Thursday, May 31, 2012

Garden of Faith

Summer is upon us and that means that my green thumb is being put to good use. Summer weather rouses the planter within me. A few days ago, the Sunday school classes participated in the second annual "Garden of Faith" Each child picks a fruit, veggie, or herb and we spend the day planting in each of our plots. I decided to go with tomatoes... again. I know, I know, I already have a tomato plant at home and also planted tomatoes last year. I was contemplating strawberries, but each plant I picked looked unhealthy. Besides, tomatoes are one of my favorite fruits (yes, tomatoes are fruits) and they will be put to good use this summer:)

me, getting ready to plant

in the yard of our church, neighbors planted a grapevine. 
I am awaiting all of the a juicy harvest


grape buds

little sister's braids

strawberry buds

strawberry plant

my  mom says that these are weeds, but I think that, even for weeds, they
do photograph well:)

grapevine leaves

and the most peculiar thing of all: on the way home, we spotted a chicken. in the city, 
chicken don't normally roam the streets and stoops

I can't wait for the first harvest! What fun things are you doing this summer? Have you begun your own, "Garden Of Faith?"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Encouraging A Dear Friend ~ Lily Marie

Since I've been blogging, I've had the privilege of "meeting" many godly young ladies. They have encouraged me with their sweet comments and emails and now, I want to encourage one of those ladies. 

I've chosen to encourage... Lily Marie over at Lily in His Field. Isn't her blog name absolutely perfect?! It goes so perfectly with her name and how she is the beautiful young lady that God wants her to be. Lily has been a faithful reader of my blog and through blog hopping, I discovered her blog. As I looked around, I immediately noticed her love for God. The first post I read was On It's Way, where she talked about her love for Christmas, but also what she knows is the true meaning of Christmas. She shares a warning against getting too caught up in the festivities and not really remembering Jesus. What a great post!

As I further looked around, I also took  notice of her  other convictions. She and her sister(s) dress very modest. I feel that when we dress modest, God, in us, can be seen. I can surely see the Lord in her and her writings.

Lily and I also share a similar trait. She and I love photography. Lily has taken some amazing shots. Check them out here. Among her shots, my favorites are the ones of sun flares and  the beautiful nature backdrop around her.

Lily often puts verses at the end of her posts. When she does this, I see that her heart and mind are in God's word and that she is meditating on His Word. The Bible says, 
Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Joshua 1:8

So, Lily, I encourage you to continue blogging and sharing those amazing photographs! Continue to be a light in the midst of the darkness. Continue to encourage those around you. Those sweet comments you share are like foot prints, leaving behind encouragement. I encourage you Lily to meditate on God's word always and never let your love for Him die out. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Growing Green and Grand

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

The feeling of dirt and maybe even worms wiggling through your fingers (yikes!) may not be the most pleasurable sensation, but the fruit (or vegetable) that a seed produces can be enjoyed. Seeing all of your hard work, the minutes ticking away as you spend time pruning and weeding all becomes worth it when you eat the first fruits. 

A few weeks ago, my sister and I received our own tomato plants. We took them home and watered them. The growing process is my least favorite part, but the Lord is helping me to be patient. I wait for the day when my tomatoes reach their peak of perfection and I can use them is sauces and salsas! *mouth is watering*

I love that the fuzz on the stems is so clear
for now, the plants are in pots, but I hope to re-plant them outdoors, where they can flourish!
Now, all I can do is let them grow... grow green and grand!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Review: Trauma Plan

Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to her former duties as an ER nurse. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart.


The evidence of a good book is generally in how quickly one feels compelled to read it. The quicker the better - even though it is bitter sweet to reach the end, you still can't wait to get there.

The blurb sounds really interesting/intriguing, huh? Trust me, when you actually pick this novel up, you won't be disappointed. Candace is an amazing author who knows exactly how to draw in her readers. I think that the development of Jack Travis and Riley Hale was brilliant. Great characters often have troubling pasts and Jack's past surely fits that script. I felt as though his past and story brought me in and kept me reading until the last word of the book. Of course, all of the other major and minor characters personality's shined as well. Especially Bandy Biggs's character. (if you have read this book: Didn't you just love the character Bandy Biggs?)

This is the first medical drama I have read. I half expected a medical scene played out, a little something like this, "Scalpel. Scalpel. Retractor. Retractor. Surgical stapler. Surgical stapler." or maybe a load of medical jargon that forced me to look up terms in a medical dictionary. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to read through this novel and thoroughly enjoy the plot without any unnecessary interruptions.

My favorite books are the one that tug at your heart. The ones that make you silently lift up a prayer for struggling and heartbroken characters (even though you know that they aren't real). I found myself moved by Riley's faith, her constant struggle with disability and her  finally learning to trust God and His will for her life. Jack's life story is nothing short of one trial and tribulation after another. When he accepts Christ, his character changes from a bitter, anger management issue plagued person to one who really wants God in His life. Jack learns that God's plans are not a coincidence.

This is the first book I have read by Candace Calvert and I hope it wont be my last. Her writing here emanates good use of imagery. It was peppered with humor and plenty of laughable moments. It was a page turner, plain and simple! I'd rate this book my 5 star seal of approval:)

You can purchase this book at Amazon.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Counting My Blessings

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. 
Deuteronomy 7:13

Have you ever been to a craft fair? Well, neither had I until my mother and I signed up for one on May 12. As many of you know, I have an Etsy shop and we were going to sell some of the items in my shop. Mom and I thought, "What better way to add to sales that to attend a fair." What fun! We set up our table (one school lunch table!) and the customers came pouring in. Little girls squealed when they saw the cute little things we had displayed at our table and marveled at the bright colors. I am a people person and getting to mix and mingle with other people was a blast. 

After baking in the sun, we went to a dear friend of mine's birthday. We went indoor ice skating. Remember the post I wrote here on ice skating? I didnt' know that indoor rinks existed. A plus to this ice skating trip was that I only fell once. I am embarrassed to say that I didn't even fall on the ice. I was skating "super fast", tripped and fell inside of the resting places. :|

there were arcade games too. 

Mom and I have been spending a lot of time together in the kitchen. We have been trying out new recipes and they have all come out pretty good, if you ask me:) We made a beef salad, loaded with healthy veggies.

It was a wonderful mother's day. I don't now how I didn't snap any pictures of me mom, but all in all we had fun. I truly am thankful for the time we get to spend together. I thank God that He blessed me with a great mom.

We also visited a sweet sister in the hospital. Visiting her brings a smile to my face every time.

What a week! How was your week?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Unique Us


I am unique. Yes, my friend, you too are unique. We are made in the image and likeness of God himself. 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and 
female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

We are not cookie cutter perfect. We are not an assembly-line product. We are all special! God took His time forming you. Think of it: In the whole world, in all of recorded history, there is no one quite like you. Your eyes, your nose, your hair, are all specially tailored to you. You are one of a kind. 

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;"
Jeremiah 1:5a

What a blessing it is to know that I am special to God. He formed me and then set me apart for His purpose. He knew me and loved me, even though He was aware that I would fail Him. What a relief it is to know that because He carefully created me, I don't have to pretend to be someone who I am not. I don't have to act, put on a front, or hide my personality. And neither do you. You don't have to be afraid to show the world who you are. Let the light of Jesus shine in you. 

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds 


praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

God's plans for you are unique, too. He has beautiful story written for your life and for my life.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you 
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes, we may face trails and tribulations, but even those are unique. God knows our strenths and weakness.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let 
you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,
 he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

And lastly, your gifts are special.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Don't be afraid to use your gifts. God gave them to you for a specific reason. He wants you to use those gifts to bless others and glorify His name.

You are unique. I am unique. We are all unique. Be yourself, because everyone else is taken.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Quick Thought: Paul + Mark and Bitterness

Bitterness in the bible is similar to poison and causes us to be defiled before God. (Hebrews 12:15) Bitterness is an underlying problem that doesn't always manifest on the outside, but dwells in that person's system. 

Paul is an amazing example to someone who did not hold any roots of bitterness when he was betrayed and harmed. Do you remember the story of Paul, Barnabas and John (Mark)?

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark,with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 

Acts 15:36-38

Here we read how John (Mark) deserted Paul and Barnabas in an earlier occasion. He cowered away and didn't help finish the work in which he was sent out to do. Honestly, if someone deserted you in the heat of a dangerous and life threatening situation, wouldn't you feel a bit bothered? I'm pretty sure we all would. But... here is the beautiful thing.

My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
Colossians 4:10

Paul tells the other churches to welcome Mark if he were to come to them. Paul could have held on to resentment and commanded that the church close it's doors to Mark and show him no hospitality, but that wasn't the case.

I want Paul and Mark's situation to be an example to me. When someone offends me, I want to be able to forgive them and not to allow roots of bitterness to take root in my heart. Will you do the same? Don't let roots of bitterness to take root in your heart, grow and prosper, producing a harvest of sin.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Litfuse Blog Tour: Beyond Hope's Valley

About The Book: 
After an extended stay in Montana, where Amish traditions are different than in her home state, Marianna Sommer returns to Indiana for two reasons, first to help her brother and his girlfriend prepare for a baby and their wedding. Second, to plan her own wedding to Aaron Zook -- a marriage she’s been dreaming about ever since childhood.

And yet, although she had missed the idyllic farms and families of her upbringing, Marianna is surprised that Indiana is somehow making her long now for Montana.

As months pass, secrets that were hidden in winter’s frozen grasp thaw and take on a life of their own. The truths about a child, about a past relationship, and about God’s plans are being revealed. Walking through a valley of questions, Marianna must hold on to hope as she decides where and with whom her heart truly belongs.

My Review:
Being that I have read one of Tricia Goyer's novels (By The Light Of The Silvery Moon) I had high expectations for this book. I expected an intelligent use of words, intriguing characters, and a  suspenseful plot. I expected emotion and drama. I expected this novel to draw me in and keep my hooked until I finished it. Lastly I expected an Amish novel that was different from the common plots I've read. (The Choice and The Mercy) All of these expectations were met as I read each chapter. Tricia's writing is jam-packed with imagery, allowing me to travel to Indiana, absorb the colorful surroundings and soak up the love that Marianna has for God.

As I began reading this novel, I realized that it was the third book in what seems to be a captivating and brilliant series. I know that some books that come in a series leave certain vital and informative details out so that the reader will buy all three books. Yes, there were some times while reading that I felt lost, but I think that the book gave enough information that I didn't feel as though I ruined my reading experience by not reading the two previous books. That doesn't mean that I won't read them:)

I nearly feel off my seat when I figured out what the scandal was and exactly who was involved. Oftentimes, we think that the Amish are perfect people who are free from temptation because they are, for the most part, separated from the world's enticement. We picture them as gossip-free and a group of people who follow God's word to the T. This novel clearly shows that everyone sins, including the Amish, and is able to attain God's forgiveness.

I think that the cover of this novel  was beautifully done. The backdrop of the cover replicates exactly what I pictured Montana to be. Even though I didn't imagine Marianna looking as she does on the cover, I think that her look does fit Ben's description.

As far as I know, the Amish are very religious. They read prayers for and songs from the Ordung. I was edified my Marianna's faith. She spoke to God in her own words aloud. She read an English Bible, because she and most in the community do not understand the German Bible her county uses. I was very happy that her character wasn't afraid to be different and turn against religiosity. I think Tricia did an amazing job in developing the character Marianna.

Overall, Tricia's writing in this novel  is creative! She broke the mold of average Amish novels, producing something fascinating and a pleasure to read. I'd give this novel 4.5-5 stars. If you wish to own a copy of this amazing book you can purchase it from CBD

About The Author:
Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

More info: Living Inspired and her website

Celebrate with Tricia and enter to win a custom-made Amish Wall hanging in the colors of your choice ... and much more!

One fortunate winner will receive:
Custom Amish Wall Hanging {You choose the colors!}
An Amish Doll {Sweet.}
Amish-made basket {It’s picnic season!}
Doilies, potholder and an Amish cookbook {All items form Bird-in-Hand, PA!}
Three book Big Sky Amish series {Be swept away by this captivating series.}

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 20th. Winner will be announced at "All Things Amish" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/21. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and more!

So grab your copy of Beyond Hope's Valley and join Tricia on the evening of the May 21st for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Amish?) and lots of giveaways. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends viaFACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 21st!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Nostalgically Nautical

Sea life sounds wonderful. The smell of salt air and the spray of sea water is absolutely invigorating and powerful. Life abroad, traveling the seven seas is adventurous and uncertain... in a good way. Not many dream of living the explorer's life style, but adventure is something I crave. Unfortunately, reality has taken center stage and I remember that I am surrounded by skyscrapers and apartment buildings. The closest to sea life I probably will ever get is visiting the zoo and crossing the Whitestone bridge. But a girl can dream...

and a few nautical accessories can help her dream. I'm nostalgically nautical.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Counting My Blessings

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power 
that is at work within us,
Ephesian 3:20

I think that by looking around my blog, it's evident that I have a passion of photography. Each passing day, I think that passion grows stronger. For the longest time, our family has only owned point and shoot cameras. We had two Kodak cameras (terrible!) and we now have a Nikon CoolPix. Most of the photographs that I've posted on my blog were taken with the Nikon and I think that they came out great. Recently, my parents invested in a... you guessed it, a DSLR camera. We got a DSLR Nikon. I absolutely love it! I am thankful that God saw it fitting to bless me... I mean my family with a new camera:) I am going to have a ton of fun snap amazing shots with it.

On another note, I have had a cold for a few days now. I think that the sudden climate changes here in New York have caught me off guard and finally taken it's toll. I am thankful even for the stuffy nose, the constant sneezing and even having to take cough medicine. I have declared my healing, knowing that God sees fit to strengthen my immune system.

and by his wounds we are healed.

Every month, our church has a Sunday service that the children direct (meaning that the children sing the praise/ worship, collect the offering, and bring the sermon) Each of these services are special in their own way and are truly a blessing. The Sunday that just passed was a service directed by the children and Ail, a friend and I sang the worship. Standing up in the altar is defiantly a privilege and when you stand up there, you can feel the presence of God. 

I designed two blogs and think they came out really nice.
Aili wanted something adventurous, including the colors gold, brown and yellow. Check out her blog to see the entire design.

Kathryn wanted something simple and she expressed her love for the color blue. Check out her blog to see the entire design.

What are you thankful for this week? I love thinking back on God's goodness!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things ~ Books

We all have a favorite book. You know, the one you can read over and over again without growing tired of the plot. The one where the spine is cracking and the pages are wrinkled and yellowed after much use. I have a few of those books. (I am trying to preserve them and keep them as wrinkle-free as possible)

One of my  favorite book series so far is the Shiloh Legacy:

These books take place in the historical era of World War I. One of my favorite genres right now is historical fiction, so these were a pleasurable read. I really loved the first and third books:)

The Rose Trilogy is another series of books that I cherish and hope to preserve. I love the covers of these novels and the words within them are all extremely interesting and captivating. I have read a few Amish novels and can say that none of them measure up to Beverly Lewis' work! I hope to add more of her writings to my rapidly growing library.

These books here miscellaneous, meaning that they are not part of a series. None the less, I have greatly enjoyed reading them. Each plot is special in it's own way. The second book here is written in present day and the first and third books are historical fiction. 

Books are timeless. Yes, tablets and iPads have taken the place thousands of books, but I could never get used to "fake flipping" the pages on a tablet. I love the smell of a new (or  old) book. The way it feels in my hand, the way it slips into my purse, the way my bookmark rests in its pages... a tablet can never replace that feeling of my favorite books.

If you'd like to read my reviews on a few of my favorite books click here or select one that interests you.

What are a few of your favorite books? I"d love to hear about them.

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