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MY REVIEW OF

A SENSIBLE ARRANGEMENT

(A LONESTAR BRIDES, BOOK  I)

by

TRACIE L. PETERSON

AUTHOR TRACIE L. PETERSON

1544618_746510535388936_39347214_n5 STARS

Five Stars

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.

Answering an advertisement for a “Lone Star bride,” she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn’t know.

Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her….Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience. 

When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake’s yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty’s dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.


What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways…
and dreams and secrets collide?

 

BARB’S REVIEW

 

A fun story with a bit of seriousness, Tracie L. Peterson certainly can write a great tale of excitement, drama, romantic mystery, and shadowy incidents, mixed with dreams of being somewhere else in time and geography.  There is an old adage of “be careful for what one wishes for” throughout the message of this book.

 

Widowed and childless Marty Olson wanted to escape from memories of tragically losing her beloved husband, and leave Texas forever where she owns and lives on a ranch.    Jake Wythe, a Denver banker, singed around the edges one last time from romance, places a newspaper ad for a Texas woman to marry in name only.  Jake is in need of a wife to satisfy the bank board members determined notion that his promotion puts him in a higher level of Denver society.  Marty answers the ad on complete acceptance of Jake’s terms.   Unknown to Marty, Jake, a native Texan longs to return to the Lone Star state and run a ranch. 

 

Marty is quite adept at telling little fibs that create larger problems that spin into a web of hurt and misunderstanding for loved ones and new friends.  She does not tell her sister and family the truth about going to Colorado – only that she plans to visit friends.  This time, a lie of omission.  Shades of Annie Oakley!   Marty takes a stage coach into Denver and becomes a pistol-packing damsel to save the lives of the passengers and drivers from a stage robbery.  Our heroine soon becomes the talk and news sensation of Denver and awes the society she has joined as Mrs. Jacob Wythe.  The character quality in Marty’s habit was disturbing to me, however I surmised Ms. Peterson had sensible reasons for this flaw.  We will find Marty’s redeeming qualities in other area of her character concerning orphans.

 

Much is going on with the newlyweds – will love blossom now that Marty and Jake are secretly attracted to one another?  How does Marty, married to a rich banker, handle being included with society wives and living a lie as a new bride?  Is Jake suspected as being part of the scheme of missing funds at the bank?  The stories developing around the household servants are entertaining and humor provoking.  It seems the only real friend Marty has in Denver is Alice, her lady’s maid.  But, what does Alice have to do with information about the missing funds?  Why was she attacked to be robbed of something she knew nothing about?

 

The plot continues to thicken.  Marty becomes anguished over Jake’s intentions of returning to Texas and how she can keep the truth of her ranch from him.  We learn throughout the story that God is in control.  The truth will out, but what happens?  There are some loose ends in the story, however I believe there is purpose in this gifted writers tactics.  Ms. Tracie Peterson has successfully written many books, of which The Sensible Arrangement is my first read.  You have made an impression on my reading tastes, Ms. Peterson, I anticipate reading the next book in this series as well as the many others you have written.  Your faith in our heavenly Father and His love for you brightly shine through your pen hand.  You are indeed blessed.

 

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.

 

 

MEET AUTHOR TRACIE L. PETERSON…..

Tracie Peterson is an award-winning, best-selling author of over 95 books. Having given her heart to Jesus at the young age of six, Tracie has always felt called to some form of ministry, and writing fulfills that mission field.

Tracie received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings’ Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership’s vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers. She has co-written with a variety of authors including Judith Pella, Judith Miller, James Scott Bell and her daughter Jennifer.

Throughout her writing career Tracie has found time to speak at writer’s conferences where she has a special heart for new authors. She is often joined by her husband Jim, whose background in history offers new authors insight into research. Besides teaching at conferences, Tracie also at one time managed Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents book line – overseeing the production of 52 books a year. Tracie teaches at women’s conferences around the country and shares her testimony and insight for Christian living through the eyes of an author passionately in love with her Heavenly Father.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers. Her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests, including USA “Best Books 2011” Awards, best Religious Fiction for Embers of Love!.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family–especially her three grandchildren–Rainy, Fox and Max..

For information on having Tracie speak at your event – contact Noelle Buss at Bethany Publishers/Baker Books.

 

http://www.traciepeterson.com/

 

Hi Friends,

Life gets more complicated by the day, it seems.  No less busy either.  My hubby Jack and I are flying to Portland, Oregon next week to spend Mother’s Day with my 95 year old mother.  What a blessing to still have her with us!  Personally, I am facing a few health issues that are in the process of being resolved which will prove to be time consuming.  With eight grown children between us – there’s never a dull moment in our family…..always new situations to face and pray through.  Recently, we’ve been saddened by the loss of two family members, a beloved uncle and a dearly loved cousin.  I guess what I’m saying a mouthfull to get to the point that all this busyness will keep me away from my blogs and writing for a while.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of you ladies with children and mothers to celebrate.  We’ll be in contact again soon.

Stay Blessed,

Barb

 

 

MY REVIEW ON

WHERE COURAGE CALLS

BY

JANETTE OKE & LAUREL OKE LOGAN

Courage Cover

Her courage

and her heart

will be tested in ways

she never expected 

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father’s wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she’d feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don’t even speak English. There isn’t even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth’s heart is torn between two young men—both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she’s had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

MY REVIEW

FIVE STARS 

While anticipating the honor of writing a review for Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan’s novel When Courage Calls, I pondered if my words could give proper merit to such creative teamwork from these two superb authors. As a long time reader of Janette Oke – often relating her skilled gift to Laura Ingalls Wilder, I perceive the same in Laurel Oke Logan. I am sincerely humbled to be reviewing this work of perfection

 

Beth Thatcher touched me deeply – she had the true heart of a missionary, with a spirit of kindness within a soul full of God’s Holy Word.  All those wonderful characteristics plus courage to venture into the unknown enabled her to face challenges with belief that she could be the impetus to change things through her deep faith in God.  Beth made a daring decision to accept a position as the school teacher in remote Coal Valley, an indigent mining area in Western Canada.  Beth finds herself in a bit of culture shock without the conveniences of home and wealth she had been privileged to know in Toronto. One of my favorite characters, Molly, the boarding house owner where Beth lived, was delightful and quite appropriately written into this beautiful story.  Oh, but then there is Frank…. and the children…..and the unlikely school room…and the Italian miners – there is no end to the unique quaintness versus durability of the people of Coal Valley.  When Beth played her violin and enthralled the community to envision the miracle of Christmas…. my heart felt the glory. When you read this story and find out why Beth’s violin played a part in a huge surprise, you will soon realize there are many surprises in store to keep the pages turning.

 

Edward Montclair and Beth were lifelong friends, however Beth considered him an annoyance and was not intending to gratify their mothers’ presumptuous plans that the two would one day marry.  Beth’s exhaustive train ride from Toronto to Coal Valley had some unpleasant and unpredicted surprises; in a bizarre way concerning Edward.  Beth envisioned no dreams of romance then or after arriving in Coal Valley.  However, this is a love story in my estimation about how God’s love can turn hopeless situations to promising.  It is no surprise that the authors created the characters of this story to breathe and come alive on the page.  Sensational writing includes the vindictive and evil side that plagues the community with mystery.  When the hint of romance comes into the story with Royal Canadian Mountie Jarrick (Jack) Thornton, my own heart palpitated a bit and wondered if Beth would have secret thoughts about this warm and charming Christian believer.

 

Before I forget myself and deluge too much – you can find out from the back cover an excellent synopsis of this solid story, as well as peruse many fine written reviews as to why you should acquire this book and read what’s between the covers for yourself.  Interestingly, I learned When Courage Calls is a special companion story to Hallmark Channel’s “When Calls the Heart” TV series.  You know you are getting the best when you see it on Hallmark.  Where have I heard something like that said before?  Unfortunately, I have not seen or read the prior episodes of this series on the Canadian West.  Through further information, I found this series of seven books was republished in 2005 with updated covers.  These novels will be added to my library as time permits.

 

It is my hope that the Ms. Janette Oke and Ms. Laurel Oke Logan will write another novel in this series continuing the story of Beth and answer all my questions about what happens next.  My curiosity is as real as my admiration for the authors.  Thank you ladies, for blessing your readers through Beth’s story.  I feel blessed having the pleasure of reading it.

 

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

JANETTE OKE & LAUREL OKE LOGAN

JANETTE OKE & LAUREL OKE LOGAN

Janette Oke Celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry, Janette Oke is the recipient of numerous awards. Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies and are beloved by readers around the world. Janette lives with her husband, Edward, in Alberta, Canada. 

Laurel Oke Logan is the daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of “Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie,” as well as the novel “Dana’s Valley,” which she co-wrote with her mom. Laurel and her husband have six children and two sons-in-law and live near Indianapolis, Indiana.

JANETTE OKE:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Janette-Oke/1125821954198

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/o/janette-oke/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4049.Janette_Oke

LAUREL OKE LOGAN:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laurel-Oke-Logan/1394770507453866

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/437781.Laurel_Oke_Logan?from_search=true

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/authors/laurel-oke-logan/1000

http://www.novelcrossing.com/author/1867/laurelokelogan

DARE TO LOVE AGAIN 

by

JULIE LESSMAN

AUTHOR JULIE LESSMAN

AUTHOR JULIE LESSMAN

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast, she quickly discovers she’s no match for the unsavory characters that haunt the dark streets.
 
Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite self-defense, but it seems he has little choice. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But is he just a fraud like all the rest of the men Allison’s cared for? Or is he the one who will let her dare to love again?
 
Award-winning author Julie Lessman brings the glamour of Gilded Age San Francisco to vibrant life in this journey to find a love that never fails.
 
“With memorable characters and an effervescent plot that’s as buoyant as it is entertaining, Dare to Love Again is Julie Lessman at her zestful best.”–Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of A Lasting Impression and To Whisper Her Name
 
“Nobody pens a more splendid romance than Julie! The expert on dazzling dialogue, engaging characters, and wonderful romantic plots with a twist wins my heart over every time.”–Maggie Brendan, author of Heart of the West and The Blue Willow Brides series
 
“Julie’s ability to thread romance and longing, deception and forgiveness, and lots of humor are unparalleled by anyone else in the Christian market today.”–Rachel McRae, LifeWay Stores
 

BARB’S REVIEW

♥♥♥♥♥  FIVE STARS  ♥♥♥♥♥

Applause!  Applause!!  Applause!!!  Julie Lessman just keeps on writing a new favorite to replace an older favorite and a yet older favorite.  Personally, I hope it never ends!  My recent visit with the McClare family in 1903 San Francisco was so much fun even though we faced some fiercely intense moments sitting together in the parlor on Caitlyn’s loveseat praying and waiting for one crisis to subside before facing whatever came along next. Reading one of Julie’s novels is a marvelous release mechanism…..all my giggles over Lessman-style humor released endorphins that caused me to feel great; or releasing pent up emotions through easy tears that flowed along with Caitlyn’s.  All those tears caused an enormous pile of tissues for Rosie the housekeeper to sweep up with an audible “tsk tsk,” and slight shake of her head.

Dare to Love Again is the perfect title for this Julie Lessman novel.  The title is a story in itself, so to speak, because Allison, the eldest daughter of Caitlyn McClare, has been jilted and left disappointed four times causing a jaundiced eye toward romantic love.  The hunky lead hero Detective Nick Barone becomes the big dare for Allison.  Nick will not allow himself to dare fall in love with a rich Nob Hill debutante.  Both characters are well equipped with mixed emotions about each other and their sparring is comical and typical of independent personalities.  Brother-in-law Logan McClare continues to dare hope that his widowed sister-in-law Caitlyn would dare love him as she did in their youth and accept his proposal of marriage.  Will Nick and Logan dare to believe in God?  Ms. Lessman brings her characters so close to taking the dares and so far away again; that I do not attempt to dare guess what happens next.  

Julie Lessman stories encompass everything from romance, danger, bad guys, good guys, secrets, smells, tastes, vivid scenery, laughter, mystery, trauma to a fascinating script.  Most importantly being the lessons learned through human error, confession, forgiveness, and accepting God’s love.  Warm feelings among some characters occur where negative attitudes had been the mode.  Certain new personalities added to the story are quite endearing….fall in love with La-di-da, and Miss Penny.  Who gets nauseous riding the streetcar?  What do animal crackers have to do with anything?  Some shocking information is revealed about members of the McClare Clan in this second episode of The Heart of San Francisco series.  Historical facts and location research appear as a natural part of Ms. Lessman’s innate writing gift to render the beauty in words meaningful.  She writes page turners for avid readers who would not dare put her book down.  There is no less in Julie Lessman.  She owns it all where word art is involved.    

