Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Loved and Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls


Loved and Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls 

Hardcover – Illustrated, ebook

September 8, 2020

by Lynn Cowell (Author), Michelle Nietert  (Author) 


  • Grade Level : 2 - 3
  • Hardcover : 224 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0310769972
  • Publisher : Zonderkidz; Illustrated Edition 
  • Reading level : 8 - 12 years


Am I loved? Am I valuable? Am I smart? The questions can go on for as long as a girl’s imagination and self-image allow. A girl needs to know that she is enough because of God’s love.

So often, girls and women give in to the lies that how they look and how popular they are determines their worth. But as children of God, we can have the confidence that we are loved, protected, secure, whole, and valuable because God is our heavenly father.

Loved and Cherished equips girls ages 8–12 to:

  • Discover perfect, unconditional love in God, and that she doesn’t have to perform or be perfect to receive that love.
  • Know she has God’s protection, despite living in an often-scary world.
  • Let go of heartaches, fears, and failures, because she has the love she needs to face it.
  • Build a strong foundation of faith on the love who will never leave her so she can face the challenges of growing up.

With a beautifully decorated cover, ribbon marker, and lovely page illustrations, this book of devotions will make the perfect gift for any girl in your life who deserves to know she is cherished, treasured, valuable, and worthy.



My thoughts (lvh): LOVED & CHERISHED is a lovely collection of 100 encouraging devotions for girls that let them know that  even on days when they feel less than good about themselves, God still loves them  and cherishes them.

Each devotional is beautifully designed, and starts with a verse, a short devotional, an application, and a prayer. This . is sure to help your favorite tween girl realize that even when  the dog bites and the storm rages, God still loves ______________  

Recommended.  I was given a copy free. All opinions  are my own.







Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Part 1 of an Interview Heather M. Dixon, Author of Renewed



Part 1 of an Interview Heather M. Dixon,

Author of Renewed

There are few things that can make us feel as helpless as living with a story we don’t like. Life is rarely fair, and things happen beyond our control that impact our lives in negative ways. Maybe our story involves the loss of a loved one, an unwanted transition, a difficult diagnosis, or a dream that fell through. At one time or another, we all deal with disappointments and feel that we are being punished. For women searching for a glimmer of hope, Heather M. Dixon has written Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story (Abingdon Press)a four-week study diving into the life of Naomi from the Book of Ruth.
 
Dixon wrote Renewed for any woman that is carrying a difficult and life-altering story they did not choose and cannot change. She also wrote it for the woman who yearns to trust God’s sovereignty and His plan for her life even as she grieves and is angered by her circumstances. She believes that trusting God and grieving your story are not mutually exclusive. Dixon herself lives with incurable and terminal genetic disorder, so understands what it means to live a story that is not easy. With insight from her own journey, she teaches women to flourish even as they live hard stories through a willingness to trust that God can transform them and trade their heartache for hope. They will learn to rely on God’s movement in the details of their story, even when it can’t be seen, gain confidence to act in the part of their stories that they can change, and watch expectantly for God to redeem the parts they can’t.
 
Q: Most studies on the book or Ruth focus on Ruth and Boaz but Renewed looks at Naomi’s story. Why do you think Naomi’s story is such an important part of the book?
 
I’ve always read and taught Ruth from Naomi’s perspective because ultimately, I think it’s her story. However, there are three main reasons why hers should be explored:
 
One, for all believers, a transformed heart is one of the key identifiers of life with Christ and as readers, we get to experience that journey with Naomi—from bitterness to renewed joy. Ruth and Boaz are beautiful characters, but they are rather stagnant. It’s Naomi that changes, and her transformation echoes that of anyone who has struggled with a hard story and found Jesus to be faithful along the way.
 
Two, from a literary perspective, there are a number of devices the author uses to indicate that Naomi’s story is the important one.
 
And three, it’s my personal belief that Naomi’s response to grief has often been judged too harshly. I wanted to give my readers a safe place to explore feelings of bitterness as they learned to look for God’s movement in their own story.
 
Q: Can you share more about your own story, specifically the part of your story you don’t like?
 
There are several pieces of my story that I could share with you that I don’t like, but the milestones would be when I lost my mother at the age of eleven, when my father died twenty years later, and when I was diagnosed with an incurable, connective tissue disorder that I inherited from my mother. We know now that this disorder is what took her life at thirty-seven. Doctors have told me that my own life expectancy is forty-eight.
 
