Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wait For Me - Trapped by regrets

“We need to make a decision, Jess,” Ned said.
“I know!” She drew in a hard breath. “I know, okay? But if we go, Shae could die. And if we stay…”
“We could all die of exposure. Not to mention I’m still bleeding, aren’t I?”
Her mouth tightened. She gave a sharp nod.
“You could go,”” he said softly.
“That’s a great way for us all to die. I don’t have a compass or a map and I’ve never been a pro at navigation. Wilderness medicine, yes. Bringing us home…well, that’s always been Pete’s job.”

“I just…” She covered her face with her hands. “I’m scared, okay?” She looked up. “I just want…” To be rescued. For everyone to live. For Pete to show up and tell her it wasn’t too late.

Book: Wait For Me by Susan May Warren, Revell Publishers, 2018
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Adventure
Target Audience: Adult Women
Subjects: Wisdom, Trust, Sacrificial Love, Dating Relationships, Guilt
Summary: She should have never come home. This was just the latest in a series of stupid mistakes he’d made. She was just going to hurt someone else. Why was he stuck here when he needed to be out there?
Regrets. That’s the theme of the latest book in the Montana Rescue series. Shae has finally come home, Jess finally came back for Pete. Ned finally came for Shae. And somehow the results lead to Shae, Ned and Jess being kidnapped, injured and lost in the wilderness somewhere with an unknown enemy after them while Pete is thrown in a jail cell! This is absolutely not what any of them envisioned. There’s so much more than just the struggle to escape the wilderness alive. There’s the struggle to decide how much to trust someone who has hurt you. There’s the struggle to decide what is best for someone else. And there’s the struggle to decide if they will let their regrets keep them from rescuing the love they thought was lost.
Notes: Wait For Me is the 7th and final book in the Montana Rescue series (including the prequel). The series began with Esme Shaw (Shae)’s disappearance and her uncle’s frantic attempts to find her, attempts that included forming the PEAK Rescue Team. Each book of the series has told the story of someone on the team and gotten us closer to finally learning Shae’s story and seeing how the case that first formed the team, resolves. Wait For Me tells the story of 4 characters wrestling with regret. Jess left Montana for the life she had before a disaster sent her running from home. Pete has been pursuing her but a series of misunderstandings led to wrong conclusions and a lot of hurt and pain on both sides. Now she has shown back up in Montana to give Pete one more chance. At least, she thinks she has. Her mom and fiancĂ©e from her old life are causing her to be unsure. And Pete has lost patience with her doubts. He’s to blame anyway. He’s confident that he deserves to lose Jess, deserves nothing good in his life. Shae is tired of hurting people. Ned needs to leave now before he’s added to the list of lives she has destroyed – starting with her mother upon Shae’s birth. She just wants to be safe! Ned just wants to be a hero for once. He’s sick of being the one who failed, the brother who stayed on the farm instead of joining some branch of the military and saving the world. But all he does is fail and now the woman he loves is in a mess and he can’t figure out how to rescue her. Each character has to take these doubts and regrets to the God they profess to follow and let Him answer their questions. Each one has to come to a point of praying, “God save, us not because we deserve it, but because You love us”.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 44:26 –Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Bonus: Here's a song to go with this book:

'Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of the book. The review reflects my own thoughts and opinions. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Storm Front - A look at just showing up

“A placeholder, really, the guy who helped carry things. Once upon a time, he’d been the chopper pilot, but he’d screwed that up, and royally, so now he simply showed up for callouts and hoped not to ride the bench.”

Gage turned, leaned against the railing, his arms folded over his chest. “You’re worth more tot his team than you can ever know. And it’s not just because you show up with the pizza.”

“I just followed my instincts and we got lucky. Anyone with a map and a compass could do what I do.”
“But they don’t, do they? You show up, willing, and that’s the point.”

He stared at Chet. “What are you saying?”
“I think you’re called to be a pastor. Or a missionary. A member of the Lord’s team of rescuers.”
“I’m nobody special, Chest. Why would –“
“All you have to do is show up. God will do the rest.” He smiled. “And you’re very very good at showing up, Ty.”

My job is hard. I’m not a missionary overseas winning dozens of converts with every sermon preached. I’m a teacher. Someone who shows up for school every single day (ok, so my school is in my home, but still…) with some messages to teach. I pull out a devotion book, make my 5 and 6 year old students open their Bibles to find the passage without help from me, then read it aloud to me. Then I read them the devotion including an example of how the character trait can play out in daily life. Then we move into Books of the Bible summaries where I try to get them to understand how the story of God and what He’s done for us plays out across so many different smaller stories. Then I make them recite large chunks of Scripture from memory. Then I teach them phonics and sight words and vocabulary words and everything else necessary to read their Bibles for themselves. In the afternoon I do my best to open their minds and pour math facts and concepts in. Then we do history – a timeline covering important events in history all the way from Creation to AD 33 – covers one of our walls. Over and over through the day I say “Make a wise choice.” – referencing Proverbs 19:20 and our “Wise Student Actions” poster. But 
honestly? It often feels like I’m just beating my head against the wall. Am I really making any difference? Am I doing anything remotely useful? Is anything sinking in? The behavior struggles haven’t changed. A couple students sometimes act like they don’t know the difference between Moses and Noah. The “School is boring” (One of the worst phrases to ever enter a child’s vocabulary) phrase keeps coming out. Am I accomplishing anything? 
That’s how Ty feels in Storm Front. He knows, KNOWS, the team doesn’t need him. He’s a grounded pilot, too afraid to step back into that cockpit and risk someone else nearly dying on his watch. He couldn’t save him mom. He couldn’t save Chet. He couldn’t save the girl he loved. He couldn’t even save himself!
But he keeps showing up. And he’s the one that is certain of where those lost kids are. He’s the hero needed. Just because he shows up. A bum knee, a broken heart, a fear of flying, and yet he’s what Peak Rescue needs – a man who will show up.

This winter, some missionaries came to our church and talked about how their work in a creative access country left them feeling like they were getting nowhere. They weren’t the missionaries to return with glory tales of record number of converts. They came to home assignment with names of a few people they’d invested years in who still had not made the decision to put their trust in Christ for their salvation. But they shared a proverb they had heard of how water dripping onto rocks makes big holes. The idea was that slowly, over time, small tiny things make huge impacts. God doesn’t ask us to show up and take the world by a storm. He asks us to just show up. Day after day after day. He asks us to keep spreading His Word, keep speaking truth, keep loving, keep witnessing, keep holding on.

Our summer camp theme is super heroes. Maybe we’ve got the wrong picture of a super hero. Maybe a superhero isn’t someone with crazy unusual abilities who saves the entire world on a daily basis. Maybe a real superhero is a Ty, someone who just shows up and does whatever God asks, whatever is needed, even if it’s just ordering the pizza.

Storm Front is the 5th in the Montana Rescue Series by Susan May Warren, published by Revell Publishers, May 1, 2018.

I highly recommend this book, this series, this author. Here’s a link a review of the first book in the series:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Song Unheard

“At some point, Willa-Wil, you’ll realize that you’re letting them win by not letting anyone close. You’re being nothing but what they made you – an abandoned child.”
How dare he – he, who knew better than anyone what it felt like to be a scared child on a mean street? She stood in front of him, too mad to sit at his side. “I let you in, didn’t I? And Pauly and Rosie. And the others, all of them. I love our family.” It wasn’t just a word, a lie, with them. They were all the same, floundering on the same sea.
“There’s no risk in loving us, though, is there? We’re safe.”
A strange thing to say about a horde of thieves. But he had a point. Not that she’d admit it to him. “Look, maybe, someday, someone will be worth that risk. But not Lukas De Wilde. Never him.” He was a mark.

Book: A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White, Bethany House Publishers, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Adult Women
Subjects: Family Relationships, War, Lies, Crime
Summary: A mark. A target to steal from. That’s all famous violinist Lukas De Wilde is supposed to be for Willa Forsythe. And all she is supposed to be to him is a friend of an acquaintance. Except there’s that one tricky matter of her playing the violin as well, and having to play for him just once and him seeing the prodigy in her and falling in love with her. With being abandoned as a child and spending her life on the streets with the band of thieves she calls family, Willa is an expert at two things: stealing and guarding her heart. Willa scoffs in offense at his hasty proposal but accepts his offer of lessons. After all, what better way to find what she needs to steal than to be in his hotel room? What she doesn’t know is that she’s not after an object, she’s after a person, a person very close to Lukas. And what she absolutely will not admit is that he has genuinely fallen in love with her and she with him.
What she does know is that she’s not the only one after Lukas and the others are not afraid to resort to violence to get what they want.
Notes: A Song Unheard is the second in the Shadows Over England series, set at the very beginning of World War I. This book features the second girl in the group of thieves that have banded together to become family. An influential man in the government hires members of their family to do various jobs stealing information. Willa is a very jaded character, refusing to believe anyone will truly love her, to the point where she tells Lukas “Even if you were faithful a year, a decade, I would always be waiting for you to leave. Expecting it.” She sees herself as broken. And she rejects all the spiritual encouragement of her sister, her friend, Lukas, the church, and her brother, dismissing God, particularly when she is told He is a father. Lukas isn’t so whole himself though, having given his life over to his career and frivolous pursuits until his mother and sister disappear when the Germans invade their home and he himself is injured. Both characters have to accept who God is and that He genuinely does care for them and is with them, helping them. And for Willa, that requires finding herself as alone as she was as a child.
I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling to accept God is actively involved in His creation and genuinely loves and cares for them.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Enjoyment Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Colossians 1:15-22 – The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation

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)!!

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, January 11
Genesis 5020, January 11
Bookworm Mama, January 11
Blogging With Carol, January 12
Multifarious, January 12
Faithfully Bookish, January 13
Karen Sue Hadley, January 13
Mary Hake, January 13
A Greater Yes, January 13
Remembrancy, January 14
Texas Book-aholic, January 14
A Reader’s Brain, January 15
Cordially Barbara, January 15
Pursuing Stacie, January 15
Bigreadersite, January 16
Mommynificent, January 17
Baker Kella, January 17
allofakindmom, January 18
Pause for Tales, January 19
Just Commonly, January 19
Janices book reviews, January 19
Radiant Light, January 20
Book by Book, January 20
CAC Devourer, January 20
Splashes of Joy, January 21
Neverending Stories, January 21
The PhD Mamma, January 22
Cafinated Reads, January 22
Daysong Reflections, January 22
Purposeful Learning, January 23
Carpe Diem, January 23
Henry Happens, January 24
Joy of Reading, January 24

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Troubled Waters

“You’re about the most controlling know-it-all I’ve ever met. You expect a lot from yourself – and your friends. You’re, in a word, obsessive. That’s great for business but not so great in relationships. You need to loosen up, have some fun, and stop trying to be in charge of everything. I know you’re afraid of losing everything you love, including Sierra, but you can’t control everything. Not life, not people.”
“I’m not controlling –“
“When I came on deck, you were declaring to the wind and seas that all would be well. As if they would obey you.”
No, he was… okay, maybe… if he could…

