Thursday, August 10, 2017

Picture a Day - Wild Yarrow

The yarrow in our garden is one of my favorite plants.  In the wild, it's just as pretty.

Picture a Day - Oreo Cows

While the picture is not great...the subjects are pretty cool.  We were traveling down the highway in the Hill Country, at a pretty good clip, when what to my wondering eyes should appear...Oreo Cows!  Who knew?  Never heard of them before, but they are pretty catchy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Picture a Day - Old Rusty Car

Last December, we went on a road trip into states I had never been to.  This rusty old car was by the roadside in Arkansas.  Love the colors and the home behind it...kind of captures some of the sights we saw along the way.    

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Picture a Day - Country Roads

I love driving down old country roads.  You never know what you will happen upon.  We came across this interesting scene in Ennis, TX during bluebonnet season last year. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Picture a Day - The Old Barn

What is it about an old barn that catches my eye?  If I had my druthers, I'd probably stop at everyone I pass and take pictures.  

Love the weathered wood and the metal roofing that's rusting set against the gray winter sky.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

First Timothy – Becoming a Good Minister of Christ Jesus – by Gregory Brown – A Timely Word and Study for Today

Pastor Gregory Brown presented me with the opportunity to read his most recent Bible study, the Bible Teacher’s Guide in the book of First Timothy – Becoming a Good Minister of Christ Jesus.

Once again, Pastor Brown has done an excellent and thorough job of expositional teaching of the Bible.  Going verse by verse, he helps the reader/student to understand Scripture in context.  He uses Scripture to interpret Scripture.

He’s deals straight with the truth and the Bible is the standard by which he measures truth or falsehood and right and wrong.  It’s clear he desires that the church be equipped to know and teach God’s Word and live it out in their daily lives.  He asks hard questions, challenges Christians to examine themselves and be serious about their faith. 

I found the questions throughout the book to be challenging, sobering and very convicting.  He doesn’t shy away from dealing with topics that are controversial in today’s culture.  He uses Scripture, Old Testament and New Testament, to back up his assertions and interpretations. 

First Timothy – Becoming a Good Minister of Christ Jesus by Pastor Gregory Brown is an excellent book and resource for Bible study.  It would be a great help to prepare someone who is going to be leading a study, or for group or individual study.

I highly recommend Pastor Gregory Brown’s newest Bible study, First Timothy – Becoming a Good Minister of Christ Jesus. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

An Unexpected Journey

The day our family grew by one
So very unexpected, certainly not planned
Not pregnant, but it’s every bit as exciting

We thought we would welcome into our home
For a few weeks one summer
An orphan from a land far away

Little did we know
Our hearts would be knit together as one
Our children would embrace this precious child

This little one had a hard beginning
While still so young, was now alone
But LORD willing, not for long

Far too soon the day would come
When we had to send this young one back
This child whom we’ve come to love

What better way to celebrate and remember
Than a picnic, together as a family
On a beautiful warm summer day

Of course, we took pictures to remember
When we beheld the photos in our hands
We knew, this child was meant to become our own

Sadly, the day came for a tearful goodbye
We embraced, declared our love
Made promises to write and stay in touch

Thus, our unexpected journey began
Covered with prayer
Dependent upon the wisdom and guidance of God

We will rely on the support of family and friends
The loving care of our dear church family
As we walk the path of adoption, one step at a time

Seemingly endless paperwork to be completed
Funds to save and raise
To make what seems impossible happen

We will watch and pray
Delays may come
But our hearts will remain full of hope

Dependent upon God
Who goes before us
For His heart is close to the orphan

by Susan Bunts Wachtel
August 2, 2017

Have you ever heard a story and felt inspired and moved by what God was doing?  This poem was inspired by a story I recently read.  While I don’t know the all the details about what the family has experienced, I rejoice at the work the LORD is doing to give a precious orphan a family and change a life forever for good. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Picture a Day - Sunshine and Flowers

Recently, Chris and I had the opportunity to visit Fredericksburg, Texas.  One of our favorite places was the Wildseed Farms.  We walked their fields and the glory of God was on display in His creation.  I think God must love colors and variety as seen in nature.  

