Bible Studies, Devotionals, Non-Fiction Books

Growing a Strong Marriage

Growing a Strong Marriage

We all long to have a strong marriage, one that is built on trust, honor, respect, love but most importantly, Jesus Christ. Through 20 years of marriage, we have tried different things but the one thing that works is having the foundation of our marriage built on Christ. When I had the opportunity to review a new study on marriage, I jumped at the opportunity. Growing a Strong Marriage study series is a wonderful tool that I highly recommend to all married couples and engaged couples. I had the privilege to review Volume 1: Starting Strong.

Starting Strong has interviews from some famous Christian authors and leaders: Jon and Stasi Eldridge, Gary and Lisa Thomas, Art and Lysa TerKeurst, Chip and Theresa Ingram, Gordon and Gail MacDonald and Les and Leslie Parrott. This study will help you pursue deeper communication and understanding with one another. It will help you both become rooted and grounded together in Christ as well as being committed to one another.

The DVD consist of 4 sessions: How We Met, Foundation in Marriage, Identity in Christ and Paths to Christ in Marriage. With the DVD and study guide, you will learn to build a strong and solid biblical foundation with each other. Growing a Strong Marriage is the tool that I wished we would have had sooner. I am so glad we have it now.

I received a copy of the book and DVD for free, a favorable review was not required all opinions expressed are my own.

Fiction Books

Love’s Harvest Blog Tour

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Purchase your copy here.

My Review: 

I have always loved the story of Ruth and Naomi, seeing how strong Naomi’s faith in God was even after she lost everything she loved. Ruth vowed to stay by Naomi’s side even after she was told she could go back home. Love’s Harvest is the retelling of this sweet Biblical account and one you will want to read. Set pre WWII.

Noreen Hirsch as lost it all including her husband and two sons, in the midst of this heartache the country she has adopted as her own goes to war with the country she is from. She can’t help but to wonder has God abandoned her? Rosa as lost her husband and now vows to stay by her mother in law’s side and moves with her to a country she feels she is not welcome. Basil Quincey is rich and lonely, all he wants is a woman who will love him and not his money. Can he find this woman? Can Rosa find acceptance amongst strangers?

I really loved how the author uses this great story to show how forgiveness, trust and loyalty is so important in our relationships with others and with God. She also includes facts about WWII! She definitely did her research and I definitely highly recommend this book to anyone!! It is one you will love!!

Thank you to Celebrate Lit, the Publisher and the Author for providing me a copy of this book for my honest review!!

About the Book

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Click to Purchase

Noreen Hirsch loses everything including her husband and two sons. Then her adopted country goes to war with her homeland. Has God abandoned her?

Rosa Hirsch barely adjusts to being a bride before she is widowed. She gives up her citizenship to accompany her mother-in-law to her home country. Can Rosa find acceptance among strangers who hate her belligerent nation?

Basil Quincey is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but loneliness stalks him. Can he find a woman who loves him and not his money?

Three people. One God who can raise hope from the ashes of despair.

About the Author

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A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett has had a wide and varied career that includes stints as a Human Resources professional, youth center director, B&B owner, and dining services manager. She loves history of all kinds, and serves as a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII. A member of Sisters in Crime and ACFW, Linda writes World War II and mystery fiction. She was a semi-finalist in ACFW’s 2013 and 2015 Genesis contests. She makes her home in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region with her husband Wes and fur-baby, Ben.

Guest Post from Linda Shenton Matchett

I’ve been scribbling since I was a child. One of my favorite memories is about the weekly “newspaper” I published when I was about seven or eight years old. Written on three-ring-binder paper, it included a weather report (complete with “graphics”), an editorial, letters to the editor, and lots of articles-most of which make no sense when I read them now! The newspaper didn’t last long, but I continued to write stories until I graduated from high school. Then it was on to college and my “real life.”

Fast forward nearly twenty-five years. My husband and I were fleeing the rat-race known as Washington, DC for a small village in New Hampshire to purchase a bed and breakfast, and I decided to journal about the experience. My first entry was made while we pulled out of the driveway. As I filled my diary, I remembered the joy that writing gave me. After we got settled in NH, I decided to try my hand at writing for publication. I found some freelance opportunities, and my articles were published in various magazines.

But fiction was still calling my name.

It took about a year, but I finished a historical novel about a young woman who leaves her home to become a Harvey Girl. I thought it was brilliant (it was not) and hurried it off to a Christian publisher. It was rejected. And rejected. And rejected. Fortunately one of the rejection letters offered some practical advice. The editor said the manuscript showed promise, but I had a lot to learn as a writer. She suggested I attend writing conferences and join a critique group.

I found a group of other Christian writers, then searched for a conference. The Crimebake Mystery Conference is sponsored by Sisters in Crime New England and Mystery Writers of America and located about two hours from my home. I wasn’t writing mystery stories at that point, but figured a lot of the information must be transferrable. Besides, the conference was driving distance and very affordable. What could I lose?

As an unpublished author, I felt like an imposter at first. But I was quickly enveloped by authors (published and unpublished), editors, and agents, and made to feel at ease. The workshops were jam-packed with information, and I filled page after page in my notebook.

