Thursday, September 21, 2017

Summer of Changes

Greetings everyone!

This has been a long and crazy summer, full of a LOT of life changes that I was not expecting at all. I have been working on this blog entry since mid-July at least, and am finally finishing it right as summer closes. It is interesting to look back and see where I was a couple months ago with all of the changes that have taken place. In some ways, I am still there. However, looking back, I am able to see God's constancy and His grace. I am so thankful to have a God who loves me in spite of myself.

This will be a very long entry, so feel free to skip. It will not hurt my feelings. I needed to post this for a couple of reasons. #1: Writing this entry has helped me process a lot of the changes that have taken place and I wanted to share that with you. #2: I have several ideas for different blog entries that I can't get to until I get this one posted and we move on with life.

All that being said, let me tell you about my summer....

JUNE
*The day after school ended for the year, my co-workers and I were told by our Board of Trustees that the school would be closing due to low enrollment for the Fall semester.  This was not something any of us had been expecting. Enrollment had been down for a couple of years, due to a lot of factors, but I think most of us felt that we were past the scary part. We had a donor ready to build us a building, we had an advertising deal with a Christian radio station, the staff had put countless hours into making each event a success, and the parents were supportive.

To say this was a devastating blow would be an understatement. Many of us had worked at this school for several years. This was my first job outside of college. Matthew had started working there part-time while going to school so it was as much his school as mine. We were each other's family. My co-workers' kids were like my nieces and nephews. My students were my babies. We had watched these kids grew up. We had their parents' numbers on speed dial. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. We sat in the room weeping and going through all five stages of grief like a hamster on a hamster wheel.

When I packed up my room, it was for the last time. I had no idea what I would be teaching next year if I would be teaching next year, or where I would be teaching next year. All I knew was that the best school in the world was closing and my heart was breaking.

*One week later, this happened:



Yeah.

So, hubby and I have not exactly been "trying" but we were okay with an "accident". That is, we were okay with an accident when I had a full-time job and we had a regular income.

Here's the thing about accidents: Apparently, you don't get to choose the circumstances of the event. Hence it being an accident.

Who knew?

I had been two weeks late, which didn't necessarily scare me because I had been irregular lately. But I wanted to be sure, especially in light of recent events.  I took the test, expecting the one little line to confirm that I was not pregnant.

I did a double take when there were two lines, and took a second test to confirm that my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Then, I looked up at the ceiling and went, "Really, God?! NOW?!"

In all my daydreams of getting pregnant, accidentally or otherwise, none of them included this scenario where both of us were unemployed. I was not excited, and that frustrated me because something like this was supposed to be a joyous occasion! All I could think about was the fact that we were both unemployed, my support system was disintegrating, and I had no idea how to make plans.

*The following week, I went to serve as a senior counselor at Camp Lu-Jo KISMIF with one of my best friends, and former Principal Julie. I'm not going to lie, it was the last place I wanted to be and I tried to think of lots of excuses for backing out. Fortunately, hubby wouldn't let me.

That week was rough, but I ended up being so glad that I went. For starters, the theme was Unstoppable Faith. Every single day there was a message that I specifically needed to hear.  Sometimes, quite unintentionally, it was through my own lessons as I talked to my 7th-grade girls about faith. It was like God was shouting at me, "You're going to be okay! I've got you!"

*The week after that Julie and I took a trip to Washington DC and New York City for some MUCH needed vacation time. We had been planning this trip since October when we found out that Anastasia was going to be on Broadway! We had a blast nerding out at the Smithsonian in DC and all the awesomeness of New York. One of the best things was that her cousin got us backstage passes and we got to see the set up close and personal! We even got to meet a couple of the actors, though sadly, I missed out on getting Anastasia's autograph.  I was very thankful for this trip. It was a good time for processing and enjoying life before going back to the real world.

