Friday, March 29, 2013

Love in the Balance: an Engaging Historical

Love in the Balance is a tale of star-crossed love...a tale where it seems the hero and heroine can absolutely never get together. There are so many rich layers, that it created a story that kept calling me back. There was nothing simple or easy about the journey or the resolution. And the twists kept me longing to return to the pages -- that's not easy to do with a book that is pretty much straight historical romance.

The characters started a wee bit flat, but became richer and more complex as the story developed. While it's the second in the series, it stands completely on its own. A very good thing, since I hadn't read the first book (though I want to.). The hero is a lay preacher of sorts, and a couple scenes with a couple that had experienced a miscarriage were very touching. As someone who's lived that journey, I appreciated the sensitive treatment of an unseen pain. This book also ends with one of the most beautiful scenes of redemption and healing that I have ever read. It was wonderful!

A book that lovers of historical romance will enjoy...and maybe find themselves challenged by the spiritual journey and questions that fill the pages.
Love in the Balance
Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon.
How’s a Girl to Choose?
Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey’s poor prospects, she just can’t fit the two dreams together.
Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town–and her life–and for the first time Molly wonders if she’s met the man who can give her everything. But he won’t be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can’t quite get Bailey out of her mind.
What’s a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

4 Ideas for Transmitting Faith

One of my goals as a homeschooling momma is to transmit my faith to my kids. I want them to have a personal relationship with Christ from a young age. But I also understand they can't ride on my coattails, or my husband's or their grandparents, or aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  You get the picture.

So I long for them to catch sight of who Jesus is so they can spend the rest of their lives chasing Him and His will for their lives.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let in snow, let it snow!

Who knew it would snow so much for my birthday... Loving it.

Isn't this a great photo of our puppy? She LOVES the snow. Capital letters doesn't quite do her affection for the white, cold, wet stuff justice. She won't come in she loves it so much. She's catching a snowball in this photo. Love it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Soak in the Truth

No matter what your week has been like, take a moment to soak in this song. I am so grateful that God never leaves me...not for a moment. I might forsake Him, but He is always there. Such truth and hope in these words. Remember no matter what is happening He is always good and sovereign.

You were singing in the dark 
whispering Your promise 
even when I could not hear 
I was held in Your arms 
carried for a thousand miles to show 
Not for a moment did You forsake me 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Swept Away from Mary Connealy

Swept Away

Mary Connealy is one of my favorite authors. She's from Nebraska which is enough on it's own to make her someone I enjoy. Then she writes with such humor that I spend most of the time I'm reading laughing. And she fills her books with  a rich spiritual thread. Many of them I still ponder months and years later.

With deadlines, I haven't had time to read this book yet, but it is next on my TBR pile. And I know when I start it, I'll be swept away in a story that transports me to the 1880s and characters that I love.


When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there’s going to be trouble in Texas!

Swept away when her wagon train

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Grave Consequences: Sweeping Gilded Age Tale

Grave ConsequencesGrave Consequences is a book that will sweep you into the world of the uber-rich during the Gilded Age. I felt like I became the silent member of a group of Americans on their Grand Tour of Europe. The book is a sweeping continuation of the series and one that left me dying for the next installment...enough so I've been tempted to drive to Colorado and beg the author for an early copy.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series!

The Powerful, Epic Romance Continues, Book 2 in Lisa T. Begren’s Grand Tour series

For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future—her very life—depends on the decisions she’ll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Meditations: The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock

Yesterday our pastor taught another sermon in his series The Crux. It's been a great set of thought-provoking sermons as we lead up to the moment in time when the Cross transformed from a sign of contempt and justice to one of grace and mercy. (You can watch the great trailer here)

Yesterday Pastor Ted talked about the two houses at the conclusion of Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 7. Now does anyone else groan a bit? Think you've thought about every piece of that story? I'll admit, I stifled a groan. What's there to know about a story I've known since I could sing the song in Sunday School? Sing it with me, "The wise man built his house upon the rock..."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Building Our Faith...

God has been challenging me for a little over a year to stretch my vision. Today I wanted to share a short clip with you that highlights how God builds and stretches our faith. Mark Batterson's book the Circle Maker is a great book to read if you want to have your faith and vision exploded. And be challenged to pray with God for bigger things. Have any of you read the book? What did you think?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Show v. Tell: 4 Tips from Author Jordyn Redwood

Today I'm delighted to have Jordyn Redwood join me with a guest post on how to write show v. tell. As you'll see below, this is something I believe she did with excellence in her new novel Poison. It's also why I asked her if she'd like to write a post to share. Without further ado, here's Jordyn:

Because the great Cara Putman asked me to do this—am I doing this—but let me first say I am hardly an expert on show versus tell—every writing teacher’s admonition for every storyteller out there. In fact, I was quite shocked when Cara said she was taking notes on some passages in Poison because she thought they were good examples of showing. I am still hoping she will tell me exactly which ones so I can admirer my own amazing work because I was that surprised.

Showing versus telling can definitely be learned (after all, I did it and was never an English major) so don’t go over the writer’s cliff Thelma and Louise style if some of these points don’t hit home. I am still learning some of the more advanced points myself and that’s a mark of a true writer—always desiring to learn more.

