About Me

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Mysteries, polka dots, California Rolls, TJ Maxx, cozy blankets, rainy days and getting the first spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar make me smile. Spiders, rude people, cold fingers and toes, baby leashes, people that don't wrap their packages before going to the Post Office, poison ivy and Math (pretty much all of it) make me want to scream. My perfect day would be spent with my wonderful husband and sweet girls- watching movies in our jammies! Of course, having the movie theater to ourselves would be great, too. Please pass the popcorn and M&M's.:) I am saved by the grace of God. He is my constant companion and hears my every prayer. What a blessing! I'd love to hear from you! Lori at toosillysisters@cox.net

Friday, July 15, 2016

Like A River from It's Course- Tragedy and Hope in WW II Ukraine


My Thoughts:

I lost myself in the pages of this book. I took it everywhere with me just hoping for a moment to touch base with the characters I'd quickly grown to love. The author, Kelli Stuart, has written the most heartbreakingly raw story which also contains moments of light and beauty. I honestly can't choose a favorite character because I truly admired and cared for all of them. Luda, a pretty 16 year old, longs to know about her mother but her father is an abusive alcoholic and refuses to talk about her. Maria and Anna, sisters, watch the change in their father, Ivan, after he attempts to save a Jewish family from a horrific death. Their dear brother, Sergei, enlists to fight in the war and they know life will never be the same. There are so many heroes in this book. (I won't name them as it will ruin the story for you!) So many wonderful people that risked everything to help a stranger, a neighbor, a friend. I was incredibly touched by their courage! Would I have been brave enough to do the same? I was also disgusted with the way others used the war to take advantage of weaker, targeted individuals. Knowing who to trust during that war must have been terrifying. This book is full of tragedies, secrets, friendship, heartache, forgiveness and hope. I love how the author included the hope of God when all has been lost and people are afraid. It was beautifully woven into the story like a shining star on the darkest night. Kelli Stuart spent fifteen years doing research and interviewing Ukrainian World War II survivors. The events are brutal and I held my breath many times as I rode waves of panic. I believe anyone ages 16+ should read this book. The characters are so wonderfully developed and their stories absolutely compelling! You will learn that power and greed are seductive and leaders must be chosen wisely. This is the perfect example of why we need to study history as the tragedies are certain to repeat themselves if we do not.  Bravo, Kelli Stuart! Like a River From Its Course is a classic!


An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope 

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer's plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. 
Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

*Read an excerpt and get the study guide HERE!*

*I was given this absolutely amazing book from Kregel in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Life We Never Expected- Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs




My Thoughts:

The Life We Never Expected is a must read. For everyone. Andrew and Rachel Wilson have written the most incredible book about parenting special needs children and it goes hand in hand with life's challenges in general. There are certainly many blessings in their life but it takes time and faith to embrace them. I speak from experience. I'm a parent of a special needs child and truthfully my life is not what I imagined it would be. It's better- it is- but often more complicated and I wish I could be easier on many occasions. One of the chapters is called "The Orange" and it captured my heart. In a nutshell, it describes each parent at a dinner receiving a wrapped, surprise dessert. Each person opens their package and it contains a chocolate orange with segmented portions- neat and sweet. The parents of a special needs child open their packages and it contains a real orange- indeed delicious but messy with juice that runs down your arm and pith that gets stuck in your teeth. We all anticipate that chocolate orange (that others are happily enjoying) but eventually learn to appreciate the fresh orange. Wow. I was seriously blown away. Such a magnificent illustration! They also discuss how we all have a special role to play in life. Even the tiniest role may be of great importance (you must read Malchijah and the Dung Gate!).  Brilliant. They share their thoughts and experiences beautifully and honestly while focusing on God and how He is the storyteller of our lives. We may long for different circumstances, but thinking that we deserve something different or better only leads to bitterness.

Their writing is excellent. I found myself continuously taking notes, highlighting statements and reading portions to my husband. Andrew and Rachel Wilson GET it. They understand. There are times when you want to hide and pretend you're not the responsible adult. There are gut wrenching moments and dreams that you mourn but God is always with us. He loves our children more than we do! "I am a character in God's story, not the author of my own, and it is God's responsibility to redeem all things, to make all things work together for good, and, as Sam Gamgee puts it in The Lord of the Rings, to make everything that is sad come untrue."

I recommend this book to each and every person because we all struggle with doubts, trials, and disillusionment. We question God and wonder what is in story for us. "Why me, Lord?" "So I fix my eyes, not on what is seen but on what is unseen. And I take a deep breath." Special needs parent or not, this is good advice for all.


ABOUT THE BOOK:


What do you do when hard or painful circumstances turn your world upside down, resulting in a life you never expected? Andrew and Rachel Wilson grappled with this question after both of their children were diagnosed with regressive autism. Refreshingly honest, this book explores the highs and lows of raising children with specials needs, reflecting on the broader question of how to cope with suffering of all kinds. Sharing personal stories from their lives and encouragement rooted in the truth of God’s Word, Andrew and Rachel highlight lessons they’ve learned related to fighting for joy and thriving in the midst of trials—ultimately pointing readers to Christ, the One who promises to make all things new.

*Would you like to win a copy of The Life We Never Expected? It is absolutely wonderful- life changing. Leave a comment to be entered!*

*I was given a copy of this mazing book from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Friday, July 1, 2016

Don't Go to Bed Angry Stay Up and Fight- How to Fight (Together) for your Marriage!



Conflict in marriage is not the problem. It’s how we deal with it that makes it a problem. Learn how to deal with the conflict in Deb and Ron DeArmond’s new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. This is a book of tools, concepts, and worksheets designed to help each couple achieve the vision that God had when He placed Adam and Eve in the garden. Unity. Agreement. Power—found in marriage only when we authentically become one flesh. Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can safeguard—and even strengthen—your relationship.

My Thoughts:

Marriage. Honeymoon. It all seems so easy in the beginning. Love will get us through, right? Yep, we've all been there. Until that first disagreement, the first squabble. Wait a second. Should you cry, yell, use the silent treatment?? Pick your poison, but none of these will help you win. You know why?

The enemy is not your spouse.

The devil wants you to argue.
He wants you to hate.
He wants to rip apart your marriage.

I was never taught how to verbally fight- let alone fight for my marriage. Were you? It's a skill that most of us thought we'd never need. Whether you're single, dating or married, there's a pretty good chance that you will. Don't go to Bed Angry- Stay Up and Fight, by Deb & Rob DeArmond is a wonderful tool for dealing with conflict and coming to a resolution. The authors skillfully guide you through their techniques by using marriage stories. It's almost like sitting in couples therapy- very insightful!

This book has rules. Simple, but very helpful rules that guide you along. As couples we need a PLAN. Having a plan in life is better than just "winging it", don't you agree? I've been winging it for so long you'd think that I had sprouted wings! This book will help you to prepare for your next argument, cause you know it's out there!

BEFORE an issue arises, keep these guidelines in mind...

-The word of God is the blueprint for life as believers
-Not in front of the kids
-Don't use the "D" word
-Exclude violence

As you ENTER the discussion:

-Pray
-Timing is everything (When you're tired, hungry, etc. it's best to wait)
-You must both actively work toward peace.
-If it's not a big deal, don't make it a big deal.
-Touch

Don't go to Bed Angry- Stay Up and Fight offers more helpful guidelines in the book. They make sense and are simple to utilize. I felt relieved and hopeful reading this book as I now view my husband as my teammate and not the opposite team! I also felt guilty as I realize that my silent treatment is quite childish and destructive. Yes, that's my go to method of fighting. I don't know how to verbalize my needs/wants so I sulk. That is going to change now that I'm more knowledgeable and empowered. I don't desire to fight with my husband but now I view conflict as a means to potential (and welcome) change and healthy discussion. A must read!

