Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: The Bridesmaid

About the Book:
Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The young Amishwoman is a closet writer whose stories aren't her only secret. 

Eben Troyer hopes to make Joanna his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet Eben's hopes to build a life with Joanna hinge on his brother's return from the English world...

My Review:
Beverly Lewis’s The Bridesmaid is a beautiful, engaging story of love, hope, faithfulness, and a hard lesson in keeping secrets. As I said in my previous review on The Fiddler, Beverly Lewis is an outstanding author whose stories weave together a sweet romance between the most unlikely of souls. In beginning this book, readers get to know the character, Joanna Kurtz, introduced in the first book of the Hickory Hollow series.

I admired Joanna's character and personality. She has an incredible talent for writing that is evident in her stories, poems and letters to Eben. I found that an interesting element of an Amish story- that an Amish girl would have an interest in fictional story writing, like me. Even though she bends Amish rules, I admire that Joanna allowed her heart to dictate and convict her. Her charming disposition and caring ways easily make Joanna a cherished character in the hearts of readers. 

The unfolding mystery of Joanna's namesake added another dimension of interest to this story. I was amused at how the two women, though from two different generations, shared many similarities that were almost eery. 

Over and over, I become enamored by the nostalgic location Beverly Lewis chose for this series. The reader becomes familiar with other characters from previous books and locations. Beverly Lewis throws in a German phrase or two that adds to the authenticity of the story. Mentions to homecooked meals, quilting bees, and gardening and canning frolics also added authenticity.

As much as I dislike having to write a negative review on one of Beverly Lewis's books, I spotted a few flaws that weakened the overall story. Firstly, I thought the plot to be overly far-fetched and unrealistic. Secondly, the long distance relationship between Eben and Joanna made the story drag. Thirdly, the ending was predictable and a bit too convenient. The characters didn't struggle to find what they were looking for. 

Beside a few negative marks, I did enjoy reading The Bridesmaid. The relatable characters allowed me to connect with their struggles and lives. The final sentences ended this novel on the right note, as if Joanna was writing the story I just finished reading.

I look forward to reading the next installment to the Hickory Hollow series where hopefuly, Beverly will share Cora Jane's story. She is a bit... erratic so her story will definitely prove to be interesting.

Book Review: The Fiddler

About the Book:
A wrong turn in a rainstorm leads Englisher Amelia Devries to Michael Hostetler--and the young Amishman's charming Old Order community of Hickory Hollow. Despite their very different backgrounds, Amelia and Michael both feel hemmed in by the expectations of others and struggle with how to find room for their own hopes. And what first seems to be a chance encounter might just change their lives forever.

My Review:
I love Beverly Lewis's Amish fiction. In my opinion, no one does the genre better than her, and I've read many other authors impersonations of the Amish. As she does in all of her novels, Beverly weaved together a sweet romance between the most unlikely of souls. 

Now, this plot was very different from the other books I've read from Beverly Lewis. The thought of an Amish man falling for an English woman was unusual but piqued my interest. Imagine such a thing! Even though the romantic ending was somewhat predictable, the quality of the characters and unconventional circumstances made it a worthwhile read. And the nickname Amelia goes by, Amy Lee, added a bit of humor too:)

I enjoyed the familiar references to Lancaster County and to the characters from books past. Is it me or does Beverly Lewis mention Katie Lapp in every book? And, the elderly woman, Ella Mae makes an encore appearance in this book as well. The imagery, so carefully created, transported me to the county where Amelia found herself. I could almost feel the slight mugginess and humidity that could rid Amelia's dresses from wrinkles.

I can't quite explain why, but every page left me longing for more until I reached the end and was waiting for the next installment of the Home to Hickory Hollow series. 

I loved that in this book Beverly ventures into the touchy territory of Amish faith. She sheds light onto the fact Amish life and faith isn't always quiet, peaceful tranquility as many idolize it. She does this in a way that doesn't bad-talk the Amish but reveals that we are all humans with deficiencies and struggles.

The romance between Michael and Amelia was obvious from the beginning but didn't unfold in the typical overenthusiastic way many authors portray Amish love. It was more of a peaceful acknowledgment of contentment versus flutters and shortness of breath.

The best part, by far, was the level of faith Beverly heavily doused the story with as Amelia and Michael both try to find God. They are encouraged to seek Him in prayer and realize that they can do nothing with Him.

If you're looking to expand your reading horizons, get into the Amish genre of just want a sweet romance read, then give The Fiddler and Beverly Lewis's fiction a try. The heartfelt story, memorable characters and unusual plot will give you something to think about long after you've finished reading. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Review: The Rose of Winslow Street

About the Book:
In the small town of Colden, Massachusetts, Libby Sawyer leads a quiet, predictable life. Yet beneath the surface, she is haunted by a secret.

