Book Review: A Shining Light by Judith Miller

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It’s time for another Book Review from Bethany House! This the first one in a while due to all of my traveling, and other people requested the book first. They only give away a certain number of copies for these blog reviews and sometimes they go quickly, in the first few hours. I love doing this because I LOVE reading and I get to choose the book (out of 5 or 6 choices), and whether I have time that month. :>

 

So…on to the review: A Shining Light by Judith Miller

 

Here’s the summary:

 

“West Amana, Iowa, 1890

After Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she returns home to Iowa with her young son, Lukas. But what she finds there causes more heartache: The family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with nothing.

Andrea must rely on the kindness of the people from the nearby Amana village who invite her to stay with them for a time. She discovers much generosity and contentment among the Amanans–especially from the tinsmith, Dirk Knefler, who takes her son under his wing. But is the simple, cloistered life in Amana what Andrea wants for Lukas’s future? Is she willing to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another round of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever be able to find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?”

 

One of the things I liked about this book was that, after the first few chapters, it feels like it will be a sweet, sleepy little story, and then it isn’t and it takes you by surprise! There’s a bigger surprise, but also some smaller surprises that keep you on your toes. There’s enough intrigue to keep you interested and guessing without it being so stressful it keeps you awake at night. The way I like it! :>

 

I enjoyed this book so much more than the last one, reviewed HERE. It seemed to read a bit smoother, had a good storyline and a little bit better gospel message. As I said in the other review for this series, the gospel message is too important to leave out or water down. I care too much about people to let this go, because I don’t want them to spend eternity in hell, but to follow my Savior and live eternity with Him just like I am!!

 

I really like the characters in this story. Andrea, her little boy and Dirk especially. He’s a great guy with integrity, sensitivity and care for her and her son. It’s really quite sweet the way he reaches out to little Lukas. :> I also love her lovely, Christian neighbor Louise who is always there for it seems.

 

Of course, the main part of the story is really the way this community takes Andrea and Lukas in, cares for them and looks out for them. Knowing how rare it is for outsiders to be so accepted into groups like this, it’s a special situation that gives them the opportunity to heal and begin to thrive again as they settle in and make friends, all the time unsure whether this will be a temporary or permanent arrangement. The Amana people really do act lovingly and graciously to Andrea and Lukas, portraying many Christian like characteristics.

 

Anytime you read about other religions it’s good to be cautious and line everything up against the Bible, which is what I did. I enjoyed the storyline and found it interesting to learn a bit more about the Amana people. The best part is that I can pray for these real life communities to see the Truth and know that we can not be saved through our “good works” (which is so very popular in our world today), but by turning from our sins and following Christ. (This book was more vague about their beliefs, but  did research when reading the last one).

“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2:38

 

Overall, I did enjoy reading this and I liked the clever storyline and the great characters!

 

Happy Reading!! :>

 

 

 

 

 

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New Finger Puppeteer Stages

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Whoo Hoo! I finally got some photos of my brand spankin’ new Finger Puppeteer Stages!!! I’ve had this idea in my head for about a year or more, but was planning on sewing the stages. Then I found something I knew I could use instead and began working on them and finding more finger puppets. Because, you see, it all started with my father-in-law buying me some adorable finger puppets to use with kids I hang out with. Then the wheels began turning!

 

So here are my adorable and fun Puppet Stages. And if you like what you see, pop on over to the SHOP for more fun!!

 

 

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I can’t stand the cuteness!

 

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I was so happy to find barn-like paper, a horse and this equestrian!!

 

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Do you know someone who might like one of these? Then head on over HERE!

 

Have a great day!!  :>

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Resurrection Day!

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Today we’re celebrating the greatest day in history, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior who took our wretched sins upon Himself that we might be saved!

 

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” ~Isaiah 53:5

 

Jesus Christ paid the debt He didn’t owe and a debt we couldn’t pay ourselves for our guilt. And I’m so thankful He loved me enough to do it! One day He’ll come again and what a day of rejoicing that will be!!

 

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(I found the photos on Facebook)

 

Here are some great ways to celebrate Resurrection Day over Easter:

 

HERE and HERE

 

 

 

Happy Resurrection Day Everyone!!

