Review of ONCE WE WERE STRANGERS by Shawn Smucker

Mohammed uproots his family of six and leaves Syria, fleeing the bombs and danger there. First, they go to Jordan, but there is no freedom or acceptance there. So, he completed all of the necessary paperwork to immigrate to the United States. His story is one of hope and friendship. He and his family end up in the small town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and his new friend there is Shawn Smucker. I am not sure who learned more from this friendship, but I was fascinated by the way that Shawn took Mohammed into his family life, accepted him and his family just as they were and tried to help them assimilate to the new customs and lifestyle of the U.S. Rather than fearing Mohammed because he was Muslim, Shawn tried to understand him and his unique needs. He helped Mohammed and Moradi find jobs. He helped get the children into school. He understood Mohammed’s need to be in open space because that was more like home to him. This was an intriguing story of friendship that accepts, meets the person where they are and tries to help them.


Disclaimer of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher Revell. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

Faith Stands


Okay, let me be honest.  I have had a rough year or so.  Without belaboring the point too much, let me just simply say that my father died, my best friend died six months later and now another friend has died.  But the Lord spoke strongly to me yesterday that He is enough.  I just have to stand on my faith and continue to believe.

God’s love for me (and you) has not changed.  He has not moved farther away from me.  This has been a hard realization for me, but I am the one who has moved.  As circumstances have assailed me, I have begun to look inward at my own strength.  Yesterday was a revelation that I am fighting a spiritual battle and today has been the comfort that He is close beside me through everything.  There is nothing happening in my life that my dear Lord is not aware of and fully able to walk through with me.  I have had a tendency lately to do just as Peter did and take my eyes off the Lord.  I know that you remember that Bible story.  Peter wanted to walk on water to the Lord and the Lord bade him to step out of the boat and come.  Peter was doing just fine as he approached the Lord until he took his eyes off of the Lord and looked at the waves instead.  Then, he started to sink.  That has been me.  I was sinking in despair until the Lord took my hand and told me just to keep my eyes on Him.  He is the “author and finisher of my faith.”  (Hebrews 12:2, paraphrased) Life is full of hardships.  That’s the honest truth.  But faith in God will take me through it, and it will take you there, too.  No matter what the circumstances may be, no matter what we may face in this life, God is enough.  His love is enough.  His power in me is enough.  His strength is enough.  And my faith has to be enough.  Do I struggle with questions?  Yes.  I think that we all do sometimes.  But I will not let go of my belief in my God who is bigger and higher and whose love is so deep that I cannot fathom it.


God didn’t give up on me even as I questioned Him.  I recall Job who lost everything that he had and was then struck with physical ailments himself.  I am no Job; I have not begun to reach the depth of his suffering.  No matter what Job went through, he would not turn away from God.  He knew that therein lay his salvation, in this world and eternally.  The good news is that every day is a new day with the Lord.   His mercies are indeed new every morning.  So, with that said, I start a new day with God, with determination in my heart to seek Him and to worship Him as the Lord of my life, the Lord of all that I have, the master of my fate.  He is the One who calms the storms in my life.  So, I keep pressing on because I know He loves me…through the valleys and on the mountains.  He loves me with an everlasting love.  I pray that you, my readers, have found that love, the faithfulness that is a part of God’s character that will take you through all that life brings.