Book: Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren, Revell Publishers, 2018
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Adventuer
Target Audience: Adult Women
Subjects: Trust in God, Fear, Dating Relationships
Summary: Sierra wants to go back in time. If she could just not have made that promise to Esme, or just told Ian the truth right away, maybe she wouldn’t be sitting on the same boat as him feeling an ocean away. Ian wants to fix it. And by “it” he means everything.  His business that is falling apart, his niece running away and maybe most of all, his relationship with Sierra. When they join forces on a fundraiser voyage to fix the PEAK helicopter that targets Ian’s wealthy friends, they are at least confident that, as Sierra tells Ian, “We’re not going to encounter a rogue storm, go down in the middle of the Caribbean and end up on a desert island.” Except, that’s almost exactly what happens. When an accident occurs, Ian and Sierra do find themselves trapped together on a desert island. But maybe, just maybe, God has a plan to use this to bring them both to where He wants them.
Notes: Troubled Waters is the fourth in the Montana Rescue Series about characters living in a small town running search and rescue operations. This particular book deals with the characters who support the actual rescuers. Ian’s money funds it. Sierra makes cookies. Both long to feel like they are essential, or even just a little bit important. And both wrestle with trust. Ian has seen one person after another taken from him. He’s learned to control every single detail of life – and to guard his heart so that no one else dies or disappears, breaking his heart further in the process. Sierra has lived with a hippie mom and the men coming in and out of her life, and as Ian puts it, lives in “fear that you’ll be left behind. Forgotten. Fear that you aren’t important.” When the accident happens, they can choose to have faith in God and one another or cling to their fears.
These two characters were actually introduced in the prequel to the series and the issue of Ian’s missing niece is the secondary issue each book deals with.
The series overall is themed around Amazing Grace – each book dealing with some of the themes of the song – being lost and found and finding grace.
Personal Note: Every once in a while you read a book and feel as though the author must know you and have modeled their character after you. That’s how I felt about Ian in this story. When fear attacks a person can surrender to the fear and shut down, they can fight it by trying to control every circumstance of life or they can put their eyes back on God. Ian deals with it by fighting to control everything. So do I. And Sierra’s fear is that if she doesn’t prove her worth constantly, others will see that she’s not so important. And that’s even with a supposedly strong faith in God. I can strongly relate to that as well. So this note is a sort of warning – don’t read this book if you struggle with fear and don’t want to be challenged. Susan May Warren doesn’t hold back in her encouragement to move on from the fear that controls you and find freedom to truly live.
I personally found this to be the best of the series so far.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Enjoyment Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 142:7 – Set me free from my prison, that I may praise Your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me.

Thank you to Susan May Warren for gifting her cousin, Ruth, with a copy of this book to gift to me!

I enjoyed it very very much!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Glimmer and Shine - 365 Devotions To Inspire

Part of our relationship is being honest and open, so we confess our sins. It’s not like we’re saying, “Hey, Lord, news flash: I cheated during the game yesterday.” Really, He already knows, but He’s reminding us, “Talk to me. Let me be your friend and watch me work this out for you.”
It’s one way the sinner and the King connect in relationship. He invites us to get close. We get close by confessing. He gets closer by forgiving (every single time).
You’ve been invited by the King Himself to join in and play a part. Will you participate in the relationship or let it pass you by?

Book: Glimmer and Shine, 365 Devotions To Inspire by Natalie Grant, Zonderkidz, 2017
Genre: Devotional Book
Target Audience: Girls 8-11
Subjects: Sin, Confession, Forgiveness, Spiritual Growth
Summary/Notes: “Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come when we can be one?” Natalie Grant weaves an entire devotion book around the theme of her song – Be one. The book is divided into seven sections – Be Forgiven, Be Changed, Be His, Be Encouraged, Be Free, Be Brave, Be One. There are a lot of elements of the first section though – the idea that we have sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect glory, but that we can draw close and find forgiveness, acceptance, love. Considering that one of the characteristics of girls of this age is wanting to believe they know everything, have all the answers and are never wrong, I really like this focus. The daily reminders that no, they don’t have all the answers, but that they can find so much of what they long for in simply confessing their lack of perfection and drawing back to God, seems to be exactly what they need at this age! And what young girl doesn’t long to be strong and make a difference in the world around them – exactly what the final section is about! It’s also styled in the format that appeals to them – sections to color or draw or write or solve puzzles. One example is “Write down at least 10 things you like about yourself. God made you this way for a reason. You are amazing!” I definitely recommend this devotional for middle to upper elementary girls.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Thank you to Zonderkidz for the free review copy of this book! I thought it would be neat but am even more impressed than I thought I would be! It’s going to be a birthday gift for a special young girl in my life and I’m excited to see what kind of impact it makes on her life!

