Monday, June 25, 2012

From the Heart of a Woman book review

From the Heart of a Woman 

Love Letters to My Lord

by Sylvia Hensel book review 

So many times when author Sylvia Hensel bows in prayer, she finds herself transported to another place. She feels herself being lifted up on arms of love to a realm of oneness with her Lord.
She feels as though she is the bride in the Song of Solomon. He comes to her in the midnight hours and calls her to Himself. Every nerve of her spiritual being is in tune with Him as He whispers words of love in her ear. He takes her in His arms, and they dance across the heavens while He sings over her. She is enraptured by His exquisite love for her.
In those moments they share their intimate thoughts with one another. It is when His presence is lifted that she finds she has written much of what was said, and she is awestruck at the beauty that had transpired during the time they shared.
These are her personal love letters to Jesus. For many years He would not allow her to share them, but He has let her know this is the time. It is His desire that you too experience this intimacy with Him. Jesus would have us claim Him as our spiritual husband and intends that our desire should be toward Him. 
God wants to lavish His love on us as the bridegroom for the bride and have it returned with the fullness of passion. He wants us to love Him to the point of abandonment, resulting in a consummated love. He wants our spiritual womb to be forever fertile, producing beautiful fruit of wondrous delight for the world to behold. 
“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1)
I love how Sylvia Hensel freely pours her heart out to God in these lyrical, poetic prayer offerings.  She sometimes rhymes and sometimes uses free verse to express her love to God.   I appreciate that she includes scripture with the prayers but a few times I was not quite clear as to the connection between the prayer and the scripture.  I would say though, that since these are her own personal interpretations, that I might not be intended to fully grasp the connection.   I would have liked it if pictures or images of some sort were included in the book as I personally feel this would add to the effect of the prayers.  I truly applaud the effort to engage the reader in the prayers and encouragement for the reader to know God more intimately.  Sylvia gives a very good example of how to become more intimate with God in her writings here.  I would have liked a bit of devotional or comment from the author on some of the prayers.   I think that, for me, reading it straight through to review it, I did not get the full effect of the prayers. I believe this book would best be digested by reading one or two of the prayers per day and included them in one's own personal prayer experience.  I intend to go back to the book and do just that with it.   I think these prayers will be a wonderful complement to my daily time with the Lord.   
About the Author:
Sylvia Hensel began her writing career at the age of seventy-four by entering Faithwriters’ weekly writing challenge. She quickly advanced to win the coveted “Editor’s Choice” award, for which her story appeared in their monthly magazine.

She now writes for two online magazines and has written for Yesterday’s Memories. She has also had the privilege of speaking at retreats, luncheons, and conferences.

From the Heart of a Woman is her first published book. She is in the process of completing a children’s book, Animal Adventures in A B C Land.

Sylvia is the mother of two, the grandmother of three, and the great-grandmother of six. She and her husband moved from Ohio to Virginia Beach to be near family.
I received a free copy of this book from booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Winner of Samantha Bayarr Kindle/nook Giveaway

WINNER OF SAMANTHA BAYARR KINDLE/NOOK GIVEAWAY


JACKIE TESSNAIR

You may choose from these three kindle/nook ebooks:
Jacob's Daughter, Little Wild Flower-Book One, or The Quilter's Son (available July 2012) 
You will receive email from me today!  

Samantha Bayarr is graciously supplying the ebook!   Thanks, Samantha!  
Thanks to all who entered and commented and followed and shared on facebook and/or twitter!  I love my followers!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Struggle by Wanda Brunstetter


 The Struggle by Wanda Brunstetter is a stirring read!  


