Saturday, December 4, 2010

Red Ink by Kathi Macias ~ Reviewed by Narelle Atkins

I'd like to welcome my friend and guest blogger Narelle Atkins, once again, and thank her for sharing her review of Kathi Macias' new release: Red Ink. Thanks, Narelle!

Red Ink (New Hope Publishers, 2010) is the third book in Kathi Macias’ Extreme Devotion series. Set in China and California, Red Ink is loosely based on the true story of Li Ying, a Christian magazine editor currently imprisoned in China.

Zhen-Li marries a Christian, adopts his faith, is disowned by her parents and imprisoned for ten years because she refuses to remain quiet about her Christian faith. Zhen- Li’s husband, their four year old son and her husband’s sister live in poverty and pray that Zhen-Li will survive her harsh prison sentence. Tai Tong is a guard at the prison who is determined to do whatever it takes to force his prisoners to recant their faith.

Julia, a former missionary in China, is living her twilight years in a rest home in a small Californian town. She feels called to pray for the people of China, and the granddaughter of another resident who seems to be heading for trouble.

A parallel story unfolds, and a number of characters are forced to face their worst nightmares and question their beliefs, or lack of faith. Zhen-Li draws strength from her faith as she faces extreme life and death situations.

Red Ink is an inspiring and challenging story that isn’t afraid to tackle tough issues. The true state of the hearts of the characters is exposed in an honest portrayal of the lengths people will go to achieve their selfish agendas. The power of intercessory prayer is masterfully shown as characters stand firm in the face of evil. I recommend Red Ink for those looking for a story that will touch that place deep inside them and lead them to question how much suffering and hardship they would be prepared to endure when standing up for their beliefs.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided for reviewing purposes.

Click here to visit Kathi Macias' website.

Narelle Atkins is a member of the International Christian Fiction Writers group blog. Click here to visit her website.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Catching Moondrops
by Jennifer Erin Valent

This week, my friend Narelle Atkins has dropped in to share her book review of Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent. Welcome, Narelle!

Catching Moondrops (Tyndale 2010) is the third book in Jennifer Erin Valent’s Summer series. A confronting and heart wrenching love story set in a small town in Virginia.

Jessilyn Lassiter lives in a town with a dark history. It’s 1938 and racial prejudices resurface after Tal Pritchett, a young black doctor, moves to town. Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, starts working for Tal as his assistant. Gemma falls in love with the kind hearted doctor, despite the danger she may face by working with him.

Nineteen year old Jessilyn has loved Luke Talley for many years, and it seems like Luke may soon be ready to act on his feelings. As Jessilyn dreams of a future with Luke, the townsfolk are divided over Tal’s presence. Klan members pursue their hateful agenda and Jessilyn is forced to deal with her own anger and faith issues.

Catching Moondrops provides an insightful and hard hitting perspective into the hearts of those who are full of anger, hate and prejudice. The harsh reality of racial prejudice and injustice, and the devastating consequences for all involved, is brought together in a brilliant climax with a page turning ending. I would recommend Catching Moondrops for those looking for a compelling and honest love story that deals with the tough issue of racial prejudice.

Tyndale House Publishers provided an Advanced Reader Copy of Catching Moondrops for reviewing purposes.

You can visit Jennifer Valent's website at:

Narelle Atkins is a member of the International Christian Fiction Writers group blog at:

You can also visit her website at:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Hugeness of God

Last week I attended a new Bible study class about the "hugeness" of God.

There is so much that could be done with the concept of God's hugeness; so many lessons that could be taught. But the first class in this study went in a direction I could never have imagined. Even now, almost a week later, I'm still filled with wonder as I think about it.

It was amazing, delightful, and almost overwhelming. I was awestruck as I watched a demonstration of just how big God really is.

We watched a DVD filled with pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. I'd seen a couple of them before. But most were new to me. There were galaxies I'd never heard of. These two, millions of light years away, were my favorites.

The Sombrero Galaxy

The Whirlpool Galaxy

I always knew the universe was big. But I was struck anew at just how huge this universe, called into being by God, really is.

We were asked to write down our immediate reaction after watching the film. My reaction surprised me. After watching this, I should feel incredibly small. But I didn't feel that way at all. Instead, I wrote, "I feel so loved." It was chilly in the room that night, but as I wrote those words a warm feeling encompassed me.

