Thursday, March 31, 2016

Living a life of Joy

This week has had opportunities filled with joy moments. I love when we can see good things in the small mundane of our lives with no real big bells or whistles. 

I received an email this week that had me geeked. Many of you know I regularly read, review and blog about books. That's no secret if you been coming around to these parts of the world for a little bit. When I received an email saying the former president of Starbucks, yes the coffee company we all love: A.K.A. my particular addiction to red cups and caramel fraps read my review of his latest book and enjoyed the review so much that he put it on his Linkedin profile. To say I was humbled and honored couldn't describe my feelings. I joke with my friends. So, does this mean I get Starbucks for life? Right! He and I connected online.  It's the small things that bring joy to our life. 

It was also that same day that I got out for a 3 mile run where I was able to run in shorts. I even shaved 6 minutes off my previous time, which was great, but nowhere I want to be. However, compared to where I started, it's it a total of 11 minutes off my 3-mile run. I was turtle speed when I began running in February. It was also the first run in three weeks since I had been so sick. My body needed the rest greatly, and it paid off. The joy of wearing shorts and feeling the sun through my shirt was priceless. I'm always cold no matter what. 

My Bible study has been really challenging me this week. It has brought me great joy to talk with women who are so passion about understanding the word and then digging deep to want to grow, teach their children and being living examples. Hearing their conversation brings me joy.

What is bringing you joy this week? Big or small? 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Life Detours

Welcome, Tuesday! I cannot believe how fast March has come and gone! We are so close to April; it is crazy. I hope you are enjoying warmer weather wherever you live. 

My husband and I had a good Easter weekend spent with family. I hope you had a great Easter too. Easter has a way of reminding me of new life, hope, grace and crazy life detours of following  Jesus. 

2016 has not been the year I thought it would be. It has been entirely different in so many ways. I have had to let go of a lot of things. We all have expectations of ourselves, our lives and others. It's part of our human nature. This year has gone completely different than I envisioned it to be. Some things I would change, others I wouldn't. I've had a lot of road detours, lane closures and stormy weather that has changed my road trip.  
 Friends have come, and friends have gone, but true friends have remained, no matter the season. It's been the same with family. Some can stand the weathering of the severe seasons and some cannot. They can either handle the lane changes, or they don't know how to switch lanes. I've learned to let it go. I was a part of a party where the theme was "Letting it go" and it continues to be the theme of my life this year. I'm just letting people and situations go because stewing helps nothing. Worrying is a waste of time. Life is way more abundant and more fun when you can navigate the crazy road trips of life. 

All the plans I had for this year have been thrown out the window, not by my own hand, but that just means there is always something greater. My fitness goals and my bike plans were not in the cards for the summer and instead I've been detoured.  Sometimes, you just take the detour for the wild ride it is, take a road trip and "let it all go." Health has been an extra challenge this year and I just say, let's take an adventure because you can't do much else. So, just smile and keep plugging through because life is in the detours. It's better this way. 

Have you had to "let go" of anything this year? What plans have changed your life that were unexpected detours? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Calling: Rachelle Dekker

Remko Brant had never been so sure of anything as escaping the Authority City with Carrington Hale. But bravado comes easy when you have nothing to lose. Now a husband, father, and the tactical leader of the Seers, Remko has never had so much at risk.As he and his team execute increasingly dangerous rescue missions inside the city, they face growing peril from a new enemy. Recently appointed Authority President Damien Gold claims to be guiding a city shaken by rebellion into a peaceful, harmonious future. But appearances can be deceiving. In order to achieve his dangerous ambitions, Gold knows he must do more than catch the rebels--he must destroy the hope their message represents . . . from the inside out.With dissension in his own camp--and the CityWatch soldiers closing in--Remko feels control slipping through his fingers. To protect those he loves, he must conquer his fears and defeat Gold . . . before one of them becomes his undoing

My Thoughts:
The Calling is the second novel in Rachelle Dekker's Seer Series and leaves right off from where the The Choosing ended. With "The Calling" I had a difficult time getting into this book. It took me several chapters to get back into this Dystopia world that Rachelle created, which will keep you interested if you like this type of novel. Ultimately, I loved the message of this book where faith is a huge part and Carrington has the ability to take a risk. Does Carrington take the risk? Of course, there are many twists and turns in this world. I am curious to see how she ties this whole series up, but we have to wait until the fall for the next book to come up. I give this book 4/5 stars . Thank you to the publisher for providing me a complimentary copy for review. 