Hungry to learn more, I signed up for Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writers Guild course and was paired with Eva Marie Everson. An excellent mentor, she helped me improve my writing by leaps and bounds. I also continued to attend the annual Crimebake conferences. In 2010, I was selected to attend a three day writers retreat with authors Hallie Ephron, Roberta Islieb, and Susan Hubbard. I received one-on-one critique and instruction from each of them. It was an unforgettable experience.

By 2014, I finally completed the manuscript, Under Fire, I had started as my Christian Writers Guild assignment. What an accomplishment! I worked with freelance editor Janice Elsheimer to polish the book, and she made me realize it was time to bite the bullet and submit the manuscript to a publisher or agent. Since I was headed to the ACFW conference that year, I signed up for two agent pitches. Gulp! I was going to do this in person!

I was a nervous wreck, but both agents were gracious and calming. One didn’t care for what she read. The other agent loved everything that the first agent disliked. She requested a full manuscript. Ultimately it was not a fit for her, but I had made it over the hurdle of preparing my one sheet and making a pitch. Meanwhile, I wrote two sequels to complete the trilogy. Under Fire is currently under consideration at a traditional publisher.

Last year, members of my group blog (StitchesThruTime.Blogspot.com) decided to put together a collection of novellas. Over the years, I have toyed with the idea of writing a fictionalized account of a Bible story. I did a significant amount of research about Priscilla and Aquila, but never felt led to put pen to paper. So, the story idea simmered on the back burner. I realized the novella project was the perfect opportunity to pursue that idea. But instead of Priscilla’s story, I decided to write about Ruth and her relationship to Naomi.

Writers are told to write what we know, but I believe we should also write what we don’t know so we can learn. I had a very special relationship with my mother-in-law until she passed away from cancer in 1999. I wanted to capture that in a story. I also wanted to explore what it would be like to leave everyone and everything you know to go to a foreign land. I grew up moving a lot, and I considered it an adventure. My husband grew up moving a lot, but considered it a nightmare. I wanted to explore that aspect of Ruth’s story. I thought that World War II was the perfect era to combine these themes. The result is Love’s Harvest. It features German-born Rosa and Englishwoman Noreen.

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” The story of Ruth is a perfect example of this. She and Naomi experienced terrible tragedies, yet in the end both women were blessed, and God was glorified. Sometimes it is hard to see “the forest for the trees” when something awful is happening to us or our loved ones. My hope is that readers will be able to relate to Rosa and Noreen, and learn how God takes care of us even when we don’t realize it.

Blog Stops

August 2: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

August 3: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

August 4: A Reader’s Brain

August 5: Blossoms and Blessings

August 6: A Baker’s Perspective

August 7: A Greater Yes

August 7: Cassandra M’s Place

August 8: Bibliophile Reviews

August 9: Sharon R Paavola

August 10: Texas Book-aholic

August 11: Pause for Tales

August 12: Vic’s Media Room

August 13: Karen’s Krayons

August 14: Donna’s BookShelf

August 15: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away a handwoven basket with a box of English Breakfast tea and a copy of her book Love’s Harvest. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a094

Fiction Books

A Miracle Of Hope

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A Miracle of Hope (The Amish Wonders Series) By Ruth Reid

Lindie Wyse is a young Amish girl who is pregnant and has a secret, a secret no one knows. Her brother Eli has arranged a marriage with his friend Josiah Plank to give Lindie a new start.

Josiah Plank is a widow with an 8 year old deaf daughter, Hannah. He tells Lindie that he can giver her his name but not his heart. All he wants his a mother for Hannah and someone to do the household chores.

Lindie is trying to learn to communicate with Hannah, and while sitting with Hannah in her room, Hannah shows Lindie her drawings, a beautiful drawing of a deer in the woods. Hannah has a wonderful talent but she a great gift that God has given her.

Will Josiah be able to love again? Will Lindie tell Josiah her secret and learn to trust again? Will Hannah learn to open up to Lindie? You will need to read the book to find out.

I absolutely loved this book and found it hard to put down, it is truly a story of love, repentance, faith and trust. The characters are amazing and you will feel like you are there the whole time. I highly recommend this book especially if you are a huge fan of Amish fiction.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thoughts

Trust!!!!!

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TRUST!!!

Trust is a word that we all know and use but do we really know the true meaning of trust. Webster’s dictionary states the definition of trust as: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” and “one in which confidence is placed,” last but not least “a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship:  something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another.”

I’m not going to discuss trust as far as trusting a person but trust as far as God goes.  Trust is the word that I chose as my one word for 2013, the word that I would live by. Boy have I failed big time and I mean big time. And I find myself reading a particular passage out of the Bible, that passage is Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV) Wow!! Is what I say every time I read it followed by how hard is it to trust the Lord and not try to fix it yourself? For me it is a struggle everyday, and when I say everyday I mean every second of every day. Trusting God should be as easy as riding a bike (as some will say but for me I don’t know how to ride a bike! SHHHH!!!!) Right!! Wrong its not that easy and why is not that easy? Human nature, freewill, sin just to name a few reasons.

