a question of courage

I have had A Question of Honor on my to-read list for a while now. Since spring, when it came out, as a matter of fact. And then I discovered this author had written a second book in her Question of War series……and I was delighted to be able to review and read both of them!! The review for the first book is coming soon, but I will say that it was well worth the wait to read the books. They were both so very good and I am anxiously — I dare not even claim patience in this area — waiting for the third book to come out :D

A man. A decision. A destiny.
Rafe Sullivan never imagined the war would come to his doorstep. But when Pearl Harbor is attacked and America’s focus suddenly shifts to the pacific, he finds he can’t ignore the problem anymore.
Leaving the life he loves behind, he joins up to do what he does best. Fly.
Yet, nothing could have prepared him for the horrors of war, and the struggle that is going on in his own heart. As an outstanding navy pilot, he is stationed on one of the few Pacific carriers. But could God be calling him to step out in faith, and go beyond the call of duty?
Lily Wilson gives her all to help the hurting community around her. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the war is brought home to many American families. And as a nurse, she longs to be able to relive some of the suffering. Yet, her own grief is still fresh in her heart, and though she’s made the decision to get on with her life, she can’t seem to leave the past behind. When healing at last comes, the guard she placed around her heart slowly begins to crumble.
But when she receives the news she hoped she would never again hear, can she trust that God’s plan is always right?
Arthur Warrington saw the Navy as an escape from the life he left behind. And it seems good for him. He is able to forge new friendships and distance himself from his past. But when his best friend makes a decision that rocks his world, he is left grappling with the question: what is true courage?
Three lives. One War. And a search for the Courage to go on.

This book was wonderful! In every sense, it was a delightful read….I don’t even know where to begin writing about this book, ’cause I honestly don’t think anything I say will do it any justice :D Maybe if I tell you these books made it on my “Top Ten List” it might give you an idea of how wonderful these books are!

The style of writing was amazing! I was immediately drawn in, and didn’t want to put the book down until I finished it. Then I was overcome with an overwhelming sadness after I read the last page and realized there were no more pages to look forward to reading. The historical aspect was well researched, and I loved the fact that it was about one of my favourite times in history — WWII.

The characters were all so relate-able — they were so sweet to get to know! I loved the way that they all interacted with each other. It is so rare to find a book where siblings get along and love each other, but this book was one of those rare few. The brother’s relationship was precious to read about. The way that the boys honoured their sisters was priceless. The way that they interacted with their parents was so respectfully loving. And the practical jokes……and the humour……oh my!

The faith aspect in this book was not lacking in the least, and it was refreshing to read! Every action reflected the glory of God, every conversation reflected the state of the characters hearts. It was not by any means a “preachy” book, but it was most definitely a Christian book, and the characters reveal that throughout the entire thing. There were no “words”, not inappropriate scenes…..nothing not in accordance to Scripture. And I enjoyed reading about the way Rafe Sullivan trusts God so completely,  even when the unexpected happens.

There was romance in the book, but it was the sweet, endearing romance that points you towards Christ. The interactions between the guys and the girls were nothing short of courteous and respectful at all times. There is a mention of a couple characters that like to break the girls hearts, but that is pretty much the extent of how you are told about that aspect of them. The main characters mention that girls can be treated like sisters, and even the known relationship in the book is nothing short than sweet =)

In all, this was a wonderful book. Yes, I cried through it…..not nearly as much as I cried reading the first book, though. But I also laughed, smiled, sighed, sniffed, and sympathized through it too. And it takes a good author to bring out so many different emotions in a single book, adn do it successfully and well. Ms. Jesseca has made it on my list of top five favourite authors of fiction. And that is saying a lot for those who know me well!

A Question of Courage is the second book in the series, and I do think it could be read as a stand alone novel. But I did just finish reading the first book when I read this one. And the first one is too good NOT to read, so I wouldn’t suggest reading only the second :D You can purchase the books on Amazon HERE.  I would totally give this book a five star rating, and recommend it to others to read…..I need to get a real copy since I only have it on my kindle now =) Yes, it was that good!

About the Author

Jesseca is a daughter, sister, and a child of God.
Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.
And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas,
and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.

 

And guess what, folks? Yep….there’s a giveaway with this blog tour =P Click on the link below to discover how to enter for a paperback copy of either A Question of Honor or A Question of Courage! The fancy widget-image thingy won’t come through because this blog is through word press….so you’ll just have to click on the link =) Trust me, you want to win this giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

:::Blog Tour Schedule:::

Wednesday, 29th

Faith Potts//Stories by Firefly – Review, Book spotlight
Libby May//Geoturtle – Author Interview
Kaitlyn S.//Maidens for Modesty — Review

Thursday, 30th

Kellyn Roth//Reveries Reviews – Review
Raechel//God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae – Book Spotlight
Kate//Twin Thoughts – Author Interview

Friday, 1st

Liv K. Fisher//Liv K. Fisher – Book Spotlight, Author Interview
Deborah C.// Reading in June – Book Spotlight
Mikayla H.//Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father – Review
Chloe W.//Purely by Faith Reviews – Review, Author Interview
Abigail//Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors – Book Spotlight

Saturday, 2nd

Jazzy//Thriving Hope – Review, Book spotlight
Angela Watts//The Peculiar Messenger – Review
Rebekah Eddy//Rebekah’s Remarks – Review, Author Interview, Book spotlight
Karissa Norton//No Coffee, No Can Do – Author Interview, Review

beauty

I sat down to write something for Thanksgiving, but for the first time in a long while, I don’t know what to write. I have so many thoughts swirling through my brain in a chaotic mess, and the page in front of me remains blank. Autumn tends to do that to me. The sights, the smells, the breezes…..it all makes me feel like a young child again. Nostalgic, maybe.

We have so much to be thankful for….do we realize it? I have a tendency to go through life, marking things off that list and moving on, not relishing and enjoying and looking for ways the Lord has blessed me throughout the day.

Our lives are beautiful — did you know that? They are full of things that are beautiful and precious and point us towards Christ….if we only stop and look for them. We would see His glory in so many things, if we would only stop and take the time to pay attention.

