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Book Review: See Her Run by A.K. Leigh


See Her Run
By A.K. Leigh
Released 2/26/15
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

I’ve read some really good mystery/thrillers lately, I didn’t feel like this one held up.  It was an interesting story, not like any I had read, though I felt it left me wanting more and I wasn’t excited to pick it up each night.  But that could have something to do with the fact that it was a disturbing subject matter that hurt my heart to read.

The book focuses on Diana King, who we know right off the bat is part of the witness protection program after being badly hurt by her husband, Russ.  Her handler, Chris, is also a recurring character and tasked with keeping her safe.  The book wastes no time jumping into the meat of the book, when Diana meets Jon Smith.  Local heart-throb and benefactor to the little North Carolina town of Smithfield, which we come to find out was named after his family.

Both Diana and Jon have secrets of their own that they struggle with keeping as they move closer to each other.  In typical mystery form, little hints are revealed throughout, and the reader has to hold on to the very end to put it all together.  That is all well and fine, but I get a bit frustrated with books that refer to something throughout the book as if the reader should know what is going on.  It makes me think I’ve missed something!   But luckily, in the end, it’s all put together.

While I didn’t know specifics, I did feel the book was predictable.  No spoilers, but if you’re running/hiding from someone, it’s not too hard to see where it is going.  Thus building tension throughout the whole book.  But the author did a really good job of balancing the mystery part with a bit of romance, which is a bit of a different spin from some other books in this genre.

It was a quick read with never a dull moment, I think I just have too much to compare lately and this one just didn’t hold up, but still a good read.  This is the first book for Ms. Leigh and I wouldn’t let it sway me from reading future books.

Thanks to NetGalley and Momentum Books for allowing me to preview!

Book Description:

Diana King has moved to Smithfield, North Carolina to start fresh. With a new look, a new address, and a new name, she’s hoping to begin a safe, quiet life far from the horrors she’s endured. 

On the painful road to recovery, Diana begins to think she can move forward … until she meets local farmer, Jonathan Smith, and realizes his connection to her previous life. While Jon doesn’t recognize her, they both have an undeniable attraction.

Just when Diana begins to see a hope of happiness, she discovers that her ex-husband Russ is on the hunt and will stop at nothing to get her back. For Diana holds evidence that could lock him away for life .

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Peace this Christmas (Advent Series Part II)

Sharing from last year on this 2nd Sunday of Advent. May peace be with you during this season!

My Dog-eared Purpose

Luke2.14

Happy 2nd Sunday of Advent.  Today we light the candle of Peace.  As I spent time the last few days and this AM thinking about peace a few common phrases came to mind.

Peace be with you (and also with you).
A common call and response in church, I’ve repeated many times in my life.

Peace and quiet.
As in, I need some!  (And a prayer for all the moms in my life!)

World Peace.
A common pageant answer to “What would you wish for?”

Give Peace a Chance.
John Lennon anyone?

And ofcourse there are the non-verbal signs:

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But what is biblical peace?  Without looking it up, to me it is a calmness of my spirit or soul that only God can bring.  Through knowing Him, loving Him, trusting Him, talking to Him, I can truly feel peace.  God wants us to be at peace, but not…

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The Broken Beautiful

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It’s Tuesday – I should be teasering, or writing one of the 2 reviews for books I have finished this past week, or probably unpacking and organizing our new house (the reason I’ve been MIA for the last two weeks.)  But today I’m taking a day off – I took the kids to the zoo this beautiful AM (which by the way it was 66 degrees when we left the house!) and now I’m sitting down, something I haven’t done much of lately, and wanted to post a short, much overdue, song post!

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This one is inspired by my LL, who has proclaimed this her favorite song as of late.  It’s an upbeat song, one I’ve now listened to a thousand times, but today actually took some time to meditate on the words and realized it really applies to life right now.  In a few ways.  More literally – our “broken” house – broken meaning old and a bit neglected for this example.  It has its dents, scratches, stains, lots of wear and tear, and in need of much repair.  But we came in and are working on it – some rooms look great, others will get there, but we saw the potential and can make this broken house beautiful (in time.)

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Sound familiar?  Maybe how God is working in all of us?  At least I see this in me.  I’ve read, and been taught, that we all are broken vessels, jars of clay, that God repairs, time and time again, and not just repairs, makes beautiful.  Broken in this case is referring to our sins, our transgressions, our past, all things that God sees and knows and loves us in spite of.  In this time of change, unknowns, homesickness, trying to make our home a home, trying to make new friends and find out where we fit in, I have days where I feel very broken.  So today I wanted to put out this short reminder (mainly to myself but maybe it will help a few others too) that God will make all of this beautiful.  He always does, and even if I don’t see it right away or even soon, I can rest knowing He does and He is right beside me and working on it.  AND I need to focus on the beauty that is already here, my husband, my kids, my family & friends, my dogs, too much to even list! I’ve added a few verses to some pictures taken lately (it really is beautiful here!), and will leave you with this one I find especially hopeful and had found listed as inspiration for Ellie Holcomb’s song, video and verses below.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
Psalm 30:11

Thanks for stopping by today – I’ll get back to book reviews and hopefully some home updates in the next few days/weeks, but today am resting in the beauty I am surrounded by.  Have a blessed, beautiful week!

The Broken Beautiful
Ellie Holcomb

I know that I don’t bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There’s days I wonder if You’ll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?
Would You remind me now of who You are?

That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful

I’m better off when I begin to remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace
Remind me now that You can make a way

That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful

You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness & cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That You can make the broken beautiful

You make us beautiful, oh oh
You make us beautiful

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Good Friday and Happy Easter!

Happy Good Friday 2014! I said it all last year and this song really is the best for today. Jesus did pay it all and we owe it all to Him. Hallelujah, Amen. Enjoy again.

My Dog-eared Purpose

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” 

I woke up with those words in my head this AM.  From the song “Jesus Paid it All (O Praise the One)” this version sung by Kristian Stanfill (based on the original hymn written in 1865 by Elvina Hall) .  Beautiful song – take a listen below and I’ll even put the lyrics because they are so good!  Given the day, Good Friday, I think God put that song on my heart to keep the true meaning of today and this season in perspective.  How awesome and amazing is it to think that TODAY many years ago our Lord and Savoir died on a cross for US.  So we can live FREE and our sins (yes ALL our sins) are washed away because of JESUS!  Wow.  And in…

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Let it Go and Defy Gravity

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I can’t stop singing “Let it Go” from Frozen.  I took my LL to Frozen, her first movie (see above!) in December, and I can’t stop singing!  With no expectations, I was completely blown out of the water with this movie.  The soundtrack is Broadway worthy, and it took me a few weeks to put this together, but I’ve learned a few things.

  1. I may be Idina Menzel‘s biggest fan.  She has been in Rent, Wicked, and now Frozen.  Her voice and songs bring me goosebumps and tears.  I seriously love her. (picture pulled from her website)
  2. “Let it Go” has so much similarity to “Defying Gravity” (from Wicked), which is one of my all time favorite songs.  I pulled it up today to show the kids, and by the end, LL asked why I was crying.  I absolutely love this song, it’s meaning, Wicked, everything.  Take a listen – it’s amazing.

The two songs have such a similar message too, I guess I’m not the first to link these songs (check out the cool images I found above), but I thought I would put a little lesson together, as they both have such a great message for everyone, but especially the target of Frozen, young girls.

Elphaba from Wicked, is a misunderstood green-skinned girl.  Her love for animals is one of the many reasons I love her so much, but she already doesn’t conform to society in looks alone, so she embracing that, and her “coming out” song is “Defying Gravity”.

“Something has changed within me, Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules, Of someone else’s game”

Elsa from Frozen, has always been different and isolated from the outside world.  At an early age, she discovered powers that her parents told her to “conceal not feel.”  So “Let it Go” is her coming out song.

“I don’t care, What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on, The cold never bothered me anyway”

These two characters, unlike their peers, are finally “free”.  If you’ve seen the musical/movie, you will know this does not come without consequence, but they finally discover who they are, publicly declare that, and move on.  This is hitting me in two ways.

  1. As much of a “real” rule-follower as I am, I don’t “go with the flow” and I have a partner that is the same way.  Steven and I talked about that this weekend, our decisions don’t always line up with the norm, that is just how we roll (and you may see evidence of this coming soon!)
  2. And isn’t that what it is like to be a Christian?  Knowing that you a child of God, and in his eyes, you’re perfect.  And with only that knowledge you can be free, like really free.

A few verses, then I’ll let you enjoy the song.  The message is the same, do not conform to the world, be yourself, be comfortable in that, and my added message, if God is for you and you love and obey Him, you can’t be stopped! (But use your power for good please!)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy,let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
Romans 12:6-7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Take a listen, I hope you enjoy as much as I do.  This has become my anthem.  Not only the message of being myself, even if that is different from everyone else, but also just letting go of the little stuff and putting God first.

As Elsa says:
It’s time to see what I can do, To test the limits and break through, No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free”

And as Elphaba says:
“It’s time to trust my instincts, Close my eyes and leap!”

Thanks for stopping by.  Please share, I had fun writing this post.  Amen.

