Monday, October 17, 2016

Mary, Chosen of God: A Review and A Giveaway

We all know the story, right?

At least we think we know it.

Mary, highly favored.

Mary, a young teenager, handpicked by God.

Mary,  mother of Jesus.

Yes, we may know the story, but in this book by Diana Wallis Taylor, we are given a glimpse into what her life might have been.

What she might have thought.

What she may have ate, where she may have slept, her daily life...

Her journey to maturity as a mother, and as a follower of her own Son.

Taylor's fictional story of this Scriptural favorite is a must read. Mary comes to life in a thought-provoking way, as we are challenged to love Jesus more because He chose to die for us.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit, and am offering an honest review.
To purchase your own copy, click here.

About the Book


“Blessed are you, Mary, chosen of God.”
Mary is ordinary girl from Nazareth. She helps her mother with household chores, she daydreams about a handsome carpenter’s son named Joseph, and at night she lies on the roof and contemplates the stars.
But one evening, a heavenly visitor comes with unexpected news—and her life is changed forever.
Experience the life of the Messiah from the perspective of his mother, who must place her trust and obedience in Adonai, the Most High, as he fulfills centuries of prophecy in the middle of her daily life. Walk with Mary as she witnesses Yeshua grow, mature, minister, and even be crucified—and then raised again, to the kindling of her new faith.

About the Author


Diana Wallis Taylor has written eight biblical novels, including Mary, Chosen of God, Martha, Journey to the Well, Mary Magdalene, Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate, and Ruth, Mother of Kings. Well-known in the Christian book industry for her biblical fiction, her most recent five books have received over 3,000 ratings on Goodreads. Taylor is a former San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild’s “Writer of the Year” and her biblical novels have earned her a variety of awards. Diana lives in San Diego with her husband, Frank. They have six grown children and ten grandchildren.

Blog Stops

October 4: Simple Harvest Reads (spotlight)
October 5: Proverbial Reads
October 5: I Hope You Dance
October 6: Book by Book
October 10: A Greater Yes
October 10: Back Porch Reads
October 11: The Power of Words
October 12: Book Babble
October 13: Mary Hake
October 14: Splashes of Joy
October 15: Bigreadersite
October 16: Henry Happens


To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a gift basket that includes Mary, Ruth, Whitaker House’s study Bible, and The Lord is my Shepherd candle from Abba Anointing Oil! Click here to enter:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How to Make Victoria Sponge Review and a Giveaway

When I first got this book from Celebrate Lit, I really didn't know what to expect.  The title confused me, because I seriously thought it was a cooking book. However, I found this book to be delightful and thought provoking once I started reading.

Victoria Sponge is a mother in the throes of life. Surrounded by her teenagers, working at a preschool, she faces many challenges that I can totally relate to (and she has four kids; I just have one!) From lighthearted problems to the more serious problem of her teenager facing depression, Victoria handles most of the things thrown at her with grace. The book is written in the first person, told from Victoria's perspective, and is basically a prayer.

Yes, we're told to pray without ceasing in the Bible, and that is exactly what Victoria does. She uses life events, from the comical to the serious, to prompt her to pray... and  then listens as God reveals things to her about her self and others.

This book helped me see how a conversation with God truly can be ongoing. I think we so often get hung up on formalities in prayer, but all God wants from us is just to turn to Him.

I enjoyed this book and would give it 4 stars.

About the Book

Victoria Sponge – a well-known cake? Maybe, but also a wife and mother of four children. Disorganized and chaotic, with obligations galore, sweet Victoria clings to God, her best friend who shares His amazing love with her. From tripping over a hoover left in the hallway to discovering her son’s desire to die because he is different, she journeys through her own Lent. Giving up is not an option, but saying ‘yes’ to God each day is. Tragedy and comical events follow Vicki through her week. Does Victoria Sponge rise through all the messiness that life offers or does she sink?