Newly arrived on American shores, Michael Dobrescu is far from predictable, and his arrival in Colden is anything but quiet. Michael's shocking claim to be the rightful owner of Libby's father's house immediately alienates him from the appalled citizens of Colden.

Despite her own outrage, Libby is unwittingly fascinated by this enigmatic man who seems equally intrigued by her. As the court's decision about the house looms and the layers of mystery surrounding Michael's past are unveiled, Libby's loyalties are tested in ways she never imagined.

My Review:
I enjoy courtroom thrillers no matter the era, and I found the legal battle between Michael and Libby interesting. OK, maybe the plot was a bit far-fetched, like the part when the American court allowed an immigrant family to break into an American citizen's home and stay there, while the owner had to find another place to live, but it held my attention:)

Libby's reading disorder, what I believe was probably dyslexia, and the constant struggles she faced made her character all the more relatable and human. She was also kind, courageous and extremely creative even though these traits made her father look down on her all the more. Libby, along with the entire cast of characters were all vibrant and impressive.

The most memorable part of this novel was not Libby and Michael's court proceedings nor their blooming romance. I was most touched by Lady Mirela's story and how, in the end she comes to find happiness. Even though she was a minor character, her personality and how she discovers her calling was all so heartwarming.

Themes such as forgiveness and love were well presented to the reader. All of the characters make this read memorable. If you're looking for a light romance novel with historical elements, don't hesitate to read The Rose of Winslow Street. Sprinkles of humor and heart-felt emotions will draw you into this read.

This is such a great story that showcases the beauty of what is inside us all if we are simply willing to embrace the way God has created us instead of trying to be something we aren't.

Book Review: Love in Disguise

About the Book:
Can she solve the crime before they uncover her true identity?

Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow...or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?

Set in 1880s Arizona, Love in Disguise blends romance, humor, and mystery for a can't-put-down read.

My Review:
I was pleasantly surprised at the level of intruige this book had. With a plot promising mystery, danger and romance, I was thrilled to begin reading Love in Disguise. 

Ellie Monroe's character (or should I say character's) was a breath of fresh air in the sometimes boring section of historical fiction protagonists. Her audacity and bravery struck me as admirable when she paved her own way as a detective for the prestigious Pinkerton agency. As the story progresses, Ellie was a bright and diligent detective instead of vulnerable and scared. Ellie grows as a detective and my heart hoped that her embittered heart would soften. We read of her whispered prayers for strength and courage. This event along with many others made it clear that Ellie was a relatable character. I love mystery stories like this one because I was actually able to follow along with Ellie and each of her disguises.

The town in which this story takes place is the partially fictional boom-town of Pickford, Arizona. Described as a quaint, everybody-knows-everybody sort of place, I felt acquainted with the minor characters and locations of Pickford. Memorable and humorous souls such as Amos Crawford made the "slower" moments of the book worth reading. Other character's, like the the capricious Donald Tidewell, sucked me in as I, myself tried to untangle the web of lies and treachery Ellie found herself caught between.

Once I reached the halfway point, I found this book hard to put down. The mystery is thought-provoking and well plotted. The last few chapters reveled the clandestine events taking place in Pickford and who is involved. Tensions are high as the story nears it's close and the finale kept me at the edge of my seat!

If you're interested in another historical fiction romance novel, give Love in Disguise a try. From the chaos at the beginning to the intense drama at the end, this read will keep your interest high from start to finish. If you're not into chaotic scenes, you may find the beginning of the book difficult to get into, but I encourage you, read until the ending!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Submerged

About the Book:
A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers. 

Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town . . . until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear. 

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a small town. She's returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case. 

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer

has settled in his town and doesn't appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge.

She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he's not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

My Review:
I honestly don't think that I chose to review this book because it sounded interesting. During the beginning of my "book-reviewing job" I chose every book and read the blurbs later. I can say that after reading it, I am pleased that I had selected Submerged for review. The plot, which included dangerous situations, adventurous outcomes and a dash of appropriate romance, held my attention until the very last word, leaving me wanting more. 

Dani Pettrey created a large cast of characters that, because of how she write this book, I could easily following along with each one's personality. Not only does the reader get an in-depth look into the lives of Bailey and Cole, but we also come to care for his siblings, Piper, Kayden, and Gage and the best friend, Landon. Bailey, Cole and the rest of the characters were all well-developed. Each was believable in their personalities and possessed human flaws. Bailey was by far my favorite character. As you read the book, you'll begin to get to know her. I was moved by how contrite she was but overjoyed when she let go of the hatred she had for herself because of her past.

Dani did an amazing job writing this story but I found the language to be a weak spot. The lingo was outdated, which made it seem unnatural and at times really awkward. For a contemporary novel, phrases like,"You need me to find what you seek." sounded odd and out of place.

I have already ordered Shattered and I hope I am able to receive it for review. If you like small-town stories or a dangerous, mystery, then you should give this book a try. Submerged is an honest look at God's grace and mercy.

Book Review: The Choice

About the Book:
One young woman. Two very different roads. The choice will change everything.

Even as a pregnant, unwed teen in 1974, Sandy Lincoln wanted to do the right thing. But when an ageless woman approached her in a convenience store with a mysterious prophecy and a warning, doing the right thing became even more unclear. She made the best choice she could . . . and has lived with the consequences.

More than thirty years later, a pregnant teen has come into her life, and Sandy’s long-ago decision has come back to haunt her. The stakes rise quickly, leaving Sandy with split seconds to choose once more. But will her choice decision bring life . . . or death?

My Review:
I don't think that I have ever been as emotionally attached or inspired by a book as I was with The Choice. Robert Whitlow did a phenomenal job weaving together a story that was jam-packed with humor, emotion, and creativity all balanced out with an healthy dose of spirituality. His writing style is sure to impress even the most critical readers and reviewers.

The topic of abortion can be very tricky but Robert executed this plot superbly! The difficulties of being an un-wed, pregnant teenager were amplified and right fully so, as I imagine the situation is extremely difficult. The journey we travel on with Sandy is touching. The story depicts how teenage pregnancies affect not only the pregnant teenager, but the babies, grandparents, father, siblings, extended family, adoptive family, etc. Our sins don’t just affect ourselves–they have a rippling effect that courses through many lives. As I read of Sandy's choice, Angelica's choice and Maria's choice, I realized that every choice has consequences and results. My heart was racing during the climactic ending that is sure to put any reader at the edge of their seats and was a result of yet another choice.

As of right now, Robert Whitlow's The Choice has won the "My Favorite Book" award. Every, and I mean every emotion a reader hopes to feel when reading a book is here. Emotional elements, thrilling and action packed "scenes" along with an amazing, moving story all ties together for an exceptionally great story. I was thoroughly entertained by the humor and this book kept my attention the whole 413 pages. I enjoyed the legal aspect and jargon that made the story a bit more interesting. I'd rate this book 5 out of 5 stars! 

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

This isn't just a "pro-life" book, but looks at the "pro-choice" argument from another angle.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Edified + Shared {She Reads Truth: Ephesians}

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Today I just completed another Bible study from my favorite mobile app. I have been edified by the previous Bible studies I've done by the ladies over at SHE READS TRUTH and I wanted to share with you all today's reading taken from Ephesians 6:10-24 that truly blessed me.
What a great joy it’s been to walk with you all through Ephesians. Together we’ve talked through the tough stuff of putting off our old selves, growing in Christ as we grow together, and maturing in our faith. And today, Paul leaves us with some sweet final instructions - our armor.
We serve a God who not only wants our whole hearts and whole lives so badly He sent His son to pay for our debts, but He also knows - in His lavishly, graceful lovingly way, that we don’t know the first place to start when it comes to living with Him.
Ladies, sometimes after a dozen years of serving Him, I still wake up clueless.
I love that this section in Ephesians starts with the (correct) assumption that on our own, in our own strength, we’ve got nothing. Yet, it ends with us fully armed and able to stand as warriors in the Kingdom of God.
Remember, we don’t need to carry the entire weight of the battle - the war has been won by the blood of Jesus. He’s merely giving us what we need to be standing at the end of it. We don’t even need to feel exhausted and scared at the onset of the battle or the day - the winner has already been decided, we just get the joy of standing with Him.
Together, let’s put it on. Don’t skip a bit.
belt of truth - Start with truth, sincerity of your love for Jesus and His for you fastened around you - in your most intimate places, be true with Him. As women, we can know that our enemy is going to try to twist this truth in our heads & hearts. he did it to Eve in the garden, and he’ll do it with us if we let him.
breastplate of righteousness- Confirm to yourself and this world that you are as righteous as you’ll ever be because you are made Holy by the blood of Jesus. Guard your heart with that knowledge and never changing Good News.
shoes given by the readiness of the gospel of peace- When your love is sincere and you’re made aware of your righteousness in Christ, you want to run. To share. To put feet to pavement & rush to share the Good News that’s brought your life meaning & peace.
shield of faith - When the threats, the jabs, the jeers, the attacks come and they will - protect yourself with the assurance of things we know we can hope for, be the conviction of things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).
helmet of salvation - You, walk confidently into the day, stand strong in the battle because your mind, yourself, is set aside and saved from the enemy if you’ve believed in Jesus, by grace through faith.
and lastly, our one offensive weapon - the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Wherever you are today, whatever your calling or your place, you’ve got a powerful weapon in His word. Pray it, speak it, believe it, share it.
And now, together, we’re ready to stand.
And when Paul bids us farewell with grace & peace, we can contentedly sigh.
Yes, we feel both those things.
Oh Father, help us to love Him with love incorruptible.
If you give SHE READS TRUTH a try of have read on of their Bible studies before, I'd love to hear what you thought of them? Which Bible study did you do?

