Friday, August 18, 2017

First Line Fridays and Review | The Wisdom of God

Happy Friday! I get to feature one of my new favorite books today!! As with other similar books, I didn't go with first line, but a favorite quote.

Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton
Anna – Cross Romance

My Review
What is wisdom? This book is divided into 23 chapters exploring Biblical wisdom vs. worldly knowledge. It begins with the history of how the Jews perceived wisdom, to how Jesus Christ personified wisdom, to how we are to apply wisdom today.

This was a powerful and convicting read. From all I could tell, it was Biblically accurate, quoted many Scripture verses, and even used some hymns to expound on Biblical truths. There was a strong emphasis on humility, repentance, and salvation.

There are many quotes I appreciated. Here are a few:

"Would the man filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding write cheap poetry? I would certainly hope not!"

"David could sin, but he could also repent." 

"We should not only memorize the Word, which is an excellent thing to do, but also know the difference between truth and error in applying the Word faithfully."

"Obviously there is enticement from sinners. It does not say in Proverbs 1:10, 'If sin entices thee.' It says 'If sinners entice thee.'"

"If that person stands between you and Jesus Christ, that person is not a friend."

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

You may get the book here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's That Most-Wonderful Time of the Year...

Okay, so it's just time when musicians start thinking of that most-wonderful time of the year. ;) I'm hoping to stock up on Christmas arrangements at WAJN but I need some suggestions. So...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sometimes, I Feel Like a Writer

Those were my thoughts as I stepped back and looked at my desk on Friday. Coffee, a cute sign (by Par la Grace), Scrivener open (which, btw, I’m now completely sold on!), a stack of research books…I had to take a picture.

This past week has been a good one for me writing-wise. It took me a little while to get back into the flow of writing, but, by God’s help, I made it!

For those who don’t follow me on FaceBook or Instagram (I feel you, because I used to have neither), I don’t want you to miss out on what I give everyone else by means of more daily updates. So here is a quick run-down:

Writing Progress
I added almost 5,000 words to the manuscript Monday-Friday (about 1,000 less than I wrote total in July!). Some of that writing was done in a waiting room as I waited with some friends for their baby boy to be born.

Journey of Choice reached 50,000 words! (my goal is 60k, but I just may surpass that goal, given the way things are moving now)

After reaching chapter 27, I realized I needed to make Nat’s life just a little more miserable, so I went back and added some tension via Second Lieutenant Ward (it’s gonna be great, y’all!)

Research Progress
I got three new Civil War books in! (yeah, I splurged) I'm making progress in listening to Sherman's Memoirs on my Kindle Fire (on Kindle, the book is divided into two segments, and I'm in the 60%'s of book 2). I'm also reading my first K.M. Weiland book, Creating Character Arcs.

I just have to show you the CW book that I’m reading now (one of my new ones, yes). It is so cool!

Since I shared an excerpt with everyone else, here you go (from chapter 20)…
Nat’s mouth went dry as if they had already shoved the gag in. The brawl hadn’t seemed to draw much attention from the company, but being set in the middle of camp, with his body contorted worse than a rat caught in a trap, he would be the gazing stock of all of the men.
“And after that,” Captain Quinn continued, “you’ll fulfill your picket duty.”Nat didn’t fight against the men as they dragged him to the middle of camp. Being bucked and gagged wasn’t the worst thing that had happened in his life. Every second he was subjected to this punishment, though, he’d picture it was Ward there, enduring the same punishment.
The men shoved a dry cloth in his mouth. He clamped down on it, imagining that it was a piece of Ward’s flesh. The second lieutenant was going to escape punishment altogether while he—the low-down private—was disgraced in public.
A coarse rope sliced into Nat’s wrists as the men tied it tightly. One man held his hands while the other one forced his knees up between his arms and shoved a stick to secure his position. Then, the men stepped back.
Nat shifted. The butt of a gun jammed into his back. He clenched the gag even tighter between his teeth and his throat contracted. If he was lucky, he’d only have to endure this punishment for an hour.
He closed his eyes and laid his head on his knees. He braced himself against another blow, but nothing happened. Good. He’d just wait it out. Then tonight, as soon as he was away from camp doing his watch, he’d run.

Some Fun Things
My sister said this made her think of me. ;P Isn't it accurate though?

And then, I was tagged on Instagram to do “10 Things I’d Never Say.” Now, for those of you who know me, I tried my best to do this in a lighthearted manner. My brain automatically went to more theological things like, “I’d never say, ‘You can read enough Bible’ or ‘Prayer isn’t as good as we think it is’ or ‘Christ’s blood isn’t sufficient to save ALL sinners.’” Yeah. Because, by God’s grace, I’d never say something that directly contradicts Scripture. BUT… I tried for fun here. So, just with that in mind…here are ten things I don’t think I’ll ever say in *seriousness* (I like to be sarcastic a lot, so saying things sarcastically doesn’t count).

1) Technology is ridiculous
2) Chocolate is gross
3) I’ve read enough books in my life
4) I love being a social butterfly
5) I will beat you at ANY cost!!
6) You may have all of my books
7) A musician never needs to practice
8) Bribery is okay
9) I love clutter
10) I never think seriously
Boy, it’s hard to think that way. ;) How did I do? Sound like things I’d never say?

What are ten things YOU’D never say?
What progress have you made on your projects this week?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Scripture Graphics #52

Number 52. I suppose this makes a year of sharing Scripture graphics! It has been a personal blessing for me to hear how God has used these posts to come for you on the exact days you need them. He is so faithful to use His Word just when -- and how -- we need it. :) Here's hoping for another year of diligence in sharing!

This kind of makes for a good "catch-up" post. I had found a few graphics that I lost track of my personal thoughts -- or maybe I had my personal thoughts on the graphics but lost track of the exact verse that went with it.

What is your favorite verse?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Scavenger Hunt and Giveaway | Molly Jebber Tour

How many of you like scavenger hunts? I'm happy to be a part of Molly Jebber's bookish-themed scavenger hunt! Hop along for some fun!

Scavenger Hunt Stops
Stop by each blog to collect their special word then input the sentence it creates into the giveaway for NINE extra entries! While you are at each stop, don’t forget to comment to claim your bonus entries in the giveaway (the bonus entries for a comment on a blog can be claimed multiple times but only once in a 24 hour period).

My special word is HAS!

Visit these other blogs to discover their words:
August 9: Quiet Quilter
August 13: Bigreadersite
August 15: Karen Sue Hadley
August 17: cherylbbookblog
August 18: Baker Kella
August 20: The Power of Words

About Molly’s Books:

Change of Heart

A modern new century brings a young Amish woman an unexpected new life—and a chance to discover love’s true way home…
Ohio, 1899. Soft-spoken midwife Becca Yost lived by her Amish faith’s strict rules—until her fiancĂ© jilted her before their entire community. She’s never been away from home, but the bustling Englischer town of Massillon, Ohio, is a welcome unexpected refuge. Especially when she goes to work for Dr. Matt Carrington, who shares her passion for healing those in need. His outgoing spirit and gentle strength show Becca a surprising new world of choices—and irresistible love. But there is one formidable obstacle: Matt’s wealthy mother is determined her son will marry a society woman.
With her newfound resolve challenged, Becca decides that she and Matt must not be destined for each other after all. She accepts that she will have to forge a life alone—until a wrenching crisis and life-changing revelations teach her that true faith lies in all things, especially impossible second chances...

Grace’s Forgiveness

A handsome newcomer with secrets shows a yearning Amish woman a chance at happiness—but their love will need all their courage to keep . . .
Grace Blauch is skilled at midwifery—and crafting quilts that help others pass on messages of enduring family love. But a disfiguring birthmark keeps the young Amish woman from a husband and home of her own—until Mark King arrives from another community. His helpfulness and independent nature earn Grace’s respect. And he finds her outspoken ways and determination to do right irresistibly appealing. Soon Grace is planning a wedding quilt of her very own . . . until her father discovers that Mark’s shunned brother is hiding somewhere in town . . .
Grace can well understand why Mark took such a risk once she hears his wrenching reasons. But she fears even prayer will not convince her father to restore his blessing on their union. She wills herself to face the end of her dreams, but sudden danger and an impossible act of generosity will show her that abiding hope can inspire the most precious of miracles  . . .

