Thursday, June 30, 2011

Creating Masterpieces

Little Guy and his friend decided they wanted to get creative.    Since painting is on our summer bucket list they decided to work on that.     They set everything up on the back patio and enjoyed a morning of painting and talking and having fun.    That is what summer is all about isn't it?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Protector

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Protector
Avon Inspire; Original edition (June 28, 2011)
Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven. Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado. She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children. When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page

Everyone needs a safe place to call home

When her mother passes away, Ella's forced to auction off her family's farm. Her father died years ago, and she could never manage the fifty acres on her own. But after she moves to town, she can't deny the pain she feels watching the new owner, Loyal Weaver, repairing her family's old farmhouse—everything Ella had once dreamed of doing.

What Ella doesn't know is that Loyal secretly hopes she will occupy this house his wife. He begins inviting her over, to ask her opinion on changes he wants to make. As their friendship blooms, Ella starts to wonder about Loyal's intentions, especially when her best friend, Dorothy, hints that Loyal is not who he seems. There's no way the golden boy of their close-knit Amish community could be interested in Ella, long the wallflower, hidden away caring for her ailing parents.

Should she trust the man she's always yearned for, or the friend who's always been by her side? When one of them threatens to disrupt the independence she's finally achieved, Ella is faced with a choice. She can protect her heart and keep things the way they've always been. Or she can come out of her shell, risk everything for the love she's always wanted, and finally have a place to call home.

If you would like to read an excerpt from The Protector, go HERE.

On The Trail

Hubs and Little Guy have discovered a new weekend past time.    Hiking.    They love it.     Here are some photos from some of their hikes over the past few weekends.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bridge to A Distant Star

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Bridge to a Distant Star
David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2011)
Carolyn Williford


Carolyn Williford has authored seven books, including Jordan's Bend, Devotions for Families That Can't Sit Still, and Faith Tango, as well as numerous articles. She and her husband, Craig, live in Deerfield, Illinois, where he serves as president of Trinity International University. They have two children and four grandchildren.


It All Comes Tumbling Down
As a storm rages in the night, unwary drivers venture onto Tampa Bay’s most renowned bridge. No one sees the danger ahead. No one notices the jagged gap hidden by the darkness and rain. Yet when the bridge collapses vehicles careen into the churning waters of the bay below.

In that one catastrophic moment, three powerful stories converge: a family ravaged by their child’s heartbreaking news, a marriage threatened by its own facade, and a college student burdened by self doubt. As each story unfolds, the characters move steadily closer to that fateful moment on the bridge. And while each character searches for grace, the storms in their lives loom as large as the storm that awaits them above the bay.

When these characters intersect in Carolyn Williford’s gripping and moving volume of three novellas, they also collide with the transforming truth of Christ: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Bridge to a Distant Star, go HERE.

Little Guy's Cooking Camp

Little Guy took a week long camp at the Viking Cooking School.     The menu for the week was INCREDIBLE! 

Day 1 - Grilling Workshop: Grilled Shrimp with Fresh Herbs; Lemon Pepper-Crusted Grilled Steaks; Grilled Vegetable Kebabs; Grilled Fruit with Brown Sugar Glaze. Sample Recipe: Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Dip (Tzatziki); Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Day 2 - Desserts Workshop: Fresh Seasonal Fruit Cobbler; Classical Chocolate Soufflé with Peanut Butter Crème Anglaise; Fresh Fruit Tarts

Day 3 - Backyard Barbecue: Easy Barbecued Ribs with Fresh Peach Barbecue Sauce; Pit Master's Fire and Spice Dry Rub; Real Deal Barbecued Chicken; Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Salad; Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chile Lime Butter. Sample Recipe: Lemonade Pie

Day 4 - Summer Southwestern Supper: Brined and Grilled Pork Chops with Chipotle Glaze; Roasted Sweet Potato Fries; Black Bean, Tomato and Avocado Salad; Individual Fresh Berry Pies. Sample Recipe: Rich Cream Short Pastry

Day 5 - Alfresco Dinner: Romaine Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette and Homemade Croutons; Seafood Pasta; Garlic Bread; Chocolate Chunk Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Sauce. Sample Recipe: Fresh Mozzarella

On Friday, they had a simple graduation ceremony.   When I arrived, Little Guy escorted me to my seat and went to pour me something cold to drink.

