Talking with God

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodrads
Pages: 160
Publisher: Chosen Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Talking with God
Nonfiction

Why I Choose this Book

I love praying, but I also know that I have a narrow mindset when it comes to prayer, and I want to learn and grow. The things I pray about are often close to me, rather than praying in a way that could change the world. It’s so easy for me to see the difference prayer makes when I’m praying for something specific and see it come about, but I want to learn to pray more for things that I might not see answers to during my lifetime. 

What I Thought about the Book

The book is small – just about six and a half inches tall and 160 pages. It’s also beautiful and embossed and shimmery – the kind of book you can leave out on your coffee table and other people happening by will pick it up and read a few pages. It also has a bookmark attached, which is nice and convenient. The book reminded me of a devotional, but it wasn’t one and I appreciated that. 

The author says that there are twelve different parts to prayer: Praise, Waiting, Confession, Scripture Praying, Watching, Intercession, Petition, Thanksgiving, Singing, Meditation, Listening, and once again, Praise. Each part has a chapter devoted to it, where the author explains why it’s important, biblical examples of when/how it was done, and a few easy ways to put that part of prayer into practice. 

Often times my praying looks more like a conversation with a close Friend, which is good. But I also need to balance the fact that my Friend is also the Creator of the universe, and therefore deserving of great respect and honor from me. I appreciated how he pointed that out in the book. 

The book was easy to read, encouraging, and a good reminder that I need to look beyond what I can see and hear, and ask God to help me know what to pray for. 

Conclusion 

I’m very thankful God allows us to talk to Him, and I want to continue to learn and grow with how I talk to Him. This book was a good resource and I am thankful to have read it. 

Rating 

I’m giving Talking with God 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Chosen Books for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Make Their Day

Last night I did the first Overnight at my job – that’s where a group, most often a school or youth group, come to the Museum in the evening and get to watch DVDs, do a scavenger hunt in the dark throughout the exhibits, eat a late night snack, then spend the night. Sounds pretty great, right? It’s a fun way to help make people’s day more fun, which leads right into the book I’m reviewing today…

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads
Pages: 144
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Make Their Day
Nonfiction

About the Book

You dream of making your presence really count in the lives of others, but you don’t know where–or how–to start. You want to be remembered as a woman who scattered kindness to everyone she knew, but you feel like your busy schedule constantly gets in the way. 

In this practical and deeply touching guide–inspired by her book Reach Out, Gather In–popular author Karen Ehman gives you 101 actionable ideas you can implement today to truly make a difference in the lives of other people. Make Their Day is filled with creative ideas to connect with your family and friends on a deeper level throughout the year. This book will help you develop habits of kindness, reconnect with friends and family, and make encouraging people a priority. You’ll be able to put these ideas into action in real time with everyone in your life–even if hospitality doesn’t come naturally to you or you don’t think you have time. 

Let’s outshine the negativity and hatred in our world, and reach out to others with love, just as God intended.

What I Thought about the Book

The concept of this book is beautiful – giving practical, fun, imaginative, and sometimes whimsical ways to bless other people. It gives ideas that will work for all different budgets, ages, and stages of life. It compasses ideas for multiple different groups of people. It starts with how to bless your Circle of Friends, moves on to Your Family, next is Around Town, then comes Across the Miles, Those who are Hurting, Among the Household of Faith, then the author scatters in a few ideas for the Holidays, and gives a strong ending with things you can do by Opening Your Home. 

I grew up in a very giving and celebrating family where doing special things for people – both who we knew as well as strangers – was a common practice. But, I’m aware this isn’t everyone’s background, and therefore this book is a great way to come up with very doable ideas and ways to bless others. (Plus, it gave me a lot of great new ideas!)

The author did a good job of offering a wide range of ideas – some cost money, some cost time, and some just require a few minutes of set-up, then keeping an eye open for when a situation appears for when you can bless someone. 

The book is also super easy to read. It’s short, simple, and sweet, as well as having a nice design. Each idea takes between 1-3 minutes to read, so it’s easy for even a busy person to pick up for a few moments and be inspired. 