The concept of showing could also be described as Deep POV. I think these concepts are honestly interchangeable. So if you hear one—think of the other.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Swept Away: The Latest from Mary Connealy

This week, the

is introducing

Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2013)



When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there's going to be trouble in Texas!

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won't let it go without a fight. Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can't just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she's going to have to go with him.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Meditations: The Crux of the Issue

Easter is only a few weeks away...and our pastor has been delivering a series of sermons on the Cross -- how it is the crux of our lives. This week I've been thinking about how the Cross really is the point where everything is exchanged:

  • Our sin is exchanged for God's grace
  • Jesus' death is exchanged for our eternal life.
  • In Jesus' coming resurrection we find the gateway to being joint-heirs with Him.
  • Because of the cross we can be adopted by God.
  • Our pain is exchanged for healing.
  • Where justice demands punishment, God extends mercy
  • Sin is exchanged for a life dedicated to serving our heavenly King. 
  • A life of despair is exchanged for one of hope everlasting.
We can stand in the shadows peering into the throneroom, or we can step in boldly because of the cross and accept all that He extends. I want to step into the fullness of the inheritance made possible by the cross. Are we ready to reach out and accept all that is offered by the cross? 

What would you add to my list of things the cross and Jesus' willingness to die on it transforms? 

Friday, March 08, 2013

Developing a Love of Reading in Your Young Children

Periodically I get asked questions about how my children became lovers of books. Look for several posts that address what I did, starting with tiny kids otherwise known as infants and toddlers.

1) When my kiddos are infants I started by reading to them any moment we were sitting down. Before they could sit up or hold the book, we'd cuddle in a rocking chair with a pile of board books. There are an amazing assortment of books, but here are a few I love to this day:  

  • Goodnight Moon, 
  • Guess How Much I Love You,
  • Dr. Seuss' A, B, C
  • Barnyard Dance, and 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Robin Caroll's latest book: Strand of Deception

This week, the

is introducing

B&H Books (March 1, 2013)


I had the privilege of reading this book as Robin was writing it. We also brainstormed different pieces. So I got to watch this book grow into the wonderful story it is. This is one of her best! Truly, it takes on a scientific issue, the court system, and suspense. What's not to like? Throw in romance, and this is a great read. If you haven't read any of Robin's books yet, this is a GREAT one to start with. And if you're already a fan, I can about guarantee you'll love this one, too.


When Gina Ford, the daughter of a prominent Tennessee politician, goes missing from the University of Memphis a week after another girl was murdered on the same campus, police call in the FBI. Nick Hagar, married to his job as Special Agent in Charge, is assigned to the case, and when Gina’s body is found, her father demands justice.

Maddie Baxter is the forensic expert running DNA tests from the crime scene. When they come back without a match, Nick asks her to do a familial DNA run that yields a shocking result: the prime suspect is Adam Alexander, the very same guy who broke Maddie’s heart when she was in college.

But do scientific advancements tell the whole story? Strand of Deception offers romance, suspense, and a lively debate about the impact of DNA testing, for better or worse, on the United States justice system.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Strands of Deception, go HERE.


Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin’s mother, bless her heart, is a genealogist who instilled in Robin the deep love of family and pride of heritage—two aspects Robin weaves into each of her books.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty-plus years, her 3 beautiful daughters, 2 precious grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home—in the South, where else?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Homeschooling Tips: to Test or not to Test

This week students across Indiana are taking the ISTEPS.

This week, my children are taking the Iowa Basics.

Indiana does not require testing for homeschooled children, so why are we doing it?

I don't believe the point of education is to test my children. However, I do believe that testing them periodically (about every two years) provides me with a tool to see how I am doing as a teacher. Are there areas that are weaknesses? Are there areas where I may not be challenging my children enough? It provides me with a tool that allows me to determine if I'm seeing my children's academic progress accurately.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Moonlight Masquerade Review

Julie Klassen turned me into a Regency fan -- I discovered I loved the time of Jane Austen's England, but alas Julie only writes one book a year. With Moonlight Masquerade, Ruth Axtell joins this time period...and does so with an eye on the details that I was transported into this tale of impossible love and forbidden longing.

Take a French emigre who is the widow of British nobility and add in a British foreign office employee who is posing as her butler and you have a recipe for a book filled with tension. Add in a dash of spying, a pinch of counter-espionage, and a dollop of  intrigue stirred with a generous helping of interest in each other and it created a recipe for a book that drew me happily to its pages.

Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are the cat or the mouse.

Friday, March 01, 2013

More of You, Lord

This morning I wanted to share a couple things that are bubbling in my spirit. I seem to be in a season where God is challenging me to dare to ask more of Him. And it's a season where the thought wearies me. 

How terrible is that? God dares me to ask for more. And all I can think is "God, I'm just too  tired." Maybe that's why my eyes want to fill with tears every time I take a breath today. My heart's cry has always been to live more for Him, to live big for Him. And now I can't find the energy to ask for it...when I have the invitation.

I want to live a life that dares to dream those God-sized dreams that scare me to death. The ones where I know, but for God it is impossible.


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