I understand grief, loss, and life changes where you just have to close the door, determine not to look back, pick your head up, and keep going. But I also know the sweet and life-giving love of a Heavenly Father who fills our story with comfort, hope, and purpose, even when we feel that all is lost. God breathes renewed life into our weary souls, and that truth keeps me putting two feet on the floor in the morning, even when I still don’t like my story.
 
Q: How did your diagnosis change how you look at life? What does “living your life well” look like to you?
 
The answer is always evolving. At its core, it looks like waking up and knowing the next twenty-four hours might be my last. So, living my life well means pursuing ways that I can honor God, love my family, and serve my community until I lay my head to rest for the night. I fail at this everyday! But it gives me a sense of focus that I didn’t have before.
 
My diagnosis also changed my perspective on hardship. Anyone who has walked through any measure of suffering can quickly tell you what matters and what doesn’t. Things that might have seemed like a major problem before are now minor inconveniences that I know will pass. That’s a blessing.
 
Finally, my diagnosis has taught me to pursue bucket-list living. I’m much more spontaneous and carefree than I used to be, and I seek activities that will make lasting memories, big and small. A scoop of mint chocolate chip from the local ice cream shop is just as precious as a spur of the moment family vacation. I am thankful for each moment I have, which is something most people search for their entire lives.
 
Q: You write, “God doesn’t call plays out of a playbook from the clouds in the sky. He wants to walk with us along every step of our story, holding our hand when we are unsure of the plan.” What are some things we need to remember about God’s sovereignty when it comes to our story?
 
This is one of the deepest blessings I have discovered walking through my hard story. God is a relational God—He seeks to walk every step with us. And we can trust Him with that path because in His sovereignty, He is also compassionate, merciful, and loving. We aren’t puppets in His playroom; we are His beloved daughters, whom He values and cherishes. Walking in intimacy with Him blesses us with peace, comfort, and joy. Another important truth about God’s sovereignty is that He has a master plan—for us and for His creation. We are a part of that plan, treasured pieces in a divine puzzle that will be complete when all things are renewed. He won’t let us stray off course, nor will He leave our lives to chance. Every moment matters to Him and He has a plan to renew every piece of our hard story.
 
Q: Have you always seen God working in the details of your story? Should we be looking for how God is moving or simply trust that he is?
 
No, yes, and yes. I wish I could tell you that I have always been aware of God moving in my story. There were seasons in my life, particularly the season after my father died, that I could not sense His presence. Was He moving in the details of my story then? Absolutely. My regret is that I allowed my earthly then vision to cloud my heavenly perspective. Which is why I am always in favor of looking for how God is moving.
 
I am emotional and fickle—prone to wander if I don’t see results. God knows this about me. It’s always in my best interest to keep my eyes open for God’s fingerprint. But the moments that I can’t see it are faith-builders; those are equally as valuable and help to build our trust in Him. So, yes we should always be looking for God’s movement and yes, we should always simply trust that He is.
 
Q: You share a suggestion for overcoming stress and anxiety that readers might not expect. What has helped you that you encourage others to try?
 
On nights when I am particularly anxious and have trouble going to sleep, a prayer that utilizes God’s gift of imagination often helps to settle my thoughts. I close my eyes and imagine a large field in front of me. Standing in the field are all the things bringing me anxiety, like current stressors in my life, confrontational moments, tensions with loved ones, worry about the unknown ahead, or health concerns. Whatever is renting negative space in my head at the moment, I imagine those things standing in my field.
 
Then, I imagine a giant hand and forearm lowering down to the field from the sky. Slowly, but steadily, the forearm wipes all my worries on the field away. The field empties and the hand gently opens, revealing soft and gentle wings. I climb into them, curling up to rest in their protection as they fold over me. In my imagination, the forearm, hand, and wings belong to God. I take several deep breaths and begin to meditate on verses about God’s kindness and refuge. This simple prayer exercise helps me to remember that God’s refuge and kindness are more powerful than my anxiety.
 
Q: What are some creative ways the study can be done in groups since we’re still supposed to be social distancing? Can a participant get just as much out of the study if doing it alone?
 
