Week 2: You Don’t Need A Man To Push The “Play Button” For Your Life To Begin

Ok, guys. It’s week 2 and it’s getting really difficult to pick these because they’re all so good and all have a point that I and possibly you can learn. This week I decided to pick one for singles and your desire for your “Prince Charming”. I loved this one and I hope that you do to.
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Week 2: You Don’t Need A Man To Push The “Play Button” For Your Life To Begin

I have been married twenty-five years, and my husband and I joke that it has been seven of the best years of our lives. Why is it that we spend so much time searching for someone to share life with, and so many times the dream of wanting and wondering becomes better than the reality of the man or the marriage?

I believe when a man walks down the aisle and says “I do,” his every hope and intention is that his marriage will be for life. He sincerely desires to understand and take care of the beloved bride he has chosen. He romanced her and worked hard to express his love so she would want to spend the rest of her life with him. He was determined to be her hero and lovingly lead her safely through life. The challenge for a man begins after he makes his wedding vows because, generally, no one has taught him how to accomplish his God-appointed position in a woman’s life.

Eventually, a man’s attempts at love, leadership, and even heroism may miss their mark, and his beloved bride gradually withdraws emotionally from the very one she hoped would give her happily ever after. Sadly, she often closes up her spirit in order to protect her heart from any more hurt.

The man she longs for ends up feeling frustrated and angry, and he may give up trying. Their love story, which once fostered hopes of intimacy, happiness, and growing old together, withers into isolation, pain, and despair or divorce. I don’t believe our desire to find a good man is wrong, and we do have every reason to be cautious. Even in the church it seems that just about every day we hear about another man of faith who has fallen away from his wife, his family, and his moral convictions. Single women tell me about the heartache they experience after years of dating men who seem unwilling to commit.

If you are single, I would love to share with you a “love checklist” to help you avoid pouring your heart into the wrong relationship. I have discovered it is better to be single and satisfied than heartbroken in the wrong relationship. If you are willing to open your heart to some motherly wisdom, please read on . . .

The Love List . . .
1. Look at the way a man loves his mother because it is the way he will eventually love his wife.
2. Pay attention to the way he reacts when there is stress or conflict.
3. Meet his friends and keep in mind that the people he hangs with are a reflection of his heart.
4. Pay attention to what your good friends see in him, because often those who love you can see better than you can see when you’re falling in love.
5. Look at what he reads and what he watches on television, because they will be a reflection of his moral fiber.
6. Do your best not to be too physical, because it will cloud your vision and confuse your heart.
7. It is imperative that a man respect your boundaries without challenging them.
8. Ask him to pray for you often, because you will need a man who knows how to cover you in prayer.
9. Ask yourself whether you feel at home when you’re with him or whether you act like someone you’re not to get him to like you.
10. Before you say “I do,” go through premarital counseling with a pastor.

Let’s pray for your future husband. . . .
Dear Lord,
I pray for my future husband, wherever he is in the world right now. Prepare me to become the kind of bride he will need when we come together. Until You make me ready for him, let the only intimate relationship I seek be with You. Blind my eyes from wanting any other man than the one You have for me. Remove all men in my life who may keep me from recognizing him. Give me wisdom to seek what is pure and right in Your sight while I wait for him. Put such a deep passion in my heart for my purpose that I won’t be distracted or discouraged from pursuing all that You have for me. Deliver me from the traps of the enemy, and train me now to resist temptation. Keep me from falling into a counterfeit relationship, and give me the strength not to settle for second best. Give me the stamina to run this “singles” race until I cross the finish line and receive his heart—and Your blessing—as the prize. Amen.
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I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did. This is yet another amazing article by Sherri Rose Shepherd author of Your Heart’s Desire. I was able to do this through her and again I want to give her a big thank you for that. Next Friday I’ll post another article. If you have any topic involving marriage and children that you want me to cover, I’ll try and find it. See you next week!

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The Next Target

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Title: The Next Target
Author: Nikki Arana
Publisher: David C. Cook
Published: June 1, 2012
Pages: 400

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Austia Donatelli is young, recently widowed and lives her life to help the Muslim community she lives in. She runs a career center to help them find jobs and she teaches a ESL ( English as a second language) class for women. When someone shows interest Austia even shares her faith with the student, but when her student and new Christian ends up murdered, Austia knows it’s an honor killing. A killing by family to regain their family honor and Austia is scared they’re going to come for her next.

Zaki ben Hassan’s mission is to watch Austia and report what he finds. He doesn’t understand his boss’s interest in Austia and her center and he wants to find out. He’s determined to not feel after losing everyone he’s ever loved from various crimes. Austia draws him despite his efforts to remain neutral and his urge to protect her threatens to destroy everything he’s ever worked for.

As the jihadists get closer to Austia, she begins to fight for her life and the lives around her. She has no idea who to trust or where to turn. Zaki is trying to finish his mission but he can’t let Austia fight alone, even if it means destroying years of progress. In the fight of good against evil, no one is safe and no one is able to win without God on their side.

Will Austia be able to survive a determined jihadists leader’s long reach or will she just be another innocent casualty in this ongoing fight for our freedom? Will Zaki be able to protect Austia without putting his life on the line or will he have to choose between the woman he could love and the cause he needs to be a part of? Will Austia give up her calling of helping Muslims or will she be even more determined to help? Will Zaki be able to forgive and move on from all he’s seen and turn back to God or will he live his life anger and bitter over his circumstances?
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This book is a little hard to form an opinion of. I loved the concept and all that I learned about Muslims and their customs and beliefs, but I don’t know if the suspense was executed the right way. I really liked the effort the author put in to show the difference between moderate and extremist Muslims and she gave me a perspective that I’ve never had before. Usually I read books only involving jihadist Muslims so it was nice to see the moderates get some of the attention and I enjoyed learning the differences between the two.

I can’t put my finger on it but something about this book didn’t sit right with me. It could be the suspense, I find it a little unbelievable that a powerful jihadist leader would be intimidated by one woman running a career center and occasionally preaching to interested women. It could also be that throughout the entire book, including the end, I couldn’t really form an opinion of Zaki. I can’t decide if I like him or hate him or whether or not he converted to Christianity. I feel like the author didn’t put enough thought into that major character of her story.

There is romance in this book, sort of. It’s a little hard to say that considering that Austia didn’t trust and was actually scared of Zaki for most of the book and Zaki didn’t really get to spend much time around Austia or really talk to her before he feels that he’s in love. That brought a little disappointment for me, but it’s always difficult to meld a romance into a suspense well and I feel like this author needs a little practice in that.

The suspense was intense yet a little unrealistic, at least to someone who doesn’t have much knowledge of Muslims. I felt that the suspense was a little far fetched yet, somehow realistic too. I guess I could see this happening just not this extensively. The amount of manpower this man put on watching one woman was the thing that seemed unrealistic and extreme. You would think this woman was preaching to every man, woman, and child that walked into that place. I did like the action scenes and bravery that were displayed in the suspense, though, and I feel like the author nailed making me afraid along with our heroine. That was a huge plus for me.

Before this book, I’ve never read anything by this author and though I wasn’t completely happy with what I got from her, I do intend to read more from her. I enjoyed her knowledge of Muslims and their customs and I enjoyed how she was able to get my heart pumping over the suspense. Though, I feel she needs to improve on her realism for the suspense and her romances, I feel like she is a good author and if she improves on those things can stand out and possibly become a best seller. I’m going to keep my eye on this author and I recommend you do the same.

Overall, this book is great if you want some knowledge on the Muslim religion and if you want a heart pounding suspense but not so great if you want a realistic romantic suspense that makes perfect sense. Also, this isn’t the book for you if you want a light quick read. This book is dark and gritty and it won’t leave you feeling happy and hopeful at the end. I recommend this book to those that prefer the more dark and gritty suspense books or those that like books involving Muslims and Christians. I don’t recommend this book for anyone younger than an adult or a mature teenager. I give this book a three out of five.

*I received a complimentary ebook copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

The Orphan King

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Title: The Orphan King
Series: Merlin’s Immortals
Author: Sigmund Brouwer
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Published: July 10, 2012
Pages: 220

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Thomas’s life has changed forever with a few words from his dying nanny, who turns out to be his mother trying to protect him. Raised behind monastery walls has soured him to God and all his clergy and now he must leave all he’s ever known to go on a mission that seems too impossible to accomplish. Armed with wisdom of potions and optical illusions along with a former Templar knight, a deaf and mute girl, and a pickpocket, Thomas’s plan to take the most secure city in the country seems like suicide, but he’s got a destiny to fulfill.

The longer Thomas journeys with his misfit crew, the more he learns and the more he starts to see that everyone isn’t always who they say they are. He keeps wondering who this knight is and why his speech hints at something more than just a simple knight. He also questions who this pretty silent girl is among them and whether she’s following them because she has no choice or because she was sent there. All Thomas can do is finish his mission and hope that no one is trying to stop him.

As Thomas travels, he meets characters both friendly and unsavory alike and he learns lessons from each encounter. But the farther he gets the more he realizes that he doesn’t hardly anything. His mother hinted at a group he can only guess at and little does he know that there is a whole war being waged around him between at least two different groups that mortal beings can never know about. The war of good against evil wages and Thomas is somehow stuck in the middle.

