Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Christmas Singing

My review of "The Christmas Singing"
by Cindy Woodsmall

             Mattie Lane (Gideon's special nickname for her) has dated Gideon Bieler and they plan to get married, but she goes to see him on Christmas to take a gift (a special cake she has baked for him and a love letter) and discovers him in the arms of an English girl!!   She demands an explanation and he tells her they need to see other people.  So she leaves the family she loves in Apple Ridge and her sick, elderly mamm to move to Ohio to live with her brother.  Her brother helps her to establish a bakery for her cakes and she finds a new boyfriend there in Sol.   She is enjoying Amish life in Ohio and talks to her mamm every day by telephone (Mamm has one in a shed outside).  

             Sol loves to hunt and spends a great deal of time doing just that.   He is very quiet but he is honest and Mattie likes that as she feels that Gideon was dishonest with her.   Dating English could he?   Tragedy strikes though, and Gideon's heart is torn.  He runs to her, but she is heavily drugged and doesn't remember him being there.  When she returns home to Apple Ridge, will they ever find their way back to each other?  Will the truth ever come out?  You must read this book to find out! 
             I enjoy cake decorating myself, so I enjoyed that aspect of this Amish fiction work.  I also have read many of Cindy Woodsmall's other books, and was pleasantly surprised to find some beloved characters from her other books in this one.  Twins, Roman and Aden, and their restaurant are featured in The Christmas Singing. You will also find them in one of her other books:  The Scent of Cherry Blossoms. In fact, Aden and his artwork play a lovely part in the book, but I won't reveal too much as I don't wish to spoil it for you, the potential reader!   You'll get to enjoy the fun of Amish weddings in this one as well as a few characters need wedding cakes for their special day.    As it is Christmas time, you'll have singings and snow to enjoy as well.  
            I highly recommend this book to readers.    I finished it in just a couple of evenings as I just could not put the book down.    I do not think you will be disappointed either.  There are some great recipes from Amish cookbook author, Sherry Gore, in the back of the book too--an added bonus!! 

About the Author

Cindy Woodsmall has written several best-selling works of Amish fiction.  She has also written a non-fiction, Plain Wisdom, along with her Amish friend.  She travels to Amish neighborhoods to research for her books and seeks answers to her "Amish" questions from trusted Amish friends to make her books authentic.  

To read the first chapter of the book:

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multonamah publishing in exchange for my honest review of book. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

Yes, God has fearfully and wonderfully made me and YOU,  He knit us together in our mother's wombs.   Wow! I was reading in Calm My Anxious Heart about being content with ourselves and our role in life.   Linda spoke about the fact that so many women are dissatisfied with their bodies, their lives, their jobs, their families, and more.   She's right.  I'm guilty too.  But it really made me stop and think.   God made me unique.  He wanted me to be different.  He loves our inner heart and soul.  He doesn't look at the outer wrappings.  He focuses on the inside and we need to do that too.   I am thanking God for my personality, my body, my roles in life, and I'm going to work on being content with where I am right now!   How about you? 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

My Review of The Scent of Cherry Blossoms
by Cindy Woodsmall

Dear Blog Reader,
I am going to break the rules, as I observe them, and do a different sort of review on this book, The Scent of Cherry Blossoms, by Cindy Woodsmall.  I am going to review it now, based on pages 1 - 82, and again, at the completion of the book.  
I am so torn and enthralled so far as I read.   Aden and Annie so obviously belong together, and here they are: forced to meet secretly in Daedi Moses' cherry orchard.  Why??   Because she is Old Order Mennonite and he is Old Order Amish!   They have devised their own secret language to make up for the communication barriers (and you MUST read the book to see what these barriers are, dear reader).   Ellen, Aden's mamm, loves Annie, but is upset and discouraging them from being together anymore.  Oh, and then there is dear Roman, Aden's twin brother, who is wheelchair bound, and has lost his confidence and cocky self-assurance.   Perky, sassy Marian actually dares him to take her out on a date and he agrees!  They have a wonderful date and also obviously belong together.  Is Roman going to allow the physical barriers to keep them apart?  Will Annie go against the rules of the church she loves and follow her heart?  Will Aden continue to defy his mamm and meet sweet Annie underneath the cherry blossoms?   Oh, I do hope so!  I am upset that I need to stop reading and go to sleep to be ready for church tomorrow!  I want to see these two young couples find love together!   Will they?  Grab a copy of this delightful, heart-wrenching book, and find out with me!   I dare you!  
More to come..........don't worry, I won't "spoil" the book for you, you'll still have to read to find out the culmination of the conflict!  
           Well, it is 6 a.m. and I have finished the book.....couldn't sleep and so I read.  Wow!  What a wonderful book for anyone with a disability of any sort to read.   If you question your faith or have ever felt angry towards God, I believe you'll find some answers here.   Things become very serious and very dour for Aden and Annie.  They have monumental decisions to make.  Their choice to be together could drive a wedge into their families' hearts and could cause other strife for them as well.  Annie faces difficulties back at home with her mamm and brothers and sisters.   Will she be able to mend those fences too?  
             If you love Amish fiction or just plain old romance and faith, you are sure to love this book.  I highly recommend it!   I am now ready for a sequel as I simply must know what goes on "down the road" for these beloved families.   What about Marian and Roman?  They are developing a remarkable friendship---could it lead to something even stronger?  

