Tuesday, June 27, 2017

None So Blind-A Review and a Giveaway

Have you ever wished you could recreate your life?
Longed for a second chance to rectify all the wrongs?
Dani Weeks is given just that opportunity...

When she wakes in a hospital and doesn't remember who she is, she gets a clean slate...
but she doesn't remember anything else, either. Not her husband. Not her kids. Not her normal routine. Nothing.

Her adjustments to her "new" life not only affects her, but her family, and they all must make decisions about coping with their new normal.

I love that Dani's husband is so understanding. I don't think I would be.
I was saddened by her sense of not belonging in her own house. Sometimes, though, don't we all feel a little like that, to be honest?

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes good, clean fiction centered on self-discovery with a little romance thrown in. Havig never disappoints!

About the Book
Book title: None So Blind
Author: Chautona Havig
Release date: September 29, 2013
Genre: Contemporary

Dani and Ella Weeks–two women who share one thing in common. The same life, the same family, and the same body.
When Dani wakes with no knowledge of who or where she is–no memories of her life at all–David and Dani Weeks discover that “til death do us part” takes on an entirely unexpected meaning. Practically speaking, Dani died. But she didn’t.
What’s a gal to do?
In a desperate attempt to separate the old life from the new, Dani insists on a new name, a twist of her old one–Ella.
Ella’s doctors can’t explain what happened. Her children can’t understand why she doesn’t know them. David, her husband, finds himself torn between admiration for the “new” version of his wife and missing the woman he’s known for over fifteen years.
Will Ella ever regain her memory? Why does their pastor suspect it’s one great hoax?

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husbnd and five of her nine children. Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Guest Post from Chautona Havig
“Who are you, again?”
“I’m Joe’s, daughter. Vyonie.” My sister pointed to me. “This is Chautona.”
For some odd reason, the niece she spent the least amount of time with, Aunt Doris remembered—somewhat. But she didn’t remember Vyonie from what I could tell. She smiled at me, that amazing, sweet smile I’d never forget. She asked how I was. I always thought that Mrs. Sanderson—mother of John, Alicia, and Carl on the TV show, Little House on the Prairie—looked and sounded like Aunt Doris. Of course, that memory of me didn’t last. A minute or two later, she gave me a big smile and asked if she knew me.
It gave me a picture of what it must have been like for my character, Ella Weeks—to wake up every day with these children there—children who knew her, but she didn’t remember. The hurt she caused every time she had to struggle to admit she didn’t know something she probably should—again. So, I thought I’d ask her to tell us about it.
Ella: People often assume that the worst part of losing my memory are the memories that disappeared, too. But it’s not. A much as I’d love to remember my wedding day, my daughter’s first steps, my son’s first words, or that moment I realized I was pregnant with my third, those are blessings that I don’t think about often. No, what hurts most is seeing the pain in my children’s eyes when they need me to remember something and I can’t. For me, not remembering their first day of kindergarten is an inconvenience. For them, it’s a further reminder that if they didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t know them. That without them pushing themselves into my life, I wouldn’t care about them any more than any other human in my path. I do now, of course, but not at first. I hate that they heard David say once, “…she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t trust me. She doesn’t know our children. She tries, but she could walk out of our lives tomorrow and never miss us.”
Living so close to it every day, I missed those little bits of pain that I inflicted without meaning to, but when I went with our Bible study to a nursing home and visited with the residents, then I saw it. Women with tears running down their cheeks as loved ones patted their hands and tried to comfort. I heard one man offer to find a woman’s father. She squeezed him close and whispered, “It’s okay, Daddy. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The man promised to try to find her father in the meantime.
Those people there—most of them didn’t realize they didn’t remember someone important. They didn’t struggle to remember this or that. Their dementia had gotten bad enough that their lives had gone from constant frustration to, by comparison, blissful oblivion.
And their families withered with each forgotten face, name, moment.
That’s what my “episode” did for my family. It caused them pain that just resurfaced every time something new happened. Pain that I didn’t know I inflicted. And since that visit, I have a greater compassion and awareness of just how amazing and powerful memories are.
I also have a greater appreciation for those beautiful words in Isaiah when the Lord promised… “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”
You see, there’s a lifetime of the sins that Jesus died for buried somewhere in my brain—or, at least at one time there was. I know that those sins were in there, because the ones I committed yesterday are there today. The ones I’ve already confessed and been forgiven for—I beat myself up for the next morning. A week later. A month. But the Lord has wiped them clean. I just keep smearing them back out there again as if to say, “But You don’t get how BAD I was.” Yeah. The arrogance, right? Because an almighty, holy God can’t possibly understand how sinful a sinner that He had to DIE to save from those sins… is. The arrogance? That’s an understatement.
But all those years before that horrible morning… gone. Maybe I stole something. I don’t know. It was forgiven, wiped clean, and then wiped from my memory. I can’t rehash it with the Lord over and over. I can’t drag it back up like a wife who won’t let her husband forget the one time he forgot her birthday. I can’t use it as a whip to beat myself up with. And I think there’s something beautiful in that.
Do I wish I could stop hurting my family with my blank past? Of course. But am I also grateful for a living picture of the fresh start the Lord gives His people at salvation? Definitely. I hope I never take it for granted again.

