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader's Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.
When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women's literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read.  Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

 Blue Moon Bay is the second installment in Wingate's Moses Lake Series.  Lakespur Cove was the first.

Book Synopsis:
Every once in a blue moon your heart waits at a crossroads.  For Seattle architect Heather Hampton, a trip back to tiny Moses Lake, Texas, is hardly in the plan.  Yet because a promotion hinges on the sale of the family farmland, Heather heads to the last place she ever wanted to go.  She's determined to return home, signed contract in hand, the next day.  But the currents of Moses Lake take visitors on unexpected journeys.  As Heather's stay lengthens, she discovers a family steeped in secrets and an unexpected connection to local banker Blaine Underhill, despite his opposition to Heather's project.  With each new revelation and question, Heather can't help but wonder if the handsome banker - and the family she has come to know again - are crooks or crusaders.  Somehow she must find out the truth before she loses everything she has worked for and everything she's found on the shores of Moses Lake.

My Thoughts:
Ms Wingate has written a beautiful story in Blue Moon Bay.  This is the first of this author's book I've read and I'm glad to have discovered her writing.  The story in this particular book is filled with multiple layers of intrigue:  family dysfunction, sweet romance, mystery and even a bit of humor in places.  I'm sorry I missed out on the first book in this series and will have to catch up at some point.  The third book Firefly Island is due to be published in February of 2013.  The book includes a discussion guide with questions that probe the many layers of conflict presented in the book making it an excellent pick for a book club.

Blue Moon Bay can be ordered from by going HERE.

Bethany House publishers sent me a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Almost A First-Grader!

Bentley had his Kindergarten graduation/moving up ceremonies on Wednesday.
He has really done well this year and we are so very proud of him!  He adjusted to his teacher and being in the classroom with little effort and loves school.  It has been so special to see how he's grown this year.
The kids all marched into the school's auditorium to "Pomp and Circumstance" with their little hats on.  They were all grinning really big and were so cute!
That's Ms Weigman at the Podium.  She has been a really good teacher.  Bentley bonded with her from the start of the year and has responded to her well.  She was really good about communicating with us as parents on Bentley's progress giving us ideas about how to help him succeed.
Bentley received his "diploma" from Ms Carlsen (assistant principal) and Dr. Santini (principal of NFMAA).
Bentley received the following awards:
  • "A" honor roll
  • Accelerated Reading Participation
  • Accelerated Reading Goal (He met his goal all four quarters of the school year)
  • Dragon Award (Principal's award for the class)
  • Reading Award
  • Math Award
  • Excellent Attendance for missing less than 5 days of school
 (Dr. Santini and Ms Weigman)
 (Bentley is the 6th from the right on the front row.)
They may fight sometimes, but JennaBeth loves her "bubba".  After the graduation ceremony, the Parent Teacher Organization had cupcakes and ice cream for the students and their families in the cafeteria. 
Cecily wasn't able to come because she was in class.  She's been busy finishing up her last year in middle school!  We'll be attending her 8th grade graduation next Thursday.
The last picture is Bentley with Ms Weigman.  I had prayed really hard for some time before Bentley ever started school that he would have a really good teacher that he would respond to well and bond with and that he would have an exciting first year in school that would motivate and give him a great desire to learn and do well.  God has graced us with an affirmative "yes" to both those prayers in Ms Weigman and an amazing first year at NFMAA.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Triple Threat at the Academy Awards

Cecily attends an arts middle school (8th grade) and this year the school held their second annual Academy Awards.
Prior to the awards program, a banquet was held in honor of those students receiving arts awards that evening.  I was able to get a few shots of Cecily with a couple of her friends...
(Briann, Sarah, Cecily)
The banquet was held in the school cafeteria and catered by a local Italian restaurant.  Around the top of the cafeteria walls are hung huge murals that have been painted by select art students.  Cecily is honored to have one of her pieces hanging in her school...
We even convinced her to take a picture with her ole' mom and dad...
Cecily was honored with several awards.  She was recognized by the school for participating and receiving a Superior rating in Costume Design at the State Junior Thespian competition.  She was also one of only a handful of students who received what was called the "triple threat award".  Students receiving this award are recognized by their teachers for being disciplined with excellence in three area of the arts.  Cecily received this recognition in Art, Digital Design and Costume Design.
Cecily has worked very hard this year and we are so very proud of her.  She was blessed with some wonderful art teachers who take great pride in what they do in the classroom and really love their students.  These teachers have poured themselves into Cecily guiding her and helping her this year and as parents we are grateful!
(Ms Freidman-costume design, Ms Sommers-digital design, and Mr. Massari-drama)
(Ms West-Taylo - in the middle - is Cecily's art teacher.  The lady on the left is Ms Madl and teaches Bentley dance.  On the right is Ms Kurth and she teaches Bentley art.)