This week, as I've thought back over those amazing pictures taken in the huge expanse that is space, I thought about God and what his purpose was in creating the universe. Could it simply be about showing us the wonders he's capable of? About showing us his power? Maybe.

But then I had another thought. Maybe he wanted to show us that, in spite of how huge he is, God loves us as unique individuals. We're not just minute specks on a blip in this incredible universe. We are loved and adored by the very one capable of breathing all of this into being.

Imagine this. God knew us before we were even born. He knows our names, our thoughts, our hurts, and our laughter. In a universe so large, with so much happening every second, he never forgets about us. He still hears my prayers. He still gives me peace and comfort.

This is a picture of the center of the Whirlpool Galaxy, over twenty milllion light years away:

Wow. This struck me speechless when I saw it the first time. Even now, I'm still humbled by it.

I encourage you to take a look at some of the pictures taken from the Hubble Space Telescope and as you do, think about God and how huge he truly is, and that he loves us so much more than we could even begin to imagine.

Photos courtesy of Hubble Site:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

HEALER by Linda Windsor

What happens when the Hunted rescues the Hunter?

Brenna of Gowrys has been hunted by Ronan O’Byrne’s clan since she was an infant. In a cruel twist of fate, Ronan—as a young boy—witnessed the tragic deaths of both Brenna’s parents. His entire life was spent on hunts and raids as his father searched for the girl who grew up to be called a witch and Wolf Woman. To find Brenna of Gowrys would be to end the curse they believe Brenna’s mother placed on the O’Byrne clan with her dying breath.

The first book in the Brides of Alba series, Healer is set in Arthurian Scotland, an era which I’ve never read. In fact, all I knew about King Arthur I learned from two movies: Disney’s Sword in the Stone, and Excalibur. I’m almost ashamed to admit this, since I’m such a lover of history. But it’s true. There are a few historical eras and geographical places where my knowledge is quite limited. This is one of them.

Lucky for me, author Linda Windsor had the foresight to add a history lesson in her book. I don’t mean the usual historical facts weaved through a story. I mean a foreword and an afterward. In fact, her explanation of the era and the Arthurian history was quite extensive and as fascinating as the book itself. The understanding she gave me only enhanced my enjoyment of the book. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say that King Arthur’s connection to the lineage of Christ was most surprising. I highly recommend reading these facts before reading the book. But be sure to stop before you get to the teaser for the next book. You’ll want to save that until you’ve finished this book.

Once I read the history, and absorbed it, I settled in for a nice long read, and this book didn’t disappoint. Healer is what I would consider a “big” book. Epic. A book to be savored over time instead of devoured in one sitting. At times I went back and reread passages. Not because I was lost or confused, but because I wanted to soak up the details. I didn’t want to rush through the book because I simply didn’t want it to end.

When Brenna and her wolf, Faol, rescue Ronan from near death, she doesn’t realize he’s her mortal enemy, son of the man who brutally murdered her father, part of the enemy clan who has terrorized her own kinsmen, the enemy clan she’s spent her life hiding from because they want her dead. But even had she known his identity, Brenna still would have nursed Ronan back to health, because she is a healer.

Settle in for an absorbing conflict-filled tale. You’ll be richly rewarded. The wealth of Linda Windsor’s research is evident in the pages, of this most excellent and highly recommended book.

Visit Linda Windsor's website at:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Victoria and All Her Charms

This week, over on Inkwell Inspirations, we talked about Queen Victoria. Here's what I posted on my day of the All Things Victoria week:

Alluring, romantic, breathtaking, sparkling, quaint…words just can’t describe her.

Before we go any further, you should know I’m not speaking about Victoria the Queen. Rather, Victoria the city on an island in British Columbia.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit this one-of-a-kind sparkling little gem of a city, you simply must.

Step back from your well developed small town or city and enter a place reflective of quaint old world England. Ivy covered buildings, hidden courtyards, old-fashioned iron street lamps heavy with overflowing baskets of flowers.

Named for the queen herself, Victoria was actually first home to the Coast Salish native people. Over a hundred-and-sixty years after it evolved from Fort Victoria, the city still retains its charm.

Like most tourist destinations, Victoria has tourist activities. The wax museum features members of the royal family, including all of Henry the VIII’s wives. It’s the coolest wax museum I’ve ever been in. The first time I visited, Diana wasn’t there. But two summers ago, I was happily surprised to see Diana and her young princes as part of the exhibit.

