Friday, September 22, 2017

The Christmas Blessing | First Line Friday

Merry Christmas in September! Seriously, for me, it's not too early to be pulling out the Christmas stuff. ;) I haven't read many Christmas books, so this was a new thing for me. Overall... well, just read my review to see my full thoughts!


What's your favorite Christmas book?
Do you have a first line for today?

~*~*~
Be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton
Anna – Cross Romance



My Review
If you want a feel-good, happily-ever-after story with a Christmas flavor, this fits the bill perfectly. Amelia's story is a gutter-to-glory story of a girl whose life is shrouded by clouds of darkness.

The one element in this story that I would have preferred to be dealt with a little better was the fact that Amelia and James had a baby out of wedlock. It's mentioned that it was a mistake, but "they were going to get married anyway" and I just don't agree with that thought. According to the Bible, there are no exceptions to "the bed undefiled is honorable." So the fact that this story was about a single mom whose baby was born out of wedlock kind of put a damper on my enjoyment of it. Though I will say, though that was the element of the story, it was not at all detailed and spelled out. Just mentioned; I can appreciate that.

There were mentions of God's will, praying to God, following God, and Him having the perfect plan. It did still feel like the spiritual aspect was a little weak. I realize there is only so much one can put into a novella, but for me it was lacking.

The romance was very little in this book. It is more mentioned that things happened than detailing of emotions. So in essence, this wasn't really a romance book.

I greatly liked the doctor. He was just full of kindness and goodness and the perfect father figure. Amelia was a sweet girl too. She just didn't make all of the best choices.

Like I said, if you want just a sweet, short read, this is a good book for that. But I kind of can't overlook how the aspect of a baby from wedlock was kind of brushed over.

*I received this book from Revell and happily provided my honest review*

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Oh, How I Love Jesus | Violin, Piano Duet

I have enjoyed teaching violin the last couple of years. Before we moved, I had about four violin students. But at the time being, I have thirteen violin students (one video student in Nigeria!). One of my favorite things to do is to arrange hymns for them to play in church. I love that most of my students strongly desire to share their music for God's glory. 

Here is one that I recently arranged for a student to play (recorded by myself).






Sheet music available at WAJN

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

If a Picture's Worth 1,000 Words...

Well, then, I shall fill this post of pictures. ;) Because last week was not one of the word-heavy type. Now, before I complain too loudly, the Lord blessed me with an excellent start of the week. Last Monday, I loaded myself up and trekked out under the magnolia tree to do some writing.


In the nice, cool, quietness of Monday, I was able to add about 2,000 words to Nat.


I had to pull out my 18th Missouri book to get some details straight before I progressed in the story. Thanks to all who prayed last week. The ending is looking a little clearer. What do you think... cliff-hanger or sorts?? Not like a huge one, but... just a wee one? Do you like cliff-hangers for the end of a book?

Oh, oh, oh!!! Guess what I got in???


Yeah, no... it's not going to be for me. ;) Doesn't quite fit. But! I'm working on getting things moving for a cover picture!! I can't believe I'm actually thinking about this aspect of my book!

And one last thing: I'm really considering changing the series titles. You see, I have "Orphan Journeys" as the title under which I published "Journey to Love." I have that convenient "Orphan Journeys novellas" and had considered that Nat's story would be the first of the novel series. However, as it's looking now, it looks like Nat (or people associated with him) will have a trilogy. And then I'll have a completely different, disconnected series of individual novellas. Yeah. Just a little confusing. So... I'm considering changing the series title. Which, in turn, will mean that I'm changing the title from Journey of Choice to... well, that will have to wait. After all, I just have ideas. Nothing concrete yet. I'd really appreciate your honest thoughts on the series title change. Do you think it would be a world less confusing to have two different series entirely, even though they're both about orphans?



Monday, September 18, 2017

Scripture Graphics #57


This is a daily commitment I need to make. Today…do I choose to delight in His Word, or does something temporal steal my delight? Today…do I choose to remember His Word, or do I do my devotions to get it checked off my list and then forget everything I’ve read?




We all face those days when our soul is heavy—but do we solve it with a temporal “band-aid” or ignore it and try to live through it? There is amazing help in God’s Word, yet so often that is the last place we go to for help and strength.


Is this true for me? Do I value God’s Word as much as money? We say, “If we only had $$$” but do we ever say, “If I only apply God’s Word more?” We put effort into saving up for things, but does our effort to hide God’s Word in our heart at all compare?


