Seasons of an Amish Garden by: Amy Clipston

Seasons of an Amish GardenSeasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two people make a marriage, and the only way it will work is if those two people listen to each other and compromise. Together they can find a solution. Just like the garden, it needs both sun and water, and together you need to work together to nourish and grow your relationship.

An Amish Garden brings 4 Amish couples together. It is the analogy of a Garden that brings each of these love stories to life. The caring, the weeding, the cultivating all that makes a garden glorious is the same for any relationship. Each of these couples must overcome obstacles of fear, insecurities, control to freely love the other and to be in God’s will. All while helping a widow of the community to leave legacy of love that her late husband desired. Let me introduce you.

Katie is fed up with her brother and her best friend as they have completely forget about her as they have become engaged. In dealing with her hurt feelings, Chris a visitor to the community softens the blow of loss of her brother Ephraim and her best friend Mandy. But God is showing Katie a side of her that she must deal with. How to deal with change in relationships. In dealing with these changes, she lashes out to the ones who care the most for her. A heartfelt story of emotions gone awry.

Clara a good friend of Katie that is working alongside the care of the Garden hopes to find love like the rest of her good friends. She sees the goodness of marriage and trusts that God will give her the desires of her heart in a family of her own. She takes time to enjoy what God has for her now in her friends and purpose. When her old school friend Jerry comes to visit the garden, she considers his choice to become an Englisher. She wonders why he didn’t become baptized and join the church and community. Jerry see’s his old school friend Clara differently. How she has changed and the peace she seems to have. He never felt that God called him to the community and with the pressure of family, he becomes more confused about where he belongs. Clara longs for him to see how he belongs in the community without pressuring him and isolating him further. This was my favorite of the couples.

Tene s visiting her great aunt Emma whose garden is bringing love together. Tene is not looking for love as she has come to heal from the tragedy of a broken heart and tragedy that left her brother in the hospital. She is fearful of all Englisher and when one without any food to his name, comes to their vegetable stand, all she wants him to do his leave. When he asks for food, she tries to send him away only Wayne a good friend of Emma’s comes to homeless mans rescue. Wayne tries to calm Tene’s fears but Tene cannot see past her fears. Wayne is falling for Tene but cannot understand the hardness of her heart. Just as garden cannot grow in a hard ground, our love cannot grow with hardened heart. These two learn to breakdown the barriers to trust and love. Love casts out all fear.

The last couple is the first to become a couple. Ephraim and Mandy are now engaged and getting ready for the marriage. With the all the pressures of getting ready, Mandy is fretting over getting everything done in time. Another set back of Ephraim’s sister coming back to live with the family puts Ephraim’s plan to set up his own household in chaos. When Mandy suggests to wait to get married at later date, Ephraim loses all control and calls off the wedding. Not able to listen and understand the other, will they throw away the love that they share on misunderstandings and insecurities. A lesson on what is marriage and home.

Each of these love stories bring home how commitment and trust build a strong marriage. Enjoyed getting to know these couples as they worked on their struggles to find love and ultimately home.

A Special Thank you to Zondervan Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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The Prayers of Jesus: Listening to and Learning from Our Savior by: Mark Jones

The Prayers of Jesus: Listening to and Learning from Our SaviorThe Prayers of Jesus: Listening to and Learning from Our Savior by Mark Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All true knowledge of God involves mutual loving discourse between God and the redeemed sinner. Love desires knowledge of the person loved. God knows us perfectly, and we must, with all the assistance he affords us, to aim to know him. If this were not supremely important, Christ would not have highlighted this so often in his ministry and in prayer.

With knowledge comes affection and with affection comes devotion. As I was reading this devotion on the prayers of Jesus, I came to a better understanding of why Jesus is the only way to the Father. The bible makes it clear that not one is righteousness and without Jesus we do not have the righteousness to the Father to enter his presence. In knowing God by his word, by prayer and the church, we come to understanding of his holiness and the Glory of God that is for our good. That is the understanding I came with in this devotional. The prayers of Jesus are centered on God’s glory and the will of God.