When my husband and I went to Victoria on our honeymoon, he discovered Miniature World, a museum with miniature scenes from history. Great fun!

A couple of years ago, when I went with my friend, Diane, we toured a Scottish castle called Craigdarroch, which was built by Robert Dunsmuir in 1887. The woodwork in this Victorian masterpiece is stunning. The staircase that winds all the way up to the top of the castle is a work of art and features incredible stained glass windows and an amazing view of the San Juan Islands. The stories you learn as you roam the castle are inspiring. Because my pictures can’t do it justice, I’ve included a link so you can see for yourself. Click here for pictures of Craigdarroch Castle.

On my first trip to Victoria, I came across an out of the way little courtyard where I relaxed at an antique table with pastries and cup of Earl Grey tea. Its charm was something I never forgot, and on both of my return trips I searched for it. Unfortunately, I never did find it again.

A place that shouldn’t be missed is the Empress Hotel. The ivy covered hotel, built in 1904, is a tourist favorite that has hosted royalty and movie stars alike. But in my opinion, the most alluring draw for tourists simply has to be the English-style high tea that is served every afternoon.

Across from the Empress is another must-see, the Provincial Museum. The exhibits include lessons in the geography of the island as well as the historical native culture. Across from the museum are the Parliament Buildings where my husband saw Queen Elizabeth when he was a kid on a school field trip.

If you’re lucky enough to stay on the harbor, you can spend a lazy day watching seaplanes take off and land, tourists head out for whale watching trips, and giant ferries as they bring tourists to town. An extra treat on the harbor is a dock that leads out to the most adorable boat houses I’ve ever seen.

On a personal note, I’ll choose to stay on the harbor instead of a Bed & Breakfast. On my last trip to Victoria, my friend Diane and I stayed our first night at a B&B. Um, I can’t really say it was the quaint and charming experience I expected. Instead, it was strange and uncomfortable, and I don’t ever plan to stay at one again. B&Bs might work for some people, but not for me.

Your trip won’t be complete until you visit the one of a kind Butchart Gardens. A gardener’s dream. I’m not a gardener, know next to nothing about flowers, but I felt like I found my way to heaven. Acres upon acres of beauty can only be described as amazing, breathtaking, fabulous. If you’re lucky enough to make it to Victoria, but don’t see the gardens, you truly will have missed out on the experience of a lifetime.

The small city named after a queen is a city fit for a queen.

So what are you waiting for? Bring out your inner queen. Head up to Victoria and enjoy high tea, a Scottish castle, and the most magnificent gardens you’ll ever see.

All photos copyright Suzie Johnson

Thursday, April 15, 2010

God’s Most Magnificent Creature

My opinion only. But it’s an opinion I embrace and believe in. Mankind excluded (because we humans are made in His image, and are not creatures) I believe the Orcinus orcas are the most glorious, magnificent creatures God created.

And I’m so grateful He did.

There aren’t many of us who don’t love animals. Most of us have a favorite, and a whale is a mammal, not a fish, so that makes them animals.

I began my love of the orca whale (technically not a whale, but rather the largest member of the dolphin family) when I was a kid. At what age, I’m not sure. I just remember my dad took me to Sea World in California. If it was before we went to Japan, I was five, but if it was after that, then I was ten. Funny I can remember going there, but I can’t remember how small I was. But when we went to Sea World, I saw Shamu.

I. Fell. In. Love.

Beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, Shamu tied my heart in knots and then promptly stole it.

I wouldn’t see another whale until I was twenty-one and visited an aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so that might sound strange. Especially since some of the orcas who are held captive in aquariums around the U.S., were supposedly captured in Penn Cove, where I lived for many years. I spent hours on the beach of Penn Cove, and I can honestly say I never once saw an orca swimming those waters. Nor have I ever seen one while I’ve ridden the many Washington State ferries.

Years later, when my son was in first grade, his class visited an aquarium in Vancouver, British Columbia. My son got caught up in the anticipation of the trip, and began reading books about orca whales. Soon he was drawing pictures of them, pictures this sentimental mom still has tucked up in the closet. When we finally arrived at the aquarium, it was magical. Kirk’s school had recently adopted an orca logo, which appeared on the name tags the children wore around their neck.

