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9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage – Shelia Wray Gregoire

9 thoughts book coverI wish I had been able to read this book about 23 years ago, this week.  You see, as this appears on my blog, my beloved and I are 1 day away from our 23rd wedding anniversary.  While we did pre-marital counselling (after a fashion really, it’s hard to have those conversations with your dad!), went through an Prepare (R)  Inventory (which was bang on about what our growth areas would be), it still was not always an easy and perfect path.  A grace-filled one, but certainly not perfect and not always bliss filled.

Shelia speaks and writes with an honesty and candor I love.  Her desire is that couples experience marriage in all it’s fullness, as God planned it –  and she pulls no punches when she tackles topics that might make most of us squirm.  Her latest offering is no exception.  Each of the 9 thoughts is a great challenge to every married couple, no matter how many years together they are preparing to celebrate.

Now, I am in no way saying that we are not happy.  Far from it, we have a wonderful marriage.  We make each other laugh every day, we know that we are each other’s priority, and there is no one I would rather spend time with.  He is my rock, cheerleader and main prayer warrior – and he knows the same truths for me.  But…I truly found myself challenged to find better ways to be a better wife.

Thought 1 – “My Husband is my Neighbour”, Thought 2 – “My Husband Can’t Make Me Mad” and Thought 7 – “Being One Is More Important Than Being Right” hit me right between the eyes.  I sometimes think that I forget that he isn’t the only one in the house responsible for the way we function as a couple.  Yet, on days when I’m easily irritated – I could convince anyone that he is.  And some days, those irritations come just a little to easily.  Just this week, I’ve tried to walk the talk of these 3 thoughts, and you know – it’s not the easiest change I’ve ever made, but I can see that it will be worth it.

If I stop and realize that the things that make me not happy, are not his way of making me crazy and really are more my issue that his, then I don’t snap and things don’t get tense…and then, well, then things are just much more pleasant in the house.  A prime exmple of this is how we both re-energize.  I married a man who is an “off the chart” introvert.  He married an extreme extrovert.  Now, an introverted preacher tends to come home from any service of worship as a small puddle.  I want to talk about all the conversations I had after the service, and he just wants to be quiet, and preferably alone.  I can take this need of his as a personal slight, or know that if I respect his need for peace and quiet – I will get all the time I need when he is ready, and when he can do that with the emotional availabilty and energy levels I need him to have.

We recently attended a wonderful wedding.  It was a meaningful celebration as 2 young people joined their lives and faith together.  My beloved and I were honoured to be a part of the day.  While the wedding is over, and they’ll be home from the honeymoon soon – there will be one more gift for them.  I believe that this book is the perfect first building block (after a good Study Bible) for a solid, God-honouring marriage.  I’ll definitely be recommending it for many weddings, and even suggest it as a part of any pre-marital counselling.

I am thankful to Shelia Wray Gregoire and Waterbrook Press for the opportunity to independently review this book.  I have received no compensation for this review.

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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


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A Weekend of God’s Goodness

I was honoured to be asked to be a part of the team that brought a wonderful celebration together this past weekend.  The youngest daughter of a friend of ours was married, and right after she asked my beloved to conduct the ceremony, she asked me if I would create the wedding cake and cupcakes.

Now, I love to bake and to be creative when I do it, and I developed a bit of a reputation in our circles for doing fun things with cupcakes, but to be asked to do the centerpiece for their dessert table, I was truly humbled, honoured and a little nervous.

Over the months of planning, the bride and I discussed a few ideas of what the caked would look like, and about 2 months before the wedding, with one moment of inspirations – we settled on 2 possible options for the design.  Then just 3 weeks to the celebration – I baked a bottom layer sample, and decorated the cake in halves, with both options depicted.

The final look was created, and the baking began.

Flash forward to this weekend, and my anxiety increased about this thing I’d agreed to was becoming a reality, but with the complication of extreme heat…

So, Friday as we headed to the location where the wedding would be, I packed up everything necessary to bring the dessert to life.  Saturday morning would be the time to create.  And the heat increased…

Anxiety over the final look and the temperatures (did I mention it would be hot?) had full set in, but as I began to create the look we had planned a calm set in.

