Thursday, May 09, 2019

Welcome to the Scooter Gang

*Sarah and *Hannah are here, my daughter announced excitedly as if she’d been waiting for them to come for a long time. But the truth was that nobody knew that they were coming until a few days before, and my daughter had no clue at all. That’s because Sarah and Hannah are foster children. But that’s a normal thing on our little block. There are 4 families with foster children on our block now. Some children will stay long time, some stay as forever family, and others come and stay for a while and then are reunified with family.

We also have a LOT of children under ten on our block. We affectionately refer to them as the scooter gang as they are out from dawn ‘til dusk riding scooters and bikes up and down the street all day. They rotate between our houses, popping in for drinks or snacks like our homes are just extensions of each other’s. And it was to this little club that Sarah (who was old enough to play outside while her little sister is still a bit too young) was welcomed with open arms. You are one of us now, their happy greetings let her know. A part of the scooter gang with no hard questions - just a place to belong.

Today, one of the moms on the block texted to tell us that the kids came in worried because Sarah used the F word. And her answer was perfect. Sometimes when kids come from hard places, they learn some not so good things along the way. And while it’s ok to tell her that we don’t use that language, we can also extend grace. And she went on to explain what grace was.

I know that it might seem scary to some to be living downtown and to have a constant influx of children that have been through horrors playing with my kids. What kind of influence might they have? What terrible experiences might they share? But I see it as an incredible gift to my children - to be surrounded by examples of Christ’s love for the most helpless among us on a daily basis and to see it as a normal part of life. To learn what grace is and that we all need it and we all need to extend it. To have many “moms” to speak into their hearts and lives. And what a gift to the children who come to our little block, whether it be for a short time, or for the rest of their lives - just to hear “you’re here - you’re part of our club now.”

So on this weekend of honoring mothers, I honor the ones right on my street, who are fighting hard battles for children who don’t have another to fight for them. And not only that but who welcome the scooter gang to witness it all first hand.
*Names changed for privacy

Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Ruthie Stoltzfus cannot wait to get out of boring Stoney Ridge and the quiet Amish ways of her family, and make a difference in the world. She has earned her GED in secret, and now just needs to figure out exactly what she wants to do with it.
Patrick Kelly has just arrived in Stoney Ridge, planning to spend a month learning the Amish ways, and eventually join their way of life. He enlists Ruthie to help him learn Penn Dutch and his quiet ways of seeing the good in the Amish ways of life may sway Ruthie in her descision.
Luke Schrock is Ruthie's next door neighbor/on again off again romance. It's off at the moment, but seeing Patrick Kelly arrive in Stoney Ridge lights a fire under Luke and he will do anything to win her back. If only he could stay out of trouble long enough...

One of the things I really like about Fisher's stories is that instead of just following one person's tight story line, she is really following the story of an entire neighborhood so we have known the people in this story a long time! We have watched them grow up in her other books and now we get to see the decisions they will make as they face their futures. Many different characters and side plots wind their way through her stories and I love that! I also love the realness her characters have. Their struggles and thoughts are relatable and there is always something to learn.

I would highly recommend these books to Amish fiction lovers and even if you're not, I'd say give them a try. They are out of the ordinary. But go back and read some of her other books from Stoney Ridge first so you get to know the characters and town a little more before you dig into this one!

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Book Review: Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

Publisher's Description:

Doing a good deed never felt so bad

Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn't particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses--a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn't last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs' concerned citizens.

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves--because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

My Review:
This is the second book in the "Hidden Springs Mysteries" series by Gabhart and it was even better than the first one. A lot more excitement and a faster plot in this book and I was pulled into the story from the very beginning. Though I had a good guess from the beginning "whodunnit", I was still turning pages quickly to find out what was going to happen next. I also appreciate that while there were hints at romance here and there in the series, Gabhart takes her time working towards it and it does not at all overshadow the main plot of the book. Looking forward to the end of the series!

Thank you to Revell publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.

Book Review: Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Publisher Description:

In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love?

Nothing slows Lillian Avery down--not her personal challenges and certainly not America's entry into World War II. She finally has a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The demands of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he is her brother's best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling?

As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

My Review:
This is the second book in the "Waves of Freedom" series and while it follows some of the same characters as the first book, I think this would be ok as a stand alone read. I did enjoy the first one though, so I would also recommend going back and reading the first one at some point. I really like that there is a bit of history, a bit of romance, and a bit of danger in these stories. It makes for an interesting read while not leaning too heavily on any one area to move the story along. Thunbs up from me :-)

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.

Book Review: The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher's Description:

It was a well-laid plan--but it wasn't her plan . . . 

It's all her grandmother's fault. For the last few months, Abigail Stoltzfus has helped her father with his genealogical research, hoping that breaking through a client's brick wall would also break his melancholy. But now her intrusive grandmother has set her sights on marrying off Abigail and insists she come to Stoney Ridge, where there is a plethora of eligible bachelors. 

Except that Mammi is mistaken. There are no eligible bachelors in Stoney Ridge, barring one, and he's all wrong. Dane Glick has the wrong last name and the wrong relatives--including the bishop who is at odds over a church matter with Abigail's uncle, minister David Stoltzfus. 

As the conflict grows, setting family against family, it's becoming clear that the path to a solution may lead to a Quieting--a removal of a church leader. But for which one? And when Abigail stumbles onto a curious connection during her genealogical research, it could help David solve one problem--but will it create another?

My Review:
This is part two of "The BIshop's Family" series, so I would highly suggest going back to read the first book in the series before beginning this. In fact, it had been a while since I read the first one, so I went back to re-read it before I started just so I would have more of a clue what was going on. I love that Fisher is never in a hurry to have a happily ever after senario. The characters in her books from Stoney Ridge might be in two or three different series before their story gets fully told, which is why I can never pass up one of her books. You really become invested in they story and want to find out what is going on in that little community! You will not be disappointed in this one. Usually, Amish fiction is not my cup of tea, but even if it is not yours either, I would suggest giving Fisher's writing a try. A wonderful story teller :-)

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.