Faith, Family, Love and Reviews


Hannah loves theatre,  she even wrote the skit for a play in our co-op, so she had the chance, thanks to Grandma Cindy, to attend a class on theatre production at the local college.  It was Monday July 11th through Thursday July 14th;  9a.m. to 12noon and they had to created their own costumes, learn lines and then perform.  She was Eeyore and did a wonderful job – oh yes she even did her own make up with professional make-up.

This is the whole class and teacher.


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Book Review: The Complete Zoo Adventure by Mary and Gary Parker

Are you planning on taking a trip to the zoo in the near future?  Well then here is a perfect resource to help combat all the evolutionary ‘facts’ that abound at the Zoo.  This is a beautifully spiral case bound book that is colorful and provides an extensive learning experience.  With 150 pages and all the included extras this will easily provide a whole unit study on the zoo or, if your children are in public school, will help to refute what they are being taught in the class room.

There are nine sections which are tab divided into before the zoo, at the zoo, birds, paws and claws, hooves, reptiles, amphibians, after the zoo and an appendix.  Before the zoo includes 7 daily devotionals that parent and child will use the week before visiting to get excited about the trip and become educated.  There is a guide in how to use The Complete Zoo Adventure book and a schedule for both before, at and after the zoo.  The devotions each have Scripture to read and a theme, for Devotion 1 the theme/title is “Jesus, the Creator-the Presence of God, there is also a prayer that you can use to pray with your children.  Each devotion is fairly long – two pages in small type – so for the younger child the parent may need to just pull the important aspects out or do it over the course of the day.

At the zoo will help you after you arrive and begin your field assignments – everything you need is in a handy pouch in the back of the book and there are reproducibles for class/group/families.  Details are given about how to proceed in getting started with field assignments, filling out field journals, rules and tips for having a great day at the zoo and a prayer.  I’d suggest going over these proceeding the devotional each day before the zoo and doing a review on the trip, as most children won’t remember all of the twenty-seven rules and tips.

Each of the animal sections gives extensive information on various animals within that group.  For each animal you’ll find the class, order, family, genus and species listed as well as a map indicating where they are found and other pertinent information of how they fit into God’s Creation and more on the animal.  Again, with so much information it may be difficult to read everything while standing at the animal enclosures, so pulling out the important information before hand may go a long way in saving time, especially if you have more than one child.

There are several activities for completion after the zoo such as the “Around the Campfire”, personal discussion, having a trivia game using the enclosed field fact cards, if you have older children they can use the “For Deeper Discussion” and do a research paper,completing a  scrapbook,while tests and activity sheets are also included in the book and may be copied.  Some of the activity sheets are matching the correct nose to the animal God created for it, connect the dots with writing practice in both upper and lower case and print and cursive, find and color animals with certain attributes, word finds, how is it named (class, genus, species), and more!

If you’re not sure how to use the biome cards there is complete instructions in the back along with Scripture memory suggestions for each animal, educator notes for parents/teachers (unless you’re both!), a zoo glossary, and extra field journal should you need to make copies.  In your tool kit you’ll find:

  • 27 field fact cards – full color and on heavy duty paper (these could be laminated for extra durability especially if you take them along to the zoo)
  • 7 biome cards – beautiful and full colored with illustrations these to are printed on heavy paper and could be laminated as well.
  • 3 field journals – these are double folded cards for the children to record their notes, printed on heavy paper and are reproducible.
  • 12 name badges – I will be putting my children’s name on these as well as a cell phone number on the back should we become separated and laminate them for extended use.  The holes are already punched to easy hanging with some yarn.

I like the feeling of not having to do everything, my 4 year old won’t sit through all of this but my 9 year would.  The activity sheets I will be copying so that mine will stay busy on the way to the zoo.  If you are a parent who tires of reading and trying to make excuses on the spot at the zoo of the evolutionary nature of the information this book will be a wonderful resource to have a long.


**I was provided a copy of this book from New Leaf Publishing in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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Random iPod pictures – from my son.

When I received my iPod Touch for Christmas last year I didn’t consider that my children would want to play on it, let alone that my 4 year old – almost 5 year old could operate it.  Little did I know the impressive collection of educational apps, story books, and many, many more that are great for children (okay and adults).

My little guy likes to use my iPod,  and as I was going through my picture album the other day I noticed he had taken over 100 pictures!  Most would think he’d delete the evidence, but I found them and here are a few  that turned out fairly decent:

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BookSneeze Review: "Money Secrets of the Amish" by Lorilee Craker

About the book from the BookSneeze site:

Discover the money-saving and wealth-building secrets of America’s thriftiest people, the Amish.

Author, journalist, and descendant of the Amish, Lorilee Craker, was just like the rest of us, feeling the pinch from the financial fallout of 2008. As a freelancer, her income was going the way of the dodo—family dollars seemed like an extinct myth, the bank account some archeological evidence of past prosperity.

Then, inspired by a news segment covering her people, the Amish, and how they emerged from the economic crisis unscathed, she realized it was time to get back to her roots and learn a thing or two about their time-tested approach to personal finances. While the middle-class was wringing its hands over the family budget and the wealthy were weeping over their slashed portfolios, the Amish were content as always, spared from the cares of the world and worldliness. They not only had financial health to support their lives, they exuded a wholeness that eludes so many when the financial bottom drops out.

In Money Secrets of the Amish, readers go on an “Amish money makeover,” learning the choices, secrets, and disciplines that safeguarded the contentment and the coffers of America’s favorite plain folk by spending less, saving more, and getting happier doing it.

My Opinion:

I enjoy all things Amish and the only reason besides my husband that I won’t convert is I need my air conditioning in the summers, so when I saw Money Secrets of the Amish up for review I took full advantage of that.  This book isn’t really anything earth shattering, in that most of it we’ve heard before, but it’s done in a much more fun and lively manner than some save your money books.

