Friday, January 31, 2014

Seams Unlikely

Seams Unlikely
by Nancy Zieman with Marjorie L. Russell

Nancy Zieman was been a staple in both my mother's and my mother-in-law's homes. In addition to watching the PBS show regularly, both women bought videos of the show, books by Nancy, and notions through her company. Both were great seamstresses whose skills are due, in part, to the lessons they learned on this show.

So I was very interested to find out more about this woman who has captured the hearts and needles of women across the country. Who is this woman, and how did she become such a good seamstress and instructor?

This book begins before Nancy is born and takes the reader through her life and thirty years of the Sewing With Nancy show. It is written in a warm, comfortable manner that makes you feel like you and Nancy are sitting next to each other on a long plane ride and she decided to share her background.

I tend to like to cut to the main point, and this book takes quite a while to get there. Nancy's early years are interesting, but I learned more about life on a farm that I expected to. But what I came away with is the sense that Nancy is 'just a normal person' like you or me, and she just happened to become an international celebrity! She seems a bit uncomfortable with all the hoopla surrounding her life, but has learned to deal with her celebrity status graciously. Underneath all aspects of her life she maintains a strong faith in God and is humbly thankful for all she has accomplished.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, and you can learn more about Nancy and this book at the website,

For the first time ever, Nancie Zieman shares her life story. The host of the longest-running sewing show on television takes readers behind the scenes of Sewing With Nancy and shares her heartaches and triumphs along the way.

Millions of women learned to sew while watching teh inimitable Nancy Zieman on public television's Sewing With Nancy. Many of them have Googled phrases like "Nancy Zieman stroke" in an effort to discover the reasons behind the partial paralysis of Nancy's beautiful face. Viewers purchased products Nancy used through Nany's Notions, followed patterns she created for McCall's and enjoyed meeting distinguished guests via the show.

Now nancy takes her viewers behind the scenes of her life. She shares about the Bell's palsy that not only afected her appearance, but also her esteem and phycical abilities. Readers learn about the growth of Nancy professionally: from addressing catalogs at the kitchen table to growing a multi-million dollar notions business -- and personally: marrying Rich, then growing a family through birth and adoption.

Through it all, the picture emerges of a hard-working woman who overcame various and varied obstacles to become what she is today: successful, skilled, gracious, and loved by millions of viewers.

Nancy Zieman—author, designer, businesswomen, producer, blogger and national sewing authority—is the host of the popular show Sewing With Nancy®, which appears exclusively on public television stations across the United States and Canada.

You can watch Sewing With Nancy® online at or from your mobile Apple® device, Click here for iPhone and iPad options.

Sewing With Nancy® is a co-production of Wisconsin Public Television and Nancy Zieman Productions. Broadcast since September 1982, the program is the longest-airing sewing series on television. Nancy organizes each show in a how-to format, concentrating on step-by-step instructions.
Nancy has written numerous books. She designs patterns for the New York-based McCall Pattern Company, designs sewing and quilting products for Clover Needlecraft, Inc., and also writes an interactive blog

In addition, Nancy is founder of Nancy’s Notions®, a division of Tacony Corporation. The company publishes the Nancy’s Notions® Catalog, a full color catalog containing hundreds of products including sewing books, notions, videos and DVDs, fabrics, and quilting products. Nancy is also the National Spokesperson for Baby Lock sewing machines and Nancy’s Notions®.
he Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs Association named Nancy the 1988 Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year. In 1991, she received the National 4-H Alumni Award.

Nancy lives in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, with her husband, Richard. The couple has two children and two grandchildren.

Thank you to Glass Road Publishing for providing a copy of Seams Unlikely for this review.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Scraps of Evidence

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Scraps of Evidence
Abingdon Press (January 21, 2014)
Barbara Cameron

 I have really enjoyed the Quilts of Love series. Each book stands alone and has the story of a quilt intricately woven into the action. However, I was greatly disappointed with Scraps of Evidence.

The story line is great -- it is a dangerous mystery story that must be solved by newly promoted detective Tess and her partner who just moved to town, Logan. My disappointment lies in the way this story doesn't hang together. There were at least five times as I read that I had to backtrack to earlier pages to clarify something. 

SPOILER ALERT: Several parts of the story seem inconsistent (e.g. it seems that Tess and her friend Samantha are dating twins at the prom, when later it turns out that Samantha was apparently with someone else, and  Tess and her partner apparently visit a shrimp shack 'for the first time' twice). In addition, some scenes, like potential food poisoning on the boat, could be linked into the story strategically but just fall flat and never get resolved. 

I guess the other part that really bothered me wasn't related to the editing or writing style, but is just an issue I have with police stories in general. Do male/female partners REALLY have to fall in love? I believe most mixed partners work very professionally together and don't fall into romantic relationships as easily as these two did. I would have preferred if the romance occurred elsewhere in the force or even outside of it -- we do a disservice to our police forces when books continue to romanticize this relationship, and female officers have a difficult enough time dealing with this perception of always being romantically inclined.

