I believe in imagination, dreaming, and love at first sight. I love cheesy Hallmark movies– movies–eveneven if there is fake snow. But none of that really involves a miracle.
When I was younger, I believed that miracles were something that rarely happened. I thought that they occurred in Bible times–but rarely any more. The older that I get, I realize that sometimes miracles are all around us, but we don’t see them because we don’t realize how truly rotten our sin nature is.
What am I trying to say?
Left to our own selfish desires–we wouldn’t show God’s love; we wouldn’t look past our own goals to put someone else first;we wouldn’t be kind or take the time to give and care for others; we wouldn’t forgive.
He reached into this desperately wicked heart of mine and helped me to see others and sometimes helps me to forgive. I admit. I’m worse at it than I used to be…and that saddens me. I really don’t want to become cynical or stop believing that there is hope for this world. Sometimes the news and facebook posts, etc., just steal that hope.
Today though? I believe in miracles. Let’s continue to pray that God puts a hedge of protection around His children so that the dark doesn’t snuff out the light. Let us all remain faithful.
Take a moment to watch the lesson that “Miracle” teaches.
Thank you, Rebecca Leland for sharing the stage with me!
It would make my day if you would take the time to follow us and share!
Until next time–this is just me talking to you from the wings!
“Wrong? What do you mean wrong? ” You might be asking.
I’d like to ask if you think she actually sinned by making the movie….but I don’t want to be side tracked by conversations about other people making their own choices.
The main point is this….even if you liked the movie, even if you could see that the movie is drawing people to God….is it RIGHT for a director to ask people to strip almost naked and act out sexual scenes for others to watch?
Yes, you are responsible for the choices you make. You alone have to decide where the line is. I remember being told as a teenager that I needed to decide what my dating standards were before I went on a date because in a car was not the time to decide if I would or would not…..kiss, make-out, have sex.
The same goes for actors. I actually asked a potential Christian intern last year what their” line was.” They looked at me in complete bewilderment so I continued. “For example, what do you believe is wrong for you to do on stage…like would it be okay to be naked?” Their response? “I guess I’d do that. Depending on the context and purpose.”
Maybe that is the root of the problem. What happened to us as Christians that some of us think it is not only okay to watch just about anything, but equally okay to actually be the one naked and “having sex.” ?
Is any of it sin?
I keep thinking of “Be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down in love.” and “never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” or in Mark 9:42, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”
So, was it wrong for Francine Rivers to allow others to be so naked (granted, she might have had a bandaid on) that to the world she APPEARS naked? In fact, she wanted us all to believe she is naked. Further more, was it wrong for the two characters to imitate having sex, complete with movements and well, more….?
Just in case you think that Francine Rivers didn’t have a say once she sold her script, this is from a recent announcement with Penguin Random House:
“Over the years with other options, the character of Michael didn’t come across the way it must. When Cindy Bond of Mission Pictures approached us, I decided to write a sample script of what I felt needed to be seen. I read a few books on how to write a script, loaded final draft onto my computer, and took a whack at it, never expecting they would use it. They bought it! When D.J. Caruso pursued the job of directing the movie, we worked together on the script. He restructured it and we strengthened scenes. It was a collaborative effort to bring a powerful redemptive story to the screen. I was also involved in the auditions and selection of the actors – especially Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis, who played the leading roles. They are wonderful!”
In every other interview I’ve seen Rivers seems to be thrilled with the movie.
In 1991, Francine Rivers published a book called Redeeming Love. Since then it has sold over three million copies. That’s amazing for a Christian author....maybe any author.
It had mixed results as a novel, Rivers has a way of writing than can be a little steamy to an innocent mind. The controversy even then was that the book was a “gateway to soft porn.”
For me, my daughter and many of my friends, Redeeming Love was a powerful book. For many of us, the thought that our Lord pursues us the way that Michael Hosea pursued Angel or the picture of Isreal in Hosea was so moving that it brought us to tears. I understand why Rivers is so protective of it. It is a masterpiece.
The popularity of the book made many of us desire a film and Rivers herself longed for a contract. The film was many years on the drafting block for various reasons. When Rivers began tweeting about the film the Christian community went crazy.
And then the film was released.
I heard many people talk about the nudity and (excuse the next graphic language) the sexual movements of couples, considering if those elements had a place in a “Christian film.” I began to wonder if it was “right” for me to watch it.
I decided (giving warning to my friends) that we should see it and then give our thoughts. We didn’t talk about it before we filmed-we wanted the conversation to be raw and real. After watching the video below, I must admit, I wish I had waited a few days. I think the peace maker in me wanted to be pleasant and entertaining, but as I ponder the film I think I would have changed my rating. I give it a thumbs up at the end, but that was too generous. This film needs to come with more warnings than it does. Yes, the subject matter is difficult. Yes, I think Christians should show a realistic picture that sin is ugly and life is not always handed to a Christian all wrapped up in a bow that gives us a happily ever after. Yet…as a director and a Christian, I think some of the elements in this film could have given us that realistic picture without “crossing the line.”
Is it possible that people will know about God’s love from this movie?
God doesn’t need any of this to call people to him.
Is it possible this movie could cause people to sin by watching it?
I believe the answer to that is also yes. Doesn’t the Bible warn us to not be a stumbling block to others?
