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Brush of Wings, written by Karen Kingsbury and published by Howard Books (2017), will be very difficult to put down. It is suspenseful and exciting in many ways. High school students and adults will want to keep reading to find out what happens in this third and final book of the Angels Walking Series. (The second book contains some material related to gang violence and may not be suitable for young teens.)

In the series four angels, Beck, Jag, Aspyn and Ember are commissioned to keep two couples and their future children alive and well. There are forces at work trying to break up these couples and destroy their friendships and relationships with each other. There are even threats to their lives.

One of the angels’ most serious assignments is to make sure these young people marry and have the children whom God has ordained will someday be great servants in His Kingdom. Throughout the books, the four angels come alongside these characters, praying and often intervening as helpful citizens.

Sami Dawson and Tyler Ames are introduced in the first book, Angles Walking. Tyler is a major league baseball player until he is injured. Through his life experiences, he returns to the Lord and to his high school sweetheart, Sami.

In the second book, Chasing Sunsets, Tyler’s friend and LA Dodger pitcher, Marcus Dillinger meets Mary Catherine Clark who is Sami’s roommate. For both Marcus and Mary Catherine, it is love at first sight. However, they are both reticent to become involved. Mary Catherine knows she has a heart condition and will someday need a valve transplant. Marcus admires Mary Catherine and is very attracted to her, but he is involved in a relationship with his coach’s niece, Shelly. Tyler, Sami, Marcus and Mary Catherine are involved in a local youth center. They want to help young people involved in gangs, hoping to keep them out of prison.

Lexy, whose mother is in prison, is one of the young women who comes to them for help. She is the girl friend of the gang leader of the West Knights, Dwayne Davis. Lexy wants to leave the life of gangs, but she is afraid that if she does they will hunt her down. Through her grandmother’s admonishment, Lexy seeks the Lord and accepts Mary Catherine’s offer to mentor her. Lexy’s boyfriend Dwayne ends up in jail. Before she is fully ready to surrender to the Lord, she begins a relationship with another gang leader, Ramon.

Marcus soon breaks up with Shelly who is quite young and very shallow. He admires the spiritual depth he sees in Mary Catherine. She relates well to young people and leads them to the Lord.

Mary Catherine’s story is at the center of the third book. She has dreamed all of her life of working in an orphanage in Uganda. Her doctor is against her pursuing that dream. Her heart functions too poorly. She needs a heart transplant, not a heart valve as was formerly thought. She promises him she will tell those in her family about the true condition of her health and that she will return as soon as she feels worse. Mary Catherine is determined to spend whatever time she has left serving the Lord. Her roommate in Uganda, Ember, turns out to be one of the angels. (When the angels show up in the lives of the young people, the young people don’t guess that they are indeed angels.)

In this book Lexy moves in with Sami while Mary Catherine is in Africa. In this way, Lexy hopes she can separate herself from the gang and from Ramon. Lexy has become pregnant by Ramon. She has the baby which she has decided to give up for adoption.

Mary Catherine does not follow through on her promise to her doctor. Several months into her trip, Ember is very concerned. Mary Catherine is getting much worse. Finally she sends her former roommate, Sami, an email, disclosing the truth about her condition. Sami alerts Marcus right away and he flies to Uganda to bring Mary Catherine home. She is  ready to come home. The trip is difficult, but the angels’ prayers are constant, and the Lord is with them.

Mary Catherine realizes she has made a grave mistake by taking her life and decisions into her own hands, against the advice of others. The angels work overtime to keep her alive. She is admitted to the hospital, and the doctor introduces her to a devise he has just discovered. It is called a LVAD–Left Ventricular Assist Device that can act as a mechanical heart in place of her own, which is rapidly giving out. She is intrigued and agrees to the surgery. She will need to charge the devise daily and be a little more cautious than usual. Her parents, Sami, Tyler, Marcus and Lexy are all there to support her. She apologizes for not being honest with them, and all is forgiven.

