GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Blogging Through the Alphabet: Q is for…… #grow4christ #abcblogging


Q is a hard letter to chose something to write about – I was thinking quiet but then I already did quietude last year, then quench came to mind (there are a lot Scriptures about quenching)  but I did that back in 2012.  So I went with Quicken – the definition of Quicken from the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition that I have is:

“to make alive; revive. to cause to be enlivened. to cause to burn more intensely. to make sharper”

and there are more – such as relating to the movement of a child within the womb but I’m focusing on the above definitions.

Often we grow weary, either as women, as moms, as wives or just in life all together – we become tired and we no longer feel vibrant, alive, renewed but God wants us to feel alive, He wants us to be renewed (Ephesians 4) – when we are tired and weary we are more susceptible to the ways of the enemy, Satan and his demons – so we always need to be renewing our minds and our spirits with God’s Word and so that brings me to quicken, as it means to make alive, revive, make sharper, or burn more intensely.

So in the words of Psalm 119:40 KJV “Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.”  my ESV says “Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!”  so we can have life in His righteousness, He will quicken us – or make us alive!  When we are tired the Lord will quicken us – He alone will revive us – not a book, not a movie, not a good long sleep but Him and only Him, He wants to give us life, He wants to be the One to revive us.

Psalm 143:11 in the KJV says: Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.” and the same verse in the ESV reads “For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!”  again we see the Psalmist, David, calling out to the Lord to give him life, to keep his soul out of trouble.  We can look to the men of old as examples and call out to the Lord so He can protect us from the Devil and his henchmen – and we can use their Psalms as we do so.

Another use of quicken (but not the last) is in Romans 8:11 which says in the King James Version “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” and in the English Standard Version says: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”  So, this means that to those of us who belong to the Lord He will give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit.  Even as our mortal bodies die, we know that He will also give us eternal life – if we rely on Him to make us alive now!

How great it is to know that when my body and mind is failing I can come to the Lord, the Life-giver, and He will quicken me.  He will give me life, energy, make my mind sharper and more clear and make me burn for Him!  Let’s face it there are days where you want to just hide under the covers, let the children duke it out among themselves and ignore it all – but those are the days that the Lord is calling us, “Come to me all who are weary.”  If we continue on, look to Christ for our strength and tary on through our weariness then there will be much to reap in the end (Galatians 6:9).

It’s hard.  Some days near impossible to feel that quicken.  If we let our weariness, our doubts, our vibrancy, our renewal to fade and let that light go out then we’ve let Satan win.  We must not grow tired, our flesh tells us to stay under that blanket, to hide and ignore but even Job kept on and his faith was stronger in the end, sure he could have gave in to his ‘friends’ his wife but he didn’t, he looked to the Lord – even after losing his children, all his livestock, everything – how much more can we continue on?  So, ladies take heart and know that Lord welcomes us to His feet where we can rest our heads and cry out our tiredness, our frustrations and where we can find that quickening we need to continue on, or even to get out of bed in the mornings!

I want to stress that I’m not saying a good book or a good movie can’t relax and give us enjoyment – I’ve read many a book and watched many a movie that gives me entertainment and even inspires me in my faith but we shouldn’t be seeking these things as our sole form of quickening – we should be looking only to the Lord for that renewal.  If all you’re reading is the next Christian fiction novel, no matter how great, it’s no replacement for the Bible and for prayer, where you’ll find true life!  If you’re weary then look around you to see what it is that is giving you ‘life, reviving or making you sharper’ and if you can’t honestly say “God’s Word” then please, Sister, re-evaluate what is first in your life and I pray you find the renewal you need.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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FIRST Tour: Heart of Mercy (Tennessee Dreams 1) by Sharlene MacLaren (#grow4christ)


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:
Sharlene MacLaren
and the book:
Heart of Mercy (Tennessee Dreams Book 1)
Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award winning romance author, Sharlene MacLaren has released 13 novels since embarking on a writing career in 2007. After a career teaching second grade “Shar” says she asked God for a new mission “that would bring her as great a sense of purpose” as she’d felt teaching and raising her children. She tried her hand at inspirational romance, releasing Through Every Storm to critical and popular acclaim in 2007, and the rest, as they say, is history. She quickly became the top selling fiction author for Whitaker House, has accumulated multiple awards, and endeared herself to readers who can’t get enough of her long, luscious and often quirky tales – both historical and contemporary. Her novels include the contemporary romances Long Journey Home, and Tender Vow; and three historical series including Little Hickman Creek series (Loving Liza Jane; Sarah, My Beloved; and Courting Emma); The Daughters of Jacob Kane (Hannah Grace, Maggie Rose, and Abbie Ann) and River of Hope (Livvie’s Song, Ellie’s Haven, and Sofia’s Secret).

