Dark Glass Ponderings

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. -1 Corinthians 13:12

This colorful pizza is a hit at parties and is fun for kids to decorate.  The recipe originated from AllRecipes.

Fruit Pizza


1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extrac

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth.  Mix in egg.  Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture just until blended.  Press dough into an ungreased pizza pan.

3.  Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool.

4.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until light.  Spread on cooled crust. 

5.   Arrange fruit on top of filling and chill pizza for several hours.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).

I don't know about you but when I don't spend much time in the Word or in prayer, I am not too much fun to be around.  Instead of gentleness, goodness, and meekness I radiate bitterness, tartness, and astrigency.  Sort of like this grapefruit here. 

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22) KJV

Likewise I find when I allow Christ to "wash" away the impurities...then I can radiate gentleness, goodness, and meekness.

Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence [am] base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: (2 Corinthians 10:1)

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. (Titus 3:2)

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)

Vine's Expository Dictionary defines gentleness as: "equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, not insisting on the letter of the law."  How patient are we with others?  Are we too ready to find fault or are we always willing to give a second chance? 

Goodness is: morally honorable, pleasing to God, and therefore beneficial.  Are our actions, thoughts, and conversations pleasing to God?  Are our intentions honorable towards others?  Are our motives right?  Are we seeking for other's good or serving self? 

As we see all of the fruits in Christ we will manifest them more clearly for others.

Meekness is defined by Vines as not only an outward state (as with all the fruit) "rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God."  Do we have a right posture of humility towards the King of the Universe?  Are we allowing Him total and complete control?  Are we willing to consider other's needs and input before our own, even when we do so at great personal cost?  Will we be last, least, lowest? 

Part of why I grouped all three of these together is because, in my opinion, these virtues are harder to find in fiction...even in the Christian realm.  Here are a few examples.  Can you think of any more?

1. Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer:  Steffen struggles with the virtue of "goodness" during the Danish Resistance.  Love demands action.  At first, Steffen finds himself worried only about saving the woman he loves...over time he realizes God has called him to die to self to help those who are too weak to fight for themselves. 

2.  Refiner's Fire series by Lynn Austin: Austin shows the Civil War through the lenses of a Northerner, a Southerner, and a slave.  This book shows the characters as they struggle with both moral and inner goodness and must take grave risks to defend what they believe is right.

3.  A Lineage of Grace Series by Francine Rivers: It was somewhat difficult to think of characters that demonstrate gentleness and meekness, until I thought through biblical fiction.  When I think of gentleness and meekness, aside from the perfect example, Christ, I think of Mary.  Her humble obedience inspires me.  Another example is Ruth.  River's version was both biblical and lyrically beautiful.

I accidentally got two copies of Rain Song by Alice Wisler, so you are the beneficiaries.

Here's the synopsis from amazon: In Wisler's likable debut, a young woman is offered a chance to find romance and make peace with her past. After her missionary mother dies under mysterious circumstances in Japan, young Nicole Michelin returns to North Carolina to live with her depressed father and loving grandmother. Now 31, and a middle school English teacher, Nicole bears the scars of a time she can't remember. She sleeps with her cloth kimono doll and nurses phobias ranging from anxiety about flying to a fear of commitment. But when she meets an intriguing man through a Web site column, her yearning for love encourages her to risk getting to know him even though he lives in Japan. Wisler's cast of Southern women is lightly sketched but no less charming for this, and her development of the relationship between Nicole and her three-year-old autistic cousin strikes poignant notes throughout. Faith fiction fans will appreciate the strong faith of Nicole's influential grandmother, Ducee Dubois, who helps Nicole face her fears. (Oct.) ""

I must admit I haven't read this one yet.  Alice has a beautiful ministry to those who are struggling with the death of a child to encourage them to "write the heartache."  I can't wait to get a chance to read this one!

To enter:

(1) Have you ever lived in another country?

(2) Please enter your answer and your email address
in the comment box:
name (at) wherever (dot) com

(3) Sorry if this creates confusion, in my web format the comment box is above the post.  

