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!”

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


 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Falling For Hodge Podge

Welcome to the last of the summertime Hodgepodges for this year. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then leave a sunny comment for the person linking before you. It's what all good blog neighbors do.


1. What's something you'd rate a 10/10? Tell us why.
I have to agree with Joyce on this one....grandparenting. Why?  Because they light up my life. I don't have pictures on my school computer....sigh!  BUT my room is full of them.
 
2. What job would you be terrible at? What makes you think so? Anything that involves being up high or anything in the medical field.  I can't do heights...and I cannot do gross.
3. When did you last take a fall? What's something you're falling for (in a good way) these days?
I not fallen in a few years.  I used to be a major source of falling entertainment for years.  My kids thought it was the funniest thing on earth. 
Something I'm falling for these days?  Baking, reading, crafting..we have a craft fair coming up in a few weeks and I am getting my stuff ready.
4. According to the Travel Channel here are some of America's best fall festivals-
National Apple Harvest Festival (near Arendtsville PA, close to Gettysburg), Harvest on the Harbor (Portland Maine), German Village Festival (Columbus Ohio), Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Cape Cod), and Wine and Chile Fiesta (Santa Fe NM)  Have you ever been to any of the festivals listed? Which one appeals to you most? Does your hometown have any sort of fall celebration, and if so will you make it a point to attend?  I love Fall Festivals and have been to quite a few.  I haven't been to any of the festivals listed, but they all sound like fun so how do I pick just one? I think I'd go  to the National Apple Harvest Festival.  I LOVE apples.  I also would like the Harvest on the Harbor because I adore lobster and Maine in the fall is amazing!  I love the Cotton Pickin' Fair held in Gay, GA in October and May..   I also love the Hummingbird Festival in Hogansville, GA in the fall and some small but fun ones like  Crafts on the Median in Wedowee and Heritage Day in Freedonia, AL.  I enjoy them all.
5. What is your goodbye message to summer?

Dear Summer-
  You weren't too bad this year....but I am a fall fan and can't wait for the vibrant colors of the season.  

 Love ya though....KK
 
6. Insert your own random thought here. 
I had spiced cider last night because it was raining and I was chilly.  It was yummmy.   What is your favorite fall/winter drink?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wordy Wednesday Hodge Podge


I would love to welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge, but the hurricane happenings have thrown me way behind so it did not happen. We ended up with more Irma effect in our area than was predicted, two days out of school....power stayed at our house....but not so much for many of our friends....and the school.  There were a lot of trees down and the ones that did not drop completely dropped so many leaves and branches all over the yard, but we'll deal.  I still have family and friends in Florida....and my heart is heavy with the needs of those who've lost homes, businesses, pets, and most especially their loved ones. I pray we can all continue to be good neighbors, helping one another in whatever way we're able.  Here are my answers to this week's questions. If you're playing along, add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you. Here we go-


1. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.
There are many pictures that inspire me to write.  There are many who bring back fond....and not so fond memories.  In my world...pictures speak with talking....and tell so many stories of good times I have had with family and friends.  

2. Have you ever driven any part of the Pacific Coast Highway? If so what was your favorite stop? If not, is this sort of trip on your bucket list?  I have been(driving or being driven) the entire length of the PCH.  It was my very first bucket list.  I would do it again anytime.  Favorite stop?  You know me....it is plural....I  teach Spanish...so I loved visiting all the missions along the way.  San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara were my favorites.  I loved Ventura(be sure to stay at the Cliff House Inn....the views were amazing....I loved Venice Beach....Glass Beach is a must see....Chandelier Drive Tree Drive Through was pretty amazing as well.  There were so many things I would love to go back and repeat....BUT...there are still so many things on my bucket list.  I must go forth....and get the rest of the list taken care of....so I can add new things.

3. How do the changing seasons affect you? As the seasons change do you find yourself looking more forward or backward? Which season-season transition bothers you most? Why do you think that is?  I look forward mostly, but occasionally looking back is a reminder of special times....Fall to winter is hard  for me.  I have lost too many loved ones during this period and it makes me a bit blue.