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Mercy Evans has known a great deal of heartache and hardship in her 26 years. She lost her mother at a young age and was only 16 when her father was killed in a brawl sparked by a feud with the Connors family that spans several generations. When a house fire claims the lives of her two best friends, Mercy is devastated, but finds comfort in caring for their two sons, who survived thanks to a heroic rescue by Sam Connors, blacksmith in the small town of Paris, Tennessee. Yet the judge is determined to grant custody only if Mercy is married. Mercy loves the boys as her own, and she’ll go to any lengths to keep them—but what if that means marrying the son of the man who killed her father? Set in the 1880’s, Heart of Mercy is the first book in MacLaren’s new Tennessee Dreams series.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Series: Tennessee Dreams (Book 1)

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603749632

ISBN-13: 978-1603749633

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

1890
Paris, Tennessee
“Fire!”
The single word had the power to force a body to drop
his knees and call out to his Maker for leniency. But most took time for
neither, instead racing to the scene of terror with the bucket they kept stored
close to the door, and joining the contingent of citizens determined to battle
the flames of death and destruction. Such was the case tonight when, washing
the dinner dishes in the kitchen sink, Mercy Evans heard the dreaded screams
coming from all directions, even began to smell the sickening fumes of blazing
timber seeping through her open windows. She ran through her house and burst
through the screen door onto the front porch.
“Where’s the fire?” she shouted at the people running
up Wood Street carrying buckets of water.
Without so much as a glance at her, one man hollered
on the run, “Looks to be the Watson place over on Caldwell.”
Her heart thudded to a shattering halt. God, no! “Surely, you don’t mean Herb
and Millie Watson!”
Mercy Evans and Millie Watson, formerly Gifford, had
been fast friends at school and had stuck together like glue in the dimmest of
circumstances, as well as the sweetest. Millie had walked with Mercy through
the loss of both her parents, and Mercy had watched Millie fall wildly in love
with Herb Watson in the twelfth grade. She’d been the maid of honor in their
wedding the following summer.
But her voice was lost to the footsteps thundering
past. Whirling on her heel, she ran back inside, hurried to extinguish all but
one kerosene lamp, snatched her wrap from its hook by the door, and darted back
outside and up the rutted street toward her best friends’ home, dodging horses
and a stampede of citizens. “Lord, please don’t let it be,” she pleaded aloud.
“Oh, God, keep them safe. Jesus, Jesus….” But her cries vanished in the
scramble of bodies crowding her off the street as several made the turn onto
Caldwell in their quest to reach the flaming house, which already looked beyond
saving.
Tongues of fire shot like dragons’ breath out windows
and up through a hole in the roof. Like hungry serpents, flames lapped up the
sides of the house, eating walls and shattering panes, while men heaved their
pathetic little buckets of water at the volcanic monster.
“Back off, everybody. Step back!” ordered Sheriff
Phil Marshall. He and a couple of deputies on horseback spread their arms wide
at the crowd, trying to push them to safety.
Ignoring his orders, Mercy pressed through the
gathering mob until the heat so overwhelmed her that she had no choice but to
stop. Besides, a giant arm reached out and stopped her progress. She shook it
off. “Where are they?” she gasped, breathless. “Where’s the family?”
The sheriff moved his bald head from side to side,
his sad, defeated eyes telling the story. “Don’t know, Miss Evans. No one’s
seen ’em yet. We been scourin’ the crowd”—he gave another shake of the
head—“and it don’t appear anybody got out of that inferno.”
“That can’t be.” A sob caught at the back of her
throat and choked her next words. “They were at my place earlier. I made
supper.”
“Sorry, miss.”
“Someone’s comin’ out!” A man’s ear-splitting shout
rose above the crowd.
Dense smoke enveloped a large figure
emerging—staggering rather like a drunkard—from the open door and onto the
porch, his arms full with two wriggling bundles wrapped in blankets and
screaming in terror. Mercy sucked in a cavernous breath and held it till
weakness overtook her and she forced herself to let it out. Could it be? Had
little John Roy and Joseph survived the fire thanks to this man?
“Who is it?” someone asked.
All stood in rapt silence as he passed through the
cloud of smoke. “Looks to be Sam Connors, the blacksmith,” said the sheriff,
scratching his head and stepping forward.
“Sure ’nough is,” someone confirmed.
Mercy stared in wonder as the man, looking dazed and
almost ethereal, strode down the steps, then wavered and stumbled before
falling flat on his face in a heap of dust and bringing the howling bundles
with him.
Excited chatter erupted as Mercy and several others
ran to their aid. Mercy yanked the blankets off the boys and heaved a sigh of
relief to find them both alert and apparently unharmed, albeit still screeching
louder than a couple of banshees. Through their avalanche of tears, they
recognized her, and they hurled themselves into her arms, knocking her
backward, so that she wound up on her back perpendicular to Mr. Connors, with
both of the boys lying prone across her body. In all the chaos, she felt a hand
grasp her arm and help her up to a sitting position.
“Come on, Miz. You bes’ git yo’self an’ them
chillin’s out of the way o’ them flames fo’ you all gets burned.” She had the
presence of mind to look up at Solomon Turner, a former slave now in the employ
of Mrs. Iris Brockwell, a prominent Paris citizen who’d donated a good deal of
money to the hospital fund.
Mercy took the man’s callused hand and allowed him to
help her to a standing state. By the lines etched in his face from years of
hard work in the sweltering sun, Mercy figured he had to be in his seventies,
yet he lifted her with no apparent effort. “Thank you, Mr. Turner.”
Five-year-old John Roy stretched his arms upward,
pleading with wet eyes to be held, while Joseph, six, took a fistful of her
skirt and clung with all his might. “Come,” she said, hoisting John Roy up into
her arms. “We best do as Mr. Turner says, honey. Follow me.”
“But…Mama and Papa….” Joseph turned and gave his
perishing house a long perusal, tears still spilling down his face. John Roy
buried his wrenching sobs in Mercy’s shoulder, and it was all she could do to
keep from bolting into the house herself to search for Herb and Millie, even
though she knew she’d never come out alive. If the fire and smoke didn’t kill
her, the heat would. Besides, before her eyes, the flames had devoured the very
sides of the house, leaving a skeletal frame with a staircase only somewhat
intact and a freestanding brick fireplace looking like a graveyard monument.
Her heart throbbed in her chest and thundered in her ears, and she wanted to
scream, but the ever-thickening smoke and acrid fumes burned to the bottom of
her lungs.
With her free hand, she hugged Joseph close to her.
“I know, sweetheart, and I’m so, so sorry.” Her words drowned in her own sobs as
the truth slammed against her. Millie and Herb, her most loyal friends. Gone.
Sheriff Marshall and his deputies ordered the crowd
to move away from the blazing house, so she forced herself to obey, dragging a
reluctant Joseph with her. At the same time, she observed three men carrying a
yet unconscious Sam Connors across the street to a grassy patch of ground.
Several others gathered around, trying to decide what sort of care he needed.
Of course, he required medical attention, but Mercy felt too weak and dizzy to
tend to him. Best to let the men put him on a cart and drive him over to Doc
Trumble’s. Besides, she highly doubted he’d welcome her help. He was a Connors,
after all, and she an Evans—two families who had been fighting since as far
back as anyone could remember.
She’d heard only bits and pieces of how the feud had
started, with a dispute between Cornelius Evans, Mercy’s grandfather, and
Eustace Connors over property lines and livestock grazing in the early 1830s.
There had been numerous thefts of horses and cattle, and incidents of barn
burnings, committed by both families, until a judge had stepped in and defined
the property lines—in favor of Eustace Connors. Mercy’s grandfather had gotten
so agitated over the matter that his heart had given out. Mercy’s grandmother,
Margaret, had blamed the Connors family, fueling the feud by passing her hatred
for the entire clan on to her own children, and so the next generation had
carried the grudge, mostly forgetting its origins but not the bad blood. The animosity
had reached a peak six years ago, when Ernest Connors had killed Oscar
Evans—Mercy’s father.
“That man’s a angel,” Joseph mumbled into her skirts.
“What, honey?”
“John Roy was wailin’ real loud, ’cause he saw
somethin’ orange comin’ from upstairs, so he got in bed with me, and after a
while that angel man comed in and took us out of ar’ bed.”
She set John Roy on the ground, then got down on her
knees to meet Joseph’s eyes straight on. His were still red, his cheeks
blotchy. She thought very carefully about her next words. “Where were your
parents?”
Joseph sniffed. “They tucked us in and went upstairs
to their bedroom. John Roy an’ me talked a long time about scary monsters an’
stuff, but then, after a while, he went to sleep, but I couldn’t, so I got up
t’ get a drink o’ water, and that’s when I heard a noise upstairs. I looked
around the corner, and I seed a big round ball o’ orange up there, and smoke
comin’ out of it, and I thought it was a dragon come to eat us up. I runned
back and jumped in bed with Joseph and tol’ him a mean monster was comin’ t’
get us, and I started cryin’ real loud.”
John Roy picked up the story from there. “And so we
waited and waited for the monster to come after us, but instead the angel saved
us. I think Mama and Papa is prolly still sleepin’. Do you think they waked up
yet?”
Mercy’s throat burned as powerfully as if she’d
swallowed a tablespoonful of acid. Her own eyes begged to cut loose a river of
tears, but she warded them off with a shake of her head while gathering both
boys tightly to her. “No, darlings, I don’t believe they woke up in bed. I
believe with all my heart they awoke in heaven and are right now asking Jesus
to keep you safe.”
“And so Jesus tol’ that angel to come in the house
and get us?” Joseph pointed a shaky finger at Sam Connors. The big fellow lay
motionless on his back, with several men bent over him, calling his name and
fanning his face.
Mercy smiled. “He’s not an angel, my sweet, but
that’s not to say that God didn’t have something to do with sending him in to
rescue you.”
“Is he gonna die, like Mama and Papa?” John Roy asked
between frantic sobs.
“Oh, honey, I don’t know.”
She overheard Lyle Phelps suggest they take him over
to Doc Trumble’s house, but then Harold Crew said he’d spotted the doctor about
an hour ago, driving out to the DeLass farm to deliver baby number seven.
A few sets of eyes glanced around until they landed
on Mercy. She knew what folks were thinking. She worked for Doc Trumble, she
had more medical training and experience than the average person, and her house
was closest to the scene. But their gazes also indicated they understood the
awkwardness of the situation, considering the ongoing feud between the two
families. Although the idea of caring for him didn’t appeal, she’d taken an
oath to always do her best to preserve life. Besides, the Lord commanded her to
love her neighbor as herself, making it a sin to walk away from someone in
need, regardless of his family name.
She dropped her shoulders, even as the boys snuggled
close. “Put him on a cart and take him to my place,” she stated.
As if relieved that his care would fall to someone
other than themselves, several men hurried to pick him up and carried him to
Harold Crew’s nearby buggy.
“What about us?” Joseph asked.
The sheriff stepped forward and made a quick study of
each boy. “You can stay out at my sister’s farm. She won’t mind adding a couple
o’ more young’uns to her brood.”
Joseph burst into loud howls upon the sheriff’s
announcement. Mercy hugged him and John Roy possessively. “Their parents were
my closest friends, Sheriff Marshall. I’d like to assume their care.”
He frowned and scratched the back of his head. “Don’t
know as that’s the best solution, you bein’ unwed an’ all.”
“That should have no bearing whatever on where they
go. Their parents were my closest friends. They’re coming home with me.” She
took both boys by the hands, turned, and led them back down Caldwell Street,
away from the still-smoldering house and the sheriff’s disapproving gaze.
Overhead, black smoke filled the skies, obliterating any hope of the night’s
first stars or the crescent moon making an appearance.