 

 

Choose Joy Conference!

Exactly two weeks from today I will be attending the second Choose Joy Event, and I can’t wait! It’s a chance to interact with other people dealing with infertility, loss of children, failed adoptions or just interested in adopting. People may not realize how difficult it is to go through each day with the emotions from these issues. Each day (some days, each minute) I have to make the choice to choose JOY when I feel anything but joy in my yearning for a child, empty arms and sorrow for the precious girl we don’t have anymore.
At last year’s conference I bought a book filled with verses specifically geared toward these issues, and it has been such a blessing to me!
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So I’m looking forward to more encouragement and to meeting people (or someone) who can relate to the struggles I deal with every day. Because, let’s be honest, it’s so hard going through things like this alone and so helpful to have even one person to share it with. And this year my Sweetie is going to, yay.
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And it doesn’t hurt that they create such a beautiful setting for the conference!!! Here’s a tiny peek from last year’s event:
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You can read more about our journey HERE.
And last year’s event HERE.
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Purim, Passover, Ressurection Day and Haman’s Hats (Hamantashen)

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Our Ladies Bible Study has been studying Esther the past few months and last week I made Haman’s Hats or Hamantashen for our last meeting. We’re just a few weeks past Purim also, the remembrance of Esther and Mordechai’s bold moves to save the Jewish People, so it was pretty good timing. I made mine with a sweet pastry and fig butter…yummy! Their shape comes from the idea that Haman wore a three-cornered hat and eating his hat symbolizes his destruction. More about this cookie HERE. They’re really fun to make and kids would love shaping the hats. :>

 

And if you’re looking for more Resurrection Day ideas, HERE’S a post from last year:

Resurrection Cookies

Resurrection Eggs

Easter Story Snack Mix

“A Week Long Journey” with Baby Be Blessed

 

And this Countdown to Easter scripture Printable.

Also Resurrection Rolls HERE.

More great ideas HERE, especially the “Golgotha Hill.”

 

So much is happening this week:

 

SUNDAY was Palm Sunday, when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem, to the cheers of the crowds. TODAY begins the remembrance of the Passover, when the lives of those who placed the sacrificial blood over their doorways were spared, with a Seder meal.

 

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD–a lasting ordinance.” Exodus 12:13-14

 

FRIDAY we remember Christ’s horrible and cruel death, and SUNDAY we will CELEBRATE His RESURRECTION. His LIFE brings us LIFE. He paid the price for MY sins, YOUR sins, ALL of our sins. Choosing to repent of my sins, receive His forgiveness and mercy and follow Him, was the BEST choice I EVER made!

 

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” ~Isaiah 53:5

 

 

 

And now onto the Haman’s Hats:

 

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Cut discs out of the pastry and add a dollop of filling in the center.

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Create the three corners by pinching dough in three different sections.

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Bake and enjoy!!

 

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Find the recipe I used HERE. And make these with your kids when you’re studying Esther, Purim or anytime!

 

Happy Resurrection Day!! Christ is Risen!!

 

 

 

 

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Recipe Exchange: Easy From Scratch Pot Pie

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When I was looking for a way to use up the last of the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, nothing seemed appealing, especially for the dark meat my sweetie likes. Make a whole, big meal around it? I just didn’t want to. Then I remembered my new (almost 2 years ago) favorite Chicken Pot Pie recipe! I always made the canned cream soup version, but was wanting a more natural ingredient recipe that was still yummy. Then a friend brought pot pies from a local restaurant to our annual 4 day scrapbooking retreat where we each provide one meal. Scrumpdillyicious!! So I went on a search for a new recipe, found one and adapted it to become THE best, yummy pot pie!! So this time I made Turkey Pot Pie with our leftovers, and may do it again after Christmas. :>

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken
breast halves – cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
3. In the saucepan over medium heat,melt butter. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, dill and parsley. Slowly stir in chicken broth. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Lemon Angel Spring Cake

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I recently saw two fun and festive cakes on Pinterest and ? My wheels started turning because they each used a favorite or two of my Sweetie’s. So I decided to go the easy way, combine the two and add my own flair (which I tend to do frequently with EVERYTHING)!!!

 

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Peek a boo!

