Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

Right On Time Christmas: Chapters 5 and 6 November 30, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 2:03 pm
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Photo by erin walker on Unsplash

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is your next installment of Right On Time Christmas. I hope you are enjoying Caylee and Stephen’s story.

If you missed the first four chapters you can catch me here and here.

Have a blessed weekend!

Chapter Five

“Oh, please stay one more day.” Josie leaned over and pulled on Caylee’s arm. They had finished lunch and were starting to clean up the dishes.

Stephen shook his head and headed for the kitchen with hands full of dishes. His sister had a way of getting whatever she wanted. And she wanted Caylee to spend one more day and help put up the tree.

“I really should go home.” Caylee’s gaze darted around, never landing on him, but he could tell she wanted to stay. Was she lonely? She always had someone to fill her time.

“To what? An empty house?” Mom joined Josie. “Stay and put the tree up with us. You can go home tomorrow.”

“If you’re sure.” Caylee looked at him now. For approval again? What was going on with her?

“Yes, we’re sure.” Dad chimed in.

“It’s all set. And tonight we can have a slumber party and you tell me all about your life in Columbus.” Josie jumped.

“There’s not much to tell.” Caylee looked at the floor. Something happened in Columbus. Must be the reason she was back.

Soon they were dragging boxes down stairs and playing Christmas music. It took hours to decorated the tree and the house, Mom had a place for everything.  

They ordered pizza for supper and laughed and sang while they ate. It was ten o’clock before they were finished and everyone was tired and ready for bed.

“You have school tomorrow young lady. You need to get to bed.” Mom kissed Josie’s head.

“Okay. Let’s go Caylee.” Josie pulled on her arms and dragged her up the stairs. Stephen hardly talked to her all day. Which was probably for the best. She would leave tomorrow and they could go on living their lives as they had before.

Everyone dispersed and Stephen went up to his room. He slipped on a pair of athletic pants and t-shirt and laid in bed. His mind kept going back to Caylee crying in church. What was up with that? What was really going on with her? His mind made up all kinds of stories.

Finally, he gave up. He headed downstairs to watch t.v. and hope that would put him to sleep. His heart dropped when he saw Caylee sitting in front of the lighted Christmas tree, her knees drawn up to her chin. She almost looked like an angel sitting there.

He stopped and studied her for a minute. He studied her a lot when no one was looking and sometimes he studied her when someone was looking, it was only bad when it was Caylee who caught him looking. Like this morning when he took her in wearing that sweater that hugged her in all the right places.

So many times he had  thought she was the woman for him, the girl he would marry. They seemed perfect together. But it never happened. She never returned those feelings.

Her blond hair hung long down her back, almost to her waist. He needed to stop starting.

“Hey.” He cleared his throat and walked toward her and sat down.

“Hey.” She jumped and gave a little smile.

“Can’t sleep?”

“Nope. You either?” She looked over at him.

“Nope.” Because all he could do was think about her.

They sat side by side staring at the tree, mesmerized by the lights.

“What ya thinking about?” The question slipped out before he could think about the consequences of asking her.

“Hope.”

“Hope? What about it?” It was then Stephen noticed the trail of tears on Caylee’s cheeks. His arms ached to pull her close and comfort her.

“I lost mine somewhere along the way. But I think I found it today.” Her voice was a whisper, she sounded so fragile.

“I’m glad to hear it. Mom always says things happen for a reason, maybe you crashed here so you could go to church today and hear that message.” It wasn’t so they would find their way back to each other.

“Maybe you’re right.” She turned toward him and their gazes collided, crashed and something shifted in the atmosphere. Heat seemed to radiate between the two of them. She was beautiful, everything he always wanted and still did.

“I should try to go to sleep.” He  had to get out of there before he lost all control and kissed her. Kissed her like he always dreamed about. The way the light from the trees danced in her eyes made her even more attractive.

“Me too.” She pushed herself up and he followed. Caylee lost her balance and he reached for her.

“Woah. You okay?” Stephen wrapped his fingers around her upper arms and made the mistake of looking right into her eyes again, he could get lost there.

“Yes.” The word came out breathy and sent  heat rushing through his body.

Silence hung in the air and they stood there, neither one of them moved. But wanted to. Oh, yeah, he wanted to. He wanted to move right onto her lips and end the agonizing mystery of what they taste like. Did she want him too? 

“Good night.” And just like that it all ended. She stepped away and ran up the stairs.

Fine. He had a girlfriend. A serious one at that. He cleared his throat and headed for the bathroom. Time for a cold shower.

——-

Caylee fell into bed. What was that? Why didn’t Stephen kiss her? Why did she want him to? What was wrong with her? She needed to get out of this house, the sooner the better.

Yes, first thing tomorrow she would go home. No one would talk her into staying any longer.

She almost lost herself in his blue eyes and that couldn’t happen again.

Caylee pulled the covers over her head and waited for sleep to sweep her away before her thoughts did.

 

———

Caylee quickly dressed and headed down stairs. Hopefully, no one else was awake yet and she could get out of the house without talking to anyway, especially Stephan. The feelings he stirred in her were totally out of line. He was dating someone, he obviously wasn’t interested in her. If he was he would’ve kissed her last night and he made no move to do so.

No sounds emanated from the kitchen. Good. She could slip out undetected.

“Going somewhere?”

Caylee’s heart jumped to her throat and she froze in the kitchen doorway.

“Um, home.” Why did she feel guilty?

“Why not some breakfast first?” Mr. Meyer smiled over his mug.

“I really need to get home. I’ve been imposing long enough.” Caylee relaxed a little, her shoulders sagged.

“You aren’t an imposition. You’re like family.” He put his mug on the table.

“Well, thank you for that, for everything. You all have been so kind. But I really need to get home.” She stepped closer to the door.

“Okay. If you think it’s best.” Something lay hidden in his words.

“I do. Thank everyone for me and I’m sure I’ll see you around.” She forced a smiled and slipped out the door into the the cold November wind. Freedom. So why didn’t she really feel free? Why did she feel like she was running away?

Caylee made her way through the slushy, barely there, snow that had gotten her into the mess in the first place. She climbed into her car and it started without trouble. Before long she puled into her driveway.

Home.

Chapter Six

Stephen clutched the steering wheel of his Chevy Malibu. Four days. Four days since Caylee left. Left without saying a word. He missed her and he hated that truth. He had no business missing her.

He made a right into downtown Clearwater, a larger neighboring town next to Holly. After he almost kissed her she hightailed it out of there. Sure, she had called to thank Mom but that was it. Not a word to him.

She didn’t owe him anything. He had a girlfriend. Who would be coming to visit in just over two weeks. Hence, the reason for the trip to the jewelers. He had finally decided it was time to ask Sarah to marry him and he would do it while she visited for Christmas. It would be perfect. His final declaration that he was free from Caylee.

He pulled into the parking lot, shut off the engine and took a big breath. His heart pounded in his chest. Nerves. This was the right move.

He nodded to make himself feel better, it didn’t work, and climbed out of the car. Christmas music filled the air of the small shop. The place was decked out with decorations, Christmas spirit filled the atmosphere.

Glass cases lined the walls. He walked over to one and started looking.

“May I help you?” An older man stood behind the case.

Stephan stood up and cleared his throat. “Yes. I want to buy an engagement ring.”

“Wonderful. A Christmas proposal?” He smiled and wrinkles deepened around the man’s mouth.

“Yes. Do you have recommendations?” Stephen sure hoped so. He had no idea where to start.

“Oh, well, that all depends on the one receiving the ring. Tell me about the young woman you are in love with.” The man’s eyes softened.

“Well, we’ve known each other since before we could walk. I’ve always known I would marry her, even though she didn’t know it. She’s much more special then she realizes and deserves to be the happiest woman I know.” Wait, what? That wasn’t Sarah.

“Then you need something very special. Something unique that will show her how truly one of a kind she is.” The man slide down the case and motioned for Stephen to follow. No way he could admit that he just described the wrong woman.

The man brought out a beautiful princess cut diamond surrounded by several smaller stones. It would look perfect on her long, slender finger.

“What do you think?” The man smiled again and leaned forward.

Stephen turned it every which way, the light caught the diamond and shimmered. “Yes, I’ll take it.”

The words left his mouth without thought. He had  just agreed to buy the perfect engagement ring for Caylee.

——-

Saturday night and Caylee sat at home alone. So pathetic. The annual Wassail festival would be in full swing soon. She sat curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and staring at a Christmas tree she decorated by herself. Every time she looked at it she couldn’t help but think about the kiss Stephen almost gave her and how badly she wanted it. In all the years she had known him she never wanted him to kiss her. Wanting him to now wasn’t fair to him and how shallow of her. Because he was better looking, more filled out? Was it because she was lonely? Or could there be something deeper behind her desire? Could now was the right time for them?

That couldn’t be, he was dating someone and he deserved to be happy and she couldn’t do that for him. She only caused him pain.

The doorbell rang and pulled Caylee out of her pathetic thoughts. She tossed the blanket aside and dragged her sad self to the door and swung it open, not sure who could be visiting her.

“I’m mad at you.” Josie’s smile betrayed her words. What a breath of fresh air.

“I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye.” Caylee did feel bad about leaving so abruptly but she couldn’t risk seeing Stephen, her feelings for him where freaking her out.

“Well, I came to find you and take you to the Wassail festival. So go get bundled up and let’s go.” Josie pushed her way into the house.

“That sounds like fun.” Caylee smiled and hurried to throw on a sweater and thicker socks. She gave her face a quick perusal. Eh, good enough, she didn’t have anyone to impress and Stephen obviously wasn’t with Josie. Or was he? “Hey, you can’t drive yet so how did you get here?”

“How do you think? My sad excuse for a brother was sitting around just like you so I made him bring me. He’s waiting in the car and not very patient, so hurry.”

That changed everything. Quickly Caylee changed into a more flattering sweater, which was silly since she would be wearing a winter coat, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. She threw on some mascara and slid some lip gloss on. She stood back from the mirror. Not great, but better. It would have to do. Josie would know she was trying if she did too much.

“Okay, I’m ready.” Caylee stepped out of the bedroom.

A slow grin pulled across Josie’s lips. “Hm. Interesting.”

“What?” Caylee tried really hard to school her features.

“Nothing.” Josie wove her arm through Caylee’s and pulled her out the door. “Let’s go Wassailing. Whatever the means.”

Stephen gave a little wave as they headed to the car, Caylee waved back, mouth dry, heart pounding. She didn’t want to like him but she did.  

“You can ride shotgun.” Josie skipped away and when around the back door.

Okay, could she be more obvious?

Caylee climbed into the front seat and immediately took in the woodsy scent of Stephen that hung in the car. It took all her strength not to take a big whiff.  

“Hey.” Stephen gave a small smile. “Sorry, she insisted.”

“I’m glad. I was just sitting around feeling sorry for myself.”

“Same.” Stephen laughed and put the car into reverse.

Josie made excited chatter as they headed downtown. It was dark already, and Christmas lights hung from the lampposts, with wreaths dotting the doors of storefronts. Parking wasn’t easy but they eventually found a spot. People lined the sidewalks. Sanata always made his grand entrance the night of the Wassail festival. Children bounced up and down on their heels in anticipation. Many sat on their parents shoulders waiting for the man in the red suit.

“I forgot how much I loved this.” Caylee let the words slip from her thoughts.

“Me too.” Stephen wore a big, silly grin.

“See, aren’t you two losers glad I dragged you out?” Josie slipped between them and put her arm through the crook of both of theirs.

“Yes, dear sister,” Stephen laughed.

Caylee stared up at him, with his cheeks rosey from the cold his blue eyes danced even more under the Christmas lights. He took her breath away. An ache started in her chest and spread to her throat. She blinked back tears. Why? What was wrong with her?

“Hey, you okay?” Josie shook Caylee.

“Oh, yeah. Just cold.” Oh my, how long had she been staring at him?

“Well, after Santa comes by we can go get some wassail.” Josie smiled like she didn’t believe Caylee for a minute.

“Sounds good.” Caylee nodded and focused on the street.

Soon Santa came by throwing candy and waving at the crowd. Christmas carols filled the air sung by the local high school choir. Memories stirred in Caylee’s heart. She truly did love this town.

“I see some of my friends. I’ll catch up with you guys later.” Josie ran off before Stephen or Caylee could protest.

Now they were alone. Again.

“Should we get some wassail?” Stephen lifted one side of his mouth.

“Sure.” Caylee had never been tongue-tied around Stephen, she was always in control around him, he never had any effect on her and now she couldn’t think of a clever thing to say.

They followed the crowd to the large pots of the hot cider. They each got a cup and gathered around the large bonfire. The spiced cider warmed her insides, even though brushing Stephen’s arm through her heavy coat was having the same, if not more, effect on her.

Several students from the high school choir lead the group in Christmas carols. Soon Caylee found herself joining in and even heard Stephen sing a few off-pitch notes.

They laughed with the group of carolers as they came together in song. Music could do that to people.

After about a half-hour people started heading home. Stephen sent Josie a text asking where she was. She told him she would meet him at the car so they headed back to their parking spot.

Silence hung heavy between them while the walked. The last time they had been together they almost kissed. Where do you go from there?

“Why did you leave without saying goodbye?” Stephen shattered the void with the worse question possible.

Did he really need to ask? Didn’t he know?

“I just thought it would be easier.” Caylee tried to keep the answer generic.

“Easier for who?”

Caylee swallowed hard, heat rushed to her face despite the cold. “For everyone.” For me, I was afraid if I saw you again I would throw myself into your arms and beg you to give me another chance.

“Well, Mom was kind of upset by it. She thought I said something to make you run off.” Stephen turned toward her slightly. “It wasn’t anything I did was it?”

“No, of course not.” Of course it was. He almost kissed her.

“Good. I’m sorry I got so close that last night. I was wrong. I do have a girlfriend.” Stephen’s voice softened.

“Yeah, Joise told me.” Caylee’s throat ached again. What would have happen between them if he didn’t have a girlfriend? Yeah, because her track record with men was so great. She would ruin any hope of a friendship with Stephen. She couldn’t allow that to happen. It was better to be friends then not to have him in her life at all. She needed to remember that. Stephen was a great friend. Always had been. And that’s all he ever would be. “It is serious?”

“Yeah, I guess. I think I’ll marry her.” Boom. A weight fell on her chest. That was it.

“That’s great.” She managed to choke out.

“I bought a ring.”

“Then I guess you are serious.” Caylee bit her lip to keep from crying. “You deserve to be happy.” Her words sounded forced even to her her ears.

“Thanks. So do you.” Stephen bumped her arm

Did she deserve to be happy? She wasn’t so sure.

 

 

Review and Giveaway: The Amish Midwife’s Secret by Rachel J. Good November 29, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:01 pm
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About the Book

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Book: The Amish Midwife’s Secret

Author: Rachel J. Good

Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance

Release Date: November 27, 2018

“A beautiful story of forgiveness and second chances.” -Shelley Shepard Gray, New York Times bestselling author

They won’t see eye-to-eye until they meet heart-to-heart…

Kyle Miller never planned on becoming a country doctor. But when he’s offered a medical practice in his sleepy hometown, Kyle knows he must return… and face the painful past he left behind. Except the Amish community isn’t quite ready for Kyle. Especially the pretty midwife who refuses to compromise her herbal cures and Amish traditions with his modern medicine…

The more Leah Stoltzfus works with the handsome Englisch doctor, the more she finds herself caught between the expectations of her family and her own hopes for the future. It will take one surprising revelation and one helpless baby in need of love to show Leah and Kyle that their bond may be greater than their differences… if Leah can find the courage to follow her heart

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

rachel-goodInspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. The author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for many of her stories. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.

Rachel’s Amish series include Sisters & Friends (Charisma House/Harlequin), Love & Promises (Grand Central), Hearts of Amish Country (Annie’s Book Club), and Surprised by Love as well as several anthologies—Springs of Love, Love’s Thankful Heart, Plain Everyday Heroes—and the Amish Quilts Coloring Books.

 

Guest Post from Rachel

The Amish and Herbal Remedies

 

As many of you know, my Amish novels are based on real life. I get ideas from hanging around Amish friends, hearing their stories and observing their lives. I’d never invade their privacy by telling their stories exactly as they happen, but the things I learn trigger plot ideas.

I’ve always been fascinated by the way the Amish approach healing. Once thing I’ve learned is that, although they’re usually willing to visit doctors, they don’t always take the medicines that are prescribed. Instead, they often substitute herbal remedies. That, and several visits to one of my favorite Amish natural products stores, gave me an idea for one of the conflicts in The Amish Midwife’s Secret.

Leah, an Amish midwife, prefers herbal remedies. Of course, that puts her in direct conflict with Kyle, the new Englisch doctor in town, who only believes in science and traditional medicine. Put the two together and lots of sparks fly. Of course, some of those sparks are also of a romantic nature.

Leah is not only a midwife, but her family owns a natural products store. She knows the best herbs for healing. Rather than sending a small boy to the hospital for pneumonia, Leah covers the baby’s chest with a warm mixture of onions and other herbs and spices (some Amish friends prefer raw onion for congestion), and she feds the baby fresh pineapple juice for his cough.

As a doctor, Kyle is horrified. He wants to admit the baby to a hospital at once. And he expects the old country doctor he’s replacing to back him up. Instead, Dr. Hess informs Kyle that many of the Amish go to doctors for a diagnosis, but then rely on herbal treatments rather than prescriptions.

Kyle, who’s been debating about whether to stay in Amish country or move to a big-city hospital, decides to remain in Lancaster and make it his mission to prevent the Amish midwife from harming newborns and their mothers. He certainly doesn’t expect to have his eyes opened to other ways to handle illnesses. But he has to admit, Leah’s methods do seem to work. When a crisis comes, they soon discover that it takes both of them to save a baby.

***

A extra little secret: Those of you who get my newsletter already know this, but Kyle in The Amish Midwife’s Secret appeared in two earlier books. The Midwife story stands alone, but if you want to know more about Kyle and Emma’s past, you can find it in the Sisters & Friends series, Book 1, Change of Heart, and Book 2, Buried Secrets.

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, November 27

Christian Bookaholic, November 27

KarenSueHadley, November 27

The Avid Reader, November 28

A Baker’s Perspective, November 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 28

Genesis 5020, November 29

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 29

cherylbbookblog, November 29

Because I said so- adventures in parenting, November 30

Bigreadersite, November 30

Quiet Quilter, December 1

Blossoms and Blessings, December 1

Wonders of Anomalies Book Reviews, December 1

Bibliophile Reviews, December 2

Britt Reads Fiction, December 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 3

Captive Dreams Window, December 3

Cafinated Reads, December 4

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, December 4

Carpe Diem, December 4

Maureen’s Musings, December 5

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, December 5

Christian Centered book Reviews, December 6

Janices book reviews, December 6

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 8

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 8

Moments, December 9

Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 9

Miss Tinas Amish Book Review, December 10

The Becca Files, December 10

Vicky Sluiter, December 10

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a grand prize package of two faceless Amish dolls and an autographed copy of The Amish Midwife’s Secret and Plain Everyday Heroes!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66f/the-amish-midwife-s-secret-celebration-tour-giveaway

My thoughts:

I have never read a book by Rachel and now I am a fan.

I will say sometimes I don’t care for Amish fiction because it can move kind of slow. Not the case with this book. This was a fast-paced, page turner full of unanswered questions and tension.

I had to keep reading to find out what had happened in the characters past and how that would play into their future.

I loved the romantic tension between Kyle and Leah but so much was in their way and I wondered how they would overcome it.

If you are looking for a good Amish fiction read this would be a great one to pick up.

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 

 

Review and Giveaway: Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness by Andrea Thom November 28, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:06 pm
Tags: , ,

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About the Book

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Book: Ruth, Redeeming the Darkness

Author: Andrea Thom

Genre: Non-Fiction; Bible Study

Release Date: November, 2018

An in-depth, gospel-centered bible study on how Christ redeems even the worst forms of darkness lurking within and around us.