4. It's your birthday and you get to pick the dinner menu. What are we having? Do you ever lie about your age?  Grilled hamburgers/steaks if Frank is cooking.  Italian if we are at Pizzavilla, Emporers Plate at Mikatos in Auburn, Wings(Colorado Coppers) if we are in Knoxille/Charleston and Chicken Enchiladas Verde if I am at Tres Hermanos in Roanoke.  I never lie about my age.  I am what I am.

5. What's a life lesson you've learned recently?  I am not as young as I used to be.  I have a new friend who has come to visit.  His name is Arthur Itus.  He is killing my left knee and right ankle....especially with all the rain we have been having.  

6. Insert your own random thought here.  You must see the movie A Case For Christ.  It is out on DVD and Blue Ray....and awesome.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Jack Of All Trades

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to Joyce's by clicking here to read everyone's responses.  If you want to you can add your link to the party. See you there!


From this Side of the Pond

1. When you think about your future what do you fear most? Hope for the most?  Retirement and retirement.  I am afraid I will stop like my dad did when I retire and I can't wait til May when I retire and can do the things I love to do.

2. September is National Chicken Month. How often is chicken on the menu at your house? What's a favorite dish made with chicken? What's something you're a 'chicken' about doing or trying?  we love Chicken and eat it at least once a week...sometimes more.  My favorite dishes with Chicken is Chicken in a pot (a Greek inspired dish) and Poppy Seed Chicken made by Mrs. Jean from my church....but I will pretty much eat chicken any way it is served.  I LOVE Chicken enchilada's with green sauce from Tres Hermanos too.  I have not perfected the recipe yet.  I am chicken about doing anything that involves extreme heights....so no bungee jumping, et al for me.

3. What are three things you don't own but wish you did?   A vintage mustang, a Gibson guitar like the one Emmy Lou Harris plays, and a house in the mountains.

4. Would you rather be a jack of all trades or a master of one? Elaborate.  If you answered one, which one?  I am like my father....he was a master electrician....but a Jack of all trades.  My dad could do anything and I am my father's daughter.

5. Ketchup or mustard? On what?  Both...on hamburgers and hotdogs....ketchup only on French fries....sometimes.

6.  Insert your own random thought here. Hurricane Irma is frightening me.  I still have family and friends in South Florida so I am concerned for their safety.  I am also saddened by the wildfires in Montana.  I have been to many of the places that are now burned to the ground.  The Historic Lodge in Glacier National Park was one of the things on my bucket list.  I am sad because it is no more.  I guess you should always do things when you have the chance and not wait.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hodge Podging Stuff

Welcome to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge! If you've chosen to answer the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post by clicking here, then hop over and say hi to your neighbor on the list. Here we go-


From this Side of the Pond 

1. Did you watch the solar eclipse? Your thoughts? Sun Chips, Moon Pies, Starburst candies, a Blue Moon beer, a Sunkist orange, or a Milky Way candy bar...what's your favorite eclipse related snack on this list?  We absolutely watched the eclipse.  It was a big event at Wadley High School and we took the students out to the football field with their glasses for it. You could see the eclipse as it moved across the sky in our special glasses....but it did not get dark here like they said it would....so sad.  I made a decision to be where there is totality in 2024 when the next one happens.  Most of our teachers passed out Moon Pies, Sunkist, Milky Ways, and Starbursts.  

2. What are you 'over the moon' about these days? What's something you enjoy doing every 'once in a blue moon'?  I am over the moon about singing with the girls again in Still Magnolias.  We got to sing together for the first time in two years on Saturday night.  It was awesome.  What do I enjoy doing every once in a while????  Don't laugh....but  eating a Moon Pie.  Every now and then I actually crave one.

3. Tell us about something in the realm of science that interests you. How do you feed that interest?
I have to agree with Joyce.  We have hummingbirds and the ins and outs of the little fellows amaze me.  I love to watch them fly, fight, eat.  I am also amazed by storms and the majesty and power of lightening.  When I was a child squalls before a hurricane absolutely fascinated me.

4. What are a few things you remember about going back to school as a child?  I remember going to Davis' 5 & 10 for new school supplies and hearing the wooden floors squeak under our feet, getting a real cigar box for pencils from the cigar store, my first day dress, the  new shoes I got and how they hurt my feet til I got them stretched out.  First days and last days have always been my favorites....