Standing at the bottom of the huge glass (or maybe Plexiglas?) aquarium, looking up through the water, we could see a giant whale on the other side of the aquarium. Kirk took his little name tag with the orca picture and held it up against the glass. Within seconds, the whale swam around the entire aquarium and stopped right where Kirk was standing, and then put his eye up against the picture. He stayed like that for a long time, staring at the picture. My son and all the nearby children were in awe of this magnificent whale. I was in awe of the fact that giant creature was intrigued by, and maybe even recognized, the tiny picture of the whale.

We learned some things, though, during that trip, about whales in captivity that kind of broke our hearts. So as lucky as we felt to have that experience, we were a little sad, too. Thus began my son’s desire to see the whales in their natural habitat. The ocean. As I mentioned before, though I lived near the water, I’d never seen a whale out there. But I’d heard many stories of people who had. Was I just unlucky?

A few years later, my mom bought me tickets for a whale watching tour. I took my son, hopeful we’d see whales, and yet prepared in case we didn’t see any.

This turned out to be a magical, inspiring day—a day where God truly blessed me and Kirk. I forgot my camera, and looking back, I’m kind of glad I did. I think I would have spent more time focusing on getting the right shot instead of enjoying the blessing of the show.

And yes, it was an unforgettable show.

The captain let us sit on the bow of the boat. My son and I had our gazes glued to the water, breathlessly watching, waiting. We didn’t care that it was cold and windy. We didn’t care that it rained. All we cared about was that from out of nowhere, the whales appeared. And they performed. They swam around the boat, leaping out of the water right in front of us. The captain said it was the closest the whales had ever come to his boat. Let me say, he did not chase the whales (which would have been cruel). They came to us. And they didn’t want to leave. The captain said it was best show he’d ever seen.

I like to think God whispered in their ear and told them to give us something special to remember.

I’ve never seen an orca since then, and I wish I could go back to that day and experience the wonder anew. But I don’t think that was the last time I will ever see one. Whenever I’m on the ferry or at the beach, I keep my eyes peeled, hoping, waiting…

And in case I never seen an orca on earth again, I like to think that someday, when I’m in heaven, God will let me swim with His most magnificent creature.

images courtesy of

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Week Away From Home

Do you ever look forward to being by yourself? I mean totally alone, not talking to anyone and just losing yourself in the book you’re either reading or writing?

That’s the way I was feeling last week after finally finishing an extremely difficult Pathophysiology and Pharmacology class. And since I was headed for Reno on the train, to attend a week of training for cancer registrars, I was looking forward to the evenings after class when I could sit back and relax with my book. The one I’m writing, not the one I’m reading.

Little did I know….

The class was intense, and we had a lot of homework each evening. This meant a day that started at 8:00 in the morning usually ended at about 10:30 at night. By then I was much too tired to write. I can’t complain about it, however, because I learned so much and I know I’ll be able to apply it to my job. I learned about new resources and new ways to do the absolute best job I can.

Not only that, but our class was small—twelve students. I’m fairly shy, and it’s hard for me to feel comfortable in a group, but this group…it was different. I’m not sure why, but we all bonded immediately, and even though you would never find me saying so much as “boo” in a group that large (okay, I know I just said it was small, but a group of twelve is about nine people too many for me to feel comfortable saying anything) I found myself asking questions and even cracking an occasional joke. And my jokes must not have been too bad, because people laughed.

So what were the benefits of a week of exhaustion with barely any sleep, and no time for writing? The obvious one was the educational benefit for my job. But perhaps even bigger, was the benefit of knowing I could speak out loud in a group of strangers. I could talk and laugh and (gasp!), be myself and no horrible fate would befall me. That was actually quite an eye opening experience.

But as I bid Reno goodbye this morning, I looked forward to two train rides. Both would be about four hours each, with three hours in-between transfers. Lots of time for writing. Right?

Dream on.

My plan at the station was to stick my ear-buds in and listen to Christian music while I typed away at the keyboard. The ear-buds are actually an effective tool in ensuring you’re left alone when you’re in public. However, God had other plans for me.

I settled myself down to wait for the first train, and before I even had the ear-buds out of my bag, a woman sat down next to me. She looked to be about my mother’s age, and seemed a little lost. I don’t mean physically lost, just…lost. They had just announced the train would be at least an hour late, which meant we’d miss breakfast on the train. I offered the lady a granola bar, and she accepted. At that point, I didn’t feel I could very well turn on my music and ignore her. Besides, I felt this nagging in my heart, a feeling she needed someone to talk to. And at the same time, another voice whispered frantically in my ear, “But I need to write!”

Still, something about the woman tugged at me. I remembered that catch phrase from a few years back, “What would Jesus do?” He certainly wouldn’t ignore someone who appeared to need someone to talk to. Besides, I could always write on the train. We had a pleasant chat while we waited for the train, but Jane never said anything significant to confirm my feeling she needed to talk to someone. When the train finally came, we said goodbye and I went to my assigned car.

I must have misread things. Maybe Jane didn't need to talk after all.

Then, just as I settled in, Jane appeared behind me. And when the train began to fill up, she came to sit beside me. I hadn’t pulled out either my computer or ear-buds yet, and I wasn’t about to in front of her. She needed someone. I felt it again, more strongly than before. God was nudging me toward her.

As we traveled along, Jane started talking again. She was on her way to visit her son. This was her first trip in over ten years. When she said that, her eyes filled with tears. Her husband grew ill ten years ago, she explained. He was diagnosed with emphysema, followed by diabetes, followed by heart problems, and then finally followed by lung cancer.

The tears spilled freely when Jane said, in a choked up voice, “I lost him in March.”

Had I heard her right? March? But wait. This is April 3rd. There hasn’t been enough time for her to even get used to the fact that her husband is gone. My instincts were right. She needed to talk.

My eyes filled with tears along with hers, and I reached out and patted her hand. She clung to me, a stranger. When she let go, I gave her a tissue and thanked the Lord I listened to the still, small voice in my heart and spent time talking with her. Later on the trip, she told me her daughter died of lung cancer in December. First she lost her daughter, and then her husband. How does someone deal with two such terrible losses in a row?

Jane shared a lot of things with me on that four hour trip and by the time we said goodbye, I had a new friend.

As for my missed writing time? I more than made up for it on the next train as we sat on the tracks just outside of Sacramento while they repaired a broken rail up ahead.

All I can say is I’m glad they found the broken track before we traveled over it.

God truly ministered to me on this trip. Though I wanted to do nothing but learn while I was in class and write when I wasn’t, God had other plans for me. I did learn. And I made so many new friends. I learned how to speak up and feel comfortable in a group.

And though I knew it before, I was reminded again that when I take the time to listen to that still small voice inside me, the voice I know as the Holy Spirit, I will be blessed. Today I was. I hope my new friend, Jane, was blessed as well.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sing Out Loud

(Just Don't Embarrass Yourself)

Do you like to sing in your car? Have you ever been driving along and been the recipient of a funny look from someone in the car next to you, only to realize you were singing at the top of your lungs?

It’s happened to me more than once. Some of the songs sweep me up and I tend to forget about the people who might see me singing my heart out. Lucky for me, my window is usually rolled up. Let me just pause right now to put a little extra emphasis on that word: Usually.

One day last summer I was going to Cranberry Lake. It’s part of a state park, so you have to stop at the ranger’s booth. If you’re camping you go in one lane and stop at one station, and if you’re just going to the beach or lake, you take the other lane where no one is ever in the little booth. So I always stop at the stop sign as directed, and then continue on.

However…on this particular day when I did have my window rolled down because it was an unusual 85 degrees, I just so happened to be singing these words from MercyMe's I Can Only Imagine:

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I stopped at the booth and looked to the left before I pulled forward.

“Have a nice day, ma’am,” said the teenaged boy in the ranger’s booth. His brown eyes crinkled in amusement as he leaned out the window smiling at me.

I gave him what I’m sure was a weak smile and responded in kind and continued on my way. As I wound my way up and down the hills through the woods before the lake came into view, I laughed.

So what if I don’t have the best singing voice in the world? So what if I was singing my heart out to God? There’s nothing wrong with that. It keeps me connected to Him. To me, singing to God is akin to praying. It’s important for me to have that spiritual uplifting. And at the very least, I brought a little bit of laughter to that young man’s day.

The next week, as I approached the checkpoint, the radio was playing one of my favorites written by Chris Tomlin and performed by Lincoln Brewster: Everlasting God. Who could help but sing along with such a rousing and truthful song?

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord....
Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God...

