WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

I am so pleased that you have stopped by for a visit. I hope you will enjoy reading my book reviews. If you would be interested in reviewing books on your own blog, check out the links for litfuse and Booksneeze.



Monday, December 20, 2010

THE 12 PEARLS OF CHRISTMAS - Gift List by Tricia Goyer

Title: Gift List

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~
Gift List
by Tricia Goyer


I've been thinking lately how hard it must be for Oprah to Christmas shop. I mean if you were on her "gift list" wouldn't you expect something really, really good? The woman gives away cars and trips to Australia on her television show for goodness sake! It seems by the end of Christmas Day her friends and family would look at the pile of presents and think, "Is that it?" I mean if you knew there was billions of dollars she could spend on you, would you ever feel satisfied?

Sometimes I think we approach God the same way. We look around at our home, our family, our job, our free time and we still aren't satisfied. We wish our body looked better, our clothes were more in style, our husband was more considerate and our kids were more ... well, like the perfect little people we picture in our mind. Our careers don't excel as quickly as we think they should and people don't give us the attention we feel we deserve. We're tired and anxious and the to-do list seems to be tacked to our hearts for all the pain it causes.

Often, we look around and don't speak the words out loud, but think them just the same. "Is that it?" I mean, You're the God of the universe and You have all things in Your hands and under Your control. Couldn't you provide a little more money to help those bills disappear or make me a bit more content with the man I've chosen to spend my life with? And I thought Oprah had it tough.

Is there ever a time when God doesn't hear the murmurs? Again, not with our mouths but in our heart.

I've been guilty of this--of not being satisfied with the gifts I've been given. Yes, there will always be more to want, but today--at this moment--I'm satisfied. And I look to Him with a grateful heart and whisper, "Thank you, it is enough. More than enough."


 ~~~

About Tricia: Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. For more information, please visit www.triciagoyer.com


~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 PEARLS OF CHRISTMAS - HOME

Day 5: Melody Carlson (12/17)

Title: Home

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~

There’s No Place Like….
by Melody Carlson


I grew up spending Christmases at my grandparents’ quaint Victorian home, surrounded by lots of relatives, laughter and love and really good food. For a little girl growing up in a single parent home, harried working mother, no church family, and TV dinners, these extended family holidays spent at my grandparents were like a real gift from God. But as a young adult, my grandfather passed on, the old house was sold, I grew up and eventually had a small family of my own.
   
Still I longed for those familiar kinds of “big” Christmases—I wanted that house full of relatives and fun times to go home to—I think the “child” in me thought I deserved it somehow. But my grandmother had gotten older and lived in a tiny apartment, and my mother and my husband’s parents were not comfortable hosting Christmas in their homes. For a while we went to my cousin’s, but I soon had to come to grips with reality. The days of going to Grandma’s for the perfect Christmas were a thing of the past.

In other words, it was time for me to grow up—time for me to start hosting our own Christmas celebrations. So biting the holiday bullet, I decided to just do it. With two very small children underfoot, I cooked my first turkey, made my first stuffing, invited some family, neighbors, and friends over, and we all crammed ourselves into our little house, balanced our plates on our knees, and had a very good time. Oh, I’m sure the turkey was dry and the gravy lumpy, but what I remember most is that everyone seemed truly happy to be there. And I realized that I wasn’t the only one longing for that sense of warmth and community—that longing to “go home again”—and I finally grasped that I could (with God’s grace) help to provide that for my family and others.
   
So for the next three decades we continued to host Christmas in our home. I got better at decorating, cooking, gifting…the works. Some years the place would be packed and crazy. A few years were thinner and quieter. But family, friends and neighbors could always count on the fact that the Carlson’s would be “doing something for Christmas.” It was a no-brainer.
   
Until this year. This year, for the first time in more than thirty years, my husband and I decided we’re going to take a pass on hosting Christmas—we are going to the beach. At first I felt terribly guilty, and even right now I’m a bit unsure—and wonder if I’ll end up changing my mind at the last minute. And yet, I believe it’s the right thing for us to do—for a lot of reasons. One being that my husband’s birthday is Christmas and he never gets to do what he wants on his birthday—this year will be different. But more than that, I hope that our stepping aside will encourage the younger members of our family to find and embrace some of their own traditions—to grow up and look for opportunities to stretch themselves a bit. Because, similar to how and oyster creates a pearl—or how a young mom learns to be a hostess—with some discomfort and distress a burnt turkeys, the end results are truly valuable.

 ~~~

About Melody: Melody Carlson lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Labrador Retriever. She’s the author of around 200 books including this year’s Christmas novella, Christmas at Harrington’s.Visit her website for more information, www.melodycarlson.com.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CHRISTMAS AT HARRINGTON'S by Melody Carlson - BOOK REVIEW



Are you ready for a break from all the Christmas preparations? Then grab a cup of hot cocoa and curl up with Melody Carlson's latest Christmas novella, "Christmas at Harrington's". From its gorgeous cover to its satisfying conclusion, this book is sure to become a classic. The characters are endearing, and the story develops the themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness. This was a quick read, leaving me longing for more. Melody Carlson has interwoven so many themes in 167 pages. We can all relate to the characters at some level. For those new to Melody's writing, this book is a wonderful introduction. To those readers already well-acquainted with the writings of this prolific author, this story will not disappoint.

From the back cover: Sometimes the best gift is a second chance. Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret?
Reading Christmas at Harrington's, a story full of redemption and true holiday spirit, will be your newest tradition.



Melody Carlson is the popular author of more than 200 books, including The Christmas Bus and The Christmas Dog. She recently was nominated for a Romantic TimesCareer Achievement Award in the inspirational market. She lives with her husband in Oregon. Be sure to visit her website, www.melodycarlson.com.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

THE PEARLS OF CHRISTMAS - The Joy Of Unexpected Circumstances

Day 4: Lori Kasbeer (12/16)

Title The Joy of Unexpected Circumstances

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~
The Joy of Unexpected Circumstances
by Lori Kasbeer


The Christmas season is upon us again. Starbucks is selling their Christmas blend; stores are posting their holiday hours; and moms everywhere are making a list and checking it twice, planning for a special Christmas day. It has been our family’s tradition to spend Christmas with relatives.  Last year money was tight and we were unable to travel, this is not how we had planned to spend Christmas day but circumstances were beyond our control. Realizing my three boys--who are now teenagers--will not be under our roof for much longer, I wanted to have a special Christmas with just the five of us.  