It is not this reviewer’s intent to detail excess information about the characters and subject matter, the back and front cover is capable of drawing reader interest.  Revealing too much might prevent one from an intriguing read and my intent is for curiosity to take the dare and enjoy my personal recommendation. Julie Lessman has caused me to fall in love with San Francisco all over again.  

Through her faith in our loving Abba, Julie Lessman dares to write as she does.  Dare I ask Julie why she has won many awards and trophies?  She will give our Lord all the credit.  Ok, the dares are dropped….anyone taking bets that Julie’s next story will be the most read yet?  My bet is yes, it will….and winner take all! Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

ABOUT JULIE LESSMAN…….

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.”

Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

Websites:  
http://www.julielessman.com

http://seekerville.blogspot.com/

NOTES OF INTEREST FROM JULIE ABOUT HER CHARACTER PERSONALIZATIONS…..

Angi Griffis, gave me a great idea. You see, she’s currently reading Dare to Love Again and asked me if I had any pix of celebrities I had pegged to play Alli and Nick. And, OF COURSE, I do and can hardly believe I haven’t posted them before now! So … without further ado, here are the shots I pictured while writing the story.

Allison McClare:  Alli McClare is petite with curly black hair in the typical Gibson Girl style of the day, usually up, as indicated in the 2nd pic below. She has eyes that are a very deep green with creamy, porcelain skin. She is fun and adventurous and has a flair for drama. She wants to be an independent woman so she learns jiu-jitsu and carries a large hat pin to protect herself when she takes a notion to explore the Barbary Coast. She has a dry sense of humor, is down to earth and doesn’t trust men because she’s been engaged and brokenhearted by three men who were fortune hunters and frauds.

The first pic is what I sent to Revell of a model whose name I do not know, and the next four model pics are the model Revell hired who actually appears on the cover of the book.

Visit Julie’s  Journal Jots to see the pictures   http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/

Next … we have Detective Nick Barone, or as Alli calls him, Mr. Ga-roan! Nick Barone is a six-foot-four Italian and 30 years old with green, almost hazel eyes and dark hair that tends to curl. I see him as a the unnamed model below or a younger George Clooney. He is a no-nonsense, hard-nosed plain-clothes detective with a hair-trigger temper and an axe to grind with the upper class. He’s smart, good-looking and a bit on the grouchy side, but ALWAYS has his shoes polished and animal crackers in his pocket (and on his breath).

  

 

WHEN GRACE ABOUNDS…..MIRACLES HAPPEN…..

READ ON…..

Good morning said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground. The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new.. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before..
 

980448_10200506920374207_331478985_o

“Leave me alone,” he growled….

To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.

“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”

The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. “What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.

Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked..

“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?”

The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”

“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”

“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”

“This is a good deal for you, Jack” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it..”

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived…

The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in trouble?”

“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered. “Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business..”

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled……. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”

“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”

“And do you make a godly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?” “What business is that of yours?”

I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”

“Oh.”

The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”

“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.” “Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?” “Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”

The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,” he said.

“That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.” She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently..

“Jack, do you remember me?”

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so — I mean you do look familiar.”

“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”

“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said.. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble… Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons…He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet… If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.”

There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.

“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus…… He led me to you.”

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways…. “Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.

“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And.. And thank you for the coffee.”

God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor. If you believe, share it. If you don’t believe, forget it. God closes doors no man can open & God opens doors no man can close.. If you need God to open some doors for you…share this miracle.

MAY GOD BLESS YOUR NEW YEAR WITH GOODNESS, GRACE AND ANSWERED PRAYER!!

BLESSINGS,

BARB

BARB‘S REVIEW ON……. 

“THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS JESUS

By

Aram Haroutunian

ABOUT THE BOOK…….Seventy Four Children’s Sermons for all occasions. Pastors, homeschoolers, parents who often lead family devotions, or other storytellers will find these stories, along with comments about props and how to prepareand present them, to be an invaluable asset in reconnecting with the simplest, most profound truths of Scripture, and then to envision how best to communicate these so even a child can understand them.  

TheAnswerIsAlwasyJesus_300 Cover

ABOUT THE COVER…….This is the author with one of his favorite Palm Sunday “props,” “Firecracker,” who carried Aram down the aisle many times, to the delight of children and adults, alike.

