Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Becoming a Woman of Excellence: 30th Anniversary Edition by Cynthia Heald, © 2016

Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. Ruth 3:11

My Review:
I participated in a Bible study of the first edition of this book. In this 30th anniversary revised and updated edition, the author shares her journey of excellence as "a certified older woman." How wonderful to have a seasoned mentor:
   As I reflect on these past decades, I'm amazed that I continue to ask, "What would a woman of excellence do?" Using this question to determine my choices and setting my heart to "approve the things that are excellent" (Philippians 1:10) has served to guide and protect me in special ways. It is a priceless blessing to look back over my life and have few regrets.
   One of the key verses in my life now is Psalm 7l:18: "Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me" (NLT). So it is with much thankfulness to God that I commit this study to all who come after me. May you discover the great joy of taking God at His word and walking with Him daily in order to become a woman of excellence who brings Him honor and glory.
   --author Cynthia Heald
The first chapter begins with defining excellence ~ from the biblical view of excellence, or in the search for excellence how most people would define it? I like the quotes and references included throughout the study, along with "thoughts and reflections from an older woman" written by the author in this renewed study guide. A foundational memory Scripture begins each chapter, looking at specific Scriptures within each topic, and questions directed toward applying what is learned. There is a Notes section in the back, along with a leader's guide, directing to further reading referenced within each chapter excellence.

It's not about achieving, but being. I like how the author guides through Scripture and questions to how it applies, adding to our lives in a simplistic way rather than striving. God's virtues are becoming and alive as we specifically apply Scripture to our lives as a lifelong process. To become ~ "to grow into, to come to be, to undergo change or development, to be transformed."

If you are looking for a new fall study, individually or for a study group, this would be an excellent choice for women of all ages, single or married. The study contains: the goal worth pursuing, God's character, and becoming like Christ; the cost rooted in surrender and exemplified by obedience; the prize molded by discipline, guarded by discretion, made precious by a gentle and quiet spirit, perfected by purity, and proclaimed by wisdom; the praise portrayed in the life of a godly woman.

***Thank you to Tyndale Blog Network for sending me a review copy of Becoming a Woman of Excellence. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Cynthia Heald
Author of Becoming a Woman Bible Study series and numerous other books and devotionals.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Saddle Maker's Son by Kelly Irvin, © 2016

The Amish of Bee County series, Book 3

Don't miss this series! I absolutely loved this story and was so involved in it that I couldn't put it down nearing the final chapters. The discussion questions included in the back are great to think on. The characters interact so well with conversation and care for each other. Learning to trust is a big issue that is surmounted, with the past benefiting the present. Kelly Irvin has written a today story so valuable to receive.

The Saddle Maker’s Son

Image result for beeville texasA new family arrives at Beeville; widower Levi Byler and his six sons and three daughters. Levi and his two older sons are skilled in saddle making and training horses. I enjoyed learning about saddle making; the different layers and measuring. The story opens as the Bylers arrive at school with the younger children. There are two other children who have also arrived. Alone.

Bee County, TX
A lesson learned in not being a stumbling block, able to help another. Hearts are healed as they wait upon the Lord for direction. I think this each time I finish reading a story in this series, but I really, really liked this one! An encouragement, not judging, but upholding another, benefiting from righting previous curves detoured near the path. This story could be enjoyed by any age group.

The story is so well-written ~ I liked getting to know the characters more and felt a part of their day as they interacted. There is action and changes that require growth and understanding. Respect and honor become vital. A life well-spent.

Enjoy this excerpt from Kelly Irvin's The Saddle Maker's Son ~ Chapter 1. You will want to read more.

