Winter & Bible Quizzing

It’s Tuesday.

And it’s still winter! 🙂 For a few days, we had high hopes of spring being on the way, but knew that it was highly unlikely. Ohio tends to do this to you–ups and downs on the thermometer. It goes along with the variety in seasons that we are blessed with!

What is on your agenda this week?

Right now our family is kind of in the middle of “Bible Quizzing.” This year I have two daughters participating. For those of you that might be new to this, I’ll try to explain how this works. (I’m also still learning the ropes, so by no means have it all down yet, but I’ve learned a lot!)

Last year was our first introduction to this, our oldest daughter participated. This year, our two middle girls are quizzing, and I agreed to help out as an assistant coach, to help me get more of a feel of what is going on, in the event that I might want to be a coach next year. (as opposed to jumping in & trying to coach a team without having the slightest idea of what that means!)

So, this year they’ve had to memorize John chapters 1-5. They found out what the memory passages were last year, before the end of that school year. So they had lots of time to memorize. And they can memorize so quickly! (I like to tell myself that I should also memorize with them. Somehow, I am finding out that memorizing is HARD work for me now! It used to come quite easily, but it is not that way anymore. The verses that stick with me are the ones I memorized during my own school days. And I think the girls find it a bit amusing when they try & have me recite what I know to them. After all–memorizing is easy! 🙂 )

After the current school year is well underway, all the students participating, (known as quizzers) are divided into teams, and assigned coaches. They work on getting their verses memorized, and then there are school practices each week.

At the practices, they ‘quiz’ against other teams in their age bracket/division. What this means is that each student has a chair with a pad/light on it, a pad that is attached to the quiz box by a cord. They have to sit just so on their light, and then if they jump or move their leg, the light goes off and it beeps. There is a quizmaster running the quiz box, and they read a question, and as soon as they’ve begun reading, they release the button that allows the lights to begin going off. The quizzers have to learn how to jump at the right time, soon enough that theirs is the first light that goes off, but not so fast that they burn the question, which basically means, they jump so fast they have no idea what the quizmaster was going to say. This is definitely an art and takes lots of practice!! 🙂

The questions involve finishing verses, reciting verses from the reference only, or basic questions regarding the content of the verses. This means, not only do they have to know the verses really thoroughly, they also have to know what they mean!

Back in December we had our initial quiz meet, an invitational. We got together with teams throughout our region, from about six other schools. This quiz meet was strictly a breaking in, for fun. Now we are in the middle of the ‘real quiz meets’.

Our girls are in the junior division, and even though this is the easier level of quizzing, let me tell you, the competition is quite stiff! Each team gets at least 4 quiz matches. Then they go by how well they placed in those matches, and the top teams move on to the playoffs, or finals. The top three teams in each division, in those finals, gets to take home a ribbon.

The last event for the Bible quizzing is the Quiz Retreat. This is a two day event, and includes a lot more quizzing, and also some other fun times for the quizzers and coaches.

All in all, this is an excellent ‘sport’ (for lack of a better term) for young people to participate in. They can learn many valuable life lessons. Not limited to, but including-having good attitudes, whether winning or losing; making new friends; the value of persistence and sticking with a task; and of course, the most important, memorizing God’s Word and hiding it in their hearts.

Because we are in the middle of this exciting time, this means the girls are each reciting the first five chapters of John every day, or maybe even several times a day! They also have review flashcards. And all of this is on top of their normal school work.

This is a great way to stay away from those ‘boring days of winter’! 🙂 (We haven’t found any time for boredom yet!)

On Friday we look forward to our 2nd quiz meet, and then in two weeks after that, we’ll have our final quiz retreat, which will end the Bible quizzing for this year.

We hope to take a bit of a breather then, before they do it all over again, next year! 😉

What are you doing to stay busy this winter?!

 

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On Parenting

I just finished reading the book, Raising a Daughter after God’s Own Heart.

I was reading this book because I felt like it would reach out to a deep need in my own life right now.

That of HOW to raise daughters that yearn after God.

Somedays I feel like giving up. Throwing in the towel. It just feels too hard.