Blog Stops

June 15: Genesis 5020
June 15: Lane Hill House
June 16: The Scribbler
June 18: Carpe Diem
June 19: Quiet Quilter
June 20: Mommynificent
June 22: Remembrancy
June 23: Pause for Tales
June 24: Bigreadersite
June 25: Lots of Helpers
June 28: Just Jo’Anne
June 28: Henry Happens

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize that includes:
1 $25 Amazon Gift Card
1 Paperback Copy of None So Blind
1 Paperback Copy of Will Not See
1 Lampwork Necklace
1 Cool denim mini-backpack (to hold your stuff!)
1 Custom Travel Mug (with quote from book)
1 FREE eBook code to share with a friend!
Check out this cool video from Chautona: https://youtu.be/5K_cTjlg4S8
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/ba35

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Lessons from Ruth

Today the message at church was from Ruth.

It's one of my favorite books in the Bible. It truly has anything that a reader would want in a story. Drama. Death. Long, arduous journeys. Romance. Redemption.

It's also part of a study that I'll be working through with Proverbs 31 Ministries starting tomorrow. I love when God keeps bringing things up... it usually means I need to stand up and take notice.

Ruth had to choose to leave a familiar country and go somewhere that she wasn't familiar with... with her mother-in-law.

A mother-in-law who was self-described as "bitter".

Not my idea of a great trip, y'all.

But Ruth was faithful.

And Naomi was rewarded for her faithfulness.

Because Ruth chose to follow her, she was cared for.... and she was blessed.

Blessed with a new family line...

Blessed with a kinsman redeemer...

Blessed to nurse her grandbaby.

All because Ruth decided to take that unknown step.

Ruth means friend in Hebrew.

It can also be translated as a vision of beauty.

A true friend is a vision of beauty.

It's a beautiful thing to have someone in your corner.

I've been reading a lot about friendship and community and I am seeing the importance of having someone who you can relate to. Even though they were different, and ages apart, Ruth and Naomi could relate to one another. Ruth was a true friend, a companion to the end.

And because of this beautiful friendship, Naomi's bitterness turned into pleasant delight, just as her name had always indicated.

Tonight I'm reminded of several things from Ruth.

Don't be afraid to step out.

Love those around you even when it is hard.

If you don't have community, seek it out. As an introvert, I get that this is hard... but making yourself vulnerable and allowing others to be vulnerable with you opens up a true heart connection that can't be replaced.

Don't buy into your feelings. Don't allow what you don't have or what you can't do be your identity... instead, embrace who God says you are.

Be a friend in action. Be present. Walk with them.

And never think you're too old to see your redemption.

He's got a greater plan... and He's working it out for your good.

(For another take on this story, read this this blog from January 2016

Friday, June 23, 2017

Five Minute Friday- Steady

I've never been too coordinated.

Even at the almost 38, my legs are a testament to this... full of bruises in various colors from bumping into dressers and falling down.

Here's the thing, though... I don't always feel that clumsy. One of my favorite things to do as a young girl was to pretend I was an ice skater or gymnast. I'd skate across the living room carpet, light on my feet as I perfected turns to the cheers of the audience in my head.

And while I'm not athletic, I have learned to embrace activity.

Yesterday, I had even convinced myself that my balance had improved as I skirted across some wet rocks in the creek, light on my feet as the rain misted around me...

And then my foot slipped.

I found myself shaking my head at my confidence, because I had ALMOST convinced myself that I wasn't a clutz.

Granted, I caught myself, but I found myself going a tad bit slower as I maneuvered my way across the remaining creekbed.

And I thought how life is like that.

You can be flying along, coasting on your good luck and even standing on one leg...

and then you hit that slick spot, careening out of control.

The ONLY thing that can hold us is an inner balance...

an inner ability to right ourselves and stand a little straighter... pretending like we're a puppet and the puppeteer is holding the string straight up.

Steadying us by His peace... allowing His Spirit to help us right our balance.

Linking up today for Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes, unedited, on one prompt. Today's prompt- STEADY
(Image taken from Five Minute Friday website, as seen in picture).

His steadfast love endures forever, and He will hold us steady even as the waves of chaos and uncertainty knock us off balance.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Worth

There can be a lot of meaning in five little letters.

Take, for example, the word used for this week's Five Minute Friday prompt.


Worth can be related to an object.

It can be related to a task.

It can be related to a person.

One of my favorite phrases to tell students when they start nursing school is, "It'll be hard, but all that hard work will be worth it in the end."

Worth indicates value.

It indicates the willingness to sacrifice.

If you think someone is worth your time, you'll sacrifice in some other areas.

It's true that we live out our priorities.

When we value an activity or a person, we make time for it.

We determine the worth of something or someone based on how much we are willing to give for it...
 how much time. How much effort. How much money.

Too often we see the worth of others when perhaps they don't see it themselves...

and maybe don't see our own worth.

It's easy to look at someone else and think they are special, beautiful, talented, smart... you fill in the blank.

But you? And me?


We are worth more than we can ever know. God made each one of us a priceless masterpiece.

You're worth the Savior of the world giving up Heaven and taking on sin...

That's how much we're worth.


Linking up today with five minute Friday at www.fiveminutefriday.com, where we write for five minutes, unedited on a word prompt.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

For Such a Time as This... and That

Every now and again I get in a melancholy mood.

It usually always happens in the wintertime, when the days are short and the sun doesn't shine and it just always looks gray.

Occasionally, though, I get that way when everything seems to be going good.

Today was one of those days, just for a few minutes.

I had a great day. I went to Lexington with my Mamaw and Caleb and Aunt Lisa. We got to see my cousin Brandon's baby Scarlette and have lunch with him, the baby, his Mom and sister Alaina. Then, I actually napped in the sun for about an hour in my hammock before Vacation Bible School, where I spent two hours with some really awesome kiddos.

The rain held off just long enough for them to play their outside games and then we got blessed with a beautiful rainbow...

but I was still kind of blue when I came home.

Today I spent some time contemplating about how life isn't fair. I got teary-eyed thinking about Dennis not being able to see his grandbaby, and Scarlette not benefitting from hearing his hearty laugh. She's such a happy little thing, with soft skin and kissable cheeks. I know he would have fallen in love.

And then I thought about how unfair it is that kids get cancer. As I watched Colton Ritchie dance at VBS and listened to his twin brother Jaiden lead us in a Bible verse that said in all things we are more than conquerors, I got tears in my eyes again.

Y'all.  Life stinks sometimes, that's for sure.

And sometimes it's easy to question God, and I think He's ok with us wondering why things have to be the way they are, because while he's all about blind faith, He's also crazy in love with us.

And the truth of the matter is that some of us are just flat out lucky...

lucky that we're born in a place that has running water and enough food to eat.

The only difference between me and someone barely scraping by is God's grace.

And it's not because I'm special.

I wish I could explain why some people seem to have it easy and some struggle every single day of their life...

but all I can do is think about the story I talked about on Tuesday night. Esther was an orphan who ended up being a Queen. A Queen that saved her people.

She had been put through those circumstances, everything that she faced, for just that moment.

We are all living in our difficult circumstances for such a time as this, to show God's wonder and to proclaim His glory and to win others to His kingdom.

For such a time as this...

we were made to love and trust and live every day as if it's our last.

For such a time as this...

we were made to help others and be kind and do our best.

For such a time as this...

We may not understand, but when we finally make it, we'll see it clearly, and we'll say...

"Oh.  That's what that was all about."

Or we may not even care because we'll be so in awe...

We're living for such a time as this...

to get ready for such a time as that. When there is no time and no death and no crying and eyes haven't seen and ears haven't heard and we can't even imagine what it's like.

Such a Time...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Consignment Thinking

Today we met Kami in London (Kentucky!) and picked up Riggins. We got there a little early so decided to go to the Vender's Mall.

I love Vender's (or Peddlers or whatever they may be called) Malls because you seriously have no idea what you will come across.

Today, though, as we roamed up and down the aisles, looking for a "bus" for Melody to play with, I started thinking about the items on the shelves.

As I gazed at the chipped crockpot with the lid placed on it askew, I thought of the young housewife who may have received that as a wedding gift. How she may have anxiously tried out a recipe passed down from her grandmother and sat across from her husband, holding her breath as he took his first bite. Did she get it right? Is it even edible?

The set of porcelain dishes lined with flowers may have served some ladies group, or been used for a fancy tea party for a grandmamma and her grandchildren.

All of those Barbies had entertained some little girl for hours and hours, changing their clothes and brushing their hair and getting them ready for a date with Ken.