Leading up to Christmas morning we all made mouth-watering, cinnamon cut-out cookies, spent time together sticking tape everywhere while trying to wrap presents, and enjoyed spending time together.  We did not have much money, but were having fun making memories.  When Christmas morning arrived and we sat around to open gifts my eyes welled up with overwhelming joy.  This mother was trying to absorb all the activity that was going on all around her: the smiles from each of my teenage boys, the sounds of laughter, and the smell of cinnamon rolls cooking in the oven.  If I could freeze a moment in time, this would be it.  I don’t know what the future holds for each of my boys, but that Christmas morning I wanted to soak it all in so I could recall this special day for years to come.  Despite struggling financially, unexpected circumstances turned into immense joy and a lifetime of memories.

Mothers treasuring special moments is not something new.  Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, was one who tried to soak in everything that first Christmas morning.  Even after Christ’s birth she was still trying to absorb what the angel had said to her when he delivered the news that she was going to be the mother of the coming Savior.  She reflected on the time she had with her cousin Elizabeth while they were both pregnant.  Along with comprehending the unusual way her son came into this world. 

While very pregnant with child, Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register Mary for the census.  Never did she image she would deliver her baby in a barn with a manger being the only thing to lay him down in.  These were not the circumstances she had envisioned.  Before she had time to catch her breath, suddenly all around her there was excitement when shepherds showed up reporting what they had seen and heard.  There were angels—a multitude of angels—who were singing and declaring the Savior was born and a bright star led them to her and Joseph.    So much has happened in a short amount of time and Mary did not want to forget any of it.  Instead she stepped back and “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Mary did not exactly know what the plans were for her son, but she knew it was going to change the lives of everyone on earth.  She was preparing her heart to obey God concerning her son Jesus, without the full knowledge of what was going to come while at the same time quietly reflecting and capturing this one special moment in time.

May this Christmas be filled with joy and a lifetime of memories, even if you find yourself in unexpected circumstances.  Merry Christmas!

 ~~~

About Lori: Lori Kasbeer lives with her husband Tadd and three teenage sons in Florida. She's a contributor for Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace and a Christian book reviewer. Please visit Lori’s Book Reviews for more info. You can also find Lori on Facebook and Twitter.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy-A Righteous Gentile vs. The Third Reich by Eric Metaxas - Book Review








Eric Metaxas, New York Times Best-Selling author of Amazing Grace, has done it again! Thoroughly researched and masterfully written, Eric brings the life and times of Deitrich Bonhoeffer to a new generation. This is the first such bibliography on Bonhoeffer's life in 40 years.

From the back cover:Who better to face the greatest evil of the 20th century than a humble man of faith? As Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seduced a nation, bullied a continent, and attempted to exterminate the Jews of Europe, a small number of dissidents and saboteurs worked to dismantle the Third Reich from the inside. One of these was Dietrich Bonhoeffer-a pastor and author, known as much for such spiritual classics as The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together as for his 1945 execution in a concentration camp for his part in the plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler.

"...Metaxas presents the fullest accounting decision to leave the safe haven of America for Hitler's Germany, and using extended excerpts from love letters and coded messages written to and from Bonhoeffer's Cell 92, Metaxas tells for the first time the full story of Bonhoeffer's passionate and tragic romance. Metaxas also sheds new light on Bonhoeffer's reaction to Kristallnacht, his involvement in the famous Valkyrie plot and in "Operation 7", the effort to smuggle Jews into neutral Switzerland.


This 542 page book includes photos of Bonhoeffer's family, friends and associates, members of the Nazi party, and the site of his execution. Metaxas includes an extensive biography, and the book is thoroughly annotated.

I enjoyed reading this biography. It contains much background material, and puts a face on human suffering. I feel now that I have much deeper insights into Bonhoeffer's thoughts, especially regarding his personal faith. For those who have read any of his writings, I highly recommend this biography. I love the fact that Metaxas fills the book with quotes from Bonhoeffer's writings, preaching and teaching, as well as much personal correspondence. Not only do we hear from Bonhoeffer directly. We also hear from family and friends, and even from his enemies.

The book is challenging reading in some places, as many names are included. I found this confusing at times. But I found it to be encouraging and challenging as well.

Eric Metaxas has given the present-day church a great gift in this superb biography!

For further information, check out www.ericmetaxas.com

"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now at your favourite bookseller."

Pearls of Christmas - The First Christmas

Day 3: Pat Ennis (12/15)

Title: The First Christmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as Melody Carlson, Lauraine Snelling, Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! You may enter once a day. The winner will be announced on New Year's Day at the Pearl Girls Blog! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~
The First Christmas
by Pat Ennis


It was October of my eighteenth year of life when my Dad stepped into eternity. As a college freshman I not only had to deal with my own grief, I also was faced with the responsibility of helping my mother adjust to a new lifestyle. You see, when Dad died, she not only lost her husband of thirty years, she also lost her circle of friends. Suddenly the married couples (my Dad was the first of their group to die) didn’t know what to do about Mother—so they did nothing. Her grieving process was actually extended because of the withdrawal of her friends, many with whom she and Dad had enjoyed fellowship for years. 

Our plight was magnified by the reality that we did not have extended family and I was an only child. Quite frankly, the outlook for the holiday season appeared pretty dismal!

As the holidays approached our neighbors, who embraced a different faith than we, graciously invited us to share their Christmas celebration with them. The sincere invitation, their effort to fold us into their family, inclusion in the gift exchange, and intentional conversation that focused on recounting the blessings of the year as well as looking forward to the next turned what could have been a miserable day into one of joy. Of course we missed our husband and Dad but the focus on the Lord’s provision for us through the hospitality of our neighbors (Philippians 4:8-9, 19) soothed our grieving spirits.

I have a happy ending to my Mother’s loss of her circle of friends that I described at the beginning of this story! Ever the gracious southern hostess, she did not cease to extend hospitality because of the change in her marital status—in the five years that she lived beyond Dad’s death, we entertained frequently, and eventually our guest list included widows from the group that had earlier excluded my Mother. Though her arthritic condition precluded her engaging in as much of the food preparation as she was accustomed to doing, she continued to help me hone the skills that were second nature to her. 

The loving hospitality extended to us on that first lonely Christmas served as a catalyst for Mom and me to open our home throughout the year—especially during the holiday season! Will you consider displaying biblical compassion by including some of the “others”—singles, widows, and the grieving in your holiday celebrations? Who, knows, you might be entertaining an angel incognito (Hebrews 13:2)!