*Before we left on our trip to New York, I had been offered a position teaching at another small private school about 40 minutes from where I live and I had almost accepted it but decided to wait. While I was in DC I got another offer for an interview and decided to delay my decision even longer.  I went to the interview, really liked the job, the people, and the environment, but unfortunately, they chose to go with someone else.  While I was disappointed, I am thankful that I chose to go to that interview because it highlighted for me several things that were missing from the other offer. Consequently, I decided to turn it down. This felt, and still feels, like it was the right move, but unfortunately, it put me back to square one on the job hunt.


JULY
*The first week of July things started to change fast. I was frantically filling out applications to every school district in the area and applying for every opening listed on their website. Julie started the process of moving to her new job in another city. Matthew and I got our first sonogram and the whole pregnancy thing started becoming real to me. As I smiled for the first time about my pregnancy, my train of thought went something like this:
Yes, I am definitely pregnant. There is a baby inside me. Isn't that little peanut cute?! Awww its little heart is beating!  It's going to come out eventually and want to be fed. Then I have to keep it alive for eighteen years. Not to mention the nine months before it shows its adorable little head. I still don't have a job....
I had been playing phone tag with the unemployment office all summer long and trying to get on Medicaid for pregnant women and kept running into confusion and bureaucrats. I applied for part-time positions, thinking I would stack jobs if I had to. I applied for minimum wage jobs at tutoring centers.  Those were the only places that called me back wanting to set up interviews. It wasn't ideal but it would work. Matthew had a part-time position lined up at a University Model school teaching Computer Applications that would at least cover the rent so all I needed was a full-time job or two part-time jobs that paid SOMETHING. 
One Saturday evening, after I had a meltdown freaking out over where we were, or rather where we weren't, Matthew casually suggested I expand my search to San Antonio, where his parents live. We would have a support system. We already love the church there. There were family members who could help us get jobs. We had friends in the area. So I started applying because I was out of options, not really loving the idea because at that point the idea was Matthew would stay to fulfill his commitment to his job while getting the house ready to sell and I would be in San Antonio by myself.

The following Monday, Matthew's school called and said that, due to enrollment, they were cutting his classes, and therefore his salary, to half of what he had originally signed up for.

We took that as a sign from God and San Antonio went from being a possible backup plan to our only consideration. The more we thought about it the more right it felt. Matthew started working on fixing up the house that week and we began making plans to move to San Antonio by the end of August.

While selling our house and furniture, putting our stuff in storage, and moving in with parents may not seem ideal, this is a huge blessing to us for a lot of reasons:

1. We will be able to pay off the rest of our student debt which means we can focus on saving for our own house.

2. Matthew's parents are allowing us to stay at their house rent free

3. Family connections can help us find jobs and give us support when the baby comes

The tentative plan was that, after fixing up the house to sell, Matthew would come down and continue to go to school and get his Computer Programming certificate. I would substitute teach for the year. I had pretty much resigned myself to this plan and felt good about it. It would give me time to build a relationship with the school districts, and I would have the flexibility I needed for when the baby came.

Then came August....
*Remember the part where I get a whole year to adjust to my new circumstances? HA! That was a good one.

*So, as I am fighting pregnancy fatigue and trying to pack up our earthly belongings, and reconcile myself to my new life, I get a call from a school called Living Rock Academy in Bulverde, Texas about a Math and Science position for Middle School. This is a week and a half before school starts.

I actually debated with myself.

Math and Science are not my favorite. On the other hand, it's a small private school which is what I want. But Math and Science! But regular paycheck....

After more "discussions" with God, I called them back. I had a phone interview with a board member. I scheduled an interview for the following Monday. I went to the interview the following Monday, was offered the job and accepted it on Tuesday, and began in-service on Wednesday.

Since then I feel as if I haven't stopped.

Since then, I have set up my classroom, begun learning new content and curriculum, navigated new waters with my new school and location, bought a new(er) car, carpooled for school trips twice, found out we're having a boy, and seen my husband four almost-consecutive weekends in a row.

