Author Interview with Angela D. Meyer

Happy Tuesday, my friends! Today, I have the privilege of hosting my friend and fellow Nebraska author Angela D. Meyer. Angela’s second book, Where Hope Starts, just came out last week, and I wanted to share with you a little bit about her story, and why you should pick up this awesome book!

Thanks for being on the blog today! What inspired you to write Where Healing Starts? Are any of the characters inspired by real people you know? 

When I was a young adult, the early years of being out of the house and on my own, I had numerous conversations with my sisters about why we did life the way we did. We each had similar upbringing, yet each of us turned out so different. What from our childhood influenced certain behaviors and choices?

This morphed into the idea of the Hannigan family. How their upbringing influenced who they became as adults and how they worked past those dysfunctional influences to find God and His grace for redemption.

This is not in any way a retelling of my family, although when it comes to emotions, personalities, and experiences, there are bits and pieces of people I have known.


Where Healing Starts is your second book, but it takes place in the same world as your first novel, Where Hope Starts. Is this a sequel of that book, or can it be read alone? 

Where Healing Starts can be read alone, however, in each story, I do mention things from the previous books and give you hints of things to come that will tie all three books together. There are a couple threads that have partial resolution and will be wrapped up in book 3.

Your books address some tough topics like infidelity, alcoholism, addiction, abuse, PTSD, and self-destruction. Why do you find it important to write about these issues? What is one thing you want readers to take away from Where Healing Starts

That God can and does redeem anything that we are willing to give to Him.

Do you have any plans to continue the stories of the Hannigan family of Applewood Hill? 

I am currently working on the third book in the series, Where Joy Starts, which continues with the story of the last two Hannigan siblings and God’s redemption in the middle of their family’s dysfunction.

Thanks for visiting us here at Inkspirational Messages, Angela! 

Where Healing Starts 

Joanna, full of bitterness over the past, can no longer ignore the growing storm inside her and is bent on self-destruction as she seeks to ease her pain. But the refuge she seeks is always out of her reach. 

Her brother Blake must choose between what has always been safe and what he has always wanted. One mistake after another leads him down a dangerous path. 

The one for all, all for one sibling bond can’t help them now. They are both determined to hang onto their anger, never forgetting. Never forgiving. They see no reason to trust God. 

After so many years of turmoil, will the Hannigan siblings find refuge in the God who loves them? Or will they get lost along the way? 

Read first chapter of Where Healing Starts HERE.

Watch the book trailer HERE.

Buy the book from Amazon HERE.

angelaAngela D. Meyer, author of The Applewood Hill Series, lives in NE with her husband of 25 years and their high school daughter. Their son serves our country in the Marines. Angela enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, connecting with friends and encouraging women to grow in their faith. One of her dream spots to vacation is next to the ocean and someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon.

Click on these links to connect with Angela through her website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or her newsletter!



Where were you on 9/11?

My parents can tell me where they were when they heard about the moon landing. My mom remembers when Robert Kennedy was assassinated. My grandparents have distinct memories of December 7, 1941.

On September 11, 2001, I became one of those people who can answer where I was when I heard about the worst terrorist attack on American soil in history.

I was a freshman at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a small, state-run college in central Nebraska. I was 18 years old, and after a summer of feeling unsure about this new step into adulthood, I had finally found like I was settling in. I’d made new friends, gotten involved with a campus ministry, and felt like the world was full of possibilities.

With my parents on my first day of college, about three weeks before 9/11.

The night of Sept. 10, 2001, a friend I had known since we were third graders at church camp hung out. We climbed to the top of a hill overlooking campus and sat in a brick gazebo, watching the lights of the city and the stars come out. The air was just turning cooler, and I remember he and I had a long talk about God, our futures, and what we wanted out of life. I don’t remember any of the specifics, but the one thing that has stuck with me for fifteen years was a feeling of peace, and certainty that all was right with the world.

The next day, the world flipped upside down.

I had an 8 a.m. class, and went to the computer lab to check my email when it got out at 9:15. There was a news headline about a plane hitting a building in New York, and I thought it was probably just some small Cesna with a poor pilot that killed a handful of people. I didn’t even click on the article.

A few minutes later, I went upstairs to my dorm room, and was greeted by one of my friends, in her bathrobe and pacing the hallway.