5. I've seen several versions of this around the net so let's make one of our own...share with us five words that touch your soul and briefly tell us why.

daddy-warmth, comfort - It is well with my soul.. 

dream-I too have always been a dreamer. 
Dreams awaken what could be's in my heart and mind.. 

squalls/storms- awaken life with in me

Lightening - show me the majesty of God and all his power.  There is a bit of fear that is experienced with the majesty.  


Love - unconditionally given by me, to me, for me....no questions asked....just love.


6.  Insert your own random thought here. The first football game starts this week with a Jamboree.  Do schools in  your areas do this?  It is a showcase of the teams.  This week our theme is going to be Beach the Bulldogs and the kids will be dressed up in Beach Attire.  I am not a huge fan of this dress up thing....it causes the kids to be less than focused.  I feel they should do all this during the pep rallys....not during the day..  What about you?  How do you feel about pep rallys and dress up during school?

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Irish Cottage


About The Book:  A story about losing your way and finding your life. Elizabeth Lara built a perfect life as San Francisco’s top divorce attorney, but when she loses her great-aunt Mags, the woman who raised her, she boards a plane and leaves it all behind.

The Irish shores welcome her as she learns a shocking truth, kept secret for thirty-five years. Devastated and now alone in the world, Beth tries to find peace in a beautiful cottage by Lough Rhiannon, but peace isn’t what fate had in mind. Almost as soon as she arrives, Beth’s solitary retreat into the magic wilds of Ireland is interrupted by Connor Bannon. A man with light brown hair, ice blue eyes and a secret of his own. He’s gorgeous, grieving, and completely unexpected.  With the help of Mags’ letters, the colorful townspeople of Dingle, and Connor, Elizabeth might just find a way back to the girl she lost long ago and become the woman she always wanted to be.

The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth is an international women’s literary fiction romance novel with three books in the novel series. Other themes include: romance literary fiction, women’s sagas, love stories, and second chances at life.


About The Author:  Jules is originally from California. She is a true, hopeless, all-in romantic. Her first kiss was with a Frenchman in Paris, her first love was an Eagle Scout, her first crash and burn was with someone from Harvard (Jules studied history at Yale--she should have known better).   The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth was inspired by Jules' love for all things Irish. A love sparked in her teens by Riverdance; fanned into a flame when she befriended a group of Irish kids in France; and blazed into a wildfire by a visit to the Emerald Isle.  Earlier this year, an AncestryDNA test confirmed what Jules has suspected for a while: she's part Irish (one of her grandparents continues to be unknown, but as luck would have it, the test divined that he must have been an Irish-Scot-Swede).

My Thoughts On The Book:  It wasn't the best book I have ever read, and it was not the worst., but I found myself drawn to Beth and Connor.   I am not a huge fan of sex scenes in books but these were not terribly offensive and used in the right places.  I love romance novels and since I am from Irish descent I love Ireland.  This book was a win-win for me.  I enjoyed it.  I am usually drawn to Amish fiction so this was a nice break.  Will I read the next two in the series?  I most definitely will to see what happens to Beth and Connor. The setting was very real and I allowed myself to be carried back to Ireland within the confines of the story.  I would give this book a solid 4.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Amazon. 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, August 12, 2017

Fraying at the Edge: The Amish of Summer Grove, Book 2



About The Book: Family, community, faith, and love.  These “quilt blocks” sewn together made Ariana’s beautiful life.  When they are pulled to pieces,  will anything familiar remain?  The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?  At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.  New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?  Fraying at the Edge is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

Excerpt: © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved  Summer Grove, Pennsylvania

The dark shadows lying across the living room floor were eerie, seemingly coming out of hiding as Lovina remained kneeling in front of the couch, her Bible open. The pale moonlight only intensified the darkness that surrounded her, as if the blackness were a picture of what was happening to her family. To her daughters.

She tightened her interlaced fingers. Her knees ached from the hours she had quietly sought God for the kind of help only He could give.

The daughter she’d thought she had given birth to two decades ago was gone, spending her first night with strangers in an Englisch home that by all accounts was worldly and in disarray. From what little she knew, that home was dysfunctional at best. She was terrified for the daughter she’d raised, the one who had none of her DNA.

Until recently Lovina hadn’t realized that even God’s faithful ones endured the kind of terror that had now entrenched itself in her heart. But maybe the truth was Lovina hadn’t been faithful, not truly.

“God, please don’t let Ariana or Skylar pay the price for my sin.”

How would Ariana—Lovina’s sweet, wide-eyed girl—survive for a year outside the Amish community she loved with her whole heart?

The daughter Lovina had actually given birth to was upstairs, sharing a bedroom with her sisters for the first time in her twenty-year life. The image of meeting Skylar yesterday for the first time made Lovina break into fresh sobs. Her daughter had black nails that matched the dyed-black streak in her blond hair. And she wore jewelry, makeup, and revealing clothes. But none of that had twisted Lovina’s heart in a knot like the hard­ness she saw in Skylar, as if bitterness had already destroyed her belief in life and humanity. The young woman wasn’t hopeless. She had dreams but no apparent understanding that life and people were valuable. Even with all that, the most painful part of yesterday was when Skylar’s driver, Quill Schlabach, handed Lovina the luggage and suggested she thoroughly inspect it to verify Skylar hadn’t brought any drugs with her.

Lovina had set the luggage aside for a while and tried to connect with Skylar about little things—her hobbies, schooling, and such. Later, when the two of them were alone, Lovina went through the suitcase as Skylar sat on the bed, calmly and apathetically assuring her that she’d only popped a few pills on occasion and that a random drug test happened to catch her right after one such rare event. Lovina found no drugs, but Skylar’s calm, detached behavior toward meeting her family, having a twin, and the drug search was disconcerting.

“Father in heaven, please strengthen Skylar to overcome all desire for pills—occasional or otherwise.”

It was her fault Skylar was in this predicament. Just as it was her fault Ariana had been forced to leave here and go to a dysfunctional home. Would Lovina spend the rest of her life carrying this unbearable sense of blame?

When the floor creaked, Lovina lifted her forehead from her folded hands. Her husband stood in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room, bathed in shadows and dressed in yesterday’s pants with sus­penders pulled over a white T-shirt.

He eased toward her, knelt, and put an arm around her shoulders. “God, help my Lovina,” he whispered, and then he kissed her temple. “It’ll be okay. It will.”

Lovina didn’t need or want false words of hope, but maybe God had spoken to Isaac. Maybe He hadn’t. She wouldn’t ask.

Skylar had spent a lifetime being indoctrinated in ways Lovina had little knowledge of. In fact, she would be in rehab right now were it not for these crazy circumstances.

Lovina’s need to confess her sin to her husband weighed heavily. “The unbearable part is I did this.”

“Shh.” He held her tight, probably trying to ease her trembling. “No, my love. This isn’t—”

“But it is. Please, I have to say it aloud to someone . . . at least once.”

He nodded. “Then say it a thousand times if it will help.”

Lovina wiped her tears. “When I doubted that we had the right new­born, I didn’t push hard enough to get answers.”

“But Rachel dismissed your fears.”

“Rachel meant well, but as a midwife she didn’t have a mother’s heart. I should’ve pushed harder for answers then.” She sobbed. “And twenty years later when I discovered the truth about the girls being swapped, I pushed too hard, too fast. Quill tried to warn me, telling me I needed to slow down. But I forged ahead, thinking Skylar needed the faith we could offer her. But we’re in over our heads with that one. I see that now. I’ve upended both girls’ lives. Ariana is there, and . . .” She broke into fresh tears. “I’m a horrible person, Isaac.”

He wrapped her in his arms and held her tight. “God will forgive us.”

Even he couldn’t muster another denial of their guilt. This nightmare was Lovina’s fault, and no matter how it played out, her daughters—yes, she considered both of them her daughters—would pay the price. Who knew how high a price? All the regret of her past failures and all the fear of her daughters’ futures weighed on her mother’s heart, squeezing and press­ing until she didn’t think she could take any more.

As much as she believed in forgiveness and redemption, she wasn’t sure any existed for her. God could forgive her, and He could redeem her from eternal damnation. But that wouldn’t undo or erase two decades of planting and harvesting in Skylar’s life.

Clarity came to her like dawn dispelling night, and she knew why the burden of her sin was so very heavy tonight. Darkness was stretching to­ward Ariana, and Lovina needed to pray fervently, because her sweet girl would soon be in a fight for her sanity.  
About The Author:  Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction and nonfiction 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. She can be found online at cindywoodsmall.com

My Thoughts On The Book:  Fraying at the Edge is book two from Cindy Woodsmall's The Amish of Summer Grove series. I feel that you need to read the first in the series first to get the full impact of the series, although you could read this one as a stand alone.
Fraying at the Edge is wonderful and I loved connecting with my Amish friends again.  The two young women were thrown into unknown worlds have both touched my heart. Woodsmall's books are among the best Amish books I have ever read.  Once I start one I cannot stop reading until it is finished.   It is going to be hard waiting for the third and final book.  I have to see how the story line finishes.  


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Cindy Woodsmall Facebook Launch Team and Waterbrook. 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, August 11, 2017

Ties That Bind - The Amish of Summer Grove -Book One


About The Book:  Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?  Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.  Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish. Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever. Ties That Bind is the first novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series.

About The Author:  Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.  She's won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer's Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings' Best Books of the Year. She's been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.  Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn't realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn't allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy's house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them--afraid that if they didn't, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann's because her family didn't own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults' disapproval and the obstacles in each other's lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy's family moved to another region of the US.  As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities--from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.  Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I love Amish fiction and romance, I love Cindy Woodsmall books, so when you put the two together I am a winner all the way around. Woodsmall has an excellent way of drawing you into her stories with her life like characters.  This is the first book of The Amish of Summer Grove Series.  From the beginning of the book I felt as if I was part of this family and their lives.  There were a few different story lines going on throughout the book and the ending made you anxious to begin reading book two.  I could not put this book down.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cindy Woodsmall and Waterbrook Press. 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, August 9, 2017

Lighting The Way With Wednesday Hodgepodge

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you want to answer on your own blog, then be sure to hop over to Joyce's blog by clicking here.  Ready?  Here we go-


1. Do you try to set rules for yourself about how you use your time? Explain.  I am a school teacher so rules are a norm in my world. If I did not have rules I would not be very productive.  I set rules for working on lesson plans, doing housework, preaching, outside activities and that way I can also have time to do the things I love....write, blog, read, and of course....sleep.

2. Monday was National Lighthouse Day. Have you ever visited a lighthouse? If not, do you have any desire to see one up close? Of the 10 Most Beautiful that made this list which would you most like to see in person-  I have seen many lighthouses.  I actually have a Lighthouse Passport that I get stamped when visiting one.  Of the 10 on the list my favorites I have seen are:  Portland Head Light (Maine), Yaquina Bay Light (Oregon) The St. Augustine Light (Florida), and  Bass Harbor Head Station (Maine).  I also love Nubble (Maine), Sanibel(Florida), Boston Harbor (Mass), Quaddy (Maine), Old Mission (Maine)....and many others.  My retirement goal is to get my passport stamped by all of the lighthouse in America and Volunteer at a lighthouse in the North. 

When you've been away, what's your 'lighthouse' telling you you're on the right road home? The Cross on the Interstate near Chattanooga.

3. What have you unintentionally stopped doing? Is this something you need to pick back up and begin again, or is it something you need to let go of for now (or even permanently)?  Scrapbooking.  I found it was way too expensive, time consuming, and I just did not enjoy it.  I may pick it up again after I retire.

4. We've had a full week of August. Share a GRAND moment from your month so far. School started back for the 2017/2018 year and I experienced my Last First Day with the Senior Class.

5. Tell us one song you love with the word 'baby' in the title.  Baby I'm A Want You, 1971 by Bread.

 6.  Insert your own random thought here. The school year has begun.  I cannot tell you how many first day pictures I have seen.  I even posted one of the Seniors of 2018.  Did you always take that dreaded first day picture of your kids when they were young????

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Magnolia Story


About The Book:  National Bestseller--New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publisher's Weekly.  Are you ready to see your fixer upper?
These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.
They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.
In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:
  • The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
  • Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
  • When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
  • Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
  • Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
  • Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
  • The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
  • The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way
And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”

About The Authors:  CHIP AND JOANNA GAINES are the founders of Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market, and Magnolia Realty in Waco, Texas. Together, they also host HGTV’s Fixer Upper, where Joanna serves as the lead designer and Chip handles construction. They appreciate the old ways of living, simple and hardworking, with home at the center of it all.