There are more events and exciting happenings in this final book of the Angels Walking Series, but I will leave you to discover them on your own. I really enjoyed this series, and was more thoughtful about how angels really do intervene in our lives. It is a blessing to know the Lord and His Angels are always watching out for us. His will shall be done in His way and for His glory.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

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The Ebb Tide written by Beverly Lewis and published by Bethany House Publishers (2017) is a good read for young women, especially for those who love to travel. I am not young anymore, but I certainly love to travel.

The main character of the story is Sallie Riehl, a nineteen-year-old Amish girl who lives in Paradise Township, Pennsylvania. She has not taken her vow yet to join the Amish Church and remain in the fellowship of the People for life. She figures she will splurge with her hard-earned money from waitressing and take a two-week trip to Australia. She has been dreaming of far away places since she was little and for several years she has been saving money to travel.

She makes arrangements to leave, but then she learns that her two-year-old nephew Aaron has a heart murmur and needs a valve repair. His surgery will cost much more than is available in the Amish Medical Fund. After much prayer and angst, Sallie decides to donate her trip money for his surgery.

Sallie wants to keep what she has done for her nephew a secret, but word gets around and the family is very grateful. Her mother wants her to join the church right away, but Sallie just isn’t ready. Soon she hears about an intriguing opportunity through her boss, Lyman Sullivan. Len and Monique Logan, friends of Lyman and frequent customers to the restaurant, have a nine-year-old daughter, Autumn, and a newborn son, Conner. They need a nanny this summer at their home near the ocean in Cape May, New Jersey. Lyman recommends Sallie.

Sallie is thrilled with the turn of events, but she doesn’t think she will gain her parents’ approval for a trip like this. She is also becoming interested in Perry, a kind Amish man. After prayer and discussing the opportunity with her parents, Sallie is permitted to go with the Logan family. She has always dreamed of seeing the ocean. Although Cape May is not the Great Barrier Reef that she had studied and dreamed of, she is thrilled at the prospect of seeing the ocean for the first time.

During her first few weeks with the Logan family, Sallie and Autumn take a boating trip to view fish and birds. A marine biology student, Kevin Kreider, helps lead the trip. He is a Mennonite and takes an interest in Sallie. In the weeks that follow, they meet at the beach and become friends. They have much in common, including their love of travel and marine life. During this time, Sally and Perry are communicating by letter, but soon Sallie realizes that her relationship with Perry pales in comparison to the one she has with Kevin.

As the time draws near for Sallie to return, she feels she has no other choice but to break off her friendship with Kevin. She is starting to have stronger feelings for him, but can’t see how it could work out.  She is planning on returning to the Amish way of life.  On one of their last times together, Sallie accompanies Kevin to the Mennonite church service, where she hears the pastor mention that God leads each person’s life individually. He explains how others may not understand the way He is leading us. Sallie takes this to heart, and wonders if she will ever be ready to join the church at home.

Back home, Sallie and Perry begin seeing each other, but Sallie quickly realizes that she does not care for him in the way she would need in order to marry him. He is more of a friend to her. She also comes to see that with her love to explore God’s creation and travel, perhaps God has another plan for her that may just lead her away from the Amish lifestyle. She is eventually honest with her parents about this and is surprised to hear that they really do understand. They are disappointed, but they know that only she can make this decision.

Other events come to pass, and the story ends on a very happy note. Sallie’s questions are answered and the Lord leads her on a wonderful path, one she could never have imagined had she not waited on Him and listened for His leading. She realizes how important prayer has been to the entire process.

This is a very helpful book for young women, ages 18 to 26, who are wondering about their own futures and what God has planned for them. With all the choices available, it can be confusing at times. The book will encourage young people to seek the Lord above all other voices. It will show them the vital role prayer plays in their own lives. I enjoyed it very much. BTW, my favorite place to be is at the ocean.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

Accidentally Amish (Valley of Choice) by Olivia Newport and published by Shiloh Run Press (2012) will instruct and delight you. The two main characters, Annalise Friesen and Rufus Beiler couldn’t be more opposite. Annie, as she is called, is from Colorado Springs and owns a software company. Rufus is from the San Luis Valley in Colorado, and he is Amish. Yet, even so, these two are drawn to each other.

