Category Archives: Book Review

My Sister’s Prayer


Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould were a wonderful  addition to to my summer reading. I have had the perfect pleasure  of being a part of the Harvest House Book Club and sharing two great books with an enthusiastic group of Christian fiction readers and reviewers.  Thank you, Harvest House Publishers!


Let me just say I enjoyed the first book of the Cousins of the Dove series, My Brother’s Crown, tremendously. This second book in this dual time series did not disappoint. I can honestly say I am looking forward to the third book in the series as well.

In My Sister’s Prayer, the story lines follow the lives of two pair of sisters in Virginia, Celeste  and Berta Talbot in the 18th century and Maddee and Nicole in in present day. The sister relationships in the story lines mirror each other in many ways. I am drawn to the present day mystery of the murder in the cabin, and I must admit, the present day story line was my personal favorite. My heart is tender to the stronger more dependable sisters Celeste and Maddee as they try to guide and protect their younger more impetuous sisters.

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould are excellent at what they do, and what they do is masterfully weave historical and contemporary Christian fiction story lines together into a series of rare gems. Their characters are highly relatable and compelling.  I am a new Clark and Gould fan, and I am in the process of reading their previous works.

Close to Home by Deborah Raney

Summer reading… Close to Home by Deborah Raney…Sweet.


I feel as if I arrived at Deborah Raney‘s Chicory Inn novel series party a little late. I read this book without having read the previous books in her series, and yet, I enjoyed the book immensely. It is a great fit for readers who have enjoyed Karen Kingsbury‘s Baxter family series.

            While the previous  three books may have given me more information about the siblings in the Whitman family, this story line was strong enough it didn’t require the background. The story revolves around Bree Whitman, her strong attachment to her deceased husband’s family years after his death, and the changes in the relationships with the possibility of dating again.

            I love that the story is set in and around a bed and breakfast. Charming! The relationships within the Whitman family are endearing including a very sassy and eccentric grandmother. I will read the first three books in the series now that I have met this family. I would like to get to know them a little better. According to her website, a fifth book will be released in February 2017.


Giddy Up, Eunice!

Sometimes books come into our lives in the perfect season…

This. Book. This. Season…


I have a great affection for this book and this author.  Sophie Hudson is one of my favorite people, and  if we knew each, I think it is safe to say,  we could totally be best buds. I follow her blog and podcasts, and I have read her previous books. Most important,  she loves Jesus and can make me snort with laughter.

Regarding this book, let me just say it is a little different than Sophie Hudson’s previous titles. It is more of a biblical approach to relationships between women than the marvelous mix of anecdotes around family and hometown folk she usually shares.

BUT this book has those too!

This book is about women. Precious women…because in truth, aren’t we all precious. I think we are…

Giddy Up, Eunice is about how we as women need community  with each other to be at our “relational” best, so to speak. Sophie looks at the relationships of women in Scripture to mirror the way we can and should relate to each other. She looks at Elizabeth’s relationship with her younger cousin Mary, the relationship of Naomi and her daughter-in-love Ruth, and the relationship of Lois and Eunice, grandmother and mother of Timothy.



In this book Sophie also adds marvelous color by sharing personal stories and her fabulous southern whit. She shares about the young women she pours into and the wild, wonderful women who have mentored her through the years in the sweetest of ways. This book is about “safe places becoming sacred spaces” in our relationships with each other.


Giddy Up, Eunice is  an excellent book for a small group to share or a book club title. I pre-ordered several copies to give to my girlfriends. This book has meant a great deal to me personally because I am in a season of my life where there are young women in my circle of influence who will benefit greatly from these types of relationships. These girls and women need someone pouring into them, coming along side in life’s hills and valleys…

Giddy Up, Eunice  has been a poignant reminder  of how we women have a tendency to fill our lives with superficial and unhealthy relationships with other women. These are relationships where we walk in constant comparison and insecurity.

Ok…Let’s decide right here and now to end that. Let’s stop it.

Stop. It. Right. Now.


We girls also understand that it is super easy for us as women to focus on what seems to separate us, but in reality, we have far more in common than we realize.

Yes…We. Do.


We are selling ourselves short, girls!

We need deeper, more supportive relationships with women of all ages because there are relational riches to be found across generational ages.


Add this to your summer reading list…

It’s so worth it!

Giddy up, ya’ll!


I Know His Name – Book Review


In all honesty, you need to know… I really love author Wendy Blight.

It is difficult for me to be unbiased about anything she writes. Her writing style appeals to me, and I adore the meaty approach she takes in teaching the Word of God. The deep affection she has for Scripture and the women she encounters through her ministry seeps into every word she speaks and every page she pens. My first encounter with Wendy was two summers ago when I read her book Living So That: Making Faith-Filled Choices in the Midst of a Messy Life

Loved it! It was just the book/Bible study this worn out and weary teacher needed to restore shalom that summer.

