Friday, October 24, 2014

{Book Review:} Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

20665227My Review:
Marvelous release from Frantz!

Frantz takes you back in time and makes the past come alive. You feel present among the characters wherever they are, from booming Pittsburgh or the back country woods of Kentucky. My favorite location is probably Ellie and Jack's home, River Hill. Despite the close quarters they have, when you read those scenes you just feel a great sense of love and family. It's easy for me to imagine Wren happy there over the cold environment of her Aunt Andra's presence. I fell in love with each of the newly introduced characters like Izannah and Wren. This novel was beautiful from beginning to the very end. The danger and the romance combined make a wonderful pair. I wish I had enough time to make this review longer, but this shall have to suffice. If you've enjoyed the rest of the series then I know you'll love this one too. Love's Fortune, for me, is a definite favorite in the series though it doesn't quite top Love's Reckoning. ;-)

I am extremely thankful to the author for sending me a copy! I offer my sincerest apologies to both the author and publisher for the late review, I have had less time than I thought I would to read. Thank you again. :)

I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!!

Back Cover:
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Enough {A Personal Essay}

Hey, everyone! It's been so long! In one of my recent classes, they had us write a personal essay. After much thought and prayer, I decided to share mine with you today. I hope it blesses and encourages you. :-)

“You are enough.”

The movie character’s scripted words ripped into my heart and soul. Me? Enough? Part of me wanted to laugh and say, “You don’t know me. How do you know if I’m enough?” But the other part of me wept. Wept for that glimmer of hope that could mean I’m good enough for once in five years. Shaken, I close my eyes, trying not to let everyone else watching the movie know how impacted I am. They can’t know about the dark lies that are whispered into my ear every night. They can’t know how I struggle day in and day out. They can’t know how often I fall short. They can’t know how often I don’t live up to my own expectations.

I’m sure many people think that it’s strange to want to shut my family out. “They’re your family, wouldn’t you want their help?” But it’s a matter of my pride, too. Their lives are so perfect, why trouble them with my imperfection? No one in their right mind wants it to be public knowledge that they are, in fact, that one person in their family with a screwed up mentality. Thus every gathering, every shared meal, is all about putting on a show. Feigning nonchalance when people ask how you are. Smiling when you want to smack their face. Shoving down tears and hiding the hurt you feel burning inside. The popular song from Frozen comes to mind. “Conceal, don’t feel. One wrong move and everyone will know.”

I suppose all of this comes from my deep desire to not be the center of the attention. Even on my birthday, as everyone sings to me I stare silently at my cake, smiling and blushing. I don’t want to be known as the girl who whines and complains about school every time they are around her. I want to be known as someone who’s positive. Someone who always has a smile. So I conceal my distress and cry in my bed at night, desperate for relief but finding none. Hope is long gone and all that’s left is my sorrow.

“You are enough.”

The words echo in my head and follow me home that night. The idea that I’m enough still feels so ridiculous that I keep it at arm’s length. I can’t think about what it means for me if it’s true. I can’t be disappointed again. I don’t think my heart can stand another twisting, wrenching crush under life’s boot. I set the words aside and focus on my studies, focus on my life. I don’t have the time or the heart to examine these words closely or even think about believing them. My life becomes routine. I wake up, I eat, and I start my college work. Eventually I break for lunch and then it’s back to the books. I’m a robot. I don’t have time to live like my friends do. They aren’t in college because they chose another path. But I, of course, have. I don’t admit it often, but I’m jealous of their freedom. After all, have you ever lived without truly living? I go through the motions, suppressing my feelings at every turn. Maybe if I didn’t let myself feel anything, it would be easier?

I chose this path of college education because I thought it would make my life easier, my future brighter. That’s what everyone said. But in the moment, my life is the hardest it has been. Peace, rest, relaxation, is a far cry from anything I’ve experienced in months. Some people try to help, but they cannot comprehend or even relate to how I feel. I prefer to hide. Maybe it will be over sooner.

Time slips by. I keep up my fa├žade in front of the others. I’ve been doing this for so long that the mask is a part of me. It’s a mask I rarely take off. I can tell that people, particularly family members, tiptoe around my odd behavior and that’s okay. I don’t want to let them in. They’re incapable of ever understanding. So I stay in my bubble in a state of unfeeling loneliness.

“You are enough.”

I’m browsing Pinterest one day, taking a few moments break from my studies, when I find an image with the words “you are enough” written across it in bold font. I lean back in my chair, staring at the picture. The movie I watched all those weeks ago returns to mind.

I can’t hold in my emotions anymore, so I cry. And cry. And cry. It’s like these three words have broken the dam I’ve built around my heart. My tears flow as steadily as rain. I did what I couldn’t do before. I accepted the words as truth. I am enough. My best is enough. My tired efforts are enough. I am enough.

I take these words and treasure them. These words are my truth, my undoing. These words are my key to freedom.

I am enough.

To those out there who wonder if they’re enough, let me remind you of Someone. He left His Father, He left everything pure and righteous so that He could save you, a sinner in need of grace. He allowed the world to brutally torture and kill Him for you. So that you could be enough. So that we don’t have to be defeated. So that you could stand proud over the devil and declare, “I am enough!” It is not what we do here on earth that matters; it is what Jesus has done for us that truly matters. Nothing can remove us from His love. Nothing will ever make you fall short in His eyes. You are always enough for Him.

Quit struggling, quit fighting the truth and just accept it. Let the peace wash over you and set you free, as it did me. It’s going to be okay. It may not be easy right now but if you take this truth, you’ll begin to see God’s mercies anew each morning. You’ll experience His peace. And, perhaps the first time, you’ll believe that you are enough.