Another great thing about this 8th grade year for Cecily is the friendships she has developed.  I'm sure you know as well as I do that middle school is a challenging time for kids.  Cecily has had her share of growing pains to navigate and we have seen her come out on the other side of those things more mature.  She is an amazing young lady and we are thankful for the sweet friends she has gained this year.
 (Cecily, Cassidee, and Emily)
(Their "red carpet" pose!)

We will be attending her 8th grade graduation next Thursday evening.  And speaking of graduations, Mike and I attended Bentley's (our 6 year old) Kindergarten graduation today!  I'll share about that tomorrow.  But for now I'll leave you with Kenny Chesney's Don't Blink.  


Monday, May 14, 2012

A Prayer for My Kids on the Day after Mother's Day

A Mother's Prayer
(originally by Mrs. Mary Steadman Roe)

Oh, Thou who hast been my God, my father's God, my father's father's God,
my mother's God, my mother's mother's God;
I come before Thee now to entreat Thee solemnly to be also my children's God.
 Thou, all-great Jehovah, and Thou alone, knowest the value of my children's souls,
and Thou alone canst save Them.  
Oh, let Thine arms of mercy and love be constantly about them
to preserve them from the follies of childhood, the dangers of youth,
and the sins of maturer years.
Thou knowest the anxieties of a parent's heart,
and Thou hast more than a parent's love for all whom Thou takest
into Thy care and protection.
Oh, let my beloved children be some of those blessed ones
whom Thou carriest in Thine arms,
whom Thou leadest gently,
whom Thou wilt watch over every moment of their pilgrimage below, 
and of whom at last Thou wilt pronounce,
"Of such is the kingdom of heaven".
Let Thy restraining grace be exercised toward them, to protect them
from evil dispositions, unamiable tempers,
disobedience, and all outward immoralities.
May they love each other and their parents,
and learn to take pleasure in denying themselves for each other
and for the sake of all who may come withing their reach.
Preserve them from carelessness, laziness, wandering habits,
and improper companions.
And oh, great God, above all things,
let Thy converting grace enlarge their hearts
that their parents may have the unspeakable happiness
of seeing them all follow the dear Savior;
or, if their mother should not be allowed the blessedness of seeing 
this great change wrought upon them while on earth,
may I be called to rejoice over it in the bright regions
of eternal glory.
Oh, my Savior, 
take my children into Thy care and keeping.
I confess that I am not worthy of the least of all Thy mercies,
much less am I worthy to ask Thee for so great favors,
yet I would not be discouraged,
for Thou hast said,
"Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it",
and I do trust that through the merits of the Savior alone
Thy sovereign mercy may lay hold of my dear children,
and that they may, every one, spend their lives in Thy service.
And oh,
enable me to labor incessantly for their conversion,
to pray without ceasing for them,
and to endeavor, by all means in my power,
to impress the truth of the gospel on their minds
and to seek with all earnestness that the Holy Spirit
may impress those truths on their minds while they are yet young.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

She's Growing Up!

 Yesterday, I took Cecily to the high school she will be attending in August to confirm her class schedule for her Freshman year.  The past 14 years have passed so quickly.  I'm still trying to figure out how we went from the picture above to almost being in high school!  Cecily has been a certain joy in our lives and we are so very proud of the young lady she is becoming.
One of the things Cecily has really grown in and enjoyed the past two years of middle school is Costume Design.  She attends an Academy for the Arts school that really allows the students who enjoy the arts to develop skills in those areas.  Ms Friedman (pictured with Cecily) is the teacher who has given leadership in this area.  Cecily thinks highly of her and I am so thankful for how Ms Friedman has mentored her and helped Cecily to develop in her love and skill for design.  I snapped this picture Friday night after the school's performance of The King and I.  The school has never done an Asian themed play before, so Ms Friedman and her costume design crew (all students and a few adult helpers) made around 150 Thai influenced costumes for this play basically from scratch!
Are those costumes not amazing?  The Academy doesn't out source hardly anything for these plays including costumes and backdrops; everything is made by students and teachers.  They did borrow some head dresses from a local Thai restaurant.
 Ms Friedman had fun modeling one after the play.
This is Ms Weigman.  She helps with the costume design department and is Bentley's (our 6 year old) Kindergarten teacher.
 (Sarah, Cecily, Emily, Cassidee)
A few months ago, I helped chaperone a group of about 30 students from the school to the Florida State Junior Thespian competition.  I had the costume design girls in my room and they were a blast for this 40 year old woman to hang out with!  It's nice to see this group of girls be such good friends and have such fun together. 

Cecily even got in a little dance with the "king" from The King and I after the performance Friday night:

It will be exciting to see where Cecily's interests in costume design, drawing and painting take her in the future.  Right now, I'm just blessed to see her having fun and growing into one spectacular young woman!

One proud mama,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Named By God

 Kasey Van Norman has written an engaging book titled Named By God:  Overcoming Your Past, Transforming Your Present, Embracing Your Future. 
From the back of the book cover:
"Respected Bible teacher Kasey Van Norman understands what it means to be a prisoner of the past.  Refined by the fires of suffering and heartache, Kasey is an inspiring example of God's grace and intervention in a life that seemed beyond redemption.  In Named By God, Kasey shows what it means to find our true identity in Christ, to live the surrendered life of the redeemed, and to find life by losing it."