Her new book came at just such a time for me this spring…

I Know His Name: Discovering Power in the Names of God is a glimpse into the multi-faceted character of God through the study of His names. I actually completed this study as part of an online Bible study group through Proverbs 31. It was a joy!  I love the light accountability of an online women’s Bible study, and I dearly  appreciate the added benefit of a Facebook group in conjunction with Wendy’s emails, blogs and video clips.

The book, I Know His Name,  held my heart…every other part of the online study was rainbow sprinkles and chocolate icing. The big take away for me…from this book/Bible study…is the sweet intimacy of knowing our God through His character as it’s revealed through His Word.

Wendy writes, “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But to trust and believe this way requires an intimate personal knowledge of the character of God. For you cannot trust whom you do not know…”

Wow… This spoke to me… How can we put our trust in someone we do not know?  Trust for our  husbands, our children, our own lives…our todays and tomorrows…

I want to know Him more. I want to know His heart…

This study was manna for me.

Visit Wendy Blight at her webpage. Sign up for her updates. Look for her devotions and teaching on the Proverbs 31  First5 app. Her testimony is powerful, and she shares from a place of  deep healing through a growing faith.

On a personal note…you really want to buy the actual book for this study. I wish all Bible studies were written in this book format. The book itself is the perfect size to fit in my purse (uh…because a prerequisite for all of my purses it that they are big enough to hold a novel or Kindle!) It is a pretty book, and I love the paper used in the making of this book. Yes…I do. 

That sounds weird, I know, but the paper takes the inks of my Sharpies and colored pens beautifully! It was a joy to write in this book. No slick pages…

The books published by the InScribed Studies are all amazing in this way. 

This is some serious truth by someone who loves to write in her books with fabulous pens… yep!  





Choose Joy!

I have a new friend.

Her name is Sara Frankl.

1 me rileyWell…In truth, I never met Sara…in person. I never shared coffee with her or chatted with her over the phone…I wish I had.

But reading her words and heart poured out on the pages of her book have given me a deep sense of knowing her…knowing her kind heart, her courage, her marrow deep faith…

I wish I had known her gentle spirit  and her grace-filled wisdom, but it’s her beautifully penned words that settle in my soul. Sara wrote for (In)courage, a division of Dayspring Cards and Gifts.

In Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts, author Mary Carver introduces her friend, Sara Frankl,  to us through her memories of Sara and Sara’s own words. Mary writes, “Sara Frankl lived with chronic pain as a result of autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis and was eventually confined to her home before dying at 38 years old. If anyone had a reason to focus on the unfairness of life, it was her. Yet Sara accomplished something few can, especially those enduring intense pain: she chose joy.”  

IMG_2426And she did…

Sara’s humility and passion for others slams at the walls of my heart at a time when it seems our society and our world in general  scream, “It’s all about me!” Her transparency in dealing with an illness that trapped her and held her body captive left me amazed and humbled, but her honesty was always shared with subtle joy and encouragement. She made me want to fight a little harder in my own battles.

Sara writes, “Through the hardest times in my life, I stayed open enough to learn my greatest lesson: control is an illusion. Life will do with me what it pleases, my circumstances will change, my pain will fluctuate, my finances will come and go, my health will alter at will (and alter my weight right along with it), and the only thing I can do is stay open to letting God change me in those circumstances. He used the circumstances of my life to help me grow, He used those circumstances to change my heart. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with Him. And more often than not, being changed hurts.” Choose Joy, p.40-41


As Sara’s physical world became smaller because of the progression of her illness, she realized her expectations and goals needed to reflect the new normal she was being forced to live. Sara crafted a list of life goals which she wrote on the wall of her closet, a creative space she had created.


“I wrote my list of Life Goals on that wall, reminding myself that my goals weren’t things I could “do” or “accomplish.” They were goals for how I wanted to live in my spirit. It’s a list we all should sit down and make–a list I wish I had made when I was well and able-bodied…They are lofty goals. They’re not easy to reach every day. But they are what I was left with when I took away the idea of having a career, having a family, having financial security or some sort of status in society. I think it’s something I had to look at, but it’s something I should have been looking at all along.”

I must tell you that it has been a long time since I have poured over a book as I have with Choose Joy. I have read and reread her words. I have used them and her Scripture references as part of my daily quiet time…

Her words and life have made a beautiful impact on me and my Advent season this year. It is my deepest hope that many people will also be impacted by Sara and Mary’s words…by Sara’s life.

You may preorder your copy of Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts  today. The book is slated for release on January 5th.

Visit the The Sara Gitz Frankl Memorial Foundation to learn more about Sara and the Choose Joy Foundation.

I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have served as part of the Choose Joy Book Launch Team, and it has been my JOY to share this book with my friends.

Merry Christmas…Choose JOY!


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