I know what kind of Mom I’d like to be, and I find myself falling so far short of that goal that it seems it would be easier to just give up.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this! How do we come to the point of being able to accept where we are at and realize that God is able to use us/me anyway?!

I so plainly see my own faults and failures, and I want my girls to have so much more, to be so much more, than where I am at. And yet, am I being completely unrealistic? I realize that they do, each and every one of them, have to come to the point where they choose (or don’t choose) to follow God, it has to be their own relationship with Him. It can’t be because of me, or my relationship with Him. I can’t be their Holy Spirit, or convict them, they have to listen to Him, allow Him to work in their hearts.

One thing that hit me so hard in the reading of this book was the thought that my own life–my goals, my priorities, my attitudes, and yes, even my failures. These are what they see, this is the example, the pattern that is before them! If I want them to have the proper goals and priorities in life, it MUST start with me. And I think this is perhaps why this whole thing is so very hard! It is only through God, letting Him be in control of me, seeking after Him with all my heart, that I can begin to be the Mom that He wants me to be.

I’d love to hear from you! What are things that you have learned? What are resources that have been helpful to you? Boundaries that you have found necessary for your own family? And if you don’t want to share it publicly, feel free to pm me on facebook, or send me an email at allofakindmom@gmail.com. I think this is one way we can be a huge encouragement to one another!

Oh yeah-one other thing I wanted to mention is this whole thing of social media. Wow-it gets way out of hand! And so quickly! And yet, am I spending too much time there myself? What am I showing my daughters? We are working on finding a balance here at our home. One that does allow them to have some access to social media, without being glued to it at all spare minutes….and I am open to suggestions in this area too! And how to stay safe online–what boundaries & precautions to use or have in place. Have you found something that works good for your family? I’d love to hear about it!

Book Tour – Soul’s Cry

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About the Booksoulscry91MN4px29kL1-198x300

 

Title: Soul’s Cry

Author: Cara Luecht

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: June 15, 2017

Ione has everything she’d wanted with her busy shop filled to the brim with sumptuous fabrics, gossiping debutants, and a neatly increasing profit margin. Not to mention the unexpected attention of a man who doesn’t know her past.

And then the letter dropped from the mail slot onto to lush carpet. He was back. And the abuse, the shame, rushes in, reminding her of how unworthy she really is.

Miriam also has everything she’d wanted—and with a baby on the way, for the first time in her life, she has everything to lose. When she’d been alone, the future had held promise, but now with her life full, it also holds fear.

Unwilling to risk a vision of loss, Miriam stops painting what will be…right before Ione needs it most.

Click here to purchase your copy

 

My Thoughts:

This book is written by another new-to-me author. It’s also the third in a series. I am enjoying this book, but did find it a bit confusing, to be thrown into the middle of the story without really knowing what happened in the earlier books.

Ione is the main character, and she’s a successful businesswoman. This was unusual enough in those days, but the fact that she’s a black lady just tops it all off. She worked hard to gain the respect needed to have her shop thrive.

Her friends are the ones that threw me for a loop the most in this story. Clearly I should know what happened earlier to Michael and Miriam. They are newly married, and it feels like I am expected to know more of their past.

Ione has a dark, troubled past, one that her current friends are unaware of. When it resurfaces to haunt her, then is when the mystery begins. I really like the suspense and the way it plays out in the story. I found myself wanting to warn the characters, tell them to beware!

I am enjoying the reading of this book, but I do want to go back and read the first two, I think it will bring clarity.

The characters are realistic and heart-gripping, the situation is thought provoking, the setting quite intriguing, and the suspense rather intense. It’s an excellent reminder of how racism used to be in our country, and helps me to be thankful for how far we’ve come. It also is a reminder to not take our freedoms that we do have for granted.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

About the Author

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Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

 

Guest post from Cara Luecht

The moment you realize how subtle racism can be.

As someone of Northern European ancestry, I approach this topic with caution and with the knowledge that I can never fully understand racism in America from a personal perspective. That being said, part of me knows that unless white America owns up to the problems that still exist, they will never go away, or if they do, they will not go away because of what I have done. I don’t want to be on the right side of history as a spectator.