We purchased some sunflower seeds, tropical milkweed and cosmos to try at home.  Many of the seeds have come up and are starting to bud and bloom.  Looking forward to spreading the seeds in our flowerbeds next spring. 

Now when I think of the Hill Country of Texas, I remember the beautiful town of Fredericksburg.  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Shattered - Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign – Informative and Intriguing – A Must Read for Political Junkies

I’m not a Hillary Clinton fan, but after hearing authors Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes interviewed about their book Shattered – Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, I knew I wanted to read this book. 

After following the crazy 2016 Presidential election, with all the twists and turns that left heads spinning, I couldn’t resist learning about Hillary’s campaign from those who knew her best.  How is it that this woman, who spent her lifetime striving for the opportunity to be the first woman President, lost and had to watch her dream slip through her fingers once again?  Only to have the most unlikely candidate, President Donald J. Trump, win the election? 

The authors were given unprecedented access to the Clinton campaign and people at all levels.  As a result, readers are given insight into the actions and decisions Hillary and her campaign workers made.  Shattered is not light reading.  Even though I was familiar with events in this book, I found it interesting because I was seeing the events through the eyes of Hillary and her people. 

One can’t help but wonder if the campaign had been run different, would we now have Hillary Clinton as President?  How did the people who were guarded, controlling and on a personal power trip effect Hillary’s campaign?  Were they there to help Hillary win or to try and ensure they had a job in the next administration?  If Hillary had been open to honest criticism instead of surrounding herself with yes men and women would she have run a more effective strategic campaign?  Why did Hillary rely on her people to put into words why she was running for President?  Why couldn’t she say it in her own words?  If Hillary had been humble, took responsibility for her own bad decisions and genuinely apologized would it have positively impacted her campaign? 

The 2016 Presidential election was a circus and Hillary’s campaign was surprisingly ineffectively run.  This book provides some insight into the key players that impacted this election and Hillary’s campaign.  There were a couple of scenes in this book that helped me to see Hillary in a more personal light and I felt some compassion for her.  I didn’t expect that. 

I thought authors Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes did a good job in staying out of the story and instead reflect Hillary, her key players and the campaign as it unfolded.  I tried to figure out their own political leanings.  They are definitely not Trump supporters.  Based on their respect and reverential manner in how they wrote about President Obama, I believe they are likely liberals.  I couldn’t really tell if they were Hillary fans.  If so they weren’t afraid to honestly and accurately portray Hillary and her supporters. 

Shattered – Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign gives keen insight into Hillary’s campaign and the one of the craziest elections in recent years.  It also helps readers to see where the continued all-out attack on President Trump started and the ongoing narrative that is currently unfolding in newspapers and the media today. 

I would like to thank Blogging for Books and the Crown Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Shattered – Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.  This was an excellent book and it accurately captures Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the surprising upset.  I found it informative and recommend it to folks, both conservative and liberal, who want to better understand the 2016 Presidential election.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A 58-Year-Old Secret

I don’t think I will ever forget her voice.  She sounded so sweet and so kind.  She reminded me of some of the older ladies at church that we love so much.  Will I ever hear from her again?

It’s not quite as easy as it looks on Long Lost Family.  Back in March when I sent a request form to Colorado to get a copy of my original pre-adoption birth certificate, I had no idea how things would turn out. 

I was expecting that it would take a month to get the birth certificate.  The check had been cashed.  Every day I would go to the mail box with the hope that it was finally here.  After two months, my patience was wearing thin so I decided to call Colorado’s Vital Check offices. 

After a couple of phone calls, I finally talked to someone live, instead of a recording.  The person acknowledged receiving my request and could see that they had been paid, but couldn’t tell me where they were at in the process.  She took my name and number and said someone would call me back. 

When the phone didn’t ring, I called again the next day.  Don’t ask me how come, but they couldn’t find my request form.  But at least I got a person who was able to help me.  She requested that I fill out a new form and email it to her, which I did right away.

A week later, I was holding a copy of my original birth certificate in my hand.  On it, was the name of my birth mother and biological father.  Now, I had some solid information to go by and could start fleshing out a biological family tree. 

