29 July 2018

Different Kinds of Beauty

Isn't this cream colored daylily from the Straits of Mackinac lovely? It lacks color in the main part of the petals yet it has a bright purple and yellow center, drawing your eye right there!  I'l admit I'm accustomed to seeing mostly a common orange daylily where I live. Something more like the flower pictured below.

Not only does the cream-colored daylily lack the orange pigmentation but it is much shorter than the orange daylily which looks much like mine in Virginia. I've come to think of this type of daylily as the typical or expected variety. So I've come to compare other daylilies to this type. It's everywhere. So common. And a standard of daylily beauty.
This pretty pale peach daylily has broad smooth petals. It is medium tall. It isn't flashy, but it is a very pretty flower. It catches your eye mainly for its simplicity. With fully open smooth petals it reminds me of an open-hearted and warm person.
This deep red, almost maroon colored daylily has a lot of flare to it, doesn't it? The petals flare back more sharply than the other daylilies. It is showy and certainly not a shy wallflower!

These twin buttery yellow daylilies have a delicate perfection and look rather star-like. It has a clean beauty. A soft almost shy feeling to the flower draws you to it.

God created all these variations in the daylilies. How many more does he create in people? He puts beauty in us all. 

Question: Which flower do you feel your personality most resembles?  

01 July 2018

Interview with Kelly Goshorn's Heroine, Ruth from "A Love Restored"

CFP: I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of "A Love Restored", a new release from Kelly Goshorn of Virginia. And I gave an endorsement to this book!  Kelly is having her heroine, Ruth Ann, visit with us today for an interview!

Ruth Ann, welcome to Overcoming With God. We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers.

Hello Carrie,
Thank you for inviting me to visit with your readers today. Kelly has asked me to share our painful struggle with weight and self-perception. By way of introduction, my name is Ruth Ann Sutton. I am the heroine in her novel, A Love Restored. She created me to tell her own story. Did you know that? A Love Restored is the retelling of her real-life romance with her husband, Mike. She chose to set the story in the 1870s because she is a . . . what’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh right, she calls herself a “history geek.”

Before we get started, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am twenty years old and the youngest of two daughters born to my parents, Charles and Hannah Sutton. My father died suddenly when I was thirteen and I miss him terribly. The locket he gave me always adorns my neck. My older sister, Sarah, was married by my age. She is beautiful and petite—just like mama. I’m quite the opposite. With broad shoulders, round hips and a head full of unruly curls, I haven’t had many suitors. Look at me prattling on and I barely know you. If mama were here, she’d remind me that “young ladies should be seen and not heard.”

Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? 
Like Kelly, I have struggled with weight issues my entire life. Suitors have been scarce. Mama has arranged for me to marry James Thornton, the son of a prominent Virginia politician. I find him a bit dull. If you don’t mind me being frank, which I am prone to be, I believe he’s more interested in my familial connections than me, as a woman. Mama says I should be grateful for his attention because in her words, “Gentlemen do not court and marry a woman who is plump and opinionated. They desire a woman who is a reflection of themselves and the image they want to convey to their contemporaries.”

Mama’s “simple truth,” coupled with schoolyard taunts and empty dance cards, created a lasting impression that I was unworthy. Overtime, I allowed my self-worth to be determined by a yardstick that measured my value according to the size of my waist or the flatness of my stomach, always coming up short. I yearned for a love that would look upon my heart and find inestimable worth, despite my physical flaws. Why was it so hard to believe a man might find me attractive? Even love me?

I replayed the unkind words of others in my mind until I became so defined by the negative comments and opinions of those surrounding me, I no longer saw anything to esteem in myself. No matter the exact phrasing, it all boiled down to the same thing in my mind—I was undesirable, therefore unlovable. At my lowest point, I curled my hand around a bottle of laudanum and began chugging the bitter liquid hoping to escape the pain I could no longer bear.

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty?
While the enemy taunted me that night reminding me how unworthy I was, another voice spoke to my damaged heart reminding me of His great love for me. His voice was so clear and unmistakable that I wonder if I did not hear our Lord’s audible voice telling me that indeed I was not a mistake and that He loved me more than any man ever would. The overwhelming weight of inadequacy that had burdened my spirit since childhood disappeared, replaced by a soothing peace that soaked into my parched soul like water in the dessert.

What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times?

This is a wonderful question because even though God intervened and prevented me from hurting myself that dreadful night, the process of “taking every thought captive,” as the Bible instructs us to do, had only just begun. Months were spent in tearful prayer and every time the enemy whispered negative thoughts in my ear, I had to replace them with scriptural truth until the pattern was broken. These are some of the verses that spoke to my heart during that dark time.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Cor 10:5

For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten. Joel 2:25a

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. Psalm 34:18a

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What do you hope readers will gain from your story?
A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As Benjamin and I discover, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally.

My prayer for you and your lovely readers is that you will not allow the enemy to steal the joy that is rightfully yours as a child of God. Speak the truth of the gospel over yourself every day and ask God to give you His eyes to see yourself as He does.

"A Love Restored" Book blurb:
She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.
With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.

When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

Question you’d like to ask readers: How do you handle thoughts of inadequacy? What scriptures do you rely on in those times?

Kelly weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

Kelly’s Links:
You can connect with Kelly through her Newsletter, Website, Facebook,Twitter, Pinterestor Instagram.

26 June 2018

Audiobook Review: The Accidental Guardian By: Mary Connealy

The Accidental Guardian
By: Mary Connealy
Narrated by: Morgan Hallett
Series: High Sierra Sweethearts, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 04-03-18
Publisher: Recorded Books

Five Stars All Around! *****
Five Stars for Performance & for Story *****

Stellar Listen!

I'll admit I got pretty mad at Mary Connealy when I started listening to this story. You see, I like to listen to my audiobooks while I am doing something. Since I'm getting ready to make my transition to up North, Mackinaw City, for the summer, I'm super busy. I started listening to Mary's new audiobook and it was SO AMAZINGLY GOOD that I did not want to miss a word! ACK! What's a girl to do?  So I had to maneuver my listening around so that I did truly mindless tasks, on autopilot, while I listened to this amazing audiobook. And I'll admit that I also laid down and listened to it at bedtime, too!

The hero, Trace, is one of the best heroes I've come across in a long time. He's top of the line! And Deborah is a perfect match for him, a strong but super lovable heroine. The tension and pacing in this story couldn't have been better.  The narrator was perfect for the story, too.

Highly recommend! Don't miss out on this story!!! I purchased my copy via Audible.com and listened to it on my Audible app on my iPhone. 

Publisher's Summary

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes the hand behind the attack as the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he'd finally carved out a home and started a herd - while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail, driving off dangerous men. He'd hoped those days were over, but the latest attack shows he was wrong.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until she can safely continue. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture, and their arrival is unsettling - yet enticing. Working to survive the winter and finally bring justice to the trail, Trace and Deborah find themselves drawn together - yet every day approaches the moment she'll leave forever.

19 June 2018

Audiobook Review - A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden, Audiobook
A Daring Venture
By: Elizabeth Camden
Narrated by: Rachel Botchan
Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
Release date: 06-05-18
Publisher: Recorded Books

Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

I purchased my copy as a download from Audible.com. 

My Ratings: Five Stars Story, Five Stars Overall *****
Narration was okay but could have been better. I gave this Three Stars. It didn't affect my enjoyment of the story so much as annoyed me. The accents were very different than in the first book in this series, which I loved.  A Dangerous Legacy was narrated by Morgan Hallett, who did a stellar job. So my caveat to the listener is to add a pair of "New Jersey over-accented filters" on your ears while you listen! 

Story and characterization was solid and very enjoyable. Elizabeth Camden is an amazing writer. This is a wonderful series set just after the turn-of-the-century. Camden portrayed biochemist Rosalind beautifully, incorporating nuances of the scientific mind. Similarly her characterization of Nick, a former plumber with a heart of gold, takes into account his blue collar roots without overdoing it. I loved, loved, loved the start of this book where Camden gives us the poignant backstory for Dr. Rosalind Werner. Definitely shed some tears there and it totally sets you up to understand her motivation.

There's a lot of tension in this story, both romantic and in the story line. Camden is a master at pacing. A master of writing. Period.

You'll find yourself looking forward to every one of your listening sessions for A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden!

Publisher's Summary
Dr. Rosalind Werner is at the forefront of a groundbreaking new water technology - if only she can get support for her work. Nicholas, Commissioner of Water for New York, is skeptical - and surprised by his reaction to Rosalind. While they fight against their own attraction, they stand on opposite sides of a battle that will impact thousands of lives.

As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city - but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York, Nicholas Drake, is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team's techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist. While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives.

As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.

This book is available in multiple formats. If you do a sample listen of the story on audible.com and you're not happy with the narrator, go buy an ebook or paperback copy!

Highly Recommend!!!
Question: Do you listen to more audiobooks in the summer?

14 June 2018

Giveaway: Andrea Stephens' review of "Shenandoah Hearts" by Carrie Fancett Pagels

"Shenandoah Hearts" by Carrie Fancett Pagels novella in The Backcountry Brides Collection (Barbour, May 2018)

Andrea Stephens' review of "Shenandoah Hearts"
First, I have to say I had the distinct pleasure of being a beta reader for this novella. I loved the story when I read it the first time. It was fun to see the subtle changes and final edits when I read this published version, making me love it even more. Carrie Fancett Pagels does not disappoint with this fictional telling of the beginnings of the French-Indian war.

The main story is about Magdalene and Jacob. They worked together in a shop in Philadelphia, each
having unspoken feelings for the other. Magda moved with her family to the Shenandoah Valley where three of her brothers have built a cabin for the entire family. Jacob is enticed by his brothers to join the same wagon train and move himself, ending up close to where Magda and her family have settled. I loved the back and forth flirting between Magda and Jacob. The family banter and teasing by both of their families. Magda's ailing mother even says to her “You and that Jacob are just alike in keeping your feelings too...too close...”

Magdalene was all to aware of their different stations in Philadelphia but “out here in the valley, by these blue mountains, those differences in status seemed to disappear.” No spoilers but just when I thought they would get together, the war begins and everyone from the surrounding settlements move within the walls of the fort. Despite the tension and all the hard work war brings, the romance develops and feelings grow. There are also some surprises for other family members as well.

I loved this story and was very satisfied with the epilogue. Honestly, a tear escaped my eye and fell onto the last page.

I highly recommend it to all.

You can read a clip of the collection by clicking here!

Blurb: Shenandoah Hearts by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1754 - Great Wagon Road, into the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia)
As the French-Indian War commences, Magda Sehler wonders if Jacob Owens lost his mind to have abandoned his Philadelphia business and moved to the Shenandoah Valley. Or has he lost his heart?

Check out the Christmas Anthology associated with Carrie's story on the Colonial Quills group blog (Click Here).



GIVEAWAY: We're giving away a copy of The Backcountry Brides Collection this week -- leave a comment on today's review and on Carrie's post on having branches trimmed for two entries.

10 June 2018

When God Severely "Trims" Your Branches by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Sometimes when we are "Overcoming With God" then He puts us through a season of severe trials. While those times are terrible, He never leaves us without a benefit. Are you running around a lot doing things but not feeling satisfaction? Maybe you need some spiritual trimming.

Because we only get so much TIME on this earth. And if part of our fleshly self, or an abundance of ourself, isn't in alignment with what God needs to do with us while we are here, then He has to deal with that. And we do want to be pleasing to God, don't we? And what He brings about can bless you and others.  Hard to imagine that being trimmed down to the core of what God wants us to do can feel "right" but it can.

Having been through a number of seasons of difficulty, including almost five years where I could barely walk, I can tell you that your life will be readjusted by God. He may prune out works of the flesh that are for getting praise or something out of doing the behavior. Works that were never motivated by pleasing God. Are you a people pleaser? Ouch! That may require some huge branches being cut from your life. But when God takes away those opportunities to be a people pleaser He's doing you a huge favor. Because then you grow closer to Him and realize that trying to please people is futile. You don't want to feel frustrated by that, do you?
Four Seasons from Wikipedia
Are you working a system when you're doing your good works because you want something out of them? If you do some favor you're always expecting the favor to be returned? God may take away your ability to even extend such favors. Do all to please God. A caveat here, though--be sure that it is God telling you to help and not simply sympathy for the person. Let the Holy Spirit direct your path.

When we're engaging in nonannointed works, it seems like there's something in the way. It's hard. We're frustrated. We're engaging in dead works. But don't we really want to do what God has planned for us? It may be a far narrower view than what we had of our lives being. But in working with the Holy Spirit there is an ease that comes. A satisfaction that what we're doing is "right".

Life passes quickly. When you look at the big picture of things, when you're engaging in activities that aren't done for God, you'll welcome that pruning. Sometimes we get so engaged in being "busy" with stuff that seems important we really do miss that point. And God may have to step in with a tree trimmer or even a chain saw if what you are doing isn't producing "good fruit"

The following is a great companion passage from the NIV version of the Bible. Thank you to Bible Gateway for the passage.
1 Corinthians 3: 10-15
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Takeaway: Giving God the glory. Taking the high road even when it hurts. Making our lives about what God wants us to do. All those things will make the sting of the trimming worth it all! 

Giveaway: In my novella "Shenandoah Hearts", in The Backcountry Brides Collection,  both the heroine and the hero go through some severe trimming.  I'm giving away a copy of of this collection this week. Comment on this post or on Andrea Stephens' review of my novella later in the week to get up to two entries.

05 June 2018

In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson, Audiobook Review

In Places Hidden (Recorded Books)
by Tracie Peterson
Narrated by Angela Lin
Golden Gate Secrets Series Book 1

Audiobook Review
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

What a great start to this new series by one of my favorite authors, Tracie Peterson! And I've listened to many of her audiobooks (she has over 100 books released!) but this is one of my favorites. The narrator did a wonderful job of bringing the story to life.

Camri is a fiesty young woman searching for her missing brother. The secrets and intrigue really move the story along. Patrick is a compassionate young man with a heart of gold. These two are from very different backgrounds but their common interest in finding her brother, Caleb, fosters a friendship.

Highly recommend In Places Hidden especially on audiobook! Set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, you'll love the setting, especially the chocolate factory.

Read about the other two novels in Tracie's Golden Gate Secrets Series (click here.)

Publisher's summary: On her way to San Francisco to find her brother, Caleb, who went missing three months ago, Camriann Coulter meets Judith and Kenzie, who both have their own mysteries to solve in the booming West Coast city. The women decide to help each other, including rooming together and working at Kenzie’s cousin’s chocolate factory. Camri’s search for her brother, an attorney, leads her deep into the political corruption of the city–and into the acquaintance of Patrick Murdock, a handsome Irishman who was saved from a false murder charge by Caleb. Patrick challenges all of Camri’s privileged beliefs, but he knows more about what happened to her brother than anyone else. Together, they move closer to the truth behind Caleb’s disappearance. But as the stakes rise and threats loom, will Patrick be able to protect Camri from the dangers he knows lie in the hidden places of the city?

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