Right now, lets talk about trust and the bible… Throughout the Old Testament we see the word trust and hear about how Abraham trusted the Lord, Joshua trusted the Lord, Noah trusted the Lord, David trusted the Lord and the list goes on and on. I reflect on Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you,” and see how God’s words ring true that He has not forsaken us because we do seek Him and we do trust Him but only when we feel we need to. I don’t know about you but I can trust Him in the little things but when it comes to big things, I run and hide and try to play Ms. Fix it. Telling myself, “I can do this, I don’t need any help, and it’s my problem.” And all the time I am saying these things, God is sitting back and laughing saying “No you can’t, Trust me, lay those burdens down at My feet and let Me handle them.”

Why can’t I be like David when he said, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.” (Psalm 25:1-2, NIV) and “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7, NIV) How easy would life be if I chose to trust in the Lord more than I do know? How much stress would I loose? How happy would I be? Those are the questions we should be asking ourselves over and over and over, until we have it drilled in our minds that we should put all of our trust in God and not in money, people or whatever else we put our trust into.

One thing I am certain of is know matter how many times I don’t put my trust in God and I try to do the things myself, that God still loves me and is there to help me up. But after all the bruises, shouldn’t I trust God with all m problems? Yes I should!!! Starting today, November 21, 2013, I will trust in the Lord, I will lay my burdens down at His feet; I will stop being Ms. Fix It and let go of the reigns. Who is with me??? Who is ready to Let Go and Trust God?????? I want to hear from each one of you, leave me a comment!!!!!! I’m all in and I am ready to Trust and Obey for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to TRUST and obey!!!!!!!!!

Much Love,

Crystal

Bible Studies, Non-Fiction Books

Let. It. Go and Let God!!

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Let me begin by giving you a brief description of the new book, Let. It. Go. By Karen Ehman.  “Many women are wired to control. You’re the ones who make sure the house is clean, the meals are prepared, the beds are made, the children are dressed, and everyone gets to work, school, and other activities on time. But trying to control everything can be exhausting, and it can also cause friction with your friends and family. This humorous, yet thought-provoking book guides you as you discover for yourself the freedom and reward of living a life ‘out of control,’ in which you allow God to be seated in the rightful place in your life. Armed with relevant biblical and current examples (both to emulate and to avoid), doable ideas, new thought patterns, and practical tools to implement, Let. It. Go. will gently lead you out of the land of over-control and into a place of quiet trust. A companion video-based study for small groups is also available.”

I am not ashamed to say that I am this woman, the woman who has to be in control of everything, and if I am not in control, I will go crazy. After reading the first chapter, my toes hurt from stepped on by Karen’s words.  Karen tells us in on page 13, “We Women crave control.”  She goes on to describe how we are born with this and we are ready to take charge of everything.

Karen uses humor, stories about her life and as well as stories about others to teach us how to LET IT GO and to LET GOD have control. It is definitely not something that will happen overnight but takes time. She also includes inventories for us to read and circle how we rate those activities or personalities.

I really enjoyed the chapter on our schedules and how we should think about how busy we are and how each family members activities affect each other. I love how Karen says, “ Being busy is the new measuring stick of family success.” This made me realize just how busy my life is, girl scouts on Tuesday’s, Church on Wednesday’s, Church on Sunday’s and whatever else comes up.  I really need to be praying about activities before I take them on and stop controlling what my family does.

I truly recommend this book to all women, young or old, it truly is a teaching tool that we can use to teach our daughters, and granddaughters about letting go of the control and keeping our faith.

“I received this book from the publisher for my honest review.”

http://zondervan.com/9780310333920

Fiction Books

Echoes!!!!! Learning to Trust God!!!!

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Echoes, the third book in The Glenbrooke Series by Robin Jones Gunn, is a story about young lady who has suffered her father leaving at a young age and having her heart broken by the man she loved. Lauren has a great job, a nice apartment, and the man whom she is going to spend the rest of her life with but in an instant her life is changed.

After a disaster at the salon, ordering the “special” at the restaurant, and being told by her fiancé that he has been offered a job in New York, what else could happen? Lauren’s fiancé breaks off the engagement and leaves her broken hearted. Brad, Lauren’s brother, brings her a computer and introduces her to the internet and a chat room where she starts talking to K.C., a fellow God-lover. Her and K.C. start emailing each other and after a year, Lauren finds herself falling for him and wanting to meet him.

Lauren goes to Portland to meet K.C. and for her friend Teri’s wedding reception but upon meeting K.C., she gets scared and runs, abandoning him. When Lauren arrives at Jessica’s and Kyle’s, she gets taught that she is doing to people what only has been done to her. After realizing this, Lauren is ready to explain why she ran and express her true feelings to K.C. She surrenders her heart back to God and learns to trust Him.

This is a wonderful story on how trusting God can lead us to finding true love and happiness.  You will find yourself getting lost in the story, as if you are a character in the book.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.”

http://www.robingunn.com/