About the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite
It occurred to me that some of you, blog readers, may not be familiar with the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites.  What are the differences you may notice in the book:   Annie  (Old Order Mennonite)wears a head-covering as Ellen (Old Order Amish) but the type of covering may differ.   Old Order Mennonites are allowed to wear prints on their fabric dresses, which all the girls and women of both Old Order Mennonite and Old Order Amish wear.  Old Order Amish will only wear certain solid colors in their clothing.    Old Order Amish men grow a beard, but never a mustache (to show their resistance to violence and war as they associate them with military of old), once they marry and never cut it.   Old Order Amish meet for church in homes of members and a fellowship meal is always served afterwards with the women and girls serving the men and boys who eat first.   Both churches have the men and women sit opposite and separate from each other.   Old Order Mennonites meet in a church building if they so choose.   Old Order Amish go to school through the eighth grade and then apprentice under the parent of same sex in preparation for marriage and a career (for men).  Old Order Mennonites are allowed to pursue further education if they choose to do so.  
 Old Order Amish have no electricity in their homes.   Old Order Mennonites do have electricity.   Old Order Amish use horse and buggies.  They may ride in cars and will hire drivers when they need to travel some distance or get somewhere quickly, as in a medical emergency. Old Order Mennonites are also referred to as "horse-and-buggy Mennonites".   Both groups believe that you marry for life, there is to be no divorce.    Old Order Amish allow a rumschpringe, a time when the teens and young adults are allowed increased freedom to explore the English world.   Old Order Mennonites do not allow this practice as they believe it has potential for impurity among the youth.   Old Order Amish practice shunning, which is a time of turning away from a member of the church who has broken the rules of the Ordnung, in hopes they will feel pressured to repent and confess to return to fellowship with the church.  Old Order Mennonites do something similar but do not call it shunning and they do not place an ending time on the turning away from the member. The problem in this book comes in the fact that Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite are not allowed to marry each other.  If  one of them chooses to leave their church after taking the vow to join the church, they will be completely ignored (or shunned) by their church family.  You will discover more similarities and differences among the groups as you read.  Both groups are known as Plain people.  Their faith in God is extremely important to both groups and they practice as they do to set themselves apart from the world.   Will these differences keep Annie Martin and Aden Zook apart?  Will they ever be able to bridge the great divide and come together in marriage?  Can the two worlds meld?   Oh, I do hope so!  I am on pins and needles!

About the Author:
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.  She is the author of six novels, two novellas, and Plain Wisdom, a work on non-fiction co-authored with her dearest Old Order Amish friend.  Cindy lives in Georgia with her family. 

As per FTC regulations, I must report that I received a copy of this book free from WaterBrook Multonomah Publishing Company in exchange for my honest review.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Positives & Negatives

 I am studying the book, "Calm My Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow, and she suggested making a list of the positives in your life and the negatives.   So I am going to do it.

Positives in my life:
  1. I have a wonderful God who loves me and has an eternal home waiting for me!
  2. I have a terrific husband who spoils me and cares for me.
  3. I have 3 beautiful Christian daughters.
  4. I have 4 grown stepchildren whom I love.  
  5. I have the wonderful partners of my children and stepchildren to love and spend time with!
  6. I have 11 stepgrandchildren whom I love and adore.
  7. I have a beautiful home to live in.
  8. I have a caring church family.
  9. I have spirit-filled friends on internet and in person!
  10. I am able to crochet and sew and do other crafts.
  11. I have my prayer shawl ministry.
  12. I have my "notes of love" ministry where I send cards and notes and gifts to others.
  13. I have food to eat.
  14. I have doctors to care for me.
  15. My mom is still living and a joy to me.
  16. I was able to teach for 14 years in school.
  17. I have taught in church classes since I was 11 years old.
  18. I get to feed the birds and critters!
  19. I have Christian books to read and study.
  20. I am able to freely worship at home and in public.
  21. I have been blessed to attend wives' courses at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 
  22. I have been blessed to have many encouragers in my life!
  23. I get to encourage and help others daily, even if I am only able to pray for them or send a note. 
  24. I have been blessed with two sets of in-laws in my life who were like second parents to me.
  25. I have 4 brothers, one sister, and their families to love and enjoy and spend time with. 
  26. I can decorate cakes. 
  27. I can sing and praise God with my voice!
  28. I can write and spell and type well. 
  29. I have been privileged to travel to many wonderful places, among them:  Florida, Bahamas, New Mexico, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Eastern shore of VA, and more to come!   
  30. I get to go camping! 
  31. I was blessed to be a Metochai (Greek word for "Partner") officer, historian, while at seminary....I love taking pics and scrapbooking!  got to use it in  ministry!
  32. I have a warm heated throw for my ulcerative colitis pain.
  33. I have a Keurig coffee machine that I get to enjoy and share cups of delightful treats with my visitors!
  34. I had wonderful grandparents and got to spend a great deal of time with them, especially Granny Booth as she lived to be 95! 
  35. I have had many different people teach me so many lessons.
  36. I have a great Sunday School teacher and class to learn about the Bible together.
  37. I have been able to say "I need help" when I did.
  38. I have people who care about me and tell me that.
  39. I am able to read and enjoy books. 
  40. I am able to hear the beautiful sounds of my family and friends' voices and the birds and critters outside.
Honestly, I could keep on and on.....I didn't realize how blessed I feel! 

Negatives in my life:
  1. We have a broken relationship with one of my stepchildren which I pray about daily that God would mend the rift and bring us all together.
  2. I have ulcerative colitis which keeps me from working.
  3. Harry does not have a job at the present.
  4. We have to pay a lot of taxes again, even though we made less.
  5. I don't get to see my children, stepchildren, and grandchildren very often and I miss them! 
  6. Some of the people I love are unsaved.   I pray for them daily too.  I want to be a witness to them with my life.
Wow!  I honestly can't think of many negatives.  What a great exercise!  you should all give it a try!  
Hugs!!!!   to all my followers!  

Abba, Daddy

Abba, Daddy,
       I come to you humbled tonight by your love, by your gift of your life to us.   How precious you are!  How wondrous!   How        marvelous!   I love you and I long to know you more!   I want my husband, my children, my stepchildren, and grandchildren, and all my family to know you serve live in your perfect will.  If any that I love do not know you, I pray that you would convict them and they would bow before you and say "yes, Lord."
        When I look at the ocean and the mountains, I can't help but be awed at your creation and your artwork!  Truly you taught Picasa !    You have given us inspiration to be daring as we mix our colors.   You have given us inspiration to dare to reach for the sky.                                         
        So many of my family and friends are sick, hurting, depressed, afraid,            jobless, have broken relationships, and so many other hurts, please touch them.   Heal them.   Guide them.  Show them what to do.  Give the desire to live.   Show your purpose to each one.  
         I hurt, too, Abba.  My heart aches for those I love who are hurting.  My heart aches as I miss my children! and I long to play with all the grandchildren.  I miss my students.  I feel useless, not working, not able to bring in my income.   Abba, I ache.  My ulcerative colitis causes daily pain and I rarely ask for anything with it, except to be able to make it thru certain commitments or feel physically able to make it to church or other places.   I ask you to take my illness and use it to make me more like you.   Make me a stronger and wiser person.  Let me be an example to those around me.   For I do smile thru it, and I do love you so much.  
      You've blessed me so much with wonderful family and friends.  Thank you.  What more could I ask for?  you know the deepest desires of my heart.....listen to my heart, Daddy.  Abba.  Let me lay my head upon your chest and feel your heartbeat. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prayers Answered

I have been thinking a lot about the many prayers that have been answered lately.....a friend who needed husband to go to doctor and he has finally mom's heart attack and the stent they were able to place.....some new opportunities for that came in the mail from anonymous "friends" at our church after Harry lost his job recently.....being able to make it to church.....a test for someone dear to me going well and things are mild in disease......snow!  for me!....birds at the feeder...bluebirds in my bluebird house....being able to make gifts and prayer shawls for others.....a warm on our table.....loving friends....encouraging friends and prayer warriors on internet.....a peer group to attend where I am accepted and encouraged....thank you, God, Abba, for answering my prayers and those of others.  Thank you, too, for the times when you protect me and others by saying no!
Thank you for surrounding us with your angels of protection. 