The sub title “finding true abundance in simplicity, sharing and saving” really sums up this book, in that it gives ideas on living more simply (can anyone say why do I have 5 bookshelves in a 624 sq. ft. home?), sharing and ultimately saving money in a terrible economy – but then again you don’t have to have a terrible economy to want to save money.  I’ve always found myself wondering what can I do with all the empty creamer bottles or other discarded items – my Great Grandma surely wouldn’t have thrown them – but I’ve never been shown or trained how to use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.

I love some of the ideas that Lorilee Craker introduces in her book – some I knew of before but some I’ve never really thought of before.  So not all are ‘new’ ideas and they aren’t all hers either, don’t worry she documents if something isn’t hers.  I never knew one could make more than one payment to a credit card company – how awesome, pay the debt down faster.  I love shopping second hand but there are new ideas in how to look for certain things, especially if your children broke your blender.  Bartering, there is something we don’t hear much about anymore but apparently it’s making a come back, think Dr. Baker getting chickens for his medical services.

I may not become a millionaire or help my husband get out of the debt hole we’ve dug together overnight but this book has definitely given some food for thought and I’m thinking ahead to next year’s farmers market where someone will be looking for a custom made Kindle cover!  I thoroughly enjoyed Lorilee’s book and it was quickly read but at the same time it needs to be re-read and go over the Amish money makeover at the end of every chapter that will getting the juices flowing for saving.

**I was provided an e-book copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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Book Review: Pieces of Light by Julie Cave

About the book from New Leaf Publishing Group:

Detective Dinah Harris hunts down a serial bomber targeting religious icons and buildings. The bomber is on a mission to rid the city of religion and establish a ‘new world order’. Can someone so intent on ridding the world of God experience redemption? What lies behind his hatred of God? Will his darkened soul search for pieces of light?

My Opinion:

I cannot begin to say how great this book is, this is an excellent read, an edge of your seat Christian suspense that will have you wondering what next? and whodunit?  This is not my first time having the pleasure of reading one of Julie Cave’s books and I truly hope it’s not the last as this book like the other one I have read served to both instruct as well as to entertain – and trying to do both of these in a fiction book can be near impossible but definitely can be done by the right person, and this person is Julie Cave.

Had I been able to sit through and read this book I would have easily spent all day reading it.  From the first page to the last you’ll find yourself wrapped up in Dinah’s life and cheering from her both in her life as a recovering alcoholic and to telling a man she wants to spend her life with that she can’t since he’s not Christian.  Some may think that mention of an attraction outside of Cincinnati called the “Ark Experience” may seem eerily familiar and even some of the Bible story seemingly redundant but if you keep in mind that Dinah is a ‘baby’ Christian and finding this all exciting then it will be exciting for the reader too.

Without being overbearing, Julie Cave, shares the love of God with both Christian and non-Christian’s alike and can readily express what some of us all need to hear.  Incorporating a Biblical worldview, the innerancy of Biblical authority, delivers the message of Jesus’ act of Salvation and can even help Believers share their beliefs with naysayers, Julie has in fact done this all including keeping the reader entertained the entire time.

If you’re looking for a book that you can actually call Christian fiction without just paying lip service to Christian, this is that book!  Dinah has no fear of sharing her faith and even letting a man she wants to love know where she stands on being with an unsaved person.  There is no lip service here, this is a fully Christian book that could also be enjoyed by those searching for the Truth and even those who may be skeptical of the Christian faith.  Definitely a must read for the Christian who enjoys suspense but is tired of the passing triviality of a prayer here or a God there.


**I was provided a copy of this book from New Leaf Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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FIRST Tour: Summer Dream by Martha Rogers

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today’s Wild Card author is:


Martha Rogers


and the book:


Summer Dream

Realms (June 7, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author’s website.


This is a new series by Martha Rogers.

“Summer Dream is a sweet, heartfelt, and well-written story about faith in action and a love that never fails. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series.”—Andrea Boeshaar, author of Unexpected Love and Undaunted Faith

A Heart in Need of Redemption. An Unlikely Love. And a God Who Can Bring Them Together.

As the daughter of a small-town minister in Connecticut, Rachel Winston fears that the only way she’ll ever find a husband is to visit her aunt in Boston for the social season. But when Nathan Reed arrives in town, she can’t help but wonder if he could be the one.

Although attracted to Rachel, Nathan has no desire to become involved with a Christian after experiences with his own family. What’s more, until he resolves his anger with God and his family, he has no chance of courting her.

When Nathan is caught in a devastating blizzard and lies near death in the Winston home, Rachel and her mother give him a lesson in love and forgiveness that leads him back to his home in the South. Will he make peace with his family and return before Rachel chooses a path that takes her away from him?


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616383607
ISBN-13: 978-1616383602


Briar Ridge, Connecticut, February 5, 1888

Why did Papa have to be so stubborn? Rachel Winston stared at the gray clouds outside her window and fought the urge to stomp her foot like a spoiled child. However, young women of twenty years must behave as befitting their age, as Mama so often reminded her. Perhaps she should have shown the letter to her mother first. Too late for that now; Papa would tell Mama as soon as he had the opportunity.

The back door closed with a thud, and Rachel shuddered. Papa had left for the church. His departing meant she needed to finish dressing or she’d be late, and then Papa would be even more upset with her. It wouldn’t do for the preacher’s family to be late for the services.

The paper in her pocket crackled when she moved toward the bed to retrieve her boots. Rachel fingered the crumpled edges of Aunt Mabel’s letter. There was no need to read it again, for she knew the words by heart. Her aunt’s invitation to come to Boston for an extended visit had arrived at a most inopportune time with the winter weather in the northern states at its worst. Even so, she shared the letter with Papa, hoping he might be agreeable to the visit.

A metallic taste soured her mouth, and she swallowed hard in an attempt to squelch it. Papa argued that the unpredictable weather of February made travel from Connecticut to Boston dangerous. If only one of the many Boston trains came to Briar Ridge. Aunt Mabel meant well, but her timing left something to be desired. Papa didn’t even want her going to Hartford or Manchester to board a train. It took over three hours by horseback to make the journey to Hartford—longer in bad weather.

She grasped the wrinkled letter in her hand and pulled it from its resting place. “Oh, Auntie, why did you wait until now to invite me for a visit?” she said to the letter, as if Aunt Mabel could hear her. “Last spring when I graduated from the academy would have been perfect, but you had to travel abroad.” A deep sigh filled her, then escaped in a long breath and a slump of her shoulders.

Aunt Mabel believed that a young woman should go to finishing school before she thought of marriage and had offered to pay for Rachel’s tuition. Papa had frowned on the idea, but her mother finally prevailed. For that, Rachel was most grateful, and she wouldn’t have traded those years at the academy for marriage to anyone. But now that she was twenty, she found that the pool of eligible bachelors in her area was slim to nonexistent.

Going to Boston would have provided the opportunity to meet more young men.

Rachel sat on the bed to ease off her slippers and bent over for the winter boots thatwould protect her feet from the slush. The frozen ground outdoors called for them, but they were not the choice she would have liked to wear to church this morning. Rachel shoved her feet down into the sturdy boots designed for warmth, not attractive appearance.

Of the eligible young men in Briar Ridge, only one came to mind, but then Daniel Monroe didn’t count. His sister had been Rachel’s best friend since Papa came to be pastor of the Briar Ridge church nearly seventeen years ago. Daniel treated her more like his sister anyway. Two years older, and just starting out as a lawyer, he was far more knowledgeable than she, and keeping up a conversation with him took more effort than she deemed it to be worth. Rachel had finished at the seminary with good marks, but Daniel’s conversation interests leaned more toward science and new inventions like electricity and the telephone than things of interest to her.
Rachel’s anger subsided as she pulled on the laces of her boots. As she reflected on her father, she remembered that he loved her and wanted only the best for her. He had promised that when spring came, he’d talk to her about the trip. Until then she would be the obedient daughter he wanted her to be and dream of the trip ahead. The Lord would give her patience, even though that was not one of her virtues.

She smoothed her skirt down over her hips and picked up the letter to place it on the table beside her bed. A response to Aunt Mabel would go out with tomorrow’s mail to express her regrets in not being able to accept the invitation. Papa would probably write to her as well, but Rachel wanted her aunt to know how much she appreciated the invitation.

If Seth were here now, he could give her good counsel. He’d always been the one she’d turned to when things didn’t go well with Mama and Papa. She loved her older brother and missed him, but he’d be home from the seminary in May, and she could talk with him then. Since he studied to be a minister like Papa, he’d most likely leave Briar Ridge if his ministry took him elsewhere after his graduation.

She’d met a few young men while at school, but the strict rules and regulations set forth at Bainbridge Academy for Young Women in Hartford had given her few opportunities to develop a relationship. Not that she would have considered any of them, but she would have appreciated the chance.
Mama called to her, and Rachel hurried to the front hall. She noted the firm set of Mama’s jaw and braced for the scolding that would be in order. “I’m sorry to take so long, Mama.” She grabbed her cloak from its hook.
“You know how your father hates for us to be late to church. It is unseemly for the minister’s family to be the last to arrive.” Mama turned and walked outside, her back ramrod straight.

Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. No time for a scolding now. She set a dark blue bonnet firmly over her hair and fastened the ties. She followed her mother out to the carriage, where the rest of the family waited. As usual, Papa had gone on ahead to open the church and stoke the two stoves to provide heat on this cold winter morning. Rachel climbed up beside her sister, Miriam, and reached for the blanket.

“What delayed you, Rachel? There’s no excuse for not being ready with everyone else.” Mama settled in her seat beside Noah, who had taken over his brother’s responsibilities until his own departure for college next fall.
“Time slipped away from me.” No need to tell her everything now. Rachel tucked a blanket around her legs and glanced at Miriam beside her. Miriam’s eyebrows lifted in question, but Rachel shook her head.

Micah piped up from the front seat. “Did you make Papa angry?”

“Micah! Of course not.” Rachel glanced at her brother Noah and noted the smirk on his face. She frowned to let him know she didn’t approve.
His gaze slid to her now. “Oh, then why did he stomp through the kitchen and ride off without a word to anybody?”

Mama clucked her tongue. “Now, children, it’s the Sabbath. Papa was late and in a hurry to get to the church.” But the look in Mama’s eyes promised she’d speak to Rachel about it later, especially after Mama learned the real reason for the tardiness.

Even though his decision disappointed her, Papa simply wanted to protect her from danger. She should be grateful for his love and concern, not angry because he said no. The promise of a trip to Boston when the weather improved would have to be enough to get her through the remainder of winter.

A recent snowfall still covered the frozen ground. Most of it in the streets had melted into a hodgepodge of brown and black slush caused by carriages and buggies winding their way toward the church. Rachel breathed deeply of the clean, fresh air that seemed to accompany snow in winter and rain in the spring.
If not for the inconveniences caused by ice and snow, she would love this time of year, even when the leafless branches of the trees cracked and creaked with a coating of ice. She gazed toward the gray skies that promised more snow before the day ended. If it would wait until later in the day, she might manage a visit with her best friend Abigail this afternoon.
However, a warm house, a cup of hot tea flavored with mint from Mama’s herb garden, and a good book might entice her to stay home on this cold, winter afternoon. Tomorrow would bring the chores of keeping the woodpile stocked and the laundry cleaned. She enjoyed the winter months, although this year she wished them to hurry by.