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The day was beautiful, and the bride, groom and families had done so much work to bring things together.  The day, although hot, was sunny with a beautiful breeze.  Indeed the prayers for blessings on this day were being honoured.

You see, this was not just an ordinary wedding, or an ordinary couple.  Having met in the Dominican Republic, when the bride was travelling with her mom and one of her mom’s friends their love story was written over the last 2 1/2 years.  Both come from a fine and strong Christian home.  Both will have watched as Jesus was welcomed into the everyday of their parent’s lives, and that set the pattern for their lives.

Their vows, the Scriptures read at the service, the reverence of the ceremony – were all to point us to the fact that we had gathered to Worship God first and foremost.  The couple was even presented with their first gift – a Bible – from the congregation where they will make their home.

As I reflected on the day that had been, and especially the speeches that had been given by both sets of parents, I could not help but remark that both thanked God that their Christian child had found a partner who shares the same faith.

There was a brief rainy moment – which lasted for all of 10 minutes, but did nothing to interrupt the proceedings of the day.  God had been asked to bless the day, and He did.

It is always a joy to watch as 2 of His children join their lives together – as they were reminded at the wedding – so that God may show His love on earth through godly marriages.

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Posted by on September 7, 2015 in Uncategorized


Shifting Stats – refreshing survey of the Canadian Church

Shifting Stats CoverChristians love to analyze ourselves.  Why people are leaving the church, why people are staying in the church, what we are doing wrong, etc., etc.  Most of what we on the north side of the 45th parallel base our “informed” opinions on are statistics and story from the south side of that same parallel.  We quote American stats and Pastors.  And while some Pastors are very quotable, it was wonderful to read about things worth sharing in the Canadian Church.

Shifting Sands, this collection of stories published by World Vision, lets 40 churches from all the provinces and territories tell you how they are the Body of Christ in this nation.  They represent 25 denominations (who knew?), from backgrounds and cultural heritages as varied as our country is, and in congregations that have 15 – 3500+ in attendance on an average Sunday.

Each church shares is passion for the ministry God has called them to do.  I love how they have found their unique niche in their community.  And so it should be – no ministry setting is like another, and no ministering body should be a cookie cutter formula.  People bring their own dynamic, and when that combines – beautiful things happen.

Patricia Paddey and Karen Stiller have brought a collection of inspiration to us.  May God use this tome to challenge us to find our niche in our community – and to go and serve the needs of our own corner of The Kingdom. This should be mandatory reading for every leadership team serving any ministry in our country.  It will surely spark discussion, and hopefully drive vision as The Church seeks to bring Jesus to this fine country God has entrusted us with.

Thank you to Nuts About Books, and World Vision and Graf Martin Communications for providing this review copy.  As an independent reviewer, I am free to provide my honest opinion of this material.

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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


Buried Secrets – Irene Hannon


Irene Hannon is a new author to me.  I’m always happy to read new authors, and love to read genres that I typically wouldn’t just grab off the shelf.  Buried Secrets is the first in a new series “Men of Valor”

Lisa Grant has had enough of life in Chicago as a homicide detective, and has traded it in to become the chief of police in a lovely small town.  She is content with the routine policing until a construction crew discovers a skeleton at a site they are working on.  As it is discovered there is more to this burial than first meets the eye, Lisa’s routine policing takes on a very different tone.

Enter ex-Navy SEAL, Mac McGregor a detective sent to help unravel the case.  He also manages to unravel Lisa a little.  As they work together, it is predictably soon that both begin to think about each other as more than colleagues.

As we learn of the events that brought about the demise of our victim, see the lengths the killer will go to in order to not have the truth revealed – it reminded me of other mysteries where one controlling person can manipulate situations to their favour at any costs.

The story itself is engaging, although I was reminded why I don’t read “romance” genre books.  I find them too predictable.  Thankfully this book was categorized Romance Suspense, and the suspense piece of the writing made up for the very predictable budding romance.

I never fail to be surprised at the varying levels of Faith that can be included in a book to have it be part of the Christian Publishing World.  Yes, the main characters both are God centred in their lifestyles, nowhere in the writing would a person who is looking to grow in, or explore a relationship with Jesus, find any encouragement or challenge.