Matthew is still in Dallas renovating our house to sell and probably will be for at least another couple of weeks. Most of my stuff is in storage, and I haven't had a whole lot of time to go through the stuff that is not in storage. There are many things about our situation that are not ideal, and many times I cry out to God, "WHY did you have to mess up my perfect life!"

Have you ever tried to argue with the Creator of the Universe? He's much better at it than we are. Something about being omniscient or something.

There are many blessings in all these changes as well.

The people I work with are great, and I am so thankful to be in a small private school with a regular income, rather than having to depend on a call from the school district for a one-time job. The Principal has been very flexible in allowing me to leave early for prenatal appointments, and he didn't even bat an eye when I told him in the interview that I was pregnant.

There are still adjustments to be made, and things that take some getting used to, such as learning how to teach my two least favorite subjects. But I feel as if this next school year is about growth for me. I definitely feel the growing pains.

I have found a place to have the baby that is run by midwives who work with the hospital, and they accept Medicaid! So far, I have had a great experience with the two women I have met with, and look forward to continuing to build a relationship with these women who will deliver my baby.

I am closer to my sister and my best friend, Kayla and could see both of them in a day trip.

I don't understand why my school had to close and everything had to change. But looking back over the past several months I see God's faithfulness and His patience with me. A patience and a faithfulness my impatient and faithless heart does not deserve.  When I throw spiritual tantrums, He responds with gentleness like a parent who knows their child is just scared.

There are many things I still do not know about our future. I can't even guess where we will be a year from now. I will probably continue to have days when I mourn the loss of my old life before I can move on.

But as I was writing about this whole mess in my personal journal, telling God how much more comfortable I would feel if there was a plan, He reminded me that there is a plan. He's got it all worked out, and I need to trust Him.

There is a purpose. God will not waste this time. He is working something out that I can't even imagine. I will look forward to the day when I get to know what that is. I will continue to wait. I will trust in Him.

Matthew says I rely too heavily on knowing all the details. He might be right. My plans did not involve the school closing and my co-workers, friends, and students scattering. But so far, everyone who has gotten a job has ended up exactly where they need to be in a situation that makes sense for them. God has been present throughout this whole yucky mess and reminded me through His people that He loves me and I'm going to be okay.

Here are some of my moments from this summer:

A month before school let out I had ordered a t-shirt for Julie that said, "Faith Over Fear". It arrived the DAY they told us the news about the school closing.

A few weeks ago, I received this postcard and keychain from the staff at Camp Lu-Jo, reminding me to have Faith.

Julie found out while we were at camp that she had gotten a job as a Principal in a city two hours away from where we lived. When I was simultaneously trying to be happy for my friend and trying not to cry, someone from her home group noticed me struggling and made a point to give me a hug and encourage me.

As soon as they heard the news, my sister, best friend since childhood, and my part-time sister all reached out to me with specific gifts and notes of encouragement letting me know they were there for me.


A Principal starting a new school came to buy furniture and school supplies from NTCA. While she was there, she prayed over us.
Parents advocated for jobs for me while they looked for a new school for their students.
One post on Facebook gathered a group of people from the school together in one spot to spend time together because we love each other.

A friend from church reached out to Matthew and gave him a contract job setting up the internet in his new office.

And finally there's this:

As I was going through the initial stages of going through my stuff and deciding what to sell, throw away, or pack, I came across this bag from last year's Texas Christian Schools Conference.  I hope you notice the theme:

It's almost as if God knew and was preparing us for it.

God's timing is perfect. I don't understand it, but I trust in it. I don't always feel it. But I have been clinging to this knowledge that God has a plan and I can trust Him with my life.

I still don't know what He has in store for me, Matthew, or Little One.

As my Grandad used to say,

"I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow."

We're going to be okay.






