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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

7 Day Detox Tea- Day 3

Finished up Day 3 of my detox tea. 100 ounces gone! I'm now starting to get used to drinking this. I've got it set up that I have a 20 oz water bottle. I fill it up 5 times and I'm done. I've also set up an end time of 8pm so I'm not up all night going, you know where!..
I slipped back into drinking caffeine coffees after my trip to Arizona in October I was living on them with the long drive days and two weeks out of my routine. Since then, I was drinking half caffeine
 coffees until I started this detox tea. I have to say, no headaches at all. I cut it out cold turkey and I'm thinking with all the water I've been drinking it's flushing out my system to where I'm not having any withdrawal systems. I'll take it.. Caffeine is my weakness. I stayed away for two solid years. Had a four month slip and now I'm back off of it again. I don't like how it makes me feel. My resting pulse went back up to the 90's which I disliked and now it's back down to the 60's which is really nice.
So, back on track talking about detox tea drinking after my little rabbit trail there.. hee hee.. Doing good with the water. I'm really enjoying the flavor. I think I don't mind it because I don't really like drinking straight water anyway. I'm usually drinking lemon water all day..
No weight loss today. I still have lost that one pound I mentioned yesterday. It's still gone!! Praise-aleigha....
I mention my weight here because Jillian Michaels says you can lose up to 5 pounds in 7 days. I've lost 1 so far. We'll see how it goes as the week goes on.
Also wanted to post that I did exercise again today. Went for a 2 mile run outside and burned 243 calories. I'm also watching my calorie content and journaling all I eat each day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7 Day Detox Tea- Day 2

I am finishing up Day 2 of drinking this Detox Tea. I can say this has been an experience. I don't think I've ever needed to drink this much in a day before so it was fun trying to take it all in. 100 oz is a lot of water. I made the mistake yesterday of going to the gym and taking my usual lemon water with me which was 24 oz and then when I came home, I was looking at another 100 oz of water to drink from there.. I know! That's a lot..
Someone who's done this before was drinking the 100 oz plus their normal water. I just don't know how they could do it. Having this much water, has really curbed my appetite. I really had to force myself to eat yesterday as well as today since I'm always drinking and it's keeping my stomach full.
I went to the gym yesterday for 50 minutes and burned 550 calories.
Today I went for an outside run.. 4 miles and burned 442 calories.
I have not stopped exercising for this detox so not sure if this will affect the overall results when this is all said and done, so I wanted to add that in case someone else will be trying this at all in the future.
I stepped on the scale this morning after one full day of doing this and the scale is down 1 lb. Again, not sure if this is the resulting factor, hormonal, or the excercise/eating I've been doing. We'll see what the total results will be at the seventh day..
Overall, I'm enjoying the water. It doesn't taste bad. I'm honestly used to drinking lemon water all day long so this really isn't much different to me. It has been a bit of a stretch to get all these ounces in though. I did change it a bit from yesterday and started drinking first thing when I woke up. I drank 20 oz before doing anything else. That seemed to help and didn't put most of my water intake to later in the afternoon..
We'll see how tomorrow fairs.. Until then...

Katie Opens Her Heart by Jerry Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

My Thoughts on this Book:
Book 1 in this series. The story takes place in an Amish community surrounding a mother, Emma, and daughter, Katie. After Katie's father dies when she was young, she's always wanted a daett of her own. Her mother is known as a loner and because of that, Katie is known as Emma Raber's Daughter. Katie wants to be more than that so she seeks friends outside of the Amish community in the nearby Mennonite community. Her mother is apposed of any running around her daughter wants to do to isolate them, just the two of them so no outside influence could effect them.. But will this keep Katie from finding friends and will this stop Emma from loving again..? Great story. Can't wait to read the next book...


Jerry Eicher (nearly half a million copies sold) returns with the first book in another of his delightful series centering on Amish life.

Here is the story of a young Amish girl, Katie Raber, who finds she wants more from life than to be known as simply “Emma Raber’s daughter.”

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736952519
ISBN-13: 978-0736952514


The early morning sun was rising over the well-kept farms of Delaware’s Amish country as Katie Raber drove her buggy toward Byler’s Store near Dover to begin her day’s work. She squinted when she spotted an approaching buggy in the distance. The horse had its neck arched high in the air. Katie didn’t have to think long before she decided who was coming toward her. Ben Stoll would be holding the reins. It was his buggy. She was sure of that. Ben was one of the best-looking Amish boys around. Blessed was any girl who was invited to ride with him in his buggy—something Katie figured she would never experience. Ben was without a doubt the catch among the community’s Amish young men. A cloud crossed the sun, and Katie held the buggy lines tight as she kept her eyes glued on the approaching buggy. Perhaps she could catch a glimpse of Ben this morning. That was all she could hope for. He was from another world. Ben never spoke to her, and she only saw him at the Sunday meetings and the Amish youth gatherings Mamm allowed her to attend. There he would be laughing and talking with someone else—someone more suited to his taste than “plain Katie,” the out-of-step daughter of the odd widow Emma Raber. Katie could walk right under Ben Stoll’s nose, and he wouldn’t even know a shadow had gone by.

Yah, she was Emma Raber’s daughter. That’s how most people in the community thought of her. She even thought of herself that way—just an extension of her mamm. Mamm was nice enough, and Emma really loved her. So, nee, she wasn’t really complaining. But sometimes her mamm did unusual things, and that made Katie seem so…well, weird to the other young adults in the Amish community. For one thing, there would be no rumspringa for Katie. Everyone else she knew among the Delaware Amish would have their time to run around and try out the ways of the world. But not Katie. Emma Raber wouldn’t even consider such a thing for her daughter. And the Amish youth gatherings were few and far between. Mamm was suspicious of even those. “Too much socializing,” she had said.

She could live without rumspringa. Or without Ben Stoll, for that matter. So what, Katie told herself, it might even be best for her if Ben were unobtainable. He might not be all that wunderbah if she ever got to know him. Katie sighed. These were desperate excuses, and she knew it, but lately Mamm’s restrictions were becoming harded and harder to bear. She was only trying to make herself feel better. Ben was wunderbah. Even her friend Arlene Miller wasn’t above stealing a glance at Ben—and that with her boyfriend, Nelson Graber, sitting right across from her at the Sunday night hymn singings!