Those books had fascinated some little girls as she hovered under her covers with a flashlight on because her Mom told her to turn off the lights.

Some of those objects had happy memories attached to them, but many of them may carry negative significance- they are no longer treasure because of divorce or death or a necessary move.

Some of the stuff may seem like junk to the shopper... and maybe to the owner, since they were selling it...

but to others it truly is treasure, because of the memories associated with it.

And honestly, sometimes we are like those objects. Easily tossed aside and forgotten. Full of painful memories, so it's easier just to get rid of us. Maybe you feel like that... maybe somebody has hurt you or rejected you recently and you find yourself asking why.

Here's the thing... those objects that were tossed aside? Put up for sale? Someone will stumble upon it and put it to use again. The crockpot may help a down on his luck college student have something semi-homemade as he studies for finals. There will be new little girls having tea parties and brushing Barbies hair. Those books will transport someone else to a magical land.

Things that may seem as though they have little to no value, but somebody will always find a use for something. If you don't believe me, you've never visited my Papaw Paul's basement, where he kept hundreds of bread ties because "you never knew when you might need them".

And like those objects with seemingly no value, you have value.  You are valuable more than you know!!! And you'll never be a hand me down or cast off!

As I type this, I'm looking around my living room. There's the teddy bear that Caleb brought me home for Christmas, a Mission of Hope giveaway that he was so proud of. A conch shell my Uncle Greg brought Caleb home from the beach. A Longaberger basket Wallace surprised me with. My Bybee pottery is more than just pottery... I can't look at it without thinking of standing in line with Mom outside of the shop early in the morning, and the eeriness we felt driving the morning after 9/11.

So the next time you stop into a consignment shop or visit a yard sale, stop to think about those objects that have been cast away. Think about the people who they belonged to, who cherished them... and maybe say a prayer for them.

And then snatch up whatever bargain you can and give it a place of significance.

And whenever you are sitting uncomfortably at a meeting or at school or standing in the line at the grocery story, see that person next to you as a treasure, too...

You never know what you may find.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Fathers

(Image courtesy of The Broke and Bookish blog, where I'm linking up for their Top Ten Tuesday.

I was excited when I saw this prompt because Father's Day is coming up and I've got one of the best dads out there.

Plus, my love of reading was in a sense fostered by my Grandpa Paul, who voraciously read everything he could get his hands on.

The prompt involved honoring fathers somehow, whether it be best advice from a literary father, best or worst father figure, best books with a father mentioned...

And as I pondered all of the books I've read (and that's A LOT), I realized something.

I read a lot of chick lit.

A lot of literature centered around the relationships between mothers and daughters and coworkers and friends...

but not much with strong father figures.

Off the top of my head, here's the list of favorite fathers I could come up with:

1. Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird), because he is raising Scout and her brother on his own with the help of their aunt, and he stands for all that is good and right in this world. I hear Go Set a Watchman paints him in a different light, and to be honest, that's one of the reasons I've not read the book.
2. Gerald O'Hara (Gone with the Wind)- because this is my favorite book of all times and he's such a lively little thing. He loves Scarlett with a passion and loves Tara and teaches Scarlett the importance of loving her land.
3. Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind)- bet you didn't see that one coming. He's known for his love affair with Scarlett, but he was a doting father to Bonnie Blue and when tragedy struck he near couldn't stand it.
4. Pa Wilder (Little House series)- He made sure his family was protected and loved his girls. Also I loved this TV series, so I always picture calm and serene Michael Landon as Laura runs to him, braids flying.
5. Nancy Drew's father- I don't even remember his name, I just know that he made sure she was recognized time and time again.

And that's it.
Seriously, y'all. 
I couldn't think of another book with a strong dad figure.
I know they are out there.
I know I've read them.
Nothing sticks out...

but t google was full of ideas, so I browsed

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Bucket List

2017, as you know if you frequent this space much, has been designated my year to live. I chose that word to guide my year because I often felt as though I was going through the motions, and I wanted to do more.

To be more.

So I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone (a little) and experience life to the fullest. After all, that's what Jesus said He came for... so that we may have life to the fullest... the abundant life.

Last night I was thinking of my newfound zest for life and I had this thought.

I'm living like I'm dying.

Because, honestly, we all are.

We are told our lives are but a vapor, and we never know when that vapor will be gone...

so, as I strive to fit in as much life as I can, I truly am living to experience all I can because my life here will eventually be terminal.

This is not my final destination... but there's a lot it has to offer while I'm making my temporary stay.

Here's what I'd love to do as I really live...
I created this list a few years ago on a piece of notebook paper. As you can see, I've been blessed to do some of the things.

Mostly, though, in addition to this list...