Who is good and who is evil and what do they want with Thomas? Will Thomas be able to take the city that kicked his parents out when he was just a baby or will the city be too impenetrable to conquer? Will Thomas be taken in by the evil who and whatever it may be or will he stick to what he knows is right? Will Thomas be betrayed by those around him or will they be loyal to him? Will Thomas figure out who’s lying to him before it’s too late or will they suck him in before his plan is executed?
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Like most of the books that I pick, I picked this book solely by cover and title. I expected something completely different. I expected something more fantasy-like and what I got was medieval England and it was a pleasant surprise. This book was kind of a mixture of a Christian Harry Potter feel mixed with action and it was perfect for teen boys or, if they’re like me, teen girls. I think this book is a healthy alternative to Harry Potter or Percy Jackson novels.

This story is very vague and kind of keeps you on your toes. In fact you end the book not fully knowing which side is the “good” side and which side is the “bad” side. The thing that I liked about the story though, was that people weren’t good or bad based on their situation but by their actions, which is a nice lesson for teens to learn. This story is chock full of lessons and mystery. It even ends on a cliffhanger and it makes want to read the other books in the series due to the questions left unanswered at the end of the book.

There was a bit of romance in this book but I use that term loosely. It was an attraction but not too much to turn off a tween or teen boy. It was, however, enough to keep a tween or teen girl interested and enough to add another mystery aspect to the story. It was a nice little facet to this somewhat complicated storyline. I felt that it made the story as much for girls as it was for boys.

I think this series is a perfect alternative for the very popular Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc. books. It delves into magic and immortality but it has a moral to the story and teaches the reader some important lessons that, unfortunately, most adults don’t learn for most of their life. Also, all the magic is explained scientifically and is all using herbs and acids, so it makes sense and seems like you could make them today without magic.

I’ve never read a book by this author, but after this one, I fully intend to. This author is a great storytelling and managed to capture my heart in a measly 220 page book and that’s not easy to do. I’m now a fan of this author and I want to read more from this author past, present, and future. I don’t know if this is a good representation of this author’s work or not, but I truly enjoyed this book and want to read more from this author.

Overall, this is a great book and is a healthy Christian alternative to the popular magic books out there now. I highly recommend this book to any tween or teen boy or action loving girl. I think even some adults could love this book. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy if this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Week 1: Desiring a “Happily Ever After”

In honor of Sherri Rose Shepherd’s new book Your Heart’s Desire published by Tyndale, Sherri was kind enough to allow me to post some of her articles on relationships with God, children, and men. Every Friday for the next eight weeks, I’ll be posting an article written by Sherri Rose Shepherd on a variety of topics. If you have any requests, please let me know.
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Week 1: Desiring a “Happily Ever After”

I don’t know where you stand today with the man you love or loved—or if you are single, divorced, separated, or widowed. I can tell you, though, that if you’ve been hurt, you can be sure Your heavenly Father knows how hard it is to love and forgive the one who caused you pain. Yet regardless of the relational devastation you face, no one can keep you from finishing strong for God’s glory!

I was raised in a non-Christian home. My parents have each been married and divorced to three different people. As part of several blended families, all I understood about marriage when I was growing up was “unhappily ever after.” But then I became a Christian at twenty-four and married my husband, Steve, just a few years later. Because of my love for God and my husband, I honestly didn’t think anything could shake my own marriage or faith.

In the summer of 2007, however, my happily ever after was wiped out and my faith was tested. The family foundation I had worked so hard to build and protect was almost destroyed, along with my ministry, in that season of my life. I truly believed that God had forsaken me.

I had just finished writing my book for mothers about raising sons to become godly husbands. As I excitedly ran upstairs to e-mail the manuscript to the publisher, I suddenly felt as if something dark hovered over me. My passion for the book’s message was drowned out by the fear of an attack from the enemy that could come against me and my family if I stepped on his territory . . . young men and their future marriages.

I called the publisher and said I’d need to wait and pray for courage before submitting the manuscript. I went to my son, Jake, who was eighteen years old and a senior in high school at the time, and asked him if he had any plans of rebelling against his faith once he graduated from high school. I told him I was willing to give him freedom to find his own faith in Christ, but I didn’t want to put out a book about raising boys if my own son was going to walk away from the Lord. He reassured me that he was strong in his faith and that he felt I should publish the book. I decided to take the chance to make a difference and sent in the manuscript.

