Thursday, May 10, 2018


by Jennifer Marshall Bleakley
Tyndale House Publishers
Released May 2018

Wow, what an amazing story!  I am always a sucker for horse stories, so when this book became available, I immediately requested a review copy.  Add the fact that it is a true story, it is about a horse with a disability, a horse who was rescued, who helped others, and I was a goner.  I had to read the book.  The author did not fail to deliver.  By the end of the book I had wiped away quite a few tears. 
Joey was an ex-show horse, a competitor in show hunting and dressage.  He and his rider were so good that they were close to qualifying for the Olympics.  Then he suffered an injury.  Joey was sold, and after a series of misfortunes he ended up on a rescue farm, malnourished and permanently blind.  Kim Tschirret, owner of Hope Reins, heard about Joey and decided to purchase him sight unseen.  Whether or not Joey could ever help her as a therapy horse, Kim had to give him a forever home. 

Throughout Joey's time at Hope Reins, he proved his winning spirit was not lost.  He was eventually able to allow kids to ride him as part of their therapy.  In showing his winning spirit he proved to kids, his handlers and the surrounding community that your circumstances don't define you.  Joey's winning spirit inspired many to reach beyond what they dreamed they could accomplish.

I dare you to read this book without being touched!

This book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WHAT Roadblocks?!?

I recently read  and posted a review on the book Faithful Finance by Emily Stroud.  Ms. Stroud's book challenged me to make some changes in my finances.  Fortunately nothing serious, but I did decide to make a change in my housing.  And that change, that journey, has become a testimony for me.  As you will find if you scroll down to earlier posts, I read and posted my review of Faithful Finance on January 24th of this year. 
Over that weekend I just happened (we really know that's not what "happened") to see a home listed on the Zillow website.  A home that was listed for much less than my mortgage.  A home that was approximately two miles from my parents' home.  A home that was in the country and had a little bit of land.  A home I had admired for years, every time I passed it.  An old home.  I liked that home. That home became my inspiration.  I prayed, asking God to lead me.  If it was fine with Him, I would like to sell my home and move to the country.  However, if it was not part of His plan for my life, then I asked that He would place some major roadblocks, blocks I wouldn't miss. 
I went to my parents' that weekend, and while there I casually tossed out the idea of selling my home and moving closer to them.  I told them I had read and been inspired by Faithful Finance.  When asked, I showed them my inspiration home on Zillow.  I was expecting resistance.  Caution.  Words of warning.  Instead I received the opposite.  My mother did caution that my dad might not like the idea of the home I was interested in (it's over 100 years old!).  Unbeknownst to my parents, that's what I had asked for, roadblocks.  Guess what -- my dad did not offer any resistance!  In fact, Monday of the next week he had driven by the home and walked around it.  He even liked it!  My first roadblock was laid waste, was non-existent.
I called a realtor on my home.  The second potential roadblock.  Was my house worth enough for me to make a profit?  Would I have enough for all the closing costs?  The realtor fees?  Would I have enough left over for a down payment on a new home?  At first it was disappointing.  The realtor suggested I list at a certain price based on average comps in my neighborhood. I once again checked Zillow and suggested a price higher than he suggested.  He wasn't sure we would get that amount, but agreed to list at my price if I would agree to lower the price if we didn't get any offers within two weeks.  Fair enough.  We went over a very short list of items needed in order to prepare the house for sale.  We agreed we would try to list the house the following week. My parents came up that weekend, and we made short work of the punch list.  February 6th I signed a contract to list the house.  The house was to be photographed and placed online.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  No calls.  Nothing showing up online.  Should I call the realtor, or was I being paranoid?  Was this a roadblock?
Tuesday the 13th I called the realtor.  The house had NOT gone live due to a miscommunication in his office.  It was corrected by lunch.  While I was sitting in my vehicle at lunch I got the first phone call.  Would I allow my home to be shown Wednesday?   Absolutely!  My house was shown six times between Wednesday and Saturday.  On Saturday I got a phone call from my realtor, saying we had an offer.  What?!?  But I'm not packed!  I thought this would take several months!  Nope.  Tuesday, February 20th, I had a signed contract -- for just a hair less than what I asked for!  Roadblock two laid to waste.
Now I was having problems with doubt.  I have always been a worry wart.  What if the inspection came back and the potential buyer backs out?  What if they want a lot of work done, but I want to sell "as is"?  What if, what if, what if...?  It was hard to remember that I was the one who prayed, asking God to put up roadblocks if He didn't want me to go through with this.  I had prayed that, but I was doubting and fretful.  And I had the huge stress of packing up a four bedroom home, that had a huge sunroom and an outdoor building, by myself (thankfully I have awesome parents, and my dad was amazing in helping me move!!!).  Wait -- what if the buyer's financing falls through?   That happens, you know. 
Here's another one -- it had been agreed and was in the contract that I would replace or repair one item in the home, for no more than a certain sum.  My realtor suggested it was covered under an insurance policy that went into place when I agreed to sell the home.  However, when I called, it was strongly suggested that I say that this item had broken since the contract, when in actuality it had not worked in a couple of years.  I was not happy about that suggestion, and decided I would try to repair or replace the item myself.  Then I thought maybe I would offer the potential buyer cash in the agreed amount, and let her put that towards a new item.  She agreed. I was happy, thinking I had done the right thing.  The following Sunday, March 4th, was my last day at the church I attended, where I played the piano and was part of the Sunday morning praise team.  They decided it would be a good idea to call me up front following the service and pray over me.  Then they gave me a card, and told me they wanted to help with moving expenses.  When I got home, I opened the card and out fell cash.  EXACTLY THE AMOUNT I HAD AGREED TO PAY THE BUYER!!  I sat and bawled!  God knew that I could pay for that myself, but He chose to show me His love, and His removal of a real pain, by giving me exactly what I had agreed to give to the buyer. 
Closing day came just last week.  Everything went smoothly, despite my self-inflicted anxiety. Everyone was happy.  The realtors.  The banker.  The closing agent.  The buyer.  Me!  And I was able to tell the new owner, along with the realtors and closing agent, what God had done for me.  :-)
God chose to remove all roadblocks in the sale of my home.  He moved faster than I ever expected. Now I am working on getting a new home, while my sister patiently puts up with me crashing in her spare bedroom!  Roadblocks?  Well, let's see what happens...

Until We Find Home - Book Review

By Cathy Gohlke
Tyndale House Publishers Inc., 2017

Sometimes we dream of things we believe we cannot live without.  We think we know ourselves.  Then reality hits, and we find everything is upside down.   That’s what happens to young, ambitious Claire who fancies herself a writer helping with the French Resistance in the early stages of World War II.  Claire is in love with a man who is deep in the Resistance, and is helping him save Jewish children by smuggling them out of France.  Unfortunately, her love does not meet her at the agreed upon time, and Claire is forced to take responsibility for getting the latest group of children to safety.  She rebelliously resists going any further than she feels is necessary – she has done her duty.  But her plans fall apart.  She expects others to take responsibilities they have never agreed upon, while refusing to do the same herself.  Being forced to care for other people’s needs also allows Claire and her Aunt Miranda to grow, and their hearts begin to heal. 
This is an interesting book, set during the early stages of World War II in England.  Ms. Gohlke does an excellent job of making you feel a part of the lives of the characters.  At times I wanted to yell at Claire and point out her faults, and also to do the same with Aunt Miranda.  The kids in the story grow and change as well, and their antics are entirely believable.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about life in England during World War II, or who just wants to read a great romance.

In order to comply with Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Tyndale House Publishers.  I am under no obligation to post a positive review.