Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

On The Road Again Hodge Podge

Roadtripping Through The Hodgepodge

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then hop over and leave a comment for the person linking before you. Or leave a comment for everyone if you've got the time.

As a reminder-I'm declaring next week Fall Break in the Hodgepodge so no Wednesday Hodgepodge on October 18th. The Hodgepodge will return the following week, October 25th. Thanks for understanding.

1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your sense of direction? 1=can't find my way out of a paper bag and 10=if I've been somewhere once I can find it blindfolded ten years later.
When was the last time you looked at/used a map you could hold in your hand? (phones don't count!)
back east, down south, out west, up north
Choose one of these directional expressions and tell us why you chose it.

I will rate myself at least a 5. I have gotten used to using my maps app on my phone, but I can still follow written directions and read a map.  I'm from down south/and back east(Florida), I live down south(Alabama), I love to head out west, and plan to do some traveling up north when I retire in May.

2. Did you do more talking or listening yesterday? Is that typical? Describe your yesterday in one word.  Yesterday I listened more than talked.  Remember I teach....so talking is what I do for a living. I prefer listening....so I can create your story in my head.  Is that typical? Typically I think I lean more to the talking side of things, but only when I am in my classroom.   Yesterday (Monday) in one word? Frustrating

3. Time, money, water-power-resources, opportunity...which one on the list are you most guilty of wasting? What might you do to change that?  Hands down....time.  Although I think we're all guilty of wasting time now and then, but most of the time wasting time means I have missed an opportunity.

4. Did  your family take regular vacations when you were a kid? Tell us something you remember about a family roadtrip from your own childhood.  Our big vacations were always too see the family in Alabama.  It always bothered me that we vacationed in Alabama....instead of the cool places all my friends and family went.  One year my parents, my aunt and I stayed in a cabin on the Santee Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina and traveled the Blue Ridge Hwy.  I loved it. We also traveled through Florida a lot.  My favorite place we frequented was Sanibel Island, and I have been to all the places tourists go like Weekee Watchee, Silver Springs, Bach Tower, Cape Canaveral, Howie in the Hills.  My parents loved to wander....so I don't really call these vacations....they loved vintage stuff....they loved old, weird....off the grid places....and so do I.  I made sure though that my children had vacations.  We have been to 48 of the 50 states.

5. If you could grow anything you wanted, what would you grow? Why?  Orchids. They are so dainty and I just love them. My best friend's mom grew them and they were all over their back yard.  When I married she sent one to me in a tube to be attached to my bouquet and when her granddaughter married Mrs. Schmidt made me my very own orchid corsage for directing the wedding. 
I am in agreement with Joyce.  I would love a huge English garden....just like the one at Anne Hathaways house in England.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  I write book reviews and just got the 50th anniversary edition of the book Christy.  The character in the story actually inspired me to teach.  Is there a book you have ever read that inspired something in you?  What was it?  Care to share?

Friday, October 6, 2017

If We Make It Home


 About The Book:  When four college friends graduated from the University of Northwest Oregon, their lives stretched before them, full of promise and vows to stay connected. But life has a way of derailing well-laid plans.

Now they haven't spoken in twenty-five years. But against all odds, three of them have found themselves back in the same place--at their alma mater, wondering how they got there. When they discover their fourth friend, Hope, has died, Jenna, Ireland, and Vicky decide to embark on a wilderness adventure to honor her memory--and for secret reasons of their own. Jenna wants to show her husband that she's more than a helpless, overweight, middle-aged empty nester. Ireland wants to get back to the nature she loves and hide from the charges being pressed against her. And Vicky wants to show she cares for something besides her ministry--and put off the disaster waiting at home for as long as possible.

They never bargained for the dangers they face in an unforgiving wilderness. Now they'll have to work together if they hope to make it home alive. While the three women fight to survive the elements, their toughest battles may be with themselves.


