Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Spotlight: Not by Sight (Ozark Mountain Trilogy) by Kathy Herman

Her Sister Couldn't Be Alive . Could She?

It had to be Riley Jo. She was certain. . .wasn't she? But when Abby Cummings tells her mother she thought she saw her sister at the store, her mother quickly dismisses the idea. After all, Riley Jo and their father had been missing for years. Presumably dead. Yet Abby cannot ignore her intuition. Telling her friend J. D., they investigate. But J. D. may know more about the disappearance than he's telling, or even realizes. And as they work to uncover what happened, all they have to go on is blind faith. Will it be enough. . .especially considering what the truth might be?

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (May 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781408040
ISBN-13: 978-0781408042


Benefits of Cinnamon

The scent of cinnamon is one I've always enjoyed. It makes me think of fall--my favorite season--and baking. In addition to being a mood elevator, cinnamon has several other benefits.

You can read about cinnamon's impact on your brain, diabetes, and digestion in this article titled, "20 Blogs Describing the Benefits of Cinnamon." The article includes links to numerous blog articles where you can learn more.

How do you use cinnamon?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Parenting Habits

I don't often read parenting books. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and I don't think it's easy to fit your ideas into someone else's style. That said, there are some basic habits that can help you feel more secure in parenting and make for a more peaceful home.

"Ten Parenting Habits to Get Into" shares many of those basics. Offering choices, asking for help when needed, picking your battles, and not expecting perfection are ones we put into practice here a lot. It helps in a family that includes a strong-willed child.

What is a parenting habit you were glad to get into?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

CFBA: Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paige Torn
Think (May 1, 2013)
Erynn Mangum


A few things about her:

So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!


Everyone knows they can count on Paige Alder. But between volunteering at church, putting in overtime at work, and helping her best friend plan an anniversary party, she's lucky to grab a cheese stick for dinner. Paige can't even remember the last time she had a few minutes to relax or dig into God's Word. Then she meets laid-back Tyler, an attractive, Jesus-loving guy. Will he be able to help Paige get her priorities on track?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Paige Torn, go HERE.

Book Spotlight: A Home at Trail's End by Melody Carlson

Elizabeth Martin and her two children have finally reached the Oregon Country. But Eli Kincade, the wagon train scout who captured her heart, has chosen to continue life on the trail. As other pioneer families begin building new homes, Elizabeth has never felt more alone.

However, when Eli unexpectedly returns, confesses his love, and proposes, Elizabeth accepts with her family's blessing.

A community begins to take shape, but not without growing pains. As an alternative to the local minister's fiery sermons, Elizabeth's father begins to preach at home, raising the ire of some. Racial biases arise against Brady, Elizabeth's African-American hired hand. Eli's warm sentiments toward Indians also raises concerns.

Can Elizabeth and her family overcome these differences and begin a legacy of reconciliation and love?

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736948759
ISBN-13: 978-0736948753


Book Spotlight: When Jesus Wept (The Jerusalem Chronicles) by Bodie and Brock Thoene

When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus’ ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (March 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310335930
ISBN-13: 978-0310335931


Ways to Supplement Your Child's Education at Home

I'm a parent who believes children shouldn't stop structured learning simply because they are out of school for the summer. That's one of the reasons our daughters participate in the library's summer reading program each year. I have to be honest, however, and admit I'm not good at coming up with creative learning ideas.

The article, "How to Supplement Your Child’s Education at Home" provides a wealth of ideas on how you can supplement your child's education at home. Think of how much better prepared your child will be if he or she stays focused on learning year round.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Copycat Recipes You Can Make At Home

One of the things I promise myself when we go out to eat is that I'm not going to order something I can just make myself at home. Why waste money going out if I can whip the same thing up at home?

But what if I could make a broccoli and cheese soup like Panera Bread or carrot cake cheesecake like they have at Cheesecake Factory?  This article includes links to 25 blogs that offer copycat recipes of restaurant favorites. If you try any of them, let me know.

Pool Safety

It's that time of year again. Heat and humidity make our families run to the pools and beaches. Last year, I wrote an article on pool safety. Though I grew up with a fear of the water, my girls love it. There are days it's almost impossible to get them out of the pool. Thankfully, there's always a responsible adult watching them, because I still don't swim a stroke. Maybe one day.