Miriam snuggled closer. Rachel smiled at her sister, who had recently turned thirteen. “I see you’re wearing your Christmas dress today. Is there a special occasion?”
Miriam’s cheeks turned a darker shade of red. “Um, not exactly.”

“Then what is it . . . exactly?”
Miriam tilted her head to one side and peered up at Rachel. She whispered, “Jimmy Turner.”
So her little sister had begun to notice boys. “Well now, I think he’s a handsome lad. Has he shown an interest in you?”

Miriam nodded and giggled. Rachel wrapped an arm around her sister as the buggy slowed to enter the churchyard. She stepped down onto the snow-covered ground muddied by all the wagons crossing over it. Now she was thankful for the thick stockings and shoes she wore to protect her toes. She then reached up for Micah while Miriam raced ahead.

The little boy pushed her hands away. “I can get down by myself.”

Rachel couldn’t resist the temptation to laugh. At seven, her younger brother expressed his independence and insisted on doing things for himself. He jumped with his feet square in a pile of snow and looked first at his feet then up to Rachel. She shook her head and grabbed his hand to go inside the building. How that little boy loved the snow. He’d be out in it all day if Mama would let him.

When she entered the foyer with Micah, she spotted Miriam already sitting in their pew with Jimmy Turner in the row behind her. Rachel hastened to sit down beside her sister. Miriam stared straight ahead but twisted her hands together in her lap.

When had Miriam grown up? Even now she showed signs of the beauty she would one day be. Thick, dark lashes framed her brown eyes, and her cheeks held a natural pink glow. Papa would really have to keep an eye out for his younger daughter.
Rachel glanced around the assembly room and once again admired the beauty of the old church built not long after the turn of the century. Instead of the quarry stone and masonry of the churches in Boston and even New Haven, Briar Ridge’s church walls were of white clapboard with large stained-glass windows along the sides. On bright days, sunlight streamed through them to create patterns of color across the congregation.

Brass light fixtures hung from the high vaulted ceilings, and the flames from the gaslights danced in the breeze as the back doors opened to admit worshippers. As much as she loved her church here in Briar Ridge, she remembered the electric lights she’d enjoyed in Hartford, one of the first cities to have its own generating plant. How long before electricity would become as widespread in Briar Ridge as it was in the larger cities? Probably awhile since Briar Ridge wasn’t known for its progress.
When the family first came to town, Rachel had been three years old, so this was the only home and church she could remember before leaving for school. Familiar faces met her everywhere she gazed. A nod and smile greeted each one as she searched for her friend Abigail and the Monroe family.
Unexpectedly a new face came into view a few rows back. A young man with the most incredible brown eyes stared back at her. Rachel’s breath caught in her throat, and the heat rose in her cheeks.

She felt her mother’s hand on her arm. “Turn around, Rachel. It’s not polite to stare.”
With her heart threatening to jump right out of her chest, Rachel tore her gaze away from the stranger seated with the Monroe family. Papa entered from the side door and stepped up to the pulpit. The service began with singing, but Rachel could barely make a sound. Everything in her wanted to turn and gaze again at the mysterious person with the Monroe family, but that behavior would be unseemly for the daughter of the minister.

However, her thoughts refused to obey and skipped to their own rhythm. Rachel decided that whoever he was, he must be a friend of Daniel’s because Abigail had never mentioned any man of interest in her own life. In a town like Briar Ridge, everyone knew everyone’s business. She hadn’t heard any talk of a guest from Daniel or her other friends yesterday.
A prickling sensation crept along her neck as though someone watched her. She blinked her eyes and willed herself to look at Papa and concentrate on his message. However, her mind filled with images of the young man. Who was this stranger who had come to Briar Ridge?

Nathan Reed contemplated the dark curls peeking from beneath the blue bonnet. When she had turned and their eyes met, his heart leaped. He had never expected to see such a beauty in a town like Briar Ridge. His friend Daniel’s sister was attractive, but nothing like this raven-haired girl with blue eyes.
When she turned her head back toward the front, he stared at her back as if to will her to turn his way again. When she didn’t, he turned his sights to gaze around the church, so much like others he’d once attended. He wouldn’t be here this morning except out of politeness for the Monroe family. He’d arrived later than intended last evening and welcomed Mrs. Monroe’s offer to stay the night with them. The least he could do was attend the service today.

Nathan had no use for church or things of God. He believed God existed, but only for people who needed something or someone to lean on. God had forsaken the Reed family years ago, and Nathan had done quite well without any help these four years away from home.

He shook off thoughts of the past and concentrated once more on the blue bonnet several rows ahead. Perhaps Daniel would introduce him. She would be a nice diversion from the business he must attend to while in town. He blocked the words of the minister from his mind and concentrated on the girl’s back.
The little boy seated next to the young woman seemed restless, so she lifted him onto her lap. The child couldn’t be her son. She didn’t look old enough. Then the older woman next to them reached for the boy and settled him in her arms. In a few minutes the boy’s head nodded in sleep.
Nathan resisted the urge to pull his watch from his pocket and check the time. Surely the service would end soon. Potbellied stoves in the front and back of the church provided warmth, and the additional heat of so many bodies caused him to wish he had shed his coat. He fought the urge to nod off himself. Oh, to be like the young lad in his mother’s arms.
Finally the congregation rose, and the organ played the final hymn. It was none too soon for Nathan, for he had grown more uncomfortable by the minute. Long sermons only added to his distaste for affairs of the church. The singing ended and people began their exit, but he kept his eye on the girl in blue until the crowd blocked her from view.

He stayed behind the Monroe family, who stopped to greet the minister. Mrs. Monroe turned to Nathan. “Reverend Winston, this is Nathan Reed, our houseguest from Hartford this week and a friend of Daniel’s.”