(4) Contest ends Tuesday August 3.

Good luck!

This dish makes an excellent brunch dish-to-pass.  It goes excellently with egg dishes.

Hot Fruit Salad

1 lg. can pineapple chunks

□ 1 lg. can pear halves

□ 1 lg. can peach halves

□ 1 lg. can apricot halves

□ 1 bottle maraschino cherries

□ 2 c. fruit juices

□ 3 tbsp. cornstarch

□ 1/2 c. brown sugar

□ 1 tsp. curry powder

□ 1 stick melted butter

□ 1/2 c. pecan halves

Drain and save juices from fruit for sauce. Arrange pineapple, pears, peaches, apricots, and cherries in 11 x 14 inch baking dish. Mix cornstarch, sugar, curry powder, and melted butter with 2 cups juices. Stir over low heat until consistency of light cream. Pour over fruit and pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour.

This can also be made in the crockpot.

Taken from Cooks.com

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).


And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, KJV)

According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia peace "is a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies, or inwardly, within the soul."

Peace is often demonstrated through literature by the way a main character handles a trial.  When times are difficult do we rest in God leading to inner peace?  Or are we tossed about by our circumstances, or emotions?  I know this is something the Lord is working on in me. 

(1) Texas Roads by Cathy Bryant: My favorite character, Aunt Beth, is a wise woman of God who has persevered through many difficult circumstances and radiates the love and peace of Christ to all who surround her.

(2) Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth: In this series the characters learn about and reflect the love of God through seemingly insurmountable circumstances.  Mary shows "gritty grace", its not always easy and doesn't always come in the ways we expect but is beautiful nonetheless.

(3) Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz: In this sweeping historical romance, Morrow must make peace with God and with those involved in the horrific murder of her beloved family members.  Morrow also must make peace with her fears in order to embrace the adventurous life God has for her.


But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:4, KJV).

The International Standard Bible Encylopedia has this to say about patience:

pa’-shens (hupomone, makrothumia): "Patience" implies suffering, enduring or waiting, as a determination of the will and not simply under necessity. As such it is an essential Christian virtue to the exercise of which there are many exhortations. We need to "wait patiently" for God, to endure uncomplainingly the various forms of sufferings, wrongs and evils that we meet with, and to bear patiently injustices which we cannot remedy and provocations we cannot remove.  (from Blue Letter Bible).

Patience is shown in the way we endure through testing.  What comes out when we're pressed?  Are we willing to wait on God or do we take things into our own hands? 

(1) The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers: Sierra finds the patience to persevere in spite of a difficult marriage by waiting on God and learning from the lessons of her ancestors.

(2) A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman: Characters struggle with finding the strength to keep pure until marriage.  This book ultimately shows the beauty in marriage that comes from waiting for God's best.

(3) The Calling of Emily Evans by Janette Oke: When God calls Emily to help start a church as a missionary she must wait on the Lord for his timing and provision.

Stay tuned for the fruity recipe of the day

Can you think of any books in which the main character finds God's peace amidst the pressures of life?  Have you enjoyed any books in which waiting on God was a main theme?

I'm excited to be a participant in 2010 Got Books? . Got Books is a celebration of books and all those who blog about them. There are a variety of contests and a twitter party happening today and tomorrow. Be sure to go to the site, check it out and do a little blog hopping.

Today, I'm giving away a set of Christian women's fiction books.

(1) Watch over Me by Christa Parrish

(2) How Sweet It Is by Alice Wisler

To participate:

(1) Answer the following question in the comments under THIS post: What is your favorite women's fiction author?

(2) Please include your email address in this form:

name (at) wherever (dot) com

(3) Contest ends July 31st.  I will notify the winner by email.

Also, if you enjoy Christian fiction, be sure to stop by on Wednesdays as I generally give away a Christian fiction pick.

My intention was to post this recipe along with my post.

It is a Paula Deen recipe, taken from the Food Network site.  It is excellent for hot summer days.  The saltiness of the feta and the sweet juicy watermelon pair excellently. 

 Watermelon Salad with Feta & Mint


1 (5-pound) watermelon

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

6 whole mint sprigs


Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.

In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.

To serve, divide salad among individual plates and garnish with mint leaves.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
-Galatians 5:22-23

One of my favorite things about summer is fruit.  I love taking the kids berry picking, which basically involves chasing them out of their hiding places behind the hedges...trying to make sure there are more in the basket than in their tummies...but the best part is coming home and having fruit salad for lunch. 

As Christians, we know we are called to display fruit of the Spirit. Which leads me to one of the
reasons I enjoy reading Christian fiction.  Good Christian fiction teaches about living the Christian life through example.  In this series, I would like to spotlight some Christian fiction which can teach  us about living the fruitful life. 


And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5: 2

(1) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers:  One of my all-time favorite Christian novels is a 19th century retelling of the book of Hosea and a very powerful parable of God's unfailing love that never leaves us.  It is also a beautiful story of Michael Hosea's faithfulness towards his wife.

(2) A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman: A recent favorite of mine which shows not only blossoming new romance, but also the beauty of older married love and passion for God.

(3) Hadassah: One Night with the King by Tommy Tenney: Esther's love story and the story of God's love and protection for His people.


But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.- Psalm 5:11

(1) Finding Alice by Melody Carlson: I haven't read many books Christian or otherwise that deal well with the issue of depression. 

(2) The Red Glove series by Karen Kingsbury: This Christmas novella series shows the main characters finding joy through a variety of trials, including a difficult marriage, prolonged illness, and the death of a family member.

(3) Katrina's Wings by Patricia Hickman Lyrically told tale of overcoming a difficult past.

Is there any fiction you've read which demonstrates a powerful example of God's love for us and the love we should have for our fellow man? What are your favorite Christian fiction picks that showcase the joy that comes from following God?

In lieu of my Wednesday book giveaway, be sure to stop by Friday for my double book giveaway as part of the Got Books? event.  Be sure to check out the site for other contests and fun celebrating book blogs.

Title: A Passion Most Pure

Author: Julie Lessman

Series: The Daughters of Boston #1

Publication Date: 2008

My Rating: 5/5

Julie is a mega-award winning author and after beginning The Daughters of Boston series I can see why!  If you want to read a book with all the passion of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, meet Julie.  If you want to read a book that also sizzles with the main character's love for Christ, well again pick up A Passion Most Pure.

Heartbreaking rivalry between two sisters threatens to tear the close-knit O'Connor family apart.  This rivalry ripples and is overshadowed by the news of America's involvement in World War I. 

From Boston to the trenches...from the shores of Ireland and back again.  I was part of the O'Connor family for two glorious days as I tore through this book.  (Normally I finish six books in a month, so that should tell you something).  As a history buff, I felt the writing style fit the time period beautifully.

One wonderful and unusual part of A Passion Most Pure is Patrick and Marcy's relationship.  Many books focus on younger people in the beginnings of a relationship.  Patrick and Marcy have survived decades of marriage and have a close and passionate relationship.  I loved that!  Gives me something to look forward to as I get older!

In many Christian fiction books the faith aspect seems "thrown in."  Some contain pages of "sermon."  By contrast, A Passion Most Pure is like a beautiful rug with Faith's Christianity as a shiny gold thread woven carefully into every row. 

My only complaint...too many reading commitments and the fact that we're about to start our homeschool year leave me unable to immediately dig into A Passion Redeemed, the next book in the series.  I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Julie's upcoming release, A Hope Undaunted...so stay tuned for more of Julie.

Julie's website is here: Julie Lessman

The winner for Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand is...comment #8......


Sending you an email requesting your address, so I can get this book in the mail to you.

Don't forget to stop by Wednesday for another giveaway!!

When we are enjoying a blustery Rochester avalanche, Chris and I dream of Williamsburg.  We honeymooned in the Williamsburg area and since then it has been sort of a magical place for us.  

A "bookish nerd" and a "computer geek" as we call ourselves, we love visiting museums and historical places when we travel.  In ten years of marriage, we have been to Williamsburg three times and this city has gained a foothold on our hearts. 

I think my favorite Williamsburg memory is spending the fourth of July at Williamsburg.  As we walk hand-in-hand along the cobbled streets our hands melt together, it seems its over 100 degrees every time we visit.  It is fascinating to listen to the stories of the many workers at Williamsburg, all very knowledgeable about the Colonial era.  We usually down numerous bottles of water and Chris has been known to give us a surprise dowsing.  Unfortunately the public facilities seem to be miles apart. 

We consume cold fried chicken, buttery biscuits and homemade old fashioned ice cream.  Chris has a peculiar affinity for cemetaries so we have taken rolls of photos of unique gravestones.  We love to end the evening sitting on blankets in the center of the village listening to crimson-faced men in full uniform playing fifes and drums as the bold colors of fireworks fill the air.  

What about you?  Is there a place you love to visit, one you could return to again and again?

This is taken from Andrew Murray's The Power of the Blood of Jesus. 

"He who once gave His blood for us will surely, every moment, impart its effectiveness.  Trust Him to do this.  Trust Him to open your eyes and to give you a deeper spiritual insight.  Trust Him to teach you to think about the blood as God thinks about it.  Trust Him to impart to you, and to make effective in you, all that He enables you to see.

Above all, trust Him in the power of his eternal high priesthood to work out in you, unceasingly, the full merits of His blood, so that your whole life may be an uninterrupted abiding in the sanctuary of God's presence.

Believer, you who have come to the knowledge of the precious blood, listen to the invitation of your Lord.  come nearer.  Let Him teach you; let Him bless you.  Let Him cause His blood to become to you spirit, life, power, and truth.

Begin now, at once, to open your soul in faith, to receive the full, mighty, heavenly effects of the precious blood, in a more glorious manner than you have ever experienced.  he Himself will work these things out in your life."

(The Power of the Blood of Jesus, 22)

If you like this excerpt, you can read this book free here:
The Power of the Blood

Sorry, I meant to post this yesterday, but it was sort of a crazy news day.  Most importantly an answer to prayer for someone I care about.  Also a matter career wise that I am keeping in prayer for God's will to be done.

Anyway, our giveaway is for Back on Murder.  Here are some links if you want to find out more about this suspense novel.

Trinity Rose's interview with J. Mark Bertrand: 

Molly's review: 


(1) PLEASE be sure to post your information on THIS post.  I have had people commenting on multiple posts and it gets confusing to track.

(2) QUESTION: Just for fun, since this is a mystery and I just got a "questionnaire."  Have you ever served on jury duty?

(3) Include your EMAIL ADDRESS in the following form, please:

name (at) wherever (dot) com

(4) Since I posted this a day late, I will draw using random number generator on Monday July 19th.

Title: Making a Family Home
Author: Shannon Honeybloom
Photographs: Skip Hunt
Publication Date: 2010

**Special thanks to Shannon Honeybloom and Bostick Communications for providing a copy of this book for review.  Opinions provided are my own.**

Rating: 4/5
First of all, I must say Shannon has the cutest business cards I think I've ever seen.  They are very whimsical with a pink and green dragonfly.  OK, yes, I know that is totally off-topic, but I just had to comment on them.

The photograph on the cover reminded me of my grandparents' home, enticing me to turn the cover and see what was inside.  Every photo in this book is lusciously colorful, appealing to the senses, and delightful in its simplicity.  Just looking at the photos brings about a feeling of relaxation.

In Making a Family Home, Shannon shares how to make a home that is healthy, safe, and appealing to the senses.  Shannon uses the Waldorf system of education as a basis for the information she shares in this book.  I don't know very much about the Waldorf system, but as a homeschooler I am a strong advocate in making the home a place that promotes learning.

I loved this quote, "Home is the place that forms the basis for a child's future.  Home is the place where children are introduced to the world.  Home can help children thrive and unfold and gather courage to meet their futures." (10)

Shannon's discussions of learning about home from her grandmother's house reminded me of my own grandmother.  My grandmother also grew up during the Depression era.  Simplicity, thrift, spotless, with no clutter are great descriptors for not only her home, but a way of life that many are seeking to return to in this cluttered, complicated, materialistic era.  I appreciate reading a book about home that is based on these principles of simplicity.

My favorite section of the book was "The Senses and Other Considerations."  Making a home a positive sensory experience is something I want to consider more closely.  I thought about some of the sensory issues in our family.  My husband and I both tend to get "nervous" if there is too much noise over a long period of time.  My daughter insists on having everything on a surface or the floor removed before she goes to bed, she also likes to sleep with a textured shirt to hold.  Like Shannon, I have found in most of the foods I dislike I think it is the texture that I abhor (such as the squishiness of mushrooms).  This chapter provided excellent food for thought.

I appreciate Shannon's focus on using healthy and natural products. I'm sure this is a concern most parents consider these days.  She even includes a list of resources on the internet and books.

The reason for a 4 rather than 5 star review is that I wish even more information was included.  I would have loved recipes for simple cleansers, more specific ideas for decorating to appeal to children's senses and maybe even more information about children with sensory issues.  This wasn't a complaint as much as I enjoyed this book and so hoped for even more.  I also wanted to mention that the author and I come from a very different worldview, however, because this was a decorating book that did not affect my appreciation for the information shared.

I was hoping to post some pictures here.  My aunt has sent me some wonderful pictures of my father as a child, unfortunately they take up too much room to post.

Although Father's Day is past, several people have advised me around this time I should take a few minutes to think back over all the positive memories I have made with my father. Writing can be healing and I am choosing to remember my dad through writing for a few minutes today. 

(I wanted to share something that's helped me a lot in hopes it might help others who grieve.  Several years ago I decided to make my Dad's birthday a celebration of his life by visiting with my family and/or my brother an unusual restaurant on October 8 every year.  Though bittersweet at times, it has been a great way to remember and focus on the positive memories.  I think especially when someone we love has died over a long period of time, as with cancer, it can be easier to remember the way they were during the end.  I want to keep the earlier, happier memories alive).

Some of my favorite memories of my father are surrounding food.  My brother and I both love to cook and frequently cook without cookbooks.  I believe this is part of Dad's heritage on our lives.  Dad would literally spend hours every day cooking, often in the late night hours.  I really think Dad had a special ministry around food.  It wasn't unusual for him to make us a late night surprise gourmet meal.  It was at these times that I had some of my best talks with my Dad. 

Dad was what I've heard called a "Renaissance" man.  He was an avid reader, who taught himself to repair many things by reading manuals.  He was also known for owning and reading many cookbooks (some of which I treasure on my dining room shelf)...although he never actually cooked using the cookbooks.  He was an avid reader of the newspaper as well.  My husband is an amazing debater and so intelligent on many topics...I think its so true that we look for wonderful characteristics we find in our fathers in a spouse.  I credit my father with my love of books.

Children are a great way to keep the beautiful traditions and rituals alive.  We end every night with prayers, hugs, stuffed animal rituals, and a silly poem my Dad used to say to us.  I can remember my Dad when I make silly hand puppets with the kids...or try a new recipe.  I can see him when my son smiles, watch his presence as I watch my daughter's artistic abilities blossom.  I'm cheering for him as I watch my brother attend cooking school.  Maybe his death has actually blessed me to see his presence in places I otherwise would not have noticed. 

I was just going to write this for me, but am going to post it because I know there are others here that have gone through grieving or are currently going through this process. 

It is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. -Lamentations 3:22

I'm thinking of these verses from one of my favorite hymns today:

Great is thy faithfulness; oh, God, my Father
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not; Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten thousands besides

The winner of Sarah's garden from random number generator is #3, Jo.  I'll be sending you an email, Jo.  Hope you enjoy the book!