I want my life to be reflective of Jesus Christ, and when I take my last breath, I want those who knew me to say that I somehow made their lives better.

That's my ultimate bucket list item...

but this stuff would all be pretty awesome=)

1. Be multilingual.
Taking a Spanish class in the fall

2. Grand Canyon
Visited on 7/22/14 while at a nursing conference in Arizona. Jenna Boothe, Donna Combs, Gwen Collins, Pat Herald, Christy Martin, Sherry Woods, Tammy Bailey& Ludrenia Hagans-Shepherd.

3. Put my feet in the Pacific Ocean- I've been to the Atlantic but have heard the Pacific is beautiful.

4. Hot air balloon ride- I've always been fascinated with hot air balloons.

5. Get my doctorate.
Completed through Western Kentucky University in May, 2017

6. Run a 5K - I know this doesn't sound that ambitious, with so many people doing marathons, but I'm learning life really isn't a competition, and I'm not a runner. So, start small...
I've walked a 5K, but really would like to run it. Maybe sometime in the fall.

7. Learn to play piano. I took lessons as a kid, but didn't practice. And it's hard. And you have to think a lot...
Started piano lessons in 2017

8. Crochet- My Mamaw Bert has crocheted for years, and even though I'm not the least bit crafty, I'd love to do this just to have some connection with her.

9. Time Square on New Year's Eve- Just because I think it'd be awesome.

10. parasail- Wallace, Kami, Allie, & Landry- North Duck Watersports- 6/16/11- I was a nervous wreck but loved it!!! And we had lots of good laughs when Kami, Allie, and Landry went up!

11. Go on a mission trip

12. Zipline
Wallace and I- Red River Gorge Zipline 7/14/12- Again, I was nervous but enjoyed it. I wish I was a little more adventurous, but I'm not.

13. Write a book for Caleb

14. Write a book for others- fiction, nonfiction... I'm not sure. I just love to write.

15. Superbowl- Preferably watching the Steelers

16. Appalachian Trail- this would be a long time away... because I'd definitely have to get in much better shape!!! But this trail fascinates me!

17. Beth Moore live- I love to listen to Beth Moore, and working on her Bible studies was one of the things God used to help me fall in love with his Word. She's a dynamic speaker, and I was blessed to get to attend with a group from Providence Pentecostal Church in August 2012

18. Europe- Ideally, France, England, and Italy

19. Final Four
Wallace and I watched UK win! in the first round of the Final Four, 4/4/14- Arlington, Texas- but then we had to be back in town for work on Monday morning so we watched them lose the championship at home. What an experience, though!!!!

20. Cruise- Just because I've heard these are great vacation options and most people who I've talked to who have been on one have loved it.

21. Kentucky Derby- Because I'm from Kentucky!!

22. Steelers game- 12/23/12- Heinz Field- Wallace, Caleb, Kami, and I watched the Steelers lose to the Bengals. At halftime, they honored members of the team from the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.

23. Visit all 50 states
24. Visit all 120 counties in Kentucky- I'm working on this one!!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Five Minute Friday: EXPECT

I'm not one to step out of my comfort zone.

I don't like change.

I don't like not knowing.

I like to plan, even though I'm not always great at following through.

Let's just face it.

I like to know what to expect.

Expectations can be confusing, though.

They can actually be damaging...

because too often I develop unrealistic expectations.

For myself.

For time.

For those around me...

And I don't always communicate these expectations, so the other person has no idea why I'm suddenly mad at them because something doesn't go how I had planned.

Crazy, huh?

So this year, in my year to "live", I've really been challenging myself.

To expect the unexpected.

To expect that I'll be disappointed.

To expect that change will come, even though I don't like it, and I'll have to adapt.

But also to expect beautiful things.

To expect happy.

To expect joy, each day...

because while my expectations may not always be realistic, I can always respond to the reality.

I can learn to embrace what it really is, not what I may want.

To appreciate the here and now, not mourn what wasn't.

To expect to live life to the fullest...

because sadly, even though we expect it, we aren't always promised tomorrow.

And we shouldn't allow those false expectations kill the beauty of today.

Writing today and linking up with Five Minute Fridays, where we write for five minutes, unedited, on one prompt. This week's prompt?

