Friday, August 30, 2019

What We've Been Reading - August

Roseanna's Reads

In My Devotions

Mere Christianity 
by C. S. Lewis

As part of my C. S. Lewis kick, I've been reading Mere Christianity every morning along with my Bible. And it's always nice to read something and immediately go, "Oh, so that's why this has become a classic!" which has definitely happened with this one. Lewis really was a brilliant man, and his reflections on what lies at the heart of Christianity--not the details that separate one denomination from another, but rather what separates all Christians in their beliefs from non-Christians--are truly amazing. I can't believe I haven't read this one before and already know I'll read it again. This one ought to be required reading for all of us!


For My Bookclub

The King's Mercy
by Lori Benton

I love every book Lori Benton has written, and The King's Mercy is certainly living up to her reputation for depth of character, scope of story, and amazing insight. The story follows a Scotsmen who was taken prisoner during the failed Jacobite rebellion and shipped to America as an indentured servant. Our heroine is the daughter of the plantation that buys his indenture, and she's soon captivated by the towering Scot who's learning to become a blacksmith. I love that Joanna is a woman who serves her family and servants with a full hard, chafing against the cruelties she sees in slavery in a completely believable way. And I think we can all understand Alex's struggle, wanting a freedom that's always out of reach. As always with Lori's books, I recommend this one highly!!


For the Edit

Surf Smugglers
by Melody Carlson

I'm really enjoying with Melody Carlson on her Legacy of Sunset Cove Series, which follows Anna McDowell and her daughter Katie through some adventures that result from Oregon's Prohibition laws, which came half a decade before the nation's. Book 3 features a wedding, more focus on the Great War that America that just joined, a new hospital, and of course some smuggling that our intrepid newspaper people have to help put a stop to. Can't wait for the final book in the series!


For the Kids

Odd Girl Out (Being Zoe #2)
by Melody Carlson

Melody's Being Zoey series is the perfect read for middle school girls! I adored the first book, Meet the Misfits, all about being who you are and learning how to love your enemies. Book two continues the identity theme, as Zoey begins her middle school career in a new school, where her only friend is out sick for the first week. She makes another new friend, but this one seems bent on tweaking Zoey's appearance, making her ask herself how much she can change and still be true to herself. But what I thought made it a really spot-on story was how technology plays a role in Zoey's struggles and triumphs in this story. At the start, she's the only one without a smartphone. But getting one only ushers in the problems that leave her yet again on the outside looking in. But though there is a message, it doesn't read like it--just like a fabulous story about a sixth-grader. Your middle school girls will love it!


Rachel's Reads

Wow! This summer has gotten so crazy busy! I am so thankful for audiobooks. I would not be able to read as many books without them. Here are some of the books I've been reading this month. You can watch for my reviews over on my blog, Bookworm Mama.


The Lost Girls of Paris
by Pam Jenoff

I've started listening to all the books that are on my TBR that aren't on the docket for review this summer. I'm making pretty good progress too. This is such a heart-wrenching story. Based on the real women who went into France as radio operators during WWII. Oh, my heart. This is Historical Fiction and does NOT have a feel-good happy ending. Well written and fascinating all the same. I highly recommend this one!
PLEASE NOTE: This is a general market book. There is mild language.


For Fun/Review

Jody Hedlund

I never get tired of raving about Jody's books. This brand new YA series from her is superb. You can find my full review for this Novella HERE


by Jody Hedlund

Book one of the Lost Princesses series....Oh.My.Word. Jody Hedlund can weave words so beautifully. The (clean) passion, faith, strong women, adventure, SWOON! Y'all really need to check this series out. Adults and Young Adults alike.


With the Kids

Chamber of Secrets (Illustrated)
J.K. Rowling

It took a while, but we finally finished book 1 and have now moved on to Chamber of Secrets. The boys don't have a super long attention span so we just read a couple of pages (the pages are LARGE in this edition) a night. They love the illustrations and are fascinated by the Harry Potter Universe.


Happy (End of) Summer!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Throwback Thursday...Redeeming the Days

Original Post Published August 30, 2012

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

I read this section of Ephesians 5 over a week ago, for the umpteenth time. Before, it was those first verses that always struck me. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light...