Here is a great article titled, "10 Tips for Preventing Accidental Drowning in Your Backyard Pool."

Let's have a safe and fun summer!

Book Review: Help! for Writers by Roy Peter Clark

As a writer, my bookshelves are filled with various craft and business books. While I don't feel like I read enough of them, I also wonder what else can be said that hasn't already been said about writing.

Now that I've read Help! For Writers by Roy Peter Clark, I have my answer. Vice president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, Clark shares his decades worth of experience with writers in this engaging and valuable volume that includes 210 solutions for problems writers face. From generating ideas to finding your focus to strategies for writers block and more, Help! For Writers is a must have text.

Clark speaks with authority from his vast experience, but he never talks down to the reader. Bits of humor are sprinkled throughout. While some of these ideas I had heard before, several were new and definitely ones I will put into practice.

Whether you're writing article, short stories or full-length novels, you'll find more than one tidbit of advice to but to good use.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316126713

Guest Blogger: Michael Krauszer, Owner/Founder of Christian Literature Review

There is an overwhelming need for literature reviews from a Christian perspective, and not just for Christian books. Yes, I’m advocating for a working literacy of secular books. As Christians, we must realize an important cultural fact; non-Christians are consuming non-Christian materials more than Christian materials. As such, we must be engaging the culture by understanding what they are reading, watching, and listening to. We are in an age where books like Twilight, Harry Potter, and Toni Morrison books are being consumed at an incredible rate. Add that to the many movies taking in millions at the Box Office each week, and you have another fact; these are the ‘sermons’ that the world is taking in. In order to reach the lost and engage with the culture both evangelistically and apologetically, it’s imperative that we use our Biblical discernment to sift through the culture's literature and give the gospel to them in their own language. This, ultimately, is how and why Christian Literature Review began (

One look at the book of Acts and you will notice something about Paul the Apostle. He was a man who understood the lost and their respective cultures. For example, while addressing the Areopagus in Acts 17, Paul supports his evangelistic message by using secular poets that his listeners would have known (Acts 17:28). Essentially, Paul was willing to break out of the so called ‘Christian bubble,’ and meet the culture where they were at. The fact of the matter is, in order to reach the lost we must speak in terms they are familiar with. Speaking in a Christian slang will not help bring people into the Kingdom; in fact, it will only make individuals seem as though understanding Christianity is an impossible task. Jesus met people where they were at. Paul met people where they were at. Isn’t it about time that Christians followed in their footsteps?

The goal of Christian Literature Review ( is simple; we want to review literature through a Christian perspective. It’s my hope that the reviews will provide material for Christians to use in speaking with non-Christians, help people practice Biblical discernment, and encourage everyone to compare what they read, watch, or listen, to the Scriptures. However, the website doesn’t limit the reach to only secular literature. In order to promote all kinds of literature, Christian Literature Review also reviews Christian books, both non-fiction and fiction. Literary Apologetics works two ways; reviewing secular works through a Christian lens AND having Christian writers contribute their own works to the world of literature. As such, CLR takes time to promote many Christian authors and help their works get noticed by a wider audience. This is truly an apologetic that is entertaining, creative, and effective. It’s time for Christians to start engaging with the culture, and that begins with understanding the literature they are taking in.

Michael Krauszer is the owner/founder of Christian Literature Review ( Currently he is a senior at The College of New Jersey, working to complete his BA in English, along with attending Veritas Evangelical Seminary for his MA in Theological Studies. If you’re an author and would like him to review your book, contact him at

Like Christian Literature Review’s Facebook page! –

Monday, June 24, 2013

CFBA: Pieces of the Heart by Bonnie S. Calhoun

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pieces of the Heart
Abingdon Press (June 1, 2013)
Bonnie S. Calhoun


Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year,” President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference(GPCWC).

For the last six years she has taught workshops in Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and creating Social Media promotions at both CCWC, and GPCWC, and in 2011 at the Montrose, Pa Christian Writers Conference. She also taught a Facebook workshop at the 2012 ACFW conference.

Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin in upstate area of New York with a dog and cat who think she’s wait-staff.

