Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: When Love Blooms by Robin Lee Hatcher

From the back cover…

“From the moment Gavin Blake set eyes on Emily Harris… he knew that she would never make it in the urged high country where backbreaking work and constant hardship were commonplace. She would wilt there like a rose without water. He’d be sending her back to Boise before the first snow. He’s be willing to bet on it.She could say what she wanted, but Emily Harris didn’t belong in the hard life of the Blake’s. Beautiful and refined, she was accustomed to the best life had to offer. Heaven only key why she wanted to leave Boise to teach the two young girls on a ranch miles from nowhere. He’d wager it had to do with a man. It always did when a beautiful woman was involved.Emily wanted to make some sort of mark on the world before marriage. She wanted to be more than just a society wife. Though she had plenty of opportunities back East, she had come to the Idaho high country looking to make a difference. Gavin’s resistance to her presence made her even more determined to prove herself. Perhaps changing the heart of one man might make the greatest difference of all.”

Generally, I lean toward the contemporary side of fiction, but this book caught my eye… and then my heart. Emily’s journey with the Blake’s is both joyful and heartbreaking as she cares for two young girls and their sickly mother far from the usual comforts of home.

Her will power to prove herself is strong, but her gentle spirit and kind words remind me of 1 Peter…  
"... let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit..."
Small deeds done with great love prove to be the common thread throughout the novel while Emily travels from the Stanley Basin, nestled in the valley of majestic mountains, to the Lucky Strike Ranch miles outside of Challis.

Her story is one of laughter and tears – a new start and a tender romance winding through everyday chores.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book – set in the 1800’s. The heartwarming story played out against cold winter’s nights brings feelings of family and faith and perseverance. I decided at once that I would not get attached to the cancer-stricken Dru, but found myself, instead, enjoying her company. Emily’s determination alongside her loving nature weaves a character much like a life-long friend – both honest and loving. And the gruff Mr. Blake takes his turn at your heart as his story unfolds in to one of integrity and kindness. 

A quick read that captures your heart, Robin Lee Hatcher writes words of hope that rise from heartache and words of love that spring to life.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scripture Memory Monday: 1 Peter 1:3-7

I said Monday-ish, remember... it was a long day of driving yesterday. So this week's verse is a bit late....

We’ve been wading in to 1 Peter as a church in the last few weeks and I have been blessed and encouraged by the words of practical advice given for “everyday struggles” to the “pain of searing loss.”

This verse brings to mind many things to think on this week.

A Living Hope… am I actively, daily, consistently living in the hope that HE has given through His ultimate sacrifice for salvation?

An inheritance that is Imperishable, Undefiled, and Unfading… those are POWERFUL words, soak them in for a minute and continue to do so as the words are repeated over and over throughout the week

Rejoice… rejoice in sufferings? In trials? In challenges and pain? It is in the very moments of that suffering that I have the choice to succumb to the bad attitude, the complaining heart, the discontent, the negativity or the REJOICING. How do I rejoice in the trials? How do I reflect the attitude of Christ in the midst of pain? And, when those moments come… do I rejoice? Or not? OUCH!

Genuineness... the genuineness of my faith – is it proved in my reaction to my circumstances? Is it walked out day by day, in the little moments and small decisions I make in the dark as well as the big things that everyone sees in the light? What is genuine faith? And do the contents of my heart that pour out in to my life prove it genuine?
               As an aside, this genuine word caught my attention as I read… at first glance I thought…oh, the genuineness of my faith, that has everything to do with my faith, my Jesus, my relationship with the Lord and not as much to do with how genuine I am with the people around me, with my character. Where is the verse for that? And yet, they really are one in the same, aren’t they? As my faith is proved genuine, that overflows into my character, my conversations, my interactions with those I come in contact with. Being true to who I am runs side by side with remembering who I belong to… I am HIS child. My genuineness overflows from that knowledge and pours out in to my actions.

This is a jam-packed verse… lots to think on as I commit this one to memory.
How about you? What stirs in your heart as you read these words?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Road Trip (Good Reads and the Radio)

I'm hitting the road this weekend, headed to a wedding... 16 long hours in the car with my paperbacks and my itunes... what more could a girl as for?

That said, I'll be off the grid for the next few days... rolling hills and hay filled barns, roaming cattle and winding gravel roads don't leave much room for cell towers and internet modems... sometimes, though, a weekend away from all the "noise" is good for the soul.

And a weekend with your grandmother is even better!