That aside, it was a good read – with a great conclusion to the mystery at hand.

Thank you to Nuts about Books, and Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this book. I was given a free book in exchange for an honest review. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own.

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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover

Hoover_goodtograce_wSPine.inddIn a society that tells us that good is never enough, I often wonder just how many of us have bought into that lie.  I’m quite sure we all have seasons that it is true for each of us.  Little did I know that as I was reading this book – I would enter just a season.  God certainly has a beautiful sense of timing.

Christine writes from her own experience and solid Biblical application, and delves into the areas where the “goodness gospel” lives in our lives.  It was refreshing to read that I’m not the only one…

She challenges women who see themselves as not being, doing or having enough with the truth that God believes the exact opposite.  And because He is our Creator – who are we to argue!

My heart ached during the passage of the book where she relates about a friend who leaves church feeling worse about herself than when she went in.  This is directly related to the fact that her Pastor teaches that God’s love compels us to serve, but that all she hears is what she is doing isn’t enough.  Her ability to relate to God in a more intimate way then suffers because of her feelings of inadequacy.

I loved her explanation of what Grace does.  “…grace is not lonely at all.  Grace attracts where the law repels and divides.  More accurately, grace attracts those who know their need for it, and repels those who think they’ve got it all figured out.

Grace is a concept that can be so elusive, yet the truth is – Scripture abounds with it.  God wants to abundantly share it with us, and Christine shares Scriptures that help us see that.

An excellent read – first for oneself, and then for others.  I would recommend this for individual, but also for a small group or Book Club.

This book has been provided for my independent review by Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books.

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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman – a book review

finding meLife has not been easy for our main character, Kelli Huddleston.  As the book opens, her honesty sees her lose her job.  This after her father and step-mother have just died in an accident.  She then learns that the family she thought died many years earlier, is actually alive, and it is she they think died years ago.

Needing to learn about the father’s past life, she heads across the county to the town they live in, and tries to keep a low profile.  She quickly finds a job, meets her mother and sister (but tells them nothing), and finds an apartment to live.  The reader is drawn into the dual life she is trying to live in a town where people think she looks like someone they knew a long time ago, and we warm to the caring relationship that develops between Kelli and her sister Beth.

When more information arrives from an unexpected source, Kelli learns that the life she knew and the past she thought was true, were not the case at all.  Then, a trusted part of her new life shares that they know exactly who she is – her plans fall apart.

I was most taken with the scene where she is learning a new song to be able to sing confidently along with the congregation in church (what a great idea for people who are not used to our repertoire).  Kelli doesn’t understand the concept in the words, but finds herself so moved, that it opens an opportunity for the truth of the Gospel to be shared.

I liked that this book didn’t feel like a formula was being followed.  I was engaged in Kelli’s quest all the way along, and found the last half of the book hard to put down – truly the mark of a well written story for me.

I am thankful that this book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Beauty of Grace – A Review

beauty of grace coverI love books that will serve a greater purpose.  To teach a lesson, to tell a lasting story, to provide a story for just the right time, you know – a Greater purpose.

This book, from “today’s most popular writers” (although I must admit I’d never heard of a great many of them) filled that purpose.  Stories from their every day world, yet filled with God moments that stick with the reader are offered here for each of us to savour.  I think this would be a lovely little book to give as a supplementary devotional.

Right from the first story set in a thrift shop, with it’s subject being a man in a suit and holding a mirror – I was enchanted.  It’s timing was wonderful, as I am currently leading a Bible study that helps the students see the wonder of God.  I will be recommending this title to each and every one of my ladies.

The book has also expanded my reading list – especially on the (in)courage daily blog, where most of these ladies contribute.  It may be a simply constructed marketing tool for faithful followers, but it has done it’s job, and I will find ways to read these ladies more often.

If you are looking to be encouraged in your desire to see God’s hand at work all around you, or needing to share that with someone you care for, be sure to pick up a copy of this book.  You’ll be blessed by it.

I am thankful to Graf-Martin Communications, and Revell books for the opportunity to share this unrestricted review with you.

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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized