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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Aloha Rose
Abingdon Press (November 19, 2013)
Lisa Carter


A word from the author:

I am a wife and mother. My husband and I have two daughters and make our home in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

I am a teacher. With a Master’s degree in history, I have taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. After years of church involvement as a soloist, choir member and worship leader, I also teach music.

I am a writer. Delighted by the rhythm and musicality of words, I have been writing since childhood. In 2001, I won the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Story Writing Contest that re-ignited a lifelong love of writing.

I am on a journey of faith. My ultimate desire through my life and my writing is to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, His redeeming love as seen in the life of Jesus Christ and to help others know for themselves this great, awesome God of all comfort and wisdom. He is enough for every need.


When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliqu├ęd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Aloha Rose, go HERE.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Venison Jerky

My husband received jerky seasoning for Christmas last yr but our deer was already in the freezer so we held off in making our own jerky. I almost forgot about it as we were butchering our last deer on the 11th but remembered as I was slicing up the yummy meat. I made strips out of the tender rump, about 5 lbs is all I could get myself to cut up. (It's time consuming and I butchered my deer 5 days earlier and wanted it just to be done)
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I was truly blessed when my neighbor/friend let me borrow her food dehydrator. I followed the directions on the seasoning packet.. "Hi-Country Jerky Seasoning" It said it could be cooked in the oven or dehydrator..
First, you let it marinade in the spices overnight in the fridge (well I forgot it was in there and found it two days later and quickly prepared it. No worries. Just an extra day marinading)
I got conflicting information regarding whether you can put raw meat directly in the food dehydrator so to error on the safe side, I pre-cooked it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes then set it out on the dehydrator.
I then set a timer for 5-6 hours later. I was able to start pulling the thinner pieces out at 5 hours and by 6 hours they were all done and so delicious!

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I'm now kicking myself for not having more patience in cutting up more meat because this will NOT last for long in our house.
I do have a recipe to make ground venison jerky since I have some spice still left but will need to get the jerky gun at the store to make it a reality.. Maybe a Christmas gift?? Will see....

Oatmeal Fig Bars

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I found the most delicious fig bar recipe online at Alida's Kitchen. I love fig bars and have made my own fig newtons in the past but that particular recipe was a bit time consuming. When I saw this recipe to make homemade oatmeal fig bars, I thought... mmmm... I must try this..

The family was NOT disappointed. They were delicious and a huge hit, plus they were easy to make. I'd retype the recipe but figured you can go to her direct page HERE to print it out. All the ingredients she used I just substituted with organic and tasted yummy! She has an easy print option. Can't beat that.. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

With eating unprocessed foods we have to pay close attention to our condiments. In particular, vanilla extract. If you look at the store brands you will find a variety of added junk in your extract. Something I'm not interested in eating. After pricing organic vanilla I realized I need to make my own.
I didn't realize how simple it really is. I went to a local health food store that sells vanilla beans but there was no way I could afford $6.99 for two beans when I wanted to make a big batch of it. (I use vanilla in a lot of my recipes)
So Plan B was formed. I went online to to do some research and found Madagascar Vanilla Beans for a really good deal plus was able to get a dozen bottles to put it in.
I'm not a drinker, especially with heavy liquor, so when I needed Vodka I had no idea where to purchase it. Found out here in MT you have to get it from a Liquor Store. Where is one of those? I did finally find one that didn't look shady and the person at the register was very helpful in locating the items I needed.. I didn't realize how many brands are out there.. WOW!

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To make a dozen 8 ounce bottles of vanilla extract you will need:
12- 8 ounce bottles
1 lb of vanilla beans (about 35-36 beans)
3 Liters of Vodka
  • Split open the vanilla beans down one side. Do not cut the edges
  • Fold them with slits outward and place in bottle.
  • You will need 3 beans per bottle
  • Fill each bottle with Vodka leaving a little space in top for shaking
If you don't want to place them into individual bottles you can easily place 10-12 beans into the liter bottle of Vodka and do exactly as instructed above. When it's ready you  can just get it directly from the bottle or pour into bottles when ready. 