There are a handful of technological helps that will assist in group study during social distancing requirements. A few suggestions are:
  • Meet with your group virtually via Zoom, Facebook meeting rooms, or Google Meets.
  • Stay connected with each other, sharing prayer requests and thoughts throughout the week via a private Facebook group or text/email thread.
  • Take advantage of the resources available from Amplify Media, where you can access Renewed teaching videos, Abingdon Women and other Bible study video sessions, inspirational short videos, and children’s content available anywhere from any device. Amplify Media is a streaming service allowing churches large and small unlimited video access in order to discover, customize, and share diverse resources that encourage deeper discipleship and equip churches to pursue their mission with greater impact.
  • If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with pleasant weather, meet outside!
And yes, absolutely, a participant can get just as much out of the study doing it alone. The most efficient way to hear the voice of God is to immerse yourself in His Word. There is no substitute for this. I’ve had some of my most profound Bible study experiences sitting alone on my back porch, diligently walking through a study on my own. The group components for Renewed are there to enhance your study, but are certainly not a requirement.
Heather M. Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who understands living with a story that is not easy. Diagnosed with an incurable and terminal genetic disorder that she inherited from her mother, she is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to trust in God, face their greatest fears, and live with hope, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.
 
When she is not blogging at The Rescued Letters or speaking at women’s conferences and events, Dixon loves to make the most of everyday moments such as cooking for her husband and son, brainstorming all the possible ways to organize Legos and superheroes, checking out way too many library books, or unashamedly indulging in her love for all things Disney.
 
Dixon is a regular contributor to Journey magazine and the author of women’s Bible studies, Determined: Living Like Jesus in Every Moment and Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story.
 
Visit Heather M. Dixon online at therescuedletters.com. She can also be found on Facebook (Heather M. Dixon – The Rescued Letters)Twitter (@rescuedletters), and Instagram (@rescuedletters).
Copyright © 2020 Audra Jennings PR, All rights reserved.








 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Amish Christmas Miracles: 14 stories to touch your heart and warm your soul this Christmas


Amish Christmas Miracles: 14 stories to touch your heart and warm your soul this Christmas 

Kindle Edition


Marilyn's  thoughts:    It was refreshing to read an early ARC copy of Christmas Fudge Miracle by Susan Lantz Simpson for this upcoming collection of Christmas stories. This delightful tale with Beth Ann and David brought plenty of smiles, laughs and tears. Their initial encounter didn’t go as Beth Ann planned, but with determination she kept trying to obtain the covet recipe the Christmas Cookbook cronies, as she called them, had requested. With misunderstandings, anguish, and sharing will Beth Ann be able to obtain the recipe for David’s mother’s fudge that was heavenly? This is a sensational story that gave way to a heartwarming Christmas message that still remains on my mind. 

 

A Christmas to Treasure by Rachel J. Good is a touching read. I was immersed in the action, pain, devotion, sacrifice, faith, and love of the characters. Joshua and his daughters had suffered lost but he was determined to make it. Unforeseen circumstances and events resulted in a marriage more for convenience after he moved back to Lancaster. Rose’s gentleness, determination, fortitude, love, and faith added a lot to the marriage and the three younger girls adored her. Rose was determined to assist Joshua with finances even without asking him, when she became aware of their need. The unexpected turn of events with the Englishers in the area and their new Amish neighbors brought a beautiful illustration of God’s love, hope and peace not only at Christmas but any time of the year. I loved this novella and would like to see a continuation of these characters in another story by Good.

 

Tracy Fredrychowski’s story A Gift Worth Waiting For is a delightful tale. The Beiler’s girls were struggling after losing their parents. Adam Weaver was a neighbor and the Bishop instructing him to reach out to Amanda, the oldest sister. A letter penned to Amanda with “Gott will always show you something to smile about even on the darkest day" from Adam brought a smile to her sad face. Not understanding why life was like it was the exchange of simple letters brought hope and a peace in understanding and accepting Gott’s will. Had God orchestrated all the events for the Beiler’s to move as the Bishop Amos suggested or would there be a greater Christmas blessings that definitely was worth waiting for? It was nice to see the mention of Fredrychowski’s Apple Blossom Inn in this tale, but this novella cane be read as a standalone. 

 

I received a complimentary ARC copy from each of the authors for each novella I’ve read thus far, and was under no obligation to write a positive review. I have shared my own sincere thoughts.

 

I’m never disappointed when I read a book by these three authors. They are some of my favorite authors and I know they’ll have a faith message in their stories and the lives of their characters. I look forward to reading rest of this collection when it is released in November. This is going to be a wonderful Christmas collection of Amish stories.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3381381898

 

 








 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

It's Okay, Honey!! by Jenna V. Hilton

 

 


My brother recently adopted a full pitbull puppy. Rebecca is six months old, but she’s already had it rough. Her last owners abused her, and the poor baby still has scars. Becky fully trusts Loundy, but she’s hesitant around everyone else. She needs to learn trust all over again.

