Monthly Archives: October 2014

Book Review: Magnolia Market

Judy Christie’s Magnolia Market will leave your mouth watering for a buttered biscuit and another ‘Trumpet and Vine’ novel.

It appears the only type of luck Avery Bouchard has is bad. The story picks up a year after the accidental death of her husband. Her in-laws are rich, and they have a grudge against her. With a family like Avery’s in-laws, who needs enemies?

At first glance, Avery appears to come from a world of high society and cotillions. But looks can be deceiving. She’s the only daughter of widowed missionary. This young woman doesn’t mind rolling up her sleeves and making the best out of a bad situation.

I loved Magnolia Market and recommend it to readers who enjoy stories that feature strong heroines, southern charm, quirky characters, complex families and small town living. If you haven’t read Judy Christie’s book, Sweet Olive, read it first. Magnolia Market will stand on its own, but why miss out on another great read.

#greatread #trumpetandvine #judychristie #bookreview #christianbook #magnoliamarket

A letter from Jackie Layton

One of the best results from attending the ACFW conference was making new friends. Today I’m sharing a letter from a talented writer, Jackie Layton. Some of her writing accomplishments include:

2014 Genesis Semifinalist – Romantic Suspense
2014 Daphne du Maurier – Second place Inspirational
2013 Writers of the Storm Category 5 Contest – Second place Romance

Hi Shelia,

I recently returned from a week at Oak Island, North Carolina. My husband and I love to walk the beach as well as ride bikes through the neighborhoods. I noticed two things. More people fly their American flags as well as North Carolina flags. And people are not as stuffy. I’m not sure why people are more patriotic along the coast. But I have a few theories on why they may be more relaxed.
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No matter how much time I spent fixing my hair, the minute I stepped outside either the humidity or the wind ruined it. So why bother? The time I’d save every day by not fixing my hair would increase my relaxation and decrease my stress.

It’s so nice at the beach, I want to go outside and exercise. At home in Kentucky, I often force myself to go outside. There’s always something interesting to see at the beach. A dead shark washed up on the beach. Two fishermen accidently caught a stingray and had to figure out how to get it back into the ocean. Evidently that thing was super heavy. Children build sandcastles, shells crash to shore in the tide, people learn to surf, kites fly high above the sand, and folks speak to strangers as they walk by. The beach is my favorite place to go to recharge, and thankfully God gave me a husband who feels the same way.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.” As I sit out on a beach and feel the warmth of the sun shine down on my face, I think about the Son of God and how much he loves me. I look out at the humongous ocean, and it’s hard to conceive how Jesus could love me enough to die for my sins. But he did. He died for you and for me so we could spend eternity with him in heaven.

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To read more about Jackie, check out her blog at

Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone

Earlier this week I read an anonymous quote, “The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how you use it.” I love this quote. An easy life does not translate into a well-lived life.
Would you consider the loss of a job a stumbling block or stepping stone? My job loss led me to a new career which I love more than anything I could have imagined. Of course, I was terrified, but that fear drove me to my knees and to a closer relationship with God.

The loss of my mother was one of my biggest stumbling blocks. I was angry and acting like a child having a temper tantrum. Mom’s untimely death left me reeling. I’d lost my anchor. It took many months for me to realize I had hold of the wrong anchor. Only Jesus can save me.

A friend recently shared with me about her battle with depression. She has turned what could have been a stumbling block into a stepping stone for helping others who suffer from the same condition. Check out Would you consider a difficult diagnosis a stumbling block or a stepping stone? The choice is yours.

I’m on a journey, and so are you. I pray that you will find a way to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones that lead you to God’s plan. Because there’s no doubt, God has a plan for you. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.

#stumblingblock #steppingstone #overcomingtrials

A Place Called Hope by Philip Gulley

Philip Gulley’s A Place Called Hope made me laugh out loud so many times my husband looked up from his football game and asked, “What are you reading?” The book is funny but also has a serious side. Mr. Gulley bravely broaches a sensitive issue in the Christian community and caused me to consider my own stance. I decided that perhaps I should focus more on loving my neighbor than judging my neighbor. I was cheering for Sam when he said, “I tell you Mom, I’m tired of this nonsense. If the meeting wants to fire me for praying for two women, so be it. I’m not sure I want to even pastor a meeting where that would be an issue.” I have always liked Sam Gardner and his patient wife Barbara. Those who enjoy stories with small-town charm will enjoy A Place Called Hope. I’ll have to forgive Mr. Gulley for his old-fashioned description of Ms. Ruby, the town librarian. However, I must admit I laughed so hard my side ached as I read the passage. If you have not read the Harmony Series, start with Home to Harmony.
#philipgulley #aplacecalledhope

Book Review


Jan Karon returns her readers to the charming town of Mitford. Reading Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good reminds me of a homecoming. Ms. Karon’s fans are reconnected with old friends: Esther Cunningham, Harley Welch, Winney Ivey, Hessie Mayhew, Coot Hendricks, Puny and JoJo Guthrie, Hope and Scott Murphy, Dooley, Lace, and many more. We also meet new characters: Vanita, Irene, Kim, and Shirlene. If you have not read The Mitford Series, don’t start with this book. You must begin with At Home in Mitford and enjoy the series because you might be confused by the long cast of characters.

The author allows us to see Father Tim’s imperfections and struggles with retirement, irritating habits of friends, and the frustration of mentoring the sullen Sammy. I loved getting to know more about Dooley’s brothers, Kenny and Sammy. There’s a mystery, a scandal, a romance and a coming together as “Mitford takes care of its own.” Library patrons complained they missed Mitford when Ms. Karon wrote of Holly Springs and Ireland. Mitford fans will love Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.

#Mitford, #JanKaron #Bookreview

Divine Appointments


I often ask God for signs.  Remember, I’m like Gideon, the least of my tribe. Who am I to write one book? Who am I to travel to Africa on mission trips? I was exhausted and overwhelmed at the ACFW conference. Time and again, God has confirmed that I am to write stories for him, but in my weakness, I began to doubt my calling for missions in Africa. I prayed, God, am I supposed to be a writer and go on mission trips to Africa. I can’t do both, unless it’s your will. It’s too much.

I’m scheduled to travel to Kenya on a mission trip in August, 2015. I made this commitment in December 2013. Is this something I chose to do or was it something God wanted me to do?  Let’s be honest, writing and mission trips are time-consuming, expensive activities.

Sometimes it takes a while for God to answer our prayers, but this time it happened the next day when he arranged my lunch companion. I met Shirley Gould, a servant of God, who spent fourteen years serving as a missionary in Kenya with her husband.  With over 500 conference attendees, I was amazed to have been connected, with Shirley.  It was a busy conference, so Shirley and I exchanged cards and promised to email each other.

The next day at lunch, I looked up, and Shirley was pulling out a chair to my right. We had more time to talk, and I discovered Shirley is originally from Texas, but today she lives in Cross Plains, TN (about 20 minutes from my home). We ascertained her daughter lives about 2 miles from my house. I remember praying, Thank you Father for answered prayer.

Have you ever had a divine appointment?

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:15