What is considered “nudity”? (The aurgument is that at one point Michael’s hand covers her beast so that you cannot see…well, you know.) So that makes it not nudity? I disagree. You see too much. It is nudity to me. In fact, I think one of the problems with the movie is that it tries to have a little steaminess with the sex scenes.
I wonder if we have become desensitized to “things of the world?” Arguing that “you don’t really see anything”, or that the people that are acting out the sexual scenes are portraying married couples doesn’t sit well for me. I think we should require more from a film that labels itself “Christian” or one that is supposed to show us God’s holy, pure, and unconditional love.
Before you use this argument on me….I KNOW the BIble is filled with stories of sex, sin and murder, but it isn’t written in graphic detail. Song of Solomon is the exception, but it isn’t written to be steamy and doesn’t include full color video.
Please watch the video below and let us know if you’ve seen the movie or if perhaps the video will help you make a decision. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Join us next week as our discussion goes a different direction. I seriously cannot wait for you to see part two!
Rebecca Leland, Naomi Rogers, thank you for your frank discussion. Thank you Rebecca for filming and your efforts in editing this mammoth job!
I would love it if you would like, share and follow!
Until next time this is just me talking to you from the wings-
It is that time again when all readers post the list of books they have read over the past year. Last year at this time I shared my very first book list. I set a goal in 2020 of reading only twelve books. I read 20. I was super excited about that and decided I could do more this year. I thought one a week should be a cake walk…..
I read 21.
Yes. You read that correctly. I set a goal for over twice as many books and only read one single book more than the year before. Did I fail?
No. It isn’t a competition. I couldn’t have known in December what distractions would keep me from reading.
I read 21 in spite of all the things that happened in 2021. That’s pretty amazing. Here is the list.
Blackout by Candace Owens N/F 4/5
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini F 4/5
The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar F 4/5
One to Watch by Kate Stayman London F 4.5/5
All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese F 5/5
Becoming Elisabeth Edwards by Ellen Vaughn N/F 4/5
Shipped by Angie Hockman F 3/5
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer F 5/5
I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark (Audio) F 4/5
We Hope For Better Things by Erin Bartels (Audio) F 5/5
A New York Secret by Ella Carey F 4/5
Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo (Audio) F 4/5
Look Again by Lisa Scottoline (audio) F 5/5
Is it Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh F 5/5
Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano F 5/5
Random Road by Thomas Kies F 5/5
High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins N/F 4/5
Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson F 4/5
At Your Request by Jen Turano (Audio) F 2/5
Beach Rental by Grace Greene (Audio) F 5/5
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty F 3/5
And that is it for this year! My top read was Look Again. I have reccommended it several times. I truely couldn’t put it down!
What about you-did you meet your reading goals? Did you read any of these? What did you think?
Charity took another look around the empty room. It was void of decorations and furniture except for the cherished radio/CD player and one table and chair. She walked over and clicked the radio on. The static was loud, but temporary as she inserted a CD into the well-loved player.
The sounds of Bing Crosby crooning, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” immediately filled the air.
Charity walked over to the window and peered at the pavement below. “Nothing white on the ground here.” She smiled. That was okay with her. She wasn’t fond of snow or cold and neither was her mother.
This was going to be her first Christmas without her mother. It filled her with an emotion that she wasn’t ready for. It had been months. Why did she still wake up every morning wishing she could call her mom? Mom always made everything all right.
She walked back over to the last box. Once she went through this box she would clean the apartment for the last time and turn the keys over to the manager.
“Over. I just don’t want it to be over.”
Bing stopped singing and Perry Como began singing,”I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” She couldn’t stop the tears that began to slide down her cheeks. Home? Where exactly was home?
She lifted the lid on the box. What was this? Letters. All unopened. She grabbed a few of them and thumbed through them. Some were addressed to her, some to her Grandmother, some to Dad and a few to God.
She decided to take the top one and open it. It was addressed to “Unknown”.
As she read aloud, the music vanished and she could picture her mom in earlier Christmas’. She was sitting by the Christmas tree at Grandmother’s house. Her sister’s were young and beautiful as they all laughed and told stories together. Dad was close by looking lovingly at her.
She shook away the memory and opened the letter.
“To whom it may concern. I’m not sure how long I will live or who will find these letters. Please don’t share them with anyone. You may read them and think what you will, but I never gave them to the people I wrote them to for a reason and I’d ask that you keep them to yourself as well. You may ask why I wrote them instead of talking it out? Writing is permanant. When you talk, sometimes you forget exactly what was said. I want to always remember. Now you say, but the letters are sealed! Yes, they are. That is a mystery you must discover for yourself, if you choose to. Happy Reading”
Charity stood. Why were the letters only written to the four of them? Her mother must have known that Charity would be the one to find the letters, why didn’t she just leave a note to her?
Charity was instantly filled with fear and excitement and worry all combined into one new emotion.
She closed her eyes, reached into the box and randomly pulled out a letter.
It was dated December, 1956.
“The year I was born!” The letter wasn’t addressed to her, or her mom or her dad. It was addressed to God.
I am a mother. Finally! All I can think of this Christmas is Mary. The girl you chose to be the mother of your son. I picture her holding Jesus. What must she have been thinking? ‘He’s perfect! How can this little one be a Savior to the world? How can I be the earthly mother to someone who knows all and sees all?’ I have such doubts about my ability to be a mother. Will Charity and I be close? Will my own mother be satisfied in what she sees in me? So, I’m writing you my deepest and darkest fears. I know that you know what is in my heart, but I feel that somehow if I write it here then I can leave it here. Safe with you. Help me to be more like Mary-more like Jesus.”
