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, 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 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 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 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

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.”