How's the scripture memory going? I'll be honest... the length of the verse kept me from having to work very hard at memorizing and I kind of pushed the whole mediation part on the back burner. I'm not proposing these verses for memorization, but for the truth they bring with them. And I need to be reminded of perfect love without fear - however compact the words may be, unraveling the truth in them takes much more time.

photo credit: myoldpostcards via photopin cc

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Household Cleaning...Naturally

I read a lot of blogs that tackle household cleaning, cooking, and the like… the common thread seems to be finding cost effective and natural ways to accomplish most of these things. From laundry detergent to window washing, there seems to be a homemade remedy/recipe for everything.
Well… I don’t have quite enough patience to soak oranges and my nose doesn’t like the smell of straight up vinegar any more than my husband’s… I don’t have storage space for “recipes” that call for items too large to consume in the first batch. And honestly… cleaning is enough of a pain without having to mix my own concoctions… maybe that’s the “easy” way out, but I work all week, people!

So what’s a girl to do?

First off, let me say that my current cleaning solutions are credited to my mother-in-law… one fabulous Christmas gift from her and I’ve cleaned my entire house for (almost) a year without purchasing bottles and buckets of expensive cleaners that still leave my floors sticky and my windows streaky.

My solution? NORWEX (and no, I’m not getting paid for this)

These handy cloths are anti-bac (read more about that on their website) and work magic on floors, counters, windows, mirrors, and those stubborn spots of spilled over soup in the microwave too!
I clean my entire apartment with a bucket of water and my Norwex rags.  There’s a microfiber cleaning cloth – just wet and wipe – and for shiny surfaces or things that streak, follow with the window cloth for a squeaky-clean finish. 

So what’s left in my cleaning bucket?

Soft Scrub – for those stubborn sink stains (I know it needs to go, but I can’t bring myself to just throw it out)

GreenWorks All-purpose Cleaner – used for the occasional spill when the Norwex is out of reach (the contents are dwindling and I don’t think it will be replaced)

Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner – which smells like fir trees and pine needles

Alongside some Norwex kitchen cloths (buh-bye scary chicken juice) and the odd paper towel that’s all I use. I love not having to switch products or rinse out my bucket so as to not combine cleaners. I love how silky the hardwood floor feels after a good swipe with that blue cloth and how the picture frames sparkle after one with the purple.

When they’re looking dingy, in to a pot of boiling water they go… I promise they’ll come out good as new!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Review: A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann

There are some books that you just don’t want to end… can’t put down long enough to swap the cookie trays in the oven… this is one of those books.

For the most part, I read Christian Fiction, with an occasional secular author thrown in when I know their writing reputation. Why? Because I don’t want to have to “fast-forward” pages that leave too little to the imagination. I will admit, however, that sometimes those sweet stories of a modest proper girl fending off the advancements of two eligible suitors while she struggles with some less than earth shattering moral issue gets old… really old.

Noelle St. Claire (heroine of Ms. Heitzmann’s wonderful book) shakes it up a bit. Her stubborn streak is a mile wide and the quiet Rick Spencer knows it… there’s no trivial floundering of faith here, the story line cuts right to the heart without being so heavy you leave the Colorado Rockies feeling burdened.

I had conflicting emotions as I read – wanting to find the resolution and wishing the pages of Rick and Noelle and Morgan and Aldebaran weren’t dwindling.

I found a kindred heart with Noelle – her strong will and hurting heart. Her story is full of struggles and triumphs, darkness and hope.

Kristen Heitzmann has written characters of substance. Noelle’s search for truth, both physically and spiritually unravels a journey that reaches to far places of the heart. And Rick’s strong and gentle spirit silently parallels the character of Christ along the way.

I loved it…

Read it… it comes highly recommended!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Introducing Scripture Memory Monday

Last week I talked about my scripture notecards I’ve been carrying around with me lately. If you missed it, you can read that HERE.

I’m realizing more and more the importance of memorizing scripture, and my complete lack of discipline in this area. His word is so very important, so alive, and so powerful. I am purposing to “store it up.”

Join me for “Scripture Memory Monday.”

Each Monday (okay, okay, sometimes it’ll be Monday-ish, a girl’s gotta have a little grace built in) I’ll put up a new scripture that I want to memorize.

Want to do it together with me? I’d love it if you would!

Just a note of encouragement… I didn’t set out to MEMORIZE the verse I was working on last week, I just wanted to focus on digging in to the words and keeping them fresh and active throughout my day, and by Wednesday I could remember every word. It doesn’t take loads of time and effort to recall the words when you allow them to first take root in your heart.
Don’t just memorize to memorize, allow that hope to permeate through, to sink in deep, and to be stored up.
Here’s this week’s verse… we’re starting small… 

 My thoughts…

 I’m not a big worry-er… I don’t wring my hands and replay the same thing over and over… because of this I can sometimes look at those “do not be anxious in anything” verses and think they don’t apply to how I feel. But that’s not true… “anxious” for you is not the same as “anxious” for me.

And “anxious” for me reads FEARFUL. Fearful of looming darkness… fearful that I won’t fit in, won’t qualify, won’t measure up, fearful of losing control…

But His perfect [complete, total, lacking nothing] love [agape, the love that IS God] [throws away, casts out, removes] [alarm, fright, fear, terror]

Am I abiding in THAT love?
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