Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review of Waiting for Wonder by Marlo Schalesky for Litfuse Publicity

Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline, a new release by Christian author Marlo Schalesky, takes a unique look at waiting on God's timing. Let's be honest. How many of us are good at waiting? Through waiting for wonder, Marlo looks at the long wait Sarai had to endure while waiting for God's promise to be fulfilled. In Genesis 17:19, God promised that Sarai would bear a son to Abraham. This promise wasn't fulfilled until she was 90 years old! How was she able to endure such a long wait? Did she doubt God's promise? Did she wait patiently? Did she try to take matters into her own hands? Did she get discouraged? Did she grow weary?

While we are enduring trials, suffering, and in the midst of what can feel like a spiritual drought, waiting can seem like an impossible task because the situation is completely out of our control. Let's face the truth. None of us truly like letting go of our control over our lives. In unraveling Sarai's story for her readers, Marlo helps us learn the value in waiting. Waiting not only draws us closer to God but the true wonder is that in our waiting His glory is also revealed for all to see. We become a living testament to His works in us and through us. Marlo reminds us of this not only through Sarai's story but also through myriad other Biblical characters whose waiting served a far greater purpose than they could ever imagine: the blind beggar, the Samaritan woman at the well, King David, Noah, Daniel, Joseph, and Lazarus. He is the God of miracle. He is the God of you.

If you find yourself in a place of waiting or have ever wondered why God makes us wait, I recommend you read Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline by Marlo Schalesky.

You can pick up your copy of Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble,,and Indie Bound.

Marlo Schalesky is an award-winning author of ten books, including “Wrestling with Wonder: A Transformational Journey Through the Life of Mary.” A regular speaker and columnist, she has also published nearly 1,000 articles in various Christian magazines, including “Focus on the Family,” “Today’s Christian Woman,” “In Touch,” and “Marriage Partnership.” Marlo lives with her husband, six young children, nine horses, two dogs, five cats, two parakeets, ten rabbits, two chinchillas, three hamsters, and a bunch of fish in a log home in Salinas, California. To learn more about Marlo, visit her author website. To learn about additional books written by Marlo, please take a moment to browse the books page on her author website. Marlo also provides hope and encouragement through her Reader Page on Facebook.

Don't forget to take a moment to enter the giveaway on the litfuse publicity site for your chance to win a copy of Marlo's new release Waiting for Wonder.

Waiting for Wonder Marlo Schalesky 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Delicious Recipe to Help Keep You Warm This Winter

The weather here in Pennsylvania has definitely turned frightful as the skies are now gray, snow flurries occasionally flutter through the sky, and the temperatures hover around freezing. BRRRRR!!! I'm getting cold just thinking about it!

It is unquestionably the perfect time of year to curl up in front of the fireplace with a bowl of warm soup and enjoy the twinkling of the lights on the Christmas tree as carols play softly in the background while you visit with family and friends.

I have a delicious recipe to share with you. It is my family's favorite soup. We often partake of it together each Christmas Eve. I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe for Zuppa Toscana as much as we do. May you and yours have a blessed Christmas season! - Kelly

Zuppa Toscana Recipe:

• 1 lb ground Italian sausage
• 1½ tsp crushed red peppers (or you can use a spice Italian sausage instead of adding the crushed red peppers)
• 1 large diced white onion
• 6 slices of crumbled bacon (I use 1 package of real bacon pieces instead)
• 2 tsp minced garlic
• 10 cups water
• 8 cubes of chicken bouillon
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes – best if sliced thin
• ¼ of a bunch of kale 

1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot.
2. Once sausage is browned add into the same pan the bacon, onions and garlic and sauté over low-medium heat for approximately 15 min. or until the onions are soft.
3. Add chicken bouillon and water to either a soup pot or slow cooker and heat until it starts to boil.
4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about 45 min.
5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve. (I usually forego the kale as my family doesn’t like it in their soup)
7. Serve and Enjoy!

