Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Dynamite Song

A few nights ago I laid down with Little Princess at bedtime to snuggle for a few minutes.  She was listening to a CD and asked me if this CD had the Dynamite Song on it.  I tried multiple times to ignore her since I did not have any clue what song she was referring to; however, she just couldn't let it go.  I'm glad she didn't or I wouldn't have this funny memory to record.

Little Princess:  Mom, you know, the Dynamite Song.
Me:  No, I don't think I know the Dynamite Song.
Little Princess:  Yes, you do.  It goes like this:  "This little dyn-a-mite, I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Me: (refraining from hysterical laughter) OH, you mean, "This little LIGHT of mine"  OK, I do know THAT song.  Let's sing it.

I concluded my snuggle time singing "This Little Light of Mine" with my Little Dynamite.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."  Proverbs 17:22

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Family Fun Plus One

It has become a tradition to go swimming on Father's Day.  This is not necessarily a tradition born out of my husband's love of swimming.  It is the type of tradition that is born out of the ever-expanding memories of our children that constantly remind us of things with statements that begin like this, "You remember that one time you ______ (fill in the blank). Can we do that again?"

In my old age I must admit I have become somewhat of a "Debbie Downer" or "Negative Nancy" - especially when it comes to swimming in the summer.  Swimming in the winter is somewhat more bearable, in my opinion, because it involves heated indoor pools, warm (not scorching hot) walkways and does not require the use of sunscreen.  Given the unusually cooler temperatures our area has been enjoying this spring I was certain the water would be nowhere near the temperature in which I prefer to fully submerge my body.  That said, out loud.  We journeyed to the local YMCA water-park and embarked on our annual Father's Day swim. 

The water was COLD.  I do not know how our children can splash right in and never blink an eye.  After several minutes of slowly walking across the pool we were finally able to breathe again.  Preacherman was certain hypothermia had began to set in.  We spent some time in the pool (debating if we could leave yet) then moved on to a few rounds in the Lazy River and then back to the main pool.  

Many of you may know that we are in the process of taking some foster parenting classes and hope to add  another child (or two) to our family.  This Father's day outing to the pool gave us an unusual glimpse of what that might look like.  

I was no longer interested in being "in" the pool, so I sat on the edge and watched Rockstar on the lily pads and began tossing some Splash Bombs to Crazy Horse.  Rockstar and Little Princess moved on to the feature area with Preacherman as Crazy Horse and I continued our game of catch.  All of a sudden with no warning a male child, likely near Crazy Horse's age, jumped in the pool between us and entered our game.  Now I was throwing the splash bombs to two children of similar size and age and watching them, with a smile on my face, as I saw for the first time what another child might add to our family.  I was amazed that out of all the people at a pool on a Sunday afternoon that this child had decided to join us.  They were fun to watch as they both called for the ball to be thrown to them and the "fight" to catch the ball that ensued with each toss.  The smiles across their faces, the feigned frustration with each other and the pure enjoyment they were having warmed my heart.

Preacherman soon joined us, as did Little Princess who immediately wanted all the balls tossed to her.  The young boy quickly added Preacherman to the game of toss.  I kept looking around thinking his parents might show up and wonder who we were and why we were playing catch with their son.  No one ever asked.

We don't know this young boy's story.  We do know that we had fun and enjoyed sharing our game with him.  Preacherman asked the boy if he was there with his family.  No.  He was there with his coach.  I'm not sure what the boy's family life is like, but I am happy to know he has a coach who cares enough to spend Father's Day taking him to the pool.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Review: A Kingsbury Collection by Karen Kingsbury

I recently had the opportunity to read the three novel collection, A Kingsbury Collection, by Karen Kingsbury.  I have read several of Karen Kingsbury’s books and usually enjoy them to tears.  I had not previously read any of the stand alone novels in this collection.  The novels in this collection include: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay and On Every Side.

Where Yesterday Lives follows Ellen Barrett, a prize winning journalist, as she examines her present, revisits her past and dreams of her future.  When Joy Came to Stay is a story of Maggie Stovall.  A woman who appears to have it all together and finds herself falling apart at every turn.  The novel, On Every Side, tells the story of Faith Evans and her fight to save a precious community statue of Jesus in a city park and the heart of a boy she knew long ago.