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There you have it! It will take about 2-3 months before they are ready, shaking them a couple times a week. The great news is, you can re-use the same beans in the jar by topping the bottles off with Vodka as you use it. The beans are good for up to a year.. How awesome is that!!
I'm going to have some fun making labels for my bottles here soon.. I have time since they won't be ready until the New Year. Now I can't wait to taste this.. It already smells delicious and it's only been a day.. mmmmmm

Homemade Pop Tarts

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I've been making my own pop tarts for a couple years. They are so easy to make and the family loves them.
You will need a pie crust recipe. If you don't do homemade from scratch cooking, no worries.. You can purchase a ready made pie crust if you'd like. I will include my recipe below. (I've been using it for years and will never use anything else it's that delicious).. mmm...
Things You'll Need
Pie Recipe or Ready Made Pie Crust
Jam or Jelly in your favorite flavor
Once your pie crust is made/prepared you will roll it out into a rectangle shape. Cut them into any size you desire depending how big you'd like your tarts to be. Mine were roughly 12-14 inches by 4-6 inches
You will fill with one to two spoonfuls of your jam/jelly on one side of your crust and then fold over the long part down to make it roughly 4 inches by 6 inches.
Take a fork and crease the sides like the photo shows above and add slits in the top.
Bake 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until dough is golden brown.
Cool for 5-10 minutes as the jam/jelly juices inside will be extremely hot..
Pie Crust Recipe
Items You'll Need
2 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 TBS sugar
1/4 c coconut oil
12 TBS butter, cold, cubed
1/4 c to 1/2 c cold water
In a food processor place first 5 ingredients together. Turn it on low and gradually add the cold water until the ingredients ball up into dough form. Turn off.
This is the best and easiest way to make homemade pie crust and I'll never blend my cold butter by hand again. The food processor is the best invention ever.. (wink wink)
Once dough is made, follow directions to make tarts above.. Enjoy!!!

Oh Deer!

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We are officially tagged out for the 2013 hunting season. It's been an absolutely awesome yr for hunting. Why do I say that? For a few reasons really.
1. I was able to scout out on state land the perfect buck
2. Nobody else was on this land that had so many deer it was amazing (all but two were does)
3. Got to 'really' hunt this year by crawling, squatting, penguin waddling through thick sage brush, high weeds and farm crops to get where I needed to be and it was awesome!
4. Got about 100 yrds from my deer I named Lucky because I tried for him, missed but came back again to get him for good..
5. I got to spend all of this time with my wonderful husband..
6. I got my very first buck.. Mule Deer- 6 point.. "Lucky"

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Then my husband had his opportunity 5 days after me. He got his on private land of a fellow co-worker. This beautiful 9 point mule buck literally came right to us. It was VERY cold that day. When we arrived it was really foggy and make it hard to see on the high hills around the property. We spotted 6 does about 1/4 mile out and we sat and watched them from within the truck, close to the house. We then decided it was time to get out and start looking as it was getting later and things weren't looking good.
We got out, walked around some grain bins to check out if the does we were watching had more with them. As my hubby was looking with binoculars at them, I turned my head to the left and four does were running in an S shape being chased by a buck. I couldn't believe it. It took me a second to realize they were running right towards us. Totally oblivious of us standing out in the open, I got hubby's attention, he turned and saw them too. When he knew they weren't looking, he dropped down, put his site on the buck in the back, waited for them to slow at the fence line, and took the shot.
This was an absolute blessing to us. With it being so cold that day, we realized we didn't have to carry him far to the truck.. He was such a beautiful animal and we are now tagged out for the year.
Hunting has been such a bonding activity for my husband and I. We get all dressed up in camo, bundle up warm and off we go to land outside of town. It feel so wonderful to be able to do this with him and to feed our family, wholesome, real meat throughout the year because of our efforts.. It's a great feeling...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ephesians Study- Final Lesson Nine Review

Ephesians: Discovering Your Identity and Purpose in Christ
Ephesians Lesson Nine
Sit Down to Stand
Photo: Our final memory verse! Let’s memorize it together! #discovertogether

This week's memory verse Ephesians 6:11-12

This week we are finishing our 9 week study by digging into the final stage. We've learned to sit, we've learned to stand, now we will learn to sit down to stand.

In the final part of Paul's letter to the Ephesians he is preparing us for the evil days. Satan wants to destroy us. If we are not sitting with Christ, haven't learned to walk with Him daily, Satan will get his claws into us and become his prey.

