Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Cheer

Dear Friends,

Today is Christmas 2013.  It is almost unbelievable that we are again celebrating Christmas. It seems 2013 flew by in record time!  I want to keep my post today simple. But I want to share the third verse of my favorite Christmas carol, "O, Holy Night."  The message in this beautiful song is the gospel.  May this Christmas find you loving God and others, from a heart overflowing with peace and hope. Merry Christmas, everyone!

"Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace; 
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, 
And in his name, all oppression shall cease, 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we; 
Let all within us praise his holy name! 

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we! 
His pow'r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory, evermore proclaim!" 

Monday, December 16, 2013

When Mockingbirds Sing: A Book Review

When I signed up to receive a free copy of "When Mockingbirds Sing" by Billy Coffey from Booksneeze's blogger program, I figured by the short description that it would be a unique book. And it was, in many respects!

Little Leah is a somewhat isolated girl. Due to her prominent stutter, her peers make fun of her.  Then, Leah and her parents move to a country home in the small town of Mattingly, far away from the city, where her father still works as a psychologist and struggles with his own inner "demons." Leah's parents are trying to make their way in a floundering marriage. But in this new town Leah meets new people, and some of the new people take a shine to Leah. Some of them do not.  It soon becomes apparent that Leah has a gift, or a talent, when it comes to painting.  A gift that had not shown itself so strikingly until her family moved to Mattingly, and a gift that will cause more than a stir in the previously stereotypically quiet small town.  The revealing of her gift coincides with some strange happenings around the town, as well, causing folks to take strongly to one side or the other in the debate surrounding Leah, her family, and the paintings.

What will the people of Mattingly, or for that matter, Leah's parents finally decide about Leah and her paintings?  What will they decide to believe about the Rainbow Man she insists sings songs to her that somehow direct what she paints?  You will want to finish this novel in order to find out!

I give this novel 4/5 stars.  I liked it for the most part, although in some respects it was dissimilar to some books I'd typically choose to read. However, I wanted to read it for that reason!

Thank you to Booksneeze for the review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Forever Friday: A Poignant and Entertaining Novel of Love, Hope and Long Division

"Forever Friday" by Timothy Lewis is a truly heartwarming novel.  When a dear friend of mine gave raving reviews for this novel, I knew I had to request it and read it myself.  It is the story of a man, Adam Colby, who finds himself at the end of hope....or so he thinks. Then, he finds an old photo album full of hundreds of love poems written by a man named Gabe Alexander, for his true love and wife, Pearl better known as "Huck."  This novel takes the reader back in time to a Texas many of us living today have never experienced.....an old Galveston, Texas, Houston, Texas, and so on and invites us to explore these cities over time through the eyes and the love story of Gabe and Huck. Adam is fascinated by what Gabe termed "Long Division" in marriage, and the reader is able to learn what Gabe meant, as well.

The main theme of this book that I carried away is that of hope. "Hope has won wars, fed nations, conquered diseases. In the unquenchable human spirit, hope is the fire.  It is also different and the same for each one of us." (pg. 277) And I finished this book with a satisfied sigh.  It is a beautiful and true to life romance, and I highly recommend it!

Thank you to Blogging for Books for the free review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Ice Storm?!?!?

Dear Friends,

I feel that this post must be long (ahem should I say LONG) overdue.  Probably a good 1.5 months or more overdue.  However, I cannot apologize for spending time on things like being a mommy, being a wife, being a focused student, a dedicated counseling intern, or even more recently also a full time employee at a popular coffee shop (read: in my "free" time!! ahahaha! NOT!).  My life has been full, full to the max.  For the most part, I truly like it that way.  Sometimes I do not.  However, I am grateful for so many things as well as several people as we rapidly approach this special time of year, Christmas.

Speaking of which, it's beginning to look a lot like ICE STORM in my neck of the woods, friends!  Hence the title of this post.  No, I'm not one itsy bits teensy weensy bit excited about an ice storm. I was, however, very excited when I thought I spotted a possible snowstorm in the forecast! Snow is just so much prettier and so much easier to play in and....well....I guess ice can b pretty, but it's just not safe. And it causes power outages and angry, desperate people stuck in their homes without heat and such. Snow on the other hand, can be a nice little part of the winter season. And what could be more Christmas-y than snow, I must ask?? We will just have to wait and see the weather we get this coming weekend. But I will pray that it is snow and not the dreadful, dangerous and damaging ice!  What's the weather like where you live? Warm and sunny, temperate, dry?  Snowy or icy and cold, gray skies and gusts of wind? We've had several very gray days lately, as if the sun has decided to sulk for a while.  But the weather on and around Thanksgiving day was actually quite pleasant!

So today I'm thinking of Christmas songs, or carols.  There are so many I love.  The list of the songs or carols I enjoy is gargantuan compared to the tiny list of the few that quite honestly bug the bugs right out of me each and every year. Yes, I honestly have a few.  But it's because they are a few that the radio station where we live ALWAYS plays, over and over and over and over and . . . . well, you catch my drift!  I hear them and think to myself, I know there are a great deal of songs and carols with a wide variety of styles and rhythms and performers and lyrics. Could we not attempt to try a few of those and sprinkle the over-played, overused songs here and there a bit more artfully?  Alas, I am not in charge of the radio programming. If I was......well, that would be a different story!  ;-)

Anyhow, bringing myself back to the moment here.  I'd like to hear, what is your favorite Christmas song or carol? And since I despise being limited to just ONE favorite in basically any category, I will ask you instead, what are your top three favorites?  And for any particular reason?  And then, if you have one you really just are tired of hearing (as I can totally empathize and I am in no sense a Scrooge, so don't feel too bad if you do have one or two that you're just tired of hearing!), what is that one?  Don't worry....on the odd chance the one you're sick of is an especial favorite of my own, I won't take offense!! hahaha  :-)

Happy December, everyone! Thanks for stopping in!!  Stay warm and safe and Happy Happy Holidays!

p.s. (I realized after typing my post that I spoke not a word of my favorite carols or songs this lovely time of year. So, if you care to know my favorites or even my least-liked, please, tell me so when you comment!  Be a dear and comment, too!!! :-)  I'd love to read it! ta-ta-for-now!)

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Autumn is a Second Spring . . . . "

I loved this quote I found while searching the keyword "Autumn" today on Goodreads:

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."  - Albert Camus.

