New Life in Christ By Steven J. Lawson

The expressions “born again” and “saved” are commonly used to describe when a person accepts Christ as one’s Savior. What do they really mean? What really happens when an individual receives God’s gift of eternal salvation. Through my almost 40 years as Christian, I have talked to many people. Depending on their background and practicing religion it means very different things and some do not coincide with Scripture. I wanted to read this book because I was excited to see a through scriptural study and explanation on what truly happens when someone accepts Christ. The author uses the story of Nicodemus and Jesus to explore all that occurs when spiritual conversion takes place.
The book is well written, and has many scripture references which makes it an excellent study. I like the detailed and complete view of what changes come about in a person’s spirit and life. Mr. Lawson is very thorough.
But as scripture says in Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” I do not agree with the author’s belief that the Bible teaches God “chooses” who can become a Christian and who cannot. That there are other certain “elect” souls. What a hopeless message this is for the world. This is the teaching of “predestination” which I do not find in the Bible. God’s Word tells us that He sent His Son to die for all and the gift of salvation is there for “whosoever” will take it. The rest of the book is excellent, but because of this I cannot recommend the book to others.
I received this book from Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Stitches in Time By Suzanne Woods Fisher

I was looking forward to this book, the second in Ms. Fisher’s series, The Deacon’s Family. After giving up his wild boy ways and turning back to God, Luke wins the hand Izzy, the one he truly loves and marries her. Though deeply in love, their marriage requires a lot of adjustment and it is no wonder with how very different the two are. In spite of his wayward youth, Luke finds himself chosen as a Deacon. He doesn’t feel capable of fulfilling this lifelong appointment. Izzy isn’t too happy about the title either as her husband is away from her most of the time. While growing in the Lord, She still has much healing to do from her childhood in foster care. When Luke attempts to fulfill and a promise to Amos lap, to find homes for all the foster children in the county, the conflicts between them grow.
Molly a sweet, young single woman and school teacher for the Amish community wants with all her heart to foster children and show them the love they have missed. She gets more than she wished for when she becomes foster mom to a set of twins that are constantly in trouble. Sam, Luke’s brother, is concerned about what Molly has gotten herself into and tries to help when problems arise. Both couples find themselves facing challenges they never have before.
I have enjoyed in both books Izzy’s love of her “woolies” (sheep) and the way God teaches her through them. Made me want a sweet lamb to put in the backyard! Whenever facing problems physical or emotional, the characters were confused and suffered, but always looked to God and trusted Him. The author does a wonderful job of showing that while difficulties did not immediately go away; they did not give up on the Lord. Molly reminded me of so many young people who have the zeal to follow what they believe to be God’s leading but have no clue of the price that will be exacted of them. I look forward to reading the next book in the series!

The Happy Camper By Melody Carlson

My heart always beats a little faster when I see Melody Carlson has a new book! I love how all her books have such different story lines. As always I was immediately drawn into the story and her characters.
Dillon Michael’s life takes a drastic turn in just one day. The put together, on track, organized career girl who is never impulsive leaves everything behind within a day. She breaks up with her boyfriend, quits her job and heads home to Oregon to the only true home she has ever known, her widowed grandfather’s farm.
She is excited about surprising him, but a few surprises await her too! Her mother, whom she calls Margot, (who was never much of a mother), has moved in too! Not only does she have to bear her mother’s bossiness, controlling attitude, and laziness, but finds herself sleeping on a very uncomfortable couch. Margot has moved into Dillon’s old room and isn’t going to budge!
Things look pretty dim until her grandfather gifts her a retro, tear-dropped shaped little trailer. This is just the lift Dillon needs. She throws herself into decorating it for her own place to live. She finds she has quite flair and might possibly make a business of it. She meets Jordan, owner of the hardware store which becomes a bigger plus that just his advice and help for her project. Dillon thinks this might be the start of something special, until someone from her past steps into her present. Dillon struggles with doubt and confusion.
I hated to have this book end. Dillon and her little trailer made me want to get one. It was such fun to read about all the details of her decorating it. Her close relationship with her grandfather and the descriptions of the farm were heartening. The small town atmosphere and activities gave me such a warm feeling. This was a fun and delightful read, a real escape from all that is going on.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Basic Bible Atlas By John A. Beck

What a fantastic Bible reference book for study and just reading! The book isn’t big or long, but what it packs into 171 pages is incredible. I liked the way the book was arranged. I know the Bible is true and real without a doubt, but the author brought it to life for me. The Bible history, eye-catching, clear map illustrations and the wonderful word descriptions that went with them gave me a greater picture of the events I have read about so many times. I know from now on when I read my Bible what I have learned will come to mind and add to my time in the Word. Mr. Beck covered from Genesis to Revelations! Some thing that impressed me was the many scriptural references on every page. The scripture index and place names index at the back of the book make it simple to look up specific books, scriptures, locations you might be studying. A treasure to have! I know I will be using it often.
I received this book from Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