Two Suitors for Anna

In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for and a new, very different future…
Since Anna Plank moved to Berlin, Ohio, with her widowed mamm and two schweschders, she’s found a real sense of belonging. As soon as her beloved Noah Schwartz proposes, they’ll begin a new chapter here together. But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves.
Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share…

About Molly:
Molly Jebber’s books have been featured in Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today’s HEA, and Romantic Times has given them a near excellent rating. She’s on RWA’s Honor Roll. She’s a speaker for Women’s Christian Connection, and she offers presentations on writing, publishing, Amish lifestyle and traditions. She has received widespread media coverage, including live interviews, across the United States for her books and speaking engagements.
She’s just signed a new contract for four more Amish books! She loves interacting with her readers. She loves God, her husband, family and friends. She has a hard time saying no to cupcakes, swimming, nine holes of golf, and walks on the beach. Coconut, oatmeal, and onions, on the other hand, are not hard to say no to!

Guest Post from Molly:
Anna and her sisters are hiding a secret. One Anna knows is wrong to keep. The love of her life wants her to leave her family behind and travel with him. Her life is in turmoil, and she isn’t sure which way to turn? What does the future hold for Anna?
Have you read CHANGE OF HEART and GRACE’S FORGIVENESS? The first two books in the Keepsake Pocket Quilt Series? They are available in and online in bookstores.
I love interacting with you, and thank you for participating!

Blog Tour Prize is an Amish/English Basket!
One big item: Brand New Coach Purse!
Each day, visit the designated blog, comment, and your name is entered in the contest for a chance to win!

Friday, August 11, 2017

First Line Friday and Giveaway | Out of the Ashes

Hi all! If you remember, a few weeks back, I already featured the first line from Out of the Ashes. So... today I'll give you the first lines for all three in the series! :)

If you like good, solid fiction--and the Civil War, I highly recommend this whole series! Today, I'm specifically focusing on Out of the Ashes in a review, but before I do so... be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton

Share a first line -- from one of your favorite series! :)

Now, for Ashes stuff...

About the Book

Sometimes peace is won through battle. 

Haunted by the memories he can't escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn't understand why he's forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He's desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

My Review

This was one of my most-anticipated 2017 reads. It's a post-Civil War book (my current history fascination), the continuation of two books I greatly enjoyed, and by an author I knew I could trust. Those three all sum up to make a pretty solid read, in my humble opinion. ;)

What I loved most... continuing the stories of all of the characters in the former two Ancient Words books was amazing. I loved these characters, wanted to know what had become of them, and was sufficiently satisfied. Ralph's story was probably my favorite. But I really think that he was just my favorite character overall.

The Christian element was very strong and woven throughout the story very well. I love it when I'm reading a story and suddenly the characters turn the conversation into something Biblical. Loved that! This one definitely gets a five-star on the spiritual content.

Romance... well, I know A.M. Heath. She's a romantic at heart. However, I found that her writing wasn't too overly-focused on the emotional side of romance. There was a lot about real love not just emotional love. There were some scenes that, because a couple was married, things were mentioned that is better for an older audience. But overall, I didn't find that lines were crossed in what is appropriate.

I would say that the main down-side of this story was that it took me a little while to get into it and to remember all of the characters--the latter I will blame on my poor memory. It's been 1 1/2 years since I've read books 1-2, and sometimes I finish a book and can't even remember the MC's name. So, I'll just leave it at... if it's been a while since you've read books 1-2, you may want to refresh your memory a little. Also, don't read this as a stand-alone. It means so much more read as a series.

*I received this book from the author and happily provided my honest review*


Be sure to enter here:

And... in case you don't win, you can buy the books on Amazon!

About the Author

Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, children’s Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.

Blog Stops
July 31: Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley : Book Review
Aug. 1: Krista Noorman @ by Krista : Book Review
Aug. 2: Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings : Book Review
Aug. 4: Alicia Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny : Book Review and Interview
Aug. 7: Dana Kamstra @ D.L. Kamstra  : Book Review
Aug. 9: Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books : Book Review
Aug. 11: Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise : Book Review
Aug. 14: Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic  : Book Review
Aug. 15: Virginia Winfield @  Bigreadersite : Book Review
Aug. 16: Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae : Spotlight
Aug. 18: Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations  : Book Review and Interview

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I Just Might be Getting a New Writing Program...

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve talked about writing, and for good reason. Summer busyness hit in full swing so I had no time to think blogging beyond the usual posts. But, now I’m back home (quick rundown of summer: 3 camps [one of which was in Colorado so took a 13-day trip], full-week revival service, VBS) and things are slightly getting back into schedule.

Writing, though. I’m still getting back into the swing of things. I had hoped to make 10,000 words in July. I kind of fell short of that a few words. ;) But, I did make progress.

I haven’t exactly set a goal for August yet. We started the month off with VBS (which threw three days off schedule, but I’m not one bit complaining as I had too much fun!) and then in just a few days, I’ll be starting back teaching between 25-30 piano/violin students a week. So to put a heavy writing goal on top of that just doesn’t seem the wisest idea to me.

What I have been doing though…

For you writers, you may recognize this: Scrivener! (and yeah, a screen shot from a while back, cause I don't want to give too many spoilers with future chapter break-downs) One of my author friends just recently started trying it out and she kinda talked me into giving it a shot. When I found out that the trial lasts for 30 active days (meaning, if I get on Scrivener today but then don't use it for ten days, it only counts for 2 of my 30-day trial!). So far, I'm really liking it... I just might be sold on it. Giving it a few more trial days first, just cause that's how I operate. ;) One of the amazing things it's helping with is going from first draft of Journey of Choice to the new draft (which, now that I'm in the actual war and battles part, I'm doing a lot of piecing from the first draft into the second draft). If you notice, there's a split screen, so I can view them at the same time! That has been SO nice already! I'm also an organizer (even though I'm not a plotter), so having ALL of my Choice notes in one place is pretty nice.

That's about all I have to update for writing. I'd love to hear from you!
Now that summer is over, are you working on any projects (writing or otherwise)?
Do you have any goals for August?
If you're a writer, have you used Scrivener?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Scripture Graphics #51

This is why believers have hope—though we are not spared from the grave (unless Christ returns), we are spared from its power and have eternity with Jesus Christ because of His redemption.

Do we go to God at the beginning of trouble—or only after we’ve tried the help of man and have found it to be lacking?

Being unmovable is never rooted in how strong or spiritual we are, but in how steadfast, faithful, and unmovable our God is. An interesting note: the Psalmist glances at his enemy and his wiles (vs. 3-4), reminds himself that his expectation is from God (vs. 5), then repeat verse two with, “I shall not be moved.” If our focus is on things around us, we will lose our assurance in God’s power. But if we remind ourselves of God’s power even in the midst of trouble, it will reassure us of God’s strength.

When was the last time we stopped to purposefully praise God—for no other reason but to praise Him?
Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day. (Psalms 71:8)

I often take God’s daily blessing for granted—every day, I wake up; I can move; I have food to eat; I’m saved because of His keeping; I can see, hear, walk… yet this is the mere beginning. Every day, God answers prayers and fills my life with so many other things I do not deserve. I don’t want to take it all for granted.

What peace to know that when we pray, God doesn’t hear us according to our righteousness or our attempts at perfection. He hears us in His mercy and the truth of His salvation.

What theme or lesson has stood out to you recently from God's Word?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Books I Read - July 2017

I seriously thought July would be a few-in-number book month. It actually wasn't. Part of that was because I accidentally "over-booked" my reading schedule (pun intended ;) ) -- I stopped being as organized when I requested books, and suddenly, there I was, required to read one book a week. But, a nice, long trip to Colorado as well as other car time and "recovery days" after crazy busy days all worked together and I'm finally caught up.

So... the books I read! There were some great ones! As well as some not-so-great-for-me.

First, my favorites.

Just get this book. It was amazing!! Tozer gave wonderful food for thought, was strong Biblically and historically... yeah. I really liked The Wisdom of God. For more of my thoughts, hop over to Goodreads.

I had just been moaning to a friend about not having found any "can't-put-down" books when Over Maya Dead Body came onto my shelf. I had to put it down, but I never wanted to. I'm not sure if it was Orchard's style or the intrigue of art combined with FBI, but I really liked this one (amazingly, even though it had more romance than I usually prefer). You can read more details here.