In an instant Charity knew that this box was a special gift. Just like Mary had pondered things in her heart-Charity’s mom had as well. She reached into the box again. “Thank you, God, for this special gift from the past that is for the future. Thank you, also, for Jesus and Mary and…my mom.”
She looked over at the box. What other secrets did it hold?
**Before you ask, this is NOT a TRUE story. I’m not sure why God puts stories on my heart, but I really enjoyed where this one took me. Let me know if you want to hear more about Charity!
I’d love it if you’d follow me, like my post, comment or share!
Before we start I just want to thank you all for the outpouring of love, support and prayers you showered upon me after my last blog post. (https://wp.me/p9JkzU-Ny) It was so encouraging and it helped me regain my footing for this week.
My Goodreads account taunts me as it tells me I’m 32 books behind my reading goal for this year! Yikes! 32?? I don’t think I have the ability to catch up and actually I’m rather disappointed in myself. Although, I did have a super rough year. My reading stopped when my husband and I were able to purchase a rental property in Florida. I was so excited, but as my husband explained it, “I just bought you a job.” He was right. I love it and it is super exciting to have that next step in our lives, but it took quite a bit of attention in the beginning.
A little before that we got the news that my mom was going into hospice and the other part of my free time was spent going back and forth to spend time with her. There were a few other things that distracted me (as you faithful readers of this blog know.)
Now, here I am with only a month and a half left to read….hmmm one book every two days….maybe I could do it….(insert ridiculous laugh.)
What keeps me sharing these books with you? This week alone I had one person call me and ask what book she should buy and several others tell me they had just bought books I recommended. Okay. That’s fun.
Maybe one of you will enjoy one of these that I read last month. Please let me know if you do!
Book #1 A New York Secret by Ella Carey
From the cover:
1942, New York. As war rages in Europe, Lily Rose is grateful for her perfect life: a wealthy family who love her and a dream job working uptown as a restaurant chef. Times are changing for women and Lily is determined to run her own kitchen one day. She hopes handsome Tom Morelli, son of Sicilian immigrants, will be at her side. Together they work late, dreaming up delicious meals for New Yorkers struggling with wartime rationing and the threat of sons and sweethearts being called up…
Then Tom receives a devastating telegram that changes everything: he is drafted to fight in Italy.
Suddenly alone, Lily turns to her parents for support. But when her mother finds out about Tom, she is furious. When the war ends, Lily’s duty is to marry the man picked for her, keep house and raise children. They give her a heartbreaking ultimatum: end her relationship with Tom or lose her family and inheritance forever.
In the middle of the war, Lily is left in an impossible position. Will she choose to stay with her family and live the safe life she has always known, or will she follow her heart and her dreams?
I have done quite a lot of reading about WWII in my life time. It is difficult to find an angle to tell a new story in a creative way, but this one by Carey does just that. It didn’t engage me in a way that might make me think about it day and night, but it did teach a powerful lesson about friendships and the tragedy of a society that still places certain rules of society higher than happiness.
Sad to say that the idea that Lily Rose might not be able to follow her dream of being a chef because it wasn’t the plan her parents had for her is a reality that many people still face today. My parent’s approval was always very important to me. I didn’t date guys they didn’t like. I went to the school they wanted me to go to and it broke my heart if they ever said, “Reba, be ashamed.” I felt for Lily. I sensed her torment as she longed to not cause her parent’s pain, but yet knew she could not give up the dreams of her heart.
What I liked about this book:
Lily. She is written creatively as a smart woman that has the courage to make bold choices. In spite of being brought up by a mother who is a snob, she is still loving towards people who don’t have the same luxuries that she does.
Josie. I would love to be a grandmother like she is. One who is proud of their grandchildren and supportive, loving, and leads and teaches with a kind heart.
I like the fresh approach Carey used to tell this story. I never even considered what happened to the male chefs during the war or how restaurants got their food. I guess realistically I never thought that the wealthy would indulge themselves in that way when a country was all sacrificing for the common good.
I thought it was going to be a love story and although it is–I like that the story teaches and focuses on so many other attitudes and lessons. I do believe that I would have enjoyed a little more of the love story between Tom and Lily. I will not give details because I don’t want to give a spoiler, but I find a part of their relationship to be very confusing and perhaps a little unrealistic. If you choose to read this–please drop me a note and let’s talk about this!
Other reviews I read said this book was emotional. To be honest, I didn’t connect with the characters in a way that made it an emotional read for me.
Who should read this book?
Read this book if you are interested in history, World War II, or cooking!
“in order to cope with old age, she needed a purpose, because if she didn’t have one, then she may as well be dead.”
The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death―clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?
Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes―and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.
I continued my new habit of listening to books this month. It does take a bit of getting used to, but when the book is good I find that I love it almost as much as holding the book in my hand.
It took me a chapter or two to figure out the main character. There was a great deal of bad language in it and it caught me off guard right from the start. I was so distracted by it that I had to go back and really listen to hear that the main detective was indeed a female. There was something about the way the book was read that I felt right away that she was a guy. Oops. That leads to other problems when her character started talking about dating one of the other men. Yep. I needed to go back and figure out what was what.
I must admit that I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the book. Remember, my last Chirp book was a book I LOVED (you can read about that book here:https://wp.me/p9JkzU-Mm ) So, I was constantly comparing this book to that one. I also wasn’t gripped by the Amish story. It seemed too simple to me.
Man, was I wrong. Just when I thought I had this book all figured out Castillo threw me for a loop. This book is anything but predictable. She sets the stage with perfect descriptions of the Amish and their lifestyles–makes you love the characters in a way that you actually feel sorry for the pain they are all feeling–then-wow. I will not tell you anymore because you need to read or listen to this one for yourself. It is deep and well paced.
Embarrassment number two….I had NO IDEA this was part of a series. It is actually book number 3 in a 14 part series. Maybe that is why I was a little lost in the beginning. Don’t let that stop you though because honestly, I never knew I was missing anything. It could totally stand alone.
What I loved about this book:
I loved the mystery and that it was totally unpredictable. I love Castillo’s vocabulary. Seriously, I have never read a book that used so many words I was unfamiliar with. She’s amazing. Castillo is also a master at describing a scene not just the way it looks, but the way it smells and even feels. The book has a well-layered plot that is certainly a page-turner.
Who should read this book?
Lovers of mysteries. People interested in the Amish way of life. Lovers of thrillers and detective stories.
Lots of language. Violence. Sexual situations.
Book #3 Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
From the Cover:
When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops―the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth.
And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life―and that of the son she loves.
I am not sure why I look at other people’s reviews of books before I start writing mine. It’s kinda crazy. I don’t read them before I read the book..I read them after I read the book. Maybe because I feel like I’m discussing it with them somewhat. Anyway, I could not disagree more with the majority of reviews I read. I’m not quite sure how people could have hated the book so much….when I say I couldn’t stop listening and that I listened EVERY spare moment I could, it wouldn’t be a stretch. I would even listen to it as I was falling asleep–trying to enjoy every single second of this book. It was my first Scottoline book, but it will not be my last.
There were a few things I DID NOT like. I thought Ellen needed to get a grip. Once she started worrying about her adopted son, and if he could indeed be the one on the postcard of missing children, she started making mistake after mistake and indeed her reporter nose was lacking in tying the pieces of the mystery together. In honesty, I am a worrier so I rationalized that I would be exactly the same way. How in the world do you deal with the fact that you might have an abducted child?What if you have to give him back? The moral questions that this book raises are numerous and fascinating to think about.
What I loved about this book?
I could not figure out how Scottoline would end the story. I was terrified it would be heartbreaking and she kept me engaged the entire time. I loved Ellen and her son. Honestly, I also loved Mary Stuart Masterson, who narrated the book. She was amazing and probably half the reason I loved book. I will look for more books that she has narrated as I have discovered the narrator makes a huge difference in how quickly I become engaged in the story.
Who should read this book?
Everyone if I had my way. Seriously, Lovers of mysteries, stories about families, crime stories.
“Even people who counted their blessings never counted them in the morning. For one thing, there wasn’t time.”
“Writing had always helped her, before. It always clarified her feelings and her thoughts, and she never felt like she could understand something fully until the very minute that she’d written about it, as if each story was one she told herself and her readers, at the same time.“
Warnings: I would not want to read this if I had a child I had adopted. It would make me dwell on all those fears.
That’s it for this month! What are you reading? Now it’s your turn to talk and perhaps share this blog!
Reading has been missing in my life for the last couple of months. Things are getting more busy with the theater. Life is getting back to normal and to add to the excitement we invested in a rental property which has kept me crazy busy.
But, I really don’t want to lose what I gained during this past year of misery…a reconnection with books.
Here are the ones I read lately:
Book #1 Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn
This book was on my Christmas list this year and I’m so thankful I received it.
From the cover:
Elisabeth Elliot was a young missionary in Ecuador when members of a violent Amazonian tribe savagely speared her husband Jim and his four colleagues. Incredibly, prayerfully, Elisabeth took her toddler daughter, snakebite kit, Bible, and journal . . . and lived in the jungle with the Stone-Age people who killed her husband. Compelled by her friendship and forgiveness, many came to faith in Jesus. This courageous, no-nonsense Christian went on to write dozens of books, host a long-running radio show, and speak at conferences all over the world. She was a pillar of coherent, committed faith; a beloved and sometimes controversial icon. In this authorized biography, Becoming Elisabeth Elliot, bestselling author Ellen Vaughn uses Elisabeth’s private, unpublished journals, and candid interviews with her family and friends, to paint the adventures and misadventures God used to shape one of the most influential women in modern church history. It’s the story of a hilarious, sensual, brilliant, witty, self-deprecating, sensitive, radical, and surprisingly relatable person utterly submitted to doing God’s will, no matter how high the cost. For Elisabeth, the central question was not, “How does this make me feel?” but, simply, “is this true?” If so, then the next question was, “what do I need to do about it to obey God?” “My life is on Thy Altar, Lord—for Thee to consume. Set the fire, Father! Bind me with cords of love to the Altar. Hold me there. Let me remember the Cross.” –Elisabeth Elliot, age 21
I am very familiar with Elisabeth Elliot and her husband Jim Elliot. I have long admired her ability to write and speak and I’m so thankful for the testimony she gave the world by her writing and documentation of a story of 5 heros and their wives who died trying to reach the Aucas in Ecuador. (Through Gates of Splendor) I watched the film End of the Spear and even wrote a play, Flame of Fire, about these five families. (For permission to perform that play please contact us at Overshadowed.org)
I was really looking forward to learning more about this amazing Godly woman who went BACK to the very jungles and people who killed her husband. That’s an amazing woman.