Out of the Embers By Amanda Cabot

I can always be assured any book my Amanda Cabot is not only a great read, but also a wholesome decent book. After the death of her parents Evelyn had made the orphanage and Mrs. Folger the matron her safe haven and home. She was 23 years old but remained there as an employee. Six year old Polly and orphan also had a special place in her heart and she watched out for her. Upon returning to town with Polly from a trip, she finds the orphanage has been set on fire and no one survived.
It was no accident just like the brutal murder of her parents. Ever since that horrible day she had felt someone following and watching her, wanting to kill her too. She felt sure this was their doing and she was in danger. Immediately she leaves, taking Polly with her and instructing the child to say they were sisters. On the way a terrifying thunderstorm forces them to take shelter under their wagon.
Wyatt Clark is heading home in the storm and comes up them. Hungry, frightened and exhausted he takes them to his ranch where he lives with his mother and sister. There they are taken in, loved and cared for like they were part of the family. Her excellent cooking leads to the Clarks encouraging and helping her open a restaurant in the nearby town of Mesquite Springs. There is even an apartment above the business for a new home. Her life is turned around with opportunity, hope, friends, and independence for her and Polly. But are they truly safe? It seems the “Watcher” may have found her.
The suspense and mystery in the book was kept me turning the pages! Evelyn’s courage and Wyatt’s gentleness and character endeared me to both of them. I especially liked the descriptions of the restaurant and running it. I cannot imagine how they did all the cooking, cleaning and serving without modern conveniences! I am very excited to know that this book is the first in a series!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Good Night, Fireflies By Janet L. Christensen

This is one of the sweetest books I have ever read and one of the best for children facing fears of the dark! It also brought very special memories to mind of my childhood. As a little girl growing up in Texas, those warm summer nights when fireflies came out was magical. There aren’t many now like there were then, when there were great numbers of them. I would sit mesmerized and sometimes catch one. My father would punch holes in a jar, put a bed of fresh leaves in the bottom and allow me to put it by my bed overnight. It was understood the next morning I was to release it.
I also remember having a great fear of the dark in my bedroom at night. Personally I was sure there were alligators under my bed that would bite my feet if I got up! Awww the memories.
I love the way the author addressed a very common childhood fear by using God and a beautiful part of His creation to bring rust and reassurance to little hearts. A young boy named Landon becomes frightened by all the scary things he imagines to be in his room after the lights are turned out. He cries out to his father, and his Dad does something very special. He takes him outside to teach him that God is always with Him and just a prayer away. The pages are bursting color and the illustrations are amazing. I also liked that each page had only a few lines to read. I know how important this is to keep a little readers attention! Can’t wait to share this book with my grandsons! A bookshelf keeper!
I received this book from in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Land Beneath Us By Sarah Sundin

This is my first book to read of this talented writer. The story is set in 1943 during World War 2. This is a beautiful story of forgiveness, strong faith in God and courage. During times of war, we always think of the bravery of the soldiers, and rightfully so. Those left at home when their loved one goes to fight for freedom are also courageous. They fight different battles. Ms. Sundin skillfully and intimately captures both.
Clay Paxton is a part of the U.S. Army Rangers preparing for D-day. He was raised by loving and caring parents. His home life was ripped apart by his two older brothers who deeply hurt him. While he struggles with forgiveness it has not changed his sweet, caring spirit.
Leah Jones on the other hand lost her parents when she was 4 years old. Separated from her infant twin sisters she was raised in an orphanage. She longs to find them and information about her parents. She comes to Camp Forrest where Clay is training to be an assistant librarian. Her beauty and innocence catch his attention, but only as a friend as she is only 18 years of age.
One night at the library as she is closing, she is attacked and sexually assaulted. The author was very discreet and tasteful in describing her occurrence. Clay saves her from her assailant and gets her to the hospital just in time. He visits her as she heals and they develop a deeper friendship. Hurting for all she is facing from being violated, he asks her to marry him before he is shipped out, a marriage in name only. This way she would be cared for by is military benefits. With nowhere to go she accepts.
Ms. Sudin’s detail in what each is facing while apart gives a complete picture of their lives as with many couples separated during this era. Their experiences were worlds apart. It helped me understand how difficult for families when they are reunited after a war. Both characters strong relationship with God no matter what their circumstances was not only inspiring but a testimony of what peace it can bring. Those that showed compassion and helped Leah through hard times reminded me that no matter how bad things might be, God will send others to aid us. I must admit the story had me on pins and needles at different points, wondering what would happen next. A sweet romance with strong lessons and an ending that will make you sigh. I liked this book!
I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

