A Rescued Heart - A Book Review & GIVEAWAY!

Today is Bragging Monday... well, not officially... But it is for me!
Today I get to brag about Natalie Replogle, a dear friend I've gotten to known through MOTTTs these last few years.  She has been an inspiring presence in our group, always sharing her truthful, funny, raw and often (if not always) Spirit-led insights with me and the ones in the group. 
So, we all knew she had been "working on a book" for the past few years.  And I had already resolved in my head that whenever this book came out, I would be all over it!

Natalie Replogle

So... THE BOOK IS OUT and I'm so proud of Natalie for publishing her very first "baby" out into the world (Wait... did that sound funny?  Oh well... sorry, girl!)!

A Rescued Heart by Natalie Replogle

I also have the privilege of posting the last few Q/A's of her Blog Tour, along with some book reviews.  My OWN humble review will be at the very end... so, READ ON!

How did you balance writing a book while raising a young family?
       Lots of caffeine and very little sleep. I tried to do my best to not let it affect my time with the family. It started as a hobby and I made sure to keep it that way. I tried to only write during my free time when my kids were sleeping. This is the one area that worked for me with having a husband gone often (my husband is a pilot).  The nights when he was gone, I worked on my book as much as I could, that way when he was home I could spend my free time with him. When I first started writing the book it was easier because I only had two kids, but once I had my third it got a bit tricky. I had to get more creative with my time. I sometimes went in writing spurts and I always had a pad of paper with me wherever I went. Like waiting in the school pick up line, when the kids were watching a movie, as I watched the kids play in the sandbox or ride bikes; I would write down ideas and prepare for scenes so when I did have time to write I was already prepared and knew what I wanted to do and say.  Once we knew this was turning into more than just a hobby and I was going to get published, my husband blessed the socks off me and would give me evenings away to go to a coffee shop and write/edit. I seriously couldn’t have done it without his encouragement and support. Overall, I don’t really know if I balanced the best I could have, the housework got the raw end of the deal that’s for sure, but the family stayed fed, had clean clothes (from a basket that sat unfolded for a week – ahem, moving on) and loved, that’s all that matters, right?!

How many rejections did you get before your book was published?
       I think I lost count around 19. Most of the publishing houses are set up now that you can’t contact them directly. You have to go through an agent first and then they work to find you a publisher. To do this, you begin by sending a query letter out to agents and if they are interested they will contact you and ask to see more material (out of all of them, I only had one agent ask for more). Why I say I lost count is because a lot of them will not even respond to your letter, they just let it be known that if you don’t hear from them, then they are not interested. After about a year and a half of pursing agents, the Lord brought to my attention White Feather Press – a small Christian publishing company that I could contact directly. I sent them my manuscript, they loved it, and here we are now!

Book Reviews:  

"This new author is amazing! In a world that can bring so much pain and hurt, the writer captures the real meaning of this life, to honor our Heavenly Father and He will bring joy, forgiveness, hope, but most important Love into our lives. Trusting in God can bring such a beautiful journey to your life. You will be captured in this story from the first chapter to the last!"

"A Rescued Heart will NOT disappoint! It is a beautiful story about pain and rejection, but also redemption, healing, and love. I have read a TON of Christian fiction, and this was one of the best. The characters are easy to relate to and realistic. Sometimes in Christian fiction novels, things are TOO good to be true. However, in this novel, the characters are REAL, their feelings and emotions are raw, and they respond the way I might when stretched, hurt, and/or challenged. This novel tackles the hard issue of domestic abuse, and I appreciate how the author, Natalie Replogle, exposes the truth, from all sides, in a sensitive, yet informative way. I think this book would be an exceptional read for anyone, but especially meaningful for someone coming out of a hurtful relationship or abuse. It clearly shows God's redeeming love and how He walks alongside us through even the most challenging life experiences. I can't wait for the next book!"

My OWN humble review...
I know I said it was Bragging Monday for me... and as much as you're thinking: "Well, Helen's just biased... she'll say all these nice things about Natalie's book, because... well, because she's a friend.
But I'll try to be as honest as I can.
A Rescued Heart is a romance fiction book, the first book of her 4-book Come To My Rescue Series.  I've stopped reading romance novels a number of years ago.  I used to be hooked on all the Nicholas Sparks books, I mean, seriously... I would read every single one of them, and even tried to "convert" my other friends into reading them.  We had a "secret" club and everything!  Anyway, needless to say, I've "grown out of it" and it had been YEARS since I even touched a romance story... until I picked up A Rescued Heart.
When I started reading, I could hear Natalie's voice on each page (by the way, Natalie... audio book coming soon?), but after only a few pages, the characters in the story, Ava, Matt, Kim, Ray, Jules, all started to have a life of their own!  I gave them faces and different voices, all while Natalie worked her magic in developing them into beautiful characters residing in Rockford, IL.  
This book managed to envelope themes of grief & loss, human nature & sin, hurt & healing, forgiveness, redemption, God's unconditional love, and our finding our true and only identity in Christ.  Despite the high emphasis on the "love story" between two characters, I found the issue of Domestic Violence much more striking and revealing to the eyes of my heart.  I was hurt, angry, broken, and fascinated by the reality of those who live under the lies of their guilt & shame.  Very powerful statements of our current society.  Pure evil in our world.  
As a mother of 2 young children, and being super pregnant at the moment, I managed to read this puppy in less than a week!  Can't wait for book #2!

Okay... last but NOT least!  
How could I tease you with such a review without blessing ONE OF YOU with a COPY OF THE BOOK?  So, here's a GIVEAWAY just for you!!!

And if you just CAN'T wait to get your hand on this book, you can find it HERE or HERE.

A Raw Entry From My Journal... Slapping Jesus in the face?

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!"  
Psalm 113:3

This is the verse that's been on REPLAY on my mind lately, and today I randomly opened to it.  
Every second of every day was created for me to praise the Lord.  
I find that the more PRAISE and THANKSGIVING I give God, the less angry I get.  
It's not an instant response (believe me!), but it does calm my heart and mind.  
Reflecting and thanking Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross for my sin makes my moment of sin a slap in His face... 
and I don't want to do that!  
And that's what it is... every time I CHOOSE to stay in my anger and sin, I am choosing to slap my Savior in His face!  
I hurt Him.
I hurt myself.
Forgive me, LORD!

May I be a woman, a mother and wife that reflects the love and character of Christ.  
May I continually work out my faith so that I can daily become more like Jesus.  
Oh, Lord, help me to do just that.  
And help me to STOP and listen to your Spirit when I can't rely on my own strength.  
Help me to trust in You and You ALONE.


Being still... at God's majestic canvas...

Sunrise from my front door...  taken 2 days ago:)  

It's OH-KAY!

At 34 weeks along in my pregnancy, I've realized that the one thing I've been consistently craving has been...


Everything and anything that contained "coconut" in their ingredient list...
So, this afternoon, out on a whim, I decided to try these super easy coconut macaroons.  
It is SERIOUSLY the easiest and fastest treat I've ever made!
If you're a coconut fan like me, give this one a try!

Coconut Macaroons
(makes one dozen)

1 1/3 cup flaked coconut ( I used sweetened, then decreased sugar amount)
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Combine ingredients; stir well.  Drop by level tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350F for 20 minutes;  cool on wire rack (the LONGEST wait ever if you're 34 weeks pregnant!!!)

That's it!  

Believe me!  They won't last long!  Might have to double the recipe NEXT TIME (because there WILL BE a next time!)... or hide them from the kids!


My Current Reads

One might disagree with me, but if you really want to get in the "habit" of reading,
So, that's what I've been doing.
No matter how hectic, busy, or full my daily schedule finds, I find joy in sitting down with a good book in hand.  No, I don't own a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or any other e-reader out there.  
I wish....
But the truth is that I enjoy flipping through the pages of a good ol' book.  

So, here are just a few that are currently sitting on my nightstand... or on my dining table,  kitchen, living room, or on top of our piano.  

A Rescued Heart by Natalie Replogle

My friend Natalie just published her very first book a couple of weeks ago.  She is an excellent writer and I cannot be more proud of her!  This book is absolutely addicting... seriously, I got it today and can't put it down!!!  This is Book 1 of a 4-Book Series she will be publishing!  You go, girl!

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa Terkeurst

Lysa Terkeurst published this book a while ago, but our church Ladies Bible Study just finished going through this DVD series.  It was absolutely touching!  But now I'm working through the pages of the actual book (not the study book we used).  Lysa is so easy to relate and an excellent teacher and writer.  This one is another "must" from her collection!

Wonder Struck by Margaret Feinberg

And Wonder Struck... I have a love-hate relationship with this book.  It took me FOREVER to get through the first few chapters, but I absolutely adore Feinberg's style and story-telling ability.  I WILL finish this book by the end of the month!  Ok, I said it!  And if I said it, I WILL do it!

What about you?  Reading anything good these days?