To purchase your copy, head here

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Her Texas Family by Jill Lynn Book Review

Single, good looking, widow doctor. Young, attractive, smart and spunky female. Is this book going straight for the romance department aisle ten? WRONG! 

Did I fail to mention one little thing? How about the cute little girl named Mattie? Better yet, let's talk about her grandparents. Cue the music... dun.. dun.. dun.. the WELLINGTONS. This is gonna be a hot mess. If you have plans to travel warm for Spring Break or even summer, like a theme park or enjoy the pool, alter your plans ASAP. You'll be spending it with your head stuck in."Her Texas Family." You can thank me later for this recommendation. I like to think of myself as a book junkie, I even tried to pace myself through this book, it couldn't be done. GOOD LUCK!

And if you think oh, I'll just read a little here or there, you'll be up all night until it's finished, so plan on finishing it in one sitting. You'll be cooking and reading at the same time. It is a book that sucks you in and won't let go. Don't worry; you'll be laughing, crying and your heart will be filled with joy! 
Now that I have you interested, let's talk about some plot, shall we? We've already got the doctor, Graham Redmond and his sweet daughter, Mattie, but wait till you meet Lucy Grayson. Lucy is adventurous, push your buttons, sweet and a heart bigger than your head, stubborn as a box of rocks, Ms. Independent, kind of gal. She isn't going to ask for help if it costs her the car and some keys. That's how she rolls. This time around will life be different for her? Will she ask for help? Will Graham seek the help he needs for Mattie and follow his heart or will the Wellingtons get in the way? Will the two of them learn a little something about God along the way? I don't know. Actually, I do, but you don't!  

Pre-order this puppy because it will go fast. And if you don't, the supermarket will sell out in our area, because I'll be scooping them up.. Just saying. Head over to Amazon and Pre-order! Thank you to Jill for sending me a copy before it the hit market. My eyes were welling with tears several times; my heart was full of laughter, and it was insanely adventurous! Thank you for adding zest back into my reading life. This is one of those books that goes on the special shelf and get's pulled out again for several reads. It's that fun!  The rating scale doesn't go higher than 5 stars, but I give it 10 stars! Go Order it! Amazon is on standby waiting for your order.  

Jill LynnAbout the Author: Jill Lynn lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children who make her laugh on a daily basis. She does more dancing in the kitchen with her family than she does cooking, and she has a thing for coffee, books, boots and thrift stores. Connect with her at or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest @JillLynnAuthor.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Christy Lumber Camp Series By Carrie Fancett Pagels

The Christy Lumber Camp Series By Carrie Fancett Pagels

When new lumberjack, Tom Jeffries, tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake, “as good as the one my mother makes,” she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp—and the cockiest. And she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on! All the shanty boys and Jo’s cooking helpers chip in with their recipes but Jo finds she’ll have to enlist more help—and begins corresponding with Tom’s mother. Step back in time to 1890, in beautiful Northern Michigan, near the sapphire straits of Mackinac, when the white pines were “white gold” and lumber camps were a way of life. Jo is ready to find another life outside of the camps and plans that don’t include any shanty boys. But will a lumberjack keep her in the very place she’s sworn to leave?

A decade after surviving a brutal attack, a mercantile owner’s daughter begins her life anew in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A gifted craftsman wishes to leave the lumber camp and seeks employment at her new store. When his presence dredges up memories she wishes to suppress, the proprietress must learn to face her past and open her heart. When complications arise, will they overcome adversity in time for The Lumberjack's Ball?

Petite Juliana Beauchamps possesses a vivid imagination, which comes in handy as a librarian. When a handsome giant of a lumberjack comes to town and rescues her from possible tragedy, she’s shaken by the event. A dashing beer baron, from Milwaukee, also pursues Juliana’s attention. Meanwhile, a library trustee determines to push out the female librarians. 