He also brought me a cup of the homemade chocolate chunk cherry ice cream with homemade fudge sauce that they had made in class that day.     It was so delicious!

Earlier in the week, they had taken photos of the students in class to give them as souvenirs.   Here is Little Guy holding his photo.    It is now proudly on display on our refrigerator.

Finally, here is Little Guy with his instructor, Chef Sally.    Little Guy really learned a LOT from her.   She was so sweet!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Uninvited Dinner Guest

Big Guy announced right after Sunday School that he had a craving for quesadillas.     What an easy lunch request to fulfill.     It didn't take long to get lunch ready and we were all sitting around the dining room table.

It was a typical lunch.    Talking.   Laughing.    Discussing what our plans were for the rest of the day.    Right towards the end of lunch I felt something under my foot.    Something weird.    I pushed my chair back and looked under the table.

"Boys!   What is that?!?!?"

All three boys looked while I back WAY up.

Big Guy reached under the table and grabbed up the snake which had been under my feet and I had just stepped on.   

There had been a snake under my dining room table! 

The guys seem to think that the cat brought it in as a "present".     All I know is that if the cat brings in anymore "presents, the snake won't be the only thing that is dead!

Still shivering.... 

Friday, June 24, 2011

God's Love Letters To You

Experience a unique conversation with God through a daily devotional reading based on twenty Old Testament and twenty New Testament books of the Bible. Written to help the reader listen to what God is saying in His Word, God’s Love Letters to You offers a life-changing encounter with God through the story He is telling. Author Larry Crabb brings the big picture of God’s story into clearer focus, helping readers catch an enticing glimpse of how each of these forty books of the Bible advances the story. The goal? To lose our story in His.

Each day’s devotional includes:
-a selected Scripture reading
-a short devotional message
-reflection questions
-a closing prayer

Book Review

This 40 day devotional book is based on Larry Crabb's best selling devotional book "66 Love Letters".    Crabb took 40 selected passages from his book and then added Scripture, thought provoking questions and prayer.    If you are not in the habit of having devotions or if you have gotten out of the habit, this would be a great book to use to get back into the habit.

Crabb leads you through forty days of experiencing God's love and discovering what He has for you in your daily life.     You will find that each day's Scripture applies to you in a unique way.     Although the devotions will only take you about 15 to 30 minutes, you will definitely find yourself pondering these thoughts throughout the day.

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from BookSneeze. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  

A Place Called Blessing

Five-year-old Josh and his two older brothers lose their parents in a drunk-driving accident. A series of foster homes and a shocking tragedy eventually separate them, leaving Josh alone, angry, and distrustful of most everyone. At age eighteen, Josh strikes out on his own to find work. With only a high school education and few life skills, he is one step away from homelessness when Providence brings him to a place where he finds much more than physical shelter. For the first time in his life, Josh receives unconditional love and something every human being craves, the gift of "the blessing."

The book includes an introduction and reader’s guide designed to identify and discuss the five elements of the biblical blessing that every person needs. Through the power of Josh's story, readers are shown how to give this gift to their children and others as outlined in the more than one million copy bestseller, The Blessing.

Book Review

I was thrilled to get this book.   I loved John Trent's book "The Blessing".    It was a life changing read for me before I had children.     If you have never read "The Blessing" then let me tell you that there are five elements of the Biblical blessing:  1) meaningful touch, 2) spoken words, 3) expressing high value, 4) picturing a special future, and 5) an active commitment.    Donald and I both have talked about how these five elements have helped us fill in the gaps that we felt we had experienced with our parents.    