FROM THE BOOK…….In “The Clockmaker” chapter, Aram describes bringing to the sermon the pieces of a clock in a shoebox, and then shaking it long and hard to see if the clock could put itself together. When it didn’t, he proposed shaking it harder, and longer. But the kids told him the clock needed a person to put it together. “Oh!” he said. “So what you’re telling me is that in order to have a clock, you need a clockmaker, right? Okay, so let me ask you this. How did this beautiful world come into existence? Did it ‘just happen’ by chance?” [No!, they shouted.] “Of course not! Just as a clock tells us that there must have been a clockmaker, so the world tells us that Someone must have made this – that it couldn’t have just ‘happened by chance.’ Who made the world? That’s right – the answer to every children’s sermon: JESUS!”

♦BARB’S REVIEW♦

Aram Haroutunian’s creativity and compassion for expressing the Persons of the Trinity to children is like none I have heard or read.  His orations are disguised by humor, masquerade, dialogue and broad imagination.  The author believes the children’s sermon serves an important social, emotional, and theological purpose in the worship service.

Pastor Haroutunian explained that in his church community they often joke that the answer to every children’s sermon question is Jesus, thus the title of this book.   In my opinion, this author/pastor must be quite a hoot to be around.  “Hoot” being a term understood by children.  Dialogue with children can be quite risky, with children’s unpredictable responses, “which I find to be the best part of doing children’s sermons!” quoting the pastor.  He has shared some actual responses of children to his questions during the children’s sermon. “Their responses are often surprising, refreshing, profound, hilarious, innocent, challenging, and even piercing.”  Personally, I enjoyed many laughs while reading Aram Haroutunian’s chapters.  He owns a great sense of humor and often directs fun at himself to make a point.  This book could be a great advantage to Sunday school teachers and story tellers in general.

Each chapter or sermon is created through several basic premises keeping in mind the subject and scripture of the main worship sermon; the first being the BIG IDEA or the subject matter of the lesson.  CORRESPONDING SCRIPTURES are provided, to highlight the biblical concepts that the sermon is intending to convey. An OVERVIEW is offered, to develop and illustrate the New idea or thinking behind the children’s sermon. This can assist in developing a “way of thinking” about the implications of the New Covenant.  A list of MATERIALS IS GIVEN (INCLUDING OBJECTS OR PROPS.)  Of course these can be adapted for different settings and for when certain resources (such as audio-visual equipment) is not available. The ACTUAL SERMON is then written out. Included in some of the sermons are actual responses by children. These illustrate the importance of structuring the sermon in such a way as to elicit responses and dialogue from the kids – which, of course, brings joy to the sermon when preached. A CLOSING PRAYER is offered, which serves important purposes. The obvious importance is to offer the entire sermon to God, so that the Holy Spirit might seal the truths discussed in the minds and hearts of both the children and the adults. Yet the closing prayer also serves to recap or summarize the Big Idea, and can help pull it all together particularly for the adults, who will remain in the service.

Pastor Haroutunian describes some of the antics he has courageously performed like riding a donkey…or attempting to ride a donkey into the Palm Sunday service.  You might not believe what you are reading about the nervy feats he accomplished delivering the children’s moment.  Wild and weird to say the least!  One of my big questions was where he found some of the objects used, and how many trips he made from his vehicle to the altar with his various questionable props.  This gentleman has gone to faith-full lengths to bring out the answer “Jesus” to his questions.  I intended to tell you my favorite sermons in the book, and decided to leave it to you to get this helpful novel and pick your favorites.  Frequently I have done the children’s moments during worship.  I am so grateful to Pastor Aram’s sharing his perfect ideas of teaching “Jesus” to children – as well as to adults.  He is gracious and sensitive toward the teachings of Christ and I personally plan to pass on his children’s sermons to our children in worship.

FROM THE AUTHOR…….A New Covenant approach to life will be descriptive of Jesus rather than prescriptive. It is to embrace the incredible mystery and paradox of the Gospel (“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” Luke 9:24).

Ironically, children are more able to grasp these concepts than are we adults. And yet, I have observed that of all places where the spirit of the New Covenant is violated most frequently, it is in children’s curricula and children’s sermons. “Do good things to others, and good things will happen to you.” “Live in a godly way, and things will turn out great for you.” We set our children up for disappointment by instilling in them (albeit unintentionally) a belief in a “push-button God.” And we’re as surprised as they are when their alleged faith crashes upon the rocks of harsh reality once they leave home.

We think we need to explain to them every mystery and paradox of God – that this will adequately equip their minds. But all the while – just like us – they’re longing to be captivated in their hearts by something bigger. They want to encounter Someone who can’t be reduced to a set of principles, Someone who promises to fulfill their young hearts’ desire for adventure and wonder.

ABOUT ARAM HAROUTUNIAN…….Aram Haroutunian earned a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary (1987) and an MABC from Colorado Christian University (1994). He and his wife, Ellen, have been married since 1982, and they are the parents of two grown children. His previous writings, on topics ranging from the arts to theology, have appeared in The Mars Hill Review. They live in Colorado.

REVIEW OF “HEALING GRACE” by AUTHOR LISA LICKEL

Healing Grace

by Lisa Lickel

HEALING GRACE BY LISA LICKEL

HEALING GRACE
BY
LISA LICKEL

 

Grace Runyon could fix anyone — until her husband developed cancer and died. Believing no one would forgive her, Grace runs from the life she knew, hoping even God wouldn’t find her in a little out-of-the-way town in Michigan. It takes a very sick man and his little boy to help her face her past, accept who she is and battle her way back to redemption. Just when they begin to hope for the future, he relapses. Grace faces the ultimate choice once again: Trusting God to work through her precious gift, or letting a terminally ill man die. What if the price is more than she can pay?
Healing Grace can be purchased directly from the Publisher or it is available on Kindle & Nook!

Meet Lisa Lickel!

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Lisa Lickel lives with her husband in an old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain, collects dragons and enjoys travel. Her published novels include the Buried Treasure cozy mystery series, Meow Mayhem, the award-winning romance Meander Scar, the linked novella anthology A Summer in Oakville with best-selling author Shellie Neumeier, and the paranormal romance Healing Grace.  She is a freelance feature writer for local news, writes short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin magazine and loves to encourage new authors. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer, a freelance editor, a writing mentor, a hostess at Clash of the Titles.com, and enjoys blogging at The Barn Door and Author Culture.

MY REVIEW

OF

HEALING GRACE

Healing Grace is a story of powerful interactions in the relationships between characters that are at first strangers to one another. Two members of this large cast in particular have severe emotional and physical injuries that could lead to destruction of faith in one soul, and death to another. 

Lisa Lickel has authored a compelling story of healing through the various ways God has provided. Ms Lickel’s writing is thought provoking, intense, rich in emotion and complex. Her character’s personalities are thoroughly developed, realistic and vividly imagined in my mind’s eye. Her story is mysterious but not mystic. Let me share a bit about this story with hopeful intention that you will add Lisa Lickel’s “Healing Grace” to your reading list. 

Grace Runyon finds herself in unfamiliar East Bay, Michigan without memory of how she got there. She had fled from the graveside of her husband Jonathan’s burial, overwhelmed with guilt and grief. Ashamed and blaming herself because she couldn’t save him through her God given gift – one that had been passed through the generations before her. Believing everyone including God had abandoned her. She wanted to erase the past, which was impossible – so she ran and hid herself from anyone in Woodside, Tennessee from finding her.

 Impetuously Grace bought a house in East Bay that had been neglected and empty over a year. Grace learned the house had belonged to Ted Marshall of the prominent Marshall family living next door. Ted was too ill to maintain the house and properly care for his small son after being critically injured in an auto accident. Ted was divorced from his flighty wife who subsequently disappeared. The Marshall “house next door” became an immediate thorn in Grace’s side and intrusive when Ted Marshall and son Eddy appeared at her door with a loaf of bakery bread to welcome her. Ted’s appearance startled her almost speechless at seeing him leaning on a crutch nervously beginning to sweat with his left leg and arm quivering. 

“This man, God but all screamed in her inner ear. This is why I brought you here. For your touch.” 

Ted also had a motive for visiting Grace that first day. He asked Grace for a favor that would be life changing in every respect. Little did Grace know what lie ahead of her in East Bay. It was not going to be easy. Still mourning her great losses, her entire family – Jonathan being the last, would not stop haunting her. Grace wanted away from death and illness – to heal herself. Grace’s occupation as a Physical Assistant, coincided well with her “gift of healing” soon found her employed at the local clinic. She was compelled to use her gift successfully in a couple of incidents, however could not bring it about again and considered God was denying her the gift and she was a failure. East Bay residents became skeptical and suspicious of Grace. They called her a witch among other things that ruined her reputation. Grace is constantly harangued. Hard criticism and pressure tested Grace almost beyond her capabilities. 

Would Grace lose her mind? Maybe. 

Romance for Grace and Ted? Perhaps. 

Has God taken away her gift? Grace fears so. 

Would Eddy be orphaned if Grace’s touch cannot heal Ted? 

So many questions that can only be answered in Lisa Lickel’s brilliantly written book. Guess you had better buy it and find out. 

Healing Grace is categorized as paranormal, however I personally can’t see God working miracles through earthly beings as abnormal, paranormal or not normal in any way. It’s real and totally believable. 

This being my first read of Ms Lickel’s works, it definitely won’t be my last. With exquisite narrative I was drawn into Grace’s life, as though she were my best friend. Lisa wrote in riddles so perplexing that I honestly couldn’t guess the ending until the last “i” was dotted and “t” crossed…leaving me enthralled with this story where grace abounds Grace Runyon. 

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your “gift” of imagination glorifying God. You are indeed blessed. 

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There hasn’t been a post here for the past month because I’ve been in Portland, Oregon visiting my 94 year old mother and my brother.  Even at her age, she loves and cares for her garden and flowers, is an avid reader and bakes cookies every Saturday for the church fellowship hour on Sunday.  My brother lives with her as her caregiver, who I thank God for, because I live too far from them geographically to be of help.  While I’m with my mother, my brother flys to the East coast to visit his daughters – so I can help her during that time.  Mama amazes me – she still insists in cooking the meals and does a remarkable job.  We are so blessed to still have her with us and I pray that the Lord will allow her to stay as long as possible in her good health.  I am with her for at least four months of the year and cherish every minute.  Just wanted to share that with you and say that I’m glad to be back with you again.  I’m praying that you all will be blessed by grace.

In Christian Joy,

Barb 

THE TIME UNDER HEAVEN                …                    Author Laurinda Wallace

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Time seems to be against missionary Ruthanne Carroll. Suddenly faced with a life threatening illness, she reluctantly returns to the U.S. from a small Maasai village in Kenya. Once she reunites with her sisters Elizabeth and Melody, she clearly sees God’s hand leading her to uncover a guilty secret from her past.

A journey to uncover the truth leads them through sometimes dangerous circumstances and battles with old hurts. Each find their faith and relationships challenged as they reach a crossroads where the choices are healing and reconcilation or bitterness and defeat.

Laurinda Wallace’s debut novel is an uplifting tale about family and faith, a sweeping story of three women coming to terms with their shifting roles as daughters, sisters, or mothers. Join her indelible characters on a journey of discovery and reconciliation as the steady, inexorable rhythms of life play out. – Rosebud Communications

MY REVIEW

Laurinda began her story one lead character at a time…first was missionary Ruthanne Carroll in a hot and humid waiting room of Doctor Hawkes office in the village of Maasai, Kenya in Africa. The scene was easily imagined with Ms Wallace’s vivid description of the village people in their colorful native garb and beads, flies, sweaty bodies, sick and whimpering children and a very nervous Ruthanne waiting to hear the results of the MRI she had taken. She did not receive news she wanted to hear, instead what the doctor reported to her would change the entire course of her life and her sister’s lives immediately.


Melody, the youngest sister, is not blessed with the finer things of life she wishes for. Her husband Dennis is her biggest problem and is not employed in a job or otherwise at taking care of tasks and chores at home. They live the seamier side of life with little money, but find funds to provide for cigarettes and beer. Their loveless marriage is full of volatile arguments, rough abusive comments, and daily exhaustion on Melody’s mind and body through her work as a nurse’s aid in a home for the elderly. Melody has no faith in God, due to the upbringing her father imposed upon her. She could see nothing loving about Christianity as her father demonstrated. Have her dreams of becoming an RN fading into forever?

Elizabeth, the middle sister, and her husband Tom are parents of two grown children Paul and Corinne. Elizabeth is romantic about gardening and knew each flower’s fragrance by memory.  The past years of happy marriage and family life had been undaunted with major problems until recently when Tom and daughter Corinne had a major blowup over her boyfriend Trevor. Corinne fled to parts unknown with her choice sweetheart. They did enjoy being grandparents and Elizabeth often cared for her grandbabies while their mother, Sonya worked.  Elizabeth now knew unusual stress and even resentment toward Tom for being so unreasonable and chastising of Corinne, causing her disappearance. Elizabeth and Melody were close, but the relationship wasn’t always easy due to Melody’s co-dependence on Elizabeth’s kindness. Their lives were quite opposite in Christian belief and lifestyle – and their knowledge of Ruthanne’s life was almost nil.

All three sisters were raised by a strict protestant minister with constant and continuing negative attitudes toward his daughters; a weak submissive mother with her own problems of no real identity of herself, although artistic and creative in nature. She tried to protect her daughters from their father’s temperament to show loving support. Their relieving grace came from grandparents that were affectionate, understanding and provided positive reinforcement of help. The sister’s best memories were of time spent with their fun inspired grandparents, especially grandma, at their beach home in Cape Cod. The people of their formative years are now gone, but the memories are still ever present.

It was Ruthanne’s phone call to Elizabeth informing of her arriving soon in the States because of her health that began the highly active changes in everyone’s lives. Ruthanne is facing major problems of loss in the area of her ministry where she has made her home from a young age….everything becomes uncertain. Secrets of each sister were now in danger of revelation. Coincidences, which I prefer to refer to as Godincidences began happening as paths crossed and God’s plans for each character took them in different directions physically and emotionally in a miraculously cohesive nature.

Among the multitude of Laurinda’s stylistic finer points was allowing the reader to hear the thoughts of each character easily….learning more of who they really were by the time the story ended. I can’t leave out one of my favorite persons in this story – Nan, the Southern Lady – a key friend to all with so much insight into the problems and situations each sister was growing through. She added fun and humor with unconditional love. Was she actually an angel in disguise? It made me wonder.

Ms Wallace’s characters are excellently developed. She obviously loved each character and developed traits insightfully into each one. I became more endeared to each sister as the chapters flew by. This story spoke deeply and emotionally to me of like problems throughout my lifetime of raising children, serious health issues and working toward improved marriage relations, and more – I easily became personally involved.  Laurinda adds enticement into her writing flow that is highly entertaining.

Faith in God, choices, secrets, mistakes, redemption, change and growth; the core concept of this story is scripturally based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. I pray you will keep these verses in your consciousness as you read Laurinda’s novel A Time Under Heaven. Every verse provided a story line into each sister’s search. So, there is a time for searching and revealing in all seasons of our lives. How many secrets have been kept to haunt each character? Laurinda brings to my own personal thoughts these times and seasons of my life.

The Time Under Heaven is a true reminder that life cycles in sameness – the problems and crises are not new…only to each generation. My favorite quote “If God brings you to it – He’ll bring you through it.” is proven true once again through Laurinda’s insightful writing about human and spiritual nature. This story ended just as it was beginning. Is it possible Laurinda has in mind a continuation story for this family?  Thank you Laurinda Wallace for sharing your faith and delightful writing with us. Friends, for an engrossing read – do yourself a favor and compliment the author by getting your copy now. You will both be blessed!

About Laurinda….

Living in the high desert of Arizona, Laurinda writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her novel, The Time Under Heaven and devotional, Gardens of the Heart are available. Mysteries are coming in 2013.
Biography

Laurinda is a native of the snowbelt in Western New York and left the snowy weather for the sun and mountain views of southeast Arizona in 2003.
A graduate of Houghton College, New York, she’s made a career in administration.

A lifelong writer, she seriously pursued freelance writing in 2005 and has been published in both print and e-publications. She contributes regularly to Christian Devotions, and has written devotions and articles for The Upper Room and Mature Living.
Her debut novel, The Time Under Heaven was released by 3-Mice Productions in June, 2012.
Active in church ministry, she teaches a women’s Bible study in a bi-lingual setting.

Favorite Books

Too many to mention. The top three are: The Bible by God, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Website:  http://www.laurindaw.blogspot.com

A Time Under Heaven is available @ Amazon in Print and on Kindle!

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