Still, remembering last week, I closed my mouth and turned down the radio. Just in case. It was, after all, 85 degrees again and my window was down.

Yes, he was there.

And I’m positive he remembered me because he leaned way out the window to say hello with a smile that was much wider than the week before.

Why am I telling you this embarrassing story? Because for the next couple of weeks at Inkwell Inspirations, we’re doing a Sing-A-Song theme and I hope you’ll join us to see all the different ways myself and the other Inkies are blessed by song. My day to post is February 16th. I hope to see you there!

In the meantime, when you sing hymns or songs of worship and praise, don't be embarrassed if you don't have the best singing voice in the world or if someone else hears you. Simply focus your heart on God. Keep Him in the forefront of your mind and sing directly to Him. I know you’ll be blessed.

Song Credits:
I Can Only Imagine - Bart Millard/MercyMe

Everlasting God - written by Chris Tomlin/performed by Lincoln Brewster

Photo Credits:
Suzie Johnson

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Lady Like Sarah - Book Review and Giveaway

Some of my favorite books are historical romance novels set in the west. There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of them. My favorite authors couldn’t write them fast enough. Then the historical market faded quite a bit, and the types of books I loved to read were few and far between. Before long I was reading contemporary novels exclusively. But historicals are on the upswing again and I’m as happy as I’d be if Sonic Burger would come to my part of the country so I could have a cherry-limeade anytime I’d like.

I’m especially overjoyed with the inspirational market. One of my favorite historical authors, Margaret Brownley, has just made her inspirational debut with a western-set historical, A Lady Like Sarah.

One of my favorite books of hers, one of my all-time favorite reads, was a historical romance called Ribbons in the Wind. What I wouldn’t give to be able to get my hands on a copy of that book again. Fun, sweet, down-to-earth and super romantic with a blend of humor, Ribbons in the Wind was about a group of people racing across the United States in Model-T Fords at the turn of the century. Oh, I mean, at the turn of the last century.

My anticipation level for A Lady Like Sarah was high, to say the least. I was on pins and needles waiting for it to arrive, checking Barnes and Noble, checking Amazon and Overstock to see when the release date would be. When I finally found the release date, I went to my local Christian bookstore and ordered it. Two weeks early. I was hoping they’d be able to get it the very instant it was released, and I most likely drove the owner a little crazy since I showed up at least three times before the book came in.

It won’t surprise you that I absolutely loved this book, because it included every little nuance I associated with Margaret’s writing style. And it was made all the more sweet because I’ve missed her historical novels so much.

This is the story of Preacher Justin Wells, as he’s traveling to his new church in Rocky Creek, Texas. Imagine if you will, a preacher, fairly new at his job, traveling to a church in the wild west as a way of punishment for some minor infraction. He comes from Boston, so he’s a little unhappy about heading into the great wild unknown.

Alone on the dusty trail, and thinking about how much he didn’t want to leave Boston, Justin comes across an injured U.S. Marshal and his prisoner. Justin does everything he can to help save the dying man, even though he knows little to nothing about bullet wounds. The prisoner, a female outlaw, is being transported back to Rocky Creek where she’s been sentenced to hang.

Sarah Prescott was raised by her outlaw brothers, and it’s the only life she’s ever known. But when she meets Justin, the pretty girl with the tough exterior finds herself longing for another sort of life…the life of a lady. And yet the only way she can have a life of any sort is if she manages to escape Justin.

Justin, in spite of his growing feelings toward Sarah, is morally bound by his promise to the dying lawman to return Sarah to Rocky Creek.

The dilemma for Justin is huge. It seems there’s no way out for Sarah, and leave it to Margaret Brownley to keep the suspense building. This book kept me on the edge the entire time, wondering if she’d be able to find a way to save Sarah. I absolutely fell in love with these characters…the preacher hero, a baby, a donkey, but mostly with Sarah. Usually it’s the hero who steals my heart, but this time it was Sarah, the outlaw with a tender heart who longs for a life she’s never been able to have—a life she’ll never be able to have if she returns to Rocky Creek.

If you enjoy historical romance, and you love Christian fiction, you won’t want to miss this book. I’m so glad Margaret has found her way to the world of Christian romances. A Lady Like Sarah was a pure joy to read, and I can’t wait for the next book in the Rocky Creek Romance series, A Suitor for Jenny, due out in September.
You can visit Margaret’s website at:

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be giving away a copy of A Lady Like Sarah, so please leave a comment along with your e-mail address so I can contact you Sunday (January 24th) if your name is drawn.