Each chapter starts with a verse that Jesus prayed for. A prayer that focuses on our relationship with the Father. Each chapter is filled with supporting scripture and context. The most insightful and filled with contrasting insights between the Garden of Eden and Garden of Gethsemane. What Adam accomplished and what Jesus finished. These contrasting insights give you more of a grasp and understanding that salvation matters. What Jesus did matters for everyone. I highly recommend.

A Special Thank you to Crossway Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Parenting with Loving Correction: Practical Help for Raising Young Children by: Sam Crabtree

Parenting with Loving Correction: Practical Help for Raising Young ChildrenParenting with Loving Correction: Practical Help for Raising Young Children by Sam Crabtree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We must always remember that our greater and higher aim is godly heart transformation in our children, not just behavioral correction. The ultimate reason for this aim is God’s own focus on our hearts. Godless, secular behaviorism obscures-even denies the gospel Our proper approach in corrective discipline means seeking our children’s behavioral change with heart change always in view. Parents cannot create in a child’s heart the kind of love that God can. He can create the love he commands. We can’t transform the child’s heart- but our own transformed hearts can shape behaviors that will benefit the child’s future. Correction doesn’t save the soul. But salvation of the soul corrects-that is, it ushers in true heart transformation and a lifetime of change, by God’s grace and will.

I have heard that disciplining is our opportunity as parents to teach our children. However, many times we can be stressed out, burned out or fed up that we can do more damage than good when it comes to disciplining. The insight of this text was amazing and opened my eyes now as a grandmother to love my grandchildren and to be a helper to my daughters and their husbands. Discipline is not a word to be feared but to embrace as it teaches our children responsibility and most importantly love. Without discipline there is no love. However, that said, discipline is not cruel unusual punishment, it is a tool to teach. Not a tool to teach that I am powerful and controlling but compassion and responsibility with joy.

The text is done in 3 parts. What is at stake? Essentials of corrective discipline. Getting practical

It starts with what is correction A 2 part definition is what he uses. Identifying actions or attitudes of your child that are unacceptable when against clear and explicit standard, then acting promptly and decisively to move your child in the direction of compliance with those standards.

I think the most I got out of this text and resource is what discipline is not. Such as discipline doesn’t destroy the child but attacks the things that would destroy him. That fearing us as parents or grandparents without delighting in them, they will find no rest in peace with us. That discipline is curbing harmful desires that lead to sinful life choices that enslave us. That discipline is a divine work of God that is given to us as parents. That affirmation is key to discipline and love.

I can go on and on with this text but it is meant to be read, applied and prayed over. I highly recommend this and in fact this will be gift to my children.

A Special Thank you to Crossway Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Wartime Sisters by: Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Wartime SistersThe Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Over time, a carefully choreographed routine evolved between the two sisters. The dance was wordless and intricate, full of side steps and skirting, avoidance and circumvention.

A prose of sibling rivalry stemmed from a mother’s raising one above the other and comparison. Ruth and Millie were different from night and day. In looks and personality. Ruth the more studios type and Millie more fun loving. Their mother had high hopes for Millie to marry well. It is this that slow burned their relationship as sisters. Never trusting the other, never making any connections that sisters need to thrive.

When their parents were tragically killed, Millie married the one man that turned their parents dream into a nightmare. Now five years has passed and a war is making way. Millie finds herself without a husband and calls on her sister for help. It is during this time, that secrets are revealed and their relationship is put to the test.

The setting is taken from an actual place that put this story together. The Springfield Armory has a history starting with President George Washington. This setting brings the sisters together to face their own insecurities and demons. A great historical fiction.

A Special Thank You to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Prayers of Blessing Over My Marriage by: Bruce H. Wilkinson

Prayers of Blessing over My MarriagePrayers of Blessing over My Marriage by Bruce H. Wilkinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Why is growing spiritually so important to a marriage relationship? Growing spiritually as a couple provides you with the foundation you need to maximize the full experience of your relationship Much of the conflict that couples face stems from a lack of spiritual and/or emotional maturity. But growing spiritually as a couple doesn’t happen just because you are saved, or even because you attend church or a small group. Growing spiritually results from ongoing exposure to, study of, and application of God’s word. It also results from a continual abiding Christ himself.

