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Sunday, August 17, 2014

it is well

I love how songs can really resonate with you at different times in your life. Either a verse or the chorus or maybe the whole song grabs you at the right moment and the song becomes your "theme song." My theme song right now is a song called "It Is Well" by Bethel Music. I love it because the song is really my prayer. To be able to say - no matter what I'm going through or have been through - it is well. To know God is working things out, is beside me and has a plan. I want that confidence that is so trusting. To not have to need the details in order to know God has everything under control. To be able to surrender my desires and plans to the One who has my best interest in mind. It's just a really great song that I'm listening to over and over and over...


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Sunday, August 3, 2014

book review: "when i fall in love" by susan may warren

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she'd vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled - or maybe yanked - away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime. 

Maxwell Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace's faith will face its toughest test yet. 

I've been a fan of Susan May Warren and I wasn't disappointed with this book! I love the way Grace finally let go of her reservations and jumped in...to life. I love the way she could throw things together and make amazing dishes - I want to be a confident in the kitchen like that. I liked how Grace and Max had different cooking techniques but it was those differences that made them such a great team. I love the journey that Grace went through in the book. She let go of her fears and gave them to God. One of my favorite parts was when she came across the church service on the beach and was baptized. Surrendering to God and His plan is such a beautiful thing. There are so many other stories going on at the same time and I want to know how those turn out - Casper, Raina, Owen, and Amelia! This was a fun story but also serious. Max was facing some big fears...but finally realized he wasn't really living by playing it safe. This was a good read and I'm looking forward to the next Christiansen novel! 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

book review: "the butterfly and the violin" by kristy cambron

"Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl - a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes. 

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover - the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul - who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron. 

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart."

It took me a few pages but it wasn't long until I was pulled into both the story of Adele and Vladimir and Sera and William. I liked how Kristy switched back and forth between the two stories even though my heart broke at what Adele suffered through and the harsh reality of Auschwitz. I can't even begin to imagine what the people in the concentration camps endured. I'm not sure of the two couples which love story I enjoyed more. And I especially liked the fact that Adele and Vladimir were able to find each other again! I was surprised by how they ended up together and the connection with William's family - I kept trying to figure that one out myself! And then there was William and Sera. I thought they were cute together. I smiled at them going to the beach and how nervous Sera was and then when William said he came back to see her before leaving New York but Michael showed up - I liked how he pursued William pursued her even when she didn't think he would. And oh my, when he came to Paris for her? My heart melted :) This was a great read with history, romance, excitement and faith. 

You can find out more about the book by clicking here.
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. 




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Monday, July 28, 2014

book review: "woman of courage" by wanda e. brunstetter

Jilted by her fiance, Amanda Pearson gives up on romance and turns to her Quaker faith for reassurance. She becomes determined to follow the Rev. and Mrs. Spalding into the western wilderness to minister to the Nez Perce Indians. 

But a three-thousand-mile journey in 1837 is fraught with danger for anyone, and soon Amanda finds herself recovering from near death in a trapper's cabin. His Indian wife becomes Amanda's first convert - and friend. But the trapper and his intriguing half-Indian friend want nothing to do with Christians.

Buck McFadden has received nothing but pain from white men who claim Christ as their lord. He wants only to be left to his solitary life, but he can't seem to walk away from Amanda.

Amanda fears she'll never reach the mission in the Lapwai Valley. This journey has become life-changing for her - and those she meets - and the choices she must make are almost unbearable. 

It took me a few chapters to get into the story but I eventually was on Amanda's journey to the Lapwai Valley. I was surprised by the loss she suffered along the way - and especially when Mary's husband died. Amanda indeed had courage to continue on despite all of her setbacks. I admire her for sticking to her desire to teach others about God - even when she wanted to give up. Sometimes the dream we have isn't easy but that doesn't mean it isn't exactly what we're supposed to be doing. I liked how Mary's story turned out - that Gray Eagle wasn't really dead. And then there was Little Fawn. It only seems fitting that she and Amanda found each other. I thought the last few pages seemed a little rushed but overall a good read.

I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing for my honest review. 

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

running

Life is busy right now! I had the amazing opportunity to go to Guatemala and got back two days ago. I can't even begin to truly describe how great it was and how God moved. As I was preparing for the trip, I knew I'd be hitting the ground running after getting back so I'm in run mode. I was hired in June to teach kindergarten this school year! This job is something I've been praying for since I took a teaching assistant position at the beginning of this past school year. I attended training for my new job yesterday and Thursday. I've been functioning on caffeine and naps :) This upcoming week is a mad dash to get my classroom ready and the week wraps up with another two-day training. And on August 4, staff reports back to work in my district! SO, there's lots going on but it's all exciting. God did some great things in Guatemala - I know the trip will be a defining moment in my life. My heart is drawn there but I'm not sure what the reason is...yet. So I'm in the middle of looking at pictures from the trip, searching Pinterest for classroom ideas and first thing Monday morning, I'll be in my classroom, getting everything ready :)

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Monday, June 23, 2014

book review: "rival hearts" by tara randel

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver are rival magazine writers for the same publishing group. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter's Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the dramatic social dynamics of quilting events? More importantly, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

I thought this a cute story. I liked how completely opposite Molly and Ben were...it was the contrast that made the story fun. I feel like I was able to identify with Molly. She was quiet but had an inner strength she wasn't quite aware of. It took Ben's cocky attitude to make her rise to the occasion. But then Ben won me over when I learned about his background and why he wanted the promotion. I couldn't help but smile at the thought of him walking into Molly's quilting group for the first time! And I'll admit I was surprised by who finally won - and the offer that was made before Masterson announced his decision. This was an easy and fun read!

You can learn more about the book by clicking here
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

everything is awesome

I just want to take a moment and share about some amazing things God's doing right now! He's answered two of my biggest prayers at the moment, giving my faith the boost it needs as I continue to believe for the third thing. 

1. I'm going to Guatemala for a missions trip next month and didn't know how I was going to pay for the trip (which is another story entirely). I knew I was supposed to go and just trusted that God would provide. He completely exceeded my expectations! I did some fundraising and God blessed my efforts. It was hard work but not only did I pay my trip off five weeks before the final payment deadline, I had enough to cover my expenses for the trip!

2. I'm teaching this fall! I was a T.A. this past school year (which is also another story) and have been believing I'll have my own classroom for next school year. I'm super excited and know everything will come together with moving in, getting set up, planning and attending trainings between now and the beginning of August. 

It's been so amazing to see how God has taken care of these things! I'm excited about everything going on right now and what God is continuing to do! 

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