Is this not the truth?  Autumn is quite honestly my favorite time of year.  Especially when there has been enough rain and the right weather conditions for the leaves to turn into vibrant flame, burnished red and sunshiny yellow. I LOVE the changing leaves.  The crisp, earthy air that fills your lungs without pressing upon you as the humid summer air always does.  The rain showers, and the stunning skies that trail behind and can only be seen so dramatically blue and yet filled with shades of grey and white clouds in autumn. The festive, portly orange pumpkins and the ghoulishly white pumpkins, the warty gourds the multi-colored corn. The hot chocolate. The salted caramel mocha at the ever popular Starbucks.  The anticipation of Thanksgiving and then of Christmas.  Wearing long sleeved, cozy shirts and warm, wooly slippers.  Taking walks and just soaking it all in. Watching in wonder every year as the trees slowly shed their summer dresses to stand stark and majestic monuments against the winter sky, their only covering an occasional dusting of sparkling frost.

Yes, I love autumn.  To me it is the most beautiful season of all, and truly the quote speaks what I've felt for so long......that autumn IS a second spring, "When every leaf is a flower."

Happy Autumn, friends!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review of The Outcast: a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter

To say that "The Outcast" by Jolina Petersheim was unlike any other book I'd ever read having to do with the "Plain" community of either Amish or in this case, Mennonite, is an understatement. And I mean it in an entirely positive way! This book will tug so hard on your heartstrings you might find yourself gasping for breath between a flood of tears. Rachel Stolzfus, Leah Stolzfus King, Tobias King, Judah King, Ida Mae Speck and several other characters are just so vivid. The characters are real, fallible, pained, angry, forgiving, unforgiving, loving, and every other word you could possibly use to describe deep characters. The plot keeps you wanting to read more. And the ending? Well, I don't want to spoil anything, but it will probably surprise you!  I know it did me! I seriously want to read Petersheim's next novel, "The Midwife," that is supposed to hit stores next summer.

"The Outcast" is a novel I can say wholeheartedly that I loved, beginning to end. I give it a robust 5/5 stars! I urge you to find your copy today! You will be SO glad you did!

Many thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and original review. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Redeeming Love: A Book Review

Angel seems to fulfill the adage, "Hurt people hurt people." She has been mistreated, unwanted and unloved for practically as long as she can remember.  Then Michael Hosea, a man who seeks after a God Angel cannot comprehend, comes into her life, bringing an unconditional and determined love.  Will Angel accept redemption? Will she ever truly find "redeeming love?"

The book, "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers is lengthy at over 450 pages, the only reason I give it 4/5 stars instead of 5 stars, as I think it would be better with slightly less length. However, it is well worth the lengthy read.  It will pull at your heart, bring tears to your eyes, and a smile of joy to your face.  I highly recommend this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea, set in California's gold country in the 1850's.

Many thanks to the Blogging for Books program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Please note all opinions expressed are my own. If you are interested in blogging reviews in exchange for books, check out Blogging for books.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Gone South: Book Review of a Lovely Read!

Tish McComb knows what it means to have loved and lost.  Now she is making a major life-changing decision that will take her from the northern United States to the deep South of Alabama, and her geographical journey is not the only one she is about to take.  Tish loves history and collecting items from the past that she feels draw her closer to those who lived before her.  But now she faces her present and future and has to decide which parts of her own history she will allow to influence the potentially full life she can have in the little town of Noble, Alabama.

I loved reading this book! All of the characters were full and interesting. What I loved the most was how relationships both sound and broken were represented, and how the author Meg Moseley wove pain, heartache, loss and distrust between people with the overarching themes of grace, redemption, forgiveness and perseverance.  The setting is fun, with a northern woman being in a small Southern town. This is a Christian fictional novel that is unique in all the good ways!

I would give "Gone South" by Meg Moseley a definite 5/5 stars!

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. Please note my reviews are entirely my own.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

God's Impeccable Timing

Hello Friends!

I am certain that many of you have noticed my conspicuous lack of presence in the blogosphere for the past several months, since the baby boy we are adopting entered our home!  Let me just say that quite honestly, I have found very little "free" time for me to use my two hands for anything, including typing, and of course blogging is all about that.  However, I do believe that my lack of free time or time with my hands free, rather, is being put to good use elsewhere, in loving, taking care of and raising a sweet baby boy.

There have been challenges, and many of them.  I won't lie and tell you it's been all a bed of roses. Transitioning into new parenthood is HARD and now that I'm in the thick of it, I have to say I believe it's HARD whether or not you actually gave birth to the new baby or adopted the new baby! Sure I didn't have to carry him around in the womb for 9 months and I did not have to go through labor or postpartum issues. I have great respect for all mothers who become mothers the usual way. But just the same, I've felt a whole spectrum of emotions, and sometimes in the course of one day. I've been exhausted beyond imagination.  I've been frustrated when I couldn't find the source of baby's persistent crying (figured out he has been colicky, fits the bill hands-down!) and it felt like my ears were going to explode. I've cried at the entirely new and frightening feeling that I'm not as prepared as I attempted to be in order to be the great mom I've wanted to my entire life, but in fact am sorely lacking. I've spent a lot of time just praying and crying out to God to help me, give me wisdom and strength and just 15 minutes more sleep!

And then, there are the unique joys of new parenthood. And let me tell you, these joys are not only what help balance out all of the challenges and the frustrations, the exhaustion and the worries and the stress that just go hand-in-hand with a new baby.  They make it an utter blessing to be a parent, and prove to you every single day what a miracle it truly is that God knows how to knit a family together and how to bond a parent with a child. 

Some joys in the past few weeks......seeing baby boy smile for the first time. And guess what, he genuinely smiled (it lit up his eyes, even!) for the first time at me on my birthday! That's right! I was so thrilled I nearly cried.  What better present could a little newborn give you than that?!? Another is how he has begun to "talk" to us more. He will smile and then start cooing and oohing and making raspberry sounds and it just makes my heart swell with happiness, because I can see that he is happy and feels loved and wanted and safe.  And I so desperately want him to know that he definitely is all three of those.  I tell him so every day, and I pray for him aloud as I hold him. Another highlight is the eye contact he has begun to make much more now.  Eye contact promotes bonding, of course, so I am all for it.  But I also could just get lost in those sweet, deep wells.  And I always feel as if he is memorizing my face and looking for the affirmation in my eyes.  Talk about feeling important!