The minister smiled in greeting and shook Nathan’s hand. “It’s very nice to have you in our services today, Mr. Reed. I hope you enjoy your stay in Briar Ridge and that we’ll see more of you.”

“Thank you, sir. I look forward to my visit here.” But the minister wouldn’t be seeing any more of him unless they possibly met in town.

When they reached the Monroe carriage, Nathan turned and spotted the girl coming down the steps. He watched as Daniel waved to the young woman and she waved back. Abigail ran to greet her, and the girls hurried over to where Nathan stood with Daniel. Abigail tucked her hand in the girl’s elbow.
“Nathan, this is my best friend, Rachel Winston. Rachel, this is Daniel’s former roommate in college, Nathan Reed.”

Rachel Winston? Nathan’s hopes dashed against the slushy ground on which he stood. Could she be the preacher’s daughter? He didn’t mind a young woman being Christian, but he drew the line at keeping company with one so close to the ministry.
When her blue eyes gazed into his, a spark of interest flamed, and it took him a few seconds before remembering his manners. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Winston.”
Her cheeks flushed red, and she glanced away slightly but still smiled. “Thank you. I’m pleased to meet you too, Mr. Reed. Perhaps we’ll see each other again if you’re in town long.”

Rachel’s smile sent a warmth into his heart that caused him to swallow hard. Although the length of his stay was uncertain, his desire to see the lovely Miss Winston again might just override his pledge to avoid anything or anyone with ties to the church.


My Opinion:

This book was a wonderful taste of the late 1800’s as the reader enters the life of the Winston family and their adult daughter, who longs to marry and begin her own home.  Being the daughter of a preacher means that there are rules that need following including God’s law and the one in particular that comes up time and again is the struggle to not be yoked to an unbeliever, this is hard for Rachel, but she knows her dad’s wisdom is right from the Word of God and so therefor needs to be followed.  I quickly read this book as I couldn’t put it down, even with some of the formal conversations, instead of saying snack you’ll hear “refreshment” but from my study of history I do believe formalities were strictly followed even within family units.

My only sincere dislike was the emphasis that a character or characters didn’t spend enough time in church.  While I don’t agree with forsaking the fellowship but I also know that not going to church doesn’t make one less of a Christian or even a nonbeliever.  Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, this emphasis on church going, did grate on me a bit because it made it seem that if you weren’t attending church then you couldn’t be a sincere Christian and this is far from the truth.

Overall, despite the church attendance issue, this book was a very well written inspirational story of a young women wanting to do the Lord’s Will but also struggling with her own fleshly desires.  This isn’t to say that there were innuendos, there weren’t but Rachel goes back and forth in her opinion of becoming involved with a non-Christian even though she knows it’s wrong – eventually her Faith and the faith of her family and friends win over her suitor.  A wonderful story of faith, redemption, love and how God will keep chasing us until He catches us or we completely forsake Him.

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4-H judging – completed

Yesterday the 12th was our county’s 4H judging and this was Hannah’s first year.  She signed up to do 2 projects but we focused and completed only her guinea pig project.  I was amazed at how many children came in with 7 or more projects, knowing how much work went into just one I can’t imagine doing more than 2.  We’ve decided we’ll work on her next year’s fair projects earlier so we don’t feel rushed.

Hannah did so well, she was nervous at first but once she got to talking about her sweet Penny and the project, she got comfortable.  You can see her project board here.  She received all A’s in every area – and only missed one question about why are guinea pigs used in labs.  With only 5 other children in this project area she has a good chance of placing but we won’t know for sure until sometime next week.  If she places, we’ll go to award night at the fair and she’ll be presented with awards.  We also know there is a chance she may not place, we’ll just wait and see and if not there is always next year.

Here is a copy of her grade sheet and the ribbon she received:

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Litfuse book review: "Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy" by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

About the book:

A born storyteller, Tomlinson breaks down the whys and wherefores of southern ways by weaving her thoughts in and around story upon story. Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy is a compilation of many of her favorite topics-from how to distinguish between normal crazy and SRC (Straight Running Crazy) to “bubba whispering,” the southern art of training your man.
Whether giving business tips or celebrating the inevitable resurgence of big hair, Tomlinson is an adviser women can relate to and laugh with regardless of what side of the Mason-Dixon line they call home.

“Over time, I’ve found myself opining on current affairs as much as southern traditions, and, what’s more, it seems to have fallen to me to educate (I use that term very loosely) the masses with a bit of much needed southern etiquette!” says Tomlinson about the inspiration for her new book.

About the Author:

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and her husband Phil live and farm in the Louisiana Delta. Shellie is the author of Lessons Learned on Bull Run Road, Twas the Night Before the Very First Christmas, Southern Comfort with Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and the Penguin Group USA release, Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On, voted Nonfiction Finalist of 2009 by SIBA Independent Booksellers Alliance.

Tomlinson is owner and publisher of All Things Southern and the host of the weekly radio show All Things Southern as well as a weekly video segment by the same name. Listeners also hear Shellie in her All Things Southern radio segments aired across the South. Shellie writes a weekly inspirational feature in Newsstar and a monthly print and online column for Lousiana Road Trips.

When Shellie isn’t writing, speaking, taping her show, answering email or writing content for the next deadline, you can find her playing tennis with Dixie Belle, (the chocolate lab who thinks she is in charge of running Shellie’s life)

My Opinion:

When I saw that this book had advance praise from Jeff Foxworthy, yes I’m a closet Foxworthy fan, I had to request this laugh-out-loud book.  From the start I was laughing out loud and since my children and husband weren’t privy to what I was reading they thought I was laughing at them!  I am not a Southerner by birth, but in heritage and heart I am a Southern gal – yes I say ain’t and ya’ll and sometimes a warsh slips out instead of wash.