On Ancestry, I started doing a search by her name, with very little other identifying information.  Perhaps it would be enough.  I had her name, her age, the state where she was born and the county and state where she resided when I was born.

It was just enough to help me narrow down to the person who might be my birth mother.  There were somethings in her life that made it seem like was the right person. 

On Memorial Day, I received an email from Ancestry letting me know my DNA results were back.  So cool!  The results weren’t what I expected.  I had been told my birth parents background was English, German, Swedish and Norwegian, flip flopped from my parents who adopted me. 

Instead, my family background included 78% Great Britain, 9% Irish (who knew), and 6% Europe West.  Kind of exciting and cool to learn that information.  Better than that was the DNA matches to people on Ancestry.  One of whom was a close family member to my birth mother.  So that confirmed the direction I was going with the family tree.

An internet searched showed an address where my birth mother lives.  I handwrote a brief letter to her.  I kept it vague and didn’t come right out and say, “Hi Mom, how are you doing?”  Since I didn’t know her current state and if her family might be caring for her, I gave some basic information and asked her to contact me if she knew anything about my birth.

Three weeks later I still hadn’t heard anything.  Not a phone call, email or letter.  I decided to put another letter in the mail.  This time I shared more details and included a copy of my birth certificate.  I explained how I determined she was likely my birth mother and the DNA test showed that I was close match to someone she was related to.

I sent that letter a week ago.  I think my husband, Chris has been more anxious than I have been.  I didn’t know if I would be contacted, but at least it was worth a try. 

Today, when the phone rang and displayed the city and state where my birth mother lives I knew it might be her.  Or one of her children.  Wow!

I picked up the phone and it was my birth mother.  She sounded very sweet and caring.  We didn’t talk long, but it was enough.  Well…mostly.  She thanked me for being discrete in my communication with her.  She confirmed that she was my birth mother.  She said that my birth was a secret and that her family didn’t know about it.  She’s had a good life and a loving family and her health is good. 

I had written a little bit about my life and family.  She asked a few questions and I asked about my biological father.  She didn’t have a lot of information about him.  So hopefully my DNA test result may help point me in the right direction. 

In my letter and on the phone, I shared about my faith in Christ.  Praise God, she too is a Christian.  So, if I don’t hear from her again, I have the promise of seeing her and getting to know her in heaven. 

When the phone call ended, I told her to feel free to call me any time.  I don’t know if she will do that.  Since my birth is 58-year-old secret, I may not hear from her again.  On the other hand, perhaps the Lord will be at work in her life and she may choose to share the news with her family and children.  That’s out of my control…but not outside the Lord’s control. 

As I ended the phone call, I knew it might be the only time I get to speak with her.  But she sounded like sweet, loving and caring woman.  I wish I could get to know her.  But for now, I choose to be satisfied with what the Lord has provided. 

Apart from getting my original birth certificate and the DNA tests…I don’t think I would have ever been able to find my birth mother.  I am so grateful for the support and encouragement from my husband Chris.  He didn’t hesitate and encouraged me to try. 

Next, I will try to see if I can find out who my biological father is, but I’ll have to rely heavily on DNA information for that part of my search. 

So, if any of you is curious on your family background, I encourage you to see what you can find.  Perhaps you just want to know the genetic background and the DNA test will help answer some of those questions.  Or maybe you are searching for your biological parents.  I was fortunate because the State of Colorado has recently opened up their adoption records.  Do what you can and have realistic expectations.

While I was hopeful, I would be able to make contact with my birth mother, I knew that might not happen.  I’m so grateful the Lord surprised me and I got to speak to her.  I hope I always remember her voice. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Is Hell a Laughing Matter

One of the emails I receive on a regular basis is from One Million Moms, a group that notifies mothers and families when there is immorality, profanity, vulgarity, and violence promoted in the media.  They pass along links so people can contact companies to let them know their concerns. 

Today, I received a notification that TGI Friday’s has a new ad campaign in which use profanity in their advertisement to promote appetizers customers can get during their happy hour. 

