Tuesday, October 17, 2017

When Life Happens...

Last week was a pretty insane week. One of my sisters is going through a hard point in life, so she and I decided to trek down to Louisiana for a weekend off (she had some other things to do, I visited cousins, friends, and grandparents). One of my brother's girlfriend's mom discovered that she has pretty serious breast cancer (please pray for Mrs. Linda!), and my dad got some negative health news as well. Add teaching 2 days plus a houseful of colds/fever going around and yeah... that's how my week went. Writing was wayyyy on the bottom of things.

But you know what? As each new piece of news struck us, all I could do was give a little grin.  And it wasn't a sardonic grin. It was just... "Really? Wow... just how much news could a family handle in one week? What will we hear next?" 

It was also amazing. It could have easily been a very depressing week, but instead, all I could see was God's hand and His miraculous blessings on our lives. I really think that God had prepared my heart with listening to Choosing Gratitude. The hardships of life look different when you're looking at them through eyes grateful to God of all the blessings He has bestowed upon our lives! Yeah, it's been a tough week--more-so for certain family members than for myself--but God's grace is still sufficient, and He is good. All the time.

Oh, and guess what the week of bad news ended with? A nephew!! Yep. God saw fit to make the week end with happiness (my sister-in-law took the all-natural route so no induction). Sorry, I can't share pictures publicly, but trust me: Adam is the cutest, most adorable little infant there is! (And I'm not wholly prejudiced; many of our family and friends say the same thing) After waiting for what seems years and year for "our life to move on" (i.e. siblings getting married and having babies), here we are! And it truly seems like it all happened quickly--not after a decade of waiting. God's timing is perfect, and seriously, it is wholly worth the wait. My siblings are all striving to follow God in their relationships, and so far, God has spared our family from much of the heartache that happens when people get impatient and try to take matters in their own hands.

So, writing week? No. But is it a week I'd live without? No, not really. Because in weeks like the one I just lived, it reminds me more and more of the great God that I serve and His hand over anything that happens in our lives. There is really nothing better I can ask for in life.




Monday, October 16, 2017

Scripture Graphics #61


"The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat." Proverbs 13:4
"Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase." Proverbs 13:11
"In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury." Proverbs 14:23


What is our diet—what do we crave? When we have free time to use, do we fill our minds with empty entertainment or do we seek that which encourages godliness?


We can justify pretty much anything we do and convince ourselves that there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing “this or that.” But we aren’t the judge of what is clean—God is. And if we truly want to know if He approves, we will seek His definition of what is clean and good. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.” (vs 6)


Wisdom never comes by accident. We must desire it, separate ourselves, and seek it. Many people stop at just desiring it.


Share a verse you read today!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Books I Read - September 2017

Due to last week's Five Fall Favorites fun, I'm a week behind getting my "books I read" up. But here they are! Thanks to a trip to Louisiana plus a full week of revival services an hour away, I got in quite a bit of reading time!

My Favorites
Ooh, I had two favorites this month!!


This book. Y'all. I really, really needed the reminder of how blessed I am and to make a conscious effort to BE grateful! I actually listened to this as an audiobook, but it was so, so good! I highly recommend it! (A more cohesive review here)


And this book!!! When I realized this was a legal thriller, I went, "Ugh..." cause I'm not so into legal things. But it was amazing. Hands-down my favorite mystery book that I've read this year. Full review with more details here.

No, make that three favorites, because I really liked...


Can you even imagine what it would be like to be blind in the twin towers? Yeah. This was an amazing read. More of my thoughts here.

Non-Fiction Books
I tried to make it an effort to read a little more non-fiction this month. That being said, I pulled out one photography book that I had begun in January and finished it, and then got another photography book to review and read it.


Review here.


Review here (note: this is excellent for most photographers, no matter what equipment you have)

Other Fiction
And... we reach the part where I dump all of the info about other books I've read. ;) I was really excited to finish this series:



I really, really liked book one so was looking forward to books two and three. Unfortunately, they didn't appeal to me quite as much as the first book. I think it's because the first book had a somewhat balance viewpoint of North/South and the conclusion to the series made the South seem more stereotypical. So yeah... each of these kind of got a three-star from me. If you've read them, I'd love to hear your thoughts! As it stands, you may see my reviews for book two and book three on Goodreads.