Plus, SHE READ TRUTH offers tons of free iPod/ iPhone wallpapers that showcase scriptures to memorize. I have gotten a few of the wallpapers and I just love them!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review: Blue Moon Bay

About the Book:
Every Once in a Blue Moon Your Heart Waits at a Crossroads

For Seattle architect Heather Hampton, a trip back to tiny Moses Lake, Texas, is hardly in the plan. Yet because a promotion hinges on the sale of the family farmland, Heather heads to the last place she ever wanted to go. She's determined to return home, signed contract in hand, the next day.

But the currents of Moses Lake take visitors on unexpected journeys. As Heather's stay lengthens, she discovers a family steeped in secrets and an unexpected connection to local banker Blaine Underhill, despite his opposition to Heather's project. With each new revelation and question, Heather can't help but wonder if the handsome banker--and the family she has come to know again--are crooks or crusaders. Somehow she must find out the truth before she loses everything she has worked for and everything she's found on the shores of Moses Lake.

My Review:
As I read the first page, I was immediately, I mean immediately, drawn in! There, Lisa Wingate painted a vivid image of Heather's inner "demons" or nightmares from many years past. As the story unfolds,  a shocking revelation becomes know and adds suspense.

Lisa's ability to create imagery can be "seen" throughout the rest of this book. As she described character's appearances, the location of Blue Moon Bay and the eery sounds at night, I almost felt a part of the story. I could easily follow along with the events and the story flowed, which is something I look for in a worthy read. Her writing style is creative and conveyed the character's voice extremely well. 


The other thing I really liked about this book was the emotion. Heather's reconciliation with her mother was moving and the tears she shed may just cause to to shed a few of your own.

The character's were all easy to fall in love with and relate to. Uncles, an elderly Mennonite women and an exuberant dog all capture the reader's interest and heart as does the "charming" family-run funeral home. All of the main and minor characters have been developed to be very real and three-dimenstional. Heather, specifically, was double-minded many times but that characteristic contributed to making her character relatable. 

I appreciated the time and effort Lisa put into writing such a great book but also for including inspiring and relevant quotes for each chapter such as: The future is a blank page, but not a mystery.

If your looking for a suspense novel, a good ol' fashion romance, or just an engaging read, then you should definitely give Blue Moon Bay a try especially for the price that Amazon is offering it for.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Please. Be Ready.

There are some moments in your life that are impossible to erase. 
-Elizabeth Leroy (Though None Go With Me)

I... don't... even... know... how... to... begin. At this very moment, I am stunned that what has happened actually took place. Before I came to Christ, I knew, what used to be a young boy only two years older than me. Our parents were friends and one several occasions, we used to play at the park together. After my family came to Christ, we kind of just drifted and never spoke again.

Can you imagine the shock I felt as I read the Daily News on December 12 only to find out that that old friend, Damell, passed away after drowning in a pool on December 8? I don't remember everything about him. I do remember an old photo I had floating somewhere of us together at a park and will always treasure the childhood memories I still have. I do remember him to be very thoughtful, quiet, respectful and kind.

This moment I realize how very precious life is. I know that at any time, I can meet my Maker. If something did happen to me, would I be ready to face God Almighty?

The Bible warns us in Matthew 25:13, 

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

That old friend did not know the day or the hour. I can only pray that before his premature death, he received Jesus into his heart. I can only pray that his family will surrender their pain and anger at the foot of the cross and accept Jesus' help and comfort. Please keep Damien (the father) in your prayers as Damell was his only son and child.

Friends, are you ready? Keep watch over your spiritual life so that in the dreadful event that you should pass away, you will meet your Maker and live with Him in heaven forever.