Her sites are:


Cordelia Grace watched Bernard Howard, the love of her young life, go off to fight for our country in WWII. And she has spent the last three years creating the Pine Cone quilt that will grace their marriage bed when he comes home. Each row of triangles signifies a layer in her life, sets of memories, hopes, dreams, and prayers for her future, enough spoken words to cover them forever. Her image of their “happy-ever-after” grows proportionally as the quilt expands.

But is the man that returns from the war, the same man that she remembered? Are the dark shades of color that she had to use for the outside edges of the beloved quilt prophetic of her life to come? Can love and faith overcome all?

If you would like to read teh first chapter of Pieces of the Heart, go HERE.

You've Got Mail Monday

Another week has come and gone. Last week was a crazy one with doctor visits, end of the school year activities, and dance recital. Today is the last day of school, so now the schedule should lighten up for a month or so.

In addition to my latest issue of All You magazine, the postman delivered catalogs from Boston Proper, Land's End, and FrontGate. Not feeling in the buying mood--meaning, I am so broke it hurts to even browse--they swiftly made it into the recycle bin.

Two books arrived this week and I am so excited. The Many Faces of Katniss Everdeen and Buffy and the Heroine's Journey. These books are by Valerie Estelle Frankel. I read Frankel's other Hunger Games book, Katniss the Cattail, which is a guide to all that is Hunger Games. She kindly sent me these two other books for review. What a neat niche she has created with her movie and television show tie-in books. You can find her here if you would like to learn more.

That's it for this week's You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a lovely week.

Available for Pre-order: Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

Amy came to the charming Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there's a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island.. she needs to mourn her brother, Ben, due to a surfing accident...but was it an accident? Amy has reason to wonder. She's even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It's always been a refuge for her and her family.

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. Yet he can't help being drawn to Hope Beach's new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina. Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other.and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden?

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 9, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547827
ISBN-13: 978-1595547828

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Free for Kindle: Surrendered Hearts by Carrie Turansky

Winner of the International Digital Award, Inspirational Novel Category

A gas pipeline explosion and fire destroy Jennifer Evan's apartment and change her life forever. Not only does she lose her home and beloved dog, the ugly scars that cover her arm, neck and shoulder steal her confidence and cause her fiancé to desert her. With her funds depleted and her job on hold, she heads for Vermont where she hopes to reconnect with her brother and find a way to rebuild her shattered life.

Bill Morgan, head naturalist at the Wild River Nature Center and her brother's roommate, is a strong quiet man whose faith runs deep. He and Jenn's brother determine to help Jenn make a new start in Vermont. Bill's stumbling attempts to share his faith with Jenn seem to fall flat and push her farther away, but she can see the difference his faith makes in his life, and her heart is still drawn to him. Will she hold on to the pain of her past, or will she surrender her heart and finally find the faith and love she longs for?

File Size: 525 KB
Print Length: 186 pages
Publisher: Flowing Stream Books; 1 edition (April 3, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English


Friday, June 21, 2013

Sleep In: Breakfasts Kids Can Make

As you can tell by the picture above, my girls have been interested in working in the kitchen for a long time. Some of our favorite memories occur while sitting around the table preparing a certain dish or meal.

During the school year, I make breakfast for the kids at least five days a week. None of us are morning people, so if I left it to the girls to get their own breakfasts, they would probably be late for school. Now that the end of the school year has come, I look forward to sleeping a bit later each morning and allowing the girls to get their own breakfasts.

This article includes links to several other blog articles that have easy breakfast ideas that can be made ahead  or that kids can make themselves. There are also some easy microwave meals. My son learned how to make the 5-Minute Egg Breakfast Sandwich in middle school and I still make them from time to time.

In My TBR Pile

Long Trail Home is part of a six-book series about four generations of the Morgan family living, fighting, and thriving amidst a turbulent Texas history spanning from 1845 to 1896. Although a series, each book can be read on its own.

When Riley Morgan returns home after fighting in the War Between the States, he is excited to see his parents and fiancée again. But he soon learns that his parents are gone and the woman he loved is married.

Riley takes a job at the Wilcox School for the blind just to get by. He keeps his heart closed off but a pretty blind woman, Annie, threatens to steal it.

Through painful circumstances, Riley and Annie learn that the loving and sovereign hand of God cannot be thwarted.

What would cause the Amish to move to Colorado, leaving family and friends behind?

Some Amish are making the trek to Colorado for cheaper land. Others are fleeing strict bishops with long memories.

For Emily Detweiler and her family, the move is more personal. Tragedy struck Emily in Ohio, shaking loose everything she believed was firm, including her faith. Her family took the bold step of leaving Ohio to resettle in a small Amish community in Canaan, Colorado, where they hope the distance will help erase painful memories.

David Stoltzfus's family moved to Colorado for reasons he doesn't understand. But Canaan is turning out to be something other than the promised land they all anticipated. Fearing that a health condition will cut his life short, David plans to return home to Paradise, Pennsylvania, as soon as he can. But then he meets Emily, who stirs feelings in his heart despite his apprehension about the future.

Emily's growing love for David surprises her, but she fears that he will find out the truth about her past and reject her. But what if the truth is that they are made for each other?And that God longs to give them the desires of their hearts if only they will seek Him first?

Lancaster County has always been her home--but where does her heart belong?

One moment Carrie Weaver was looking forward to running away with Lancaster Barnstormers pitcher Solomon Riehl--plans that included leaving the Amish community where they grew up. The next moment she was staring into a future as broken as her heart. Now, Carrie is faced with a choice. But will this opportunity be all she hoped? Or will this decision, this moment in time, change her life forever?

A tender story of love, forgiveness, and looking below the surface, The Choice uncovers the sweet simplicity of the Amish world--and shows that it's never too late to find your way back to God.

John Timmons' life is planned and orderly. He cares for his mother and four younger brothers, and their future depends on him to keep their Colorado ranch profitable. Ember Farrar (Bert) has run away from her lawbreaking family in search of a new life. But, when she attempts to return a horse that her brother had stolen, ranch hands believe she is a thief and a boy and they plan to hang her. John, who is also a deputy marshal, breaks up the hanging. After paying for the stolen horse, he takes the boy home to work off the debt. Later he learns Bert is a girl who refuses to tell him who she is and why she possessed a stolen horse. When ranchers report stolen cattle, Bert is a natural suspect. John is touched by Bert's sweet spirit and natural gift of music. Surely she's not a cattle thief. Bert fears for their lives when she is forced to either help her brothers steal or put the Timmons in danger. When John thinks Bert has betrayed him, he ignores God and turns revengeful. Will John learn who Bert truly is? Will their lives ever return back to normal?

In the aftermath of investigating the D.C. sniper case, police detective Vance Graegan is burned out on life and love. Hoping to save his marriage, he quits the force and moves his wife and son to the other side of the country. But when the movers decide to hold his belongings for ransom, Vance is determined to ensure that his family’s new beginning is not ruined. Soon, though, losing his possessions becomes the least of his problems as everything they are fighting for begins to unravel in the hands of Vance’s past. In an unforgettable climax, a little boy’s innocent faith brings a group of desperate people to their knees. What is at stake counts for everything, but nothing can prepare Vance for who is behind it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

All-Natural Alternatives to Bug Spray

As part of our "Going Green" goals, our family is doing what it can to remove harmful chemicals from our house. My mother-in-law recently brought us an article on many wonderful uses of honey and vinegar. She's also a big proponent on using cider vinegar on her skin to repel mosquitoes.

One of the nicest things about our home is that we are surrounded by woods on three sides, which makes it very private. The woods are home to many animals that I love to watch through the windows in my office. The wetlands, however, are home to those pesky mosquitoes. We love grilling and sitting outside, but by May, those pests make you want to duck for cover.

"10 Insect Repelling Alternatives to Bug Spray" is a great article for people like us who are trying to reduce the amount of chemicals we use. We already do some of the suggestions on this list: citronella candles and torches and no perfume or scented body washes through the summer. Planting a bug-repelling garden caught my eye. I add deer-resistant plants to my garden, so why not bug-repelling plants like marigolds and catnips?

"Going Green" is a learning experience for all of us. Just like my garden, I learn as I go and try to read as much as I can.

To Wait or Not to Wait....That Is The Question

A challenging decision for many parents is when to enroll their children in kindergarten. I honestly didn't realize how challenging until I discovered my mistake.

My son's birthday is in May. Back when he went to school (oh my gosh, I'm saying that about one of my kids, I must be old), the cutoff date was five by October 1st. His birthday was in May, so we sent him.

Many years later (14 to be exact), the Lil Diva' came along. Her birthday is in August. Our district's cutoff date is five by September 1st, so we sent her to kindergarten a month after she turned five. And that poor girl has struggled academically ever since. She is usually the youngest child in her class. Though in preschool we noticed she had trouble writing her name and couldn't read yet, it never crossed our minds to keep her in preschool another year. With tutors and after school help she has made substantial strides, but I still can't help but wonder how different her learning experience would have been if we had waited to send her to kindergarten.

The following article provides information on what to consider before enrolling your child in kindergarten. I wish someone had sat down with us and asked us to think about these things before enrolling our child.

Book Review: The Brotherhood by Jerry Jenkins

A fascinating police thriller from one of the most recognizable names in Christian fiction.

Boone Drake has the perfect life. A young cop rising rapidly through the ranks of the Chicago Police Department, Drake has it all: a loving wife, a young son, a nice home, and a focused career plan. But when tragedy strikes, Drake's life spins out of control. Mired in guilt and bitterness, he struggles to put the pieces of his life back together and deeply questions his faith. When he comes face-to-face with Chicago's most vicious gang leader, he learns God is a God of second chances and can change even the hardest heart.

Jerry Jenkins has been one of my favorite authors since the Left Behind series was released. His masterful storytelling and engaging characters have captured my attention for years. The Brotherhood, the first book in the Precinct 11 Trilogy, blends the author's knowledge of growing up in a family of police officers with a fictional character's transformation.

This is a slowly evolving thriller. While there are definitely spots of action, it's not the typical action-packed, breakneck speed of many thrillers. A good deal of time is spent delving into Drake's character, witnessing him deal with the effects of a horrific, graphically described tragedy that changes his entire life. It explores his crisis of faith in all its ugliness as he turns away from God and seeks comfort in other ways.

The Brotherhood is a deeply emotional story. It's less car chases and shoot outs than one might expect from a police procedural, but I got to know Drake up close and personal, which I enjoyed. Part of me wishes the lengthy conversations between Drake and this gang leader were shortened a bit, but overall, it intrigued me enough that I plan to read the other two books in this series.

If you enjoy emotional stories and books that dig deep into a character's psyche, you'll enjoy The Brotherhood.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 24, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414309228
ISBN-13: 978-1414309224

I received this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease by Eric M. Osansky

An informative and insightful title that offers natural treatment solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease.

After being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, chiropractic physician Eric M. Osansky explored natural treatment options for his condition. His successful treatment led him to want to help others explore the options available to them outside of traditional methods.

A few years ago, my sister was diagnosed with Graves' Disease. I had never heard of it before, but when she told me she was seeing a naturopathic physician, I became intrigued over why she would seek this type of doctor over a more traditional physician. I have to admit, I don't know a tremendous amount of information about holistic and naturopathic doctors. I do, however, believe in the impact of diet and exercise on  overall health.

 Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease provides information on why natural treatment methods should be given a chance before resorting to radioactive iodine and synthetic hormone replacement. Using his own experience and examples from his own practice, Osansky makes a compelling case for starting with natural treatments in the hope patients can avoid treatments that simply lessen the symptoms but do nothing to get to the root cause of the ailment.

This isn't a book to help you understand Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease as much as it is one that shares the author's philosophy of natural treatments and testing to discover the cause of the condition. I came away with a determination to reconsider how I approach my overall wellness and a desire to seek more information on lifestyle changes I can make to improve my health and well being. My original intention was to pass this book along to my sister, but I don't think she will get much out of it, since it's truly more geared toward a person considering treatment options than a person who has already decided to use natural methods.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism or Graves' Disease, this book will help enlighten why they would want to consider natural treatment solutions. The author provides additional information on his website:

Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Natural Endocrine Solutions (July 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 061548493X
ISBN-13: 978-0615484938

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

CFBA: Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel by Melody Carlson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel
B&H Publishing Group (April 30, 2013)
Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


With high hopes, Dorothy Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dot passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Dorothy, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Dorothy only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dot’s cats.

And if Dorothy thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dot's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.

If you would liketo read the first chapter of Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel, go HERE.

Book Spotlight: Living in the In-Between Times: The Life of Samuel Volume 1 by Dr. Ralph D. West

The man in between the times, Samuel, walks off these pages and into your life. You will discover how God speaks to you, how you can respond, and the significance of decisive commitment to the will of God regardless. From 3,000 years ago Samuel speaks across the ages and cultures in a voice that echoes from yesterday but sounds like today.


WE HAVE ALL KNOWN SOMEONE WHOSE NAME does not match who they really are. A “Slim” who is anything but. A “Shorty” who is taller than six feet. A “Jim” whose actual name is not “James.” And of course, a “Doc” who has never seen the inside of a college, much less a medical school. Such is the ironic nature of names.

Many biblical names hold up to closer examination. That may be true with our man in the middle, Samuel. Two translations of his Hebrew name carry weight. Some believe his name refers to his experience as a little boy who heard the voice of God (1 Samuel 1:29). For them his name should be translated, “God hears.” Others consider that the Hebrew name bears the very name of God Himself, “Name of God.” Either understanding gives you a clue not only to the name, but also to the nature of the person of God. He carried in his very name the mission of his life. You could not hear his name without thinking of the God he heard and served.

Now, most of us have a common name that does not have theological significance. Yet we can live in such a way that the very thought of us reminds people of the God we serve. Your name may be Tyrone, Ralph, Lateisha, Harry or something else. You too can live in such a way that the very calling of your name reminds people of the Lord you serve. The very thought of your identity could point people to the Living One. What is the first thing that comes into someone’s mind when they think of your identity?

Samuel is the man in the middle because he stands between one kind of charismatic leader called “judge” and the next type of anointed godly servant called “prophet.” Zoom out on the story of God’s people with me and get the big picture. About 4,000 years ago God called a man in what is today Iraq to leave everything he had and walk into the desert with Him. That man was Abram, and his wife was Sarah. Genesis 12 and following tells the story of that man and his family: Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. When the Book of Exodus opens, the descendants of Abraham (his new name after God breathed on him) are living in slavery under the super power of times, Egypt. God appointed Moses to lead the Hebrews out of slavery, and then He delivered them with signs of His power. Because of their disobedience and doubt, they walked around in circles in the desert for 40 years.

When Moses died, his associate Joshua took over as CEO of Exodus, Inc. and led the people into the land that God promised. Joshua was a warrior as well as governor. The Hebrews conquered much of the land, occupied the Vermont-sized conquest in tribal areas, and started a new life as a loose confederation of twelve tribes.

When you zoom out on holy history, you may be reminded that all of have a history with God. Indeed, some of us have a long family history with Him; generations of our people called on Him. Others of us only have our own history with God, but we do have a history.


Amazon Paper back


Write Now Literary Virtual Book Tour:

Dr. Ralph Douglas West serves as founder and senior pastor of The Church Without Walls (Brookhollow Baptist Church, Houston, Texas). He first preached as a sixteen year old in his native Houston. The church began with 32 members and now embraces 24,000+ families meeting in three locations and conducting six services each Sunday. Dr. West is affectionately known as PAS.

From the pulpit to the lectern, Dr. West is highly sought for his preaching gift. Pas is a leader beyond his own church and serves on boards, agencies, trusteeships and committees at local, state and national levels.

Dr. West completed degrees at Bishop College, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Beeson Divinity School, where he received the Doctor of Ministry Degree. He serves as Adjunct Professor of Preaching at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. He has an abiding commitment to the church and the academy, relating with equal ease to both venues and using his influence to mentor ministers in both locations. He speaks perennially at colleges, universities and seminaries across America as well as at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.

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Getting Out of the House on Time with Kids

Ever since the girls were born, I swear, I feel I'm late for everything. That's not true, but it sure is frustrating rushing from one thing to the next. The one place we never seem to get to on time is church. We're always five or more minutes late. It makes me want to scream.

Here is an article that provides tips on how to get out of the house on time with the kids: I'm a big fan of packing the night before and checking the weather so the kids know how to dress in the morning. Hopefully you'll find some of these tips helpful, too.

Summer is the Perfect Time to Visit Your Local Library

My girls are excited to participate once again in our local library's summer reading program. Sign ups are this Saturday. The girls usually turn this into a competition of sorts, but it's a great way to keep them reading over the summer.

Need a reason to visit a library this summer? This article gives you ten:

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - June 18th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Think of all God has invested in us--salvation, spiritual gifts, His grace, His mercies. What "yield" is God seeing?

~ Location 2049 of 7328, One Year Alone with God by Ava Pennington

Teaser Tuesdays - June 18th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"During Holy Week, he took a 'turn for the worse,' the doctors said, 'There is nothing we can do.' Nothing you can do? I screamed, but only in my head."

~ Page 123, Lessons from the Mountain by Mary McDonough

Monday, June 17, 2013

CFBA: Fear Has a Name by Creston Mapes

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fear Has a Name
David C. Cook (June 1, 2013)
Creston Mapes


Creston has fond memories of his boyhood in Bath, Ohio, where he became enchanted with his future wife, way back in the fourth grade. His father, Bernie, owned and operated The Weathervane Furniture Shop in town. The whole family lived right upstairs in the century-old house known as "The Shop."

Creston studied journalism at Bowling Green State University, then began his writing career. During the past 30 years, he has worked as a reporter, corporate copywriter, creative director, freelance writer, and author.


From popular suspense author Creston Mapes comes another faith-building thriller, a tale that follows journalist Jack Crittendon as he fights to protect his family from a stalker's terrifying schemes, investigates a pastor's mysterious disappearance, and struggles to keep his faith amidst unthinkable fear.

With his family's safety on the line, Crittendon realizes there are secrets behind "Christian" walls--secrets with painful, deadly implications. He must find the faith to trust a God who allows inconceivable trials, and the courage to guard his family, with danger exploding at every turn.

Through it all--the sharp, character-driven writing for which Mapes is known--takes fans and new readers on an edge-of-your-seat journey that explores the harsh, far-reaching consequences of bullying and the Christian response to fear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fear Has a Name, go HERE.

You've Got Mail Monday

Happy, happy, joy, joy. Happy, happy, joy. (Brownie points for anyone who knows where that comes from.)  It has arrived! It's so rare I treat myself, I can't help but get excited when a total unnecessary, but thrilling product arrives.

I've missed talking about Downton Abbey while it's in between seasons. I can't wait until January, so I have an excuse to bombard this blog with DA posts. Enjoying this show so much was a surprise to me because it's not an era or a setting I read a lot of. American drama set in the 1800s is my thing. But these characters' lives have totally captivated me. I've even joined a DA forum.

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes is filled with tons of historical information and loaded with historical pictures and photographs from the show. I've only skimmed it because most of my reading time takes place in the bathtub at night and there is no way I am taking this book with me. I hope to read through it while we're in North Carolina.

Included in this shipment was the latest Dork Diaries book, Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, by Rachel Renee Russell. The girls love this series and we never miss a book. Thank God for Jeff Kinney and his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series that spurred an entire trend of diary books for boys and girls.

My latest Land's End and Gardener's Supply Company catalogs arrived last week, too. That's it for now. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Use Sumertime Fun to Get Kids Ready for Kindergarten

Summer is a time for lighter schedules and fun and games. It can also be a time of great learning. In "Summertime Fun That Can Help Kids Get Ready for Kindergarten," you'll find tips on how to boost your child's social skills, teach them how to follow simple instructions, encourage independence, and more. You'll find this article online at

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh No, It's Raining!: How to Entertain Kids on Rainy Days

It's been raining so much around here, I swear I'm going to need an ark pretty soon. My girls have always loved to play in the rain. Before we put the drains in around our poorly pitched driveway, huge puddles would form in two areas that the girls would splash in. But sometimes, it's too cold to play out in the rain, so how do you entertain your children?

You'll find some ideas in this article, "Fun Ways to Spend Rainy Days Indoors with Kids."

What is your favorite way to spend time indoors on a rainy day?