I enjoyed each title in this collection.  A couple of the stories included story-lines related to adoption which is very close to my heart.  I love how Karen Kingsbury creates characters and story-lines that are real, relational and relevant.  I would recommend her books to any avid fiction reader.  I strongly recommend the e-book format.  I found the size of this book to be a bit cumbersome to read and carry.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

2013 Reading List

Here's to another year of enjoying some of my favorite authors and finding new ones!

1) Simple Secrets - Nancy Mehl
2) Where Yesterday Lives - Karen Kingsbury
3) Shattered - Dani Pettrey
4) When Joy Came to Stay - Karen Kingsbury
5) On Every Side - Karen Kingsbury
6) Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Amy Chua
7) Created to be His Help Meet - Debi Pearl (I do not recommend this book)
8) Vanished - Irene Hannon
9) The Longest Ride - Nicholas Sparks
10) Unspoken - Dee Henderson
11) His Mistletoe Family - Ruth Logan Herne
12) Christmas in the Air - Irene Brand/Dana Corbit
13) Bring Me Home for Christmas - Robyn Carr
14) Stranded - Dani Pettrey

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Immeasurably More

Many Christians are familiar with the passage from Ephesians 3:20-21 that reads: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

I find myself sitting here today questioning what this verse "lives" like.  What does it look like to daily live out this verse?  Does this verse apply to every aspect of my life?  Is this limited to my relationship with Jesus and my ministry on earth?   How do I distinguish between unrealistic expectations and trusting in God to do immeasurably more?  Is there a difference?  Where is the line in trusting God for immeasurably more and falling prey to the lies of "health and wealth" messages prevalent in today's society?

Today I am floundering in a sea of questions.

This much I know to be true:
I can attest to many instances in my past where I know God has met and exceeded my expectations.
I can present my requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
God is supreme. He is bigger than any circumstance or storm in my life. (Joshua 2:11)
God promises to give me wisdom when I ask. (James 1:5)
God is faithful. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
God can move mountains. (Job 9:5)
Jesus said with the faith of a mustard seed, I can move mountains. (Matthew 17:20)
God's resources are limitless. (Psalm 50:9-11)
God can make good where evil is intended. (Genesis 50:20)
My relationship with Jesus is the secret to strength and contentment. (Philippians 4:12-13)
God can make my paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
My God will meet all my needs. (Philippians 4:19)

Where are you trusting God for immeasurably more?

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: gods at war by Kyle Idleman

I jumped at the opportunity to read Kyle Idleman's new book, gods at war.  However, my "preacherman" husband received first dibs at reading it and was helpful in writing this review.

I recently read the book “gods at war: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart” by  author Kyle Idleman.  This was a challenging and insightful book that will push even the most devout Christian to reexamine their lives and not only throw out idols but, replace them with a deeper love and commitment to God.  The author’s witty and playful writing style makes this an enjoyable read and a book that I will definitely be adding to my library.

The first half of the book addresses the development of idols in our modern context and the last half of the book addresses specific idols such as entertainment, pleasure, sex and achievement.  At the close of each chapter are probing questions that force you to struggle with whether this is an idol in your life that needs replacing.  This book is based on solid Biblical principles and as a pastor I plan to develop a sermon series later this year based on the concepts I have learned from reading this book. 

I received this book for free from the publisher through the Booksneeze program for the purpose of my unbiased review.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Shattered by Dani Pettrey

I anxiously awaited the opportunity to review Dani Pettrey's second installment to the Alaskan Courage series.  I previously read and reviewed the first book in the series, Submerged, where I was introduced to the McKenna family in Yancey, Alaska and the suspenseful romance of Cole McKenna and Bailey Craig.