This story was created from the journals, letters, and other writings of Elisabeth herself. (Maybe we should all keep journals!)The book talks about Elliot’s childhood, her years at boarding school and Wheaton College, and her courtship and marriage to Jim.
Ellen brilliantly weaves the story of the five missionaries with the true story of the Waodani’s who speared the men to death in 1956. The story became a propellant in the missions movement in the years that followed the event.
Elisabeth was brilliant. She excelled in Greek, even reading Plato and Socrates in original text. She was a no nonsense person. She believed that she was to die to self and do what Christ wanted her to do. In that, was the only freedom she knew.
We also get to know the Elisabeth who is lonely and grieves and at times judgmental. Her relationship with her mother is troublesome, but at the heart of it is an Elisabeth who doesn’t act the way others think that she should. She acts the way she thinks God wants her to be. Period.
We learn about her life when she returned to the jungle. I wasn’t aware of the relationship that she had with Nate Saint’s sister and that alone was fascinating to me. She didn’t have an easy life, but I wonder how much of the tension in relationships were brought on by her own intolerance.
What I loved about this book:
I loved learning more about Elisabeth. I was fascinated to see how strict her upbringing was and how hard she was on herself. It is rare to find a person who is so totally committed to seeking and following God’s will. I loved seeing that she was human with failures, passions, and struggles with faith. I loved that the book wasn’t preachy. Ellen told the story fabulously.
The love story of Jim and Elisabeth isn’t a love story between them. It is a love story of Jim’s love for God and Elisabeth’s love for God and how God allowed them to love each other. Sometimes frustrating, but beautiful in the end.
Who should read this book? Lovers of God. Women and young women who struggle with fears of being single. People who love historical biographies.
“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts. It is easier to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence, than to wait patiently.“
“Nothing was lost. The things she missed were stored in heavenly storehouses. Someday she would see God’s glory in eternity, rather than the apparant losses she felt so keenly on this earth.”
“Teach me never to let the joy of what has been pale the joy of what is.”
“She was not willing to deny that sometimes even religious leaders, like the fictitious emperor in the children’s story, wore no clothes.”
“God has chosen to leave certain questions unanswered and certain problems without any solution in this life, in order that in our very struggle to answer and solve we may be shoved back and back, and eternally back to the contemplation of Himself and to complete trust in WHO HE IS. I’m glad He’s my Father.”
Rating: 4/5 I found it a little dry in some places.
Book # 2 Shipped by Angie Hockman
From the Cover:
Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
What I loved about this book:
To be honest, I love romances, but I don’t usually like to read them. Modern ones have a little too much sexual content for me and many times they are poorly written.
I did however, really enjoy this one. It was a light read that once I started I couldn’t wait to finish. I loved the attraction between Henley and Graeme. I loved that he appeared to be both a snake and an hero and we had to wait to figure out the truth. Sometimes we all jump to conclusions or is the evidence exactly what it seems to be?
Angie created vivid characters for us to both love and hate and distrust!
I also loved the travel aspects. I loved learning more about the Galapagos Islands and loved the beautiful picture Angie painted for us.
Who should read this book: Lovers of Contemporary romance. Cruise Lovers or if you like a little comedy with your romance.
Warning: Contains sexual content. Also Contains Strong language.
“People are the problem. But they can also be the solution.”
Book #3 The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
From the Cover:
In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.
Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate.
Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.
Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it. – Graydon House
What I loved about this book:
Well, dual story lines are definately in right now and I must admit I don’t love them, but in this story I at least liked it. There is a love story between a grandmother and granddaughter as well as the love story of Alina and Tomasz. I love that Babcia–Eddie’s Great grandmother– can love on him and ground him when he is upset. Grandmother’s should be special like that don’t you think?
I loved the way Kelly described the scene when Alini’s brothers had to leave. She covers all emotions in the way she paints the scene causing us to think in ways that had never occured to me.
I loved that I didn’t figure out the “sacrifice” until the end and it brought me to tears when I did. I loved that the author didn’t manipulate my emotions. I loved learning more about autism and how it affects every member of the family. I loved the journey Kelly took me on as she told the story of desperation, love and loss and ultimately reconciliation.
In the season we are in–where political agendas result in hatred towards anyone who has an opinion other than ours–I loved the message Kelly promotes. In one scene Tomasz tells the story of a friend of his–someone who by all rights should have hated him, but didn’t. Instead, as Kelly writes: “He refused to debase himself with hatred.” The friend had lost everything because of people like Tomasz and yet he forgave him. Challenging thoughts.
I love the undying love Tomasz has for Alina and how Kelly uses such vivid words to make us understand that love.
Lastly, I love the connection Kelly has to the story due to her own heritage. I love that Kelly took a story that could bring out the worst in hummanity and instead finds love, grace and hope. She writes, “I marveled at the way that not even the worst of humanity is powerful enough to stamp out grace or hope or love.”
Can we do the same?
Who should read this book?
Read this book if you are interested in history, World War II, Polish heritage. If you like emotional reads or family stories it is also great.
Warnings: oblique references to the Holocaust, gun violence
“To destabilize a group of people is not at all difficult, not if you are willing to be cruel enough. You simply knock out the foundations, and a natural consequence is that the rest begins to tumble.”