About the Author

Born in England, Margaret Kazmierczak loves storytelling, but dyslexia made writing difficult. After marrying and birthing three children, she finally got around to it. She and husband Peter live in Dorset, United Kingdom with two daughters.

Guest Post from Margaret Kazmierczak

For those that know me cooking is not a talent that I am famous for. I follow the recipes, but for some unknown reason my cakes remain flat, albeit cleverly disguised with chocolate. My friends were, quite understandably, shocked that I appeared to have written a cookery book.
My friends let me introduce the Baker who inspired me to write, ‘How to Make Victoria Sponge’. His name is God the Father. This cook needs all the help she can get.
In 2010 God literally took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to become vulnerable. He took away my health and job. An active middle aged woman reduced to a shell. For two years I struggled to come to terms with my condition. Then one night I prayed and asked what I was supposed to do now? The message was simple, “write a book”. Well I could think up a million and one reasons why not to write a book. I declared them one by one but God the Father was having none of it. He reminded me of WHO was commissioning me.
To say that my reading and writing skills were on a par with my cooking skills was an understatement. So I stopped questioning and listened to His answer. “I shall give you the ingredients and you provide the humour and story outline with your life experiences.” So Victoria Sponge was born. Not a cookery book per se but a recipe for a closer relationship with God the Father through story and petition.
This journey took two years, a long time to wait for a cake to rise! The proof, however, was in the tasting which for some time was bitter due to rejection. Then a sequence of events happened one after the other and ‘How to Make Victoria Sponge’ was cooked, oops, birthed. I have been blown away with the face to face reviews in England of the book. A Methodist minister used it to empower her congregation, to show them how even the simplest things in life can lead to a prayerful response.
Victoria known as Vicki, married to Bob, is a normal woman with four children. The book looks at a week in her life and compares it to Jesus’ Lent week. Many issues are explored through the pages. Vicki Sponge could be you or me and the response to each situation, a solution to your own challenges.
Without the Baker this book would end up like my cakes! The writing of it helped me to begin a new life and I hope it helps you to do so too if you read and journey through its pages.

Blog Stops

September 29: A Reader’s Brain
September 30: The Power of Words (spotlight)
October 2: Bukwurmzzz
October 3: Artistic Nobody
October 4: Quiet Quilter
October 6: Mary Hake
October 10: Petra’s Hope
October 12: Onceuponatime


To celebrate her tour, Margaret is giving away a themed gift bag containing an apron, whisk, Bible, and a limited 1st edition paperback copy of How to Make Victoria Sponge! Click here to enter:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Joy is Our Strength...

Today the message at church was about joy.

We actually started out talking about three passages from Proverbs, all focused on a merry heart.

One verse alluded to how the heart affects the spirit, which then affects the body.

Being miserable or anxious can actually make one sick...

There's scientific evidence of that.

Just as someone who has a positive attitude tends to do better with medical treatment.

As Pastor Kemper talked about a merry heart, he brought about how joy must be sought after and how it must be seen by others.

Joy is our strength.

and as I sat there listening, I thought about how a person can't be content without joy.

Contentment is feeling satisfied, and we are told by Paul that it is something we can learn... he told us in Philippians that he could be content in all things, whether he had little or much. He goes on in that same passage to talk about how we should be anxious for nothing... asking God for what we need, and praying... and thinking about good, lovely, pure things. We'll get peace when we do those things. And because of this, because of our perspective, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Strength because He came to live in us, and give us joy... "so that your joy may be full."

Because it's in that joy that we find our strength.

So, being content?

We've got to learn to be joyful, and that's not something we can do on our own.

True joy comes from the wellspring of life, Jesus Christ.

And His Grace is sufficient to help us learn to be content AND to make our joy full.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Good from the Bad

A couple of days ago I found myself muttering under my breath as I pulled into a parking lot, "I love when people just leave their shopping carts out."

It's one of my pet peeves, really...

You'll go to pull into a parking space, only to find a lone cart hiding just as you pull in.

It only takes a few extra minutes (if that) to park a shopping cart...

yet minutes are precious in today's society.

As I was complaining, a thought entered in my head.

"At least you're able to push a shopping cart."

Now I don't want y'all to think that I'm holier than thou, because I'm not...

but what I'm learning about contentment is that it is all about perspective.

We seek His kingdom first... We make ourselves vulnerable and choose happy. We become transformed by renewing our minds with His Word...

And we stop that negative thinking. We turn the bad into good, because that's what He's doing.

Just like Joseph said in Genesis, what others mean for evil God can turn to good. He doesn't cause bad things... but He doesn't always prevent them, either. Learning to be content means that we are able to recognize that for those who love Him, He's working it all to the good.

That doesn't mean it feels good.

It doesn't mean we enjoy it.

But we can have assurance that He has a bigger plan.

We can be satisfied knowing that in the end, it will all work out.

To learn to be content, when we find ourselves looking at the negative, we need to start searching for the positive. And sometimes it can be a true scavenger hunt...

but there's always a rainbow, even if it's hidden by clouds.

You just might have to squint to see it, or look out a different window.

Lord, help me see the good in all things as I look to be more content in You.

Is there a time in your life you've seen good come out of the bad? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Bedwarmer's Son: Review and Giveaway

If you're checking in from #write31days, I'll be back tomorrow writing on contentment. Today, I'm reviewing a book on the Celebrate Lit book tour.
The Bedwarmer's Son is about a black man who killed a white man in the 1920s. That in itself is a recipe for disaster; however, the plot twist gets real because it is his own brother. In this story that goes back and forth between the 1920s and the antebellum South, we are introduced to characters who are warm, inviting, and human... with all the flaws one would expect from humans.
I'll be honest, it took me a little while to get into this book, and at times it was difficult to follow because the story would switch from era to era without much warning. As Billy tells his story to Alice from his jail cell, he also offers up the story of Jasmine, the bedwarmer, and her master in the slave days of the South.
At times, it appears there are some inconsistencies within the story.  I'm not sure a female lawyer would have been common in the 1920s; however, after some research, I found that the first female lawyer was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1916, which amazes me, because women couldn't even vote then! (It's always good when you learn something factual from a fictional book).
Overall, this book is a good read, with enough historical tension because of the two time periods to keep the reader connected. I'd recommend it if you like Southern fiction, especially with a historical twist.
I did receive free access to an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book

Click to purchase
What if Abel had killed Cain? But there was no jury of his peers….
In 1928 Georgia, a black man who kills a white man is automatically guilty, but the bedwarmer’s son, an ex-slave, is no normal black man. Once his lily-white lawyer lady learns the truth, everything changes. Can she save him from swinging?
Will the bedwarmer murder the one she’s been bought to serve?
From the antebellum South, come travel the dusty trails of Jim Crowe Dalton, Georgia with slave and master, saint and sinner. See if God is really big enough, if He truly cares about His children. McAdoo has done it again, this time in a brand new way. A delightful morsel for the palates of Christian readers world round.

About the Author

Caryl, praying her story gives God glory, loves writing for Christian genres–historical and contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and mid-grade especially. In 2014, Simon and Schuster debuted VOW UNBROKEN, a historical Christian romance set in 1832 Texas, and Caryl followed with three additional novels. In April, LADY LUCK’S A LOSER (contemporary, mature, inspirational romance); September’s debut, HEARTS STOLEN (set in 1839-1844), book two of her historical Christian Texas Romances–a #1 Amazon Best-seller; and in November, A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS, volume one of her new Biblical fiction series, The Generations–also an Amazon #1 Best-seller.
In 2008, her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved her to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and sixteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes each one ministers His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. She and Ron live in Clarksville, Texas with two grandsons, Christian and Benjamen.

Guest Post from Caryl McAdoo

The Bedwarmer’s Son, my twenty-eighth title to be published, is different from any of my books to date, offering two complete love stories from two eras a generation apart.
How I came to write it is a very different story, too!
You see, I have a contemporary book in progress based loosely on the television show The Voice, but instead of the big new singer, my imagined program The Pitch is looking for the next big author! I started it in November 2013, but abandoned its 35,000 words shortly after Vow Unbroken debuted in March from Simon and Schuster.
My characters in The Pitch—three teams of authors and agents—attend writers’ conferences all over the country looking for the next great American novel with the voters being the readers across the country. For my story, I needed lots of titles, a few with skeleton story premises to make it work.
The Bedwarmer’s Son was one of those God gave me.
But it refused to be left there as just a title. The intriguing title demanded to be written.
And so, now I’m blessed that CelebrateLit is hosting a blog tour to celebrate its September release!
Though definitely a historical, this novel is not in my Texas Romance family saga series, but is a ‘companion’ book to it. My readers will remember four-year-old Charley from Hearts Stolen, book two…then him grown up and the hero of book six Just Kin. Well, in The Bedwarmer’s Son, readers meet Charley’s son and grandson, minor characters in a chapter or two.
The story opens in 1928 where the title character, William “Billy” Sinclair II is on trial for the murder of his white half-brother Jamison. Alice Parmalee, his lawyer, finds the old man’s grandson, William “Will” Robert Sinclair IV quite handsome, good-hearted and generous.
In explaining to Alice why he killed his brother, Billy goes back to the story of his mother, the ‘owned’ bedwarmer, Jasmine. Of course, every time he starts, I break into the young slave girl’s point of view, and readers find themselves back in the mid-1800’s. I love her spunk and think you will, too.
I especially love The Bedwarmer’s Son’s opening line: “He sold us right before he married that fancy lady from England, then bought us back the next Spring.” It’s set on the fictitious Three Springs plantation near Dalton, Georgia.
In my story, I used a word that in my growing up was considered on the same level as a cuss word. I would have had my mouth washed out for saying it. So conflicted, I asked for much counsel, and everyone agreed that for the story’s time period—to portray it correctly—it was necessary…but still hard for this lady.
On the other hand, I so enjoyed going back and forth between the two stories. There’s plenty of period racial tension—so common to the day—with the KKK unhappy about the pretty white attorney defending the old black man who’s guilty simply because his victim’s skin was white.
Of course, being a Christian novel, he and his grandson trust God and believe the Almighty sent Alice—an atheist who’s been taught putting any faith in an invisible being is nothing more than a fool’s errand. She’s been reared by a famous black attorney who volunteered to take Billy’s case.
At the end of the story, when Billy’s trial is over, I think readers may be cheering. I hope so.
I pray Jasmine’s and Alice’s journey will cause readers to draw closer to the Lord, while others might reconsider a few of the things they’ve been comfortable believing. That Holy Spirit will use this story to draw them deeper into their own relationship with our Awesome God.
Looking back, I can see God’s hand all over this story and its creation and cover…the whole nine yards. I can’t begin to imagine all the ways He will used it, but am convinced that use it, He will! I always say I am blessed and highly favored, and He keeps on creating the fruit of my lips!
I love story and the cover of The Bedwarmer’s Son (designed by Ruthie Madison Derby) that displays both dejection and hope, and melds the two historic periods. God has indeed blessed me and showered His favor over me. I pray it will touch your hearts.
Oh, and as an aside I spoke with Sandy Barela about over a coffee chat, I wrote Lady Luck’s A Loser back in 2001 long before The Batchelor ever hit TV. My story is a mature inspirational romance about a wealthy man inviting nine women to come live at his bed and breakfast—under the guise of hiring a manager for it—in order to choose a wife.
Hopefully if The Pitch becomes a TV reality show, I’ll get proper credit, considering this idea is published here and copyrighted in my doing it! 🙂 Laaaa!

Blog Stops

September 27: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 28: Karen’s Krayons
September 30: Simple Harvest Reads
October 2: Artistic Nobody
October 3: The Power of Words
October 5: Bigreadersite
October 7: Once Upon A Time
October 8: Bukwurmzzz
October 9: Under His Wings
October 10: Mary Hake


To celebrate her tour, Caryl is giving away all seven of her Texas Romance ebooks to a lucky winner! Click here to enter:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Discernment for Contentment

Romans 12:2 : Transform. Renew. Discern.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. 

This age.

This high speed age.

This drive-thru mentality.

Instant access.



More, more, more...

It's easy to become discontented in a world that tells you that's what's expected.

Everywhere we look, there's something encouraging us to be discontented. We may not be told this in so many words, but the message is clear.

It's never enough.

So we believe it. We buy into the lies.

After all, how can we be happy and content in a world full of such sorrow?

In Romans, though, we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Renewing our minds means going against the expected in this society... not conforming to this world...

We renew our minds by seeking Him first and choosing happy.

This is a daily process.

Daily, we must renew our minds to be transformed, through Christ's power in us.

A renewal where we ask Him to empower us to think like Him. See like Him. Forgive like Him. Love like Him.

And when we renew our minds and become transformed, we are able to become more content in where we are, because we start seeing it in light of eternity.

We start perceiving it as He would perceive it.

Renewing our minds helps us discern what is the good, perfect, and pleasing will of God.

Helps us discern our purpose.

When we discern, or understand this, we can become content because we know that even in the bad, we are right smack in the middle of where God wants us to be.

Content to know that even though we can't always see it, He's working good.

And content that even when we aren't sufficient, His grace always is.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Harden Not Your Heart...

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

I have a cover photo that I use frequently on facebook. I'm probably hinging on copyright infringement, because I totally stole it off of google images (if you created it, thank you! I'll give you credit!)

And y'all.

This is what I want to do.

I want to choose happy.

I want to learn to be content, just as Paul says.

So this is my quest for contentment. Day 2 I woke up thinking I hated my life... and I know that's no coincidence, because anything we do for God's glory we've got an enemy trying to convince us it's impossible.

But that verse I quoted above?

The rest of the chapter... just one verse over, actually, says that I can do all things through Christ.

Christ in me is powerful enough to allow me to do what otherwise would be impossible.

Without Christ,  though, my flesh is pretty powerful... when I allow it to be.

It can be pretty bossy.

That's why seeking His kingdom first is so important.

What goes in comes out, so the more I have God's Word in me, the more I see His Work around me, and the more I'm able to just be...

not striving.

Not making my own mess.

Just content.

It's a choice, really, what we focus on...

So if I know this, why does it seem so hard? Why is it a lesson I have to learn time and time again?

Why can't I just be satisfied with things the way they are?

Because we were meant for more...

Not more stuff.

Not more accolades...

Not more prestige or clothing or books or fame.

Nope... we were made for more glory. He's continually working within us, to make us more like Christ.

But that process of becoming more like Christ is full of sacrifices. Putting others before us. Loving when we don't feel like loving. Giving when we are scared to give.

And it takes away a lot of our control... and we humans tend to have some control issues.

(Well, most of us. If you don't, well, kudos to you!)

So, in our endless effort to maintain control and try to find satisfaction without completely surrendering, we make a big mess a lot of the time...

Which just leaves us ending up more discontent.

And the more discontent we are, the more we allow our hearts to harden.

Hardened against our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones...

and yes.

Hardened against God.

The word hardened in the New Testament comes from the Greek word poroo, which means "to become calloused, covered with a thick skin, to lose the power to understand."

How interesting that one of the definitions of content (as a noun) is "that which may be perceived as something."

Being able to perceive means to be able to discern or understand...

So, when we allow our hearts to be  hardened, we lose the ability to perceive or understand...

We become focused on all of the bad and lose sight of all of the good...

an endless cycle of discontentment.

And really, the hardening of our heart is a choice.

It's choosing to look at all we don't have rather than considering all we do.

It's holding that grudge.

It's nursing that wound.

To be content, I must allow my heart to soften.  That's scary. That means I'm vulnerable...

but it'll be worth it.

Join me this month as I write on what the Word is telling me about finding contentment. You can find all my posts here.