The sequel, Shattered, picks up with a focus on the youngest McKenna sister, Piper.  The distant and rarely heard from McKenna brother, Reef, returns to Yancey and is arrested and jailed awaiting trial for murder.  Piper sets out to prove his innocence at all costs.  Deputy Landon Grainger is a long time friend of the McKenna's and desires to believe Reef is innocent.  However, due to the overwhelming evidence that is mounting against Reef, Landon is finding it difficult to believe him to be innocent.  This presents further complications as he is aware of his ever-growing feelings for Piper and his desperate need to protect her from the danger she chases.

My biggest dilemma when writing reviews on fiction novels is trying to convey enough of the story line without revealing too many of the surprises.  My review of Shattered is no different.  This book was a fun and enjoyable read.  I finished it quickly and would read it again.  I enjoy a good, modest, suspenseful, romantic read.  Dani Pettrey is quickly emerging as one of my favorite authors at the top of my list with Dee Henderson, Kristen Heitzmann and Irene Hannon.  I think readers of Submerged will similarly enjoy Shattered.  It provides familiar characters and a new and twisted plot.  If you haven't read Submerged, I suggest picking it up first to get better acquainted with the McKenna family.  If your reading interests are similar to mine, I think Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series will find a permanent spot on your bookshelf.  I will now anxiously await the release of book three, Stranded, set to be released in the Fall of 2013.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of my unbiased review.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Word for 2013 - Part 2

I've known the topic of this blog post since I wrote the first post, My Word for 2013.  I'm an infrequent blogger as you can probably see.  My posts are often formed in my head long before they ever make it to written form and often times they never make it here.  This is one of those posts that if I had to be honest, I'd probably "forget" about writing it and try to move forward.  Yet, I am completely aware that this is one of those lessons God desires to teach me on my road to moving my desire to be Holy above my desire to be Happy.

The 2012-2013 MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) theme this year is Plunge!  As part of the steering team this year I helped to create and assemble some theme verse pens at the beginning of the MOPS year in September 2012.  I knew the first lesson on this learning journey God wanted me to tackle the moment I looked down at the pen in my hand in Sunday School on one January morning and read the theme verse. "Love as if your life depended on it." 1 Peter 4:8

Love?  Really?  I love my husband.  I love my girls.  I love my family.  I love my friends.  Unfortunately, I knew that this was definitely an area that I could expand and grow.  It is easy for me to love those who love me, talk to me, spend time with me, share common interests with me.  It is very difficult for me to love those who are unkind to me, talk about me or my family, do not share my interests or have an overall bad attitude. Rick Warren refers to these people as the Extra Grace Required people in your life.

I LOVE my Monday night bible study girlfriends!  They are all so precious to me.  In the two and a half years we have been in Augusta, we have shared so many joys and heartbreaks together, laughter and tears.  One thing I have come to learn from this group of friends is that they are faithful to pray for your requests and God is faithful to answer.  Our current session of study began on February 4th.  My request was that God would help me to understand this piece of the holiness journey better and how to put it to work in my life.

Later that same week, my husband did something he has never done before.  We were in the kitchen as Preacherman was helping me with the dishes and he turns to me and asked me something similar to this, "If you were going to preach about loving difficult people, what does that look like practically?"  I just looked at him for a moment.  My mind has been trying to wrap itself around this lesson of love for a month now.  Preacherman was aware of the "holy" journey God had called me to this year, yet he was unaware that the first part of that journey was about love, specifically loving those people who don't really seem to love me.  I then began to spew out the mess of verses and thoughts that had been invading my mind for the last month.

God answered my prayer for understanding as my husband took in everything I spewed out and put it together with the message God had already led him to and summed it up in a 30 minute message on Sunday morning.  Maybe someone else in the congregation needed this message as much as I did, but as far as I'm concerned, my God was speaking directly to me.  Below are my sermon notes from this message.  A constant reminder for me to keep practicing love even when it is difficult.

Sermon Notes
February 10, 2013

Crib Notes: Loving the Extra Grace Required
James 2:8-9
"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself, " you are doing right. But if you show favortism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers."

  • We love EGR people by praying for them.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"  Matthew 5:43-46

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice."  Proverbs 24:17

  • We love EGR people by serving them.