Chapter 1

Alone at last. Rebekah Lantz tugged the creaking shed door shut and leaned against it. The folded piece of paper from her sister Leila weighed heavy as a stone in her hand. When had she managed to tuck it into the two-seater Rebekah drove with Susan to and from the school five days a week? Did she slip in while Rebekah was helping Susan by listening to the younger scholars read aloud? Surely not. Leila had a baby daughter to think about now and a husband. She couldn’t be roaming the countryside delivering notes.
   The fact that she had done just that made Rebekah’s stomach rock. Guilt swirled there, mixing with a swelling ache to see her sister and a baby niece who would see her aenti as a stranger. A Plain woman such as herself should forgive. No matter how much Leila’s decision to leave hurt. No matter how it left Rebekah with little chance of finding love herself among the young men who looked at her and knew exactly what Leila had done.
   Just because Leila had given up everything to follow Jesse into the Englisch world didn’t mean Rebekah would leave too. She longed to scream out those words at the next singing. Put them to music. Write her own song. Still, it wouldn’t change the look on the faces of those boys she’d known her entire life. Deer caught in the headlights of an Englisch truck barreling toward them on the highway.
   She had to open the note, read it. Its weight seemed to increase as each second ticked by. The cracks in the weathered boards of the shed allowed afternoon sun to filter through in stripes like bars. The April sun was warm, as if reminding Rebekah Texas didn’t wait around for summer like the northern states did. Her eyes adjusted to the dusky interior after a few seconds. The smell of mold, decaying wood, and dirt floated in the air. Old egg crates, a broken desk, a stack of chairs, a wooden door with white peeling paint filled the small room.
   She wasn’t a coward.
   Swallowing against the knot of apprehension that always choked her when she did something of which her mudder would not approve, Rebekah unfolded the single sheet of notebook paper and peered at Leila’s neat block writing.
Dear schweschder,
   Hope you are well. We must meet. I need to talk to you face-to-face. Come to where the school path meets the road Friday at lunch. I’ll be driving the green VW Bug. Can you believe I drive? Give Hazel a kiss for me.
   Inhaling the ripe scents that reminded her of how everything returned to the earth in the end, Rebekah reread the note a second time. Leila skipped along in life with nary a thought for how her actions affected others. Abdicating her family. Or inviting Rebekah to a meeting that would cause her great trouble if Mudder or Mordecai found out.
   Rebekah’s job as an aide to teacher Susan King wasn’t much, but it was all she had. She would never be allowed to get a job in town. Every day since since that Christmas Eve two years ago, Mudder and Mordecai had watched Rebekah, never letting her go far from their sight, as if waiting for her to take flight too.
   Mudder blamed Leila’s exposure to the Englisch world while working at the day care in town for all her actions. Not love. For surely it was love that made a person do these strange, inexplicable things. Rebekah wouldn’t know. How could she when the boys avoided her like poison ivy? At nineteen, Rebekah had no special friend and no chance of having one.
   Pressing the note to her chest, she closed eyes that burned with tears she refused to shed. In the two years since Leila had left, Rebekah had never seen her sister or the baby Grace, now ten months old.  Why now? And with such short notice? Plenty of time to forgive and forget, as she was called to do. Yet here she stood with pain and anger barricaded together behind the walls of a hardened heart.
   She had to see Leila. If for no other reason than to say those words. Saying them was the first step in letting the past go. Leastways, that was what the bishop would say.
   A sound, like a muffled sneeze, broke the silence. Rebekah jumped and dropped the note.
   The one place she’d thought to be alone.
   Nothing. Apprehension filled her lungs, making it hard to breathe. Her heart pounded. Rebekah scooped up the note and took two steps back. She put her shaking hand on a broken desk that leaned against the wall. “Who’s there?”
   Something or someone scuttled along the far wall behind the stack of egg crates. Rebekah took a step toward the door. “I know you’re there. I’ll go outside and you can come out. I won’t hurt you.”
   Such bravado.
   What if a prisoner had escaped from the prison near Beeville again? Memories of her brother-in-law Phineas’s bruised face and bloodied arm spun through her mind’s eye. Phineas and Deborah had escaped and the prisoner from the McConnell Unit had been captured, but not before damage had been done.
   She whirled, jerked open the door, and stumbled into the fresh air and light.