This is a fiction book based on his book.    A "Place Called Blessing" is about a boy who goes through more than a rough beginning.   He has terrible parents.   Winds up being put in the foster home system.  He gets a little glimpse of hope of a parent who might love him and then it is taken away from him.   The hurt piles up. The anger piles up.    The angry boy turns into an angry man who cannot trust or will not trust anyone.   When a family comes along that he can trust, he simply can't let down his well built walls to let them get to know him.  

This book shows the importance of the blessing, but it may also explain that little child down the street that keeps acting out.     Trying to get through this book without crying is almost impossible.

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from BookSneeze. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Is the Bible Reliable?

Who is God, and how can we know Him? The Bible claims to be the direct revelation of our Creator. So if the biblical record is true, it is a primary means by which the God of the universe has revealed Himself to mankind. However, if it can be proved false, then the God of whom it speaks is simply one more pretender in the assembly of gods that man has created.

In Is the Bible Reliable? Dr. Stephen Meyer challenges you to examine the historical and archaeological evidence to determine for yourself the veracity and accuracy of biblical Scripture. Is the Bible true? You decide.

Includes two DVDs, each with five 30-minute lessons, and a 96-page, two-color discussion guide. Discussion guide also sold separately.

Book Review

I can teach my boys about the Bible.   I can take them to Sunday School.    I can buy them every Bible they ask for or need.    However, until they accept what they have learned as absolute truth and know in their heart that what they have learned is more than words on paper, but words to pattern their life after, all my efforts are futile.

Growing up one of the most popular arguments that was given when I asked a question was, "Because I said so."     Our children are living in a technological age.    A place where information is at their fingertips.    "Because I said so" is a very lame answer and if we are not willing to answer their questions about God then someone will.    One of the great positives about "Is The Bible Reliable?" is that it doesn't answer questions with "You should believe it because the Bible says so."   It gives very solid and reliable answers that students can sink their teeth into.     While many of us grew up believing that if it was in the Bible then we shouldn't question it, our kids have been surrounded by anti-Bible and anti-Christian messages in everything from television, magazines, video games and school textbooks.    They need solid information which will cement the fact that the Bible is truly reliable.     "Is The Bible Reliable?" presents the information in a very intellectual way.

Stephen Mayers present ten classroom lectures including...

  • In the footsteps of Abraham
  • The Exodus: From Egypt to Canaan
  • The Israelites Conquer the Promised Land
  • Israel's rise to prominence through David and Solomon
  • The Assyrian Invasion
  • The Babylonian conquest of Judah
  • Investigating the historical authenticity of the New Testament
  • The reliability of Luke and Acts
  • How archaelogy backs up the New Testament
  • The trial of Jesus
In addition to the 30 minute lectures on DVD, there is a great book containing extra information, quizzes and cartoons.   

I am a big fan of TrueU.   I think that it makes a great course for homeschool, Sunday School or just family Bible Study.     It is something I would recommend for any high school student before they leave for college.  

Disclaimer: I received this DVD set for free from Tyndale House Publishers. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

A Vision of Lucy

Trouble may follow Lucy wherever she goes, but with the help of God and the rugged, reclusive David Wolf, she'll never face adversity alone.

Lucy Fairbanks dreams of working as a photographer at the Rocky Creek newspaper. If she can earn money making photographs, then maybe her father will see that what she does is worthy, more than just a distraction. And her deepest hope is that he’ll see her as an artist, the way he thought of her deceased mother, a painter. But trouble follows Lucy on every photo shoot: a mess of petticoats and ribbons, an accidental shooting, even a fire.

When Lucy meets David Wolf, a quiet, rustic man who lives on the outskirts of town, she thinks she can catch the attention of the town with his photograph. She doesn't count on her feelings stirring whenever she's near him.

Two things happen next that forever change the course of her life: Lucy meets someone who sees her as no one else has—as the compassionate, creative young woman that God made in His image. And Lucy helps David uncover a secret that forces him to change his perspective on an event that left him deeply-scarred.

God’s arms are around this unlikely couple as they discover the truth about long-held assumptions and the importance of forgiveness.

Book Review

Photography is such a huge hobby right now that it was fun to read this book on a young woman who was in the early stages of photography.    Wow!   Talk about dangerous profession.    However, Lucy is a woman who isn't afraid to take chances.      And she takes a lot of chances to get just the right shot.    She was a woman ahead of her time.     She makes you laugh at just how fearless she is.

The one person who isn't laughing is David Wolf.    Maybe that is why he is a good match for her.    He is everything she is not.     He is also very caught up in some emotional turmoil from a tragedy of his younger years.     Lucy is fearless in helping him reach inside of himself.

What an amazing story of dealing with prejudice, forgiveness and making a new path in life that is handled with humor and honesty.

Thanks to BookSneeze for providing a ecopy of this book for me to read on my Kindle.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

She Makes It Look Easy

She Makes It Look Easy
David C. Cook (June 1, 2011)
Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children. The family lives outside Charlotte, NC. Marybeth is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries writing team and a regular contributor to their daily devotions. Her first novel,The Mailbox was released in June 2010. Her next novel, She Makes It Look Easy, will be released in June 2011. Additionally, she serves as director of She Reads, Proverbs 31 Ministries' fiction division.


Ariel Baxter has just moved into the neighborhood of her dreams. The chaos of domestic life and the loneliness of motherhood, however, moved with her. Then she meets her neighbor, Justine Miller. Justine ushers Ariel into a world of clutter-free houses, fresh-baked bread, homemade crafts, neighborhood play dates, and organization techniques designed to make marriage better and parenting manageable.

Soon Ariel realizes there is hope for peace, friendship, and clean kitchen counters. But when rumors start to circulate about Justine’s real home life, Ariel must choose whether to believe the best about the friend she admires or consider the possibility that “perfection” isn’t always what it seems to be.

If you would like to read an excerpt of She Makes It Look Easy, go HERE.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Winning Him Without Words

Winning Him Without Words
Regal (February 15, 2011)
Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller


Week after week, they sit in church . . . alone. They are the spiritually mismatched, those who are committed to a spouse who does not share their faith. Feeling abandoned by their spouse and forgotten by their church, they live out their faith in survival mode, guarding the spiritual flame yet never feeling free to share it. But God wants them to thrive—not just survive.

Winning Him Without Words presents 10 Christ centered keys to thriving in a spiritual mismatch. Readers are encouraged to commit to Christian community, to release their spouse to God’s capable hands, to find peace in their relationships with Christ and with their spouse, to continue their pursuit of a growing faith and to love their spouse with fresh enthusiasm. God wants every marriage to exude peace and love, and Winning Him Without Words empowers readers to create that environment in their homes and thrive as God works.

Watch their book video:

If you would like to read a sample chapter of Winning Him Without Words, go HERE.

Book Review

Each Sunday there are women who sit alone because they are married to a husband who isn't yet a believer.    I can't imagine what that must feel like.     To know that the person I love so much hasn't accepted Christ.     To know that as much as I pray and as much I try to live a life that will lead him to Christ, he still hasn't made that decision.     Lynn and Dineen are not only authors, but wives who have lived this life.    They  write from a place of knowledge and compassion.     

Lynn and Dineen encourages wives to remember these very important things:

  • You are not alone!    You have Christ in your life and that enables you to view your husband as the amazing man that God created regardless of the differences in your spiritual life right now.
  • It is not your job to save your husband.   That is Jesus's job.    Only his blood can cleanse his sins just like they did yours.     Giving that job back over to the rightful owner will give you a lot of peace.
  • You need to keep your spiritual armor polished.    You are living the life of a missionary every day in your home.   
  •  Use God's Word.   Pray Scripture into your home and over your husband's life.
  • Your goal is not just to survive, but to thrive!

Although my husband is a Christian, I still was reminded so much of how to be a good Christian wife to my husband.     I am so glad that I have this book as a resource to give to friends who need support and encouragement.    

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Regal.   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 15, 2011


A city on the eve of destruction
A politician escaping his destiny
And a Jewish slave girl trained to die
None of them will survive unscathed.

Pleasure-seeking Romans find the seaside town of Pompeii the perfect getaway, and when the rich patrician Cato escapes Rome, intent on a life of leisure, he is unprepared for the hostility he encounters.

