love

I can see this as a note from God to me. I don’t always see myself through His eyes, but if I could then I would not always put myself down or think I am a failure most of the time.
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Did you ever have a time in your life when you just knew that you were confident and strong enough to do something that everyone else said you couldn’t? What about talking yourself into doing something by making it sound as if it will be the most extraordinary thing you’ve ever done — only to realize it was nothing like you dreamed it to be?

In A Love Forbidden we are introduced to Shiloh who is feeling just like I described above. She goes to teach at an Indian School and has made it sound so beautiful and awesome in her mind, only to find out it is heartbreaking and NOTHING like she thought it would be.

I really liked this book a lot. The storyline of Shiloh and her long time friend Jesse will make you cheer for their blossoming love until the very last page.  Their relationship is one based on friendship (which happens to be my favorite kind of love story of all times).

You will really enjoy this book. Kathleen Morgan’s books are some of my favorite to read, so grab a copy today :)

About the book:

They’re from two different worlds. Can love cross the divide?

Moved by a compassionate heart and the desire for adventure, twenty-year-old Shiloh Wainwright impulsively accepts a teaching position at the White River Indian Agency in northwestern Colorado. Eager to use her skills to help improve the lives of Ute Indian children, she looks forward to a fulfilling, independent life on the Colorado frontier.

But her new job isn’t what she imagined it would be, and Shiloh soon finds herself caught in the cross fire between the Utes, their unyielding Indian agent, and a demanding US government. Her unexpected encounter with a half-Ute childhood friend, Jesse Blackwater, only complicates matters as they battle their growing feelings for each other amidst spiraling tensions that threaten to explode into a catastrophic uprising.

Set amongst the wilds of the Colorado Rockies in 1879, this tale from bestselling and award-winning author Kathleen Morgan explores the transformational power of forgiveness, compassion, and God’s healing love with artistry and authenticity.

About the author:

Kathleen Morgan is the award-winning author of many novels, including those in the bestselling Brides of Culdee Creek series. She lives in Colorado.

 

I received a copy of this book in order to write my review. All opinions are my own.

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Chasing the Sun was a great book. I really loved Hannah’s character and how strong she was. When her mother died, Hannah stepped into that role as a young girl and cared for their home and helped their father raise the other two little ones. I even loved the fact that she homeschooled them! :)

You can’t help but fall in love with William. He is a manly man and you can just feel his protective nature coming out as he begins to care for the family.

Kind of reminds me of an episode of Bonanza or something :) I loved it so much!

About the book:

Tracie Peterson Embarks on a New Texas Series

When her father disappears in war-torn Mississippi, Hannah Dandridge finds herself responsible not only for her younger siblings but for the ranch her father recently acquired on the Texas plains. Though a marriage of convenience could ease her predicament, she determines to trust God for direction.

Wounded soldier William Barnett returns to his home only to discover that his family’s ranch has been seized. Though angry and bitter at this turn of events, he’s surprised to discover that it is a beautiful young woman with amazing fortitude who is struggling to keep the place running.

Hannah, desperate for help, and William, desperate to regain his family’s land, form an uneasy truce. But nearby Comanche tribes, the arrival of Confederate soldiers, and a persistent suitor all threaten the growing attraction that builds between them. Will they be able to set aside their own dreams and embrace the promise of a future together?

About the author:

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than eighty-five novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Visit Tracie’s web site at: http://www.traciepeterson.com

 

I was sent a copy of this book in order to write my review. All opinions listed are my own.

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In Forever Hilltop, you will fall in love with Alex, the preacher who has come to Hilltop Church. I found myself more amused with this story than I have been in a long time with a book. As I was reading, I could feel myself smiling and I could definitely envision this book in my head. I would love to see this as a mini series on tv.

Inside the pages of Forever Hilltop, you have 2 stories — An Unlikely Blessing and Surprising Grace.

This is a book you will not want to miss. It will make you laugh and once again fall in love with the feeling of community and helping one another. Kind of reminds me of where I live and the people I am surrounded with.

About the book:

The charming and often hilarious Forever Hilltop series follows the experiences of former city dweller Alex Armstrong as he settles into his new role as pastor of a Scandinavian community in rural North Dakota. Alex is sometimes baffled by his parishioners and their colorful ways, but he comes to appreciate their simple wisdom. One thing’s for sure — life in Hilltop Township is never dull! This new two-in-one format features An Unlikely Blessing along with its sequel, Surprising Grace.

In An Unlikely Blessing, Alex Armstrong is a former city dweller who has just accepted his first parish assignment to a small community in the wilds of North Dakota. In Hilltop Township, Pastor Alex becomes familiar with the residents and their odd traditions, from julebukking to King Oscar’s fish balls. And then there’s the excitement the single pastor creates among the unmarried women in the community! Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he has to teach them.

In Surprising Grace, Alex Armstrong is settling into his new role as pastor of Hilltop Church, and he’s even starting to understand the strange ways of the people who populate this barren stretch of North Dakota prairie. But he also finds that his flock needs help and counsel like he never imagined. In this cozy and entertaining read, Alex must choose between the woman he once loved — and the home he’s come to love.

About the author:

Judy Baer was born and grew up on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota, experiencing many of the same things as her Hilltop characters. An only child, she spent most of her days with imaginary people-either those she read about or those she made up in her head.

Baer graduated from Concordia College with majors in English and education and a minor in religion. While at the time, she was simply studying what interested her, Baer later realized that she was educating herself for her future career as a Christian writer. She certainly put her education to use as she is the author of more than 75 books.

A certified professional life coach now certified in three coaching disciplines, Baer coaches primarily professional and aspiring writers. She is also a faculty advisor in the Department of Human Development at St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis, MN. Baer has two daughters and three step children. She and her husband live in Minnesota.

She invites you to visit her at her web site www.judykbaer.com for more information on her and her books.

Read what others are saying about the book here.

 

Celebrate with Judy by entering to win a Kindle for you and a friend!

One lucky winner will receive:

  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi to Giveaway to a Friend!
  • Forever Hilltop by Judy K Baer for you and a one for a friend

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 22nd. Winner will be announced 5/24/12 on Judy’s Blog.

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via TwitterDon’t miss a moment of the fun. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 21st!

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In Pursuit of Lucy Banning, The: A Novel (Avenue of Dreams) we meet the Banning Family. You will instantly fall in love with Lucy and her dreams of being an art major. Her family has other plans for her including her stuffy fiance, but then Will shows up and he shakes Lucy to her core as she realizes that there is so much more to life than just doing every single thing your family wants of you.

I really liked this book a lot as I felt like Lucy at one time in my life and I could totally relate to her character. Will is just the kind of man that my husband is and was when we were dating so I really felt connected with this book.

This book is set in Chicago in the late 1800′s, which is a really neat time period. I loved the fact that right after I read this book, I actually took a trip to Chicago :)

You will want to read this book. It’s exciting and you will definitely fall in love with Lucy and Will.

About the book:

She has a secret to keep. But will she give her heart away?

Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago’s rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work and squeeze herself into the mold of the well-dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating.

When she meets Will, an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World’s Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family’s expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?

Get swept away into the lavish world of Chicago’s high society as Olivia Newport brings to life an age of glitz and grandeur, stark social contrasts, and one woman who dares to cross class lines for what she believes.

About the author:

Olivia Newport‘s novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet. Her husband and two twenty-something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where day lilies grow as tall as she is.

 

I was sent a copy of this book to read in order to write my review. All opinions remain my own.

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God is really doing a number on me lately. He is deep into teaching me about love and forgiveness. It’s a hard lesson to learn. So many things have been going on in my life–with my children, me, my husband. Through it all God keeps whispering to me–

Love and forgiveness.

My flesh cries out NO!!!, but my heart says yes. It is the heart that I follow because I know that God is burning this in me for a reason.

You see, love and forgiveness go hand in hand. You cannot truly forgive someone if you don’t know what love is, and you cannot love someone fully until you have truly forgiven them.

It is a lesson I am intent on teaching my children. I want them to know that when mistakes are made, there is love and forgiveness to be found. Both in God and in me as a parent.

Are you a parent dealing with unforgiveness?

Has your child disappointed you in some way?

Have they made a choice you don’t agree with?

Are you taking your hurt out on them?

Don’t!

Take it to the Lord and allow Him to show you how to handle the situation. Remember this verse–pray it, live it daily.


Are you struggling with love and forgiveness? Need to talk? Send me an email at jennifer.sikora1@gmail.com.

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I have learned a lot over the years being married– almost 18 years. I come from the school of hard knocks, which means that mostly I have had to learn the hard way.

I had one of those lessons this week. One I was not really ready to learn, but God felt it important for me to learn. You see, for the longest time, I have had issues with intimacy.

What I mean by this is just allowing someone to get really close and love me. I grew up in a home where love was conditional and I have always struggled with that. Even after all these years, God is still peeling away those layers.

So it was no surprise to me when God decided it was time to learn a new lesson about intimacy this week. How important it is!

I am going to be honest here…real honest. I brush my husband off a lot (and yes…that is what I am talking about here. We are all grown women and should be able to talk about these things, right? ‘mkay? Good!) . Not because I don’t love him, but because I use the excuse, I just don’t have time.

Are you kidding me?

No time? I have all the time, but I just wasn’t making him an important part of my life.

Other excuses I have used in the past–

~We live in a small house

~The kids will hear

~I have to cook supper

~I’ve got too much work to do

Courtney at Women Living Well always encourages me to meet my man’s needs. I got a firsthand look this past week at how important meeting his needs really are.

God used an experience to smack me back into reality of why His word is SO clear about coming together often.

1 Corinthians 7:5
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Nothing bad happened or anything. God just found a way to get my attention to a matter that I had been lacking to pay attention to.

Do you see yourself in the excuses that I shared above? Are you one that tends to tell your husband “not tonight honey”.

Stormie O’Martin has a great plan for getting past that hurdle of not wanting to be intimate with your man. She suggests spending 20 minutes in prettying yourself up. Take a shower in your favorite scent of soap, put on some lotion and something that makes you feel attractive and then purpose in your heart to make your man feel special.

It dawned on me that this had been my problem all along.

I had not purposed in my heart about anything. I was just going through the motions of waking up, being here, and then going to bed.

So I made a conscious decision this past week to purpose in my heart to make my husband feel special–to show him that I enjoy the love he wants to share with me. I will not turn away and I will not say no. I will accept him with open arms.

I cannot tell you the difference this has already made in our relationship–in just a few days. You should try it as well.

Courtney shares this in her video. I encourage you to watch it and take to heart what she shares!

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Last night I learned something that I believe will stick with me for a very long time.

My kids watch how I act with my husband.

I knew that in my mind, but I saw it come to completion last night during a really bad storm. The kids were so scared. The storm was so bad that I had them huddle in the hallway *just in case*. They were predicting this one to be the worst our area had seen in 50 years.

My husband is a weather watcher. When things start getting rough, he begins watching all the reports, he stares at the sky examining the clouds and whether there is rotation or not–he pays attention to all of that.

We tease him a bit about his pacing from the computer to the front porch. But last night just really spoke to me.

Our neighbors up the road were all huddled into one of the houses basements. They came over right about the time the storm was going to get really bad and asked if we wanted to join them for safety. My first instinct was to jump at the chance to join them and take my mind off the storm. Just about the time I was going to speak up, I felt God hush my words and he spoke to my heart, trust your husband’s judgment and share that with the kids. My husband declined the offer, thanked them for thinking of us, and then went back to watching the storm as it hit our area.

I had no clue that my kids were watching me and waiting for me to say something. My daughter asked me if we could go wait it out in their basement. She was really scared. What I told her next shocked even me, but as I said the words–I really felt them. I told her, “Honey–your dad would never put us in harm’s way. If he thought we were in serious danger, he would have taken them up on that offer of going to their basement. I trust your dad wholeheartedly with my life. He knows what he is doing and I am not worried.”

As I spoke those words, I saw the worry leave her face and was placed by relief. It wasn’t long after that, that Stephen came and told us it was okay to come out. The rain was still coming down hard and the wind was still blowing, but my heart learned a very valuable lesson last night–one I soon won’t forget–I must trust my husband like I trust my Savior.

Two things to take away from this post–

1) Your kids watch how YOU, the mom, interact with your man. When you doubt his abilities, they doubt. When you don’t trust him, they don’t trust him. Show them what it truly means to stand behind your man and support him.

2) Esteem your man highly in front of the kids. When you do that, they gain a better respect for the man that they call daddy.

 

What about you? Have your kids had issues with trusting their dad? Maybe it’s time to look at your trust in him to see if that is where the problem lies.

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I was recently watching one of the morning shows that come on television and a question was asked, “Should I tell my husband everything going on in my life?” The answer that was given kind of took me by surprise. Supposedly, this woman was a relationship expert and her answer was a resounding NO!

Evidently, she is not a reformed liar like myself.

Apparently, she has never been through the trauma of what one little lie can do to a relationship.

More importantly, all her “relationship knowledge” is what leads her to believe that it is okay to have secrets with your spouse.

That is THE furthest thing from the truth!

The reason that I say this is because for so many years my relationship was built around secrets and lies. I was brought up believing the line “what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him”, and I watched as countless times my mother would buy something, hide it from my dad in order to cover up her purchase and then later present as something old she had bought years before and never wore.

This kind of thinking is what leads marriages into failure daily.

I have seen marriages begin to crumble because of secrets of addictions.

I have seen marriages fade away because of secret desires to be someone other than who they are.

I have watched women go from being content with the man they have to secretly wanting a husband who is more romantic, or more loving, or more understanding.

Here is a personal testimony about secrets.

I will be the first to tell you that I had tons of secrets from my husband–my money issues, my adultery issues–all the little issues I had. I would rather lie and keep my secret safe, than to come out and share with him the things that were hurting me.

I have learned that harboring secrets from your spouse causes dissension in a marriage. As a woman hiding a secret, you always are worried he is going to find you out. Then what happens when he does find out is serious betrayal. A man will feel betrayed, disrespected, and unloved.

Secrets will tear you apart.

They need to know. Regardless of how bad it will hurt. Regardless of the outcome. Don’t let secrets tear you apart.

1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2nd Corinthians 4:1-4

Today–make it a point to keep no secrets between you and your husband. My marriage has flourished because my husband knows without a shadow of a doubt that he can trust me. I am truthful with him regardless of how much it may hurt to tell him whatever has been going on. I urge you to do the same thing.

This post is linked to Marriage Mondays and Titus Tuesdays.

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My Valentine dinner turned out fabulous! From the steaks and mushrooms all the way down to the crepes and the chocolate covered strawberries.

I will be the first to tell you that crepes are EASY to make and they look scrumptious! The batter is thin and cooks up quick.

As you can see, my crepes did not look that good in the pan. However, once they came out and cooled off, I transformed them into this!

Dessert was DIVINE! My husband and kids both said that these looked good enough to be served in a restaurant. It took me a total of 10 minutes to put them together from start to finish.

For our main course we had steak and baked potato with cabbage salad and I added mushrooms to my plate!

Everything turned out SO good.

Here is the recipe for the crepes! Hope you enjoy.

Crepes

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions

  1. In a blender combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and oil. Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Pour 1/4 cup of crepe batter into pan, tilting to completely coat the surface of the pan. Cook 2 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
~To make chocolate covered strawberries, all you need is chocolate bark (the pack that you melt that comes in a big block) and strawberries. Once you chocolate is melted, just dip the strawberries and let them harden. I stuffed my crepes with whipped cream.
How was your Valentine’s Day?
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