Writing Soul’s Cry was daunting, because the main character in this part of the trilogy is African American. I’ll tackle the challenges with that in another blog. For now, I want to talk about one simple example of ongoing racism.

A few months ago, my publisher contacted me looking for inspiration pictures for the cover. The picture I had pinned to my desktop for Ione was from the 1800s, and heaven-only-knows how I would find permission to use it. Besides, it was in black-and-white, and we needed something that would go well with the other covers in the trilogy.

I went to the popular sites that cover designers use to look for modern pictures of women, in Victorian Era clothes, who had the smart, determined expression I’d imagined for Ione.

I found a bunch of models–problem is, they were all white.

I then typed in “African American Victorian Woman.” One picture. And she was dressed as a burlesque dancer. Nice. I tried “Black woman in 1890,” a bit miffed that I had to use the term “Black” rather than “African American”—nothing. I got desperate, rolled my eyes, and even attempted the archaic “Negro woman in 1890” in hopes of getting something…nothing.

I tried other sites. I found the same problem.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised—when you think of a high-society Victorian woman, does an African American face come to mind?

This doesn’t match up with the truth, though. In the late Victorian era, there was a thriving, influential, African American community in Chicago as well as many other major cities. While there were indeed crowded ghetto areas, the “Black Elite” prospered in the medical and legal professions.

Unfortunately, we rarely hear of these remarkable people who moved beyond the place society had deemed was theirs, who built on the humble foundation of literacy, who pushed innovation forward, who served on boards and cultural societies, and who worked to pull their families out of the devastation of slavery and the Civil War.

It is uncomfortable to admit, but the picture that comes to mind when thinking of an African American in the late 1800s has more in common with slaves than with a prosperous, thriving community.

And since poor African Americans outnumbered wealthy ones, I suppose one could make the argument that this reflected how a majority of African Americans lived. And that would be true…

…but it would also be true for whites. One of my grandfathers was born in an Iowa coal town. Another, into the dustbowl conditions of North Dakota. In fact, if I look back in my own history, almost every one of my ancestors lived in poverty.

So why is it that when I think about a Victorian Era woman, the picture that comes to mind looks like someone from the set of Meet Me In St. Louis.

And here’s the twist…because the picture of the woman in my mind looks a bit like me (in that we are both white), her poise, the no-nonsense posture and expression…it makes me feel a bit of pride—even though I have no real connection with her. The fact is, I can look at these old pictures and see in her the determination I hope to have. I want to live up to this woman’s expectations. As crazy as it sounds, when I look at these pictures, I feel pride in a heritage I do not own. My family was in poverty, but because of these pictures, I can identify with affluence. Prosperity does not feel like a foreign concept.

Now imagine that every picture of a white woman I saw as representative of my past looked haggard, tired, and hopeless.

I’ll leave the implications for you to puzzle out.

Blog Stops

Connie’s History Classroom, January 23

Blogging With Carol, January 24

Simple Harvest Reads, January 24 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

allofakindmom, January 25

Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 26

Pursuing Stacie, January 26

A Reader’s Brain, January 27

proud to be an autism mom, January 28

Bigreadersite, January 28

Bibliophile Reviews, January 29

A Greater Yes, January 30

margaret kazmierczak, January 30 (Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 1

Janices book reviews, February 2

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 3

Carpe Diem, February 4

A Baker’s Perspective, February 5

Giveaway

 

To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize of signed copies of the entire series!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c729

Book Giveaway Winner

Good morning!

Just a brief post to say that the giveaway that I had going, for a paperback copy of A Song Unheard has ended, and we have a winner!! 🙂SongUnheard-194x300

This morning I used random.org to generate a winning number. I must admit, I was quite curious to see the results. (I’ve often wondered, just how does a number generator like this really work, I mean, they have an explanation, but it’s too complicated for me… 😉 )  I had two entrants. And I was very curious to see which number would be picked. I wanted to keep it above board and all, especially because one of the commenters is my cousin. And so it just happens that her number was chosen! I am delighted to be able to send a copy of this book to you, Marsha! Thanks for being a faithful reader of my blog. 🙂  (I’ll get that in the mail to you this week sometime.