(All images or videos link to the original source)
Lyrics from Wicked & Frozen

 

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The things we hang on to. #tbt

Sounds like a book I would read, huh?  This is actually going to be a rather embarrassing post, but hopefully amusing.  I’m in spring cleaning mode, even though we are in full-swing southern winter here (it’s about 40 today!)  So today I tackled my closet.  A room, way bigger than I ever thought I would need, but overflowing with stuff.  Now that (most of) the baby weight is gone – the excuse I’ve been using to NOT clear out for the last few years, it’s time.  And even better – I’ve been seeing TBT all over – so this fits in perfect for a Throw Back Thursday!

Today, things are going into three categories.  Keep, Donate, Trash.  Can you guess which each of these falls into?  (Hint – if these things have survived 15-20 years with me, they may stick around longer…)  Although now that I have documented, maybe I can finally let go!

So here goes (I apologize for all the wrinkles – like I said – some of these have been with me awhile!):

Field Hockey Jerseys

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One of my first pairs of Doc Martens

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Every bridesmaid dress I’ve worn (and my wedding dress – not pictured)  I even have shoes to match some of these.
(Sorry – Didn’t feel like displaying these – so bad picture)

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The dresses I wore to both my high school and college graduation

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Overalls – short and long (praying someday these will come back in fashion – love them!!)

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Hot Flops (a previous client of my husbands – will these ever be cool?)

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Bell-bottoms from a 70’s theme party in college

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“Devon” shorts.  Ugly – but they have the name of my dog on them (and the town I grew up in)

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Foo Fighters Shirt (a very early gift from Steven – way too small now and see-through)

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Happy Valley Shirt – A drinking town with a football problem – I need a new one – love this shirt!!

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Random Russian Shirt (from my visit in 2003) no idea what it says or is for.

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A sampling from EVERY 5K/Race I’ve ever run.  Proof that I used to run!

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And my piggy bag.  Awww!

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What is lurking in the back of your closet??  Thanks for stopping by today!

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Book Review: Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

This great book is out TODAY! Check out my review below and click the book to see more on Amazon!

My Dog-eared Purpose


Before We Met
By Lucie Whitehouse
Available 1/21/14
Provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finish time: 4 nights.  I’m going along frantically turning pages and if there isn’t enough suspense already – BAM!  Wow, didn’t see that one coming, this book takes a sharp turn and when you think its about to end – THWACK!  (Seriously – emphasis added – it’s crazy!)  None of this is bad, but definitely not like anything I’ve read recently.

I’m not quite sure how to review this book without being extremely vague, I don’t want to spoil anything about this book and you really just have to read it.  The beauty of the book is the little nuggets of truth and information that are tactfully placed throughout the whole book.  At the beginning, I was wondering if there would be much dialogue, and there is, just wait for it.  But I’d…

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Winter Snow (Bonus Christmas Song!)

“But you came like a winter snow, quite, soft, and slow.  Falling from the sky in the night, to the earth below.”

In addition to my Advent Song Series (see last one here), I wanted to through in one bonus song.  Actually I wanted to throw in a bunch, but this is one of my favorite, so I thought I would do a special mid-week post just for it.

I first heard it at church by the beautiful Abby Akins a few years ago.  I woke up singing it the other day and asked Abby at church if it was on the agenda for any of the Advent services, and much to my delight (and spoiler alert!) I was told it may be performed on Christmas Eve at our newly named Evergreen Church!  (Here is our flyer below for anyone local – we would LOVE to have you at our Community Wide Christmas Eve service at 5:30pm at Starrs Mill High School!)

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But back to the song.  It’s just beautiful with a simple, yet powerful message.  Jesus could have come blazing into the world, like a storm or hurricane, you know those grand entrances (think royal baby this past year?).  Couldn’t you just picture it today? It would be the buzz on Facebook, Twitter, on every news outlet, camera crews outside the barn, pining for that first picture.  But Jesus came like the winter snow, paints a beautiful picture in your head.  Quiet.  Soft.  Slow.  In the middle of the night, in a barn, so humble for our King.  The King of Kings.  Our Savior.  Our Lord.

Meditate over this song.  Close your eyes and let the words sink in.  Beautiful.  I hope you enjoy as much as I do if you haven’t heard before (or even if you have.)  Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned for a post on LOVE coming this 4th Sunday of Advent!  Amen.

Winter Snow (Feat. Audrey Assad)
Chris Tomlin

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we’ve scarred

But You came like a winter snow, yes, You did
You were quiet, You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Ooh no, Your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Falling, oh yeah, to the earth below
You came falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

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Hope for Christmas (Advent Series Part I)

May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY & PEACE as you trust in Him so that you Overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 15:13

I’m a bit late.  But I  wanted to try out writing a series for a change.  I see many bloggers do it – so here goes my attempt.  It’s the season of Advent, the time of waiting, preparing, and, at least for me, of often losing sight of what this season is all about.  So I wanted to bring it back to what it is all about – the arrival of the newborn King, our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ!

