Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Bride for Keeps - a Bethany House review

I love a good, Christian romantic western novel. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but I particularly love American westerns. This novel takes place post-Civil War.

Julia Lockwood ran from her life in Massachusetts. After her father promised her to another man as a business pawn, Julia was deeply hurt and abused. After having the opportunity to becoming a mail-order bride to what an acquaintance promised was a wonderful man, Julia found it her last chance to get herself out of what would be a potentially dangerous situation in her own home state. Heading to Kansas was her last chance for what she hoped would be a happier life.

Everett Cline had been jilted by three mail-order brides. Knowing that there was no way he'd humiliate himself again by requesting yet another bride, Everett soon finds out that his neighbor friend went behind his back and requested one for him!

Once Julia arrives in Kansas, Everett can't see past her beauty--why would someone so beautiful want to settle down on a homestead and work so hard? Julia, knowing that her beauty has always been what attracted men, was determined to prove that she was more than just a pretty face.

I really enjoyed this novel. I highly recommend it, if you're a lover of inspirational historical fiction. The characters were believable and the situations were captivating.

Go to Melissa's website to download for free the novella that introduces this book. You can also read Chapter 1 of A Bride for Keeps for free!

I received A Bride for Keeps as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Bethany House Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Costochondritis--Where do I stand?

It's been a long time since I gave an update solely talking about my battle with costochondritis. I've had a lot of emails since my last post, so I thought I'd give an update about what has been going on with it.

I'm currently still dealing with costochondral pain. However, it comes and goes. Right now, we've got a cold patch going on and have had snow, and it's bothering me. I can feel it in my back and my lower ribs if I push on them. I'm fully convinced that costochondritis is a bracing issue for me. It has gotten better since I've been pregnant and had my baby. I no longer need to take Tylenol or Advil for the pain, though I'm afraid that if I tried to do some pushups that the force to the chest would bring it all crashing back again. So I avoid that kind of stress to my chest cavity.

All that said, I want to address two really good questions that I have received in my emails since I began this blog series.

"As I sit here, I cannot breathe, I am so short of breath and I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest. . . . This simply can't be costo can it?"
Absolutely, it can be "costo". All of those things can be costochondritis or it can be something else. That's why it's important to seek a doctor to rule out possible lung issues or heart issues first. Then you can find someone who knows about costochondritis, such as a chiropractor or a message therapist to help you. I've heard that there are doctors out there that know about it too. I've just never personally met one.

"Is there anything you can tell me (specific) about your diagnosis? The traits that you know for sure are linked to Costochondritis?" 
For me, my costo began with a chest cold. I felt like I had a slug in my bronchial tubes. Lots of coughing. Prior to that though, I've now realized, I carried my stress in my shoulders. When I go out in the cold, I brace my chest. My chest cold was in the winter time, January to be exact, so with the winter bracing that I do combined with my nasty coughing, I got costochondritis.

Do You Have it?
I cannot tell you if you have it. I'm not a doctor or a nurse, so all I can do is offer to you what I personally have experienced. My suggestion to you is, if you suspect you have it, go to your doctor and ask about it. Likely you will have test after test to rule out other more serious problems first. And that's good. Then if you get the diagnosis of costo and want to know how to help it, seek out a massage therapist, a chiropractor, an osteopathic doctor--anyone who may know about it. You will very likely want to start with one of those three or all three of them to relieve your pain. And what I've found in searching is that different things work for different situations, so if you're like me, you'll try a lot of things. Some may work, some may not. So don't get discouraged if you find nothing is working. For me, my biggest help was skilled relaxation. And once I get more motivated to putting the time into it, I'm going to get back to that and "fix" it for good.

If you're reading this, you're battling pain. My hope is that you find your road to recovery soon! Blessings!

His Love Endures Forever - a BookSneeze review

His Love Endures Forever, is the third novel in the Land of Canaan series by Beth Wiseman. This is an Amish novel.

Danielle Kent is an English woman who falls in love with an Amish man, and soon is carrying his child. With hopes of his leaving the Amish faith like he promised and starting a life with her, Danielle is soon disappointed to learn that not only does the father of her child plan on most assuredly leaving the Amish faith, but he plans on leaving her and his child high and dry as well.

Amish friend Levi brings her comfort during the interim, and he strives to show her his faith in the hope that she'll grasp that faith as well.

This novel will show you Danielle's hurt, her frustration, her fears, and her struggle with faith in God. Beth does a nice job in portraying the characters' feelings. If you love Amish fiction, this is another novel (as well as series) that I believe you will enjoy adding to your repertoire!

I am a member of BookSneeze, a fabulous program through Thomas Nelson. BookSneeze sends members free books to read and keep in exchange for written reviews on a blog and on a major retailer's website (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom -- a Litfuse review

Balanced is a book that comes straight from a mom who juggles six children, a husband, and a writing career, as well as church duties and support groups. Tricia Goyer, author of some wonderful non-fiction and Christian novels (contemporary, historical, and Amish to name a few), has written this book as a help for other work at home moms (WAHMs). However, you don't have to have a WAHM paying career to appreciate this book. If you're a stay at home mom raising your kids, this will benefit you.

This book will help you organize your busy schedule and keep you grounded on what's important and what's not. Interspersed in this book are tips for how to "get 'er done", keeping a relationship with God, and keeping your sanity amid a chaotic schedule.

I truly appreciated this book. It has come at a timely moment for me. I'm seriously struggling to keep my head above water, and with Tricia's advice, I hope to get more organized!

If you're looking for a well-organized, easy to read and enjoyable book for balancing your life, I would highly recommend this one. This one's a winner!

About The Book:

How can a work-at-home mom raise kids, juggle a career and take care of family responsibilities with only 24-hour days? Working at home while raising kids and juggling a career and family responsibilities is no easy feat. Author and homeschooling mom Tricia Goyer shares her tips for finding balance among all your many hats as a mom. Balancing is a process and a journey, one that Tricia herself has yet to perfect. But between writing more than forty books, raising and homeschooling six kids, being a wife, and being active in her community, she has amassed valuable tips she shares in “Balanced.”
The book includes tips on:
—how to create focus themes for your family
—how to prioritize your schedule
—how to utilize your job so it also benefits your kids
—how to keep yourself out of the comparison game
—how to make working at home work for you
—and much more!
About The Author:
USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and “Lead Your Family Like Jesus,” (co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like and She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children. You can find out more about Tricia at

I've been given a copy of Balanced, in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sufficient, Sustaining Grace

Death of my former pastor a month ago.
Little angel babies sick.
News of cancer in the community.
The sound of a helicopter flying over me, taking a church member to the city hospital.

Bad news is everywhere. Everywhere you turn, you find someone is suffering, someone is hurting, someone is just keeping a head above water. It's hard to cope. You wonder why God doesn't just take it all away. Why doesn't He just make everything better?

There is a word that came to me this morning. Grace. The definition of grace (the one I'm referring to anyway) is God's unmerited favor--His kindness, His love, His accepting smile, etc. To me, God's grace is His smiling down on me, lifting me up when I'm down, encouraging me when times get tough or super busy and I feel like I can't do it all, and that feeling that I get sometimes when I just feel His love.

Today this piece of 2 Corinthians 12:9 popped into my head: 
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Just like the sustain pedal on a piano holds out the final note in a song, God's grace is held out. Not only is his grace sufficient, but it's sustaining, continual, always maintained.

His grace is sufficient. He is capable of meeting all of our needs. He's fully able to comfort us when we're going through a valley.

So, why doesn't God just take it all away? In John 16:33, Jesus said that in this world there will be tribulation. Jesus had his own during His short stay. The reason we suffer is because this world is not perfect. It's flawed. It indeed goes back to the Garden when Adam and Eve chose to walk away from God. For an unbeliever, that causes anger or maybe even makes him/her scoff. But the fact is, we decided to go our own way. And because we chose to go away from God, God let us. He gave us the choice to do it our way, and we messed it up. I Corinthians 13:12 says that we see through a glass darkly, but then [one day] face to face. We can't know God's ways, but we can seek Him. We can seek Him when things are tough, when life is hard, and when the valley is harsh and cold.

There is a song that I love dearly that speaks to my heart. It's written by a woman who is blind due to a degenerative eye condition that left her blind in early childhood. But in spite of her inability to see, she didn't let that dampen her musical talent but instead stepped out by faith and let God's grace be enough. So as I remember those who are going through hard times, I'm also praying for those of you who are reading this who may be having your own times of trouble, a lack of faith, anger, or illness. I pray that you would turn to the God of creation, the Great Physician, Jehovah Jireh--the Great Provider.

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reasons why you brought me here.
But just because you love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet.
So if all of these trials that bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if you want me to.

And it may not be the way I would've chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But you never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone.

So when the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear you answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering that your love put you through
And I will go through the valley if you want me to.