   A young girl shot past her, dragging a little boy by the hand. The boy, dressed in faded blue jeans and a gray T-shirt that might have been white at one time, stumbled and fell to his knees. A filthy, bedraggled Mickey Mouse backpack weighed him down. The girl, who looked eleven or twelve, paused and jerked him to his feet. They were both all bones and no flesh, all angles and points. Their faces were dirty, and their dark hair matted to their heads. Tears streaked the boy’s face.
   “Wait, wait, who are you?” Rebekah hurled herself after them. The girl sped up, headed for the stand of live oaks, hackberries, and junipers at the edge of the school yard. “Stop! We have food. Comida.”
   The girl halted. She swiveled and stared back at Rebekah, the expression on her brown face a mixture of hope and suspicion. Her arm went around the boy, who looked about Rebekah’s little sister Hazel’s age, maybe five or six. His almond-shaped eyes were huge in his thin face. “¿Comida?”
   Rebekah had studied Spanish in an old textbook she’d found in a secondhand bookstore for almost three years now, in hopes of one day being allowed to cross into Mexico when the older folks made their trips to Progreso to the dentist or to buy medicines. She knew what the words were but had no idea if she was pronouncing them correctly. “Food. Co . . . mi . . . da. Are you hungry?”
   The girl nodded hard. “Mi hermano tiene hambre.”
   They were brother and sister. Who they were and why they were in the district’s schoolhouse shed didn’t matter as much to Rebekah as the idea that children were going without food. She pointed to them, then the schoolhouse, and put her hand on her chest. “You come inside with me.”
   The boy began to back away, dragging his backpack with him. He shook his head, fear etched across his elfin features.
   “You want me to bring the food to you?”
   The girl tugged at her brother. “.”
   “No one will hurt you, I promise. What’s your name? Nombre?”
   The girl cocked her head toward the boy, who pressed his face against her shirt. “Him Diego.” She thumped on her chest. “Lupe.”
   “I’m Rebekah.” She tapped her chest with her index finger. “Wait here. I’ll be back. Don’t go anywhere. No one will bother you out here.”
   She dashed across the yard, hopped over the two steps that led to the small porch, and tugged open the door. Inside, she skidded to a stop. The first graders were at the front of the room, reading aloud to Susan. The middle grades were writing essays while the older boys and girls graded the younger children’s arithmetic tests.
   She sidled over to where Susan stood, arms crossed, a patient smile plastered on her plump face. “There you are. You said you were going to get your lunch box from the buggy. I thought maybe you decided teaching wasn’t for you and went home.” Susan chuckled and patted Mary on the shoulder. “Good job. Molly, you’re next.”
   “I need to tell you something.” Rebekah leaned in and whispered, not wanting to get the entire school riled up. “Over by the stove.”
   Susan’s eyebrows arched. “Caleb, come listen to Molly read for me.”
   Grinning, Caleb popped from his seat. Knowing her younger brother as she did, Rebekah assumed he was thrilled to get out of writing his essay, even if it were only for a few moments.
   Susan followed her to the long cabinets that lined one wall, providing storage space for lunch boxes and school supplies. “Something wrong?”
   “Nee. Well, maybe. I don’t know.” Rebekah drummed her fingers on the countertop. She had a peanut butter and wild-grape jam sandwich in her cooler. Two oatmeal cookies. Some cold fried potatoes. Not enough for two hungry children. “I found two kinner hiding in the shed.”
   Susan swung around toward the rows of desks. Her hand went up, her chubby finger pointing, and she began to count in a whisper.
   “Nee, not ours. I’m not sure where they came from, but—”
   “Did you ask them where they came from?” Susan’s schoolteacher voice commanded an answer. “What were they doing in the shed?”
   “Hiding, I guess—”
   “I don’t know. They don’t speak much English.”
   “They’re from Mexico?”
   “I don’t think so. They sounded . . . different.”
   “Why did you leave them out there?”
   “They were afraid to come in.”
   “I don’t know.”
   “What do you know?”
   “Just that they’re scared and dirty and it doesn’t look like they have anybody to take care of them and they’re hungry.”
   She closed her mouth and waited. Susan rubbed her upturned nose with one finger, her full lips puckered and forehead wrinkled under a tendril of brown hair that had escaped her kapp. “We might need to get Mordecai.”
   Susan’s brother—Rebekah’s stepfather—would know what to do. And he was the deacon. Still, it would take thirty minutes round trip in the buggy to get to the farm and back. And then most likely Mordecai would be in the fields tending his beehives. “Can’t we feed them first? They look starved.”
   Susan chewed on her lip for a second. “I can’t abide by seeing a child go hungry.”
   “Me neither.” Rebekah grabbed her lunch box. “I have one PB&J sandwich.”
   Susan scooped up the red cooler that had her name written in black marker on both sides. “I have venison sausage on a biscuit.”