Ask ye what great thing I know
that delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

 Who defeats my fiercest foes?
Who consoles my saddest woes?
Who revives my waiting heart,
healing all its hidden smart?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

 Who is life in life to me?
Who the death of death will be?
Who will place me on His right
with the countless hosts of light?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

 This is that great thing I know;
this delights and stirs me so:
faith in Him who died to save,
Him who triumphed o'er the grave,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Johann C. Schwedler




























Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Name Unknown - Litfuse Blog Tour

Greetings, everyone!  This month I am participating in LitFuse Publicity's Blog Tour for A Name Unknown, Book 1 in the Shadows Over England series by Roseanna White. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review which you will find below. Read all the way to the end to find out how you can win a free copy of this fabulous book!

Back in June, I posted a cover reveal for  A Song Unsung, the second book in the series which comes out in January. I may have mentioned earlier that Roseanna is one of my new favorite authors and I have loved everything she has written so far. Naturally, I am very excited about this new series, especially after reading this first book. I hope you enjoy my thoughts below, and if you would like, you can purchase your own copy on Amazon, or get your copy signed by purchasing directly through the author's website.

Also, check out the Litfuse Landing Page for this blog tour here: http://litfusegroup.com/author/RWhite


A Name Unknown by Roseanna White

Book info

About the book:

She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?
Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.
Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

My Review:

I came into this book expecting to love it and I was not disappointed. Roseanna White has developed a reputation for creating a cast of well-rounded characters, fully developing romances so that they do not feel rushed, and giving the reader a sense of authenticity as they experience the period setting of the book.  She creates well-developed plots that keep your interest without giving away too much and there are always surprises the reader does not expect at the end.

The Characters:

Rosemary is a thief. One might say she is a noble thief, not quite a Robin Hood, but not quite criminal either. She has a deep love for her adopted siblings and an inner moral compass that holds her accountable even in her thievery. For instance, she will not steal from someone who is in a situation as bad as hers, or worse. She is a tad bit rougher than Mrs. White's previous female leads, having been raised on the streets and forced to rely on herself for most of her life.   Once a relationship has been established, she is fiercely loyal to her friends and will do anything for them.  This shows itself in some hilarious scenes in the book when she stands up to some bullies.

Then there is Peter, who I found fascinating as a character. His main obstacle in the book is that, because of his German last name, his English citizenship is in question. Which is a problem because England and Germany are not in a good place right now and there have been rumors of impending war.  His closest friends know he is loyal to England, however, those friends are few and far between. Due to the fact that Peter has struggled with a speech impediment since childhood, friendships and interactions with others have never come easily to him. He is somewhat of a recluse in his hometown, causing the townsfolk to be suspicious of him.  He finds it easier to communicate through the written word than the spoken word and will often write letters to his friends and members of the staff whenever he has something important to communicate.

Other tidbits:

Something new in this book that I enjoyed was the abstract character of the library. Peter hires Rosemary to organize his family library and help him find documents that would be pertinent to his citizenship. It turns out, however, that Peter's family had a bit of a book-hoarding problem and the library is in dire straits when she gets to it. Having personal experience, both as a library book-shelver, and with "collectors of treasures", I could well imagine the terrifying, overwhelming situation in which Rosemary walks into. It was fun watching these two characters develop along with the organizing of the library.

I love the title of the book and the way it connects to the story and the two challenges Rosemary is issued at the very beginning of the book.

I learned a little bit more about World War 1. I did not know that German residents who could not prove their citizenship were sent to internment camps. This is the fate that Peter is trying to avoid by finding documents proving his loyalty to England.

As always, Roseanna White created a wonderful cast of supporting characters which made me want to know more about them. Surprisingly, some of my favorites were the more hostile characters, probably because I enjoyed watching them clash with Rosemary. It made for some pretty entertaining scenes!

Also noteworthy are the fabulous setting descriptions that made me feel as if I were actually there walking the floors of Kensey or eating in the pub with the villagers.

Takeaways:

We may call ourselves and others by different names: "thief", "nothing", "street-rat", "German", "English", and "idiot" are some of the names attributed to the characters in this book. We may throw around words like, "liberal", "conservative", "basket case", "needy", "or what have you.  These names do not come from God, they come from the world and they do not tell your story. The message of this book comes out clear: you are not defined by what you have done or who others say you are. You are defined by what God thinks of you, and He loves you.

"My father once told me that all a man has is his name. I've been thinking about that a lot, as you can well imagine. And I've realized...I've realized there is only one name that matters. And it's Christian. Christ-follower. If I am that, then I am all I need to be. And if I'm not...then all the respect of all the men in all the world will avail me nothing." -- A Name Unknown


Click on the links below to find out how you can enter to win your own copy!

http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/name-unknown-roseanna-m-white

She's out to steal his name-will he steal her heart instead? Win @RoseannaMWhite's new book @Bethany_House #contest http://bit.ly/2tW2S4L


Calling all historical fiction readers! Enter to win a copy of @RoseannaMWhite's new #book! #giveaway http://bit.ly/2tW2S4L @Bethany_House

White 2

About the author:

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.
Find out more about Roseanna M. at http://www.roseannamwhite.com.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Reflections on Faith

Good morning!

Forgive the wandering nature of this post. It's rather a stream of consciousness, but hopefully you find something beneficial in it.

I am currently reading through the Gospel of Luke, and today I came across the story of Jesus healing the blind beggar:

"As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.'  And he cried out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'  And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!' And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' He said, 'Lord, let me recover my sight.' And Jesus said to him, 'Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God."

Luke 18:36-43

I have read this story, or had it read to me, several times in the past, but for some reason today I find myself particularly intrigued by the blind man. 

Who is this man? 

He asks Jesus to let him recover his sight, implying that he has not always been blind. At one point he had his sight. I wonder how he lost it? Illness? Injury? Age? Is he old, middle aged, or young? The Bible doesn't say in this particular story.  Why is he begging? Does he not have a family to take care of him? Is this how he provides for his family?

He has obviously heard of Jesus before. He has heard enough to know he has the power to heal, and as soon as he knows who it is he calls out to him. 

He is not going to be discouraged either. The crowd tells him to be quiet, but he persists, not content to merely accept his lot when he is so close to his salvation. What makes him cry out, I wonder? What makes him desperate to see? What makes him believe that he can be healed and that Jesus is the healer? Does he know someone who has been healed?

Yet he does. He knows Jesus is the answer and he believes Jesus will heal him. 

Jesus honors that faith and his sight is restored.

But then, rather than go on his merry way, he follows Jesus. He glorifies God. He is now a living testimony to God's power. Other people see him and praise God.

What must it have been like for him? To lose his sight, live in darkness, and then, beyond all possibility, receive his sight back? How did that affect him for the rest of his life? Did he see other things more clearly because he was able to look closely? 

I am in awe of his faith.  Many probably would consider his situation to be his lot in life. "Well, it's really sad that he lost his sight, but there's nothing to be done but to accept it and move on." 

How often do I resign myself to less-than-ideal circumstances and deny God's power to bring about change?

On the other hand, we are also given the example of Paul who was content in all circumstances:

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Philippians 4:11-13

So how is that different?

The common thread in Paul's contentment and the blind beggar's lack of contentment in this particular situation, is that they both trust in God's power to bring them through their trial. The blind man believes in God's power to deliver him from his situation, and Paul believes in God's power to sustain him while he lives with his situation. Both require faith in something beyond what we can see and touch and feel. Beyond what we "know" to be true. Beyond what the world tells us is realistic. Both require that we ignore those voices and trust that He knows better.

It is a simple answer, but not so simple in practice.

Many times I may begin a journey praying in faith that God will act. Then when He doesn't, or rather, when I do not see the evidence of His actions, I give up and decide that God wants me in this situation.

Other times I look at a situation, determine immediately that it is hopeless, and, rather than ask for God's power to work in the situation, I give up and claim to be content.

