Thursday, February 21, 2013

Moving Day!

So... we're moving... this weekend! 
And we are so very excited. 
All of this excitement, however, requires quite a bit of time. 
So here is my farewell for a few days... I promise to be back soon!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Secrets Over Sweet Tea [A Novel] By Denise Hildreth Jones: A Book Review

Secrets. Moments kept quiet, shames never told, painful memories tucked away for another day… Secrets. The title does not disappoint – this book is full of them, and they aren’t of the playground variety.

Scarlett Jo, with her vibrant heart and plucky personality seems to draw out the secrets of others, but she may be hiding one of her own.

Grace, a TV personality for the local news station hides behind a mask of smiles, a façade of “fine” that thinly veils her broken marriage and hurting heart.

And Zach, success written across all he does, turns from the family he once desired, in to the arms of another.

Let me begin my saying I absolutely LOVED the southern charm of this novel. Scarlett Jo in her hot pink slippers sipping sweet tea is enough to make anyone smile. Her outward appearance, boisterous and unpredictable did little to deter you from her beautiful heart beneath.

Both Grace and Zach’s stories were wonderfully told.

As Grace struggled to define herself amidst her turmoil, I found myself relating to her desire to keep the peace, put on a good face, and keep going. But her struggle for honesty and genuineness was uplifting to read. Watching her story unfold was both emotional and encouraging.

Zach, with a similar story of faith and forgiveness mirrored Grace’s struggle.

The bridging storyline though, was that of Scarlett Jo and Jackson Newberry. Their love for the 
church and desire for faith reflected such an affection for the Lord throughout their community, and in turn, to the reader.

I have many a page dog-eared with gospel centered truths that truly uplifted my spirit.

(I did, however, have a challenging time with the divorce layer of this book. I felt so many issues were addressed with a Godly perspective but that this topic was somewhat lacking – I continued to read hoping some sort of resolution would come to that situation – just something, anything, but did not find what I was looking for.)

*** With thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Book List [Of Sorts]

So in case you all haven't caught on already, I'm a bit of a book nerd worm...

Here are my most recent thoughts on the matter... in list fashion, of course.

1. "Sleep is good {he said} but books are better..." Unfortunately for the dark circles continuously forming under my eyes, this is a quote I hold close to heart... 1:30am and the glow from my Nook is starting to hurt my eyes... 2:00 and I finally manage to find my pjs... but, of course, I can't sleep because I' still lost in the story swirling around in my head

2. The aforementioned NOOK really concerns me. I LOVE paper books (and am rather horrified that one day children will point to an electronic device as they ask for a bedtime story) but I can download right from the library and not even step out of my slippers... now THAT is too much temptation. I will never give up my black inked pages, but being able to read in the dark is a serious perk!

3. Speaking of downloading from the library (which, by the way, is far less detrimental to my pocketbook than, say, the BUILT IN store on my Nook) I decided on a whim to read Twilight last night. Yes, I said it... Twilight. CONFESSION. I don't have an insightful analogy or lesson learned here (if you're looking for that, head on over to my sister in law's wonderful blog where she talks about her confession: The Bachelor... its a beautiful read (from a beautiful heart) that hits right at the core of women... )

Before you all stare wide eyed at my odd impulse to pick up such a book, allow me to explain... its not often that a book comes along (you could and in Harry Potter and The Hunger Games here too - neither of which I've read) and changed the reading culture of our society. It is not often that one author so exquisitely transforms words into a story so enchanting that an entire generation turns from their televisions to stare, instead, imaginatively at the pages of a book. So yes, that is my defense... and while I don't like the paranormal, vampire-y, hunting to the death, sorcery stuff... I was surprised to find, as the story unfolded, that I thought less and less about the oddities of he [a vampire] and she [a human] and much more of the human condition.

4. The list of To-Reads is seriously trumping my list of To-Dos and we may never move out of this tiny apartment in to one where things like window seats and towers of bookshelves are possible if I don't find the self discipline to tear my eyes from the pages and finish packing!

5. I'm sorry to say that number five will simply have to wait as my current book (which the strange impulse to read Twilight interrupted) has left me hanging and I simply must find out what happens next...

Follow my love of books on Pinterest. Or take a look at my Good Reads shelf for more inspiration.