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.  The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."  John 13:3-5

In these verses Jesus served the ones who would betray him and deny him and fall asleep in his greatest need.

  • We love EGR people by learning to take a punch.

"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."  Matthew 5:39-41

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Romans 12:17-21

"His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said.  But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them."  Genesis 50:18-21

  • We love EGR people by practicing until we get it.

Even when what we know to be truth and our heart are disconnected we must act on what we know to be truth, to bring the disconnect closer together.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 
1 Peter 4:8

Friday, March 22, 2013

Questions Kids Ask

It is the end of Spring Break and due to illnesses and cold weather here in Kansas, we haven't really accomplished much fun on this Spring Break.  In hopes of making a memory or two, we toted the family to the pool at the YMCA on this cold Friday night.  We had the privilege to bring along Crazy Horse's BFF for our memory making fun.  The night seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary.  The pool was relatively uncrowded and the water was warm - the way this momma likes it.  Preacherman and I divided and conquered most of the night (with the exception of my 15 minutes in hot tub bliss) each taking turns with Little Princess and Rockstar.  Crazy Horse and her BFF were usually at the far end of the pool.  I think we may have already entered the "I'm too cool to be around you" stage.  However, they did come around a time or two. One of those times is what made this evening a blog worthy moment.

Preacherman and I are playing with Little Princess and keeping close eye on Rockstar and her new friends when Crazy Horse and BFF swim over.  Crazy Horse always poses the real serious questions to Preacherman.  I guess she figures he is best suited for those questions.  So what do inquiring minds want to know while swimming at the YMCA?  

Crazy Horse to Preacherman:  "Dad, what is a thong?"

Preacherman and I were a bit shell-shocked at the question, and inquired to the context, as we look into the big eyes of these curious tweens.

I bet you are curious too.

Have you ever read the Water Park Rules that are posted on the wall at the YMCA?  Well apparently tween girls who spend 1 1/2 hours at the far end of the pool laughing, splashing and chatting do read those rules.  One of which states something of this nature:  "Proper swimwear must be worn at all times.  No cut-offs, shorts, thongs, etc."

Preacherman stepped up to the plate and did a stellar job of answering the questions of these inquisitive tweens.  In an effort of completeness we threw in the bonus "sandal" answer too, which we are pretty sure no longer exists and obviously was not the context of the signage. 

Our apologies to the parents of BFF.  Please let us borrow your daughter again in the near future.  Maybe next time we will go to the zoo for another educational experience. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy 7th Birthday Rockstar!

It's that time of year again when we celebrate part of our musical life God has blessed us with by celebrating that memorable day our blonde haired, blue-eyed Rockstar entered our world.  Here is a pictorial glimpse into this past year with our young Rockstar.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Word for 2013

I began this year reading a short article in The Baptist Digest titled "Not My Enemy!" and the truth within it has been following me around now for about 26 days waiting to be written, yet not completed.  Yesterday I was knocked into bed with some type of bug that completely zapped me of all energy and made every joint in my body ache.  Today as I continue to rest and recover I determined to put this New Year's thought down in writing. This post is only one of many that should follow as God works in my life throughout 2013 and beyond.   

 The most thought provoking quote (of a quote) in this article that I have been trying to digest over the last several weeks is "I love how Dr. Gary Thomas asks in Sacred Marriage, 'What if God intends to make us holy and not happy?'"  This quote has left me in a quandary.  My mind has been consumed with thoughts and questions such as -  My happiness is not directly related to the holiness God desires I develop.  Holiness and happiness are not the same (didn't I know this?).  Do they co-exist?  What is it in those unhappy moments that God is trying to teach me about holiness?  It seems as I further explore these thoughts, God brings to mind verses of wisdom in those "unhappy" moments that indicate to me there is a long journey ahead.