Homeschool Review Crew Winter Cooking Inspiration 
#hsreviews #wintercooking #cooking

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Gifts of Listening and Compassion

Christmas is a time of joy with carols ringing out their familiar tunes, children bubbling with excitement, brightly wrapped presents stacked under the tree, colorful lights strung along houses and bushes, and people wishing one another a "Merry Christmas." What we might miss amidst all of the hustle and bustle are those individuals too who are not looking forward to Christmas.

Recently, my mother and I had the opportunity to talk with a cashier at a local store. He was pleasant, like always, but when we talked about Christmas a sadness came over him. He told us that since his wife's passing, he no longer bothers with decorating. He proceeded to tell us that Christmas was his wife's holiday as she would set up nine trees in their home each year and one tree would have real candles in honor of her German heritage. By the end of our conversation, he was smiling again. Sometimes, all it takes during this chaotic season is a willingness to listen. Genuine listening is a gift that costs us nothing but means so much to the receiver. 

Checking out of our hotel room recently, I noticed that the concierge was distracted but continued to smile. When she went to grab my receipt, she looked up at me and said, "I'm more exhausted than I realized. This isn't even the printer." I empathized and said, "Lack of sleep certainly can make our brains feel sluggish." She then proceeded to tell me she was working on her day off and couldn't remember when she last had a day off. Before leaving, I told her I sincerely hoped she had a good day and that she'd be able to get the good night's rest that her body needed. For the fist time, she gave me a genuine smile and thanked me. Sometimes, all it takes during this bustling season is a desire to show compassion. Genuine compassion and kindness is a gift that once again costs us nothing but means so much to the receiver and often brings joy and peace back to the giver in return.

We never know what the people who cross our paths may be enduring. They may be having a bad day after a series of unfortunate events, they may have recently lost their job, they may be having marital problems, they may have a loved one who is fighting a serious illness, they might be having financial difficulties, or they may have recently lost a loved one. Neither taking the time to listen nor taking a few moments to show compassion and kindness require more than our time. Yes, our schedules can become overflowing during the Christmas season but there is always time to listen, to show we care, to extend kindness to others, to be compassionate and not just at Christmastime but every day of the year. So don't get tangle up in the lights and tinsel this Christmas and miss out on the blessings that God intends to bestow. He sent His Son into this world as a tiny baby to show His immense love for us. What better gift could we give Him than to show His love to others by listening genuinely and having truly compassionate hearts.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

Unique Book for Women's Ministry


Jennifer J. Camp takes a unique view in her new release, Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things, by sharing the various stories of women and how God has reached down and touched their lives. This book not only helps us to know we aren't alone in our struggles but also that God does care deeply for and love each one of us. Whether you are looking for a book to use for a woman's Bible study or you just want to deepen your own personal walk with God, I highly recommend Breathing Eden. Each chapter starts with one woman's story and is followed by a time that encourages you to listen and think about what you want to talk to God about. Next comes a short series of questions for reflection. Then, you are encouraged to put your faith into practice through a trust activity. For example, one chapter has you writing a letter to your eight-year-old self. Then, each chapter ends with a prayer. 

About the Book:

What must it have been like, walking in the garden, talking with God? What would it be like to share our troubles and joys openly with him, to breathe the fresh garden air, to see the light shining through the trees? What would it be like to hear his voice responding to our questions? How might knowing God's view on our stories heal our wounds and renew our hope?

No matter our circumstances, we all need God's perspective on our lives. We need to know how he sees us. Come on, girl, he says. Let my light shine in.

Breathing Eden is forty raw, honest, heartbreaking and encouraging conversations between women and God. These prayers are like our own: full of pain, celebration, anxiety, and joy. Each one helps the reader hear God whisper love and hope into their lives. And after each story, Jennifer offers readers a guided invitation to listen for what God is saying to them.

In these pages, readers will find hope and fresh perspectives. It's an invitation to come. Breathe Eden. 

About the Author:

Jennifer Camp grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California. She was a small town girl who thought she wasn't good enough but who wanted everyone else to think that she was. The story she now loves to tell? It's the story of a lost girl and an almond tree and a gentle Savior who loves fierce. It's the story of a Savior who goes before us, wanting each of his daughters to know who she is, in Christ, and whose voice she is made to sing.

The author of Loop Devotional and a former high school English teacher, Jennifer loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. Jennifer earned a teaching credential from UC Berkeley and a MA degree in English Education from Columbia University, Teacher's College, after graduating with a BA in English at UCLA. Jennifer and her husband, Justin Camp, are the co-founders of Gather Ministries, a non-profit organization committed to bringing the genius of Jesus to the lives of busy women and men--women and men whose lives are filled but not full.

Jennifer spends her days trying to listen close to God's whispers, writing at her blog, to encourage women to remember the truth of their identities, in Christ. She also writes with her husband, Justin, about the holy and hot mess of marriage, at She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with Justin and their three awesome kids and would love to connect with you.

Breathing Eden Available at: 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kosmo's Christmas Delivery

About the Book:
Take one mischievous Jack Russel Terrier puppy named Kosmo, add a jealous Jack Russel Terrier named Kramer, mix in a valuable life lesson, and sprinkle in some Christmas joy to create an adventurous story that will draw children of all ages in until the final page is turned. Author Deb Kalmbach crafted Kosmo's Christmas Delivery after her own beloved Jack Russel Terriers, Kosmo and Kramer. She knew they would make great characters in a children's book. After all, who wouldn't adore a soft, cuddly puppy who just seems to find trouble every where he goes? Kramer doesn't find the rambunctious puppy as delightful as his owners.

When Kosmo goes missing right before Christmas, Emily and Kramer go looking for the troublesome puppy. Will Kosmo make it home in time to celebrate Christmas with his family? Pick up a copy of Kosmo's Christmas Delivery by Deb Kalmbach today to find out what happens in the adventures of Kosmo.

About the Author:
Deb Kalmbach considers herself an "expert" in not-so-perfect marriages. She's passionate about helping other women take one step forward, then another to find healing and wholeness in their lives. Real hope for real life is what Deb strives to communicate to her readers.

Deb and her husband Randy can see the half-century milestone (a miracle!) for their marriage on the horizon. They live in a tiny town in rural Washington state with Kosmo, their Jack Russell Terrier, who has inspired a new children's book series.

Purchase your copy of Kosmo's Christmas Delivery from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, today.

Kosmo's Christmas Delivery is the perfect book to get you in the mood for Christmas. It would be a wonderful addition to every young child's Christmas list. Furthermore, reading Kosmo's Christmas Delivery together as a family is the start of a great new tradition for the Christmas season. All you need is some hot chocolate, a bowl of popcorn, and everyone gathered in front of the Christmas tree.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Pray for Our Nation

In less than a month, our great nation will make choices that will remarkably impact us. On November 8th, we will not only vote for a President, someone to represent our country and choose five new Supreme Court Justices, but we will also vote for 34 of the 50 US Senate seats and all 435 US House of Representative seats. These are the ladies and gentlemen who write our legislation and determine the major issues Christian's are concerned about. While the discussions over a President continue to divide us, I want to encourage each one of us to be still and stand in God's presence. This is not a time to be divided but rather to be united in prayer. We need to be fervently praying for our country. We need to be praying for wisdom and discernment for all of our leaders and for ourselves as we make our own personal decisions when we go to the election polls. We need to beseech God's forgiveness for our country's folly and ask Him to place His people in places of position within our government to not only further the good of our great nation but also to do His good and pleasing will. No matter who wins, God still sits on the throne and will remain there forevermore!

"Pray continually" 1 Thessalonians 5:17
"Be...faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Love Is Never A Lost Cause

"Love's never met a lost cause." This phrase of lyrics from One Step Away by Casting Crowns speaks volumes to me and ignites memories from years gone by.

When I was a teenager, my father, a pastor and retired State Trooper, was asked to help a friend with a youth camp for inner city kids. Naturally, I tagged along.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." - Ephesians 4:2

What I remember so vividly to this day is a young teen who felt lost, forgotten, and misunderstood. He quit school just weeks prior to his graduation despite his excellent grades. I remember spending hours listening to this young man talk, making him promise me he would return to school and graduate (which he did), and simply letting him know someone believed in him and truly cared about him.

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." - John 15:12

What breaks my heart to this day is that an adult counselor at the camp told me not to waste my time on this young man. I was appalled! I may have been a young teen but I knew that was NOT what God wanted me to do. To God, no one is a waste of time or effort. God wanted me to listen, to believe, to show His love in very real ways, and to certainly never give up because too many others had already done just that. These young people knew plenty about hurt, brokenness, and heartache. What they needed was to see the beauty God brings from the brokenness, the strength He gives so we can persevere even though we are weak, and a love like none they could ever imagine nor would ever experience but for the grace of God.

"Do everything in love" - 1 Corinthians 16:14

Every time I hear the lyrics: "Love's never met a lost cause," I know that this is exactly what God's grace is all about. His grace is about loving people who feel unlovable, it is about believing in people who feel tossed aside, its about listening even when there is only silence, and it is about seeing the hurting person who is lost and just needs to know they are not a lost cause because God's grace is more than enough and His love is deeper, higher, wider, and farther than they could ever imagine. They will know this because we take the time to be the difference, because we know love never met a lost cause, because we know that to God every person matters. Never give up hope and always keep praying even if it takes thirty years or more for the answers to be revealed.

"Love builds [us] up" - 1 Corinthians 8:1

"Rico" this post is dedicated to you. Thirty years later and I still believe in you, my precious friend. I know God has great things in store for you whenever you are willing to run to Him and not from Him. His love for you runs deep, wide, high, and far. I still love you too, sweet brother! You matter because love and God's grace have never met a lost cause! To God, you are a priceless treasure, my friend, far better than the finest gold or gems. My heart overflows with joy at having spoken with you last night!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

God is

God so graciously meets me right where I am. Even when I have more questions than answers, I know He is hard at work and fighting my battles for me. I may not be able to see His hands at work but I trust in His love for me: a love that is deep, wide, long, lasting, unfailing, and unyielding. I just need to be still and allow His presence to surround me. When I want to run and hide, He is my strength that enables me to take a strong stand for what is right and just. When I want to give in, He encourages me to persevere. When my world is chaotic and messy, He is the calm and peace I feel holding me together. When life gets hard, the battle is real, I put on the full armor of God and trust in Him to guide me, to refine me, to save me, to redeem me, to seek me, and to fight for me. He is my anchor, my refuge, my salvation, my resting place. To Him be all glory, honor, and power.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Spotlight: Sword in the Stacks: The Ninja Librarians and Book Giveaway

Sword in the Stacks: The Ninja Librarians
By Jen Swann Downey
June 7, 2016; Hardcover; ISBN 9781402287732
Book Info:
Title: Sword in the Stacks
Series: The Ninja Librarians
Author: Jen Swann Downey
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for Sword in the Stacks

“Dorrie's quest to join the heroic lybrarians in protecting intellectual freedom in all times and climes takes her literally and figuratively from Passaic, New Jersey, into deadly waters in this madcap sequel to The Accidental Keyhand… Never a dull moment in this lybrary school.” –Kirkus 

Now that Dorrie’s an apprentice, she has the power to save Petrarch’s Library—or destroy it.

Shelve This Book Under “D” for Dangerous.
(Also daring, dramatic, dashing, daft, and dazzling!)

