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Monday, December 31, 2012

{Favorite Reads of 2012}

In place of my usual Music Monday post, I'm going to share my top ten favorite reads from 2012.  I also want to give a shout-out to my friend, Amber, at Seasons of Humility for giving me the idea to post my favorites.  You can read her top 10 list here -- She has a great blog!  Check it out!

The links to my reviews are posted under each book cover.  Thanks for taking a peek, and I pray that you all have a very Happy New Year!

#10 With Every Letter
#9 Submerged

#8 By the Light of the Silvery Moon
#7 When the Smoke Clears

#6 A Lasting Impression
#5 Promise Me This
#4 The Help
#3 A Love Surrendered
#2 Love's Reckoning
#1 Beneath a Southern Sky

So, do we share any favorites?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Sweet Treat: {Faux Pecan Pie} by Christy Jordan's Southern Plate

Photo Credit: Cristy Jordan's Southern Plate
I've been wanting to make a Pecan Pie for the longest time, but pecans are expensive . . . so, penny pincher that I am . . . no pecan pie has been made.  I was thrilled to find this recipe by Christy Jordan!  She uses pretzels in place of pecans, and from what I understand, some people can't tell the difference.  I'm planning on making this delicious pie for Christmas, and I can't wait!

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Deep Dish Pie Shell, unbaked
  • Topping
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. For Filling:Place first five ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix with wire whisk until well combined.
  3. Pour into pie shell.
  4. Combine all topping ingredients in medium bowl and stir well with a spoon to coat pretzels.
  5. Sprinkle topping evenly over pie.
  6. Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour, covering with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over browning.
  7. Allow to cool completely before serving. Can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in refrigerator.
  8. Copyright 2011, Christy Jordan All rights reserved.
Do you love pecan pie?  Do you have your Christmas dessert planned yet?  Do you say "pee-can" or "puh-con"?  I say "pee-can."  ;-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Music Monday: {How Great Thou Art} by Carrie Underwood + Jesus is the Greatest Gift of All!

**This is from the archives, and I thought I'd share it again for those that missed it.**

Praying that you all have a Merry Christmas!  Love & Blessings, Michelle

Many of you know that I'm a fairly "new" Christian.  I didn't come to know the Lord until the summer of 2006, at the age of 34, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  I was so lost and not knowing my purpose, but my eyes have been opened to the greatest gift of all!  I often wonder, why did I have to be lost for so long, but I am so thankful that He never stopped seeking me.  I am so thankful to have been found by the lover of my soul . . . my God.

From Karla Dornacher's Blog

I feel hesitant to admit this, but many years ago when we would celebrate Christmas, there was no focus on Christ.  I vaguely remember saying to the kids something like, "Christmas is about Jesus' birth, but that's not the reason we celebrate it."  Those aren't the exact words,  but that's the basic gist of it.  Admitting that has me in tears.  I cry out to Him, please forgive me, Lord.  I'm so sorry.  I didn't know.

I can remember singing all of the Christmas songs as a non-believer, and truly not having a clue as to what they meant.  I can't help but think how sad that is.  But now, it's an entirely different story.  I know what it all means, and I can shout it from the rooftops!  I now know the true meaning of Christmas -- celebrating the birth of my Redeemer, my Lord, and my Savior -- not just at Christmastime, but everyday.  WOW!  The magnitude of it has me completely undone.

I had originally planned to share a Christmas song today, but this one seems to be very fitting any day of the year.  It's what I say to Him everyday -- How Great Thou Art!  Lord, How Great Thou Art!  Enjoy and be blessed!  Love, Michelle

Monday, December 3, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: {Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom} by Pattie Mallette (with A.J. Gregory)

About the Book:
From the Inside Flap
"When you hit rock bottom, you have nowhere to go but up."

In Nowhere but Up, Pattie Mallette shares for the first time in detail about the pain and abandonment she experienced as a child, the sexual abuse she suffered for years, the severe depression she wrestled with as a teen, the deep struggles she faced as a single mom, and the faith she's learned to cling to through dark times. With raw honesty, she spills the truth about a lifetime of moments that were punctuated by pain yet permeated with grace--and the journey that's brought her to where she is today. 

From the Back Cover
It's not just teen moms who struggle or need to find hope. Whether you're a single mom, an addict, or a victim of abuse . . . whether you're on the verge of bankruptcy or the brink of divorce . . . whether you're in a dysfunctional family or the product of a broken home . . . whether you battle depression or struggle with anxiety . . . whether you live in fear or hide in shame . . . whether you've been abandoned, rejected, or ignored--there is hope.

It doesn't matter where you find yourself today--how broken, hurting, wounded, or ashamed you are. If God can help me find my way up, I promise, He can do the same for you.

You may know her only as Justin Bieber's mom, but Pattie Mallette has an incredible life story of her own. Her story will inspire you to believe that everything broken can be made whole again, that there are no lost causes, and that even in the darkest of places, there is hope.

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:
I found this memoir to be very well written, and not just a story of, "look at what happened to me."  There's a purpose here, and it's to show that there is hope.  God can take our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful.  He redeems, restores, and makes things new.  It's beautiful to read how God worked in Pattie Mallette's life, and so inspiring -- a truly remarkable story, by a truly remarkable woman.

Pattie's voice is easy to read, and it took no time at all to get through the book.  She's honest, sincere, and puts herself in a vulnerable place sharing intimate details of her life.  It was like sitting with a friend, talking over coffee.  There were times when I smiled from ear to ear, and other times when I couldn't help but shed a tear.  I also enjoyed the family photos that were included, and found myself turning to them several times as I read the book.

Pattie's story is one that needs to be heard, and I'm thankful she shared it.  Though no one's experience is ever identical, I'm sure there are many people who can relate to Pattie's life journey in some way.  It's inspiring and encouraging to think of her story having a positive impact on someone's life.

God's love, redemption, and grace are truly amazing, and Pattie Mallette's story is a perfect testimony to that.  It's a story worth reading, and I highly recommend it!

**Thank you to Revell for providing me with a free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.**

**Available from booksellers September 2012.**

Julie Lessman Blog Tour: {A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story}

About the Book: 
One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart. 

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:
Oh, how I do love a Julie Lessman novel, and A Light in the Window is certainly no exception!  I've read every single one of Julie's novels, and it's been such a wonderful journey!  With A Light in the Window being the prequel to The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series, it's a fantastic place to start if you haven't yet met the O'Connors.  And needless to say, there's absolutely nothing wrong with reading it after you've read the other two series (in order, of course!).

A Light in the Window is inspirational Christian fiction at its finest, and overflows with drama, angst, love, and passion.  It's a beautiful Christmas love story, as well as a story of redemption.  I love how it shows the overwhelming power that God has to change a life . . . it's incredible and amazing, to say the least.  The story is well written with fantastic attention to detail in characters and setting, and like I've said in other reviews -- Julie Lessman writes some of the best dialogue I've ever read!  The characters are endearing, the story is heartwarming, and while I could go on and on, I can sum up my thoughts on this book in three words . . . I LOVED IT!  If you're a Julie Lessman fan, I have no doubt that you'll love it, too!  And if you're new to Julie's work, what are you waiting for?  Pick this one up for your e-reader; you'll be so glad that you did!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Purchase your E-Book copy here at
Don't miss Julie's Contest!!

Music Monday: {Gold} by Britt Nicole

Hey, Britt Nicole fans!  Have you seen her new video?  It just released last week!  I know this type of music isn't everyone's "cup of tea," but I love how her mainstream sound has the power to attract people (especially younger people) to hearing songs with a positive message, and songs that are rooted in God's love.  This particular song has been "remixed" for Top 40 radio, and I think that's pretty awesome and amazing!  The possibility of this leading someone to Christ is definitely there, and that can never be a bad thing!

From Britt's website . . .
With her career continuing to flourish over the last few years, Britt has made a point of maintaining a close connection to her beloved supporters. “After shows I always go and hang out with my fans, talk to them and get to know them,” she says. “I try to take as much time as I can with them, people really want to share their stories.” Noting that her fans “know they can be honest with me because I’m honest with them,” Britt points out that those stories also play a key part in helping to shape songs like “Gold.” “A lot of girls come up to me with their heads down, and I can just tell that they’re feeling broken,” she says. “I love that they can come into the show feeling one way, and then leave feeling like there’s hope.”

To foster that feeling of hope on a grander scale, Britt has extended the self-esteem-raising sentiment behind “Gold” to the song’s powerful video. Featuring a cast of characters dealing with issues common among today’s teens (such as eating disorders and self-mutilation), the “Gold” video aims to uplift and inspire. While many have made the connection of “Gold” as an anti-bullying theme, Britt is intent on not focusing on the bullies. “There are probably always going to be people who feel the need to hurt someone else because of their own insecurity,” acknowledges Britt. “But the message of ‘Gold’ is to remind those kids that are struggling that no matter what they have been told they are worth so much more than the words of another. Once you know that, no one can ever steal your shine,” she says of the intent behind “Gold.”

I hope you enjoy the song.  Be blessed.