A Marriage of the Heart By Kelly Long

Novellas aren’t always my favorite to read, but I really liked this one.  Each one was complete in its self and gave me 3 different Christmas/Amish fixes for the holiday!  This book would be great to read anytime of the year though.   All of the stories were very well written.

“A Perfect Secret” is the story of Rose and Luke.   They had been friends for many years.  It was more or less expected they would marry, but his proposal doesn’t bring Rose the happiness she thinks it should.   Their relationship is well, boring.  He seems almost afraid to show her affection and she wonders how could she live a life time like this?  She wants excitement and romance!   Does she really know who Luke is?  Does he really know who she is and does he care?  The community is hit with a string of thefts, something very uncommon among the Amish.  Rose becomes enthralled by the mystery and decides she will find out who the thief is.  The culprit falls into a trap she sets and she risks following the bandit into the woods.  Her discovery intrigues and shocks her, causing her simple life to suddenly become very complicated.   A surprise ending to look forward to!

“Christmas Cradles” was such a sweet story.  Midwife, Anna Stolis, covers for her aunt’s midwifery practice while she goes on a short vacation.  The weather is turning bad and forecast to grow even worse.  Samuel Mast has volunteered to drive the midwife to nighttime emergencies, but he is sick.  His son Asa is taking his place.  Three babies are due and Anna is hoping they will wait until her aunt returns.  Of course they don’t and all three mothers deliver the same night.  At 26 Anna is considered past marrying age, and somewhat buxom. She didn’t have much hope in marrying.   Asa is a great surprise when he arrives.  Tall and handsome, not to mention she was expecting a man old enough to be her father!   All through the night they go from delivery to delivery in a horrible storm.   Anna finds herself falling in love with Asa’s kind and gentle ways and thinks he might also be interested in her.   Their time together proves to be challenging in many ways more than just the deliveries and the weather. Will unexpected information about Asa’s past threaten end her hopes of marrying him?

“A Marriage of the Heart” was my favorite of the three.  Abigail’s mother died when she was very young.  She never had a mom to teach her how to take care of a household, very important in the Amish life.  Her father was distant, harsh, and unloving which made her feel even more insecure.  All she can think about it getting out from under his roof.   The only thing worthwhile she feels she has is her beauty.  Joseph who has just returned to the Amish community doesn’t give her the attention the other boys do.   In retaliation she falsely accuses him of taking advantage of her.  She is shocked when her father, in a rage, demands they marry.  Then she gets excited thinking this may be her ticket out of her home.  Her hopes come crashing down when her new husband offers for them to live with her Dad!  Now she is married to a man she doesn’t even know, still in her father’s house and now responsible for caring for 2 men when she doesn’t have a clue how. On top of being newlyweds that are married in name only, everyone is acting like they are love birds, and they struggle to keep up the pretense.  She harbors hopes that Joseph will want to go back to the English world he just returned from thus helping her escape from what she believes to be a stifling, boring life.  When she finds out Joseph had a drug addiction he still struggles with, she wonders what she has gotten herself into.  Their journey to learn about each other is humorous and touching.  Can they ever overcome this forced marriage and truly be a happily married couple?

To be perfectly honest I wish there had been a dozen more stories like this.  A book you will want to read!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 

 

 

Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments By Kara G. Durbin

The Bible is the only book we need for any area of our life and this definitely includes raising children!  When I was raising my girls I had a book similar to this but it only had the topics and the scriptures.  This book has that and so much more!  It is so many tools rolled into one; a biblical reference for teachable moments, answering children’s questions on different topics, a personal or family devotional guide, a scripture reference for memorization, and a prayer guide.

The first part of the book has a great deal of information recognizing opportunities for teaching your children scripture and also how exactly to go about it.  I thought this was great as many parents want to do this but don’t know how.

Topics are listed from A – Z.   Under each subject is the definition of that word.  Some might think this not needed, but you would be surprised how many words we assume our children know the real meaning of when they don’t.

Next there are several scriptures to memorize pertaining to that subject, and a set of discussion questions to help look deeper into what you are studying. These could be a real springboard into a great devotional time.

This is followed by the “Take Action” section that gives suggestions to make the concept a part of daily life. Many have a parenting tip to help you guide your child in understanding and applying the truth that has been presented.  Sometimes there is a related topic listed so you can take the study even further.

At the end of the book are two more tools.  The Scripture Appendix contains the complete texts of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Love Chapter, the Fruit of the Spirit, the Armor of God, Colossians 3:12-14, and 2 Peter 1:5-9.  Assigned to each of these is a symbol.  These symbols appear when verses from these scriptures are listed under one of the topics.  This way you can reference back to these larger portions of scripture.  In addition the author lists 15 famous verses to memorize, memorization methods and how to pray scripture for your child.