For Ariella, disguised as a young boy and sold into a gladiator troupe, survival is her only ambition.

But evil creeps through the streets of Pompeii and neither Ariella’s secret nor Cato’s evasion are safe. Political corruption, religious persecution and family peril threaten to destroy them, even before the mountain spews its fire.

As Vesuvius churns with deadly intent, the two must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love, before the fiery ash buries Pompeii, and leaves the city lost to the world.

Start by reading the first three chapters here.  

Book Review

It is rare to find a book written in this historical time period.   Finding a fiction book written on Pompeii?  Unheard of!   I was equally excited and nervous about reading this book.    If you paid attention in school you remember the Pompeii was destroyed by a volcanic eruption at Mount Vesuvius.    

(Note:  Before you start reading, I highly recommend you look at the photos from Tracy's research trip.   It was amazing to be able to visualize the places as I was reading.)

The story centers around Ariella, a young Jewish woman who has been trapped as a slave with an incredibly evil man.     She seizes the opportunity to escape when she disguises herself as a boy and joins a gladiator troupe.     She manages to hide her gender and trains to fight.    It is ultimately her goal to try to win the approval of the arena crowds and hopefully be able to buy her freedom.   

Pompeii is saturated with every type of corruption you can imagine.     Political, sexual, religious, financial, and social.    There are no holds barred.    While I wouldn't call her descriptions graphic, Tracy definitely addresses the hideousness of people being crucified, burned at the stake, rape, homosexuality among slaves and owners, and drug enhanced rituals.     All those scenarios definitely means that this is a book for adults.
However, if someone were writing a book about today's current events you would certainly say the same thing.

Since what happened in Pompeii is no mystery I will tell you that Higley's story line is a beautiful storyline of God's amazing providence and saving grace even in the midst of life's most horrific and sometimes hopeless situations.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H Book Groups.   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.”

Great Mississippi Festivals...Great Mississippi Fun

One of the things on our summer bucket list is to go to some of the fun Mississippi festivals.   There are a ton of them.

Here are some of our favorites...

June 24-25

Mississippi Watermelon Festival
July 15 and 16
Mize, MS

Union Country Day
Union, MS
August 27
(We have been going to this for forever.  
This is hubs hometown so it is kind of like going to a reunion for him.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Reading Programs

I love summer for a lot of things, but I LOVE the summer reading programs.    Kids can actually go backwards in their academic performance during the summer.     So much of that backwards slide could be prevented by READING!    

Here are a few summer reading programs...

Most important... Check out your local library!    Our local library is doing a reading program called "One World, Many Stories".

Tyndale is doing a summer reading program for adults AND teens/kids.   If you read 5 books, you get to  select a free book.   Click the link and read their requirements for participating!

Borders is again doing their Double Dog Dare Challenge.   Read ten books, get one free.  That is pretty simple!    Plus you have until September 5th to read! 

Barnes and Noble is sponsoring Imagination's Destination this summer, where kids read 8 books to earn a free one. This goes through September 6, and is good for kids in grades 1-6.

Chuck E Cheese offers a Reading Rewards Calendar (along with several other rewards calendars). Once a child has completed two weeks of reading, he or she can submit the completed Chuck E Cheese calendar for 10 free tokens.
Scholastic and WordGirl is challenging kids to read at least four books this summer.   But more importantly they are trying to set a new Guiness World Record!       In summer of 2011, students around the world logged 52,710,368 reading minutes with Scholastic.   This year they are hoping to break that record!  

Monday, June 13, 2011

When Hubs and Big Guy Are Out of Town

Mom and Little Guy might just go on a "date" and have some fun.

We might just take a cooking class at our local library and learn how to make homemade pico de gallo and guacamole from a local professional chef.

 We might just go to Barnes and Noble to walk around looking at books.     While looking at a game book on miniature golf (seen below), I might just happen to make the innocent comment, "This book doesn't have any balls."  to which my nine year old burst into hysterical laughter.