 (Picture courtesy of FMF website, as noted on the picture).
Click on over to read lots of great thoughts!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Secrets of Southern Girls: A Review


My take:
This is a delightful story that puts the reader through the spectrum of human emotions.
Because I love all things Southern, I was enthusiastic to start reading this...
but found myself set in busy Manhattan. The main character, Julie is living there trying to move along from her past.
She is a wonderfully developed character who feels like a girl who could be a good friend if she didn't hold herself so aloof. Her aloofness is understood, though, because she carries the guilt of Reba, her childhood best friend's death and is afraid to get close to anyone. Anyone but her daughter...
Her daughter is a cute and smart little thing that made me smile.
The story is advanced with excerpts from Reba's diary.
This book is a suspenseful write that kept me on the edge of my seat, but is well written with short chapters that keep the reader engaged.
I'd highlight recommend it for anyone who enjoys suspense novels!!!
I received a copy of this book from netgalley.com and this is my honest review.
Professional Reader

About the book:
In Secrets of Southern Girls, the powerful, affecting debut from Haley Harrigan, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed…

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back.

Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.

In fact, she may not be responsible at all.

Haley Harrigan graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in creative writing and public relations. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband. Secrets of Southern Girls is her debut.  Visit her website at www.haleyharrigan.com or on Twitter @HCHarrigan.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Love Among the Lilacs- June 6

My take:
Mollie is a doll!  She's been through a lot in her life, but has managed to scrape by. She's finally got to a better place, but is threatened when the deal on her house falls through. She's not one to give up, though...
I loved the neighbors in Grady Cove, and Aunt Genevieve is a jewel. Mollie finds herself believing that family could be possible. Sean, well... he's the kind of guy that you kind of want to shake.
This novel pulled on my heart strings and had me rooting for all the characters, which is sometimes hard. Definitely a must read for anyone who loves a story about people overcoming hard knocks!  I'd highly recommend.
I did receive a complimentary copy of this book to review through Celebrate Lit.  This is an honest review. This book is one I would have purchased and I will be checking out other books by this author.

Book title: Love Among the Lilacs
Author: Jenna Victoria
Release date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Sweet romance
Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?

Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1955, Jenna has yet to taste a cake she hasn’t liked.
Jenna writes books for readers who enjoy sweet & compelling romances, and also for those who look for her “fiction that feeds your faith” titles – happily-ever-after romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt & takes down names… and those that feature satisfying fairy-tale-endings.
Her clean romances won’t put you into a diabetic coma, and her faith-based romances aren’t preachy or unrealistic. It is her glad purpose to glorify God and His sacrificial love through His Son, Jesus Christ through books that illustrate hope & peace in unbearable situations. Her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 has led to surgeries, radiation, reoccurrences and incurable metastasis. Still, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books.

I am thrilled you will be introducing my newest novel, Love Among the Lilacs, to your readers and visitors through CelebrateLit. I am excited to share this sweet love story with quirky characters who hijacked the plot mid-stream, and took me places I did not anticipate!
So – Why Love Among the Lilacs? I chose the title and a subplot regarding lilacs for one reason – I absolutely adore the scent! The fact that a lilac’s bloom is so fleeting, makes their fragrance that much more memorable and anticipated.

Mollie Wright anticipates something too – finally buying her own home, Lilac Cottage, after a childhood of homelessness. Genevieve Carter, one of the two elderly sellers, leaves her a note of welcome next to a small bouquet of lilacs in Mollie’s new bedroom, after the closing. This helps readers experience Genevieve’s spirit of generosity. Isn’t the bedroom phone antique? The sisters lived in the cottage for more than 50 years, and changed little of its amenities.
How did I choose to write about Mollie? What if a character dreamed and saved and finally bought a house after a childhood of homelessness? Then, due to a real estate closing error and interference by the seller’s great-nephew, her sweet cottage ownership is in real peril. Dare she hope for a positive outcome?

Attorney Sean Grady didn’t want his maternal great-aunts, who lovingly raised him and his younger brother Mark, to sell Lilac Cottage. After a rookie mistake led to a tragedy when he was an associate at his family law firm, Sean decided to concentrate on elder law. He’s seen plenty of abuse of the elderly in his ten year career, and something about Mollie Write doesn’t sit well with him.
Mollie finds support from her neighbors – including long retired Emily Rogers (Genevieve’s BFF) who often visits Lilac Cottage’s back garden through this connecting gate. It’s so beautiful! She reveals her profession which is perfectly suited to Mollie’s needs. We see selfless giving and stalwart friendship in Emily’s character.

Mollie has secrets to hide, and a far away half-brother and Mother who aren’t exactly upstanding members of society.
When her half-brother unexpectedly surfaces, bringing a mountain of trouble with him, the budding love between Sean and Mollie takes a hard tumble.

The theft of an antique necklace, Sean’s renewed lack of trust and Mollie’s shame at her past – not to mention final outcome of legal decisions – pull them further apart.

The intervention of others gives Mollie and Sean a chance at reconciliation – but is it too late? Can they finally unpack and empty baggage from their past?