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday Musings…

It’s Monday.

What are you up to, today?! (Is that even a proper sentence?) (And did you notice I put only a question mark behind that second question, as opposed to both a question mark and an exclamation point behind the first one. I was asked by my daughter if I intentionally put both behind my questions. 🙂 Why yes, I do…just to add intensity, or something, I suppose…although, how am I to know for sure… 🙂 ) I also like mixing smiley faces in with my sentences…just to add expression, I guess, because, how else will you know the mood with which I am attempting to write, unless I use them…

Last week (or sometime recently) I mentioned about doing an online Bible Study. I did have a few interested responses, but not a whole lot. So I’m not sure what direction I should take. My indecisiveness abounds, I guess you might say… I heard about an online facebook group to study the book of Ephesians. I signed up to join that, but I think those signups closed a week or two ago. It’s using this book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0736968458/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Mostly, it’s for digging in to the Word, writing it out, meditating, etc. It’s written in a way to get through the book in one month.

So, I think, unless I get more responses for people wanting to join an online Bible study with me, I’ll just go with this, and post some thoughts each week, as I go through. This week, the study is based on Ephesians 1, the first 14 verses. I kinda like the idea of only doing a few verses each day, I am hoping to be able to dig more in-depth this way. If you’d like to join in with your thoughts, that would be great!

Also, just a reminder, my giveaway for a paperback copy of “A Song Unheard by Roseanna White will only be going today & tomorrow. To be entered, all you need to do is comment on that post (scroll down). Currently there are very few entries, so your chances of winning are rather high! 🙂

Today, I am doing laundry, and working on some paperwork, desk stuff, to get our information to our accountant for taxtime. (I’m always relieved when this task is behind me!)

Happy Monday!

Book Tour & Giveaway! – A Song Unheard

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About the BookSongUnheard-194x300

Title: A Song Unheard

Author: Roseanna M. White

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review:

What first grabbed my attention was the cover–I love the cover. But I’ve been hearing so much about this book. Everyone has been saying, “I love this book”. So, before I started reading it, I was very skeptical, thinking “yeah, right, how can a book really be THAT good”…

I’m here to tell you –it really is good! 🙂 Now, this is saying a lot, for me, this is not even my preferred genre. I do love a good historical fiction. But this one tops that category. Not only is it historical fiction, it has war, intrigue and all that mixed in. Cyphers. Suspense. And more.

And then the characters.

Willa is the main girl. She’s not your typical heroine. A member of the famed “Barclay thief clan”.  A violin prodigy, even though she’s never had any official lessons. She’s on a mission. She’s so feisty. And independent. And yet, so very vulnerable. I couldn’t help but love her.

She meets Lukas DeWilde, subject of all the gossip columns. And he proposes to her right on the spot. How’s that for a beginning?!

Now. Here’s something extra–I have an EXTRA copy of this book. A paperback, to give away. All you need to do to enter this giveaway is comment on this post. Tell me your favorite time in history to read about. (Please note, this giveaway I’m doing is open to residents of US only)  By commenting, you will also be gaining yourself additional entries into the giveaway that goes with this book tour, done by the author. So who knows, if you’re really lucky, you might end up with two copies, too, like me?! 🙂 My giveaway will remain open until January 24, 8:00 am.

EDITED TO ADD: THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! Winner – Marsha Bogado

About the Author

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Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

 

 

Guest post from Roseanna White

I started playing the piano when I was 7. I didn’t discover any long-dormant genius or anything, but I liked it. When my sister quit, I kept playing. In middle school, I switched teachers, and moving from the lady at my church that I knew so well to someone who was just my piano teacher made a difference in how I applied myself. It deepened my love of music.

We all know how some random moments stand out forever in our memory. One such for me happened on the school bus. I was sitting with my best friend, talking about the new piano piece I was learning. “Via Delorosa” means Road of Sorrow, and it’s a song that tells musically about Jesus’ journey to Golgotha—ending with the faint chime of the nails being driven into his palms. As my beloved Mrs. Peto went through this song with me the night before, I remember her circling a D♯ that I’d missed and saying how important that note was. That it made the whole line weep.