We must arm ourselves with the word of God to prepare ourselves for warfare.

Paul focuses on spritual warfare in this section of Ephesians.  Challenging us to stand in God's armor. Evil is real. It includes Wicca, fortune telling, astrology to name a few. Listen to this final video above by author Sue Edwards on her thoughts regarding spritual warfare, evil and God.

Starting in Ephesians, Chapter 6 verse 10 we are instructed to put on the full armor of God. By doing so we will be prepared to stand our ground against evil.
What is the full armor of God?
Belt of Truth
John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life"
Breastplate of Righteousness
1 Thessalonians 5:8-9 "But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 John 2:1-2 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
Feet Fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
Ephesians 2:14 "For he himself is our peace."
Shield of Faith- It can extinguish all the arrows thrown by evil
Revelation 19:11 "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war"
Helmet of Salvation and Sword of the Spirit- The Word of God
Revelation 19:13 "He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God"
 Some ways to put on the armor of God are spoken in the scriptures...
Ephesians 1:17 "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."
Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt  but test them all; hold on to what is good,  reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it."
In conclusion, Paul speaks of Tychicus. A dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord. He is stating that he will be there for the Ephesians when Paul is not and will share the gospel with them in his absense. This is not the only time Tychicus is mentioned in scripture.
Colossians 4:7-8 "Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.  I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts."
Titus 3:12 "As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there."
Paul finishes the letter by saying in verses 23-24 "Peace to the brother and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love."
From the beginning to the end of the letter Paul opens and closes the letter the same way showering us with grace and peace from the Lord. What a great beginning and ending to this wonderful letter to the Ephesians..
I would love to hear what you got out of this week's Lesson. Please leave a comment below.
This concludes the Ephesians Bible Study. 9 weeks and six chapters. I hope you learned something from reading this wonderful letter. I know I have. Thanks for following along with me and I hope to do another study by this wonderful author in the future....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ephesians Study-Lesson Eight Review

Ephesians: Discovering Your Identity and Purpose in Christ
Ephesians Lesson Eight
Walk Worthy in Relationships
Photo: A simple verse to memorize this week, yet full of profound meaning! #DiscoverTogether

This past week's memory verse suggestion for this lesson is above.

This past week we were moving along with our 'walk' with Christ as we read Ephesians 5:21-6:9.

This week's lesson gives an example of a household code in the New Testament. What is a household code? It tells how people should act around their loved ones. The Bible contains 3 household codes. Listen to Sue Edwards, author, above to learn more about these codes and more..

As we read through these verses this week we will be learning the instructions for Christian households. How wives, husbands and children should be in the family unit.

What is the first verse in this week's lesson asking us all to do?

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:21

What does reverence mean? The biblical term for reverence means to show respect or fear. A respectful, submissive attitude of mind resulting in affection and esteem for the person to which it is directed.

So what Paul is saying here is to submit to one another to show respect for Christ our Lord.

Now comes the verse that many know well and have been misinterpreted by many. Ephesians 5:22

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord."

What does submit mean?
Photo: How are submission and love related? #DiscoverTogether

Photo: Submission has to do with adding to the couple, not subtracting from either person…

As we look at the next verse Paul shares that our husbands are the head just like Christ is the head of the church. As the church submits to Christ, us wives must submit to our husbands. He then states in the last word.. EVERYTHING. He desires us to submit in everything we do.
Submitting doesn't mean to give up self. As I found myself submitting to my husband of 16 yrs, our relationship flourished. I didn't give in, but I gave myself to him out of love and respect and in turn he gave me love and respect.

Photo: This one is a long one, but SO worth the read!  #DiscoverTogether
Paul then goes on in verses 25-33 to give instructions now to the husbands.
  • Love their wives just as Christ loves the church
  • Love their wives as their own bodies. If he loves himself, he loves himself
  • Man will leave his mother/father and become one with his wife. Two will become one flesh
Two things to get out of this part of Ephesians is to love your wife as you love yourself and wives must respect their husbands..
In Ephesians 6 it speaks in regards to children.
  • Children must obey parents in the Lord
  • Honor their mothers and fathers
By doing these two things you may enjoy long life on earth.
Now as parents Paul instructs us in verse 4 to not exasperate our children, and to train them with instruction of the Lord
It speaks in verses 5-9 in regards to slaves and masters but we can look to this section as wonderful advice for co-workers, bosses, teachers?
  • Obeying them with respect and fear and with sincere hearts.
  • Obeying them not only to get favor but with the will of God from our hearts
  • Serve wholeheartedly as if you were serving the Lord directly
It then finishes up with verse 9 as an instruction for bosses, teachers or those in authority over you to treat us as we are treating them. To not threaten and to remind that God is in control and is the master of all heaven..



I would love to hear what you got out of this week's Lesson. Please leave a comment below.

Check back Saturday for my thoughts on this week's final lesson of this great study. Lesson Nine "Sit Down to Stand"

You can follow along the discussions at the Facebook Page- The Discover Together Series- HERE

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Healthy Lifestyle Update

3 1/2 yrs ago, I joined Curves. I was 174 lbs then. I got down to 164 lbs and then joined Gold's Gym w/ my family. I sat at that weight for a year and no matter what I did at the gym it didn't move. I then decided to pay close attention to what I was eating. I started to journal my food each and everyday and worked out 3-4 days a week. I dropped another 16 lbs and have kept all but 4 lbs off for over a year and a half.

I've not gone to the gym as regularly as I have in the past which I contribute a little to my 4 lb weight gain and mainly it's because I'm bored of the gym. We've been going 3 yrs now, plus another half a yr of Curves before that. I need to do something different. At the end of the month our gym membership will end and will be looking for other ways to get fit. A friend of mine goes to another gym that costs a fraction of what I was paying from $65 a month to $25 a month for our entire family. I may look into that for December??
I love the gym only for the treadmill, elliptical and stepper. These things are great for when I can't get outside to run or walk either because there is snow on the ground in Winter to very hot in the Summer. Lifting weights is nice but I do have those at home along with wonderful exercise videos instead of going to classes.

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This is me today. 4 lbs heavier but still fitting into my small shirts, and 6/8 pants. I guess working your muscles pays off as my dress size has not change even w/ the little weight gain. I do know, I'm not happy with the scale screaming at me 148.. So I am going back to journaling my food each day. I don't want to count calories but to see what I'm eating and how often. It really brings me back to focusing on portion sizes which I haven't been putting enough emphasis on.
I hate counting calories. It's time consuming and just plain hard when I make all my meals from scratch and don't have the real ability to make accurate calorie calculations. So portion sizes is the way to go for me. I love that we eat unprocessed, real foods and when I can afford it, it's organic to get away from pesticides/chemicals and GMO's. Since we are hunters, we now have a freezer full of delicious venison which will last us through the year..
The most awesome part of all my weight loss is the fact my feet have shrunk as well. I used to wear 7 shoes. I now wear 5 1/2 to 6. I just bought some cute knee high boots and they were size 5 1/2's.. I also buy in the kids section since my shoe size is a 3 1/2 to 4. I was able to score on my camo hiking boots for hunting/hiking by buying a size 4 kids. Saved me $50.00 because of it!!! I also was able to get me some camo slippers that are only in the boys section.. (wink) Can you tell I love camo/hunting?? hee hee.....
I would like to journal more on here about the way we eat (unprocessed, whole foods). Share recipes that work for our family and to just share our eating, and healthy lifestyle. Eating right is so important to me and my family. Getting rid of processed, GMO laden foods is top priority for us. I look forward to sharing our experiences with you all...

16th Wedding Anniversary

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Hubby and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on November 8th. What an amazing accomplishment, to be married almost 2 decades to such a wonderful, devoted, Christian man. He has been my rock for all these years and I look forward to many more years and memories with this man..
Hubby and I have been pretty much non stop in camo all week, trudging through sage brush, high grass and crop land hunting for our deer.. We decided though that we would put the rifles away and enjoy our anniversary. It felt great to dress up, put a little makeup on and do my hair. I felt pretty.. hee hee..
We went to Cattleman's Steakhouse.. When we got there they asked if we had a reservation and we said no which was fine. Hubby mentioned our anniverary and they immediately asked why we didn't call ahead, they would of had a table with linen and candle ready for us.. WOW! We thought that was awesome but didn't want to stand out in the restaurant since none of the other tables had that.
Well, the hostess would not leave it alone so he brought a lit candle to the table and left the linen which was really nice. Made for a very romantic setting.. The server found out it was our anniversary, told her how many years we've been married and gave us a yummy caramel cheesecake for dessert, compliments of the restaurant. We were definitely spoiled that night.

