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February 19, 2014


Smitten Book Club

I’ve been reading another fun book lately that has kept my mind happily occupied while inching through car rider pick-up lines. Smitten Book Club is the third book in the Smitten series, written by four well-known Christian authors: Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter.

Set in the cozy fictional town of Smitten, Vermont, each author contributed one section to the book, writing from the viewpoint of a character in the Fireside Book Club. Their individual stories fit together like pieces of a quilt, and it was hard to tell they weren’t all written by the same author.

Here’s the main plot: while hosting a rummage sale in support of club member, Molly, who has recently lost her firefighter husband in a tragic accident, Heather discovers an antique book with the title, A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship, penned by once-famous Smitten resident Pearl Chambers. She wonders whether this century-old tome may actually offer some wisdom for modern relationships and shares it with the other members of her book club.

Each chapter begins with a charming quote from Pearl Chambers, and I enjoyed seeing how the characters find something uniquely personal and relevant to apply to their daily lives. And there’s another surprise: a handwritten note tucked inside says the book offers clues to a gold mine hidden on the property belonging to Molly’s deceased husband. If she could only find the gold, perhaps she’d discover a way to salvage the expedition business her husband started … and save the home that’s been in his family for generations.

The book club members — Heather, Molly, Abby, and Lia — dissect Pearl’s book individually, trying to decipher the possible hidden messages that may lead to the treasure of gold. I especially loved reading Kristin Billerbeck’s section focusing on the character of Abby, a librarian who relates to the world through her favorite Jane Austen literary heroines. She also tackles her sleuthing adventures in a way similar to Nancy Drew, decoding words with hidden meanings.

I’ve always relished the hilarious chick-lit books by author Kristin Billerbeck, and I interviewed her several years ago on my blog here. Colleen Coble also visited Mom 2 Mom Connection a few years back, and I reviewed Diann Hunt’s book, RV There Yet for Christian Women Online. I was sad to read that Diann Hunt passed away from cancer right before this book went to press, so it must have been bittersweet for the four writers to work together one last time. The authors’ collaborative blog, Girls Write Out, has been one of my favorite spots to visit for years.

I missed reading the first two books in the Smitten series, but since I enjoyed this one so much, I’ll have to find copies of the first two and get caught up. Keep reading below to learn more about upcoming events surrounding this book’s release!


*****

The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.


smittenbookclub-400-click

 
One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)



So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!


Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch on March 22nd!
Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt

Meet the authors:


Smitten Book Club Authors

RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.

Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants.

Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including A Cowboy’s Touch and Sweetwater Gap. She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana.

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate. Diann lost her courageous battle with cancer in December 2013.

Blogger’s Note: I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

By: Heather Ivester in: Book Reviews,Christian Living,Faith,Friendship,Marriage,Motherhood | Permalink | Comments Off on Entering the World of the Smitten Book Club



December 18, 2013
12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
 
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
 
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

My Gift to Him
by: Cara Putman

As Christmas nears, I’m staggering under a year that’s been too full. A fall that’s been too busy. A season of good, but overwhelming days.

Does anyone else feel the same?

There’s nothing bad—life is just full. Too full.

And I feel emptied. So empty.

It would be easy to enter this season with a sense of exhaustion, feeling like I just want to get through and on to January.

Instead, I want to offer my life again. May my gift be my life. My dreams. My talents. My all. May I be available to Him to transform from the inside out. I want my life to be lived for His glory.

Yet I fail. And on the days that I am most tired and overwhelmed I seem to fail more. It is then that I take comfort in the reality that He is the King born in a manager. A King who gave up heaven in order to save me. You. All of us. He has good plans for my life. Plans that exceed my wildest dreams. Plans fit for the daughter of the Most High.

He has plans like that for you, too. Plans that may be different from your plans, but plans that are wonderful and good.

So in this season of busyness, a season when it is easy to focus on things, duties, parties, family and friends, will you join me? I’m offering myself as a gift to Him. Will you?

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Friendship | Permalink | Comments Off on My Gift to Him, by Cara Putman



December 15, 2013
12pearlsofxmas
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!



Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
 
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Christmas Musings
by Anita Higman

I feel great joy in preparing my home for the holiday season. I love to drape boughs of greenery along the staircase, swirl spices into a pot of apple cider that’s simmering on the stove, make crafty floral arrangements, and sing along with all my favorite carols. Then when friends and family come over for brunches and dinners, I put out my finest decoration, my best china, and my sincerest smile. I go all out. These are my guests, and I want the event to be welcoming, satisfying, and festive. I want them to feel like royalty.

When Christ arrived in Bethlehem, I wish He could have had a more splendid welcoming, a more regal place to sleep than a wooden trough where animals were fed. Even though His birth was without majestic lodgings or kingly adornments, I’m so glad He overlooked our foolish blunders, our lack of hospitality, and chose to live amongst us anyway. Jesus certainly could have chosen a different route and easier way to offer redemption.