And... of course. Roseanna White. :) It didn't make five stars, but I still really, really liked this one so it has to go in my top-three. :D And I did a little fan-girling in my review.

Then there were other great books...

Hmm... maybe this should go in my top-favorites of the month. I've been waiting for years to read book three in the Ancient Words Series and was not disappointed. If you like following families, then this series is for you! Keep your eye out--I'll be reviewing it here on the blog next week!

My first Karen Witemeyer book! I'll be reading more. The romance was a little stronger than I prefer, but the storyline was gripping! Read more of my thoughts here.

I got to read two Sarah Holman books this month! Well... I read the first, and listened to the second. Read my reviews for both Dreams and Devotions and "Admirable."

And the others...
I'll be honest. July also had some disappointing reads. Not all of these were the same level of disappointing. In general, though, each of them had some elements that kind of... "weirded" me out. You can see why in the reviews.

This one wasn't as bad. I termed it "disturbingly interesting." Maybe I'm just not one for suspense... But read my review of it here.

This one... *shudders* This one I wanted off my hands as soon as I finished it. I don't like to give two-star reviews at all, but this one had to have it. You can read why here. Yeah. Maybe I'm just not one for suspense.

And this one... I'm not a poetry lover by default but that wasn't what bothered me. There were a couple of things included that were Biblically-off. I tend to have a problem with those types of things. You can see a little more here.

In conclusion...
This month's reads almost left me feeling strongly opinionated. I don't care for that feeling. But... there were some books I loved, and some I just didn't quite love. 

How about you? What have you read this summer? Any favorites? Any not-so-favorites?

Friday, August 4, 2017

First Line Friday, Blog Tour and Giveaway | Manuscript for Murder

Today's First Line Friday is from...

"When that dude realized it was the history teacher, 
I was like shocked, y'know? I was like, 'Dude! 
It has to be that science geek's-whatshisname's-dad.'"
(Manuscript for Murder by Chautona Havig)

Hint: This isn't exactly the first line of the actual story but of a "two years ago." ;)

Before I get into the review and fun blog tour stuff, visit the other First Line Friday-ers and see what they have to share! (Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.)

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read

In honor of her Manuscript for Murder Celebration Tour, Chautona is giving away a mystery prize package worth over $100. Enter here:
Would you like to know what’s in it? Find the first clue within the giveaway image below, then hop on over to Chautona’s website to begin the search for more clues and you might find a special giveaway just for clue hunters! Can you find all the clues before Augusta Septemus does?


The best phrase I can think to describe this book is "disturbingly interesting." I found the idea of Alexa's writing preceding murders, but at the same time, there was that disturbing/sick element of the motive for the murders (which, I suppose is the purpose of murder mysteries--they aren't supposed to be enticing). 

Spiritual content... I didn't catch a strong hint of a spiritual line throughout the story. And a few references Alexa made of "Lord" seemed used in vain--like she wasn't praying, but uttering it flippantly. That could be me misreading it. There were mentions of God and praying, but like I said, it wasn't a strong thread at all. 

Clean content... this almost makes the "squeaky clean" category. There were a few minced oaths used as well as a reference to a "youthful rebellion" stage of someone getting pregnant out of wedlock. Nothing too detailed, but it's enough to lead your mind there.

Romance content... was not super strong in this book. There was a hint of a romance triangle, the aforementioned reference to pregnancy of wedlock, and some interested, but the romance felt natural and not overriding the entire book.

If you like a hint of mystery balanced with strong character-driven plots, you'll enjoy this book.

3.5 stars.

*I received this book from the author and happily provided my honest review*


Alexa Hartfield. Author, local celebrity, fashion connoisseur. She chose Fairbury for its close proximity to Rockland, its small town atmosphere, and its low crime rate.

Then someone made her life a literary clichĂ©. A mysterious accident with a light bulb sparked an interesting idea for her latest novel—and for Fairbury’s new serial killer. The first replication infuriated her. The second left an even worse taste in her mouth. The third blasted more than her self-confidence, and the fourth beat her down so far she’s considering giving up writing completely. 

Who is killing Fairbury’s citizens, and furthermore, why and how are they using her novels to do it?

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husbnd and five of her nine children. Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Blog Stops

July 28Bigreadersite
August 1Mommynificent
August 3Carpe Diem
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