That it would make the hearers weep. An epiphany so huge I had to share it with my friend. A well placed sharp could make music weep! Who knew?

That was but one lesson Mrs. Peto taught me in how music could evoke things words never could. A woman of strong faith, she also taught me how a song could preach the Gospel. Music can be medicine. It can be hope. It can be tears. It can be truth. Music can be Jesus to a hurting heart that turns its back on words.

This is a lesson I never forgot, and I had it always in mind as I was writing A Song Unheard. In this story, both my hero and heroine are musicians—violinists. But Willa (who is SO STUBBORN) wouldn’t listen to words of faith from any of the people in her life “suddenly spouting such nonsense.”

But then, in her darkest hour, she hears a slip of melody. And she realizes it’s the Lord.

I pray as readers move through the story of Willa Forsythe—violin prodigy and top-notch thief—that their spirits’ ears hear more than words, more than just a story. I pray they hear the Lord whispering that ultimate song. The one that says, “I love you.”

Want to hear the song Willa eventually wrote in the book? You can! The violin music in this trailer is officially dubbed “Willa’s Song” and written specifically for this book. I hope you enjoy it! http://bit.ly/ASongUnheardTrailer

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, January 11
History, Mystery & Faith, January 11
Genesis 5020, January 11
Bookworm Mama, January 11
A Simply Enchanted Life, January 11
Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 12
Reflections From My Bookshelves, January 12
Blogging With Carol, January 12
Multifarious, January 12
proud to be an autism mom, January 12
Faithfully Bookish, January 13
Christian Bookaholic, January 13
Karen Sue Hadley, January 13
Mary Hake, January 13
A Greater Yes, January 13
Remembrancy, January 14
Blossoms and Blessings, January 14
Just the Write Escape, January 14
Connie’s History Classroom, January 14
Texas Book-aholic, January 14
A Reader’s Brain, January 15
Rachel’s Back Talk, January 15
Smiling Book Reviews, January 15
Cordially Barbara, January 15
Pursuing Stacie, January 15
The Fizzy Pop Collection, January 16
Kat’s Corner Books, January 16
The Artist Librarian, January 16
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 16
Bigreadersite, January 16
Mommynificent, January 17
Seasons of Opportunities, January 17
Moments Dipped in Ink, January 17
Baker Kella, January 17
Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot, January 17
God’s Little Bookworm, January 18
allofakindmom, January 18
The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, January 18
Inklings and notions, January 18
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 18
Pause for Tales, January 19
Have A Wonderful Day, January 19
Just Commonly, January 19
Bibliophile Reviews , January 19
Janices book reviews, January 19
Radiant Light, January 20
The Power of Words , January 20
Book by Book, January 20
CAC Devourer, January 20
Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 20
Splashes of Joy, January 21
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 21
Neverending Stories, January 21
Faery Tales Are Real, January 21
A Baker’s Perspective, January 21
margaret kazmierczak, January 22
The PhD Mamma, January 22
Cafinated Reads, January 22
Daysong Reflections, January 22
Romances of the Cross, January 23
Purposeful Learning, January 23
Rachel Scott McDaniel, January 23
Carpe Diem, January 23
Simple Harvest Reads, January 23
Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes, January 24
Henry Happens, January 24
Joy of Reading, January 24
Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 24
Raining Butterfly Kisses, January 24

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a Grand Prize Package of a signed copy of the book as well as a lovely album of soothing songs based on the Scriptures called Hidden in My Heart (winner’s choice of CD or digital download)!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c72a

Book Reviews

I wanted to share some reviews for good books I’ve read recently.

Too Far Down by Mary Connealy

This is the third book in the series. And while I have good intentions of reading the first two, because I received a complimentary copy of the third one, so that I could read & review it, (and also because my TBR stack doesn’t really seem to be getting any smaller… ;O) ) I just went ahead and read this one. I liked it, I really did. But I think I would’ve enjoyed the story more, and understood more of what was going on in the lives of the main characters, if I had taken the time to read the other books first.