 

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The favorite ingredients? Peeps, lemon, of the lemon meringue pie variety, and angel food cake. I used lemon curd form Trader Joe’s because it’s a good price as well as a good flavor, and easier than making my own. :> And I prefer the bunnies to the chicks when it comes to Peeps. Or the gingerbread people! I also love all things MARSHMALLOW!!!!! So I decided to make Fluffy White Frosting for the cake, (or 7 minute, cloud, marshmallow frosting). We also love Angel Food Cake in this family, so I picked one, up ready made from the store so I could focus on the frosting and the cuteness factors!

 

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So many things just fell into place as I mulled over ideas in my head and saw certain sprinkles and jellybeans at the store in certain colors. My version sort of nods to Lemon Meringue, my Swettie’s FAVORITE, and the marshmallow aspect of the Peeps!

 

 

So here’s what I did for this adorable cake:

First I gathered everything onto the table.

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Then Make the Marshmallowy Frosting:

 

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I ADORED Fluffy White Frosting as a kid and always hat it on my Cherry Chip Cake for my birthdays. Betty Crocker had a boxed version we used a lot (COMPLETELY different from the canned variety! I really dislike those cans!). I believe it’s only available on the east coast these days, but I was able to try it again recently, and I really just prefer homemade these days!

 

Next, start assembling…the FUN part!! (Although, eating some of the marshmallow goodness is also fun and gives you energy to continue on)! :>

 

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I cut my Angel Food Cake in half and spooned on the Lemon Curd, smoothed it around and put the top back on it.

 

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Spread the frosting on the top of the cake and gently ease some down the sides, smoothing all the while and being careful to avoid crumbs in the frosting. Either fill in the middle or just ice around the hole. Start decorating!!

Tip: ALWAYS use 4 strips of parchment paper under the cake so you can pull them out afterward along with any messiness.

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I lined the base with alternating pink and yellow jellybeans, threw sprinkles at the sides and top and set the cake on a pretty cake board for prettier photos. :>

 

Then I decorated the top with jellybeans and placed two bunnies in the hole. The frosting buoyed them up!

 

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One of the best things about this idea, is that the choices are ENDLESS, and kids will LOVE decorating it themselves!!!

 

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It is simply DELIGHTFUL! Light and airy! A perfect springtime cake!!

 

P.S. Here’s a cute version some kids made!

 

 

 

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Play Time and New Product Preview

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It can never be the same as having my own or make up for losing a child, but I thoroughly enjoy my fun times with this little cutie!! (I also have another little cutie I love hanging out with). God has truly blessed me by giving me sweet little playmates over my lifetime.

 

We had a great time playing together a couple of days ago and I gave her one of my new products coming soon to the shop, as soon as I get photos taken. Fyi: these were taken with my cell phone again.

 

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She greeted me with Grand Jete’s which she calls leaps! It’s her favorite part of ballet class, and I love that she greeted me that way! Then she went into Chaine Turns, no prompting for either one. My heart was happy!

 

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Here’s another idea for the puppet stages! :>

 

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Isn’t she adorable??!!

 

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We’re a couple of sillies!

 

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And she’s a great artist!!

 

 

 

Modest Monday: Lilac and Black

 

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It’s Modest Monday time! I talked my Sweetie into taking photos again since it’s been awhile since I’ve written a traditional Modest Monday post. So here you go! I actually had to shed the pretty cardigan in the car, because it was already so HOT yesterday! After several days of lovely cooler weather, it was a shock to step outside into the heat. Anyway, the rest of the outfit worked, so it all worked out. I always know I have be prepared since it’s usually warmer than I  like. It’s all about the layers!

 

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My Sweetie made me laugh!! :>

 

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And I got to sit in church with my sweet, young friend Sierra yesterday!! :>

 

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Cardigan from Mervyn’s

Skirt from a thrift store several years ago

Shirt and necklace from WalMart

Earrings from ?

Sanitas from Footprints.com, but they are discontinuing them so they can carry more Danskos. Fyi: Danskos used to be made by Sanita in Denmark, but now they’re made in China. I don’t know what I’m going to do!

 

Anyway, have a happy Monday everyone!! :>

 

 

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