Through a series of crazy events, Annie ends up in the San Luis Valley with Rufus Beiler’s family. Rick Stebbins, her intellectual property lawyer/ex-boyfriend, and Barrett, her business partner, are attempting to take over her company. Fleeing from Rick, who is trying to get her to sign papers, she becomes a stowaway in a truck driven by Tom, a friend of Rufus. She decides on an extended stay at a hotel in the small town.

Through her relationship with her new Amish friends, and her desire to lead a more simple life, Annie comes to have a deeper faith in God. In the beginning of the story, she is highly attached to her computer and cell phone. She begins to rethink her lifestyle as she spends time with the Beiler family.

Intertwined in the story of Annie and Rufus is the story of another family. Jakob and Verona Beyeler came to America from Europe on the Charming Nancy in 1737. Many facts in this story are true. The book’s author, Olivia Newport, is a descendant of this family.

Annie begins to research her family history and finds she is related to Jakob Beyeler, through the line of his second wife, Elizabeth Kallen. When Jakob’s first wife, Verona, died, she left him with five children, the youngest still a baby.

Annie’s business stays in tact. She sells it and buys a small house in the San Luis Valley. She is not ready to become Amish, but she wants to learn more about God and about His plans for her life. After pursuing her own dreams of success for many years and coming up empty, without many meaningful connections in her life, she wants to find out what it would be like to live a life directed by God.

Nothing is completely resolved in Accidentally Amish; it is only book 1 in the series. But the novel does end happily, even though there are people in Annie’s life who don’t understand or agree with her decisions.

I really enjoyed reading this novel because the plots of both stories are interesting and a bit mysterious. I loved the fact that one way of living was not declared the one and only way. The book pointed out positives and negatives of the Amish and non-Amish ideas. The main point of this story is that God wants each of us to follow Him in the way He leads. If he leads each one differently, that is OK.  I think this would be a helpful book for young adult women and enjoyable for all adults.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

What Once Was Lost, written by Kim Vogel Sawyer and published by WaterBrook Press (2013) will inspire you, and uplift your spirit.

It takes place in Brambleville, Kansas, in 1890, and introduces us to Christina Willems, a woman in her late twenties, who runs the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor. This small farm outside of town is home to twelve displaced individuals–children and adults. Under a mission board, the farm was previously managed by Christina’s parents who have passed away. Christina has lived at the asylum since she was a child, helping her parents with the ministry.

The novel opens with the residents gathered for a hearty meal. Christina is thinking about Hamilton Dresden, who used to live with them. He had been a good shot and provided them with game. But in other respects Dresden had been a ne’er-do-well and trouble. She had insisted he leave and she was glad of it.

In the middle of the night, fire breaks out in the kitchen . Tommy Kilgore, an eleven-year-old blind boy, accidentally comes upon the fire and wakens Christina and the residents, getting them out of the house. The damaged house cannot be lived in.

Christina sets about finding new homes for the residents and herself until she can get the mission board to provide funds for repairs. She and seventeen-year-old Cora move into Mrs. Beasley’s Boardinghouse. In exchange for room and board, they have to cook all the meals, along with putting up with a very cranky, demanding woman.

The last person to be placed is Tommy Kilgore. None of the town’s residents want him because of his blindness. Christina takes him to a recluse miner a few miles out of town named Levi Jonnson. Levi avoids others and shuns the faith in Jesus he held as a child, because people were unkind to his father when he was growing up. Initially, Levi also refuses to take Tommy in, but Christina finally persuades him. However, Levi insists she find another arrangement as soon as possible.

Christina meets with the director of the mission board, who seems reluctant to rebuild the kitchen at the asylum or even keep the home open at all. He feels it is too far from town and from other neighbors who could be of help. He talks of relocating it in another town. Also, Hamilton Dresden has complained to the board about Christina’s leadership. She tries to defend herself. The meeting ends unresolved–no concrete decision is made.

Christina is discouraged; the asylum is the only life she has ever known. Also, she has no money from her parents, as they always gave all they had to those in need. She does possess her father’s watch, which reminds her of him and his strong passion to help others. She clings to this watch, until she has to sell it so she can travel and check on two children who have been moved to an orphanage in another town.