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We asked the server to take our picture and then when she was done, asked if she could take our picture for their facebook page.. She wanted to post our picture as celebrating our anniversary with them. I thought that was cool.. You can see the pic HERE if you like..
It was a great evening and enjoyed every minute with my hubby. We rented a movie and cuddled on the couch to finish off our special day.. 16 years of wedded bliss.. Life is good!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher

by Robin Lee Hatcher
About this Book:
Best-selling author Robin Lee Hatcher returns to the adventurous American West in the final book of her Where the Heart Lives series. This story is filled with Robin’s trademark heartwarming and emotionally charged message of faith, courage, and love.
When Diana Brennan’s husband returns eight years after abandoning her, can she find it in her heart to forgive him?
Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for eight years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.
But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition––she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.
My Thoughts About This Book:
Book three in the 'Where the Heart Lives' Series gives us a personal story of the youngest of three orphans, Diana Brennan. This book would easily be read as a stand alone or alongside the other two books in this series "Betrayal" and "Belonging". Diana finds herself widowed as she was told when she finds news her husband was killed in battle. After waiting two years, on the eve of declaring him dead, he is found alive and wanting to run for Senate. He needs Diana to do just that. Can a simple arrangement of helping him win be enough for both Diana and Tyson or can years of neglect and lost love be enough for them both to walk away. Can God save this marriage of destruction?
Wonderful read, loved all three of these books and the ending is just perfect. You won't want to miss it..
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Big Sky Bachelor by Lesley Ann McDaniel

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:
Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***


LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, and theatre. While earning a degree in acting, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God's guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of women's fiction. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and of a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area.

Visit the author's website.

My Thoughts on This Book:
I loved reading this storyline. It was fun, romantic and realistic. The best part for me was the setting of Big Sky Country Montana as that is where I live.. Can Janessa leave Montana for Seattle to start her dream of becoming a well known chef or will Micah draw her back to her hometown roots and start a life anew in a place she already calls home..


Janessa Greene is leaving Thornton Springs

All she's ever wanted is to attend cooking school in Seattle. But when a big-shot rodeo rider comes to work on her family's Montana ranch, Janessa's determined not to let the cowboy distract her from her goal no matter how charming he is.

Micah was a rodeo star, but he's been trampled by one bull too many. While he's deciding his next move, he gets sidetracked by a pretty cowgirl who's headed out of town. Can Micah convince her to take a chance on a cowboy ready to put down roots?

Product Details:
List Price: $4.99
Series: Heartsong Presents (Book 1068)
Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373486790
ISBN-13: 978-0373486793:

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


But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Chapter 1

Janessa Greene could have sworn her old hatchback lost a little more oomph with each passing day. As she pulled off the highway and through the Bar-G Ranch gate, she sent up a prayer. No way could she spend money on her car right now—not with all the expenses she had coming up. Both she and her car would have to go the extra mile for just a while longer.

As she gunned down the long stretch toward the house, the sight of twenty or so impatient-looking parents standing outside their horse trailers made her stomach buckle. She checked the clock on the dash and grimaced. Why did they all have to be so prompt on the days when she was running behind?

She clattered to a halt between the house and the barn, then gathered up her work bag and purse. Leaping out of the car, she gave the parents a quick wave. “I’ll only be a sec!”

A grating mixture of grumbles and moans followed her as she ran toward the front porch steps. She winced. Those folks had paid good money to have her teach their kids to ride this summer, and they had every right to expect her to deliver her best. She had tried to get there on time. If only the restaurant would stop being so busy on her class days.

She scurried inside, slowing only to push the door shut and to gather up the mail from the table next to it. Flipping through the stack as she bounded across the foyer, she held her breath. Today had to be the day.

“Argh!” She tossed the pile of pure disappointment onto the bench at the base of the staircase, gripped the bannister, and charged up. It was July already. Shouldn’t she have heard by now?