Reading Shellie’s newest book was a breath of fresh air and her comedy was completely clean – even though she does mention unmentionables and a friend alludes to a certain bodily function – but when you live with a boy and a husband who finds these things funny, your not so easily grossed out.  The ‘advice’ she offers in her book is meant to be taken more tongue in cheek than as specific advice.  Some advice you could actually put into action in life but some is best left behind after you laugh fest is over.

The other great part of this book are all the Southern recipes that Shellie has included with each chapter.  Definitely not diet or low carb friendly, they sound delicious, although I haven’t had time to actually try them.  Some that you’ll find is:  Mandarin Almond Salad, Chicken Crescent Roll-ups, Firecracker bread, Cuzin Peggy’s Jambalaya Grits, and much more.  There are also some seafood recipes, if you like that sort of thing, and I may have to try those to satisfy my husband.

If you’re looking for something that is inspirational and has clean humor this is it, if you’re like me you’ll be laughing from page one until you finish.  I would suggest letting your husband and children know before beginning that you are not laughing at them, unless you want them to think that.  This book was a fast and enjoyable read and now I’m going to have to check out the first book!

**I was provided a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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Book Review: "Already Compromised" by Ken Ham and Greg Hall w/Britt Beemer

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Already Compromised by Ken Ham and Greg Hall regarding the state of Christian colleges and what they are teaching the children who go there.  As a home educator who is doing what I can in bringing up my children to know and love the Lord – I want to make sure that they don’t loose their faith by going to a compromising college.

I know what can happen to those who go into public colleges, and it isn’t good, I know my time spent at the local community college was when I really started living life for me with no regard to my faith I had in childhood.  Philosophy and other classes gave no frame work to build a faith except one of humanism, secularism and by all means atheism.

I’m glad that Ken Ham and Greg Hall want to let other parents know what they can expect as their children desire to go to college.  I pray that mine will fore go college and do an apprenticeship, however, they are young and the Lord will guide them when the time comes.  I’m glad to have authors who are staunchly Christian and can sound the warning call and don’t back down in the event of negative feed back.  Unfortunately, too many parents send their children off to colleges who purport to be Christian but may be teaching the Bible is fallible, does not need to be taken literally and that the world really is millions or billions of years old.

This book is not something you’ll read in a day, or three or maybe even a week – it took me about two weeks to get through this book.  There is so much information included that it takes time to really digest it and analyze it and pray over (especially if you’re the parent of a college bound child).  There are numerous graphs that for the visual learner, will aid in showing the results from the survey conducted by Britt Beemer of the America’s Research Group.

Already Compromised is a book that should be read by every Christian parent whose child wants to go to college, whether to be a nurse or a lawyer.  If you don’t compromise your beliefs of Biblical authority in your home then this book will help you in making sure your beliefs and the beliefs of your children aren’t compromised as they leave home to be taught by someone other than you.  This book is not just for home educators but for any Christian parent who stands on the literal, infallible Word of God and wants to continue on in the Good Fight.

**I was provided a copy of this book from Master Books in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.


FIRST Tour: Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics by Thomas Craughwell

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today’s Wild Card author is:


Thomas Craughwell


and the book:


Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics

Image (July 12, 2011)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Associate, Image Books/ / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


THOMAS J. CRAUGHWELL is the author of Saints Behaving Badly, Urban Legends, Alligators in the Sewer and 222 Other Urban Legends, Saints for Every Occasion: 101 of Heaven’s Most Powerful Patrons, and Do Blue Bedsheets Bring Babies? Every month he writes a column on patron saints for Catholic diocesan newspapers. In addition, he has written about saints for the Wall Street Journal, St. Anthony Messenger, and Catholic Digest and has discussed saints on CNN and EWTN. His book Stealing Lincoln’s Body was made into a two-hour documentary on the History Channel.

Visit the author’s website.


In Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics, author Thomas Craughwell takes us on an exhilarating journey through the life and death of over three hundred saints and enlightens us about the bits and pieces that were left behind (for example, a finger or a lock of hair) that are honored and revered by Catholics around the world.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.00
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Image (July 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307590739
ISBN-13: 978-0307590732



Anyone who thinks that the cult of relics of the saints is itself a relic of the Middle Ages should log on to eBay. On any day of the week the online shopper will find a thriving business in the sale of relics, ranging from dust from the tomb of Christ to splinters of the True Cross to bone fragments of countless saints.

Among the faithful relics have an enormous appeal. In 1999-2000, when relics of St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), popularly known as the Little Flower, traveled across the United States, millions turned out to touch or kiss the reliquary. The scene was repeated in 2003 when a tiny fragment of the cloak that bears the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was carried from parish to parish throughout the country.

Believers will go out of their way to see famous relics. An online search of Catholic travel companies turns up dozens of itineraries designed specifically to visit churches that exhibit renowned relics, such as the incorrupt body of St. Bernadette in her convent’s chapel in Nevers, France, and the basilica in Padua, Italy, where St. Anthony lies buried.

Though many of the most famous relics like [give a couple more examples] are associated with saints, relics are not limited to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Buddhists venerates teeth of the Buddha; Islam venerates the sword, the robe, and even strands from the beard of Mohammed. In ancient times, when a farmer or an excavation crew unearthed dinosaur bones, the Greeks and Romans took them for the remains of the Titans, or a legendary hero such as Theseus.

Even secular society prizes relics: at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, I saw crowds press around a display case that contained the gloves Mary Todd Lincoln wore to Ford’s Theater, stained with the blood of her assassinated husband. No doubt morbid curiosity played a part, but I believe the desire to see Mary Lincoln’s blood-stained gloves represents something deeper—the longing to have a physical connection with one of the greatest men, and one of the most tragic moments, in American history. It is that same longing to connect on a physical and not just a spiritual level that draws the faithful to the tombs of the saints, the houses where they lived, the altars before which they prayed, even the prisons where they were tortured.

In the Catholic Church relics fall into one of three categories: a first class relic is the physical remains of a saint such as bones, hair, and blood; a second class relic is the personal possessions of a saint, such as clothing, devotional objects, handwritten letters, even furniture; and a third class relic is an object, such a cloth or a holy card, that is touched to first class relic.

Reverence for the remains and belongings of saints is rooted in Sacred Scripture. In 2 Kings 13:20-21 we read of a dead man being restored to life after his corpse touched the bones of the prophet Elisha. In Mark’s gospel we find the story of a woman who suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years and was cured when she touched the hem of Christ’s garment (Mark 5:25-34). And the Acts of the Apostles recounts how Christians touched handkerchiefs and other cloths to the body of St. Paul; when these cloths were given to the sick or the possessed, “diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).

Even in times of persecution the early Christians made an earnest effort to recover the remains of the martyrs so they could be given a proper burial and their martyrdom commemorated annually with Mass celebrated at their tombs. A letter from about the year 156 A.D. describes the martyrdom of the elderly bishop of Smyrna, St. Polycarp. His body had been burned, but the Christians of Smyrna searched among the ashes for any trace of the saint that had not been consumed by the flames. “We took up his bones,” the anonymous author of the letter wrote, “which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy, and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom.”

After Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire, great basilicas were built over the tombs of St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Lawrence, to name only a few. In 386 St. Ambrose discovered the relics of the proto-martyrs of Milan, Sts. Gervase and Protase, and had them enshrined in his church where the faithful could venerate the relics and ask for the martyrs’ intercession. In the City of God, Book 22, St. Augustine bears witness to the many miracles that were wrought by the newly discovered relics of St. Stephen. In Tibilis, during a procession with a relic of the proto-martyr, “a blind woman entreated that she might be led to the bishop who was carrying the relics. He gave her the flowers he was carrying. She took them, applied them to her eyes, and immediately saw.”

There was always the danger, of course, that some Christians in their enthusiasm might treat the saints as if they were little gods and the relics as if they were magical. St. Jerome, in his letter to Riparius, writes of the proper veneration of saints and relics, “We do not worship, we do not adore [saints], for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are.”

During the Middle Ages a pilgrimage to a shrine was a popular expression of religious devotion as well as a kind of vacation or road trip. Journeys to the Holy Land, Rome, or Compostela in Spain could be dangerous (St. Bridget of Sweden was shipwrecked on her pilgrimage to Jerusalem), but there were many shrines closer to home where one could venerate relics. Cathedrals, monasteries, and convents began to build up impressive relic collections, the better to attract throngs of pilgrims. Pilgrims were an important asset to local economies: they needed food and lodging, they would make gifts to the church, they would purchase a badge, a holy card, or some other souvenir to recall their journey. In time, aristocrats began to amass private relic collections to which they gave the public access on certain days of the year. In Wittenberg Frederick the Wise kept his collection of thousands of relics in the Wittenberg Castle Church. It was on the door of that church in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, an early step in the religious revolution known as the Protestant Reformation.

The Protestants reformers attacked the veneration of relics, but the Catholic bishops at the Council of Trent responded by explaining and defending the practice, saying, “The holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others now living with Christ—which bodies were the living members of Christ and ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Corinthians 6:19) and which are by Him to be raised to eternal life and to be glorified are to be venerated by the faithful, for through these [bodies] many benefits are bestowed by God on men.” Nonetheless, during the Reformation period vandals smashed countless shrines, burning or otherwise destroying the relics they contained. In Lutheran Scandinavia such violence was rare; typically the relics of a saint were removed from its shrine and buried in an unmarked grave in the same church. As a result, the relics of St. Bridget and her daughter St. Catherine of Sweden, as well as the relics of the martyred king St. Eric, have survived. In England, Scotland, and Wales the reformers destroyed almost every shrine, but in recent years some Anglican bishops have attempted to restore the shrines in their cathedrals. In Winchester Cathedral for example, a small contemporary shrine marks the spot where the shrine of St. Swithun stood during the Middle Ages. The shrine is empty, all of the saints’ bones were destroyed during the Reformation. But at St. Alban’s Abbey a bone of the martyr lies within the new shrine, the gift of the Catholic archbishop of Cologne who had a relic of St. Alban in one of the churches of his archdiocese.

As a rough estimate, the Catholic Church venerates about 40,000 saints. Most of these are local holy men, women, and children, virtually unknown outside the region where they lived and died. To try to catalogue the location of the relics of all of these saints would require the labor of several lifetimes. And to track down the tiny fragments of saints’ bones, the snippets from saints’ clothing, would be impossible. So I have been obliged to narrow my focus. This volume contains approximately 350 entries of the Catholic world’s most important, interesting, unusual, or rare relics. Most but not all of the entries describe the relics of saints. I have included Old Testament relics such Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant (said to be hidden in a church in Ethiopia); Holy Land relics such as the house where Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived and the stairs from Pontius Pilate’s palace; relics of Jesus Christ, including the Manger, the True Cross, the Shroud of Turin, the Crown of Thorns, Veronica’s Veil, the Pillar of the Scourging, and the Holy Sepulcher; relics of the Virgin Mary such as her veil (at Chartres Cathedral), her portrait (Poland’s Black Madonna and Mexico’s Our Lady of Guadalupe), and in her belt (at Prato Cathedral). For easy reference, the book is arranged in an A-to-Z format. Each entry includes the location of the relic, it history, a brief biography in the case of a saint, and the feast day.

The relics of all saints and blessed of the United States (current at time of this book’s publication date) are included, as well as the relics of many saints and blesseds of Canada and Latin America. I have also included entries for the two largest relic collections in America, Maria Stein in Ohio and St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh.