But He didn’t.

Jesus came in one of the humblest possibly ways. He had a divine approach that left humans surprised and puzzled. And it turned into a road of pain beyond anything we can imagine. When it comes to God’s extravagant sacrifice and love that Christmas represents, He deserves a standing ovation. After all, Christmas holds the true secrets we’ve all been searching for: meaning to our lives on earth, victory over death, and life eternal.Christmas gives us a reason to work, to laugh, to dream, to love. Christmas is a holiday of the heart and earth’s finest celebration.

12pearls-higman
***
Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. Her latest release, Marriage in Middlebury, is a tale of love, hope, and forgiveness. Anita’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Visit Anita at her website.
By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Friendship | Permalink | Comments Off on Christmas Musings, by Anita Higman



November 18, 2013

This has got to be one of the best moments in Auburn football history. I love this montage of happy fans. We were among those watching the game at home, shouting with excitement at our TV. I actually made myself a bit hoarse. War Eagle, friends!

By: Heather Ivester in: Friendship | Permalink | Comments Off on To Every Auburn Fan: War Eagle!!



October 13, 2011



Life Lessons from The Help: Pain Happens in a Broken World

By Poppy Smith

Have you read or seen the movie, THE HELP? If you have, you know it is a story about racism and the treatment of black maids who worked for white people in the South. People’s reactions range from outrage at the humiliation blacks have often received, to charges that it was biased and untrue.

I came out of the movie grieving. I not only felt wretched at the pain racism causes, but also at the hurt and suffering that comes when people mistreat others. Pain Happens in a Broken World. Being cruel to others, whether by actions or words, happens in every culture for many reasons: because individuals think they are superior for some reason due to their skin color, gender, position in society, wealth, or education. Whatever the reasons, they all flow from a sinful heart.



Have you been hurt?

Have you known what it is like to be looked down on, dismissed as unimportant, or made to feel unwanted? Have you experienced cruelty of some kind? How did it make you feel?

Have you wrestled with anger, wanting to get revenge, or feeling crushed and of no worth? In The Help, one of the poorly treated maids gets her revenge in a startling way. But revenge is God’s prerogative, and not ours to take (Romans 12:19).

Your pain might have come from someone you work with, live next to, or go to school with. Its source could be a relative or close family. Even fellow believers hurt others when operating in the flesh and not the Spirit. But no matter where your pain originated, it is something God wants to heal.

God Cares About You. Why should He care? Why does He call you to forgive those who have harmed you? Because He loves you and wants the appalling power of bitterness, hatred, and inner rage to stop poisoning your heart and your life.

God’s Path to Healing. How can you and I, followers of the Lord Jesus, indwelt by His Mighty and All-powerful Spirit, find freedom from pain? Only by forgiving the one, or many, who caused our pain.

Three necessary principles for dealing with pain:

*Reject blame and bitterness. It doesn’t move you forward. It chains you to the past.
*Pray for willingness to forgive. It is a process that often requires time to work through.
*Forgive the offender. Be willing to release that person from your desire for revenge, or even for an apology. Realize they most likely have moved on and forgotten the incident. Remembering is only hurting you. Let it go.

Remember something else: the Lord is our Healer. He wants you to experience joy, no matter how much pain you have experienced. He wants you to THRIVE in every aspect of your life. And He has provided a way for this to happen! Will you walk in it?

With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) uses colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages women (and men, at times) to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship Lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives. You can learn more at PoppySmith.com.




May 11, 2011

Thank you all so much for following along with the Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series. I pray you laughed, cried and were touched by the translucent stories of real life written by new moms, stepmoms, grandmoms, adoptive moms, and moms without moms. Iridescent reality. And how poignant that the translucent nacre which coats the sand stuck inside an oyster’s shell is called Mother of Pearl. Mothers surround children with their love and with God’s love so they can grow in grace. I hope you’ll join us this December for the third annual 12 Pearls of Christmas series.

AND … thanks too, to all of you who entered to win the beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. I’m thrilled to announce that the winner is …

Jennifer (heavensent1)!

Jennifer, please email amy@pearlgirls.info with your mailing address.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. The purpose of Pearl Girls is to connect women so that together, we can make a difference in the world.  All proceeds of the Pearl Girls book go in full to two charities: Wings (women in need growing stronger) to help fund a safe house in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products to help support Pearl Girls.

Please stop by the Pearl Girls blog and connect with us there.




May 4, 2011

I just received an email from a friend who has adopted four children, and I thought it was perfect timing to go along with Tricia Goyer’s post today.

I’m passing this information along to you, in case you might be interested or know someone who may feel led to host an orphan child for a month this summer.

*****

FINAL CALL TO CHANGE A LIFE THIS SUMMER!

Dear Families, Friends and Prayer Warriors of New Horizons for Children:

Only FOUR Days remain for the final 30 LATVIAN CHILDREN. Signup ends this Friday, May 6, for children from Latvia. Arrival will be approximately June 27 and departure July 31. We are not asking you to adopt, we ARE asking you to share the love of Christ through your family for a child who has no one welcoming them home this summer.

A Matching Funds donor has offered partial scholarships for EACH. God is still moving in the hearts of many; perhaps He’s been stirring you “for such a time as this.” Could this Mother’s Day mark your time to become a spiritual mother to a child without such a relationship?

We ask you to PLEASE respond to one of the following

1. PROVIDE SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS:
Can $500-1000 actually make a difference? YES, YES and YES! Why? Right now, we have summer host families who have already fundraised to host one child and are willing to take TWO! We have adopting families who are waiting on the adoption process, yet have open homes, prepared rooms and willing hearts to host child this summer while they await their forever child. $500-1000 placed on a child WILL with virtually 100% certainty ensure one more child is selected for hosting this summer. Without a doubt! Consider a Mother’s Day Offering. Any mother would be honored to know that a motherless child came closer to Christ through a scholarship in HER name!

Click here to see who remains unchosen.

To make a donation or provide a scholarship, please visit here.

2. PRAY AND FAST:
If you are willing to get to your knees for a little one you’ve never met, now is the time. God wasn’t and we aren’t willing that a single one of them perish. We intend to fight for every child who is still unchosen on the photolisting. We ask you to join us in prayer and fasting if you feel led.

3. HOST:
If you are willing to HOST:
-Complete the PRE HOSTING Application by clicking here.

-Register to view the entire photo list of all orphan BIOS and PHOTOS here.

-Select a child to host and contact your State Coordinator here.

90% of children with a scholarship end up being hosted
65% of those hosted are adopted
15% of those left behind will commit suicide within a year of leaving the orphanage at age 16
15% more will commit suicide the following year

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

What an opportunity for ALL whom Christ purchased. He will not allow ONE of us to be cast aside. It is our spiritual responsibility to point to the Savior. While we may not know specifically what each host child needs this summer, Christ knows and only asks that we do our part by showing kindness to those not capable of knowing Him yet. He welcomes them; we should do our part to welcome them too.

Proclaiming HIM to the Fatherless,
New Horizons for Children

You can also find New Horizons on Facebook.




March 2, 2011

My oldest daughter started learning “Londonderry Air” from John Thompson Book 3 today at her piano lesson. So I thought it would be fun if she heard the words to “Danny Boy” to inspire her as she plays.

We ended up finding this hilarious video of the Muppets singing “Danny Boy.” Do any of you remember watching the Muppets on TV as kids? My childhood friend, Meredith, and I used to push back the furniture in her parents’ living room and make up gymnastics routines to “The Rainbow Connection,” sung by Kermit the Frog. We knew every word and somehow managed to sing and do somersaults and splits at the same time. I’m sure her mom stayed clear of that room while we were “creating” our master performances.

This should bring back memories to you. And in honor of the month celebrating the Irish, enjoy!

By: Heather Ivester in: Friendship,Music | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)



February 21, 2011




I just finished reading Kathi Lipp’s really fun book, The Me Project, and I’m happy to join in the blog tour to help spread the word.

I started reading it a couple of weeks ago without having any idea what my “project” might be. After slipping this book into my purse and carrying it around to basketball games, school pick-up lines, and doctor’s appointments, I feel like Kathi Lipp has become a friend, someone who wants me to seek God’s best for my life.

The book is divided into 21 “projects” that will help you take small steps toward dreams you may have on hold. It would be a great resource for women’s book clubs and church groups, since one of the main points Kathi Lipp makes is that friends can hold you accountable as you make progress toward your goals.

Here’s a little about the book:

Has that rush to make (and break) New Year’s resolutions already waned? According to Daniel Pink, author of 
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, taking small steps every day will not only help you stay committed to your goal, 
but will also help you ultimately achieve that goal when obstacles come up. Author Kathi Lipp wants you and your friends to live out those dreams—and have some fun along the way.

As women, we forget the goals and dreams of our younger years. The busyness of everyday life gets 
in the way. To-do lists replace goals. The Me Project provides women with fun and creative ways to bring back the sense of purpose and vitality that comes with living out the plans and dreams God has planted in our hearts. Kathi Lipp’s warm tone and laugh-out-loud humor motivates women to take daily steps toward intentional goals. The end result? We get back our lives and enjoy living in the confidence of a purposeful life in spite of our chaotic schedules.

This handy guide coaches women to do one simple thing toward achieving our goals each day for three weeks. A woman experiencing the exhilaration of a rediscovered life offers more as a wife, mother, friend, volunteer, career woman.

