the Field of Grace
Two women. Alone. With no
provision. Can a woman who has lost everything, except her beloved mother, find
hope in a foreign land?
Ruth leaves her home with a barren womb and an empty
future, after losing her husband. She forsakes her abusive parents and follows
the woman she has grown to love as a true parent, her husband's mother, Naomi.
Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her
but Naomi's, love. She is destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people
of God. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself
from starvation. She is reduced to gathering leftovers once the harvesters have
finished collecting grain from the field. A job only for the lowest of the low.
But God has other plans for her life.
While everyone considers Ruth an unworthy outsider,
Ruth is shocked to find the owner of the field - one of the wealthiest and most
honored men of Judah - is showing her favor. Long since a widower and
determined to stay that way, Boaz finds himself irresistibly drawn to the
foreign woman with the dark, haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being
kind to his Cousin Naomi's chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to
protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.
Withered dreams. How can God forge love, passion, and new hope between two such
Tessa Afshar is a gifted writer whose stories
exemplify what I hope for when I pick up a Christian fiction book, and that is
the skillful communication of spiritual truths in a way that entertains while
inspiring and encouraging me to grow in my faith. Drawing from what is familiar to many, Tessa fleshes out the Old Testament story of Ruth with rich
characterization, emotional romance, historical background, and spiritual depth.
The four chapters of Ruth are combined with a moving fictional narrative in a
way that doesn't take away or change the biblical account. For an even richer
experience, I recommend reading the book of Ruth both before and after reading In the Field of Grace.
There was nothing about the portrayal of Ruth, Naomi
and Boaz that felt unrealistic; in fact, the very opposite was true, because
they felt real. It was easy to sense the depth of Naomi's despair and anger
over her losses, why Ruth was willing to leave her family and religion of idolatry,
and the incredible goodness of Boaz - who, as a kinsman redeemer, becomes a
picture of Christ.
Failing to be the son her parents hoped for, Ruth grew
up unwanted, invisible, and with constant criticism - whereas in Naomi's
family, she found extravagant, undeserving approval. Ruth wasn't wildly in love
with Mahlon, but "he drew her like a shepherd's fire on a freezing desert
night. . . . Being with
Naomi's family was like an antidote to the bitterness of her own
relations." Watching Ruth respond to the call of God on her heart and
cling to her faith is very moving.
I really liked seeing the character of Boaz fleshed
out, because I've never had a clear image of what he might have been like. Wealthy,
middle aged, highly respected, generous and caring, with a soft spot for those
in need - and we see the great insight Boaz has into the human heart in the
scene with the crippled boy, Eli, one of my favorite parts.
Our pastor recently took us through a sermon series
where we looked at the stories of biblical characters and events (the lower
story), then how God's hand could be seen throughout (the upper story). That's exactly
what Tessa brings out so clearly with In
the Field of Grace. So many spiritual themes spoke to me - important themes
I've known all my life, but constantly need to be reminded of. For instance, that God always has a plan for our lives and obedience is key . . . even
if we don't receive the desires of our heart, we can find contentment in Him .
. . every person has extreme value in God's sight . . . no sorrow is ever wasted in God's hands.
Tessa knows the ways of God and conveys them
beautifully through her writing. I'm impressed not only with Tessa's writing skills,
but her heart. God looks for those who have a heart for Him, whose hearts beat
for Him, and that's what Tessa brings out in Ruth - her love, faithfulness, self
sacrifice, and compassion. Ruth questions why the life of one Moabite widow
would matter to the Lord of heaven and earth, and I think the book's
overarching theme is expressed in these words:
"The Lord uses odd instruments to fulfill His will. The weaker the
vessel, the better He likes it. It only proves His strength."
I appreciate a book that challenges or makes me
examine my faith. When Boaz is asked to surrender that which is most precious
to him, Ruth, I had to in turn ask myself, what
have I held back from the Lord? Tessa concludes with a wonderful epilogue
that shows how the upper story plays out, and I'll conclude with these words
spoken by David to his son, Solomon, that challenge us as well . . .
"There is only one measure of true success. How
close you remain by God's side. Does the dust of His feet get on your cloak
because you follow so close? Does the sound of His whisper reverberate in your
ear because you have drawn so near? Are you obedient to that voice, day after
day, hour after hour?"