The book began climbing the charts, and everything seemed to be going well. I even began speaking with my son at conferences for mothers of boys. Then three months into my book tour, my fear of attack hit. My husband had taken a job that we had both prayed for. This job appeared to be a blessing; however, his new position required him to violate some of the boundaries we had put in place to protect our marriage, and we ended up separated.

There I was in the public eye of ministry, fighting to save future marriages, and somehow my own marriage was falling apart. My son was devastated by the division between me and his dad. It was too hard for him to deal with all his confusion, pain, and anger, so he took a break from his faith and began using drugs and alcohol to comfort himself. I had always known to run to God for cover when there was a great attack, but now I felt like He had left me alone on the battlefield to fight for myself. It appeared that all I had believed about God and all my effort to build a strong foundation for my own family had been shattered. My pain, my shame, and my life were an embarrassment. I felt as if I were battling an out-of-control fire that would burn up everything I loved and lived for. Every night I would cry myself to sleep as I struggled to understand why God had not protected me while I was attempting to accomplish something for His glory.

One night I could not take it anymore, so I fell to my knees and told God I either wanted Him to fix my family or I wanted to quit the ministry. Then I felt the Lord asking me a bigger question: Was My life, given on a cross for you, not enough for you to finish strong even if it means surrendering the life you wanted? For the first time I realized that my heart’s true desire was to feel loved and secure, and yet no man on earth could love me the way my Lord does. In that moment of crisis I found the true meaning of following Christ. God had not forsaken me, but He did want to free me from depending on others to give me my happily ever after.

That night I gave my heart’s deepest desire to God and chose to follow Him at any cost. In exchange, He gave me something so much better; He gave me peace that was more powerful than my circumstances. My faith was no longer in people; it was in Christ alone. Although nothing outwardly had changed yet, I had been changed. Today, Steve and I have celebrated twenty-five years of marriage, and our son serves God with His whole heart. He and his bride have given us our first grandbaby girl. However, to be honest, restoring our marriage was excruciatingly painful and more difficult than either of us expected. As hard as this trial was, it taught me a valuable lesson: our Lord is the God of comfort and the author of a new beginning. He can and will rebuild a beautiful life out of any broken heart willing to make a change. He will use one sacrificial choice; one act of forgiveness; one sincere, repentant heart; and one woman who is willing to step out in faith and start rebuilding with His love for His glory.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

For more teaching from the Your Heart’s Desire book and Bible study, visit http://www.biblelifecoaching.com.
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Week One. I hope that this brings it some hope and helps you in some way. I really appreciate this experience and really want to thank Sherri for this opportunity. Again, if there is a topic you would like me to post, I’ll try and find if the author has posted one. Stay tuned for next week!

Christmas Roses

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Title: Christmas Roses
Author: Amanda Cabot
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 1, 2012
Pages: 176

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Celia Anderson lost her husband to a mining accident and has spent her life since then running a barely making it boardinghouse. The last thing on her Christmas list is a husband, not that there aren’t men interested. But Celia can’t help but feel that those men only want her for her cooking and mothering skills, not because they love her. She refuses to marry for anything else than love and her biggest dream is to have a man give roses for Christmas, despite how impossible it seems.

Mark Williams is on a mission to find his father after he abandoned him and his mother when he was just a baby. His last hope is a small town in Wyoming Territory. When he finds himself the boarder of a beautiful widow, he can’t help but be reluctant to stay after his search leads to another dead end. The more he gets to know her the more he starts to believe in love again and starts to imagine his future with the loving widow.

As their attraction grows, Celia can’t help but keep thinking about Mark’s nearing departure and the proposals of the men around town. The problem is, Celia doesn’t want them, she wants the one man who has given her the romance she’s always wanted, but he’s leaving soon. Mark can’t stop thinking about Celia and her adorable little daughter and he finds himself wanting to stay forever, if Celia’ll let him.

Will Mark find his father or will his search end with nothing? Will Celia get her Christmas roses or will she have to settle for a man who can’t give her her biggest wish? Will Mark decide to stay with Celia or will he leave to go back to where he came from? Will Celia get the husband that isn’t on her list or will she spend her Christmas like all of them after her husband’s death, alone?
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I usually have mixed feelings about novellas because they have a great story but usually not enough content to be completely enjoyable. This book was a contradiction in a certain sense. It had a great story and was really enjoyable. The content was short and sweet and lacked a true conflict, but it was put together in such a way that made the book incredible and truly enjoyable. I didn’t expect that.

Because there was no real serious conflict like there would be in a novel, the story was easy to follow and never felt rushed. It focused on the romance and it was an adorable one that is definitely part of every girl’s dreams. The story wasn’t complicated and I felt that this worked for the story because the author didn’t have a lot of space to form and resolve a big conflict. I appreciated the author’s discretion in forming this story.