Set in 1891, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Book Three in The Christy Lumber Camp Series focuses on Richard “Moose” Christy, the youngest of the sons, as he prepares to manage his first lumber camp. When Yost hires Juliana to organize his personal library, and her letters from Wisconsin suggest foul play, will Richard need to save her once again? And will his secret need to be revealed to win her heart?

My Thoughts:

The Fruitcake Challenge is the first book in this series and it is a Novella, while the next two books are not. They are shorter books. Personally, I like Novella's and shorter books, especially when it involves a series. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in characters or forget story lines. Make no mistake; Carrie Fancett Pagels does an excellent job at telling a storyline that will make you want to stay, despite how short these stories are. You will love the opportunity to have a chance to look at three stories, rather than just reading one and drooling for the next book in the series.  

These books can be read as a stand alone, but why miss the opportunity on great characters, Mackinaw History and some romance when you can read these in order? The Fruitcake Challenge is the first title in the Christy Lumber Camp Series, while, The Lumberjack's Ball is the second title, and the final title is Lilacs for Juliana in the series. 
Did I have a favorite? No! I loved them all! Now, as a Michigander myself, I enjoyed the rich history that Author, Carrie Fancett Pagels spent into utilizing as she pours out her heart and knowledge about the lumber camps in The Fruitcake Challenge. The second book, The LumberJack's Ball, has so many reasons to love it, but mainly I enjoyed the characters conquests to overcome hardships, while seeking a new life adventure. Finally, in Lilacs for Juliana, you'll love the romance and the mystery at stake while someone doesn't want the librarians around anymore. This is the longest book of the three, while still being considered a short novel, but a good length.

All three of these books have adventure, romance, rich history and are just lovely. I enjoyed reading them, especially being from Michigan. This was my first time reading her books, and I am glad to have had the opportunity. She is a former "Yooper" herself and her grandfather was a lumberjack who ran a camp. All the more reason to read these books. The author writes about her own heritage and history. You'll love them! I give the whole series a 5-star rating. This isn't my typical read, but I loved them so much, I can't wait for more in this series and I hope to read books in the future by Carrie Fancett Pagels as these were so enjoyable. 

About the Author:
 Carrie Fancett Pagels is a multi-published award-winning author of Christian historical romance.  Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! She resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which is perfect for her love of history. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time. She blogs over here and here. Come give it a read! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Brew for Marriage

It's such a cloudy and rainy morning; I just love the thought of sitting at my computer and writing all day. If that were such a thing. Right? 

Yesterday, I needed to go out and purchase some tea. I have a slight addiction to tea and all different flavors. I have a friend from Wisconsin who also is a tea junkie. We send each other tea bag back and forth, so we can try different flavors, ones we like, ones we're not fond of, etc. She sent me some delicious flavors, so I went on a mission to find the tea she sent. Of course, I found this great little store that had the tea she sent me and tons of other tea; I had to have. Isn't it like that? The woman at the store was super sweet and knew her teas very well. I was impressed and thankful for her ability to help me find tea. I have already have a small package getting ready to ship to Wisconsin. The store even carried singlets of tea for thirty-five cents, so you could try out the tea, rather than buying a whole package. That drives me crazy to buy a whole box and then hate it! They had tons of delicious dessert tea, which I can't wait to try. I bought several flavors including Raspberry Cream Caramel, Berry Essence, Cranberry Orange, Bing Cherry with Almond, Hibiscus Flower, and a few others. How delicious do they sound? If you are a tea connoisseur, you will appreciate the ability to try several without buying a box; it's nice.

 I am pretty excited about this new one that I purchased and loved, which I recommend buying if you like tea- it is called "Wedding- A tea for Marriage", but it sure is yummy. I would never think the combination of white tea, rose petals, vanilla, and lemon would be something I would like or drink anything of, but it is delicious. Who knew white tea would be so good? Whether you're in three feet of snow, dealing with tons of rain or have lovely warm weather, you could use a cup of hot tea or even a glass of cold sweet tea.

Are you a tea connoisseur? Do you like tea? Are you a coffee fan? What is your drink vice?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Mother God Made Me to Be by Karen Valentin

The Mother God Made Me to Be

The Mother God Made Me to Be
Image Provided by Hachette Group
A contributor to Guideposts annuals for ten years, Karen Valentin's narrative pieces about her journey to marriage and motherhood and then to single motherhood have resonated with readers. Here she collects the longer versions of her pieces and adds many new ones.

Karen lived an adventurous single life but longed for a family of her own. After years of maintaining her vow of purity and waiting for a man who shared her Christian faith, she fell in love with her best friend and co-worker. They married. She bore two sons. They divorced. 

With humor, honesty and raw emotion, Valentin tells her story of wrestling between God's will and her own, with visions of happily ever after. In the midst of her weakness and grief, she experiences God's strength and restoration like never before. Through her family and friends, mission workers, the pastor of Graffiti Church, and her two beautiful boys, God turns her ashes to beauty and her sorrow into joy. 

Women who desire to be loved, who know the pain of rejection and who have found themselves in a dark place will be touched by her pain and encouraged by her victories. 

Whether you've been touched by separation, divorce or a broken home, or it's your friend, sister, mother or daughter who've gone through the experience, Karen's story will help you connect with your own emotions and give you tools to reach out to those in similar situations.

My Thoughts:
If you're a mother that has ever struggled with anything, Valentin will speak to you in some way or another.  The Mother God Made Me To Be is a compilation of short stories that encapsulate motherhood; the good, bad and the straight-up ugly. She is authentic about the disappointment that comes with having to raise her two sons alone in NYC and the crushing reality that she never dreamed it would be. She is also hopeful and honest about the living God, who walks with her, despite the difficult times. She talks about the community of people who have loved and wrapped their arms around her, despite always feeling like she wasn't deserving of it. If you ever struggled with anything as a human, as a woman or a mother, you can relate to her struggles. If you're a single mom, know someone who is or someone who is going through a divorce and is now raising kids alone, this book is an encouragement. It reminds the reader that they are not alone, to stay the course, to seek God, to find community and to know there is always HOPE. If Karen can pull through, anyone can. I highly recommend picking up this book. It is an encouragement as you go through one of the most difficult times in your spiritual, emotional and family life changes.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group for providing me an ARC in exchange for my honest review. To Pick up your copy, head here. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Magic Cup by Howard Behar

Image Provide by the Publishers
The Magic Cup:
We all love the fairy tales we grew up on, creating a world in which good always wins over evil, where those whose hearts are true and who do the right thing come out on top. But, grown-up competition for success is rough, even cutthroat, and we've often heard that nice guys finish last.

Not according to Howard Behar, whose career as one of the three leaders who built the Starbucks organization most definitely proves that nice guys finish first. In THE MAGIC CUP, Behar spins an engaging corporate tale to teach us exactly how we can do the same thing.

The story revolves around Vince Steadfast, the newly named CEO of imaginary manufacturer Verity Glassworks, which has fallen on difficult times. Vince is hired to help the once iconic company return to its glory days, and he brings with him a parting gift from his mentor and former boss: a stunning crystal coffee cup from Verity's halcyon days. The cup turns out to be magic - truly - and helps him come to understand and reinvigorate the values that Verity has misplaced along the way.

As Vince and his new team make their way to (and through) many challenges, including the aptly named Worthy Way, Perilous Passage and Arduous Stair, the cup fills with a gold elixir and the universal truths that they learn to embrace - such as Responsibility, Forgiveness and Courage - magically become engraved in the glass. 

In the tradition of great parable writers throughout history, Behar quickly involves us in an engrossing fantasy, continually challenging us to compare each situation with our own real-life experiences. The story of THE MAGIC CUP helps each of us discover that only by acting on sound moral principles can we fill our own cups with the personal and professional success and satisfaction we seek.

My Thoughts: 
The Magic Cup written by Howard Behar is an interesting read that anyone in business, one who is interested in leadership or is lacking the skills of putting others first, can learn the first-hand knowledge of the former retired Starbucks President. 

The Magic Cup is told with a variety of stories to capture the audience, especially those in the business world, but it holds the key to eleven virtues or lessons that apply to everyday life that is important in leadership and daily life.  One key ingredient to the eleven lessons is responsibility. Steadfast tells a story to the elevator operator and the lesson behind the story is important, but not as important as the overall message:  be engaged, being forward thinkers, take responsibility, act to make things happen wherever you are placed. Don't rely on others, take some responsibility and get some guts! Go for the gusto! 