RUTH: Redeeming The Darkness uses God`s truth to touch our daily realities:

  • Fractured relationships
  • Processing feelings of bitterness, confusion, and doubt
  • All-in Christianity
  • Our response to the faithfulness and sovereignty of God

Have you ever felt like God has left you? Struggled with feelings of bitterness or doubt? Hopelessness? Ruth’s message is not presented as a five-point sermon, but as a spectacular, romantic drama. Its story woos us into relationship with its characters and storyline, yet is also true, living history. This workbook-style bible study approach tackles important life topics including fractured relationships, all-in Christianity, God`s faithful devotion, and rightly processing bitterness and doubt.

Ruth is unlike any other book of the bible because words like love story and theatrical are accurate descriptors of its text alongside being historical, and gospel-centred. She’s small enough in her four chapters to rest as a cute hardback on your coffee table, yet profound enough to explode hope and redemption into your darkest pain and everyday frustrations. It is not only magnificent because of its breath-taking storyline between a man and a woman, but because God sovereignly orchestrated and sealed it within the scriptural canon so that we can experience Him as the ultimate lover of our souls. Ultimately, Ruth conveys the love story of Christ coming to redeem His people. Christ is coming for you. The host has ripped your ticket for Ruth’s next performance and you’ll be sitting front row centre as His guest of honor. Come expectantly and settle into your seat prayerfully. The orchestra is cued, and the curtain is pulling back for Act 1…

Can God be kind and all-powerful when the world is filled with despair?

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

AThom-18-300x292Andrea Thom is a wife, mom to three great kids, and a therapist. Known for being both deeply reflective yet quick-witted, she`s the parent on the sidelines yelling a little too loud for the home team, but also the one who loves to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea on a rainy day…or any day. She loves. Her family and friends – the whole messy lot of them. She loves unexpected belly laughs. Putting on warm clothes straight from the dryer. The colour blue. Efficiency. Reason. Tidy cupboards. Easter. Quietly gleaning through scripture’s pages at night before exhaustion folds her into her pillow. That`s a special space – it`s just Jesus and her there – – a hallowed, secret union that is theirs alone. She wants to live with eternity in mind and be consumed with what she’ll be enjoying forever – Jesus. That’s why she loves God’s word so much. Jesus is the only trustworthy One to offer real hope and redemption for our eternal futures and everyday realities.

 

Guest Post from Andrea

The Bible is not a book about God, it is God actually speaking! In fact, throughout history, Scripture is the primary and most trusted way that Christ reveals Himself to the world. Ever notice how our experiences become more powerful when understanding runs alongside the experience? A sports match is more exciting to watch when we know the rules of play. The theatre is more captivating when we comprehend the dialogue. Music can impact us more deeply when the sweep of the notes collide with lyrics that we actually grasp. The power of our experience of Jesus is connected to the depth of our understanding about who He actually is!

 

No matter what you’re like or who you are, the same Jesus who spoke creation to life wants to speak life into your circumstances now through His Word. Pursuing biblical depth is not just reserved for the academically elite who are into that sort of thing. We consume food to survive, but we consume His Word to truly live! So grab some friends to join your Bible study journey because the pursuit of truth through His Word is essential, doable, and awesome. Come – just as you authentically are – and prepare to meet Jesus for who He actually is…

 

Looking for a new Bible study series with FRESH commentary and RELIABLE gospel-focus?

RUTH – REDEEMING THE DARKNESS

Have you ever felt like God has left you? Struggled with feelings of bitterness or confusion? Hopelessness? Ruth – Redeeming The Darkness is an in-depth, gospel-centred bible study on how Christ redeems even the ugliest types of darkness that can lurk within and around us. The book is one of the most exquisitely written love stories ever penned. Words like love story, theatrical, and screenplay are accurate descriptors alongside historical, and gospel-centred. It’s small enough in its four chapters to rest as a cute hardback on your coffee table, yet profound enough to explode hope and redemption into your darkest pain and everyday frustrations. The book conveys the love story of Christ coming to redeem His people – now Christ is coming for YOU. The host has ripped your ticket for Ruth’s next performance and you’ll be sitting front row centre as His guest of honor. Come expectantly and settle into your seat prayerfully. The orchestra is cued, and the curtain is pulling back for Act 1…

 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

 

“I have completed a lot of bible studies over the years, but few have grabbed my attention as quickly and held it as powerfully as ‘Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness’. Andrea guides the reader through the book of Ruth and takes them straight to the cross. This study will grow your appreciation for the Word of God, increase your competency in handling the Word of God, and bless your heart. It is my joy to recommend ‘Ruth: Redeeming the Darkness’ as a powerful tool to aid you in your study of God’s Word.” Bible study participant

“Using beautifully descriptive, poetic language, Andrea does a masterful job of plumbing the depths of both the historical context and modern-day parallels and applications. Its message is both surprising and incredibly encouraging to those of us who find ourselves much like Ruth – pursuing ordinary lives in the midst of God’s great Love Story.” Bible study participant

“As the vivid picture of Naomi reveals your own feelings of hopelessness, bitterness, and despair, you will be captivated by a love story that becomes your own.” Bible study participant

 

 

RUTH’S EASY HOMEMADE HONEY-WHEAT BREAD

(No Bread Machine Required)

 

INGREDIENTS

 

2 cups warm water

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp active dry instant yeast

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3-5 cups all-purpose flour

Ø Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Work all-purpose flour in gradually.

 

Ø Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 minutes. When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in an oiled bowl. Turn several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

 

Ø Punch down the dough. Shape into two loaves, and place into two greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans.

 

Ø Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.

Blog Stops

Midnight Bookaholic, November 24

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Bibliophile Reviews, November 25

Texas Book-aholic, November 26

Janices book reviews, November 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 28

Genesis 5020, November 28

A Baker’s Perspective, November 29

Multifarious, November 30

More Of Him, November 30

Josephine’s Bookshelf, December 1

Mary Hake, December 1

Real World Bible Study, December 2

Christian Centered Book Reviews, December 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 3

Moments, December 3

whispering the Word, December 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 4

Godly Book Reviews, December 5

A Diva’s Heart, December 5

Carpe Diem, December 6

Inklings and Notions, December 7

Bigreadersite, December 7

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Andrea is giving away a grand prize “Loving the Word” theme basket that includes a gorgeous writing journal with Scripture at the bottom of each lined page, 6 stunning magnetic book page markers,“Be still and know that I am God” Bible verse key chain, Highlighter/ Pink post-it note, Old Testament Bible Reading Checklist by LOVE the Word | LIVE the Word, & RUTH-Redeeming The Darkness Bible Memory Companion Sheet!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d62b/ruth-redeeming-the-darkness-celebration-tour-giveaway

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this journey through Ruth. I have always liked this story and I had a basic understanding of what it meant but Andrea takes the reader even deeper to really contemplate the connection between Ruth and Naomi’s story and our own story with Jesus.

