Saturday, August 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Healing Quilt

By:  Wanda E. Brunstetter
Published 2014
Shiloh Run Press

The Healing Quilt tells several stories at once.  The main characters are Emma and Lamar, an older Amish couple who are spending the winter in Florida because of Lamar's arthritis.  Emma is out of sorts, missing her friends and her pastimes, but Lamar seems to be thriving.  When Emma and Lamar begin thinking about what they can do to help Emma, they decide to try teaching a quilting class.  The classes they had back in their home state of Indiana went over well, and Lamar thinks the same thing will happen in Florida.

Several people sign up for the class.  One is Jennifer who is a young expectant mother whose husband has lost his job as a cook.  They are struggling financially and don't have the extra money for the class.  However Jennifer receives a note telling her the class has been paid for and she happily attends. 

BJ is a retired school teacher from Chicago who has been told he has terminal cancer.  He has daughters who helped him fight cancer the last go around, but he does not want to tell them this time.  He feels it is best for all that the girls don't know.  He has come to Florida to make fulfill some final goals, one of which is painting a seascape.  When he learns of the quilting class, he decides to give it a try and intends to give his completed quilt to his granddaughter so she will have something to remember him by.

Kim is a waitress who is afraid of losing her new job.  She is fresh from a breakup with a boyfriend, having followed him to Florida thinking he was the one. 

Mike takes the quilting class by default when his wife Phyllis, who took one class, is called out of state to take care of her sister.  Since Mike's boat, which is his livelihood, is having repairs done, he takes Phyllis' place, with Phyllis intending Mike to teach her how to quilt when she returns home in a few weeks.

Erika is a teenage girl who lost her mother, then lost the use of her legs in a diving accident.  She is reclusive, and in a desperate attempt to get her interested in something other than herself, her father signs her up for the quilting class.

Noreen is a retired widow who wants something new in her life.  She has tried a sporty car, thinking when she has gotten her fill of the wind in her hair she will settle for another.  She is concerned with the welfare of former students and plans to attend an upcoming reunion of her students.  She is not actively looking for male companionship, but if someone comes along, she just might be interested.  When she disastrously tries to highlight her hair, she ends up with a laughable color and feels she has to hide under scarves, desperately trying to wash out the horrid color.

All of these people come to Emma and Lamar with problems and needs that they are not willing to share.  Some come to the class hoping to learn something new.  Others feel they have been forced into the class and act accordingly.  Emma and Lamar grow frustrated, seeing the needs of their students but not knowing how to help them. Lamar continuously reminds Emma that if God wants them to help, He will show them the way.

During the course of the six weeks past students of Emma and Lamar show up, and changes are made in the lives of the students.  Changes that are not always easy, and are sometimes quite painful.  And some changes tat are quite surprising.

For me, the book started out very slowly.  It was frustrating jumping from character to character with each new chapter.  Some parts seemed disjointed and dry.  However, I finished the book and found it okay.  Not as good as some of Ms. Brunstetter's other books. 

This book is one of a series.  If you wish to learn more about Ms. Brunstetter, check out her website

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Handlebar Hub's book review program.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Bible Study by Jennie Allen
W Publishing an imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2013

Jennie Allen is a powerfully gifted author and speaker who used her passion to create the Restless Bible Study based on the life of Joseph.  Watching the video, it is obvious that God's hand is on Jennie.  The Bible study is for women, and is geared to help women fill the craving inside of us, the restlessness put there by God.  I saw one reviewer remarked that instead of an in depth Bible study, she found Restless to be more along the lines of the basics, a beginner study.  However, don't we all need to get back to the basics?  We need to remember why we were created -- to worship and serve God -- and then learn how to apply our passions, our gifts, our talents to please Him.

Restless is an eight week Bible study using DVD teaching, an individual study, and group activities (using question cards for members).  The study begins with telling God's Story and runs through such lessons as learning about Gifts, sharing and growing though our Suffering, learning to be used in our own Places and with our own People, and ending with our Passions and the Mystery of the power of the Spirit of God.  Jennie uses stories from her life and the lives of her friends and family to illustrate how God grows us and uses us.  It is well worth getting the DVD to go along with the written Bible study, even if you choose to do the study alone.  And you may need a box of tissues if you allow the Spirit to move in you -- I sure did!