   The reading had stopped sometime during their conversation. Rebekah looked over her shoulder. Their scholars numbered fifteen and every one of them stared at Susan and her.
   “Teacher, what’s going on?” Of course Caleb, as one of the cheekiest, had the nerve to voice the question written across all their faces. “Is someone out there?”
   “We have visitors.” Susan made it sound like the typical parent visit. They did come by occasionally, sometimes with a hot meal or dessert, but runaway children who spoke another language, that never happened. “Mind your p’s and q’s and keep working.”
   Rebekah scurried to the door, the lunch boxes in her hands. Susan followed. “You’re sure they’re alone? There’s no one waiting in the trees out there?”
   “No one I saw. They seem completely alone.”
   She waited while Susan opened the door for her. Her aunt looked back at the classroom, her expression stern. “Sally, you’re in charge. Everyone continues doing exactly what they’re doing now.”
   “Yes, Teacher,” the scholars responded in unison.
   Rebekah had no doubt they would do as they were told. She couldn’t fathom how Susan did it, but her scholars not only obeyed her, they loved her and wanted to please her. Rebekah scurried across the small porch, her gaze on the steps. “Lupe! Diego!”
   “Nee, I’m Tobias Byler. Who are you?”
   Rebekah craned her head. A man sat in a wagon, his face hidden in the shadow of a straw hat haloed by the midday sun. An older man, cookie cutter in size and lean build, sat ramrod straight next to him, mammoth hands resting on bended knees. Behind them, five children of varying ages filled the back of the wagon.
   Rebekah settled the lunch boxes on the ground and raised her hand to her forehead to shield her eyes. “There was a boy and girl out here. Did you see where they went?”
   “The little boy and girl ran away when Tobias yelled at them.” A little girl with a lisp, who held two dolls clutched to her chest, volunteered this startling information in a tone that said she didn’t approve. She stood and pointed. “They ran into those trees.”
   “You yelled at them?” Rebekah knew better than to scold a man, any man, but especially one she didn’t know. Still, she couldn’t help herself. “They’re hungry. They’re children.”
   Tobias lifted his hat, revealing brown hair over green eyes in a tanned face that held a bemused expression. He found her outburst funny somehow. He slapped the hat back on his head as if he had all the time in the world to consider her comment. “I just missed running over the boy when he ran out in front of the wagon. I thought a shout was in order.”
   “Tobias.” The other man had the same deep voice and accent that spoke of somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line. “We’re newcomers. Let’s not get off on the wrong foot.”
   “But Daed—”
   “We brought the kinner by to see where they’ll start school tomorrow. I know there’s only a couple of weeks left, but they’re chomping at the bit to meet some of the other kinner around here.” Tobias’s daed smiled at Susan, who stood next to Rebekah with her hands on her hips. “I reckon they’re not so excited about school itself, sorry to say. I’m Levi Byler, your new neighbor. You must be the teacher.”
   Why didn’t he think Rebekah was the teacher? She opened her mouth. Susan’s hand touched her arm. She shut her mouth.
   “Pleased to meet you. I'm Susan King and this is Rebekah Lantz.” Susan seemed to have lost her schoolteacher voice. The words were soft, almost hesitant. She tilted her head as if looking around Levi. “Five of you? That’s a nice addition to our numbers. Y’all are welcome to come in and meet the other scholars.”
   “What about the boy and the girl—?”
   Susan’s glare forced Rebekah to stop.
   The children tumbled from the wagon and trotted to the door, introducing themselves to Teacher as they tromped by. Rebekah caught the names Rueben, Micah, Ida, Nyla, and Liam offered in tones that ranged from soft and respectful to downright giggly. Liam, the youngest, barely whispered his name with a cheeky grin before he scampered up the steps. Susan and Levi followed.
   Tobias hopped from the wagon and then planted himself next to Rebekah. “I’ll help you look.”
   He towered over her. Up close he looked even more solid and broad through the chest. Tearing her gaze from his beefy arms, Rebekah took a breath. “Why would you do that?”
   “Because it’s obvious you’ll never forgive me if I don’t.”
   “We’re called to forgive, no matter what.” Her tone sounded tart in her ears. If he only knew how hard it was for her to take her own advice. What a hypocrite she was. She worked to soften her tone. “It would be wrong to hold a grudge.”
   “Do you always do what’s right?”
   Her hand went to the spot where she’d tucked Leila’s note inside a torn seam on the back side of her apron. He asked too many questions and his green eyes seemed to see too much. “I try.”
   “Me too.”
   His shadow made him seem ten feet tall. Rebekah’s neck hurt from looking up at him. “I don’t think we should go off on our own.”
   “They’re only children. You’ll be safe with me.”
   The faint sarcasm that tinged his words didn’t make her feel safe.
   Just the opposite.

EnJOY this recipe: 

PupusasShapingKelly Irvin is the author of The Saddle Maker's Son, the third and closing novel in the Amish of Bee County series from Zondervan/HarperCollins. It follows The Bishop's Son. The series debuted with The Beekeeper's Son, and is one of three finalists in the 2016 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Carol Awards Contest in the romance category.
The Beekeeper’s Son  The Bishop’s Son 
Connect with Kelly:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Purchase

***Thank you to author Kelly Irvin and to Zondervan/HarperCollins for sending me a copy of The Saddle Maker's Son to review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Watch for a new series beginning in early 2017 ~

An Every Amish Season Novel
Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Now and Then Friends: A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel by Kate Hewitt, © 2016

A Hartley-By-The-Sea Novel Series, Book 2

Now and Then Friends
She'd grown up here, walked down this street a thousand times during her five years at the primary school, but it felt unfamiliar to her now. The years at uni, and then in London and Portugal, had separated her from the life she'd once had in Hartley-by-the-Sea. She felt as if she were looking through the wrong end of a kaleidoscope when she recalled her years here.
   --Claire, Now and Then Friends, 82
Coming "home" ~ does it ever happen? To truly find where you are is home? Claire West has returned to her childhood home as a respite against all she has known; overcrowding family, a lost relationship that likely never was anyway...
A village street in Hartley-by-the-Sea:
A village street in Hartley-by-the-Sea
Can relinquished friends be returned? Can offenses be forgiven, however unintentional? Days crowded into days and life moved on once separated. A bused to private school put a hedge between those in the village. Returning to Four Gables she has forgotten, or perhaps never realized, the outcome from those left behind.

Rachel Campbell has her hands full with her cleaning contracts. Caring for her bedridden mother and watching out for her siblings and her hours are pretty occupied. Used to being responsible for her younger sister, Lily, Rachel wants her to succeed at Cumberland Academy, ready for her future schooling at Durham University, seeing to her studies. Cue in sister, Meghan, and her young son, Nathan, adding a mix to the household. Having to "parent" with her dad not in sight for years, Rachel's life has pretty much been sorted out for her. Until coming smack into her earlier days remembrance. Down the beach road and up the steep lane that led to Four Gables, her next cleaning job...Claire West. Memories submerged, long hidden and kept in control, begin to surface.
The beautiful beach in the fictional town of Hartley-by-the-Sea:
The beautiful beach in the fictional town of Hartley-by-the-Sea
   "If you leave here, no matter for how long, it's not the same as staying," she said as they descended from the coastal path to the beach on the far end of the village. The tide was out, and the beach was a lovely long stretch of wet sand that glimmered under the evening sunlight, the rocks smoothed to shining darkness. Claire breathed in the salty, sea-damp air, every part of her reveling in the purity of the moment.
   --Abby, Ibid., 202
Stretching out, making friends, new to Claire, she finds it isn't so awkward as she suspected it would be. Even with Dan, her employer at the Village Shop/Post Office was edging in toward unexplained comfort; an extension of who she could be, emerging.

