Book Review: What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles

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What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles

My Personal Review ~ 4 stars

Cindy K. Sproles certainly knows how to write an unexpected adventure. I’d only read one other book of hers before What Momma Left Behind, but I wasn’t worried about this book boring me. Cindy’s writing style is so unique and different, it’s bound to capture you in one way or another.

I was transported back to 1877, in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. Worie Dressar is a tough, seventeen-year-old, mountain girl. She’s used to the hardship of her people’s way of life, but with influenza and typhoid snuffing out lives left and right, the burden on her shoulders becomes heavier than she thinks she can carry.

Worie was a unique character. Her battle with bitterness, anger, grief, love, and faith was thought-provoking and moving to watch unfold … The emotions. The relationships. The tragedy. The hope. The love. It was intense. My heart was especially touched seeing her heart change with the children as this story progressed. It was so tender and deep. I really loved how things turned out – it was profound and filled with purpose.

But there was at least one thing about the story that I really struggled with. *Spoilers* A faith-filled woman who commits suicide. I wrestle over that, because if you’re in the Word daily and pressing into the Lord, how can you not know that He bought you at a high price – yes, His own blood! – and that your life is not in your hands to take? You are not your own. Because of despair or self-sacrifice, suicide is not right, and I struggled with how this book portrayed it. It is so grievous and such a heavy subject. My heart aches for those who have lost someone to suicide or struggle with suicidal thoughts, and I think we have to be so careful how we approach this topic. Your life is precious and sacred and belongs to God.

So in many ways, What Momma Left Behind was raw and harsh … perhaps much like the mountain life back then. There were a lot of awful things that happened. But there was also such a beautiful, redemptive aspect to this tale. Where love triumphs. Where faith runs deep even in the brokenness. A well-done story. I sincerely look forward to reading more Cindy K. Sproles.

I received a complimentary copy of What Momma Left Behind from Revell Publishers. This review is my own, honest thoughts.

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Updated Cover Reveal: Dare by Tricia Mingerink

Hello, dear readers! You don’t know how excited I am about today’s post! It brings such a happy feeling to my heart. ‚̧ I read Dare by Tricia Mingerink years ago … around the time I released my Cinderella retelling novella … and absolutely loved it! The whole series has been amazing and has such a special place in my heart. So it’s with honor that I reveal the updated cover for Dare {book one in the BLADES OF ACKTAR series} and it is one-hundred percent epic! ūüėÄ

Check it out!! And don’t miss the one-of-a-kind, non-magical, deeply Christian fantasy series! It’s sure to become a favorite!

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Today is the cover reveal of the new cover for Dare, the first book in THE BlADES OF ACKTAR series. It has been nearly five years since Dare released, and it was about time to spruce up the series a bit.

Savannah Jezowski at Dragonpen Designs did the new cover, and she did a stunning job. She is currently hard at work on the covers for the rest of the series.

Here is the new cover!

The whole cover is so amazing, here is a peek at the full wrap cover:

The new cover goes live on Amazon today. It may take a little while for the new cover to work its way through the system, so I can’t guarantee that paperback orders placed today will have the new cover.

Book Review: An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

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An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

My Personal Review ~ Five Stars

Laura Frantz is at her finest writing 18th century American frontier novels! An Uncommon Woman is definitely one of her best works, in my opinion. Such a treat to read; I felt like I was transported back to the colonial forests of Kentucky, with hostile Indians lurking just beyond the tree line. Such a tumultuous time, but Laura Frantz beautifully illuminates the simple joys and hardy souls of the frontier folk.

It was a pleasure to follow the journeys of Tessa Swan and Clay Tygart, harsh though these paths could be. Tessa, a toughened frontierswoman, but a woman through and through. And Clay, a redeemed captive who once lived among the Lenape Indians. A long-lost, blonde-haired captive bring these two together. Muster-days, danger, and a matchmaking aunt pull them closer still.

I loved the authentic feel of this book! Truly, Laura Frantz must be in her element penning tales set in the late 1700s. An Uncommon Woman captivated me, swallowing me into a time long past. There were mentions of General George Washington, Daniel Boone, and Regina Leininger. There were hair-raising, heart-stopping attacks; my heart ached for the countless lives lost during that time. There was a sweet, sturdy woman who longed for the feminine pleasure of a new, pure white petticoat. A former Indian captive who felt torn between the two peoples.

It’s intriguing to get glimpses and ideas and pictures of how this era was. Simple but happy weddings. Muster-day festivities. Harsh frontier living. Fleeing to the nearest fort when there were attacks or even just sightings of Indians nearby. Reclaiming captives. This book showcased danger and drama hard to comprehend. But also the heart of woman … falling in love, dreaming of the future, delighting in thoughtful gifts, seeking the Lord.

An Uncommon Woman¬†is a historical delight. Not without it’s sorrows, but also touched with triumph and filled with sweetness. A beautiful novel of faith, family, trials, and romance!

I received a complimentary copy of An Uncommon Woman from Revell. This review is honest and all my own.

Book Review: Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn Miller

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Misleading Miss Verity: Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley by Carolyn Miller

My Personal Review ~ 3.5 stars

Misleading Miss Verity is the third book in Carolyn Miller’s REGENCY BRIDES: DAUGHTERS OF AYNSLEY series. It was probably my least favorite of the three, but still enjoyable. This author does a fine job of spinning exciting stories set in England, early 1800s (one of my favorite time periods!)

This novel centers on Verity Hatherleigh, youngest of the three sisters. She has always pushed against the rules and regulations of society, and is definitely not about to happily agree to an arranged marriage. An unforseen turn of events lands her in Scotland where there is adventure and deception aplenty.

I appreciated getting Verity’s story. She’s young, rebellious, and headstrong, but has a sweet heart and builds some lovely friendships. Anthony was a nice character as well, though I wish I could have seen more of his work in Australia. Once again, we get a conversion story, which I thought was heartfelt as usual.

As the title implies, there was quite a bit of misleading going on in this novel. I didn’t really appreciate that aspect … for all though the characters weren’t necessarily lying, they were certainly leading people to believe some very untrue things for long periods of time.

Other than that, Misleading Miss Verity was a quick and fun read. The masquerade dance was great! I really like how Carolyn Miller always includes a substantial faith theme. And, as always, I’m loving the Regency setting.

I received a complimentary copy of Misleading Miss Verity from Kregel Publications and/or the author. This review is honest and my own.

Book Review: The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

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The Sword {Chiveis Trilogy #1} by Bryan M. Litfin

My Personal Review ~ 4 stars

The Sword¬†is the first book in a long time that gripped me from the very first page! I’d been wanting to give Bryan M. Litfin’s work a try, and am I ever glad I did! This book is a fascinating dystopian novel set in a medieval-type world. The modern world has been destroyed and left behind in history. Filled with swords, knights, fair maidens, and old-fashioned kingdoms, Book One in the CHIVEIS TRILOGY explores Christianity anew as the character forsake their foul gods to riskily seek the One True God of the Ancients. I don’t think I’ve ever read something quite like it!

The author’s writing style is drawing. I was kept hungrily turning pages. Anastasia, a Chiveisian farm girl, and Teofil, a guardsman and scholar, are great characters to follow, and I enjoyed meeting many secondary characters and being drawn into their journeys as well. There was an abundance of actions, and many twists and turns. A fair amount of violence and battles, though I didn’t find it over the top. (I would recommend to adults or at least older teens because of that and some other mature themes). From bear hunting, to tournaments, to exploring the Ancient’s temples, to secret religious meetings,¬†The Sword¬†takes us on a wild, exhilarating, dangerous ride.

Toward the end, there were a couple things that I’m not sure I appreciate. An unmarried couple sharing a bed (non-sexually). A woman being very vulnerable and close with a man that she knows to be making bad choices and has not chosen to follow her God. And some things having to do with the faith theme and how the characters respond to persecution and such. I’m interested to see how the second book,¬†The Gift¬†addresses these situations.

But overall, such a unique, adventurous, poignant tale! I love how deeply Bryan M. Litfin explores faith issues and following God in this dystopian story! Just the kind of book I like to immerse myself in. I can hardly wait to delve into Book Two!

Sexy Christians

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As a Christian, how would you describe purity?

If we are image-bearers and adopted children of an absolutely pure God, how should purity manifest itself in our own hearts and lives?

We all know that pornography is a major issue for men … and increasingly so even within the Church. Something we may not realize is how big of an issue it is for women. Lately, it seems I’ve been coming across a lot of women giving testimonies of their struggle with porn and lust.

And it’s opening my eyes to the impurity that we as Christians have slowly allowed to saturate our lives.

I’m here to discuss entertainment and social media. Movies. TV shows. Books. Magazines. Blogs. Instagram. Particularly, faith-based entertainment.¬†Christian movies aren’t as much of a problem, but women’s Christian literature is too often filled with sensuality.

Christian fiction.

It’s just a romance novel, you may say, It’s not pornography! It’s not like I’m looking at inappropriate images.

But if that scene is bringing up images in your head that you’re fantasizing over, how is it different from visiting a porn site? (And I know some women visit porn sites as well. But I just want to focus mostly on books in this post.)

There’s a different between reading about a sweet love¬†story, and consuming a scene saturated with sensual imagery that stimulates a sexual reaction.

Christian authors, since when is it okay to write in a way that stirs up feelings that are only meant to be experienced between a husband and wife?

Married or unmarried, you should not be watching movies or reading books that awaken sexual feelings in you … That should come exclusively from your spouse! Not from peering into the private relationship of an imaginary couple on a screen or within the pages of a book. Why has this become acceptable?

Even if the books you read aren’t graphic or extremely explicit (most Christian books aren’t), would you watch your neighbor do what this fictional couple is doing? Why do we need to feel what she’s feeling when he kisses her? I know we want to feel like we are the character when we read a novel, but some things are better experienced in real life with the person you marry (married)!

Song of Solomon 2:7

7 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.

If you are going to romance books, Christian or otherwise, to awaken that type of sexual feelings, you have an unhealthy addiction. A sin problem. And even if you aren’t searching for that type of content, if you keep coming across books that are exposing you to an intimacy and awakening of feelings reserved for a different time, I would caution you.

And I caution authors. Be careful of what you write and send out to the public!

Dear sisters in Christ, your purity is precious and valuable. Guard it. Go above and beyond to honor God with your body. Think of how beautiful and exciting it would be to come to your husband as a new bride and let him awaken true and pure love in you … unencumbered by worldly expectations, confusion, shame, guilt, impure experience, and addiction!

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I am increasingly bewildered and upset by what Christian authors are selling us. Some of it is none other than a trap for young women. An endangerment to purity. An unexpectedly captivating luring into sexual temptation and sin.

An intriguing adventure and rich historical setting. Flawless writing and authentic characters. …And a scene of our main characters making out that goes on for pages. They never actually go all the way. Of course not. That would never do for a Christian novel! But I think I’m correct in saying that pages of describing sexual feelings and scenes is inappropriate and bound to cause many a Christian woman to struggle.

God created us as sexual beings. But it was not meant for us to be exposed to some of the things that we are. Like when a man is bombarded with sexy, half-dressed women on billboards, it naturally awakens feelings and causes a reaction. But this is not acting on one’s sexuality purely, and such feelings & following thoughts must be taken captive and made obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

The Bible says that marriage is honorable among all. And the marriage bed is undefiled. It is a devastating thing that Christian literature may be defiling the sexual relationship that you have, or will have, with your spouse.

Hebrews 13:4

4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

I want us to take note of this. Seriously consider it.

More and more Christian authors are coming out with books whose covers portray a sexy woman with a low neckline and sensual gaze. And many have scenes I feel are wholly inappropriate and uncalled for. Most of the novels in the Christian market have kissing scenes. “Scene” meaning it’s described in some detail. I’m not trying to make too big of a deal over kissing. Romance is a beautiful thing, and my heart always flutters when I watch a genuine, godly relationship unfold. But Christian authors, I just want to implore you to be careful. Crossing the line when it comes to sexual impurity is sometimes a very easy thing to do.

// Read my previous blog post on the subject of sensual content in Christian fiction – Does What I Read Honor God? //

If you’re writing a romance, be diligent in godliness. Pray and think. Ponder over the scenes you’re writing. Ask God for His imput.

Adding edgy details. Writing a glorified account of the past affair between two now-godly characters. Penning those swoon-worthy kissing scenes…

What is your motive? Is it glorifying to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Psalm 119:9-13

9 How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.

Why, writers and readers … Christians in general … has sensuality become so normal that we have Christian women flaunting their bodies on Instagram and even in church, reading edgy romance novels, and watching sex scenes in movies like it’s no big deal? Normal and acceptable?

What happened to the call to holiness? And let’s be practical about this. We are called to be different from the world. And we can be. We have the power of Christ at work in us. We can be holy – set apart.

There is no such thing as sexy Christians.

We are called to absolute purity – no room for compromise!

Ephesians 5:1-7

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

Colossians 3:5-7

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

So be careful about the books you’re reading, the movies you’re watching, the songs you’re listening to … all the things you’re filling your mind with. As an unmarried, Christian person, there is no room to be indulging in sexual gratification. And as a married, Christian person, there is only room to experience sexual gratification with your spouse. No exceptions. God created sexual feelings and such for a man and his wife. The end.

To experience sexual pleasure anywhere else is to pervert God’s beautiful, flawless design. And it is a grievous thing, indeed.

Now, this is not to say that young women mustn’t know anything about sexuality, or romance, or read books on this subject. In fact, I think it is important to get a healthy view of God’s design for sex before the world exposes you to its twisted, yucky version.

With that, here are a few Christian books on sexuality & romance that I recommend:

Love Defined: Embracing God’s Vision for Lasting Love and Satisfying Relationships by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird

Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart: Discovering the Beauty and Freedom of God-Defined Sexuality by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal (haven’t actually read this one yet, but pretty sure I’m going to recommend it!)

Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control by Elisabeth Elliot

Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

Every Young Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Mind, Heart, and Body in a Sex-Saturated World by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn

Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge

And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity by Dannah Gresh

Answering the Guy Questions: The Set-Apart Girl’s Guide to Relating to the Opposite Sex by Leslie Ludy

When Dreams Come True: A Love Story Only God Could Write by Eric & Leslie Ludy

Sex and the Single Girl by Juli Slattery

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Philippians 4:8

8¬†Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are¬†noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy‚ÄĒmeditate on these things.

Psalm 51:10

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

My Quiet Time

Good morning, readers and friends! I hope this second Saturday of the new year finds you well. ^_^ Today I wanted to take a little bit of time to share with you what my quiet time looks like.

It is so vitally important to be reading the Word and talking to your Heavenly Father. And just literally having quiet time. Where your mind is at rest and you quiet your heart. When the stress eases away and you can sort through your thoughts or simply be still.

So, make a goal for 2019! Make time for God, and for rest.

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First thing I do when I wake up to a new day … PRAY. The more I discover prayer, the more passionate I am about it. Prayer is a heart-changer, a life-changer, a world-changer. It strengthens your soul, calms your heart, and shows you the sweetness of communion with God like few other things can.

I want to pray more. So this year I took the leap. I’m getting up at least a half an hour earlier than the rest of my family so that I have quiet time to pray. Now, I do not like getting up early. I am not a morning person. But I knew this day would come. So here I am, getting up before I “have” to … and loving it.

So, talk to God for a half hour or so.

Then I get up, get ready for the day, and usually do my Bible-reading while eating breakfast. I started my second read-through of the Bible in October of last year. So I’m currently in Deuteronomy and Mark. (*whispers* … a little behind, but I’ll catch up!)

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I highlight, underline, and write things on sticky notes. Yep, I’m that kind of person. And it’s helpful for me!

Also, I read the NKJV as of now. What translations do you all like to read?

I started a little gratitude journal. So usually jot down some things in there each day.

I’m currently not working outside the home, so after breakfast I clean up the kitchen and do other chores … whatever needs to be done. Many times I put in my earbuds and either listen to music or sermons/inspirational talks/whatever while cleaning.

J.D. Greear, John Piper, Matt Chandler, Dale & Veronica,¬†Priscilla Shirer, Daily Disciple, FarAwayDistance, Paul & Morgan, Girl Defined, Joseph Solomon, Emily Wilson, Coffee Girls … there is a surprising amount of godly brothers and sisters on Youtube who have some amazing wisdom to share.

Of course, I love to read! My goal this year is to read a Christian Living nonfiction for every novel I read. (I go a little more into this on my other blog.) So perhaps during lunch I’ll pull out my nonfiction or novel and do a little reading. Now with nonfiction, I like to highlight and underline. That way I can go back through my books and re-read those bits of wisdom that I had gleaned.

Right now I’m working through One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp (which has been amazing), and Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I’m not sure why I hadn’t discovered this little Christian allegory before! It’s been quite lovely.

A glowing sun-orb fills an August sky the day this story begins, the day I am born, the day I  begin to live. ~ Ann Voskamp

This is the story of how Much-Afraid escaped from her Fearing relatives and went with the Shepherd to the High Places where “perfect love casteth out fear”. ~ Hannah Hurnard

I’m also going through Max Lucado’s Grace For The Moment. It takes so little time to read each day’s devotional, but if I feel like it gets to be just one thing too many, I may put this book aside.

I know a lot of people say they don’t have time to read, but I would encourage you to make time. Not only is reading a chapter or two a day said to greatly help to reduce stress, but you can glean so much helpful & amazing wisdom and information from books! Connect with your brothers & sisters in Christ from all over the world by reading their books, and let them show you what God has been teaching them!

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I would like to journal more regularly this year. It’s a way sort through and process things, reduce stress, and record what God is doing in my life & heart! I also enjoy writing letters to my future husband on occasion in a journal. ūüôā

These are ways for me to slow down and refocus.

And listening to music! Listening to great songs, worshiping, dancing around the house, lifting up my hands and soul to the Lover of my soul! That’s some time well-spent, I believe. There’s something about good music that can definitely relieve tension and stress. And good lyrics that put my focus back on Christ & glorifying Him. Right where it needs to be.

Well, there it is. That pretty much sums up my quiet time and restful, stress-relieving activities. I’m trying to live my days intentionally, to the glory of God, and these things help so much.

Now, to become intimately part of the local Body of Christ! ‚̧

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR QUIET TIME!

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