Getting back to the basics -- I am not an immature Christian. I came to Christ as a child and have been in church since birth,  I went to Christian schools, I have been through countless Bible studies and have taught and led some of the same in church. I found Jennie to be refreshing, honest and moving all at the same time. Her study of the life of Joseph was good.  No it didn't take a lot of my time, but it made me think beyond the study.  Yet -- I learned.  What I already had heard and knew was refreshed.  I feel a renewed passion in my life.

One passage of Scripture was used that I really like:  "I will put a new heart and new spirit inside of you.  I will take out your stubborn, strong heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh."  Ezekiel 36:26  Isn't that all that God asks, to be willing to be used by Him?  Jennie's thoughts on why we don't use our gifts: 1) we don't know what they are; 2) we compare ourselves to others;  and 3) we listen to criticism.  I had never thought of those before, but it's the truth.  Everyone struggles with these issues.

I can't wait to share this Bible study with my friends (my People)!  And when we are through, we will be looking at some of Jennie's other studies.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Shelton Interactive's book review program.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


This afternoon I spent time in my kitchen making cookies!!  Chocolate chip pan cookies, to be exact.  The recipe was given to me when I was nine years old by my mom's sister-in-law Carol Hill.  These cookies are awesome.  They melt in your mouth, just delectable.  You ought to try a batch yourself.

One thing you should note -- this is a very stiff dough. When I was younger I made two or three batches at once, in a huge metal bowl.  No, I wasn't greedy, I just had a lot of brothers and a sister (still do).  And younger brothers eat a ton of cookies.  My arm would start aching, there was so much stiff dough.  But I always preferred these cookies to any other, because once you were done mixing, you just dumped the entire mess onto cookie trays, smoothed them out flush with the edges, popped them in the oven and baked them.  No re-loading endless (for me, anyway) cookie trays, baking cookies for hours!

Unlike in the past, today I only made ONE recipe.  But true to form, they drew the attention of my eighteen year old son, and he and I made a small dent in those cookies when they came out of the oven.  

Notice in these cookies that I used only a few chocolate chips, the rest are white chocolate chips.  SOMEONE got into my stash of chocolate chips and there were only a few left.  Wonder who that was?

Happy baking (AND eating)!

~ Reese

If you can't make out the recipe, send me a note and I'll type it up for you.  :-)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Take Me In -- One of My Favorite Songs

On the way home from church this afternoon I was listening to my Kutless CD (Strong Tower) when one of my favorite songs came on -- Take Me In. This song says it all for the Christian.  We no longer have to stand on the outside looking in, going through a man to reach God.  Instead, we have the awesome freedom to go directly to the Lord Jesus Who is always ready and willing to hear us. 

God made a way for the ancients to come to Him, to have their sins covered, by going to the temple and offering sacrifices through the priests.  The priests would then sprinkle the blood on the altar, the mercy seat (the place where sins were atoned), in the holy of holies.  No one other than the appointed priest was allowed to go directly into the presence of God in the holy of holies (Hebrews 9:6-7). 

When Jesus came to earth in the form of a man, He willingly gave His life on the cross.  When He died, the veil that separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple (separation from direct contact with God) was torn from the TOP to the bottom (Matthew 27:50-53).  Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says:
When the Anointed One arrived as the High Priest of the good things that are to come, He entered through a greater and more perfect sanctuary that was not part of the earthly creation or made by human hands.  He entered once for all time into the most holy place -- entering, not with the blood of goats or calves or some other prescribed animal, but offering His own blood and thus obtaining redemption for us for all time.  Think about it:  if the blood of bulls or of goats, or the sprinkling of ashes from a heifer, restores the defiled to bodily cleanliness and wholeness; then how much more powerful is the blood of the Anointed One, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself as a spotless sacrifice to God, purifying your conscience from the dead things of the world to the service of the living God?  ... Since what was given in the old covenant was the earthly sketch of the heavenly reality, this was sufficient to cleanse the earthly sanctuary; but in heaven, a more perfect sacrifice was needed.  The Anointed One did not enter into handcrafted sacred spaces -- imperfect copies of heavenly originals -- but into heaven itself, where He stands in the presence of God on our behalf.  There He does not offer Himself over and over as a sacrifice (as the high priest on earth does when he enters the most holy place each year with blood other than his own) because that would require His repeated suffering since the beginning of the world.  No, He has appeared once now, at the end of the age, to put away sin forever by offering Himself as a sacrifice.  Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-26 (read the notes on these verses!)

This means that, as the writer of Take Me In states, I no longer need a high priest to sacrifice for my sins.  Jesus did that for me.  And as such, I can go directly to Him (there is nothing separating me from Him) if I have accepted Him and am covered in His blood.  He took my sins (and yours) upon Himself when He died on the cross, and took them directly to God in heaven, covered by His blood. 

Take me into the holy of holies by the blood of the Lamb, because I want to see Your face, Lord.

~ Reese

Saturday, January 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Falls, Episode 1: Ordinary Secrets

Season One, Episode1: Ordinary Secrets
Published in 2013 
Shiloh Run Studios, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc.

It sounds like a new TV show, one shown on a weekly basis, that leaves you in suspense waiting for the next week.  One that is full of interesting characters and gives a glimpse into one day in the lives of the characters, not enough for the whole picture or even the whole truth (things may be very different than they seem), but enough to make you wonder...  

In the first episode, which happens to be Ordinary Secrets, the scene is set for a gala honoring the town's most loved teacher, Quinn.  That's his last name, by the way.  His real name is Ted or Teddy, or Theodore, something like that, but everyone just calls him Quinn.  He has been the high school history teacher for thirty years now, and because of the impact he has had on his students and his town, a gala has been scheduled to honor him.  The only thing is, he doesn't want to be honored.  He seems to be a humble man who enjoys helping others, but does not want public recognition.  

Throw in the town mayor, Sylvia, who is also the owner of one of the local shops and who has loved Quinn for nearly all of the thirty years he has been in town, who even went RING shopping with him at one point, and you start to get some suspense.  Then add former students who left years ago and are returning only because of their love for Quinn.  One in particular, Ethan, is finishing up his fifth of six years of his neurosurgical residency; if it weren't for that handwritten note from Quinn, Ethan would not have showed up.  A personal request for a heart to heart with Quinn cannot be refused. There is a newly arrived trial lawyer by the name of Jack Parker who along with his family is escaping big city life and it's accompanying problems.  Liam is a respected financier who is afraid of commitment and is also hiding a secret; his younger brother Cooper is with the sheriff's department.  Nicole is an ace reporter who works the crime scene in the big city and once dated Ethan for a long period of time, but that relationship fell to the wayside with their differing life decisions.  Lauren, a girl who returned home and works for the church, is nervous about an upcoming church project in which she seems to have no control but in which Quinn has assured her everything has been handled.  And we can't leave out Dani, a woman who does odd jobs for everyone around town but is uncomfortable in public settings.  There you have it, a great mix. You get a glimpse of each character's life, just enough to know that there might be some secrets buried under the surface, but we'll just have to dig.  

This episode opens on Saturday morning of the big day, and ends just as everyone is about to be re-introduced to their teacher and mentor, Quinn.  A loud noise goes off -- no problem, someone set the cannon to the wrong time (cannon?).  Introductions continue, the curtain is raised, and...........  Hmm, come back next week to find out what happened!

Ordinary Secrets is the first episode in a series of thirteen which are set to be released on a weekly basis beginning January 24, 2014.  It will take no time at all to read this first episode.  There is a Facebook page set up where you can interact with other readers, get insights from the characters and join contests -- who doesn't love contests?  And especially great is this offer,  getting a free copy of  the first episode.  Are you going to join the fun and see what happens next in Hidden Cove?  I hope so...

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Handlebar Publishing's book review program.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Prayer & Wisdom

As I was reading in my Bible this evening, I was so impressed by a prayer of the apostle Paul for the church in Colossae that I wanted to share it with you.  This is a very relevant prayer for all Christians, one I want to read frequently and apply to myself, which comes from Colossians 1:9-14:
Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding.  May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what's more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You.  Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyful.  Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the light.  You have rescued us from dark powers and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, whom You love and in whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].

Lord God, please help me to apply this to my life.

Here is another beautiful portion from the same book, chapter 3 verses 16 - 17:

Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives.  With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another.  Sing the psalms, compose hymns and songs inspired by the Spirit, and keep on singing -- sing to God from hearts full and spilling over with thankfulness.  Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.

 Awesome words of wisdom!

~ Reese 

Taken from Compass, the Study Bible for Navigating Your Life, The Voice Translation published by Thomas Nelson.  See earlier review: