Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What I Read in January and Thoughts on Reading Challenges

This year I set a lofty goal of reading 130 books.

I don't think I need to tell you that this is a goal that I do not mind working toward achieving.

I do, however, recognize that at times I'd like to live in a virtual world, and have been making a real effort to PUT THE BOOK/KINDLE UP... but there's just sometimes I really need to read a good book.

In January, I read 12 books. Some of them were great, some were ok. Some I already blogged about, and I'll share the links for those reviews. Most of these (or maybe all of them) I had started before the year had ended, but I finished them in January. 

1. Tough as They Come- Loved this book. Absolutely loved it. Click on the title for my review.

2. A Bee in Her Bonnet- I reviewed all three of the books in this series way back in 2016, but didn't entirely finish the books. Here's the link to my review for those. I finally finished the last couple of chapters of A Bee In Her Bonnet and if you're a fan of lighthearted reading, this is a series for you. I'm finishing up the third book right now. 

3. The Couple Next Door- This was a selection for my sister's book club, and though it's been a few months since I've actually attended (Because: Basketball season), I always try to read their recommendations. (I may just be late finishing them). This book was awesome. Suspenseful. And I was totally surprised at the end. The couple's newborn baby goes missing, and of course they are the primary suspects because they've left her at home alone. What follows is harassment by the police, compounding the depression she's already feeling. He's desperate for money but doesn't want her to know, and add in the controlling, rich and powerful in-laws... and you've got a recipe for a who dun it that will leave you shaking your head. Highly recommend this read!!

4. Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado- I actually finished the book part of this before Christmas, but found that it had questions in the back that I had to answer (Remember I'm the kind that has to finish reading ALL the book!) I really liked this book. Lucado is a great writer, and he brought home points of the Nativity story to make them apply to my real-life, over 2000 years later. Great read for Christmas time!

5. The Angel's Story by Max Lucado-  This is a fictional book that came as a bonus at the end of Because of Bethelehem (and I have to read ALL the book!) It is a story that tells of the battle that may have went on in Heaven before Jesus is born. It tells the story of the angel who delivered the news to Mary, and Joseph, and then how they protected Jesus as they prepared for  his birth. Great read when we think of the spiritual warfare that may be going on and we aren't even aware!

6. Sewn with Joy- This was the third installment of Tricia Goyer's Pinecraft Pie Shoppe series, and my only regret is that there isn't more!  This series follows an Amish family in Florida, with each book focusing on a different sister. The characters are great, and this last one was especially captivating, as it combined Hollywood with Amish living. Highly recommend!

7. The Wedding Shop- I love this author. I love this series. Seriously.
I reviewed this book all the way back in September, but put the last couple of chapters on hold as I worked my way through other books to review. Lovely read. A poignant story of redemption, following two generations... if you've not read a Rachel Hauck book,  you're missing out. Start with the first of this series (even though this one can be read stand alone).

8. Breathe by Priscilla Shirer- This is a 5 session Bible study about the Sabbath. I started it way back in the first part of 2016, then got distracted and busy (I know, ironic!) but it is beautifully written. The video sessions (not mandatory) were filmed in Freedom Hall in Louisville. I did enjoy looking at the Sabbath and how we can simplify, and I'm hoping I'll take this message into the rest of this year and beyond.

9. Hillbilly Elegy- This book is a must read. Based in my hometown, it brought tears to my eyes and really made me think about life. For more, read- My Take on Hillbilly Elegy: A Call to Action

10. Wait and See by Wendy Pope- I was in a small group for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible studies, and didn't finish this one on schedule, but it was worth the wait =) Seriously, Pope writes about disappointments, feeling stuck, and wondering if God even cares in this book. She brings in Scripture to show that He is always with us, even when we don't see Him, and her digging deeper components with Psalm and David get you in the Scripture. She gives real-life accounts of people who have been forced to wait, and encourages the reader to look into their own individual waits.

11. The Color of Memory- This is a part of a series I've been reading for over a year. The series focuses on family, hope, and how we are all connected. This book follows the story of a heart transplant recipient who longs to meet the family of the man who made it possible to live. It's a beautiful story of the ultimate gift- life- and how we can benefit others even after we pass on.

12. Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet- This book was a delightful read. Katie heads back to Partonville after her aunt passes away, bringing along her teenage son, Josh. There they meet a cast of characters led by Dorothy. Dorothy is struggling with a decision, Katie is struggling with life, and surprisingly the two find just what they need through their new friendship. This is a the first book in a series and I downloaded the second book as soon as this one was finished.

I challenge myself to read. I recently read a blog post by somebody explaining why they didn't do challenges. Basically, they said it put a lot of pressure on them and took the fun out of reading. I can see how that would be true, so even though I've challenged myself to read a certain number of books this year, and signed up for the Goodreads Ultimate Popsugar Challenge, I'm not going to let it take the fun out of my reading. Instead, I'm seeing it as a way to read new books that I otherwise wouldn't have read, and get some great suggestions from the Goodreads community. I'll update my read list each month.

2017 Popsugar Ultimate Reading ChallengeA book recommended by a librarian
A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long
A book of letters
An audiobook
A book by a person of color
A book with one of the four seasons in the title
A book that is a story within a story
A book with multiple authors
An espionage thriller
A book with a cat on the cover
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read
A book by or about a person who has a disability- Tough as They Come
A book involving travel
A book with a subtitle
A book that's published in 2017
A book involving a mythical creature
A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
A book about food
A book with career advice
A book from a nonhuman perspective
A steampunk novel
A book with a red spine
A book seet in the wilderness
A book you loved as a child
A book by an author from a country you've never visited
A book with a title that's a character's name- Dearest Dorothy...
A novel set during wartime
A book with an unreliable narrator
A book with pictures
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
A book about an interesting woman
A book set in two different time periods
A book with a month or day of the week in the title
A book set in a hotel
A book written by someone you admire
A book that's becoming a movie in 2017
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
The first book in a series you haven't read before
A book you bought on a trip

A book recommended by an author you love
A bestseller from 2016- Hillbilly Elegy
A book with a family member term in the title
A book that takes place over a character's life span
A book about an immigrant or refugee
A book from a genre/subgenre you've never heard of
A book with an eccentric character
A book that's more than 800 pages
A book you got from a used book sale
A book that's been mentioned in another book
A book about a difficult topic
A book based on mythology    

Monday, February 6, 2017

Angels Unaware: A Review and a Giveaway

You just never know what somebody is going through. Your next door neighbor who may not be friendly? She may be battling some kind of deep-rooted insecurity.

That's exactly what happens to Mark... his initial efforts to get to know his next-door neighbor Jasmine are pushed aside, and he's unable to get over the fence she seems to have built around herself. Gradually, though, Jasmine starts to give in and goes to church with him. At church, she meets Jesus at the altar and sees a change in her everyday life. She struggles with forgiveness, and Mark is there to help her...

but he has his own deep-rooted issues, and he can't forgive himself. Tragedy hit him hard, and leaves him reluctant to love again.

This story is a story of redemption, forgiveness, and grace at it's finest. The characters are likeable and mid-way through the novella I wished that I could give them a hug and encourage them. Learning to forgive ourselves and moving on is one of the most difficult things we can learn to do, but this story shows God's love and how we can sometimes overlook it because it comes in the form of humans... angels unaware.

I highly recommend  this book!!

About the Book

Book: Angels Unaware
Author: Rachel J. Good
Genre: Inspirational Romance; novella

Release Date: November 22
Sometimes God sends angels into our lives…

Chocolate chip cookies are the perfect way to make friends. At least, Mark Daniels thinks they are. He hopes to forget his painful past and start over in new neighborhood. Everyone is warm and welcoming—everyone that is, but the dragon lady next door. She rebuffs all overtures of friendship and declines Mark’s invitations to church.

Jasmine Avery doesn’t trust men, especially not handsome ones who come bearing gifts. She’s been badly hurt and has walled herself off from love. Reluctantly, she agrees to attend church with Mark on Easter Sunday, not realizing how it will change her life and her future. But soon after she discovers the secret to a happy life, her whole world turns upside-down. Will these unexpected changes prove Mark can’t be trusted either? Or can she and Mark overcome their past heartbreaks to forge a new life together?

