Genesis 5020

My Story for His Glory

To Be Continued… August 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:37 pm
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Sorry to disappoint those of you that have been enjoying my Mackinac Island posts. This week I went back to work and have had full day in-services three days in a row. It has pretty much sucked every ounce of creativity out of my brain and my body isn’t adjusting well to getting up at 5:00 a.m. again (I know….the life of a teacher).

Anyway, I don’t have a post ready for today but next week, even though I start school, I will have more time since I’m only part-time and will have more downtime when I get home.

Hope you all enjoy the last official weekend of summer. Have I mentioned you’re the best readers ever? Thanks for your support it means sooooo much to me 🙂

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The Lyre and the Lambs by Sydney Avey August 28, 2014

Filed under: Book Reviews — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:09 am
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the lyre

About:

It’s the Sixties. Modernity and tradition clash as two newlywed couples set up house together. Dee and her daughter Valerie move with their husbands into a modern glass house Valerie built in a proudly rural Los Altos, California neighborhood. When their young relatives start showing up and moving in, the neighbors get suspicious. Then a body is found in the backyard and the life they are trying to build comes undone.

Father Mike is back to guide Dee through a difficult time with humor and grace, even as his own life is unraveling. Now he’s going to have to take some of his own advice about love.

The Lyre and the Lambs explores the passions that draw people together and the faith it takes to overcome trauma.

My thoughts:

Sydney grabs you from the first page with a very disturbing scene. From there you just have to keep reading to see what will happen next, what is really going on?

This book covers some serious topics yet it is somewhat comical the way these people start all living together and how this house becomes a place for kids to gather and find hope.

I enjoyed seeing the passion that Roger and Dee have for each other even as they are older adults, I think sometimes we think just because someone is older they have no passion and that really isn’t the case.

This book is a second in a series, I did not read the first one. Sydney does a good job of dropping information that was probably gained in the first book and actually it whets your appetite to go and read the first book and see what happened because that one sounds very interesting.

Overall a good read for someone looking for something a bit different from your typical Christian fiction.

Visit Sydney here.

Grab a copy at your local bookstore or Amazon.

A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review and Giveaway: Miracle in a Dry Season August 25, 2014

Filed under: Book Reviews,Monday Musings — Melissa Finnegan @ 5:48 pm
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This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Miracle in a Dry Season
Bethany House Publishers (August 5, 2014)
by
Sarah Loudin Thomas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, releases August 2014 through Bethany House. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In a Drought, It’s the Darkest Cloud

That Brings Hope

It’s 1954 and Perla Long’s arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor. . .until he meets Perla. She’s everything he’s sought in a woman, but he can’t get past the sense that she’s hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla’s unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Miracle in a Dry Season, go HERE.

 

 

My thoughts and giveaway:

So awhile back I reviewed the prequel to this book, Appalachian Serenadewhich is still free on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It was a nice story that introduced some of the characters in Miracle in a Dry Season. This book is about Perla who was just a young girl in the first book, although we are Casewell’s head more than Perla’s.

This is a sweet story, I love the pictures Sarah paints of the town and the people in it who all have their own story and history. She does a great job of making you feel like you are in the drought and wondering when and if they will come out of it.

As a reader only I think I would’ve enjoyed this book more but since I know the “rules” of writing I struggled with a lot of things. I won’t point them out because if you aren’t a writer there’s no need for you to be distracted by them. Some things just didn’t add up for me and at times I felt very disconnected from the characters or I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to connect to, some point-of-view confusion.

This is a different story. As the title says miracle, it means there are miracles happening. I thought that was interesting. I love hearing about signs and wonders the Lord performs and liked seeing that in a fiction book.

This is a debut novel so I am interested to see how the author will grow as she continues to write. This is a first in a series, I think I might like to see  who Sarah writes about next in the town of Wise.

Make up your own mind about this book. I’m giving away a copy so leave a comment for your chance to win.

Leave a comment by August 31st at 5:00 p.m. for you chance to win a copy of this book. (U.S. residents only)

A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance in exchange for an honest review.

 

How Mackinac Island is like our Spiritual Lives (Part 3) August 22, 2014

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:04 pm
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How are you enjoying the island so far? I hope you are as enchanted by it as I am.

Today we are moving away from the downtown area. If you remember downtown, or Main Street, is where everyone starts because that’s where we get dropped off. Whether you ever explore anymore of the island is completely up to you.

Up until about five years ago I never did and then one year Patrick and I decided to take our bikes with us and ride around the island. It is eight an eight mile trek around with many beautiful places to stop on the way.

We started out eager but not sure what to expect.

We just took this picture this summer when we were visiting.

We just took this picture this summer when we were visiting.

One of the first places you come to is Arch Rock. The only problem is that to get to Arch Rock you have to climb a ghastly amount of stairs. We decided to go for it. As we climbed I started to get tired and as other people came down we asked them if it was worth it. They said absolutely. So we pressed on.

Once we reached the top and stood looking at the rock formation that God so uniquely designed, we agreed, it was worth it. As you peek under the arch you can see Lake Huron crashing onto the shore, it was beautiful.

After a few minutes of enjoying the view we headed back down and got back on our bikes. We noticed that many people had stacked rocks from the shore, kind of their way of saying they were there. This year when we took our kids around the island for the first time we stopped and created our own stack. I told the kids it’s like an Ebenezer. If you have sung Come Thou Fount, maybe you wondered what Ebenezer means (besides being a Scrooge). Here is a explanation I found:
Verse two refers to an “Ebenezer” or monument (literally, “rock of help”) being raised to remind the singer of all the ways God has helped him, by keeping him safe in the past, and on his way to heaven. Jesus is characterized as seeking him out and protecting him, presumably from hell, again by the Crucifixion. (I found this information here.)

All along the shore are these stacks of stones but I like to think of them as Ebenezer’s and it reminds me of how God is with us and will continue to be with us.

As we road along some people stopped when we did at various places, some people kept riding, others passed us as we went a slower pace and sometimes we passed others

This is my family's Ebenezer. For the life of us we can not get our son to smile for pics. He really is a happy guy most of the times :)

This is my family’s Ebenezer. For the life of us we can not get our son to smile for pics. He really is a happy guy most of the time 🙂

when we went faster. That’s the thing about Mackinac, you set your own pace.

On our first bike ride something cool happened. When we stated out the waves had been crashing against the shore but as we rounded a curve you couldn’t hear the waves anymore. We got off our bikes and went down to the lake and the water was so calm. Such a change, just going around a bend in the road. Simply by going around the bend the wind changed and the ride was easier and the waves stopped crashing.

We continued around until we ended up back where we started, in downtown. I remember sitting in Marquette Park, happy but exhausted. I turned to my husband and said, “There’s so much more to this island that

Just a pic of us on the beach.

Just a pic of us on the beach.

we haven’t even discovered.”

Getting away from downtown and going around the island opened my eyes to all the island had but I still hadn’t touched it, explored it and I wanted to. I wanted all the island had to offer.

So, let’s take this apart a bit and see how this is like our spiritual lives. Maybe you have already put some things together.

As we move away from out basic Christianity 101 we might feel a bit nervous and excited. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us but yet we are afraid of what He might have as well. It might take us out of our comfort zones.

As we go along our journeys we may have detours that can discourage us at times, that might wear us our. That is when we need our brothers and sisters who have gone before and we can ask, “Is it worth it?” And they will tell you, “Absolutely.”

This will encourage us in the difficult times to press on, lean on God, not our own understanding.

Sometimes on our journeys we may feel others are progressing in their faith faster, or better, than us. But we are each one our adventure with Jesus. He has the perfect plan of you. Never compare your pace to another. We will all reach the same destination but in God’s time. So when you feel you are lagging behind take heart, soon you may be passing others. Be an encouragement to them.

Along the way raise a few Ebenezers. Praise God that He has brought you this far and He will continue to be with you as you journey on. Be encouraged by other’s Ebenezers as a reminder of how big our God is. He is so big He can be with you and with them.

Sometimes you will ride into the wind and the journey will be difficult but know that just around the bend it is calm. You never know when you might reach that bend, it could be a day, a month, a year away, but the bend it there and the calm will come.

But what do you do when you end up back where you started? Share your joy with those who haven’t ventured from Main Street. Maybe they don’t know what they’re missing. So tell them. Give them pointers and guidance so their journey can be successful.

Then you need to realize you have only gone around the island. There’s a whole interior yet to be discovered, you need to go deeper to fully appreciate this great island. Are you ready to go deeper? There are many hills, but there is much beauty.

See you next week.

Have you raised any Ebenezers lately? Have you had times when want to give up and someone has come along and given you hope? We would love hear about it 🙂

 

Never Fight Again…..Guaranteed! by David Hawkins August 21, 2014

Filed under: Book Reviews — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:05 pm
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never fight

Book Description:

What do couples fight about most? Is it sex, money, children, in-laws, or time management? The answer is: “none of the above. Couples can get into power struggles over anything. It is not any specific subject, but the act of fighting, that drives us. We want what we don’t have and will fight to get it. And this drives a wedge between us and the ones we love.

In this book Dr. David Hawkins, bestselling author, psychologist, and advice columnist, outlines a plan of action to assure that you “Never Fight Again . . . Guaranteed!” Dr. Hawkins argues for a paradigm shift that will take your relationship from one built on selfishness to one of sacrificial love. Once we do that, we give up the fight, care for ourselves and those around us, and change our hearts for the better.

My thoughts:

Whenever I see something that says guaranteed I am a bit hesitant about believing it. But when I saw this book I thought, “why not?” I would love to never fight again with my husband.

Here’s the thing, if we did the stuff this book says we wouldn’t ever fight again. But honestly, I have to wonder how healthy some of the suggestions are? I worried that I would be keeping everything bottled up and eventually I would blow.

With that being said there is a lot of good advice in this book and I highlighted some things that clicked with me.

One issue I struggle with is getting defensive. Hawkins states “Defensiveness is the feeling we must master if we want to succeed at never fighting again.” That’s so true. If I didn’t get defensive over the things my husband said or pointed out we wouldn’t fight.

He also said something about expectation that resonated with me: “When I hear the word, expectation, I often substitute the word demand in its place. Why? Because for many, an expectation is just that.” Yikes. I see that in my marriage.

So, even though I thought some of this stuff was a no brainer other parts made sense to me. Will my husband and I fight again? Guaranteed…but at least now I am a bit more aware of my actions and hopefully we will process things differently.

Visit David here.

A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

 

Write to the Point with Angela Strong August 20, 2014

Filed under: Author Interviews — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:50 pm
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Ocean Family PhotoToday we get write to the point with Angela Strong. She visited us awhile back, you can read the interview here. Today she talks about her newest release. Enjoy!

Tell us about your newest book. The Water Fight Professional is a middle-grade novel about a kid who has to make more money with his water-fighting business than his best friend makes mowing lawns in order to beat the sudden superstar at something and save their friendship. It’s for ages 8-12, but it’s a great book to read together.

I often encourage my readers to read a book together so you can have conversations with your kids about what’s going on. I love doing that with my daughter (my son hasn’t picked up a love of reading yet).

What do you do when you’re not writing? I’m married with three children, so I’m always doing something. This summer I got to help my son raise money for a mission trip to San Francisco, then I got to be a counselor at church camp for all my kids now that they are all old enough for youth group, then last week we took a family vacation to the Oregon coast. These moments always inspire more stories, so there is never enough time to write.

My other passion is teaching group fitness, which is even cooler now that I get to teach at a Christian fitness club. Getting paid to work out helps me keep from gaining a bazillion pounds when sitting in front of my computer for hours with my carb-loaded coffee. Plus it gives me the energy to be able to join my husband in events like The Dirty Dash—a 10K in the mountains that involved some pretty muddy obstacles and matching Batman outfits. I’d say this is symbolic of my life in general.

Where do you get your ideas? Ideas are everywhere. The idea for The Water Fight Professional came from a church picnic when my son was a preschooler.WFP Web FRONT Cover He wanted to get involved in a water fight but didn’t know how, so I gave him a cup of water and told him to dump it on someone. That person saw him coming and offered him a dollar to dump the same cup on me. I got wet, he got paid, and he fell asleep that night holding onto the dollar bill. I thought, “He’s going to become a water fight professional.” Hence, I dedicated the book to him seven years later—the REAL water fight professional.

I love how ideas drop into our heads. I also say my head is a crazy place to be.

Do you outline or are you a seat-of-the-pants writer? Endings are my favorite, so everything I write has to lead up to a fantastic ending. Thus, I have to outline. But that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t grow as I grow while writing it. Once I wrote the ending to a book first, but by the time I wrote the entire thing I had to completely change the ending. I believe this made it even more unexpected and powerful.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published? Oh yeah. Romancing the Throne is about Jaqueline James, a resort activities director in the West Indies, who ends up falling for a prince, but when he hires a private investigator to look into her past and make sure she is marriage material, he finds out that her father is a fugitive from the United States. Jacqueline hires the same private eye to go back with her to the States to prove her father innocent, but in the process she realizes she’d rather spend her life with her knight in shining armor than prince charming. It’s a fun, and fast-paced story that’s been close to publication, and I still have high hopes for it. If The Water Fight Professional has taught me anything, it’s that God’s timing is perfect, and good things are worth the wait…and the work.

This definitely sounds interesting. Hope it gets published.

Are you like any of the characters in your book? Probably Joey’s mom. I make healthy food my kids hate, I always try to get them involved in activities they are not interested in, and while she’s a theatrical dancer and spends her days in “cha-cha land,” I spend time in these made-up worlds of mine. In the end, Joey’s mom teaches her kids the value of accountability and overcoming, which is something I want to do, as well. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, don’t we?

Are you working on a new project now? The Snowball Fight Professional is book two in the Fun4Hire series and releases this November. These characters are just so fun to hang out with again. Up next, I’ll be writing The Food Fight Professional and The Pillow Fight Professional.

And if that’s not enough, I’ve got revisions to make for my Killer Voices entry. I made it to the final round of the Love Inspired Suspense contest, though I haven’t gotten a contract yet. Fingers crossed.

Anything you would like to add? Writing—like life—is what you create it to be. As with any artistic career, I don’t think you can ever arrive. So do it because you enjoy it. Celebrate every little victory. And keep learning.

Great advice, thanks for sharing with us, Angela. It was great hearing from you again and what God is up to in your life. I pray God’s continued blessings over your writing.

 

Review and Giveaway: A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson August 18, 2014

Filed under: Book Reviews,Monday Musings — Melissa Finnegan @ 1:26 pm
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a bouguet of love

About:

She didn’t expect to fall in love–but roses aren’t the only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family–especially her father–has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand–directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John’s–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

My thoughts and giveaway:

My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Christian romance 🙂

If you enjoyed the movie you will LOVE this book. Even if you didn’t see the movie if you like stories about strong families, romance, and that will make you laugh out loud then you need to pick up this book.

This is the second book by Janice I have read and the second on in this series I have read, but it is the fourth volume in Weddings by Design. Although it is a series and there are repeat characters the main characters are new and you can read it as a stand alone. So have no fear if you haven’t read anything else in this series.

Cassia is a fun character, trying to make her family happy but also wanting to follow her dreams. She struggles with letting people know who she really is because her dad is making things difficult in the neighborhood, especially with the Rossi family, who happens to own the flower shop Cassia gets a job working for. When Cassia meets the Rossi’s she sees they really aren’t the enemy and very nice people but she can’t tell her dad that.

There were times I just wished she’d spit out the truth and tell people she belonged to the new Greek family, but honestly if she did that too soon it would’ve lost some of its tension.

Alex seems to be perfect for her, a nice, part Greek guy. It’s interesting being in first person because we don’t really see Alex’s weaknesses and he almost seems too perfect. But isn’t that the why it is when you first meet someone, they put their best foot forward and they seem perfect. So because we aren’t in Alex’s head we only see him how Cassia sees  him, which is very nice 🙂

Definitely a fun read with a great message, hope you get a chance to read this one.

Visit Janice here.

Grab a copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com, or Books-A-Million.

Leave a comment by August 24th at 5:00 p.m. to be entered to win a copy. (U.S. residents only)

A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.