Book 3 in the Kentucky Brothers series coming July 17, 2012.
When Timothy Fisher, his wife Hannah, and their daughter Mindy leave Pennsylvania to begin a new life in Kentucky, Hannah finds it hard to adjust. Will Christian County ever feel like home? Nothing Timothy does seems to please Hannah. Has the move from Lancaster spelled the beginning of the end? When a tragedy occurs, an inconsolable Hannah blames her husband for their loss. Timothy can barely rise beneath the weight of guilt, his wife’s hostility, and stress of his job. What dramatic second chance will God provide to heal their grief?
Can a couple rent by grief find renewal?
Timothy Fisher’s decision to move his family from their home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, isn’t a happy one for his wife, Hannah. Everything she knows is in Lancaster County—her mother—her home—her friends. But what choice does Hannah have? Realizing that her place is with her husband and young daughter, she reluctantly goes but finds her new life a hard adjustment.
Nothing Timothy does pleases Hannah, and his best-laid plans are beginning to crumble before him. Then a tragic accident occurs, further driving a rift in their strained relationship. Hannah is inconsolable and blames Timothy. Between the stress of his job, dealing with his wife’s hostility, and feeling the burden of guilt, Timothy can barely cope.
Hannah’s resentment drives her back to Pennsylvania, where she hopes to find peace and healing for her troubled soul. Timothy turns to his pillar of strength and pleads with God to restore his marriage. Amid the ashes of grief and struggle, will renewed love, faith, and hope emerge?
Hannah does not want to leave her mother in Pennsylvania Amish country to live in Kentucky with her husband, Timothy's brothers.   They move anyway and Hannah complains and acts standoffish with the local Amish community as well as family members.  Bonnie at the Bed & Breakfast tries to befriend her too, but Hannah is very determined to convince Timothy to move back.  Tragedy strikes and the marriage is ripped to shreds.  Can they ever repair the relationship?  Will Hannah's mother be a help or a hindrance?  Will Hannah ever be able to hear God in the midst of her grief and anger?
I have read many of Wanda Brunstetter's books and loved them.  This one was no different.  In fact, I found it hard to put it down and quit reading.  I finished it over the course of 2 days.  This book was different from some of her others. For one thing, I did not see where the family actually attended church worship services over the course of the book, other than a few weddings and funerals.  The one time they did attend worship in an Amish home, they had to travel 3 hours to get to the home. {clarification/correction:  Wanda Brunstetter left a lovely comment here on my blog, with clarification that it was a 3-hour long service for church but not a 3-hour drive to get to the service as I thought...sorry for my error....that's one problem I find when reading ebook--it's harder for me to look things up afterwards to check them.} I was not clear if this was the way they always worshipped in this Kentucky Amish community.   I felt the characters seemed more human in this book of Wanda's as they expressed anger, disappointment, grief at moving.  Moving away from all that we know and love is hard for all of us, whether we are Amish or not, and I like how Wanda Brunstetter used this as a theme for this book.
 Indeed, it was "a struggle" for many of the characters for a variety of reasons.   I definitely give this book a 5 STAR RATING!  Read it!  I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did!!  It offers hope for forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, and new beginnings.    
for Video trailer of The Struggle:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmbklDMrrMc
About the Author:
Wanda Brunstetter has Amish roots in her heritage and married a Mennonite-raised man.  She and her pastor husband live in Washington state. Richard takes photographs of Amish scenery and sells them. Wanda has written many Amish novels, novellas, several series of children's Amish books, and is an award-winning author.   
You can check her out at her website: www.wandabrunstetter.com
I received a free copy of this book from netgalley and Barbour Publishing in exchange for my honest review.   

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Season of Love by Amy Clipston book review

A Season of Love by Amy Clipston

Kauffman Amish Bakery series Book 5 
Book Review

In the fifth and final novel of the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series, three young women are about to change their lives. Lizzie Anne and Samuel have decided to get married, and Lindsay is about to be baptized in the Amish faith and is courting Matthew. While Katie Kauffman is happy for her friends who seem to have settled their futures, she is also finding herself something of a fifth wheel.When Lindsay's sister Jessica returns to Bird-in-Hand, she finds that Jake Miller has moved on with his life. He lost hope that Jessica would ever be satisfied to settle in rural Pennsylvania and takes comfort in becoming close friends with Katie. However, it's not an easy road as Jake is Mennonite and Katie has just been baptized in the Amish faith. Her father forbids them to see each other, adamant that his daughter marry an Amish man. A Season of Love is filled with surprising twists that will grip you to the very last words. As the stories of your favorite Amish community draw to a close, join Lindsay, her friends, and all the people of Bird-In-Hand for one last volume.
What I loved:  This book was such a sweet ending to the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series by Amy Clipston.  I felt like I was having coffee and Whoppie pies with old friends as I read.    Lizzie Anne and Lindsay seem to have everything going right for them and Katie seems to have so much conflict in her life.  I appreciated the honesty of Katie's feelings and the very real issues she faces with her strict and unrelenting parents, particularly her father.  
What I didn't like:  To be honest,  I hated for it to end when it did.  I won't spoil anything for readers but I wanted more!  I wanted to know what happened next for the characters I had grown to love and cherish!   Also, and this is a technical issue; I was reading on Adobe Digital Reader and it cut off the top portion of each page.  I could make it out enough but it was irritating.  I have read other books on this same reader and did not have this issue.   I also do not like the practice of "shunning" practiced by the Amish and this was carried out in the book.   I do not think it shows a forgiving nature and that is supposed to be a hallmark of the Amish culture and faith.    My heart hurt for the characters dealing with being shunned or their former family members having experienced it in the past.  
An Added Bonus:  Through out the book, each chapter features a recipe from the Kauffman Amish Bakery.   So we can all cook up some of our favorite Amish goodies and enjoy them while we read our next Amish fiction!   
My recommendation:  *****5 Stars!!  Read this book.  You won't be disappointed.  You will be left with a "feel good" emotion when you finish.   Thank you, Amy Clipston, for another wonderful book!  
About the Author
Amy has contracted for six full-length Kauffman books and two Christmas novellas. A Promise of Hope is book #2 in the series and was followed by A Place of Peace. Book #4, A Life of Joy, will debut in October 2011, followed by Books #5 and #6 in 2012 and 2013. The first Christmas novella, A Plain & Simple Christmas, hit bookshelves in 2010, and Naomi’s Gift: An Amish Christmas Story will be out in August 2011.
All of the books in my Kauffman Amish Bakery series have achieved the Christian Fiction bestseller lists, including the CBA (Christian Book Association) bestseller list and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller list.
She loves writing about the Amish, and an Amish friend in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, reads her manuscripts for accuracy. Amy was always fascinated with the Amish when she was a child. She remembers visiting Lancaster County, and her father, who was a German immigrant, told her that the Amish speak the same dialect of German as my relatives. She was drawn to their simplicity and faith. Due to her own German heritage, she feels a loose connection to the Amish and their culture.
Her plots come straight from her heart and all involve family issues intertwined with faith.
To listen to an audio sample:  http://zondervan.com/9780310413103
I received a free copy of this book through netgalley and Zondervan publishing in exchange for my honest review.   