 Thank you for blessing our children and their families.  Thank you for blessing us with beautiful daughters, sons, grandchildren!   Oh, how I love to spend time with them all !  Give them all a hunger and thirst for you. Show them your will and your purpose for their lives.   Abba, Daddy, thank you for Your Word to teach me and guide me.    Thank you for time to study the Bible with Harry each day.  Thank you for my internet friends and their love for you.  Thank you for those who pray for and with me.   Heal those I love who are sick and hurting.   Heal our finances.   Bless our home.   Show me who needs a prayer shawl.   Thank you for our church family and pastor.   Thank you for letting us fellowship and worship with them.   Thank you for the birds at the feeder and in the bird house.   Thank you for the snow!  how lovely it was!   You know how much I love snow and it was such a treat for my soul.   I love you and I hunger and thirst for you.   I long to know you more deeply.    Please give us the desires of our hearts.   Let me know you more deeply and closely.    let me serve you every day.   
In Jesus' Name, amen. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review of Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter

Writer's Review of Lydia's Charm
by Wanda Brunstetter

I have read a lot of Wanda Brunstetter's Amish fiction books and I am never disappointed.  This one was no different.   I could hardly put it down to do other things!    Lydia king finds herself widowed, unemployed, and forced to move in with her mother and grandfather in Charm, Ohio.   She and little Josh, her son, move and meet some new friends in Menno Troyer and Levi Stutzman.   Menno is recently widowed with four active, rambunctious boys who desperately need a mamm.  Levi is kind and hardworking and the only member of his family not handicapped by dwarfism.  

Tragedy strikes and someone is leaving gifts to help Lydia and her mamm, Mae, out, but they don't know who the gifts are from.   Will Lydia find love in Charm?  Will Mae discover happiness?    Read this book to find out and enjoy the charm of the little town of Charm, Ohio as you do.    You won't be disappointed either! 

About the Author:
Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning, bestselling author.  She and her husband live in Washington state but love visiting Amish settlements throughout the United States.  

Visit Wanda's website for more information about her other wonderful books and to find a link to read the first chapter of Lydia's Charm and a video trailer about this amazing book!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Prayer Shawl Completed!

Another Prayer Shawl Completed! 

A sample prayer I pray before, during, and after crocheting the prayer shawl for the recipient.    Pray as the Spirit leads you.  

Bless my hands as I crochet for my friend.   Let the yarns be filled with the prayers I pray as I work for many hours on this prayer shawl for her.   Let her feel your peace, comfort, strength, and joy!  Give her release from anxieties, fears, insecurities.  Feel her with confidence.  Reveal your purpose to her and allow her to fulfill that purpose.   Thank you for the joy that her friendship brings to me and to others.  Keep her safe from all harm.  Heal her body of any illnesses she may have or get in the future.    Give her the desires of her heart.   Let her feel like your arms are wrapped around her in a warm embrace when she wraps this prayer shawl around her.  

In Jesus' Name, Amen

Saturday, February 18, 2012

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Crochet, Sewing, and Painting! and more!

Crochet, Sewing, Beading, Painting, Gardening, Birdfeeding, and more.............
Native American beading taught to me by a friend....the daisy chain! 

Made this choker version for my daughter,Erica

 I actually got into some gardening and really had a blast with my flowers and herbs while watching the birds and squirrels from my swing on porch.............

My birdbath

Toilet tissue the patterns from Annie's

This crochet wreath pattern I found on (all free and printable patterns)

Melissa, my stepdaughter, chose pink and green and brown for the round ripple afghan I made her

I did these colors to match Abigail's the mix of colors..........

Strawberry embellished crochet-trimmed t-shirt dress.....pattern from Annie's Attic

loved the burgundy and black in Amanda Gayle's afghan for her first apartment (my baby girl!)

I made this shell stitch afghan and my assistant teacher drew all those framed bird pics for me years ago and they are my favorite artwork...she used colored pencils to draw birds in her own yard

trim around blankets and baby bottle covers! 

baby hat knit on loom

Crochet scarf made with sparkly ribbons.....Hook and Needle Kit of Month creation

Painted ocean scene on our bathroom walls after painting the bathroom walls a sand color....

I stenciled the vines on walls and did the curtains up and you can tell I'm INTO photography and pictures and scrapbooking too....................

I painted and made lighthouse using claypots and a solar light for top of it

Creative Woman kit-of-month birdhouse windchimes

Alison, my middle daughter, "Wearing" her wreath I made her.....and Erica, oldest daughter, is quite amused!! 

Sewing and applique with the iron-on web fusing for nephew, Ryan ..........he loved his new pj's