That happens to us too. We trust someone completely, and that person stabs us in the back. It’s hard to regain trust again. But God isn’t like that. He doesn’t break promises, he doesn’t hurt us. He’s always there. And he’ll help us forgive those who hurt us. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for always being faithful. Help us to forgive others wrongs. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Jenna V. Hilton is eighteen, and lives in Arkansas with her parents, two sisters, a brother, and dog.  She is a senior in high school and planning to attend college to become a veterinarian.











Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Amish Christmas Secret (Indiana Amish Brides)


The Amish Christmas Secret 

(Indiana Amish Brides) 

Mass Market Paperback – ebook

September 29, 2020

Book 6 of 7: Indiana Amish Brides

  • Mass Market Paperback : 224 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1335488411
  • Publisher : Love Inspired


All she wants for Christmas is the truth.

A struggling Amish woman. Her mysterious new neighbor.

And a secret that could change everything…

Becca Schwartz’s curiosity is going to be a problem. When Amish secret millionaire Daniel Glick moves to Shipshewana for seclusion, he doesn’t expect his pretty new neighbor to ask so many questions. Or to be so generous, despite her family’s poverty. As Daniel falls for Becca, his secret looms between them. This Christmas, can he finally give her the truth…and his heart?


 Marilyn'ss thoughts:  The Amish Christmas Secret by Vannetta Chapman 

 

“He who has no money is poor; he who has nothing but money is even poorer.”

 

“A friend is never truly known until a man has a need.”

The Amish Christmas Secret was a masterful and pivot story that kept me engaged from the start. Becca was determined to fine a project that would earn money to help her large family to have a better life. Daniel was secretive but definitely attracted to Becca after meeting her in the barn which he discovered was partly Becca’s family barn too. There are plenty of ups and downs, twists and turns that made this an amazing feel good read. The magic of the Christmas message is beautifully interwoven that made this my favorite by Chapman in her Love Inspired Indiana Amish Brides series.

 

The quotes, humor from Samuel Schwartz, discovering life is truly the way you view it with God’s love and perspective through these characters brought plenty of smiles and laughs. I highly recommend fans of Chapman and Amish fiction order a copy of The Amish Christmas Secret for a heartwarming story this upcoming Christmas season, or really any time of the year this is a delightful tale to read.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author but was not required to write a review. I have shared my own opinion.

 






Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Amish Christmas Twins


Amish Christmas Twins 

Paperback – ebook 

September 29, 2020

  • Paperback : 320 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1496717856
  • Publisher : Kensington



In these heartwarming, faith-affirming stories, three Amish families face the joys, and challenges, of the holidays—with fruitful results . . .
 
THE CHRISTMAS NOT-WISH
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
When the foster parents they’ve cautiously grown to love discover they’re expecting, orphaned Roy and Jemima Fisher, ages six and seven, are secretly devastated by the certainty they’ll be given up. With Christmas around the corner, their only wish is for new foster parents as nice as Mr. and Mrs. Kurtz. Meanwhile, the Kurtzes have wishes of their own—and with faith, they all may be gifted with twice the blessings . . .

My thoughts (lvh):   What a cute, sweet, yet heart-breaking story. Also nice to catch up on previous characters.
 
NEW BEGINNINGS * Rachel J. Good
Still grieving the loss of her husband and unborn baby in an accident several months ago, Elizabeth Yoder is oblivious to her neighbor Luke Bontrager’s deepening affection for her. But while she bleakly faces Christmas alone, it’s Luke who reminds her it’s the season for giving. And when Elizabeth donates her handmade baby clothes to New Beginnings, a home for teen moms, she soon finds her gifts repaid beyond measure, with Luke’s love—and new beginnings of their own . . .
 
My thoughts (lvh): this was the longest story in the collection and my favorite.

TWINS TIMES TWO * Loree Lough
What happenst when two secretive, stubborn people find themselves thrown together to help four rascally youngsters—twins times two!—create a Christmas surprise for their parents? Mischief and mayhem, and just maybe . . . love!

My  thoughts (lvh):   There was nothing wrong with this story, but it seemed flat.


Overall thoughts: a sweet collection by three talented authors. If you like heartwarming Christmas stories about twins, you will love this collection.

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.



 

Loved and Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls

Loved and Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls  Hardcover – Illustrated, ebook September 8, 2020 by   Lynn Cowell   (Author),  Michelle Nieter...