Damell Mickens
January 4, 1995 - December 8, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review: To Love and Cherish

About the Book:
Escape to a Beautiful, Historic Island Resort

Melinda Colson has been waiting months for Evan, the assistant gamekeeper at the Bridal Veil Island resort, to propose. Without an offer of marriage, she must return to Cleveland with the family she works for as a lady's maid.

Evan isn't afraid of hard work, and he hopes to be promoted soon. He wants to marry Melinda--but not until he's sure he can support her and a family.

Letters strengthen their romance until a devastating storm strikes the island. With no word from Evan, Melinda knows she must journey back to Bridal Veil in search of her beloved.

But the hurricane isn't the last calamity to shake up Bridal Veil. Melinda finds a new job on the island, but still no offer of marriage comes her way. Has she given her heart to the wrong person? Will she ever find a man to love and cherish?

My Review:
To Love and Cherish is a historical fiction novel who's plot drew me in, especially by the last two sentences of the the blurb, "Has she given her heart to the wrong person? Will she ever find a man to love and cherish?" What could be more interesting than finding out the answer to those last questions and read how the story unfolds?

As I look at my little library, I count how many books are of historical fiction genre and realize that more than half of them pertain to that category. That is probably why I choose this book. I appreciated the fictional aspects of this novel but my favorites parts were the historical elements such as the accusations that President's McKinley was an imperialist. The plot was average but the last few chapters that detailed the President's visit and plans of an assassination piqued my interest.

Melinda's and Evan's character was a bit confusing at first. Melinda came across as desperate, impatient and a bit straightforward. She practically begged Evan to propose. Evan on the other hand was oblivious of Melinda's emotions and though being a logical thinker, couldn't seem to make a quick decision. Their internal struggles were both relatable, but the execution was poor. I thought that both character's were a bit strange. Another reader's thoughts on the situation:  I know I was supposed to be rooting for Melinda and Evan, but I kept waiting for the REAL hero of the story to arrive.

The descriptive narration allowed me to mentally imagine the opulence of Bridal Veil Island.

I have read Tracie Peterson's work before and I really enjoyed it. Since I've read her books, I am familiar with her writing style. I'm not sure if the book's awkward flow can be blamed on the fact that it was a joint collaboration between two authors, but I know that she is so very capable to write thrilling and intriguing novels.

Other than a few misses in the plot, this novel is emotionally intact with romance, uncertainty, fear, longing, deception, happiness, anger, and a lot of curves the reader will not expect. I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: The Messenger

About the Book:
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith...until her twin brother joined the Colonial cause and ended up in jail. She longs to bring some measure of comfort to him in the squalid prison, but her faith forbids it. The Friends believe that they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. She is not allowed to visit him, even if she were able to secure a pass.

Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, needs access to the jail to help rescue men important to the cause. Upon meeting Hannah, a plan begins to develop. Who would suspect a pious Quaker visiting a loved one? 

But Jeremiah is unprepared for Hannah, for her determination to do right, to not lie. How can one be a spy and not lie? Hannah, in turn, is surprised by Jeremiah...for the way he forces her to confront her own beliefs, for the sensitivity and concern that he shows her despite the wounds he still carries. 

In a time of war, can two unlikely heroes find the courage to act?

My Review:
When I ordered this book, I was under the impression that it would be an intriguing historical fiction novel, chock-full of danger and suspense. Unfortunately, the standards I had set were just a bit too high and the story fell flat for me.

Try as I might, I could not get completely interested in this book. For the sake of my love for histoical fiction stories, I tried to follow along with the plot but the outdated language completely threw me off. The constant use of thy and thee was annoying. It was like watching a scratched DVD, pausing ever so often to re-read the sentence for clarification. The author's choice of words was a major drawback for me, but I did enjoy the other bits of colonial language, etiquette, and location. It is clear that the author did her research.

I thought that the two main characters were unique as were their social and religious positions. Hannah is passionate and stubborn, which makes her realistic and relatable. I enjoyed reading of how she slowly began to make choices that were aligned with what is right and siding with justice, aside from her Quaker upbringing. Jeremiah Jones is a rough-around-the-corners character but his interaction with Hannah begins to soften his attitude... and his heart. The two characters clash at first and don’t have many similar beliefs but as the story develops they strengthen each other, and learn to trust each other with their very lives. Somewhat besides the point: the romance between Jeremiah and Hannah reminds me of how things unfold for Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale in North and South, especially with the fact that Hannah said that she despised and loathed him, and then she was thinking about how she always felt so safe with him.

The majority of the plot was interesting. Hannah's daring ways, her revolutionary of a brother and Jeremiah's interaction with the revolutionary movement kept me happy enough to actually finish the book.