During this time, Christina seeks the Lord, asking for His guidance, yet she still views the ministry as hers, and struggles with handing it back over to Him. Meanwhile, Levi Jonnson is also learning and growing, finding himself getting attached to Tommy. Since Levi is a also craftsman like his father, he teaches Tommy to cane chairs, .

Many other events happen and some very close calls. Christina is realizing that the entire ministry of the asylum belongs to the Lord and He will do with it as He sees fit. It is a heartbreaking time for her, as many of the residents of the asylum are finding other situations, places to live, and some of the children are adopted.

Seventeen-year-old Cora is pregnant and has not revealed it yet. She is sure she will be disowned when she does. The Lord is merciful and graciously opens up a home and job with the store owners in town. Mr. and Mrs. Creeger, a wonderful Christian couple, take her in. They show her the love of Christ and she becomes a follower of Jesus.

Levi is realizing that the way he is living, filled with bitterness towards God, is only making him miserable. He comes back to the Lord and begins to greatly admire Christina and her selfless heart. She realizes the ministry belongs to the Lord, and hands it back over to Him.

After some suspenseful events, all ends happily. God’s amazing plan for the Brambleville Asylum is revealed and you come away from this read believing once again that God’s ways are perfect. When we entrust our lives and futures to Him, He reveals his love and plans for our lives.

I think that anyone would enjoy reading this book, but particularly women eighteen and above. I found it to be delightful, suspenseful, and encouraging. It has inspired me to pray about more that I can do for those in need.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

A Love Like Ours, written by Becky Wade, and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) will educate and inspire you. I learned so much by reading it and enjoyed its depth and humor.

This book in the Porter Family Novels series centers around Lyndie and Jake, both in their early thirties, who were the best of childhood friends. When Jake was twelve and Lyndie was ten, they spent much of their waking hours together, enjoying animals and having outdoor adventures.

About that time, Lyndie’s father obtained a job that would take him and his family away from Holley, Texas, to Altadena, California. The family particularly needed him to accept this job because Lyndie’s younger sister had severe cerebral palsy, was blind and non-verbal, and required many medical treatments for lung problems. Lyndie was a wonderful, caring, helpful big sister.

Twenty years pass and Lyndie’s father is transfered back to Texas. The family settles in the same area as before. Lyndie’s and Jake’s mothers waste no time getting the families together for dinners. However, Jake does not attend the dinners and Lyndie is concerned.

She learns that eight years before while Jake was a Marine, three of his friends died under his watch. His Humvee hit a hidden Improvised Explosive Device. Jake now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, leaving him with anxiety and frightening flashbacks. He finds comfort in training horses at Whispering Creek Ranch, his family’s Thoroughbred horse farm.

Jake’s brother knows that Lyndie is skilled as a horse trainer and urges her to apply for a position with Jake. Lyndie gets the job, but  Jake’s brooding disposition concerns her. She begins praying for him. He had been close to the Lord once, but he has wandered away, feeling the Lord has abandoned him.

Lyndie had also trained as a jockey, and she is very interested in helping Jake’s horse, Silver Leaf, learn to race. The horse seems talented, but won’t run when out on the track. Lyndie begins building a relationship with the horse and his owner.

Jake falls in love with Lyndie, but he is experiencing disturbing nightmares. As a child, he had always wanted to protect Lyndie, and when it is decided that Silver Leaf would race again with Lyndie as his jockey, Jake is filled with anxiety for her safety. The horse races, and Silver Leaf and Lyndie come in first place.

Lyndie as well, is falling for Jake. She knows to be cautious, because he isn’t yet on track with the Lord, and he is still struggling with a lot of anxiety. The plot thickens, and some difficult things happen. God begins to transform all the characters in the story and bring them into alignment with His will.

A Love Like Ours ends quite happily with Jake transformed by God’s peace and healing power. This is a great story for readers eighteen and above.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

Dawn at Emberwilde (A Treasures of Surrey Novel) was written by Sarah E. Ladd and published by Thomas Nelson (2016). I have read four of Ladd’s books, and they are all excellent. The spiritual message in this book is much more subtle, but the main character has many admirable qualities. The plot is quite interesting and you will be caught up in its mystery and intrigue.

The story is set in England, not far from London, and begins at Fellsworth School. Isabel Creston is summoned to the superintendent’s study. She has been at school for many years as a student and thinks his summons may mean she has secured a position as a governess. But it does not. Aunt Margaret, the sister of Isabel’s deceased mother, and Uncle Charles are offering to take Isabel and Lizzy, Isabel’s young half-sister, into their home, after just recently discovering their whereabouts. Isabel decides this is a good plan, and within the hour, she and Lizzy leave the school.

The man who has come to accompany them, Mr. Bradford, is a good friend of her Aunt and Uncle. He also runs the foundling home for orphans, located on their property. At first, the reader admires and believes him to be a suitable future match for twenty-year-old Isabel. He is handsome, polished and seems very caring and interested in his work. Later on though, we discover things are not as they seem.

Isabel also meets a handsome and charming young magistrate, Colin. Although a good friend of her uncle’s, Colin has fallen out of favor with her aunt who believes he encouraged their only son, Freddy, to go off to war where he was killed. She will not forgive him. The couple also has several daughters who are married, and one at home, Constance, who is engaged.

When the trio arrives at Emberwilde, Isabel and Lizzy are introduced to their long-lost relatives and the lovely mansion where they will live, but mystery soon abounds as Isabel discovers the window in her room has been nailed shut. She asks the servant, Burns, about this. She is told that the Emberwilde Forest at the rear of the property is called The Black Wood Forest and is believed to be haunted.  Later we discover that Colin believes that smugglers are counting on everyone’s fear, so people won’t discover the contraband hidden in the caverns by Hearne Pond.

As Isabel begins to see her aunt for who she really is, a woman extremely concerned with outward appearances and show, she begins to be homesick for Fellsworth School, the only real home and friends she has ever known. In her packed belongings, she pulls out a letter and a beautiful little sampler from her dearest friend, Mary. Mary was always completely drawn to the Lord and prayer, and sent her with a sampler that contained the Bible verse, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up,” This helps Isabel to focus on thankfulness and the responsibility she has to care for her younger sister.

At first, Isabel is drawn to Mr. Bradford, but she only sees one side of him, and suspects that he is not really as he seems. She and Lizzy begin reading to the children at the foundling home and develop some relationships there. Her young sister misses the company of other children and this experience helps her.

Aunt Margaret seems to constantly sing Mr. Bradford’s praises and when special dinners are attended by Isabel, Aunt Margaret encourages the couple to spend time together. Isabel also has several encounters with Colin and finds him to be sincere and very caring. She begins to prefer his company to Mr. Bradford’s. Aunt Margaret is not at all happy about this. Isabel discovers her aunt involved in a quiet argument with Mr. Bradford. This confuses Isabel, but she lets go of her worries.

About three weeks before Isabel turns twenty-one, Mr. Bradford proposes marriage to her. Since she feels she does not know him well and does not love him, she turns him down. She does not reveal to him another reason. She has started to have feelings for the magistrate, Colin.

Aunt Margaret is upset that Isabel turned down such a wonderful man. She accuses Isabel of disrespect and betrayal, sending her and Lizzy swiftly back to Fellsworth School. Isabel is thrilled to be reunited with Mary and thankful to be spared a loveless marriage, but she misses her life at Emberwilde, and Colin.

I won’t reveal the happy ending, but all the pieces of the mystery are solved in a clever way and all is well. This book is a very enjoyable read, especially if you like the English countryside, a little mystery, suspense, romance, and drama.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate and published by Bethany House Publishers (2011) is the perfect summer read. It contains romance, suspense, beautiful descriptions of summer on a lake, and spiritual renewal for the main characters. You will enjoy the plot development against the backdrop of Moses Lake, Texas. The novel will also encourage you. Tragedy has entered the characters’ lives, but the story offers that renewal and healing can still take place as we trust in the Lord.

Andrea Henderson and her fourteen-year-old son, Dustin, move back to the home of her childhood summers and into her parent’s lake house. Andrea is disillusioned. Her husband has betrayed her. He was living a double life, involved in cheating his company and his marriage. Now divorced and on her own, Andrea has landed a job with Child Protective Services in the area and wants to make the most of it.