I hope you enjoy Love Among the Lilacs as much as I did writing it!

Happy Reading!

p.s. my selected giveaway, an authentic Coach Disney X Mickey Mouse accordian zip wallet in glovetanned leather was chosen to represent the transformation of Mollie’s negative childhood experiences into memories of acceptance and joy among the trials.

Blog Stops

May 26: Carpe Diem

To celebrate her tour, Jenna is giving away a grand prize of an authentic, new in unopened gift box Coach zipper accordion leather wallet – from their Disney X collection (Value $140.00)!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b673

Monday, June 5, 2017

Return to Huckleberry Hill- June 5

My take:
Reuben is a forlorn young man who has been jilted... for his best friend.
His best friend's sister, Fern feels awful about the situation.
His grandmother is determined to find him a good wife, and his best friend's sister is happy to help with the matchmaking.
The two decide to form a knitting group so that Reuben will have lots of young ladies to socialize with as they visit his grandmother's house.
I loved how Reuben's pride was seen as such an issue... too often he was convinced others would judge him because he had been abandoned for his best friend, but they really didn't see it as being a big deal.
I loved his elderly grandmother, as well.
Fern is a likeable character who truly has his best interests at heart.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction with a little bit of romance.
I've never read other books set in Huckleberry Hill but believe I will give them a try.
I did receive a complimentary book for giving an honest review through Celebrate Lit. This is my honest opinion.


Book: Return to Huckleberry Hill
Author: Jennifer Beckstrand
Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance
Release Date: May 30, 2017
When it comes to matchmaking, Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s unstoppable octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never seem to run out of opportunities—or grandchildren…
Reuben Helmuth is plenty bitter. John King, his best friend—or so he thought—is engaged to the girl Reuben loved. Humiliated, Reuben flees from Ohio to his grandparents’ home on Huckleberry Hill, where he knows he’ll find comfort. He’s enjoying wallowing in his misery—until John’s sister, Fern, shows up. She won’t stop pestering Reuben about forgiveness—or trying to help him find love again. Yet Fern’s efforts only reawaken Reuben’s long-buried feelings—for her…
With her brother too ashamed to face Reuben, it’s fallen to Fern to help mend fences. But as she and the Helmuths do all they can—even organizing a knitting club event filled with eligible girls—it may take one more challenge to inspire Reuben to forget his heartache, recognize his own blunders, and embrace the true love that’s right in front of him…


Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hillseries and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth and the Honeybee sisters’ aendi Bitsy. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a passion for Jane Austen and Shakespeare. She and her husband have been married for thirty-two years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and soon-to-be six adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Anna Helmuth and Fern King decide to start a knitting club in order to introduce Anna’s grandson Reuben to some girls from Bonduel, Wisconsin. Anna is a very good knitter, with years of practice making baby blankets, scarves, mittens, and potholders. One of Anna’s scarves actually saved someone’s life, and her potholders have helped her make many a match.
When I was a young teenager, I learned how to knit and crochet. My mom taught me how to sew and quilt, and I made several of my own dresses in high school. I never learned to love sewing, but it was an invaluable skill that I am so grateful to have. Now that I’m a little older, I love putting together simple quilts for baby gifts and making quilts for the local children’s hospital. There is nothing like a homemade gift to say, “I care about you.”
I have a friend who is a wonderful cook. Making a delicious, beautiful meal is how she tells her family she loves them. I don’t consider myself a great cook, but I still take pride in putting something nutritious and satisfying on the table for my family.
It seems to me that some of the “home arts” that our mothers and grandmothers practiced are dying out. Who knows how to tat anymore? Or embroider? Some of these arts have died because of expediency. Who doesn’t think today’s stocking choices are more comfortable and practical than knitted wool ones? Others have died out because so few people want to learn.
What about you? Do you still practice any of the home arts that your grandmother did? What do you want to pass on to the next generation?

Blog Stops

May 24: A Greater Yes
May 25: Just Commonly
May 30: Quiet Quilter

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card to three lucky winners!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b3b2

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What I Read in May

I read somewhere that in order to read more books, you should read more than one book at a time. I had always been the kind of reader where I was reading more than one book at a time, but in recent years I've went a little overboard.

I think it's great to read more than one book... but you have to be able to keep them separate, and also if you get into one, keep reading. Don't stop just because you haven't read something else for a while.

I only read 10 books in May, which is a little unusual for me because this is the time of year when my "work" wasn't as heavy... but I've been busy "living" and being more intentional with family time, meaning my reading has been whenever I can sneak it in.