Another key to the eleven: Curiosity- I think I can speak for many people who have built successful businesses, leaders, and Fortune 500 companies when I say they have had curious minds and have done the impossible. Be willing to question, stay open minded and be curious about everything because it will lead you down a great road. 

Steadfast goes on to talk about how cooperation, trust, truth, hope, forgiveness, focus, stewardship, connection, and courage are the final nine elements to help an individual grow in their job, role or organization. All of these elements have a place in your current workplace and have you examined your journey or are you stuck in a rut? What makes you come alive?

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how the reader explores the eleven lessons of the cup to discover their own personal journey. Has your cup been full, fulfilled or what has been the most impactful for them in their home, life, community, etc.? The Magic Cup teaches great lessons beyond the gift of a cup, but the reflection of one's purpose within their work, company, and personal values.  This book will cause deep reflection within your current job, which makes this book worthy of 5/5 stars. It isn't your average business/ leadership book, but what that makes you explore your own journey, which I love. This small book will make you think boldly, move courageously and dare to dream big. Give it a read, you won't regret it! 

Thank you to the Publishers for providing me a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review, which I have given. To purchase your copy, head here!! 

Catch A Star by Tamika Catchings

                                                About: Catch A Star 

Cover Art
Photo provided by Revell 
"Catch a Star will not only give you a look into Tamika's life but will also inspire you to strive to be all you can be in life as well."--Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts

Growing up, Tamika Catchings suffered from profound hearing loss, bullying, and the anguish of her parents' divorce. But she wasn't about to allow those challenges to determine her destiny. Through perseverance and God's grace, Tamika became one of the top female basketball players of all time.

Catch a Star is her story of overcoming. Of leading the Indiana Fever to its first championship. Of being named one of the WNBA's top fifteen players in history. Of earning three Olympic gold medals. And of founding the Catch the Stars Foundation to help young people achieve their dreams. 

Her story will inspire you to face your doubts and fears and reach for your own dream, no matter what challenges come your way.

"Fierce, competitive, tough, funny, and loyal--these adjectives sum up my good friend Tamika Catchings. It's been a pleasure to witness her growth, not only as a basketball player and champion but as a beautiful woman with unbreakable character and strength."--Reggie Miller, NBA Hall of Famer for the Indiana Pacers and TNT NBA analyst

My Thoughts:
Tamika is one tough chick! Born with hearing loss, this athlete is both inspiring and full of faith. Overcoming adversity, bullying and the naysayers, she persevered to become a WNBA star and is a three time gold medalist!  She is a role model on the courts and off the courts. This book is a testimony to anyone who faces challenges and overcomes them. I think every coach should read this book because it is inspiring and will help you look at your team members differently. This book also helps school personnel look at bullying in a completely different manner. I am humbled at grateful to have read Tamika's story. It will leave you with tears in your eyes and compassion for anyone going through difficult circumstances. I give this book four stars. I was given a complimentary copy for my honest review by the publishers. 
About Tamika
Tamika Catchings
Photo Credit: © Chris Bucher Photographs
Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever was the WNBA's 2011 MVP. A three-time Olympic gold medalist and nine-time WNBA All-Star, Catchings was a four-time All-American and a member of the National Champion University of Tennessee Lady Vols under legendary Coach Pat Summitt. Catchings' story of overcoming adversity, growing in faith, and achieving success despite the many challenges she's faced inspires the boys and girls served by her foundation, Catch the Stars, in Indianapolis.

Gilda's Laughfest Funderwear Run Family 5k Race Re-cap

Good Morning!  I hope to get out running again sometime soon, but my lungs will need some healing. I've had to alter my training schedule and even my spring races because I just don't think I can do them all, which is fine. Sometimes, you just adjust the plans and move forward. 

I wanted to re-cap a fun race that my husband and I did over a week ago for an organization through Gilda's Club for Laughfest. It was their 3rd annual Funderwear 5k Run. Participants were encouraged to wear their finest and funniest underwear over their running clothes in support of Gilda's Club Grand Rapids. Of course, it brings laughter, smiles, and emotional health all around. 