I wasn’t able to send an email communication to Friday’s via their website.  So instead, I left a message on TGI Friday’s Facebook page.  I let Friday’s know that I didn’t appreciate their use of profanity in their commercial.  I asked them to please pull the ad and said that if didn’t we would no longer be customers. 

A short time later, a man left rude response and called me a hypocrite.  He had gone to my blog and found instances in which I had used the word hell.  My first inclination was to leave a comment back with a disparaging remark.  Am I a sinner and a hypocrite…yes I am.  But I’m not a hypocrite about this. 

Obviously, the person who left the comment calling me a hypocrite didn’t’ seem to be exercising discernment.  He didn’t acknowledge the difference between a company using profanity to promote their company and someone writing about hell to warn people about the realities of hell.

Am I just being uptight?  Should I just loosen up and not worry when companies use profanity and make a joke out or the word hell?

Well I could do that.  I’m sure there’s been times when I’ve buried my head in the sand and ignored something that wasn’t right.

But on this one…on a company casually using the word hell to promote happy hour…I’m glad I spoke up because I know about the realities of hell.

Hell is a real place.  It’s a place of eternal punishment, suffering and torment for those who refuse to acknowledge and repent of the sins.  Hell is for those who reject Christ Jesus.  Or for those who think they can get into heaven based on their good deeds.  They know they are not perfect…but they are better than the next guy.  Hell will have people who didn’t believe in God.  Those who didn’t realize that they will have to give an account for their lives.

So what does the Bible say about hell?

·       But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.  Revelation 21:8

·       They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.  2 Thessalonians 1:9

·       Hell is a place where the fire never goes out.  Mark 9:43

·       They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Matthew 13:42 

·       ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’  Mark 9:8

Hell is a real place.  A place unimaginable suffering that does not end.  I have loved ones who were sinners just like me.  But they died rejecting Christ or didn’t believe in God and recognize they will give an account for their lives.

When you know the realities of hell…it’s not a joke.  It’s not something to take casually.  It’s not a laughing matter. 

I’m a sinner…there is nothing good in me that deserves to go heaven.  I don’t deserve forgiveness.  I can’t be good enough to earn my way to heaven.  But through grace of God alone, I have been forgiven of my sin because of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. 

That promise of forgiveness is available for all who put their faith and trust in Christ Jesus the Lord. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. – John 3:16-18

If you would like to know what the Bible says about hell and about how you can be forgiven of your sin…click on this link and read these Scriptures: 

Friday, June 09, 2017

Steadfast Faith

Lord grant me a faith
That remains steadfast in the face of trials
Faith that does not wither or fade
But one that looks beyond this present trial
To find joy in the greater work You will accomplish
Mature and grow my faith and trust in You

When I don’t know what to do or what step to take
In faith, let wisdom be my plea
Instead of deliverance from this trial
May I ask with confidence
Knowing that God who is all wise
Gives wisdom generously to those who ask in faith

Let me not doubt You
Or turn back, only to resort to my own sinful ways
Like Christ, give me a single-minded focus
Be not double-minded and tossed around like a wave
Driven by the wind of this stormy trial
But firmly believe God as revealed in Scripture

May I trust God with confidence and unquenchable faith
Know there is a crown of life that awaits me
All because Christ bore a crown of thorns
Was crucified and died for my sin
The One who rose victorious
Will help me steadfastly persevere under trials

By Susan Wachtel

June 9, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

True to You by Becky Wade – This Book Is A Real Gem

I’m not usually one to read romance novels, but when I read the description of True to You by Becky Wade, I knew I wanted to read this book.  I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone.  As an adoptee, conducting my own search to find my birthmother, I was intrigued to read this story about an unlikely pair who team up to research and help a find birthmother. 

Nora Bradford is content with her quiet life and surrounding herself with the things she loves, which includes family, reading, history, genealogy and watching British dramas.  John Lawson, couldn’t be any more different.  He’s a true-life hero, having saved people’s lives in his former career as a Navy SEAL.  He’s strong, driven and focused and oh yes, good looking too. 

Will these opposites attract?  Why is John searching for his birth mother after all these years?  Will their efforts in searching through courthouses records, phone books and talking with people turn up anything that will lead them to John’s birthmother?  How will their faith be challenged when they run into roadblocks and situations that are far beyond their control?  Will it drive them to God or away from Him? 

True to You is the first book I’ve read by Becky Wade and I absolutely loved it.  I liked the storyline which included mystery and intrigue.  Becky does a wonderful job in developing characters.  She peels back the layers as the characters grow and change through the story and events.  All the characters were very likeable.  My favorite thing was that characters didn’t make stupid decisions that make you shake your head.  Instead they were reasonable, decent, kind and caring people.  The kind of people you would like to know.

Becky is good at describing places by giving the reader enough detail so they can imagine what it looks like, but she also leaves room for the imagination of the reader to fill in the gaps.  I felt like I could step on to the streets of the charming town of Merryweather and know the people and places. 

As good as all that is, the best part of this book is how Becky shows the characters dealing with difficult news and events.  They talk and reason through a crisis of faith.  I liked how Nora recognized some errors in her thinking, that it was worldly and not necessarily biblically sound.  The characters seem honest and real. 

Reader’s faith in God can be encouraged and strengthened by some of the dialogue, thoughts and prayers these characters go through. 

I highly recommend True to You by Becky Wade.  While this is the first book, I’ve read by Becky, I hope it’s not the last. 

I would like to thank Litfuse and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read True to You.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pure Flix - To Watch or Not to Watch

Recently, I learned that Pure Flix is encouraging people to take advantage of their offer to get the first month service free and share their thoughts about their experience.  

As a Christian, having good programing that is family friendly and in keeping with our faith is important.  We are careful on what we watch, be it on regular TV or NetFlix.  I decided to give Pure Flix a try.  Below are some thoughts on what I experienced.

I appreciated the fact that there is an option available that offers Christian movies, programs and TV shows that are family friendly.  Some of the content is Christian based with a gospel centered message.  An example is Dave Christiano's 7th Street Theater and another is one of my favorite movies The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry. 

There is also a large selection of movies and TV shows that are family friendly, with no profanity or sexual immorality, but they don't have an overt gospel faith based message.  They remind me of movies available at our local Christian book store that have the "Dove Seal of Approval".  After watching a number of them, I've come to realize, it means they are clean, not necessarily Christian.

I was surprised to find that movies from one of my favorite movie makers, the Kendrick Brothers (Facing the Giants, War Room, Courageous, Fly Wheel and Fireproof) are not currently available on Pure Flix. 

In addition to movies and TV shows, there is Christian teaching available on Pure Flix.  I was concerned about some of the pastors and teachers, because I believe their teaching is not biblically sound and doesn't line up with Scripture.  Is that important?  Does it make a difference?  Yes, I believe it does. 

When I raised that concern with Leah Hastings at Pure Flix she shared that Pure Flix works to impact the culture of Christ through their service.  However, they like to be as inclusive as possible with the content options they offer.

Like I do with regular TV and radio, if I know someone's teaching is not sound, I don't listen to or watch them.  I would advise people to be smart, know their Bible and choose wisely what they watch. 

Technology wise, I think Pure Flix has a ways to go.  I'm comparing it to my experience with NetFlix.  When I initially logged in to my account on the computer, I selected a number shows as favorites.  However, when I set up my account on the TV through Roku, the programs I selected as favorites on the computer didn't show up.  I had to start over.

Also, when I tried to add a show as a favorite, example Sue Thomas F.B. Eye, instead of adding the show/series, it added the episode.  To get to the next episode, I'd have to go back and add that.  It wasn't user friendly.  Whereas with NetFlix it adds the whole series, not just an episode, and keeps track of where we are at with a series. 
In summary, there are some pros and cons with Pure Flix.  I like a lot of the content that's available.  If we had children, I would likely go with Pure Flix instead of NetFlix or other options.  I would want to control the content and material they would be exposed to.
Some of the Christian movies and TV shows on Pure Flix are also available on other movie/TV streaming choices.  We probably won't be keeping Pure Flix.  We already have NetFlix and like some of the content they have available and appreciate the ease of operation.
If you have children and are concerned about limiting the content they are exposed to or just want to carefully guard what comes into your home, you may want to consider Pure Flix.  They currently offer new viewers the ability to sign up and get the first month free.  Please see the link below. 

I would like to thank Leah for answering my questions and for telling me a little more about Pure Flix.  I appreciate the opportunity to try their service and perhaps in the future, we'll revisit Pure Flix as an entertainment option.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada – Truth to Strengthen our heart, mind, soul and spirit

It’s been my privilege to read Joni Eareckson Tada’s books and devotionals over the years.  That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to read her latest devotional, A Spectacle of Glory – God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day, which she co-authored with Larry Libby.

Joni is a mature Christian and her continued growth and love for the Lord and Scripture comes shining through this devotional, A Spectacle of Glory.  This year, will be 50 years since Joni’s tragic accident that left her as a quadriplegic.  Joni’s life has not been easy and her witness and testimony have a weight of credibility other’s may not have. 

In A Spectacle of Glory, Joni focuses on a Scripture verse or two each day.  She includes stories from her own life where she’s seen God at work.  With openness and transparency, she relates to the reader as she confesses her struggles, which may be similar to our own.  She closes each day with a prayer and aligns her heart and mind on the truth from Scripture. 

Joni always come back to the Bible which is the believer’s plumb line.  She takes the Scriptures and uses them as a mirror to reflect what’s going on in our heart.  Shining the light of God’s Word has a way of driving out the darkness. 

I highly recommend Joni Eareckson Tada new devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, written with Larry Libby.  It’s a great way to start or end your day. 

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan for the opportunity to read A Spectacle of Glory.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Becky Wade's 'True to You' $100 Giveaway

Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match. Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade's new series! Genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade's new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Picture a Day - Napping on a Warm Sunny Day

On our recent visit to Fredericksburg and Marble Falls, we stopped and toured President Lyndon Baines Johnson's ranch.  While politically I may be worlds apart from LBJ, this was great tour.  To quote my husband Chris, "You don't have to agree politically to appreciate history."  

The ranch and home were absolutely beautiful.  I was surprised at the home and how down to earth it was.   It wasn't gaudy or ostentatious.  It was a home I would feel comfortable in, it was inviting and quite lovely.  To get to the home you drive through a lot of land and pass by the herds of cattle.  

I fell in love with this precious little fellow as he napped in the shade on a warm sunny day.  Mom was close by.  

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon – A Story of Grace and Redemption

Sandpiper Cove was the first book I’ve read by author Irene Hannon.  I hope to read other books by this gracious and gifted author.

I loved reading this book.  It was a real treasure with stories of grace and redemption in the lives several characters who live in Hope Harbor.  This book is an example of why I like to read books by Christian authors who write about faith and show it lived out in their characters and everyday life. 

Sandpiper Cove tells the story of Adam Stone, an ex-con who moved to Hope Harbor with the hopes of starting a new life for himself.  He’s quiet and a bit of a loner.  However, crime which he was hoping to get away from, comes to his doorstep, not once, but twice.  Getting to know the police chief, Lexie Graham, was not on his list of things to do.  However, providence was at work in the lives of these two people and their friends, family and co-workers.

I really liked the characters in this book, both the main characters and supporting characters.  It felt like I could walk into Hope Harbor and meet these people and feel welcome.  They were people I would want to know.  I liked the relationships in this book and how it showed people can impact others for good or bad. 

I appreciated that Sandpiper Cove was a safe book, one that did not assault me with vulgarity, profanity, sexual immorality and violence. 

I highly recommend Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon.  This book was a pleasure to read.  The only problem I encountered was that it ended.  I look forward to reading more of Irene’s books.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell publishers for the opportunity to read Sandpiper Cove.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Becky Wade's 'True to You' Author Chat Party

Raise your hand if you're ready for Becky Wade's new series! Celebrate the release of book one, True to You, with Becky and other readers on Facebook on May 4th during a fun author chat party at 8:00 PM EDT (that's 7:00 Central, 6:00 Mountain, & 5:00 Pacific)! Becky will be chatting about the book and answering your questions about the new series, and of course, there will be plenty of fun giveaways too!

Pre-order your copy of True to You so you're ready for a fun book discussion. Find out more about the book here.

Hope to see you on May 4 for Becky's True to You Facebook Party!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Picture a Day - Steven Curtis Chapman

After reading Steven Curtis Chapman's autobiography, Between Heaven and the Real World, I wanted to share pictures that I took at one of his concerts in 2007.  It was at a church venue, so I was able to take pictures.  An excellent glad I was able to attend.

Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman – Faith Strengthened and Encouraged, Rooted and Grounded in the Truth of Scripture

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to read Steven Curtis Chapman’s autobiography, Between Heaven and The Real World.  Steven’s professional career started in the late 1980’s, which was a few years before I became a Christian.  When I think of the music that influenced me as young Christian and throughout the years, Steven’s music is at the top of that list.  That’s why I wanted to read this book.

I loved and enjoyed Between Heaven and the Real World and want to read it again and share it with others.  I wept as Steven shared in a very humble, open and transparent way the pains and trials he and his wife Mary Beth and their family endured over the years, most notable was the death for their precious daughter Maria Sue. 

When you connect with an artist’s work and feel like he expresses in words some of the thoughts and emotions you’ve experienced, it’s interesting to learn the genesis of the songs and what was going on in his life when they were written.  It was heartening to see the providential hand of God in Steven’s life.  How He had gifted him from a young age to love and write songs that gave a voice to what he was feeling, his faith and capture his reflections about God. 

I appreciated the honesty in which Steven writes.  It’s real, but also reverent towards God.  He so obviously loves, honors and respects God, his parents, brother, wife and children.  Somehow, he manages to do so while being open and real about circumstances, choices and events.  Kind of like his music.  I appreciate Steven and Mary Beth’s deep and abiding faith that they cling to in the face tribulation, never more so than in tragedy.  It was heartening to read about the support of family, friends and professionals that came alongside them when needed most.  I applaud their commitment to their marriage and efforts to recognize that their spouse is not their enemy and that they fought for each other, not against. 

While the hearts of a mother and father longs to see, their child healed and alive, the Chapman’s have allowed God to redeem their losses and impact others for good and for eternity.

If you’ve listened to Steven’s music, you can’t help but come away encouraged, strengthened and your faith built up as he drives a stake in the truth of Scripture.  It’s almost like reading one of David’s psalms.  He may start out low and in the depths of despair, but as he focuses on God, hope is restored and a light is found to illumine the next step.

I highly recommend Between Heaven and the Real World, especially if you are a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman’s music.  It’s encouraging to see someone’s faith proven genuine and real.  Even if you aren’t familiar with his music, I think you will benefit from reading this book. 

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell/Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Little of This, A Little of That

I’ve been checking our bank account almost daily to see if the check had cleared yet.  It’s been over four weeks now, but I figured that it would show up any day now. 

On Monday, I saw the check had finally posted.  I knew that my original birth certificate was on its way.  I would soon see what I’ve wondered about for years.

I was adopted at three months old.  For as long as I could remember I’ve known that I was adopted.  As were my two brothers.  I know who my parents were…they were the mother and father who raised me.  They were there in good times and bad.  They encouraged me and discipline me.  They loved me even when I was unlovable. 

After finishing my Bible study in Genesis this year, I came away with the knowledge and assurance that God gave me just the right family.  It won’t be until I get to heaven that I may know why God chose my mother and father and brothers.  But He did and God had a purpose and plan He was working out in all our lives.

Over the years, off and on, I’ve been curious about who my birth parents were.  What was their story?  And my beginning?  What’s happened in their lives? 

I also found myself reticent about finding them.  I mean, what if they never wanted to see me?  In some respect adoption is the greatest gift.  It’s the gift of life and chance to have what they may not have been able to provide at that time in their lives.  Not sure if other adoptees feel this way, but I’ve got to confess, sometimes it feels like the ultimate rejection. 

But recently, I’ve felt a comfort and freedom in knowing that God has overseen all the details of my life and put me with the family He chose for me.  I think this is a good place to be in if I’m going to try and find my birth parents.

