Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cover Reveal: Alicia A. Willis's GRACE TRIUMPHANT

Yes, I know! Some of you thought that I was revealing the cover of the sequel to The Fragrance of Geraniums!  Soon, friends, soon! :-)

For today, however, I'm participating in the cover reveal for fellow Christian historical fiction author Alicia A. Willis's Grace Triumphant, a novel about the British slave trade. Grace Triumphant has a planned release of November 2015, but for now, we can enjoy the gorgeous cover... and happily add it to our to-be-read piles. :-) 

So without further ado...

The Description:

Profligate London, 1788. Slave ships haunt the seas, bearing human cargos to further the wealth of the rich and destroy the souls of the slave traffickers. 

Russell Lawrence is an avid skeptic. Captain of the slave ship Barbados, wealthy, and a respected leader, he views religion as a crutch for the weak. But when the debauchery of the slave trade begins to destroy his good morals, his battle becomes more than fighting pirates and mutineers. What if there really is a God?

Impressed as a cabin boy, Jack Dunbar sees his forced service on the Barbados as a God-given opportunity to witness Christ to the crew. When his efforts to influence the hardened slavers seems to be doing little, running away seems his best option. But the punishment for desertion is harsh. And is returning to the life he once knew worth ruining the work he’s tried to do for the Lord?

Back in Grosvenor Square, Elizabeth Grey battles opposition from society and her self-seeking fiancée. Her work with John Newton to end the slave trade is being harshly attacked. She faces life branded as a jilter and radical if she stands up for what she believes in. Will she ever glean the strength to call sin by its rightful name?

A tale of adventure on the high seas, redemption, and faith. Sin abounds. Is grace enough to conquer doubt and triumph over evil?

Add it to Goodreads here: Click! :-)

Hoping that you are having a week in which you are continually reminded of God's grace to us in Jesus Christ, friends! :-) I'll see on Friday, Lord willin' and the crick don't rise.

Grace and peace,

Friday, April 24, 2015

Don't Chase After the Sparks, Ignore the Crows, & Trust the Master - Review & Giveaway for LESSONS FROM A SHEEPDOG

The Book:
Lessons from a Sheep Dog - A True Story of Transforming Love by Phillip Keller. {Published by Thomas Nelson.}

From the Back Cover:
When Lass the sheep dog came to live on the sheep ranch at Fairwinds, she was anything but. She was gaunt, angry, and seemingly untrainable - a product of years in the hands of an unloving master. In this newly revised edition of the classic bestseller, Phillip Keller tells of those first tense weeks with Lass and allows us to see Lass's dramatic transformation from a scrawny, enraged animal into the strong, vibrant worker she was bred to be. Through Keller's unwavering patience and love, Lass learned the lessons of trust, obedience, faithfulness, and discipline. Woven throughout this simple parable is the profound spiritual truth that, just like Lass, we can be transformed into the magnificent beings we were created to be, if we will simply listen and obey the Master's voice.

My Thoughts:
When I drew the brightly-colored wrapping paper off this book at Christmas-time, joy filled me. My mama knows me well; if you want to give me a gift I'll love, give me a book! :-) While I'd glimpsed Lessons from a Sheep Dog in the past, I'd never read it and set it in my TBR pile for 2015. 
I picked it up again last week. It's a short book, less than 100 pages, and divided into bite-sized chapters, too, so I figured that I could make a dent in that pile while also providing a respite for myself between bouts of writing.
Once I began it, however, I knew that this was the kind of book that I would finish quickly, think about long after I'd closed it, and return to re-read over the years to come, Lord willing. Keller's simple but lovely writing style combined with his obvious humble love for the Lord God to give life and breath to a story - a parable, really - that speaks to several hard things that continually rise up in the believer's life - well, in this believer's life, anyway! :-)
I'll be brief and just mention one of the several wonderful chapters that strongly stuck out to me. In "The Test of Faithfulness," Keller talks about how crows who nested on the borders of the grazing fields delighted in vexing Lass by swooping down and taunting her with their calls over and over again. Finally tested beyond what she could bear, Lass sometimes "broke faith" with Keller and, disobeying him, chased after the fast-flying "black rascals bent on mischief." Keller tells how, after Lass had snapped and chased them all over the fields, she would return to him and flop down at his feet, entirely spent but seemingly satisfied that she'd put the birds to flight. Keller says, "In the contest with the belligerent birds I saw clearly a parallel that we face in our service for God. We are often distracted from the Master's highest intentions for us by extenuating events in our lives. Circumstances which are not part of His purposes for us intrude themselves into our experience. At first appearance, they may seem harmless, even somewhat entertaining. The difficulty is they distract us from our most important responsibilities to Christ. They call us away and tempt us to take off in hot pursuit. In the process our energies are wasted, our strength is expended - yet the benefit either to God or His flock is nil."

How easy it is to become distracted - How easy for someone or something shiny and dark - or, as Keller talks about in a later case involving brush fires, bright and sparkling - How easy for someone's "cawing" to block out the voice of our Master in our ears! Keller's story of Lass and the crows came as a blessed confirmation of something God has been impressing on my heart - If I am striving to obey the Master's voice {not if I am merely walking in my own way}, then I must - must - must keep my eyes and ears steadfastly fixed and attuned to Him alone. It will not do to engage the distractions that tempt, even if it seems necessary. Better to block them out, focus on the job He has set before me, and spend my energies entirely in the work He has entrusted to me.
I highly recommend this book. Though it isn't intended as one, Lessons from a Sheep Dog could be used as a week-long devotional; it is broken up into several short chapters. It would also make an excellent part of family devotions, if read aloud, as it is appropriate for all ages and would surely lead to some wonderful discussion.

My mama's gift of a book so blessed me... I would like to pass on that blessing to someone else. :-) Therefore, I'm giving away a brand-new copy {not mine... I'm keeping that!} of Lessons from a Sheep Dog by Phillip Keller. Enter below and feel free to share the news! :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I might share this post with these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, SDG Gathering, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Motivate and Rejuvenate MondaysSo Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every SeasonA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, Testimony TuesdayTell His StoryA Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Thought Provoking ThursdayEvery Day JesusCount My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Renewed Daily, Soul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewBlessing Counters Link PartyThe HomeAcre HopMommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridaySaturday Soiree Blog PartyTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog Hop, Faith and  Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate Monday Link-UpA Little R&R WednesdaysTGI Saturdays Blog HopTotally Terrific Tuesday

Friday, April 3, 2015

First Friday: April 2015

This post begins a new once-a-month series on A Brighter Destiny! Each "First Friday," I'll glance over my mental list for that month and reveal to you some of the things to which I'm looking forward this month - both writerly and more personally. I'm excited to start this series and hope that you enjoy it!

FIRST FRIDAY: April 2015

What I'm thankful for: God's continual lovingkindness toward me {Isaiah 43:1-7}

What I'm anticipating in nature: the sparrows beginning to build their nests in our backyard

What I'm writing: the sequel to The Fragrance of Geraniums - Lord willing and the crick don't rise, I should finish the rough draft this month. Once that is finished, I'll let you know the title and release date! {Newsletter subscribers: Yes, you'll get to know first! :-)}

What I'm reading {fiction}: I just finished Tessa Afshar's In the Field of Grace; my review of that will be forthcoming. {Let it suffice to say for now that I really enjoyed it!} Now, I'm beta-reading A.M. Heath's new book In the Shadow of Thy Wings - If it's half as good as the first one in that series {which I reviewed here}, I'm in for a historical fiction treat!

What I'm reading {non-fiction}: The Apostle by John Polluck {some might consider this fiction :-)} plus research materials for the sequel to The Fragrance of Geraniums

What I'm reading {devotions}: I'm working my way through the Book of Isaiah and continuing with Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest.

What I'm baking: Oh, I know you want to know! ;-) I'm making a Cadbury Creme Egg Cheesecake for Easter, plus lots of birthday cakes {see below}.

What events I'm looking forward to: Easter, of course - The Day of the Resurrection of the Lord Christ. And there are lots of family birthdays this month! So enjoyable and such a wonderful time to give thanks to the Lord for putting these people in my life in such a integral way. I am a blessed lady.

What am I pinning: This {feel free to pin as well} -

Thanks to those of you who send me notes of encouragement and pray for me in this writing journey. I am most thankful for you, friends!

And how about YOU? What are you looking forward to in the coming month?