Each Sunday of Advent (or Friday as I’m a bit late for the first one!) I wanted a reminder of which Sunday it is, include a verse, and as I like to do – a song!  As I did a little research on Advent, I learned that each Sunday (or each candle) may have many different meanings or colors depending on which denomination you practice.  I’ll stay with my own Presbyterianism and bring to you Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

The first Sunday, the candle of HOPE was lit.  See the verse from Romans above and this next one below.  God has given us the gift of HOPE.  We may not know what is ahead for us, but God does and give us HOPE in that.  HOPE is a foundation of my faith and in my guiding verse (Jeremiah 29:11.)  It give us something to look forward to, even if we don’t know what it is or even what it will be.  But God knows and it will be good and worth the wait.  Without HOPE, I don’t know how I would get through each day.

We were saved with this hope ahead of us. Now hope means we are waiting for something we do not have. How can a man hope for something he already has? But if we hope for something we do not yet see, we must learn how to wait for it.
Romans 8:24-5 (NLV)

I will start things off, and leave you for today, with probably the most popular Advent song.  “O Come, Emmanuel”  I found this beautiful instrumental Piano and Cello version online and the video to accompany even gave me goosebumps (as this is the Christmas version of the song!).  I HOPE you enjoy as well and can meditate on the true meaning of Advent, the most amazing gift we could ever be given of which nothing will ever compare, and remembering that each and every day this December (and always).  Amen.

 

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You’ll never know if you don’t ASK!

I’m a rule follower.  Like a bad one.  Just ask my husband.  One example that comes to mind was when we were on a plane to Phoenix, AZ for our baby-moon and I was 32+ weeks pregnant.  We get on the plane and ready for take-off and I feel the urge.  Yep – I had to go.  But seat-belt signs were already on so I try to hold it in.  We get to full elevation (or whatever it is called) and the captain comes on the speaker to inform us there is some turbulence and the seat-belt sign will remain on.  At this point, Steven knows I’m hurting and a few other passengers around me hear my dilemma.  They start urging me to go, but as much as I am hurting and realizing this probably is a good reason to break the rules, I stand my ground and refuse, after all the light is still ON!  Fast forward maybe 10 more minutes, everyone is about to rip me out of my seat and take me themselves but then flight attendant even gives me a nod that she won’t stop me.  Approval.  That is all I need, from the person who enforces said rule that I would be breaking.  I went, plane didn’t crash, I didn’t fall out, and all was restored to normal (and I probably went to visit another 10 times on the 3 hour flight!)

rules

I’m a rule follower.  That being said I am a bargain hunter.  Seriously, I will hunt online or through all my magazines/coupon books, just to save $1 on whatever item it is.  I can get comfortable if I know I’ve never seen a coupon for whatever it is or wherever we are, but if I have that nagging in the back of my head that “I know I saw something somewhere”, I will hunt for it.  Steven reminds me often that my time is money and at some point I usually do give up, but not easily.

That all being said, these days when my compensation is kisses, hugs, drawings, and “thank yous” (side note: this is better than any salary I have ever had and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!), I feel even more compelled to be a good steward of our finances.  2 degrees in Accounting and Taxation and a CPA don’t really help that urge either.  But today I was reminded of a simple saying that rings so true – you never know unless you ask.

Without giving specifics, in the past few weeks I have been able to receive a credit on my cell phone bill for a new charge just by calling and asking.  I was able to receive a credit from our Natural Gas provider simply by calling and pointing out a competitor’s lower rate.   I have gone to the extreme of threatening to leave a provider if they couldn’t lower their rates BUT only if I really had another option to go to and could handle them saying “NO!”  It’s not fool-proof, and a little small talk (how are YOU?) and flattery don’t hurt (again full disclosure – I’m a terrible liar – so there is no lying to do this – I really did like their shirt/necklace/whatever!)  I believe customer service representatives have one of the toughest jobs out there, so someone just understanding that and being nice to them, just may get you a little special treatment.   I throw waiters and waitresses into this as well.  Yes – some just are terrible, but some just had a bad customer!  I try to remind myself in any situation, traffic and customer service especially, I have no idea what kind of day they are having or what their situation is, so a little kindness and grace isn’t too hard to show.

Any other examples in your life?  It never hurts to ask and the worst someone can say is no, but at least you tried!

I’ll end with a little humor for you – this made me laugh:

Outsourcing-customer-service

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