The Forgiving Jar By Wanda E. Brunstetter

The author’s great reputation as a writer drew me to the book, but also something a bit odder. The word jar in the title! I love jars and using them for something more than food. A journal jar, a “why I love you jar’, my list could go on. In the end the wonderful story of mercy and compassion were the best part! I have not read the previous book to this series but I it can be read as a standalone.
I fell in love with Willis and Ruth Lapp! They are such a sweet elderly couple with such wisdom and love for others. Sara grew up without knowing the Lapps were her grandparents. After discovering they were her family she visited them only to find a young woman had been impersonating her! The impersonator, Michelle leaves and Sara returns home to work. The dentist she works for retires leaving her jobless. She decides to move Strasburg and make it her home. Hoping to live with her grandparents until she finds a job and a home, she is filled with anticipation. Everything comes crashing down when she arrives and finds Michelle has returned and apologized for her deception. Much to Sara’s chagrin the Lapps had not only forgiven her but allowed her to move in again! Sara is more than furious she is seething with anger! With Michelle and her in close quarters her bitterness festers even more and consumes her. She turns green with envy at the love and closeness the Lapps share with Michelle. Willis and Ruth are well aware of the girls’ conflict but continue to bath them in prayer and affection. Sara finds a jar hidden in the cellar filled with Bible verses and notes on forgiveness. Rather than letting the truths touch her, she hardens her heart and nurses her grudges. Michelle finds it difficult to deal with Sara’s animosity and hostility, but works hard at turning the other cheek and applying God’s Word.
I love the way true scriptural forgiveness is played out in this story! The author vividly captures resentment and bitter attitude that is displayed by those who refuse to forgive an offender. She also displays the strength and peace that comes from obeying God’s command to forgiven others as He has forgiven us. A beautiful story! I liked the bonus of the Amish recipes at the end of the book. I am looking forward to reading the other two books in The Prayer Jars series!

The Reluctant Belle By Beth White

The aftermath of the Civil War left much loss and destruction in its wake. This was not only physical but also emotional. Joelle was trying to rebuild her and her sister’s lives by turning their grand home into a hotel. It was not an easy transition financially or otherwise. Her strength and determination were impressive, especially during a time when women were considered lesser than men. Her courage was even greater in her compassion and work to help the ex-slaves build lives with their new found freedom. There is no doubt that Joelle’s driving force in her integrity was her faith in God.
If only helping her family and the slaves was that easy. The war had left bitterness in the hearts of many men who did not agree with the outcome. Without national combat on their side, they crept into the woodwork, hiding their hatred and plotting in darkness. Like many, Joelle was unaware of exactly who these sinister people were until she was viewed as their enemy.
Schuyler Beaumont is a childhood friend of Joelle’s. He is wealthy and had a reputation before the war of being self-serving. It has changed him too, as also wants to help the newly freed people. The murder of his father during a political speech puts him on the path to find the killer. Working undercover he draws closer to finding his man, even going as far as to join the Ku Klux Klan.
This book is not only rich in historical facts but also in detail what those in the South faced after the Civil War. The characters are and in-depth. I saw there was another battle raging I had not considered after the last shot was fired. You hear of the evil workings of groups like the KKK but don’t realize how terrifying the people they targeted. In the midst of all this there is also romance and humor. A fantastic book!

On A Summer Tide By Suzanne Woods Fisher

What a fun book! Whenever I pick up a book by Ms. Fisher I know I will enjoy it!
Since his wife passed away, Paul Grayson not on struggles with what to do with his future, but missing his daughters and the family connection they shared. He comes up with (what he feels) is not only a brilliant, fulfilling idea, but something that will bring his family back together. He buys Camp Kicking Moose on the coast of Maine which gives him 51 % ownership of an island! The purchase is sight unseen with only the memories of how it used to be when he met his wife there.
His three daughters upon hearing the news are not as excited as Dad. They think he has lost his mind and even more so when they see the camp! All the sisters’ relationships have drifted apart. Different isn’t an adequate word to describe their pursuits, personalities and quirks. Now Dad throws this into the mix. They travel to the camp on their fathers’ insistence at which point they are SURE he is mentally unstable! The cabins and buildings have disintegrated, the caretaker’s home is in need of huge repairs and the few inhabitants are unhappy about the new owner. These modern sisters cannot even fathom poor internet and cell phone connections, not to mention the rustic accommodations.
As this dysfunctional family is confronted with changes, situations and choices they never dreamed of, they do what most people do, fight it on every level. But as this mountain they deem as a nightmare does not budge, things begin to happen within them. The girls are force to slow down and detach from their crazy lives causing them to have a different view of what’s important, who is important, and what they really want to do with their futures. These transitions are inspiring to the reader. It reminds me of how we can all be blinded to and trapped in day to day life forgetting to allow God to speak and guide us. It made me long for a quieter simpler time and place. Don’t get me wrong the book isn’t all seriousness. There was lots of humor! The vomiting cat had me in stitches! I cannot wait for the next book in this series!