(re)union ~ by Bruxy Cavey


Because I am a book fiend, and because I have a source that hooks me up with books already, I was overjoyed to discover that I had the chance to receive an Advance Reader Copy of Bruxy Cavey’s latest book, (re)union — The good news of Jesus for seekers, saints, and sinners.  I’ve read Bruxy’s other book, The End of Religion, and I loved it, but this takes everything to a whole new level.

I go to the church that Bruxy is the teaching pastor at, The Meeting House, so I can assure you that this book reads very authentically like he’s just speaking to you.  He’s so passionate about spreading the Gospel, and about making sure it’s clearly understood, and that certainly comes across in this book.  Bruxy succeeds at epic levels in making the Gospel clear.  I’ve grown up in the church.  I’ve grown up in this denomination.  But it’s never been laid out more clearly to me than in this book, and it’ll be one I read again (which doesn’t happen often).

What I love most about this book, apart from it being so abundantly clear, is how warm and inviting the call to follow Jesus is from start to finish.  But even while laying out theology, at times fairly heavy theology, Bruxy makes it feel like he’s having a casual conversation that is very easy to understand.  It’s light, it’s funny — It felt like having coffee with Bruxy.  I’ve never done that, so I can’t 100% compare it, but it was a very easy read despite how much it made me think.  My walk with Jesus, even though it’s been a 28ish year walk already, has deepened after reading this book.

I found an almost eerie personal connection while I was reading.  There’s a part in the book that talks about Jesus understanding whatever we’ll go through on this earth, because He came to earth to be human, to be one of us, even though he was also God.  There’s empathy there that I don’t see being possible to claim in any other worldview or religion.  As I was reading, you know how sometimes your eyes dart across to the next page and you’re disappointed because your eyes have skipped chunks?  Well, this book came into my life at a time when I desperately needed it.  If you know me, you get it.  If you don’t, well, you’ll have to trust me, cuz that’s a post for another time.  But I digress.  When Bruxy’s explaining that Jesus empathizes with us, He gets us, and He knows what we’re going through, because He’s experienced it here on earth, he starts to illustrate his point with a story about a woman named Laura.  He says as he’s explaining the story, “You know, Laura, I get you.”  Now, I know that Bruxy was writing, and that he was writing about a different woman named Laura, but I wept.  That Jesus gets me was one of those theological things that I knew, but I didn’t know it.  It hadn’t sunk in past head knowledge and made it to heart knowledge.  (I regret that the English language doesn’t have two different words for knowing, like French does — I wrote a post on that earlier, check it out here — When English Fails ( … or why I got baptized twice)).

In short, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Whether you’re seeking and wonder if Jesus might be the answer, whether you think He’s the answer but you’re not sure you’re good enough, or whether you’ve been walking the road with Jesus for years… or any scenario in between — this book will find you where you’re at and show you the Good News of Jesus in a way that is both concise and informative, and easy to understand, but also innately relational and personal, even though it was written for an audience of many.

Pick up your copy on Amazon, at Chapters, at other bookstores (I’m sure), or, come find us at a Meeting House site, where since it’s just been released, we’ll likely have copies.  We’d love to have you check us out.

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Book has been provided courtesy of Menno Media and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Ending the Silence: Post-Partum Depression and Me (a guest post)


I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, and a friend of mine, Nicole, posted that because May is Post-Partum Depression Awareness month (which I did not know), she wanted to share her experience loudly, and spread that awareness as far as she could.  I have happily lent her a space here, hoping that the reach I have gives her words an audience.  What follows is not written by me.  I have no children, and zero experience with this, but if Nicole’s words are something you needed to hear, I hope they find their way to you.

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First off, I want to give a slight introduction as to who I am and how I landed a spot on Laura’s blog (to which, I’m honored by the way!) My name is Nicole Turcotte (formally Fletcher) I’m newly 24, married to a wonderful man and together we have a two year old son who keeps us on our toes – to say the least. Laura and I go a-ways back. I posted on facebook about May being PPD (Postpartum depression) awareness month and how I was desperate for ways of reaching out and sharing my story in hopes of helping others. Laura out of kindness, offered this vice and I am super grateful!