Sometimes, I don't ask because I don't want to be told "no".

In all of those scenarios I deny God's power and His goodness. 

I deny that He is working for my good in a less than ideal situation.

I deny that He is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine.

I deny that He wants good things for me.
 
Here's the thing about being content in any and every situation. It comes from knowing that good things are coming and the story doesn't end in this yucky spot. Maybe not for a while. Maybe in this life. But they are coming, and the story has a happy ending. And yes, that requires faith to see beyond our present circumstances. 

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God."
Hebrews 11:8-10

Having faith means that we acknowledge our own blindness and we reach out to the One who can see perfectly.

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland."
Hebrews 11:13-14

Faith means seeing beyond what is in front of us and knowing we will take part in it one day.

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, 'Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.' He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back."
Hebrews: 11:17-19

Faith means believing that even if the worst happens, God's promise holds true.

"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:25

The same faith that enables us to cry out to the Savior who can heal us also enables us to be content when He says, "wait". They are not two different kinds of faith, and we do not serve two different gods. We serve One God who sees far more clearly than we will ever see, and wants to bless us beyond our imagination.

Jesus said to the blind man, "Your faith has made you well."

May we have the faith that allows us to rely on God's power to act in impossible situations, and to wait for the eyes to see it clearly. May we follow Jesus and glorify God acting as living testimonies to His power, whether we have been delivered from a physical darkness or a spiritual one.

Blessings.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cover Reveal for A Song Unheard by Roseanna White

Greetings, everyone!

If you haven't heard, I have a new favorite author, Roseanna White (See reviews for books one and two of her Ladies of the Manor series, The Lost Heiress and The Reluctant Duchess, below. I haven't gotten around to writing a review for the third one yet, shamefully, but I will as soon as I get it back from my friend who is borrowing it.). She specializes in historical fiction with a twinge of suspense, well-developed characters, and satisfying romance.

She is currently working on a new series about a band of thieves during World War 1 called Shadows  Over England. Her first book in the series, A Name Unknown, will launch July 4th of this year and I am SO excited. So excited, I went a little crazy and pre-ordered it from Roseanna's website so I could get a signed copy. ;-) If you feel so inclined you can join me in my crazy fandom and pre-order your copy by clicking here. You can also add it to your list on Goodreads or preorder it on Amazon (minus the signature).

ANYWAY, I am serving as an unofficial member of her launch team for A Name Unknown, and thus have the opportunity to be privy to some insider news such as the cover reveal for book 2 of the series, A Song Unsung. Side note: I am already LOVING these titles. They immediately want me to know the name and sing the song!

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 Isn't she pretty?! And look at that beautiful violin and the expression on her face. She's watching something. Or someone? And what is she thinking? I love that backdrop with the white light coming in from the windows!  Okay, here's the story:

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won—until now when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.


But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

Oooooooo! Doesn't that description give you shivers??? This book promises lots of excitement, and I trust Roseanna to deliver! I have loved everything of hers that I have read so far, and I am beyond excited about this new series.

A Song Unheard is listed on Amazon and Goodreads. Feel free to pre-order or add to your shelf. If you are new to Roseanna White, check out her personal blog here. Another side note, the above-listed retailers have not posted the cover picture yet, so you should feel super privileged that you get to see it first! ;-) Click on the picture below to see what Roseanna wrote!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review for The Reluctant Duchess

The Reluctant Duchess (Ladies of the Manor, #2)The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Rowena is faced with the choice between marrying a monster or marrying a complete stranger, her decision takes her far away from the only home she has ever known and puts her right in the path of a dangerous pair of siblings who will stop at nothing to take the priceless treasure they are certain her new husband is hiding.

Having read all three books in this series, and loved every one of them, I almost feel disloyal picking a favorite. However, I cannot help but think if I did have a favorite, this would be it.

Roseanna M. White creates beautiful characters with such intricacies and depth the reader cannot help but want to follow them through their story. Characters who seem perfect in the beginning slowly reveal their flaws, as other characters who seem broken and fragile reveal their strengths.

For a long time, I have wanted to read a story where two people grew in their relationship with each other and fall in love after they were married. In the two or three books I have read where this was the setup, the romance happened too quickly and did not make sense. I appreciated the fact that, in this book, the author took the time to develop the relationship AND THE CHARACTERS so the reader could truly appreciate the romance when it finally, and fully, blossomed.

I LOVED the dynamic between Rowena and Brice. Though neither one of them sought out the relationship, once it was decided, they approached it with the perspective that they would make it work. There were several character-defining moments in the story when their commitment was tested because of Rowena's insecurities and Brice's pride.  The author is very adept at revealing character flaws while at the same time showing their strength

Experiencing Rowena's transition from broken and frightened to confident and strong was a constant pull on my heartstrings. I wanted to hug her to tell her it would all be alright and I wanted to cheer her on with each step she took outside of her shell. At the beginning of the book, I already loved Brice. Having read The Lost Heiress, I knew already that he was a strong character and looked forward to the opportunity to know him more. Through his relationship with Rowena, he revealed even more of his beautiful, compassionate heart, even as he showed some of his flaws.

Both characters were interesting and quirky in their own ways. Brice's personality is charming and flirtatious, but never inappropriately so. He has a keen insight into other people and a deep faith and spiritual intuition that allows him to sense things others cannot. Some of my favorite parts in the book were the moments when he would receive urgings from God to do something, particularly if he did not want to do them. Rowena has been hurt, physically and emotionally, by people close to her. While she protects herself and is slow to trust others, she longs for genuine love and affection. She also has a curiosity about others which makes her want to understand them.

If you enjoyed The Lost Heiress, you will love The Reluctant Duchess. Readers will enjoy seeing their favorite characters from the previous book and getting to know other characters even more.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review for Deliver by Tricia Mingerink



Have you ever wondered about your role in society? Have you ever felt doubts about your ability to fulfill that role? These are the questions plaguing our heroes in Deliver, the final installment of The Blades of Acktar Series, by Tricia Mingerink.
Martyn and Leith have been offered clemency by King Keevan and are allowed to continue living in Acktar. Leith returns to Stetterly with Renna and Brandi, and his fellow Blade brothers, to help rebuild the town. Eventually, he hopes to marry Renna and begin a new life with her, but what does he know about life as a farmer, much less a husband? Will the people of Stetterly accept him once they know his past? Meanwhile, Renna, never comfortable in the spotlight, must take leadership of her town as they work together to rebuild its ruins.  Martyn, still bitter and plagued with guilt, does not know how to be anything but a Blade. He accepts the job of a scout for King Keevan to protect the land from Rovers, wandering criminals without a leader, and supporters of Respen who were defeated in the war. Each of them must face the question, “What is my place?” Each of them will be tested to their limits as they discover a strength, and a peace, which comes from outside of themselves.
This is, without a doubt, the best book in The Blades of Acktar series, however, it would not be so without all the characters’ journeys and growth in the previous books.  From the beginning, I have related to Renna’s quiet introvertedness and her hesitancy to step into the limelight. Interestingly enough, since beginning this series a few years ago, I have increasingly found myself in situations at work in which I have been forced out of my comfort zone and into the leadership role. In this way, I feel as if Renna and I have grown together, and I have enjoyed cheering on my fellow introvert as we both learned to come out of our shells.
Leith’s growth throughout the series has been satisfying as well, and in this book, we are allowed to catch glimpses of him beginning to actually enjoy his life.  Granted, he is still recovering from his injuries and keeping an eye out for enemies, but he seems to finally accept the gift he has been given: a second chance in life, and a relationship with Renna. This adds a new dynamic to his character when we watch him fight to protect his family.
Martyn’s character arc was my favorite in this book. He has serious trust issues, for valid reasons, but once he decides to commit to something he becomes fully invested, even when it does not work in his favor. At the beginning of the book, he is bitter and hurt, over what he still considers a betrayal when Leith left the Blades. He struggles with guilt over the decisions he made in Defy. Not wanting to get close to anyone, he leaves his friends to become a scout for King Keevan.  In spite of this, we notice glimpses of his inner softness begin to emerge as he encounters grace, and even when he faces hypocrisy. I loved watching his shell crack throughout the story.
The title of the book is Deliver, and it was named appropriately. The author’s decision to add a fourth book to the series, allows the reader to fully appreciate how the characters have been delivered from their trials and gain closure. Even so, it is bittersweet to leave these fictional people who have become my friends. There are still stories that could be told. What happens to Jamie, and Ranson, and Brandi in the following years? I want to know what happens as government and order are rebuilt.  I want to see Leith and Renna grow their family. I would love to read a sequel series (just planting that seed in your mind, Tricia. ;-). There is plenty left to build on, but the ending was still satisfying. Thank you, Tricia Mingerink for a wonderful series. I have been so blessed by these books. Blessings to you in your future writing endeavors.