After stumbling upon the secret society of time-traveling ninja librarians, Dorrie has finally joined Petrarch’s Library as an apprentice! One day, she’ll actually go on missions to rescue people whose words have gotten them into trouble. For now she’s taking some interesting classes:
-           First and Last Aid: When Nobody Else is Coming
-           Spears, Axes, and Cats: Throwing Objects with Precision and Flair
-           Codes, Invisible Inks, and Smoke Signals: Keeping Secrets 101

But on a training mission to 1912 England, Dorrie finds herself dangerously close to a member of the Stronghold – the Library’s biggest enemy. This is her opportunity! Dorrie can spy on the enemy, find the missing key…and become a real Lybrarian!

But if she makes a mistake, Dorrie could lead their enemy right to the very place she’s trying to save…and everyone she cares about.

Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:

About the Author:

Jen Swann Downey’s nonfiction pieces have appeared in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Women's Day, and other publications. She’s never visited a library in which she didn't want to spend the night. Jen lives in Charlottesville, VA, with her husband and three children and feels very lucky they have yet to fire her. Visit her at

Social Networking Links:
Twitter:  @jenswanndowney

Excerpt from Sword in the Stacks: The Ninja Librarians:

Twelve-year-old Dorrie Barnes was on pins and needles.

And thumbtacks.

The thumbtacks were plastic—and scattered the length and breadth of Great-Aunt Alice’s shabby ballroom where the Barnes family did most of its living and dining and everything- else-ing. The reason that Dorrie, coffee can in hand, was crawl- ing among the thumbtacks—and occasionally upon them, feeling slightly mocked by their cheerful colors—was that she had a four-year-old sister. A sister who had thought it made perfect sense to create a thumbtack garden beside the sofa and even more sense to run over it with a vacuum. The results had been spectacular.

Only a minute before, the tacks had been zinging through the air, ricocheting with hard pings off windows and Great- Aunt Alice’s piano, embedding themselves in lampshades and couch cushions, and sending four members of the Barnes family streaking for cover. The fifth member—the perpetra- tor of the event—had simply squealed in delight. The sixth member—Great-Aunt Alice—had not been home at the time. Even if she hadn’t been halfway around the world, it’s quite likely she would still have escaped the need to streak for cover since, preferring order to chaos, she visited the Barnes on their side of her decrepit mansion as rarely as possible.

The reason Dorrie was on pins and needles was because a week ago, she’d been abruptly sent home from Petrarch’s Library, the headquarters of the Lybrariad, a society of warrior lybrarians who took very unkindly to people who set fire to books or tossed writers into rat-infested dungeons. Hypatia, the director of Petrarch’s Library, had given Dorrie only the haziest idea of if or when she’d be invited to return.

Since the lybrarians who occupied Petrarch’s Library were just as likely to spend a Monday morning rappelling down a cliff with swords clamped between their teeth as shelving books…

And since Dorrie had longed to chase down villains with a real sword ever since she could hold a fake one…

And since, while staying in Petrarch’s Library, Dorrie had unexpectedly served as the Unofficial Temporary Apprentice to  Hercule-Savinien  de  Cyrano  de  Bergerac—possessor  of the finest sword skills and grandest nose of the seventeenth century—and wanted to serve as Savi’s Extremely Official Until-the-End-of-Time Apprentice more than she wanted her heart to keep beating…
Dorrie was finding the uncertainty excruciating.

Much worse than the pain caused by the thumbtack that had just driven itself into her knee.

The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand
Available Now in Hardcover and Paperback


An Overdue Library Book Can Change Your Life. (So Can a Pet Mongoose.)

When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase Moe—an unusually foul-tempered mongoose—into the janitor's closet of their local library, they make an astonishing discovery: the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians.

Their mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history.

Petrarch's Library is an amazing, jumbled, time-traveling secret base that can dock anywhere there's trouble, like the Spanish Inquisition, or ancient Greece, or...Passaic, New Jersey. Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society, fighting injustice with a real sword! But when a traitor surfaces, she and Marcus are prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?

Buy Links:


Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for 2 Copies of Sword in the Stacks: Ninja Librarians (Runs June 1-June 30;  US & Canada only):

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