Conclusion 

Unfortunately, even though I like the concept and content of the book it wasn’t my style. It reminded me of a compilation of 101 short blog posts, and while I enjoy reading blogs I’ve discovered over the years that I don’t enjoy books that remind me of blogs. Of course, this is incredibly subjective, and why I went ahead and still gave the book four stars because I do like the idea. 

Rating 

I’m giving Make Their Day 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Brave

Snow has blanketed my little Kentucky home for a week and a half now, which is a long time for the world to stay sparkly white in this part of the world. Each morning I wake up, open the drafts on the wood-burner, stir the almost dying embers, add wood, then sit down with my Bible, coffee, and cozy blankets.

It took me nearly two months of living in my little burrow before I actually liked it here (crazy, I know), but once I made the switch I’ve been overwhelmed by how much I enjoy my home. February has long been one of my favorite months, and this year is no different. Despite the freezing temperatures (I’ve seen my breath inside my home a few times), hardly ever feeling completely warm, and going out to start my car long before I leave for work, there’s something incredibly cozy about being snowed-in, eating soup, and laying in front of the fire to read.

And speaking of reading, here’s my latest review. This book is a winner.

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads, or check out the Author’s Website
Pages: 180
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Brave
Nonfiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

As a parent, you can use certain strategies to help your teenage daughter when she struggles with worry and anxiety. But it is also important that she learns how to work through her emotions on her own, especially as she approaches adulthood.

This guide–created for girls ages 13 to 18–will help your daughter understand anxiety’s roots and why her brain is often working against her when she starts to worry. With teen-friendly information, stories, and self-discovery exercises, including journaling and drawing prompts, she will learn practical ways to fight back when worries come up. She will find more of her voice and her confidence. In essence, she will find more of herself and the brave, strong, deeply loved girl God made her to be.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

There are so many girls – especially teens – who have trouble with worry and anxiety, especially in today’s world. Therefore, I thought it’d be a good idea to give this book a read so I’d possibly have a better understanding of what people who struggle with worry and anxiety are going through. Plus, the author’s last name is the last name of another author I like, and I thought perhaps they were related. 😉 

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

It’s gold. I’m giving it five stars, and we all know I don’t give out that rating easily. I thought perhaps the book would be unbalanced or just be like “You can do anything because you’re awesome” etc… and in a way, it did say that. But it was more like “God created you with the tools you need to beat this worry, and here these tools are.” I am so on-board with the approach this book took, and it makes me want to read the rest of this author’s work. 

The book was split into three sections: Understanding, Help, and Hope. It talked about why and how girls get anxious, signs of how anxiety plays out, definitions of commonly-thrown-around-words, and how the words should actually be used. 

In addition to the emotional side of anxiety, the author delved into the logical and scientific areas of anxiety, which was incredibly helpful and eye-opening. It’s so hard to triumph over something that you can’t understand or process correctly. The author went a step further and talked about the spiritual side of anxiety and how the Enemy is the Father of Lies and will use lies against you. She talked about how we combat those lies with the Truth, and how important it is to acknowledge the lies and not give into believing them.

The book then gave incredibly practical ways to work through anxiety. The way she presented the information made it feel both doable and worth trying. I really appreciated how she gave facts and reasons to back up the advice she was presenting, instead of just expecting girls to take her word for it. 

While reading the book I learned a lot about how the brain works. Although I don’t struggle with anxiety (it’s not that I never worry, it’s just not something that I do a lot), I think the things I learned while reading this book can help me in other areas of life.  

CONCLUSION

Since anxiety isn’t my struggle there were some aspects of the book that I’m not sure if I agree with fully or not, but overall I really like the book. (Obviously.) I highly recommend this book and would enjoy hearing your thoughts on it if you’ve read it. (Especially if anxiety is something you’re working through in your life.)

RATING

I’m giving Brave 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Learning to Budget

When it comes to spending money…I’d rather just not. 

I’m one of those crazy people who enjoys making money more than spending it, finds tracking money and creating budgets to be one of my favorite hobbies, and would rather imagine owning something than actually getting it. But I’m trying to learn how to have a healthy balance when it comes to money and how I view it. Spending isn’t wrong, saving isn’t wrong. But having a healthy balance and the correct motivation is important. 

Last month I did the math with how many meals I made and how much money I spent on groceries and discovered each meal I made cost approximately $1.66. I like to eat fairly healthy with variety and fresh vegetables, so this didn’t seem unreasonable, but I knew I could do better. (This doesn’t take into account the pantry staples I used, just the food I actively bought in January.) 

I decided for February I’d challenge myself to spend just $1.00 per meal. My pantry was still fairly stocked with dried beans, rice, pasta, a few potatoes, onions, cans of food, and a bevy of snacks. My fridge though was nearly empty except for the condiments and salad dressings that plague the door of every refrigerator. There were a couple of meals worth of veggies, but not much. 

The first week of February I was visiting family so that doesn’t count and leaves me with about sixty meals – and sixty dollars – for the rest of the month. 

Some of the items I plan on buying are: 
-Eggs (an inexpensive way to get protein) 
-Baby carrots (a healthy, delicious snack) 
-Purple cabbage (such a vibrant color)
-Lettuce (raw veggies for the win)
-Frozen mixed veggies (for soups, stirfries, etc…)

When it comes to eating inexpensively, it’s harder to do while living on my own. Growing up in a big family we always bought in bulk and went for the big bags of everything. Nowadays, when I buy a big bag of fruit or veggies it’s a race to see if I can finish it before it goes bad. And most of the time I lose. 

But there are other ways to save money. Like buying discounted produce. And making soups. And eating things that are in season. Today I was planning on going to the grocery store, but then we got a snow storm so I stayed home and made soft pretzels instead. (Which cost about $1.95 for a dozen of them, rather than buying a single one for double that price.)

Join me this month as I shop and cook on a budget, and maybe we can learn some things together.

My Burrow

Growing up there were a number of things that I thought made my home delightful – a wood burner for heat, a porch where our family spent a lot of time, a window by the kitchen sink, and beautiful blue walls.

There were also those things that I thought would make a house optiomal – a washer and dryer in a convenient space like the bathroom, a white wainscot, windows in every room, and smallness… I definitely didn’t want a big house.

When I started praying about one day buying a house, I really wasn’t too specific, because I didn’t have a lot of ideas of what I did or didn’t want. Basically I just prayed that God would provide the right house for me – a house that wasn’t big, but had two bedrooms so I could rent one of them out. A house that was in a safe location near work so I could live there without worrying my parents, plus have renters. A house that didn’t have a lot of remodeling needed in order to make it livable – a bonus would be if I liked the colors of all the walls because painting and I don’t mesh well. And place to park my camper would make my heart happy.

There were a few other things that sat in the back of my mind, but I didn’t really think about them consciously – like how I wanted to be as close to living in the country as I could while still being able to manage the property by myself, having good neighbors, and having a yard. A home with a living area big enough to host company, a kitchen with room for storage, and a tub in the bathroom.

Mostly, I didn’t want to go house hunting. I wanted God – or someone else – to basically drop the home in my lap and I’d buy it. It seemed like a big request, but I knew it wasn’t too big for God, so even though I had no intentions of buying a house any time soon, I began praying about it.

If you would have told me at the beginning of 2020 that I’d move into my absolute dream home that autumn I wouldn’t have known how to respond, but that’s exactly what happened. Everything I’d prayed for, everything I’d imagined, was all wrapped up in one beautiful home and handed to me. I feel blessed, honored, and amazed by it all.

Recently I’ve finally had time to add a few of the personal touches I’ve always dreamed of – white lights around the living room, pictures on the walls, and a clean rug due to finally having a vacuum. I’ve been praying for ages that my home will be a place of peace, a place where people can come and relax, have good conversations, and draw closer to each other and to God.

I call it My Burrow.

This is because whenever I get stressed out I like to imagine being a little bunny safely tucked away in a homey burrow deep underground with soft lighting and cute little gingham curtains… Yes, I did grow up on Peter Rabbit and know it’s not exactly how it works. But it’s delightful imagery and that’s enough for me.

Each day my burrow is feeling more and more like a safe haven of rest. A place where peace presides and joy is felt. I’m thankful for the gifts God has given me, and look forward to being able to bless others through hospitality as the weeks and months of life come and go.

Dreams of Savannah

My little burrow is a peaceful place to be. The first thing I did this morning was clean the ashes out of the wood burner and start a new fire. Later on I cleaned my home, washed the dishes, added white lights around the room, and (finally) put up picture tiles that I ordered in November from my trip out west. Most importantly I mailed my first mortgage check and set up an appointment to get my propane lines checked so the tank can be refilled. In-between that I had my devotions, wrote thank you cards, made leftovers into soup for lunch, took a nap, picked up my new vaccum at the post office, put it together, and swept my living room, finished reading a book, ate chex mix, and my roommate had company over.

January is a bit of a slower pace at work, which is utterly delightful, and I’m finally getting caught up on some things around my house. Also – for the first time in what seems like forever – I’m reviewing a book on it’s actual release date. Wonders never cease, do they?

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads, or the Author’s Website
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: Today! (January 5th, 2021)
Title: Dreams of Savannah
Fiction

About the Book

Cordelia Owens can weave a hopeful dream around anything and is well used to winning the hearts of everyone in Savannah with her whimsy. Even when she receives word that her sweetheart has been lost during a raid on a Yankee vessel, she clings to hope and comes up with many a romantic tale of his eventual homecoming to reassure his mother and sister. 

But Phineas Dunn finds nothing redemptive in the first horrors of war. Struggling for months to make it home alive, he returns to Savannah injured and cynical, and all too sure that he is not the hero Cordelia seems determined to make him. Matters of black and white don’t seem so simple anymore to Phin, and despite her best efforts, Delia’s smiles can’t erase all the complications in his life. And when Fort Pulaski falls and the future wavers, they both must decide where the dreams of a new America will take them, and if they will go together.

Why I Choose This Book

Roseanna M. White is a masterful storyteller and has authored several of my favorites. In fact, some years her books are the only ones that hit five stars for me. So, when I saw she had a new release coming, I jumped at the chance of being part of her early release team. (Who doesn’t want to get to tell everyone else about a great new read?)

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Like I did with my last review, I’m going to go with the three pros and three cons style review. 

Three Pros: 

  1. I’m always fascinated by creative people who can tell stories out loud. I know that it often goes hand-in-hand with being a writer, but despite enjoying writing, telling stories in person is not one of my fortes. The main character, Delia, enjoys writing and kept her family and friends entertained by telling them wild tales. Having a book about a writer isn’t unique, but I enjoyed the twists Miss Roseanna added to the story by making Delia so thoroughly whimsical without being shallow. So often in historical fiction, whimsical female characters are annoying and unrealistic, but Delia was the perfect balance and that was great. 
  2. Several of the characters had fantastic arcs. And, as a character-driven reader, it was my favorite part of the story to watch them learn and grow. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in a time when it was commonplace and acceptable to own another human. Miss Roseanna did a good job of showing the main characters grapple with this and slowly begin to see the truth. The secondary characters also had depth that I enjoyed reading about, and although we got to be in their heads a bit, I would have enjoyed being there more. 
  3. As always with Miss Roseanna’s writing, it felt thoroughly researched and I was sucked into the setting. As I read, I was reminded that I’m so thankful I live in a state with all four seasons so I don’t have to live through sweltering Georgian summers – so if any of y’all are having cabin fever maybe you should pick this book up. 😉 

Three Cons:

  1. While I liked the book, it sadly didn’t make it to my favorite’s list. Nothing was wrong with the story, it just didn’t capture me like Miss Roseanna’s tales commonly do. This, very simply, has to do with the period and setting. When I was in my mid-teens I saturated my life with historical fiction that took place during the Civil War. And, while it’s a fantastic time to read about and learn from, I don’t enjoy it as much anymore due to the large volume of books that I’ve read on the subject. So, that means if you like Miss Roseanna’s writing – or just well-written historical fiction in general – then this book would probably be a great one for you to pick up. 
  2. The pacing of the first half of the book was too slow for my tastes. Sometimes slow pacing is just what I’m looking for, but for this story, it didn’t sit as well with me. 
  3. There were certain plot points that I felt have been overdone, but Miss Roseanna did have enough of her own spin on them that it didn’t bother me too much. 
CONCLUSION

I enjoy Miss Roseanna’s writing. Whenever she has another book come out, I’ll jump at the chance to read it, and I’ll excitedly tell y’all about it. Just because this setting wasn’t my favorite, doesn’t mean it won’t be your favorite, so you should totally check it out. 

As far as content goes, the storyline explores (not in detail) how female slaves were treated unfairly by men. There’s also a man with wrong intentions towards the women in the stories, but again, nothing was shown in great detail. It takes place during a war, so there’s a couple of fighting scenes, sickness, and fear. 

RATING

I’m giving Dreams of Savannah 3 out of 5 stars. The author/publisher sent me a complimentary copy of the book so I could review it, but all opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book!

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

To Dwell among Cedars

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 368
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Title: To Dwell among Cedars
Fiction

About The Book

Eight years ago, when the Philistines stole and then surrendered the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora left her Philistine homeland to follow the ark to the community of Kiryat Yearim. There, the family she was adopted into has guarded the ark at the top of a mountain in seclusion. 

Ronen is a Levite musician determined to secret away the ark to a more fitting resting place, watched over by priests who would restore the Holy of Holies. He never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he’s tasked to deceive.

As Ronen’s attempts to charm Eliora lead them in unexpected directions, betrayal leaves Eliora with strained family ties and Ronen questioning his own loyalties. Ultimately, Eliora and Ronen are caught up in the battle for the soul of Israel and its future under the leadership of Samuel, the last judge before the era of the kings begins.

Why I Choose This Book

If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time, you’ll know it’s no secret that Connilyn Cossette is my favorite author of Biblical Fiction. Her dedication to details, thoroughly developed characters, exciting plot twists, and delightful writing style keeps me coming back for more. In fact, I’ve had the honor of reviewing every single one of her books as they’ve been released. I talk about her books online a lot, and even more often in real life.

ALSO. OH MY LANDS. Look at that cover! The inside of the book is full of beauty, too. The design team outdid themselves this time.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Not every book can be a favorite, you know? And that’s okay. Just because a book didn’t hit the elusive five-star-rating I was hoping it would, doesn’t mean that it won’t for someone else. (In fact, over on Amazon the book has a 4.8 out of 5-star rating with over 115 reviews – that’s impressive!)

I read the book in one day while on a 72-hour work quarantine due to being exposed to someone who was exposed to someone who tested positive. Ah, the joys of 2020! It took me a total of six and a half hours to read, and although I’m only giving the book a three-star rating, it did make tears come to my eyes at one point, so maybe my rating should be taken with a grain of salt? 

For this review, I’m going to go with 3 Pros and 3 Cons. 

The Pros: 

  1. As always, Connilyn Cossette’s writing style is impeccable. It draws the reader in, paints beautiful pictures, and makes the story world come alive. Her vocabulary is expansive, describing ordinary things in a way that makes me want to look around me more carefully and soak in the nuances of the every-day things surrounding me. 
  2. Arisa, the main character, was my favorite part of the book. I could relate to her thought processes, understand why she lived life the way she did, and longed to simply wrap her up in a hug. She definitely grew on me as the book progressed. The way she cared for her family was my favorite part of the story. 
  3. The story delves into a time in the Bible that we don’t know a lot about. I hadn’t thought much about how the Children of Isreal lived during the early years of Samuel’s life, and although there’s no way to know what actually happened, Connilyn Cossette’s ideas are facinating. 

The Cons: 

  1. My main issue with the book was that I felt there were descrpeinces between the story and the Bible. One of the reasons I’ve always liked Connilyn Cossette’s books so much is because of how well she follows the Biblical account, and in this story that didn’t seem to be the case. Maybe I simply misunderstood? I read the Biblical account several times to see if I was getting it wrong, and I’m still confused. Most of the things were little – like the fact that the Levities were the ones who cleaned up the dead bodies after God struck them for looking in the Ark. But the Old Testiment is very clear that the Levities weren’t supposed to go near dead bodies. I know that probably seems petty, and I could be missing something completely… But there were several instances where something like that happened, and therefore took the rating of the book down for me. 
  2. The story was also a bit slow getting started. Again, that’s perfectly fine, just currently I’m in the mood for fast-paced stories. 
  3. There were a lot of characters who didn’t play a huge part in the story, but were mentioned fairly often (family members, etc…). It was a bit confusing keeping all of them straight. 
CONCLUSION

This book has less violence and death than some of this author’s other books, although it’s still mentioned. (It is Biblical fiction, after all.) The story is mostly clean and sutiable for mid-to-older teens, as well as adults. 

Although this wasn’t my favorite book of Connilyn Cossette’s, I still enjoyed it and look forward to continuing to read her books as they’re released. I highly recommend her stories, and feel honored to be on her review team.  

RATING

I’m giving To Dwell among Cedars 3 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author/publisher and wasn’t required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book!

i miss my camper

There’s a fine balance between being thankful and being truthful.

Or at least there is for me. And ever since I bought my house last month I’ve been playing a juggling game between the two. See, I am beyond thankful. I’m filled with large amounts of gratitude and thank God daily for my little home. So many people helped make this possible, and I know that moving into my little home was what God had in store for me.

But I also miss my camper. I miss having my own special space where I could reach everything in five steps or less. I miss the uniqueness of my surroundings, and the joy I felt each day at taking care of my under-two-hundred-feet of living space. Everything had a place. I kept everything exactly where it belonged. Life was simple. I was always in control.

A week after moving in to my house last month I unexpectedly had to go out of state for eight days. And during that time my housemate moved in. Then, the day after I got back, my roommate (who I barely knew) moved in. It was a lot to happen all at once, especially since it was the beginning of December which is one of the busiest times where I work, not to mention just a busy time in life in general.

I’m working at learning how to handle change, but it doesn’t always go smoothly like I envision and work towards. Sometimes it’s more like squeezing my eyes shut and jumping out of a plane during a hurricane and hoping I land in one piece. Or at least in big enough pieces that I can be put back together.

Yes, I realize that’s a bit dramatic – but you get the point. Change and I? Well, we’ve become much better acquainted this year and I can’t say that I’m any more fond of Change as I was six months ago. But, I’ve learned that sometimes being fond and being thankful are two different things.

Sometimes (often times) I feel guilty that I miss my camper. I know I have so much to be thankful – and I am thankful. But I’ve also slowly been coming to the conclusion that just because I feel utterly blessed and incredibly thankful for something doesn’t mean that I have to like it better than what I had to give up. I’m a creature of habit. I like routine. I like my own space. I like doing the same thing over and over and over (and over and over and over) again. So having sudden change isn’t easy. But it can be good.

Sometimes I laugh at myself. I laugh at how overwhelming and huge my house seems – coming in at nine-hundred-and-something square feet, it’s not what most people would consider a mansion. I laugh at how much stuff I have to learn. I laugh at how non-handy-man-ish I am. I laugh because laughter is good medicine and if I didn’t laugh then I’d probably cry and we don’t need that.

I’ve been asked so many times how I like my new house and most of the time my response is “I am so thankful for it!” because that’s the truth. I am thankful. And I will continue to be thankful. But thankfulness doesn’t equal easy, and that’s okay. I’m not here on earth for an easy life.

*This post was supposed to be a book review, but obviously that didn’t happen. Ooops.

I Read a Book then Bought a House

Who would have thought a book could change your life? Well, me for one. Because ya know, I’m the poster child for bookworms everywhere. And what bookworm hasn’t had their life changed by a book?

Back in February I read Before I Called You Mine and although I only gave it 3.5 stars the first go-around I thought about it so much that I ended up reviewing it again in August and giving it 4.5 stars. The book is about adoption and prompted me to begin praying about maybe adopting in the future. Logically I knew the first step towards adoption would be to live in a house, because although I could have very happily lived in my little camper for the rest of my life, I didn’t foresee an adoption agency being okay with that.

So in February I began praying about buying a house. You know, sometime in the future. Like two or three years from now. Maybe when I was a bit more mature, had saved a lot more money, and paperwork didn’t competely freak me out any more.

There was one little catch – to say house hunting was the last thing I wanted to do was a misnomer because that implies it was on the list of things I wanted to do – albeit at the bottom. And in reality, it wasn’t even close to being on the list – not one little iota. I’m not sure what my adversion is to house hunting, but I have a strong one. Perhaps it has to do with not liking choices? Or at the sheer magnatude of the decision I’d be making? Or how in the world I’d ever weigh all the pros and cons?

But I had two things going for me. 1) I wasn’t looking to buy a house for several years – I was just praying for the right one at the right time and 2) I have fantastically good friends who do like house hunting. I simply told those friends (Miss Viviann and Hannah) that they could find a house for me to buy and I’d buy it and we’d all be happy. They were thrilled at the prospect, and so I was set.

Then one weekend in September Miss Viviann and Hannah went on vacation. I spend a lot of time with them so I said good-bye to them on Sunday, and they were arriving back home on Tuesday. That meant Monday was the only day they wouldn’t be around. Well, Sunday night/Monday morning I woke up around 2:00 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I randomly started scrolling through Facebook and the second post I saw was on a group I’m a part of with my co-workers:

Somehow, as soon as I saw this, I knew it was my future home. I was shocked since I hadn’t even been thinking of moving for a couple of years. But God’s timing is far beyond my own, and looking back I can see little indicators that God was preparing me for the new house for quite some time. Lying in bed I felt nervous excitment building as I asked God to prepare the way if it was the house He had in store for me. It took me a couple more hours to fall asleep, and when I finally did I dreamed about the house. I woke up late – barely in time to get to work – but called my mom nearly right away. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Mom, I think I found a house to buy. Here’s a link. There’s an open house in two days, can you and Dad maybe come look at it with me?
Mom: I’m sorry honey, we have plans for then.
Me: That’s fine-
Mom: The house looks amazing though, so I just cleared my day and we’ll jump in the car and drive the four hours to look at the house today.
Me: Wow.

So I contacted the seller (who I know, although not exceedingly well) and asked if we could look at the house. He wasn’t available to show it to us, but gave me the key code and answered a few questions I had about it.

Then I went to work and began my tasks for the day although it was really hard to stay focused. When my boss came in I told him what was going on and he said I could leave work as early as I needed in order to look at the house. (He’s the best boss ever.) During this time I was really not sure what I was supposed to feel, because I had never even imagined I would buy a house in 2020.

It was pouring down rain when I left work, drove through curving, winding roads and got my first glimpse of the house. My parents were stuck in traffic and didn’t arrive for a whole hour after me, which gave me time to walk around the house and begin dreaming. I Facetimed my sister who had just moved to Tennessee and showed her around. I told her that I wished I hadn’t arrived before my parents because up until then I hadn’t cared if I could buy the house or not. But, after an hour of sitting in the stillness by myself, I knew I was going to be really sad if my parents didn’t think it was a good fit for me.

Then my parents arrived. And the next thing I knew we were putting an offer on the house. (When I say “we” what I really mean is that my parent’s were doing the talking for me, but I’m the one who was buying the house.) The seller told us that the faster we could get the offer to him in writing the better because the house had been on the market for less than a day by then, and he’d already gotten several offers. He said he had agreed to show it to one more person that evening, and didn’t feel like he could commit to anything until after they’d seen it, but that he would stop showing it after that person.

I was heading to my adopted parent’s house in Ohio that evening because both my families were meeting up for my 28th birthday party the next day. My parent’s headed back to their house in Ohio, with one of them driving and the other one writing up an email proposal to buy the house. Then they sent it to me and I pulled over at a gas station to send it to the seller and inform him I had an offer in writing sent to him.

Thus started many back and forth conversations via text, email, and phone calls that ended after 11:00 pm that night with me sitting at a gas station on a conference all with my parents and the seller. The seller had gotten five offers on the house that day which was mind-blowing to me. In the end we all agreed that the house was so completely what I was looking for that we’d be willing to pay more than what he asked for it in order to buy it.

I was kinda in shock, kinda terrified, and completely surprised.

I had a hand-shake agreement that I was going to buy a house when twenty-one hours before the possibility of buying a house wasn’t something I was even considering doing for a couple more years. But when I stopped to think about it, all the prayers I’d been praying lined up. God wasn’t surprised, and He’d been slowly preparing me for the last eight months for this step.

The next thing to do was to tell Miss Viviann and Hannah that when they’d been gone for two days on vacation I’d gone and bought the house I’d told them they could pick out for me. I arrived at their house Tuesday night after they got home and was like “Hey, um, I bought a house when you were gone.” They were nearly as surprised as I was, but were happy and supportive nonetheless.

Cue the next six weeks of confusion, paperwork, complicated words I’d never heard before, and realizing that buying a house is a lot of hard work. Thankfully I had people who knew what to do who were willing to help me and I’m immensely grateful to my parents and Miss Viviann for all the work they did to help make buying the house a reality.

The Closing date was set. And it came and went along with a huge amount of stress when we were out of contract and issues had arisen (not between the seller and me, but on the paperwork side of things) that made closing on time impossible. During those days I learned a lot about myself and how I deal with things when they’re outside my control and how I need to learn to lean on God better.

And then the day finally came when we were able to close. November 11th arrived along with a lot of my family who had traveled the four hours to celebrate with me, help me move in, and bring a supply of donuts, cotton candy, and sparkly socks.

Now it’s time for me to go to work, so I’ll have to finish this saga another day. So long for now, my friends!

The Right Kind of Fool

This is the first blog post I’m writing from my new house.

Oh yeah. That. I bought a house. I’ll tell y’all about it someday. Hopefully. Because you know, it’s kinda a big deal. It’s also a lot of work, so I’m still chugging away at all that. In the meantime though, here’s a review for you to enjoy.

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 320
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Title: The Right Kind of Fool
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he’d obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined.

The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal’s absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his infant son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family’s basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it’s his father he runs to tell–shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn’t his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family’s hearts again.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Between when I read the back-cover blurb of this book and when I received it I completely forgot what it was about – other than the fact that it took place in West Virginia relatively close to where I grew up in Ohio. Going into a book blind is one of my favorite things, and I was pleasantly surprised by this one. 

The story is in third person and follows the perspectives of all three of the family members (parents and teenage son). The son – Loyal – is the main character. I liked him right away and thought he was brilliantly written. Even though the other characters had depth, the plot was interesting, and the setting was detailed and delightful, Loyal stole the show. 

I’ve had several friends who are deaf, and I’ve read several books that include a deaf character, but never one where the deafness is woven into the story so well. Loyal would have been a solidly written character even without exploring how deafness affected his life, but when you add in that element, I was very impressed. 

The characters all had issues and things they needed to work on, so they felt very real. Each one of the main characters had a solid plot arc which I always deem important in books. 

The plot wasn’t what I considered to be the star of the show, but it was still well-written and felt very true to the era. Nothing that happened surprised me much, but that didn’t detract from the book since the main focus seemed to be on the characters and setting. There was a person murdered in the story (not a spoiler since the back-cover says as much), but there were no gory details. 

I read in another review that the reviewer was confused by the setting and era because it didn’t seem consistent, but having grown up near Beverly, West Virginia it was totally something I could imagine. I thought the author capatured the feel of small-town West Virginia very well and immersed the story in a well-researchd setting. 

CONCLUSION

My favorite part of the book was how we got to see the world through Loyal’s eyes, as well as watching him and his father reconnect. Although the pace stayed consistant with the era and setting, I did find it to be a bit slow, hence the 3.5 stars rather than 4 stars. 

I would like to read more books by this author in the future. 

RATING

I’m giving The Right Kind of Fool 3.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy the book from the publishers and wasn’t required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book!