“I had no power to change my lot. All I had was the breath in my lungs and a tiny fragment of hope that if I kept moving forward, I could survive until someone else changed my world.”
“Home is not the country we stand in–it’s us.”
“You must believe that if God allowed you to survive this far–there is a purpose to it. You must believe that there is work left for you to do on this Earth before you are released to peace. Hold tight to what you have left, Saul Weiss. And if all you have left is your faith, then your cling to it with every shred of strength you have left–do you hear me?”
Rating: 5/5 Stars
What are you reading now? Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author and publisher as part of the author’s launch team. All thoughts below are my own and I was not required to post a positive review. Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which I do not receive compensation for.
All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese
They tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, you totally can! From the moment you hold this beautiful book in your hands you know it is going to give you so much more than the typical Christian fiction. It is beautiful inside and out!
From the cover:
Molly McKenzie’s bright personality and on-trend fashion and beauty advice have made her a major social media influencer. When her manager-turned-boyfriend tells her of an upcoming audition to host a makeover show for America’s underprivileged youth, all her dreams finally seem to be coming true. There’s just one catch: she has little experience interacting with people in need.
To gain an edge on her competitors, she plans to volunteer for the summer at a transitional program for aged-out foster kids, but the program’s director, Silas Whittaker, doesn’t find her as charming as her followers do. Despite his ridiculous rules and terms, Molly dives into mentoring, surprising herself with the genuine connections and concern she quickly develops for the girls–and Silas. But just as everything seems perfectly aligned for her professional future, it starts to crumble under the pressure. And as her once-narrow focus opens to the deep needs of those she’s come to know, she must face the ones she’s neglected inside herself for so long.
So many times when I begin a book review I say that the book was not what I expected. It is rare that I say it was MORE than I expected.
I knew I would like this book, in fact, I have only recently discovered Nicole Deese. I read her book, The Promise of Rayne (you can read my review of that book here: https://fromthewingsorg.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2431&action=edit) and instantly declared her as one of my new favorite authors! I just didn’t know how much I would love her book. But, I did. I laughed, cried, cheered, and more than that, cared for the characters– not just Silas and Molly, but ALL of them.
What I loved about this book:
Nicole Deese is a deep, thoughtful writer. The plot is never simple. Instead, she captivates you with the main plot of the story and then begins to build such deep dynamic characters that the backstory becomes a huge part of the plot. Her characters are memorable because Nicole crafts them masterfully to reveal charm, wit, humanity, weaknesses, goals, and inner conflicts.
I LOVED Molly and Silas. In fact, everyone needs friends in their lives like these two. Friends aren’t always perfect, but sometimes we judge instead of forgiving. They were both so real in their shortcomings and failures, but forgiving even when they had the right to judge. I loved watching their personal development both individually and in their relationships with others.
I especially loved Molly’s transparency as she wondered aloud how many people around the world were praying for her as she made a living “profiting from one of the world’s deadly sins: vanity.” I am reminded that it is easy to prejudge when we don’t know the whole story.
I laughed so much at the debate on the numbers of followers between Silas and Molly. Molly knew exactly how far away she was from a million…Silas was like the rest of us…if you have 600,000 it might as well be a million!
I also loved that Nicole took a topic (foster care and aging out of the system) and made us more aware of a deep need in our society. I love that she also mixed the story with the hot topic of social media. The story was current, relevant and fascinating. If I can read a book for entertainment and at the same time learn and feel, it is a definate win for me!
All That Really Matters. The inside cover quotes this verse: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phippippians 2:3-4.
In today’s world I find that the struggle to be heard, to have a voice that matters, to be “someone” pulls at most of us. How many “friends” or “followers” do you have? Some of us fight with an inside voice that tells us that how many “likes” you get matters. This book strips what we see of an influencer and lets us see the struggle that someone with Molly’s conscience might feel. It was convicting to me and a challenge to start my day remembering, “what really matters.”
One last thing–I loved that Nicole reached into a world of non-profits and exposed a need. There are so many wonderful causes to give or volunteer at. Thank you, Nicole, for pointing out a need.
I cannot say enough good things about this book or this author! I hope you will purchase a copy today and let me know what you think of it!
Who should read this book? Lovers of Christian fiction, Christian romance, Influencers, Adoptive parents or parents of foster children.
“Molly, when you feel good in your own skin, it’s easy to help someone else feel good in theirs.”
“Share your spark with the world, Molly, Stop trying to hide what God created to be seen.“
“I want to be more than a pretty face with an addictive personality. I want to be seen as the real deal. Someone who uses their influence to pay it forward. For good.“
“…it has very little to do with that and everything to do with having the courage to speak up for herself. To speak her mind when she feels belittled and overshadowed. And don’t even think about telling me that’s not a critical life skill. Because that might just be the most critical life skill she could possess as a female living in our world today.”
“How you frame your words is often more important than the words themselves.”
“A million dollars may as well be a hundred million to a nonprofit that barely managed to scrape by as it was.”
“Because that’s where hope actually lives–in the hustle. And if they can hustle a little harder, a little longer, a littler faster…mayber all those pretty things can be theirs. Maybe life will finally make sense. Maybe something they do will actually matter. Reality isn’t enough. It’s never been enough.”
“God has uniquely shaped gifts for every one of His uniquely shaped people.”