Marriage is a tool in God’s tool box to grow us up in his likeness. We learn forgiveness, grace and humility in a marriage. However, you have two people that come together than can be selfish, unkind and ungrateful in a marriage setting.

This text is not only a tool for our marriages but also a guide to pray over your marriage Each chapter starts with scripture and goes on to preparing our hearts to become more like Christ. Each chapter also goes into praising God that we may be reminded of who he is in our marriage. The text moves into presenting the situation. A time to think of what was read and how your heart is pulled. The chapter then ends on prayer to keep the focus on your part of the marriage and your response. Our response is how we love and connect with God the Father and our spouse.

I do think this is a good marriage tool to identify problems in our spiritual relationship with God and your spouse. There is no perfect marriage but it is in the imperfection that beauty comes to light.

A Special Thank you to Harvest House Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Made for the Journey: One Missionary’s First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador by: Elisabeth Elliot

Made for the Journey: One Missionary's First Year in the Jungles of EcuadorMade for the Journey: One Missionary’s First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador by Elisabeth Elliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I look back on that time, I think it was Lesson One for me in the school of faith. That is, it was my first experience of having to bow down before that which I could not possibly explain. Usually we need not bow. We can simply ignore the explainable because we have other things to occupy our minds. We sweep it under the rug. We evade the questions. Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain. If God were God, if He were omnipotent, if He had cared, would this have happened? Is this that I face now the ratification of my calling, the reward of obedience. One turns in disbelief again from the circumstances and looks into the abyss. But in the abyss there is only blackness, no glimmer of light, no answering echo.

I read this account over 5 years and it is amazing how revisiting her amazing story, you pick up different insights. This was faith pure and simple. Her missionary encounter brought Elliot face to face with what faith is and what it is not. She did not see anyone come to Christ during her time, but she did set the ground work for the next missionary. Her account is harrowing and remarkable as she faced danger, death and snakes. I can’t do snakes. She delivered a baby under bizarre circumstances to a culture that is different from our own. She also was faced with death of colleague that questioned her calling to the Coloradans.

A true testimony of what suffering and putting God first means. The cost and the presence of God in the darkest of hours. It was hard to believe she was in her early 20’s. Highly Recommend.

A Special Thank you to Revell and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Miles From Where We Started by: Cynthia Ruchti

Miles from Where We StartedMiles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In marriage we must choose to celebrate the good to tolerate the bad. It is not about what we deserve but whom we choose. It is called commitment.

Mallory and Conner have just started their marriage and now they are in the brink of ending the marriage. A breakdown of communication, an overwhelming emotion of fear, Conner is determined to end his marriage to the one he committed himself to for life.

The narration begins with the emotional breakdown of where do I go from here, what can I do, and the biggest why. As the emotions are raw they also unravel as you begin to know Mallory and Conner. What their desires were for marriage and also their fears.

But before the marriage ends for good. Conner must ask Mallory one favor to save his career. Will she go on a roadtrip with him and 11 year old foster kid to film a youtube RoadRave. Adventures in Road Trips with a twist. You don’t know where you are going from day to day and whom you will meet. On this trip, they begin to see marriage, their lives and faith in a different light. Judah the 11 year old foster boy, adds so much to this story of redemption. A boy that has suffered loss and abandonment is finding his own redemption thru Conner’s and Mallory’s redemption. It reaches for the heart and pulls. It begs the question what it means to be cherished, loved and respected. That we all have a story and we don’t know the whole story.

Faith plays an important role for Mallory as she desires to see how she fits in with God’s redemptive plan. Many times in novels like this, it becomes the other way around. How does God fit into my despair. I think that is why Ruchti is one of my favorite Christian authors.

A Special Thank you to Gilead Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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