My Opinion:

Imagine, you’ve lost your family, you have no hopes of a husband and your family is feuding with another family in town – and then your friends are lost in a fire and their two young sons are given to you – but only if you can marry in 30 days!  Most of us would run the other way – 30 days to find, meet and marry a man you’ll be with the for the rest of your life so you can raise your friend’s boys.  In an uncanny way Mercy meets her new husband and he lays on her couch receiving her nursing care after rescuing the boys from the fire that kills their parents – little do they know what is going to happen.  I don’t want to give spoilers but Mercy has suitors knocking on her door from the toothless men who only want someone who will cook their meals and was their clothes and no real intention of being a dad to the declared bachelor who realizes he is too old to take on two rambunctious boys – until the unlikely candidate comes to her door to give her what she needs, a husband in name only.

Like another book I read recently, the married couple doesn’t know each other and almost barely tolerate one another, but for the good of others sacrifice what they want and bite the bullet.  Marriage in name only is how things are supposed to work but what really happens is only a thing of miracles and of God working through their hearts and their lives to bring peace that has long been absent.  Set in Tennessee in 1890 the book is filled with a life of time gone era, when it was respectable to marry and raise children and when morality was governed by the church and the Bible and was upheld.  The book shows what forgiveness looks like even when we think it should be with held and how reconciliation can bring healing that affects everyone.  I look forward to reading the next book and find it hard to wait until it comes out because I want to visit Paris, Tennessee again – if only in a book.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Booksneeze Review: Merlin’s Shadow by Robert Treskillard #grow4christ


About the book:

Betrayal.

After destroying the sinister Druid Stone and freeing his people from its dark control, Merlin finds himself a royal advisor without a king. Along with his friend Garth and Natalenya, his betrothed, Merlin treks north with the orphaned Arthur in hopes of keeping the young ruler safe from soldiers misled by their turncoat captain. Relentlessly pursued by his old nemesis Vortigern, Merlin and his band make for the fortress of Dintaga.

But dangers multiply when Merlin realizes that Vortigern is not his only enemy. Even his own sister appears bent on Merlin’s destruction. As the threat on all their lives increases, Merlin discovers their only hope is sailing to the lands of eternal darkness and once again cleansing the world from an ancient and powerful evil.

You may purchase a copy at Zondervan.