Walk as children of light. What a command! I love the constant imagery in the New Testament of light versus darkness, of being the light, reflecting the light, living the light. (Y'all might remember my post on how we should shine...). It's something I've thought about and talked about a lot because, well, it's just so powerful. So deep. So thought-provoking. It's always struck a chord.

But this last time when I read this chapter, it was verses 15 and 16 that slammed me. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Did you catch that? That bit about redeeming the time? I never had. When I pondered redemption before, it was always as something we received, that beautiful gift of Christ. He redeemed us. That means he saved us from death. Literally purchased our life with his own. According to, this is the technical definition of "redeem":
1. to buy or pay off; clear by payment: to redeem a mortgage.
2. to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.
3. to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by payment or other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.
4. to exchange (bonds, trading stamps, etc.) for money or goods.
5. to convert (paper money) into specie.
Understanding how that applies to our souls is big. Huge. But it's used differently here. Here we are not the redeemed...we are the redeemer.

Yikes. I don't think I ever paused to realize before the sheer responsibility Paul is showing us here. That we are the redemption of our time, of our age. Though surrounded by evil, we are to buy our neighbors more time to learn the Good News. We're to be those ten righteous men in Sodom that would have stayed judgment. We're to be the David for the sake of whom the nation isn't forsaken.

We are to be the light that staves off the darkness.

Of course, it comes back to that. 😉 That is, after all, the instruction on how to redeem the times. On what it looks like when we walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise. But I'll no longer read that as a simple command to do--now I also see the inherent why.

Because we don't shine into the darkness to light our own way. We shine in the darkness to draw others to Him. We shine to show the Truth to those trapped in the dim, dim cave (thank you, Plato). We shine because without us the days would be night, and there would be no reason for God to withhold His judgment from the world.

But the world isn't ready to be destroyed. And it's up to us to buy it a little more time. To pay with ourselves, just as Jesus did for us. To give our lives to this walk, this Way, this fight, so that just one more souls can see the path. Can be bought and forgiven. Can be redeemed.

We can then join the ranks of those redeeming. It's a call to action, that charge. A purpose. One that changes the way I see that dark, evil world around me. Not just as something deserving destruction--but as something that needs to be saved from it.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Word of the Week - Balmy

It took a while for summer weather to really take hold for us this year in West Virginia...but man, it's been full force in August! Heat and humidity all around--which we frequently describe as balmy. Which, as it turns out, probably isn't actually a good word for it, LOL.

Balmy, in the sense mentioned above, should actually mean "mild, temperate." It comes, after all, from balm, which is of course soothing. It had that meaning since the 1600s. But before that, it actually referred to another quality of balm--the fact that it's scented. I had no idea that balmy originally meant "fragrant"! Did you? By the 1700s, in fact, it had combined the two to mean "mild, fragrant."

But then an interesting meaning came along that I've never even heard of. It began to mean "weak-minded, idiotic, someone characterized by odd behavior." Now, you may be going "Whaaaaaat?" like I was. That meaning came along in the 1850s...and was most likely a result of confusion. The word that actually meant that was barmy. Barm is the foam that rises to the top of some alcoholic beverages during the brewing process, which was believed to cause such odd behavior. Barmy, then, makes sense. But apparently, it was confused with balmy often enough in speech that the meaning got borrowed.

What's the weather like in your neck of the woods right now?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Throwback Thursday...Wisdom and Knowledge

I've always known there was a distinction between wisdom and knowledge. There is, after all, a reason they're listed as two separate spiritual gifts. A reason they have two different words. And while I've long had a basic idea of that difference, I hadn't fully thought it through until this past weekend.

It started when a list I belong to invited everyone to take a look at this blog, which claims that the church is largely anti-intellectual. The part I found most interesting was more than America as a whole can be anti-intellectual. By which I mean, we put great stock in experts, in facts, in hard knowledge...but not so much, anymore, in those who pursue knowledge for its own sake. That we love experts put pooh-pooh scholars.

I consider myself a scholar--I love learning, and I don't love learning just a particular field for a particular purpose. I just love learning. I love the discovery process, I love the way new information makes me pause and think and reflect and reexamine all I once thought I knew. But that certainly isn't the way most schools teach kids to think these days, and so it's not where society's focus has turned. We as a whole aren't interested anymore in the what-ifs, we're only interested in the Cold, Hard Facts.

But that's what led me to this distinction--there's no such thing as Cold, Hard Facts. Facts can change as knowledge grows. (Hello, eggs. Are you good for me this year or not?? And Pluto, I do so miss counting you as a planet...) As definitions change. As new information comes to light.

Knowledge is supposed to change as it grows. That's the beauty of it. That because we can stand on the shoulders of those who came and discovered before, we can reach new heights. New understanding. We can challenge old "facts" and find new ones. In my sophomore year of college, we read a lot of Aristotle, and one of the translations of the Metaphysics that most stuck with me was by one of our tutors [professors], Joe Sachs. He translated a certain line as "All men by nature stretch themselves out toward knowing."

That really hits the truth of the human condition, and it really captures what Aristotle was trying to say. It's not that we all know. It's not that we all reach toward knowledge. But we do all, naturally, stretch ourselves toward the process of figuring things out. But when society starts pooh-poohing the process and instead only emphasizes the "facts"...

It ain't good, folks. Discovery grinds to a halt, and you end up with a generation of parrots, capable only of telling us what other people thought and unable to think for themselves.

So that's knowledge. But wisdom...wisdom is something altogether different. Wisdom does not change with time. You can't shed new light on moral Truths and have them change. Right is still right. Wrong is still wrong, even after millennia of changing facts.

Wisdom is what God most often supernaturally reveals to people. Oh, we see in Daniel where He gave him the gift of knowledge, and it's listed in the New Testament among the gifts too. I think that's really, incredibly awesome. But when we pray, it's rare that God plops a new fact into our laps. What He does give us, regularly, is understanding of the human condition. Of moral truths. Of spiritual precepts.

This is wisdom. And this is deserving of all sorts of capital letters. Truth. Justice. Right. Wrong. Ideals. Principles.

But there's a very real difference between biblical wisdom and worldly wisdom, which is addressed many times in the Bible. Worldly wisdom says, "Might equals right. If you suffer, you're being punished. If you prosper, you must be just and good." Godly wisdom says, "Even when my enemies have me hemmed in all about, even when my world crumbles around me, I'll trust in my Salvation. I will follow His will, even when the world calls me a fool."

Worldly wisdom says, "There is no Right and Wrong. There's right for me, right for and let live." Godly wisdom says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

The Bible, beautifully, isn't a treatise. It's not filled with knowledge alone--if it was, it would expire. It would go out of date. It could be termed wrong. But it can't, and it isn't, because it deals with the unchanging and unchangeable.

Oh, the world tries to change that too. They try to claim that wisdom is like knowledge--mutable and shifting. And when the world tries to do that...

It really ain't good folks.

But understanding the distinction is our first step toward preserving each in its rightful place. And hey, when we do that...we've all got a bit of the scholar going on. 😏

Monday, August 19, 2019

Word of the Week - Pastor

This kind of qualifies as a head slap moment, LOL. So even as kid, I noticed how close pastor sounds and looks to pasture. And the fact that pastoral means "having to do with country life" was something I learned a long time ago. But I never actually paused to wonder why our word for a minister is so directly related to all this farm stuff.

But duh. It's because pastor is actually directly from a Latin word, meaning...want to take a guess? "Shepherd." Of course!! So it's no wonder it shares a root with pasture.

It's been a part of the English language since the 14th century and has pretty much always carried both meanings since pastor was used in Church Latin to denote those who tend the spiritual flock of souls. It didn't become a verb, however, until the 1870s.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Throwback Thursday...Calming the Storm

Original Post Published 3/8/2012

Allow me to draw your attention to Mark 4:37-41:

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, 
so that it was already filling.  38 But He was in the stern, 
asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, 
“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 
“Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 
  40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you 
have no faith?”[d]  41 And they feared exceedingly, and said 
to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind 
and the sea obey Him!”

Now, I've read those words approximately a hundred times, and I'm guessing everyone else has too. And I've always gotten out of it what the disciples did--wow, did you see that? The wind and waves obey Him! This Man rules the weather!!

Which is awesome. Truly, amazingly awesome.

I've also been struck before by His rebuke of the disciples--they'd just witnessed an amazing miracle when He fed the 5,000. But they still didn't quite get it . . . and Jesus calls them on that, on their lack of faith.

But as I was reading this section on Monday, something new hit me. 

He didn't have to do any of that. Ever pause to consider that? It wasn't His time to die. He still had a whole lot to do. There was no possible way that the storm was going to hurt that little boat with its most precious cargo, and Jesus surely knew it. He had no fear, and it wasn't just because He knew He could calm the storm--it was because He knew it wasn't a threat.

And yet.

When his friends, his disciples wake him in a panic, what's his first reaction? He calms the storm. He doesn't first try to explain it to them. He doesn't roll his eyes and go back to sleep. He calms the storm. He does that for them--not to prove He can, but because He loved them. Because He didn't want them to fear.

And, maybe, because He knows they wouldn't have heard him until that fear was gone. 

I don't know why I'm constantly amazed when I realize how far out of His way our Lord goes for us, but it hit me anew here. Jesus could have done any number of things in this situation, and no matter what He had chosen, we know the outcome would have been a safe arrival on the other side. He could have done any number of things that resulted in the disciples seeing His glory.

But He chose the one that calmed his friends. That soothed their fears. And then, then he reminded them to have faith.

Thank you, Lord, for knowing me so well. For knowing that when the storm's upon me, I can't remember the sunshine was ever there. For knowing that clutching for you is, sometimes, all I can do. Thank you, Lord, for making it all I need to do.

Because You calm the storm. And then You remind me that it was in Your hand all along.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tea Party With Kate Breslin

Friday, September 20th at 7pmEDT(4pmPDT)
Saturday, September 21st at 1pmEDT(10amPDT)

Reserve Your Seat
We have a few different options for attending this Tea Party! Reservations will close on August 20th so that we have enough time to mail out all your goodies.

Seat at the party only...No goodies shipped (sorry!)

Bring a Friend
Share a screen and get a discount for bringing a friend!


Tea Party Starter Kit

Signed Copy of Far Side of the Sea

Donate to the Tea Party Scholarship Fund. Bless a fellow reader by giving an "anonymous" donation.

Tea Options
We have a few different flavors from our last party. You get to choose from...

Rooibus Provence (rooibus, floral notes with undertones of fruit)
Almond Cookies (green tea, coconut rasps, almond flakes, sencha)
Divine Temple (a blend of green and white teas with jasmine and candied tropic fruits)

Irish Breakfast (a strong, bold tea, more robust and full-bodied than English Breakfast)

You will receive steeping bags ideal for your brew option. So make sure you let us know if you are using a 2-cup pot or brewing by the cup.


Apply for a Scholarship

Author Signup

More Information

You can find more information on how the Tea Party Book Club works on the landing page HERE. Please let me or my assistant know if you have any questions.

About the Book

In spring of 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries at the front, receives an unexpected message by carrier pigeon: it is an urgent summons from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life—a woman he believed to be dead. Leaving Britain’s shores to return into war-torn France, he hopes his reunion with her will ease his guilt and this mission restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned when he arrives in Paris to discover the message came not from Jewel, but from a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna. Johanna works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence; having found Jewel's diary, she believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, however, that trust is at stake, as danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives. (From the author's website)

About Kate

Author Website
A Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives on a small bay in Washington State with her guitarist husband and family. Kate has written travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her fourth novel, Far Side of the Sea, released with Bethany House Publishers in March of 2019. When she’s not writing inspirational fiction or spending time with author friends, she’s reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following hubby John’s musical career as his #1 fan. An avid nature lover, she enjoys long walks in Washington State’s beautiful woodlands or working in her rose garden. Kate’s also a traveler–she and John have toured much of the U.S. and with her intrepid mom as traveling companion, Kate’s also been abroad–Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, and Barcelona, just to name a few. She’s always looking for the next story idea!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Word of the Week - Tycoon

A couple years ago, I remember reading to the kids about Commodore Matthew C. Perry's visit to Japan in 1854, and how it opened Japan to trade with the US for the first time. But I didn't realize that the word tycoon came directly from this visit!

During Perry's meetings, the shogun's supporters wanted to make it very clear to the guests that the shogun was actually more important than the emperor when it came to making decisions. So they called him taikun, which is literally "great prince"--(ta, great + kiun, prince). Perry brought the word home with him, and it apparently quickly caught on.

During Lincoln's term as president, his cabinet members began to affectionately refer to him as the tycoon (the Americanized spelling of the word). This nudged the meaning from "great prince" to "important person." Only after World War One did the meaning travel a bit more to mean "wealthy and powerful businessman."