“Because if you gave everything up, He might, what? Love you more? Forgive you more? Accept you more?” I didn’t miss the way Silas tried to catch my eye. But I didn’t want to be caught. All of that was true. “If that’s your goal, you’ll never meet it. There’s nothing you can sacrifice that’s worthy of what God gives us freely.“
“You don’t honor God with your life by changing your personality and tossing out everything that is unique about who you are. You honor Him by offering those very gifts back to Him.“
“When I’m focused inward, I miss out on divine opportunities to bless others–to serve, to help, to protect, to befriend. To love beyond my own capacity and capability. This heart makeover is still a work in progress.”
Nicole Deese’s (www.nicoledeese.com) eight humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled novels include the 2017 Carol Award-winning A Season to Love. Her 2018 release, A New Shade of Summer,was a finalist in the RITA Awards, Carol Awards, and INSPY Awards. Both of these books are from her bestselling Love in Lenoxseries. When she’s not working on her next contemporary romance, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior.
Thank you, Bethany House Publishers and Nicole Deese for allowing me to read such a beautifully written, touching story.
I set a goal of 52 books to read this year and I’m sad to say that it is March and I have finished only 4 books. I’m not off to a rousing start! I began the book Blackout in December. If you are interested in reading more about my thoughts on that book, please look me up on instagram at Reba.Hervas.
This month I tackled 3 books.
Book #1Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
I received this book for Christmas (thank you Kendra Jones). It has been on my want- to- read list for years. I think it hit the stands in 2013! A book is a book and if I ever write one I would want people to still buy and read it years after it is first published!
From the cover:
“In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion. A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trials of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days.”
This book was not quite what I expected. After only a few chapters in I found myself searching historical reports to learn more about Mary Todd Lincoln. Perhaps because I grew up in another part of the country and perhaps because I wasn’t always a good student in the beginning, I never knew that Mary Todd wasn’t as admired as her husband.
What I loved about this book:
I love when a book inspires me to go back and study and see how the history holds up against the fiction part of the book. In this case, the book is so remarkably well done. I became more educated and inspired all at the same time.
It was quite shocking to me to learn of Elizabeth Keckley, an extraordinary woman, that most of us have never heard of, a former slave, who managed to cross the culture of the time to be a witness to a time in history that well….changed the United States. How fortunate we are to have Elizabeth Keckley’s real words to testify of the times. If you are interested check out her book, Behind the Scenes.
I love history that tells the story “out of the normal box.” In this case we see the struggle of our nation during an ugly part of history not from the side of the north or south, but from the eyes of a former slave who is now experiencing the background struggles–the things most of us can only imagine. It was fascinating as well as informative. Seeing the victory of the Civil War through her eyes was so much more meaningful than any other account I read. To be honest, I found myself believing the book was really Elizabeth’s own thoughts instead of Jennifer’s.
Some of the best lessons we have as humans come from history. This book paints a beautiful picture of historical events, Lincoln, everyday life, and the struggles of slavery.
One of the highlights for me was the detail Jennifer gave to Lincoln, including the very foundation of his philosophy of life and politics.
I did not feel like I was reading a historical fiction novel, but instead a real documented account of life with the Lincolns.
The book doesn’t just paint a rosy picture. To say that Mrs. Lincoln lived a pain-filled life would be quite the understatement, but along with the personal pain we also learn of the pain caused by gossip, slander, rivalry, and the dishonesty that can take place in politics and life.
I grew to love Elizabeth so much that I truly felt pain for her at the end. She loved Mary Todd so much. She was a true friend, but Mary Todd didn’t have the mental capacity to be able to recognize that fact. It would have been easy for Mrs. Chiaverini to present a picture of Mrs. Lincoln very distasteful, but she did allow us to also see qualities that were admirable.
It wasn’t an easy read for me. I tend to have to trudge through long passages of details. I would much rather read dialogue and shorter accounts that pass from subject to subject. That said, it was truly a wonderful novel.
Who should read this book? Lovers of history, Civil War, Historical fiction, Lincoln.
With malice toward none, with Charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
The sublimity of witnessing the ruler of a mighty nation turning to Holy Scripture for comfort and courage, and finding both in his darkest hour, brought tears to her eyes.
He was young, not to understand how foolhardy it was to take pride in something so fickle, so fleeting, as fame.
” I often heard Mr. Lincoln say to his wife: ‘Don’t worry, Mother, because all things will come out right. God rules our destinies.”
Her greatest legacy could not be measured in garments or in words, but in the wisdom she had imparted, in the lives made better because she had touched them.
Book #2The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar
From the cover:
A stunning story about the Women Airforce Service Pilots whose courage during World War II turned ordinary women into extraordinary heroes
1941. Audrey Coltrane has always wanted to fly. It’s why she implored her father to teach her at the little airfield back home in Texas. It’s why she signed up to train military pilots in Hawaii when the war in Europe began. And it’s why she insists she is not interested in any dream-derailing romantic involvements, even with the disarming Lieutenant James Hart, who fast becomes a friend as treasured as the women she flies with. Then one fateful day, she gets caught in the air over Pearl Harbor just as the bombs begin to fall, and suddenly, nowhere feels safe.
To make everything she’s lost count for something, Audrey joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. The bonds she forms with her fellow pilots reignite a spark of hope in the face war, and—when James goes missing in action—give Audrey the strength to cross the front lines and fight not only for her country, but for the love she holds so dear.