I might just turn forty shades of red and start walking quickly out of that section of books.   And while we are walking we might have passed a book written by Jennifer Weiner which only escalates hysterical from not only Little Guy but now myself.

At this point, we may or may not have been asked to leave from Barnes and Noble.     But NOT before we bought a crazy game (more on that later!).

With our stomach yelling, Little Guy suggested Little Tokyo for supper.   Yummy!     Some Mississippi roll, Dynamite roll, teriyaki salmon and we were stuffed.

We decided to go grab FroYo from Sweet Tree Yogurt.     Little Guy wanted to submit a pic to their photography contest they are running right now.     You create a yogurt creation, take a photo and then submit it.    

While there the weather decided to go INSANE!    We made a run for the van and Tanner prayed out loud while I drove.    No "just might" to that part!     When we got home our front porch furniture was all over our yard.   That wind was scary strong!

Now that we are safely home, we may or may not be screaming at the top of our lungs in frustration over this crazy game Little Guy bought today called Perplexus.

You remember those little games we used to get in birthday party favor bags?

Yea, well, ha!   Ha! Ha! Ha!   Perplexus is one of those on steroids and psychotic drugs!   This thing will drive you crazy, but you can't put it down because you want to beat it so bad.     At this point, Little Guy and I may or may not be fighting over this crazy perplexing puzzle madness!

I can say that is just what we MIGHT do while Hubs and Big Guy are out of town!!


Tim Sinclair
Price $11.99

The church spends $1.5 million for every one new follower of Jesus. Apple sells 26 iPads every minute. What is it that makes Apple so exciting and Jesus so boring? What is it that compels someone to bring their iPod everywhere and their Bible nowhere? In a word: marketing. Jesus is a life-changing product with lousy salespeople—people who are intimidated and embarrassed by the word “evangelism” and who show more enthusiasm for their gadgets than their God.

What would life look like if we stopped mass-marketing Jesus and started marketing our faith like Nike and Apple market their products--sharing relationally, from person to person? Using examples from these and other successful companies, author Tim Sinclair challenges Christians to throw out their casual attitudes toward faith and sign on for a marketing campaign for the Savior.

Written with the wit and wisdom of an experienced marketer, Branded peels away the feelings of fear and encourages readers how to share their faith in ways that are honest, authentic, and, most importantly, effective.

Book Review

The concept of this book fascinated me, but I didn't expect this book to hook me like it did.     As Sinclair states, "The product isn't the problem.  The spokespeople are."     Ouch!   Do your toes hurt?   They should!    He is so right.   

To point out how right on I think Sinclair is with his book, I will pick on our own church.    Oh this may get me in trouble.    Recently our church hired a "connections pastor".    A pastor whose job description is to connect visitors with the church body.    How sad is that?    We had to hire a pastor to do what the church body isn't willing to do ourselves.       We each need to be a connections pastor.    As Sinclair points out in Branded, wearing t-shirts, putting bumper stickers on our cars, or tweeting about Jesus isn't going to help us connect.    We need to be relationally connected. 

The ideas that Tim is talking about isn't new at all.   They are the concepts that Jesus taught us.   He told us to "go out and make disciples".   He didn't ask us to text, call, tweet or update or Facebook statuses.   He told us to walk out our front doors and sit on our front porches with our neighbors.    Go meet in the coffee shops with our friends.    Invite people over for supper.    Go visit people in hospitals when they are sick.     Cook meals when people are going through tough times.     Connect!   One on one face time relationships.

This is the "brand" of Christian that Jesus intended to reach the world!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from 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.”

Summer Bucket List

It has been so hot already this summer that it feels later in the summer than it is.     Big Guy has been volunteering at VBS all week this week.     He heads up the sound and media team.  

We are saving our money for two big vacations in the fall/winter so we won't be making any big trips this summer.     However, that doesn't mean we can't have fun.     I have been working on a summer bucket list.

