Book Review: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe



If you are looking for a book that will offer you a few hours escape from the busyness of the holiday season – look no further. “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” JoAnn Durgin’s first novella, will give you that respite. Just under 150 pages long, it is the perfect book to read in front of a fireplace with a cup of tea or hot chocolate on a long, cold afternoon.

As in her previous books, The Lewis Legacy Series, the characters in this book immediately find a place in your heart. Most women will identify with Julia and most will fall a teeny bit in love with Jake. After all, what’s not to love about him?  Be still my heart!

I won’t give away the plot because you should read this book for yourself. I will say that the story is captivating, full of sweet romance and Christian values. For those of us who may be a little jaded from reading so many love stories, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe” will renew your enjoyment of reading romantic novels. After all, no one can write romance like the “Queen of Romance,” JoAnn Durgin.


I received a complimentary copy of this book  for the sole purpose of writing a review. My review is my sole opinion, I was not influenced by the author, editor or publisher, nor did I receive any compensation for the review.

The title “Queen of Romance” is one that I alone gave Ms. Durgin. But I think it fits, don’t you?



I’ve never thought of myself as an ungrateful person. I’ve been blessed by many people who have done many things for me and/or my family. I try to always thank those who help me, especially people in what I sometimes consider “thankless” jobs, or jobs where they are not often appreciated – retail, restaurant wait staff, tax collectors…you get the picture.

These last few weeks, however, my gratitude has turned into complaints, because of several situations that I have not handled well–even though there was nothing I could do to change those situations. The more time that passed, the complaints grew more frequent and the gratitude was less.  Until yesterday…

Yesterday I read the below post on a friend’s FaceBook page and was reminded again of how truly blessed I am. There are so many people who are experiencing things far worse than what I can even imagine. The young lady who wrote this post is a nurse and has been working in New York and the surrounding area for a number of weeks, helping the surviviors of Hurricane Sandy. My comments are below her post:

“Leaving NYC tomorrow, and am thankful I’ll be home for Thanksgiving with family. After working here among aged, displaced evacuees, I can’t express my sadness for their plight. These people were so grateful for every little thing we did for them–the smallest of favors. We also saw some decompensation of patients’ chronic medical conditions, and had to send some emergently to the hospital, so it’s good we are here.

Medical professionals aren’t supposed to bond with their charges, but sometimes it’s just impossible not to. I especially fell in love with an 80-year-old lady named Dorothy, who I wanted to sneak into my luggage and bring home with me (she would’ve fit, too). Yesterday the Armory where they were sheltered was closed, and they were sent by school bus to a flop house hotel to await return to their assisted living facility, which isn’t that great either. It was hard to let them go. And here I am a few miles away in Manhattan surrounded by luxurious penthouses, neon lights and lots of bling. I’m praying for them constantly.Will be taking in some sights today and fly home to family, friends and church family tomorrow. It will be good to be home again. Thanks for everyone’s prayers. Please add Dorothy to them.
Will get back to you all soon.”

My comment:
  • This was so humbling to me. I’m hanging my head in shame. I’ve spent the last several days complaining because of several situations that have caused me to be inconvenienced. How trivial & stupid are my problems compared to others. Thank you, JoAnn & Erin for the reminder to be grateful for all of God’s blessings and to not complain over the trivial stuff – or anything else.
    And, thank you God for forgiveness and for every single blessing You have given me – even when I’m ungrateful.
    I pray that each of you had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!

Book Review: Everyday Matters Bible for Women

As a busy woman, with a hectic schedule that never seems to slow down, I am always looking for ways to save time. Yet, I also know I need quiet time—time to read my Bible, gain wisdom and grow in my daily walk with God. I have found exactly what I need in Everyday Matters Bible for Women.

Interpreted as the New Living Translation, the Bible includes more than three hundred instructional and inspirational pieces written by well known Christian authors and speakers. These devotions relate to the twenty-four spiritual disciplines prayerfully chosen by the editorial team as practices that all women can easily work into their everyday life. To assist with finding the individual disciplines within the Bible, each has a corresponding icon. The devotions are placed immediately after a referenced scripture.

There are four types of features that provide insights and reflections regarding the individual spiritual practices: Everyday Matters, Everyday Profiles, Everyday Q&A’s and Everyday Reflections.

Other helpful features include a comprehensive index of the spiritual disciplines listed in alphabetical order with the related devotions and scripture references divided into the four categories mentioned above. This is an invaluable reference tool in the readers’ study time.

Part of the introduction includes this sentence: “The purpose of Everyday Matters Bible for Women is to help women use spiritual disciplines to make their everyday life fuller, richer, and deeper.” The editorial team has succeeded in meeting this goal.

If women are looking for a comprehensive Bible that includes teachings and devotions applicable to their daily lives, this is the Bible they need.


The Best Surprise Ever!