My Thoughts On The Book:  I became a huge fan of Chip and Joanna when I was in the hospital and then home for a month on bed rest.  I fell in love with the couple and knew I had to read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very relaxing.  I love that the book and stories are told using both of their voices as they share their personal and business stories.  I feel as if I have known them forever.  It was so refreshing to read a story that showed faith, hope, and love as easy as breathing.  LOVED IT!!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I did not receive this book for free from anybody.  I paid to read it and I loved it so much I had to write a review on it.   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.”

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Reunited By Danger


About The Book: When a former classmate is murdered at Detective Caleb Lyons's ten-year high school reunion, he knows the victim's old group of friends are keeping secrets. That includes Cedar Key, Florida, police officer Amber Kingston. Back in school, Amber was headed for trouble, but now she's as dedicated to the law as he is. As he works overtime to get the pretty cop to open up to him, Amber and her friends receive messages threatening payback for past deeds. And her friends keep dying…one by one. But protecting Amber and unmasking a murderer isn't just the widowed detective's shot at redemption—it's his unexpected second chance at love.
About The Author:  From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads as if she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.  Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.  To learn more about Carol you may visit her web site at http://www.caroljpost.com. 
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have loved Cedar Key forever and that is what made me want to read Carol Post's books.  Her characters are lifelike and make you feel as if you know them.  This is a great mystery-romance and a good beach read.  Post is quiet a wordsmith and once you start one of her books you just can't put it down.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good Who Dunnit with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.  I can't wait to read another one of her books.
 Disclosure of Material: I received a copy of this book for free from the author herself and Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense.  I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions 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, July 26, 2017

Wednesday Hodge Podge Throw Down

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of from this side of the pond's post by clicking here. And before you run off hop around and say hi to your neighbors, leaving lots of happy comments in your wake.

Also, a reminder there will not be a Hodgepodge next Wednesday (August 2nd). The HP will be back in action the week after (August 9th). Thanks!


1. We've reached edition number 315 here in the Wednesday Hodgepodge. So tell us, what were you doing at 3:15 yesterday? Is that typical? On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being low and 10 being high) what's your energy level usually like at 3:15 PM?  At 3:15 yesterday afternoon I preparing for Revival at my church. I sang last night and was practicing what I was going to do. Revival is a once a year event beginning the fourth Sunday in the month of July. My energy level at 3:15 is usually around a 4.

2. A frisbee, a tantrum, a towel, a party, a punch, or a curveball...which have you most recently thrown or had thrown at/for you? Elaborate.  The first five do not apply to me.  I have had a couple of curveballs thrown at me.  We have flex days this year that we are supposed to be allowed to do if we attended conferences and classes during the summer....so both of my principals have scheduled Open Houses during those flex days.  I made plans to go see my friend Susan in Knoxville....and have decided...I am going to Knoxville.  I earned the time.

 3. What are three things that would help you right now. Tell us how or why.  Preparation of my class for the first day.  First months lesson plans done and in the book.  Someone to clean my house.

4. Do you think you're strong? Why or why not? What makes you strong?  Yes I think I'm pretty strong mentally.  Physically I am not very strong.  I, like Joyce,  place my hope and trust in the Lord and that gives me the courage and fortitude to have peace amidst the chaos of life, to handle the curveballs and hard things we all face at one time or another. Not saying I get this right all the time, but He is the cornerstone I build my life upon. 

5. Do you enjoy reading historical fiction? What's your favorite book set sometime in the past?  Yes I do. It's always hard to pick just one favorite anything, but it's especially tough to choose a favorite book. One of my very favorites set in the past is Anna Karenina. Not a quick read, but so so good.  I also reviewed a great book that took place in Ireland during WWII called Grounded Hearts.  Loved it.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  Frank and I are wanting to see Dunkirk.  Most of our friends who have seen it....loved it.  What is your reaction if you have seen it.  Is it a go to the movies and spend a fortune to see kind of movie?  ...or is it a wait til it comes out on DVD one?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Grounded Hearts

About The Book:  A brave midwife. A wounded pilot. A risky secret.  In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O'Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she's taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she'll face imprisonment.  Still, something compels Nan to take in "flyboy" Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection-and an unbreakable bond.  But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband's death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?  Learn more and purchase a copy.