Katie wondered if all the girls were as taken with Ben as she was. She was aware of everything about him. She noticed when he wore a new black suit at communion time every spring. She noticed the way his buggy shone when the sun rays bounced off the sides at the Sunday meetings. The boy must spend hours waxing the black vinyl of his buggy, she thought. And most of all, she noticed the way Ben smiled when he was happy, which seemed like most of the time. What would it be like to be the kind of girl who made Ben smile that smile? Ha! Certainly a simple, plain soul like Emma Raber’s daughter couldn’t be such a girl…ever.

Katie tried to look away from the fast-approaching buggy. She was way too fascinated with the boy. If Mamm knew her feelings, Katie knew she’d be given a lecture the size of the state of Delaware and right at the kitchen table after supper. Yah, Mamm would not understand how she felt. Life had been hard for Mamm, especially when it came to men. Hadn’t Daett passed away when Katie was still a young girl? The loss had been so painful for Mamm that she might never marry again.

The beat of horse hooves on pavement grew louder. Katie eased open her buggy door just enough to make sure that whoever was in the passing buggy could see it was her in case a greeting was forthcoming. With her hands on the reins, Katie held her breath as the buggy approached and passed without its buggy door opening even an inch. Katie saw the unmistakable outline of Ben’s face through the small window. His hat was tight on his head, and his eyes were looking straight ahead. The moment passed in a flash without the smallest flicker of a hand wave through the window. And then the buggy was gone.

It was the sun in his eyes, Katie told herself. That’s why Ben hadn’t slid open the buggy door or bothered to wave. But she knew better. Ben wasn’t being mean. No, she just wasn’t worth the effort. He had greater and better things on his mind than paying attention to Emma Raber’s odd daughter. Now if she were beautiful, or charming, or funny, or even talkative at the Sunday-night hymn singings, it might be different. With such qualities, perhaps her plainness could be overcome. But all that was a dream that would never come true. She couldn’t be what she wasn’t.

Perhaps she should settle for Joe Helmuth from down the road. Joe walked with a limp from a hay wagon accident when he was five. He would take over his daett’s farm someday, but the scars from that long-ago day would never leave him. The problem was that Joe didn’t pay Katie any attention either.

Well, at least thinking about Ben Stoll helped ease the pain a little, Katie decided. She was only Katie Raber, after all. The girl who could barely open her mouth without dumb words falling out all over each other. If she could only be more like the rest of the Amish girls in the community. But that could never be either, not with how Mamm felt about things.

Katie slapped the reins against her horse as her thoughts swirled through her mind. She couldn’t remember much about Daett. He’d been gone since she was three years old. She could remember happy times though. Going to the barn with him when they did the evening chores. But that was so long ago. If she only had a daett, Katie decided, life would be different. If Mamm married again, Katie figured both of them would be better accepted in the community and Mamm might change her ways. The most obvious possibility was widower Jesse Mast. And he’d come calling on Mamm again just the other evening. Mamm hadn’t said anything about the visit, but Jesse had surely spoken of marriage.

Yah, Mamm should marry again, Katie decided. Mamm’s sorrow over losing her husband was still written on her face after all these years. Was it not high time things changed? Yah, and Katie would pray about the matter.

Da Hah must already be thinking the same thing if He was sending Mamm a suitor in the person of Jesse Mast. So why couldn’t Mamm see this and accept Jesse’s offer of marriage? Was she turning him down because he wasn’t much to look at? Yah, he was a little rough around the edges. But it wasn’t like Mamm to be so concerned with outward appearance. She went more by a person’s kind heart than how he looked on the outside. Perhaps it was the fact that Jesse’s frau, Millie, had died and left him with a family of five children. Was that why Mamm objected? She didn’t want her household increased so dramatically?

Nee, Katie decided that couldn’t be the reason either. Mamm didn’t mind hard work. And if a large family was the problem, she should have been happy after turning down Jesse. Instead, Mamm had walked around the house with the lines on her face running deeper than ever. So why had she turned Jesse down? That was assuming Mamm had turned him down. The proposal of marriage was just a guess on Katie’s part, but she was sure she was right. It couldn’t have been anything else. The two had talked for a long time while sitting on the porch swing. Afterward, Jesse had stood in the yard for a few moments longer, still speaking with Mamm. He’d held his hat in his hand, the sweat ring in his hair still apparent from where the hat had been pressed tightly on his head. Then Jesse had walked back to his buggy, his head bowed. Even Jesse’s horse, Lucy, had looked depressed as they drove down the lane.

Katie had been ready to ask Mamm what Jesse wanted, but one look at her face caused her to change her mind. Mamm looked troubled and yet, at the same time, ready to give someone a piece of her mind. A question from Katie could easily have resulted in another lecture she didn’t want to hear. A lecture about being satisfied with one’s lot in life and not reaching for the stars. That was the standard lecture Mamm always gave when Katie dared complain about attending more of the Amish youth gatherings.

“You don’t know how nice you have it,” Mamm would say. “We have enough to eat, a roof over our heads, and horses to drive us to work and church. What more could we ask for?”

Well, Katie thought, there was plenty more to ask for. All kinds of things a young woman could want. Things that were out there just waiting to enrich one’s life—and, happily, things that were not forbidden by the Ordnung. Like liking a boy. Like someday loving a man who would love her back and consider his life empty without her. Someone who’s eyes would light up when he saw her. Someone who called her sweet things on Sunday nights as he sat on the couch beside her. Wasn’t that what dating couples did? Mamm wouldn’t say when Katie asked, other than muttering something about useless talking until all hours of the night.

How could such time be considered wasted? Katie wondered. It would be glory indeed to sit beside a boy—a soon-to-be man so near she could touch him. What delight it would be to hear his deep voice rumble when he spoke or feel his eyes watching her long before she looked up to meet his gaze. Nee, this couldn’t be wasted time. It would be a touch of heaven, and the most worthwhile thing a girl could set her heart on. Especially if the boy were Ben Stoll…

Katie sighed. So had Jesse Mast asked for Mamm’s hand? Had she turned him down? She’d sent him away looking disappointed, so something was going on. And then there was that look on Mamm’s face in the evenings after the sun had set and the house was quiet. Mamm didn’t like the loneliness of their house either—the hours without a man’s voice being heard. She’d been silent after Jesse left that night, staring at the kitchen wall and seemingly more troubled than usual.

What could she do to help? Katie wondered. She should do something, yah.

A car passed Katie’s buggy, its engine roaring. Katie forced her mind back on the road ahead. Her horse, Sparky, knew the way to Byler’s Store. He should after all this time she’d worked there. But even so, he mustn’t be allowed to go his own way.