{MORE ABOUT DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY}

Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight (Abingdon Press, June 2016)
A practical handbook on how to fight better—together—for your marriage.
In every marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you work together to find peace?
In Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Deb and Ron DeArmond give you permission to fight. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with the conflict. Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can safeguard—and even strengthen—your relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets and discussion questions make this a definitive go-to resource to help you start fighting—together—for your marriage.
Deb DeArmond

{MORE ABOUT DEB DEARMOND}

Deb DeArmond is an author, speaker, and coach with a focus on communication, relationships, and conflict resolution. Her writing explores marriage, parenting, in-law and extended family relationships. She is the author of “Related By Chance, Family By Choice” and “I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last.” Deb is the founder of Living-Write, where she coaches aspiring authors. She’s monthly columnist and feature writer for Lifeway’s “Mature Living” Magazine, and has published more than 120 articles online and in print publications. ||**|| Ron DeArmond has a hungry heart for the Word, and has studied the Bible for 45+ years. Ron’s call to serve men is evident in his previous ministry positions with Christian Men’s Network under Dr. Edwin Lewis Cole and Faithful Men Ministry. Ron is currently the Associate Pastor of men’s ministry at Catch the Fire/ DFW and has ministered around the world. The DeArmonds live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Find out more about Deb at http://debdearmond.com.


*I was given this helpful book by Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Friday, June 24, 2016

Un-Ashamed by Heather Davis Nelson- Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame





My Thoughts:
  Un-Ashamed, written by Heather Davis Nelson, is a must read. Every person on this earth has or will have shame in their life. They will also carry guilt. Shame and guilt are not the same yet they often occur together and may cause damage, hurt, and suffering. They have the ability to linger for a very long time- even a lifetime. The author wants us to discover, through Christ's love and redemption, that we may heal and recover from our brokenness and suffering.There is hope for all!

  I carry a lot of shame. I'm certain that you do, also. It's sadly quite disabling and destructive. What I learned from Un-Ashamed is that a lot of my anger and stress is rooted in shame. I examined myself through the Reflection and Discussion Questions at the end of each chapter and was amazed at what I found. There is Body Shame, Social Shame, Performance Shame, Shame in Marriage, Shame in Parenting and also Shame in Church. I struggle mostly with Social Shame (feeling like I don't fit in, comparing myself to my friends (Facebook, anyone?)) and Shame in Parenting (it seems like everyone else knows how to parent than I do). I love how Heather Davis Nelson gives helpful, realistic suggestions as to how to overcome shame. She sites personal examples as well as biblical ones. Yes, shame began in the Garden of Eden and hasn't stopped since! Thankfully, God has overcome sin and is a loving, forgiving Father. 

Un-Ashamed is a wonderfully helpful book for all who are struggling with guilt and shame. It's calming and reassuring and would be a blessing to anyone who reads it.

About the book:
Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame offers hope to those struggling under the burden of shame. This book shines the life-giving light of the gospel on the things that leave us feeling worthless and rejected, directing our attention to the God who promises to forgive and restore us—no matter what.

About the author:
Heather Davis Nelson (MA, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a writer, counselor, and speaker. Heather writes regularly at HeatherDavisNelson.com and has been a featured writer at the Gospel Coalition, as well as a contributing author to the Journal of Biblical Counseling. She and her husband are parents to twin daughters and live in southeastern Virginia. 

*I was given a copy of this book by FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale- 2016 summer favorite!



It all begins with a mystery man, a secret and a friendship shared by three Southern women in a small town in Louisiana. The Secret to Hummingbird Cake is absolutely delicious and meant to be savored, like a frozen margarita on a hot summer night. Sweet and salty but every sip is delightful. You never want it to end! I was laughing out loud one second and crying the next. After the first chapter I was already looking to see what other books Celeste Fletcher McHale had written (The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories comes out next year!). The friendship shared by Carrigan, Ella Rae and Laine is outrageous and rich and all together beautiful. They met in grade school, cruising through the years with crushes and adventures all the while growing as sisters. The journey you share with them as you learn their story will stay with you long after you turn the last page. The most memorable character is Carrigan. Oh, how I wish I were more like her! Brave, outspoken and all heart, she is the driving force in the sisterhood. The way she meets her future husband is sizzling! And the way he comes to her rescue is swoon worthy!! My favorite character is Laine, though. She lives her life in such an unassuming manner. Looking out for those who are forgotten and often overlooked. She is the champion of the underdog. Brave and strong in her own quiet way. Celeste Fletcher McHale's writing style is an engaging combination of familiarly warm and cleverly humorous. I adored the main characters, flaws and all. They aren't even close to perfect and THAT is where the magic lies. They are friends I wish I knew and I was charmed by the way the author wove their pasts into the present. I'd love to read more about this trio! Perhaps a prequel? I highly recommend this book to ladies who are looking for a magnificent story of friendship, love and gracefully letting go. Prepare to laugh until you cry one minute and then bawl your eyes the next. You'll love every second. Will you learn the secret to hummingbird cake? I guess there's only one way to find out...