About The Author By The Author:  "Writing is a long journey. Like any art, the craft requires countless hours of practice and dedication. While months can pass with little to no validation, there are also moments of celebrations. I’ve been honored to to a three-time finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest, the overall winner in the Phoenix Rattler contest, as well as a third-place winner in the Idahope contest.  I’m blessed to have signed with Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Agency. Karen is my agent, mentor, and the person who reminds me why I keep doing this. While the writer’s road is not without bumps­­—many quite deep—I love what I do. I think it’s the path God has always had for me.

My Thoughts On The Book:  I loved this book,  Once I started it I could not put it down and felt as if I was making this trek with these women.  I am not a huge fan of switching between characters every few pages.  I tend to get confused about which character was speaking. Nelson did a really good job of switching and I was left waiting to see what was going to happen next.  I am a huge Pacific Northwest fan and this book is a definite must read.  I can't wait for her next book.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Many Sparrows


About The Book:  Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would. . . .
In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.
When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son . . . especially when her second child is moments away from being born.
Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob's life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do-be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?
About The Author:
 
Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn't writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of "Burning Sky," recipient of three Christy Awards, "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn," Christy-nominee "The Wood's Edge," and "A Flight of Arrows."
Find out more about Lori at http://loribenton.blogspot.com.
 
My Thoughts On The Book:  This was my first book by Lori Benton and it certainly won't be my last.  I have always been drawn to historical novels.  When Benton drew me in to the story I could not put the book down until I read the last page.   I felt as if I was right there experiencing what the characters were going through.  Her research was spot on and she knows how to put it in story form.. Love the book Lori and I al so  ready to read more.  Great book!!!!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gathering Threads


 About The Book:  Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves, Will Ariana’s new perspectives draw her family closer together— or completely rip them apart?  After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family?  Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart. Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

About The Author: Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of nineteen works of fiction and non-fiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s Nightline, the Wall Street Journal, and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. 

My Thoughts On The Book:  I am a huge Cindy Woodsmall fan.  I love her books. Yet, as big a fan as I am..... I was a little disappointed with the third and final in the Series:  The Amish of Summer Grove.  I had a hard time getting into this book.   I can't say the book was bad....but as far as good goes it was just alright. I liked the way Woodsmall ties up all the loose ends and I am not left wondering what will be. I loved the characters in the series.  I felt as if I knew each one of them personally.  If you are a fan of Amish fiction then I recommend this series to you.  I cannot wait to see what Woodsmall comes out with next.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Cindy Woodsmall Launch Group and Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Bringing Maggie Home


About The Book:  Decades of loss, an unsolved mystery, and a rift spanning three generations
Hazel DeFord is a woman haunted by her past. While berry picking in a blackberry thicket in 1943, ten-year old Hazel momentarily turns her back on her three-year old sister Maggie and the young girl disappears.
Almost seventy years later, the mystery remains unsolved and the secret guilt Hazel carries has alienated her from her daughter Diane, who can't understand her mother's overprotectiveness and near paranoia. While Diane resents her mother's inexplicable eccentricities, her daughter Meghan-a cold case agent-cherishes her grandmother's lavish attention and affection.
When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a six-week leave-of-absence to recover, all three generations of DeFord women find themselves unexpectedly under the same roof. Meghan knows she will have to act as a mediator between the two headstrong and contentious women. But when they uncover Hazel's painful secret, will Meghan also be able to use her investigative prowess to solve the family mystery and help both women recover all that's been lost?
About The Author: 

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.
Find out more about Kim at http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com/.
  
My Thoughts On The Book:   This was one of the best books I have read in a while.  It was AWESOME!!!! I have shared it with my reading buddies and plan to reread it as soon as I get it back! I love the way the story weaves throughout the lives of 3 different generations of women in the same family. I felt as if I knew each character. This was one of those books you just can't put down once you pick it up.  I hated to see the book come to an end.  Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my favorite authors.  She really makes the story come true on the page.  I actually recommend all of her books, but most especially this one!  It is dynamite.  Loved it!!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Falling In Love With God