I see Him as I play with little siblings. As log towers crash to the ground, as cars go “zroom-ing” around, as we play Ring-Around-the-Rosie and “all fall down”.

We can be grateful for each day we are alive. For the wonder of His creation as we walk outside with siblings. For the beauty that surrounds us this time of year, as the leaves fall to the ground creating a wonderful carpet of colour and the wild flowers are blooming in profusion. As the deer start moving in the cool evenings and mornings, and the evenings are a beautiful shroud of fogginess…thick, white, beautiful fog. As the grass is white with frost when we wake up and our breath puffs white smoke, and the rose bushes glisten in beauty.

For each time I can cook with a little sibling , I am thankful. For each giggle and laugh and coo, I realize what a miracle each and every soul is from God. All the aromas wafting throughout the house, all the fall colours and pumpkins and pies and sweet potatoes.

I am grateful for each and every member of our military, past and present. For all those who have given all to serve our country, to keep those of us at home safe, to preserve our freedom and way of life. For all that they see, for all that they do, for all that they have done. For those who have given up their youth to fight wars, to train, to protect; for those who have waited at home for their return. For the children who wait to hug their daddies, for the wives who wait for their husbands, for the mothers who long for their sons to be back in their arms.

I am grateful for the music which fills this world. For the violinist who makes his bow dance across his strings, in utter jubilance. For the pianist who makes the keys of the piano sigh with unspoken longing, for the cellist who manages to convey so much through the lower notes. I am thankful to hear children singing along in praise to our great King — grateful and humbled as they sing with abandon, not caring who is around or if they are singing the right tune or the right key or the right note. Only to sing in a wonderful, beautiful way for the King of Kings.

I am awed into praise by so many things. For the missionaries overseas who serve, unseen, in so many areas. For those who daily live with the threat of persecution and rejection and still find joy in the midst of pain and sorrow and suffering. For my pastor who preaches faithfully Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.

I am filled with praise as the breeze catches my hair and gently tangles it, as the branches sway and whisper in the wind and a myriad of leaves come fluttering down. As the acorns come tumbling down, and the pecans land with a clatter and little brothers race to fill up buckets, so we can enjoy the goodness of those nuts all year long. For each sunset that causes me to catch my breath at the wonderful beauty that is painted in the sky, the rich pinks and purples and nameless, glorious colours, hung there for our pleasure.

I am so very grateful for all those who have gone before me, fighting battles so I don’t have to. For those who stood against the recognized church and translated and printed Scripture, so that hundreds of years later, I have a Bible sitting on my hope-chest, waiting to be opened and read tonight. For those who made their way over to America, facing so very many unknowns to establish a community, where they could have freedom to worship God.

I am amazed and thankful for all the gifted authors out there who write so many beautiful things. Who use words to make you feel and experience something new. Who fill you with longing to do better; with desire to go and do something to help. Who weave beautiful word pictures and cause tears to course down your cheeks, or smiles and laughter to wreath your face with joy, or sighs of expectancy or sorrow or waiting to escape your lips.

There are so many things making headlines right now. So many shootings, murders, and scandals. So much ugliness, sin being glorified, and fear surrounds us daily. Life is a gift. A wonderful, beautiful gift. And in the midst of suffering there is always something to be thankful for. As I wrote several years ago on this blog: “How many times do we cry out to the Lord during adversity and never think about Him in times of peace? How many times do we thank Him for trials? Do you thank Him for the brain surgery? For taking the child you wanted to hold to be with Him before you ever saw it — almost before you knew you were carrying a new little soul? We can thank Him when we discover He has indeed blessed us with a life to cherish…..How many times do we seek to be close to the Lord in times of blessed contentment? How close do we get to be to Him during times of grief and mourning?…..When we are tempted, tossed on what seems a never ending sea of turmoil — when we are brought face to face with the fact that we are, indeed, human, and can’t change eternity — when we find ourselves in a situation that we can’t control — we instinctively know Who turn to. The One that even the winds and the waves obey. The One that controls everything — has ordained everything — and we long to be close to Him. We long, with an innate, unsatisfied thirst, to be intimate with Him. We place ourselves — our very lives — into His hands unhesitatingly — because there is no where else to turn to. Should this be so? Should it be this way?”

Pondering the things the Lord has blessed us with is a beautiful way to cultivate gratefulness in our lives. Now, I know we are supposed to be thankful every day of our lives. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. But some  days it is just so hard. We need to purpose to find things to be thankful for when all is calm and serene. We need to thank Him when life is falling to pieces around us. We need to thank God for the little things, for the beautiful, daily things we take for granted each day of our lives. For the things that cause our eyes to fill up with tears, for the things that make us laugh aloud in wonder, for the things that cause us to catch our breath in awe-filled wonder.

I didn’t intend to write any of this….and yet I did. Because I am looking for ways — small ways — to be thankful this year to the Creator of all. To give Him the praise and thanks He is due.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. May you take time to truly reflect and see what a wonderful, merciful, mighty Saviour we have been so very graciously given!

christmas comes early!

Christmas tour

Christmas time is here! Okay…..so not quite yet. It’s still over a month away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start celebrating early, right? So today, we’re celebrating the release of not one, not four, but eight new Christmas books! All written by Rebekah A. Morris. I’ll be spotlighting two of her books today and you can find out more about the others as you follow the tour.

Christmas Collage

The Books I Read…..

Home for Christmas (Christmas Collection) by [Morris, Rebekah]

Feeling that life is unfair when her father is killed in the front lines of France and she has to live with her relatives on a western farm, twelve-year-old Susanna Stanson runs away to the city. She decides that all will be well when she reaches her old home, but a severe snowstorm interrupts her trip.