Here is our starting point:
  • VBS
  • ride bikes
  • learn how to cook something new
  • sign up the boys for at least one camp (found a cooking camp for Little Guy, just need one for Big Guy)
  • go pick berries at a local farm
  • have a water balloon fight
  • swimming
  • sign the boys up for summer reading programs -- might as well earn prizes for those books they are reading!
  • go to Vicksburg to play with the twins 
  • 4th of July fireworks
  • go geocaching
  • visit a museum or art gallery
  • go bowling
  • explore a Mississippi city that we haven't discovered yet
  • go to some of the great Mississippi festivals (tomato, blackberry, watermelon, etc....)
  • read a book
  • pack a picnic for after church at least one Sunday to enjoy at the Reservoir
  • buy a new ice cream maker so we can make homemade ice cream
  • enjoy a week with our friends from Atlanta
  • celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary
  • lots of game time after supper

What is on your summer bucket list?

Friday, June 10, 2011

National Iced Tea Month

Who knew that June was National Iced Tea Month?   I ran across this little tidbit on one of our homeschool "fun facts" calendars.    Of course, being southern I silently balk a little because everyone knows that it really should say National Iced SWEET Tea Month.   After all, iced tea isn't tea at all unless it is sweet!  

Iced tea was first served at the 1904 World's Fair.    They tried to serve hot tea, but it was summer and it was too hot.   Nobody wanted to drink that stuff.     That guy didn't want to lose his money so he cooled it down by pouring it over ice.    People went crazy and bought him out.    Iced tea was invented.   

Not too long ago my friend Tyanne posted this video by Anita Renfroe.   It is a song about iced tea.    She hits the nail on the head!    Happy National Iced SWEET Tea Month, ya'll!!

Spring for Susannah

When Susannah goes to Dakota territory as a mail-order bride she finds something she never dreamed she would - true love.

With no prospects for marriage and her parents recently deceased, Susannah Underhill agrees to go west to the Dakota territory to marry her minister's homesteading brother, Jesse. But Susannah is painfully shy, doesn't see herself as worthy of love from either a husband or from God, and lives in constant fear that Jesse is going to ship her back to Detroit.
In spite of her petite size and the fact that Susannah doesn't look like she could survive on the prairie, Jesse quickly discovers that his new wife is a greater blessing than he even hoped for. The years she spent as her father's veterinary assistant allow her to save Jesse's ox and twin calves and to help neighboring farmers with their animals.

But Susannah's feelings of unworthiness are deeply rooted, and she can't believe that Jesse's praise-or the tenderness and love he shows-could possibly last. The thawing of her heart seems almost as distant as Spring in the midst of the winter blanketing the Dakota prairie.

“I devoured Spring for Susannah in one lovely gulp. Richmond is an author to watch. Highly recommended!”  -Colleen Coble, author of the Mercy Falls Series

Visit Catherine Richmond on her website.

Book Review

It feels as if almost every batch of books I have received recently has had at least one that has a story line involving mail order brides.     I was so pleased to read this book and see that Catherine Richmond had found a brand new way to look at this story line.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Foolish Heart

Unknown to her tiny town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley spends her nights as Miss Foolish Heart, the star host of a syndicated talk radio show. Millions tune in to hear her advice on dating and falling in love, unaware that she’s never really done either. Issy’s ratings soar when it seems she’s falling in love on-air with a caller. A caller she doesn’t realize lives right next door.

Caleb Knight served a tour of duty in Iraq and paid a steep price. The last thing he wants is pity, so he hides his disability and moves to Deep Haven to land his dream job as the high school football coach. When his beautiful neighbor catches his eye, in a moment of desperation he seeks advice from My Foolish Heart, the show that airs before his favorite sports broadcast.

Before he knows it, Caleb finds himself drawn to the host—and more confused than ever. Is his perfect love the woman on the radio . . . or the one next door?

Read Chapter 1 Here!!

Visit Susan May Warren's Website

Book Review

I am a huge Susan May Warren fan.    I love her style of writing.   It is real and realistic.    I hate picking favorites because I know books are like babies to authors.   However, this one is going at the top of my list among her "babies".

