Monthly Archives: March 2018

Words of Encouragement or Discouragement?

“Oh, what a cute little girl you have there! She looks a little cold. Have you thought maybe she might need a jacket?”

“Are we ready to go? You don’t look like you are quite ready. We will wait here while you change.”

“Just try a little harder, dear, to focus on the positive. Life can’t all be bad, can it?”


This can happen on accident or on purpose. I truly believe many people have good intentions. Good intentions though, are often wrought with grief and discouragement.

For example, last week, I learned that not only am I am a complete failure as a parent because I don’t have sit down meals with our whole family anymore, I also am to blame for many other issues because I allow screen time, and don’t share stories from life lessons I learned with my children enough.

I remember reading a book, one that was highly recommended in homeschool circles. My oldest son was 6 or 7 years old, and I was trying to learn all I could about this homeschooling thing. As I read, I learned that if I did not read aloud to him for 2-3 hours daily, I not only ruined his education, but at the age of seven, it was already too late. He was doomed to a life of mediocrity, because I had already failed him in his education. I got about halfway through the book, and ended up sobbing at my failures.

No doubt the author of the book was seeking to encourage parents to read to their children. I am sure of that. In her zeal, she discouraged me. What I didn’t see, was while I was not able to read aloud that many hours, my son did listen to books for 1-3 hours a day, on audio. Yes, they were not always the classics, but they were many times as well. The discouragement of parents is something that I find reprehensible, yet, I am sure I do it often myself.

When we hear blanket statements, or even backhanded compliments given to people, or remarks that are self serving or self righteous, (For example: “I am so thankful to have such wonderful children. Most parents don’t even teach their children how to have basic manners any more, and I am so blessed to have well mannered children.”) take time to stop and examine your life a bit.

  • Is there something you can improve on a daily basis in your life?
  • Is there a life lesson you can share with your children, family, friends without putting them down?
  • Are your words seasoned with salt so that you are not lifting yourself up, while putting others down?
  • If you have offended someone, can you apologize sincerely?
  • Are we leaving people with encouragement or are we discouraging them by bragging about our triumphs?

In the end, we have to do the best we can do. Yes, it is a good idea to sit down to eat at the dinner table together. But sometimes when we spend all day together, talking, discussing and come time to eat, sometimes eating just has to happen without waiting for everyone to arrive. This is especially true when you have gone over 16 hours without eating, which happens often around here.

Table manners? Yes, they are a great thing to have. But don’t judge your neighbor as having never taught their children because their child made a major flub. It might be your child next and we totally know you have taught them all of it. Who knows if maybe that mom has as well?

I would encourage you to give grace, even when you are frustrated with others. Let us not judge so many times, and instead truly come along side people with encouragement, rather than encouragement that is backhanded discouragement.

We are never failures when we seek to do our best. We can always improve, yes, but as long as we are seeking to do our best, we will never fail completely.

Make mistakes? YES!

Perfection is overrated anyhow. We can always be improving, but just keep working towards a goal of doing our best.




Filed under Daily Happenings, Homeschooling

Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels




Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


My Review:

I found this book to be a refreshing change from some tales similar to this. It addressed the topic head on without skirting the huge issues.
Adultery and infertility were two key topics in this book. I loved the mention of doulas, grants for those in need of their services and found that especially wonderful as a doula myself.
The writing style is excellent and touched on many key phrases that would be said to a Christian woman in a marriage that is falling apart. My only complaint would be that it left me many questions in the end, which again, is real life.

This women’s fiction novel is a breath of fresh air, speaking truth and reality, without giving pat answers that suddenly fix everything.

This book was obtained through NetGalley and the opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available for preorder from Amazon

Shadows of Hope 


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A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

Mercy McClain joined the school board to protect the children of Teaville, Kansas, from the bullying she experienced as a child. When the worst offender from her school days applies for a teaching position, she is dead set against it. Yet Aaron Firebrook claims to be a changed man. Can he earn Mercy’s trust–and her support for the challenges to come?

My Review:

I have to say that I have come to expect quality and a subject matter that other authors won’t touch in this author’s books. I was not disappointed. Bullying was only one topic that could have been considered highly emotionally driven in this story, but other topics that are touched on are sexual abuse, dealing with a handicap, theft, parental abuse, abuse of power, revenge, and other such topics.

All that, but this book is so well done that it is not as if you are reading a book that is going to leave you feeling dirty. Instead, you will feel that you found hope in this book. Each character that seeks redemption, finds it. Those that are determined to not see the wrongful bent of their ways, are clearly shown to be not healthy.

While some may feel some of the subject matter to be above teenage reading level, I would say that this is what our teens need to be reading. We need to be giving them literature that causes them to think about these matters. How would they handle it if a childhood bully came back into their lives? Would they seek revenge? Or would they struggle with trusting them?

I know that a childhood bully came back into my life as an adult. I struggled with it. He deeply apologized, and seems to be a changed man, a wonderful father and raising his children to not be like he was. It was hard for me, and I felt that I could relate to this story in so many ways.  I loved the stories of the orphan’s and my only complaint was that I wanted to see the in-between progress of some, like Jimmy in particular, a little more.

Great book series! I highly recommend it!

This book was obtained from the publisher. The opinion contained herein are my own.

You can purchase this book from local booksellers or on Amazon. A Chance at Forever

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical fiction

Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt



My Review:
This series on the Silent years is quite unique. This one in particular, I would say, is about a time period you rarely read of. It referred several times to the Maccabees, and quoted from it. While I loved many things about this book, I found it heart-wrenching as well. This is not really a book with romance in it, but more a book of the life of the wife of a warrior that loved his wife, but rarely saw her. It may have been my mood, but it was really hard to read about death after death.
However, the author really weaves a tale where you picture yourself there. I felt as though I was experiencing the battles, the pain the wife felt in seeing her husband leave and with every chapter, I learned something. If you love history of that time period, pick this one up. It will fascinate you.
This book was obtained through the publisher and NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical fiction

Keturah by Lisa Bergren



Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.
Although it flies against all the conventions, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined-and that’s just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world.
Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.
To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

My Review:

This book is beautifully written, and really unique, which I enjoyed. It was a fresh look in a different setting that I have rarely read books in.
It also discussed slavery in that time period, as well as touched on the master’s that took advantage of slaves as well. I would have liked to see this topic addressed a bit more, but I understood because of the novel’s bent, they did not.

It was a little on the lighter side for a novel with heavy subject matter, if that makes sense. I loved the main character’s name and she was a woman you could admire as being weak and strong at the same time. She was terrified to her very bones, (or so I felt), but pushed through to be strong for her sisters and what had to be done.
There is romance in this book, and while it is a focus of the book, it doesn’t take over the book, if that makes sense. It does touch on some things like assault (briefly), and a mistress relationship in the novel, so just to be aware of that, if you were looking for younger teens. It is all handled very tastefully and without details.

I would recommend this book, if you were interested in learning more about that time period, the islands and sugar harvesting/money making of that time, as well as the plight women found themselves in often as orphans or widows.

keturah pin1

Enter to win a copy of Keturah. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced March 13 on the Litfuse blog!

I obtained this book from the publisher through Litfuse. The opinions contained herein are my own.

You can purchase this novel at any local bookseller or online. Keturah by Lisa Bergren.


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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical fiction

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book. I think take the story of two sisters, set apart by time, illness and work load and really put them together and it just makes for good story.
The writing is superb, and really pulls you into the story, making you journey with the two sisters, each told from their point of view.
It reminded me of Katherine Reay’s books a bit or maybe even Hilary Lodge’s writing. I just wanted to savor the book, but at the same time, I wanted to finish the story. While there is a hint of romance, that is not the focus of this book.
This book is more on forgiveness, communication and finding what is truly important to you, beyond your work, your health even or where you live. It is about relationship and communication the most, was what I saw.
I cannot wait to read more of what this author has to give us in the future!

This book is available for purchase from your local book sellers and Amazon.

“The Heart Between Us”

I obtained this book from the author and BookLookBloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.


 I review for BookLook Bloggers

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