This was most definitely my favourite of the two books that I read! It was a short book to read, but incredibly sweet. The pain Susanna feels is so poignantly described, and the faith of her relatives is so sweet to read about. The forgiveness offered by her cousins and aunt and uncle was so wonderful to read about! I also thoroughly enjoyed the historical aspect to the book. I would most definitely give this a five star rating, and recommend it to others =)

The Christmas She Wanted (Christmas Collection) by [Morris, Rebekah]
Christmas had lost its charm and wonder. Mrs. Rush hated the feeling but was powerless to fix things. Traveling to visit relatives for the holidays, the Rush children pass the time with their eyes glued to the screens of their devices. That is, until the flashing lights of a State Highway Patrol car bring their trip to a sudden and unplanned-for stop.

This was also a fun read. While my siblings and I don’t have devices, we have cousins who do. And friends. And it can be extremely difficult to have a conversation with those who are constantly checking their phones! I loved the way this whole story played out, and the where this family ended up spending Christmas……it was so reminiscent of how my family spends vacations. Just sayin’ =) I loved the way family time was emphasized throughout the story, and the activities they did to occupy their time…..once again, I would give this five stars, and I would highly recommend it to others.

And, once again, there is an interview for you all to read =) I have decided that I thoroughly enjoy asking authors questions that I have never met, and who have no idea who I am. Isn’t that a surprising confession from a rather shy introvert? =P

Once again, My questions are in bold and her answers are in italics……

When did you know that you wanted to write?
It wasn’t until I had graduated from high school that I fell in love with writing. Before then it had been a dreaded school subject that brought me to tears. But before I started on my first book I wrote “pretend letters” with several friends which helped me develop my writing. Then my first book took me six years to write, which also helped my writing. By the time that book was done, I had to keep writing.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to read, play the piano, design covers, knit, hold babies, and visit with friends. Among other things. :)
What is your schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m not sure I’d call my routine a schedule, but here’s what I usually do.
If I’m working on a new story, I just start to write. If I’ve already started a story, I will go back to where I started writing the last time and re-read what I wrote, editing, correcting, and changing as needed. Once I get to the end of that, I’m ready to continue the story and I start writing. Now and then I’ll take a few minutes before I start to write and jot some basic ideas for what I am going to work on, but I can’t get too detailed as then I don’t want to write it.
Between “Home for Christmas” and “The Christmas She Wanted”, which was your favourite to write and why?
That’s a hard question. “Home for Christmas” was only the 2nd Christmas story I had ever written (though I revised it some this year), so it is special to me. But “The Christmas She Wanted” was written after seeing so many people become addicted to screens. It was my cry for something better. So I suppose you could say I like them both, but in different ways. :)
Is there something that makes writing easier for you? (tea, chocolate, music, candles etc…..)
Not really. I’m not one who likes to eat or drink, and I can’t listen to music. I’ve been told I can’t do two things at once. :) I guess that goes for writing too. But I do like things quiet. Perhaps that’s why I like to write in the evenings.
Do you prefer reading e-books or physical books?
While I do like e-books (easier on my pocket book and I can read free and review copies that way), I prefer the physical books. I don’t care if they are paperback or hardcover, new or used. I just want to hold them in my hands, turn the pages and be able to hand them to a friend to borrow. Yes, that means I have to dust the bookshelves they are on, but I’d rather do that then have only e-books. :) And if I find an e-book that I really like, I’ll get it in a physical book as soon as I can.
If you were going on a long car ride and could only bring along two books, which ones would you bring and why? 
The impossible question! The honest answer is I have no idea. It would probably depend on if I was wanting to read a certain book at the time or not. If I didn’t have any waiting to be read, I’d have to see what I was in the mood for. I don’t think I could do with only two books. Could I take my kindle instead? That is the size of just one small book. ;)
What is one important thing that you would want readers to take away from what you have written? 
That the life of a Christian doesn’t just happen on Sunday. It’s an everyday life, and no matter what happens, God is there with us. And everything we do is to be for His glory.
Thank you for having me.

About the Author

Author PictureRebekah A. Morris is a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, and her bestselling Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn’t’ writing, include reading and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. The Show-Me state is where she calls home.

Tour Schedule

November 13
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Kaylee’s Kind of Writes – Book Spotlight
Resting Life – Review and Excerpt
Perry Elisabeth – Excerpt
Rachel Rossano’s Words – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 14
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Odelia’s Blog – Author Interview and Book spotlight
Bryce’s Creative Writing Corner – Author Interview, Review, and Excerpt
Counting Your Blessings One by One – Review and Excerpt
Perpetual Indie Perspective – Book Spotlight

November 15
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Whimsical Writings for His Glory – Author, Review, and Excerpt
Maidens for Modesty – Author Interview and Review
The Destiny of One – Book Spotlight
Rebekah Ashleigh – Book Spotlight
Once Upon an Ordinary – Review
Stephany’s BLOG Snippets – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 16
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Laurel’s Leaves – Author Interview
Stories by Firefly – Review
Claire Banschbach – Author Interview
Kelsey’s Notebook – Review and Excerpt
Jaye L. Knight – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 17
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Ruffles and Grace – Book Spotlight
With a Joyful Noise – Book Spotlight
Ordinary Girl Extraordinary Father – Review
Bookish Orchestrations – Closing post

Second Chances Book Tag

This is the first time I have participated in a blogging tag of any sort….so we’ll see how this goes =P I was tagged by Bekah from Bekah’s Books, and if you don’t read her blog, I would highly suggest it! I have *so* enjoyed “meeting” her through the blogging world!

Now on to all the book-ish questions, so you get to know all about me…..or my reading habits…..or something like that =)

In Freedom's Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce : complete with original Illustration and Writer Biography (Illustrated) by [Henty, G.A.]Name a book you expected to dislike but ended up loving because you stuck with it to the end.

This one was difficult…..’cause I don’t really start many books that I don’t expect to like =) I would have to say the one book I started knowing I couldn’t really get into the authors work was In Freedom’s Cause by G. A. Henty. I know, I know, the history throughout the book is wonderful…..but there is such an amount of technical elements woven into some of them that it can make it a little dry. And then a friend convinced me to read In Freedom’s Cause and I fell in love with Henty. Now I own several, and have read many more, and I have learned so much! (There are a couple of things I may skip, like the latitude and longitude the soldiers marched up Bunker’s Hill….shh! don’t tell!)