All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Twas The Evening Of Christmas

“The pigeons were nestled all snug in their beds; while visions of breadcrumbs danced in their heads. The cow closed their eyes and the oxen laid down; the doves cooed so gently; the lambs made no sound.”

Book: Twas The Evening Of Christmas by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Elena Selivanova, Zonderkidz 2017
Genre: Picture Book
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 4+
Subjects: Jesus’ Nativity
Summary/Notes: It’s a retelling of the “Night Before Christmas” that tells the real Christmas story! I was hooked from page 1! Absolutely beautiful illustrations and the wonderful rhymes that make you start memorizing it from the first read! I used to want to memorize “The Night Before Christmas” until I realized I was trying to memorize something that had nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. This is a perfect solution! My only complaint is that like most every traditional children’s story about Jesus’ nativity, it has the wise men arriving at the manger and calls them 3 kings. Theologians and historians have pointed out the Bible doesn’t give a number, they probably arrived when Jesus about two, not that very night, and they were not kings, but astrologers. But again, nearly every single story does the same thing. It’s just tradition. It’s still a gorgeous book that focuses on the true story and I’ll eagerly share it with all my students! I do like the imaginings of how the animals could have responded. Did all of God’s creation leap to awareness when He was born? It’s fun to imagine what it may have been like!
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Enjoyment Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Isaiah 55:12 – You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Thank you so much to the publishers for the review copy! I think I enjoyed it even more than my students!

All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 13, 2017

His Steadfast Love

And although pushy wasn’t generally part of his personality, the service had taught him well that aggression was a necessary evil in war. And make no mistake, this was war. The misguided attraction that Cat OBryen wielded over him was way too dangerous for a casual hobnobbing type of relationship. No, he was going to have to stay on his guard in order to be the friend that Cat desperately needed, and he may as well start right now. “I don’t have to ply with compliments to get my way, Catfish,” he said in the no-nonsense tone he’d perfected in the service.
“I can just take it because I’m bigger than you.”
“I never figured you for a bully, Chase Griffin.”
“Yeah, me neither, but I guess you bring out the best in me, Catherine Marie.”

Book: His Steadfast Love by Julie Lessman, Self-Published, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Target Audience: Adult Women
Subjects: Faith, Forgiveness, Temptation, Friendship
Summary: She’s falling apart inside. Her family knows it. They can see clearly the hurt, but Cat refuses to let anyone help her. She’s bent on a course for self-destruction, claiming her need and right to be independent, even while part of her knows she’s making things worse for herself. Chase wants to help, longs to help, but he knows better than to get into a relationship where he’s unequally yoked. He’s a pastor for goodness sakes! He has no business pursuing romance with a woman trying her hardest to run away from God. But God is exactly what Cat needs. Now Chase merely needs to overcome his own fears long enough to resist the temptation of a romance with or rejection of the most stubborn woman he’s ever met in his life. But God (and chocolate) can do some mighty things when one surrenders!
Notes: His Steadfast Love is the third in the Isle of Hope series. The series features three siblings and their journey to love. Each book features one character who has either rejected their faith or not had a faith to begin with, and one character with a very strong faith who falls in love with the other one. There is also always a character wrestling with forgiveness.
In His Steadfast Love, Cat has to learn that God never rejected her or saw her as inferior to her sister. As with all of Julie Lessman’s books, there is a lot of passion – passion for God and passion for romance. Her characters are very passionate in their romances, but they are equally passionate about their faith. It is what drives them and is the standard they use to make their decisions. A Christian who enjoys romance will be absolutely delighted with this book!
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. — Lamentations 3:22-23

Thank you to the author for giving me a free e-book. I greatly enjoyed it!

All opinions are my own.