All proceeds from this event benefit free cancer, grief and emotional health support programs offered through Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.

We had a complete blast running this race despite the cold rainy weather. As I always say, you can't run a race in Grand Rapids, unless it's raining. I only know how to run races in Grand Rapids with rain because it's part of my #Grandrapidstradition. The finest and funniest underwear were hilarious. Some of the attire were just downright cheesy while others were unusual.  The race was a blast. It was incredible to see people of all ages, families and physical abilities participating including a lung cancer survivor. There is no excuse not to be able to get out and run or walk a 5k when a lung cancer survivor is running. It was just fun to see a community of people coming together to support a great event and a community agency that gives back.

We had a blast and hope to run it again in the future. What has been your favorite 5k race? If you're not a runner, what have I been missing out on? 

Monday, March 21, 2016

I Quit Sugar Cook Book by Sarah Wilson

Image Provided by Potter Publishers 
Easy. Inventive. Delicious.

When Sarah Wilson gave up sugar for good, she developed a new repertoire of creative, go-to dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With 306 satisfying recipes for one-pan wonders, grain-free breakfasts, leftover makeovers, smoothie bowls, and more, this comprehensive cookbook makes living sugar-free simple and sustainable. 

Start quitting now, with recipes that include: 
Bacon ’N’ Egg Quinoa Oatmeal
Gift-Wrapped Miso Cod
Caramelized Leek, Apple, and Rosemary Socca
Green Spaghetti and Meatballs
Two-Minute Desk Noodles
Broc Bites and Cauli Popcorn
Carrot "Bacon"
Red Velvet Crunch Bowl
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crackles
Strawberry Cheesecake Mug Cake

My Thoughts:
My Husband and I have been quitting sugar for quite sometime. This year my husband has quit drinking soda and the health benefits have been tremendous. Earlier this year, I talked about a documentary called Fed Up where it is all about how sugar is killing Americans and how it is embedded in our food without us knowing it. I love how Sarah takes on recipes that are not your traditional thought and puts a lot of unique ingredients, which I have found to be the case going sugar free. Many of the recipes for this cookbook are whole and include things for breakfast, snacks, meats, fish, veggies, leftovers, desserts and holidays. I love that with leftover she talks about how to stretch your money with the ingredients you have and how to stretch your leftover without wasting. Sarah is full of great tips too, so don't worry if you're not a cook! I'm not at all! 
The photography and photos are excellent, you're mouth will be watering to try some of these recipes. I have several marked that I can't wait to try out. If you're looking to cut the sugar and add real sugar like honey, none of that artificial garbage, go with this book! Go with real sugar if you're going to eat it, as opposed to fake.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me a complimentary copy for my review. This book receives 5/5 stars. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Brush of Wings by Karen Kingsbury

Image provided by Howard 
The Brush of Wings by Karen Kingsbury is the third book in the Angels Walking series. It can be read as a stand alone and is my all time favorite Karen Kingsbury book. This book spoke straight to my heart with the difficulties that Mary Catherine faces. A health crisis, a love for Africa, orphans and the tension between two. Does she live in fear or spread the word of Jesus to a dying world? Will that cost her everything? 

Enter in Marcus Dillinger, a man who had his heart set on Mary Catherine, but is learning to trust God with his life. Ladies, your heart will sail when you read about this fella. 

Can we talk about the struggle of children here? Oh, Karen, you spoke to my heart in this book. 

As a person with a medical illness, I cried the whole end of this book. Thank you for restoring hope and faith that my story isn't over and God has his hand over my life. He isn't finished writing my story, and he sure wasn't with what happened with Lexi's situation. I cried my eyes out. I don't want to spoil this part, but Karen did a fabulous job at restoring my faith at who's in control. Thank you, Karen. 

Readers, don't miss this book. This is on the top 10 books of my reading for 2016. It touched me so personally, be an Angel and pick up a copy to give away. Everyone needs faith and hope. 

Thank you, Howard Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC copy for my honest review. This book received 10/5 stars for being amazing! 

About Karen Kingsbury:

Karen KingsburyKaren Kingsbury, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist, is America’s favorite inspirational storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped bestseller lists and many of her novels are under development with Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures. In addition, it was recently announced that Roma Downey and MGM Studios are developing a TV series out of Karen's popular Baxter Family books. Karen is also a visiting professor at Liberty University. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I wish I could say I was feeling all in the Irish mood and wearing some green, but truth be told, I've been feeling green. I was plagued with the lovely Flu and thankfully I had the ability to clear my entire schedule for the week, which I did. 


That has been my week. Nothing out of the ordinary. I am starting to mend finally and I hope this means we are going to be to the finish line of this garbage soon.

The winner of my OOFOS was Mindy.  Check your Spam folder!

I hope to write a race recap from this past weekend soon. In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well.

Until next time,

Monday, March 14, 2016

Letter to My Daughter by Barbara Rainey

Image Provided by Bethany Publishing


Seeing Your Marriage as a Work of ArtThrough more than four decades of marriage, Barbara and Dennis have seen it all--triumphs, tragedies, mistakes, and enduring love and joy. As Barbara's daughters began their own married lives, she wanted to share with them lessons she'd learned through her own marriage as well as those gleaned from years of ministry to couples. In these thoughtful letters she answers tough questions compiled from a multitude of young wives, addressing the realities of marriage with honesty and warmth.

Marriage is a complex work of art, and the callings of husband and wife are important individually but must work in harmony to create a beautiful whole greater than the sum of its parts. Throughout this lovely, gift-worthy book, Barbara uses the arts--painting, dancing, gardening, etc.--to reveal this truth in a wise, insightful, and visually captivating way.

May Letters to My Daughters inspire you to embrace the masterpiece of marriage God wants for you.

My Thoughts:
First, I want to say this book is just beautiful from the inside out. It is a real treasure. As a woman, daughter and wife, this is a book that every female should own. I cannot express how much I have laughed and cried throughout this book. The letters Barbara writes in here makes me feel like a human who struggles, who isn't perfect, who has to make things work in life, in my marriage, and as a woman. The pictures are stunning and not just visually, but the art of how she weaves metaphors to talk about lessons she wants to teach the reader. Full of wisdom, advice, and Biblical truth, I can't but help love this book. It has a beautiful white book marker on the inside of it to hold your spot. I have been utilizing it as a devotional to savor the journey. 

Letters to my Daughter is the perfect gift for someone who has been married for thirty years, someone who is recently engaged or a newly married woman. It is an absolute treasure that I love. I would give this book 100 stars because I just enjoy the wisdom, the beauty and the Godly insight of this book.
Thank you Bethany House for providing me a complimentary copy for my honest review. I was not compensated for a positive review. 
About the Author: 
Barbara Rainey
Image Provided by Bethany House 
Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and 
two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to twenty-one grandchildren. After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. Her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, is the president of FamilyLife, a ministry of Campus Crusade that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Expectant Blessings


Written from a mother’s heart and born out of a mommy’s desire to connect with her unborn baby, these powerful prayers, devotions and original poems will touch the heart of both mother and baby alike. Children are God’s unique gift to parents. Pregnancy is a time of celebration, discovery and learning to love someone you don’t know. Readers will invest in their relationship with their unborn child by praying over him or her and beginning to share the Good News and how much they are loved even before they arrive. Each reading will reassure and grow the faith of the mother as she spends time in prayer throughout her pregnancy.

My Thoughts:
Expectant Blessings is a very neat little devotional jammed packed with devotions as you prepare for your little expectant blessing over the next nine months. I love the material of this devotional book. The paper has a great feel to it. It isn't a cheesy devotional. In fact, it's down right funny. While the chapters are short, author Susana Foth Aughtmon will make you laugh, which is perfect. She addresses many of the fears that come with being pregnant, especially new moms and this devotional is so unqiue because it's way for you to connect with God during the time of your pregnancy rather than be worried about your waist size, how he's going to provide or what will you name your child. You'll like this devotional. It's very calming and relaxing, especially as you prepare the way ahead over the next nine months.
Thank you to the folks at Worthy Publishing for providing me a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Weekend Agenda

Happy Friday! 
I hope y'all are excited for the weekend! I know that I sure am. It's starting to feel warm here and staying that way, which is good for Michigan. The continual change in weather patterns isn't good for our crops. It really needs to stay one way or the other, the changing in temperatures isn't good for our farmers or the harvest it produces. 