Now you get a chance to meet Kathi Lipp as she shares how you can get started on your own “Me Project.” And if you leave a comment below, you’ll be entered in to win a really cool Starbucks gift basket full of caffeine-loaded goodies that will certainly energize you and your accountability buddies to reach for the stars!



Three Super-Simple Ways to Kick Start Living Your Dreams — In the Next 15 Minutes
by Kathi Lipp

Is there a dream that God has given you, but you are waiting until the kids are grown and you have money in the bank before you get started?

You may not be able to enroll in a month-long pastry making class or take a week off of work to get started on your novel, but today you can take three little baby steps to making your dream a day-to-day reality.

1. Go Public with It.
It’s a little scary to tell the world what you want to do when you grow up — but this one little step could get you closer to living your dream than almost any other. Plus — it takes very little time, and you don’t have to raid your kid’s college fund to make it happen.

When you gather up all your courage and tell your best friend, “I want to learn how to paint,” suddenly she remembers an old art book she has laying around she would love to give you, or her friend from church who teaches art classes. The people you know and love want to be a resource. Give them the privilege of being a part of making your dream happen.

2. Join an Online Group.
This is one of the simplest — and cheapest — ways to start exploring your passion. Find out who else is talking about restoring antiques and listen to their conversation. Start by Googling your interest along with the term “online groups.” You’ll be amazed with the number of people who want to talk about the proper way to care for 1950’s lunchboxes as much as you do.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Pray.
I remember the first time I put an offer in on a house — I wanted it more than I had wanted almost anything else in my life. While I knew that I had dozens of other people praying on my behalf, I was too scared to pray.

I didn’t want God to tell me no. I was afraid to pray until my co-worker Kim asked me (in a loving, kind way), why I didn’t believe that God wanted His best for me. Don’t be afraid to pray — as with anything amazing in my life, the path is never what I expected, but it has always been obvious that God’s hand has been on it the whole way.

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project, serves as food writer for Nickelodeon, and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults. For more information visit her website.



Grand Prize Giveaway: Deluxe Starbucks Coffee Gift Basket

* Three 2.5-oz. bags of Starbucks coffee
(Sumatra, House Blend, and French Roast)
* Tazo black tea
* Starbucks marshmallow cocoa
* Almond roca
* Almond roca buttercrunch toffee cookies
* White chocolate and raspberry cookies
* 2 Starbucks mugs
* Keepsake black bamboo basket

$62 value




February 9, 2011



Valentine’s weekend is coming up, and if you’re like me, you’ve got multiple kids who need a million Valentines to pass out to classmates and teachers. Some years, we’ve done the Wal-Mart dash and scribbled names on store-bought Valentines. That works, and you can check it off your list.

But this year, my three crafty daughters are old enough to manage their own projects. So I’m planning to let them have at it, supplying them with colored paper, scissors, glue, and doo-dads galore. It will keep them busy for a few hours, and they’ll end up using their creativity in ways they can share with their friends.

Here’s an idea I LOVE sent to me by author and CHOCOLATE EXPERT, Beth Kimmerle. (Does she have a dream job or what?) To make these gorgeous Valentine Foil Roses, you get to use the foil saved from your chewing gum!

Thank you, Beth, for a great girly girl craft project! 😉

Beth advises, “Look for gum available in flavors with fun, floral colors. Just fold the foil into tulips or roses, secure to a stem pipe cleaner and voila, a unique floral arrangement that won’t wilt!”

Supplies:
*5 gum Wrappers
*Pipe Cleaners
*Scissors
*Craft glue

Directions:
1. Cut Pipe cleaners into two pieces with sharp scissors.
2. Fold foil wrapper into half lengthwise and using pipe cleaner, pierce through folded section about ½” from end.
3. Wrap foil around pipe cleaner to create a “flower” and twist at bottom to secure. Use glue if necessary.
4. Using green foil, make “leaves”. Fold green foil twice lengthwise and wrap around bottom of flower. Twist foil to resemble leaves.
5. Repeat making flowers on end of pipe cleaners until your have a bouquet of 20 or so flowers.
6. Use a pipe cleaner and tie bunch around wrist to create a corsage or use one or two and pin on date for a funky boutonniere.




Beth Kimmerle, chocolate and candy expert and historian, served the confectionery industry as a writer and consultant. Ms. Kimmerle was the
director of the American Museum of Candy History and more recently has worked on chocolate museums in Sapporo, Japan and San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is the author of four books documenting the history of America’s confectionery industry. Beth has made appearances on the Food Network, History Channel, National Public Radio, NBC’s The Today Show and Martha Stewart Living. She has been a featured candy-making instructor and lecturer at The Ritz Carlton, Princeton University, and the New York Chocolate Show.