If we don’t keep God’s testimonies, it’s the same as saying, “Your words really don’t mean much to me.”

What is your favorite verse in Psalm 119?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Roses for Mama | First Line Fridays

In doing the #septembercoverlove on Instagram this month, I used Roses for Mama as one of the covers, and in doing so, remembered how very much I loved it the first time I read it. So, I decided to re-read it. It is one of those lovely Christian classics! Have you read it? What do you consider as one of the best Christian classics?



Be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton
Anna – Cross Romance


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Just as I Am | Two Piano Solos

Last week, I wanted to arrange "Just as I Am" for a student. So, I compiled a couple of verses and went to save... "This file already exists." Oh wait! I already *had* an arrangement of the song! However, it was a slightly higher level. ;) But, since it was in the archives, I brushed it up a little and decided to give you two variations of the favorite invitation hymn--two different levels.





Sheet music available at WAJN

And then the slightly more advanced version:






Sheet music available at WAJN

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I Want to be Writing...



This has been my thought almost every day the last week. Truth be told, I've only had one day in which I even had time to write, between company for four days, teaching two days, a homeschool craft day at our house, and a bridal shower at our house (yep, all in a week's time). So this post will be short, and not much of an update. 

In that time I was able to write, though, the Lord allowed me to finish editing the chapter I spliced in from rough draft, and I was able to get some brain-work done toward the ending (is it just me, or is half the battle figuring out in the brain what one must do?). I'm really praying that next week, Lord willing, I'll be able to sit down and do some active writing.

As a side-note, on Instagram, I'm doing a "book cover" challenge (even if you're not on Instagram, my account is public, so you can still see what covers I've had so far this month). One of the days, the word was "soldier." Oh that got me all excited!! I pulled out just a few of my Civil War books because I couldn't settle on just one cover. ;)


I haven't read all of these yet (actually, I've read most of the non-fiction, but none of the fiction). My CW collection is currently my biggest era on my bookshelf. What about you? What era do you have the most books on (fiction or non-fiction)?

Just because this week was another not-so-great writing week for me (which, so far, this week looks better!), doesn't mean you all were in the same boat. So comment and share! What were you able to work on in the past week? Any major breakthroughs in your writing?

Before I sign off, a quote from Journey of Choice WIP:



Quick question: how many of you know the gist of what Journey of Choice is about? I keep talking about it, but have I shared enough to where you know the general "back cover blurb" idea? I'm considering sharing that soon!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Scripture Graphics #56



In Israel’s eyes, Egypt’s animosity was a terrible thing. Yet, it was orchestrated by God to ultimately bring freedom to His people. What may appear to be bad just may be something that God, in His wisdom, has allowed for our ultimate good.


No matter what we’re going through, He is good, His mercy endures forever. This is cause enough for us to give thanks in any circumstance.



This verse got me to thinking: how is making His wonderful works remembered an act of graciousness and compassion? One way I’ve thought about is that having a record of God’s faithfulness in the past gives us hope for what lies ahead—for we are serving the God Who never changes!




Friday, September 8, 2017

Bringing Maggie Home | First Line Fridays

Today's book...


*happy sigh*
*like really happy sigh*

I have liked every book that I've read by Kim Vogel Sawyer and this one was no different. I wasn't sure that I would like it, seeing as I'd only read her historical fiction, and this one is modern. That, and THEN it flips back and forth from present-day to past...and I'm not a huge fan of backstory. But this book...It was so beautifully written! I really like it. I really do. I'm so keeping this book on my shelf!!

Oh yeah.
First line.
Sorry guys. I had to endorse it first. ;)


The first line isn't one of those "gripping" and "what happens next" lines, but this story... yeah... you just need to read it. ;) It's super sweet and etc. (I have a review at the end of the post)

Do you like back-story? Books that flip from present-day to past?

~*~*~
Be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton
Anna – Cross Romance
Alicia - A Brighter Destiny

My Review

A hint of mystery. A hint of intrigue. A hint of bitterness. A hint of romance. This seemed to be the perfect balance of all of that. What is best is that there was way more than a hint of faith and Christianity. From the first few chapters, characters with strong faith in God crossed the pages. It was truly a blessing to have it unashamedly crossing the pages. Sean. Hazel. Oh my, those characters were amazing! There was no doubt about how they viewed God and the Bible.


