Belated Valentine | A Love Story

Hello, all.  I realize I missed a post for Valentine's Day. . . And I apologize, but I've a good reason!  This was the first Valentine's that I got to spend with my man and after church services, he took me to Olive Garden, where we enjoyed a lovely luncheon.  [Afterwards, we went to Walmart and got a Mayfield's Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and shared back at my house.  Best. Dessert. EVER.]
Usually in remembrance of St. Valentine, I share a little bit of history or write a short, fictional story/letter of his background or such.  Last year, however, I wrote the story below, and admit I am quite proud of it.  So I decided to repost and share again.  :]  Enjoy, my lovelies!
A Letter for Lillian

          She sighed as the new dawn light filtered through the linen drapes of her bedroom window.
          Another day.
          Scrunching the pillow between her fists, she gave it one punch, then rolled over with an audible groan, running her left hand over the empty space beside her.
          “Good morning,” she whispered, to no one in particular. With a final sigh heavenward, she tossed back the blissful warmth of blankets and rose to dress.
          Another day, another round of endless laundry, another set of lonely meals. At least she had the Valentine's Tea Party to look forward to in a couple days.  The church ladies were working so hard to pull it off.
          She splashed cold water on her face, then fumbled for a towel.
          But she wasn't going to mope around until then. No, sir. This war had caused enough of that.
          Once finished with the toiletries, she went through the motions of dressing and routine chores. With the bed neatly made, her hair coiled and pinned, and her favorite green dress donned, she made her way to the tiny kitchen.
          While water boiled for her morning tea, she flipped on the radio and grabbed the duster, giving her cozy home a quick once-over. That done, she swept the kitchen and living room to the sound of Glenn Miller's “In the Mood.”
          While brass and percussion played in the background, she sat down at last to a mug of hot tea and a steaming bowl of oatmeal. Mumbling a brief prayer of thanks, she ate quietly and turned the frail pages of her worn Bible to the Gospel of John.
          “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy,” read chapter 16, verse 20.
          Sorrow to joy.
          She pondered the subtle promise as her ears caught a phrase from the radio: “. . . meeting at Yalta has concluded. After an eight day conference, the Big Three depart with plans for the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany. . .”
          Her eyes widened. Could this be so? Would the war finally end? Were the rumors true?
          She couldn't help it. Her mouth twitched into a smile and she met the shining face of her best friend smiling back through the small, glass frame.
          “Are you coming home? Are you coming soon, Jack?” Those laughing eyes never ceased their laughing, but they didn't grant her a reply either.
          Lord, keep him safe. Bring him home.
          She didn't realize she was twisting the delicate, gold band around and around her ring finger until a muffled voice broke her reverie.
          “Mail call!”
          Her hand froze and she blushed.
          But he wasn't there to see. Her little habit had always made him laugh.
          A smile lit her features as she glanced out the window, watching the mailboy's receding back as he pedaled away for more deliveries.
          Her brow furrowed. Billy was earlier than usual.
          She shrugged and sipped her tea, then scrunched up her nose at the cold liquid. Smothering a sigh, she put her bowl in the sink and made for the front door, thinking to sweep off the porch before grabbing the day's mail.
          But something made her walk past the  broom as she pulled on her coat and stepped into the chilly late-Winter air.
          The mailbox sat forlornly among a bouquet of withered bushes. They always looked ghastly during the cold months, but come Spring and Summer, they never failed to bloom beautifully. Just seeing those bushes, she found herself wishing for warmer weather, picnics, and long walks as she sifted through the meager collection of envelopes.
          One caught her eye. Containing only one word above the listed address, there was no mistaking the distinct loop of the L.
          She turned heel and ran to her kitchen, nearly stepping on the cat in her haste, who had seemed to materialize on the rug. She made it to the table, forced herself to take a deep breath and sit before opening the seal. With smiling face and shaking hands, she pulled out a letter.
          And couldn't stop the tears. . .

          “Oh, Jack.”
          A hand muffled her happy laughs, but couldn't stop the shine of her broad smile.
          “Happy Valentine's Day.”



Thanks for reading!


NOTE: Characters and letter are fictitious and of my own making.  I took a little liberty in this short story, but the mention of Glenn Miller and his orchestra and the conference meeting at Yalta are entirely true.
Photos via Pinterest.
Jack's portrait is actually that of actor Gene Kelly.  His uniform does not match that of a 1st Lieutenant, but I loved his smile.  :]
John 16:20 quoted in KJV.

Book Review | Sandcastle Kings

Sandcastle Kings
Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World
Rich Wilkerson, Jr.

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  Nonfiction, Christian
Released:  November 10th, 2015

Children aren't the only ones building castles out of sand.

The world seems to have figured out the formula for manufacturing material success, but when it comes to finding true, lasting happiness, we are as lost as ever. We yearn for more, or less, or something that’s just different from what we have right now. Deep down, we know there must be satisfaction for our longing. We just don’t know where to find it.