Admit it–we all judge books by their covers. What is one book you’ve given a try and enjoyed it despite a less-than-appealing cover?

Umm…..definitely Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. The edition we have just didn’t appeal to me, and it seemed as if it might not be all I had heard that it was. But it was! It was everything and more! And I read it over and over again, ’cause it is just that good! And I have since found editions of this book that are really pretty and would pique my interest — I just bought a first edition copy of this book — printed in the 1800’s — from our local thrift store. That was probably my favourite find of all!

Ranting opportunity! Which author are you forever mad at for denying a character their second chance? Talk about it. 

Inside Threat (A Riley Covington Thriller Book 4) by [Elam, Jason, Yohn, Steve]

Those of you who know me already know this answer — I mean, seriously, there can only be one book I’ve ever read and thought it was the most terrible, horrid ending that was ever written. And to make it worse, it was the ending to an entire book series. The Riley Covington Thriller series, written by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn. The last book, Inside Threat was great until the last thirty pages or so. Then the authors decide to kill off one of the main characters that you have come to absolutely adore throughout the entire series…..and just end the book. Right there. Right when it seemed like everything was going right, right when the character was about to be given a second chance at something…..whamo! and the character is dead. I was sobbing. Out loud. And to make matters even better (or worse, whichever way you look at it), it was a book that my sister talked me into reading because I wasn’t really all that interested in the series to begin with. And then I fell in love with it. And then there was the funeral.

As a side note, the series was really, really good — until the last thirty pages or so of the fourth book. I would highly suggest reading the first three, and taking my word that you don’t want to read the fourth one.Conspiracy of Silence (The Tox Files Book #1) by [Kendig, Ronie]

Do you have a favorite book that includes a theme of second chances?

The Tox Files by Ronie Kendig, hands down. The main character is a guy who made a huge mistake without meaning too, and through different circumstances began blaming himself for everything that happened. But a friend who has an amazing memory and a love for the Lord helps him through a lot with his aptitude for quoting Scripture, and several other friends exhibit a willingness to reach through the messiness of sin to help him.

Anne of Green Gables by [Montgomery, L. M.]

Bonus question: Name a favorite fictional romance that only succeeded because the characters were willing to let go of their first impressions and move on. 

Can I use a book I’ve already mentioned? Does that still count? It would have to be Stepping Heavenward again….because her first impression of the doctor is so different from who he really is!

If that doesn’t count, I would choose the Anne of Green Gables series (I don’t know the exact book) and Anne’s impression of Gilbert Blythe. And his impression of her. I mean, what would your first impression of someone be who greeted your teasing by slamming a slate over your head??? :D

Now it’s my turn to tag some unsuspecting people =P I haven’t seen this on either of these blogs, and I definitely don’t want you to feel like this is something you have to do….but I had fun! And I would love to see your answers!

So I am tagging two people:

Ashley from Creating Precious Moments
Leona from Great Books for God’s Girls

Here are the questions:

  1. Name a book you expected to dislike but ended up loving because you stuck with it to the end. 
  2. Admit it–we all judge books by their covers. What is one book you’ve given a try and enjoyed despite a less-than-appealing cover?
  3. Ranting opportunity! Which author are you forever mad at for denying a character their second chance? Talk about it. 
  4. Do you have a favorite book that includes a theme of second chances?
  5. Bonus question: Name a favorite fictional romance that only succeeded because the characters were willing to let go of their first impressions and move on. 

 

bound + a giveaway

Guys, this book. It is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.!!!!

I first read Bound as it was published as a series of posts in the beginning of this year, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I was thrilled to pieces when Victoria mentioned that she was pulling the posts off her blog to publish the book. And then I had an excuse to re-read it as part of the blog tour….. =) This is the second book released by Victoria and I am *so* looking forward to reading more of her creations!

Bound: Two Broken Souls. One Journey by [Lynn, Victoria]

Levi thought he was making this journey alone. But when he meets an eight-year-old girl at the train station, that plan is turned on its head.

Casey is running away and finds out that Levi is too. They decide to journey together and their lives are suddenly bound together in a journey they will not soon forget.

Both children come from abusive situations and are running from the dangers of their previous life. Levi is confident he can handle this on his own, but when Casey is injured on the journey, he must seek help from the first person that comes into his path, or rather people. Mr. and Mrs. Bellworth are simple farm folk with a heart for kids and a passion for serving God. When their unconditional love and gentle care surrounds Levi and Casey, the troubles of their previous lives melt away and they start to flourish. But when Casey is dragged back into the abusive world she came from, the emotional trauma, pain and distrust resurfaces. Will they be forever bound by their past? Or will God answer their prayers?

My Thoughts:

Wow. Just…..wow. This book was a beautiful creation of words woven together to create a story so touching and sweet that it just pulled at my heart strings. The characters were well developed and the story line was fantastic; the emotions were so real, and many times raw. Yes, I cried reading this book. Both times I read it, in fact. It is seriously just so sweet.

The two main characters — Casey and Levi — represent so many children in foster homes. The abuse, the fear, the emotions…..maybe it was so touching because so many of my friends have adopted or fostered or both. And the stories of the children, the testimony of God at work in their lives, is precious to hear, just as Casey and Levi’s story was precious to read. Mr. and Mrs. Bellworth are wonderful characters who really live out the Christian faith and strive to follow their Lord’s commands, no matter the cost or inconvenience to themselves. Even the DHR worker is a wonderful example of a follower of Christ.

There was a strong Christian message throughout this book — even in the descriptions of the children’s home life God’s protective hand is clearly seen. The scenes where abuse is mentioned is never too detailed, just enough to give you a sense of thankfulness at God’s protection over them.

There are mentions of alcohol and drugs in the book, as well as physical abuse….I would be cautious with younger children reading it. But when they are older…..reading this book is a must! If it wasn’t on my kindle I would have already loaned it out to others to read. =)

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Victoria was kind enough to let me interview her…..and you get to read it =) My questions are in Bold and her answers are in italic.

When did you know you wanted to write?
Ever since I was little I have been scribbling stories. Always, I guess. I was an avid reader at a young age, and I had and incredibly active imagination, so it came naturally the desire to write stories on my own.