Game warden Mart McClendon is also new to Moses Lake. He is trying to forget the accident that took the lives of his brother and nephew. He feels somewhat responsible for this accident.  He and Andrea are both close to forty years old. He meets Andrea when Dustin and some of Dustin’s new friends disobey the lake boating rules. Mart wants Dustin to take a water safety course and offers to drive him there since his mother works full time.

Dustin’s father has promised a visit to his place this summer, but so far, he isn’t returning Dustin’s calls. Andrea is skeptical that Dustin’s father will fulfill his promise, and tries to encourage Dustin to make new friends and try some new activities. They meet Reverend Hay, who encourages Dustin to help with the sound system for the next theater production at church.

Near the beginning of the story, a mysterious little girl is seen with the town’s recluse, Len. Len is fairly reliable, but slow of speech, and his household is in tremendous disarray. Mart and Andrea come together to figure out the situation and try to help out. They are drawn together and develop an attraction for one another. They both walked in faith at one time, but disappointments and attitude issues have clouded the light of God’s grace.

The plot becomes more involved and there are some close calls, which I will let you discover on your own. Larkspur Cove ends happily, with God once again in the center of the main character’s lives and young Dustin happily settling into his new area.

I enjoyed the descriptions in this story. I could picture the lake, the area and the people. I also learned a lot from the lessons the characters learned. I know you will enjoy this story as much as I did. I would recommend this book for women or men eighteen years old and up.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

The Wonder of You, written by Susan May Warren and published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2015) is one of the Christiansen Family novels.  It is a book most young women can relate to. The Wonder of You explores how two young adults can come to realize just how vital the Lord is in their decision-making.

Amelia Christiansen, 20, and Roark St. John, 25, are very different from each other. She grew up in a small resort town, Deep Haven, Minnesota. To study photography, she traveled to Prague. Roark, whose missionary parents died when he was a teen, has traveled many countries helping his Uncle Donovan with the family’s billion euro hotel business that he will someday inherit. Amelia and Roark met and fell in love on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

But Roark, running from tragedies in his past, pretended to be only a student. He failed to reveal to Amelia other pieces of information about himself. When she saw him on the bridge with another woman, not knowing the woman was just an old friend, Amelia cut her time in Europe short and high-tailed it home to her safe family and the high school boyfriend she had broken up with. Roark pursued her, but she and the large Christiansen family turned him away.

As The Wonder of You unfolds he’s back and more determined than ever to win her. He takes a job in the local coffee shop. At a creek-turned-raging-river near the town, Amelia witnesses a man attempting a daring rescue. She recognizes the man as Roark, but losing sight of him later she believes she only wanted it to be Roark. A couple of days later, she sees him and talks with him at the coffee shop. Her feelings, she discovers are a tangled mess.

The story shows Roark pursuing Amelia, sure she is meant to be a part of his life. Amelia is not sure at all. She still cares for him, but there is safety at home with her parents, the resort they own, her protective and sometimes overly protective five siblings and her old flame, Seth. Amelia, drawn to both Roark and Seth, decides to give both men a chance to win her heart.

Roark volunteers to help the Christiansen family and Amelia with a boy scout day trip. The demands of the trip and an emergency help Roark and Amelia gain a greater understanding and a deeper respect for each other.

Roark and Amelia feel a call from God, yet they can’t quite put their finger on exactly what that is. They are just hoping it involves each other. However, Amelia still seriously considers a relationship with Seth who is safe, would stay put and would make a fine husband. But as she continues to consider making a life with him, she feels unsettled. She wonders about her childhood dream to travel to other countries while pursuing her love of photography.

Roark knows his life has become very complicated. He will someday inherit a company that is worth billions, but he doesn’t know how to break that news to Amelia. He wants her affections to be for him and not his money.

Meanwhile, Seth is moody and angry with Roark, hoping he will simply leave town, so he and Amelia can continue where they left off. Seth is a Christian, yet he is somewhat immature.

Amelia can’t seem to make a choice between the two men, or even figure out if she really wants to stay home, or do more traveling. Roark finally reveals to Amelia that he is to inherit a hotel business. She leaves in a huff, feeling that he has lied to her and wondering what is the use of a relationship based on a lie. Her parents and siblings have come to love and admire Roark for the many amazing qualities they have observed in him since he has been living in Deep Haven.

I think that often young people are confused about God’s will and plan His for their future. There are some amazing lessons about waiting on the Lord in this story. Trust is something Amelia and Roark learn when a difficult trial arises near the end of the story.

In the end, Amelia learns she doesn’t need a man in order to serve and follow the Lord. She can do that trusting in Him alone. A relationship should only add to her love for the Lord. She learns she truly wants the man God had designed her to be with, someone who can serve the Lord alongside her. The story ends happily, with both Amelia and Roark finding their needs met in Christ and His glorious plan for their lives. A subplot involving Max and Amelia’s older sister, Grace, deepens and broadens the theme of trusting God with your heart.

 

Note from Nancy: A review on Amazon.com suggests that the novel assumes premarital sex. The author has Amelia and Roark kiss, but only kiss. This novel does make references to premarital sex having happened among Amelia’s siblings, but the family considers the premarital sex to be a mistake and a sin.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

From the Start written by Melissa Tagg and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) is Book 1 of 2 in the Walker Family Series. It is a delightful read for women age 18 and above. The writing is funny, positive and cheerful, even though not everything that happens is upbeat.

Kate Walker, the main character, is in her twenties. She used to believe in romance until she gave her heart to Gil, a married man who lied about his marital status in order to win her affection. Now she is recovering from that experience.

Kate writes made-for-TV screenplays. When she is told a TV network is turning down her screenplays, she puts it all in perspective. Several years ago she had won an Emmy for her writing, but she knows lately her scripts have been lacking something. She considers moving home to Maple Valley, Iowa.

Not far into the story, we are introduced to Colton Greene, a former NFL quarterback who has been forced into early retirement due to a shoulder injury. His best friend is Kate’s brother, Logan Walker. Logan takes Colton home to Maple Valley with him to help his father repair a train depot damaged in a recent tornado. Colton’s manager, knowing Colton can’t play professional football, keeps urging him to find a writer to write his story. Colton is dragging his feet on this suggestion.

In Maple Valley, Colton meets Kate Walker unexpectedly when she lands at home late at night, goes to her room and finds him in her bed! She is shocked and quickly moves to another room. The next day, all is figured out and forgiven. Colton and Kate begin talking.

While living in LA, Colton was very depressed and discouraged after he was forced to give up sports. Also the girl he was recently seeing became engaged to somebody else.Colton finds himself loving small-town Maple Valley and its slower pace. He throws himself into helping Logan’s father prepare the train depot for Depot Day in early October. Kate admires Colton’s qualities of self-sacrifice and hard work. They both begin to think about God and how He might have a purpose in all of the changing events of their lives.

Colton asks Kate to write his story. She agrees and has completed several chapters when she discovers Colton’s parents died when he was nine, and he was in foster care until the age of eighteen. He did have a wonderful caseworker who loved the Lord. He still has many scars from the tragedy in his young life and Kate has trouble getting him to talk about his past.

From the Start is about a romance but it also looks at love between family members and between friends. Webster Hawks, a teenage boy in foster care, is on the football team. He becomes friends with Colton and Colton mentors him. Kate meets Megan, a single, twenty-one-year-old who owns the coffee shop in town and who discovers she is pregnant. Both Kate and Colton become the big brother and sister that these young people never had.

Things are going smoothly when a surprising twist comes about. Just as everyone is gathered for Depot Day to celebrate the newly renovated train station, there is a flood. Every one pitches in and helps with sand bags. Colton and Kate end up at Megan’s house because the bridge has been shut down for the night. That evening Colton takes Kate on a special date. He receives permission from a realtor to take her to a vacant home in town that she has always admired from a distance, but has never visited. They have a picnic and even see a movie.

On the way home, they argue. Colton is having second thoughts about a book being written about him. He has escaped the limelight and doesn’t want to be in it again. Kate doesn’t agree. Writing the book was going to help her and she had her heart set on it.  She wants to go back to Megan’s place, but he thinks they should talk. Colton keeps driving, and a deer runs across the road. Another vehicle hits their car. Colton’s knee is injured; Kate has broken some bones and is rushed to the hospital. He stays by her side.

Colton tells her family what has happened. They are forgiving, but he is convinced Kate won’t want anything to do with him. He feels responsible for her injuries and for disappointing her about the book. He decides to leave town and return to LA for awhile. Kate is very hurt that he has left without saying goodbye, but she understands how bad he must feel so she waits on the Lord to discover His plan. After Kate recovers, she returns to Chicago.

The story continues to twist and turn but it ends happily. The two of them discover a new faith, a ministry, and a lasting relationship with each other.

I enjoyed reading all the details in this story. It definitely kept my attention, and as always, kept me up at night. I learned that God’s plans for us are often very different from our own. In the end, His plans are better and more wonderful than anything we could think or imagine.  He uses all the joy and hardships to mold us into the vessels he wants us to be for His glory.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

The Love Letters written by Beverly Lewis and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) is not your average love story. It is heartwarming in a way that will teach you some amazing lessons about how patient true love can be.

The plot centers around two main families, the Wengers and the Bitners. Marlena Wenger is in her early twenties. She has several siblings and recently her family has gone from Old Order Amish to Beachy Amish-Mennonite. Her mother asks her to go to a neighboring town for the summer to help her Mennonite grandmother, Janice Martin, whose beloved husband recently died. Marlena leaves behind her beau, Nat, and worries she will be lost without him.

The Bitners are her grandmother’s good friends and neighbors. They are Old Order Amish. They have three young daughters and a special-needs son, Jake (Small Jay), who will soon be a teen. Jake feels his father, Roman, has never understood him and won’t let him help much with the chores on their farm. Jake’s favorite friend is his cat, Sassafras, with whom he travels everywhere.

One day, Jake and his cat wander down by the mill and meet a man named Boston Calvert and his dog, Allegro. The man is middle-aged, seems intelligent and musical, plays a harmonica, but suffers from memory loss. Through a series of events, Boston comes to live with the Bitner family. He often asks Jake to read to him the letters Boston carries around in a leather satchel. The letters are love letters from an unknown lady named Abigail and addressed to my “Dearest Darling.” The other family members hear these letters and are delighted with their beauty.

Meanwhile, as Marlena settles in with Mammi Janice, she learns her sister Luella, has been in a serious car accident and is hospitalized. Luella had left her Amish family to marry an Englisher, Gordon. Marlena had tried to have a relationship with her sister, but they were never very close and she has not seen her for several years. Luella and her husband have a six-month old baby, Angela Rose. Gordon, who is in the military, is fighting overseas. Gordon’s aunt asks Marlena to care for the baby temporarily. Then Luella dies.

At first Marlena is stunned that she should be chosen for this task of caring for a baby and does not see how she will accomplish all the work on her grandma’s farm as well. Within a few short weeks, however, Marlena and Mammi have fallen in love with Angela Rose and can’t imagine life without her.

Jake is busy most days with his friend Boston who helps on the farm to earn his keep. Roman sees that his son is quite capable and takes more of an interest in him than he has in the past. In time, Boston remembers and the identity of the letter writer is revealed with happy results.

Letters also affect Marlena’s life. She and her beau Nat have been exchanging them. He asks her to stop attending the Mennonite Church and to find another place for her niece. Marlena is hurt and surprised that he would ask these things of her, especially seeing how much she is growing in her faith right where she is. She has also told the Lord she will serve Him in the ways He has led her, and doesn’t feel things should be any different. Will their relationship continue? What will happen to Marlena if it doesn’t?

In a nice plot twist a letter written by Luella to Gordon further  dramatically changes Marlena’s life.

The stories of the two families end happily. The new people who have come into their lives have changed them and blessed them. Marlena is especially thankful that the Lord opened her eyes to a closer walk with Him. He has granted her heart’s desires, along with giving her the knowledge that her sister, Luella, returned to her faith before she died and that they will be reunited one day.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

Book Reviews

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