Siri Mitchell does present the reader with a unique glimpse into the lives of individuals during Revolutionary War times, the struggles of the colonials, and slavery as it existed then. Overall, I thought that The Messenger was a good book, not great, but good and if you'd like to read it, Amazon has it for a great price ($6.00)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Do You Remember...

via
...when cooties were contagious?
...when pinky promises were the ultimate sign of trust between friends?
...when messy hair didn't matter?
...when going to McDonald's meant getting a happy meal?
...when it was cute to dress like your BFF?
...when you used to watch Arthur religiously?
...when having the 64 pack of Crayola crayons meant that you were so cool?
...when Cheese Nips were your favorite snack?
...when you used to play pretend?
..when "triple dog dare" meant you HAD to do it?
...when "squeeze pop" was the best candy ever!?
...when you cried in Rugrats In Paris when all the babies went to snuggle with their moms... except Chuckie Finster?
...when it was amazing to spell Mississippi or say the "Peter Piper" tongue twister?
I remember it all.

Childhood memories linger forever and reminiscing on them makes me happy:) 

What special childhood memories to you cherish? I'd love to hear them!

Many of the memories on this list are ones that I share with Ali. Being just three weeks apart, we spent a lot of time together, especially since our moms are sisters.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Inspiration: A Poem

God Can Use You

You think that God can’t use you because your life’s a mess,
God made you with potential; God wants your very best.

It’s not how good or bad you are that brings the message to light,
It’s the fact that you’ve been changed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Abraham and Sarah were too old, but together a child was conceived. 
Noah built a boat although the rain he did not see.

Rehab was a prostitute, Jacob was a liar, Esau lost his inheritance as to Jacob’s desire.

Leah wasn’t beautiful, Joseph was abused, Joseph was even sold, his brothers were very cruel.

Moses ran from Egypt because he killed a man, Moses saw a burning bush, and history began.

Samson with his long hair, and his love for women, was given super strength to conquer those against him.

David was a boy, who then became a king.
David had an affair, then had to face his sin.

David lied and murdered, he killed an innocent man.
How can a man of God do such a thing like that?!

Jonah ran from God, but could not find a place to hide, Naomi was a widow and Gideon was too scared to try.

Job went bankrupt, lost everything he had, never once blaming God, even though his heart was sad.

John the Baptist, now there was a sight,
a man eating bugs guiding people to the light.

The Samaritan woman was divorced many times, and Peter the Rock, denied Jesus three times.

The disciples fell asleep when they were asked to pray, Zaccheus was too small… Jesus ate with him that day.

Martha worried about everything, Thomas was full of doubt, Paul persecuted Christians, but the hard way he found out…

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you might have done. With Jesus Christ our Savior, the impossible can be done.

The blind will see—the deaf will hear. The lame will walk—and none will fear. The dumb will speak—the sick will be healed. The dead will live—when Jesus is near.

You might think that God can’t use you because your life’s a mess
God made you with potential; God wants your very best.

It’s not how good or bad you are that brings the message to light
It’s the fact that you’ve been changed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

So, the next time you feel that God just has no use for you, remember…
God is love He sent His Son to die for you.

Written by: Lisa A. G. Bowman

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Etsy Shop Update ~ Cyber Monday Sale

I've been on a journey, a pleasant one. I opened my Etsy shop on January 24, 2012 and God has really taught me about myself through this endeavor. I've learned patience and humility (just to name a few) and I know that He will continue to teach me. Aside from learning a lot, I've so enjoyed the crafting, packaging and shipping aspect of business. It gives me an adrenaline rush!

It being Cyber Monday and all, I thought that my readers would like a little treat and so... I'm offering a special deal for today that I'm sure you're all going to enjoy. 

For purchases made on Cyber Monday shoppers can use coupon code CMKK40 for a 40% discount.

And an added bonus: For each person who places an order during the Cyber Monday Sale, I'll be sending you a FREE Post-It Note Pad holder

Keep checking here and over at the shop because I'll be adding tons of new items in the upcoming months. You won't want to miss it!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Life Via Instagram 0001

//i'm lovin it// //baby-cam, notes and numbers// new...ur old blog post// //lovely leaves//

//my beloved canvas// he's president...again// watching the polls// good humor//

//hurricane sandy// good read// sunlight is the bomb// my scentsy//

Want to check out my feed? Search @kianna_rose on instagram

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Babysitter's Club

Last night was the first time I've babysat! Of course, I've watched my little sister and a few kids during Tuesday service but that hardly counts. 

About a year or so ago, we met Laura, our new neighbor from California. We've talked a bit, have had tea and cake and see each other ever so often. After I turned 15, Laura asked me if I would like to babysit little Donald.