What would you (or your family) say is an interesting writing quirk?
About myself? Um, I have to have headphones in. It’s the only way to focus. That makes it hard for people to get my attention though, just ask my dad.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing (besides blogging =P)? Lots of things. Reading, Sewing, creating something. . . music is also a big hobby of mine and I love the outdoors. I wish I had more time to spend outside.

Was there something particular which inspired you to write this book?
A writing Prompt that I did on my blog originally. Everyone loved it so much and it was one where my brain was spinning with possibilities afterwards. God obviously had a plan for giving me that inspiration.

What was your favourite scene in Bound?
Ooh, tough choice for sure. Probably the epilogue, but then also the scene where Mikayla is pleading with Jason. My heart hurt so much in that one I was crying real tears.

Which character could you relate to the most?
Mikayla and Miz Mariah. I have Mikayla’s empathy and her passion. Miz Mariah’s motherly instincts are also a trait that I possess.

If you were stranded somewhere and could have only three books with you, which ones would you choose?
The bible for sure, Les Miserable’s by Victor Hugo, and The Hidden Hand by E.D.E.N Southworth. If I were stranded somewhere where I needed to work to survive, I would trade the last one for a survival book.

What is the best advice that you have been given as an author?
You can’t edit a blank page, but you can edit a bad one. So just write. I can’t remember who on pinterest had that first quote, but it is still one of my favorites.

What is one important thing that you would want readers to take away from what you have written?
The gospel and how deeply God loves them. I hope that my writing always and forever brings glory to the King of Kings.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog Kaitlyn! It has been an honor!

AND……there’s a giveaway folks!!

Hop on over to Victoria’s Blog for all the tiny details about entering and prizes and whatnot…..

Victoria Lynn is in her 20s and if she’s not writing, she is probably sewing, singing, playing the piano, washing dishes, creating something with her hands, or learning something new. She has a passion for serving her Creator, encouraging others and being creative. She blogs at www.rufflesandgrace.com about writing, fashion, modesty, her walk with God and life. She lives in Michigan with her parents and 8 siblings

Seeing God….

A little sister was born six years ago today. At twenty-four weeks gestation, the doctors wondered if she would live. For 90 days my little sister lived in the hospital, in the NICU.

Six years ago today my siblings and I watched from our front porch as the ambulance sped out of our sight, as my grandparents took off after it, as the sirens faded away and we were left with friends’, trying so hard not to cry. And wondering if we would ever see our mommy alive again.

I would say that it is something no fifteen year old should ever have to face — that of realizing that you could be without a mother.

Except.

Except that day I realized just how very much my Lord cares about me.I never questioned why, I understood it was the Lord’s will, but I didn’t see anything good in it as the ambulance sped out of sight. I wondered where the Lord was in all of the mess, and what good would come out of all the bad that I was seeing and feeling and crying over.

And my whole family was given the gift of seeing Him. Through the days of recovery, through the tears and the exhaustion and the mental gymnastics and the confusion, I tasted the Lord’s goodness. I felt His love. I saw His kindnesses, His grace, and His mercy.

The many strangers stopping that day in our yard when they saw the ambulance, waiting until it left, praying with us. Many were on the way to work; we knew no one. Yet they offered comfort and support and encouragement. I wouldn’t remember if I ever saw them again, but I remember the words spoken and the hugs given.

The many bags of things hanging on our fence. The notes and phone numbers to call and the fun things for the children to do, to occupy their time and keep them busy.

The men who left their jobs when they saw the first email. The men who were waiting outside for the ambulance to get there, who were waiting in the waiting room for dad. Who hit their knees and prayed with fervor, who kept coming until the waiting room was full and the nurse opened another room for “that group” so they would have room. The men who offered encouragement and comfort and support and advice to a father who was concerned about a wife and child who may not live to see the sun set that day. The men who would not leave until they knew that both the baby and the mother had pulled through and had a fighting chance to live.

The women who brought food to Dad in the hospital so he never had to leave Mom’s side.The family who took one look at the bare door of the hospital room in the surgical recovery section and left, only to return shortly with a baby girl bow that we never thought about because of the surgery. The preciousness of these friends celebrating the life of a little girl who might shortly pass away from this earth, and the joy of the hospital staff realizing that they had a recovering mother to care for. The many exclamations of delight over the fact that they had never had a baby bow on their floor, and the many inquiries about how the baby was doing.

The friends who shared their hearts and their home with us. Who offered shoulders to cry on, a place to sleep, and hugs from the heart. Who took in eight children and parented them for a week along with their own eight children, who drove us to the hospital and watched the little ones so we older ones could spend time with Dad and Mom and the baby.

The woman in the gift shop who was working the register when Dad went in search of a scarf or headband of some sort to cover the fact that half of Mom’s hair was gone. That woman asked about his purchase, and gave it to him freely, adding that she would be praying for the both of them.

The sweet friend who told my mother to never be ashamed of how she looked — for others looking at her appearance would be able to see the testimony of God’s work in her life and give Him the glory.

All the many families who shared their food with us — we didn’t have to spend the mental energy in thinking up what to prepare because we had meals coming to us until well after the baby was home in February.

The neighbors next to the family who took us in; the neighbors who we didn’t know and who didn’t know us, yet managed my sisters diabetes and insulin and snacks and everything like a pro — because she was one. She was a nurse and her own soon had diabetes and she willingly gave her time to help us, to teach me, to keep my sister alive and safe.

The two siblings who drove an hour to come and get us and drove another hour back to the hospital, only to drive us an hour back and then drive an hour to their home…..after only meeting us one time. The talks, the laughter, and the tears that accompanied those long drives.

The woman who chased us down in Walmart after a particularly hard day, because she claimed she saw Christ’s love in our family and she wanted to talk to us and get to know us. All we saw in the mirror were our tears. Tired faces that didn’t even attempt to smile and appear cheerful, and she put a smile on them and made us laugh.

The NICU nurse who requested my baby sister for a week, only to help my mother with bonding techniques and allow her to hold and cuddle and snuggle with her all day long, which every other nurse seemed opposed to.