All that said, I'll definitely be looking forward to the next book in this series and hope that it is more like the others!


A Word from the author:

CBD, CBA, and ECPA bestselling author of 35 books (including new series upcoming for Abingdon Press in 2011/2012) including fiction and non-fiction books for Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, and other publishers.

I sold three films to HBO/Cinemax and am the first winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award.

My two novellas won the 2nd and 3rd place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest from the Faith, Love, and Hope chapter of RWA. Both were finalists for the novella category of the Carol Award of the American Christian Writers Award (ACFW).


Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan, for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he’s been trying to get to know her better and he’d like to be seeing her during those few nights a week she spends with her quilting guild. Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home, and the woman acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan is attempting to communicate a message to them about Tess’s uncle. There’s a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together, or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him?

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fully Man

It truly is hard for me to comprehend the reality of Jesus being fully God and fully man. In most of the New Testament we see his godliness -- the miracles, prophesies, and judgements. In fact, almost every passage of the Gospel has been turned into a sermon that has been used to focus on Jesus being God incarnate.

So I love those passages when I can see human responses from the Son of God. they are true reminders that yes, he DID experience the things we do, and he DOES understand what we go through.

One of these passages is Mark 11:12 - 14

12 The next day when they came out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13   After seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to find out if there was anything on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14   He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!  ”   And His disciples heard it. (ESV)*

This passage has been referenced in many sermons to discuss the ened for Christians to actually bear fruit in their lives, not just to look like they are 'good church people'. It has also been interpreted as a parable of sorts to represent the Jewish nation -- the pharisees loved to look holy, but in reality were barren in their faith -- and as a result the nation withered up and died.

I am not a trained Bible scholar, so my take on this verse may be totally incorrect (and please tell me so if you ARE a Bible scholar -- I don't want to be communicating anything incorrectly). But it is one of my favorite passages because I see two human traits demonstrated here.

Jesus was hungry. I don't know if he skipped breakfast, if he'd stayed up all night and prayed, or if Mary and Martha cooked burned the eggs that morning (most likely he'd spent the night at their home). But he was hungry enough to seek out food from the side of the road -- and I bet everyone heard his stomach growl! I've never been starving, but I've felt hunger so strong that I wanted to stop somewhere and get food before going on my way. I like knowing that Jesus did, too.

The other thing that helps me realize Jesus' humanity is his response to reality. The tree promised some fruit by it's full leaves (which come out only once the fruit has started to produce), but it was barren. Jesus was disappointed, and so frustrated that he cursed the tree. Did he do this to teach a lesson to the disciples that they would only realize when they returned to Bethany that night and saw the withered tree? Or was it a statement of his frustration, born out of the gut-wrenching fear he was feeling about what faced him in just a few days in Jerusalem? We know he felt this fear from his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his death. He knew what was facing him, and as a man he had to be a bit concerned about his ability to handle this.

I love getting to know Jesus better, and verses like these help me realize that he was more than just the Son of God, he was also the Son of Man, and as such he knows what we experience. Knowing that he was able to overcome the world gives me hope in those times when I am needy or frustrated. He's been there, and he will help me overcome those situations!

*B & H Publishing Group (2010-10-01). The Holy Bible: HCSB Digital Text Edition: Holman Christian Standard Bible Optimized for Digital Readers (Kindle Locations 52165-52169). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Short Term Desires

I was shopping the other day and found a great clothes sale. While standing in line, I heard the woman in front of me talking to her daughter. She was telling her that they were only going to buy half of the clothes right now, and have the other half held until later that day. The woman planned to return to the store to purchase them when while her husband was at work so she could sneak them into the house and mingle them with the clothes already in her closet so he wouldn't be aware of her new 'threads'.

As she was explaining her plan to the cashier, she made a comment that they were saving for a new house, so she didn't want her husband to know how much she was spending! I had to wonder, did she really want these clothes more than she wanted that new house?

How often do we sacrifice our future for something that looks or feels good right now? We take a second helping despite being on a diet. We put off exercising because the weather is a bit too hot, too cold, too wet, or it's too late. We figure we'll take care of that 'check engine light' tomorrow when we aren't running so late. We go ahead and give in to temptation, thinking that it won't be so bad in the future and knowing that God will forgive us for this one little fall. I wonder how King David's life would have been different if he'd been thinking about making the right long term choice when he saw Bathsheba on her roof?

Proverbs 25:28 tells us that whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like city broken down, without walls. Each time we give in to our short-term desires, it is like knocking down another brick in the wall of protection surrounding us. After several poor choices we fail in our efforts, and then wonder why we can't succeed!

God tells us to stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and not to become tangled up again in the yoke of bondage we used to be caught in (Galatians 5:1). By standing strong, He promises to stand with us and give us the desires of our hearts. And eye has not seen nor ear heard nor has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him! (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Yesterday in St. Louis it was 50 degrees. Today the wind chill is -1 and there is enough snow that school has been cancelled. St. Louisians know that the common joke is, "if you hate the weather, just wait a day and it will change." How true that is!

So many things in this world change around us on a daily basis. Just think of the foods we eat. For years eggs were 'the perfect food', now they are to be avoided because of cholesterol. Red meat was pretty much the same until the Atkins diet, then meat was ok and carbs were evil. And diet soda -- it was the savior for those who were overweight until we discovered that not only are artificial sweeteners unhealthy, they can make us want to eat more! If you don't like what you are told to eat, wait a day and it will change!

Everywhere we look we see mixed messages. "Don't obsess about body image", but look at the photoshopped covers of magazines for pictures of the 'perfect' body. Work hard to succeed in school, but then those who succeed aren't recognized as valedictorians anymore because that might "hurt someone's self-esteem". Buy the biggest home possible, and redecorate it regularly to demonstrate your success versus save  for retirement because there may not be a pension or social security to help.

One thing we can be assured of in this world, there will be change. Our world today is changing faster than at any time in the past. How do we decide what is truth and what isn't? After all, if we look to the internet or the library for answers, we can find 'research and wisdom' that verify both sides of almost any issue.

For me, the truth is found in John 16, verse 33. Jesus is speaking:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus has been confiding with his followers about the future -- that he will return to Heaven and they will be scattered. Trouble is coming, but he tells us in advance so we can be confident in Him and to accept His peace if we truly believe He wins in the end. And if you read the Bible through to the end, you will see that this is true!
So look at all the changes the world is bringing to us, evaluate them carefully, and have peace that God is in control!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Time for Work?

Have you ever had to punch a clock? No, not in the morning when the alarm goes off, but at work. There have been several jobs I've worked where I had to clock in and out. I was much more likely to be on time to these jobs since someone would know right away if I was even one minute late. And often people would line up by the clock several minutes before the shift change so they could be sure to clock out at the first moment possible.

Unfortunately, I saw a lot of abuse of the system, too. People would clock in early so they could look good to the boss, then they'd take their daily newspaper and go to the cafeteria for breakfast. Others would leave early but conveniently forget to clock out so no one could prove they weren't at their desk. Some people believed that as long as they were clocked in they deserved to get paid for their time . . . regardless of if they worked or not.

In one tragic incident at a very large company, an employee was involved in a serious motorcycle crash on his way home from work. They found eight of his co-workers badges in his coat. He and his friends had a great gig -- work one day, off nine. They would pass all the badges around and clock in/out for each other!

It's a good thing God doesn't ask us to clock in (well, in reality he doesn't have to, being all-knowing of course). Some days I don't really start 'his' work until several hours into my day. Other days I probably 'clock out' within minutes of clocking in. I might have good intentions, but something in life interrupts my focus and I forget all about the boss of the universe.

God doesn't really want us to have specific times of day when we work for him and other times when we don't. He's a jealous boss who wants all of our time -- weekends, too. That doesn't mean we ignore the world and spend 24 hours a day in Bible study and prayer. He wants us to be connected to him through relationship all day and to see that the things we do are all about him: providing for our families, talking with co-workers, encouraging others, loving/respecting our spouses, and teaching others about him. He does like our one-on-one meetings with him on a regular basis, too.

How is your day going? Have you clocked in yet? Have you clocked out already? One good thing about this boss -- he'll be happy that we clock back in whenever we realize we aren't tuned in to his work and he forgets those times when we clock out if we just as his forgiveness! And the pay for this job is out of this world.

Ephesians 6:4-7

Paul has been giving the Ephesians instructions for life -- talking about husbands, wives, and children.

5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (NIV)

Taken from

Friday, January 10, 2014

Everyday Confetti

Everyday Confetti - Your Year-round Guide to Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions
Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer

 I was a bit concerned that this book would just be another one of those 'Godly Hostess' books that would make me feel like I couldn't compete with those in the world who are gifted in such ways (you know the type -- Martha Stewart clones who actually DO the things they pin on Pinterest).

Boy, was I wrong! This is a FABULOUS book that works especially well for people like me. I want to be organized and celebrate things, but somehow time and energy runs out before it happens. Right from the first page, they talk about making the things you already do special -- family dinners. We all have to eat, right? And eating together as a family IS something we do almost every day. So how do we change things up just slightly so they are more special, more of a celebration? With simple hints about intentional conversation starters, recognition opportunities, and talks about how God impacts our lives, Glynnis and Karen made me realize that I CAN increase my 'celebration quotient'.

The book is designed to help you realize what your unique family needs and habits are and to utilize those moments to celebrate -- not extravagantly (unless that is your gift), but in meaningful and simple ways. Before it even gets to annual holidays, the authors discuss Everyday Joys, Celebrating Birthdays, Spiritual Milestones, Ways to Stay Connected, and Reaching Out to Others.

Tucked in with the creative ideas are a TON of fabulous sounding recipes -- something I didn't expect. These are simple things to make for nourishing meals or fun snacks that are designed to use the things a typical family has in the pantry -- no need to add a special shopping trip to an already busy schedule.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is 'celebration challenged'. It would be a fabulous book for a shower gift along with a few things related to celebrations - candy sprinkles, notecards, a special holiday plate, and maybe a pan for creating some of the awesome recipes.

You can buy a copy of the book here.

When a busy woman looks at her calendar and sees a birthday, holiday, or special occasion, she has the best intentions for bringing joy to her family and creating lasting memories. Then reality hits. Amidst demanding responsibilities and an overloaded schedule, when is she ever going to have time to plan the perfect celebration or find the creativity to make it special?

In this go-to guide, Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer give women the ideas and the motivation they need to make such occasions less daunting. They provide creative ideas and menu plans for
· Holidays
· Birthdays
· Special Events
· Everyday Occasions
Readers will even find suggestions for reaching out to others throughout the year through celebrations that are simple, doable, and stress-free.

 Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer are fabulous members of the Proverbs 31 team. You can learn more about them here: 
and here:

Thank you to Revell Publications for providing a copy of this book for my review.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

No One To Trust

No One To Trust


Lynette Eason



This is a thrilling book from beginning to end! I read it on a plane and was seriously wishing the plane would circle the airport a few times so I could finish before we landed.

From the minute Summer Abernathy wakes to find a man with a gun at her head until the final word of the book, I was on the edge of my seat. The book includes twists, turns, sabotage, secret agendas, and enough running for a marathon. This is definitely a must read for 2014.

As you read, you will be confronted with some serious questions about trust and forgiveness. Why is it easier to forgive some people than others? And to forgive some acts more than others? Whom do you still need to forgive, and how do you do that?

Loved this book, and I'm grateful to Revell Books for providing a copy for my review. I've not had a chance to read any of Lynette's books in the past, and I've become a major fan!




She doesn't know who she's running from--and the man she loves may be someone else entirely

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she's been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover?

The search for her husband--and answers--takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn't know who to believe.

Always thrilling, bestselling author Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have you up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.



Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, SC. Even as a young girl, she knew she wanted her life to reflect the love of Jesus Christ.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Business Degree she used for a very short time (sorry Mom and Dad), she moved to Spartanburg, SC to attend Converse College where she obtained her Masters degree in Education. During this time, she met the man she would marry—the boy next door! She is married to Jack Eason, who speaks, leads worship, and consults ministries around the country. They have two children.

Lynette’s books have appeared on the ECPA and CBA bestseller lists and have won several awards.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Tempest's Course

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Tempest's Course
Abingdon Press (December 17, 2013)
Lynette Sowell

 I am really enjoying the Quilts of Love series by Abingdon Press, and this latest release is wonderful. Lynette Sowell's book, Tempest's Course, has a different twist on quilting -- instead of creating a quilt, the heroine of our story, Kelly Frost, is restoring one that  has been well used and somewhat abused, not unlike Kelly herself.

There are a lot of mysterious behind-the-scenes characters who add a level of complexity to the story that is sure to surprise the reader. I really enjoyed the historical perspectives of the whaling industry and those left behind. But most of all, this is a story about moving on from the past and creating a future where you let God take control.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in quilting, those interested in the 1800's and the Northeastern part of the country, and those who enjoy a sweet love story.


Lynette Sowell is an award-winning novelist. Her most recent novel, Tempest’s Course, is part of the Quilts of Love line from Abingdon Press. When Lynette’s not writing, she divides her time between editing medical reports and chasing down news stories for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. Lynette was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but makes her home in Coppress Cove, Texas, with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained.


Kelly Frost, a textiles conservator, is invited to the Massachusetts coastal city of New Bedford to restore a 150-year-old Mariner's Compass quilt. But there is one stipulation: she must live and work in Gray House, a former whaling captain's home, where the quilt is stored. There she meets Army veteran Tom Pereira, the caretaker of Gray House, whose heart seems as hard as the rocky Massachusetts coastline. Over the long-lit months as Kelly works to restore the quilt, she and Tom grow closer. And as she reads stories in a daily journal penned by Mary Gray, she learns the secrets of the quilt and Mary's own sad tale of regret. Then Tom learns secrets of his own family's past, and both Tom and Kelly learn they are tied to Gray House in ways they never imagined.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Tempest's Course, go HERE.