I highly recommend In
the Field of Grace to all readers. This book can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, Amazon,
was born in a nominally Muslim family in Iran and lived there for the first
fourteen years of her life. She survived English boarding school for girls
before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity
in her mid-twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDIV
from Yale University where she served as co-Chair of the Evangelical Fellowship
at the Divinity School. She has spent the last twelve years in full and
part-time Christian work and currently serves as the leader of Women's and
Prayer ministries at a church in New England.
Meet Tessa online at tessaafshar.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
Thank you to Tessa Afshar for providing an ARC of this
book in exchange for my honest review.
Road Media, 2014
From the author of the Sisters, Ink series comes a fun
new novella about finding your way…at the beach.
Elizabeth Bakersfield may live in the gorgeous town of
Naples, Florida, but she is not the thirty-year-old she envisioned. Her husband
left with a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. Her job prospects are nil. The rent is
due. Her best friend is living a thousand miles away, building a career in NYC.
And her closest companion is the cockatiel Johnny Carson.
The job front starts looking up when she’s offered the
position of caretaker of Ganderley’s – a library, kind of. Elizabeth’s job is
to loan out the priceless antiques and cars amassed by the widowed Ganderley
sisters. Easy, right? Sign things out, get them back in two weeks. And, if she
runs into trouble, there’s the gorgeous Ganderley nephew with the British
accent, Nicholas Harrington, waiting in the wings with help.
But Elizabeth is about to learn first-hand that
possessions – and gorgeous Brits - bring their own kind of drama. If she
doesn’t figure out how to sidestep it, her job (not to mention the start of a
new life) might be over before it ever really began.
Blush is the first book I've read by Rebeca Seitz and I
loved everything about it! Contemporary romance, women's fiction, chick lit -
no matter the classification, it's an engaging read. Some social drinking is
present, but in a way that fits the narrative. From characterization to storyline,
dialogue to setting, and laced with humor throughout, Rebeca is a strong
writer. First Blush is actually a
novella of approximately 100 pages that sets the stage for more stories to
follow, and I'm very eager to continue on with these characters.
When it comes to setting, Rebeca made me
"feel" Naples - its breathtaking water views, stately mansions, and
with keen insight into how the elite of society think and behave. Money doesn't
always bring happiness, as we all know, and I felt for the Mrs. Pelser
described by Elizabeth: "Here she
sat, day after day, in a beautiful home that she barely saw, married to a
husband who barely saw her. It must be lonely. And tiring. And
Naples, Florida estate
The main characters were very interesting, real, and
easy to connect with. 30 years old and alone after her husband left with a
younger woman, Elizabeth hasn't found her purpose or calling in life, struggles
to pay the rent, and fails to live up to what a society daughter in the
Bakersfield family should be. And then there's the personable and mysterious
Nick - I really can't wait to learn more about him.
I've never heard of a place like Ganderley's and while
I'd like to think it's a real place, I suspect it's a part of Rebeca's
imagination. Ganderley's started when two sisters, Elva and Esther, lost their
husbands and found themselves in possession of eight houses, two yachts, several
vehicles, and tons of books and antiques. I loved these ladies who
decided to share their wealth by letting people borrow whatever they needed,
kind of like a fancy lending library. As a musician, I found Elizabeth's
thoughts about Ganderley's music room moving:
"I entered the music room and cast a glance toward the baby grand
gleaming in the corner of the room. Instruments captivate me. All that
potential, just waiting for a skilled and talented person to notice and take
action. They look like orphans, waiting to be loved."
There's not a lot of obvious faith elements in this
novella, but I suspect we'll see more as the series unfolds. I liked how Elva
shared her spiritual wisdom with Elizabeth:
"There's no need to rush about. . . . You'll find your path and
then you'll know that everything leading up to it was necessary." Just another reminder of how, even though we might
not understand at the moment, we can trust that God was working for our good
Rebeca is currently working on the next story, Second Glance, and I can't wait! First Blush comes to a satisfactory
conclusion, but with the promise of much more to come. Highly recommended.
Blush can be purchased online at Amazon,
An award-winning novelist and President of the first
public relations firm dedicated to representing entertainment created from a
Christian worldview, Rebeca has worked with various national media outlets,
including The Today Show, USA Today, National Public Radio, Southern
Living, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, and Good Morning America.
