29 April 2014

WHAT ONCE WAS LOST by Kim Vogel Sawyer and Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow

What Once was Lost

WaterBrook Press (September 17, 2013)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****


Heart Warming and Gripping

Set in Kansas in the late 1800’s, this thoroughly captivating story with its skilfully-crafted charming characters, and unique story-line, completely grabbed my attention and my heart from the very beginning!

Christina Willems faithfully runs the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor, having taken over after the passing of her father. The poor and displaced individuals that live in this beautiful old 3-story Victorian house have in a sense become Christina’s family. She has opened her heart fully to them all and sees to their every need, even to the detriment of her own. She had become their provider, protector, and friend. So how will Christina cope when there is a mysterious fire that makes the house uninhabitable for her and the poor residents to dwell in? Can she find suitable places for all on such short notice, and will she cope having her ‘family’ scattered about until the damaged house can be repaired?

Mill owner Levi Jonnson is a loner and likes it that way… or so he thinks. That was until the lovely Christina came begging him to look after little Tommy, the blind boy that everyone else rejected. Levi’s painful past has caused him to place a barrier around his heart against people and God alike, but will young Tommy be the one to break down some of the confines that Levi has erected? Or will Levi conclude that it’s not worth the pain and forsake Tommy also?

Another prominent character of this story is the aforementioned 11 year old Tommy Kilgore, who was abandoned by his father and dumped at the Poor house after Tommy became blind. Mentally abused before he was finally discarded, Tommy also bears many imprinted scars invisible to the naked eye, but glaring in his personality. Reading Tommy’s viewpoint in the story gave me an opportunity to see through his unseeing eyes into his world and his needs. I adored this character and silently cheered for Tommy for every small accomplishment he mastered. However, Tommy has a fear-driven secret which results in some very dire consequences for him and all those he loves!

‘What Once Was Lost’ is an immensely stirring tale of people who have allowed their past to deeply impact their present lives. And it expressively illustrates how God can be busy directing new paths when all seems lost to us, while highlighting the importance of sharing our burdens with God and others. I loved the unpredictability, the heart-rending moments regarding Tommy, and the sweet charisma that hovered between Christina and Levi. Suspense, drama, and a fulfilling conclusion complete this wonderful novel. Highly recommended!!
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This book may be purchased at Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, Deeper Shopping, and The Book Depository (free Worldwide delivery)

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GIVEAWAY: Answer this Question to Enter: Do you know of someone who has impaired vision or is blind and what do you think is their greatest strength? 

We are giving away 2 copies of Kim's book this week - Reader's choice of book and format (International winners ebook only or paperback if book is available through the Book Depository). And a Starbuck's $10 gift card!
*Follow Kim on Twitter (put"T") or 'Like' her page on FB (put "FB") in your comments. 
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27 April 2014

OVERCOMING: The Unknown, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Author Kim Vogel Sawyer

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve been a question-asker. My poor dad patiently answered my deluges of questions (although I’m sure at times he wished I wasn’t so inquisitive). Now, as an adult, I find myself aiming my endless questions at my Father God. After all, He knows everything, right?

Most recently I’ve been questioning why my littlest granddaughter, Kendall Grace, has to face such a difficult start to life. Kendall has a host of physical medical problems, the combination of which is very puzzling to doctors. As Kendall Grace’s gramma, I want to know WHY this baby girl’s muscles are weak, WHY her digestive system doesn’t work right, WHY her bones aren’t growing normally, and HOW these issues will affect her socially and emotionally as she grows into little girlhood, enters her teenage years, and eventually becomes a grown-up. While I pray healing for this darling baby with the big blue eyes and a smile that could melt the abominable snowman, I try to look ahead and see what the future holds for her.

Apparently my “crystal ball” is broken, because things are cloudy. But you know what? I’m discovering that maybe it’s okay for me not to know. When we don’t KNOW, we’re forced into a place of trust. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we live by faith, not by sight.” If we could see/know everything in advance, then what would be the purpose of faith? A dear friend who walked the cancer journey with her son told me, very wisely, that she gave up the right to know and simply trusted God knew...and that was enough.

So that’s what I’m trying to do--simply trust that God knows...and that is enough. It isn’t easy, I confess. That little girl who trailed her daddy and asked, “Why, Daddy? Why?” is still very much a part of me. ‘Cause I’m human. But just as Daddy did oh so long ago, I know my Father is smiling down at me, perhaps with a hint of indulgence glimmering in His eyes, and answering patiently, “All in good time, Kim. Trust Me.”

Unknown times are growing times. Not a bad place to be, after all.