Growing up, sitting over coffee with your friends planning out your future, talking about meeting your prince charming, getting married, having children… it’s all just conversation, you think at the time you truly know what you want and you’re dead set on getting there – but in reality some of life’s punches can take you for a spin – I speak from first hand experience in this. There is quite some miracle to the creation of life; Kyle, my husband (who was a boyfriend at the time) – was medically pronounced unable to have children, one in a million chance. This took me back a bit, as it caused a ripple in the plans I had spent years forming together in my head. When he broke this to me, I remember thinking in that exact moment that things were about to become brutally unfair. I wanted him yet I wanted desperately to be a mother – it didn’t look like my “happily ever after” was going to work out in my favor. I was 21 (most of you are probably cringing as I’m still a baby myself to some of you and here I am complaining like I know somethin’ about anythin’…) when God nudged my world a little bit. Truthfully, at the time I found out I was pregnant things weren’t forming together well in my life. I had dropped out of school, working a full-time retail position and definitely didn’t think my desire to be a mother would have been heard as quickly as it did, but God certainly had another plan, and I didn’t see it in that second but we were to be deeply blessed by this little life. As terrified and unsure as I felt in that moment staring at that positive pregnancy test – I knew for certain one thing, that this child was going to be absolutely adored. It took Kyle sometime to come to terms with the fact he was actually capable of creating life. He spent a lot of his teen years carrying the weight of the fact he was probably never going to have a family. Now after finding out I was pregnant, my 6w ultrasound placed my due date as March 21, 2015. We really couldn’t believe it as Kyle’s birthday is February 21, and mine is April 21…He aligned us. Let me tell you though – that doctor who misdiagnosed Kyle looked pretty silly to me as months passed and our little Zachary formed, so fearfully, so wonderfully made – that boy is.

My water broke at 12am on March 21st (as if he could have been more “meant to be here”), the night spent at the hospital was a story in itself. I knew something was wrong right after the epidural, not that anyone listened until I was stuck at 5cm dilated, with contractions 30 seconds apart (which were not doing their job!) a son who was trying to come through a cervix that wasn’t ready for him – which caused him to panic as his head was swelling from smashing it off my uncooperative body. His heart rate raced from 130-190 and at this point I’m screaming for a C-section… Literally 10 minutes later, they had him out, crying and in Kyle’s arms… Safe. Safe became my favorite word after that eventful day, I almost lost my baby. No nurse, no doctor said it out loud but the panic that flew around the already tension filled room are said enough for me. It was that night, when he and I were tucked in alone – I out loud vowed to be the one who protects him as I honestly, was the one who almost lost him. As a mother, there was a real guilt to that; a guilt that stuck around for a long time actually.

Weeks passed and I told myself I was just tired and let the darkness fall thicker and thicker around me. I truthfully thought I was handling everything fine, I thought I still had my pre-baby calm demeanor, my sensitive heart, my kind soul… But when the clouds cleared and I saw the mess I had made for myself, I had absolutely no clue what to do or where to even begin. My life became round the clock tending to Zac. In my head, I was the only person he needed to take care of him and if I didn’t step up to the plate – or even if I asked for someone’s help I was drowned in guilt because he was MY baby and MY responsibility 24/7. I took on the role of SuperMom in the unhealthiest way possible; Zac was a terrible sleeper – still kind of is 2 years later… So Kyle would come in and try to take over in the middle of the night and I would lose my mind at him for even thinking he could replace me when my son clearly needed me. (Mind you, I did not breast feed. I physically was unable to produce and guilt followed that as well.) So it made it easier when I did actually accept the help I was offered, I wasn’t needed for him to feed. Looking back now, on top of all that – I had developed a severe fear of germs on top of this crippling anxiety when it came to Zac that when taking him out in public I was the only one who held him, no one was welcomed to “awh’ing” too close to his face… I constantly felt in a state of panic. Something was going to happen… somehow – and harm my baby. I was in mama bear mode 24/7 and that alone took everything out of me. Having people want to come see him… was something I used to dread in fear they’d get him sick… We had bottles of hand sanitizer everywhere and no one could touch him without using it first or I didn’t sleep well that night. Well when he did get sick, which he did a lot – I blamed myself each and every time (not to mention would have him to the doctor the second his cough scared me in the slightest…) I would think, “I took him to the place where he picked it up, I let whoever around him and now he’s suffering and its all because of me…” I constantly kicked my own mom-ego down but let me tell you and I can say this with full confidence – I absolutely rocked the mother thing; Zachary is the most well-loved on child you will ever meet. He is a mama’s boy to the extreme and even though I let myself get worse, let my relationships get worse… at least I had him, growing bigger, smarter and stronger everyday. His love for me kept my heart beating some days, I swear. My main goal was to wake up and be all I could for him and I poured all the good things I could into him during the day, that by the time night time came around I was empty, drained and a shell of a woman who at this time was a very sorry excuse of a wife.

I’ll begin by saying this, I was only getting 3 hours of sleep a night when he was an infant, he was up and always needed to be soothed; always wanting me, each and every time – no matter how much it hurt me physically or mentally – I got up. I rocked him; I loved him back to sleep. Sleep deprivation is a demon all in its own. You wanna watch someone go crazy? Pull their sleep away completely and throw in a demanding, constantly screaming infant that relies only on you to take care of its every need… good luck! Some people are cut out for it and handle it flawlessly, some are not. I was one who fell in the “not” category and I’m still paying for it today. I wish I would have taken the help when it was offered, that’s for sure!

Now hear me people, not for ONE second am I complaining about motherhood and what it entails, I take pride in the mother I am and the way I raise my son. I recognize and sympathize deeply with the couples who so desperately want a child and are unable to have one or have lost one… What I am here to say though is that I REALLY wish someone would have warned me about this side of motherhood – the dark side that can follow it and linger around for months past its welcome, especially if not tended to. Whilst pregnant, I understand no one wants to dump anything bad on you, no one wants to scare you more than you probably already are… I get that. However, not ONE person mentioned postpartum depression to me – not ONE person warned me until after the fact. So as the months passed, I really had no idea what was wrong with me – the last thing I felt was myself. As each day passed and I lost sight of the person I was, it got more and more sad.

I was angry, often so angry I couldn’t bring it back down. I noticed it way more in the night time, (Never once in Zachary’s presence. I could always recognize the line when he was involved) I would cry so hard, which would result in both of us staying up all night not understanding what was going on, I couldn’t grasp why my relationship with Kyle was crumbling. By the end of it, I was as empty as I could have possibly been. When I would try to justify my behavior, it made 0 sense to me that I had just birthed this beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy – I’m in a relationship with a man who always put loving me and our son first before anything, the support system of a literal queen when it came to family/friendships – all so more than willing to help out… once everyone left, once the baby was in bed, once I pulled my fakest of fake masks off.. The smallest of things would get to me – it led to an outburst of angry tears that often times wouldn’t stop. I’d be shaking, screaming, out of energy; collapsed on the floor… you know who always picked me up? My husband. I married him this past October for so many reasons, but one of the biggest being he’s seen the absolute ugliest sides of me and he’s stayed… Trust me, there were nights he shouldn’t have, there still are days today he should realize his worth and take off on me – but that’s not my man. He is “for better or for worse”, he is “in sickness and in health”. I often compare his love for me during this time as he was clinging for dear life to a rose full with stem… the thorns stabbing, probably scarring his bloody hands but he still to this day, won’t let go. No matter how hard he has to hold on, he just DOES. He somehow is always capable of catching me and half the time he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Kyle has always modelled a strength and confidence that has never not been attractive to me, and as I’m falling apart which I never expected to but now that I need him, I know he’s got my back. We grew so much during this time, we became each other’s anchors – I grow more and more thankful for his existence each and every day.

It was right after Zachary’s first birthday that he and I were at the doctors and I noticed a flyer on the wall advertising postpartum depression, the symptoms, the steps to recovering… I almost cried sitting there. Suddenly, every single thing made sense – I finally had an answer. However, it wasn’t exactly the answer I was hoping for – in fact I was pretty ashamed of it. I remember my brain’s vicious cycle even in that moment – I didn’t want to tell people I was suffering from this out of fear that they’d judge me, my mothering abilities, god forbid they’d do something like take my son away, what if they saw me as an unfit parent?… I felt sick to my stomach over that realization more than I felt relief. I made myself tell my doctor that day, sobbing to him over not only how I’ve felt over the past year – how I had treated people, the fears I had of this disease, how I tried to fight it alone, I tried to get past it – I tried to even ignore it and truthfully, it kept getting worse. I expected the reaction to be severely negative, a lecture? Maybe even anger for not mentioning it sooner… what did he do? He embraced me. My doctor dropped everything and offered his friendship outside of his profession – he still to this day cares way too much and expects way too little. The relationship I have with my doctor is a blessing; I always tell him he deserves the nicest bottle of tequila on me for all the stress I’ve caused him, his reply? “Nicole, it’s my job.” No, No it is not… for him to go out of his way for me, he’s fought fights that I don’t even know about for me – all to get me better no matter what the cost. Now this is where my best advice comes into play – FIND THAT. Find that support system in your life, find the people who love you for YOU, because PPD – that’s not you and you’re going to need to be reminded of that often; it’s a chapter of you, a chapter that will end and new will begin, you just have to want it. You desperately need that desire to want to get better – they say it takes as much time as it did for you to get help, to be healed. I waited a year! A full year! Was every single day a terrible one? No. Did I freak out every single day? Nope. Did I feel all these terrible things about myself everyday? No. That’s what made it so confusing for me, I just felt all these sad things with no explanation and since it’s a joyous rollercoaster of emotions, you never can predict what you’re up against. 
Especially since this isn’t a topic a lot of people like talking about.

Why are we ashamed? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we hide away from help?
I believe truly we base ourselves so much on how other people are doing – social media is KILLER for this, you focus on how well others appear to be doing, or you see their life flourishing and wonder why you’re so stuck… meanwhile they could be battling a demon 100x bigger than anything we could ever have imagined – we’re all so quick to post our accomplishments and our smiles – but what about when we’re actually deeply suffering? When we type out that “cry for help” status and erase it, because who knows what someone might say or do, we mirror ourselves against each other but we can’t live like that, we can’t PARENT like that – We live in a society that is so judgmental, opinionated and all together just MEAN; if we embraced every single hurting person out there – even just sat down and LISTENED, instead of casting them out like they’re some new kind of crazy – we’d see more people reach out for help, we’d see more people coming together recognizing the fact we are all human beings with real feelings and real problems instead of a “number on the scale” or number of “likes on a picture”- if we all let our flaws show, I don’t think this world would know what hit it.

See, this whole time I was suffocating under PPD- I never realized how unfortunately common it is, to not only have PPD but how common it is for those to suffer in silence. Did you know that 600,000 women get diagnosed with PPD EACH YEAR in the states alone?! And only 15% seek help? Now, that’s not including women who miscarried or whose babies were stillborn (YES they are just as susceptible) Since the CDC only estimates the live births- if you consider the 15% of the 6 million people who have verified pregnancies in the states each year, you’re looking at 900,000 women diagnosed each year. Not only that, but since its stated that only 15% of women with PPD actually seek/receive professional treatment- that means 850,000 women each year are not getting the help they need…hello?! Do you see that number? WAKE UP!
You know how many of those people could be suffering silently due to lack of awareness?! I’m so thankful to have this WHOLE month to roar loudly on this topic, to help new moms, old moms and moms who aren’t even moms yet. 
This disease is REAL, this disease HURTS, and this disease can DESTROY.
So that being said, let’s prevent it, shall we? Let’s partner together as women to lift each other up in our lowest times instead of making one another feel ashamed or weak for what they’re going through. Help exists now let’s enlighten those suffering that it’s perfectly OKAY to have to rely on pills for a while to get yourself back on track, it’s OKAY to recognize you may need to spend sometime away, it’s OKAY to feel how you’re feeling and no it won’t last forever. I was on an anti depressant almost the second I opened up to my doctor and at first I was terrified about it. I was super hesitant- I remember spending hours reading labels, side effects, reviews, other people’s opinions… I felt silly that it had gotten so “bad” I was to the point of needing medication to help me function; but once I took the chance at it, within a couple weeks I had control again! Regaining that control was such a big step in my healing process, once that I accepted there wasn’t much more fighting I could do on my own and that I wasn’t weak because I needed that little orange pill and instead, I chose to recognize that it gave me a good chunk of my life back. I was able to let Zachy go for weekend excursions to his grandparents, I was able to take him into public environments and not concentrate on the germs that could be reaching him, I was able to FEEL something again that wasn’t doubt, sadness or anger. Something I didn’t do that I wish I did, was reach out to support groups or get legitimate treatment that involved counselling and was in an environment where other women were stuck where I was at, because I felt that I was casting enough negative judgment on myself that I didn’t need other people looking at me like I was nuts either- that feeling ALONE stopped me from pursuing them… however little did I know it probably would have sped up my recovery and I’d be in a different spot even today with a lot of new friends too. I will admit first hand I did not do everything perfectly within my recovery- I’m only human. However, the help I did receive worked for me, some people may need more and some people may need less- you can’t base your walk against someone else’s. We all have our skeletons and our stories are ALL different so doing that, is nothing but unfair to yourself.

To kind of wrap this up here, I get lost in the thought of God looking at Kyle and I, as he was creating this being of perfection and saying HERE, you two; broken, sin filled people- I chose you to be this boy’s parents… To raise him up as the man he’s most capable of being. Always keeping in mind he will one day become some one’s friend, some one’s husband, some one’s father… The phenomenon that is parenting is a whole new WORLD than what I expected but I find myself praying every single day that Kyle and I are able to light a path for him where he naturally radiates kindness, compassion and care for others as he grows and experiences life. That being said, I don’t know what we did right in life to have him be ours, like it really doesn’t make sense. However, being able to start every day with that beautiful smile and, “Hi mum mum, hug!” – saves me. It saves me every single day, because each morning I wake up and take that first breath, it’s for him. Everything I do now, each choice I make is for that little guy. I get up, I live my life, I conquer how I’m feeling; whatever it may be- and be the mother that little man deserves. PPD doesn’t define you, you are STILL an amazing mom, you are STILL an amazing woman, you are STILL loved, appreciated and valued as the incredible human being you are. I don’t care if someone has to write those words out and stick it to their mirror to remind them of those facts every single day- you are just as important, you are just as worth it and you are just as human as everyone around you. You are allowed to have terrible days, you’re allowed to cry, and you’re allowed to be imperfect… But I’m sure you have a child staring up at you the exact same way mine does- That love is unconditional and that love is REAL for their mama; and if nothing else is going to get you through the day, that will. Those little ones don’t know how much we owe them eh? You can always rely on their love; they’re so naive and it’s beautiful.

Still to this day, I can certainly say I’m still not back on two feet. I struggle with an ugly form of anxiety more now than ever before, but it’s just another bump in my path… I’ve had a couple life-rugs pulled out from underneath me when I’ve least expected it and I’ve wound up here…Now, where “Here” is, happens to be a long story that may just end up as another blog post one day. ;)

BUT I fought PPD and I won, so I will keep fighting and winning my battles because I have darn good reason to do so.

His name is Zachary Paul.

Justice Delayed


I really enjoyed this book, for the most part.  I’d never read a Patricia Bradley book before, and I always enjoy testing out the waters with new authors.  I’ll also rarely turn down what sounds to be a good, suspenseful mystery/crime procedural novel.

Bradley crafted characters that, while likeable, I did find hard to relate to, but then — I’ve never found my life enveloped in the folds of an 18-year old murder case that, with days left to spare before an execution date for the confessed murderer, reveals that they caught the wrong guy.

I’ll confess that I found the plot took a while longer than I typically like to pick up and really hook me, but once it did I couldn’t stop.  I wound up needing many of the details that had been left out to keep me in suspense, and I read the majority of the book over the last couple days that I was working on it.

Overall, I recommend the book.  It was a good read, though admittedly it wasn’t one I plowed through as I have with others.  It would be a good vacation or beach/cottage read, for sure.  I found that I was a bit too busy during the course of a regular school year setting to find it intriguing enough to sacrifice everything else I needed to accomplish to read it quickly.  That said, it was good and I recommend it 🙂

It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

 

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Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

Power Sheets — and how I’m using them


Dear friends,

I’ve missed posting as of late, but I haven’t been able to find the words I’ve wanted to use to do it.  I didn’t even do the customary “these are my New Year’s Resolutions/New-Year-New-Me/Life Goals” post at the beginning of January, because this year is supposed to be different.

2017 is supposed to be a year for Focus.  Or, at least, that’s the “one word” I chose to represent my pending 2017 over the end of Christmas Break in December 2016.

I embarked on this journey with a couple of dear friends of mine with an Intentional Life Goal planner called Power Sheets.  Created and published by a rocking lady named Lara Casey over at Cultivate What Matters, I scooped up a one-year Power Sheets planner, and a Write The Word journal.

The whole idea behind this is not to pick specific “resolutions” — I mean, they’ve all fallen to the wayside by this point at the end of February anyway, haven’t they?  The whole idea is to really do some soul searching (there’s prep work at the beginning of the planner to help you narrow down the areas of your life you feel need pruning, tending, weeding, etc — if life were a metaphorical garden, I suppose) and come up with 10(ish) goals that you really want to work through between January and December.

What I love about the whole philosophy that Lara Casey has laid out is the stress on Progress, not Perfection.  Little by little progress.  Which is good, cuz let me tell you, there’s been an utter lack of perfection on my part when it’s come to how January and February have gone — I like that I can look at where I’ve made some progress — any progress — and rejoice in that rather than dwell on the areas I haven’t met my own standards.

Each month there’s a tending list — an area where you can really specifically narrow in on your goals and set monthly, weekly, and daily tasks or goals/ideas that you want to achieve.  For example, in my weekly goals, I listed meal planning.  I’d really like to get better at this.  I haven’t gotten any better at it at all, as I sit here writing this to you on my lunch, eating unsweetened apple sauce straight up out of the jar because I had pretty much nothing else appealing to stash in my lunch bag……. oatmeal, applesauce, and two clementines.  I eat like a four year old.  BUT the constant reminder when I check on my tending list to check other things off that I AM accomplishing (like I’ve seen a dramatic uptick in my prayer habits, even if I haven’t seen it in journalling/devos yet) reminds me that “oh yeah!  You wanted to meal plan!”  So I sat down this morning and I wrote out a meal plan and a grocery list, and I will stop on my way home and pick up ONLY the groceries I need, and be ready for the week.

The other thing I’m loving is the sense of community that it’s creating.  I have two friends locally that are into this, and we’re helping to check in with one another, and see how things are going.  There are also a couple of Facebook groups that I’ve joined since late December which have really impacted how I view this goal-setting endeavour.  Modern Planner is another such site of great tips and helpful ideas that I’ve started following, and I’ve connected with Kathryn’s (the creator’s) Facebook page as well.

Another feature of the planner that I adore is the reflection piece at the end of each month.  Granted, so far I’ve only reflected on January, but I was really encouraged by the ability to look back over my January goals and use how I felt about whether or not I accomplished what I’d wanted to accomplish daily, weekly, and monthly to influence what I chose to prioritize as my new habits and goals in February.  For example, I’d intended to write a Power Sheets blog in January……… I did not.  But I knew at the end of January that for as much as I love writing, and for as little time as it would take me to knock this off, there was no reason I couldn’t accomplish this in February, so I put it back in.  Now, I’ll be able to check it off of my monthly goals and celebrate its completion next week when I reflect back on the month of February.

One last feature that I adore is the space to write encouraging words, whether from myself or from someone else, in and around my goals — making sure I know I’m not doing this in my own strength and that there are people around me who are rooting for me, and who want my success just as much as I want my own.  It’s really encouraging me to be more mindful of the words I choose to use to describe my goals as well.  Setting goals like losing weight has always seemed really daunting to me, mostly because I like eating candy and baked goods more than I like the idea of being thin.  But when I can shift the focus of that goal to being more about being healthy, living a longer life, and accomplishing other things I’d love to be able to (like maybe taking some surfing lessons while I’m out West this summer — though I’m not on track for that at all lol), it seems to be easier to wrap my head around.  And it doesn’t carry the weight of disappointment that not losing a specific amount of weight does.

Anyway, I’m curious — have you used Power Sheets?  Do you use something else to help organize your life and your goals and plans?  What do you do?

 

Fatal Frost


This was a wonderfully suspenseful book.  Fatal Frost was a perfect mix of suspense and just a bit of a hint at romance.  I like it like that — when the romance doesn’t overwhelm the story.  Not that I mind the odd romance novel, I just find them wholly unrealistic, and so I tend to stick to mystery and suspense.  This had all of it!

This was my first Nancy Mehl book, though it appears she’s written plenty.  I flew through the book in about 23 hours total.  I read it over my Christmas break, which certainly helped in the amount of time I had to knock off a book, but even still, it was just wonderful.

Mercy Brennan is a US Marshal with a complicated relationship with her father.  When her father pops back into her life though, she ends up in danger because of his ties to St. Louis’s most powerful gang.  Mercy, along with her ex-boyfriend (also a Marshal) and her best friend (a police officer) are assigned to take her out of town to get her away from danger.  They wind up stranded in a winter ice storm, and the suspense just builds from there.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good suspense, and who likes it when they just can’t put a book down.

I loved the characters, and the depth Mehl provided to them even while keeping the suspense building.

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Traces of Guilt


I love Dee Henderson’s books.  This was my third, and I haven’t changed my mind yet!  Traces of Guilt has been a very interesting read for me.

Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police Detective . . . mostly. She’s very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he’s sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have. . . .

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it’s to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state.

Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff’s department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie’s determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers.

First of all, I have to say that even though I knew when I got this book it would be a romantic suspense, I’m pleased that the romantic side of it wasn’t played out how it could have been.  Sometimes, a romantic plot line in an otherwise very intriguing story can be a distraction, and I’m glad that Henderson opted not to go that route here.

Another thing I liked was that I would just get to a point (and this happened several times) where I thought I had figured out what would be coming next.  I thought I had the story figured out.  I thought I had the cold cases solved.  I should have known better for most of the times, as I often wasn’t even halfway through the book yet, so I’m not sure what there would have been to write about if the cases were solved halfway through.  Each time I thought I had it figured out, I’d get confident, and then my theory would be blown out of the water.  I loved it!

I also loved how Dee Henderson is able to weave characters from previous books into the plot of a totally separate book, but without distracting from the arc of the main characters.  I was thrilled to see Paul and Ann Falcon back, as I’d first encountered them when I read Unspoken this summer.  They’re not in all of her books — they weren’t present in Missing, but it was nice to “see familiar faces” as much as one can when reading a book.  I enjoy the Thane brothers as characters as well, and hope to find them in future books as I read more and more from Henderson.

I highly recommend this book!  It’s long, but it’s a good read and worth every page 🙂

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Domino Effect


In a world that clearly remembers recessions and housing market bubbles that we still see the effects of today, I thought that this book by Davis Bunn, The Domino Effect, would be an interesting read.  The premise sounded like a good, thrilling movie — in fact, I vaguely remember seeing a movie that the book’s description reminded me of, but… I can’t remember the name of the movie, haha.

I don’t know much about this world — the world of finances, investment banking, stock market decisions, and the like.  But I do appreciate that Davis Bunn is able to deliver a plot that isn’t hard to find through the technical jargon.  I’ve found that with some books — it’ll be on a topic I don’t really understand, and then it ruins the book, but that was not the case here.  An author who can sell me on a topic where I’m clueless is good in my books!

This is a suspenseful and intriguing book, and it keeps readers going — needing to find out what Esther’s next move will be, and how that will play out on the pages as you turn them.

I own another Davis Bunn book, it’s just been buried in my piles of books for a long time.  I think it’s about time it finds its way to the surface of the pile!

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Book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc., and Baker Publishing Group.

If I Could… (this book lover’s dream book conference)


If I could choose a panel of my favourite authors, and I got to invite them to speak at a conference that I designed, oh the fun that I could have…

 

I had to mull this one over, because there are a few ways I could spin this, but I think I’ve nailed it down….

My ideal book conference would be two days long, and there would be vendors and publishers everywhere at the conference centre for the two days.  We’d be at some big, fancy hotel in Toronto, or even somewhere nicer (which wouldn’t be hard).  During each day of the conference, there would be workshops that you could sign up for in advance, on many, many topics.

Some such topics might include:  Publishing your first novel; How to create meaningful character arcs; Narrative nonfiction; How to Write an Engaging Travel Essay; Blogging; Creative Writing; The Autobiography; The Biography; Editing; Self Publishing; Networking and Making Good Contacts; What To Do When Someone Says No; Poetry… and the opportunities here are endless.

It would likely have to be marketed as a women’s conference, as you’ll find when I get to the end of this day-dreamy post that all the authors are women, and gear their writing toward women, but if men wanted to join, they’d be more than welcome.

Mixed in with the vendors, there would also be publishers kicking around who are looking for fresh talent.  They’d be at booths, accepting manuscripts for review.  There would be contests to enter manuscripts into, in all sorts of genres.  Book lovers would be in their glory.

Scattered around the Conference Grounds would be “Reading Nooks” where you could take one of the many books you’d bought at the conference, and curl up in a big, comfy chair that enveloped your entire body, and read for an hour or two.  Meals would even have a brown bag option, so that you could take it to go, and go curl up with a book while you ate.

Keynote conference panels would happen on Friday night, and on Saturday night.  And the vendors and publishers’ booths, which were open Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and until noon on Sunday, would all close down to encourage people to go listen.

My two panels would be these:

  1. Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst, Holley Gerth would all unite to talk about being women in the church.  Each woman has a unique twist and spin to their views, but they all have very valuable things to say, and an audience of Christian women who needs to be encouraged.  Especially by Sarah Bessey.  In fact, I might let her speak on being a woman in the church on Sunday morning, before I sent everyone back to their homes, their lives, and their families.
  2. Irene Hannon, Sarah Sundin, Lisa Harris, Dani Pettrey, Dee Henderson, Lynette Eason, and Sandra Orchard would each explain their path to being successful romantic suspense writers, and they’d talk about the elements necessary in a suspenseful novel that keeps you craving the end of the book, but yet hooked enough on the journey that you would never DARE look to the end of the book to find out what happens.  They would talk about how to research your characters and your storylines well, particularly in the context of historical fiction like Sarah Sundin’s, so that a reader with knowledge on the time period or the topic, even on the setting, wouldn’t be able to find major holes in your story.  Attendees would be able to submit questions online ahead of time, maybe via Twitter, or something a little less instantaneous like a Google Form.  It would be included in the registration process — if you had a question, you could ask it, and it might be answered by one of the panel members.

Finally, and we mustn’t forget this…… the Meet and Greets!  Each author from each of the two panels would have booths, and upon registration you could select your top 4 authors, and be scheduled a meet and greet with two of them at some point during the conference.  To pick the brain of Ann Voskamp and find out what it really means to be living a life full of thankfulness… or of Jen Hatmaker, and talk about what it really means to live out love in your community… or of Sarah Bessey, to find out more about the journey this fellow Canadian took on the road to embracing her Biblical womanhood.  In the sense that it was intended.  You could chat with Dee Henderson, and find out how to weave a character’s story through several novels, without that character being the primary focus of a book.  Or you could have coffee with Irene Hannon, and discover how to switch from straight up romance to romantic suspense, without leaving your readers wishing you’d just stuck to what you were really good at.

OH!  And the conference would be small-ish, because in order to guarantee the meet and greet schedule it would have to be.  It would probably be outlandishly expensive, and not profitable for all those vendors and publishers, but hey…. a girl can dream, right?

 

 

I was approached to write this post by a contact from Eventbrite, “the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world that helps people find and plan events and conferences.”  (Her description).  I was asked who my favourite author was.  If I could choose a few to put on a panel and have them talk to a crowd, who would I choose?  What would we talk about?

I was given free rein over the post, and all ideas are my own.

Your Powerful Prayers


I must admit, I’ve pretty much blazed through this book.  My first book for October’s reviews was so emotionally charged, and so challenging for me, that it took the bulk of the month, and I did not get to this one until the last couple days.

This book is brilliant.  There is so much beautifully interwoven scripture in here, and there are so many challenges to really take your prayer life seriously, laying everything out for God, and to pray boldly and courageously.  There are so many practical suggestions on how to achieve this, and so many well-integrated promises, breathed by God, written in scriptures for us to cherish and pray through…

The reflection questions are deep.  I haven’t had a chance to go through them and answer them, but I’ve read them.  Rest assured though, that I am going to take my time journaling through those questions and really praying through them.  I want to harness the power of prayer in a way I never have before.

If I’m honest, I never feel worthy of big, bold prayers.  I feel as though they almost have no place coming from me.  This book resonated with me on so many levels and challenged me to throw that thinking away.  I won’t be able to do it alone, but through prayer, I’m hoping to find the me that God intended.

I recommend you give this book a read.  I also recommend, though, that while it may be tiny, it is mighty, and you’ll want to give it time so you can be reflective with it.  What I probably should have done is worked through this one while I was taking breaks from the heaviness of the first one I read this month.  Lesson learned 😉

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Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Wreck My Life


What a ride this book was.

I selected it from a list of possible titles for the month because the synopsis looked like I’d be able to relate on a few levels to the author, Mo Isom.  I’m thinking specifically of the terrible car accident she experienced, but I figured if I could relate to even one part of someone’s story on a deep level, it would be a good autobiography to read.

What I did not expect was how this book would wreck me.  Mo Isom described that car accident in such detail that I put the book down and didn’t pick it back up for almost two weeks.

Her struggle with her quest for control of her life and using food to get there, though to a much deeper extent than mine, resonated hard with me, and I put the book down again.

To be perfectly honest, I nearly didn’t finish the book.  It was such a roller coaster of emotions for me, in a way that no book has ever wrung me before, that I just didn’t want to deal with it.  It felt too overwhelming.

But I persevered, and I’m glad that I did.  The tagline to the title of the book is ‘Journeying from Broken to Bold,’ and so I should have known that the latter half of the book would be full of encouragement for how turning toward God and letting Him have control, letting him work in and through her circumstances would bring about an outcome positive enough to write about.  The back cover explains “Mo reminds us that the brokenness is actually the very place God meets us the most, and the place where we can find Jesus like never before.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever struggled behind closed doors with anything, whether you can relate to her circumstances specifically or not.  It’s worth the read right to the very last page, as I found the last chapters so deeply encouraging.

I find that I’m filled with empathy for Mo’s story, and yet I’m so glad that she’s been able to find the good so that she could share that with so many people in ways she’d never have seen coming while she was planning her own life.

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.