Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Falling Into A Hodge Podge

Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then go say howdy to your neighbor there. Thanks for playing along each week!

1.  In a rut, in a jam, in the groove, out of sync, off balance, out of touch...which saying best fits some area of your life currently (or recently)? Explain.  Out of sync would best fit me right now.  I just can't seem to get my many hats worn at the right time.  I feel as if I am a day late and a dollar short.  I am really struggling to keep all my ducks in a row.

2. What is it about somebody else's style of work (coworker/employee/shared volunteer project/household chore) that makes you crazy? Why?  For me it is the use of technology by the young whippersnappers.  They seem to draw all the attention on themselves and those of us who make a small technology contribution just seem like we are old dogs trying new tricks.

3. What's a tradition that always makes you feel at home?  Thanksgiving would have to be my answer.  It is my favorite holiday.  I love the gathering of kith and kin around the hearth.


4. A favorite song with a girl's name in the title or lyrics? Any reason why this is a particular favorite?  I love music so I have many and some are copies of Joyce's.  Annie's Song (John Denver), Beth (Kiss), Sweet Caroling (Neil Diamond), Aimee (Pure Prairie League), Amanda (Don Williams), I'm Not Lisa (Jesse Colter)...and my favorite would be Mary Did You Know (Pentatonix).  I could sing this song year round.  It is so powerful.

5. Share a favorite quote, verse, or saying relating to gratitude or thanksgiving.

 

6. Insert your own random thought here.  Fall is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is a wonderful time to take that road less traveled and converse with God in nature.

 

 




Thursday, November 2, 2017

We Gather Together - Number 131

The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 131  is one of my favorite hymns for the Thanksgiving season.  I get so excited when it is time to sing this song.  The words are so very powerful. 

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. 
Sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own.”

In many hymnals, “We gather together” appears as a Thanksgiving hymn. Perhaps this is because of the opening line and the general idea that God is with us regardless of our circumstances. However, the hymn speaks more about God’s providence throughout the trials of life. The story behind this hymn clarifies its text.   This hymn is a late 16th-century expression of celebration of freedom by The Netherlands from Spanish oppression. Like many older hymns, it finds its way to us through a circuitous route.   It was first published in Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck (1626), a collection by Adrianus Valerius in Haarlem. Austrian Edward Kremser (1838-1914) included it in Sechs Altniederl√§ndische Volkslieder (Six Old Netherlands Folksongs) in 1877 for his men’s chorus, all six anonymous songs taken from the Valerius collection 250 years earlier.   According to UM Hymnal editor Carlton Young, the performance of these tunes led to their popularity and the inclusion in many hymnals.  The story extends to the U.S. through Theodore Baker (1851-1934), a New York-born musicologist who studied in Leipzig and authored the famous Biographical Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Baker translated the hymn from German for an anthem entitled “Prayer for Thanksgiving” published in 1894. It is from Baker that the hymn gets its traditional Thanksgiving connection. The Dutch, long a stronghold for the Reformed theology of John Calvin, were in a struggle against Spain for their political independence and against the Catholic Church for religious freedom. A 12-year truce was established in 1609, giving young Prince Frederick Henry a chance to mature into an able politician and soldier.  During this time, the Dutch East India Company extended its trade beyond that of the English. The high period of Dutch art flourished with Hals, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Under the guidance of the Prince’s leadership, Spain’s efforts to regain supremacy on land and sea were finally overcome in 1648. There was indeed much for which to be thankful.  Some of the political overtones in this hymn faithfully translated by Baker are apparent. Hymnologist Albert Bailey suggests that the phrase, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,” is an allusion to the persecution of the Catholic Church under the policies of Spain. Thousands had been massacred and hundreds of homes burned by the Spanish in 1576 during the siege of Antwerp.  In stanza two, the writer states, “so from the beginning the fight we were winning,” stressing that Protestants had always been assured of winning the cause. The truce of 1609 proved that the Lord “wast at our side.”   The final stanza is a series of petitions—
“ ...pray that thou still our defender will be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!”

This is an eschatological stanza. The ultimate battle has not been won and will not be won until all battles cease.  An interesting sidebar was that Baker’s anthem inspired another hymn.   A young Julia Cady Cory (1882-1963) heard this text in 1902 at her church, Brick Presbyterian in New York City. Cory’s “We praise thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator” is a more general hymn of praise and thanksgiving that also uses the Dutch tune KREMSER. Cory’s hymn did not include any reference to nationalism, making it a more general ecumenical hymn of thanksgiving.  The United Methodist Hymnal has placed this hymn in the “Providence” section rather with other traditional Thanksgiving hymns, broadening its use for thanksgiving during any difficult times.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Season of Thanksgiving.






We are coming upon a season of Thanks.  It is one of my most favorite times of the year.  As this holiday season approaches you will most likely hear the song “My Favorite Things” from the Broadway musical The Sound of Music. To me this song has always felt out of place during the holidays, until recently. I have begun to hear it in a new light, recognizing the famous list of “favorite things” as a list of reasons to be thankful. The character Maria, who sings this song, thinks about her list of favorite things when she seeks comfort.  We as Christians have a list as well. Our list is found in the Bible.  They are promises from our Lord – keepsakes we can cling to at all times including periods of worry, trouble, or despair. These promises urge Christ-followers not to be troubled or to feel alone. They are words offering great hope because they are not the words of mere men. They are inspired, never-changing words given to us from our Savior and Lord. Read through a few of these promises below:
The Lord will give His people strength. Psalm 29:11
The Lord hears our cries. Psalm 34:17
The Lord will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4-5
The Lord will answer when you call to Him. Jeremiah 33:3
You need not be afraid. God is with you. Isaiah 41:13
The Lord will give rest to your burdened soul. Matthew 11:28-29
The Lord will comfort you. John 14:27
The Lord has given us His Spirit to guide us. Acts 1:8
You will have everlasting life when you believe. John 3:16
Our list can go on and on. The Lord promises us mercy, protection, strength, eternity, love, and forgiveness. As it says in the Bible, God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) and His word is truth (John 17:1). We cannot look at God’s promises like we do those of our friends and family. As people, we often promise, but don’t follow through, even when we have the best of intentions. God’s Word is binding and true. These promises hold fast. We do not have to wonder if they will happen. Rather, we ought to wait in expectation. So “when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when you’re feeling sad,” I encourage you to remember all God has promised you. It is in these promises you will find great strength.  As you celebrate Thanksgiving, in addition to thinking through all you are thankful for, take time to thank God for His many promises.
Blessings, Karen

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

She's Got The Wrong Guy


 About The Book:  The control freak. The angry man. The lazy guy. The unteachable guy. The promiscuous man. The unbeliever. The lone ranger. The unchurched guy. The new convert. The commitment-phobe.
For any woman who has struggled with failed relationships, this may seem like a familiar list. These are the men your friends and family have in mind when they think, "she's with the wrong guy." And while the reasons women choose these types of men are complicated and varied, ultimately, they will all let you down.
In She's Got the Wrong Guy, Deepak Reju offers a different kind of dating book, discussing the types of guys women should not marry and offering biblical reasons why they aren't suitable spouses. Writing from his years of experience as a pastor and counselor, Reju shares with women his perspective on how to assess a relationship's strengths from the beginning, how to identify possible pitfalls, and how to have the courage to wait for a relationship that will be a blessing for both of you. Using stories that single women can relate to and highlighting contemporary issues in the modern world of dating, Reju gives readers clear, biblical direction on how to have positive, life-giving relationships with members of the opposite sex.
With a strong, Christ-centered focus, women will better understand why they "settle" for less than what God intends for their romantic relationships and learn to put their hopes and find their happiness in Jesus, not marriage.
About The Author:  Deepak Reju, MDiv, PhD, serves as the pastor of biblical counseling and families at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) in Washington, DC, as well as president for the board of directors of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is the author of several books and articles, including "Great Kings of the Bible: How Jesus Is Greater than Saul, David and Solomon," "The Pastor and Counseling," and "On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church." Deepak and his wife Sarah have been married since 2001 and have five children.
Find out more about Deepak at http://stores.newgrowthpress.com/.
My Thoughts On The Book:  As an ex-wife, of almost 25 years, I wish I had had this book before I got married the first time.   As a pastor I think this book is an excellent counseling tool for young almost married couples.  I have to admit that it was not my favorite book of all times, yet it was necessary.   It does seem to be a bit one sided and is geared more toward women than men.  It was not a book of do's and don'ts, it was a book of preparedness.  I believe so many times we step into relationships without waiting on the Lord's answer and we jump in head first not thinking of the results.  For young women....or second timers this is a great read if you are stepping out into the relationship game again.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Total Christmas Makeover

