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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

book review: "the mason jar" by james russell linger felt

What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she's ever read? "But," she said, "i's about you." The author is your college ex.

In The Mason Jar, Clayton Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather's desk; letters of counsel and affirmation. When Clayton attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark, debutante from Colorado. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she vanishes, Clayton is left with unanswered questions.

Clayton goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Clayton returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the woman he once loved. Little does Clayton know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar. 

A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who write a book about her and a reunion they never imagined.

I wanted to read this book for several reasons. I have a current obsession with Mason jars, I'm a Southern girl myself and understand the draw of another country. I liked the story within a story, wondering how Finn would react when he saw Eden again and if they would have another chance to be together. There are so many lessons in this story, solid truths in Grandpa's words. Lessons about not being afraid to love and living life. And I couldn't help but think about my mission trips to Guatemala as Finn spent time in Africa, helping the children he met and the people find a better way of life. I think I liked the story so much because of being able to identify with Finn in so many different ways. I also liked Eden. I loved her excitement for life and I mentally sighed when she gave Finn the painting she had made. Oh goodness. I like happy endings and though both Eden and Finn had endured a lot of pain and frustration in their time apart, I'm glad they found their way back together!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read more reviews on the tour by clicking here.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

hope


Hope. I went to Guatemala this summer and that was the word that kept coming to mind as I prepared for the trip. We took hope to the people we met; some of who had never heard of Jesus and the salvation He won for us so long ago. The trip was ten days full of ministering, loving and sharing the gospel with precious Guatemalan people. We visited a hospital and had the chance to pray for those who were sick. Looking at the children in the beds, with the parents sitting by helplessly, they needed hope. We went to six different schools, performing a few dramas and playing with the children. They were all smiling and excited to see us. We brought them hope. At one school, all the children wanted us to sign their shirts. It became a frenzy of children tugging on us and pointing to their shirt. I went to Guatemala last year and was so excited to go back. The people there stole my heart; especially the kids. I teach kindergarten and those little faces got to me. I met a little boy named Paco and once I picked him up, I didn’t want to put him down. The trip was amazing and I know there’s more to come I’m just not sure what.

And then there’s my own life. Becoming a teacher has been a process. I’ve had to cling to the hope that God would work things out for me, aligning things so I would be where I needed to be. Last year I was a teaching assistant and there were moments when I doubted. I wondered if I was wrong about my calling and it should be something else entirely. But I held on to hope. I kept believing God, knowing He’s faithful and would fight for me. I'm teaching kindergarten this year at the same school and God is so good. My principal called me over the summer to ask if I was interested in a teaching position. She told me, "The Lord kept putting you on my heart." My prayer had been that whoever hired me would keep coming back to my name. Her phone call totally confirmed that prayer! We can never lose hope as we wait. 

"And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You." - Psalm 39:7 (Amp)

You can learn more about Dayspring's Letterpress Blocks by clicking here.
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Sunday, October 5, 2014

book review: "the sacred year" by michael yankoski

Frustrated and disillusioned with his life as a Christian motivational speaker, Michael Yankoski was determined to stop merely talking about living a life of faith and start experiencing it. The result was a year of focused engagement with spiritual practices - both ancient and modern - that fundamentally reshaped and revived his life. By contemplating apples for an hour before tasting them (attentiveness), eating on just $2.00 a day (simplicity), or writing letters of thanks (gratitude), Michael discovered a whole new vitality and depth through the intentional life.

I read Michael's book, Under the Overpass, several years ago and liked it. I remembered that book when the opportunity came to review The Sacred Year. Michael talks about being dissatisfied with the direction his life was going - constantly moving and multi-tasking. I admit I'm guilty of having too much going on myself. And not just multi-tasking but multi-tasking in regards to phones, social media, etc. "Carr points out that our habitual electronic multi-tasking between smartphones, websites, news feeds, and social media is dramatically rewiring the neurological pathways in our brains. According to Carr, all our browsing and liking and streaming and retweeting has conditioned the ability to focus right out of us." I feel like my phone is part of me and am I the only one who has to have it nearby all the time? So Michael took a year to re-focus and I want to make some changes in my own life. I want to live more intentionally and not be so busy that I can't enjoy the small things or notice them. Michael talks about the beauty of an apple. How it has so many colors and how complex it really is. I want to notice things like that. I know I need to slow down and this is just another reminder of that. Michael says the way to attentiveness is to not focus on everything but "…on the singular. The precise. The particular. The One." By focusing on God, all other things come into focus as well. I liked this book and want to start living intentionally. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read other reviews on the tour by clicking here.


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Sunday, August 17, 2014

it is well

I love how songs can really resonate with you at different times in your life. Either a verse or the chorus or maybe the whole song grabs you at the right moment and the song becomes your "theme song." My theme song right now is a song called "It Is Well" by Bethel Music. I love it because the song is really my prayer. To be able to say - no matter what I'm going through or have been through - it is well. To know God is working things out, is beside me and has a plan. I want that confidence that is so trusting. To not have to need the details in order to know God has everything under control. To be able to surrender my desires and plans to the One who has my best interest in mind. It's just a really great song that I'm listening to over and over and over...


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Sunday, August 3, 2014

book review: "when i fall in love" by susan may warren

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she'd vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled - or maybe yanked - away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime. 

Maxwell Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace's faith will face its toughest test yet. 

I've been a fan of Susan May Warren and I wasn't disappointed with this book! I love the way Grace finally let go of her reservations and jumped in...to life. I love the way she could throw things together and make amazing dishes - I want to be a confident in the kitchen like that. I liked how Grace and Max had different cooking techniques but it was those differences that made them such a great team. I love the journey that Grace went through in the book. She let go of her fears and gave them to God. One of my favorite parts was when she came across the church service on the beach and was baptized. Surrendering to God and His plan is such a beautiful thing. There are so many other stories going on at the same time and I want to know how those turn out - Casper, Raina, Owen, and Amelia! This was a fun story but also serious. Max was facing some big fears...but finally realized he wasn't really living by playing it safe. This was a good read and I'm looking forward to the next Christiansen novel! 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

book review: "the butterfly and the violin" by kristy cambron

"Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl - a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes. 

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover - the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul - who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron. 

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart."

It took me a few pages but it wasn't long until I was pulled into both the story of Adele and Vladimir and Sera and William. I liked how Kristy switched back and forth between the two stories even though my heart broke at what Adele suffered through and the harsh reality of Auschwitz. I can't even begin to imagine what the people in the concentration camps endured. I'm not sure of the two couples which love story I enjoyed more. And I especially liked the fact that Adele and Vladimir were able to find each other again! I was surprised by how they ended up together and the connection with William's family - I kept trying to figure that one out myself! And then there was William and Sera. I thought they were cute together. I smiled at them going to the beach and how nervous Sera was and then when William said he came back to see her before leaving New York but Michael showed up - I liked how he pursued William pursued her even when she didn't think he would. And oh my, when he came to Paris for her? My heart melted :) This was a great read with history, romance, excitement and faith. 

You can find out more about the book by clicking here.
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. 




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Monday, July 28, 2014

book review: "woman of courage" by wanda e. brunstetter

Jilted by her fiance, Amanda Pearson gives up on romance and turns to her Quaker faith for reassurance. She becomes determined to follow the Rev. and Mrs. Spalding into the western wilderness to minister to the Nez Perce Indians. 

But a three-thousand-mile journey in 1837 is fraught with danger for anyone, and soon Amanda finds herself recovering from near death in a trapper's cabin. His Indian wife becomes Amanda's first convert - and friend. But the trapper and his intriguing half-Indian friend want nothing to do with Christians.

Buck McFadden has received nothing but pain from white men who claim Christ as their lord. He wants only to be left to his solitary life, but he can't seem to walk away from Amanda.

Amanda fears she'll never reach the mission in the Lapwai Valley. This journey has become life-changing for her - and those she meets - and the choices she must make are almost unbearable. 

It took me a few chapters to get into the story but I eventually was on Amanda's journey to the Lapwai Valley. I was surprised by the loss she suffered along the way - and especially when Mary's husband died. Amanda indeed had courage to continue on despite all of her setbacks. I admire her for sticking to her desire to teach others about God - even when she wanted to give up. Sometimes the dream we have isn't easy but that doesn't mean it isn't exactly what we're supposed to be doing. I liked how Mary's story turned out - that Gray Eagle wasn't really dead. And then there was Little Fawn. It only seems fitting that she and Amanda found each other. I thought the last few pages seemed a little rushed but overall a good read.

I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing for my honest review. 

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