Social media links:
Kim's Facebook page
Kim's website

Bio: 
In 1966, Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in libraries. That little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer's Return. Since then, Kim has watched God expand her dream beyond her childhood imaginings. With over 30 titles on library shelves and more than a million copies of her books in print, she enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Empty-nesters, Kim and her retired military husband, Don, operate a bed-and-breakfast inn in small-town Kansas with the help of their four feline companions. When she isn't writing, Kim stays active serving in her church's women's and music ministries, traveling with "The Hubs," and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings. 

Giveaway: We are giving away two copies of Kim's books this week, winning reader's choice of book and format (international winners ebook only or paperback if the book is available through Book Depository.) Starbucks $10 gift card.  Follow Kim on Twitter (put "T") or like her FB page (put "FB") and leave an encouraging comment or prayer for Kim and her granddaughter to enter.  Beginning this week, winners will be posted in the upper right corner of the blog, so you do not have to leave your email address but you must contact us at OWGblog@aol.com if your name is listed.




26 April 2014

Lisa Carter's Beneath a Navajo Moon


Beneath A Navajo Moon
by Lisa Carter
Abingdon Press 2014
Reviewed by Teresa S. Mathews

5 Stars*****

What a beautiful story this is, you can't ask for a more picturesque setting than the red rock walls of Cedar Canyon, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. Here the story opens with Olivia Thornton sneaking out of the Cedar Canyon Mission School at dawn to think and pray. Olivia is highly disturbed at the ill treatment of the Navajo children by the hands of the ones that should be showing them the love of Christ. So deep in thought was Olivia, she never heard the man that came up behind her and clamped his hand over her mouth; the man that would forever change the course of her life.

Erin Dawson, cultural anthropologist, and daughter of Missionary parents, has been intrigued by the story of a distant relative that went missing in 1906 while a teacher at the Cedar Canyon Mission School. Erin is basing her dissertation on finding out more on Olivia so when she secures a job at the Information Center in town she takes that as a sign this is where she is supposed to be.

Adam Silverhorn a Cedar Canyon Police Officer is a man on a mission to rid the Reservation of the drugs that are destroying his people. Adam will stop at nothing to do what has to be done. So when Erin shows up he checks her out in more than one way. There is something about this sweet wholesome woman that draws him to her.

When Erin's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and her cell phone has no signal Erin walks to the only place nearby to seek help. The local honky-tonk wasn't the best place for Erin to walk into but she didn't have much choice so she bravely goes in. Almost as soon as she enters Erin is accosted by several men, she is thankful when the dangerously handsome Adam Silverhorn comes to her rescue whispering in her ear to go along with the story she is one of his many girlfriends. Holding her close Erin notices he reeks of alcohol but when he pulls her in for a kiss to carry out the charade there is nothing there but the taste of peppermint. What is this larger than life man up to? Could he be just another cop on the take or is he a man who will do anything to catch the ones responsible for the drugs that are showing up here on his sacred homeland?

The more time Erin spends with Adam the more intrigued she is with him, there is so much more to this man than he lets on. He seems to be torn between two worlds; the sin filled one his vindictive grandfather wants to lure him into and the one his godly mother and uncle have raised him to believe in. Will Erin be able to help him choose between right and wrong? Both have decisions to make that may take them down very different paths.

Having been introduced to Lisa Carter's writing after reading her debut novel Carolina Reckoning I knew I was in for a treat with this one. Let me tell you I was not disappointed!! Once again Lisa has woven a tale with beautiful words and descriptive scenery that will draw you in and make you feel as if you are there seeing everything first hand. I also loved how Lisa tied in Olivia's story with modern day life on the Reservation. You can tell a lot of research went into this book. Thanks Lisa for all the hard work! I can't wait for your next story!


***Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing me 
a copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion.***


You may purchase this book and others by Lisa at AmazonCBD, and Barnes and Noble and other bookstores.




24 April 2014

Diana Reviews "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" by Lori Benton

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn


Reviewed by Diana Flowers*****

Historical Page-Turner!

Author Lori Benton has penned an exciting journey of one young woman's dangerous quest to find freedom in the frontier wilderness of North Carolina — amidst snow storms, wild Indians, mountainous terrain, and shadowy, dense forests filled with wild animals. It is also a breathtaking tale of romance, long buried secrets, treachery, and abuse. 