I was also challenged in this Proverbs 31 Ministries post by Rachel Olsen to chose one word to focus on for the year.  One word that is representative of what I hope Jesus will do in or through me.  One word that will help give me direction.  Yes, you've probably guessed it.  I've chosen my word.  Maybe my word chose me.  Regardless, the word, my word is holy.  Although I may have tried to avoid it and delay the post that might make it official.   It was the first word that provoked serious contemplation as I began 2013.  It continues to challenge me in my thoughts and actions.  I struggle.  I struggle hard.  Especially as I see the areas God is trying to teach me to be holy even at the expense of my happiness.  This is no small word.  This is no simple task.  It can't be accomplished in one written blog post, not even one or two days, months or years.  It won't be accomplished by church attendance or fellowship functions or even in Sunday School - although each of these things can by good and helpful.  This word, this process, is a lifelong challenge to become something I am not, yet something God desires me to be.  Holiness is not an accessory that I can wear when it matches my outfit.  Holiness is what God desires from me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  His word speaks to me, it calls me to be holy, to be set apart, to be light in the darkness.  The goal is set before me.  The finish line is not in sight, but the race is underway.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight."  Ephesians 1:4

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."  Ephesians 4:22-24

"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"  1 Peter 1:15-16

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bible Study Review: Chase by Jennie Allen

I recently reviewed the dvd-based study, Chase, by Jennie Allen.  The study is published by Thomas Nelson and contains an eight session dvd, member's bible study book, leader's guide and discussion cards for use during group discussion times.  In the Chase study, Jennie Allen leads us to explore the question, "What are you chasing?" by looking into the life of David and the defining events in his life.

The dvd contains eight video segments approximately 10 minutes each of bible teaching from Jennie Allen. The segment titles correspond with the study and include:
1) Chase - the introduction
2) Identity
3) Courage
4) Obedience
5) Belief
6) Repentance
7) Surrender
8) Chased Down

The leader's guide provides tips and information for preparation and leading a small group.  Each session is broken down into two parts: the main idea and the main goal.  The main goal section includes homework discussion questions to help foster direction in small group time.

The medium sized, 156 page member book provides focused bible study and projects designed to be completed individually throughout the week.  Each week includes approximately 15 pages of individual study and projects with plenty of "white space" for notes and answers to your study questions.  I did not find this study to be as intensive as previous studies I have completed by authors such as Beth Moore, but the study will provide many opportunities to respond and grow as you read and study the life of David.

My favorite part of the study is possibly the most unique way I've seen the use of discussion questions in a bible study.  The "ask" question cards.  There are approximately 12 question cards and a scripture card for each week.  It is suggested that you distribute the cards for each week and take turns reading the questions and discussing them as a group.  Also included is a scripture card for the week to help bring home the focus of the scriptural truth for the week's study.

This study is designed to be flexible and meet the needs of your specific group.  It can be used for a one-hour study group or expanded to a longer time frame that allows for more in-depth conversation among group members.

I found Jennie Allen to be real and transparent in her own struggles of what she loves in life and those things that often take priority over God, His kingdom and His word.  She uses personal examples of her life, her children and her family's adoption experience throughout the video segments.  I especially liked how she spoke directly to the camera in her video segments to her viewing audience.

I received this study for free from the Booksneeze blogging program in exchange for my honest review of this material.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

All I Want...

Rockstar had planned to be singing "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."  She was super excited when she lost the first upper tooth in early December and the second one began to loosen soon after.  Although Christmas has come and gone, she returned from school yesterday ecstatic to have one less tooth.  Now if she only had a tooth fairy who wasn't so forgetful...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

I recently had the pleasure to read Kristen Heitzmann's novel, The Breath of Dawn. This is the third book of a series, following Rush of Wings and The Still of Night.  I have enjoyed many of Heitzmann's novels and I was excited to get my hands on this newest addition. The Breath of Dawn lived up to the high expectations I had for it.

The Breath of Dawn picks up with success guru, Morgan Spencer, adjusting to the tragic loss of his wife, Jill.  After a couple years regrouping at his brother's ranch and learning how to be a father to his little girl in the midst of all his pain, he meets Quinn Reilly.  Quinn has a past of her own she is trying to escape.  When Quinn begins to realize her past is catching up to her, she turns to Morgan for help. Although Quinn is initially offended by the unconventional solution Morgan offers, she soon realizes it is her only real option for safety.  In what maybe one of Morgan's riskiest moves yet, his family steps aside and prays he knows what he is doing. 

If you enjoyed Rush of Wings and The Still of Night, follow Morgan and Quinn on this wild and crazy ride of suspense, romance and healing in this third installment of the series and you will be glad you did.  I enjoyed it so much that I returned to it and revisited the last half of the book before writing this review.  Please be aware that Quinn's character is threatened by a person from her past.  If you are sensitive to violence of any form, you may not enjoy this book.  

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Book Review: Inescapable by Nancy Mehl

I recently read my first romantic suspense novel set in the Mennonite community.  Inescapable is the first in the Road to Kingdom series by Nancy Mehl.  Inescapable follows the life of Lizzie Engel as she runs back to her hometown of Kingdom, Kansas.  Lizzie never intended to return to her father or the Mennonite community that wanted to have nothing to do with her and her young child born out of wedlock.  However, mysterious letters and glimpses of a stalker and trouble in her workplace force Lizzie to leave her new life and return to Kingdom, a place so far off the map she hopes no one can find her there.  When Lizzie returns to Kingdom, she is met with a town in limbo.  There are many struggles within the town and the changes people are pushing in the church community.  Lizzie finds friends that help her to adjust to her return and her time in Kingdom presents her with many new options to consider for her and her young daughter.

Inescapable was an enjoyable read.  Two minor things I took note of while reading were the dialogue between Lizzie and her parents and also Lizzie's relationship with her daughter, Charity.  It took a little to get used to the writer's dialogue, especially between Lizzie and her mother and father.  Although Lizzie speaks plainly, her parents speak in a very formal manner, often referring to her as "Daughter" or by her first and middle name.  I also found it difficult to fully identify with the relationship between Lizzie and her young daughter.  Lizzie is a great mom, doing the best she can as a single mom to raise her child. If I recall correctly, Lizzie's daughter is identified as a six year old in the story, yet her behaviors and the mother/daughter relationship make her appear much younger that six in my opinion.

Inescapable is a good choice if you like the combination of modern day romance, suspense and the Mennonite community setting.  The characters are well developed as well as the suspense and desire for reconciliation.  Inescapable also includes 10 discussion questions and a sneak peak of the first chapter of Book #2 of the Kingdom series, Unbreakable, available Spring 2013.

I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers for the purpose of my unbiased review.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Review: The Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman

I recently read The Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman.  This book, while not my favorite, was an interesting, captivating and entertaining read to me.

Corrie Saunders returns to her home that had been in her husband's family for generations. Corrie faces some coldness from family members who think she should have returned the home to the family and moved on with her life after her husband died a hero at war.  Corrie feels somewhat out of place in his hometown, yet it is also the place she feels closest to her late husband, Jarrod.  Corrie believes that the spirits she senses belong to her husband and that maybe he hasn't left her after all.  Jarrod's cousin, Eli, is helping with the renovations of the family home.  He is concerned for Corrie and her safety as she begins to open up about the odd occurrences.  Eli begins to witness the spirit occurrences as well.  Eli, a strong man of faith, is aware of the evil that has been allowed to roam the home for generations, invited to stay by his grandparents.  Eli is aware of many of Jarrod's failings and struggles to hide his somewhat ill feelings from Corrie to not dismantle her hero view of her late husband and her delicate emotions.  Eli and Corrie find themselves drawing closer together, yet being torn apart by differing opinions.  Eli encourages Corrie to grow in her faith and to rely on Jesus in those moments of concern.  However, Aunt Trudy, a old magic practicing medium encourages Corrie that Jarrod is not lost to her and that she can reconnect with him and his spirit.  Corrie must decide how she will choose to live the rest of her life.

The book is full of deep characters, the struggle between good and evil and the growing romance that grief and healing allow.  It had a different plot than books I frequently choose, however, it drew me in quickly and kept my attention.  I would not hesitate to read another book by Tracey Bateman.

If you are interested in The Widow of Saunders Creek, follow this link to a free preview available at Scribd.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.