About the Author

Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness.She is also the author of the Sisters & Friends Amish series and the Amish Quilts Coloring Book. A former teacher and librarian, she has more than 2300 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming under several pen names. Rachel also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. She loves reading (of course!), traveling, and spending time with her five children and three grandchildren.

Guest Post from Rachel J. Good

One of the important lessons in ANGELS UNAWARE is looking beyond the surface, seeing with new eyes. In the story, Mark has many opportunities to do this. When he first approaches Jasmine with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, she’s unwelcoming and prickly:

The door opened a crack. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Mark turned. The woman’s narrowed eyes and belligerent stance made him quake. He took a step back. “I…um…here…” He held out the plate of cookies.
“What’s that?”
Mark took a deep breath and regained his composure. He smiled and started his usual spiel. “Hi, I’m Mark Daniels, and I just moved into the neighborhood—”
“I know.” She didn’t sound too pleased. “That’s not what I asked. What’s that in your hands?”
“Oh, these? I baked chocolate chip cookies and thought I’d share some with you.”
“Do you know what sugar does to your system?” she demanded. “I never touch sugar.”
That explained why she was so thin. So much for cookies then. Mark wracked his brain for another offering. “A meal perhaps? I make great spaghetti and meatballs.”
She drew back. “A meat eater? It figures.”
Oh, terrific. Mark cringed at the acid in her tone. He’d just offered a meat dish to a vegetarian. So much for his diplomacy mission.

After a start like that, many people would have given up. But Mark feels led to share God’s love with this neighbor, and he tries again and again. Eventually he discovers she’s hiding some deep personal pain. His persistence brings unexpected rewards to both of them.

I wanted to write this story because we usually avoid people who criticize us or hurt our feelings. Yet, often those who are unkind are actually aching inside. And they need God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, because only God can heal their pain and suffering.

After God touches Jasmine’s heart, Mark can see her softer, kinder side. And she’s proof of that saying, “An angel resides in every heart.”

Could your grouchy neighbor or critical boss be an angel in disguise? Maybe these annoying people have been sent into our lives to help build our character or to teach us a lesson. The Bible warns us to be hospitable to everyone, because we never know when we’ll come upon an angel “unawares.”

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Heb. 13:2 KJV

Each person you meet has been sent into your life for a reason. Sometimes these angels come into our lives in unlikely disguises. We don’t always realize their purpose until much later. Looking back, though, we can see God’s hand in the encounters.

Other times, we discover – like Mark did – that we’re supposed to be angels to those who are unkind to us. We may be the only ones who have ever touched their lives with God’s light.

Who in your life needs God’s love? Can you be an angel to that person?

Blog Stops

January 25: autism mom
January 27: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 28: A Greater Yes
January 29: Carpe Diem
January 30: Petra’s Hope
February 1: Christian Bookaholic
February 2: Karen Sue Hadley
February 3: Quiet Quilter
February 4: Daysong Reflections


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away:
Grand Prize:
  • Angel bookmark
  • Battenberg lace angel pin
  • Trio of jade angels
  • Prayer angel with a “Worry” poem to remind you to pray about your problems
  • Newest AMISH QUILTS COLORING BOOK (large print edition)
2nd – 4th Prize:
One copy of the ANGELS UNAWARE ebook
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Life is Not Tried, and Driving, and other Thoughts on Living

I totaled a car when I was four years old.

I'm a miracle, really... but aren't we all, in one way or another?

It was a hot September day and back then there weren't all these safety rules. Nobody thought about getting sued or getting prosecuted or things going viral on social media or broadcast on the 11 PM News.

Mom had a table to drop off on somebody's back porch, and how long would that take?

So she left me in the backseat, buckled up, I'm sure, with the car running...

And I decided I was hot... so I climbed over the seat and tried to fix the air conditioner... while knocking the car out of gear. It crashed through trees and bounced off rocks and landed on a small landing before plummeting to Quicksand Road below... caught by a tree not much taller than the car.