Fall in Maine off the beat and path
Winter, spring, summer, and fall are all God’s seasons.  The 22nd was the first day of fall.  When I was young I was a big fan of summer and spring and not at all fond of fall or winter.  Why?  I grew up in South Florida.  We did not have fall or winter.  I didn’t even own a jacket until I moved to Alabama. Moving to Alabama definitely broadened my horizons.  I fell in love with fall.  I think it has something to do with those leaves of red, orange, yellow, and burgundy that grace the trees during fall.  Every year I fell as if I am noticing them for the very first time.  I love to take rides and watch people set out pumpkins in their yards with hay bales, and watch them plant colorful mums. A few years ago I went to see a friend.  As I entered her neighborhood I noticed many yards were decorated for fall.  It was truly gorgeous….but I could not remember seeing this when I had been to her house before.  I began to wonder if I had just missed this glorious season all this time….or was it that as I got older I found myself appreciating the small things in God’s world more.  The Bible says, “This is the day that the Lord hath made, and I will rejoice in it.”  Each day He has given me beauty to enjoy, especially on my daily trek from Wedowee to Wadley.  I decided the first fall I drove down CR 15 that I was going to sit back and take in this amazing artwork He has created.  You know it amazes me how He can create such awesomeness and themes.  We see artists that try to capture the seasons on their canvases by painting what is around them, and they do a wonderful job.  However, neither painting nor paint could ever replace the real thing splashed across the sky and spilled over the earth like the Master’s display of his finest artwork.  God’s winter.  When people say there is no God, I know they do not see with eyes like mine.  They must see a plain, white canvas or a black back drop cloth and not the blue skies that fade into light pink in the evening.  Nor do they see the flowers that no paint on any artist’s palate could attempt to match or the trees that were each given a certain color leaf to change into when autumn arrives.  “No God,” they say.  It is just that they do not know the Master of the seasons, the One who has created such magnificent displays of perfect art.  Instead of always looking forward to the summer and springtime, I have decided to enjoy the Master’s autumn masterpiece for the rest of my life.  What about you?  What is your favorite season?


Cades Cove in Smokey Mountain National Park

Cheaha Mtn/Talladega. National Forrest

University of the South Cross on a fall night


 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Falling For Hodge Podge

Welcome to the last of the summertime Hodgepodges for this year. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then leave a sunny comment for the person linking before you. It's what all good blog neighbors do.


1. What's something you'd rate a 10/10? Tell us why.
I have to agree with Joyce on this one....grandparenting. Why?  Because they light up my life. I don't have pictures on my school computer....sigh!  BUT my room is full of them.
 
2. What job would you be terrible at? What makes you think so? Anything that involves being up high or anything in the medical field.  I can't do heights...and I cannot do gross.
3. When did you last take a fall? What's something you're falling for (in a good way) these days?
I not fallen in a few years.  I used to be a major source of falling entertainment for years.  My kids thought it was the funniest thing on earth. 
Something I'm falling for these days?  Baking, reading, crafting..we have a craft fair coming up in a few weeks and I am getting my stuff ready.
4. According to the Travel Channel here are some of America's best fall festivals-
National Apple Harvest Festival (near Arendtsville PA, close to Gettysburg), Harvest on the Harbor (Portland Maine), German Village Festival (Columbus Ohio), Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Cape Cod), and Wine and Chile Fiesta (Santa Fe NM)  Have you ever been to any of the festivals listed? Which one appeals to you most? Does your hometown have any sort of fall celebration, and if so will you make it a point to attend?  I love Fall Festivals and have been to quite a few.  I haven't been to any of the festivals listed, but they all sound like fun so how do I pick just one? I think I'd go  to the National Apple Harvest Festival.  I LOVE apples.  I also would like the Harvest on the Harbor because I adore lobster and Maine in the fall is amazing!  I love the Cotton Pickin' Fair held in Gay, GA in October and May..   I also love the Hummingbird Festival in Hogansville, GA in the fall and some small but fun ones like  Crafts on the Median in Wedowee and Heritage Day in Freedonia, AL.  I enjoy them all.
5. What is your goodbye message to summer?

Dear Summer-
  You weren't too bad this year....but I am a fall fan and can't wait for the vibrant colors of the season.  

 Love ya though....KK
 
6. Insert your own random thought here. 
I had spiced cider last night because it was raining and I was chilly.  It was yummmy.   What is your favorite fall/winter drink?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wordy Wednesday Hodge Podge


I would love to welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge, but the hurricane happenings have thrown me way behind so it did not happen. We ended up with more Irma effect in our area than was predicted, two days out of school....power stayed at our house....but not so much for many of our friends....and the school.  There were a lot of trees down and the ones that did not drop completely dropped so many leaves and branches all over the yard, but we'll deal.  I still have family and friends in Florida....and my heart is heavy with the needs of those who've lost homes, businesses, pets, and most especially their loved ones. I pray we can all continue to be good neighbors, helping one another in whatever way we're able.  Here are my answers to this week's questions. If you're playing along, add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you. Here we go-


1. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.
There are many pictures that inspire me to write.  There are many who bring back fond....and not so fond memories.  In my world...pictures speak with talking....and tell so many stories of good times I have had with family and friends.  

2. Have you ever driven any part of the Pacific Coast Highway? If so what was your favorite stop? If not, is this sort of trip on your bucket list?  I have been(driving or being driven) the entire length of the PCH.  It was my very first bucket list.  I would do it again anytime.  Favorite stop?  You know me....it is plural....I  teach Spanish...so I loved visiting all the missions along the way.  San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara were my favorites.  I loved Ventura(be sure to stay at the Cliff House Inn....the views were amazing....I loved Venice Beach....Glass Beach is a must see....Chandelier Drive Tree Drive Through was pretty amazing as well.  There were so many things I would love to go back and repeat....BUT...there are still so many things on my bucket list.  I must go forth....and get the rest of the list taken care of....so I can add new things.

3. How do the changing seasons affect you? As the seasons change do you find yourself looking more forward or backward? Which season-season transition bothers you most? Why do you think that is?  I look forward mostly, but occasionally looking back is a reminder of special times....Fall to winter is hard  for me.  I have lost too many loved ones during this period and it makes me a bit blue.

4. It's your birthday and you get to pick the dinner menu. What are we having? Do you ever lie about your age?  Grilled hamburgers/steaks if Frank is cooking.  Italian if we are at Pizzavilla, Emporers Plate at Mikatos in Auburn, Wings(Colorado Coppers) if we are in Knoxille/Charleston and Chicken Enchiladas Verde if I am at Tres Hermanos in Roanoke.  I never lie about my age.  I am what I am.

5. What's a life lesson you've learned recently?  I am not as young as I used to be.  I have a new friend who has come to visit.  His name is Arthur Itus.  He is killing my left knee and right ankle....especially with all the rain we have been having.  

6. Insert your own random thought here.  You must see the movie A Case For Christ.  It is out on DVD and Blue Ray....and awesome.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Jack Of All Trades

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to Joyce's by clicking here to read everyone's responses.  If you want to you can add your link to the party. See you there!


From this Side of the Pond

1. When you think about your future what do you fear most? Hope for the most?  Retirement and retirement.  I am afraid I will stop like my dad did when I retire and I can't wait til May when I retire and can do the things I love to do.

2. September is National Chicken Month. How often is chicken on the menu at your house? What's a favorite dish made with chicken? What's something you're a 'chicken' about doing or trying?  we love Chicken and eat it at least once a week...sometimes more.  My favorite dishes with Chicken is Chicken in a pot (a Greek inspired dish) and Poppy Seed Chicken made by Mrs. Jean from my church....but I will pretty much eat chicken any way it is served.  I LOVE Chicken enchilada's with green sauce from Tres Hermanos too.  I have not perfected the recipe yet.  I am chicken about doing anything that involves extreme heights....so no bungee jumping, et al for me.

3. What are three things you don't own but wish you did?   A vintage mustang, a Gibson guitar like the one Emmy Lou Harris plays, and a house in the mountains.

4. Would you rather be a jack of all trades or a master of one? Elaborate.  If you answered one, which one?  I am like my father....he was a master electrician....but a Jack of all trades.  My dad could do anything and I am my father's daughter.