About The Author:  Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling. Perfecting her craft, she attends many writer's conferences and over the years, she has won and finaled in numerous RWA romance writing awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, The Molly, The Tara, and she was the overall contest winner of Launching A Star. Today she lives in Coastal San Diego with her fabulous husband, her two wonderful girls, and a dozen disobedient rose bushes.
Find out more about Jeanne M.Dickson at http://www.jeannemdickson.com.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I was hooked on this book from the first page. Ms. Dickson masterfully creates her characters  within the confines of the story that takes place during  war torn Ireland during WW II. I really enjoyed  the strong female roles. The midwife, the doctor, and the female mechanic were all capable of taking care of themselves and others their community.  Although Nan was a Christian and you knew it, it was not overwhelming.  I love WWII romance novels and this one was solidly done.  It was a great summer beach read for sure.  Loved it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Litfuse Publicity Group. 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, July 15, 2017

My Daughter's Legacy


About The Book:  A thrilling tale of two women longing to follow God’s leading, make the most of second chances, and find true love at last.  Virginia, 1864
Therese Jennings cannot abide the thought of owning slaves. When her widowed mother inherits a plantation, Therese flees to Civil War Richmond, where she works as a governess by day and tends to wounded soldiers at night. But when trouble befalls her family, can she reconcile her obligations with her beliefs? And will love—whether with an old beau or a handsome new suitor—ever fit in her broken world?
Virginia, present day
Nicole Talbot’s life is back on track after years of substance abuse. Home from college for the summer, she’s finally ready to share a shocking secret, one that raises new questions about a traumatic childhood experience. But when facts she uncovers cast doubt on her family’s legacy, she must risk all that she’s gained—her fresh start, her family’s trust, and her growing relationship with a new man—to unlock the secrets of the past.
Learn more and purchase a copy.

About The Author: Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, with over a million copies sold. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. **||** Leslie Gould, a former magazine editor, is the author of numerous novels, including "Beyond the Blue" and "Garden of Dreams." She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children.

My Thoughts On The Book:  My Daughters Legacy, the third of a series, is a most interesting book with its flipping time periods.  I loved the way the story line switched back and forth from then until now. The two main lead females were well developed and I enjoyed sharing their stories as the author wove them together.  I was not sure I was going to enjoy the flipping and flopping of characters and their stories but by the end of the second chapter I was hooked.  This was an awesome historical romance.  A must read.

Disclosure of Material: I received a copy of this book for free from Litfuse.  I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions 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.*

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wednesday Hodge Podge on Thursday

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! So glad you've joined us today, and if you've answered the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Be sure to leave a comment for your neighbor because it's summertime and the commenting is easy. Something like that...


1. When was the last time you chatted with a neighbor? About what? (sharing that last bit is optional)
Frank and I chatted with our neighbors on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Mrs. Peggy was in the yard so Frank walked over to check on her husband who had been in the hospital and then we went to the Assisted Living to see Mrs. Mildred who is there doing rehab from a car wreck.  We live in a small town and neighbors talk to each other.  My favorite venue for talking with neighbors is sitting on the front porch with my Porch People.

2. River, lake, ocean, or waterfall...which one are you most like and why?
I choose ocean and waterfall.  I love them both.

 3. July 13 is National Delaware Day. Ever been to Delaware? Delaware is called 'the first state' because it was the first to declare independence from the British. What's your state's nickname and does that moniker make sense to you? If you were in charge, what nickname would you give your home state?  We've been to Delaware many times.  The official state nickname of Alabama is "The Yellowhammer State". It also called "The Heart of Dixie" and "The Cotton State".  The yellowhammer is a bird.  I am ok with the nickname.

4. What dish did you contribute to the last pot luck meal you attended? Do you have a go-to recipe for pot luck suppers?  I made buffalo chicken rollups. OMG they were awesome!  The men of my church stood there and ate them off the serving plate.   It was a recipe I got on Pinterest and there was not one piece left.  My go to dishes are usually baked beans, poppy seed chicken. hash brown casserole, and cobblers. 

5. What is your number one tip for a brand new parent?   I have to agree with Joyce on this one....Trust your instincts, and remember parenting is a thousand moments spread out over the course of a lifetime. Having a bad moment or even a bad day doesn't make you a bad parent. Rest in the knowledge that the maker of heaven and earth knows your little one by name and loves him more than you can fathom. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.
If you could name your child something else....once they have developed a personality of their own....what would you choose?  My daughter....Kathryn Leigh (and I love her name...and call her Kat)....loves lavender fields and sunflower fields.  She and hubby, Brian are missionaries in Moldova...there a  tons of lavender fields and sunflower fields.  I should have named her Lavender Blue....or Sunflower....after all....her mom was a child of the 60's and 70's.





Sunday, July 9, 2017

His Guilt


About The Book:   A suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves.  Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay...  Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn't believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.  Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta's is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty. But what hurts most is Neeta's sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?  Learn more and purchase a copy.
About The Author:
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.
 
 
 
 
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have been a fan of Shelley Shepard Gray for a long while.  I love her Amish genre stories and once I start reading one I cannot seem to put it down.  His Guilt was a little different than most Amish genre books I have read but the suspense and storyline caught me from the start. The story is a heart pounding one and this is a series unlike anything Amish I have ever read.  Even thought this is a series it is a stand alone, so you do not have to read book one before you read this one.  If you love suspense then this is the book for you I cannot wait to see what the third novel will be like? Whatever it is....I know it will be awesome.  Love!  Love!  Love!
 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Litfuse Publicity Group. 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, June 21, 2017

Summer Time Summer Time

It's that time again. Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Read my answers to the questions and if you want to play around answer them on your own blog, then hop over to Joyce's blog to add your link to the party. See you there!


1. The first day of summer rolls in later this week. What are ten things you'd put on your list of  quintessential summer activities? Will you try to manage all ten this summer?  I am teacher and for me I have to pack all I want to do into the 10 weeks I have before school starts back.  1.  I went to the beach for a week.  I love Panama City Beach.  2.  I attended Core Academy and got to hear Ron Clark from Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta at JSU.  3.  I earned some more hours attending a diabetes learning class at the Central Office.  I am trying to earn enough hours for Flex Days.  Hours that we did during the summer helps us get some days off....Whoooopie.  4.  I just got back from my 45th class reunion in West Palm Beach with my best friend Susan.  It was great fun.  5.  I am going to paint bookshelves and ready two rooms for the new school year.  6.  I want to go to the ARK in Kentucky....7.  I want to take another trip to see my friend Susan in Knoxville.  8.  I am going to organize my craft/junk room.  9.  I wish I could go to Moldova to see my daughter...bur with my health conditions I am afraid to be that far away from my doctors...so maybe next summer.  10.  I am going to paint some folk art pieces for my classrooms and learn to quilt.

2. Do you collect seashells when you're at the beach? What do you do with them once you get them home? What's your favorite place to comb for seashells? How many of these 'best beaches for hunting seashells' have you visited? Which one would you most like to visit?  I have never been to Galveston, Calvert Cliffs State Park, Jeffery's Bay, and Lanai Hawaii  and would love to go to any or all of thee..  I love collecting sea shells and have them in a large glass jar.  My favorite places are Shell Island, Sanibel, and Captiva...which are all in Florida, and Edisto in South Carolina.

 3. At a snail's pace, shell out money, come out of your shell, go back into your shell, drop a bombshell, happy as a clam, clam up...which 'shell' phrase could most recently be applied to some event or circumstance in your life? Explain.  Happy as a clam because I got to spend a few days with old classmates and my best friend in West Palm. We spent most of the day Friday having lunch at Russo's sub(an old hangout), and viewing how things have changed....which was a great deal!
4. What summer activity do you dislike? Why?  Yard work because it is hot!

5. What's something you see as quickly becoming obsolete? Does that bother you?  Reading a REAL book.  Everything today is in e-book format.  I love the smell of a REAL book...and it bothers me that you don't see people reading them anymore.

 6. Insert your own random thought here. I got to spend Wednesday night though Sunday morning with an old friend from my school days.  We have remained friends for a long time and when we are together it is like we have never been apart.  Do you have a friend like that????  Susan and I have been friends since 1959...almost 60 years!  Amazing isn't it.  The picture is Susan, Chet (one of our dearest friends) and me.