Reaching the top step in record time, she darted across the hall and into her room. She kicked the door closed, dropped her bags on the bed, and tore off her grease-splattered tee, then grabbed a plaid cotton western shirt from the back of her desk chair. As she yanked it on, a rap on the door gave her a jolt.

“Ness, it’s Courtney.”

Her fingers found the shirt buttons as she searched the floor for a pair of jeans. “I’ll be right out.”

“I can go down and get the kids started if you want.”

“Really?” Relief surged as she retrieved some decently-clean Levis off the window seat. “That would make you my favorite sister-in-law.”

Courtney’s laugh sounded through the door. “I’m your only sister-in-law. Besides, you know I love those kids.”

Janessa breathed a little easier. The parents would feel better seeing Courtney, but she’d still have to hustle.

As she fumbled with her cuff button, her focus fixed on the poster over the desk. A plain chef’s jacket hung on a fancy wire hanger with the words ‘Le Cordon Bleu—L’Art Culinaire’ above, and the logo of the school below.

Leaving her second cuff undone, she tugged at the laces on her white SlipGrips—great for the kitchen but definitely not for the arena—and allowed her thoughts to stray. Le Cordon Bleu had been her dream ever since she’d realized she wanted to be a chef. Not only was it a great school, but they had a location in Seattle, not far from Thornton Springs. She bit her lip and yanked at the second lace. Okay, not too far to drive home for holidays and an occasional weekend, anyway. Montana only seemed like a million miles away from everything truly exciting in the world.

She kicked off the shoes. For as long as she could remember, all she’d wanted was to get out of Thornton Springs. Now that she had finally graduated from high school and worked for a year to save up money, her plans were just about to jell.

Flinging herself onto the bed, she quickly replaced her white Dockers with the jeans. She rolled onto her belly to reach under the bed, pulling out one boot, then a second.

She maneuvered into a sitting position, then yanked on the boots and scanned the immediate vicinity for her belt. Her eyes flicked across the framed photo that sat on her bedside table, momentarily sidetracking her with the familiar combination of comfort and sorrow that always accompanied it. Absentmindedly fingering the ever-present heart-shaped diamond necklace at her throat, she wondered for the zillionth time how different her life would be if her dad was still here. He had her heart, even after being gone for so many years.

Forcing her thoughts back to the task at hand, she plucked up her floral-shammed pillow from the head of the bed and let out a mini-cry of victory. She dove for a large gold buckle that peeked out from under her sloppily-placed duvet, then swung her legs around and clamored to her feet. She quickly looped the belt into her jeans and grabbed a hair band off her bedside table, then dug through the pile of hats on the chair next to the door. She paused, running her hand over her Le Cordon Bleu ball cap. Her mind latched onto the one problem with her plan, the magnitude of which grew with each passing day.

What if the school didn’t accept her?

Shoving away the thought, she snapped up her favorite white cowgirl hat and plunked it onto her head. She just couldn’t let herself think that way. It was only July. There was still plenty of time for her to hear from them. Besides, if she didn’t get in, they’d send a rejection letter. No news didn’t necessarily mean bad news.

She darted back out into the hallway and took the stairs two at a time, awkwardly yanking her hair into a ponytail as she flew.

Making her way across the drive, she saw that Courtney had gotten the class started preparing their horses. A few parents lingered along the outside of the fence, but most of them had left, probably furious at her for cutting short their hour to go get things done.

Rushing into the barn, she grabbed a curry comb off its hook on the wall and greeted her horse. “Hey, Miss Molly.” As she ran the comb quickly across Molly’s back, she mumbled to herself. She’d have to do a better job of grooming her later on.

Tossing down the comb, she took up the brush. “Sorry, baby. You deserve better than this.” Moving around to the horse’s other side, she realized she’d left her second cuff undone. She fumbled with the button as she continued to brush Molly, but since she actually needed both hands to accomplish each task, she succeeded only in scratching her wrist with the bristles.

“Youch!” She jumped back, pulling up her sleeve to examine the scratch.

“Works better if you use the brush on the horse.”

The confident baritone behind her nearly startled her out of her skin. She whipped around to see a guy hoisting a saddle up onto the rack on the wall, glancing over his shoulder and smirking like the feline friend of the recently departed canary.