I read this as an ebook and I didn’t really like that simply because I didn’t want to write the answers down to things on a separate book or paper, I would defiantly prefer to do this as a paperback, but that’s okay. I still enjoyed the study and looked forward to sitting down with it each morning.

I am very excited to read the next book in the series when it comes out next year!

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 

 

Review and Giveaway: When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma November 27, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:03 pm
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About:

Natia has a secret—and she’s hiding him right beneath her captor’s nose.

In 1943 Poland, the Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their peaceful farm to the harsh confines of a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia is chosen to be the housekeeper for the camp’s overseer, and Teodor is sent to work in the factory. Despite the strict camp rules—and the consequences for disobeying them—Natia finds a way to communicate with Teodor by sending messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory.

The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer’s doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear—but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price. . .

My thoughts and giveaway:

I have adored Liz’s books but haven’t read any in a couple of years. I missed the first book in this series, unfortunately.

I love the look she takes at WWII and the many layers that were happening during that time. I have learned so much by reading her books. I honestly didn’t realize the scope of Germany’s reach and all the lives they ruined, or tried to.

This is book beautiful. Natia is a heartbreaking character and mother’s or those who wish to be will identify with her. Teodor is a strong man and only wants his family reunited.

I, of course, enjoy the inclusion of music in this book. If you like stories based in WWII times you will appreciate this book.

Visit Liz here.

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.

Leave a comment by December 11th for your chance to win a copy of this book. I am giving away one copy to one reader. A winner will be chosen by random.org. (U.S. addresses only. I will not replace books lost or damaged in the mail.)

A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my own. 

 

Review and Giveaway: Lost Christmas Memories by Dana Mentick November 26, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 4:29 pm
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About the Book

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Book: Lost Christmas Memories

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense/Christmas

Release Date: November 1, 2018

A witness with amnesia

Can she trust this Gold Country Cowboy with her life?

Tracy Wilson witnessed a murder—but after a head injury, she can’t remember what she saw. Now someone plans to silence her for good, and only cowboy Keegan Thorn believes her. With a killer after her at Christmas, Tracy is running out of time to remember…and falling dangerously hard for the cowboy who could break her heart.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Dana MentinkDana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over thirty five titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House. Dana was thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the Jeanne Robertson Comedy With Class Competition. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the nutty terrier, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com.

 

Guest Post from Dana

Writing this book was bittersweet for me. It was lovely to finally be able to tell youngest Thorn brother Keegan’s story, but I sure am sorry to say goodbye to this series! It was such fun to write about these four kinsmen and the family bonds that held them together through all manner of murder and mayhem! Here at Mentink Manor, we have recently sent a bear cub away to college for the first time. It feels like I have lost a limb now that my Boo Boo is gone! Fortunately, we will enjoy having her home for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Though it won’t be a cozy country Christmas like it is for Keegan (we live in a city of 80,000 here in Northern, CA) we will be thrilled to have all our family home to celebrate together (Mama Bear, Papa Bear, two cubs, a naughty terrier, and a senior citizen box turtle!) I hope you enjoy this last installment in the Gold Country Cowboy series. I am sending along our best wishes for a blessed holiday season, from our Mentink household to yours!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 22

Christian Bookaholic, November 22

Among the Reads, November 22

Inklings and Notions, November 23

Just Your Average reviews, November 23

Blogging With Carol, November 23

Because I said so -adventures in parenting, November 24

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 24

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, November 24

Moments, November 25

Simple Harvest Reads, November 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 25

Genesis 5020, November 26

SusanLovesBooks, November 26

Remembrancy, November 26

Kat’s Corner Books, November 27

Pause for Tales, November 27

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 27

Quiet quilter, November 28

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28

Book by Book, November 29

A Rup Life, November 29

To Everything A Season, November 29

Older & Smarter?, November 30

Have A Wonderful Day, November 30

Cafinated Reads, November 30

KarenSueHadley, December 1

Lighthouse Academy, December 1

Daysong Reflections, December 1

Bibliophile Reviews, December 2

A Baker’s Perspective, December 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 2

Janices book reviews, December 3

Bigreadersite, December 3

Texas Book-aholic, December 4

Carpe Diem, December 4

Godly Book Reviews, December 5

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 5

Christian Centered Book Reviews, December 5

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away a grand prize of a copy of Lost Christmas Memories, a $50 Amazon gift card and this cute reading charms necklace!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d626/lost-christmas-memories-celebration-tour-giveaway
My thoughts:
I have had the privilege of reading every book in this series and it has turned me into a Dana Mentink fan. If her name is on the cover I am reading it.
I have thoroughly enjoyed each book in this series and I couldn’t wait to read Keegan’s story because I knew it would be a good one. The woman who captured his heart would have to be special and Tracy was that.
I loved her grumpy grandpa as well 🙂
It was nice catching up with the characters in the previous books and seeing where their relationship where at as well.
This is a story of redemption and healing broken pasts. I wonderful read!
Visit Dana here.
Grab your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.
A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 
 

The Liberty Bride by Marylu Tyndall November 23, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 10:55 pm
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About:

Lieutenant Owen Masters and Emeline Baratt meet on a British warship as sworn enemies. Where will Emeline place her loyalties when forced to spy against her country?
War Forces a Choice Between Love and Country

A trip home from England to Maryland in 1812 finds Emeline Baratt a captive on a British warship and forced to declare her allegiance between the British and Americans. Remaining somewhat politically neutral on a ship where her nursing skills are desperately needed is fairly easy—until she starts to have feelings for the first lieutenant who becomes her protector. However, when the captain sends her and Lieutenant Owen Masters on land to spy, she must choose between her love for him or her love for her country.

My thoughts:

I’ve enjoying this series. Each book is written by a different author so some books I enjoy more than others.

This is one enjoyed very much. I haven’t read a book by MaryLu in a long time. I forget how talented she is and how much I loved her stories.

Emaline is a strong character who has to make some tough choices.

Owen is a desirable hero, who is trying to lead a double life.

The reader knows Emaline and Owen’s secret but they don’t know each others secret and I was just waiting for the truth to come out. Chapter after chapter the tension builds as they get buried deeper in their lies.

A wonderful historical romance.

Visit the Mayflower Series here.

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley.com. All opinions are my own. 

 

Review and Giveaway: Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette November 21, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 4:28 pm
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About the Book

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Book: Shelter of the Most High

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Genre: Christian Biblical Fiction

Release Date: October, 2018

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

Cossette_Connilyn-240x300Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out From Egypt series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the Christy Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of twenty years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com.

 

Guest Post from Connilyn

Shelter of the Most High, the second book in my Cities of Refuge Series, will be the first I’ve written to have been influenced by my trip to Israel last year. When I started writing Biblical fiction almost nine years ago, I was limited to exploring the Land of Promise via Google Earth, books, and through a plethora of photos on the good ol’ world wide web, but of course nothing can compare to actually experiencing the atmosphere and scenery for yourself.