My Opinion:

Thanks to my oldest daughter who has gotten me wrapped up into all things related to the BBC, this book about Merlin (who she also watches a BBC show titled as such) had me intrigued because of the Christian twist on an old story of Merlin and Arthur. I had not read book 1, Merlin’s Blade, so the first couple chapters in this book were hard to get through as I was sorting through the multiple characters and of course trying to figure out what happened in book 1 to bring us where we are in book 2.  I was truly worried because I was thinking if I have to slog through this I’ll just stop because it was so slow moving but then I got to about chapter 6 and I’m glad I didn’t stop!

Now I have to say once it picked up I was very engrossed in it and didn’t want to put it down and I want to backtrack and read book 1 and I so enjoyed the spiritual warfare that was added to this story about Merlin, who is often made out to be a sorcerer but there is much allegory to this book as well and it was written superbly.  Merlin is a Christian, but he’s still learning to trust in God and sometimes, like all Christians do, fails and leans on his own understanding but his struggles feel real unlike some books that it seems likes the character is struggling but their struggles aren’t real.

I really enjoyed chapter 35 as a scene between Ganieda and “The Voice” is detailed (The Voice is to me a description of Satan and Ganieda is Merlin’s younger half sister) and she becomes thirsty and the Voice offers her several drinks and she doesn’t want to accept but ends up accepting as she sees all that the Voice is offering such as public praises, adoration and more but as she approaches the last she hesitates – I won’t give spoilers but this part spoke to me because we are all tempted with worldly wiles and some of us partake and then we realize what we really need is Jesus and some fall completely and take in all of what Satan has to offer.  If you’d like a new way to get into the story of Merlin with a Christian twist this is in, Robert Treskillard spins a wonderful web of suspense, spiritual warfare and ultimately triumph.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Litfuse Publicity: A Miracle of Hope (An Amish Wonders Novel) by Ruth Reid #grow4christ


About the Book:

Book One in the Amish Wonders series.

How far can God’s mercy reach?

Lindie Wyse is pregnant out of wedlock and thinks an arranged marriage is the only way to preserve her future. Josiah Plank is certain he’ll never love again, but he needs someone to care for his eight-year-old daughter, Hannah. The two take on their arrangement tentatively at first but soon realize they are each in for more than they imagined.

Lindie experiences a breakthrough with Hannah when she recognizes Hannah’s special gifts, but a risky pregnancy and serious health issues threaten to demolish the foundation Josiah and Lindie are building. Will their growing love survive despite their struggles, or will their hearts become as cold as the northern winter?

You can purchase a copy on Amazon. (not an affiliate link)

About the Author:

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She’s a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children.

Visit her at her website.

My Opinion:

Having never read Ruth Reid’s other books I wasn’t sure what I was in for when I began, A Miracle of Hope, as when I read a new to me author I get a little nervous since I’m not used to them but I know I will be seeking out her other books and can’t wait for more in this series!  Poor Lindie – forced into an arranged marriage in a completely different state, also means a completely district and leaving behind everything to become instant step-mom to Josiah’s deaf  8 year old daughter.  Talk about a way to begin a story!  Josiah and Lindie have a lot of emotional baggage that they must overcome in order to become the family that Hannah and Lindie’s child needs.  There quite a few twists, one of which I figured out quite early on about Lindie’s pregnancy but some of the twists took me by surprise, some were sad and some were happy but through it all Lindie and Josiah grow together.

While this is a Christian/Amish romance it’s not a typical one as the couple is usually already in love – this one shows how two people who know nothing about each other, if they allow God to be at the center of their relationship, can become one with each other.  There are moments of tenderness but nothing that made me uncomfortable to read, but since Lindie and Josiah are married if they had kissed more I wouldn’t have an issue with it.  I would have liked the growth of their relationship to sort of slow down, while it was great and the plot well developed it seemed that they wrapped everything up in a neat, tidy package too quickly.

I truly enjoyed this book and as I said above I look forward to reading more of Ruth’s works as I became quickly caught up in the world of these characters and it was a quick read that I enjoyed in an afternoon.  The only real drawback to this book is that I will have to wait for the next one as I’m excited to see what happens next in this family’s life and how things go with them as they move on in their life.  I highly recommend this if you enjoy Christian or Amish fiction with a romance thrown in as well as a faith that grows and becomes the character’s own.

If you want to see what others thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

 

A Miracle of Hope is the first book in Ruth Reid‘s new series, Amish Wonders, and she is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX Giveaway and an Author Chat Facebook Party!

miraclehope-400

One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Miracle of Hope by Ruth Reid

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 11th. Winner will be announced at the A Miracle of Hope Facebook Party on February 11th. Connect with Ruth for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, prizes, and more!

 
So grab your copy of A Miracle of Hope and join Ruth and friends on the evening of February 11th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

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Litfuse Publicity: The Calling (The Inn at Eagle Hill Book 2) by Suzanne Woods Fisher #grow4christ


About the Book:

Book Two in the Inn at Eagle Hill series.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers her trademark twists, turns, and tender romance in this delightful and exciting visit to the deceptively quiet community of Stoney Ridge.

Twenty-year-old Bethany Schrock is restless. Her love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending the incredibly hot summer days wading through a lifetime’s accumulation of junk at the home of five ancient Amish sisters. About the only thing that holds her interest is the spirited and dangerously handsome Jimmy Fisher—and he seems bent on irritating her to no end.

When the sly old sisters and a guest at the Inn get Bethany involved in running the local soup kitchen and starting a community garden, she suddenly finds herself wondering, Shootfire! How did that happen? Despite her newfound purposefulness, a gnawing emptiness about a childhood mystery continues to plague her. Encouraged by Jimmy Fisher, she will seek out the answers she craves—and uncover a shocking secret that will break her heart, heal it, and point her to love.

Read and excerpt here.

Purchase a copy from Amazon. (not an affiliate link)

Meet Suzanne:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your mobile device! Download the Free App! Also find out more by visiting her website.

My Opinion:

Let me begin by saying I have not read The Letters, Book 1 in this series and that was a bit problematic as I had a hard time figuring out which character was whose mom and which one was sister to that man, and so on – eventually I got it but it was a bit difficult.  There were some happenings in Book 1 that come up in Book 2 that play a pivotal role in the story and while Suzanne does a good job in rehashing for those who haven’t read Book 1 you can tell that you really need to read Book 1 first because it makes it all so much easier to understand.  With that said – I really, really enjoyed this book – this one actually had me in tears especially toward the end as Bethany comes to terms with her past and learns of ways to control her panic attacks.

I loved reading about the elderly sisters who Bethany cleans house for, one has the beginnings of dementia if not Alzheimer’s but they are all very active and love to care for people, even the English who down on their luck.  The Inn came into being in the first book but it seems people think miracles happen there and so people begin writing to them to get answers to their questions which provides an interesting sub plot as the letters take on a life of their own.  There is some romance in this book but even though the two main female characters are trying to decide if God has a man for them it isn’t like other books where the main plot is the romance – I appreciated this as it gave the character more depth.

I also enjoyed the suspense, again some of this plot pulls from Book 1, but the suspenseful part was much easier to figure out and brings evil into the character’s backyards, literally.  There are several overarching themes going on in this book, but all intersect in one way or another but that kept my attention and made me want to tell my children we’ll skip doing school!  My one question though that kept popping up is the female youth leader who has a gift card to spend from a parishioner but she ends up staying long past what her gift card could pay for but she has no job – so how do these people get the money to stay for great lengths of time with no job?  I appreciated the book dealing with issues that usually aren’t touched in Amish fiction such as mental illness, Alzheimer’s, and even the issue of praying out loud to Jesus like He’s sitting right next to you.

Visit the Litfuse Landing Page to see what others thought.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating her newest book, The Calling, by giving away TWO iPads, TWO Kindles, and TWO Nooks!

 

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Two grand prize winners will receive:

  • An iPad
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Four second place winners will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX or a Nook HD—winner’s choice!
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. All winners will be announced February 10th at Suzanne’s blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne’s blog on the 10th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

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Blogging Through the Alphabet: O and P is for…. #grow4christ #abcblogging


Of course I’m late again but if you read my post about my mind going blank, you’ll know that we’ve been under a lot of stress lately and so my O word is Opposition and my P word is Packing.   In the last few weeks we’ve met with opposition such as naysayers but it feels like a spiritual battle is being fought in our house – Satan is using his wiles to really make our house feel like a battleground and he wants nothing more than to tear apart families.  Satan is using the stress of the last few months to wear us down – I’m so tired lately and I know that exercise would help with that as well as the stress but it’s hard fighting those who fight against me.   We’ve had people who are not supportive of us and the choices we’ve had to make and I think too Satan is using these people to make us feel beaten, but you know what?  We have Someone stronger, Someone who has already won the battle and even though I’m tired and feel beaten down I know that Jesus has me and my family in His hands.  So while we are battling opposition I know that we are going to win this battle, that we will come out stronger in the end and once again God will get the glory!   As for P and packing well, we’re packing – and we have a lot to pack with five people and 13 years of marriage we’ve accumulated a lot.   We’ll also be donating quite a bit – our attic is full…….   I’m so happy though as we’re going to have more room which means I’ll be able to be more organized and maybe even have a place where I can do my crafting – in fact the dining room will be our piano, school, library and crafting/sewing area.   My oldest has been great in getting things packed up neatly in boxes which I so appreciate, and I’m glad we don’t have babies because the whole process would be so much more tedious – not that I don’t want babies but moving and in the circumstances we’re in right now is not pleasant, although the thought of a baby is pleasant 😀   So under much opposition we’re packing and trying to make the best of things, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if you’d please join us in praying that the offer my mom made on another house is quickly accepted and it won’t take till March 21st for her to move out and for us to move in, it’d be greatly appreciated.   Blogging Through the Alphabet

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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New Leaf Publishing: Six Days by Ken Ham #grow4christ


About the Book:

Today, most Bible colleges, seminaries, K-12 Christian schools, and now even parts of the homeschool movement do not accept the first eleven chapters of Genesis as literal history. They try to fit the supposed billions of years into Genesis, and some teach evolution as fact. Our churches are largely following suit.

Ken Ham, international speaker and author on biblical authority, examines how compromise starting in Genesis, particularly in regard to the six days of creation and the earth’s age, have filtered down from the Bible colleges and seminaries to pastors—and finally to parents and their children.

You may purchase your copy at Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group, for $13.99.

Find out more about Ken Ham by visiting Master Books – you can also find his website, Answers in Genesis.

My Opinion:

Once again Ken Ham has taken the scientific and church world by storm in his new book Six Days which details why the church is declining because of the absence of it’s belief in Genesis 1 through 11 being a literal, historical science text.  I’ve read other books like The Lie, which was a bit more technical than this one and I appreciated the lay man’s approach in this book because sometimes as a busy mom I need something simple and straight forward.  While at first I was worried I may be reading some of the same material given in the other books I was pleasantly surprised that there was new information and also the same information given in a way that this book could also be read by a 13 year old and understand it.

As a Christian sometimes it’s hard to know how to answers some of the questions that come from those who don’t believe in a young earth, or that Genesis is a literal historical text or even that God exists – to them saying “the Bible says so” doesn’t work as a valid argument.  If you believe, as I do that Jesus came to earth, born of a virgin, died on a cross and rose again then one must have a foundation for that belief and even if Christ, Himself pointed back to Creation as outlined in Genesis shouldn’t we also look to Genesis in it’s literal sense to understand how the world was formed without the use of evolution or a big bang?  Ken Ham does an excellent job in explaining each of the theories that are becoming popular in the church today such as the day age theory, gap theory as well as how this break down of compromise is slowly killing the church.

If you’re not sure how to answers questions from skeptics or how to refute a fellow Christian’s belief in an old earth or that God used evolution to create the world then this book is for you.  If you’re a Christian (Ken Ham reitereates that he is not saying this is a salvation issue, which so often is said of him) and believe in an old earth or that God somehow used evolution (keep in mind that means sin and death were in the world BEFORE Adam and Eve) to create the world this book may just have you re-thinking what you believe about Creation.  This book is also for those skeptics who may no longer believe or never have believed in the Lord and it may just point you back to His Light and His Salvation and of course there will be those who use this book to make all Creationist into some kind of kooks, but that’s okay because the Truth can’t be destroyed.

You can read what others have to say by visiting the Link Up on the NLPG Blog.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Worthy Publishing: Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave #Redeemed #grow4christ


About the Book:

Understand the Truths behind the inspiring #1 song.
Big Daddy Weave’s Redeemed spent months at #1 on radio charts, quickly establishing itself as a classic. Now, Big Daddy Weave songwriter Mike Weaver has written a collection of 30 devotions to help fans understand the ideas of grace and healing that inspired this beloved song.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

My Opinion:

I really like the song Redeemed and I enjoy Big Daddy Weave’s other songs so when I had the chance to get the book that goes along with this song I knew I had to get it to review.  The book is a short 240 pages and is a thirty day devotional about what it means to be redeemed through Christ’s blood, covering such areas like: Redeemed from the Shame, Redeemed and at Peace, Redeemed by Hope, Redeemed and Thankful and more gives you a new look on what it means to be redeemed.  Full of Scripture the readings take less than 5 minutes followed by several Scripture verses and then quotes by godly Christians like Tozer, Spurgeon, Beth Moore and others.  After the reading, verses and quotes there is a short prayer you can use, or make up your own as you reflect on the reading and Scripture and there is an area for notes about what you’ve learned or your thoughts.

It’s great for men, women and even older children may find it inspiring and drawing them closer to the Lord.  Granted I just read through the book but I can see myself definitely spending more time with it and doing it over the course of a month and really delving into it – as a lot of the subject matter really hits to the heart and mind, the one that got me was the shame chapter.  This wasn’t a feel good Christianity, it will make one aware that Christ died for us and He is the only way, so theologically and Scripturally it was quite sound from my reading.  I think if your wanting a short devotional then this is a good one – work through it with a spouse or in a group and share what you’ve learned.  Also at the end are more Scripture split up according to subjects like anger, gratitude, worry and more to make it easy to find a specific Scripture you may need at a certain time.  The devotional does use the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, MSG, NCV, ESV, NASB, and HCSB versions of the Bible – however you can use whichever version you prefer.