Now for the actual story. The whole relationship between Hazel, her daughter, and granddaughter, was amazingly real and a study of human nature and how one’s past, left unresolved, will affect their decisions—even when they do not realize it.



As I mentioned, the faith content was five-star. The Gospel was clearly presented, living by the Spirit clearly shown—yet there were also portions that were true such as a church being judgmental and turning people away from the church. So many things were covered in this book and were Biblically sound.



The romance was truly just a hint, and not at all emotionally driven. There was one scene of past events that I wouldn’t recommend younger readers reading (one of the characters had gotten pregnant out of wedlock and it highlights that a little yet doesn’t become explicit).



In conclusion, I enjoyed this read and happily place another Kim Vogel Sawyer book on my shelf.



*I received this book from Blogging for Books and happily provided my honest review*

Thursday, September 7, 2017

When We Don't Know What to Pray

I was recently talking with a friend about prayer, how God answers prayer, and how we should pray. A few days later, I was reading through Ephesians 1 and found yet again the beautiful prayer that Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus.


Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:15-20)
In this prayer, is a beautiful example of how we can grow—and what we can access by prayer.
  • The spirit of wisdom
  • Revelation in the knowledge of God
  • The eyes of understanding enlightened
  • Knowledge of the hope of His calling
  • Knowledge of the riches of His glory
  • Knowledge of the inheritance of His saints
  • What is the exceeding greatness of His power to believers (which is compared to His power in raising Christ from the dead!)

Knowing that we have access to ALL of this should great affect how we pray!

As I reflected on this, I then thought about how I pray for others. Sometimes, I just don't know what to pray--there may be times when I sense a need in their lives (which, by the way, we should pray just as fervently for those whose lives look "put together" as those who seem to be falling apart--Paul often prayed that the churches would continue in what they believed), but other times, I want to pray, but may not know how.

Ephesians 1 and 3 and Philippians 1 all have passages of Paul's prayers for others. This gives me a good idea of how to pray Biblically for someone else. I started making a list from the prayer passages in the New Testament:


I plan on adding to this list as I come across other passages that demonstrate ways for us to pray for others.

Do you have a specific passage you've used before to pray for others?
What verse has God used in your life recently about prayer?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Standing on the Promises | Music Video

A few years ago, I began arranging an advanced piano solo. It actually began when my family and I were singing at a church. Before service, I was playing around on the church piano just for fun. It's interesting, but sometimes playing on a different piano will inspire different ideas. As I played, I threw in a descending scale-type progression where I went down, retraced a note up then went down further, etc. It was a keeper-idea, and before long, the Lord allowed me to piece it together with "Standing on the Promises" (you'll hear that progression throughout the arrangement). 

However, after about halfway into the song, I hit a brick wall. I put the piece down for about nine months (in that time, we actually moved states--so yeah, a lot went on between measure one and the final bar line in this piece!). I loved the beginning and it was such fun to play, but I didn't have an ending. As I thought about it, I'd pray for ideas, pull it out, toy with it, and let it set again. Finally, there was a breakthrough and God gave me just the ideas I needed to finish the arrangement.

Now, about two years later, I've finally gotten around to recording it to share with you all!


The sheet music for this is available at WAJN (but I'll give warning, it is advanced--there are a lot of notes in the ten pages!).


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Visual Progress!

This past week in writing was very similar to the week before in that I didn't have a ton of writing time. However, in what time I did have, the Lord answered some prayers and allowed me to piece together some parts from the rough draft into this one, and look at the goal I just reached!


Yep. Journey of Choice is currently a 60,000 word novel. But the story isn't finished yet! Which means I may be pushing 70-80,000 words (for the record, 60k is the longest piece I've ever written; the current longest published piece I have is "Journey to Love" which is around 25,700 words--historical fiction must be easier to add those words to than imagined fiction ;) ). 

I still covet your prayers. I'm finding it challenging to piece together Nat's story with the historical timeline of the Civil War. I know how I want the story to end, but with the events of the war, it means that I either have to skip years or end mid-war. I don't know what is the best answer for that, so I'd appreciate prayers!

For fun, I totaled up my August word count. I have 6,485 on my calculator, but I think I forgot to journal a couple of days--plus, I did a lot of editing, so more than 6,000 words were added to the draft in August, just in editing form, not in new-word form.

This week, I had to look up an original newspaper for reference. Library of Congress is becoming one of my favorite go-to sources for original documents. You have to dig some, but they're there and they're free!

Anyway, back to my paper, I finally found the month I needed and scrolled in to read.


Uh... I don't speak German (though I am toying with a story idea in which the characters speak a mix of German/English)!! So the search began again. This time, I found something in my language. ;)


Since I mainly write in the afternoons, I've taken to having coffee while writing. I'm actually not an obsessive coffee-drinker and must-have-that-caffeine person (because... caffeine really messes with my system [an odd family trait], so I drink primarily decaf), but I do like the flavor and having something less sugary to "snack" on while I write.


I'm currently trying out some new International Delights creamer flavors. This week was white chocolate mocha (which, wasn't super impressive to me, though it's decent).

Now, for some chatting! 
For Writers
- How many words did you write in August?
- Did you reach any significant goals?
- What is the longest piece you've ever written? (if it's published, feel free to share links so I can hop by and ooh over your cover and all)
- What is your favorite writing tool?


For Everyone
- Are you a coffee drinker?
- Do you like International Delights creamers? If so, what is your favorite?
- What goal did you have for August (any project)? Did you reach it?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Scripture Graphics #55



As believers, we have assurance of God holding us (not us holding God). Not only that, but we also have His Word to daily comfort us on our journey.



He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

(Psalms 103:10-12)
Satan can use the weight of guilt to immobilize us and cast a barrier between us and God. But we are forgiven! And this forgiveness is done God’s way, not man’s.


These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. (Psalms 104:27-30)
God’s hand is still at work in nature. He still watches over everything and cares for them.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Books I Read - August 2017

After reading SO much fiction over the summer, I was seriously fictioned-out. So the first few books I read in August were non-fiction. Actually, I read quite a bit of non-fiction in August. And I enjoyed it. Immensely.

My Favorite Non-Fiction...

I featured this book yesterday with a ton of quotes (I recommend you read them). It was SO good!!!

Other Non-Fiction


I finally, FINALLY finished Sherman! It took me like... six months? More? Not sure. I don't regret reading it. He was an excellent historian, even though I don't agree with everything he stood for. My full review of the 815 pages is here.

Added to that, I read two others Civil War books, both of which were amazing and super informative! Since my reviews for both of these were short and to the point, I'll share them here.


This book was jam-packed full of great information! It covers the formation of the army, the various guns and ammunition used, the railroad, the navy, and more in great detail. Pencil drawings detailed the information, making it easier to know exactly what the text was explaining. For someone who is researching different points of the Civil War and how the military works, this book was invaluable. A nice bonus was that it was just fun to read.


This gave an excellent picture of the hardship that soldiers faced during the American Civil War. The pictures featured helped give a visual account coupled by easy-to-read, engaging narration. 

Harsh cruelty is not romanticized in this book but facts are given as it truly was. In short, this is a sobering read and readers need to be prepared for the hard facts to be given clearly.



I have finally read a K.M. Weiland book (she's been on my to-read list for a good year now). In all honesty, it took me half the book to get used to her style. Maybe if I read another of her books I'll be pulled right in? We'll see. She had great information, and I greatly appreciate how clean her examples were. I went a little more in depth with my review.

Fiction Books
And now that I proclaimed my fullness of fiction, I actually did read a bit of fiction (after the initial "get some non-fiction in there" happened). And I liked all of them!! Wowsers. :)

My Favorite
Okay, this isn't exactly fair. Like I said, I liked them all. So, I'm gonna skip this and just go to the books...


I will be featuring this next week on First Line Fridays, but you can get a sneak-peek of my review on Goodreads. This. Book. Y'all. So sweet! So sweet!


Why did I wait so long to read this book?! You can see from my review that I think quite highly of it!



And... I finished out the Serena Jones Mysteries ("finished out" by reading books 1-2 after reading book three...? Yeah...) My thoughts on the series as a whole? I really like them. I wish they were more definitely Christian, but they are super clean and are easy reads. If you want more specific thoughts, see my reviews for Book One and Book Two.


I will be featuring this book later this month for a First Line Friday--as well as make my review of it live. For now, let it suffice to say that this was a sweet little book.

And now, let me hear from you!