5. Ketchup or mustard? On what?  Both...on hamburgers and hotdogs....ketchup only on French fries....sometimes.

6.  Insert your own random thought here. Hurricane Irma is frightening me.  I still have family and friends in South Florida so I am concerned for their safety.  I am also saddened by the wildfires in Montana.  I have been to many of the places that are now burned to the ground.  The Historic Lodge in Glacier National Park was one of the things on my bucket list.  I am sad because it is no more.  I guess you should always do things when you have the chance and not wait.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hodge Podging Stuff

Welcome to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge! If you've chosen to answer the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post by clicking here, then hop over and say hi to your neighbor on the list. Here we go-


From this Side of the Pond 

1. Did you watch the solar eclipse? Your thoughts? Sun Chips, Moon Pies, Starburst candies, a Blue Moon beer, a Sunkist orange, or a Milky Way candy bar...what's your favorite eclipse related snack on this list?  We absolutely watched the eclipse.  It was a big event at Wadley High School and we took the students out to the football field with their glasses for it. You could see the eclipse as it moved across the sky in our special glasses....but it did not get dark here like they said it would....so sad.  I made a decision to be where there is totality in 2024 when the next one happens.  Most of our teachers passed out Moon Pies, Sunkist, Milky Ways, and Starbursts.  

2. What are you 'over the moon' about these days? What's something you enjoy doing every 'once in a blue moon'?  I am over the moon about singing with the girls again in Still Magnolias.  We got to sing together for the first time in two years on Saturday night.  It was awesome.  What do I enjoy doing every once in a while????  Don't laugh....but  eating a Moon Pie.  Every now and then I actually crave one.

3. Tell us about something in the realm of science that interests you. How do you feed that interest?
I have to agree with Joyce.  We have hummingbirds and the ins and outs of the little fellows amaze me.  I love to watch them fly, fight, eat.  I am also amazed by storms and the majesty and power of lightening.  When I was a child squalls before a hurricane absolutely fascinated me.

4. What are a few things you remember about going back to school as a child?  I remember going to Davis' 5 & 10 for new school supplies and hearing the wooden floors squeak under our feet, getting a real cigar box for pencils from the cigar store, my first day dress, the  new shoes I got and how they hurt my feet til I got them stretched out.  First days and last days have always been my favorites....

5. I've seen several versions of this around the net so let's make one of our own...share with us five words that touch your soul and briefly tell us why.

daddy-warmth, comfort - It is well with my soul.. 

dream-I too have always been a dreamer. 
Dreams awaken what could be's in my heart and mind.. 

squalls/storms- awaken life with in me

Lightening - show me the majesty of God and all his power.  There is a bit of fear that is experienced with the majesty.  


Love - unconditionally given by me, to me, for me....no questions asked....just love.


6.  Insert your own random thought here. The first football game starts this week with a Jamboree.  Do schools in  your areas do this?  It is a showcase of the teams.  This week our theme is going to be Beach the Bulldogs and the kids will be dressed up in Beach Attire.  I am not a huge fan of this dress up thing....it causes the kids to be less than focused.  I feel they should do all this during the pep rallys....not during the day..  What about you?  How do you feel about pep rallys and dress up during school?

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Irish Cottage


About The Book:  A story about losing your way and finding your life. Elizabeth Lara built a perfect life as San Francisco’s top divorce attorney, but when she loses her great-aunt Mags, the woman who raised her, she boards a plane and leaves it all behind.

The Irish shores welcome her as she learns a shocking truth, kept secret for thirty-five years. Devastated and now alone in the world, Beth tries to find peace in a beautiful cottage by Lough Rhiannon, but peace isn’t what fate had in mind. Almost as soon as she arrives, Beth’s solitary retreat into the magic wilds of Ireland is interrupted by Connor Bannon. A man with light brown hair, ice blue eyes and a secret of his own. He’s gorgeous, grieving, and completely unexpected.  With the help of Mags’ letters, the colorful townspeople of Dingle, and Connor, Elizabeth might just find a way back to the girl she lost long ago and become the woman she always wanted to be.

The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth is an international women’s literary fiction romance novel with three books in the novel series. Other themes include: romance literary fiction, women’s sagas, love stories, and second chances at life.