I do feel he is bonding quite well with both my husband and me. And that is just a wonder in and of itself.  I realize that parents and infants bond at different rates, and it is not always immediate. I loved this baby before I ever laid eyes on him.......but I love him even more now than I did the first time I held him in my arms.  The fact that he is not of my blood is irrelevant. And I felt it would be when the time came. But actually feeling how my heart is bonding to his and knowing that I will always have a special place in my heart for this precious boy is just overwhelming to me.  Truly a gift from God.

And then there is the funny thing I was thinking about when I chose the title for this post. God's impeccable timing.  Maybe you recall the book I read and reviewed in late May, The Christian Mama's Guide to Pregnancy? Well I am not pregnant. However, it was not three days after I wrote that review that we received the call about our baby boy. I thought to myself, how perfect is that? I just read a book that includes a little postpartum insight and advice, and now we are getting a newborn in our home! Entirely applicable. I was wanting so much to be a mommy, and suddenly I was! All I can say is, God's timing is truly impeccable!!

Hope that you are having a lovely day and that this post proves a blessing to you.  If you are a new parent, a parent-to-be or a seasoned parent and have anything you want to share (joys, challenges, insights, or just good ol' comments!) please do. I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What has been keeping me busy: my baby!


My Baby
(c) Rachel Rudin
Dedicated to baby P 



Little pink toes,
Cute button nose,
Adorable clothes,
My baby.




Sweetest boy you’ll meet,
No one can compete,
He makes my life complete,
My baby.




Though his cries are shrill,
Especially when he’s ill,
I’ll always love him still,
My baby.



When I stroke his face,
Hold him warm in my embrace,
No one can replace,
My baby.




Eyes of deepest blue,
He coos and sighs on cue,
My love for him renewed,
My baby.





 Hands of softest skin,
Hair so fine and thin,
Cheeks that draw you in,
My baby.

Sent from up above,
God’s wondrous gift of love,
I’ll never get enough of
My baby.


All images and written material are strictly the property of Rachel Rudin, 2013.  Do not republish or use without permission. 


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby: A book review

Before my friends get too excited, no, I am not expecting a baby!  However, I found this book was available for review and since I do hope and pray to have a baby sometime in the (hopefully not terribly distant) future, I felt it would be a fun and perhaps insightful read. It was!

While there were quite a few things I already knew (facts that I've picked up along the way, mostly the well-known type), there were things I didn't. Plus I liked Erin MacPherson's writing style.....that of a good friend or (I would imagine) a sister.  Down to earth, funny, straightforward but kind.

What I liked about this book:  Erin focuses a lot on the Christian side of pregnancy.......scriptures, prayer, talking with God. All very important and often overlooked or underestimated tools and comforts that would prove invaluable during pregnancy and deliver and of course, all those years you will be raising your baby!

What I didn't like about this book:  Nothing, really. Though I will say Erin admits that she is anything but a medical expert and it's true.....so if you're looking for a pregnancy guide that is "technical" or full of a doctor's advice, this is NOT the book for that.  It's very in-depth and very insightful, but it's not a medical guide.

I would give "The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby" 3/5 stars.

Thank you to Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson publishers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my original and honest review.  You can find your copy at major retailers such as Christian Books (www.christianbooks.com) and Amazon (www.amazon.com), amongst others.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Raveled: A Book Review

"Raveled" by Anne McAneny is a page-turner, a riveting read about a fictional small town in North Carolina where the secrets are dark as blackstrap molasses and just as deeply hidden at the bottom of the barrel.  But even secrets abysmally deep have an astonishing way of winding their way back up to the surface, forcing their way through the cracks of confused, bothered minds and wrestling consciences.

Allison Fennimore is the protagonist in "Raveled," and she has returned to Lavitte 16 years after a grisly crime involving two teenagers truly unraveled her life, her family and the entire small town.  Allison has returned to find answers. Will she find what she has come for?  At what cost?

As the truth of the terrible events of 16 years prior begin to slowly resurface, you will find yourself drawn to Allison and perhaps even a few of the other believable and either likable or despicable characters. You will desperately want to find out how the story ends.

To my friends who do not or cannot read graphic descriptions, please note that there are some mild to moderate graphic descriptions within this book, though given the subject some of that is not unexpected in an adult novel involving crimes and so forth.

I give "Raveled" 4/5 stars.

Thank you to Farrington Press, the author Anne McAneny and Net Galley for a complimentary ebook copy of "Raveled." Please note that my review is original. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lie Still: A Book That Will Not Let You Lie Still Until You've Read it Front to Back!

"Lie Still" by Julia Heaberlin is a riveting novel. To me it was an artful, slightly dark but emotionally genuine cross between the almost laughably shocking Deep South gothic story (think "Steel Magnolias," "Fried Green Tomatoes," or "The Secret Life of Bees") and something like the compelling, raw "The Lovely Bones."  Every page will compel you to stay and read more.

From external appearances Emily, the protagonist, would seem like any other woman in her early 30's: happily married to a strong man, healthily pregnant with their first child, living out the usual dreams of housewife.  But Emily finds herself reacquainted with a past she would rather erase or at least let go of for good in a dramatically unexpected fashion when she and her husband move from their New York City apartment to the small but colorful and secretive fictional town of Clairmont, Texas. It is fictional only in name, as the events that happen in the town and the past that twines its way amongst the residents (particularly the women who belong or compete to belong in "the club") will strike the reader as anything but fictional.  In fact, Clairmont and all that occurs in this book will probably stay with the you for a very long time......as if the whole account happened in real life.

Of course the author not only wrote a compelling piece of fiction, she had a message behind the story. A worthy and yet too often overlooked or ignored message.  I deeply appreciated the transparency of the main character and the truths thread throughout this book.  There are a few slightly graphic descriptions that are nevertheless masterfully used. I mention them as just a warning to anyone who does not feel they can or want to read anything slightly graphic. But like I said, this book is an original work and even the graphic parts contribute to the story as a whole, not detracting from it in the least.