After her stepfather commits an unspeakable act, Tamsen Littlejohn makes an impulsive escape, enlisting the aid of frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to safety. The hawk-like beautiful Jesse was adopted by the Shawnee as a young boy, and Cade is the only father Jesse has ever known. Together they drive cattle once a year to Morganton and know the mountainous territory like the back of their hands. But Jesse's agreement to guide Tamsen to the Watuga settlement in NC is more than either of them have bargained for…as he is accused of kidnapping and murder and Tamsen is faced with hardships she never could have foreseen. And neither of them anticipated the shocking secret Cade has withheld lo these many years, nor did they expect to fall in love…

I can certainly see why Lori Benton's first book, Burning Sky, has been nominated in two categories for the 2014 Christy Awards! She is a phenomenal author; whose descriptive imagery and exhilarating storyline takes the reader to another place and time and leaves them there until the climactic conclusion! I fell in love with the loyal Jesse and the brave Tamsen, and when I finished their story I felt as though I was leaving good friends behind—so admirably and realistically were they portrayed. I also was entranced by the mystical aura Cade exuded, and the historical events that took place in the story. Another winner by author Lori Benton you won't want to miss!

This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, BAM and your local bookstore.

GIVEAWAY: This week we will be giving away two copies of Lori's new release "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" and a $10 Starbucks gift card!

**Please leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the drawing. **
  

22 April 2014

Teresa S Mathews reviews The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton


The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
By Lori Benton
Waterbrook Press 2014
Reviewed by Teresa S. Mathews
5 Stars*****

Lori Benton has once again woven a hauntingly beautiful love story that drew me in from the very beginning.Tamsen Littlejohn is not happy with the fact her cruel stepfather is pushing her into a marriage with a man she knows little about but for her mother's sake she agrees to meet the man.

Ambrose Kincaid was not at all what Tamsen was expecting; he was handsome, even if he did have fiery red hair, quite charming with his Virginia accent and he was completely smitten by Tamsen's exquisite beauty. Perhaps this arrangement could have worked out until Tamsen sees what she thinks is Mr. Kincaid's cruelty to his slaves. Thinking he must be made of the same cloth as her abusive step-father she abruptly leaves him in the restaurant and rushes back home.

Jesse Bird has heard the story of how he became part of the Shawnee tribe as a small boy but as hard as he tries he cannot remember what happened the day his parents were killed. After losing his adoptive Indian parents at the age of ten, Jesse Bird is taken in by Cade; a man with the blood of two completely different worlds flowing through his veins. Cade has loved Jesse like a son and shared a lot about his past but there is one secret he hasn't shared with Jesse, a secret that will change both of their lives should it come to light.

When Tamsen has a deadly altercation with her stepfather she runs to the stable in search of her mother's servants hoping they can help her escape only to run into Jesse Bird. When Tamsen explains what has happened Jesse makes a life changing decision; somehow he knows that God wants him to help this beautiful young woman. Too bad before this is all said and done he will be a man wanted for kidnapping and murder!!

Jesse and Tamsen head for his home in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina only to be pursued by her stepfather and Amboise. It is during that journey Jesse and Tamsen realize that God has planned their destiny and if they keep the faith He will work everything out for their good; but oh the things they will have to endure before they get to live happily ever after!!

Last year when I read Lori's debut novel Burning Sky I was impressed with the beauty of her writing and I couldn't believe there was any way she could improve upon it. But when I started reading this latest treasure I was awestruck by the fact that what seemed impossible had happened. This book blew me away with how fast I was pulled into it; it was so engrossing I found I had read 63 pages before I even realized it. It has been quite a while since I read a book of this length in less than two days! Oh the emotions that were stirred while I was reading this; there was joy and amazement all the way to horror and unbelief and back again to laughter and satisfaction at the most enthralling ending! This should be at the top of everyone's wish list for 2014; I promise you will not be disappointed. Thanks Lori for a story that has forever found a special place in my heart.

UPDATE: Please congratulate Lori on being a finalist for two Christy Awards for her first book Burning Sky! Congrats Lori, excellent job!! 

You can purchase this treasure by Lori at AmazonCBD, and Barnes and Noble and other bookstores.



GIVEAWAY: This week we will be giving away two copies of this wonderful book and a $10 Starbucks card! International Winners Ebook Only! Please like or follow Lori's Facebook Author Page and leave your email address in your comments. 



20 April 2014

When Overcoming Means Surrender by Lori Benton

Author Lori Benton

When I think of overcoming, most often I imagine reaching a mountaintop, completing a task…
Meeting a challenge.
Enduring a trial.
Putting a weakness or bad habit behind me.
But what about those times when, despite our effort, prayer, and faith, the challenge isn’t met, the trial doesn’t end, the loss is irreversible, the mountain proves too steep to climb?
Letting go. Waiting. Surrender.
Far from defeat, surrender can be overcoming in another guise, when we surrender our will and plans and timetable to God, when we come to the end of our striving, and with open hearts say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
There was a season of surrender in my life. It came in the years following my treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1999. I’d been a writer for eight years at that point and had every intention of continuing on that path as soon as the chemotherapy and radiation were finished, and I got the all-clear from my oncologist. The all-clear came, but no matter how hard I tried post-chemo, I couldn’t write the way I used to. It felt like half my brain had been left behind in that chemo room where I’d spent so much time the previous six months.
I was experiencing what’s called chemo fog. After a year or two of fighting it, trying to find my way out of it—through discipline, prayer, better nutrition, exercise, anything I could think of to help my brain recover—I was forced to admit this mountain is too steep for me, this loss may be irreversible. I surrendered my dream of writing novels to God.
Okay, Lord. You haven’t taken away my desire to write, but You haven’t returned the ability. I don’t know what to do, so I’m going to trust that if You want me to write again, You’ll heal my brain—at some point. I’m going to trust You to give me the peace I need in order to do nothing but rest, and wait, until You tell me otherwise.
For me, that was overcoming. Overcoming my impatience, my plans, my will, my sense of timing. My finding my self-worth and identity in writing.
It wasn’t until 2004 I felt the Lord nudging me to try writing again. Turns out He still had a plan for me regarding writing. He just had some maturing He wanted to do in me first.
Whether its reaching the top of that mountain, or finding peace when the strength to climb is taken away, God is using every circumstance in our lives to grow us up, to ready us for the endless fellowship we’ll enjoy with Him in eternity, and to bless each other now, to encourage each other with the comfort we’ve been given.
During this Easter season, take a moment to picture our hero, our Savior, Jesus, on His knees sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, beseeching His Father, “Let this cup (this cup brimming with physical suffering, separation from God, the burden of our sins, yours and mine) pass from me. Nevertheless… not my will, but Yours be done.”
Our greatest example of overcoming through surrender.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is Lori Benton's second novel released by Waterbrook Multnomah!
Book blurb:
Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love

In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

CFP:  Thanks so much for this beautiful testimony, Lori! And congratulations to Lori on her DOUBLE Christy Award finalist status, announced this past week!  Lori's novel "Burning Sky" is a Christy finalist for debut and for historical novel.  

GIVEAWAY: This week we will be giving away two copies of Lori's new release "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" and a $10 Starbucks gift card!  We'll have two to three reviews of Laurie's lovely novel!!!  Answer this question:  Has God left you with anything you've had to surrender completely over to Him?  How has it affected your relationship with Him?  

19 April 2014

Jesus Our Savior by Teresa S. Mathews



Jesus Our Savior 

The sights, the sounds, the horrors 
Seeing His precious blood being shed.
How can the ones that praised His name
Be the ones that are now wanting him dead?

Hearing him cry out to his Father,
Why have you forsaken me?
It broke my heart as he closed his eyes, 
Drew his last breath and died upon that tree.

They carried him away to a cold dark tomb,
And sealed him there for good.
How can he arise in three short days?
Maybe we misunderstood.

The crying, the pain, the restlessness
How long will this torment last?
Please God how can we take this,
When will this sorrow pass?

Three days now are gone
It’s the first day of the week,
We are headed for the tomb
Our Lord’s burial place we seek.

There in the distance it can be seen
The stone has been rolled away. 
Two angels shining brightly now proclaim
He’s not here He Is Risen Today!

No longer is He sealed in that cold dark tomb
The Risen Lord is He
King of kings and Lord of Lords
He Will Reign for Eternity.
©Teresa S. Mathews



Both of these beautiful pictures were provided by http://www.crosscards.com/facebookcovers

18 April 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House)

A Beauty So Rare, A Belmont Mansion Novel Book #2
(Bethany House Publishers)

5 stars *****
By Carrie Fancett Pagels


Another Belmont Hit!
What a wonderful read! A Beauty So Rare starts out a little bit slow but have no worries, Tamera Alexander soon takes off with a story wonderfully woven. I was tickled pink over heroine, Eleanor's reaction to certain colors of clothing, which I enjoy. Mr. Geoffries, a German archduke, and is a wonderful hero. Eleanor is strong and capable and learns to trust her heart, over the course of the story. Loved the secondary characters, with the widowed ladies and their children receiving help through the hero's and heroine's efforts. Some terrific antagonists, with great characterization.

This is the second book in the Belmont series and I can't wait to read the next book when it releases! The reader can settle in on A Beauty So Rare for a nice long read, though--as it comes in just under 500 pages!!!