About The Author:  Jules is originally from California. She is a true, hopeless, all-in romantic. Her first kiss was with a Frenchman in Paris, her first love was an Eagle Scout, her first crash and burn was with someone from Harvard (Jules studied history at Yale--she should have known better).   The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth was inspired by Jules' love for all things Irish. A love sparked in her teens by Riverdance; fanned into a flame when she befriended a group of Irish kids in France; and blazed into a wildfire by a visit to the Emerald Isle.  Earlier this year, an AncestryDNA test confirmed what Jules has suspected for a while: she's part Irish (one of her grandparents continues to be unknown, but as luck would have it, the test divined that he must have been an Irish-Scot-Swede).

My Thoughts On The Book:  It wasn't the best book I have ever read, and it was not the worst., but I found myself drawn to Beth and Connor.   I am not a huge fan of sex scenes in books but these were not terribly offensive and used in the right places.  I love romance novels and since I am from Irish descent I love Ireland.  This book was a win-win for me.  I enjoyed it.  I am usually drawn to Amish fiction so this was a nice break.  Will I read the next two in the series?  I most definitely will to see what happens to Beth and Connor. The setting was very real and I allowed myself to be carried back to Ireland within the confines of the story.  I would give this book a solid 4.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Amazon. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fraying at the Edge: The Amish of Summer Grove, Book 2



About The Book: Family, community, faith, and love.  These “quilt blocks” sewn together made Ariana’s beautiful life.  When they are pulled to pieces,  will anything familiar remain?  The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?  At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.  New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?  Fraying at the Edge is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

Excerpt: © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved  Summer Grove, Pennsylvania

The dark shadows lying across the living room floor were eerie, seemingly coming out of hiding as Lovina remained kneeling in front of the couch, her Bible open. The pale moonlight only intensified the darkness that surrounded her, as if the blackness were a picture of what was happening to her family. To her daughters.

She tightened her interlaced fingers. Her knees ached from the hours she had quietly sought God for the kind of help only He could give.

The daughter she’d thought she had given birth to two decades ago was gone, spending her first night with strangers in an Englisch home that by all accounts was worldly and in disarray. From what little she knew, that home was dysfunctional at best. She was terrified for the daughter she’d raised, the one who had none of her DNA.

Until recently Lovina hadn’t realized that even God’s faithful ones endured the kind of terror that had now entrenched itself in her heart. But maybe the truth was Lovina hadn’t been faithful, not truly.

“God, please don’t let Ariana or Skylar pay the price for my sin.”

How would Ariana—Lovina’s sweet, wide-eyed girl—survive for a year outside the Amish community she loved with her whole heart?

The daughter Lovina had actually given birth to was upstairs, sharing a bedroom with her sisters for the first time in her twenty-year life. The image of meeting Skylar yesterday for the first time made Lovina break into fresh sobs. Her daughter had black nails that matched the dyed-black streak in her blond hair. And she wore jewelry, makeup, and revealing clothes. But none of that had twisted Lovina’s heart in a knot like the hard­ness she saw in Skylar, as if bitterness had already destroyed her belief in life and humanity. The young woman wasn’t hopeless. She had dreams but no apparent understanding that life and people were valuable. Even with all that, the most painful part of yesterday was when Skylar’s driver, Quill Schlabach, handed Lovina the luggage and suggested she thoroughly inspect it to verify Skylar hadn’t brought any drugs with her.

Lovina had set the luggage aside for a while and tried to connect with Skylar about little things—her hobbies, schooling, and such. Later, when the two of them were alone, Lovina went through the suitcase as Skylar sat on the bed, calmly and apathetically assuring her that she’d only popped a few pills on occasion and that a random drug test happened to catch her right after one such rare event. Lovina found no drugs, but Skylar’s calm, detached behavior toward meeting her family, having a twin, and the drug search was disconcerting.

“Father in heaven, please strengthen Skylar to overcome all desire for pills—occasional or otherwise.”

It was her fault Skylar was in this predicament. Just as it was her fault Ariana had been forced to leave here and go to a dysfunctional home. Would Lovina spend the rest of her life carrying this unbearable sense of blame?

When the floor creaked, Lovina lifted her forehead from her folded hands. Her husband stood in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room, bathed in shadows and dressed in yesterday’s pants with sus­penders pulled over a white T-shirt.

He eased toward her, knelt, and put an arm around her shoulders. “God, help my Lovina,” he whispered, and then he kissed her temple. “It’ll be okay. It will.”

Lovina didn’t need or want false words of hope, but maybe God had spoken to Isaac. Maybe He hadn’t. She wouldn’t ask.

Skylar had spent a lifetime being indoctrinated in ways Lovina had little knowledge of. In fact, she would be in rehab right now were it not for these crazy circumstances.

Lovina’s need to confess her sin to her husband weighed heavily. “The unbearable part is I did this.”

“Shh.” He held her tight, probably trying to ease her trembling. “No, my love. This isn’t—”

“But it is. Please, I have to say it aloud to someone . . . at least once.”

He nodded. “Then say it a thousand times if it will help.”

Lovina wiped her tears. “When I doubted that we had the right new­born, I didn’t push hard enough to get answers.”

“But Rachel dismissed your fears.”

“Rachel meant well, but as a midwife she didn’t have a mother’s heart. I should’ve pushed harder for answers then.” She sobbed. “And twenty years later when I discovered the truth about the girls being swapped, I pushed too hard, too fast. Quill tried to warn me, telling me I needed to slow down. But I forged ahead, thinking Skylar needed the faith we could offer her. But we’re in over our heads with that one. I see that now. I’ve upended both girls’ lives. Ariana is there, and . . .” She broke into fresh tears. “I’m a horrible person, Isaac.”

He wrapped her in his arms and held her tight. “God will forgive us.”

Even he couldn’t muster another denial of their guilt. This nightmare was Lovina’s fault, and no matter how it played out, her daughters—yes, she considered both of them her daughters—would pay the price. Who knew how high a price? All the regret of her past failures and all the fear of her daughters’ futures weighed on her mother’s heart, squeezing and press­ing until she didn’t think she could take any more.

As much as she believed in forgiveness and redemption, she wasn’t sure any existed for her. God could forgive her, and He could redeem her from eternal damnation. But that wouldn’t undo or erase two decades of planting and harvesting in Skylar’s life.

Clarity came to her like dawn dispelling night, and she knew why the burden of her sin was so very heavy tonight. Darkness was stretching to­ward Ariana, and Lovina needed to pray fervently, because her sweet girl would soon be in a fight for her sanity.  
About The Author:  Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction and nonfiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s Nightline, the Wall Street Journal, and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. She can be found online at cindywoodsmall.com

My Thoughts On The Book:  Fraying at the Edge is book two from Cindy Woodsmall's The Amish of Summer Grove series. I feel that you need to read the first in the series first to get the full impact of the series, although you could read this one as a stand alone.
Fraying at the Edge is wonderful and I loved connecting with my Amish friends again.  The two young women were thrown into unknown worlds have both touched my heart. Woodsmall's books are among the best Amish books I have ever read.  Once I start one I cannot stop reading until it is finished.   It is going to be hard waiting for the third and final book.  I have to see how the story line finishes.  


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Cindy Woodsmall Facebook Launch Team and Waterbrook. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ties That Bind - The Amish of Summer Grove -Book One


About The Book:  Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?  Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.  Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish. Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever. Ties That Bind is the first novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series.

About The Author:  Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.  She's won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer's Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings' Best Books of the Year. She's been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.  Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn't realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn't allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy's house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them--afraid that if they didn't, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann's because her family didn't own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults' disapproval and the obstacles in each other's lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy's family moved to another region of the US.  As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities--from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.  Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I love Amish fiction and romance, I love Cindy Woodsmall books, so when you put the two together I am a winner all the way around. Woodsmall has an excellent way of drawing you into her stories with her life like characters.  This is the first book of The Amish of Summer Grove Series.  From the beginning of the book I felt as if I was part of this family and their lives.  There were a few different story lines going on throughout the book and the ending made you anxious to begin reading book two.  I could not put this book down.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cindy Woodsmall and Waterbrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lighting The Way With Wednesday Hodgepodge

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you want to answer on your own blog, then be sure to hop over to Joyce's blog by clicking here.  Ready?  Here we go-


1. Do you try to set rules for yourself about how you use your time? Explain.  I am a school teacher so rules are a norm in my world. If I did not have rules I would not be very productive.  I set rules for working on lesson plans, doing housework, preaching, outside activities and that way I can also have time to do the things I love....write, blog, read, and of course....sleep.