And there's also the case of Netflix, which I can somewhat blame on reading, because Kami bought me the Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girl fame's biography, and told me not to start reading until I had watched enough to be able to understand... and I also have a devotional centered on Gilmore Girls with the first entry focusing on an episode from season 6. I'm on Season 5...

But I digress.

What I read in May:
1. Their Life's Work-This one was about the glory days of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Started it a long time ago but decided to finish it when Dan Rooney died. 
2. All Things New-This one is a Bible study by Kelly Minter about 2 Corinthians. Loved it!! 
3. A More Beautiful Question-This book is a nonfiction book about questioning to learn and discover new things. A great read for someone looking to discover new ways of looking at life and any problems they may have. 
4. Hidden Figures- I started this one in January because the movie version was coming out. I ended up watching the movie first, but I really enjoyed this insight into the Race to Space and the role Black American women played in the achievements made. Great read!
5. Fear Fighting- I was on the launch team for this book and read the book, but it had a study guide included, so I didn't officially finish it until this month, because I worked through the study guide chapter by chapter. You can read my thoughts on this book here- Living Fearless
6. Renovating the Richardsons- This was the second in the Goose Creek series and I loved it. It's set in central Kentucky, has enjoyable characters, and has enough romance thrown it to make it a fun read. I'm getting ready to start the third book in the series.
7. The Broken Way- This is Ann Voskamp's second book. I often feel as though she can read my mind. I really enjoyed this book, and have embraced the concept of living my life as a gift.
8. The Broken Way Study Guide- This was the accompanying book, and one that went along with video sessions. I watched the video sessions earlier in the year when they were free through a book study, making notes as I went, and then later went back and finished the other questions and read the rest of the book.
9. The Cherry Cheesecake Murder- Another book by Joanne Fluke. Another fun read. Same funny protagonist. Same frisky feline. New delicious recipes (not that I've ever tried them!)
10. 13 Reasons Why- I decided to start this one because of all of the recent hoopla on social media after the book was made into a Netflix series. My plan was to read a chapter, then watch the corresponding episode on Netflix, but I just went ahead and read the book. I'm currently on episode 11 out of 13. The series is a little hard to watch because it does have much sexual content and foul language. The book isn't as bad, but there is still some sexual content. I thought it was important for me to know what it was about, though, being the parent of a teenager, and I can say that it is honestly pretty accurate, sadly. Teenage suicide is a hot topic and as parents we must be diligent in maintaining open communication with our kids.

So... what's on your to read list? I've got to finish the 40 books I've already started, but June means I visit old friends like Gone with the Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird. And the other to reads?

Limitless!!!! Stacks upon stacks virtually on my kindle and on my bookshelfs... so I'm going to go read.

As soon as I finish the last two episdoes of 13 Reasons Why

2017 Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge
A book recommended by a librarian
A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long- Girl on the Train
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-The Story Keeper
A book with multiple authors
An espionage thriller
A book with a cat on the cover- The Cat That Went Bump in the Night
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- The Yellow Envelope
A book with a subtitle- Zip It: The Keep it Shut 40-Day Challenge
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- The Cherry Cheesecake Murder
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- Hidden Figures
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- The Most Famous Illegal Parade in Goose Creek
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- 13 Reasons Why
A book based on mythology    

Friday, June 2, 2017

FMF Future

It's hard to believe it is already June, 2017.

I've been a bit nostalgic lately...

I'll have a kiddo starting high school in the fall, and Wallace is no longer coaching, and I'm busy working with others to plan a 20th year high school reunion, so I've really been thinking a lot about where I am in life.

Plus, the word of the year is "live" and that's what I've been trying to do.

When I teach about growth and development I realize that my age centers me in young adulthood, but I feel more in tune with middle adulthood, which is generativity vs. stagnation... where I'm starting to look toward developing the younger generation, because I have tried my best (and continue to try) to do that every day.

Everyone is a beginner at something, and needs a mentor...

And I think of how quickly these next few years will fly by, and then I'll be in that older adult stage, where my goal will be to maintain ego integrity and not have despair, looking back on my life and feeling like I've contributed.

I've tried to live in the present, but I also realize that there is something lurking just around the corner.

I have to prepare for it, knowing it is uncertain.

We don't know what tomorrow holds, so we have to live in this moment preparing for it.

How we treat others today will impact how they will treat us tomorrow.

The story we write today will affect our happy ending.

Each small act is like a rock thrown in a still stream, causing a ripple effect that will push water into the bank.

Our legacies, what others think of us in days to come, are what we are living today...

The future isn't all that far away... so make today count.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes on one prompt, unedited, unscripted...

Today's post? FUTURE (Image from FMF webpage in the above link...)

Make the most of your today so your tomorrow will be brighter...