**Visit Inkwell Inspirations today, Saturday, January 23rd, where I'm reviewing and giving away a copy of The Big 5-0H! by Sandra Bricker.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Life Well Lived - A Tribute To Molly Hightower

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others."
~~Philippians 2:3,4

Thursday afternoon as I was listening to a podcast of my favorite radio program, I heard about a young Christian woman from Port Orchard, Washington who was missing following the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Molly Hightower, a twenty-two year old with a true heart for service to others was in Haiti because she felt called to work with the orphaned children. Her family and everyone who heard she was missing was praying for her to be found safe.

Yesterday as I listened to the program, they again spoke about Molly, but as the radio host began the show, he said he was speaking with a heavy heart. I knew what he was about to say. This sweet, amazing young woman had been found. Sadly, she did not survive.

My heart goes out to her parents, family, friends, and everyone who knew and loved her. I pray they will feel the peace of the Lord surrounding them.

Something about Molly’s story touched the deepest part of my heart. I’ve thought about her for hours. I've read about her, read her blog, and have been truly amazed by how much she’s done to help others in her too-short life. Besides her work in Haiti, she worked with campus ministries, Habitat for Humanity, and other organizations that reached out to help others. Here was a young woman who was affected by the plight of some of the world’s poorest children and went out of her way to offer them everything she could.

On the Dori Monson radio show yesterday, Dave Valle, broadcaster and former catcher for the Seattle Mariners, discussed Molly and the children she loved. He reminded listeners that Haiti is so unbelievably poor and these children, these precious little children are so hungry they eat cookies made from dirt.

The dirt! Can you even imagine? I can’t. What must it be like to be so hungry you would eat the dirt off the ground? My heart is deeply grieved at the very thought. And that was before their lives were devastated by the earthquake. My spirit weeps to think of what they went through before the earthquake and how much more they’re going through now.

God bless Molly. I know she’s wearing the crown she earned, and is resting joyfully in His arms.

She was driven to help, driven to serve.

Would that we could all serve others with the same spirit as Molly. Obviously, we can’t all go to a foreign country and help those who are poor, hurting and hungry. But if each one of us could do what we can with the kind of servant’s heart Molly Mackenzie Hightower possessed, just imagine what kind of world we would live in.

To see pictures of Molly and read more about her, visit her blog at

You can also read the news article about her at

Before you read her blog, be warned. You’ll need lots of tissues.

Please lift Molly’s family in prayer.

If you’d like to help the victims of the earthquake, Christian author Jen AlLee has a comprehensive list of organizations on her blog, along with their contact information. You can access it at:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goals for the New Year

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. They never seem as concrete to me as goals, and honestly, I do better at making goals. I don't remember who I heard this from, but someone said goals are really only dreams until you write them down. And so...I'm writing them down.

My goals are for personal and spiritual growth, professional growth, and to make strides in my writing career.

One of my goals this year is to be a more compassionate person. I don't think I'm as compassionate toward others as I should be, and that's something I want to improve on because compassion is a quality I value in others.

I'd also like to be a more diligent prayer warrior. My friend, Sharon, is one of the strongest prayer warriors I know, and I want to be more like her.

For my new job as a Cancer Registrar, my goal is to keep learning as much as I can so I can do the best job possible. I have seven classes that I have to take this year, and I'm going to a week-long class in Reno in March. Sometimes I wonder if there's enough room in my head for everything I have yet to learn.

My writing goals are to not give up, to write something every day - even if it's just one sentence, to try and hang on to the enthusiasm for whatever book I'm working on, to glorify God with my words, and to write the best, most inspiring books I can.

I'd like to finish two books this year, the contemporary inspirational romance that is now a finalist in two contests, and the historical inspirational romance that I've fleshed out on paper. I've written the first chapter, and it's turned into a historical mystery.

Oh, and one FUN goal: I'm making plans to attend five baseball games in Seattle this year. And I hope the Mariners' players have set a goal of making it to the playoffs. I'll be supremely happy then.

What are your goals for the year?

Check out the Petticoats and Pistols Blog...

My dear friend and gifted author Sharon Gillenwater is guest blogging today and sharing the history of her Texas hometown. Here's the link: