Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Esther: A Book Review

* I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers, all opinions are my own.
About the Book:
"When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews–young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people…and bind her husband’s heart."

My Review:
Esther has long been one of my all time favorite Bible characters.  I think that at times the church can tend to gloss over certain parts of Esther's story, the "un-christian" parts if you will. In Sunday school its presented more as ..."Esther was the most beautiful girl in all the land, so the King fell in love with her, made her his queen and then she saved her people!" Let's just not mention the one night they spent together as an unmarried couple...and I don't think they were playing Yahtzee folks. So, all this to say that I was very curious what approach Hunt would take with her telling of the story.

The story started off very slow for me as Hunt built up her characters and I found myself just wanting to skip ahead to "where the story began".  And once it did I was very pleasantly surprised with Hunt's balance of love story and the more realistic historical facts.  She addresses the fact that while Esther is ultimately chosen as Queen, she was still just one of many women in the King's harem.  I liked how she didn't make it into this epic love story, because I don't think that is actually realistic for that time period.  I think it helps to show just how big a deal it was for her to go before the King unbidden.  I also liked that Vashti was still a character even after she was deposed.

I don't read a lot of books written in the first person so that took a little getting used to.  And I wish there was just a little bit more about Esther and Mordecai's relationship once she was in the palace, but overall I really enjoyed this book!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Dream Fulfilled...

 Growing up most little girls dream of their wedding day...pretty gowns and flowers, a handsome prince, but as a contractor's daughter I dreamed of houses...large backyards, front porches, and window seats for reading.  I loved poring over my Dad's paint decks, picking out what I thought were the prettiest colors.  I remember as young as 10 looking through the Real Estate ads and picking out my favorites, I didn't quite understand why we couldn't just move whenever I saw a house that I liked :)

When Jonathan and I got married we started saving up little by little, knowing that we wanted to buy a house someday.  And I began praying for the perfect one years before it was even a possibility. Once we moved to Blacksburg that desire grew even stronger as we put down roots and saw ourselves living here for as long as the Lord allowed.
We started casually looking at houses online, driving by whenever we saw ones that piqued our interest.  But none of them were it.  As soon as we'd drive up to one I would look it over with a quick glance and just say "nope".  And so I dreamed and prayed some more.

At times I felt silly praying for a house, when there were so many other big things going on in the world.  But this was a dream I'd had for awhile and I couldn't let it go.  I began to pray very specifically for the exact things I wanted in this House of Dreams, and I felt peace and confidence that God would provide. 

While visiting my parents this summer my mom asked me to write out my list of exactly what I was looking for, she wanted to pray for it with me. I was very adamant about having at least 2 large trees in the yard. To quote Anne of Green Gables "I couldn't live where there were no trees-something vital in me would starve!"
 My Dad happened to look at the list I had scribbled on a piece of scrap paper and laughed, saying I most likely wouldn't be able to find all of those things in our price range. But then... we did. 

God answered and provided a house that matched all of my dreams, even the ones I was too afraid to voice, fearing I'd asked for too much already.  The lot is nearly half an acre, there's a wide front porch, and even 3 dormer windows, perfect for window seats.  And best of all there are trees! Two large oak trees flank the front yard, and the entire back yard is surrounded on all sides by large cypresses, creating our own private oasis.  I love knowing that if I wanted to run through my backyard naked I could, not that I ever would, but I could if I wanted to :)

This house is my testament to answered prayers. Proverbs 13:12 says "...a dream fulfilled is a tree of life."  God has fulfilled this girlhood dream of mine, and I pray that this house will bring life to all who enter.
Our house is far from perfect, but its getting there.  Lets just say that a single dad, teenage boys, and 2 large dogs lived in this house and you can imagine the condition its in. We've been over there every night for the past few weeks, scrubbing bathrooms, repainting walls, and ripping out old flooring.  Lowe's has now become our new date spot :)

We move in next weekend so stay tuned for more updates as we make this House of Dreams our home!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Scenes From Thanksgiving

 Our Thanksgiving was filled with lots of cooking, eating, napping, board-game playing, and football-watching, with a little bit of shopping and Christmas tree hunting thrown in. All in all, it was pretty much perfect.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: The Brothers' Keepers & Kindle Fire Giveaway

*I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review of the book. All opinions are my own.

About the Book:
A friend's deception. A family's dilemma.

While cataloging looted antiquities in Brussels, archaeologist Grace Madison learns that her daughter has disappeared in France, and daughter-in-law has been attacked in Switzerland. But before the Madisons can save themselves, they must rescue an old friend---if he'll let them. Navigating a deadly, four-thousand-year-old artifact trail that crosses three continents, they jeopardize hearts and lives against a foe as old as time---as time runs out.

Because choosing what's right is all that's left.

My Review:
Personally, I had a really hard time getting into this book.  Try as I might I just couldn't connect with any of the characters.  The plot of the book and all the biblical history was a fascinating concept, but I felt like there were too many people, places, and things to keep track of throughout the whole story, and it felt disjointed to me because of that.  Also, I felt like so many of the situations were highly unrealistic so I had a hard time believing in the story. For example, Madison being trapped in the cargo hold of an airplane by her captors and being able to figure out where the plane is headed so she climbs into a sarcophagus to hide and is able to reunite with her family at the airport?  I did really like how the main character, Grace, was older and I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her husband, Mark.  There aren't many novels that focus on the relationship of older couples, and it was refreshing in a way.

Don't miss NLB Horton's The Brothers' Keepersinternational suspense at its best. While cataloguing looted antiquities in Brussels, archaeologist Grace Madison discovers her daughter has vanished in France, and her son's bride has been attacked in Switzerland. After the Madison family unearths a relic whose taproot pierces the Ancient Near East, they realize before they can save themselves, they must rescue an old friend . . . if he'll let them.

Learn more about book one in the series, When Camels Fly, and enter to win a Kindle Fire.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • When Camels Fly and The Brothers' Keepers by NLB Horton
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 7th. Winner will be announced December 8th on NLB's blog.


Monday, November 10, 2014


After much thought I have decided to close down my Etsy shop,LoveandaPrayer, as it was starting to become too much like work and not as much fun anymore.  Everything is currently marked 50% off so head on over to the shop to order while supplies last!

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