I don't know if I really remember it. I have images in my mind of me curling up in a ball in the driver's side floor... and remember, the driver's door was open, because Mom was just stepping away for a minute.

I have images in my mind of shaking glass from my hair as I crawled out the busted out back windshield, because the tree had wedged against the driver's door, and also, my glasses were broken so I couldn't see.

I'm not sure if those are memories, or just things I've created in my mind about the wreck... but I do know this. I like to imagine that I had an angel covering me in that floor, the wings spread over me, just like the Bible says, "He will cover you with feathers..."

I wrote all that to get to this point... I am not a good driver. I always say I started driving with a bang, and it never really got better.

And driving in traffic? Well, that is NOT my cup of tea.

But when you're a Mom, you'll do things you didn't think you would.

Like drive to downtown Cincinatti when there is snow forecasted so that your boy can go to a Garth Brooks concert.

Granted, he only knew two Garth Brooks songs, but...

Garth Brooks is one of my favorite all-time artists. I don't actually listen to his music much, but it's stuck in my heart. I grew up on The Dance and Friends in Low Places, can remember belting out The River in high school chorus class, and have ALWAYS physically shifted gears when I hear Papa and Mama... even though I can't drive a standard, much less a big rig.

And part of being a good Mom is passing on traditions to the next generation, right?

So even though Caleb only knew two songs, I wanted him to experience Garth Brooks. At one point in the show last night, Garth was talking about how he was so blessed to get to do what he does. He pointed out a dad in the crowd with a little girl who looked like she was about eight, and said, "He might have come to one of those shows 20  years ago, and now he's bringing his baby. Y'all have let me into your lives."

That got me a little teary-eyed... not because I know Garth on a personal level, but because I understood what he was saying. As I stood there, with my Aunt Nora at one end of our section and Alaxandra standing on the other, I thought of my first Garth Brooks concert, when Al was just a baby and Aunt Nora got a ticket as a "labor day present" so that Jen and I and our friends would have an adult to drive us.

And it made me almost sentimental, because at that time it felt like things came full circle and I thought of how blessed we are to have each other...

not just my family, but the people I come in contact with, who choose to let me be a part of their lives. It's not easy, always... because relationships mean vulnerability and that's hard... but one of my goals this  year was to open up to others. To actually LIVE with others...

So I looked at my manchild laughing with his cousin Al and we belted out Friends in Low Places just like we meant every word, even though I've never had a glass of champagne,  nor have I ever had my sorrows drowned out by the whiskey or beer chasing my blues away...

And I thought of my word of the year- LIVE- and how that means taking a chance and driving when you don't want to...

And then I thought of the chorus of his closing song. "Life is not tried it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fire."

Whether it be relationship or job or trying something new, you're not really living if you're standing outside the fire.

We were made for the abundant life.

We were made to step out of our comfort zone.

We might get burnt, yes...

But that's the chance we have to take.

(Although I still stood just outside the fire when I got back to Jackson, calling Wallace to come get me so I wouldn't have to brave Shoulderblade Hill. Baby steps, people... and my word is LIVE.... not drive over a cliff).

Shew... I've taken you for a ride if you've read this whole thing. Now get out there and live!!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

I'm A Coach's Wife

I am a coach's wife.

I have been a coach's wife for almost as long as I've been a wife, except for a couple of years when he took a break and we couldn't go to high school basketball games because he would get so antsy.

It's part of who I am, and while there are times when it's not really fun, I realize what an incredible honor it is.

I know things will change, and one day we may finally be able to go to a game and enjoy it together.

Not spend it breaking down plays. Not questioning what defense would work best to isolate that inside shooter. Not comparing stats.

But right now it's the time of the season that feels like you've been playing forever. Three weeks until district tournament seems like an eternity but I know it will fly by and before we know it we wil be saying goodbye to our seniors (and I don't even want to talk about that!!!).

Tonight, I'll just think of sophomore players who have developed so much.

I'll think of shots that bounced out and shots that shouldn't have gone in.

I'll think of ref calls that I don't agree with and those that I think probably should have been called, even though they would have been against us.

I'll think of how when a team hits a slump it's hard to find redemption, but hindsight is twenty twenty and we've been in this thing a long time and I can assure them they if they will just keep digging, keep fighting, keep hustling, keep shooting, it will eventually pay off.

I'll think of how those girls, my girls, just need a pat on the back and somebody to tell them they've got this. I know he tells them that, but that's his job, and everyone needs a cheerleader when the coach is being the coach.

So I'll pat them on  the shoulder and hug them and tell them how much I love them. How proud I am of them.

A hard-fought game that ends with a loss is no fun. I can say it's character building, but that doesn't make it any better.

Truth is, though, ten years down the road nobody will remember the record and they won't remember the scores of individual games. Shoot, twenty  years down the road, and I can't even tell you who we played the last time I cheered on the hardwood at the Coliseum. I can tell you it was bittersweet, but mostly because I was losing a part of who I was...

I was a cheerleader... and I still am.

These girls are basketball players, and they always will be. It will stay in them and they will teach it to their babies, and revel in the glory years...

Except our jobs as adults is to show them that the ball doesn't stop bouncing when their season is over. They have to pick up and move on and take all they learned out there on the court and apply it to real life.

They have to draw up their own plays, and hustle just like they did on the floor. They have to face failure, and not wallow in it.

I can see all of this as I watch them on the court. Faces flash before me, of players across our sixteen years, of memories of laughter and also hard times.

I see their potential. I see their weaknesses, but also see that they can overcome them.

He's the one with the dry erase board, hunched over in the huddle, sometimes yelling at them to focus.

I'm the one in the stands, praying that they'll live in this moment and appreciate it for all it is, not worrying about missing a shot or bobbling a pass or making a mistake...

because it is a beautiful thing, this game of basketball.

It's a beautiful thing when they finally come together.

It's a beautiful thing to see them smiling...

Play hard, dear hearts. And know that you'll always have at least one fan up there...

because I'm the coach's wife, and that is my biggest job. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Summer in Sunset Ridge: A Review and a Giveaway

Book: Summer on Sunset Ridge, Freedom Series Book 1

My thoughts:
I had never read this author before but the book description grabbed me. I love Civil War/pre-Civil War era fiction, and have always been fascinated by the Underground Railroad. I don't know much about the Quakers, but I had always heard they were instrumental in organizing the Underground Railroad... so a love story centered around this topic was a must-read.
This book was well-written with believable characters. The plot advanced well and the language was easy to understand. Inner conflict within the main characters spiced up the storyline. I felt like I was right in the story! I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in fiction from this time era. Nice read!

Author: Sharlene MacLaren
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Brought up on a Quaker farm near Philadelphia at the brink of the Civil War, plainspoken Rebecca Albright is charitable, peace-loving, submissive—and a feisty abolitionist. Determined to aid the Underground Railroad no matter what the cost, her path collides with that of formidable slave-catcher Clay Dalton. When Rebecca is assigned to nurse Clay back to health following a near-fatal gunshot wound, her uneasiness around him and the questions surrounding his mysterious past complicate their strained but developing relationship.
Sherriff Clay Dalton is grimly fighting several battles of his own as he stays on at the Albright farm to work off his debt to the family that has saved his life and taken him in. He is torn between his past commitments in the South and his unlikely present among this quiet Quaker community in the North. Almost against his will, he begins to ponder the impossible idea of a future with Rebecca.…
When tensions between North and South escalate, Rebecca and Clay find themselves propelled on a journey to discover just who God has called them to be, and they soon realize that each holds a key to the other’s answer.

About the Author

Sharlene MacLaren Born and raised in western Michigan, award-winning, bestselling author Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. After graduating, she traveled with a nationally touring Christian vocal ensemble, returning home to Spring Arbor to marry her husband, Cecil, whom she’d known since childhood. Together they raised two daughters. Now happily retired after teaching elementary school for 31 years, “Shar” enjoys reading, singing in the church choir and worship teams, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren. Her novels include the contemporary romances Through Every Storm, Long Journey Home, and Tender Vow; the beloved Little Hickman Creek series (Loving Liza Jane, Sarah, My Beloved, Courting Emma, and  Christmas Comes to Little Hickman Creek, a novella), and three historic romance trilogies: The Daughters of Jacob Kane (Hannah Grace, Maggie Rose, and Abbie Ann); River of Hope (Livvie’s Song, Ellie’s Haven, and Sofia’s Secret); Tennessee Dreams:  Heart of Mercy, Threads of Joy, and Gift of Grace.

Blog Stops

January 19: Reading Is My SuperPower
January 19: Giveaway Lady
January 19: A Reader’s Brain
January 20: Books. Books. And More Books.
January 20: The Power of Words
January 21: Bigreadersite
January 21: just the write escape
January 22: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 22: For The Love of Books
January 23: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses
January 23: Genesis 5020
January 24: Pause for Tales
January 24: His Grace is Sufficient
January 25:  Book by Book
January 25: A Simple Life, really?!
January 26: A Greater Yes
January 26: Connie’s History Classroom
January 26: A Baker’s Perspective
January 27: Christian Author: A.M. Heath
January 27: Splashes of Joy
January 28: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
January 28: Christian Bookaholic
January 28: History, Mystery & Faith
January 29: Stuff & Nonsense
January 29: Bibliophile Reviews
January 30: cherylbbookblog
January 30: Daysong Reflections
January 31: Blossoms and Blessings
January 31: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
February 1: Reader’s cozy corner
February 1: Rhonda’s Doings


To celebrate Sharlene’s tour, Whitaker House is giving away:
Grand Prize
Brown and tan fashion purse with cross, multiple interior and exterior pocketsand
Five Sharlene MacLaren titles: Summer on Sunset Ridge (Forever Freedom #1); Heart of Mercy (Tennessee Dreams #1); Livvie’s Song (River of Hope #1); Hannah Grace (Daughters of Jacob Kane #1); Loving Liza Jane (Little Hickman Creek #1)
Second Prize
“Keepers of the Light” Orange/Cinnamon/Clove candle from www.acheerfulgiver.com and
Summer on Sunset Ridge
Third Prize
Summer on Sunset Ridge
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Letter to Caleb

I think the world has gone a little crazy.

No... I know the world has gone a little crazy.

I just watched an impassioned speech Ashley Judd gave on Saturday during the Women's March on Washington. Apparently it was a recitation of a poem written by a 19 year old about being a nasty woman, a moniker many have claimed since Trump degraded Hillary in a debate or a campaign speech or something, and Ashley quoted it with dramatic flair like only a Southern woman can do.

Over the past few months, we have seen this divisiveness continue to grow. Some blame it on Trump's fiery and rude statements. Others say we have been divided for years (and I tend to agree with the latter, although Trump's nonchalant attitude toward mockery and sarcasm somewhat disturbs me).

Feminism is not a new term. The "Women's Rights Movement" that I learned about in history class focused on women having the right to vote. The idea that women are equal to men is one that has continued to be an issue in politics, in religion, in education, and in the workplace, and women still have not been deemed "equal".

I have never  thought someone was better than me just because of their gender. I have never felt inferior to a male. I have been made to feel stupid by a male, but I have also fell prey to condescending words from a female.

I understand that women face many challenges. My conservative viewpoints do not try to wipe away domestic violence, sexual assault, and the realization that in many parts of this world women do not have the voice that they should. I read a post someone shared that talked about while they had not personally been marginalized, they were marching because they could... and some women can't.. .which is true. I AM NOT saying in this post that women are not often victims... globally, the atrocities many women face on a daily basis are unimaginable to me, and too often those same things covertly happen here. I am not blind nor deaf, nor am I na├»ve enough to believe that women have shattered the glass ceiling. I empathize with women who daily face abuse, who are afraid to say no, who know the heartbreak of abortion, who feel shame on all sides. It's not right, and I am not minimizing this...

However, I don't quite see how wearing a large hat shaped like a vagina on your head is any less degrading than words spoken...

but that's  neither here nor there, because the greatness that is (and always was, even before Donald Trump vowed to bring greatness back) America is that peaceful protests are not just accepted but often encouraged. From a young age, I have been taught by my parents that my voice matters, and my opinion matters, and if I think something is wrong I should stand up for it.

That's what many of those women chose to do on Saturday. I'd like to point out that it doesn't make any of us who chose not to march any less of a woman, and marching or protesting doesn't make anyone a monster.

I write all of the above to get to my main concern. I am the mother of a teenage boy. An impressionable young man, for sure. A young man trying to navigate his way through the landmine that is social media and misrepresentation by main stream media.

I'm responsible for teaching him right from wrong, and not to pat myself on the back, but he seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders. This weekend left  him questioning, though... particularly the fact that women were wearing large vaginas on their head and also a post he saw of two women holding a sign that said, "If Mary had had an abortion we wouldn't be in this mess."

(No.  We wouldn't.  We'd be in an even bigger one... but that's just my humble opinion.)

Regardless of your political stance or your beliefs on abortion or women's rights or whether it serves a purpose to wear a large vagina on your head, you must agree with me that it's our responsibility to teach our young people... while encouraging them to figure stuff out for themselves. A daunting task at best. And I recognize that my views may be entirely different if I were the parent of a young, impressionable daughter, but...

Here  you go.  This is my message to Caleb in this upside down world in which we live...

You are a man. Maybe not emotionally, but for all intents and purposes you are one physically. You stand a head taller than me and you wear a size 12 shoe. It's been ages since you could pass for a child at the movie theatre.

I can't tell you all that being a man entails, because I have never been in that position. I have never been inclined to think like a man. Admittedly, I am not the perfect Mom or wife, but I have always been more than happy to allow Wallace to pay the bills in our household. I rather enjoy the fact that he is concerned with our welfare and that  he is a good provider. I have no qualms with admitting that he is the breadwinner in our household...but that doesn't make my vocation any less important. A woman can be important when working like I have, or when staying at home with her children. The choice is hers.

One day, you will grow up and fall in love. (Or maybe this puppy love between you and Lauren Green is the real thing. If that's the case, then you have already fallen in love). You will know that there is no one else on the planet for you. You will desire to move heaven and earth to make her happy. You will do everything in your power to make her smile.

Not all men do that... but I think that is one component of being a man. Loving even when it hurts, and knowing that it's ok for a real man to cry. Cherishing those you love. Knowing it is ok to admit when you are wrong.

Women and men are different. We are anatomically different, but we are also emotionally different. You have already experienced that as you've seen firsthand how your dad and I sometimes relate to one another... or fail to do so.

We can be different but equal. Women are not less than. Women deserve your respect. They are just as smart as you. They are just as capable as you. Do not ever handicap anyone just because of their gender.

If anything, treat them a little better, because  your Mama has raised you to treat a woman special.

Your dad will admit that he isn't a romantic, and I'm ok with that, but I see in you the makings of a very special guy. You're the guy who will send flowers. You're the guy who will write cheesy love notes. At times I see how caring you can be, and I appreciate that. Keep it up.

Know that your words are ammunition, and no one ever deserves to be treated poorly, woman or man. You can make or break somebody with  how you treat them. Respect, always.

Know that the loudest roars often come from people who have deep-seeded hurt inside them. I don't personally understand every situation, but I do know that I'm called to be empathetic and to show love. You need to show love, too. Not always acceptance, but before you call a spade a spade make sure you have thought through and have a reason for it. And also recognize that in some people's perception, a diamond will be a spade and you're wasting your breath, energy, and mental capacity to try to argue with them.

Know that a woman's body is her body and no means no. No woman needs to be belittled because of her boobs or her butt or her stomach size. This isn't a cattle market, and you remember that. I think we both know how I feel on the pro-life issue, but not every woman feels the same as I do. Respect that.

I have great expectations for you. As I mentioned, I feel like you've got a good head on  your shoulders, no thanks to your Mom. You are capable of making decisions that will influence others around you. Make  those decisions. Be smart. Be loving. Be kind. Be respectful.

Whether you're dealing with a man or a woman...

Because we all deserve that.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Never Forget: A Review and a Giveaway

For as long as I remember I have been fascinated with lighthouses. They have always seemed so romantic. I've been blessed to get to visit a couple on vacation and as I climbed the steps up, up, and around I was amazed. The lightkeeper's job had to be a difficult one, both physically and mentally!

In this lovely read by Jody Hedlund, Abbie finds herself facing the challenge of keeping the lighthouse running because her Grandfather is no longer able to. The lighthouse has served as the only true home Abbie has ever had, and the thought of having to leave it causes Abbie to make a decision that she may not have otherwise made.

Deserted by her husband, caring for an ailing grandfather, and facing eviction from the lighthouse, Abbie is at her wits end... until Nathaniel washes up on shore. He doesn't know who he is or where he is at, and immediately assumes he is Abbie's negligent husband. As he tries to make up for lost time and poor decisions by a man he doesn't even know, Abbie finds herself falling for his kind heart and gentle ways.

Hedlund's characters are well-developed. Through their speech and actions, the reader gets a good view of their heart, and both Abbie and Nathaniel are likeable. The description of the day to day life of a lighthouse keeper allows the reader to feel as though they are right on the island with them.

This book is a part of a series, but can be read as a stand-alone. I had not previously read the first four books (although I probably will amend that!).

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical romance. Nice, well-written read.

I did receive a free copy of this book for reviewing for Celebrate Lit.


About the Book


Book: Never Forget
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2017
Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island
June 1880
Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves?
Abbie Wilson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves.
Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past.
Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse.
The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband?

About the Author

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and Christy Award,  best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

Which Do You Prefer: Series or Standalones?
By Jody Hedlund
Readers usually have strong opinions about whether they like series or standalones.
Some readers refuse to read books that are inter-related. Others can’t get enough books about their favorite characters.
I see the pros and cons of both.
For series, I don’t like feeling lost as I try to wade through previous characters along with their backstory. I recently started a series by a well-known author and was disappointed to realize the first book was connected to a previous series she’d already published. From the get-go, I felt left out as though I didn’t quite know who all the characters were or their significance.
On the other hand, for standalones, I sometimes feel as though I would like the story to continue. I’ve invested in the setting and characters and so enjoy when I can return to that place and continue to glimpse the characters I’ve fallen in love with—even if from a distance.
My favorites are books that fall in the middle between standalone and series. I like to think of them as standalones within a series. Becky Wade’s Porter brother series is like that. Each of the books centers around one of the brothers (and a tomboy sister). While characters from other books make an appearance in the stories, each plot is separate and complete without any reliance upon another book.
My Beacons of Hope lighthouse series falls in the middle too. The books are related in that they all take place at lighthouses and share a symbolic “cross of hope” that is passed on from one book to the next. A minor character in a previous book becomes the hero or heroine in the next book. But each book can be read by itself without having read any of the others.
In other words, readers can pick up my newest release, Never Forget, which is the fifth and final book in the series, and they wouldn’t be confused about who the characters are or what their history is. The plot starts with a bang and ends with a satisfying sigh. It is complete story unto itself.
And yet, for those who’ve read other books in the series, they’ll get to see the happily-ever-after of a character from a previous book. And they’ll also get to find out where the cross of hope finally ends.
If you’re not a fan of series, I encourage you to give the Beacons of Hope series a try. It might satisfy the need for standalones and series all in one neat little package.
To that end, I’m giving away all FIVE books in the series as part of the Celebrate Lit blog tour to one lucky winner!
Tell us: What is your preference: Standalones, Series, or Standalones within a Series?

Blog Stops

January 10: Karen Sue Hadley
January 10: Bookworm Mama
January 11: Faithfully Bookish
January 12: Genesis 5020
January 13: The Scribbler
January 14: Daysong Reflections
January 14: Blogging With Carol
January 16: A Greater Yes
January 16: Bigreadersite
January 18: Book by Book
January 19: Carpe Diem
January 19: Splashes of Joy
January 20: Stuff and Nonsense
January 21: Radiant Light
January 21: cherylbbookblog
January 22: Neverending Stories
January 22: A Path of Joy
January 23: Henry Happens
January 23: Onceuponatime



To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away the entire Beacons of Hope series. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/ad6d