In Sandcastle Kings, Rich Wilkerson uses four powerful stories from the seventh chapter of Luke to explain why spiritual fulfillment cannot be found in ourselves, in other people, in material things, or even in religion. By studying the stories of the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar, you will be able to face your doubts and insecurities and overcome your anxiety, discontentment, and depression. Wilkerson wants you to understand that the only answer for your spiritual bankruptcy is Jesus and that until you turn to Him you will never experience the lasting peace and joy you so desperately crave.

Wow.  What an incredible book!  Divided into four parts with twelve chapters total, Mr. Wilkerson delves deep into the seventh chapter of Luke.  He focuses on four well-known stories: the centurion's faith, the widow's son, John the Baptist, and the woman with the alabaster jar.  So, we have the Boss, the Widow, the Preacher, and the Outcast.  He also discusses the Four Loves, how even a most devoted man of faith can doubt, and where true satisfaction should be found--in Christ.  

Ever built a sandcastle before?  Then you know that when the high-tide rises, there's no possible way your beautiful masterpiece will stand.  All too often that's exactly what we do in life.  We build countless sandcastles in our jobs, families, churches, etc. and then wonder why they continuously fall apart.  In this book, Mr. Wilkerson stresses the importance of building upon the solid Rock.  It is there we can stand, and not fall into the bankruptcy of the world.  He tells it like it is, uses illustrations of his own experience, makes you laugh, and makes you think.

In conclusion, he says this, ". . .Jesus has paid your bill.  The check came, and you owed more than you have.  In fact, you have nothing.  You are completely bankrupt.  But thankfully, Jesus is the Man.  He took care of your debt.  Once you are aware of what He paid, it doesn't lead you away from Him, it leads you straight to Him. . . And when you let Jesus have all of your life and let Him be your king, you will no longer be building on sand but on the immovable, unshakable, eternal Rock."

Recommended ages:  16+
My Rating

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Rated, Not Reviewed

Good morrow, all!  How goes your week thus far? Mine has been lovely.  We've had rain and sunshine and gorgeous warm, almost-Spring days.  I can't wait till the new season arrives! 

Well, onward!  This here post is exactly what the title says.  I'm sharing a handful of some books I've read that, while I didn't have time to give a full review for each, they are still rated.  I saw this idea on another's blog and knew I would need to try it out.  This type of post will be for the awesome books (with a few not-so-awesome) that I wanted to review, but hadn't the time.  This way, you'll be able to see the ones I like and still find a recommendation or two.  So here goes.


The Choosing
(Seer #1)
Rachelle Dekker

“Not to be Chosen would yield a cruel fate of my own making.”

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

My Rating

Here's a new futuristic novel, and one by none other than Ted Dekker's daughter, Rachelle.  In this debut, we are introduced to a world run by a government that sits on the twisted laws of the Bible.  They may have begun in faith, but their views have been corrupted and their people oppressed.  You must choose to serve either the government's religion or that of the rebels.  Who is in the right? Choosing one will lead to a life resembling that of a privileged slave.  Choosing the other might lead to death, but also a freedom you couldn't find elsewhere.

A great start to a new series.  It's clean, with the exception of violence, and it's laced in the faith of Christ.  I loved it!  Would definitely recommend to any and all who love reading of the dystopian/futuristic stories.  (ages 16+)

The Storybook of Legends
Every After High #1
Shannon Hale

At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both. 
My Rating

This is such an adorable twist to the classic fairytales!  Each character is the offspring of a beloved fairytale and you join in on their adventure through high school as they learn to face the fate governed by their stories.  Or see what might happen if they choose to blaze their own trail and greet the unknown. . . 

Loved this one! And want to get my hands on the next.  I've enjoyed all of Shannon Hale's novels so far, and this was no exception.  A great read for any age! (ages 10-12+)

The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Marissa Meyer

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
My Rating

While it was eye-opening and a bit enlightening to finally learn Queen Levana's back-story and how she came to be who she is, I would refrain from recommending this novel.  Why?  Simply due to the immoral, mature, and graphic content.  It was definitely an interesting read and I admit, I found myself feeling pity, and perhaps a little sympathy for Levana.  However, I would warn you to be aware that there is some rather mature content mixed into these pages.  This is my personal opinion, but nonetheless, be warned.  (ages 18+)

I don't think I've ever reviewed any of the other series. . . Hopefully, those will be next on the list!  They are SO darn good.  I would definitely recommend them!

Rules of Murder
A Drew Farthering Mystery #1
Julianna Deering

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew’s stepfather’s company come to light and it’s clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer–and trying harder to impress Madeline–Drew must decide how far to take this game.

My Rating

If you love a good, classic, murder-mystery, this is a tale for you.  It definitely kept me on my toes and guessing who might've dunnit. . . And then when I think I had the culprit pin-pointed, I was wrong!  I so enjoyed this story (a book I received as a Christmas gift from my dear Evan) and would heartily recommend to all you mystery lovers.  The characters are so lovable and fun, the dialogue mysterious and laugh-out-loudable, and the tale gripping.  If you enjoy the stories of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and Father Knox, you'll definitely like this one.  Murders galore!  (ages 16+)


And that's all I have for now.  
Happy Thursday, dearies!

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