The many times of falling into bed so weary and tired and discouraged and scared and falling asleep, only to wake up and find that His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness.

The father at our church who drove our van over to the home where we were staying so we could all go to church together, and realizing that we long overdue for new tires. Mentioning it to some other fathers at our church, and one of them mentioning it to a man at a car shop, who put them on and gave them to us without any charge — merely to help a family who was in full blown disaster mode.

The nurse in the NICU who broke the rules and allowed Mom to hold her little daughter the day of her second brain surgery, knowing it might be the last and only time the daughter was held by the mother, and willing to risk her job to bring happiness to my mama.

The church family who helped financially with almost everything we needed, without them actually knowing that we needed it.

The lady who manned the gate in the parking deck of the hospital. Her rejoicing the day she found out we would most likely never see her again, and the teasing and bantering she was always engaging in with us, giving us something to smile about and laugh about.

The lady who spent time to prepare natural, soothing, herbal teas and poultices and salves for Mom, and showed us how to use them and offered support and encouragement and advice so many times.

The nurses in the hospital from all different departments who sought out my mother after others had spread abroad the news of those people who had so many people praying for them and waiting with them, simply to hug her neck, to pray with her, and to encourage her. The one nurse that we saw all over the hospital, who was constantly popping into the NICU to check on the baby, who always had a smile and a kind word, and who is still a sweet friend today.

The day we finally brought Little Bit home from the NICU, and the friends “sneaking” over to our house while we were gone to hang up signs and banners and balloons welcoming us home. Telling Mom in the car that I was so glad there would be nothing to cry over anymore, pulling into our driveway, and promptly crying from sheer happiness.

See, none of us tangibly heard God speaking to us, or felt Him wrap our arms around us, but we knew He was carrying us through this. That He never would leave us or forsake us, that He was in the midst of this with us. We saw Him in every smile offered to us, in every encouraging word and note and email. We saw Him in every person who willingly gave of their time, who went out of their way to pray with us, to hug us, to cry with us. In every meal fixed, in every tire changed, in every gift from a stranger, we saw Him demonstrating His love and His mercy and His kindness.

I pray that one day, I can be as much to someone else. That I can show another burdened soul the love of God. That others will see the Lord’s kindness through my actions and words. That I can embrace stepping outside of my comfort zone and inquire into peoples lives, pray with them, hug them, and cry with them, and that they will see the face of my Saviour through my imperfectness.

So today we wish Little Bit a happy birthday, and we remember. Because in remembering, we can face the future, knowing He is there with us always.

the mercy of God

Six years ago, we didn’t know if my mother would ever see another birthday. Mere days after we celebrated the day of her birth in 2011, she collapsed in our home. Her breath was barely detectable. Every few seconds, my younger sister and I would shake her. Rub her chest. Do whatever we could to cause her breathing to begin again; to jar her body to inhale the life giving air into her lungs.

We didn’t know that her brain was filling with blood. That the center of her brain was squished onto one side of her head; that her brain was causing her body to have trouble remembering involuntary actions — such as breathing.

I was fifteen. My younger sister was thirteen. We had six younger siblings that had no idea what was going on; six younger siblings trusting us to care for them and for our mother. As the EMT’s wheeled the stretcher out of our home, I had the fleeting thought, “Is that the last time I will see her on this earth?”

I wanted more. More time, more memories, more laughter, more forgiveness, more hugs, more conversations. I wanted more late night talks, more cooking together, more times of sharing lemonade or a cookie or a trip to the store.

I wanted less of so many things. Less of my stubborn will, less of talking back, less disregard of her advice. I wanted less times of conflict and more of peace.

I didn’t want it to end like this. There was so much more I wanted to do; so much more I wanted to say; so much more I wanted to hear.

And the Lord graciously and wonderfully gave our mother back to us.

And in the six intervening years, in all my human fickleness, I tend to forget all those thoughts. The thoughts of regret, the thoughts of what if I had done things differently.
I wish I could say that I have never spoken disrespectfully to the gift the Lord gave to us; but I have.
I wish I could say there has never been another conflict; but there has.
I wish I could say that I have treasured each precious moment of the time the Lord has given us to be with her; but I haven’t.
I wish I could say that my stubborn will was vanquished; but it isn’t.

And today we will celebrate my mothers birthday. We will celebrate in the most fitting fashion, since it is the Lord’s Day. We will celebrate it in worshiping our risen Saviour. In lifting our voices in song, in learning more of our Lord.

But, Mama, I want to take the time today to say all the things I wanted to back then, back before we were so busy surviving day-to-day, focused on getting you well, focused on getting my newest sister home from the hospital.

I want to say “Thank you” for all you do and continue to do. For all the times you stayed up late sewing for us, when you had far rather been in bed. For all the times you gave up what you wanted to do something with us children. For purposing to give us sweet memories of a happy childhood, memories of mother/daughter days at the store, complete with strollers and baby dolls. Memories of days at the park; memories of picnics, library days, and falling into bed hot and tired and sweaty and incredibly happy.

Thank you for every nightmare you saved us from. For being there for us when we were sick, or hurt, or needed to talk.

Thank you for all the times we can slip away and spend one-on-one time with you. Thank you for every late night talk, for every word of correction you utter even though it gets late and you could use the sleep.

Thank you for showing us a marriage full of love, full of flaws, and utterly dependent on God’s grace alone. Thank you to modeling to us girls, and everyone around you, the beauty of true womanhood. The priceless gift of femininity that God has given to each of us girls.

Thank you for every load of laundry you have washed. Thank you for being cheerful and encouraging us to be smile when the washing machine stops working and the laundry piles up around our ears. Thank you for coming up with creative ideas for getting around the house when termites have eaten holes in the floors and we don’t have a sink, and we don’t have counters or cabinets and we girls are all wondering what to do about it. Thank you for every thing you come up with to pass the many hours on the side of the road with a broken down vehicle. Thank you for never complaining about it, but making it fun and a time of wonderful memories that we can smile at now.

Thank you for every meal we have cooked together. For everything you have taught us to create in the kitchen, for every experiment you have allowed to dirty the counters. Thank you for the recipes you have handed down, for the stories that have come with them.

Thank you for teaching us at home, for making sure we gain knowledge. For making sure that first and foremost we learn of our Saviour and Lord, and our need for Him. Thank you for putting aside every thing that you wanted to accomplish to take on the task of raising us, to take on the task of schooling us, refusing to give us over to state’s system of education even though there are many times I am sure it would be easier.

Thank you for every decision you made that went against the cultural norm. For raising as you have. For instilling the values into us that we have, for sharing your convictions with us. Thank you for being peculiar to others so that your children could be raised as the Lord would have you to raise us, so He could teach us what He has through you.

Thank you for keeping us at home, for teaching us the value and incredible worth of stay-at-home motherhood. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make mistakes now, to make messes and disasters now, and for helping us clean them up.

I don’t say it often enough, and I know that. I realized it six years ago, and I am remembering now. But, Mama, all of us children are thankful for every word of correction, for every one of “those days”, for every tear that falls during those days — even though at the time we may not seem as if we are.

Because we almost didn’t have them.
And we would miss them. Profoundly.

But mostly I am thankful for you allowing us to see Christ through an imperfect woman. To see someone who struggles, who fails, and who is honest about her shortcomings. To see someone who goes before God, laying her burdens down at His feet, and then stands and faces the world again. Thank you for not putting on a facade and a smile for the world while our family is struggling, for sharing prayer requests and asking for wisdom even though it shows that you may not have all the answers. Because it shows us the importance of being honest. Of being real. Of putting our entire hope and trust and faith in God, looking to Him for guidance and direction.

Thank you. For everything, thank you.

 

internet husbands

“I can fix that for you. They have websites now — I can write one down for you, if you’d like.”

A sweet offer….if the person offering to recommend a website was talking about a recipe I needed. Or a book I was looking for. Or information for a research paper.
But she wasn’t.
She was speaking of solving my problem.
She was talking about me finding a husband.

Before I go any farther, let me say that I was not offended by it in the least…..this whole conversation actually made me want to laugh….

Maybe I should back up and set the scene: It’s 8:00 on a Saturday morning, and I am sitting in the middle of the second soprano section of the choir I am singing with in February of next year. I have a younger woman sitting to my right, maybe in her early thirties. I have an older woman sitting to my left…maybe in her late seventies.

Younger Woman is talking to me. Asking me questions about my life in general, and my married status in particular. To be fair, I am one of the youngest members of this choir. Actually, I am the second youngest. The first youngest is a year or so younger than I am, and on the other side of the room. We’ve already run the gamut of questions. She already knows that I graduated in 2014, that I was home educated, that I am 21, that I chose not to go to college in favour of staying at home and learning from my mother, that I am the oldest of eleven brothers and sisters, and that I attend a small baptist church. There really was only one question left to ask. And she asked it.

“So….do you have a boyfriend? Ever been out on a date?”

I explain that no, I do not. And no, I have not. That I am keeping myself and my emotions as pure as possible for said husband, whenever and if ever the Lord sees fit to bring a man into my life for such a purpose.

And then she says what I never expected to come out of anyone’s mouth.
I mean never.
Never, ever, ever.

“I can fix that problem for you. They have websites now — I can write one down for you, if you’d like.”

Like I said….sweet. If she was helping me to find out how long to fry a chicken =)

Before I could un-blush my face and un-stick my tongue to answer her kind question, the older lady to my left answered for me.

Now this lady was prim and proper and looked extremely elegant….and I was taken aback by what she said. And how she said it.

“A husband off the INTERNET! No, she won’t!” (patting my leg) “That’s all right dear, I wouldn’t look online. I wouldn’t marry no INTERNET HUSBAND! Wouldn’t trust one of them to carry my shoe!”

As both women began to talk over and around me about finding a husband online, and the pro’s and con’s of it all, I could only do one thing: focus on controlling the absurd urge to giggle that was rising in my throat.

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. If I had opened my mouth I would have burst out in an uncontrollable fit of giggles, that I wouldn’t have been able to explain. I would have turned redder than I already was, giggled harder than I would like to in public, and not have had any explanation to give at all.

I should be used to these questions….I have been asked everything from why I am not in college, to why I still live at home, to what I want to do with my life.

The closest question I’ve ever gotten about why I am not married is people wondering out loud how I will ever meet a guy if I am not in college. (answer: if the only reason I am in college is to find a husband, then that is one expensive husband!)
But never has anybody expressed so much interest in fixing my “problem” of still being single.
And NEVER have I had anyone offer to help me run a google search for one =)

So….the million dollar question: Would I ever resort to searching online to find a husband?

First — I must ask myself…..is being single that big of a problem? And I must answer “no” because it’s not. Because I believe with my whole heart that Christ has a plan for my life. Whether that includes being single for ten more years, or getting married in ten weeks, it is all in His will. Christ has a work for me to do, right now and right here. As the catechism I have learned states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” and I can do that now, as a single twenty-one year old. I can do that if I am single at thirty or forty. And I can do that as a married woman at twenty-five. And for some reason, looking to an online website to solve that problem that is non-existent in the first place seems a little bit like going outside of His will, to fix a problem that wasn’t really a problem at all. Did ya follow that one? ;-)

Second, I must ask myself……why do I want to get married so much that I am willing to fix something God doesn’t view as a problem? I have actually known families who believe that early marriage is the epitome of success for their children. That singleness determines failure. A lower spiritual state. I believe differently……that marriage has nothing to do with spirituality. That marriage is for one purpose alone: to further the Kingdom of God. To raise children in the teaching of God’s word, to work together as man and wife to bring glory to Christ through the representation of the union of Christ and the church that we see through marriage.

Thirdly, what’s wrong with an ‘internet husband’ anyways? Well, I have many possible answers for that one. Ever noticed that you can hide who you really are through online interaction? That your friends in real life sound, look, and act different on the internet? See, you can hide anything you want to online…..especially if you are trying to impress a certain someone favourably. You can’t really get to know someone in the ways that hard work, late nights, and just plain ol’ hanging out together and being friends allows you to. There are too many ways to hide who you truly are….and I have seen many people go through struggle after struggle that never would have happened if they had waited for the Lord’s timing. I have also heard from a friend that internet dating site, courting sites, and just husband-finding site in general deal with your outer appearance. What you look like. What you do. How much money you make. They never get down to the deep questions of who you are. What you think about. What your relationships with your parents/siblings/church family looks like. What your character is. And personally, I would rather marry a guy that has a good relationship with his family, loves little children, is a strong Christian willing to lead his family in the worship of God, with a good character that others can vouch for, than to marry that tall cute guy with the wavy hair and that grin that makes your legs go all weak-kneed (if that’s even a word!) On a different note, I do know of a young couple who met online. They were working on a project editing a book together; neither were looking for a spouse, and they ended up married later that year. Additionally, as a young lady, I am not responsible for finding a husband — I think it is a mans responsibility to find a wife and pursue her. To initiate anything as the biblical head of the relationship and future home. And going google shopping for some man to fit the bill seems an awful lot like being the initiator to me :P

An interesting conversation starter, that one question was. A good thought provoker. A nice laugh in the middle of preparing for a hurricane to make landfall and watching the weather to know what to do…since we are kinda far inland for too strong of a hurricane/tropical storm to hit very often. A good diversion to write about as weather is getting worse and good ol’ Nate makes his presence known by throwing tornadoes in paths that are eerily close to friends homes….And did I mention that I am an introvert anyways? That I have trouble having conversations with those I don’t really know? How’s about that for stretching my 10% extroverted self? =P

crown of souls

Six months after stopping a deadly plague, Cole “Tox” Russell and his team are enjoying a little rest. That peace is short-lived when a sniper shot hits Tox. The enemy is discovered to be one of their own, a rogue Special Forces team operator.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend is right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team engage in another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is cheating–he’s using a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

Oh. My. Crown of Souls was long expected, and didn’t disappoint…..much =) You may remember from my review on the first book of the Tox Files, Conspiracy of Silence, that this was not a series I would have ordinarily chosen to read. It was one that my sister had wanted to read for a while before the first book came out….so when I saw it, I decided to give it a go. And I was so glad I read it when I finished. And I have been waiting (im)patiently for months for the second book to come out.

I will say, while I enjoyed the book, it was much…slower than I was used to from Ronie Kendig throughout the first half — excepting the first chapter =) . There wasn’t a lot of action, hardly any history, and a lot going on between the main guy character and the main girl character. It wasn’t surprising, since there was an attraction there before…..but in the last book — and the last half of this book — they were getting to know each other through working together to solve whatever they needed to solve, and protecting each others backs. Nothing to make me feel uncomfortable or anything, it was just a very unsubtle attraction with a lot of cheesy lines thrown in for good measure.

But the second half of the book…..it was good. There was a lot of historical truth woven into the legends of history that intrigue so many. The interactions between the characters were genuine and fun, and made me feel like I was in the “in-crowd” with the team. I felt for Russel as he navigated the circumstances thrown at him, and the similarities between himself and his fellow soldier. There were quite a few times I thought the guy needed a good shaking to think straight, but he usually came around in the end.

But the ending……oh the ending! What was the author thinking to end that way with the third book coming out in the middle of next year?!?!?! All us poor readers are waiting to know what happens!

When all’s said and done, I would give this book 3 stars. I have a sister who is finishing up a book so she can start this one, and a couple of friends who have been waiting to read it, so I would obviously pass it on =)

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I did not have to like or agree with the book.

so close to amazing

umm….not sure why it’s so blurry, but you get the general idea =)

This is a book for anyone who has ever mismatched her shoes or trimmed her own bangs when a professional might have been a better choice or added too much soap to the washer and watched it overflow.

(Not that KariAnne Wood has ever done any of these things.)

 So Close to Amazing is a collection of hilarious and heartfelt reflections on getting it almost right — •and how, instead of giving up, we can choose to simply embrace our real selves right where we are. It’s a story of transparency and honesty and recognizing that perfection is completely overemphasized and overrated. It’s about grace and learning from mistakes and rejoicing in every victory, no matter how small. Because when you find joy in the “you” God created you to be, you’ll discover the amazing that was there all along.

Contains beautiful DIY project ideas anyone can do, whether you’re Pinterest perfect or craft challenged—homemade signs, centerpieces, recipe walls, and more!

So Close to Amazing was a fun book to read…..a really fun book to read. I loved the style it was written in, and was easily drawn into the pages. I enjoyed the glimpse into the life of a less-than-perfect person (aren’t we all?) and the honesty and rawness of some of the incidents. There were times I was laughing, times I was blinking back tears, times I was sighing in satisfaction.

“The rest of the journey is as yet unwritten.
See, that’s the thing about God.
He is mighty. He is sovereign. His ways are not our own.
The plans He makes for us and the paths He directs us down
are often closer to amazing than we can ever think or imagine.
And I know that I know that I know
that God isn’t finished with our family yet.

So many times, I picture an idyllic life on a farm, where you have a white picket fence, a made-from-scratch meal just waiting to be consumed, a perfectly clean house, and you are ale to sit out on the big, wrap around front porch watching the children play with a glass of lemonade. Or sweet tea. Or coffee…..just whatever you please. I have heard and read blogs about such homes — but this book shows you an old farmhouse. A green pasture, flowers galore, sweet tea and lemonade, a porch…..but it also shows you a realistic view of life, in general. A life where you can be content, no matter the circumstances, where the messes and mistakes are embraced and learned from, where you can mess up and ask forgiveness, while creating a beautiful atmosphere to live in. To breathe in.

Seriously, y’all — this book was a breath of fresh air =)

I would absolutely recommend this book to others, wholeheartedly and without reservation =)

*I recieved a copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for a review on my blog.
I was not required to enjoy this book, only to be honest.*

If you like to read, visit My Readers Rewards Club for an opportunity to earn points and books from Tyndale Publishers. Use this link to earn twenty five points when you sign up =)