*I was given this incredible book by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dawn at Emberwilde- Secrets, Smugglers and an Intriguing Love Triangle


My Thoughts:

Dawn at Emberwilde, written by Sarah Ladd, is a compelling combination of mystery, myth and romance. I adore Sarah Ladd's writing and I believe this is my favorite book of hers to date! Isabel Creston is a fledgling teacher, on the brink of beginning her career, when an invitation to come live with family arrives. Isabel's parents have passed away and she believes her younger sister, Lizzie, to be her only living family so the letter is quite a surprise. She and Lizzie embark on a journey to live at Emberwilde, an elegant estate that also contains a mysterious forest. Rumors of this dark wood come to light along with talk of the past, which includes conflicting information about Isabel's mother and father. Isabel begins to question what she believes to be true. To add to the confusion, there are two handsome men who are vying for her affections. I really enjoyed the love triangle in this story and the forest of Emberwilde is chillingly intriguing! Beauty, mystery and romance keep the story rolling at a delightfully rapid pace. There truly isn't a dull moment! Highly recommend for those who enjoy period mysteries and romance. Wonderful book! 

{MORE ABOUT DAWN AT EMBERWILDE}

Dawn at Emberwilde(Thomas Nelson, May 2016)
Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.
For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.
The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.
At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.
At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.
Sarah Ladd

{MORE ABOUT SARAH LADD}

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for “The Heiress of Winterwood.” She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky Golden Retriever.
Find out more about Sarah at http://www.sarahladd.com.







*I was given a copy of this book by Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"The Eleventh" on Feeln Review- Good, wholesome entertainment for the entire family!

Feeln is the leading streaming service that brings you heartfelt stories of love and togetherness - anytime, anywhere. This May, Feeln launched its original series “The Eleventh” which stars a trifecta of TV legends including Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch, Dancing With The Stars), Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Roots, Up), Cloris Leachman (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Malcolm In The Middle), and newcomer Ren Harris. I was given the opportunity to review the first episode and share my thoughts with you. 

“The Eleventh” focuses on a young girl’s journey to getting to know her estranged grandmother in order to bring closure to the past and unite her family. Cloris Leachman plays the grandmother and does a wonderful job. There are many unanswered questions and mixed emotions when her granddaughter, Janey, appears at her door (seeing her grandmother for what she believes is the first time). Through letters written by her deceased mother, a key to an old chest is uncovered and pictures in an album come to light. A grieving, angry father (played convincingly by Christopher Atkins) demands that the grandmother stay out of their lives. The backstory is a mystery and the end of the episode is quite a cliffhanger!

I enjoyed the fact that "The Eleventh" had an intriguing storyline and familiar faces such as Cloris Leachman, Christopher Atkins and Tracy Nelson (more to come). There was no foul language or nudity and that was refreshing! I would love to watch the next episode as the cliffhanger ending left me wanting to find out more of the story. I'd recommend this show to anyone who enjoys good, wholesome entertainment for the entire family!

I didn't particularly enjoy the main character,  Janey, as she appears quite shallow and emotionless, bordering on boring, in my opinion. I imagine she'll (hopefully) evolve into a deeper personality as the show develops.  

*To watch full episodes of ‘The Eleventh’ on Feeln go HERE


About Feeln: Feeln is the leading streaming service that brings you heartfelt stories of love and togetherness, anytime, anywhere. All movies are handpicked so you spend less time searching and more time with the stories you love. Feeln brings home the exclusive library of Hallmark Hall of Fame features, Hollywood movies and TV series, and award-winning originals you won’t find anywhere else.