As you can see this is a priceless reference and study tool not only for families but also church teachers and youth leaders.  This would also be a fantastic gift for a family, a child, or even new parents!  What is even better is so easy to use!  My only disappointment was that this did not come with scriptures from King James Version.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 

A SEASON FOR TENDING By Cindy Woodsmall

I can always count on Cindy Woodsmall for a good book, and A Season For Tending was just that!  Rhoda Byler is a young Amish woman with a strong discernment for the needs of others and a true gift of using herbs as medicine.  Unfortunately, one in her Amish community that has a grievance against her has led many to believe she delves in “magic”.  She and her family suffers greatly because of the gossip and slander.  In spite of the hardships her family remains close and supports her.

She is a gentle, peace loving woman, but one true to her convictions.  Isolated by wagging tongues she finds her joy and purpose in her magnificent garden.  Her green thumb and love and knowledge of plants makes it produce like no other, which unfortunately fuels the fire the wagging tongues fan.  From this amazing garden, she has created a small but successful business.  Her accomplishments are always overshadowed by the false guilt she carries over the death of her younger sister.

Samuel King and his brothers are fighting another kind of battle struggling to keep their famous apple orchard running.  Family failures, careless choices, sibling’s secrets, and natural disasters make it an uphill battle. One they seem to be losing.   Rhoda and Samuel’s lives and futures are thrown together when Leah, Samuel’s little sister, is found in Rhoda’s garden after a night of rumschpringe gone bad.

Upon meeting Rhoda and finding out more about her talents, Samuel is convinced that they both hold the solution to each other’s business woes.  Rhoda isn’t sure and wants to make sure it is God’s will.  Her distrust of people and rejection by the Amish community continue to cloud her judgment.  The more unconvinced she becomes the more convinced Samuel becomes.  Will Samuel’s plan work?   Can Rhoda risk all she has to see?   You will find yourself caught up in the frustrations and doubts of the characters as they struggle to find an answer.   There were times I wanted to step into the book and have word with each one!   I found it inspiring that in all the unfair losses Samuel and Rhoda faced, they had the courage not to quit, even though they had every reason to.   Each time they looked past themselves and saw how their choices would affect those around them.

I liked that this book showed the Amish as real flesh and blood people with struggles the same as everyone else.   I had never really considered what worldly activities Amish youth dabble in nor the heartache and difficulties it causes their families.

Ms. Woodsmall brought to light the damage superstition, vengefulness, and unforgiveness of others and oneself can do to not only individuals but also families and communities.  This is a beautifully written book.  I can’t wait to read the sequel!

I received this book free from Waterbrook Press.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 

 

 

Unclaimed Legacy By Deborah Heal

This was my first book of Ms. Heal’s and I was very impressed to say the least!  What a fun book!  It has so many different aspects, suspense, mystery, history, social issues, and humor, challenges faced at different stages of life.  She blends and weaves all these into a very enjoyable and interesting story! I must say I have never read a fiction book quite like it!  I especially liked the interaction between the characters.  The humor and conversations made them very real!  Some were so clever I even read them to my husband!

Abby is a personal tutor to teenager, Merri.  They accidently stumble upon a computer program that allows them to go back in time and see the day to day lives of those in past.  There are only certain places it will work and it reveals details of those who have lived at that location.  A true life version of “If Walls Could Talk”!   Something I have always wished I could experience!   When they share this information with their friend John and he becomes involved in their exciting adventure.

They accept a job house sitting a beautiful Victorian home and looking out for two 85 year old twin sisters next door, Eulah and Beulah.  The pair, dubbed the “Old Dears”, is hilarious in their antics and ideas.   Very quickly Abby and Merri log into their program and find the house they are staying in was the twin’s childhood home.  In fact, they learn more than they are comfortable with about the sister’s past.  Through the twist and turn of events and their computer, they are taken back to the time of Lewis and Clark find themselves even witnessing a murder! There were so many times I wished I could grab their laptop and control the program myself. Not to mention take it a few places of my own!

Ms. Heal didn’t just include history, she brought it to life with detailed descriptions of not only the daily lives of the people, but also the thoughts and feelings they might have experienced.  At points I truly felt “transported” back to that time.  She also touched on the important subject of domestic violence.  It isn’t just a problem now but has been throughout history too.  Something I had not considered.

I thought her involvement of the elderly sisters as respected, valued and loved was wonderful. It sends a strong message that our senior citizens and their life experiences are not only important, but also how very enjoyable spending time with them can be.  A much needed point to be made in a time with the elderly are neglected and not appreciated and esteemed.  Their love and delight in being with the John, Abby, and Merri, reminded me of how many older people are longing to open their hearts and homes to the younger generation.

Though not a major part of the book, Merri’s dealings with her mother’s constant working and overlooking her and her father’s neglect and drug abuse shows the effect such parenting failures have on children.

So many wonderful things in one book and a surprise ending too!   I look forward to reading Ms. Heal’s first book and her future ones!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to write a positive review.

 

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