 ~~~

About Pat: Dr. Patricia Ennis, author of Precious in His Sight, the Fine Art of Becoming a Godly Woman, co-author of Practicing Hospitality, the Joy of Serving Others,  and contributor to Pearl Girls, Experiencing Grit, Experiencing Grace as well as professor and establishing chairperson of the Department of Home Economics at The Master’s College. Visit Pat's blog, Unfading Beauty for more information.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 2: Rachel Hauck (12/14)

Title: Wear Joy
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as Melody Carlson, Lauraine Snelling, Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! You may enter once a day. The winner will be announced on New Year's Day at the Pearl Girls Blog! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~
Wear Joy
by Rachel Hauck

Thanksgiving day in central Florida broke warm and sunny under a blue sky. The thin fall breeze beckoned me. Taking my bike out, I rode the neighborhood feeling so grateful for all my blessings.

Joy bubbled up in my spirit. I’d been feeling it for a day, these waves of joy, but as I rode my bike and talked to God, the waves strengthened and splashed my heart the entire ride.

I’d laugh. Then tear up. And laugh again. As one who’s battled and won the war on anxiety and fear attacks, the onslaught of joy was welcomed, and actually sparked a new prayer in my heart. I’ve endured attacks of panic, time for attacks of joy.

The journey of joy began earlier in the year while writing a book coincidentally named, “Dining with Joy.”

Sitting at my table one day, revelation hit me. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. The more I meditated on it, the more I wanted His joy. I don’t want my strength. I want His.

Not long after, I went to Nashville for a girl’s weekend. One of my friends handed me a coffee cup inscribed with “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Ever just know? God is calling.

During the holiday season, I turn 50. Yep, the big 5-0. Can’t stop it, I might as well embrace it.

Fifty is often associated with jubilee, a time of restoration, and healing, even release from debt and slavery. It’s a time of returning to property, and inheritance.

A time of rest.

A time of JOY!

This past week, a friend gifted me with a beautiful Christmas ornament. Inscribed on it? You guessed it.

JOY!

To me, the world doesn’t look very joyful. There are social and economic woas. But God is speaking and offering joy.

As you go into this holiday season, ask God for a pearl of joy. Like pearls, crafted through abrasion, God’s true joy is often formed in us during difficult seasons.

Here’s the thing, His strength isn’t doled out based on our goodness, our success or failure, or the fact the holiday season is hard or sad for you. He is ready, willing and able to overcome all your weaknesses, fears and anxiety, sadness with the power of His very own joy.

His joy. Your strength.

I’ve been walking into rooms, houses, outdoors, raising my arms and shouting, “Joy!” People look at me funny, but I want to spread the joy of the Lord. To spread the very essence of His strength.

How about you? Can you find the pearl of joy in your life, in the essence of God’s heart toward you?

Wear joy this season.

 ~~~

About Rachel: RITA-finalist Rachel Hauck lives in Florida with her husband, Tony. She is the author of Dining with Joy; Sweet Caroline; Love Starts with Elle; and The Sweet By and By, co-authored with Sara Evans. For more information please visit www.rachelhauck.com.

Oh, and be sure to enter Rachel's Dining With Joy NOOK eReader giveaway!

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info
Day 1: (12/13) Margaret McSweeney

Title: Pearls of Patience

Hello - I'm thrilled to announce the 2nd Annual 12 Pearls of Christmas! We've lined up several authors to share their Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along beginning today (Monday the 13th) through Christmas day as Melody Carlson, Lauraine Snelling,  Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.

We are also providing this series as free content for your own blogs (as 12 html posts) - if you'd like to share the 12 Pearls of Christmas with your blog readers email (amy@litfusegroup.com) and she'll send you the content.

AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post or any of the following 12 Pearls of Christmas posts (on any of the participating posts) to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! You may enter once a day. The winner will be announced on New Year's Day! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

~~~

Pearls of Patience
by Margaret Mcsweeney

As I write by the light of my Christmas tree on a late winter’s night, I reflect upon the poignancy and purpose of this season.  The tiny white lights look like strands of pearls draped gracefully (perhaps haphazardly is a more honest description) across the evergreen boughs.  Tomorrow I will hang the ornaments and at last place the angel atop the tree   

Angels carry a special meaning this Christmas.  My brother, Randy passed away on December 2nd from a heart attack at age 53.  He was feeding a stray cat on his side porch.  Randy was always like St. Francis of Asissi – animals would find him, sensing a kind soul.  And my brother was a gentle and patient soul.  He loved to fish.  He tried to teach me, but I immediately lost interest when I realized worms were involved. And I could never sit still on the banks of a river and just wait.  However, Randy could do that.  He could wait, and waiting is a true gift.  He put into practice the Scriptures.  “Wait upon the Lord.”  “Be still and know that He is God.”  Patience doesn’t have to be passive.  Wait is still an action verb.  Part of the waiting process for fishing is seeking.  Elaine (Randy’s wife of 31 years) told me that Randy said he could see the fish deep beneath the waters.  He actively waited for the right time to catch them.