If you’re looking for a Christian historical, westernish type of fiction, than give these a try! There is mystery, humor, fun, & faith to be found here. Light hearted, enjoyable reading.

Here is the brief review I posted on goodreads:

Set in the Wild West, this book is an interesting part of a series written by Mary Connealy.
It took me awhile to get into the story, as I jumped in, reading this one first. The ending had lots of action and a satisfying conclusion to the mystery surrounding the Boden family’s ranch and the mysterious things that had been happening to them.

I’d just like to add that the ending was very suspenseful, and kept me guessing. More so than I was expecting. (a good thing! 🙂 )

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I really enjoyed this one! Set in the 1950s, in those days shortly after the Great Depression. The author made the story come alive. I loved the details. The characters were realistic, and I enjoyed getting to know them.

The review I posted:

This is a poignantly sweet story set in the 1950s.
Judd, a young man from the West Virginia hills, experiences terrible loss when he is in a coal mine collapse and loses his younger brother. Determined to follow his brother’s dream he heads for South Carolina.
Life is not at all what he expected there, hot and humid, and a different kind of people. He also meets the very beautiful Larkin, whose dream is to go be a missionary to the people of Appalachia.
There are bits of wisdom found throughout the pages of this story as these two young people try to find their way in life.
I love the settings, and the way I felt transported to the 50s while reading.

and another one:

A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

I think this is a debut novel. This book intrigued me before I ever read it, because of all that I kept hearing about it. The author found Jesus during her time of writing this novel, and through her experience, she was able to bring all of that into the story. It is a very touching story.

A breathtakingly beautiful novel.
The details are exquisite. I am unfamiliar with the world of ballet, in spite of that, I could feel myself right there in the middle of it all.
(I found the intricacies of ballet to add much to the fullness of the story.)

The story is told by Ana. You experience her heartbreak, her disappointment, her anguish, as she is on the journey of life, a journey of searching for that one thing that will bring fulfillment and a feeling of sufficiency.
So many wrong choices, and yet God is shown to be present every step of the way.
A quote I want to take with me:
“You have to know that behind God’s every no there is a bigger yes. You have to trust in His choices for your life, knowing that He sees the big picture and you don’t.”

This story does have some more mature themes going on. The characters, especially Ana, are very much shown to be on a journey. But I love the way God’s goodness shines through. And hope. And so much more.

And my most recent favorite:

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

I am a life-long lover of mysteries. I grew up devouring them. In my elementary days, I’d go to the library and check out as many Bobbsey Twins & Nancy Drew books as I was allowed to get. Until I depleted that store, and then went looking for others.

Saying all this, I am always, always excitedly looking, (still today) for authors of good, suspense novels. Particularly Christian fiction. I think it’s a bit easier to find them today than it would have been, even ten years ago. Lynette Eason’s books have long been favorites of mine, and I devour them as quickly as I can.

So when this book arrived at my home last week, I knew it had to be read!:)

It’s a story about a family of law-enforcement officials. It reminded me just a bit of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley stories (which are also really good). I loved the family thing going through the story. Izzy, and most of her family members, were all in this together. Except for her one sister, who was the black sheep, because she became a surgeon.

Izzy finds herself right in the middle of something. She’s not sure what. Her partner Kevin, who was also a life-long friend, was killed, and she feels like it was her fault. And then…her brother…things seem suspicious. She’s not sure who to turn to, or who she can trust. Then she starts confiding in Ryan, Kevin’s brother, and they work on investigating, together.

You can feel the romance coming. It’s just a little predictable, but still enjoyable.

In spite of that, there are many other elements that kept me turning pages, kept me guessing at ‘whodunit’ until the very end.

I loved it, and can’t wait to read the next one!!

Tell me, what are you currently reading, or what is next on your TBR (To be read–yes, I keep referring to this–not sure what else to call it 🙂 ) stack of books?!

Some thoughts…

I realized this week that in my excitement about promoting Christian fiction, I kind of made it sound like THAT is my top priority books when it comes to reading. I neglected to mention The Book that is my priority for reading.

I think I’ve come a long way in this. But, I really do still have a LONG way to go! 😦 Over the years, I’ve realized that the more I fill my mind with “junk food” books, the less I desire to read the Bible. I am also discovering that the more time I spend reading the Bible, the more enjoyable it becomes!

I am in a stage of life now that is much, much easier for me to sit down and have a daily quiet time. In earlier years, I found it difficult. I had to get up early (and no, my brain does not function well to process deep thoughts early in the morning) if I wanted to have any peace and quiet. Or I had to do it late at night (which worked–but I really didn’t want to leave it until the last thing every day). Then I heard someone say that if you are a mom in a stage of life with young children, you need to give yourself grace. That was good to hear. Not that it gave me an excuse to neglect reading the Bible. But rather that I didn’t have to feel guilty if I only had a few minutes here and there.

Now, I like to wait until the girls have left the house, and then I sit down with my Bible and my breakfast and enjoy them both together.

This year, I started a new Bible reading plan that I found on my Bible app. So far I like it, it gets me through the entire Bible this year: through the OT once, through the NT four times, Psalms twice, and Proverbs 4 times. It gives me a few chapters from each of these every day, a nice variety.

I also like to use the “Our Daily Bread” devotional booklet. I’ve been looking for something else to use, something that might feel a bit more relevant to me, but have yet to find anything I like…any suggestions?!

Something I started last year is jotting down at least one verse each day, in a journal. Something that jumps out at me, thoughts I don’t want to forget, things I need to bring to God, to grow in. This helps me remember it better than just reading over it. Helps me to ponder over it throughout the day.

I keep thinking about doing an in-depth book study, but there again, haven’t yet found anything that really appeals to me.

I’d love to hear from you–what have you found that works good for you? What has really challenged you and brought growth in your spiritual life?

I’m also considering the possibilities of doing an online (Facebook group, etc.) Bible study group, please let me know if you’d be interested, or if you have any suggestions for how to make something like this work!

And now, a few thoughts from my reading this morning. I found my challenge for today in the Our Daily Bread, the verses are from Malachi 3:16-18

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

These are from the ESV version. (I have found this version to be so helpful when studying the Bible. In our church, and for memorization, we mostly use the KJV, because we feel that this is a good, sound version to use. I do like to supplement it with other versions, for clarification and understanding. )

About the verses. I love how it says “the Lord paid attention, and heard them”. He made a book of remembrance. He made them His treasured possession!! I also noticed how it says the followers of God spoke with one another. I think that is key–talking about the things of God with others that love Him.

And He WILL make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked. So much emphasis is put on “fitting in” with the culture around us. I don’t think that’s what God wants us to do. He wants an obvious distinction between His people and the ones who don’t follow Him. How am I living, what am I doing, does my life show that I am following Jesus?! What a huge challenge!

What thoughts are you pondering on today?

 

 

Book Tour – Strains of Silence

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About the BookStrainsOfSilence_h12295_750-2-180x300

Author: Bethany Kaczmarek

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.

Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancé, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.

Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.

 

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review:

This is a very touching story.
One that puts your emotions through the wringer before you get through.
Abuse. Pain. Self-blame.
And then finding healing and restoration. And love
And self acceptance.

I could not put this book down; I cried; I was very touched

Kasia, the main character, is on the brink of marriage. She realizes, just in time, that this is not the guy for her, and turns away from her controlling fiance.

This book is written in such detail that, even though I have never experienced anything like what these characters went through, I could feel it with them. Kasia in particular–I wanted to be there for her, help her through this time–encourage her to do all she could to get-and stay- far away from Blake.

I loved the way God’s hope shone through the story. Even though He did not make the hurts go away, He was there, every step of the way, waiting.

This is not a light-hearted story. It is filled with hard things. Things that will stay in your heart, and will bring change to you, if you allow it.


About the Authorbethany-kaczmarek-HR-2-200x300

Bethany loves a home filled with family and friends. Word gets around that—at the Kaczmarek house—food is abundant, conversations are real, and anything is up for discussion. She and her clan are fans of laughter, indie music, sonic screwdrivers, and superheroes. Home is wherever in the world they’re all together.