Every year Maria Stein and St. Anthony’s Chapel welcome many visitors, who tend to be an amalgam of the devout and the curious. Probably very few have the level of enthusiasm for relics their ancestors knew during the Middle Ages, when monasteries, convents, cathedrals, and even nobles and kings succumbed to a kind relic-collecting mania. The craving to possess an important, even an exceptional relic, led to all types of abuses, from theft, to relic peddling, to the manufacture of bogus relics—hence the multiple heads of St. John the Baptist. Sadly, some churches claimed to possess relics that were spurious at best and at worst sacrilegious—a feather of the Holy Sprit, for example, or the shield of St. Michael the Archangel. Such “relics” I have not included. In most cases the churches that possessed these items disposed of them or retired them long ago.

Nonetheless, some of the relics included in this book may raise eyebrows. It is true that not all relics that are still publicly venerated can be authenticated with one hundred percent certainty. But if these relics are well-known and the church that possesses them has not put them away, I felt that they ought to be included here.

Every Catholic church and chapel contains at least one relic—it is a requirement of the Church under what is known as canon law that every altar consecrated for the celebration of Mass must contain the relic of at least one saint, preferably a martyr. This requirement links even the most contemporary church with the earliest practice of the Church, when priests offered Mass using the sarcophagus of a martyr as the altar. In addition to the fragmentary relic in the altar, most churches possess other relics, which are sometimes brought out for veneration on a saint’s feast day. On a recent Good Friday it was my privilege to venerate a relic of the True Cross—one of the treasures of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford, Connecticut.

In some cases years after a saint’s death, his or her grave was opened and the body found to be in a remarkable state of preservation. Generally speaking, the term applied in such a case is “incorruptible.” However, incorruptibility is often in the eye of the beholder. Gazing upon the bodies of some of these saints, the terms “mummified,” “embalmed,” or “desiccated” may also come to mind. The body of St. Bernadette is usually described as incorrupt, and her face is exquisitely beautifully. But the case becomes more complicated when one learns that the saint’s actual face has darkened over time, and so it has been covered with an lovely, utterly lifelike wax mask. The translation of the body of Blessed Pope John XXIII from his sarcophagus in the grottoes beneath St. Peter’s into a side chapel of the basilica set off a debate whether his body was supernaturally incorrupt, whether it had been embalmed at the time of his death. The question has never been resolved definitively. It is possible that Blessed Pope John’s body is so well-preserved because it had been enclosed inside three coffins, and then sealed in a stone sarcophagus.

No one should feel uneasy visiting a shrine or venerating a relic. In many respects it is similar to visiting the grave of a beloved member of the family, or cherishing a family heirloom—but on a much higher level. The shrine or relic is a physical link with someone who was so faithful to God in this life that he or she is now glorified in the Kingdom of God forever. Bringing out Grandma’s china for Christmas dinner stirs the emotions and makes us feel connected once again to someone we loved but who has since died. Relics work in the same way, but more intensely because in the case of sacred relics the connection is not only to someone we love, but to someone who was genuinely holy.

The Aachen Relics (1st century). According to Charlemagne’s biographer, Einhard, in 800 the patriarch of Jerusalem sent a monk to Aachen with four extraordinary relics for the newly crowned Holy Roman Emperor: the dress the Blessed Virgin Mary wore when she gave birth to Jesus Christ; the Infant Jesus’ swaddling clothes; the loincloth Christ wore as he hung upon the cross; and a towel in which was wrapped the head of St. John the Baptist. All four relics are kept in a golden chest that was made for them in 1238; the reliquary is on display in the Treasury of Aachen, Germany’s Cathedral of St. Mary. Once every seven years the relics are exposed for public veneration—the next exposition will be held in 2014.

Aachen’s Kornelimunster, or Church of St. Cornelius, has three precious relics: the cloth Christ tied around his waist when he washed the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper; the shroud in which St. Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus for burial (this is a different shroud than the much more famous Shroud of Turin); and the sudarium, or cloth that was laid over the face of Jesus at the time of his burial.
St. Afra (died 304). The bones of St. Afra are preserved in a simple stone sarcophagus in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Ulrich and St. Afra in Augsburg, Germany. The church is an important historic site: in 1555 the Peace of Augsburg was signed here, putting an end to religious warfare in Germany and establishing the right of individual princes to choose if they would be Catholic or Lutheran. The basilica is split between the Catholic half dedicated to St. Afra and the Lutheran half dedicated to St. Ulrich.

Before her conversion to Christianity Afra had been a prostitute in Augsburg’s temple of Venus. During Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of the Church she was arrested. “You were a prostitute,” the judge reminded her. “The God of the Christians will reject you.”

“Not so,” Afra replied. “Jesus Christ forgave the adulterous woman because her repentance was sincere. And he will forgive me, too.”

The judge sentenced Afra to be suffocated. Guards took her to an island in the middle of the Lech River, bound her to a stake, and built a large smoky fire around her. She choked to death in the fumes.

St. Afra is the patron saint of converts and is one of the patron saints of Augsburg. Feast day: August 7.


My Opinion:

I will begin by saying that I am not Catholic and I read this from strictly a Christian/Bible perspective.  I enjoy reading books that give me a glimpse of other Christians who have sought to bring the Word to others as well as ministering to them and those who have been martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.  I will admit I do it find it somewhat creepy to keep the bones of the dead in churches and have people venerate them however I can understand how someone can view a side of life and maybe even inspire them to action.

I could say a lot of things regarding issues I have with venerating the dead, the Pope making some saints when every Christian is called a Saint in the Bible, and other things I don’t understand about the Catholic faith, however that is not the point for this review.  I really thought this was an interesting book on those people who have gone on before us and lived their faith some even being murdered for their faith – which is the ultimate act of a Christian.  Some I would have liked to have more information on, especially the women with families who were made saints, and maybe some more pictures.  This is good read if you want to know more on Catholic Saints and their lives or just enjoy reading up on Church history.


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