This post contains affiliate links, if you purchase using the links I will receive some compensation.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Worthy Publishing: Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker #grow4christ #EyesWideOpen


About the Book:

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die. I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking. Some will say that I’m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some will say that I don’t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave. My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.
First in the newest series from Ted Dekker, a master of suspense, whose books have sold 9 million copies, Eyes Wide Open is a raw adrenaline rush from the first page to the last.

You can find ways to purchase by visiting Worthy Publishing.

About Ted Dekker:

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of over thirty novels. Heralded as a “master of suspense” by Library Journal, Dekker has sold millions worldwide, establishing himself as one of the most widely recognized author brands. Dekker was born to missionaries and grew up among cannibals of Indonesia, and his peculiar upbringing gives him a unique perspective outside the cultural bubble, allowing him the freedom to share provocative insights in his fiction. He resides in Austin, Texas with his wife and children. You can find him at Teddekker.com and Facebook.com/teddekker.

My Opinion:

I totally enjoy reading Ted Dekker, his books allow me to take in a great suspense book but without all the cussing and other behaviors that happen in the secular market, and the fact that his books contain the element of faith and belief in Christ makes for enjoyable read.  From the first page I was hooked, even though it was a bit slow moving at first the character of Christy pulled me into the story as she searches for her missing locket.  There were many heart pounding moments as I read this book and kept me turning the pages as I followed Christy’s and Austin’s story into a world where they need to put on their spiritual glasses in order to fight the forces that want to keep them locked up inside their lies that they’ve believed about themselves.  I don’t want to give too much away because I must say I highly recommend this if you’re a Ted Dekker fan or just enjoy a bit of suspense with, I don’t want to say it’s allegorical but honestly that is how I see it.

I gave this to my oldest daughter who turns 12 next month because it was such a good book and one with a great message.  As in Ted Dekker’s other books he doesn’t come right and say the Outlaw is God or Jesus but as a Believer that is my interpretation of what he has written, but again this could also be read by a non-Christian and who knows it may introduce them to the love that Jesus wants to bestow on us if we only call on His name and accept Him.  Also this book, like Ted’s others, are a bit deeper than others he doesn’t give you the whole story, all the answers, he allows the reader to draw their own conclusions but all the while sticking with a great plot and well developed characters.

 

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(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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My mind has gone blank… #grow4christ


I’m suffering from a case of blogger’s block……. I need to catch up and write my Blogging Through the Alphabet post for O and P but I have no words that are coming to me for those letters unless I use outhouse or potty and really, who wants to read a blog post about those?

Truly I feel like my mind is blank – it’s been a crazy couple of weeks and school hasn’t really been happening although we did start our Olympics unit study yesterday and that is proving fun but nothing yet that would warrant picture taking.  We did go to a science museum last Wednesday but I had a migraine so no picture taking then either.

We are looking for a place to rent – which is seemingly hard since we have 2 dogs and 2 guinea pigs and almost everyone wants a high pet deposit, which is non-refundable on top of deposit and first month’s rent.  So trying to find a place in our price range/budget that fits out needs prefer 3 bedrooms but can make 2 work, kitchen, working plumbing…….is well hard and is mind numbing.  The children want to pack but I don’t want to pack until we have someplace to go.

If I didn’t know better I’d be running to the nearest doctor for an anti-depressant but I know I’m not depressed but I just feel so blank – doing anything that requires thought or energy completely wears me down and I’m ready for bed at 7 p.m.  I’ve been reading some blogs lately and they’ve been honest either about mean kids or about blogging isn’t fun anymore and so on.  There has also been some banter on Facebook that us bloggers are too positive and we should be more honest so I’m being honest…

Homeschooling is hard when you’ve had to stay with inlaws and then a hotel.

Being the one that keeps it all together is hard – I internalize my stress and so my back hurts, my shoulders hurt and my headache is constantly aching – I’m mom, mom’s don’t yell when they don’t want to hear “you have to make sacrifices and that might mean getting rid of the pets”, or cry when you know you need a bigger place, a place that is not falling apart but yet the place that is falling apart and too small is the same place you lived when you first got married and where you brought all your babies home too and where you’ve made a home…..

So I’ve gotten some reviews scheduled, thankfully I wrote the reviews awhile ago and just had to post the pictures and schedule it to go live or else I may not have gotten those done.  My mind is blank and I feel like laughing maniacally but I know that wouldn’t be good except for scaring the children.  Don’t worry, I’m still in my right mind, I’m just numb I really can’t think of doing much more than just surviving, getting through this day……

I want to get back to living………

Tired of going through the motions………

and so my mind is blank and this is an honest blog post – I’m letting my children veg in front of the T.V. because that means they aren’t fighting or begging to pack while I write this post.  I’m still trying to come up with a word for O and for P and I’m drawing a blank and all I really want is for life to return to normal.

 

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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