So although I’d already written Shelter of the Most High by the time I hopped on a plane to join fellow author Cliff Graham’s GoodBattle Tour, once I returned my editing was filtered through the sights and sounds I’d witnessed for myself. It had been a life-long dream to go to Israel and it did not disappoint, in fact it just went way too fast!

One of my greatest fears was that I would see the places I’d written about in my books and realize I totally messed up my descriptions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part I’d been fairly accurate (although I did tweak a few things here and there).

Standing on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee I was able to envision Eitan, our hero in Shelter of the Most High, sitting on one of the black boulders there, defeated and weary as he searched for his love. I was able to look toward the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon in the north and over the fertile Hula Valley just below the ancient ruins of Kedesh, the city of refuge, and consider how Sofea must have felt as she experienced the landscape of her new home for the first time, both the fear and the awe.

One of my favorite sites was Tel Dan and although it does not feature in Shelter of the Most High it’s lush greenness and dense forest gave me a better sense of what Israel must have been in the past before deforestation, war, and shifts in climate have done to the fertile land God himself called a land of milk and honey. Since I was so affected by Tel Dan (or Laish in ancient times) that city will be one of the settings in my upcoming third installment of the Cities of Refuge Series, Until the Mountains Fall.

Being a super visual person who is highly sensitive to sensory input, I took great pleasure in absorbing with all my senses as we walked paths, climbed mountains (yes, mountains), slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem, hiked up to the secret oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul, and rocked along on a boat over the glassy surface of the Galilee. I felt like a sponge just soaking up every little detail and every grand vista.

Smelling the salty breeze off the Mediterranean and hearing the waves crash against the sandy beach in Tel Aviv and Caesarea Phillipi made me imagine our heroine Sofea looking over that enormous, blue expanse and wondering what sort of god had control of such a powerful thing.

Feeling the timeworn cobblestones beneath my feet gave me a sense of what it must have been like for Eitan and Sofea to walk through the streets of Kedesh, their own sandals scuffing against the rough-hewn stone as they went about their daily activities.

Running my fingers along the pitted surfaces of ancient buildings and tracing the chisel marks from craftsmen of the Bronze Age wrapped me in a whirl of imagination about who the people were that hefted those same rocks into place and the ingenuity it took to create structures that have lasted so long.

Tasting the unique spices and flavors of the Middle East gave me a sense of the passion Moryiah (our hero’s mother) has for creating delicious new dishes to feed her growing family and the guests at her inn.

Although I write fiction, my stories are woven into Biblical accounts so going to Israel was a perfect reminder for me that the people that lived between the pages of Genesis to Revelations were real. They breathed, they cried, they loved, they mourned, they suffered, and they celebrated with their families. I am so grateful to have gleaned some great new insight into the Land and its resilient, vibrant people and hope that through Shelter of the Most High readers get a small sense of the beauty and wonder I experienced there. I cannot wait to go back!

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, November 20

The Power of Words, November 20

Among the Reads, November 21

Gensis 5020, November 21

God’s Little Bookworm, November 22

Book by Book, November 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22

Remembrancy, November 23

Real World Bible Study, November 23

Inklings and notions, November 23

The Becca Files, November 24

Christian Centered book Reviews, November 24

Baker Kella, November 24

Bibliophile Reviews, November 25

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 25

By The Book, November 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 26

Aryn The Libraryan, November 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27

Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, November 28

Simple Harvest Reads, November 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

For the Love of Literature, November 29

Janices book reviews, November 29

The Lit Addict, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, November 30

Just the Write Escape, December 1

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 1

Connect in Fiction, December 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 2

Bigreadersite, December 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 3

Purposeful Learning, December 3

Carpe Diem, December 3

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Connilyn is giving away

Grand Prize: All five of Conni’s novels, including Shelter of the Most High, plus AHAVA Dead Sea Bath Salts

Three other winners will receive a copy of Shelter of the Most High!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66d/shelter-of-the-most-high-celebration-tour-giveaway

My thoughts:

I have never read a book by Connilyn before and now I wonder why.

This is a beautiful story that from the first moments will capture you and wrap you up in the prose.

Connilyn does a wonderful job of bring this Biblical time to life and making it so real you can easily relate to the characters and enjoy their trails and struggles.

There are many layers to this story that will keep you engaged from beginning until the end.

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 

 

A Baby for the Doctor by Stephanie Dees November 20, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:06 pm
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About:

After becoming a foster parent to a young boy, equine therapist Jordan Conley’s life gets turned upside down. Little Levi is in need of an exceptional pediatrician, which means seeking help from Dr. Ash Sheehan—a man that, despite her heart-pounding crush, isn’t her type. Her life is horses and hay, and she can’t imagine the suit-clad doctor in a pair of cowboy boots. As a confirmed bachelor, Ash has never been nervous around women, but there’s something about Jordan that flusters him, and working closely together doesn’t help. The last thing he’s looking for is long-term romance. But the more involved he gets, the more he wishes they could stay together…always.

My thoughts:

I can’t remember ever reading a book that made me want to cry in the first two chapters.

Little Levi captured my heart from the beginning. The saddest part it that this stuff happens. Children are hurt everyday by people that are supposed to care for them.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jordan and Ash’s romance and how things heated up between them and how they tried to fight their attraction

This book has a great message of redeeming the past and seeing beyond what the eye can see and into the heart.

Visit Stephanie here.

Grab your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my  own. 

 

Review and Giveaway: Stratagem by Robin Caroll November 19, 2018

Filed under: Book Reviews,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:56 am
Tags: ,

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About the Book

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Book: Stratagem

Author: Robin Caroll

Genre: Christian Suspense

Release Date: November, 2018

A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the Prime Suspect. . .for Murder

Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

RobinCaroll-223x300“I love boxing. I love Hallmark movies. I love fishing. I love scrapbooking. Nope, I’ve never fit into the boxes people have wanted to put me in.” Robin Caroll is definitely a contradiction, but one that beckons you to get to know her better. Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her twenty-five-plus published novels. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home. Robin gives back to the writing community by serving as executive director/conference director for ACFW. Her books have been recognized in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best, and Book of the Year.

You can find out more about Robin by visiting www.robincaroll.com.

 

Guest post from Robin

Behind the Scenes: Robin Caroll Shares Her Inspiration for Writing Stratagem

Dear Reader,

Thank you for journeying to New Orleans in a web of deceit and confusion with me. Sharing a place that has such connection for me was a pure joy. South Louisiana offers such a laid-back attitude that I often miss “home.” I hope you’ll enjoy sampling a taste of the flavor of Louisiana.

Years ago I watched the movie The Game with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn and was enthralled. There’s just something grabbing about messing with a person’s mind and life by using their own feelings and instincts against them. When this story of Stratagem first began forming, I wanted to use all that intrigue to mess up the game master’s life. The end result is quite the ride!

As the characters came alive to me, I found the theme of forgiveness and acceptance coming out in the story. Some of the emotions within this story are very personal to me, and I’m honored I was able to share them with you. It is my wish that you may be touched by Grayson’s faith journey as well.

Until next time. . .

-Robin

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 17

Midnight Bookaholic, November 17

Back Porch Reads, November 18

Rebekah’s Quill, November 18

Real World Bible Study, November 18

By The Book, November 19

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 19

Genesis 5020, November 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 19

Lighthouse Academy, November 20

mpbooks, November 20

Inklings and notions, November 20

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 21

Splashes of Joy, November 21

Moments, November 21

Just the Write Escape, November 22

Mary Hake, November 22

Simple Harvest Reads, November 22 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, November 22

Aryn The Libraryan , November 23

Multifarious, November 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 23

Bibliophile Reviews, November 24

Remembrancy, November 24

amandainpa, November 24

Margaret Kazmierczak, November 25

Pause for Tales, November 25

Book by Book, November 25

Livin Lit, November 26

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 26

Baker kella, November 26

Daysong Reflections, November 27

proud to be an autism mom, November 27

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

Painting with Words, November 28

Maureen’s Musings, November 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 28

Janices book reviews, November 29

Carpe Diem, November 29

A Baker’s Perspective, November 29

Godly Book Reviews, November 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 30

Reader’s Cozy Corner, November 30

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Robin is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of Stratagem!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d629/stratagem-celebration-tour-giveaway

My thoughts:

Wow. This book had me hooked from the beginning.

First what an interesting setting with this game people have to play and then all the mystery and suspense. It was SO good.

With each chapter my mind was trying to figure out who the murderer was.

I loved the way the book was set up. You are getting three points of view and the pieces come together at different times and you know something one character doesn’t no yet. I just wanted to get all of the pieces put together so I could figure it out.

If you enjoy suspense you will love this book.

Visit Robin here.

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 

 

Right On Time Christmas Chapters Three and Four November 16, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:03 pm
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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Chapter five and six won’t come for a couple of weeks due to Thanksgiving next week, I have a review scheduled for Friday.

Chapter Three

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to you coming here, too.” Stephen moved the phone to his other ear.

“I can’t wait to spend Christmas with your parents. They are always so kind.” Sarah gushed. Was her voice always this annoying? No, he was just tired. He loved Sarah.

“They can’t wait to see you either.” Stephen lied. When he told his parents Sarah  would be coming to spend Christmas with them they didn’t seem overjoyed. Mom had expressed that she didn’t feel like she was the one God had for him. He knew who she thought but it obviously wasn’t God’s plan.

A scraping sound came through the window. He walked over to the front window and pulled the curtain to the side. Caylee stood at her car and scraped her windows.

“Listen, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Oh, okay. I love you.” Sarah sing-songed through the line.

“Love you too.” But for the first time Stephen wondered if he really meant it. Seeing Caylee was messing with his heart even though she didn’t do anything to mess with it, being around her was enough to throw him into chaos.

He threw on his snow gear and headed outside. It was only twenty degrees out. This was not normal Michigan weather this early in the season. Typically this type of weather waited until after Christmas. But you never knew what to expect in Michigan.

He stepped outside and the cold wrapped around him and chilled him. He trudged toward Caylee, she didn’t even looked up, completely concentrating on her windows.   

“What you are doing?” Stephan yelled over his scarf.

“Scraping my windows.” Caylee glanced up, her cheeks a bright red, her eyes sparkled blue.

“Duh. I can see that.” He stepped up beside her, snow up to their knees and still coming down. “Why are you scraping your windows? You know you can’t leave yet.”

“I don’t know. I felt like I should do something to get my car ready to go home. I hope I can be out of your hair by tomorrow.”

He would love to have her in his hair, her fingers dance their way across his scalp. What would it feel like to be that close to her?

“I wouldn’t count on it. Besides, I’d be more concerned about the car starting then the ice on the windows.” Stephen looked down at her and she gazed up at him, her lips wet and red. He wanted to kiss her. He’s wanted to kiss her since he was in sixth grade, if he was honest. He thought there were times when she wanted the same thing but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

“Seriously?”

“Unfortunately, yeah. With the temperatures being so low and your car being buried you’ll be lucky if it will start even when you can get out.”

“Great.” Her shoulders slumped, she must really want to get away from him.

“Sorry. What’s your rush anyway?” Stephen bent down and grabbed a handful of snow. “We could recreate that snowball fight we had when I kicked your butt.”

“If I remember correctly, which I do, I kicked your butt.” Caylee’s gaze landed on the ball of snow in Stephen’s hand. Something sparked in her eye and she bent to get her own.

“How does one decide who wins?” Stephan packed the ball tighter and took few steps back, gearing up. This could be fun.

“Who ever cries for mercy first and it was you.” Caylee unleashed her snowball without warning and landed it right in his face.

Stephen wiped the wetness away. “That wasn’t fair. Now you have declared war.”  He drew back and let his snowball fly. She was quick though and turned, only getting hit in the back. She ran around the other side of the car and ducked.

Fine, he would take cover too. He hid behind the trunk and the snowballs started flying along with the laughs.His gut hurt and tears froze on the rims of his eyes from laughing so hard. When was the last time he laughed like this?

After a few minutes of stillness Stephen decided to sneak around the car and nail her. Her laughter sent flutters in his stomach. Her giggles had always sounded like music to him, although he never told her that and never would.

The snow made his approach quiet..

“Hey, what’s going on?” Her voice rose over the car.

He didn’t answer but snuck around the corner of the car and he found her squatting down with her back to him. Perfect.

“Hey.” He called. She turned and he sent his snowball sailing and landed squarely on her forehead.

“You jerk.” She came after him, tripped and they both fell. For one beautifully awkward moment she laid on him, face to face. So close he could have leaned up and  kissed those gorgeous red lips. But that would be wrong. She made her feelings for him crystal clear years ago.

Although the way her heart pounded against his own he wondered . . . probably from the snowball fight.

Silence filled the space between them and they both seemed speechless, their breath coming out in puffs and mingling.

She was so beautiful, after all this time, she still messed with him by being her. He couldn’t take it. He started tickling her and pushed her off.

“Still ticklish I see.” They both laid on their backs, side by side, heads turned toward the other.

“Unfortunately. And you always knew right where to get me.”

No, the truth was, she always knew where to get him, in the heart. They held each other’s gazes. He needed to break this spell.

“You know it is supposed to warm-up to about fifty tomorrow. Everything should melt so hopefully your car will start and you can go home.” Stephen put up the wall between them again.

Somethings shifted in her eyes. Disappointment?