The Facebook Party for Deliver takes place this Friday from 6-9pm Central Standard Time. You can attend this party from the comfort of your own home!  Click Here to RSVP to the party: https://www.facebook.com/events/1369211736448642/








Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review for A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes

A Time to Die (Out of Time, #1)A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The following will serve as part review, part confessional. I started this book two years ago this month. I began reading A Time to Die after reading a recommendation from a friend of mine. I began reading it, hoping for a book that would immediately hold me captive and not release me from its powers until I had finished the journey.

Well...

The book held me captive, however, it was not in the way I was expecting. I recognized much of Parvin in myself. Reading this book, written in first-person present-tense, was like experiencing a dream. Parvin was convinced her life had no meaning, that she had wasted her life. She wanted her life to mean something, but when she was presented with opportunities to create meaning, she pushed back and tried to find an easier way. I often find myself in the same situation: wanting to be brave, wanting to stand up for what is right, wanting to make a difference, act as someone with integrity, etc. However, when I realize what that will mean for me, giving up my selfish desires and choosing to work outside my comfort zone, I dig in my heals.

The reader will experience some intense moments as she reads about Parvin's journey. For someone who is very much a feeler, it was difficult to read at times. I will confess, I dug in my heels, put it down for an emotional breather, thus escaping from its captivating hold, and left it for two years.

I followed the author on Facebook and her blog during these past two years and she impressed me with her intentionality in the way she interacts with her readers and followers. Her posts are a shining light in the cynical, angry world of Facebook. One of the central themes in A Time to Die is the idea of bringing God’s “Shalom” or a peace that comes from living the way God intended. This is not simply something she wrote about for the purpose of her story. It is something she intentionally, and actively, lives out in her everyday writing.

I was blessed by this author’s shining light, and it was because of this that I eventually decided to finish the book. There were some challenging moments, as I felt my own character developing right alongside Parvin’s. This book contains some perplexing characters with very flawed thinking. I understood her frustration as she struggled to reason with them, to share the Shalom of God with them. There were also beautiful moments, as the events and interactions which pushed at Parvin's (and my own) comfort and worldview gave way to show God's incredible love for His people.

This is NOT a light read, and you will want to take some breathers. However, there were also some lighter moments, and I appreciated Parvin's inner dialogue with herself whenever she tried to problem-solve or understand a situation. She is an eighteen-year-old girl that has been, quite literally, pushed out of her world. She is experiencing everything for the first time, by herself, which leads to some amusing moments as she tries to figure out how to respond. The writing was beautiful, and the ending perfectly sets up the sequels.

As difficult as it was to read, I can only imagine how difficult it was to write. Well done, and thank you, Nadine Brandes for sharing this story with us. Forgive me for taking such a long time. I will be reading the other two books, hopefully in less than two years. ;-)

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