I immediately connected with Isadora Presley.   She is a young woman who hosts a radio show from her home.    Was that her chosen profession?   No, but something happened that caused her to have such intense panic attacks that now she can't leave a well defined boundary in her town.     If you have never experienced panic attacks, then it would be hard for you to relate to what this is like.    I experienced severe panic attacks after my first son was born.   I know what it is like to live in that little bubble.

Fortunately for  me I had a Caleb.   Caleb in the book moves back to town to apply for the position as coach of the local high school football team.     He tries to do this without revealing the injuries he suffered in Iraq.     He doesn't suffer from panic attacks, but he has definitely surrounded himself with his own bubble.

There are many other characters who have all placed boundaries around themselves to protect themselves.    Each page explores more and more about relationships and what it means to put our trust in God and in others in a healthy way.

For those of you who know me well, you know what a cover art freak I am.   I think that cover art sets the tone for the entire book.    Because I read four of five books at a time, I use a book cover to remind me of the story line before I dive back into the book.  The cover art on this book was a little too vague.    I would like to have seen it be a little more "foreshadowing" as to the story line.

Thanks so much to LitFuse for providing me with a free copy to read so I could write this review!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Miracles Still Happen

Last year in June I told you about Todd’s best friend who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He had cancer in his prostate, abdomen, lungs, at the base of his brain and along his spine. He has been undergoing treatment since then. He has had scans at two different points and they had seen no progress.

Last week they did a scan and said that they felt they needed to do a Pet Scan to determine what to biopsy and how to determine what needed to be done. We have all been pretty discouraged. If you could see Cade you would know just how desperate the situation has gotten. He only weighs 100 pounds now and looks very sick.

Last week before the first scan I called a bunch of our friends and asked them to join me on the front yard of Cade’s house to pray. Two nights ago before the Pet scan a group of people met on their front lawn to pray. It scared their neighbors pretty bad because they thought something had happened to Cade, but once they realized we were still just praying they just joined us.

Yesterday the results were in.  The scan showed minimal signs of cancer. Almost every spot they saw was dead! The few tiny spots they saw – they couldn’t tell if they were even alive! They are going to do a biopsy to see. If they are active they are going to do a less harsh chemo. If they are dead then they will be FINISHED with chemo.

This is a complete MIRACLE! Only God could have done this. Not even doctors and medicine could have given us these results this quickly.

Cade’s medical team will meet today to discuss his plan. For now we are all so excited that God has chosen to heal Cade. We know his journey isn’t finished. They still need to continue flushing his kidneys and bladder to prevent any permanent damage from the extremely harsh chemo he has been undergoing. His body needs to completely recover. The remaining cells need to test negative. However… those are just details. Ones that we are trusting God completely to handle.

I wish you could have seen the looks on the boys' faces when I told them the news. Little Guy could not say anything. He just jumped in my lap and wrapped his arms around me with tears running down his sweet face. Big Guy's face broke out into a smile and he kept saying, “Awesome!” over and over again. Our family prayer time last night was so full of praise. Obviously, Cade has been in our family prayer times every night since the day Cade was admitted to the hospital last year.

I couldn’t resist sharing with you that my God is an awesome God! He is the same Yesterday, Today and FOREVER!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Lady of Bolton Hill

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lady of Bolton Hill
Bethany House (June 1, 2011)
Elizabeth Camden


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.

A word from Elizabeth: I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.


Female journalists are rare in 1879, but American-born Clara Endicott has finally made a name for herself with her provocative articles championing London's poor. When the backlash from her work forces a return home to Baltimore, Clara finds herself face-to-face with a childhood sweetheart who is no longer the impoverished factory worker she once knew. In her absence, Daniel Tremain has become a powerful industry giant and Clara finds him as enigmatic as ever. However, Daniel's success is fueled by resentment from past wounds and Clara's deeply-held beliefs about God's grace force Daniel to confront his own motives. When Clara's very life is endangered by one of Daniel's adversaries, they must face a reckoning neither of them ever could have foreseen.

When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.

But time has changed them both.

Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers.

Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts, and lives, hang in the balance?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lady of Bolton Hill, go HERE.