SPOILER ALERT!!!
Bibliotherapy: Eleanor's father has Alzheimer's and must be placed in an institution. Tamera does a great job in showing how irascible and even dangerous someone can become with dementia. Having had several loved ones with this disorder I've seen how someone with Alzheimer's can turn on the very ones they love the most--the paranoia that sets in can be terrifying. Beautiful and tasteful showing of both the sweet and the awful moments of coping with a parent in these later stages of deterioration.

Also, although it isn't dwelt upon, Eleanor begins the story in a combat field hospital with a dying man. So we have a 26-year-old woman experiencing the horrors of war (I could have done without some of those scenes) and so the reader can assume she has some PTSD issues.  With Eleanor now 30, in the story, she is also struggling with singleness and being "an old maid." She feels abandoned by her father and it is her intense loneliness at Aunt Adelicia's home that helps cement her relationship with "the gardener" who isn't a gardener at all! Having been almost 30 when I married my husband, I know it is worth the wait, as it is for the heroine!

Superlatives: This book will be on my best of 2014 list here on the Overcoming With God. We OWG reviewers publish these "Best of" lists the end of December. The book will also be entered in the Bibliotherapy category as well.



Highly recommend--don't miss this!

Disclosure: I purchased this book as a paperback through Amazon but I also received a Kindle copy through NetGalley and am under no compulsion to post a positive review. The reviewers on the OWG blog love Tamera's books so much that we made sure everyone got a copy of this new release, in paperback, for the gorgeous cover, too. I also ordered the audio copy of the book. Unfortunately, the narrator on the book doesn't do the story justice--so I'd recommend that you read on Kindle, setting the font to large, if you have difficulty reading long books with your eyes, like I do.

Giveaways: We are giving away several items this week, including copies of the book and my surprise pink giveaway and a $10 Starbuck gift card.

16 April 2014

Noela Reviews A BEAUTY SO RARE by Tamera Alexander

A Beauty So Rare

A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
Bethany House Publishers (March 24, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
~5 Stars~ *****
A Rare Beauty!

To read Tamera Alexander’s novel ‘A Beauty So Rare’ is to step back into the pages of history to visit the luxurious Belmont Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee during the year of 1868... just a few years after the brutal civil war had officially ceased. The dreadful war images almost fade away as you take in the grandeur of the exquisite estate with its expansive lavish gardens and magnificent palatial home. It is there we meet the lady of Belmont Mansion, the beautiful although demanding and intimidating Adelicia Cheathum, known by many as the richest woman in America.

Eleanor Braddock, niece of Adelicia, is financially devastated due to the failing health of her father. After committing her father to an asylum, she arrives as arranged to her Aunt’s grand estate to stay until she gets back on her feet. Eleanor comes with a pre-determined practical and hardworking plan to support herself and to pay for her father’s care. But Adelicia has plans of her own for her niece. They include an engagement to a wealthy suitor and a more leisurely high society lifestyle in keeping with Adelicia’s social circles. Personality and ideals clash, because Eleanor is unable to shake the images of Nashville's destitute war widows whilst living in such luxury. But when Eleanor finds her own plans falling into pieces, she begins to seriously consider the wealthy acquaintance of her aunt.

Archduke Marcus Gottfriend aka Marcus Geoffrey, second in line to the throne in Austria, has come to Nashville anonymously to spend time living his life catering to his interests for a change, while also longing to leave his mark in America with his combined passions of nature and architecture. But he has responsibilities to his fiancĂ©, family, and country, and knows he will soon have to return. Working in the enormous glass-walled conservatory in the Belmont grounds, he meets Eleanor and discovers her to be a breath of fresh air, a woman without pretences, and with a generous heart like none other. With all that binds them, they know the growing affection between them cannot be allowed to bloom. Will love find a way in the impossible? I loved seeing Proverbs 16:9 being played out… ‘A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

There was so much to love about this book: The fascinating history and impeccable research that has gone into this story; the multi-layered characters that invoke in you an intense longing for; and the smiles and chuckles the clever dialogue prompts to name just a few. Spiritually, I departed with the reminder of how intimately God cares for each of us, and that He will guide us to a better place than imagined when our trust is placed in Him. Tamera Alexander is an outstanding storyteller and has created a rare beauty with an excellence that should definitely be savoured!



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This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, BAM, or your local bookstore.

GIVEAWAYS: This week we are giving away a paperback and e-book copy of A Beauty So Rare, a Starbucks $10 Card, a pink surprise giveaway, AND Tamera is offering a signed copy, too!!

*Please leave a comment to enter and don't forget your email addy! If you'd like, share an instance with us of how you've seen God care for you intimately!



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