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Life, In Spite of Me Book Review

Life, In Spite of Me 

Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice
by Kristen Jane Anderson 
with Tricia Goyer 
Kristen Jane Anderson tells her true story in Life, In Spite of Me, Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice.    Depression was a reality for her father and grandparents and an uncle had committed suicide,  but it was not something the family talked about.  So when Kristen began acting out as a teen and feeling like life was hopeless, she had no one to turn to for answers.   Her mother tried to intervene and took her to a counselor.  The psychiatrist told her to cut it out or she'd end up working in a McDonald's for her life's profession.   Medication did not seem to help when she took the prescribed antidepressants.   
She began drinking alcohol, smoking, and partying.   At one of the parties, a young man she cared for raped her.  She hid it from everyone and took the shame on herself.   She blamed herself.     Her parents finally resorted to grounding her for an indefinite period of time.  That same night, she went for a walk and found herself at the park where the train tracks traveled.  Before she knew it, she was laying on the track and the train ran over her.  The next thing she recalls was laying on the tracks and seeing her legs laying far off in the grass. 
A long recovery followed and she does not remember how she ended up on the train tracks.  Did she try to commit suicide as the doctors believe?   She was placed in a psychiatric ward several times, and finally finds a therapist who is a Christian.   Ruth Ann offers hope.  She finds a church and friends who introduce her to Christ in a new way.  Read her fascinating and touching story to see how she turns a fatal choice into extraordinary hope.   
Kristen's story can offer hope to many who feel they have no purpose.   She overcame great obstacles and others can do the same!   


For more information about Kristen Jane Anderson:  
Kristen's ministry website: http://www.reachingyouministries.com/
To read the first chapter of her book:  http://multnomahemails.com/wbmlt/pdf/SneakPeek_LifeInSpiteofMe.pdf
Kristen Jane Anderson 
Tricia Goyer, co-author:
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multonomah Press in exchange for my honest review.   



Chasing Fireflies Book Review

Chasing Fireflies 

by Samantha Bayarr Book Review




BOOK FIVE Jacob's Daughter series After tragedy struck Noah Beiler's life nearly two years ago, he turned his back on his faith and the community. No one except Rose knows he has remained in the dilapidated home that overlooked the pond that he'd grown to despise. When new tragedy strikes, he is forced out of hiding. Will chasing fireflies on a warm, summer night change his life forever? Find out in this tale of summer love...

I have to say that this book was one of the sweetest, most romantic books that I have read in a long time!   I am still smiling as I reflect on the characters in the story.   Noah has exiled himself from his Amish community and buried himself in his grief, when along comes Rose.....does he save her life or does she save his?  Or does God send them to save the other's life and renew hope to both of them?   I do not want to spoil the story for any readers, so I won't go into details.   But you must read this book if you love romance, if you remember chasing fireflies as a child in summer, if you need a reason to smile.......

About the Author:
Samantha Bayarr granted an interview with me for my blog and you can read that post.   Samantha is so friendly and personable.  I have had the privilege of chatting with her many times on facebook and she is simply a delightful woman.    I appreciate the way she puts her whole heart into her writing.    You can find more information about her at her website:


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Interview with Author, Samantha J. Bayarr

Interview with Amish fiction Author, Samantha J. Bayarr 
and Kindle/Nook Book Giveaway
Winner of giveaway will be able to choose one of the above: Jacob's Daughter, Little Wild Flower, book one, or The Quilter's Son (if you choose The Quilter's Son, it won't be available until July 2012)
I'm thrilled to feature an interview with Amish fiction author, Samantha J. Bayarr, today.  Samantha is also graciously offering a kindle or nook book of your choice from the three titles featured above.   Leave a comment on this post to enter the contest.  I will draw a winner on Friday, June 21, 2012.  For extra entries (up to 3), follow my blog, share on facebook or twitter, and leave a comment telling me how you shared to enter.   Thanks!  
What prompted you to write Amish fiction, Samantha?  Do you have any family in the Amish faith?  When I lived in Goshen, Indiana, for almost ten years, I came to enjoy mingling with the Amish.  I would often stop at their roadside stands where they sold bread, baked goods, and vegetables.  They were so kind and had a genuine "happiness" about them that intrigued me.   After my second year in Indiana, I joined a women's Bible study group where there were a couple of Mennonite women in the group.  As I got to know these women, their gentle spirits made me want to be a better person.  We cooked together (they introduced me to fried frog legs {tastes like chicken!!}) and canned vegetables for the winter, etc.  I learned a lot about their Amish ancestors and the culture in general.
One of the women even took me to her mother's home for lunch one afternoon (her mother drove a horse and buggy), and I was amazed at the humble nature of this group of people. I never did get the buggy ride I wanted though!   
When I wrote my first Amish series, Little Wild Flower, I wanted to write the story from the perspective of having an outsider become Amish.....and so my main character, Jane, is a hippie from the 1970's who falls in love with the Amish guy next door after her family moves to the country.
You deal with some heavy issues, such as child abuse, alcoholism, and others in your books, do you ever receive criticism for that?   By the way, I personally find it refreshing that you portray the Amish as "human", for that they are.   Also, I feel it brings needed attention to issues of great importance.   
In my series, Little Wild Flower, most of the story is based on part of my true-life story.   I was the daughter of an alcoholic mother who was very abusive.   She came to know Jesus later in life and we had a wonderful life full of forgiveness in her later years.  I wanted to incorporate those issues into the story to make it more "real" to the readers.  I wrote that story to reach out to others who may have had similar experiences to let them know that forgiveness can happen in their lives too.  
There has been some criticism for the story, where people claimed it was too far-fetched to believe.  However, the portion in "Unto Others" was a VERY watered-down version of just how brutal my childhood rally was.  I think that if those naysayers really knew what I actually went through as a child, they might wonder how I managed to survive at all.  But I would tell them it was by the grace of God
What is your favorite book of all time and why?  
Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book because it is a timeless classic.  The love story in that book can be compared to the Amish love stories I write because the sense of values and propriety was the same then as it is today for the Amish.
If you were going to become Amish, what would be most difficult for you to give up and why?
I would NOT be able to part with my phone!!!    I would miss my computer, and would not like losing it either, but if I could only choose one item, I would choose the phone.   My phone is my lifeline to the outside world.  As you know, most writers live a recluse life, and talking to others (or texting, as I prefer) is a way to remind us that the world is still out there!  Honestly, I could not part with the computer either because writing is my life.   If I couldn't have my computer, I would write in the dirt or on cave walls or wherever was available!!
Where did you go to school and how did your schooling compare to the one-room schools of the Amish?
I attended private school all my life.  It was strict "old-school" Catholic.   I would say it compared because we were treated very strictly in the classroom, and we were taught values and religion that the public school students didn't get.  The small classroom sizes also compared, and we would often combine several grade levels in most activities, such as art and religion classes. 
Samantha, thank you so much for sharing so honestly with us from your heart today.  Your interview has certainly touched my heart, as your books have also.   
Now don't forget to enter to win one of these great books of Samantha's, blog readers!     


Monday, June 11, 2012

Spending time with God daily

Spending Time with God Daily
This image of Jesus is one as depicted in the book: "Heaven is for Real"
This is taken from my Joyce Meyer's "The Everyday Life Bible" reading: she adds notes to scripture and thought how appropriate this one was for the talk we had here about technology recently on Amish Living:
In the Old Testament, the ark of the covenant represented the presence of the Lord.  I cannot stress enough how much we need God's presence in our lives--in fact, we need His presence more than we need anything else.
When God called Moses to tell Pharaoh to let God's people go, Moses was scared and insecure about his lack of abilities. But God said to him, "I will surely be with you" (see Exodus 3:10-14). Later God told Moses, "My presence shall go with you: and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14).  I love Moses' reply:  "If your presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here!" (Exodus 33:15).  In other words, "God, if you're not going to be there, don't send me!" That's exactly the way I feel when I start to minister to others.
We need to really understand the awesomeness of the presence of God nad the magnitude of what is available to us as believers if only we will take the time to be in His presence!   why in the world would we not want to spend time with God? we spend time on the telephone, we hang out in the shopping center, we spend hours in front of the television--and we seem to have no problem investing our time in those pursuits.  The truth is this:  The devil fights us more in the areas of spending time with God than he does in any other area of our Christian lives. In fact. Satan would much prefer that we get involved in all kinds of religious activity rather than spend time with the Lord.

There is only one way I know to maintain the anointing on my life, and that is by spending time in the presence of god. You may be wondering, But what do I do when I spend time with God?  You simply set aside  a portion of your time for that purpose.  Try not to be legalistic about it, but do try to be as regular with it as you can. During that time period, read the Bible and Christian books that minister to you. Talk to God. Sometimes you may want to listen to Christian music and worship;  other times you may want to sit there and enjoy the silence.  If you will do that, you will begin to feel and sense the presence of the Lord!  


I want to comment here as I feel it is so important to listen to God.  I have used a prayer journal recently and really find that it helps me to focus my time with God.  It also helps me to go back and see where God has answered my prayers!   That is always so encouraging!  I know that for many many years, I spent as a pastor's wife, I was busy, busy, busy DOING things in the church....yes, teaching is important! missions  is important!  preaching is important!  but if we don't spend time with God, knowing Him for who He is, He can not speak to us as easily.    I treasure my time with God and I must admit that it took some unfortunate events to really cause me to seek daily time in His word again.  When work became stressful, I began spending my lunchtime with my peanut butter sandwich and my Bible at my desk.  I finished reading through the Bible this way and then continued to do it again and again.    Then when I became so sick that I could no longer work and had to retire and go on disability, my time with God was expanded even more and what an unexpected blessing that has become!   I spend time in the Word and prayer whenever I wake up each day, and I prayer journal.  I am so thankful for this time with my Lord.  It helps me in so many ways.   Many days, I have felt too sick to even make it to church on Sundays and I hate that, but I do have my time with Him!!    I will watch services on television if I'm unable to make it physically to our church.   I pray for my church and its leaders whether I'm able to make it or not.  I pray for the ministries of our church. I crochet prayer shawls for others and pray over them as I crochet.   This has changed my ministry as I used to be so physically active in ministry and I experience some guilt about that even today.  It is hard giving up what we used to do or be able to do, but God has assured me that He has a plan and a purpose for me and though it is changing, it is all good and I will do it all to His glory.   I pray that others will see Jesus in all that I say, do, think, and feel this day.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Her Restless Heart book review

Her Restless Heart by Barbara Cameron
Stitches in Time series book 1

How many of us have questioned the existence we've known since birth?  how many of us have wondered where we belong?  where we fit in?  Mary Katherine has grown up in the Amish faith and culture, but she has an Englisch friend, Jaime, and a young man from Pinecroft, Florida, who are giving her pause to question.   She feels restless and unsure of where she belongs.  The bishop is constantly asking her when she is going to  join the church and she does not have the answer yet.  Her grandmother knows of her grand-daughter's restless heart and asks her to come and live with her and work in the shop she runs, Stitches in Time.  Things are not so great at home with Mary Katherine's father and this gives her a chance to focus on the weaving and designing that she loves.   Her long-time friend, Jacob, is interested in her and wants answers from her as well, but he is willing to give her time to figure things out.  
You will want to read this book to find out what decisions Mary Katherine makes and how she satisfies her restless heart.   I enjoyed this book of Barbara's immensely.  I love reading about the weaving that Mary Katherine engages in and her designing of patterns.   I also love that the cousins are busy knitting baby caps and quilting.    There is always a good cup of tea with grandmother along with a chat from the heart.   Barbara shows the very human side of the Amish in her book.  Many of us have wrongly assumed that all Amish simply join the church without an inner struggle and it is refreshing to see the decision-making here.   
So grab a nice cup of tea and have a seat and enjoy Her Restless Heart.  
About the Author
Barbara Cameron is the author of 24 fiction and nonfiction books and three nationally-televised movies.  She was the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award.   
You can find more information about her work and life at her website:  http://www.barbaracameron.com

Unto Others book review

Unto Others by Samantha J. Bayarr

Book Review 
This book may be difficult for some to read as it was for me at points.  Samantha J. Bayarr writes this prequel to The Little Wildflower series to explain how Jane and her family came to the Amish community.  The events that came before their joining the Amish community are painful ones.  Jane's mother is an alcoholic and is highly abusive to the family.  She is especially abusive to Jane and her sister, Nadine, and baby Lucy.   Jane finds refuge with Bradley when he visits his grandmother each summer.   He gives her hope when he introduces her to a loving God and gives her a Bible and teaches her how to read and study it and how to pray.   
For me, this book dredged up painful memories of my own.  My own father was an alcoholic and it can be a painful, lonely existence for families. I want to add that my own father did seek treatment and recovery through AA and intensive hospitalization.   There was forgiveness and healing in our family and that is the hope that God can give us.  My own family worked together all through the years to love and support each other in many difficult situations. My mother worked very hard at holding things together and I feel compassion for any one who is dealing with alcoholism.  I am thankful for the family that God blessed me with and the home he placed me in! There is often a sense of shame for families, as Jane experiences in the book.  I know that God certainly kept me alive and  filled with hope.   As a young child, I was saved and all through out my life, God was always there with His loving arms wrapped around me.   It saddened me that Jane lived for so many years in the alcoholic home without knowing that same warm assurance of God's love.  I am glad that she found it later and that the Amish community helped to save her mother and ultimately, her entire family!   
About the Author


Samantha Jillian Bayarr founded Livingston Hall Publishers in 2002. Named for her great, great grandfather, Edward Livingston Hall, who owned a publishing house in the 1800's, until his passing; Samantha resurrected this legacy as a way of honoring him for passing onto her his love for the written word. Working in the production aspect of publishing has provided her with the expertise needed to produce develop and design books from the inside out. When it came time to publish her own work, her experience in the field lent her the ability to produce several genres, specializing in Amish Romance. Her first book, Little Wild Flower, an Amish Romance, was borne from her up-close encounters with the Amish community she lived near in Indiana until 1995 when she moved to Florida.
Check out Samantha's website:  http://livingstonhallpublishers.blogspot.com
What I love about Samantha is that she interacts with her loyal followers on facebook as we chat together on Whoopie Pie Club or Amish Literature Fans or All Things Amish.  She works diligently to write, edit, and research but she is approachable and I truly find that refreshing.  

Cancer fighting Prayer Shawls

Cancer Fighting Prayer Shawls



 I crocheted this off-white prayer shawl for the mom of a little one-year old who is battling cancer.  As I crocheted, I prayed for peace, comfort, strength for the mom and dad, and healing for little Abby.

 This is the little duck lovey blanket that I crocheted for Abby.  I prayed for healing for her as I crocheted it. I hope it brings her much joy and fun as she recovers and heals.   Pray for Abby and her family.  Pray for all those who are currently fighting the valiant struggle with cancer!
Father, Abba, thank you for the love you have for us.  Thank you for your healing power.  You are the great Physician.   Please lend your healing powers to this precious child, Abby and her family.   Give them strength and peace for the journey.  Be with the doctors and nurses and guide their steps and hands.  
Be with all those who are fighting cancer, Father.  Touch their bodies and infuse them with the warmth of your healing.    Let them feel you and your power moving in their bodies, minds, and lives.  Give financial help to them as we know it is not an inexpensive undertaking.   Give peace, joy, laughter when the side effects are rough.   Ease the pains, anxiety, fear, stress, side effects for the patients and their families.   We adore you.  We love you.   Thank you for all this in Jesus' name, Amen

James River State Park, VA

James River State Park in Virginia









We drove through James River State Park today with our little dog, Cocoa. The forest ranger gave Cocoa two little bags of "doggie trail mix" when we stopped by to get a tag to drive through.    The park is actually in several counties:  Appomattox, Buckingham, Nelson, and Amherst.  It is quite large.  There are cabins to rent, primitive camping sites, electric/water hookup sites for camping, kayak, canoe, and tubing rentals, horse riding trails, and boat landing, 3 fishing ponds, and fishing in the river....lots of beautiful wildflowers everywhere!   The mountains are easily seen from most all the locations and we just enjoyed the beauty of God's creation.  The James River is the largest watershed system in the state of Virginia, by the way.   

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Family Friendly Blog

Family Friendly Blogger

Blog Hop Giveaway: Crochet Dishcloths & hotpads

AND THE WINNER IS: LORETTA!! 

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  You will receive email from me to get your address to mail them on Monday, July 9.   Thanks to all who entered!  we'll do this again sometime!  

Blog Hop Giveaway:  Crochet Dishcloths and Hotpads (May vary in design) 

Comment to enter....to earn extra entries: follow my blog, share on facebook, or share on twitter.  Leave one comment telling me how you shared.   Leave your name and email in comment so I can contact the lucky winner!!  
 Winner will be drawn on July 7, 2012.    


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Waiting for Morning Book Review

 Waiting for Morning review 
by author, Karen Kingsbury

I've done it myself.....when someone I love has been late arriving home, I've gone over and over it in my head.  I have imagined them being killed, in a car accident, kidnapped, injured, and yet, never ever really thinking it will happen.  Hannah experiences it when Tom takes the two girls for their annual camping trip before they must head back to school.    They are late arriving home and Hannah begins to worry. 
 In the meantime, a man Hannah has never met has been sober three weeks when his boss comes in and fires him.  Brian Wesley tries desperately to make it home to his wife, Carla, and little Brian, Jr. without making a stop by a local bar.  He fights it with all that he has within him and then, he just can't take it anymore.  He makes a big mistake and goes into the bar and starts ordering and drinking. Two hours and probably fourteen beers and whiskeys later, he hits the road....right about the same time that Dr. Tom Ryan, Alicia, and Jenny leave the campground to head home to Hannah.   
No, no, no, Jenny, looks up, and doesn't even have time to scream when she sees Brian's car heading straight for them.   Alicia is killed on impact!   Tom is alive and barely hanging on when help arrives.  Jenny is injured and lying on the ground, crying out for her daddy and sister.  No one wants to tell her the truth.  
The police drive to the door to tell Hannah Ryan in person and to take her to the hospital.  She insists they are wrong...lying...mistaken..and that she is perfectly capable of driving herself.   The nightmare is only beginning. Hannah and her family have lived a strong-faith-based existence, and now Hannah is doubting all of it.   She gets involved with MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and becomes all consumed with putting the creep who killed her beloved husband and oldest teenage daughter in prison for life.  She shuts out poor young Jenny, who begins to wonder if she even belongs on the earth.    
This book is ultimately one of hope, but I will admit that the first few chapters were difficult for me to read because they were so painful.   They hurt.  I could truly feel Hannah and Jenny's pain, and even Brian's.   My own family has many who have struggled with alcoholism so it hit home.   I am glad that I continued reading as it truly is a beautiful book.   Karen Kingsbury finishes with discussion questions for book groups.  Read this book yourself and feel the power forgiveness can have over us.  
5 Stars!!   
About the Author


USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s #1 inspirational novelist. There are more than 20 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including several million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 50 novels, ten of which have hit #1 on national lists. 
Karen has a true love for her readers, and she has nearly 250,000 friends on Facebook along with 20,000 followers on Twitter. The popular social networking sites have allowed Karen daily interaction with her reader friends.
Karen's latest novel, Longing, released on November 22, 2011 and landed in the # 2 spot on the New York Times Bestsellers List during its first week of release. Karen's previous novel,Leaving released on March 22, 2011.  Leaving landed #2 on the New York Time's Bestseller List the first week it released. Her novel, Unlocked released October 12, 2010 and landed #3 on the New York Times Bestsellers List! Above the Line, Take Four released June 23, 2010. This was the final installment in the Above the Line Series. Take Four rose to the # 5 spot on the New York Times Bestseller's List just one week after it was released.  
You can find more information about her at her own website:  
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Press, bloggingforbooks.org, in exchange for my honest review.  
To read the first chapter of Waiting for Morning

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA--get to know me! Rhonda


ARMCHAIR BEA Blog Interview with blogger: Rhonda Gayle Nash-Hall


                                                                                              photo courtesy of nina of nina reads

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?  I am a 50-yr. old retired teacher, on disability due to health problems.  I have always loved reading and taught my daughters to love it too.  I have 3 grown daughters, 4 grown stepchildren, and 11 stepgrandchildren.  I have just been blogging a few months and got into blogging due to my love of reading and writing, and free books and connections with authors.  :)
  2. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.  I started teaching at age 11 when I served as a substitute Sunday School teacher in my small Baptist church.   I also helped teach Bible School every summer from that age.  My first marriage, I eloped and married on prom night at Va. Tech's chapel.    We kept it secret for a year and then announced it on our first anniversary which happened to occur on Easter Sunday!   met my 2nd hubby (celebrating 7 years this Wed.) on match.com!   he said he was a "Virginia gentleman" and he is...he arrived with a dozen yellow roses for our first date at Olive Garden and laid a kiss on me right there!   woww!!   
  3. Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?   My Interview with Author, Jerry Eicher!!   Read it!  LOL 
  4. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?  This is a very difficult question, but I think I would love to eat dinner with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz as it was such a magical story.  I like to hear all about the beauty of Oz as well as the frightening things she endured.
  5. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?   The Swiss Alps and Grandpa's cottage from Heidi.   I have wanted to go there ever since seeing the movie when I was very young.   
 my youngest daughter, Amanda Gayle and me, Rhonda Gayle
 me on subway in D.C. headed to dinner with BIL and SIL at National Press Club, taken by Amanda 
 Hubby and I at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, NC, photographed by EdgeSPhotography
 Middle Daughter, Alison's beach wedding to Heath, with me and both her sisters: Amanda & Erica
 Mr. & Mrs. Harry Hall, married on June 6, 2005
 Daughter, Alison, and I, coloring Easter eggs with her adorable stepson, Brennan
Me with my newest baby girl, Cocoa, our little chocolate sable Pomeranian--ahhh! isn't she sweet???  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review of Arms of Love by Kelly Long

Review of Arms of Love by Kelly Long

Book's back cover:
The year is 1777. America is in turmoil.  And Amish life is far different than today.

Pennsylvania in the late 18th century, once called William Penn’s Woods, was an assortment of different faiths living together for the first time in American history. Included in this tapestry was a small and struggling population called Amish.
 
Surrounding this peaceful people were unavoidable threats: both Patriots and the British were pillaging land and goods for the sake of the war, young Amishmen were leaving the faith to take up arms and defend freedom. A simple walk in the untamed forests could result in death, if not from bullet or arrow, then from an encounter with a wild animal. 
 
Amid this time of tumult, Adam Wyse is fighting a personal battle. To possibly join the war efforts and leave his faith, which would mean walking away from the only woman he’s ever loved: Lena Yoder. But for that love he’s made a promise that may keep them apart permanently.
 
When Adam withdraws from Lena, she’s forced to turn to his brother, Isaac, for support. Must Lena deny her heart’s desire to save Adam’s soul? And will life in this feral and primitive New World be more than this peace-keeping people can withstand?

For those of you with interest in the history of the Amish and of our country, this is a wonderful piece of Historical Amish fiction by Kelly Long.   I did not personally realize the degree of ridicule and prejudice the early Amish immigrants to Pennsylvania experienced.   They endured teasing and scoffing on a daily basis.    They were pacifists and did not wish to participate in the war but some Amish settlers did join the fight for freedom.  

Who can resist a love story in the midst of a war setting?   Not me!    Lena is struck with tragedy when her mother dies giving birth to new sister, Faith.   Complications arose before the death even took place, as Lena's mamm, Mary, predicted her death to Lena's young love interest, Adam Wyse.  She also forced Adam to make a cruel promise.   She made him agree to give up her daughter and forgo his plans to marry him until he could get away from his abusive father, Joseph, who is one of the church bishops.  She tells him she knows of the abuse he endures at his father's hands and is afraid that the father might injure Lena or any of their future children as the custom dictates that they move to the husband's family home when a couple marries.    She also expresses her fears that Adam might even have this same tendency to abuse within his own heart.  So he helps Lena bury her mother, secretly finds a wet nurse, Rose, for the new sister, and then tells her he is finished with her and breaks her heart.

His brother, Isaac, who is studying with hopes to become a bishop himself, is only too willing to take Adam's place in Lena's affections.   He runs to her side and professes his desire to rescue her by marriage.  She is not keen on the idea and puts him off until Adam persists in rejecting her.  She also has her three younger siblings to think of as her father has been imprisoned for refusing to give up the family cow to the troops.   Lena feels that God wants her to marry Isaac so that Adam will be brought to a right relationship with Him.  She feels it is her sacrificial duty and only a small price to pay for eternal salvation for the man she loves with all her soul.   

I love historical fiction and this book is all about forgiveness and redemption.   The book also examines an important issue as Joseph and Adam suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.   You will want to read this terrific novel to see how God will heal the broken lives and hearts, and mend relationships.    I read this one in one night as I simply could not put the kindle down until I knew how things would resolve for the characters.  I am so hoping there is going to be a sequel to Arms of Love as I want to know what happens with Isaac, Adam and Lena, Rose and Samuel, and the others.    

A scriptural theme through the story line involved the line:  "God is for us."   I also loved the use of Zephaniah 3:17:  "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."  For those interested in the Amish history and beginnings, this book is a must-read!   I know that I gained new perspectives as I read.   
About the Author:


    Kelly Long is the author of Sarah's Garden, the first novel in the Patch of Heaven series. She was born and raised in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania. She’s been married for nearly 25 years and has five children.  
Visit  Kelly's website: at http://www.kellylongbooks.com
I received a free digital copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishing, Booksneeze.com, in exchange for my honest review.