She said, "You know 15 is prime age for babysitting."

I was super excited when my mother told me about last night's offer. Giddy with excitement, I began planning what I'd do with the little guy and hoped that we'd hit it off well. I hoped that he'd feel comfortable around me and that God would spare me from having to change any dirty diapers:) But, I would if necessary...

When I got there, Laura and Donald Sr. gave me permission to raid their cupboards, use their computer and talk on the phone. I didn't do any of that... I'd just feel really weird rummaging through someone's kitchen and then start blogging. The two headed off for a dinner date and there I was, just me and the sleeping baby. Donald slept the whole time, much to my disappointment. (I've yet to really meet him) Since I had tons of free time on my hands, I got time to admire the couple's lovely apartment and of course document my experience on instagram. (@kianna_rose)

Here are the two shots from my feed.
 //baby-cam, notes and numbers//
//i'm lovin' it//


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Looking Over Old Letters

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart. 
 ~Phyllis Theroux
Over the years, I've collected letters, birthday cards and special notes from my friends and family. When I get some spare time I like to look over them all and after, I count my blessings. Each personal note was written just for me. I love reading them over and over, thinking back on "old times" with special friends or funny moments and memories. Each letter holds words, yes, but also memories that I always hope to cherish.

My favorite letters have been those that have brought encouragement and like the quote above says, they move my heart and sometimes... spur on tears. 

My favorite letters have been those of my cousin. She writes little notes that let me know she has been thinking about me and always asks pardon for her handwriting. It's beautiful, by the way.

My favorite letters have been those that don't say anything at all but have been drawings and scribbles from busy, yet thoughtful little hands.

So, I want all of my letter writers to know, I keep each and every one.

What are your favorite letters?


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And The President of United States Is...

After months of campaigning, Barack Obama has won the 2012 Presidential elections. The race was tight but in the end, Obama secured his position as the 44th President of the United States.

Being only 15 years old, I know that I can't vote... yet, but I know that the "winner" was in God's hands. I have prayed throughout the campaigning and election that whomever wins, will be useful and positively influential to the U.S. I've prayed that this President will govern righteously and make Biblically aligned decisions. We think we know who would be a better President but God puts whom He chooses in power.

...he sets up kings and deposes them.
Daniel 2:21b

I've carefully considered both candidates and thought, "If you could, who would you vote for?" My "decision" (is private) was based upon my spiritual and moral convictions and when I do vote in 2016, that will be the method I use to select a President. 

Though he will probably never read this post, I pray that the President may remember and heed this warning,

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48b

and always remember,

For nothing is impossible with God
Luke 1:37

And readers, never cease to pray for our authorities, like the Bible commands.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

P.S. I'm super excited to vote at the next election. Watch out America, there's going to be a new voter in town!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: My Story

I've had a hearty dinner with my family. I've showered and will soon be off to a warm bed. I think on how many fellow New Yorkers are living without these amenities at this very moment, nearly a week since Hurricane Sandy began. Many are without water, heat, electricity and some have gone days without food.

On Sunday October 28, 2012 I was told that a hurricane was making it's way over to New York. I didn't think much of it because last year's hurricane Irene didn't do much damage. It lasted a day or so and that was it. After church on Sunday, I was hearing talk of 60 mph winds, Con Edison (electricity provider in NY) planning to shut off electricity and the threats a major hurricane could pose to my city. My mind went into fast action mode and wondered if Hurricane Sandy could do as much damage as Hurricane Katrina. 

Once safe in the confines of my apartment, I had no idea that outside the brick facade, there were winds violently raging and tossing about.

Monday morning we went to my grandma's house and watched the news. What I saw and heard from that day until now has left me... shocked! Storm surges, out-if-control fires, gas shortages, starvation and more than 50 people dead or missing is unthinkable. 

Having a church service on Wednesday proved pretty much impossible so we had home church. Before the service began, we considered a portion of scripture; one that I think was perfect for the trial we were facing.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging 
Psalm 46:1-3

I think on this verse and the fact that Jesus is the calm in the midst of the storm. I put my trust in him and know that through Him, I can be strong.

You're probably reading this and are thinking, "Wow, she was at the heart of this catastrophe " Thank God I was not! I was safe but could hear the winds, pelting rain and even saw the hood of a SmartCar begin ripped off of the car. 

Can you imagine my surprise when I came home to see all of this right in front of my building?

A once strong and very much alive tree is now down and on it's way to death.
Uprooted roots ave made their way above the surface.
Can any good come out of this disaster? Yes, every cloud has a silver lining, and the silver lining in this situation was that a sister of our church gave birth on November 1, 2012. We don't know the name and won't find out until she is presented.

I wanted to thank all of my blogger friends who texted me and messaged me via instagram to make sure that I was okay. Thanks Kathryn, Arianna and Hadassah. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Awkward and The Awesome

THE AWKWARD
Coming home after Hurricane Sandy to find a fallen tree right laying in front of my apartment building. (Stay tuned for a Hurricane Sandy post.)


Getting really behind on my must-do list.

Not instagram-ing in almost a week... I think. 

Going to Target and a woman takes a shirt out my hand, comments on how pretty it is and then hands it back to me.

Slipping (and nearly falling) because I'm walking around the house with my socks.

Calling WEN hair care just to see if the sale price of $29.95 is still in effect and abruptly hanging up.

THE AWESOME
Sharing my words of thanks for my Pastor on Pastor's Appreciation Day. Thank you Jesus for my Pastor!

Sleepovers at grandma's house.

Finishing another blog design and the author loves it. Thank you Jesus for the gifts and grace!

My dad bringing me my favorite chocolate, Reese's Peanut Buttercups:)

Reading A Quiet Strength by Janette Oke with my mom.

Drawing the great fish that swallowed Jonah with the little sister. It makes me laugh every time she says Tarshish. 

Ice cream and a good ol' fashion Christian movie with the family.

A clean room and the canvas I got for my birthday is displayed on my book shelf.

Snuggled up in a fur blanket and reading late into the night.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Awkward and The Awesome

instagram : kianna_rose
THE AWKWARD
Having my room look a complete mess only to find that when I fix it, a pile of clothes was the only problem. Really?

Video taping myself while baking these cookies. I don't know if I've ever laughed so hard at myself:)

Realizing that baking soda is necessary in that recipe! The cookies came out rock solid and went to the trash can.

Making a funny face and mom says, "What was that!"


THE AWESOME
Little sister praying before we start home school saying, "Heavenly Father, I come before your presence Lord. I thank you for this day. Please help Kianna to sit still while she does her work." She is just too, cute!

Alone time with mom to talk about whatever my little heart desires.

Figuring out how to center the pages tab below the header on my blog

Rockin' my natural curls. For so many years, I've doused my hair with gel and hairspray to get that wet look but now, I'm okay with leaving it out naturally. 

Catching up on reading the Bible. I am due to finish the entire Bible next month!!!

Warming Luna in my Scentsy plug-in.

Having fish for dinner. My mom's not a real seafood gal, so I am thankful that she's making it for the family. 

Syncing some songs and videos onto my grandma's iPod.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest Book Review: Little Angels Bible Story Book


My mother's review:

"As soon as I took the book into my hands, I was excited to show it to my daughter.  It is a sturdy padded hardcover book that looks like it will stand the test of time.  The cover is brightly colored  which immediately drew us both in.  As I thumbed through the book I noticed beautifully drawn cartoon characters and vivid pages.  I am very impressed with the appeal this book has visually.

This children’s Bible story book outlines 100 Bible stories both Old Testament and New Testament stories.  When my daughter asked me to read to her the story of Jonah, the table of contents was very helpful in being able to find the story without having to skim throughout the book.

For each Biblical story there is the book and verse in the Bible that it corresponds with.  Each story has an “I learned that…” which is the main idea of the story and “I can…” segment involves the children to participate in a challenge to encourages them to live out the Word they just received, a short prayer asking the Lord to help them to apply the lesson learned to their own lives, and a verse that correlates with the story.

At the end of the book I found it helpful that they have outlined a section for Bible verses to remember and the miracles of Jesus.

My daughter and I are enjoying reading this collection of Bible stories together."

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Organized: A Start

I'll admit it: Getting and staying organized is hard sometimes. Pretty calendars and neat lists sound exciting and those alone keep me going for a few days but then what?

I've made a three-columned list that helps me take organizing one day at a time.
I laminated my list so that each day, I can write down my tasks (in dry erase marker) and erase them the next day and start all over again.

How do I categorize and prioritize between the three columns?

The must do column is pretty self-explanatory. Here I write down the tasks that I must complete for the day such as homeschooling, Bible reading and such.

The should do column is comprised of the things that, if I have extra time, I should do (to get a head start on the next day's must do list.) It is not mandatory to do the things on this list.

The can do list is a free time list. If I complete my must do tasks, I can indulge in using my iPod or some other extra privilege.

So far, this method has helped me manage my time better. Before, the day would go by and I didn't have time to fully complete my important tasks with excellence. Now, I prioritize and everything gets done.

How do your stay organized? What method(s) help you? I'll take all the help I can get:)


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