She is recognized for her groundbreaking research into the behaviors of
Christian consumers as well as development of public relations standards
specific to creators of values-driven, entertainment-oriented products. She
also co-chairs the non-profit SON: Spirit Of Naples, which equips and
encourages Christians creating mainstream, commercially-viable media content.
Meet Rebeca online at rebecaseitz.wordpress.com, Goodreads,
Facebook, and Twitter
Thank you to BookFun for providing a copy of this book
in exchange for my honest review.
I am so glad to again welcome Vannetta Chapman to The
Power of Words because not only is she a talented writer, but she loves to
interact with her readers. Besides that, I've really enjoyed getting to know her. There's just something about Vannetta's writing that clicks
with me, so I hope you'll try one of her books if you haven't already. And
Vannetta's fans will be thrilled to learn all that she has in the works for us!
graciously giving away an ebook or print book to one of The Power of Words'
readers, simply by answering the entry question she suggests in her interview.
Giveaway details are at the bottom of this post.
Now let's enjoy what Vannetta has to share about Murder Simply Brewed and the Amish
Village mystery series - and maybe learn something new about Vannetta!
Q: What is your favorite genre in which to
write? to read?
I was an English
teacher/professor for 15 years, so I read absolutely everything. And I also
like to write in different genres. For me, it's all about the characters, and I
can put them in any "frame" a publisher wants. Romance, mystery,
suspense, women's fiction--they're all wonderful genres to explore.
Q: Is quilting something you've enjoyed
Yes! Funny story, I
wasn't much of a quilter before the last year. Then I started attending quilt
shows to promote my book, The Christmas
Quilt. At the Tyler quilt show I met a wonderful woman who owns a quilt
shop in East Texas. She encouraged me to attend a quilting retreat - from that
moment on I've been hooked!
Q: Tell us about the Amish Village Mystery
series and the book we are featuring today, Murder Simply Brewed.
For this book I
visited the Essenhaus in Middlebury, Indiana and interviewed as many people as
I could, including the general manager. It's a lovely setting where Amish and
Englich work side bv side. Of course the murder and the mystery are pure
Q: Please share a little about the main
characters, Amber and Hannah.
They're rather polar
opposites who do not expect to become close friends. Amber is the manager of
the Village, Hannah is an hourly employee. Amber is older and unmarried. Hannah
is young and being courted by several boys. The death of Ethan Grey pulls them
together, and then God uses their friendship to restore peace and harmony to
the Village (after some rather exciting events of course).
Q: Is there anything we can learn about death
based on the way the Amish view or accept death?
I think so. In
Englich society, we keep aging and death at arm's length. We see both as
something to be avoided at all costs. But the Amish embrace the later phase of
life as well as our rebirth into our heavenly home. Of course people still
mourn loved ones, but they also trust that God has a purpose for each of our
lives, and sometimes that purpose is going home to be with our Father.
Q: What faith elements did you weave into Murder Simply Brewed?
I try to emphasize
God's grace in every story that I write. Without it, where would we be? I fall
on that grace daily, and I want to show my readers that God is waiting, arms
open, ready to give them the comfort and rest they need.
Q: Do you enjoy reading in your
spare time? Any favorite authors?
I have been on a
reading frenzy this summer! I recently discovered Richard Paul Evans, and I
read his 5 books of The Walk in 4 days. Isn't that fun? They're not necessarily
mysteries but they are a good read.
Q: What other stories can we look forward to in
the near future?
I'm so glad you
asked! My first romantic suspense, Hidden,
will release in September. Murder Tightly
Knit (book 2 in my Amish Village series) will release in December. And I'll
participate in another Amish collection--An
Amish Cradle, which will release in February.
Q: How can we support and/or pray for you, Vannetta?
If you enjoy reading
my books, please tell someone. The #1 way people find new authors is someone
tells them about a book!
I'm happy to give
away an ebook or print book to one of your readers. How about we discuss
summertime. Comment below with your fav summertime activity.
Thanks for having me!
To enter the drawing for Murder Simply Brewed or your choice of
books (ebook or print), simply answer Vannetta's question and leave your e-mail
in a safe format. I'll contact the winner for book title and format. Here is a complete list of Vannetta's books: Vannetta Chapman book list.
If you're willing, it's also
helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook. Also, please "like"
my Facebook page, The Power of
Words Book Reviews, if you haven't
already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!
- E-mail required, one entry
per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
- Contest ends at midnight PST
on Sunday, August 3. No purchase necessary.
- Winner will be chosen by
Random.org and contacted by e-mail on Tuesday, August 5. Respond within 48
hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
- Eligibility: US residents,
18 and older
Beyond the Coat of Many Colors
By Mary Englund Murphy
Following God Bible Study Series
AMG Publishers, 2011
Perhaps more than any other biblical narrative,
Joseph's life is a down-to-earth model for everyday relationships. Joseph was a
lonely little boy--ignored by his brothers yet coddled by his parents. Feel his
fear in the pit; follow his caravan to Egypt; stand with him on the slave
auction block. You will experience his struggle for sexual purity, go with him
to the dungeons of Egypt, rejoice in his rise to power, weep as he forgives the
hurt and betrayal of his brothers.
This interactive workbook study will detail each
aspect of Joseph's life and show readers how to relate it to their own
temptations and struggles with envy, disappointment, betrayal, purity, power,
and forgiveness--for to one degree or another, each of us is living a Joseph
Go beyond the Sunday school story and see Joseph as
never before: the lonely little boy ignored by his brothers, yet coddled by his
parents; feel his fear in the pit; follow his caravan to Egypt; experience his
struggle for sexual purity; go with him to the dungeons of Egypt; rejoice in
his rise to power; weep as he forgives the hurt and betrayal of his brothers.
an eight week interactive Bible study offering hope, encouragement, and
practical answers to life’s problems. It is a blueprint for understanding
blended families with broken and betrayed relationships; serves as a leadership
manual for churches and businesses; a handbook for employees and employers; a
guidebook for resisting negative peer pressure and instituting moral purity,
grace and forgiveness.
Beyond the Coat of Many Colors, part of the Following God
series by AMG Publishers, is an eight-week Bible study that takes an in-depth
look at the life of Joseph, beginning with his ancestors, Abraham and Sarah.
Each week's study is divided into five days and follows a specific time period
or event in Joseph's life. All that is needed for the study is this workbook
and your Bible. It also works well for either personal or group study. The
Following God series is excellent, and Mary Englund Murphy's Joseph is no exception.
Numerous books and studies have been written on the
life of Joseph - so why this particular one? That's easy . . . Mary is a good
teacher and communicator; she sends you straight to the Bible, both Old and New
Testaments. But one thing I particularly like about this study, as well as all
of the Following God series, is that it works well for both the mature believer
and new Christian alike. These studies point us to God's Word so that we can
apply its truths to our own lives.
For someone who has grown up in the church, like me,
the story of Joseph is very familiar. But through his humility, wisdom, willingness
to extend forgiveness to those who harmed him, and acceptance of his small part
in God's big picture, there is so much richness to be reminded of and
continually apply to my daily life. This is something at which Mary excels. We
all have to deal with life's trials, and this study gives a deeper
understanding of how important my attitude is and how I can grow personally
through these trials.
Quotes really speak to me - they are quick to get my
attention, make me think, and are easily remembered. These are just a few of my
favorites from the workbook:
"A half-truth is a whole lie."
"Where would you be if God lost His patience with
"Becoming a good leader first requires becoming a
"We don't always need to know God's purpose; we
only need to know He has a purpose."
"Let go of the past, walk in the present, let God
hold the future."
"When you say you can't forgive, you're saying
your standard for forgiveness is higher than God's."
Beyond the Coat of Many Colors is a Bible study which
will increase your understanding of a familiar story and from which you will
grow spiritually. Highly recommended for personal or group use.
Beyond the Coat of Many Colors can be purchased online at
CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N,
Mary Englund Murphy was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota
into a blended, broken, and dysfunctional family. Born with a rare form cancer,
she underwent major surgery at only four months. At the age of nine (after her
parents divorced and both married new partners), Mary moved to the Florida Keys
but spent summers in Minnesota with her father and his new family. During her
teen years, her parents both divorced and married yet again.
Mary now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband
Bill and travels throughout the U.S. sharing her unique story of survival.
Meet Mary online at Looking Glass Ministries, Facebook,
Thank you to BookFun.org for providing a copy of this
book in exchange for my honest review.