If you haven't assumed by now, I've surpassed my Goodreads Goal of reading 52 books this year (after August, I think I've reached 70 books for the year!). So I'm going for 100 books. How about you? How many books have you read this year? Do you have a goal?


And then I asked a hot-button question on social media: what's your favorite to read, a paperback (or hard-back) or Kindle? I kind of like both, for different purposes and reasons. I love having my bookshelf, but then a Kindle is super convenient (and cheaper in the long run). What about you? Which do you prefer?

Wow...
I've chatted a lot!! Thanks for bearing with me! :)

Friday, September 1, 2017

How to Let God Solve Your Problems | First Line Fridays

Happy Friday (and how is it already September?!)! I’m so excited to share another great read with you! Recently at a book sale, I picked up a few Charles Stanley books. I’ve only read one so far, and wow, it was a good one! As with other devotional books that I’ve shared, the first line isn’t always easy to understand without the whole context, so I’m picking out a quote to share. But there were too many good quotes. So scroll to the end of the post and read the dozens of amazing and thought-provoking quotes I copied, which I hope are an encouragement to you.


Once you’ve finished visiting everyone else’s FLF posts, I’d love to hear…
(feel free to pick just one to answer—I’m the question Queen ;) )
- What is one of the best devotional books that you’ve read?
- What book are you reading this weekend?
- What’s a first line of the book closest to you?

~*~*~
Be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton


Quotes:


"In the aftermath of any storm, [God] is the only One we can turn to for encouragement." (Pg. 3)

"He knows when we face difficulties that are beyond our ability to handle..." (pg. 5)

"Do you realize that even if [a storm] has appeared as a result of something you have done, God is with you?" (Pg. 8)

"When I let go of my need to work something out, He handles all the details of my circumstances perfectly." (Pg. 12)

"Endurance means that I am willing to stay at my post—where God has placed me—until He tells me to move forward. It also means that no matter how hard life may become, I will follow wherever He leads." (Pg. 16)

"We are the ones who make sorrow and heartache even more difficult to bear. Many times, we believe Satan's lies." (Pg. 18)

"Anyone can quit and walk away from life. However, it takes courage to go on when it appears that every avenue has been blocked and every opportunity removed. The pathway to hope and victory often runs straight through the valley of adversity." (Pg. 19)

"True peace cannot come to the person who had not surrendered his or her life to the Lord." (Pg 27)

"God uses adversity to purify us and prepare us for greater service." (Pg 28)

"Most of the time, we know the way God wants us to go, but if it involves sacrifice or personal surrender, we can become resistant and even disobedient." (Pg 40)

"The brokenness of your life does not prevent the Savior from loving you." (Pg 42)

"When trouble hits, resist the urge to focus on yourself, your ambitions, and personal desires." (Pg 46)

"In time, and with God's help, that person understands that God's plan for his or her life is not over; it is just taking a different path than the one he or she thought would be traveling." (Pg 47)

"It is it in times of deep trial, when our faith is tested beyond our normal ability to endure, that we discover God’s loving hand is holding us up and reassuring us that He will never leave." (Pg 56)

"A person chooses to wait on God because he or she wants the best." (Pg 65)

"Prayer is a step of faith, not a pathway to anxiety." (Pg 76)

"Adversity trains you to worship God and to long for time alone in His presence." (Pg 87)

"Obey God and He will lead you *through* the stormy times to a place of great blessing." (Pg 96)

"Loneliness is not something only single people face. It is something that comes from not being at peace in God's presence and not being satisfied with what He has provided." (Pg 99)

"So often, problems that arise in our lives come as a result of our not obeying God." (Pg 104)

"Timing is everything to God. He knows exactly when to motivate us to move forward and when to hold us back." (Pg 108)

"[God] is our instructor, guide, and teacher. But sometimes we do not hear what He is saying because we are too wrapped up in our problems. We pray and think we are giving our burden to Him, but we continue to carry it around by talking about it and even frantically wondering what will happen next. When we ask God to take our burdens, He does. However, if we continue to cling to it and work on ways of solving it, we signal a lack of faith in His ability." (Pg 109)

"[God] never sees your burden as being insignificant. Therefore, no matter how large or small a difficulty may appear, make a habit of praying about it." (Pg 110)

"You have a sense of peace, not because of what you have, but because of who has you." (Pg 118)

"Sin causes a separation in our fellowship with God, and this sense of separation gives birth to fear." (Pg 142)



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