Shining a light on a little-known piece of history, The Flight Girls is a sweeping portrayal of women’s fearlessness, love, and the power of friendship to make us soar.
What I loved about this book:
It was an easy read. It was light, fluffy and a wonderful love story that had me rooting for the two main characters the moment they were introduced. I have read other reviews that disliked the book because it was more of a romance than historical fiction. I guess I was in the mood for exactly that, because that is the reason I loved it.
I loved the way the book began. I love WWII and thinking about the hours/days/moments right before Pearl Harbor was attacked helped me to see life on the island in a different light. Then, to see the devastation through the eyes of Audrey brought me to tears. Salazar masterfully described the scenes without the graphic detail that would have been uncomfortable to read. I found the emptiness and pain that Audrey and her friends felt to be realistic. How does anyone heal completely from seeing the horrors that they did?
I loved Audrey’s view of love. I found her entire journey to be one that might be unrealistic in today’s world. She knew who she was interested in and although they had no promises of a future commitment she felt as if she were cheating on him with any involvement with another guy.
I loved Audrey’s love of friends and the backstories that added to the drama of the book.
It was a little simplistic, and the details were not always true to historic form, but I enjoyed it!
Who should read this book? Lovers of historical romance, light romance, World War II.
“How some of us stay the path, others remain tormented, letting the pain devour them, and still others find a new route—different from the original—but somehow just as satisfying.”
Book #3One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
From the cover: Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, wickedly observant debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after. – Dial Press
I am not a huge fan of shows like TheBachelor, but I’ll be honest- I did watch it at the beginning. I was heartbroken for Trista Sutter after she was runner-up for the man she thought she loved and couldn’t wait for her to find happiness in her own season of The Bachelorette. And she did, the whole country watch Ryan fall deeply and madly in love with her and she returned it. They married in 2003 and have been married ever since. After that however I was disappointed when the couples seem to break up within weeks of the finale. So I stopped watching.
Enter One To Watch. Oh! what a magnificently fun book. I opened it and literally did not want to stop reading it. The plot was fun and unique and I loved the idea of finding love for Bea on a reality show! The scandals and manipulations that follow are heartbreaking and intriguing. I didn’t trust any of the men, but secretly rooted for one to be her prince charming. Seriously, I couldn’t stop talking about it!
How does this” unlucky in love” end up on this reality TV show? Let’s just say there are many dangers in drinking too much…
I love the quirky way Kate Stayman-London has written this book. I love her details, including things that we take for granted but yet are so important to help us “see” the story. I love Bea, as insecure as she is. I loved going on “the dates” with her. (I might have wanted to scream at her a few times) We get to watch her make stupid mistakes, but we also get to see her turn into a better version of herself. LOVED the way it ended.
I also loved the insertion of the chapters including social media: the twitter conversations, the interviews etc. It was such a realistic picture of how life is and how we, the public, cast our uneducated opinions out into the world without knowing the full story.
I’m not sure I love the horrible way Bea was abused by the show to gain ratings. Some of the men were so mean and said such horrible things to Bea that it made it difficult to read. Unfortunately, I think people can totally be that mean.
I also longed to have one boy/romance that made my heart speed up as I anticipated Bea finding her true love. Sadly, although it’s a romance, none of the relationships gave me all the feels.
“I’m afraid that you’re looking for your next chapter, and I’m looking for the whole rest of the book.”
“Some part of me that still feels like I should be grateful for any attention you show me, even if it’s nothing close to the way I want to be loved.”
Trigger warnings: fat shaming, fat phobia, sexual exploits (which were quite unnecessary without them it would have been even better.)
Who should read this book: Lovers of The Bachelor, Rom-com, light romance,
Have you read any of these books yet? What did you think of them? Which of these sounds most interesting? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to talk about it!
Last year at this time I was inspired by all of my friends who one after another listed the books they had read over the past year.
I must admit, I was a little ashamed that I realized my love of reading had gone by the wayside. Almost completely forgotten like an old toy. I decided that I could make time easily to read one book a month. I set an easy target and continued to read, “The Diary of Anne Frank” (A book that I was rereading and had been plugging away at it for almost a year by this time.)
Three months later, I finished it.
Not a good start to this lofty goal of 12.
Then….yeah..you got it….COVID.
And reading became the thing to do. I started blogging about the books. I made new friends with authors I was discovering. I convinced people to read. I learned. I was inspired. I became reacquainted with my lost love.
Thank you to Rebecca Kaser and Bob Bixby for several of the book suggestions!
I don’t recommend everything I read, but I do recommend that you read even if you start small.
2020 goal -12 Read-20 2021 goal–52
1. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank N/F 5/5 2. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull N/F 5/5 3. When I lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent N/F 5/5 4. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon 4/5 5. The Sea Before Us by Sara Sundin 4/5 6. News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt 2/5 7. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner 4/5 8. Educated by Tata Westover N/F 5/5 9. The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon 10. If For Any Reason by Courtney Walsh 5/5 11. The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin 4/5 12. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon 4.5/5 13. All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr N/F 2/5 14. The Last Flight by Julie Clark 5/5 15. Untamed by Glennon Doyle N/F 3/4 16. Homegoing by Yaa Yasi 3/5 17. Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh 5/5 18. Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh 5/5 19. The Promise of Rayne by Nicole Deese 5/5 20. The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin 5/5
Did you read any of these? I’d love to know what you thought! Did you have a favorite book this year?