Be sure to stop by Wednesday for an opportunity to win Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand!

The last few lines of the movie The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe are among my favorites:

Professor Kirke: I don't think you'll get back in that way.  You see...I've already tried.

Lucy: Will we ever go back?

Professor Kirke: Oh, I expect so.  But it'll probably happen when you're not looking for it.  All the same...best to keep your eyes open.

(Aslan roars)

Today I was thinking of this quote when it comes to the writing life.  As a Christian I believe any artistic abilities we have are given from God.  He chooses when to give the inspiration...He chooses the timing.  He chooses the medium in which our writing or other gifts will be shared.

Tomorrow I will be gathering with two other ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) members in the upstate New York region.  This gathering was planned several months ago.  I will be coming to this meeting empty handed in terms of a manuscript.  I joined Novel Track somehow believing I would be able to manufacture the time in July to write at least 10,000 words.  Not a very large goal.  But after a few nights of late-night writing and  early waking I gave it up.

There are many of us hoping for publication, yet the Lord opened my eyes to the medium I have before me.  Only on the internet can I share what's on my heart and have others read it only minutes later.  Our story is unfolding day-by-day, minute-by-minute and only we can share this story.  In this busy season, I believe God has given me blogging as a gift, so I can continue to write in small bursts.

I'm not planning to completely give up my novel.  I'm convinced that God has a plan for this story...in His time.

Meanwhile, God has blessed me to share in a new place as a reviewer, The Suspense Zone.  I'm finding that there is so much variety in the suspense genre and I'm enjoying the opportunity to explore this genre.  If you have favorite reads in the Christian suspense genre, I would love to hear them.

Title: Sarah's Garden
Author: Kelly Long
Series: A Patch of Heaven #1
Publication Date: 2010

**Thanks to BookSneeze for providing this book in exchange for a review.  The opinions are expressed are my own.**

Rating: 3.5/5

This book looked like a light summer read and it was just that.  This Amish book has a clean and sweet romance and deals with the theme of what it means to forgive.

Amish novels are well-known for showing what it means to live a life of simplicity.  Main character, Sarah, is a gardener who collects and grows heirloom seeds.  She also learns how to quilt and these interests are incorporated throughout the story.  Information abofut these interests is what fascinated me with the story and I would love to now read nonfiction about heirloom gardening. 

I had a few disappointments with this story, however.  Kelly's novel deals with the theme of forgiveness.  Sarah learns to forgive a young man who struggles with bitterness.  Matthew's family was shunned because of his father's abusive behavior towards his mother.  In retaliation, Matthew commits arson against Sarah's family since her father was involved in the decision of the shunning.  He finds Sarah alone and plans to attack her, but she instead shares God's love with him.  It was beautiful that Sarah shared God's love with Matthew, however, I found this scene to be a bit unbelievable.  I do believe in repentance and God's forgiveness, however I believe it is often a process over time.  This scene was a bit to quick to be believed.

Sarah's Garden had a twist I haven't typically seen in Amish novels.  I don't like to spoil novels for those who plan to read them.  When I finished this novel I couldn't help but hope it had ended a different way.  I think there is something beautiful to the Amish life of simplicity and I still enjoy reading about it, but I also think we tend to idealize the Amish culture a bit too much. 

I'm glad I gave this book a read simply because I enjoyed learning about heirloom gardening so much.  I think this book may have begun interest in a new hobby for me.


name (at) whatever (dot) com


I recently learned about Prisoner Alert, a ministry of Voice of the Martyrs.  At Prisoner Alert, you can write to and encourage those imprisoned for their faith around the world.  What a great opportunity to uplift those who are courageously taking a stand for Christ. 

OK, you may be wondering why after four months do I suddenly have a picture up at my blog?  Well, the truth is another website required a photo, so I figured if my funny face is going to be showing up across the web it might as well be showing up here, too :). 

As I've posted before I've been enjoying Hind's Feet on High Places tremendously.  In each place Much-Afraid travels she makes an altar and surrenders something to the Lord on it.  She is left with one of the stones on the altar as a remembrance for her collection.  She then looks on these and can see how the Lord has given her strength to make it through her trials and temptations.

I think if we are struggling with discouragement or depression it helps greatly to take out our stones of remembrance.  Remember everything the Lord has done for you.  When we think on the way the Lord has helped us in the past through our trials we can be reminded that He is in the midst of our trials now even when it doesn't feel obvious.

Psalm 150:2 Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise him according to His excellent greatness.

I was thrilled to hear about the launching of the INSPY awards.  The INSPY will be the Bloggers' Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Lit.  We all know bloggers are a force to be reckoned with in the book world, so why not give us a say in determining the best faith-driven literature of the year.  This award will include all publishers whether small or large, Christian or secular.

Be sure to stop by creator My Friend Amy's blog.  I fwas further excited to see the list of those involved in the project, several of whose blogs I faithfully follow and you can be sure I will be checking out the rest.  I hope several of you will stop at the INSPY site to nominate your favorite faith-driven books.  I've read so many great choices this year it will be difficult to make a nomination.

**Special thanks to Christy M. Wong at Tyndale House Publishers for providing a free review copy of these DVDs.**

My rating: 4.5/5


As a mother to two preschoolers who are avid Veggie Tales fans, I'm very familiar with the work of Phil Vischer. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review his new DVDs, What's in the Bible? DVDs 1-3

What's in the Bible? grew out of Phil's vision before the Veggie Tales series took root.  Phil was concerned about the lack of biblical literacy in the new generation growing up in the church.  Each video not only gives a "big picture" of one or several biblical books, but it also seeks to explain biblical and theological vocabulary at a 5-8 year old level.   However, as adults who attend a biblically sound church my husband and I even learned a few things from these DVDs.

What's in the Bible? has the feel of a variety show.  The hosts are Phil Vischer himself and "man of news" Buck Denver.  Pastor Paul, Sunday School Lady, and Brother Louie (who you expect to jump into a round of "Hello Dolly" at any minute) explain theological vocabulary at a child's level.  Several characters use music to teach key concepts.  Most of the Bible stories are shown through cartoons or puppet shows.

My husband and I enjoyed this series just as much as the kids did.  I don't think my 2-year-old really learned much from it, but my 5-year-old really enjoyed the series and I even heard her use the word "holy" in the correct context.  If you are expecting a complete chapter-by-chapter telling of biblical stories, this series doesn't cover every chapter.  Let's face it, its just not possible to retell a book of the Bible thoroughly in an hour.  However, what these DVDs provide is a great theologically sound "jumping off" point.  I believe God has designed us as parents to be the primary instructors of our children when it comes to spiritual matters.  These DVDs provide a great tool for doing just that. 

Teaching Application:

I am going to focus specifically on the third DVD.  Some of the specific concepts defined are: Pentateuch, the law, ritual laws versus ethical laws, and holiness.  These DVDs are a great way to teach a new concept in an enjoyable manner.  Also, they would provide a great introduction to a book of the Bible which we would read as a family.

 Be sure to check out What's in the Bible for more information on this series.  We highly enjoyed it!

Disclosure: I received these DVDs for free in exchange for a review.  This review is my honest opinion.

This is the part where I struggle.  Sometimes I want to share something exciting (for me) I am involved in but don't want to have a self-promoting attitude.  As Much-Afraid learns in Hind's Feet pride is a tricky fellow, often beautiful to the eye and charming to the ear. 

On the other hand, I love hearing exciting writing news from others.  It gives me a thrill to hear about an author's newest release, a great review, or an award.  I love to cheer along with them. 

I would love to hear from other published or unpublished authors what is your opinion on what we should share...and what we should keep quiet.  How do you make that decision?  How do you walk that line between pride and marketing?

Julia M. Reffner

About Me

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Christ-loving bookworm & homeschool mom of 2 stealing the rare quiet moments to pursue that all elusive writing dream. I also write book reviews for Title Trakk and The Historical Novel Society.


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