The romance in this story was cute. It wasn’t passionate but it was one that makes a girl want a guy who does things for her like Mark did with Celia. If you’re looking for a romance with a lot of passionate scenes, you’ll be disappointed but if you like sweet innocent romances then this book is definitely for you. Personally, I lean towards the former but in this case I particularly loved the romance in this book. I never expected to like this as much as I did.

Novellas usually leave me empty because of their rushed storyline and because sometimes the novellas that are supposed to be a romance focus more on the complicated storyline than the romance. This book completely changed my opinion that novellas have to be lackluster. I absolutely loved this novella and it definitely put me in the Christmas spirit. I really recommend this one.

I’ve read a book by this author before and loved what she did with a full-length novel and when I saw this book I was curious what she could do with a half-length book. What I got wasn’t at all what I expected. I loved this story it was innocent, sweet, and absolutely adorable. It’s a romance that makes you smile and your dreams come alive. This author did a wonderful job and fans or new fans shouldn’t be disappointed with what she brings you.

Overall, I loved this short book and I think it’s a great example of a fantastic novella. I highly recommend this for people who like novellas or sweet romances. This book is perfect for adults, teens, and even some mature younger readers. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

The Christmas Pony

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Title: The Christmas Pony
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
Published: November 1, 2012
Pages: 176

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Eight year old Lucy Turnbull wants nothing more for Christmas than a pony, except maybe to see her mother smile again. But, her mother says that asking for a pony is like asking for the moon and it seems unlikely that her mother will smile again, at least before Christmas. Lucy isn’t giving up though. She prays every night for a pony or her mother’s smile and more guests for her boarding house.

Per her prayers, Lucy comes across two people on their way to Los Angeles in need for a place to stay. They now have a prospective movie star named Veronica Grant and a law student name George Prescott. At first glance, Lucy believes that Veronica is the prettiest person ever. The closer it gets to Christmas, Lucy can’t help but pray that they stay until Christmas, but if Veronica had anything to say about it, they won’t.

As it gets even closer to Christmas, Lucy starts to notice a change in Gorge and her mother. In fact, Lucy thinks they might be falling love and her prayers shift from a pony to asking God for a new daddy. Now, Lucy just has to find ways to make George pick her mother instead of Veronica and Los Angeles. Also, Lucy now is sort of wishing that Veronica was in Los Angeles and George was here a part of her family. Little does she know that this Christmas will change her life forever.

Will Lucy be able to get her pony for Christmas or will she have to settle for her mom’s smile? Will Lucy get her new dad or will George leave before she gets her Christmas dream? Will Lucy see her mother smile before Christmas or will she have to ask for it next Christmas? Is George falling in love with her mother or is he simply being nice to her? Will George decide to stay in Arizona or will he still go to Los Angeles?
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I’m a huge fan of Melody Carlson and I try to read every book by her that I get get my hands on. So, naturally, I was excited when I got the chance to read this novella and I expected a great book. The author didn’t disappoint and she even surprise me by the viewpoint in this novella. I never really thought about a romance from a child’s point of view, but this author did and I have to admit, a romance from the innocent eyes of a child makes this romance absolutely adorable and memorable.

I’ve always loved how this author was able to make every character, no matter how young or old, realistic and this book was no different. She transported me back to being eight years old and how I thought and acted at that age. Lucy definitely made this book special. To see what a romance probably looks like from a little girl makes the romance sweet and innocent and completely heartwarming. I don’t know how this author does it but whatever she does, she does it right.

The romance is really sweet and cute. There’s no way to describe it but cute. I loved how Lucy makes it her mission to play matchmaker and it was adorable as well as heartwarming. This is a book that I will remember for a long time. Who would’ve guessed that a book from the eyes of an innocent eight year old would’ve turned out so well? Not me, but thankfully this author did. This book is completely adorable.

The storyline is actually executed a lot better than the back cover told me the story was about. There isn’t a lot of problems per se in this book, but for some reason, despite the lack of confrontation, issues, etc., I loved this book and it put me in the Christmas spirit even though it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. This book was definitely an adorable one in the execution of the book.

I fell in love with this author from her young adult books and have been a fan of her young adult books now for a few years and this book just made be fall in love her books all over again. I really love how she manages to make every character realistic and how she understands how they think no matter the age of her characters. I believe I will be a fan of this author for as long as she is writing and possibly even for a while after that. I highly recommend this author.

Overall, this book is an adorable romance from the eyes of a child. I highly recommend this book for young and old readers alike. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*