About The Book: 

Give your Christmas a makeover with this practical approach to help your family learn what it means to truly celebrate their Savior.
In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do. But it's important to pause and remember that our priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ's birth and not forget to invite Jesus to his own party.  Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.  In Total Christmas Makeover, author and Bible teacher Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach for you and your family to turn your attention toward God's grace day-by-day as you prepare for Christmas. This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering rituals, relationship, and rest to connect you more deeply with Christ this holiday season.
About The Author:
Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women's conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God's Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the "First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree," "Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness," and "Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible" studies and "Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home" book. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids.
My Thoughts On The Book: I knew I was hooked from the very beginning.  As a pastor and teacher Christmas gets away from me with all the hustle and bustle and activity.  I wish I had had this book when my children were small.  Thanks to this book I cannot wait to practice my new found Christmas makeover.    My goal this year is to make my family Christmas all about Christ.  I loved that fact that every entry included Scripture and a space that encouraged reflection in response to questions.  As a teacher I am always looking for ways to give my students practical applications for what we just learned and Spoelstra did just that. The book is divided into three categories: ritual, relationships, and rest. Each topic has ten days of devotionals to delve into.   I usually share wonderful books with my reader friends.  This is one I will have to buy for them because I have written all over my copy and do not want to share.  This book is a must to read before the holidays kick off. I promise you it is better than a day at a spa. Loved it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Last Hodge Podge for October. Where Has This Year Gone?

Joyce has been traveling the past two weeks, and needed to regroup before diving back into regular blogging. Whatever regular blogging means? In the meantime, let's hodgepodge. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you.



1. What's surprised you most about your life or life in general?
Changes later in life.  I always thought I would retire from BRHS and be retired, but after the mega snow/ice storm I found myself starting over at Randolph County.  The drive is gone, I am home before I ever left BRHS and I leave my house in the morning when I was getting to my old school.  I love it.

2.  Sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole, a baked sweet potato, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a caramel apple or a slice of pumpkin pie...you have to order one thing on this list right now. Which one do you go for?  I would choose the pumpkin pie.

3. What's a famous book set in your home state? Have you read it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 is fantastic) how many stars does it rate?
Stars Fell on Alabama  would be what first comes to mind. I found it more interesting as a cultural artifact than as a reading experience. Although it was difficult for me to read some sections (like depictions of lynchings), I'm especially glad they were included as documentation and confrontation. I'm sure it was extremely risky for him to write about such things, even while using pseudonyms. Overall the book's really loosely structured--some folk stories, some narrative, somewhere between journalistic and creative nonfiction, --and that style, or lack thereof (possibly combined with the fact that I already sort of knew or expected some of the content), made it a bit difficult for me to feel invested. There are no real threads other than "this is what this part of Alabama is like," so when I closed the book after a chapter, I didn't feel highly compelled to read the next. I think my favorite section is the chapter towards the end that gives spells for john the conquer root, and some of the african american ghost stories and folk tales. I also found the first few chapters on social life in Tuscaloosa interesting, as some things are very much the same (umm, yes, frat students still ditch classes to go to formals, and there are certifiable debutante balls). It is also true that Tuscaloosa was and *currently is* clearly divided into "From heres," "university people," and poor people and minorities... ".  It would be a 4 in my thoughts and is for people interested in history.
Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistlestop Cafe  would be my second choice.  It was written by Fannie Flagg.  It's first the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women -- of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.  I have eaten at the Whistlestop Cafe in Irondale, AL and enjoyed the whole experience.  It would be a 5.

4. There are 60 days until Christmas...have you started your shopping? How do you stay organized for the holidays?  I am almost done.  I shop all year so I can get the good bargains.  When I buy something I put it in the gift closet with the person's name on it.

5. October 26th is National Tennessee Day. Have you ever lived or spent any time in Tennessee? Is this a state you'd like to visit one day? The top rated tourist attractions in Tennessee are-

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg area), Elvis's Graceland (Memphis), Birth of the Music Biz (Memphis and Nashville), Dollywood (Pigeon Forge), Tennessee's Military Heritage (many battlefields), The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home), The Parthenon (Nashville), Oak Ridge American Museum of Science and Energy, Chattagnooa and the Tennessee Valley Railroad, Downtown Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, The Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge), The Museum of Appalachia (Clinton), and The Lost Sea Adventure (Sweetwater)

How many on this list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

I love Tennessee.  We go there quite often.  I have a best friend in Knoxville and a sister in Nashville.  I have seen all the attractions listed above, but my favorite place to be is in Cades Cove.


6.  Insert your own random thought here.  My daughter is coming home from Moldova.  Not permanently....but they will land here at midnight on the 26th, spend the night in Atlanta, then start their furlough and fund raising.  They will be here until Dec 4th and I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  I am off the 30th and plan to spend time with them then.  This is their first time home in two years.  This momma is thrilled beyond measure.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

On The Road Again Hodge Podge

Roadtripping Through The Hodgepodge

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then hop over and leave a comment for the person linking before you. Or leave a comment for everyone if you've got the time.

As a reminder-I'm declaring next week Fall Break in the Hodgepodge so no Wednesday Hodgepodge on October 18th. The Hodgepodge will return the following week, October 25th. Thanks for understanding.

1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your sense of direction? 1=can't find my way out of a paper bag and 10=if I've been somewhere once I can find it blindfolded ten years later.
When was the last time you looked at/used a map you could hold in your hand? (phones don't count!)
back east, down south, out west, up north
Choose one of these directional expressions and tell us why you chose it.

I will rate myself at least a 5. I have gotten used to using my maps app on my phone, but I can still follow written directions and read a map.  I'm from down south/and back east(Florida), I live down south(Alabama), I love to head out west, and plan to do some traveling up north when I retire in May.

2. Did you do more talking or listening yesterday? Is that typical? Describe your yesterday in one word.  Yesterday I listened more than talked.  Remember I teach....so talking is what I do for a living. I prefer listening....so I can create your story in my head.  Is that typical? Typically I think I lean more to the talking side of things, but only when I am in my classroom.   Yesterday (Monday) in one word? Frustrating

3. Time, money, water-power-resources, opportunity...which one on the list are you most guilty of wasting? What might you do to change that?  Hands down....time.  Although I think we're all guilty of wasting time now and then, but most of the time wasting time means I have missed an opportunity.

4. Did  your family take regular vacations when you were a kid? Tell us something you remember about a family roadtrip from your own childhood.  Our big vacations were always too see the family in Alabama.  It always bothered me that we vacationed in Alabama....instead of the cool places all my friends and family went.  One year my parents, my aunt and I stayed in a cabin on the Santee Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina and traveled the Blue Ridge Hwy.  I loved it. We also traveled through Florida a lot.  My favorite place we frequented was Sanibel Island, and I have been to all the places tourists go like Weekee Watchee, Silver Springs, Bach Tower, Cape Canaveral, Howie in the Hills.  My parents loved to wander....so I don't really call these vacations....they loved vintage stuff....they loved old, weird....off the grid places....and so do I.  I made sure though that my children had vacations.  We have been to 48 of the 50 states.

5. If you could grow anything you wanted, what would you grow? Why?  Orchids. They are so dainty and I just love them. My best friend's mom grew them and they were all over their back yard.  When I married she sent one to me in a tube to be attached to my bouquet and when her granddaughter married Mrs. Schmidt made me my very own orchid corsage for directing the wedding. 
I am in agreement with Joyce.  I would love a huge English garden....just like the one at Anne Hathaways house in England.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  I write book reviews and just got the 50th anniversary edition of the book Christy.  The character in the story actually inspired me to teach.  Is there a book you have ever read that inspired something in you?  What was it?  Care to share?

Friday, October 6, 2017

If We Make It Home


 About The Book:  When four college friends graduated from the University of Northwest Oregon, their lives stretched before them, full of promise and vows to stay connected. But life has a way of derailing well-laid plans.

Now they haven't spoken in twenty-five years. But against all odds, three of them have found themselves back in the same place--at their alma mater, wondering how they got there. When they discover their fourth friend, Hope, has died, Jenna, Ireland, and Vicky decide to embark on a wilderness adventure to honor her memory--and for secret reasons of their own. Jenna wants to show her husband that she's more than a helpless, overweight, middle-aged empty nester. Ireland wants to get back to the nature she loves and hide from the charges being pressed against her. And Vicky wants to show she cares for something besides her ministry--and put off the disaster waiting at home for as long as possible.

They never bargained for the dangers they face in an unforgiving wilderness. Now they'll have to work together if they hope to make it home alive. While the three women fight to survive the elements, their toughest battles may be with themselves.


About The Author By The Author:  "Writing is a long journey. Like any art, the craft requires countless hours of practice and dedication. While months can pass with little to no validation, there are also moments of celebrations. I’ve been honored to to a three-time finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest, the overall winner in the Phoenix Rattler contest, as well as a third-place winner in the Idahope contest.  I’m blessed to have signed with Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Agency. Karen is my agent, mentor, and the person who reminds me why I keep doing this. While the writer’s road is not without bumps­­—many quite deep—I love what I do. I think it’s the path God has always had for me.

My Thoughts On The Book:  I loved this book,  Once I started it I could not put it down and felt as if I was making this trek with these women.  I am not a huge fan of switching between characters every few pages.  I tend to get confused about which character was speaking. Nelson did a really good job of switching and I was left waiting to see what was going to happen next.  I am a huge Pacific Northwest fan and this book is a definite must read.  I can't wait for her next book.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Many Sparrows


About The Book:  Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would. . . .
In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.
When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son . . . especially when her second child is moments away from being born.
Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob's life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do-be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?
About The Author:
 
Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn't writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of "Burning Sky," recipient of three Christy Awards, "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn," Christy-nominee "The Wood's Edge," and "A Flight of Arrows."
Find out more about Lori at http://loribenton.blogspot.com.
 
My Thoughts On The Book:  This was my first book by Lori Benton and it certainly won't be my last.  I have always been drawn to historical novels.  When Benton drew me in to the story I could not put the book down until I read the last page.   I felt as if I was right there experiencing what the characters were going through.  Her research was spot on and she knows how to put it in story form.. Love the book Lori and I al so  ready to read more.  Great book!!!!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gathering Threads


 About The Book:  Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves, Will Ariana’s new perspectives draw her family closer together— or completely rip them apart?  After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family?  Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart. Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

About The Author: Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of nineteen works of fiction and non-fiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s Nightline, the Wall Street Journal, and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. 

My Thoughts On The Book:  I am a huge Cindy Woodsmall fan.  I love her books. Yet, as big a fan as I am..... I was a little disappointed with the third and final in the Series:  The Amish of Summer Grove.  I had a hard time getting into this book.   I can't say the book was bad....but as far as good goes it was just alright. I liked the way Woodsmall ties up all the loose ends and I am not left wondering what will be. I loved the characters in the series.  I felt as if I knew each one of them personally.  If you are a fan of Amish fiction then I recommend this series to you.  I cannot wait to see what Woodsmall comes out with next.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Cindy Woodsmall Launch Group and Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Bringing Maggie Home


About The Book:  Decades of loss, an unsolved mystery, and a rift spanning three generations
Hazel DeFord is a woman haunted by her past. While berry picking in a blackberry thicket in 1943, ten-year old Hazel momentarily turns her back on her three-year old sister Maggie and the young girl disappears.
Almost seventy years later, the mystery remains unsolved and the secret guilt Hazel carries has alienated her from her daughter Diane, who can't understand her mother's overprotectiveness and near paranoia. While Diane resents her mother's inexplicable eccentricities, her daughter Meghan-a cold case agent-cherishes her grandmother's lavish attention and affection.
When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a six-week leave-of-absence to recover, all three generations of DeFord women find themselves unexpectedly under the same roof. Meghan knows she will have to act as a mediator between the two headstrong and contentious women. But when they uncover Hazel's painful secret, will Meghan also be able to use her investigative prowess to solve the family mystery and help both women recover all that's been lost?
About The Author: 

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.
Find out more about Kim at http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com/.
  
My Thoughts On The Book:   This was one of the best books I have read in a while.  It was AWESOME!!!! I have shared it with my reading buddies and plan to reread it as soon as I get it back! I love the way the story weaves throughout the lives of 3 different generations of women in the same family. I felt as if I knew each character. This was one of those books you just can't put down once you pick it up.  I hated to see the book come to an end.  Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my favorite authors.  She really makes the story come true on the page.  I actually recommend all of her books, but most especially this one!  It is dynamite.  Loved it!!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Falling In Love With God

Fall in Maine off the beat and path
Winter, spring, summer, and fall are all God’s seasons.  The 22nd was the first day of fall.  When I was young I was a big fan of summer and spring and not at all fond of fall or winter.  Why?  I grew up in South Florida.  We did not have fall or winter.  I didn’t even own a jacket until I moved to Alabama. Moving to Alabama definitely broadened my horizons.  I fell in love with fall.  I think it has something to do with those leaves of red, orange, yellow, and burgundy that grace the trees during fall.  Every year I fell as if I am noticing them for the very first time.  I love to take rides and watch people set out pumpkins in their yards with hay bales, and watch them plant colorful mums. A few years ago I went to see a friend.  As I entered her neighborhood I noticed many yards were decorated for fall.  It was truly gorgeous….but I could not remember seeing this when I had been to her house before.  I began to wonder if I had just missed this glorious season all this time….or was it that as I got older I found myself appreciating the small things in God’s world more.  The Bible says, “This is the day that the Lord hath made, and I will rejoice in it.”  Each day He has given me beauty to enjoy, especially on my daily trek from Wedowee to Wadley.  I decided the first fall I drove down CR 15 that I was going to sit back and take in this amazing artwork He has created.  You know it amazes me how He can create such awesomeness and themes.  We see artists that try to capture the seasons on their canvases by painting what is around them, and they do a wonderful job.  However, neither painting nor paint could ever replace the real thing splashed across the sky and spilled over the earth like the Master’s display of his finest artwork.  God’s winter.  When people say there is no God, I know they do not see with eyes like mine.  They must see a plain, white canvas or a black back drop cloth and not the blue skies that fade into light pink in the evening.  Nor do they see the flowers that no paint on any artist’s palate could attempt to match or the trees that were each given a certain color leaf to change into when autumn arrives.  “No God,” they say.  It is just that they do not know the Master of the seasons, the One who has created such magnificent displays of perfect art.  Instead of always looking forward to the summer and springtime, I have decided to enjoy the Master’s autumn masterpiece for the rest of my life.  What about you?  What is your favorite season?


Cades Cove in Smokey Mountain National Park

Cheaha Mtn/Talladega. National Forrest

University of the South Cross on a fall night