2. Monday was National Lighthouse Day. Have you ever visited a lighthouse? If not, do you have any desire to see one up close? Of the 10 Most Beautiful that made this list which would you most like to see in person-  I have seen many lighthouses.  I actually have a Lighthouse Passport that I get stamped when visiting one.  Of the 10 on the list my favorites I have seen are:  Portland Head Light (Maine), Yaquina Bay Light (Oregon) The St. Augustine Light (Florida), and  Bass Harbor Head Station (Maine).  I also love Nubble (Maine), Sanibel(Florida), Boston Harbor (Mass), Quaddy (Maine), Old Mission (Maine)....and many others.  My retirement goal is to get my passport stamped by all of the lighthouse in America and Volunteer at a lighthouse in the North. 

When you've been away, what's your 'lighthouse' telling you you're on the right road home? The Cross on the Interstate near Chattanooga.

3. What have you unintentionally stopped doing? Is this something you need to pick back up and begin again, or is it something you need to let go of for now (or even permanently)?  Scrapbooking.  I found it was way too expensive, time consuming, and I just did not enjoy it.  I may pick it up again after I retire.

4. We've had a full week of August. Share a GRAND moment from your month so far. School started back for the 2017/2018 year and I experienced my Last First Day with the Senior Class.

5. Tell us one song you love with the word 'baby' in the title.  Baby I'm A Want You, 1971 by Bread.

 6.  Insert your own random thought here. The school year has begun.  I cannot tell you how many first day pictures I have seen.  I even posted one of the Seniors of 2018.  Did you always take that dreaded first day picture of your kids when they were young????

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Magnolia Story


About The Book:  National Bestseller--New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publisher's Weekly.  Are you ready to see your fixer upper?
These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.
They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.
In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:
  • The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
  • Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
  • When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
  • Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
  • Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
  • Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
  • The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
  • The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way
And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”

About The Authors:  CHIP AND JOANNA GAINES are the founders of Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market, and Magnolia Realty in Waco, Texas. Together, they also host HGTV’s Fixer Upper, where Joanna serves as the lead designer and Chip handles construction. They appreciate the old ways of living, simple and hardworking, with home at the center of it all.

My Thoughts On The Book:  I became a huge fan of Chip and Joanna when I was in the hospital and then home for a month on bed rest.  I fell in love with the couple and knew I had to read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very relaxing.  I love that the book and stories are told using both of their voices as they share their personal and business stories.  I feel as if I have known them forever.  It was so refreshing to read a story that showed faith, hope, and love as easy as breathing.  LOVED IT!!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I did not receive this book for free from anybody.  I paid to read it and I loved it so much I had to write a review on it.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Reunited By Danger


About The Book: When a former classmate is murdered at Detective Caleb Lyons's ten-year high school reunion, he knows the victim's old group of friends are keeping secrets. That includes Cedar Key, Florida, police officer Amber Kingston. Back in school, Amber was headed for trouble, but now she's as dedicated to the law as he is. As he works overtime to get the pretty cop to open up to him, Amber and her friends receive messages threatening payback for past deeds. And her friends keep dying…one by one. But protecting Amber and unmasking a murderer isn't just the widowed detective's shot at redemption—it's his unexpected second chance at love.
About The Author:  From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads as if she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.  Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.  To learn more about Carol you may visit her web site at http://www.caroljpost.com. 
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have loved Cedar Key forever and that is what made me want to read Carol Post's books.  Her characters are lifelike and make you feel as if you know them.  This is a great mystery-romance and a good beach read.  Post is quiet a wordsmith and once you start one of her books you just can't put it down.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good Who Dunnit with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.  I can't wait to read another one of her books.
 Disclosure of Material: I received a copy of this book for free from the author herself and Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense.  I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*