I would give "Lie Still" 4.5/5 stars.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group and Net Galley for a free advanced copy of this book for me to read in exchange for an honest review.  Please note that my review is original.  The publication date for "Lie Still" is set for July 2, 2013.  Look for your copy then! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rock Harbor Search and Rescue: A Light Mystery for Kids and Pre-Teens

Recently I read "Rock Harbor Search and Rescue," by Christian author Colleen Coble, a mystery written for middle school to pre-teen children.

Emily is the protagonist, a girl in her very early teens who faces the usual ups and downs of a young teenager. But Emily is unique in her interest in the Search and Rescue (SAR) that is an important facet of the Rock Harbor, a town bordering one of the Great Lakes.  Her dream is to get a puppy of her own to train as a search and rescue dog, a dog that will help her with what she wants to be when she grows up: a search and rescue leader like her grown-up friend, Bree.

Emily's plans take a decidedly negative turn when suddenly she finds herself accused of a crime of theft that she didn't commit. The accusation puts Emily's dreams of getting a puppy to train in SAR on hold. Emily knows she is innocent, but how will she prove it?

This is a fun mystery. Of course for me it was a light read, as it's gauged for kids and young teens. But I was interested in checking out some of the new Christian fiction for kids and pre-teens. I was not disappointed, as I think the book would be appropriate for and enjoyed by this age group.

Thank you to Net Galley and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the free e-book copy of this book in order to procure my honest review! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

All in Good Time: A Book Review

"All in Good Time" by Maureen Lang was a great read!  I thought it might be good, given the description of it. The book has a different plot and a different location than any Christian historical fiction I recall having read, and honestly I'm quite glad it does!

Dessa Caldwell, the protagonist, understands what it is like to have a past darkened with mistakes.  But she also knows personally what the grace of God can do to wash away her sins and give her a bright future.  This knowledge spurs her forward in her dream to open Pierson House, a refuge for former prostitutes of all ages in the bustling new city of Denver, Colorado, a city pulling itself up by the roots from the gold rush that brought so many people and all of their foibles and sins to the city.

Henry Hawkins is the owner of the most successful bank in town but he, too, harbors secrets about his past.  However, he does not know the grace of God or the extension of that grace through others, and the burdens of his past are an awful weight to bear.

What happens when Dessa and Henry collide?  Will their hearts and lives be changed for the better? Will Dessa get to see the dream God has planted in her heart to help fallen women come true? And will Henry's life, solitary and cold, ever change?

Things I liked about this book: I really enjoyed the fact that it is a historical novel, and the period of history as well as the geographical location.  I also appreciated the realness of the characters, flaws, misgivings, shame, joy and all.

Things I didn't like: None that come to mind.

I would give this book 4/5 stars! And I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates good Christian historical fiction with a strong but realistic undercurrent of true grace.

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pay It Forward: A Morning of "Ordinary" Blessings

"You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.....You will be blessed coming in and blessed going out." - Deuteronomy 28:3,5

I'm nearly certain most of you have read or heard these verses from the Bible a time or two. I know I have. And I have gratefully witnessed the blessings of God poured into my life in various ways, big and small, since I first accepted Jesus into my life as my Savior and my Lord.  But today I just have to share a little incident that reminded me in a bigger way than usual how much my God loves me and chooses to bless me in the city and in the country, coming in and going out! I am so thankful!

Today has been a rather ordinary day, the usual Monday, nothing too exciting. I had to run to the store to drop of a prescription at the pharmacy and pick up a few items while there. I ended up in line behind an elderly woman who seemed to be taking much longer than usual for dropping off a prescription. I was tired and wanted to be home more than anything, but I didn't feel impatient with her so much as I did with the pharmacy crew (there were several of them who seemed like they didn't have much to do and could have taken my prescription in a moment). So honestly, I felt a little impatient but I realized that's just the way it is sometimes, and waited for my turn.

The elderly lady turned to me after she was done and apologized, to which I of course smiled and honestly responded, "Oh, it's okay!" because I know in my heart that it's good for me to have to wait sometimes......it does build patience. And it was okay.

Fast forward about 25 or 30 minutes and I've found my small list of items, much smaller than my typical grocery run, a list including a book on sale that I'd been wanting to buy and was excited to find at a decent price at long last.  I could have checked out on one side of the store, but decided that I wanted to try the one checkout that was open on the side I had entered originally. And there she was, the elderly lady who had been before me in line at the pharmacy! I smiled at her, feeling a little sheepish as I hoped she wouldn't think I had followed her, as of course I had not even expected to see her again.

Then the unexpected happened.  I had barely begun to load my few items onto the express checkout belt when she looked at the cashier and said, "I would like to pay for her items, too!"  I was stunned. I do mean stunned.  I looked at her and quickly responded, "Oh no, you don't have to do that!" She smiled and laughingly said, "I know I don't have to but I'm going to!"  So I thanked her profusely and said I'd never had anyone offer to pay for my groceries like that before, what a pleasant surprise. The cashier was as pleasantly surprised as I was, and both of us were beyond impressed.  The cashier said, "Now that's pay it forward!" I smiled and said, "Yes, I will have to pay it forward!"

I told the elderly lady I would pray that God blessed her for her generosity and kindness. She was excited to get to treat me. And I was thrilled that someone would want to.  And humbled by the fact that I had chosen to be sweet and smile at her both times I encountered her, because it really makes it easier all around if people would just be kind and respectful to each other.

So, how do I feel this morning? Blessed.  It was not a massive grocery bill, and perhaps to some it would not seem so significant. But to me, it was a big deal. How often does the person in front of you choose to bless you, a random grocery shopper they don't know and probably never will? For me, it was the first time. I feel like God just wanted to brighten my day and remind me how much He loves me and looks after my most basic and yet critical needs......and He chose to show me through a willing, ordinary elderly lady who happened to be at the grocery and the pharmacy the exact same times as I.  And I am so thankful . . . . . and excited to pay it forward.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Moon Over Edisto: A Review

Moon Over Edisto by Beth Webb Hart was such an amazingly good read!  I wasn't absolutely sure how good it would be when I read the short description while searching for a book to review. But let me tell you, this book far exceeded my expectations!

Julia has faced several heartbreaking situations in her life, situations many never have to face.  She has loved and lost.  And now, when she is asked to do the unexpected and to step far outside of her comfort zone, she finds inner strength that she did not even know she possessed.  Will she also find something else along the way? Something lasting?

I give this book 5/5 stars! Yes, it's that good!

What I loved about the book: I loved the characters. So very real, even where human emotions are concerned, difficult ones like bitterness, resentment, fear, longing, happiness, grief, etc.

What I didn't like so much: I don't know. I don't think there was anything I didn't like, except perhaps that I wished it was a longer book and had more at the end!

Thank you to BookSneeze for giving me a free copy of this book in order to procure my review. Please note that all opinions expressed are original and honest.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sick of Being Sick: How Being Sick Makes Being Well That Much Better

Dear Friends,

Of late I've barely found the energy to do much beside the basics.....cooking on a per-needed basis, laundry, school work and projects and papers for graduate studies.  That's about it.  Sprinkle in a little reading for relaxation and that's my life right now.  Oh and sleeping. Because once I was finally able to sleep again I made certain to sleep a little more than usual to try and recover. Did I mention I've been sick? Because I have. Very, very sick for several days. Sicker than I can really ever recall being with any sort of stomach flu.  Just finally starting to feel a little recovered when I had to go to the Emergency Room for severe and excruciating pains in my stomach and radiating into my back, so bad that I literally could barely breathe and was crying out from the pain.  Apparently it was not my gallbladder (thankfully), a conclusion made after many, many tests and hours upon hours of being in the ER, drugged and "out of it." It was supposedly complications with the acid reflux/GERD I've battled for several years.  Trust me when I say, I had NO idea that acid reflux could become that complicated. That painful. Since then I've been put on four very strong medications for a 10-day treatment, in an effort apparently to clear all the bad out and heal up what needs healing, etc. I am praying that the meds do what they are supposed to do . . . . because right now, in the first 1/3 of the treatment, I am hating all the side effects. I feel almost as bad from those as I did when I was so very, very sick a little over a week ago from the terribly violent stomach flu strain I picked up somehow. When I'm feeling "good" I'm still fatigued, dizzy and nauseated.

Has it been a rough 1.5 weeks? Yes, to say the least.  On so many fronts.  To be quite honest, I feel like the enemy just decided to take the biggest swing possible at me.  I have no idea why. But when these massive tsunami force storms of life come my way, I like to dwell on the possibility that God has something even bigger and better (and I do mean positive) in store for me, waiting in the wings . . . .and perhaps that bigger and better something is precisely why the enemy is trying to take me down, yet again. Of course he doesn't want me to have what God has for me.  And we know he is loaded with discouragement to hand us by the fistfuls. I have fought that discouragement this whole time.  I have prayed and I am still praying. And it does help me get through and to feel excited when I think that God has something (whatever that may be, be it a physical blessing or a spiritual one) better in store for me!

Perhaps you don't agree with my train of thought here. That's okay. You don't have to.  I respect your thoughts on why these tsunami storms blow into our lives, and how important it is to deal with them even while we keep our eyes and hearts turned toward our Heavenly Father in faith.  But I am pretty certain you will agree with me when I say this . . . . have you ever noticed how absolutely marvelous it is to feel well after you've been ill?  Just stay with me for a moment.  I think honestly that's the only upside to ever being sick; the getting-well. The recovered. The happy and healthy.  Because it's much like when the sky has been gray and gloomy for days on end and the sun finally bursts through the clouds and fills the air with golden life. You realize just how much you missed the sunshine, and how much it means to you. 

While I'm not quite there yet, not recovered and so I cannot say that I'm fully healthy and happy to be so, I feel I am on my way there. I'm partway there. And for that, I'm so very happy.  I'm glad for the little bit of health I've gained back and I'm anticipating being all well again . . . . because that will be the sunshine for me after a very long, very dark period of stormy weather.

Here's hoping your life is full of golden sunshine! But if you are going through a stormy period, please remember . . . . the sun will shine again. And when it does, you will notice it more than ever before! 

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.
 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Psalms 84:10-12 (bold added) 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

One Glorious Ambition: The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix

"It was a massive challenge to affect the lives of others while maintaining the private life required of a proper Boston woman. She felt her heart quicken. Howe echoed what Channing had once told her, about every person being our brother's -- or sister's -- keeper.  She gleaned a certainty she hadn't known before.  Here at last might be her glorious ambition." (One Glorious Ambition, pg. 200)

This book is a fictional novel based on a real person, Dorothea Dix, who lived in 1800s America. She always felt she had been created for a purpose, a God-given purpose and was driven to fulfill it. Eventually she realized her "one glorious ambition."  In helping others, she helped herself overcome a life of sadness, loss, and rejection.  In reaching out to the orphaned and dejected, she helped herself cope with being an orphan first in all ways that mattered and then for real, overcoming abandonment and stern criticism from her family. This is an inspiring story of someone who took the pain and loss that could turn a person into a bitter recluse and molded it, with God's help, into a life of great good. From helping her own family to teaching poor children to reaching out to the mentally unstable and rejects of society, Dorothea Dix chose to live a life well spent.

Things I liked about this book: I loved the story line, the main character. It was inspirational.

Things I didn't like so much: It seemed to run a little long on some of the details about federal government, house and senate, etc.  Otherwise there's nothing I didn't like.

I would give this book 4/5 stars.

To check out the author's website, visit Jane Kirkpatrick here.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for a complimentary copy of this book in order to procure my honest review. Please note that all opinions expressed are my own. You can purchase your own copy of this book from several retailers, including Amazon by clicking here. You can also find other reviews for this book and the author's page this way.  If you'd care to rate my review, please visit Blogging for Books and search for Rachel Rudin under Bloggers by clicking here

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Heiress of Winterwood: A Book Review

The beautiful cover of this book as well as the brief description of it caught my attention. This is a book for lovers of novels by the famous Jane Austen, or for any bookworm who loves a good mix of human striving, romance, adventure, a touch of suspense and a good dose of Christianity in a very authentic way. This book was far from cheesy or the usual Christian romantic fiction! I loved it! 

The protagonist, Amelia, is a very real character. I was able to relate to her and to Graham, very much a supporting character, throughout the book and more so as the story progressed.  Amelia gave her word to her dear and dying friend that she would raise and love her friend's baby. But her promise could mean a life of misery and extreme sacrifice for her, or worse . . . . Through the course of the book, her faith in God and in herself and others is tested repeatedly. Will she stand through the trials? Will she find true and commendable love? And will she be able to give the loving home she desires to the baby her dear friend left behind? 

You'd have to read The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah Ladd to see for yourself how it all wraps up! But trust me when I say, you will be ever so glad you did! I give the book 5/5 stars! 

Thanks to Booksneeze for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Please note that all opinions expressed are original. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife

Submissive. The word seems to raise the hair on the back of every woman's neck. Even men seem uncomfortable with the term, in general, because to want their wives to be submissive often comes across as chauvinistic and unfair, but to not want their wives to be submissive can make them seem as if they are not concerned with upholding a biblical mandate of man as the head of the house with wife as the submissive helpmeet.

So where to find balance? I picked up this book, "My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife" by Sara Horn to review because I wanted to see what this particular woman had to say about submission, as she experimented in her own life, trying to follow what she believed the Bible says about being a submissive wife and struggling with it. Submission is at once simplistic and involved. "Easy" and extremely difficult. And yet, by the end of the book you are left feeling that Sara Horn may finally have begun to find that ever-elusive balance in her own home, in such a way that works for her and for her family and her marriage. Not that she states that every other woman should proceed just like she chose to (as documented in a very personable, one-on-one account in her book).  But Sara gives a lot of insight into her numerous struggles as well as small victories and accomplishments along her journey. It's refreshing to note that she did not attempt to write a "look at me, I've got this down and here is what you should do down to the last detail, a-b-c" sort of how-to manual. She simply shared her inspiration for attempting to walk in what she considers godly submission, and the results.

What I liked about this book: I liked that Sara chose to be personal in it. That she not only shared the good times, the triumphs, the happiness, the good insights she gained, but that she also shared the times when she felt frustrated, irritated, overwhelmed, resistant, or not good enough.  It's a very "real" book.

What I didn't like about this book: It is hard to find things I don't like about books. I think probably the only thing I didn't like about this book is simply that I don't necessarily agree with every conclusion Sara comes to.  I might not feel a certain way about situation "a" as Sara did, or agree upon how she interpreted the results. But for the most part, I agreed with or at least found a great deal of reasonable thoughts and thus views within her conclusions.

I would give this book 3/5 stars.  I felt it was relatively well written, very engaging overall and had some very important ideas to put out there.  I liked, as I mentioned before, how personal Sara chose to make this book.

Thank you to NetGalley.com and to the publisher of the book, Harvest House Publishers, for a free ebook review copy. Please note that all opinions expressed in this review are my own and are honest.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shattered: A Book Review of a Suspenseful Novel

After having read the bestselling and fantastic book one in the Alaska Courage Series entitled "Submerged," I was eagerly awaiting the release of book two, "Shattered."  And I was definitely far from disappointed.

With enough twists and turns to satisfy the most die-hard suspense lover, plenty of Christian faith woven in without coming across as trying too hard, and just the right addition of real-life romance, "Shattered" is certain to become a fast favorite. It's the perfect blend!

To be entirely honest, I had started to grow disinterested in some of the Christian fiction genre, simply because it all started to seem redundant. Boy meets girl, boy cannot commit, girl wants to commit, something happens in the meantime to keep them apart, then suddenly they see the light and are ready to commit to being married and all ends well.  Not saying I don't love a good old-fashioned, simple, happy love story such as that. But on an ever greater level I like suspense, complications, mysteries, something more similar to the loop life can through most of us! And "Shattered" seems to fit that bill.

This book focuses in on Reef, a sibling of Cole, one of the main characters in the first book. Upon his return to Yancey, Alaska, the "prodigal" Reef finds himself arrested for murder and the evidence piling up against him makes his chances of gaining freedom slim to none. But his close-knit siblings are not about to let Reef spend the rest of his life behind bars, and thus the excitement begins as they do their best to investigate and question with the help of the local deputy (a long-time friend of the family), Landon Grainger.

The main characters in this book are Landon and one of the McKenna siblings, Piper, the girl who has always been like his little sister.  Except now, Landon and Piper are facing feelings for each other that have suddenly evolved into something more than friends . . . and this journey of new and uncertain feelings is where the romance in the story enters!  Right into the mix of trying to find out who really murdered the poor young woman who was visiting Yancey as part of a snow sport professional circuit.

What I loved about this book: I loved how the author seems to never run out of creative twists and turns in the plot that still seem realistic. Also appreciated is the depth and genuineness of all the characters, especially the couple she chooses to use as the main characters (in this novel, Landon and Piper).

What I didn't like so much: It is very difficult for me to find anything I don't like about the Alaskan Courage series thus far. So honestly, I'm going to leave this section blank.

My rating: I would definitely give this Christian "fictional romantic suspense" a 5/5 stars.  I would recommend it to anyone who would like a fresh type of Christian fiction, one that will keep you on the very edge of your seat even while leaving you feeling quite satisfied you read the whole book when done!

Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of this book in order to procure my honest review. Please note that all opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Day of Spring!

Hello Friends!

It seems like it's been a rather long time since I last made a post that was not a book review.  Looking back, it actually has been two months!  Crazy.

Life is rolling along in this neck of the woods.  Of course I began my graduate classes yet again for another semester on January 7th and since then, it's been even more busy. I also began nannying -- two infants simultaneously, one of which stays with me all day long 4 days a week and the other for a few hours or half days Mon-Fri!  Usually they are here at the same time, did I mention that? And they are young: they started with me when just 2.5 months old and 6 months old.  Nannying out of my home has kept me on my toes! Two infants at once is a challenge on more days than not. But there are rewards. I like the smiles and happy coos and giggles. I am not a fan of the screaming and crying too often sprinkled throughout my day, it can frazzle my nerves.....but hey, I deal with it! I do appreciate the chance to earn a little supplemental income, and the babies are really very sweet.  It's fun to have little ones around here.

Thus, it's been busy. Did I mention it's been busy?  Okay I guess I have. ;-)  Anyway, in between studying and reading and writing for graduate classes, and tending to two little babies and a still very young puppy, I try to get in some "fun" reading. That's how I have so many reviews on my blog recently!  Leisurely reading provides a good  means of "escape" for me, a type of R&R that is often needed.  I am a bookworm through and through, this much is true, and yes I planned to make that rhyme! ;-)  I have enjoyed my leisurely reading. Before too long I ought to have another couple reviews posted, so I hope you all are enjoying them and that they prove helpful.

Every day I find I pray more. Most of the time the prayers are centered on helping me to stay calm, to focus, to have the energy I need and most often don't have enough of to begin with.  Sometimes the prayers are for others, and I know that's good because I need to pray for others. It is satisfying and important to pray for others.  Sometimes I pray just because I'd like to acknowledge how good God is to me, and how I have faith He will provide for my needs.  Below you will see a scripture or two that have helped me a lot in re-focusing and also calming down in the recent weeks.

That's about all the news on my end right now. Happy First Day of Spring! Please stop in a say hello . . . . I feel as if my little blog has been lonely lately, there haven't been any comments left in some time!  And I love comments!  :-)

Have a pleasant day!

 “As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
32     And who is the Rock except our God?
 It is God who arms me with strength[h]
    and keeps my way secure.
 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights."

II Samuel 22:31-33

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Review of Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How Not to Get Blindsided by Your Child's Teen Years

The title of this book caught my eye. Although at this point I can assume that I'm relatively far from parenting a teenager, if we were to ever adopt a child I might be that much closer. And either way, our future children will eventually be teenagers!

Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston is a well-written, down to earth, sensible and practical book. Gregston works through Heartlight Ministries, a residential counseling center for teenagers, and his experience working with teenagers is extensive through this. One theme I noticed ran through the book was relationships: how important it is to fight to keep a healthy, strong relationship with your teenager. And how various parenting attempts -- even those done with good intentions -- can sabotage that precious relationship.  Ways to improve upon your relationship are given, even while helping you learn how to be the counter-culture that your teenager needs to successfully navigate the crazy world in which we live without coming out jaded on the other side.  Gregston acknowledges that teenagers are often overexposed in our culture to so many things they shouldn't be and as such, can end up quite confused without their parents influence to help them find their way. He also believes that parents can make the mistake of giving their teenagers everything rather than instilling a good sense of independence and self-sufficiency over time (through the teenage years, instead of all at once or never at all), and gives tips on how to avoid this common snare.

Some parenting practices to avoid include "Perfection is Impossible," and "Authority Cannot be Forced" (authoritarian parenting versus more of an authoritative parenting style with emphasis on relationship).  Some parenting practices that work include "Relating is More Important than Winning," "Stop Controlling and Start Trusting," "Add Clear Boundaries and Subtract Strictness" and more.

I would definitely recommend this book. Even if you decided you didn't agree on every single point, Gregston has made a strong argument for the parenting he promotes for teenagers. We all know teenagers are both wonderful and intimidating to raise . . . . the teen years are not quite childhood but not yet adulthood, either.  This book could help you navigate raising teens who will turn into well-adjusted, confident, responsible young adults!  I give the book 4/5 stars.

Thanks to Booksneeze for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. Please note that all opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dandelions on the Wind

"She knew what it was like to set off for the unknown, albeit on a ship rather than in a covered wagon, and the feeling was no doubt the same -- that of a dandelion on the wind." (Dandelions on the Wind)

Maren immigrated to America from Denmark with the promise to bring her family to America, and dreams of marrying a man she thought would love her for who she was and not for her quickly failing eyesight.  She finds a semblance of family and "home" with an old widow and the widow's very young granddaughter on a farm in rural Missouri. She works and in exchange, receives room and board and the chance to be a mother figure for the little girl whose mother died in childbirth and whose father disappeared with one of the Indian wars in Arizona shortly after the Civil War ended.

All the while, Maren misses her family back in Denmark almost more than she can bear and constantly thinks of how she might procure a paying job to save enough to move back to her home country. There is nothing for her in America when she feels guilty for having to leave her mother and siblings behind.  Then one day, a man named "Wooley" shows up at the rural Missouri homestead, and everything changes.

Will Maren find all she seeks? Will someone love her in spite of her rapidly encroaching blindness? Will she at last discover peace in a family life that she has always dreamed of having? How will the old widow, her granddaughter and the mysterious and intriguing Wooley factor in to Maren's future, or will they not?

This novella was well written and highly engaging, with characters that seemed both realistic and deep. I definitely sided with the protagonist, Maren and with bated breath read through the novella very quickly as I desperately wanted to see what would happen next!  I am anticipating the rest of the novellas in this series by Mona Hodgson. The first book I had read by Hodgson, and I'm far from disappointed!  I give this novella 5/5 stars!

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for providing me with a free ebook copy of this novella, in exchange for my honest review. Please note that my review is solely my opinion.  If you'd care to rate my review on this novella or on many other books I have reviewed, please click this link and search for my name, Rachel Rudin. Thank you!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Secrets

"'Funny thing about hearts. They can be as big as the ocean.  But there's only room in them to either be open or to harbor secrets." (Secrets)

Jessica moves to Glenbrooke with a heart full of secrets. Her guard is up toward everyone, even the kindest people she makes acquaintance with and those who repeatedly choose to attempt to befriend her. None of them know she is even hiding anything at first. Then, things start to unravel for Jessica, even as some parts of her life start to become inexplicably better and better.  She finds herself receiving things she thought only she knew she wanted, and experiencing feelings that she would rather shove down deep inside and never work through.

I chose to review this book in ebook form from the Christian novelist, Robin Jones Gunn, entitled "Secrets," the first book in her Glenbrooke series.  I was intrigued by the description that mentioned the main character was moving to a small town to "start over" in her life, to run from a lifestyle or past she could not bear any longer.  I thought, haven't we all reached a point in our lives where we wanted to just run away from whatever burden we felt we could not bear any longer?

What will happen for Jessica? Will she finally choose to face the life she has run from? Will she decide to return love and trust toward the people of Glenbrooke who have tried so hard to befriend her?  Will this story have a truly happy ending?  Read "Secrets" to find out!!  I say you should, because you'll be glad you did!  I give this book 5/5 stars!

Thanks to the Blogging for Books program for a free ebook copy of this novel in return for my review!  Please note that all opinions expressed are my own.  If you'd like to take just a moment to rate my review of this novel or of any others I've reviewed, please click this link to visit the Blogging for Books site and look for my profile under Rachel Rudin! Thank you! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Widow of Saunders Creek

I was intrigued by the description I read of this book when it became available for review, and had actually planned to buy it at some point to read if I was never given the chance to review it for free!  Well, it came available again in ebook form so I snatched up the chance and was so glad I did!

Tracy Bateman's book, "The Widow of Saunders Creek," is described by the publisher, "A grief that knows no boundary, a love without any limit, a need that doesn't end at death."  The protagonist, Corrie, has lost her husband of seven years in the contemporary Iraqi war.  It's been seven months since his unexpected death, and she has decided to move back to the Missouri Ozarks and live in the 150 year old farmhouse that she inherited through her deceased husband, who inherited it from his family.

Corrie believes that moving into the farmhouse where her husband spent his summers and much of his childhood will somehow draw her closer to the man she loved . . . . but all is not as it seems, and very soon Corrie finds herself facing what she believes could be a ghost, but what her husband's preacher cousin firmly states is anything but.

Apparently this is considered something of a "paranormal romance" genre of Christian fiction.  Let me say that the paranormal is dealt with well without being overboard, and appropriately from a Christian standpoint as well, I felt.  This book makes for a great read, it was just riveting enough to keep the pages turning but was also not shallow. The characters are deep enough to be well appreciated!

I would give this book 5/5 stars! That's how much I enjoyed it. I read half of it in just a couple hours!

If you would care to rate this review of mine, please visit this link. I would greatly appreciate your ratings! They help me as a blogger with Blogging for Books. 

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the complimentary ebook copy of "The Widow of Saunders Creek" in exchange for my review. Please note that all opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Girl in the Glass


The knowledge that I would be reading a book that involved Italy and the city of Florence, Italy in particular was what originally drew me to this book, The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner.  The synopsis sounded interesting, too, but truly it was about location, location! And I can say I was not disappointed.

I also found myself really liking several of the characters, including the protagonist.  They seemed real and engaging.

The plot itself was definitely good, with just enough suspense to keep you wanting to read more, without being a bonafide suspense or thriller! There were some very quotable phrases. I dogeared them to return and read them again!

I had never had the pleasure of reading anything written by Susan Meissner. But this book was a splendid introduction to her works!  I highly recommend it, I give it a 5/5 stars!

I would deeply appreciate it if you'd click on this link and rate my review of "The Girl in the Glass" on Blogging for Books' site!  If the link doesn't work, simply search for me by my full name under "Bloggers" on the right hand side. It's fast an easy and I'd deeply appreciate it! :) Feel free to also rate any of the other reviews of mine you see listed beneath my name, there are several. 

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for the free advanced reader copy I received. Please note that all opinions stated are my own and are in no way influenced positively or negatively by the fact that I was given a book for free in order to obtain my review.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Review: To Love and Cherish

To Love and Cherish is book number two in the Bridal Veil Island series by Christian authors Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller.  When I requested to review this book, I did not realize it was actually the second in a series I was unfamiliar with, however it was a good stand alone book.

To Love and Cherish (Bridal Veil Island)

What I loved: I did like the setting (close to turn of the 19th century and primarily in Bridal Veil Island, a fictional island near a real to life place called Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia, I believe).  I did like most of the characters and felt they were relatively well developed, with the exception of a few.

What I didn't like so much:  Overall, I thought that the plot dragged.  I felt like it started all right and then took a very long time to get around to the end, which wrapped up quickly. Almost as if the middle was just "filling" to try to cover more pages? I don't know but that's how it felt. Overall it was not a bad read in the least, but I just had trouble getting through the entire middle basically.

I would give this book approximately 3/5 stars.

Thanks to Bethany House for sending me a free copy of this book in order to procure my review. Please note that all opinions expressed are honest and are my own.  I borrowed the book image from Amazon.com as I didn't have another to borrow, hence the "click to Look Inside," sorry! And credits to Amazon. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

It's . . . Winnie! The Christmas Puppy

Warning: the following post is overflowing with photos! LOL 

Here we go . . . . long awaited and promised snapshots of my Christmas puppy!  Isn't she a doll? :-) 



This top photo was a day or two after I actually got her.  Looking at her now, I can see how much she has grown and matured compared to this pic!  Her little snout has also gotten a bit longer.  But she was (is) sooooo cute! Nine weeks old here. 


Another pic from nine weeks . . . . just hanging out.



I have since discovered that soon as I leave the couch or recliner, if there are any pillows or blankets nearby she will take them over in a matter of seconds! This just happened to be the first time she did and promptly fell asleep in the lap of luxury, around nine weeks old. ;-) 



This was one of those photos where I asked her to pose and held up my camera and she did! She loves posing for her mommy! LOL  Around ten weeks old here. 



 Also around ten weeks old, close to eleven, taking her first big walk around Forest Park in St. Louis, MO when my dear husband (pictured walking her here) and I visited family for my sister in law's graduation from graduate school!  She loved going on the walk and meeting people and dogs!


Here she is wearing her very first sweater, the one I got her for Christmas that soon was too small for her. But she sure looked cute! 


Another posed photo courtesy of Winnie Shih Poo! Isn't that just the cutest teddy bear face ever?!? Around eleven or twelve weeks old here. 



Same day I think as the last one.  She discovered she could jump onto the back of our couch and perch there much more like a cat than a puppy!  She worries me when she does that but there's no stopping her!  She loves to do it every time her daddy gets up to go to another room, watching for his return! ;-) 


"Aren't I cute?!?"  Posing with one of her Christmas presents from her grandma, a stuffed puppy. She's photogenic! LOL About 12 weeks old. 


Another snapshot when I asked her to "sit" and she promptly obliged! She's smart: she learned sit within about 10 minutes of training at only 9 weeks old and learned how to fetch shortly thereafter! About twelve weeks here. 



Her softer side . . . . snuggling contentedly with her mommy. ;-)  I just love that face!  About 12-13 weeks old here. 


And finally, peeking out from under our couch when I called for her! "What?!? Did you find my new secret hiding place already?!?"  hahaha About 13 weeks old here.

- - - - - - - - - - - - 

She is now about 16 weeks old. Time flies! She looks much the same as this last snapshot, except of course matured and a little bigger! She's still my sweet puppy. She learns pretty quickly, now I just need to figure out how to get her to STOP nipping and biting! ;-)  She is mostly black but has 3/4 white tipped paws, and a tiny little white tip to her tail that curls over her back in the cutest fashion, and a bit of white on her throat called "tuxedo" markings! 

Hopefully all the pics added a smile and a bright spot to your day!  It's Friday, so I figured we could start the weekend out right!!  Have a good one, friends!