During Randy’s last fishing trip on earth – just a week before his death, he felt an urgency to take a picture of the clouds with his cell phone.  When he returned home, he showed the picture to Elaine.  They realized that a face of an angel was looking at Randy from the sky – perhaps waiting for God’s timing to bring Randy home to heaven.  Maybe this “angel in the sky” was part of the heavenly host that appeared to the shepherds over two thousand years ago.  A Christmas Angel.

The Christmas Angels brought tidings of great joy that Jesus, our Lord and Savior was born.  And because of that incredible gift from God that these angels announced, we all have the promise of eternity. As we await Christ’s return, let us actively wait by seeking fish – not the kind you have to catch with worms, but rather with words.  Words, or rather good tidings, can bring hope to the hopeless and faith to the faithless. 

May each of you be blessed this Christmas season by the words you say, the words you hear and the Word you share.   And may the 12 Pearls of Christmas be a blessing to you, too.

 ~~~

About Margaret: Margaret McSweeney lives with her husband, David and two teenage daughters in the Chicago suburbs. After earning a master's degree in international business from the University of South Carolina, Margaret moved to New York City to work at a large bank where she met David. Charity and community involvement are very important to Margaret. She is the founder and director of Pearl Girls. For more information please visit www.pearlgirls.info. Margaret is fast at work on several fiction manuscripts and her book Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace was written to help fund the Pearl Girl Charities. Connect with Margaret on Facebook or Twitter.

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 PEARLS OF CHRISTMAS

Title: Did She Know?




Here's a sneak peak post of the 12 Pearls of Christmas series that I'll be hosting at my blog for the next few weeks! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
Did She Know?

by Anna Joujan

Mary, did you know . . . that your baby boy is Heaven’s perfect Lamb?  And the sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM

I am in the middle of a revival of my used-to-be-annual project of a Christmas card sketch.  For several years, with a few years missed, I have done a sketch of some image of Mary the Mother of Jesus, something that came to my mind without complete awareness of why that particular picture was needing to be put to paper.  It was originally a simple pencil sketch that, once completed, I would have printed out into a set of cards that would go out to all my friends and family.  Along with the sketch, however, I have always had a verse that came to mind to signify the meaning of the drawing in my mind.  And so I have had images such as “Be it unto me according to your word,” as well as a more enigmatic one that went with “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me . . .”  But each one was important for that year of my life.  And so I would spend the necessary costs in order to produce and mail in relatively large scales, for my general penny-pinching tendencies.

This year I did not expect to produce a card.  The fact of my life lately as a boarding school librarian/teacher in Zambia, Africa, has made such projects feel rather far-removed from the realm of possibility.

And yet, I have had an image in my head for several months now.  I started to put it to paper, and I abandoned it for a bit, figuring it was a bit frivolous with all the practical work I had to do.  But then I picked it up again, and it is now nearing the stage of completion, hopefully to be completed with printing and mailing once I arrive in the U.S. for a holiday visit with family.

What I realized is that, frivolous though it may seem, it is actually quite important.  For women [especially Western women of faith], the holidays carry with them great amounts of expectation and stresses.  So much so that we often get swallowed up with the hectic pace and forget to soak in the meaning.  What is important for each of us, I believe, is to “pick and choose.”  We must resist the pressure to do what doesn’t not bring meaning for us.  And we must cling to those traditions and activities that promote an aura of true, Christ-centered celebration for ourselves and for our loved ones.

So this year, Lord willing, I will be sending out my cards—and enjoying every bit of it; and in case you wondered, Mary did you know . . .?  will be the theme.




About Anna:  Anna G. Joujan was born in South Dakota, as a Canadian citizen, and was raised in Zambia, the child of missionary teachers.  Since her family’s move to the U.S., Anna spent her childhood and early adulthood traveling throughout the world thanks to various educational and work opportunities . . . France, China, Peru, and Jamaica being some of the stops in her journeys. Her undergraduate degree in French Literature led to a Masters in Information Sciences, and to work as a college and high school librarian, and a cross country coach. She has also returned to Zambia multiple times to teach for individual families and for local schools. All the while continuing pursuing her passions of writing, artwork, photography . . . and card-production.  You can find her online at http://annajouj.wordpress.com/

~~~

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Inspired Design by Roxanne Hughes Packham and Hannah Packham


Author Interview

Why did you write Inspired Design with your daughter?

My grandfather (Silversmith Allan Adler) passed this love of design to me, so it just seemed a natural, alongside a book about the design and subsequent use of our homes, infused with family heritage that my daughter who lives along side me take a large part the powerful subject of "the home". I also wanted to create a place where we could initiate, create, and complete a project where my daughter, Hannah, could learn along side me both the practical and the ethical implications of a project this size, where all the profits go to a charity that is dear to our hearts, Heart of Hope Ministries, Intl. I wanted show her an example of using our talents and gifts for the enjoyment of others, while benefiting others, not ourselves. It wasn't to be pious, but just a fun way to give back and truly make a difference while doing something together that we loved!

What is Inspired Design?
A book about three aspects of the home and how it's power to touch the souls of those within. Those three aspects are Designing for warmth and beauty to nurture others, meaningful touches and gestures to celebrate and honor your loved ones on special occasions and ordinary days, and lastly that it is not what we have or do not have that blesses others, and changes lives, but how we use what we have. It is about incorporating YOUR family heritage, and your unique gifts, into making a beautiful, family home.

Inspired Design has had such a wonderful response, without a traditional publisher, distributor, or agent why do you think that is?
It resonates in the spirit of women, who want to make a positive impact on their families and loved ones. The blessing of word of mouth publicity has really caused this book to sell and touch the hearts of every woman that has read it. They tell one friend, and so on and so on. For example, Jill Foster, Author of Creative Cakes Anyone Can Make, raves, "Your Inspired Design is amazing. I have devoured it, sipping coffee as I have enjoyed reading each page. Your family legacy is depicted in beautiful illustration. Having Hannah's words throughout the book is wonderful.”

We heard that one customer in Coronado, California has reordered about 10 books, each one as a gift for friends birthday, what is it that she find so touching?
She is someone I have never met, but she said she found it so real, beautiful, uplifting and from such a realistic perspective on touching others with the bonus of spectacular homes and photography the combination makes her want to give it to all her friends for their birthdays. She loves the blog that goes alongside it as well, with weekly tips and suggestions to make others feel special. http://www.inspireddesignpublications.blogspot.com

I know that a mother-daughter ministry, "Inspired 31", has begun along side of Inspired Design, why do you think it has resonated so powerfully?

Especially in this economic climate so many women are more resolute than ever that their families are the most important thing in their lives and their daughters, or close friends, should be celebrated and cherished. Without exception our gatherings (3 so far, in it's first 3 months) have attracted hundreds of mother/daughter/sister/friend combinations wanting to come, for 2 hours, and celebrate what is good, pure, worthy of praise especially each other. Inspired 31's mission is to teach girls (and now even woman of all ages) to find and follow God's unique path for their lives. We have inspiring speakers, and a wonderful positive/uplifting program. We have people inquiring about beginning a chapter in their area, in many cities.

Where can we purchase a copy of Inspired Design? Also, we heard this book is helping orphans and teenage girls as well.

Inspired Design makes a perfect gift with so many ideas for making Christmas, or any holiday, more special with all kinds of thoughtful little details.
100% of the profits go to Heart of Hope, which benefits orphans in Romania, and Inspired 31, a Mother-teenage girl ministry. With each purchase you are helping all kinds of different children.
Please visit my web site at http://inspireddesignpublications.com/.






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About the Book
Hannah & Roxanne Packham
Inspired Design by Roxanne Hughes Packham and Hannah Packham (Inspired Designs Publications, 2010)
Drawing from the highly-published designs she's created for hundreds of clients, Packham will inspire you to create a home that touches the souls of those within. Amid Stunning photography, stories of treasured family traditions and poignant observations by 16 year old daughter Hannah, she shares ideas that will help you create beauty, warmth and passion in your home, and make it an inspired design. "Do not underestimate the power of your home, nor its ability to change lives," writes designer Roxanne Hughes Packham. "A cup of hot tea and an hour in a cozy nook spent listening to a friend can be life-altering. "Sending well-loved, cared for children into the world to contribute to our society in positive meaningful ways is one of the most significant contributions, if not the most significant contribution, you will ever make, and your home is a major part of this endeavor.

100% of the profits of this book go to charity: Heart of Hope, Local Food Pantry, Inspired 31 and more Produced and made 100% in America.
Written by Granddaughter of Allan Adler, noted American silversmith, and Great Granddaughter of Porter George Blanchard, also known as "silversmith to the stars", Packham's history and knowledge of silver and flair for table settings prove to be a winning combo. Ideas for Sentimental Parties, and occassions for teenage girls, and mothers & others, Celebrating friends & friendship. Inspirational for incorporating family history, talents, and passions into the design of the family home.

About the Authors

Roxanne Hughes Packham is an acclaimed interior designer whose classic designs grace hundreds of California homes from San Francisco to San Diego. She comes from a long line of gifted artisans, including world-renowned silversmiths Allan Adler (her grandfather) and Porter Blanchard (her great-grandfather). Roxanne is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles; she studied design at Paris Fashion Institute and the Sorbonne. Her work has been featured in numerous design publications, including Life: Beautiful, California Homes, Dream Homes of Coastal California, Kitchen Style & Design, Dream Log Homes, Westlake Malibu Lifestyle, Kitchen Ideas That Work, Bath Ideas That Work, The Smart Approach to Kitchen Design, The Smart Approach to Bath Design, The Color Idea Book, The Window Treatment Idea Book, and more. She makes her home in Southern California, with her husband Scott, and their children, Hannah and Justin.

Hannah Packham is continuing her family’s long tradition of design excellence. Last summer, Hannah studied design at the University of Southern California. Hannah is a top scholar, and has been named to the Headmaster & Deans List at Oaks Christian High School, where she is currently a student. She was selected to represent OCHS as a member of the “Lion’s Voice,” a school-selected tour guide program. She is also a varsity athlete in pole-vaulting and studied pole-vaulting at the University of California Los Angeles during the summer 2009. Her interests include Classical ballet dancing, skiing and modern dance. She has made mission trips to Costa Rica (2009) and Romania (2010). She has been selected to participate in Rotary Leadership Conference 2010.

Mark Lohman is a southern California-based photographer whose specialties include interior, garden and architectural photography. His distinctive photographs have appeared in numerous design and architectural publications, including Veranda, Architectural Record, Luxe, Coastal Living, House Beautiful, California Homes, and many more. Mark is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Brooks Photography Institute.





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A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Inspired Design Publications in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.







Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Draw for FREE BOOK - Amish Proverbs:Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life

Follow me on this blog and leave a comment re: review of The Waiting to enter a draw for a FREE copy of Amish Proverbs by Suzanne Woods Fisher! Winner's name will be drawn on Saturday, December 4.

THE WAITING by Suzanne Woods Fisher - BOOK REVIEW

"The Waiting" is the second book in the Lancaster County Secrets series. The story is set in 1965. Jorie King's life is on hold. she has been waiting for Ben Zook to return to Lancaster County. Waiting for him to settle down and join the church. Waiting to marry him. But when news arrives that Ben has been killed, Jorie is devastated. She finds unlikely comfort in the friendship of his brother Caleb. Friendship ripens into love, and two broken hearts plan for a life filled with the promise of a fresh new beginning-until their worlds are turned upside down. (From back cover)

Suszanne Woods Fisher has written a well-crafted book. It is not just another Amish story. Her main characters are living, breathing individuals who show both strength and weakness. Secondary characters add depth and interest. Life for the Amish, like our own, is not always 'plain and simple', but can be complex. Yet in the midst of struggles, doubts, and conflicts, there is hope. Hope, love, and forgiveness are seen in various relationships throughout the book, not just in the lives of the main characters.

Through reading this book, I gained further insight into the Amish way of life. Suzanne manages to tie in details of the Vietnam War in a convincing way. I recommend this book as well worth reading, especially for those who love Amish fiction. Discussion questions are included, making this a perfect choice for a book club.


In no particular order, Suzanne is a wife, mother, writer, novelist, raiser of puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, a gardener who has an on-going battle for territory with a bossy gopher, a cook with sporadic results, and a lifelong student of the Bible. Her interest in the Anabaptist culture can be directly traced to her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. She hosts an internet radio show called Amish Wisdom and lives with her family in California. Follow Suzanne on Facebook, Twitter, and on her websitwe, http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com/. Watch for The Search, her third book in the Lancaster County Secrets series, due to be released in January, 2011.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WHILE WE'RE FAR APART by Lynn Austin - Book Review

While We're Far Apart is an amazing book on so many levels. In it, Lynn Austin addresses issues faced by those on the home front as loved ones fought overseas during WWII. The characters are well drawn and realistic. The interweaving of lives of those living in the same apartment building in Brooklyn is so well done. Secondary characters blend in perfectly, completing the story.

Penny Goodrich has a crush on a young widower, Eddie Shaffer, and is falling in love. She longs for the day when he will return from the war and fall in love with her as well. She has set her sights on becoming the new Mrs. Eddie Shaffer.  Meanwhile, Penny has volunteered to care for Eddie's two children, Esther and Peter, who are not adjusting well to their father's absense. 

The other main character is Jacob Mendel, the Jewish landlord, who has lost faith in God. Through twists and turns in the plot, and the revealing of a number of secrets, Lynn manages to keep her readers engaged in this 'page-turner'. This was a book I couldn't put down.

It is obvious that Lynn has researched the time period very well. We learn a great deal about Jewish life, as well as about the situation in war-torn Hungary.

I enjoy novels written about this historical period, and have had a fascination for as long as I can remember on the effects of war on children. This book is perfect on all counts.

There are several themes running through this story, one of which is how God reveals His love and presence , even when He is silent. This is a book which I highly recommend for those who love historical fiction set in the WWII time frame. There are enough details to bring the story to life, without bogging the reader down with too many facts. Bravo, Lynn. I give this book 5 stars!

Lynn Austin is a six-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels. In addition to writing, Lynn is a popular speaker. She and her husband have three children and make their home in Illinois. Visit Lynn at http://www.lynnaustin.org/

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".




 

Monday, November 8, 2010

THE GRACE OF GOD by Andy Stanley - Book review


The Grace of God - Book Promo Video from Andy Waddell on Vimeo.

Andy Stanley is a pastor, communicator, author, and the founder of North Point Ministries, Inc. (NPM). Since its inception in 1995, North Point Ministries has grown from one campus to three in the Atlanta area, and has helped plant fourteen strategic partner churches throughout the United States. Each Sunday, over 20,000 adults attend worship services at one of NPM's three campuses, North Point Community Church, Browns Bridge Community Church, and Buckhead Church. Andy's books include It Came From Within, Communicating for a Change, Making Vision Stick, and Next Generation Leader. Andy lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, with his wife, Sandra, and their three children.

From the back cover: "Grace. It's what we crave most when our guilt is exposed. It's the very thing we are hesitant to extend when we are confronted with the guilt of others-especially when their guilt has robbed us of something we cosider valuable.
Therein is the struggle, the struggle for grace. It's the struggle that makes grace more story than doctrine. It's the struggle that reminds us that grace is bigger than compassion or forgiveness. That struggle is the context for both. When we are on the receiving end, grace is refreshing. When it is required of us, it is often disturbing. But when correctly applied, it seems to solve just about everything. This struggle is not new; it has been going on since the beginning."

We find in the pages of Scripture that the stories there often mirror our own stories, and that we too need the very thing we do not deserve: the grace of God.

In this thoughtful, well-written book, Andy Stanley writes about grace with sensitivity and compassion. He notes that grace is not merely a New Testament concept, but that in fact, God's grace permeates all of Scripture, beginning in the garden of Eden. God has always offered grace. Stanley revisits the fall of mankind, the accounts of Abraham, Isaac. Jacob, Joseph, Judah, Tamar, Joshua, Rahab, Moses and the giving of the Law, Samuel, David and Bathsheba, Jonah, the genealogy of the Messiah, the Pharisees, Nicodemus, the woman at the well, Matthew, Peter, and others.

Each chapter is fully developed, and contains Scripture references. Main points are highlighted in bold type.
Stanley concludes with a challenge. "In your story you are going to continue searching for a reason God should love you. In your story you are going to continue finding reasons why he shouldn't. So here's my suggestion: give up your version of your story and embrace his.
In his story, he loves you no matter what you've done.
In his story, he doesn't love you because of what you've done.
In his story, he could not love you more and he will never love you less.
It's a better story. It's a true story. It's a story of grace. The grace of God!"

I found the chapters to be a bit long, but the book is thoroughly written, easy to understand, and never technical. I highly recommend this book. It is an essential message for us to grasp, and Stanley does an excellent job in telling it clearly.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available October 2010 at your favourite bookseller."

In Flanders Fields



My heart never ceases to be overwhelmed with gratitude, remembering the sacrifice of so many. They died so that we may live in freedom. How much more so, thinking of the perfect sacrifice of our Saviour, Who gave His life that we may live in freedom and victory. "Thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

A MEMORY BETWEEN US by Sarah Sundin - Book review

Sarah Sundin has done it again! In A Memory Between Us, Sarah continues her Wings of Glory three book series. Each of the three books features one of the Novak brothers, and is set in WWII. Following is a synopsis from the back cover:
"Can they overcome the past to find a brighter future together?  Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge-until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focussed on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to a fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice."

This is an intricate story, expertly told. It is obvious that Sarah has done extensive research into WWII and aviation history. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Hence, her interest in that aspect of history. Being an on-call pharmacist, she has also included details from her training.
Sarah skillfully brings her characters to life. They are not cardboard stereotypes, but live and breathe on the page. No 'fluff' here!
I love how Sarah weaves in issues that countless people are facing even today. The Christian message of hope, trust, love, and freedom from shame are addressed in a natural manner. Readers will find themselves asking some of the same questions addressed by the characters.
This book is a 'page-turner', and I found myself reaching for a box of tissues.as the book concluded. Sarah, I eagerly look forward to the third book, Blue Skies Tomorrow (August 2011). I highly recommend this series.

Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. she would love to have you visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com/, where you will see a diagram of a B-17, and read an iterview with Sarah. You will also find a link to her blog. Follow Sarah on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SarahSundinAuthor.

Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Sarah's book are available through http://www.amazon.com/ and wherever Christian books are sold.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Welcome Home! Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy by Kimberley Woodhouse - Book Review




Imagine for a moment that your child has been diagnosed with a rare medical disorder. She doesn't sweat, feels no pain, and needs to wear protective clothing just to go outside. With her restrictive lifestyle, countless medical bills and hospitalizations, including brain surgery, how is a family to cope? (adapted from back cover.) What would you think?  How would you feel? Such was the situation with Kayla Woodhouse and her family.

"How the Woodhouse family has faced seemingly impossible challenges is a story that has captured the hearts of America. Millions...have experienced glimpses of their lives on Discovery's Mystery ER, the Montel Williams Show, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

In her book, Kayla's mother,Kimberley tells Kayla's story, which is indeed the story of the entire family, including Kayla's Dad, Jeremy, and older brother, Josh. It is the story of one family's triumph over seemingly tragic circumstances, and how they experience extreme joy in the midst of one trial after another.  Kim writes candidly about the struggles, fears, emotions of everyday life. She takes us behind the scenes, as it were, to give us a picture of life as her family experiences it. You will laugh, and you will be moved to tears as you read this heart-wrenching and heart-warming story.

Kim has included many photos of the family as well as of their now-famous "extreme" home.  Yes, overwhelming trials are met with overcoming JOY. The story of the Woodhouse family will both challenge and bless you.  Thanks, Kim, for sharing your heart, as well as your joy!

Kim is a popular author and speaker.  She has spoken to more than 600 churches, conferences, seminars, and retreats.  As a third generation Liszt student, she has passed down her love for the arts to hundreds of students and has recorded three music albums.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. In addition to her non-fiction writing, she writes romantic suspense and children's books.  Currently, she and Kayla are co-authoring No Safe Haven, a romantic suspence based in Alaska. It is due to be released in March, 2011, and is the first in a three-book series.

Follow Kim on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her website at http://www.kimberleywoodhouse.com/.

I would like to thank Kim for providing a copy of her book for review purposes.  The book is published by Tyndale Publishers, Inc. and is a Focus on the Family resource.  Available through your favorite bookseller.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Healing With Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey - Blanket Blog Tour





October is the month when our attention is drawn to breast cancer. Pink is everywhere. But breast cancer needs to be in the forefront every month of the year. Diana Raab has had her own battle with this disease, and as a writer, she has written her personal story to help enlighten and encourage others. The author says, "There are a number of messages I have taken from the cancer journey, but for me, the most important one is that the diagnosis of cancer should be considered a turning point that sets you free to fulfill or examine dreams that can no longer wait...In spite of everything, I try to wake up every morning happy to be alive and with joy in my heart." Diana has given us a book that not only enlightens, but encourages us to write our thoughts and express our feelings through journaling. This book is a "must read" for every woman.

I wrote today's post as part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for

Healing with Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN
(http://www.dianaraab.com/). The book includes Diana's experiences, reflections,
poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to
express their own personal stories. A survivor of both breast cancer and
multiple myeloma, Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin--in that
it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health.

Diana, the author of eight books, spent 25 years as a medical and self-help
writer before turning to poetry and memoir. She teaches creative journaling
and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

If you comment on today's post you'll be entered to win a copy of Healing
with Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey. To read Diana's post about breast
cancer and a list of other blogs participating in Diana's Blanket Tour visit
The Muffin. http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Saturday, September 25, 2010

HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM - An interview with author, Francine Rivers

"From the beloved, best-selling author of Redeeming Love comes an unforgettable story about family and faith, dreams and disappointments, and ultimately the resilience and tenacity of love."
Those who have enjoyed the first book of the two-part series, Marta's Legacy, will be pleased to know that the final book, Her Daughter's Dream has now been released. Read an interview with Francine to learn more of the story behind the story.

How has exploring the relationship between your mother and grandmother helped you understand yourself?

This is a question I would love readers to ask themselves at the end of Her Mother’s Hope. I realized early in the story that I have many of my grandmother and mother’s character traits, both good and bad. They both had tempers. So do I. They both had low self-esteem. I’m always striving to “measure up”. They both chose spouses who respected them. So did I. Both women had strong faith and servants’ hearts, something they encouraged in me. My mother extended grace to others -- a trait I want to cultivate to the end of my days. By holding onto her anger, Grandma lacked the peace and joy she could have had in her last years. I tend to relive past hurts. Writing about Marta made me decide to let go, forgive and move on. For whatever reason, Grandma couldn’t and missed out on so much joy in her last years. Sometimes people deeply hurt as children take offense where none was intended. Holding a grudge causes suffering, especially for the one who won’t let go. Jesus said to forgive one another as He has forgiven us. Forgiveness frees us, even if the other person refuses to join in the process of reconciliation. As I examine my own life, I see how much I’ve been forgiven. How can I not extend God’s grace to others? The best way to experience the fullness of God’s presence in my life is to surrender it to Him. And in that surrender, we are made more complete and joy-filled.

Mother-daughter relationships are often complicated and fraught with emotional land mines. What was your approach to exploring the complexity of those relationships in a fictional setting?

Questions, lots of questions! Every time I told someone I was working on a book about mother-daughter relationships, people wanted to share their family stories. As I wrote Her Mother’s Hope, I wanted readers to see through each woman’s eyes, and understand how the past shaped each in the way she responded to her mother. Hildemara doesn’t believe her mother loves her, but it is out of Marta’s pain and loss that tough-love techniques were forged. Marta wants to strengthen her daughter for whatever lies ahead. Sometimes what we view as rejection can actually be an act of sacrificial love. We seldom know the experiences that shaped our mothers, the deep hurts, traumatic events, broken relationships. I hope women who read this book will want to share those things with one another.

