Things I’m Loving this Week

I’ve always been a reader, and with half the world obsessed with reality tv or ugly politics, for me that translates to blog reading. There are about a handful of blogs I read regularly. Why? I always want to hear from these people because they’re so real, and Crystal Paine’s weekend post is one of those I look forward to in my inbox. I thrive on “off topic” randomness, and the weekend posts are just about as random as you can get, so in honor of this I want to jot a few random offerings of my own.

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  1. Hello September!

If you didn’t know, this month begins the season I love most. Bring on the #PSL’s– although where I live, I prefer the amazing local version which combines pumpkin spice with toasted marshmallow. It just makes me happy. At this moment, there’s a wicker basket set under my living room chair, just ready for when the hats and mittens come out. Fall means delicious breezes, a last hurrah for the roses surrounding my porch, and gorgeous colors on the trees. Our extended family spends extra time together, because birthdays! Also, there are always great events, so I’m already planning date nights for me and hubby. 🙂

What do you love about fall?

  1. Hoopla– digital streaming

I have recently discovered this tiny goldmine, brought to us by our local libraries, and I love it! It’s free, you can get the app, and you have 10 titles per month. With. Rollover. I am currently hoarding my last five titles from August until they expire, and I will carefully choose my books for September one at a time. Until the end of the month, when I’ll snag like a crazy person.  Right now, I’m finishing up Lisa-Jo Baker’s book, followed by Breaking Busy from Alli Worthington on audio. I also have three ebooks in fiction from Melissa Tagg, Colleen Coble and Denise Hunter.

I don’t have a ton of time to read, as I’m sure you don’t either. When I do, I like something good on my shelf. I love a new Bible study book or Christian fiction new release, and last season’s featured books from Lifeway are mostly on the shelves of Hoopla. You can find your favorite 2017 releases pretty quick–even for you music and video lovers–and it costs nothing. Definitely worth a shot.

What are you reading in September?

  1. Lisa Jo Baker’s Never Unfriended wrecked me in the worst possible way. The truth is, the only people I have ever unfriended are people I loved most, because of life choices and healthy boundaries–all the things that would sound responsible in a TEDTalk and feel like garbage in real life.  That being said, I never intended to read this book. I probably wouldn’t have, except for Kristy Cambron’s book club featuring…you guessed it. Never Unfriended and Lizzy & Jane. I decided to check out the audio version and let it roll while I drove to all the mom things, then folded laundry.

The thing I loved about this book is the way Lisa cuts through social pretense with a reality knife, takes the cracked sheet cake and layers it with fruit and whipped cream before she serves it up on a plate. Belle melange never tasted so good–maybe because the women who read this book  aren’t eating alone. A favorite quote refers to, “Velveteen Friendship.”

“Love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right…when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up unannounced with magazines and granola bars in an effort to say, ‘I love you.’” –Lisa Jo Baker

I hope your weekend finds a way to tell the people in your life how much you love them.

**Bonus: I’m looking forward to this Scripture writing plan on serving. Hop on over and join me!

Grace to you,

Nicki

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Thankful Things.

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Every year we have Thanksgiving traditions.  Our family gets together, and everyone makes the most requested dishes of the previous year.  The best of the best.  We cook til we need to turn on the air conditioner, and everything gets packed into the dishwasher before we pile casseroles, desserts, and kids into the SUV.  We are always less than fashionably late to every family event because we are “just trying to get out the door.”  One year, my sweet-then-pre-teen-niece declared to her mama while waiting for our family, “It’s ok, they’re probably just trying to get out the door.”  Bless it.

She was so right.  Four kids, diaper bags, and food is a tall order for a stressed out, sleepless mommy.  For the last few years we have been minus the diaper bags, plus a cat and dog, and transitioning into the middle stages with our kids.  On a positive note, we have finally figured out the beauty of preparing everything the night before.  If we could fix all of the food the night before, we would.  But, people invariably want meals fresh and hot, so it will be clothing and showered children, cleaning, laundry, and rest the night before.  Fixing ahead is my sanity saver for life.   Just so you know.

This year, we also feel different somehow.  Besides the diaper bag we laid down, there’s also been a few other things.  This year is marked by change in our family in so many ways.  Many of them good, some of them challenging.

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In the busyness, it’s difficult to connect with those we love.  Let’s offer a prayer of thankful things.

Thank You, God, for the times we are able to be together.

When we give up Black Friday shopping and feel good about it.  When we realize the things we own seem pale in comparison to the journey God has us on.

Thank You, God, that celebrating Your Son has never been about having things.  Thank You for the blessing of giving to those in need.

On a year that decorating seems out of place, and we long for just a simple celebration of Jesus and time spent well together.

Thank You for holiday traditions to do with our families.  Thank you, God, for Your light that guides us. 

In the midst of it all, this year we are learning the beauty of thanks to God at all times, in all seasons.

We celebrate You, Jesus, as seasons change.

 

What is the prayer of your heart this season?  How are you giving thanks to God in the midst of change?

 

 

Book Review: The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

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Hey, y’all!  I’m so happy to announce the release of a new novel from
author, Dawn Crandall–The Cautious Maiden!
This book is the fourth book in The Everstone Chronicles and perhaps the most gripping of all four tales!
Quick Synopsis:
Violet Hawthorne knows what it’s like to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In the years after her parents passed away, her brother has taken the family estate and turned it into the local brothel.  All she wants is a respectable life and, working at Everston, that looks like a possibility.  What she doesn’t know is that her brother’s lack of good judgment and weakness for worldly living is about to turn her life upside-down.
How will she weather this storm in her life?  Will Violet ever find the grace of God?  Is Vance Everstone an upright man of God, as he claims to be, or the vicious rogue that rumors claim?  Is it possible that her story can take a turn for the right by letting God take control?
My Thoughts:
I loved this book for several reasons.
I can still recall the moments in my teenage years that a group of girls and I would gather around with popcorn, brownies, and Dr. Pepper to watch the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice.  Sense & Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park were all among our favorites as well.  There’s something about this time period that I’ve always loved.  Maybe it’s the language or the clothes (or the lovely, epic soundtracks), but these Victorian storylines have a special place in my heart.
Now, a few years down the road, and four kids later, those Jane Austen marathon nights have been traded in for the newest Pixar movie, bacon pizza, and putting the kids to bed!  Instead of taking away from family time, I’m more likely to pick up a good book to read when the kids are in bed.  What could be better than a great novel with a Jane Austen feel?
This book, written in first person POV, was a real page turner.  The author did an amazing job of sharing Violet’s thoughts and feelings, her hesitations and her hopes.  What about the hero?  Vance Everstone could not have been more of a conundrum!  I must confess that my affinity for him began when I found out he could fix hair!  🙂  (My hubby is a barber.)  With so many twists and turns, I kept second guessing who to watch out for in this story.  The thread of redeeming love was carried out to the very end.
Another reason this story was near and dear to my heart is that it tackles the sensitive subject of human trafficking.  Prayer for ministries like the A21 organization and Exodus Road as well as our local halfway houses and women’s shelters from abuse is very important to me, and supporting and rescuing these women is one of the reasons I began writing.  Dawn Crandall took a very dark issue and approached it with grace.  Looking at Violet’s story, there’s a very real threat in her life.  I love how the author also acknowledged that her heroine was not the only life at risk.  Ending the issue and defeating the enemy means rescuing every girl at risk, not just one.
If you like romance stories with a theme of redemption, this book is a definite winner.
Author Bio:
Image result for the cautious maiden  Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter and The Cautious Maiden which released October 4th, 2016.
Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two little ones and serves with her husband in a premarital mentorship program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and an associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter. She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.
I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher, and this is my honest review.