After featuring this for a First Line Fridays post, I realized how very much I wanted to re-read it! So... I did! (the one luxury of making myself not agree to review-read everything that comes in my email: I have more time to read just whatever I want ;) ) It's truly a sweet book. I can see how some people may not like Janette Oke's style. She definitely has an "older" voice but you've gotta love it for that era. I decided to give it five stars.

Last but not least, I read two WWII books!!


By one of my author-friends, I enjoyed this cute story. It wasn't quite realistic to me (I just visited the WWII museum so maybe my critical eye is a bit harsher?), but it was a very good story! My full review is here.


My first book to read by Melody Carlson. It was a cute story, not my favorite ever, but not bad either. I really did love pulling out a Christmas story to read! I haven't read many of them, and already this year, I think I've agreed to review three (three more Christmas books than I read last year!). Back to this book, though, I did give it four stars, and you can see my thoughts here.

Do you re-read books?
What are some non-fiction books that you enjoy?
What about Christmas books? Read them or not?



Friday, October 13, 2017

Paige Alder series | First Line Fridays

So, a few months back, I shared the first line from Paige Torn. 


Within the last few weeks, I've read books two and three, so was going to feature just one of them. But then... why not all three? So here you go: the other two.



I initially didn't think I'd like reading first person, present tense, but it worked for the series. If you'd like, my full review are up on Goodreads for books one, two, and three.

What's the latest series that you've read in full?
- or - 
Open a book and share the first line!

If you'd like to join us on your blog today, then post a first line and share the link on Hoarding Book's blog!



Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Little About Me


A few days ago, I shared my personal testimony on Instagram and Facebook. For those who aren't there, I'd love to share it here... and hear your own testimonies of how you came to Christ!


I was born and raised in a Baptist preacher's home. I knew all of the rules, and overall, I was the "good kid." I rarely sneaked behind my parents' back--and if I did, ​trust me, my conscience would beat me up! When I was about five or six, I was part of a church sign language class with a very zealous teacher. In one session, she asked who wanted to accept Christ as their Savior. I remember raising my hand. Since my parents were Christians, she told me to talk with my parents that night. I was all bubbly as I bounded up to my parents with, "I want to be saved!" 

I remember talking to them that night, but that's all (in my parents' words: my siblings were wondering why in the world they didn't lead me in "the sinner's prayer" -- thank God for wise parents; they knew that I had childish curiosity, but not Christ-given conviction). However, when I was about seven, I vividly remember December 3. During Bible time for school, I had to read a few verses then jot down my thoughts. For at least two days, my answer was, "They need to be saved." That day, however, God hit my heart on a personal level: *I* needed to be saved. 

That night, when my parents talked to me about Jesus Christ, His sacrifice for my sins, and that He is the only way to salvation, I understood and prayed, repenting of my sins. This, for me, was just the start. I was a good kid, and at seven, there is only so much "wicked" that a kid could do in action. Salvation goes much further than that, for me. 

God has continued to mold me and shape me to become more like Him, and as I have gotten older, I am struck with the grim reality of everything my life has been spared because I came to Christ as a young child. No, my life isn't perfect, but my God is. What's more, there is nothing like the certainty that He will never leave nor forsake me!!

I would love to hear your salvation testimony!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Reflections of the Cross" album update

After a few months at a stand-still with "Reflections of the Cross" piano solo album (you may remember the announcement trailer here), I kind of had a "duh" moment. The stand-still was that my brother couldn't find a certain key to his program (yeah, fancy equipment stuff and all)... but why not me try and use a free program to enhance (aka, "master") the music myself? So far, with the help of YouTube and my brother’s fancy speakers, things have commenced.

I'm not sure why I didn't attempt mastering audio before (actually, I think it always intimidated me.).. but so far, it's gone much more smoothly than I would have imagined! Still continue to pray for this project though! God's timing is perfect, I fully realize that. I have a lot on my plate, and I don't want to try to force something to happen if it's not God's timing.


What's something new you learned this week?
What is your favorite hymn about the cross?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

And the editing begins...

First, thank you all who have "applied" (for lack of better word) to be beta readers. :) I will be in contact and let you all know how things stand (when I have a little more time to organize my brain...).

Last week was a much better editing week than I thought I would have. There are seventeen chapters in Part 1 of Nat's story, 39 chapters in the entire novel... I reached chapter 10. :D :D :D







I really like this feature of Scrivener: I can see at a glance exactly where I left off!!!


Add to all of that excitement... 


Yep, you're seeing correctly: those are "Union soldier" pictures for me to use. One of my former violin students agreed to be my "cover Nat" and sat patiently while I took several pictures of him. I was seriously throwing M&M confetti. ;) I'm one step closer to completion!!

This coming week, I'm not going to be able to focus a ton of time on Nat's story. It's just a week where I feel like I need to be more available to my family and help out more because of tons of things that have piled up... but we'll see. God has sometimes surprised me with some bonus time. I may be able to finish editing Part 1. ;)

Where are you in your projects this week? Any specific goals you'd like to accomplish?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Scripture Graphics #60


It is good to stop and ponder our lives: what are we doing? How are we living? Where are we going? And do our answers glorify God?


The last verse stood out to me: truth and righteousness are not “cryptic messages” if we understand. If we are confused about truth and righteousness, then we need to find knowledge—to dig into God’s Word and learn for ourselves what is truth.


How do I respond to instruction and teaching? It will reveal if I am wise and teachable or not.
The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. (Proverbs 10:8)
He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth. (Proverbs 10:17)


How often do we purposefully use our words to encourage others? It is easy to carelessly say things which add to a heavy heart, but do we even think about giving a good word?

What is the last verse in Proverbs that you've memorized?
If it has been a while, then I'd like to challenge you to pick a verse to memorize this week -- then comment and share which one you picked!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Five Animal Books | Five Fall Favorites Day 6


It's the last day of a wonderful, fun-fill, fallish week! Trust me, today, of all days, you want to stop by Rebekah's blog. There's a bunch of free stuff going on as well as a giveaway...  yeah... you don't want to miss out on the fun!


But for now, come for a little boat ride where we can talk books!


Today I'm discussing some books that feature animals. Some are about animals, others just have a strong feature of animals in them.

The Riverboat Adventures by Lois Walfrid Johnson
Now called "The Freedom Seeker Series"


I slipped in another Johnson series for the week. ;) Clever, huh? The reason I chose this one is because of Samson. Gotta love Samson. He is a big Newfoundland aboard the steamboat, and trust me, he plays a very vital and important role in the series!

Add to your Goodreads list here

Wild Animals of the Five Rivers Country by George Franklin



Sometimes old, random books are the best. This has been a family favorite, as Mr. Franklin explores various animals in the wild and tells their story. I loved this one as a kid!

Not on Goodreads, but see it on Amazon here

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls


I haven't read this one, but I have fond memories of Mom reading it out loud to our family (I know for a fact that she smoothed over some areas for the family reading that she didn't particularly want all ages to hear)

Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson


Read. This. Book.
One of my friends found it at random and lent it to me. It is well worth the read!! Just... read it. ;)

Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

Rise of Aredor by Claire Banschbach


Both books one and two creatively feature animals. I think I liked it so much because I had considered writing a book where the MC had a hawk that was important to him. ;) It was a neat addition to the story.

Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

And that, my friends, sums up our week of books! Hasn't it been fun? What are the top five books you've added to your TBR list? Have you already bought some of the books you want to read? (or are you like me and just wait until you can save for them, find the eBook free, or ask for it for Christmas?)

Thanks for joining us and making this such a fun party!!



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And if you don't win, you can still get some wonderful things. ;) I'm having some book sales today and today only!!!







Friday, October 6, 2017

Five Indie Author Books | Five Fall Favorites Day 5


It's a little early for a bonfire, but it's Friday night, which is the perfect night to have a bonfire. Especially if you have a cool October (ours is very... temperamental).


I'm excited about today, because I get to explore books written by Indie Authors. This group has a special place in my heart because all of them I have talked to personally, some of them I'm good friends with, and most of them have reached out and helped me somehow. Yeah, a pretty special group!

Before you meet my friends, though, remember to stop by Rebekah's blog to see other Indie authors (trust me: Indie authors need all of the support you can give them!), also don't forget about the giveaway at the end! :)


Instead of going book by book and explaining things (because I have pretty detailed reviews on all of these), suffice it to say that all of these books are squeaky clean, Christian, and something I'm not ashamed to hand to my younger siblings. Those three things are important to me as a reader. Many authors try to make things interesting by throwing in questionable content. These authors haven't, and I really appreciate them.

I have already mentioned several Indie authors this week (A.M. Heath and Alicia Ruggieri to mention two) that I also know personally and appreciate. These are just five more. ;)

Family Reunion by Kelsey Bryant


Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

The Treasure Hunt by Kate Willis


Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

The Sparrow Found a House by Jason McIntire


Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

Lily of the Valley by Faith Blum


Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

The Old River Road by Ivy Rose


Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

Let's show some Indie Author love. What are some of your favorites?




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Deadly Proof | First Line Friday

Happy Friday! We get a suspense read for today!! One that I really, really liked!! You can see all of the why's later in my review. For now... here's the first line!


Have you read this one yet?
What is your favorite suspense author (preferably Christian)?

~*~*~
This week, First Line Fridays is changing format! I'm blogging with a group of other wonderful bookish people who blog their first lines today. To see all of their posts for today, head over to
Hoarding Books Blog



My Review
I enjoy a hint of suspense, but when I realized that this book was set at a law firm and the storyline was primarily legal, I wasn't so sure I would enjoy it. I am happy to say that I was dead wrong (as my rating hints). I thoroughly enjoyed this read! It was very educational without making me feel like I was reading something completely out of my element. I actually enjoyed everything with the court cases and found the information very creatively woven throughout the entire story.

Kate was a character to just fall in love with. She was sincere, honest, and above reproach. She was a Christian who lived what she believed and wasn't ashamed of her faith and prayer life. Her character made this book sing "Christian"--something that the publishing world is seriously lacking.

I was curious how things would end up with Landon. He had a dark past and it was glorified, but neither was it too open. Ms. Dylan dealt with his past in a very discreet fashion. Also, the theme with, "I've lost interest in God, He deserted me" kind of had me wrinkling my nose. It seems to be a common theme in today's fiction, but I really appreciated how it was handled in this book.

So, just discussing these two characters, I don't even have to make it a point to discuss the spiritual aspect of this book. Very well done.

The romance, also, wasn't too overbearing. Because so much of the book was wrapped around the case, there was just hints of romance sprinkled throughout the book. The one "main kiss" mentioned was about half a page, but other than that, it was over-the-top with emotions and feelings.

In conclusion, I finished this book with a "wow." It was engaging, thrilling, clean, and totally satisfying.

*I received this book from Bethany House and happily provided my honest review*
 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Five Missionary Books | Five Fall Favorites Day 4


Today, we're heading to the barn to discuss some favorites. Maybe view it like a fall fellowship where we gather with laughing, music, and books of course!



Also be sure to stop by Rebekah's blog to read everyone else's posts and catch up on some wonderful missionary books today! And guess what, guess what?! We've had 75 entrants into the giveaway which means there is now going to be a second place winner!!!! Spread the news because the party is just getting better!!! :)


Relax, and let's talk about some wonderful books that are very worthwhile reading! This has proven a glaring defect in my recent reading diet. While I have balanced non-fiction and devotional books with fiction, it has been years since I've sat down and read a passel of missionary books or Christian biographies, so I don't remember which ones I actually liked or not. I'm going to throw in a few devotional books as well.

Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose


This remains one of my favorite women missionary stories ever. It's not just a missionary story, but a missionary/POW story.

Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

Bruchko by Bruce Olsen


This one was fascinating, however, I didn't find that he was 100% Biblical in everything he did (you'll have to read my review for that though). His faith... that was amazing!

Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew


This is one of those books that I feel every believer should read. I waited way too long before I read it. And it is an amazing, wonderful read!

Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand


I initially thought that this book might dwell too much on the tortures for me (I don't think we should avoid knowing about Christians being tortured, it's just that sometimes the writers glory in the torture, and not so much in God). This book, though, was amazing and I left it praising God for the wonderful examples of others before me.

Add to your Goodreads list here

Chappie by Alton E. Carpenter


Best for last. This isn't exactly a missionary story. Uncle Alton was a chaplain in WWII, so in a sense, he kind of was a missionary. At any rate, yes, he's one of my former relatives, but I don't think my view of his book is in any way biased, as anyone we've given it to to read has loved it as well. It is an amazing journal of a man who decided to follow God's call to leave the church he was pastoring to minister to the soldiers as they were on the field. Uncle Alton was right there with them, in the heat of many major battles. Yet so often, he would just stop and reflect on the beauty of God in nature. Yeah... it is amazing.

Add to your Goodreads list here | Read my review here

What missionary books do you like?




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