 

 

Guest Post from Bethany Kaczmarek

Strains of Silence: A Novel for Anyone Who Can Say #MeToo

We’re everywhere. After years of silence, many survivors of sexual assault are raising our voices. You’ve seen the hashtag. You know someone who suffered like this—a friend, a sister, a daughter.

Maybe you know personally what it’s like to be used.

I’m thankful for the conversations the #MeToo campaign has started, proud of the brave women who are speaking out. But I know some are still quiet, nursing wounds.

I could list loads of valid reasons a victim chooses to suffer in silence.

  • People won’t believe her.
  • If she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s easier to pretend it was a nightmare.
  • He’s got authority over her—at work, at church, in the family—and it’ll cost her too much. He’s done enough damage already.
  • He’s threatened to destroy her reputation, and she believes him. One, because he’ll do it without flinching. Two, because she’s already convinced that she’s living a lie.
  • Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.
  • The few times she’s tried to speak up, her used-to-be friend basically made her feel like it was her fault.

The list could go on, but it’s fair to say that being honest about what happened to us makes us vulnerable all over again. The idea is understandably stressful.

But you know what? Pretending we’re fine is exhausting too. We bear a great strain when we hide our hurts, for whatever reason.

Kasia Bernolak, the heroine of my novel Strains of Silence, gets it. She’s got reasons for keeping it quiet too. But when God brings some new people into her life, she realizes she doesn’t have to be alone.

And speaking up offers a freedom, a lightness, she wants.

It’s a freedom I want for my readers.

I know. Strains of Silence sounds like a heavy book right now. The themes are heavy, no doubt. There’s no glossing over and prettying up sexual assault or domestic violence. But—just like in real life—it’s how well we surround and support the suffering that can set the tone. Kasia’s friends are real, they’re funny, they’re quirky, and they believe in her.

Besides, it’s not all dark and brooding. There’s travel—an entire summer in the mountains of Peru. There’s a lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). There’s heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. There’s humor—enough to keep the story light when you need it to be.

And there’s hope. Kasia’s life is absolutely full of possibility.

So are the lives of everyone who can say #MeToo.

Sometimes, it just helps to see someone else fight the battle on our own horizon. And if you can do it with a fantastic new playlist and some laughs, why not?

My hope is that Strains of Silence will lead to real discussions with reader-friends, book-club gatherings that become turning points, and the true pursuit of freedom. It’s time to throw off the burdens we wear and stand up. Raise your voice, link arms with others, and fight for hope.

Healing is within our reach.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, January 6

proud to be an autism mom, January 6

Inklings and Notions, January 7

Bibliophile Reviews, January 7

Fiction Aficionado, January 8

Genesis 5020, January 8

The Fizzy Pop Collection, January 9

Bigreadersite, January 9

Red Headed Book Lady, January 10

Mommynificent, January 10

Texas Book-aholic, January 11

allofakindmom, January 11

Blogging With Carol, January 12 (Interview)

The Power of Words, January 12

Pursuing Stacie, January 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 13

A Greater Yes, January 13

Christian Author, J.E.Grace Blog, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

Mindy Houg Guest Review on Artistic Nobody, January 15

Janices book reviews, January 15

Faithfully Bookish, January 16

Kat’s Corner Books, January 16

Margaret Kazmierczak, January 17

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 17

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, January 18

Carpe Diem, January 18

Remebrancy, January 19

A Baker’s Perspective, January 19

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand grand prize a signed book, a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character’s favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer), a box of chocolate butter cookies, and a $50 Amazon gift card.!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c5dc

 

FREEBIE Friday

Here’s a list of books that are FREE today! Free for Kindle, through Amazon

This list is by no means complete, there could be many more added…there are so many generous authors out there, allowing us the opportunity to try their books for free!!

(do a double check on the price, though, before clicking that buy button, because the free status can change at any time…)
The Piano Girl by Sherri Schoenborn Murray
 
A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter
Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl
Eyes Unveiled by Crystal Walton
 
Against All Odds by Irene Hannon
 
In Between by Jenny B Jones 
 
Ruby by Laurraine Snelling
 
Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley
Thicker Than Blood by CJ Darlington
Stealthy Steps by Vikki Kestell