This post is two weeks past due…

My husband, Dave’s, 60th birthday was Tuesday, October 30. This past June, I contacted his family via email and invited everyone to come the weekend prior to his birthday for a celebratory weekend. Within a few hours, I had received acceptances from everyone. Dave’s brother, Bruce and his wife, Pat, his sister Jean and her husband Alex, his cousin Denny and his wife Kay, and his very best friend in the whole wide world, Mark, and his wife Jackie, all were coming. Bruce and Pat would drive in on Friday October 26 from Vero Beach, Florida; Denny and Kay would drive in from Charleston, SC and Jean and Alex would fly in from Pittsburgh. On Saturday, Mark & Jackie would drive in from Myrtle Beach.

As the weekend drew closer plans progressed. Bruce suggested that we all meet at a local restaurant on Friday night to surprise Dave. The family would arrive first and then Dave and I would arrive at 6:30. They had a table reserved in the back of the restaurant and everyone wore masks so he would not immediately recognize them. When we rounded the corner, and everyone yelled “Surprise!” “Happy Birthday!” Dave was speechless. He had no idea who this group of people was until his brother pulled off his mask. The look on Dave’s face was priceless!  I had done it – managed to pull off a major surprise without spilling the beans! We had a wonderful night – lots of laughter, fun, fellowship and the food was delicious! I had a minor mishap as we left the restaurant, but that’s another blog for another day.

On Saturday, the family came by in the early afternoon to check on me and then later gathered again at our house for more fun, Georgia football and a delicious chili supper prepared by my son Kyle and his girlfriend, Angela, with some help from my daughter Kim. We had one surprise left up our sleeves. When the  family came back the second time, they brought Dave’s friend Mark and his wife Jackie, who had arrived at the hotel earlier that afternoon. Dave was still upstairs so I told them to quickly go downstairs so Dave wouldn’t see Mark. Once they were downstairs, I called for Dave and he came on down. He didn’t see Mark at first, so Mark walked up to him and said “I can’t believe I drove six hours to see you only to find out you were taking a nap!” Dave’s jaw hit the floor – another priceless, Kodak moment. We were also pleased to welcome dear friends of Bruce and Pat’s – Dave and Debbie Bovin who live in the same city as we do.

Sunday was a relaxing, quiet day. Denny & Kay and Mark and Jackie had to leave for home, but Bruce, Pat, Jean and Alex were still here. We just sat around and talked, enjoyed each other’s company and watched the Falcons win. Bruce carried us all to dinner later Sunday evening and they headed back to the hotel and we headed home.

That weekend was the first time the three siblings had been together in two years, and even much longer since all of them had been together. That won’t happen again. The siblings decided that every April, we will all meet in Vero Beach, at Bruce and Pat’s. Dave and I are already looking forward to next April.

There were a couple of  reasons I wrote this blog. I know that most people will not be interested in the surprise party of the year. But I wanted to honor Dave one more time for his birthday, and I knew this would be a good way to do so. I also wanted to encourage all my readers to not wait to get together with your family – especially if you live in different parts of the country. The holidays are upon us and this is a great time to see your family, fellowship, mend relationships if needed. We do not know what tomorrow will bring – much less the coming year – so call your parents, your sisters and brothers and make this holiday season the best family time you’ve ever had.


Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right and Solves Her Lady Problems

Rhoda Janzen’s book, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, spent 13 weeks on the NYT bestseller list, hitting #1. I am sure her second memoir, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems, will hit the best seller list as well.

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? is Rhoda’s second memoir, and begins where Mennonite in a Little Black Dress ended. Rhoda has gone back to where life started – with her family – and has reconciled with them. Beyond that, nothing is certain. That is, until she meets a Bible-thumpin,’ foot-stompin,’ Holy Ghost Pentecostal believer. Her life goes from uncertain to wild and crazy. And in the midst of all of that, Rhoda discovers a faith that she has been seeking.

Ms. Janzen has a wonderful sense of humor and it is evident throughout her latest book. Yet, at the same time, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? is a profound book with what I call “golden nuggets” of wisdom, spiritual insight and lessons on faith.

From the inside cover:

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? is for people who have a problem with organized religion but can’t quite dismiss the notion of God, and for those who secretly sing hymns in their cars but generally prefer a nice mimosa brunch to church. It is the story of what it means to find joy in love, strength in illness, and—incredibly, surprisingly—faith in a big-hearted God.

I agree this book is for those who are not into organized religion and those who are “closet” Christians. But there are lessons in Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? for all of us—Pentecostals, Orthodox, Baptists, Mennonites, Methodists…

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? is a great book to read when one is taking a break from the craziness of the approaching holiday season. And what better time to read a book about finding “faith in a big-hearted God?”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing for the sole purpose of writing a review. My review is my sole opinion, I was not influenced by the author, editor or publisher, nor did I receive any compensation for the review.