Happy reading!

photo credit: azrasta via photo pin cc

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Answers from the Storm

Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire… and as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and
God answered him in thunder… Ex. 19:19 [here]

Holy smokes! (no pun intended!)

Sometimes I think we can get so wrapped up in the “still small voice” that we completely substitute the face of our Almighty God with the image of a docile lamb. Let’s not forget about His POWER.

The same God that comes in a still small voice watched His son hang on a tree, and sacrificed everything to pull me from the pit of hell!

The same God that comes in a still small voice has power over death and sin and all the rest!

The same God, that comes in a still small voice engulfed a mountain in flames, wrapped it in smoke, and spoke in thunder!

So then, why do I fear the storm, when my God is in the thunder? 
See it in Psalm 81, too... check out verse 7

It is in the storm, in the midst of pain and struggle, in the midst of searing loss, that I see my God for all He is… both Gentle Whispers and Rolling Thunder …

photo credit: Kevin_Morris via photopin cc

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nothing will Fill

"So, what I'm trying to say here is... Don't look for your value or identity in how good you look, or how talented you are at something. Nothing will fill you like the love of Christ."

Check out more brilliant things like this from Kate @ The Small Things Blog

photo credit: Natalia Romay via photopin cc

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Silence When the Words Won't Come...

Let’s just say I’ve had a week… as I sat down to read my Bible last night, I had to strive for focus, my mind kept wandering to words spoken, actions that can’t be undone, and a stack of hurts and troubles that seem to just keep piling on…

My heart feels a little lost lately… do you have those days when you know you’re sitting in a pit somewhere and the devil is gaining ground but you just can’t seem to find the energy to dust yourself off and start climbing???

Finishing my reading for the day – with little of it sticking, I admit, I sat to write in my journal… a habit I’ve had for years – emptying out my thoughts always has a way of making things seem brighter, better, of reminding me to be thankful, to speak to the Lord… but… nothing… I couldn’t make the ink hit the pages… even still, the Lord knows.

"The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent..." Exodus 14:14

Even in my silence, He knows… a silent lullaby from my hurting heart… a quiet hallelujah…

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God loves the drunkard's cry
The soldier's plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out

Better than a Hallelujah

photo credit: hmomoy via photopin cc

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen: A Book Review

The Tutor’s Daughter 
By: Julie Klassen

Emma Smallwood, upon the failing achievements of her father’s school, unravels an adventure much greater than she bargains for when she takes matters in to her own hands. With the writing of a single letter, and its surprising response, both father and daughter find themselves transplanted to Cornwall, the two unruly boys of Lady Weston as their young scholars.

With the crashing sea below and storm-filled skies above, Ebbington Manor is rather contrary to Emma’s quiet home in Devonshire. Phillip and Henry, the eldest sons, recall Emma from their studies at her father’s boarding school - Phillip, his quiet admiration and Henry with his tricks and teasing. But things are not as they seem at Cornwall and the longer the Smallwoods stay, the more mysterious things become. Creaking floor boards, whirling wind and darkened whispers soon shed light on a long-abandoned secret. 

With Emma seemingly in the middle of it all, can she trust her heart long enough to find her way?
~ ~ ~
Probably my favorite book I’ve read in years, Julie Klassen’s novel is a beautiful story. Not only do her characters come to life, but her ability to paint a scene is truly stunning. I was right there with Emma and Phillip and Henry as the wind swept over Ebbington Manor, as the waves crashed violently on the rocks below, and I jumped with every creek of the old house, right along with Miss Smallwood. 

I often say that I find kindred spirits in between the pages of my books, but all of those seem to be an understatement after meeting Emma. The walls she keeps around her heart, her safe and ordered life, and her rationale of packing one less gown to make space for more books… what a dear dear friend I’ve found. 

I am reminded of a quote by Alan Bennet…
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met... And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours”
Filled with a plot of mystery and romance, Klassen weaves a story of secret fortunes and quietly pursued hearts alongside faith and forgiveness. It is not often that an author can so thoroughly engage not only a reader’s mind, but his heart as well. I was completely swept in to the story of Ebbington Manor, the Westons, and dear Emma. Written with such an elegant ease, it was simply irresistible to be transported back to Nineteenth Century England. 

I was quite sad to turn the final page and think I may just have to sit down this very moment to begin again.

Highly, highly recommended… simply wonderful.

*** With thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a copy of the manuscript in exchange for my honest opinion.
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