Ahead of her, Bishop Jonas Miller’s place was coming up. His wife, Laura, was out in the yard hanging wash on the line. Katie leaned out of the buggy to wave, and Laura paused long enough to wave back before bending again to her work. At least the older Amish folk didn’t think she was strange, even with her Mamm the way she was.

Katie settled herself in the buggy seat again. If Mamm married Jesse, she might have to stay home from her job at Byler’s and help with the added work five children entailed. But that would be an attractive kind of work—more normal almost. And it could lead to other kinds of normalness in her life. And perhaps even to a boy sitting on the couch beside her some Sunday night after a hymn singing. Yah, somehow Mamm must be persuaded to accept Jesse’s offer of marriage.

Katie turned into the parking lot at Byler’s and pulled Sparky to a stop at the far end of the hitching rail that was located on one side of the store. She climbed down, unhitched the buggy, and led Sparky around to the back where he could munch at stray pieces of grass during the day. She tied him to the fence with a long rope before walking back to the buggy. She pushed both doors shut before heading to the employee entrance of the store.


I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the book. No other compensation was given

Monday, February 25, 2013

7 Day Detox Tea-Day 1

I've gotten a little sloppy with my food lately, and with that I've gained 5lbs back. I'm not going to spend my life complaining about it. It's life, things like this happen. I just now want to get back to what I was doing before and lose this 5 lbs and then lose the last 5 lbs to meet my ultimate goal.. So I've decided to do a detox for the next 7 days to jumpstart my weightloss and hopefully eliminate some bloat.
I read on Pinterest the other day about a 7 day detox by Jillian Michaels. She swears by it. I'm not a big Jillian Michaels fan but it sounded easy enough so I decided to do it starting today.
What is it you ask? It's this below:

 photo 002-1.jpg

7 Day Detox Tea Drink

1- Dandelion Root Tea Bag
1 TBS Lemon Juice
1 TBS of Cranberry Juice
100 oz of water

Steep the tea for at least 15 minutes in the water before removing it!

Drink this amount each day for 7 days. It doesn't say anything about changing your diet or exercising.

For me, I will be working out at the gym for at least four of these 7 days for at least one hour. Today I went and burned 550 calories doing a Shredmill Workout I also found on Pinterest.. It was awesome!

I plan to keep eating the way I normally do with organic (where I can), whole foods, non processed and won't be eating out at all during this 7 day detox. I look forward to see if anything comes off during this. It states up to 5 lbs so we will see..

All I know is that the bathroom and I are going to be really great friends when this is all said and done.. It is... 100 ounces of water.. wink wink....

Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Flora's Wish
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Kathleen Y'Barbo


RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.


May 1887--Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fiancés died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?

And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora's heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora's Wish, go HERE.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

God is Good!

Yesterday I was in a little funk. The one where you spend too much time thinking about things that are literally out of your control. Well some of my thoughts were that. One in particular was me spending too much time thinking about politics. How America is the way it is now. How depressing it is to hear how the President isn't helping our economy and we are getting farther and farther into debt and we've all turned a blind eye to most of what is going on in the White House. That, and the 2nd Ammendment getting hammered. Just to name a few.
I've spent a lot of time on Facebook lately voicing my opinions on these topics and it really didn't surprise me that I didn't make fast friends with a few people that don't see my point of you. That's fine.. We are all able to voice our opinions and I gladly listen to all ways of thinking regarding politics and our economy. I did decide two days ago that I had to let this go. It was bothering me. I was thinking too hard on it, and my thoughts in the scheme of things really didn't matter as I'm one lonely American in a land FULL of us. I really need to let it go and give it to God. Pray about it more than spending time ranting.. So that is what I'm doing with this..
It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulder. I know that the issues are still there of course, but I'm not worrying about it so much that I'm losing sleep over what America has become and what my children and grandchildren get to inherit. I got mad awhile ago hearing a friend tell me to let God handle it.. That if He wants all this to happen, then it will. I had a tough time believing that He wanted us to just sit back and allow our nation to crumble. I think what she was saying is that it's not our individual fight to save America. We need to place our burdens at the feet of the cross and that's what I need to do.
This wasn't the only reason I was feeling blue though. I posted yesterday on friendships and really desiring one or two that I can call a true friend. One that I can call upon when I'm blue. It saddened me that I felt like I didn't have one of those, until the phone rang. I picked it up and it was one of my long lost friends I knew when living in WA. What she said to me was exactly what I needed to hear and it had to come from God. She shared that I was in her thoughts lately and she needed to call and chat. A God miracle! What an absolute blessing her phone call did for me. I tried sharing how blessed I was and I'm still not sure how important at that moment it was to hear what she told me.
Two hours talking like old girlfriends.. Oh that felt wonderful. Two women sharing and caring. I miss this and I'm so blessed that God showed me today that I DO have that kind of friendship, I just wasn't looking in the right places.. This is just the thing I needed from God. That little nudge to show that He truly cares for me.. and that I have others that care for me too..It was a good day afterall! Praise God!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Just Thinking....

Sometimes I feel alone. The alone you feel when you have something big to talk about but really nobody to share it with. A trusted girlfriend. I haven't really had that since I was in high school. I have my wonderful hubby of course. He's my best friend and I can tell him anything and everything but sometimes it would be nice to have a girl friend. I have a lot of aquaintances. People I surface talk with but I haven't really found one where I can share more intimate things with.
Who knows, I may never find that special friend and most days I'm ok with that. I guess today it just hit me that's all. I want to be more real on here but it's hard too. This is a public blog and some things just don't need to be splattered all over cyber space.
I do know that right now, I feel like everyone looks at me like I have my life all set. I've got it all together.. It's painful to see how people look at me, act around me, thinking that I am the all put together person and that I do everything and everything perfectly... That is such a joke!
My life has been tough and everything that I have right now, I earned.. Nothing was given to me since I was 16 and on my own. I started working when I was just 14 at the local bowling alley, cleaning ash trays, garbage cans and bathrooms. By the time I was 16, I was on my own holding 3 jobs and going full time high school. I did all of that by myself with my own strength. I had to be strong even at a young age.
It's hard being a teenager with adult responsibilities. I got married at 18 to a man I barely knew. We started dating in November and that June we wed. Through that time period he was in basic training in another state and we wrote letters to each other. That saying "Absense makes the heart grow fonder". Well it's true. I knew his family since I was 15 so I thought everything was going to be ok. I just didn't know him and through time it would all work itself out.
Then my daughter was born. My marriage was not ok, even from the beginning. I had low self esteem from not having a family that cared and he played upon my weakness. When I found the courage to end it, my daughter was 15 months old. I then became a single mom. That wasn't easy either. Dealing with a really rough divorce and having to handle my ex on a regular basis was very difficult.
I married my wonderful husband when my daughter just turned 3. That wasn't easy either. We both came into our marriage with a PILE of baggage from our past. Mine was up front and center dealing with court hearings after court hearings with my daughter along with abandonment issues stemming from my parents leaving me at 16.. When my daughter turned 5, I lost full custody of her to my ex and spent the next 11 yrs seeing her in the Summer months. That was the hardest time in my life, watching my daughter be raised by someone else and having little influence on her life. I felt like a babysitter when she came to visit because any parenting I tried to do, just got wiped clean when she went back. I had a lot of hurt over the custody issues, feelings of failing was up front and center in my mind for a long time. Dealing with low self esteem issues.
By the time my husband and I hit 3 yrs of marriage we were ready to call it quits.. Yes, that's right! Pull in the towel, walk away. My son was close to 2 at the time. Thankfully, God tugged on my husband's heart and told him to "Think Love". We decided to go to counseling at our church. The counselor offered us a chance to take a 2 yr course about co-dependency and healing old wounds to make a fresh start. We grabbed at the chance to save our marriage. Two long, painful, emotionally struggling years later, we finished the course. It was NOT easy. It dug up everything in our lives that was unpleasant and allowed us to work through it all in a small group setting so we could heal from it and use it for God's glory. It was powerful! I thank God everyday for that opportunity because that was the starting point in how I saw myself and how I viewed my marriage and my children.
During this time period I had another son. Financially we were also struggling. My husband is an aviation mechanic and when 9-11 hit, the aviation field was hit hard. No raises for 4 yrs. He was able to keep his job and that's by the grace of God because there were several layoffs during that time period. We ended up having to file bankruptcy while I was still pregnant with my 3rd child. What a blow that did for us.
When we decided to do that, we also decided to take financial counseling classes at our church to help us better manage our money. A long process and years later we are now debt free and living within our means. No credit card debt, no car payments and we only have our mortgage to contend with. We are now over 11 yrs passed our bankruptcy with excellent credit. That wasn't easy. We didn't have money fall from the sky, or given to us. We pinched, scraped and saved every last penny we had to make that work. We did a lot of free things when the kids were smaller. We had one car for two solid years. It was also not an overnight thing. It took many many months to get it under control, but it was worth every ounce of struggle we went through.
We purchased our third home back in 2007. The one we currently live in. Other than painting some walls, that was all we've done to it. Just recently as you can tell by my previous posts we are remodeling a bit to update the house and make it our home. This wasn't something we did first thing when we moved in. No.. we've lived here almost 6 yrs now and just now have the money to do what we want. Will we be able to do it all right now.. probably not.. We won't put any of this on credit so if we don't have the money then we stop until we do.
I guess lately, I feel like I'm being judged. I feel like others are looking at me like I have it all together. My life is perfect and that I can do it all. I'm some kind of super woman! Well, I'm not. It's taken a long hard road to get to where I am now. I'm still a woman in training. God is molding me each and everyday to be a better person from yesterday. I'm not perfect. Just trying to make good, honest choices for myself and my family.
 I cook wholesome foods for my family because I watched my husband undergo a huge, major surgery back in 2005. I watched him suffer for years with pain until he finally went to the doctor to get it checked. At that moment of watching him, realizing he could of died during that ordeal that life was precious. I decided then and there I was going to give up on fast food and drinking sodas. That was 7 1/2 yrs ago and I haven't touched any of it. Does that make me better than anyone else? NO.. It makes me human. My freedom to choose what's right for me and my family. I'm not judging anyone who eats fast food or drinks soda, so I'm wondering why I should be judged for not.
I make my stuff from scratch. Why, well in all honesty, I love doing it. I have given my extra time during the day to take care of my family and my way of showing that is cooking and baking real food for them. I absolutely love being in the kitchen. I never thought I would, but I do. I guess that goes along with God molding me everyday!
Another thing that I've done that has gotten glares is my running and fitness. Running was really hard at the beginning and I still struggle with it. I keep going because I love it. I had to step away from running for several months because I needed to refocus the reasons why I chose to run in the first place. It didn't come easy for me to run or to get fit. I just woke up each day and chose to do it!

Losing weight has been an issue to talk about. I don't even post about it anymore on my Facebook. It's hard anymore being real because being real.. well people don't want to hear real.. They also don't want to hear success stories. That means you are perfect somehow because you achieved something! I feel like I can no longer be real. I feel like I can't share my success stories with others. Losing 30lbs wasn't easy. I've struggled with my weight back and forth ever since I had my first child at 20. A roller coaster. This has never been an easy thing. I've tried and tried to lose and keep it off. It's honestly a daily battle for me. This has NOT been easy.
I'm real. I lost 30lbs and have gained back 4 of it. Why? Because I'm real. I'm not perfect. I'm going to succeed and fail, but I choose to get up and face the day. What am I doing about it? I'm not moping. I'm back to my running schedule and back to watching my calories. A minor set back, not a major one.
Another area I love is crafting. Making cards, fixing up the house by making curtains etc. I love doing that. I feel like I can't share that either because that makes me even more perfect when I'm not.
 I don't want to hide myself to help others feel better about themselves. This is me. I was broken for a lot of years. I feel sometimes like I earn the right to show my success for all the HARD WORK I've done over the past 20 yrs. I'm sure me saying that doesn't score anymore brownie points to those who may think of me as perfect! They may even think I'm a snob.. I don't know.
I've always been a loyal friend to anyone who has ever been a part of my life. I've always given my all. It's hard sometimes to see people you want to be friends with gravitate towards unsafe, emotionally unstable people and don't give you a time of day. I've worked so hard to find myself. To be an emotional STABLE person and nobody wants to be around that. They look at me as being stuck up or someone who is overly confident and maybe that scares people. I've had people even say about me that I have it all together and I don't really need anyone because of it. They need to be helping those that need it! Well, that's not true. Just because I've been helping myself become a stable person doesn't mean that I'm ok with being alone, without friendship. Everyone needs friendships! EVERYONE!
I've shared here my struggles because I'm not perfect.. If you were a friend or someone who cared, you'd want to share in the success as well. It wasn't easy getting where I am today. A wonderful marriage to the best man in the world- that didn't happen overnight. That took years to build and a lifetime to maintain. Also the opportunity to be with my daughter after 11 yrs apart. She lives with me full time now and I get to watch her graduate from high school in three short months.. God is faithful! All this with the patience and strength given by the almighty. I would of never been able to get through all of this heartache, turmoil and life changing events without His strength. He was my only friend for a lot of years and I owe all my success to Him.

For Love of Eli by Loree Lough

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
For Love of Eli
Abingdon Press (February 1, 2013)
Loree Lough


With more than FOUR MILLION copies of her books in circulation, Loree has 98 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; four novels optioned for movies; more books slated for release between now and 2014), 68 short stories, over 2,500+ articles in print, and over 19,000 letters from fans!

Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, college and high school writing programs both here and abroad.

A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations.

She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of "wolf stuff."

My Thoughts on this Book:
Another great Quilts of Love book. This one surrounds the life of a small boy Eli. He loses his parents and moves in with is Aunt Taylor, who owns an inn. The story takes you on a journey of love for Eli, a little romance, and shows us how to use a quilt to cherish memories.. A must read!!


When unspeakable tragedy leaves young Eli an orphan, two families are devastated. But Taylor, Eli’s aunt and legal guardian, vows to help him remember his parents by creating a Memory Quilt. As she begins piecing together the moments of his parents' lives, the story of the young family emerges and Taylor and Eli begin to heal. But Eli’s uncle Reece is slow to let go of the past and still blames Taylor’s brother for his sister’s death. So, although he has long been attracted to Taylor, Reece keeps a safe distance away. Can their shared love for Eli pave the way to forgiveness or will Taylor and Reece be separated by pain?

If you would like to read a first chapter excerpt of For Love of Eli, go HERE.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review of this book. No other compensation was given.

My Amish Childhood by Jerry Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.


Bestselling fiction author Jerry S. Eicher recounts his childhood in the Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario and his parents’ decision to move to Honduras. Jerry also tells of his eventual conversion to Christ and the reasons for his departure from the childhood faith he knew.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736950060
ISBN-13: 978-0736950060


I can still see his face. Lean. Determined. Framed by his lengthy beard. I can see him running up the hill toward our house. He was carrying his bag of doctor implements.

Mom was having chest spasms, and any real doctor was miles away—across four hours of the broken, rutted, dusty Honduran road we took only as a last resort.

The running man was my Uncle Joe. The smart one of the family. The older brother. The intellectual genius. When Uncle Joe walked by, we stopped talking and listened intently when he spoke. On this day, he rushed by, not paying any attention to us children.

I knew he was coming about Mom, but I recall experiencing no fear for her life. Perhaps I wasn’t old enough to have such a fear. To me, Uncle Joe’s haste seemed more entertainment than emergency. After all, Mom had looked fine to me a few minutes earlier.

When Uncle Joe left the house some time later, he issued a favorable report that I never questioned. Nor did anyone else. The mysteries of the Englisha world of medicine were even further removed from us than the four hours to town. Uncle Joe studied the books, and we trusted him.

Years later, when our little Amish community in Central America was on its last legs and held in the grip of terrible church fights over cape dresses, bicycles, singing in English or Spanish on Sunday mornings, and other horrors that the adults spoke of with bated breath, it was the look on Uncle Joe’s face as he talked with Mom and Dad by the fence on Sunday afternoon that made things clear to me. If Uncle Joe thought something was over, then it was over.

Uncle Joe lived below us, across the fields, in a house smaller than ours even though his family was much larger. How they managed, I never thought to wonder. Their house never looked crowded. It was kept spotless by his wife, Laura, and their oldest daughters Rosanna and Naomi. We didn’t visit often on Sunday afternoons. Mostly we children dropped by on weekdays, sent on some errand by Mom or we wandered past on our meanderings around the countryside.

They kept goats in the yard, all of them tied with long ropes to stakes. One of them was named Christopher. We didn’t have goats. Dad ran a machine shop, and Mom took care of the garden. Goats were foreign to us. Smelly creatures. Mom scorned goat’s milk, even when Uncle Joe said emphatically it was far superior to cow’s milk.

We all lived near each other in those days—part of a grand experiment to see if the Amish faith could survive on foreign soil.

My grandfather, Peter Stoll, an Amish man of   impeccable standing, had taken it upon himself to lead an Amish community to the Central American country of Honduras. He wasn’t an ordained minister, and I don’t remember seeing him speak in public. Still, the integrity of his life and his ideas so affected those around him that they were willing to follow him where few had gone before.

At the height of the experimental community, we ended up being twenty families or so. We all lived on two neighboring ranches purchased in a valley below a mountain. Most of us had come to Honduras from the hot religious fervor of the small Aylmer community along the shores of  Lake Erie in Southern Ontario or from the detached coolness of Amish country spread over Northern Indiana. Plans were for the two to become one in mind and heart. And for awhile we did.

Those were wonderful years. The memories of that time still bring an automatic gathering of hearts among the Amish who were there—and even some of us who are no longer Amish. All these years later, most of us are scattered across the United States and Canada—except for the few of the original group who stayed behind.

Some of the people credit the joy of those days to the weather in our Honduras valley. And lovely weather it was. Balmy. Hardly ever above ninety or below forty. Others credit the culture. Some attribute our happiness to being so far from the States that we only had each other. I don’t know the full reason for our happiness. Perhaps it isn’t possible to know. But I do remember the energy of the place—its vibrancy. I do know the years left their imprints on us all.

This was my childhood. Those hazy years when time drags. When nothing seems to come soon enough. And where everything is greeted as if it had never been before. To me that land—that valley—was home. I absorbed it completely. Its sounds. Its language. The color of the dusty towns. The unpaved streets. The pigs in the doorway of the huts. The open fires over a metal barrel top. The taste of greasy fried beans. The flour tortillas and meat smoked to perfection. In my heart there will always be a deep and abiding love for that country.

Around us were mountains. To the north they rose in a gradual ridge, coming in from the left and the right to meet in the middle, where a distinctive hump rose into the air—officially named Mt. Misoco. But to us it was simply what the locals called it: La Montaña. The Mountain. Our mountain. Which it was in ways we could not explain.

To the south lay the San Marcos Mountains. At least that’s what we called them. Those rugged, jagged peaks lying off in the distance. I never climbed those mountains, but I often roamed our mountain—or rather our side of it—from top to bottom. On its peak, looking over to the other side, you could see lines and lines of ridges running as far as the eye could see.

A party of courageous Amish boys, along with a few visiting Amish youngsters from stateside, once decided to tackle the San Marcos Mountains. They threw their forces together and allowed two days for the trip. I was much too young to go along—and probably wouldn’t have anyway. But I waited for news of their adventure with interest. They came back soon enough— defeated and full of tales of dark jungles and multiple peaks that disoriented the heart. No one even caught sight of the highest point, let alone the other side.

In the summer, around five in the morning, the Southern Cross—that symbol of Christianity—hung over the San Marcos Mountains. Its haunting figure made of stars swung low in the sky. I would stand for long minutes gazing at the sight, caught up in the glory of it.

I was eight when we arrived in Honduras. We were one of the first families there after Grandfather Stoll had purchased and settled on the Sanson ranch. Dad seemed driven to the move by motives other than adventure. He was unhappy with the ordnung rules in the Amish community at Aylmer, and he wanted change. Change that didn’t include the great sin of joining a more liberal Amish church, of course.

In time Dad came to love the land along with the rest of us. And strangely, he came to love what he didn’t expect—the old ways, imperfect though they had been. My most enduring memory of Dad in those days is hearing him sing the old German songs at the top of his voice over the roar of his machine shop motors. And in the end, it came down to that question for all of them. A choice between what they loved and what they loved the most.

I grew up surrounded by men dedicated to an old faith. I saw those men, most of them my uncles, tested to the core. I saw them wrestle with the old and with the new, trying to figure out where everything fit together. I lived among giants of faith. I saw their agony and their sacrifice. I saw their choices, and it affected me deeply. Their faith had been hammered out back in the sixteenth century, in the old town of Zurich, Switzerland. Back during the time Ulrich Zwingli thundered his sermons in the old Grossmunster Church.

But in the days of my childhood, those stories of   long ago were not mine yet. Those gallant tales of deeds done under fire and sword. Of imprisonment in noblemen’s castles. Of narrow escapes into the Swiss countryside from the murderous Berne Anabaptist hunters. Instead, my memories are of men in my own time. Men who believed that life was not worth living if you didn’t believe in something worth dying for. I was surrounded by men of passion. And if someone should make the claim that these men were misguided, I would insist the fault lay not in caring too much about religious matters. For I learned while growing up among them that this is how a person should live. That true believers follow God with all of their hearts and souls.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Home for Lydia by Vannetta Chapman

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author's website.

My Thoughts on This Book:
I love how this author continued the story that was presented in Book 1 of this series. I've come across of a lot of series books lately that are not really tied together and it was nice to revisit the old characters of the previous book. With this story they were a prominent part of the storyline which is nice. This book continues as they left off like I mention but introduces Lydia and Aaron. Lydia is the housekeeper for a rundown Amish cabins to rent. After the owner passes away, his nephew comes from out of state to help settle his affairs to then want to quickly return back to his plow and land and never step foot back. It looks though that it may turn out differently than Aaron planned.. Love the storyline and look forward to reading the 3rd book in this series..


A Home for Lydia, the second book in a new romantic series from popular author Vannetta Chapman, centers again on the Plain community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges to their community from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways.

Aaron Troyer simply wants to farm like his father and grandfather before him. But instead he finds himself overseeing the family's small group of guest cabins nestled along the banks of Pebble Creek. That also means he must work with the cabins' housekeeper, Lydia Fisher.

Lydia is the most outspoken Amish woman Aaron has ever met, and she has strong opinions about how the guest cabins are to be run. She also desperately needs this job. Though sparks fly between boss and employee at first, when the cabins are robbed, nothing is more important to Aaron than making sure Lydia is safe.

Together they work to make the vacation property profitable, but can they find out the identity of the culprit before more damage is done? And is Lydia's dream of a home of her own more than just a wish and a prayer?

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736946144
ISBN-13: 978-0736946148


• Prologue •



Lydia Fisher pulled her sweater around her shoulders and sank down on the top step of the last cabin as the sun set along Pebble Creek. The waters had begun to recede from last week’s rains, but the creek still pushed at its banks—running swiftly past the Plain Cabins and not pausing to consider her worries.

Debris from the flooding reached to the bottom step of cabin twelve. She could have reached out and nudged it with the toe of her shoe. Fortunately, the water hadn’t made it into the small cottages.

Almost, though.

Only two days ago she’d stood at the office window and watched as the waters had crept closer to the picturesque buildings nestled along the creek—watched and prayed.

Now the sun was dropping, and she knew she should harness Tin Star to the buggy and head home. Her mother would be putting dinner on the table. Her brother and sisters would be needing help with schoolwork. Her father would be waiting.

Standing up with a weariness that was unnatural for her twenty-two years, Lydia trudged back toward the front of the property, checking each cabin as she went.

All were locked and secure.

All were vacant.

Perhaps this weekend the Englisch tourists would return and provide some income for the owner, Elizabeth Troyer. Guests would also ensure that Lydia kept her job. If the cabins were to close and she were to lose her employment, she wouldn’t be able to convince her brother to stay in school. Their last conversation on the matter had turned into an argument—one she’d nearly lost.

Pulling their old black gelding from the barn, she tied Tin Star’s lead rope to the hitching post, and then she began to work the collar up and over his ears.

“You’re a gut boy. Are you ready to go home? Ready for some oats? I imagine you are.”

He’d been their buggy horse since she was a child, and Lydia knew his days were numbered. What would her family do when he gave out on them? As she straightened his mane and made sure the collar pad protected his shoulders and neck, she paused to rest her cheek against his side. The horse’s sure steady breathing brought her a measure of comfort.

Reaching into the pocket of her jacket, she brought out a handful of raisins. Tin Star’s lips on her hand were soft and wet. Lydia rubbed his neck as she glanced back once more at the cluster of buildings which had become like a small community to her—a community she was responsible for maintaining.

Squaring her shoulders, she climbed into the buggy and turned toward home.

• Chapter 1 •

Downtown Cashton

Thursday afternoon, two weeks later

Aaron Troyer stepped off the bus, careful to avoid a large puddle of rainwater. Because no one else was exiting at Cashton, he didn’t have to wait long for the driver to remove his single piece of luggage from the storage compartment. He’d thanked the man and shouldered the duffel bag when the buggy coming in the opposite direction hit an even bigger puddle, soaking him.

The bus driver had managed to jump out of the way at the last second. “Good luck to you, son.”

With a nod the man was back on the bus, heading farther west. A part of Aaron wished he were riding with him. Another part longed to take the next bus back east, back where he’d come from, back to Indiana.

Neither was going to happen, so he repositioned his damp duffel bag and surveyed his surroundings.

Not much to Cashton.

According to his uncle and his dad, the town was about the same size as Monroe, but Aaron couldn’t tell it. He supposed new places never did measure up to expectations, especially when a fellow would rather not be there.

The ride had been interesting enough. They had crossed the northern part of Indiana, skirted the southern tip of Lake Michigan, traveled through Chicago and Rockford, and finally entered Wisconsin in the south central portion of the state. Aaron had seen more cities in the last twenty-four hours than he’d visited in his entire life. Those had been oddities to him. Something he would tell his family about once he was home, but nothing he would ever care to see again. But passing through the Hidden Valley region of southwestern Wisconsin—now that had caused him to sit up straighter and gaze out of the bus’s window.

There had been an older Englisch couple sitting behind him. They’d had tourist brochures that they read aloud to each other. He’d caught the highlights as he tried to sleep.

He heard them use the word “driftless.” The term apparently indicated a lack of glacial drift. His dat would laugh at that one. Not that he discounted all aspects of science, but he had his doubts regarding what was and wasn’t proven as far as the Ice Age.

According to the couple’s brochure, Wildcat Mountain to the east of Cashton was teeming with wildlife and good hiking. Any other time he might be interested in that piece of information, but he wasn’t staying, so it didn’t matter much to him.

He also learned that small towns in the Driftless Area were at risk of major flooding every fifty to one hundred years.

Staring down at his damp pants, he wondered how much rain they’d had. How much rain were they expecting? He hoped he wouldn’t be here long enough to find out.

Aaron glanced up and down the street. He saw a town hall, a tavern, a café, a general store, and a feed store. A larger building, probably three stories high, rose in the distance, but he had no desire to walk that far because it could be in the wrong direction. Already the sun was heading west, and he’d rather be at the cabins before dark.

Several streets branched off the main one, but they didn’t look any more promising. Pushing his hat down more firmly on his head, he cinched up the duffel bag and walked resolutely toward the feed store.

Instead of heading toward the front door, he moved down the side of the building to the loading docks, where two pickup trucks and a buggy were parked.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the buggy that had sprayed him with rainwater and mud. He would rather not ask information of that person, though in all likelihood the driver had no idea what he’d done. Folks seldom slowed down enough to look outside their own buggy window—even Amish folk. It appeared some things were the same whether you were in Wisconsin or Indiana.

He approached the loading docks, intending to find the owner of the parked buggy.

“That duffel looks heavy… and wet.”

Turning in surprise, he saw a man leaning against the driver’s side of the buggy. Aaron could tell he was tall, even though he was half sitting, tall and thin. Somber brown eyes studied him, and a full dark beard indicated the man was married. Which was no surprise, because a basket with a baby in it sat on the buggy’s floor. The baby couldn’t have been more than a few months old, based on the size of the basket. He couldn’t see much except for a blanket and two small fists waving in the air.

“Duffel wouldn’t be wet if someone hadn’t been determined to break the speed limit with a sorrel mare.”

The man smiled, reached down, and slipped a pacifier into the baby’s mouth. “That would probably have been one of the Eicher boys. I’m sure he meant no harm, but both of them tend to drive on the far side of fast.”

He placed the walnut bowl he’d been sanding with a piece of fine wool on the seat, dusted his hands on his trousers, and then he stepped forward. “Name’s Gabe Miller.”

“Aaron Troyer.”

“Guess you’re new in town.”

“Ya. Just off the bus.”

“Explains the duffel.”

Aaron glanced again at the sun, headed west. Why did it seem to speed up once it was setting? “I was looking for the Plain Cabins on Pebble Creek. Have you heard of them?”

“If you’re needing a room for the night, we can either find you a place or take you to our bishop. No need for you to rent a cabin.”

Easing the duffel bag off his shoulder and onto the ground, Aaron rested his hands on top of it. “Actually I need to go to the cabins for personal reasons. Could you tell me where they are?”

“Ya. I’d be happy to give you directions, but it’s a fair piece from here if you’re planning on walking.”

Aaron pulled off his hat and ran his hand over his hair. Slowly he replaced it as he considered his options. He’d boarded the bus ten hours earlier. He was used to long days and hard work. Though he was only twenty-three, he’d been working in the fields for nine years—since he’d left the schoolhouse after eighth grade. It was work he enjoyed. What he didn’t like was ten hours on a bus, moving farther away from his home, on a trip that seemed to him like a fool’s mission.

“Sooner I start, sooner I’ll arrive.”

“Plain Cabins are on what we call the west side of Pebble Creek.”

“You mean the west side of Cashton?”

“Well, Cashton is the name of the town, but Plain folks mostly refer to Pebble Creek, the river.”

“The same river going through town?”

“Yes. There are two Plain communities here—one to the east side of town, and one to the west. I live on the east side. The cabins you’re looking for are on the west. The town’s sort of in the middle. You can walk to them from here, but as I said, it’s a good ways. Maybe five miles, and there are quite a few hills in between, not to mention that bag you’re carrying… ”

Instead of answering, Aaron hoisted the duffel to his shoulder.

Throughout the conversation, Gabe’s expression had been pleasant but serious. At the sound of voices, he glanced up and across the street, toward the general store. When he did, Aaron noticed a subtle change in the man, like light shifting across a room. Some of the seriousness left his eyes and contentment spread across his face.

Following his gaze, Aaron saw the reason why—a woman. She was beautiful and had the darkest hair he’d ever seen on an Amish woman. A small amount peeked out from the edges of her prayer kapp. She was holding the hand of a young girl, who was the spitting image of the man before him. Both the woman and the child were carrying shopping bags.

“I was waiting on my family. Looks like they’re done. We’d be happy to take you by the cabins.”

“I don’t want to be a bother,” Aaron mumbled.

Gabe smiled, and now the seriousness was completely gone, as if having his family draw close had vanquished it. As if having his family close had eased all of the places in his heart.

Aaron wondered what that felt like. He wanted to be back with his own parents, brothers, and sisters in Indiana, but even there he felt an itching, a restlessness no amount of work could satisfy.

From what he’d seen of Wisconsin so far, he could tell he wasn’t going to be any happier here. He’d arrived less than thirty minutes ago, and he couldn’t wait to get back home.

Gabe was already moving toward his wife, waving away his protest.

“If it were a bother, I wouldn’t have offered.”

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Daybreak by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (February 12, 2013)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page


When Viola Keim starts working at a nearby Mennonite retirement home, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with resident Atle, whose only living relative, son Edward, is living as a missionary in Nicaragua. Viola understands the importance of mission work, but she can’t imagine leaving her father in the hands of strangers. Even though her family is New Order Amish, it’s not the Amish way, and though she doesn’t know Ed, she judges him for abandoning his father.

But when Ed surprises his father with a visit, Viola and Ed both discover an attraction they never expected. Despite her feelings, choosing Ed would mean moving to a far-off country and leaving her family behind. She can’t do that. Her twin sister, Elsie, is going blind and will need someone to care for her all her life. Her family is reeling with the recent discovery that her grandmother hid her past as an Englischer. Her father seems forgetful and distracted—and to be harboring some secrets of his own.

Does Viola dare leave them all behind and forge her own life? Or will family ties mean her one chance at love slips away?

If you would like to read a first Chapter excerpt from Daybreak,go HERE.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dining Room Remodel Cont...

Working daily on our home remodel. I got all the wainscoting and the walls painted in both kitchen and dining room (was family room) Hubby and I spent this past weekend measuring for trim. Bought the crown moulding that will wrap around both rooms as well as the moulding to go around the windows and inside the windows.
Hubby has all the trim installed in the three windows in the dining room and almost completed the kitchen window. I'm going behind him painting it all. It's looking fantastic and it's really fancied the area up nicely. It's night and day in my opinion. When it's all completed I'll show you the before/after photos.
During all this, I'm in the process of making roman shades from scratch for all three windows. With all the window framing and new windowsills installed, I didn't want it all be covered up by window treatments. The roman shades fit inside the window exposing the pretty trim and the wainscoting on the walls.. Loving it!
When this is all done, hubby will be installing the crown moulding and I'm installing new paintable switch plates in both rooms. After this is all done, we will work on painting our kitchen cabinets and then installing new hardware to all 59 drawers/cabinets.
When that is all done, the new flooring will be installed and the remaining trim will go up. Chair moulding, new door frame moulding and baseboard moulding. We are still weighing our options for the kitchen counters. To paint them or purchase new ones. Whatever we choose on that, we will get a new sink/faucet in the deal plus new lighting in both rooms. It's coming along nicely and I can't wait to see the final project..

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Remodeling Stage 1 Continues..

Working hard on our home remodel. Spent one full week, an average of 4-8 hours a day on wallpapering the kitchen walls, painting and putting up wainscoting in the kitchen and family room (now dining room). The house has come a long way in this past week and it's looking really nice. We were hoping to put in our new wood flooring last weekend but decided to take our time with this first and plan on installing the floors this coming weekend. We will be putting new wood floors in the kitchen, family room (now dining room) and into the laundry room.
I have some updated photos of our work so far below..

 photo 013-001.jpg
Here is my red wall that starts in the kitchen and ends up here above. This is part of the family room (now dining room)

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Here it is in it's current state. The top part is freshly painted and wainscoting applied. I will be painting the wainscoting tomorrow with a really nice Antique White color. The trim around the doors, flooring, chair moulding and crown moulding will be put in after the wood floors are installed. We will also be getting new white doors for the bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry room.

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Here is a before picture of the next wall going around the room..

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Putting up the wainscoting. You can see our flooring sitting over there on the side.. YEH!

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Wall in it's current state. Wainscoting up, wall freshly painted and will have all the moulding put in after the floors are installed. I will be painting this wainscoting the same as the other walls.

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Next wall around the room. Here I started painting the top portion on the right side of the photo.

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Here it is in it's current state. I have the wainscoting installed ready to be painted. The top is freshly painted and we will be getting new trim around the windows, flooring, chair moulding, crown moulding and new windowsills as well. I plan to make Roman shades for each window to show off the walls when we are all completed.

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I kept the curtains right now so we don't have everyone looking into our home. It's going to be awhile before I can get to making the shades so when they are complete these will come down, wall repaired and painted where the rod set.

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Now onto the kitchen. This is where the red wall starts from the living room side.. Before..

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Here is how the wall looks right now. The top part has new paintable wallpaper up to cover the manufactured walls. It has a fresh coat of paint that is the same as the family room (now dining room). All the moulding like the other walls will be installed after flooring is put in.

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A before picture of half of my kitchen.. You can see the piece of wood with stained glass above the sink?

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Freshly wallpapered and painted. We will be getting new light fixtures, countertops, sink and faucets when this is all said and done... We will also be painting or maybe staining (not sure which yet) the cabinets and installing new hardware. Now you can see the stained glass wood piece is now gone.. YEH!

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Here is the red wall about mid way down the wall.. Before...

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Here is the wall in it's current condition. All wallpapered and painted. Ready for crown moulding, and the cabinets a new update as well plus a new countertop.. Can't wait!!

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Here is a part of our kitchen wall before..

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Here it is currently. Just need to add the moulding after the floor is put in, new countertop and painted cabinets..
So this is my project so far. I will have the wainscoting painted tomorrow and I will be done in the kitchen, family room (now dining room) until it's time to put in the new wood floors.
After I paint the wainscoting, I will be moving into the laundry room to add wallpaper and paint that all up so we can install the wood floors in there as well. We will be replacing all the trim around doors, ceiling, and windows in there as well, plus a new windowsill. We plan to find a nice decorative door for the water heater since the one in there now is falling apart and we will be painting the cabinets above the washer and dryer to match the kitchen. The closet door will be replaced as well to a white one after the trim is installed.
I have three bathrooms. All full ones.. The two bathrooms the kids use will be wallpapered and painted and new flooring installed. I will also do some updated shower curtains and MAYBE medicine cabinets.. Not sure on that yet. The cabinets will be painted to match the kitchen.
For the master bath, it will be wallpapered and painted. We will be getting new medicine cabinets that my hubby will be building from scratch and new lighting fixtures. We may get a new counter top and we already replaced the sink faucets with new ones the other day. They look awesome. We will also be painting the cabinets in there as well to match the kitchen ones. New flooring will also be installed along with shelving for more storage.
Before working on the bathrooms, I plan to refresh the paint in the living room and homeschool room and may add wainscoting in there as well. If we do, then we will also be adding chair moulding. If we add the wainscoting, I will make Roman shades for all the windows in there to open up the walls more so they are not covered up so much by the draperies. All the rooms will be getting new light fixtures installed.
 I'll post pictures of the laundry room, living room/homeschool room and bathrooms as I start working on them..
Until then...