Here are just a few quotes from the book:
"Allow me to fill you in on a little-known fact about time:  it can be a breeding ground for sin.  If we aren't vigilant about how we're spending our hours and days, the idle passing of time can be an effective weapon in satan's armory.  Unless we are focused completely on what the Lord desires of us, we'll soon be twiddling our thumbs of spiritual complacency - which is exactly where satan starts spinning webs of fatal desire.  Plainly put, satan desires all-consuming sin to creep into our lives, ultimately resulting in death.  Of course, a believer's physical death would give the enemy a reason to boast.  However, what delights satan and his minions all the more is when he succeeds in making us what I call the 'walking dead' - in other words, Christians who have sat their stagnant rear ends on the sidelines in the middle of the most important game of the season."  (pg. 27-28)

"Please allow me to be transparent for a moment. I believe Scripture is clear that there are times to be sad, angry, quiet, and grieved over your circumstances (see Ecclesiastes 3:4), and I experienced all of those emotions during the first few days of emergency room visits with my mother.  So when I talk about the Lord, I don't mean being in denial or responding to my mother's cancer with laughter and dancing.  In this case, praising God for me meant choosing to see Him in the circumstance - staying faithful to Him in the midst of uncertainty.  I may not have been praising Him with joyful music or celebration, but I praised Him through my tears and my grief.  I praised Him by staying close to Him when I could have run."  (pg. 54-56)

"If we long to see God at work in our present, we merely need to grow in our daily longing for Him."  (pg. 155)

"When God states that He is working for your good, it doesn't mean that everything that happens in your life will be good.  He is looking at a bigger picture than we are - our eternal future.  He is working out His good in your life to bring you into a closer relationship with Him.  Bad things happen because evil has invaded every orner of our fallen world, but God can work good out of even the worst situations.  God isn't always working to make you happy, but He is constantly moving toward completing His ultimate purpose:  making you into a more accurate image bearer of His Son, Jesus Christ."  (pg. 157)

In many ways, Kasey Van Norman has suffered more heartbreak than one woman can bear. Growing up, she endured her parents' divorce, date rape, and years of addiction to sex and cutting. As an adult, she suffered the pain of an emotional affair, rejection by her friends and community, and her mother's death from cancer. But at the end of this twisting path of heartbreak, Kasey walked out of the wilderness and into a place of God's merciful and miraculous healing.

Kasey writes with transparency about her personal journey with God.  She holds nothing back and while I read her book, I felt as if I was sitting down with a friend.  Kasey's teaching style radiates refreshing authenticity as she speaks to a generation of people tired of hypocrisy from themselves and those around them and are hungry for transparent leaders. You'll find no pious platitudes and religious cliche's in Named By God; only one woman's story of how God transformed her life with the washing of His Word.

Kasey's website can be found HERE.

The book can be found at by going HERE.

Thank you Tyndale House Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of review.



The Soul Saver

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Soul Saver
• Barbour Books (May 1, 2012)
Dineen Miller
 Dineen Miller readily admits that one of the greatest lessons she’s learning about life is that there’s purpose in our trials. It’s all about trusting God and putting our hope in Him. Her favorite stories are of the miracles God has wrought in the lives of her family.

Through this lens she also believes her years as a youth counselor, a Stephen Minister, a women’s ministry leader, and a small group leader fuel her desire to ignite the souls of others through words of truth.

In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen has won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine. She’s also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio.

Married for 24 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adult daughters, who surprise her daily with their own creativity.

She is the co-author of Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and the author of The Soul Saver.
Her website can be found HERE.
When Trusting God Is the Only Way Out

On an average day, God started her missions in her sculpting studio, revealing the face of the person she would meet at the grocery store, bank, or playground. The goal was always the same. Reach the lost, bring someone back to God, restore hope. But then came the tough missions—the ones that sent Lexie Baltimore into real battle. And she had a few battle scars to show for it.

Tormented that she can’t reach the one person she loves the most—staunch atheist and husband Hugh—Lexie finds her own hope waning when the battle comes to her doorstep in the shape of a pastor who represents everything she wants and everything her husband is not—a godly man.

Then false accusations and rumors spin her husband and family into a precarious position, and the only way out is to trust God. But how can she convince her husband when she’s struggling to trust God herself?

This time Lexie is the mission.
You can read the first chapter of The Soul Saver by going HERE.

My Thoughts On The Book:
Ms Miller has done an excellent job of giving the reader a vivid feel for the battle we all face daily as believers.  She provides a stark reminder that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the enemy of our souls - satan and his demons.  Although The Soul Saver is a work of fiction, he story is believable and the characters are believable.  Throughout her story, Ms Miller reminds us that faith in the One true God overcomes every evil and wins every battle faced by the beloved of God.  Read this book and be encouraged in your daily struggles to overcome.

Happy Reading,