“Great.” She turned her head to look up at the sky.

“Yep. But it’s cold now so we should head back in.” Stephen stood and offered his hand to her. Even with gloves separating them and the freezing temps the heat that radiated between them was real. He pulled her up and she bumped into his chest.

“Sorry.” She mumbled and looked down. A piece of wet hair stuck to her cheek.

“No problem.” He took off his glove and reached out to move the hair from her cheek and in the process his thumb gently rubbed her cool skin. If possible her cheeks became even more red. She looked at him, her eyes sparkled and searched his face. What was she looking for? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Love?

It would only take a second to pull her close and kiss her but he couldn’t . He wouldn’t put his heart out there for her to trample on again. And with that one thought anger burned in him for all she had done to him.

“You’re freezing. Let’s get back in and get some coffee and those cookies you made earlier.” He forced a smile and swallowed down all the words he wanted to say. How could he desire someone that made him so angry?

“Sounds good.” She gave a shaky smile and stepped away from him.

Give her time and she would continue stepping away from him, that’s what she always did.

 

——-

Melinda dropped the curtain and stepped away from the window. She rushed up the stairs and fell to her knees beside her bed. How many times had she found herself in this position, praying for her kids, for their salvation and futures? And here she was again, but this time with clarity.

“Father, I know you see all things. I trust and believe that. I believe that you are a right on time God, nothing happens by accident. I don’t believe Caylee’s accident was really that, I believe you brought her here for a reason. Please open Stephen’s heart to forgive Caylee for all the times she hurt him. Open Caylee’s heart to see how much Stephen has always cared for her and still does, even though he won’t admit it. This is the time, I can feel it, Lord. You brought Caylee into our yard for such a time at this, right on time this Christmas.”

Melinda leaned back on her heels and sighed. Relief flooded her heart and peace surrounded her. She would keep on praying for those two because she has always believed they belonged together and she still did. Now, if only they would see it before it was too late.

Chapter Four

“We’re going to church, want to go?” Mrs. Meyer smiled up from her morning coffee when Caylee entered the kitchen.

“Oh no, I just got up.” Caylee hadn’t been to church since last Christmas when she went with her parents. When did going to church become a holiday thing? Probably when she started dating guys that didn’t care about church.

“It doesn’t start for an hour and half. You have time.” Mrs. Meyer tone left no room for argument.

“Are the roads clear? I could just go home.” If her car started.

“They’re getting cleared, it’s much warmer today so the snow is melting. But we would love to have you go to church with us before you rush home to that empty house.” Mr. Meyer took his eyes of the paper.

Yeah, but would Stephen be okay with it? She really needed to get away from him. Being around him messed with her head.

“Go on, go find something from Josie’s closet. She’s meeting us at church, she will be so excited to you. You were like the older sister she always wanted.” Mrs. Meyer raised an eyebrow.

“Okay.” Caylee turned and ran upstairs. She found a pair of khakis and a navy blue sweater and got ready for church.

When she made it back down stairs Stephen was at the table eating breakfast by himself.

“Morning.” He set his mug down and studied her. Yesterday she thought he might try to kiss her. In all the years they had known each other he never made a move. She always wondered if he ever really found her attractive. Which was fine if he didn’t since she was always dating someone else. Mostly. Unless there was a dance coming and then for some reason she never had a date dance and always defaulted to Stephen. That probably wasn’t the best idea, it must have given him false hope that she actually like him. She could never think of him as more than a friend in high school. But now that they were older . . . she could definitely think of him as more than a friend.

“I guess I’m going to church with you guys.” Caylee poured a cup of coffee and grabbed a blueberry muffin.

“That’s what mom said.” Stephen took a bite of his muffin. “I started your car. You should be good to go later today.”

“Thanks.” Caylee swallowed. He was in a hurry to get rid of her. He definitely didn’t want to be more than friends now. She couldn’t really blame him. Maybe he was dating somone.

They ate in silence until Mr. and Mrs. Meyer announced it was time to go. Like kids they got in the back of their Edge and road to the church Caylee had grown up attending in the center of town.

Caylee entered the church and memories rushed over her. All the hope that once stirred in her. Her unfaltering faith in God, in His goodness, His plans for her. When did she stop trusting in that?

College.

Not that she went crazy, but she was always looking for affirmation from others and stopped getting it from God. She wanted attention from other people and that took her eyes of the cross. Wow. How come she never saw that before?

“Caylee, I can’t believe it’s you.”

Caylee turned and was swallowed in Josies arms.

“Hey sweetie.” Caylee hugged her back. She had grown up so much, into a beautiful young woman. Sweetie wasn’t the right word to use but she would always be like a little sister.

“Nice outfit.” Josie winked. “You make that sweater look way better than I do.”

“Thanks. But I doubt that, you are a beautiful young woman.” Caylee touched the girl’s light brown hair.

“Looks who’s talking.” Josie wove her arm around Caylee’s.

“Stop hanging on her.” Stephen stepped up beside them.

“Oh, you’re just jealous.” Josie laughed.

Stephen quickly walked away. Was there truth to that? Hmmm, interesting.

“You know he’s never gotten over you.” Josie whispered in her ear. “But now he’s dating this chick named Sarah. She’s even coming here for Christmas. But with you here, who knows.” She gave a Caylee a grin.

Stephen was dating someone. Heaviness pressed down on her chest. Of course he was. He was a great guy, handsome, had a future with a good job. He loved Jesus. He deserved someone.

“I have no intentions of breaking up your brother and his girlfriend.” She forced the words out of her mouth. Why did it feel like he had betrayed her? The way he teased yesterday, touched her face, took her hand. Did she see a depth of caring beyond friendship? Maybe it was her imagination.

“Well, maybe I’ll help you do it.” Josie pulled her into the sanctuary and pushed Caylee into the pew first so she was sitting next to Stephen. This girl was a ball of energy.

The message started with Joy to the World. She loved Christmas music. Then they  moved into some contemporary songs. Some of them she knew others were new to her but each one spoke to her heart, to a hidden place she had covered up and hadn’t looked at in a long time.

The pastor spoke about hope. The hope of Jesus coming to earth and we all know how the story ends. But the people didn’t know, they had to trust.

What did Caylee hope in these days? The next boyfriend? That he would be the one to love her no matter what? Tears filled her eyes as the truth sunk in. She had taken her eyes off of Jesus for so long so forgot what it meant to hope in something that mattered. She desperately needed to get back to real hope and today was the first step.

She sniffed and out of the corner of her eye she saw Stephen turn towards her. Great, he didn’t need to know how far from God she had gotten.

The pastor wrapped up the message and they ended with a couple of more songs that spoke of surrendering to Jesus. Yes, that’s what she needed. As she lifted her voice she lifted her hands and gave herself to Jesus again. She would keep on doing that until she stopped taking her self back from him.