Response to an Evil World

8C319BCC-9339-4C8F-ABD5-8CBF84B4641AUnless you have had your head in the sand and earplugs in your ears for the last week or so, you know that we live in a lost world.   The only hope that any of us has is our redemption in Jesus Christ.   I mourn for the loss of those innocents worshipping in the synagogue and gunned down by a madman who had already lost all hope in his ability to reason.  Can you imagine?  Someone so filled with hatred that he guns down a 97 year old Jewish woman?  What a nightmare of a world that we live in!  Politicians who don’t think the way others do are being attacked in restaurants.  There is so much frustration in our society that we don’t need to know all of the details…only the headlines will open our eyes to the world’s need for Jesus.  I have been reading my Bible more and praying more.  We need to have a total devotion to God and His principles of love and forgiveness.  Thus we can survive the onslaught of evil in our land.  Our hope is in the Lord who will one day return in glory to take us to be with Him.  In the meantime, we need to pray for our nation and for the souls of those who are lost.  We need to gird ourselves with the full armor of God and stand against the attacks of Satan; the evil that threatens us and our way of life is straight from the pits of hell and I, for one, stand against it.  With my helmet of salvation and my breastplate of rightoueous, with my shoes being the gospel of peace, I confront the evil that is prevalent and say that it has no place in our world!  I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the safety of Jewish people everywhere.  I pray for evil to be cast into the light so that people can clearly see it for what it is and  stand against it.  There is nothing that can stop the Army of God if we stand strong!  So far, all I have heard and seen is about the evil in the world and how it seems to be winning.  But I know that God is the Victor, and we are part of His victory by being a part of His army.  We are on the move, my friends.  We are no longer standing still and waiting for the evil to come to us; it is all around us and we must put on our armor and prepare for the fight.

961FC38C-6D6B-4667-9CCC-1C7446288C61.jpegNo more excuses!  You are either for God or against Him.  There is no fence to sit upon.  Join God’s army of warriors today and speak up for the truth.  Be strong and devoted to His Word and the truth that is in it.  Share the gospel as God leads you.  And don’t be discouraged.  Satan would have you believe that he is winning.  Don’t be deceived.  We know that God wins in the end.  It’s this middle part called our life that may be hard to go through sometimes.  But we must go through whatever God has called us to endure.  We must continue to live with wisdom and righteousness, knowing that our day of ultimate victory is coming.  So, I am calling on my friends online to move with the army of the Risen Lord, to conquer our fears of speaking out and to conquer evil wherever we see it.  Don’t let small seeds of evil generate themselves in your life.  Rather, water the good that comes from God that is in your life.  Read and study the Bible daily.  Pray daily.  Listen for God to speak to you daily.  I encourage you that the battle is ours to win!

Review of NIGHT OF MIRACLES by Elizabeth Berg

AVAILABLE TODAY!  Don’t miss this heart-touching book!  

This sequel to the author’s previous book THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV makes much more sense to the reader who has read the first book.  This book tells the reader more about the characters in the previous book and how their lives have continued after Arthur’s death.  I fell in love with Lucille again.  She is a feisty, older lady who bakes well and uses that talent to teach others.  She is also the quintessential good neighbor, looking out for the needs of her neighbors as well as holding a special place in her heart for Maddy and Nola, her “adopted” daughter and granddaughter.  The theme of the book is heart-warming and inspiring.  It is one of community coming together when they face hard choices and helping each other through hard times.  It is a story of acts of kindness that roll from one person who is touched by kindness to the next one that he or she does likewise for.  This is a timely novel, with a theme of love and giving that is needed in today’s divided world.


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”  


Finishing the Fight

Do you ever feel like every day is a struggle?  Sometimes it’s hard to get up and get going on the tasks for the day, but you know that you just have to keep moving.  That was me this morning.  My friend died yesterday afternoon.  Now there is a family without a wife and a mom.  And there is another empty space in my heart where I carried my friend.  She was always smiling, no matter the heartache that I knew she was suffering.  She always had an encouraging word for everyone she met, and in her presence you could not help but believe that everything would be okay.   Before she underwent the surgery that eventually led to her death, she gave a stirring testimony in church about how God has always been there for her and her family.  Her husband had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and lung cancer earlier in the year, but she encouraged us to keep praying.  He is doing well now, but he had to say farewell to his beloved wife.  I hope that when the day comes for me to go home to be with the Lord that those I leave behind can say the same things about me as I am saying about my friend.  A friend to all, she knew no strangers.  A kind word to all, with no hatefulness in her.  A smile to light up the world and show people Jesus on her face and especially in her loving eyes.  I will miss her this Sunday when I go to church. But I am not without hope, because I know that one day I will see her again.  O, glorious day!  God gives us the victory over death, although for these days it is painful and heart-breaking.


Too Hard for God

115CD197-3B75-4223-AC68-CC35CFFC4287B7097FEC-A35B-48AE-A777-FF6560BAC4E4God reminded me of His awesome power this morning.  I have been feeling discouraged because of the lack of answered prayers in my life.  But God reminds me that nothing is too hard for Him, and if He isn’t answering the way I want, He is still answering.  Each breath I take is a gift from God.  Each step I take is a gift from God.  Every morning that I awaken is a gift from God.  His answer is on the way because nothing is too hard for Him.  I am weak and can’t do a lot in my own strength, but it is God’s strength that I am counting on.  Yes, my friend is still in critical condition in the hospital.  But she responded yesterday for the first time.  So, improvement has been noted.  God is answering prayer.  I am so in awe of God’s love and power.  I hope that you realize how small we are and how great God is.  He changed time and sent the sundial back; he parted waters twice; He sent His Son who healed people and represented God’s love and power on earth.  Without Him, I can do nothing and I am nothing.  But with Him, I can do whatever He asks and I am His child, a child of the King.  I hope that you all know who you are in the Lord and how awesome He is!


The Sunshine Blogger Award

I was blessed to be nominated for this award by MWSR. She is a talented and versatile blogger who writes poems and shared vocabulary for us to learn from. I hope that you will check out her blog.

The rules are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.
  • Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.
  • The questions for me to answer were:
    1. Favorite holiday and why? My favorite holiday is Easter because it is Resurrection Day
      Favorite animal and why you choose it? I like cats because I have one who is my constant companion when I am home. Daisy is cuddly and very smart. I have taught her to sit and beg for treats and my husband taught her to fetch.
      Favorite quote? “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
      Words of wisdom for someone? I will use another quotation, this one from Plato: “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
      A gift that was your favorite and why? The last Christmas gift that I got from my parents was a red winter coat. I loved it because it was from them during a time that they were struggling financially.
      Favorite movie? I Can Only Imagine
      Favorite Song? “Whom Shall I Fear?” By Chris Tomlin
      Favorite lyrics in a song and explain why. “I want what you want, Lord and nothing less.” From Lauren Daigle’s “I Will Trust in You.” I love this part because I want it to be true for my life, and I’m working on that.
      Someone you look up to? My first pastor who is still alive and still doing missions work in his 80’s. Dean Harvey is a role model and a Christian who lives what he believes.
      Share with us a picture and tell us what it is. This is my youngest granddaughter Evie. She is six months old now and is a real joy to be around.
      Share something. I became a Christian by reading the book of John from a Bible that my neighbor gave me. I love the Lord and do my best to serve Him every day.
  • My Nominees are the following bloggers. I hope that you will check out their pages!
  • David Ettinger
  • Sim Chen Xing
  • Leon Hieros
  • Ryan Callahan
  • Mummanopoly
  • Mary Mangee
  • dpranita583
  • Tammy7711
  • doctorinspe
  • Laura M Bailey
  • Have You Ever Noticed
  • Questions for my nominees:
    1. Who is your best friend and what do you have in common?
      What is your favorite place to go and why?
      If you watch television, what is your favorite show?
      What is the book that you would recommend that everyone read?
      What is your favorite thing to do on a daily basis?
      Share an interesting fact about your life.
      What is one word that describes you best? Explain.
      If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be and why?
      What do you consider to be the priority of your life?
      Tell us your favorite author and why.
      What is one thing that you wish everyone knew about you?

    The Importance of God’s Word

    As an avid reader of books since I was a young child, I have discovered treasure in the book known as the Holy Bible. It is my “go to” book for advice, comfort and acceptance. It is always there for me, and now that we have technology, I can read the Bible in all kinds of different versions. I am currently reading the Bible through in a year, using the New Living Testament. Last year, I read the NIV and the year before that the KJV. I tried reading The Message Version of the Bible, but I really didn’t like the way the words were so different from what I was accustomed to. My pastor frequently uses the ESV, so I may try that one next year. No matter the version that I am reading and studying, I believe that it is very important that we read and study God’s Word daily.

    I read a lot of books (over 200 this year so far), but only the Bible is eternal. It was there long before I was born and it will continue to be there for the generations that follow me. Jesus referred to the Old Testament over and over again, appealing to the Jewish people with whom He was trying to relate. We who live in this age have a new covenant and the New Testament, the words and truth that give our lives meaning and purpose. We were created to serve our Creator and to tell others of His great love. What a privilege and honor to share the truth of God’s Word with those who have not heard it or believed it yet!

    God’s Word is practical and useful for everyday life, with all of its struggles. His Word is not just a nice story put on paper. God inspired His Word to be written just as it is. What a wonder! And God uses it to teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us to be righteous. I am working on being more like Jesus. That means that I need more of God inside me every day. God’s Word is the tool, the big machinery, the crew boss of my efforts to rebuild my life so that it is Jesus that others see in me. God wants to give us the tools to help others. Those tools are in God’s Word. No matter what I face each day, I can go to God’s Word to find the answer. God has already provided all of the answers to life’s questions. They are in His Word…open it and find the truth and instructions that He has for your life.

    A few years ago, my husband and I bought a new car. Actually, it was new to us, but it was two years old at the time. Anyway, we drove it away and in a few months, a warning light came on the dashboard. Unfortunately, the flashing yellow light did not tell me instantly what I needed to do to remedy the problem. What did I do? I opened the glove compartment, took out the owner’s manual and read what the light meant (the tire needed air) so that I was able to correct the problem. I have heard people express the opinion that babies don’t come with an owner’s manual, so parents do the best they can. I don’t agree with that statement because I think that the owner’s manual for each new person who comes into the world is the Holy Bible. God is our owner and He has provided the manual; it tells us how to raise our children and how to live our own lives so that we become the people that He means us to be. Taking out your Bible should be the natural response to any warning lights in your life because it is the Owner’s manual. After all, we are His and He knows what is best for us. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1 NIV).

    Do Your Best


    I am so happy that God does not expect me to be perfect.  He only expects me to do my best.  That’s a phrase that I am very familiar with since I used to have anxiety attacks before tests in high school and college.  Parents and friends always just admonished me to do my best.  I expected perfection from myself, and therein lay the problem.  God wants me to live each day doing my best.  How do I do that?  I study His Word and pray daily.  I start my day each morning with a devotional.  I look for ways to help others and to tell them about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us.  Some days are better than others because I have a tendency to get easily frustrated, especially with my spouse who is a laid-back, relaxed kind of person.  I am an intense, A-type personality, so I fall easily into my old self, angry and unable to accept change.  God’s desire for me (and for you)  is to be a worker for Him.  We are His representatives of His Word here on the earth.  We are the walking, talking, Word of God that other people see.  Whoa!  That is a difficult thing to consider, but it is the truth.  And in our ambassadorship, God expects us to do our best.  He isn’t asking for perfect people; He is requiring that we do our best to represent Him.  So, go out and shine for God today!  Do your best to be His worker and to rightly represent the truth in His Word!  Let other people see the living Word in you so that they will want what you have.  I’m not perfect, but I am under construction and I am going to do my best not to thwart God’s plan but to promote it.  I pray that my readers will be encouraged to do likewise.  


    The Versatile Blogger Award

    I am grateful to have been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by Liberah.

    So generous to have nominated me and then she had to wait until I could actually post. Thank you, so much, dear!


    • Thank the person who nominated you.
    • Include a link to their blog in your post.
    • Nominate 15 bloggers of your choosing to keep spreading the love.
    • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • 7 Facts about Myself:
    1. I taught in eleven different public school districts, including Arkansas, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
      I was a teacher for 34 years.
      I have been married for 45 years.
      I met my husband on a bus.
      I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior on February 28, 1973.
      I have three children who are the joy of my heart.
      I have ten grandchildren, one of whom I will meet for the first time in Heaven.
  • Nominees:
  • FreyaTravels
  • bellesmoma16
  • Althea’s Mind
  • PrinceInspires
  • Becoming His Tapestry
  • Plants and Beyond
  • Amy Blount
  • susiesopinions
  • jengalaxy4
  • Puzzles of the Soul
  • Indians Abroad
  • Thony Space
  • Christy Istrate
  • Stuart L. Tutt
  • Tittle Thoughts