Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Where is God?

Today I read Psalm 13:
13 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References) (Kindle Locations 94080-94109). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition. 

Scary thought -- what if God ignores me as often and as long as I have ignored Him? Praise God He is merciful and loving regardless of how shallow or selfish I am. God, help me seek you with as much diligence and love as you seek me.

Sometimes I acknowledge God in the beauty I see around me -- a field full of dandelions and wild purple 'weeds' can be amazingly beautiful, sunlight sparkling an ice-covered tree, the bright eyes of a newborn, the wrinkled smile of one of his saints. And often I wonder what he was thinking when I look at the tragedies of this world -- deadly tornadoes that wipe away homes and families in an instant, devastating disease and hunger,  and the evil things around us every day.

He wants me to turn to him during those times, but he also wants me to realize that he is here, every day and in every situation. In my waking and my sleeping, my eating and my breathing, my ability to see, hear, feel, and pray. I want to be aware and thankful all the time -- Paul tells us to pray constantly to be in touch with God in every action. I want that type of relationship. God, help me want that type of relationship more!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Manual to Manhood

Manual to Manhood
Jonathan Catherman

I gave this book to my twin 14 year-old boys and asked them to read through several sections. I don't know exactly which sections they read, but both of them spent a decent amount of time with the book (that means an hour for one of them and a couple of hours for the other). Now, telling their mom what they thought of the book seemed like a dance for them. They didn't want to act like they had learned anything (because of course, 14 year-olds know everything), so both of them said it was kind of common sense. Well, maybe the chapter on wearing deodorant and brushing your teeth were, but I think that there were a lot of chapters on topics they hadn't even considered, like grilling a steak, changing a tire, and finding a stud in the wall!

I also had my 24 year-old daughter read through it, and I read several chapters. We both thought that it had great topics and that it was a good manual to have around so that you could learn things at just the right time. We did think that several chapters were very shallow -- especially in the section on impressing girls. It includes topics such as talking to a girl for the first time, planning dates, and meeting the girls' parents. I thought it was lacking in the areas of how to treat a girl with respect (for example, it never even mentions opening doors for her), ideas of what to do on a first date (such as determining what she is interested in), or double dating etiquette. As a mom, I was also a bit disappointed in the the social skills and manners section. It talks about how to make a bed, but doesn't deal with manners items such as eating appropriately, phone and text etiquette, or tips on maintaining a conversation. I would have appreciated a section on how to find out more details about things -- who to talk to or what books to read.

This is a good intro manual for preteen and young teen boys, but I would recommend a detailed follow up for those beyond 13 or 14 with much more information about character-building, leadership traits, common courtesy, and relationship skills.

ABOUT THE BOOK (From the back cover):
How to gain respect, avoid embarrassment, and impress everyone!
As a man in the making, you'll need to know how to do stuff. You also need a strong moral character to back up your new abilities. But who do you ask? If you want to have it all together The Manual to Manhood is your go-to resource. With great illustrations and step-by-step instructions for almost everything a guy needs to know, this book shows you how to:
- wear cologne correctly                 - change a tire
- tie a tie                                          - talk to a girl
- grill a steak                                   - fold a shirt
- manage a credit card                    - clear a sink drain
- plan a date                                    - behave during a traffic stop
- interview for a job                        - throw a football
- ask for a reference                        - find a stud in the wall
- clean a bathroom                          - and tons more

The world needs confident and capable young men. With The Manual to Manhood, you'll be well on your way to becoming one of the best.

Jonathan Catherman is a leading education consultant and trainer specializing in the character and leadership development of youth. He speaks worldwide about the principles and strengths that empower greatness in children, teens, and young adults. As both a parent and a professional, Jonathan is committed to assisting young men in the making to experience success and significance as they mature into manhood and lifelong leadership. Jonathan, his bride, and their boys live in North Carolina. Learn more at

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Promise in Pieces

A Promise in Pieces is one of the Quilts of Love stories. This is a lovely story of a WWII nurse who spends her life trying to find meaning, and the quilt that helps others heal.

The story is written in memoir format, and it's a sweet story. There is no mystery, intrigue, or suspense involved, and it is an easy read with a satifying ending. A perfect book to take one away from the stresses of life!
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Promise in Pieces
Abingdon Press (April 15, 2014)
Emily T. Wierenga

A Promise in Pieces is one of the Quilts of Love stories. This is a lovely story of a WWII nurse who spends her life trying to find meaning, and the quilt that helps others heal.

The story is written in memoir format, and it's a sweet story. There is no mystery, intrigue, or suspense involved, and it is an easy read with a satifying ending. A perfect book to take one away from the stresses of life!


A Word from the Author:

I’m Emily, and I’m honored and humbled to meet you, friend. We’re all stumbling along on this journey and you can approach me about anything okay? I’m an open book, with dog-eared pages and a worn cover.

I’m mama to two boys, ages two and four, and married to a farm-boy-turned-math-teacher. We live in a small Dutch hamlet with three churches, one Co-Op and no stop lights. There are a lot of fields out here, there’s a lot of space and sky for breathing and running and writing.

We foster two boys in addition to our own two, and before I had kids, I took care of my Mum who had brain cancer. She fought back and has recovered, all glory to God, and my pastor-father still holds her hand while they go for daily walks.

I battled anorexia nervosa as a child, and then again as a newly married woman, and I write a lot about body image now and have a passion for women to learn to love themselves.

My husband and I have battled infertility and are currently trying to adopt our third child through the local Alberta government.

I hurt for the church, and believe in it, and pray for it, as I’ve grown up inside its walls and have heard its groanings.

I have a heart for Africa, particularly Uganda, and went there in January on a bloggers’ trip with World Help.

My favorite things to do are read literary novels, play guitar, snowboard, paint with oil and acrylics and hug my babies.

I am the author of two books on eating disorders, a novel releasing this spring, and a memoir coming out this summer.

I hope you’ll connect with me on FB:, or if you prefer, Twitter: @emily_wierenga. I’d love to have a virtual glass of wine, or cup of coffee, with you.

Peace to you friends,



After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women’s Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier’s last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.

Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she’s not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier’s baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.

Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child’s name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever happened to Mattie—and if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quilt—years later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Promise in Pieces, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lip Reading

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lip Reading
David C. Cook (March 1, 2014)
Harry Kraus

Harry Kraus is the master of medical mysteries/adventure! This new book, Lip Reading, is a combination of medical expertise, intrigue, and suspense. He has set this one inside the pharmaceutical industry and has covered both the excitement of life saving research and the downside of drug trials and unexpected results.

I received this book in the mail in the afternoon, picked it up after supper, and absolutely didn't put it down until I finished it 3 1/2 hours later! I wonder if that is frustrating to an author for readers to devour a book so quickly after it took months to write and edit? But I know it's all that effort that makes the book so intriguing.

I will always rush to get one of Harry's new books!


A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.


She Could Save Millions, or Save Herself

She just needs a little longer. She’s really close. Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a medical researcher, stands on the verge of a breakthrough that will transform medicine. But she soon discovers the reason behind the miraculous progress in her research, and it leaves her with a nearly impossible choice . . . and little time to decide. More than her research is at stake. And more threatens it than this latest revelation. Something she’s tried hard to cover up. There is a high cost to some things in medicine and it’s not always the patient who pays. Can Rebecca find the faith and wisdom she needs to make the right call? The clock is ticking and the pressure is on.

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

Monday, April 07, 2014

What Follows After

What Follows After
Dan Walsh

Dan Walsh is a magnificent storyteller. This latest book, What Follows After, is a poignant story of one family's life in Florida during the week of the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1962. Although that incident serves as the backdrop to the story, it isn't the main point of the plot. And I don't want to give that away!

Many of us looking back see the early 1960's as an idyllic time in history. Most families were married with 2.5 kids, living in suburbia. The economy was relatively stable, we weren't at war, and we like to think everyone lived like Leave It To Beaver. It simply is not true.

This story emanates from the pain of lies and the search for whatever 'normal' life should be. It is gut wrenching at times, and both tragic and heartwarming at others.

I had to know what happened at the end of this story, and the book kept me entranced all the way through the Author's Note! I'd highly recommend it.

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Unfinished Gift, The Discover, and The Reunion, as well as The Dance and The Promise with Gary Smalley. He has won three Carol awards and three of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year (20101 - 2013), Dan lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. Visit for more.

IN 1962, life was simple, the world make sense, and all families were happy. And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend. 

For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie. While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year. To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie --to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.

Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan. He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scot and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.

IN this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life --love, truth, an family. With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us stat a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Learning to be Frugal

I've been thinking a lot lately about frugal living. Over the past few months I've read several interesting blogs about being self sufficient, eating healthy and inexpensive food, and making significant changes in life style in order to help others more.

As a result of this thinking and my continuing struggle to reduce clutter, I took on a challenge to reduce 30 things each day for Lent -- either giving away or throwing away 'stuff' we really didn't use or need. That has actually been going well, and hasn't been difficult at all. I probably ought to keep reducing until it becomes painful!

During this time I read this blog that talked about a popular book among the Mennonite community called Living More With Less by Doris Janzan Longacre. She has a very interesting explanation of frugality -- not necessarily living in a frugal manner because you have to, but because it's the right thing to do.

Not only can we cut our costs and donate the money to good causes, but she seems to indicate that it is almost sinful of us to live extravagantly, even if we can afford it, because there are so many around us who are unable to do so. She goes on to talk about the unseen costs of our extravagance -- the impact around the world because we use so many of the worlds resources and we, as a society, often support horrible labor policies in other countries. We take so many things for granted, and we ought to focus on what we need to live.

So, with all of these thoughts in my mind, I drove past a commuter parking lot in St. Charles. I drive past it probably 3 - 4 times per month, and frequently there is a man who lives there out of his car. He's been there for at least 3 years on and off. I've actually tried to deliver food and drinks to him once or twice, but those times he wasn't there.

I started thinking about how he lived and initially felt a bit sorry for him. But then I turned my thinking around a bit. What if someone CHOSE to live out of their car (not saying that he does). How much would one spend to live? What would I take with me if I all of a sudden had to start living out of my car? Does he use all the stuff he has with him, or does he, too, have more clutter than he needs? How much would one have to work to eat?

Now I know I would not like that lifestyle -- hot in the summer, cold in the winter, no regular place to shower or comfortable bed to sleep in. But how many people in the world live that way every day?

What could I learn from him, and others, about frugal living and what we REALLY need to live?