“Have you seen the TV?” she asked.

wtcwebI said I hadn’t, that I had just gotten out of class, and she pulled me into her room. There, on the TV, was the image that has been burned into every American’s brain since that day: the two towers of the World Trade Center afire, smoke billowing into the bright morning blue sky.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. I called my parents, reached out to friends. Prayer vigils were organized, the Red Cross was taking blood donations, and professors hollowly lectured to classes whose minds were elsewhere. We might have been insulated in the heart of Nebraska, but everyone’s spirits were in New York City.

I wrote in my prayer journal later that day, “I have this horrible feeling that it might change life as we know it in the US. Are we going to war? Sweet Jesus, we need you to intervene and give this nation over to you. It doesn’t seem fair that last night was so wonderful and perfect, just talking to Phil on the hill and looking over Your creation. And then today this horrible terrorist attack happens.” I closed the entry with “You are an awesome God who right now is very busy listening to the prayers of others.”

I remember imagining that the US was going to war, that World War III was just around the corner. I wondered if all of the college boys I had just met would be drafted, and fight unknown enemies overseas. I (selfishly) wondered if I would become a spinster, because all of the men would die in combat.

Life has changed since 9/11, in ways that I couldn’t have predicted. My innocent childhood came to an abrupt end that day, and I learned what it was like to be an adult, to know that evil was real, that hatred drove people to do unthinkable things.

in-god-we-trustBut you know what? Although the world changed, God remained the same. He was and still is good. He is still the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace. He wept with the families who lost innocents in the attacks, and grieved with those who went to war to protect our freedoms. He held the broken and the hurting in his hands. And He guided the military to seek justice against the criminals who planned the attacks.

Someday, when my children ask me where I was on September 11, 2001, I want to tell them my story. But instead of ending it with  the image of fire and smoke, I want them to know that evil doesn’t win. That the story didn’t end with two collapsed buildings, a burning Pentagon, and a downed plane in a Pennsylvania field.

They need to know that it’s been fifteen years, but we’re still here. That God is still in control. And evil never wins.

A Library of Friends

When my husband and I moved into our house two years ago, we knew had a lot of books to box up. But after packing everything in our apartment up for weeks on end, we realized that we had at least 30 boxes full of books!

On moving day, our movers dutifully carried the couch, television, tables, chairs, and other furniture to the moving van, and then readied themselves for the mound of boxes. Wrinkling his nose when we told him that the large stack in the dining room contained our library, one of the movers asked us, “what do you do with so many books?”

“We read them, of course,” we replied.

He shook his head, then muttered something about having to carry all of those books down three flights of stairs.

Book artBut what else would you do with books than to read them? I’ll admit, my husband and I are somewhat book hoarders. If there’s a sale at a bookstore, you can bet we’re there. When we moved to the house, we also acquired four brand new, seven-foot tall bookshelves, to contain our growing library. We currently have 11 full bookshelves, two short shelves, and a cube unit. They aren’t all full, but there’s room to grow.

Guests often ask us if we’d read all of our books. I don’t know about my husband’s collection, but I’ve probably read about 60 percent of mine. But there’s always room for more!

Unless you’re a book lover, you don’t really understand the lure of library full of books. When I see my shelves full of books, it’s like walking into a room full of friends. Some of them are dear to my heart, because I’ve read them so often, such as my original copy of Anne of Green Gables, while others are casual acquaintances that I may glance at but probably only skim if I open their covers again. And as for the books I haven’t read, they are strangers that I can’t wait to get acquainted with!

One thing I DON’T have are books that I didn’t like. I have a rule: if I know I will not read a book again, I won’t keep it (Twilight, anyone?). I usually either donate them to the Goodwill, or trade them in at my local Half Price Books.

I may also be a harsh critic when it comes to books. I have a friend who will finish a book no matter what, but I refuse to continue reading a book I’m not enjoying. My motto is, “There are too many good books out there to waste on reading a bad one.” The comparison there is don’t waste time on people that bring you down.

So, what books do you consider good friends, or perhaps strangers you can’t wait to get acquainted with?

The Hike of Your Life

Clear blue skies overhead, the sun shining bright, the air a crisp 65 degrees, and the scent of sun-warmed pine all around. It was the perfect day for a hike.

Our destination was Ramona Falls, a nine-mile round trip hike up Oregon’s Mt. Hood. My husband and I had been planning this trip for a while, choosing which trail to take, what gear to pack, how much water and food we’d need, and most importantly, how to not get lost in the Pacific Northwest wilderness.

It was a spectacular trail for two native Nebraskans who are more used to fields of soybeans and corn than towering trees and mountains. The trail took us past boulders and creeks, meadows of soft green moss, and steep, rocky cliffs that had been sheared away by Mother Nature.

Steep inclineI enjoyed the first several miles of our hike, snapping pictures of the glorious beauty surrounding us. My husband walked ahead, alerting me of roots or rocks that we could trip on. He cautioned me when we reached a particularly narrow part of the trail that beheld a gorgeous view of the river below, separated from us by a few hundred feet of a near-ninety degree drop off littered with  fallen trees.

At one point, we reached a river crossing, criss-crossed with logs but no visible bridge. A native hiker we had met when we started out told us the bridge had been taken down earlier in the season due to flooding, but that we could shimmy across the logs to continue our trek up to the falls. It was exhilarating (and a bit scary!) to creep across that fallen log, see the swirling cold water of the Sandy River below, and make it safely to the other side, like a modern day Indiana Jones!

Of course, as we trekked ever higher up the mountain, fatigue began to set in. We stopped to rest more and more frequently, and I had to unlace my boots at one point because of a blister forming on my heel. We ate some energy bars and kept going.

Rocky riverBut after three hours of hiking, I’ll admit, I was feeling defeated. I had prepared my body all summer for the rigors of hiking, but the trail was taking it’s toll. I felt drained, my heel hurt, I could feel blood in my sock, and I didn’t know if I could make it another step. We had no idea how close we were to the falls, but we knew by the distance we had covered that they had to be close.

I sat down on a rock next to trail, and put my head between my knees.

My husband sat down next to me, and just said, “we’re really close, I know it. I’ll turn around now, if you want to, because going downhill will be easier, but I know you can do it.”

I was tired and in pain, but he was right: I could do it!  I got up and continued hiking and you know what? After about two more minutes of walking, we heard a sound through the trees: rushing water. The temperature suddenly felt 10 degrees cooler. And then just around the bend: Ramona Falls!

Ramona FallsThe sight of it took my breath away.

As I was writing this, I was thinking of 1 Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  I don’t know about you, but I think a hike is more appropriate (and not just because I hate running).

Get a map: The Word of God is the best tool we have for navigating the trail of life.

Be prepared: Make sure your gear includes your map, plenty of prayer, and hopefully a good hiking partner (or two or three) to help you along the way.

Enjoy the scenery: The old Victorian term that “life is just a veil of tears” is not true! God has blessed you in so many ways, maybe some that are easy to see, like the majesty of his creation, or others that might be hidden, like stepping closer to see the differing shades of green moss next to a brook.

Watch your step along the narrow paths: Like the narrow parts of the trail, there may be times when you have to walk a narrow road, whether that means guarding your heart against something that is socially acceptable, or making unpopular decisions. It’s difficult to not fall off the edge!

IMG_4807Precarious crossings: Sometimes, God asks us to do things that make us uncomfortable, or that could be dangerous. But he always provides a bridge to help us cross, and He’s always got us in the palm of his hands.

Reaching your destination: The hike of life might be short or long. Even if you have a map, sometimes the end of the trail could sneak up on you. You never quite know when the  journey will end, but you need to keep going until you reach your Heavenly destination. The sight of it will take your breath away.

Giant tree



Worth Dying For

I’m a big fan of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Yes, I know it’s kind of corny, somewhat anachronistic, and Kevin Costner’s hair and lack of an English accent are distracting, but I have to admit, I still love it. The movie came out in 1991, and I probably saw it about a dozen times when I was a kid and teenager. When I found the DVD in the $5 bin at Walmart, I scooped it up.

I’m not sure what draws me to it: Robin’s journey from angry rich boy to weary crusader to lovable outlaw, the adventures of his Merry Men, the righting of wrongs done to the downtrodden, Alan Rickman’s absolute crazy, over-the-top portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham, or Maid Marian’s amazingly curly hair (oh, how I coveted that hair as a child!). Not to mention a killer theme song, (“Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams.

SilhouetteA different aspect in Prince of Thieves is the addition of Morgan Freeman’s character Azeem, a Moor that Robin helps escape from a Turkish prison. Azeem tells Robin that he owes him a life debt, and follows him home to England in order to repay his debt. Throughout the course of the movie, Robin finds out that Azeem was in prison for loving a woman. He doesn’t understand why Azeem would be willing to die for any one, especially not a woman, and laughs at his friend. But as the film progresses, Robin falls deeply in love with the Maid Marian, admiring her courage to defy the Sheriff and help the poor. At the climax of the movie, Marian has been captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Robin rushes to her rescue. Held behind a high castle wall, Robin risks a daring maneuver to scale it, frantic to save his lady love from the evil Sheriff. Azeem then asks Robin, “Is she worth it?”

His reply? “Worth dying for.”

For some reason, that line really struck me on a recent viewing of the film. Isn’t it romantic to think that Robin loved Marian enough to possibly die for her? Is there someone out there who loves me enough to find me worth dying for?

CrossOf course, there is one person who loves me enough to die for me (and I’m not talking about my husband here, although I hope he would be up for it, too). Jesus Christ didn’t just say he would die for me. He didn’t just fight the bad guys and win. Jesus actually fought the bad guys and died. But he rose again three days later, and in doing so, he defeated Satan and death and everything else that was keeping me from living by his side. He died for me and for everyone else on earth because he knew we were worth it.

I’ve done nothing to deserve that kind of love. And I’ll be honest, there are a lot of days that I don’t feel worth the love of my own friends and family, let alone worthy enough for Jesus to die for. That’s the beauty of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us: on our own, we aren’t worth it, but His blood changes all of that. It makes us worthy just to be in His presence.

And that means I should strive everyday to be worthy of such love and sacrifice. Are you?

Summer Update

Doesn’t it feel like summer is flying by? Here it is, mid-July, and school will be starting before you know it!

Not that a school calendar means that much to me, since I am not a teacher, and I don’t have kids yet. But in my world of working for a symphony orchestra, our schedule is just as cyclical as the school calendar: our symphony season starts in mid-September, and runs through early June. That doesn’t mean I get summers off, but our office is much more relaxed during June, July and August. One of the perks of my job is getting eight Fridays off in those summer months while our musicians and conductors are away playing in different music festivals, vacationing, or maybe just relaxing at home.

So, what I have I been doing with myself during this summer?

Swim trialsOlympic Swim Trials! My husband and I attended the opening session of the Olympic swim trials a few weeks ago, which were held in my hometown, Omaha, Neb. It was a dream come true to see these world-class athletes competing in my city for the third straight Olympic trials. #WeDontCoastOmaha

Seeing friends and family! For my first official Friday off, I took my grandma to lunch. I treated her to Mexican food, and she returned the favor by treating me to ice cream. We chatted about my various cousins, aunts, and uncles, and then some about her long marriage to my grandpa, who passed away six years ago. If it were a movie or a book, my grandmother would have passed on sage wisdom or advice, or told me a secret about my family that would have changed everything. But instead, I made a pleasant memory of just spending time with someone I care about. I’ve also gotten to spend time with cousins and other family members at a recent bridal shower and family reunion.

WritingReading! That’s a given, right?

Writing! I usually try to write during my lunch hour at work, and since I have a lot less meetings in the summer time, I can get nearly a solid hour of writing time in, seated in my office’s window seat.

Gardening! I’ve trimmed bushes, pulled weeds, and planted a small flower garden in the backyard that I hope to expand next summer.

Singing! I joined my church’s praise team this spring, and have had the pleasure of helping lead others in worship. For a special July 4 service, we sang patriotic songs, including all of the military anthems (the Air Force theme went over especially well here in Bellevue, home of Offutt Air Force Base!) and it was a special time to recognize our veterans and reflect on our freedoms.

EmmetMeeting new people! I had the pleasure of attending a concert by Irish tenor Emmet Cahill last week, and he was phenomenal! Emmet’s team is hoping he can come sing with the Omaha Symphony someday, and brought him to my attention. After hearing him perform, I am definitely recommending him for future seasons. In addition to his beautiful voice, he had a charming persona both onstage and off, and his dimples are adorable!

Relaxing with the TV! Yes, I’m a Netflix junkie, because I love finding new shows. The last few months, I’ve been watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a show about a lady detective in 1920s Melbourne, Australia. Phryne Fisher is a modern woman who loves sparring with detective inspector Jack Robinson. With only three seasons, I’ve been parceling the episodes out for months, but I’m going to miss Phyrne when I’m done. Any other show suggestions?

Snuggle bugsSnuggling babies! Well, really just one. Last Friday, I was able to visit one of my best friends, and her nine-day old newborn, Ivy. I got to snuggle that little muffin to my heart’s content while I visited with her mama and daddy all day. Bazinga was incredibly jealous that I spent my day away from her (she usually “helps” me when I write or garden, or cuddles next to me when we watch Miss Fisher), so she had to get some snuggle time in too!

I’m looking forward to the rest of my summer! What are you doing to while away the heat?



My Top Ten Must Reads (Part 2) + Giveaway!

Here is Part Two of my Top Ten Must Reads that I’ve read between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016. If you missed the first five books in Part 1, you can read them here. Don’t forget to come on back and find out the rest of my picks for the year! You can find out more about each book by clicking on the title.



Lake House

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Sixteen year-old Alice Edevane’s baby brother Theo disappears on the night of her parents’ glittering Midsummer Party at their lake house in 1933, changing the family forever. Seventy years later, a police constable stumbles across the ruins of the Edevane lake house, and seeks the answers to secrets buried long ago. 

Kate Morton is one of the most gifted writers and storytellers I’ve ever read, and her latest, The Lake House, is no exception. I actually got this book in early December, and waited (very impatiently!) to read it until the end of the month when I had a week’s vacation, because a Kate Morton book is meant to be savored. Her beautiful prose and surrounding sense of mystery create an all-encompassing world that make it a tragedy to leave when the book ends.

Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh

To save her bookstore from a new landlord, Abigail strings paper hearts with love notes from a mysterious couple that quickly catch the town’s attention. But when the hearts hint at tragedy, can Abigail find out what happened to the couple and save her store and her own heart in the process?

This book took me a while to get into, but I really enjoyed it once I did. The Valentine Volunteers, a group of old ladies in the town, were humorous and their attempts at matchmaking Abigail were fun. Abigail’s journey felt genuine, and the paper hearts are a unique idea I’d love to try with my husband someday (see the book trailer here!). *Note- Courtney Walsh has a “sequel” to this story, Change of Heart, also set in Love’s Park, Colo., and featuring the Valentine Volunteers, that came out last year.


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Plain governess Jane Eyre falls in love with her mysterious and brooding employer, Mr. Rochester, with tragic results. 

Yes, I know it’s a classic, but I finally read Jane Eyre for the first time this spring. It was literally one of those moments when I thought “how did I never read this until now?” The first few chapters of Jane’s cold childhood are hard to get through, but her romance with Mr. Rochester, and eventual finding of herself are masterfully done. Bronte’s Jane is a heroine for the ages. This one is a classic for a reason.

Buried in a Book

Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington

First in the Novel Idea Mysteries, Lila Wilkins accepts an internship at a thriving literary agency, but when a penniless aspiring author drops dead in the agency’s waiting room-and Lila discovers a series of threatening letters-she’s determined to find out who wrote him off.

Who doesn’t like learning more about the ins and outs of a literary agency? I really enjoyed the cast of quirky characters in this book, and any cozy that keeps me guessing whodunnit until the very end means they wrote a very good mystery indeed. Also, I feel many cozy mysteries tend to hit their stride in later subsequent books, but this one hit it out of the park as an establishing story.

Blue Castle

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

At 29, living with an overbearing mother and aunt, quiet Valancy Stirling decides to throw caution to the winds and live life on her own terms. Soon she discovers a surprising new world, full of love and adventures beyond her secret dreams. 

This is a re-read (that I’ve already re-read several times!), but it’s one of my favorite Montgomery novels, second only to the Anne series. While Montgomery excelled at stories about children, Valancy is decidedly not a child, and her journey from a repressed “old maid” to a woman in love and taking her life into her own hands is wonderful. Montgomery’s trademark purple prose is more evident in this story than many others, as it contains numerous beautiful expositions on nature that make me itch to explore the Canadian maritimes.  Also, only Montgomery could make the reader fall in love with a hero named Barney Snaith!


I’ve told you my top ten reads of the year, so what are some of yours? I started my reading list over on July 1, so I’d love to hear what your favorite books are! Leave a comment on either Part 1 or Part 2 (or both!) to win a copy of any of the 10 books on my list (reader’s choice). I’ll pull one winner on Friday, July 8.


My Top Ten Must Reads (Part 1)

You know those people in your life that recommend a book to you because they absolutely loved it, and you tell them politely that you’ll think about reading their pick, while secretly thinking, “there is no way on earth I’m going to read that book?”

Hopefully I’m not one of those people!

In the past, us Inkspers have written blogs on books we’re looking forward to reading in the coming months, but this time, I’m going to change it up. I want to tell you about my Top Ten Must Read books that I’ve encountered over the past 12 months. I actually keep a list of every book I read between July 1 and June 30 of each year, so these are books I’ve read since then that I highly recommend. Since I read a lot of cozy mystery series, I am only going to recommend the series that I began reading this year, instead of perhaps book 6 in an established series, to keep it simple. Also, I don’t often read brand new books, so some of these might be several years old already.

I selected a variety of genres, since I try to read widely, and I’m only listing the first five this week (in no particular order), so come back in two weeks to find out my next five! (Click on the titles for more info about each book.)

Top Ten (Five) Must Reads


The Progeny by Tosca Lee. She’s the descendent of a serial killer. Now she’s the hunted.

I just finished this book last week, and this is one of the few books I can say truthfully that I couldn’t put down! I literally had to leave it at home one day because I knew if I took it to work to read over my lunch break, my lunch break would end up being three hours. A heart-racing thriller full of twists and turns, an intriguing mystery, and a cliff-hanger ending that left me eagerly anticipating the sequel next February.

To Whisper Her Name

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander. A love story of hope and healing between a Confederate widow and a southerner who fought for the North set at Tennessee’s Belle Meade Plantation. 

I read To Whisper Her Name on vacation last year, and though I was sitting in a log cabin in Oregon, every time I opened the pages I was transported to Belle Meade Plantation. Alexander perfectly captured the Reconstruction era, and her love story evolved so naturally over the course of the story that I’m in awe of her skill. I admit, I fell a little bit in love with her hero, Ridley Adam Cooper! I’ve loved all of her books I’ve read, but this one in particular stood out.


The Technologists by Matthew Pearl. A series of mysterious attacks in Boston, 1868, send four brave students at the newly established Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a race against the clock to save their city, and their fledgling school. 

I picked this one up on a whim from Portland’s Powell’s City of Books (an amazing bookstore I highly recommend!) while on the same vacation I mentioned above. The twisty plot kept me turning the pages, and I really enjoyed learning about the early history of MIT, and people’s distrust of scientific principals that we take for granted today that Pearl’s fictional “terrorist” used to his advantage. Pearl likes to take real historical incidents and write his fictional stories around them.

State of Onion

State of the Onion by Julie Hazy. First in the White House Chef Mysteries, Ollie Paras is gunning for the Executive Chef position when she unwittingly stops a would-be assassin with her frying pan, but soon finds herself in the cross-hairs of a killer. 

I read a lot of cozy mystery series, and this one stood out to me for it’s exceptional writing, tight plot, great characters, interesting setting, and a mystery that kept me guessing. I just finished the second book, and will definitely keep reading this well-done series.

THere You'll Find Me

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones. Finley Sinclair heads to Ireland to make peace with her brother’s death, and winds up meeting Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy. As her grief begins to wear her down, she wonders when God is going to show up for her in this Emerald paradise. 

This one was a re-read this year. I love Jones’ writing style, her humor, and her great characters. The book was funny, and yet dealt with real problems of grief, forgiveness, and healing. One of only three books I read this year that I literally broke down in tears while reading because I was so moved. I loved how the story didn’t end with everything wrapped up in a neat bow, but on a hopeful note.

Come back next Tuesday, July 5 for the rest of my list!



I’ve told you my top ten reads of the year, so what are some of yours? I start my reading list over on July 1, so I’d love to hear what your favorite books are! Leave a comment on either Part 1 or Part 2 (or both!) to win a copy of any of the 10 books on my list. I’ll pull one winner on Friday, July 8.

Grilling up Summertime Flavor

I don’t know about you, but my grocery list and mealtime plan drastically changes when the weather turns warm and the sun stays out late.

Yeah, that’s right: when summer rolls around, my husband and I practically make every meal on our grill. It’s easy, fast, and delicious. Plus, it’s a great way to give cooking duties over to my husband!

It wasn’t always this way. My relatives graciously gave us a large gas grill as a wedding present nine years ago, and the spring, summer, and autumn of our first year of marriage was filled with barbecued ribs, charred chicken, and grilled burgers, brats, and hot dogs. And then a subsequent move and a crackdown on apartment grills made us put our grill into storage for six years.
But then when we moved into our own home a year ago, dinnertime was suddenly fun once again!

One of our favorite summertime favorites is grill packets. I clipped this recipe out of a magazine years ago, and we’ve modified it some over the years, but it’s delicious. Plus, it’s a great way to get your summer veggies!


Ludwig Grill Packets

  • 1 pound smoked sausage (Italian sausage can also be used), cut into 1/2 inch piece
  • red potatoes (as many as you like), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp paprika

PacketsLayer vegetables into aluminum foil packets, with potatoes and meat toward the bottom, as they take longer to cook through. Mix olive oil, oregano, parsley, garlic salt, and paprika, and drizzle over packets. Close pouches and grill until meat and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes on medium-high heat.