Writing a novel is not for the faint of heart. What was the most difficult part of writing this family saga? What came the most naturally to you?

The most difficult part of writing any novel is getting out of my own way. I have to get rid of preconceived notions about themes and characters and plot. The first draft of this novel came in at over 1000 pages and was too biographical. I wanted the story to shift back and forth from present to past, trying to show what happened to create the rifts and valleys between Hildemara, Carolyn and May Flower Dawn. I was too cautious, too afraid to harm to my grandmother and mother’s memory.

A wonderful editor wrote me an insightful letter in which she listed what she wanted to know about each the characters. Her letter got my creative juices flowing. She helped me look at the story in a new way. I set the first manuscript aside and started over. I found it better to move from one generation to the next in a linear story. This time the characters followed my grandmother and mother’s timeline, but took on a life of their own. They became unique individuals rather than the shadow of real people.

After readers finish this series what do you want them to remember? What questions and feelings do you want it to provoke on a spiritual and emotional level?

I hope and pray readers who have had difficult relationships with their mothers or daughters will let go of the pain and anger and allow God to work in their lives. God can work all things together for good for those who trust and love Him. Following Jesus’ example changes the way we see people. It changes the way we relate to one another. Even when the chasm is too deep to cross, we can decide to forgive. Some people wear grievances like a dirty coat. With God’s strength, we can strip it off and be free. When people finish reading Her Daughter’s Dream, I hope they will want to extend God’s grace and forgiveness. I hope they will tear down their walls and use their life experiences to begin building a bridge.

Who do you see as the audience for this story, and does that differ from your previous readership?

I am fortunate to work with Tyndale House. If a writer does well in one genre, publishers encourage the writer to continue in the same genre. Tyndale has given me the freedom to go wherever the story leads. I have done historical as well as contemporary. This two-part saga was intended to be one LONG book. Splitting the story into two parts made it more affordable for readers, and eliminated the need to delete entire sections. Hopefully, both women and men will enjoy Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream. Men play a strong role in the lives of all four primary characters: Marta, Hildemara Rose, Carolyn and May Flower Dawn. And both books have much to do with faith, how it presents itself, how it grows, often under difficult circumstances and in unexpected ways.

Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM?

I would love for you to visit my web site at www.FrancinceRivers.com, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list. You may also join me on my Facebook page, please click here.

To enter to win a copy of Her Daughter's Dream, click on the following links.

http://www.facebook.com/CSSVBT.FrancineRivers.HerDaughtersDream and http://christianspeakerservices1.wordpress.com/blog/



A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DADDY'S DELIGHT by Dr. Karia Bunting - BOOK REVIEW

The subtitle sums up the message of the book: "Embracing Your Divine Design".  I wasn't acquainted with this author or her ministry. Dr. Karia Bunting pulls no punches. No sugar-coated message here, but a powerful, yest sensitively written book on being the womean God designed us to be. Filled with an abundance of Scriptural references, The author gives many personal and practical examples to illustrate her message.  A wide variey of topics is covered, such as temptation, singleness, marriage, motherhood, dealing with a dilemma, friendships, careers, and ministry. In this book. the author attempts to answer the question, "What does a godly woman look like?" I feel that she does this very well.
This would be a helpful book for a group discussion or one on one mentoring. The only thing lacking is a discussion guide for help in applying the teachings presented in the book.

From the back cover: Be the woman God created you to be. Understand how marvelously you were fashioned by Him, and experience the joy of being divinely designed. You are precious to God. You are His work of genius.

KARIA BUNTING (Dallas Theological Seminary; Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary; University of Texas) is an expository Bible teacher and the founder of Focused Forward Ministries. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University and teaches a weekly Bible study at her church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. Karia and her husband, George, live in Dallas and have three children



Learn more about Karia at http://focusedforwardministries.org/.


Here are the blogs featuring Daddy’s Delight during our September 20-24, 2010 Tour.
A room without books is empty

Arms of a Sister

Be Your Best Mom

Bell Whistle Moon

Blog Tour Spot

Bound to His Heart

Carly Bird’s Home

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Fresh Brewed Writer

In the Pages

Johnnie Alexander Donley

Leap of Faith

Life’s Like This

Musings by Lynn

My Alabaster Box

Net’s Book Notes

Outnumbered Mom

Refresh My Soul

Sisterhood of Beautiful Warriors

So Many Books… So Little Time

Tasra Mar

 
Thanks to the publisher, Moody Publishers, for providing a copy of the book for review purposes as part of the Blog Book Tour Spot program.
This book is available at your favorite bookseller, including http://www.amazon.com/.

Monday, September 20, 2010

IN EVERY HEARTBEAT by Kim Vogel Sawyer - BOOK REVIEW

In her latest release, Kim Vogel Sawyer has given us yet another story which touches the heart. From the beautiful illustration on the cover to the satisfying conclusion, I felt the emotions experienced by the characters. Each one came alive on the page. I laughed and cried along with them, feeling the tension, the challenges, heartaches, and longings. This is more than a romance in an historical setting. It presents a message of hope, compassion, love, and God's grace. The characters are not perfect, but in spite of their flaws, they are growing and maturing. They give a hope-filled glimpse of what is possible when we truly open our hearts and desire to follow God's ways. Kim includes all these elements in a natural way, without being 'preachy'. Thanks, Kim, for yet another memorable story, whose characters will remain in my heart.

The story begins in 1914, just prior to the outbreak of WWI. It involves three friends who grew up in the same orphanage, and head off to college together, each with a special plan for their future.  "Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Peter Leidig believes God has called him into full-time ministry. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible." But with the outbreak of war imminent, the friends' differences begin to divide them. "When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they had never anticipated?" (Excerpted from back cover)
Those who have enjoyed Kim's past novels will welcome this new one to their collection. For others not yet acquainted with her writing, this book is a great introduction to the writings of Kim Vogel Sawyer.


Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of sixteen novels, including many CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads womens' fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren. She invites you to visit her Website at http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com/. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter as well.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc. Available now at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group."