The beautiful fells (mountains) of Cumbria:
The beautiful fells (mountains) of Cumbria
Now and Then Friends is conversational as daily activity is sorted out in new ventures of trust. The author has brought out lifelong habits changing, bringing newness to those around, placing them in a new response. Seeing lives from different perspectives ~ Claire's, her brother, Andrew; Rachel, her sisters, Meghan and Lily, and their view of their lives intermingle upon the page.

Overview: Now and Then Friends
Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they’ve also grown apart…
   After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—including the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .
   A lifetime of drifting in other people’s currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.
   Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .
Kate Hewitt/K Swartz
Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels of romance and women’s fiction, including the Emigrants Trilogy, set in Scotland and North America; the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in the Lake District; and Tales from Goswell, written as Katharine Swartz. Raised in the United States, she lives in England’s Lake District with her American-born husband and their five children.

***Thank you to author Kate Hewitt for sending me a print copy of Now and Then Friends for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Rainy Day Sisters
A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel Series, Book 1

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

NKJV, American Woman's Bible: Women, Godly Virtues, and the Making of America; hardcover ~ Richard G. Lee, PhD, published by Thomas Nelson, © 2016

Gallant women taking a stand for right blaze through the pages of history, past and present. Going forward, not shrinking back in living adventure where called. Begin a new day of presentation of life lived to the fullest as intended for us. Alive ~ Awake ~ Active.

Following God where you are, each of us represent Him as we interact with others. There are quotes and bibliography examples placed throughout the American Woman's Bible inspiring to encourage. Through intensive personal Bible study, faith will deepen.

Edith Schaeffer (1914-2013) benefited others in her home, guiding her children, and being a hearer and doer with those who became recipients of her hospitality.
Quotations ~ Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)
"In darkness God's truth shines most clear."
"There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still."
"What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul."
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you."
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: Deut. 33:27a. Treasury of Scripture ~ Elisabeth Elliot Gren (1926-2015) was a mentor to me through her writings, radio programs, and especially, her "do the next thing" was so beneficial to me.

The American Woman’s Bible brings to life biblical virtues through the words and actions of extraordinary American women past and present. Whether you are a mother, a daughter, or a grandmother, you will find this Bible an encouraging and powerful companion for daily living.

Features include:
New King James Version®
* American Woman's Bible gift-giving presentation page
* Theme articles, biblical virtues shaping our nation
* Introductions to each book of the Bible
* Essays, biblical virtues ~ key to America's story
* Index of Quotations by or about women
* Index of Biographies highlight key points of lives
* Index of People and Topics
* Concordance
Thomas Nelson Bibles Signature Series line

General Editor:
Richard G. Lee, PhD, Founding Pastor of First Redeemer Church in Atlanta, is the speaker for the award-winning There’s Hope America TV series and is widely recognized as a spokesman on the influence of America’s religious history and its impact upon today’s culture. Dr. Lee was educated at Mercer University and Luther Rice Seminary with postdoctoral studies at Oxford University.

***Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for sending a copy for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Do The Next Thing ~ remembrance of Elisabeth Elliot

I am missing Elisabeth Elliot today. I am reminded of a poem she would quote to do the next thing...

Do The Next Thing
From an old English parsonage,
Down by the sea,
There came in the twilight,
A message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend,
Deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me,
Teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours
The quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration-

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment,
Let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity,
Guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows,
Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,

Do it immediately;
Do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His Hand,
Who placed it before thee with
Earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe 'neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering)
Be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence,
The rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance
Be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee,
--Author unknown

Like a River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart, © 2016

an epic story of war, love, grief, and redemption set in World War II Soviet Ukraine

   They welcome us here. They think we've come to liberate them, to end their oppression and set them free. My eyes shift from the man to the villagers who surround him. Women cling to the hands of small, thin children whose eyes are big and round. The young ladies curtsy, and I nod my head politely in return. They're afraid of us. I see it.
   --Frederick Herrmann
            June 1941
            Soviet Ukraine
Many Ukrainians welcomed the German soldiers, hoping they were there to liberate them from Stalin's regime.:
Many Ukrainians welcomed the German soldiers, hoping they were there to liberate them from Stalin's regime.
I think of our life before the bombs, the river of our days flowing so calmly in a direction that I thought would last forever. In a flash, that river was turned, unexpected and quick, dragging us along this unforeseen path. Like a river from its course, life has swirled away from all I expected or planned. Sluggish and slow, this river carves a new path. There are calmer waters that wait.
   --Ivan Kyrilovich
          October 1944
          Kiev, Ukraine
I'm scarred and emotionally beaten. The girl who left was swept away in the flood of war, but I think that girl is still somewhere inside. If only I could get back to find her.
   --Maria "Masha" Ivanovna
         April 1945
         Northern Germany
This novel is destined to become a classic. So fitly written, our history must not die with the written word left behind.
To the brave men and women of Ukraine
who fought for freedom in the
Great Patriotic War of 1941-45.
This book is for you.
Dedication ~ author Kelli Stuart
You will not long forget the story of these people so dedicatedly written of in this novel. Years of novelization brought to life on these pages reveal the hearts and spirits composed of so many lives. This story is not easy to read, with the atrocities of war.

I rooted for the characters, wanting them to be redeemed and reclaim their lives. Strength from tragedy, loss regained, they strove forward keeping in contact when they could with their families. So much joy out of dejection surfaces as love triumphs over intended harm.
The whole course of life will take a new path... "How I do love you as I did my own daughter. Now I'll send you home to your mother so that her heart may be mended as you've helped mend mine."
Precious quotes ~ For all the evil, there is an awful lot of good. I'm thankful for the sweetness of the good.

To endure and stand.

There is a rotation of the characters feelings and reactions to their events in common. One, completely trying to be honored and received by his father generates his cause. Another, to protect those who have rallied around them, pursue the unknown to bring to safety those they love. Families that are joined together to survive, sharing food and encouragement as they can.

The beauty of the countryside and bravery emulating from belief of a better way, stand out in the clear air and trust that must surface. Difficulties are set aside as the wellbeing is sought in each day.

The author interviewed war survivors and learned their language ~ resulting in actual clarity of information transforming her being to write the love of these peoples. I personally marvel at such depth of writing to thoroughly project the time and events, feelings and reasons behind their actions.

My favorite character? Luda, a true survivor of rejection and lack of protection. I also would say Ivan and his wife and all they gave, to others, and especially the love and care to their children resulting in an earnestness in their separation that spurred them on.

I would highly recommend this book that captures a people and time period not to be forgotten.

Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River From Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.
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***Thank you to author Kelli Stuart for her insightfulness and to Kregel Publications for sending me a copy for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Four Books by Amy Clipston you have to read this Summer!

Four Amy Clipston books that readers should add to their reading lists for this summer!

Are you looking for some sweet summer reading? Join in with Amy Clipston's stories!

The Forgotten Recipe Lancaster County, Pennsylvania ~ This is a heartwarming story of life lived well. Rachel Fisher and Mike Lantz find each other through Mike's younger brother, John, a new student at an Amish classroom for assisted learning. Rachel is new at teaching, joining her cousin Malinda.

The Gift of Love Image result for hand carved wooden birds Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania Love Birds ~ an exposed secret can exploit and weaken trust. Lloyd's dat said his hobby was prideful, being excelled from what he had been taught as a boy by his daadi. Ellie wanted to exuberantly share his talents with the shopkeeper at Bird-in-Hand Gifts and Treasures, across from the Farmers' Market. With communication and hearing, this story is one of overcoming and learning to lean and share their hearts as close bonds continue to develop between families and community.

The Forgotten Recipe Image result for amish road stand ~ a raspberry pie recipe from previous generations, saved in an heirloom trunk. There is another recipe that you will find will open a lot of doors with a sweet savor. Discover it as you enjoy Amy Clipston's An Amish Heirloom Novel.

A Season of Love Fresh Bread Tray Meet Katie Kauffman:
I am a granddaughter of Elizabeth, who owns the Bakery. I have had feelings of anxiety ~ my friends begin their future and I feel I don't fit in my present.

 And... two bonuses to come!
The Forgotten Recipe  The Forgotten Recipe

An Amish Harvest (Releasing 8/16/16)
Book Description
Faith, hope, and love remain forever in season in this collection of four richly absorbing novellas set amidst the wonder of an Amish autumn. Love and Buggy Rides, by Amy Clipston: Janie Lantz is a cashier at Lancaster Souvenirs and Buggy Rides, where Jonathan Stoltfuz is a buggy driver. A frightening accident brings Janie and Jonathan together in a blossoming friendship, yet daunting obstacles stand between them and something deeper. Can love kindle into flames that burn away fear and regret—and lead them to a life together?

The Cherished Quilt (Releasing 11/29/16)
Book Description
When Christopher Hochstetler comes from Ohio to work at his uncle’s shop in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, he gets off on the wrong foot with Emily Fisher. But when he finally opens up to her about his tragic reasons for leaving home, her heart begins to change. When Christopher compliments an old quilt, Emily decides to make a similar quilt for Christopher as a gesture of friendship. Emily knows she must guard her heart, as Christopher is not a baptized member of the church, but she’s suddenly found someone with whom she can imagine sharing a future. When a family emergency calls Christopher back home to Ohio, Emily decides to finish the quilt, in spite of her pain, and send it to him for Christmas. But when Christopher receives it, will he have the courage to truly follow his heart?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Forever Safe by Jody Hedlund, © 2016

Beacons of Hope Series, Book Four

May, 1876 ~ New York City
Victoria Cole has managed to attract a lot of attention. The day of her third attempt at marriage has arrived. Unforeseen, the driver of the carriage to the wedding grounds has been switched and has taken off with her. The driver's plans are foiled, as Victoria hits him in the back with her flying shoe, distracting him right at the bend of the road. The horse takes the occasion to continue forward right to the beach and the carriage wheels are slowed in the sand.

Days before the wedding, her father, Henry Cole, of Cole Enterprises, has hired Tom Cushman as her bodyguard. He has his hands full from the beginning. With all of the commotion, and a threatening note left at the house, Henry and Tom devise a plan to keep Victoria safe. A Cape Cod lighthouse becomes the destination much to her peril, without a cook or maid to assist her.

What can possibly happen in 30 days? Anything to change the course of Victoria's view of life and alleviate her fears? Learning to cook, sew, and wash and hang clothes become the entry. And, love and acceptance from those around her leaving her room to grow. She finds strengths she never knew she possessed, and unexpected weaknesses that encompass her with joy. Hidden away, she discovers her true self.
Early photo of the first Race Point Light. Source

Tom must come to terms with his past to continue with his today. Guilt taken on beyond what he could have controlled has kept him prisoner. Freedom is ahead for Tom if he will receive the open door to all that is before him.

Immediately after the last page, I returned to the beginning and began reading ~ until I noticed I was at page 105! So fun to be absorbed in the story again, with the descriptive writing pulling you in to exactly where they are: new beginnings.

Jody Hedlund has written a strong story of forgiveness, acceptance, and the will to go forward. Her characters find in their journey ~*hope*~ attainable with trust and perseverance; a Love that is forever safe.
... Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! ...
Psalm 61:4 NLT

***Thank you to author Jody Hedlund for surprising me with a review copy of Book 4, Forever Safe. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***