Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scared Stiff

Back in March, the little guy decided he wanted to play T-ball. We signed him up, paid the dues, and practiced with him. Whenever anyone asked him what position he wanted to play, he’d say, “I’m gonna be the coach!” We all laughed at this utter cuteness, but come to find out, he was serious. VERY serious.
Team practices started, and it was a constant struggle to get him to participate. Either I or my husband had to be on the field with him every second, and even then, he wouldn’t make it easy. Now don’t get me wrong, we realize he’s young, and we certainly don’t make our kids play sports. However, we do teach our children to not be quitters. There are too many quitters in society already.
Games begin. Three into the season and little guy refuses to play. He watches his teammates have a great time, but he won’t join in. Why? He wanted to be the coach!
Finally, by a miracle from the good Lord above, he decided to play last week. No fussing, scowling, or shyness. Just a lift of his little chin, and he walked out there, determined, and played. He did great. Hit every time he was up to bat, ran the bases in order, and played in the dirt in between. After the game, proud mama gave him a big squeeze, bought him a Slushie, and had a heart-to-heart.
“Did you enjoy your game,” I asked.
“Yeah, I did. I knew I’d be good at it.”
“You are. But if you knew that, why wouldn’t you play before?”
“I was scared.”
“Of what?”
“I was scared I might fall down. Scared I’d get hurt. Scared people would laugh at me.”
I was stunned. This whole time I’d thought it was because he couldn’t be the coach. It was in part, but I had no idea an underlying fear kept him from playing.
This hit me square in the face. How many of Christians are being called to make some kind of change in their lives but are sitting on the bench instead, missing out because they didn’t get the “position” they wanted. Or scared they might fall down. Scared they might get hurt.
I know because I’m dealing with this myself right now. Sometimes we’re so scared of failing, we do absolutely nothing at all. I’m grateful God is a patient God. A merciful God. A God full of grace and love.
Lord, help me to overcome my fear, step away from the bench, and help my team achieve victory.
*This post was originally posted by me on May 23, 2014 with the Quid Pro Quills. For more posts like this visit www.quidproquills.wordpress.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

With two very different horizons stretched out before her, one young woman stands on the cusp of an unknown future.

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.

As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

Book #3 of The Ballantyne Series

Publisher: Revell, 2014
Cover photography and design by Brandon Hill


        Papa had forsaken his black mourning band.
        The shock of it stole through Wren like ice water. For two years her father's shirtsleeve had borne a reminder of her mother's loss, as telling as the lines of grief engraved upon his handsome face. Not once had he taken off the black silk. But all of a sudden it was missing. And Wren ached to know what stirred inside his russet head.
        It had all begun with a letter from far upriver. From New Hope. She'd paid the post, wonder astir inside her as she studied the elegant writing. Ansel Ballantyne, Cane Run, Kentucky. They received a great deal of mail, mostly from Europe and the violin collectors and luthiers there, or from Mama's family, the Nancarrows in England. Not Pennsylvania, with the Allegheny County watermark bleeding ink on the outer edge of the wrinkled paper.

My Review
Meet Rowena--Wren--Ballantyne, a native of Cane Run, Kentucky and talented violinist. At twenty-five years old, she's never courted or visited her socialite kin in Pittsburgh, owners of one of the biggest fleets of steamboats around. She enjoys a simple life, the fresh air in the mountains, her freedom to lose herself in her music. But when a letter arrives, beckoning her father back east, every aspect of her life changes in ways she never saw coming.

Meet James Sackett, avid abolitionist and the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. The life he leads now is very different from his orphan upbringing. He will be forever grateful for his apprenticeship with Silas Ballantyne, to which James has pledged his friendship and trust. Then Silas's granddaughter, Wren, steps aboard the Rowena, the very woman the boat was named after, with sun-bronzed skin and wild eyes... Between the growing danger of sneaking slaves across free state lines and spending time with the one woman James can never have, his life is in constant turmoil.

Quotes from classic authors such as Mark Twain, John Keats, Jane Austin, and many more open each chapter. Romance, deceit, loss, and danger keep the pages turning in this beautifully written story I devoured within three days. The cover is gorgeous with the fall colors of the mountains. A great read on a chilly autumn night. I gave this book 5 stars!  

*I received a free copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel's Lady, Love's Reckoning, and Love's Awakening. She is a Kentuckian currently living in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons. Along with traveling, cooking, gardening, and long walks, she enjoys connecting with readers at www.LauraFrantz.net.

See behind-the-scenes footage of the cover shoot for Love's Fortune here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tried & True by Mary Connealy

Aspen Ridge
Idaho Territory, July 1866

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister—and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk—they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”—but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better for her future?

Bethany House Publishers, 2014

My Review
What a wilde ride! 
As with all of Mary's books, Tried & True opens with page-turning action. The most unqualified of the three Wilde sisters to repair a leaky roof, Kylie braves it as a storm rolls in--wearing her skirt to boot. The one thing the Wilde sisters don't do is act feminine, especially after serving in the war as boys per their father's request. He's lost his only son and is determined to replace him by pretending he has three more. But Kylie's tired of denying her femininity and rebels against her father's wishes at every turn. Soaking wet, clinging to the eaves to keep from dying, and shouting for help in the middle of nowhere, Kylie has no choice but to fall into the arms of her rescuer Aaron Masterson, a handsome land agent who's not going to be happy when he finds out Kylie is homesteading as a man. 

This story had great conflict, humor, and a beautiful message. In a society where people are denying who God made them to be, I found this story refreshing. The cover is gorgeous, and I can't wait to see who comes along to tame the rest of the Wilde sisters. I gave this book 5 stars!

*I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. 

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies about cowboys. She's the author of the
acclaimed Trouble in Texas and The Kincaid Brides series, as well as several other stories. Mary has been nominated for a Christy Award, was a finalist for a RITA Award, and is a two-time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. They have four grown daughters and a bevy of grandchildren. Learn more about Mary and her books at:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fudgy Autumn Brownies

September is here! The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler. Here's a quick and easy dessert to take along to your next fall cookout or to enjoy with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Fudgy Autumn Brownies

1-1/3 cups unsalted butter, room temp
2-2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
confectioner's sugar (optional)

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.

Spread into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until top is dry and the center is set. Serve warm with ice cream or cool completely and dust with confectioner's sugar if desired.