“What in the…?” Her tone came out a little more venomous than she’d intended, but he looked like a guy who could handle it. She’d been standing there talking to her horse. Why hadn’t he made his presence known?

“Hey, I noticed that mare has some weeds stuck in her mane.” Speaking without even looking at her now, he secured the saddle. “You know, if you don’t have time to groom your horse correctly, you don’t have time to own a horse.”

Her jaw went slack. She’d been riding her whole life. This was her horse and her barn, and this guy—whoever he was—had no right to admonish her. Questions swirled in her brain, and she spit out the first one she could latch onto. “Who are you?”

Chuckling lightly as he finally turned to face her, he radiated an air of belonging that implied she was the outsider here, not him. His lack of a swift answer to her question gave the impression that he thought she should somehow already know who he was—like he was some kind of celebrity or something.

“Well…?” She seethed. Not only had he made her even later by springing up behind her like that, but he had implied that she wasn’t properly caring for her horse. And now he wouldn’t even identify himself.

Flashing a gleaming white smile that dented a dimple in his cheek, he ambled toward her. He pushed up the brim of his well-worn tan Stetson, revealing tousled blond hair and a pair of eyes so clear and blue they conjured an instant image of Flathead Lake on a hot summer day.

She gulped. As much as she hated to admit it, this guy was the best looking thing to hit Thornton Springs since Jeffrey Mark Caulfield came to town to make that movie last year.

“Name’s Micah.” Stepping confidently close to her, he held out a hand. “I started work here this morning.”

Oh. Of course. She’d forgotten all about the new ranch hand her brother Adam had hired.

Twisting her mouth in irritation at his obvious lack of first day self-consciousness, she reached out for a quick shake. “I’m Janessa.” Hoping to convey a lack of interest in further conversation, she returned to brushing Molly. Time was wasting.

“Pleasure to meet you, Janessa.” After a long moment of studying her the way you would an auction horse you were considering bidding on, he dipped the brim of his hat and strode out of the barn.

Her hand slowed on Molly’s back as she furtively witnessed his exit. She gave herself a mental shake. What was the matter with her? Standing there gawking like a schoolgirl when she needed to get to her class.

Irritation swelled in her gut. Just what she didn’t need, another pointless distraction from what really mattered—making the money to escape Thornton Springs and get her life off the ground.

As she hurried over to fetch her tack, her gaze again drifted to the doorway, but he had moved out of view. Guys. That was one thing she just couldn’t waste time thinking about right now.

She clicked her tongue. Of course, not thinking about them would be a whole lot easier if God didn’t make some of them so all-fired nice to look at.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mr. Lucky's Not So Lucky...

Started our deer hunting season on October 26th. On the 27th I found a beautiful buck and took a shot but missed him. Ever since I saw him, I was determined to find him and bring him home. After 3 more trips I finally found him again.. And I'm so happy to say he's now home with me...

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We named him Lucky when I missed him last week. Hubby saw him yesterday with three does trying to cross the coulee but was too far to shoot him, which was totally fine with me because I wanted him for myself. After several hours crawling on my hands and knees over three days and lying in tall grass scouting and only seeing does it was today where he finally came upon the open field I was setting my sights on.
Yesterday I was spotted by two does in a herd of 14. They all scampered away. With the encounter, I was afraid they wouldn't come back. I was correct in assuming that. These same does came upon the field just beyond me and as I watched them through my binoculars I was waiting, and hoping he would follow them up.. I was so trained on them that I forgot to glaze over the field I was intending to scout. I look over and BAM... there he was. Just standing in the field all by himself. It was just breathtaking. He turned his back to me to eat which gave me just enough time to get my rifle into position. He then turned to look at the girlies in the other field and as he did, he gave me a beautiful broadside view and a perfect ethical shot of him. He fell in the exact spot I shot him and I'm very happy that he didn't suffer..
He is just a magnificent animal when you get close to him. I look forward to displaying his 6 point mule deer antlers on my wall next to my hubby's whitetail antlers that he got two years ago. I am one very happy hunter today.. A great day indeed......

Traces of Mercy Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Traces of Mercy
David C. Cook (October 1, 2013)
Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley


Michael Landon Jr., son of television legend Michael Landon, is an award-winning storyteller, first in television and film, and now in books. His print works include One More Sunrise co-written with Tracie Peterson.

Cindy Kelley is the co-author of the novel The Silent Gift, and Traces of Mercy. Her career as a screenwriter with long-time writing partner, Michael Landon, Jr., began with the adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic story, The Velveteen Rabbit, which had a theatrical release. Several television movies followed, most notably Love Comes Softly, (based on Janette Oke’s novel) which won a CAMIE Award and the Epiphany Prize for Movie Guide’s most inspirational television movie of 2003. Cindy and her husband, Jim, make their home in the Southwest; have three adorable grandchildren and four big dogs who rule the house.


From Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley, authors of The Silent Gift and creators of the hit television film Love Comes Softly, comes an exciting historical romance set in post-Civil War, and filled with suspense and faith-building values.

At the war’s end, a young woman suffers an accident that leaves her unconscious and alone. Waking with amnesia, she takes the name Mercy and wants more than anything to find out the truth of her past. But then a handsome stranger arrives, who may hold the key to everything she has forgotten. What he knows could devastate her future, and even end her life.

Written by two proven storytellers, Traces of Mercy is perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction, prairie-based tales, or just a good romance.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Traces of Mercy, go HERE.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ephesians Study-Lesson Seven Review

Ephesians: Discovering Your Identity and Purpose in Christ
Ephesians Lesson Seven
Walking "Under the Influence"
Photo: Join me in memorizing this week’s Scripture selection: Ephesians 5:18b-20
This week's memory verse suggestion for this lesson is above.
This week we are moving along with our 'walk' with Christ as we read Ephesians 5:1-20. Walking under the influence. What does it mean to do just that?

In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul asks us to follow God's example by walking in the way of love, just as Christ loved and gave himself up for us. A sacrifice to God.

What a powerful statement and a show of what true love should look like.

In Galations 5:16 it says "So I say, live by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

In Galations 5:24-25 it says "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

The only way to increasingly live a life of love is by keeping in step with the Spirit.

As we continue onto Ephesians 5:3, Paul points out dangerous actions and attitudes. If adopted then we allow the devil to influence us. What is he speaking of here?

Sexual Immorality

In Proverbs 5:3-6 it speaks of the importance of staying away from impurity and sexual immorality. It says:

 "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked,  but she knows it not."

The definition of immoral is deliberately violating accepted principles of right and wrong.

The sexually immoral includes: prostitution, pornography, having sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, and adultery. The bible says, "Flee from sexual immorality". All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

So what makes sexual immorality a dangerous sin?

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 it says "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Those will not inherit the kingdom of God. If we are Christian's and are truly wanting to walk in the influence of God then we want to know that we will inherit the kingdom of God and follow the teachings of Him.

Among others, Paul is telling us to stay away from greed.

From a Christian perspective, the core definition of greed is that it is the obsession with accumulating material goods. A greedy person values material goods more than they value God.

Luke 12:15 shows us the importance to stay away from greed. It states "..Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Isaiah 56:11 tells us that greed never satisfies. It states "They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough."

Proverbs 21:25 tells us how greed produces slothfulness. It says "The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work."

Luke 11:39 talks about how deceptive people are full of greed and evil. It says "Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness."

Moving onto Ephesians 5 verses 4-5, Paul also instructs us to stay away from obscenities, foolish talk, coarse joking, immorality, impurity, greed, and idolatary. God finds no place for these in the kingdom of Christ.

Paul reminds us that we are children of light. In verses 10-13 remind us that everything exposed by the light becomes visible. Christ will shine upon us when we awaken.
A great scripture to remember is Ephesians 5:15-17. It says "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

To finish up the reading for this week. Ephesians 5 verses 19-20 shows us how we can be under the influence of the Holy Spirit..
By speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Singing and making music from our hearts to the Lord. Always being thankful to God for everything...

Let no one say doctrine does not matter! (John Stott)

I would love to hear what you got out of this week's Lesson. Please leave a comment below.
Check back next Saturday for my thoughts on next week's lesson eight "Walk Worthy in Relationships"
You can follow along the discussions at the Facebook Page- The Discover Together Series- HERE