This week has been one of those weeks where I'm not sure where the time went by. I have been busy running to here there and everywhere, so it seems. Although, it has kept me busy, no complaints here.
6 miles on the Treadmill last Saturday, I hate when it resets.

Workouts over the past week have been great. I can see that slowly my body is starting to come around, but I also have to be much more mindful of keeping up with stretching, which is taking a toll when I don't.

This Week's Workout Recap
Saturday: 6 miles on the treadmill
Sunday: 2 miles on the treadmill speed training
Monday:2.5 mile Walk
Tuesday: 2.5 mile Walk
Wednesday: 2.5 Mile Walk
Thursday: Rest & Stretching
26 seconds from a PR..I was pretty excited about that!

Today will be a rest day with lots of foam rolling, stretching and icing. My feet are bugging me. I have lots of knots in my muscles. I can feel them, which are driving me buggy. I also am starting to see my leg muscles coming back, which means now it's time to add strength training back into my routine. I wanted to do everything slowly. 

 Saturday I am going to do a mild-ish long run because Sunday we have a fun 5k race scheduled in Grand-rapids for a Charity that we love called Gilda's Club. Gilda's Club helps families through support programs with grief, cancer, and emotional health. We are running a race called the "Funderwear" run. Stay tuned to see what underwear we wear... If I knew what it was going to be, I'd give you a clue, but I have no idea.

Don't forget to enter my OOFOS giveaway. These shoes are awesome for anyone, especially runners looking to recovery from races or foot pain. Go here!!

 We also need to get working on our taxes this weekend. I usually do our taxes, but this year I'm just dreading them. I need to get going, but I might pay someone to do them. The thought makes we want to crawl back into bed. This year, I just don't have the energy for them. UGH! I always do them..

What are your plans for the weekend?? Have you filed your taxes? 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Jesus Called He Wants His Church Back by Ray Johnston

Jesus Called – He Wants His Church Back
As early as AD 50, Christians had gotten away from knowing who Jesus really is. Our generation is no different.
In every decade we, as Americans, lost something important that we couldn't afford to lose: • In the 1950s, we lost innocence • In the 1960s, we lost respect for authority • In the 1970s, we lost love • In the 1980s, we lost values • In the 1990s, we lost faith • In the 2000s, we lost security • In the 2010s, we lost hope in the future
What can restore what we've lost? Only Jesus. Jesus gave us His name, His friendship, and a commission to accept responsibility for ourselves and for the world. When introduced to His words and ways we'll rediscover the Jesus who:
• Wants His enemies won over, not wiped out • Wants you to stop playing it safe • Believed great things were possible no matter what things are like right now • Was full of grace and truth • Unleashed compassion • Believed no one was too far from God to return to Him • Came to seek and to save that which was lost • Loves the church
Pastor Ray Johnston shares the Jesus of the Bible and how we can be Christians without being jerks. He reveals how the radical message of the gospel calls us to love and serve not only our neighbors but our enemies as well. That’s the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet.
Jesus' mission is clear—risk everything in order to take care of people, starting in our home, neighborhoods, cities, and those in need around the world. That's the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet.

My Thoughts:
Somehow the church and Christians got disconnected. Did it happen when we switched to cell phones? I'm not sure when the disconnection happened, but "Jesus Called and He wants your Church Back" will get you thinking, immediately.  

Ray Johnston is a story teller and tells this book through the lens of stories to engage the reader, which helps him stand out as an author, I think that probably makes him profound as a pastor as Bayside Chuch as well where he pastors a church of more than 12,000 people.  He has some great points in this book about the church being like Christ instead of complicating it, like the church does very often. There are some other points and opinions that I think become complicated when we follow Christ, it is isn't as simple. We can't just leave it there. 

I think he has a lot of great spot on ideas, Biblical teaching and opinions. However, as with any book, that teaches, I think you should get out there and read it for yourself.
Take a chance on this one. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Reading!