Some of you may have seen the TV show Long Lost Family.  It’s been on a couple of years now.  There’s just something about seeing these people find their birth families and make a connection with them.  Perhaps that’s stirred a longing in me.  I submitted my story and received a confirmation they got my application.  They get a lot of people applying for their help, so the chances of them choosing me may be small.  But, I thought I would give it a try. 

I also realized that I could do some searching on my own.  In the past, I’ve put my information in on adoption websites to no avail.  In my new search, I found out Colorado had recently changed their laws and adoptees and birth parents can get information, including their original birth certificate.  I sent away for it four weeks ago and now it’s on its way.

That will be a beginning.  It will give me the names of my birth mother and possible biological father.  From there, I can do some searches on Ancestry’s website among others to see if I can find them. 

It’s in the Lord’s hands and I need to trust Him with the outcome.  Whether I find them or not.  Or if I do locate them, if they don’t want to meet me or be in contact, I need to be okay with that too.

Along with sending away for my original birth certificate, I’ve been working on our family tree on Ancestry.  It’s pretty cool to flesh things out.  I’m finding some surprises along the way.

In putting information in on my grandparents, I’ve found that my grandmother had two siblings that I didn’t know about.  One was a baby sister, Marie, born about seven years before she was.  It appears that child died young, but I need to do more searching.  Also, she had a brother I had never heard about.  He died in the 1940’s. 

I found a record that looks like one of my Uncles was married twice and was divorced once.  Also, I found that my dad had a second sister that I had never heard of before.  Her name was Mary.  She first appeared on census paperwork. 

I’m sure there will be more surprises to come as I research and add more records.  It’s both exciting and kind of disorienting.  I wish I had done this when my mother still alive and I could ask questions and find out about our family.

I’m grateful for the support and encouragement of my husband, Chris.  I know that at the end of the day genetics and blood relations aren’t the be all and end all.  But something I’ve never really had is looking like my family members.  Or having similar abilities, talents and interests.  So, we shall see what tomorrow will bring and if I’m able to find my birth parents. 

At 58 years old, I’m well aware the clock is ticking.  My chances of finding them dwindles with each passing day.  It’s in the Lord’s hands and I will trust Him. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Deep Undercover by Jack Barsky – Filled with Intrigue That May Keep You Up At Night

Some books are a pleasure to read and the review is easy to write.  That holds true for Deep Undercover by Jack Barsky with Cindy Coloma.

If you like intrigue, suspense and mystery look no further than Deep Undercover which tells true story of KGB spy Jack Barsky, or should I say Albrecht Dittrich. 

I found this book fascinating and of particular interest was Albrecht’s early life.  He was born in 1949 in East Germany, following WWII.  As I read about his early years, I was struck by the contrast between growing up in his war-torn country and life here in the United States of America. 

Have you even wondered how someone becomes a spy?  How are you trained to do the job?  What skillsets do you need to be a KGB operative?  What happens if you fail or if you change your mind?  Can a spy have any kind of a real life with a wife, children and friends?  Or is a spy destined to live a life of loneliness where no one really knows him? 

Those questions and much more are answered in Deep Undercover which tells about the intriguing life of Jack Barsky.  While his life started out much different than your typical American, and his career path took some twists and turns, this man came to love this country and the freedoms that regular everyday Americans have.  The freedom and capitalism that he once fought against, he came to embrace, even at the risk of losing his life. 

At the end of the book, Jack explains how he came to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  I especially liked how he shared about God providentially weaving together the circumstances of his life which resulted in him coming to America and ultimately becoming a Christian.  

Something I would like to clarify, the statement by Jack’s soon to be wife Shawna, “You are already a Christian; you just don’t know it.”, is not Scripturally accurate.  Jack may have been in the process of learning about Christ and she saw that his faith was growing, but accepting Christ is a purposeful decision.   

I highly recommend Deep Undercover by Jack Barsky, it’s a fascinating book.  Be forewarned, this book may keep you up at night so you can find out what happens next.  If you like mysteries and intrigue, biographies, or you just like to know what makes a man tick, pickup Deep Undercover.  You won’t be disappointed. 

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to read Deep Undercover for free.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Picture a Day - Wild Yarrow

The yarrow in our garden is one of my favorite plants.  In the wild, it's just as pretty.