A Portrait of Emily Price: Book Review


A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay is a great story about a woman who never makes impulsive decisions – except for when she marries the wonderful Italian chef that she just met on a recent work trip and then moves to his home country with him. Emily is a character who is good at putting together what is broken, whether what’s broken is a family relationship or a piece of art that she is tasked with restoring for work. Instead of just restoring the work of others, Emily ends up making art of her own; she also learns that some family relationships and hurts are so deep and difficult to understand that they cannot be easily mended. This is the second Reay book that I have read. The other one was Lizzie and Jane, also a great novel that I recommend. Reay explores sister relationships in both books, but A Portrait of Emily Price brings romance and captures the all of the senses with descriptions of a beautiful Italian village. I felt like I was visiting the little Italian village along with Emily, going through the ups and downs of figuring out her identity in a new country. I was amazed by how descriptive Reay was about even little elements of the book like going truffle hunting and learning to navigate the narrow roads. I don’t read Christian fiction very often, but I like Reay’s stories because they have depth and substance along with a Christian world view that comes through in subtle, not contrived ways. Book Look Bloggers sent me this paperback in return for my honest review. Happy Monday, and thanks for reading!


Where Jesus Slept Giveaway



“This is the bed where Jesus slept. This is the straw that lined the bed where Jesus slept.” From Jesus sleeping sweetly to the wise men bringing gifts, this charming book reminds readers young and not-so- young of the joyous event we celebrate at Christmas. Children will love the delightful illustrations and the engaging repetition in this cumulative tale.

Format: jacketed hardcover, 32 pages
Retail price: $16.99
Reading age: 4-7

About the author: Norma Lewis is the author of ten books. She lives in Grand Haven, MI, with a marmalade cat named Scalawag. They both love spending time with her six grandchildren, ranging in age from three to twenty.

My review: The illustrations are beautiful, and the book has the kind of repetition that children like. This is a great book to read your little one around the Christmas season. I’m excited to be giving away a copy to one of my blog readers.

Just leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway!

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Be renewed …

Sometimes it’s easy to get into a mindset of discouragement, even when you see God working in little ways. You see the mountains to climb and what seems like a lack of resources, even though God has always provided. You feel like you are not strong enough. Without Him, you probably are not some days. You are not alone in this. This is part of being human, being fallible, being a believer. Push on, and don’t let the naysayers bring you down.


Ephesians 4:23

“…be renewed in the spirit of your minds…”


xoxo Teresa

Slice of Life



WENT: Our family went for a gorgeous waterfall hike on Skyline Drive in Virginia earlier this month, and we toured the nearby Skyline Caverns. We ate at Joe’s Steakhouse near Front Royal after the hike — amazing service and a really fun atmosphere, with a live band. We also enjoyed a Saturday evening in downtown Frederick, Maryland. We ate outside at a Spanish tapas restaurant and listened to a band playing on the sidewalk beside of us. The moon was full, so it was a neat evening to be out walking around. Anytime I go to a downtown, I have to visit a bookstore and a tea shop. My son loves watching all the cars and people going by. He talks about “the city” the whole time.


COOKED: I came up with a really easy but delicious chicken recipe. I sauteed some mushrooms in a dutch oven and the set them aside, added more olive oil and chicken breasts to the dutch oven, and browned the chicken breasts for about eight minutes on each side on the stove top. Then I poured in a cup of white wine (Moscato) and let it go in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes until the thermometer read 165. I took the chicken out of the dutch oven and stirred in about two tablespoons of Dijon mustard and a generous sprinkle of dried thyme into the sauce. Then I added the chicken and mushrooms back to the pan.



  • Jesus Always by Sarah Young: I am keeping this in my desk drawer for when I need some extra encouragement at work. Sarah Young has a deep, personal relationship with Christ, and she brings his voice alive in her short devotionals. If you have never read a devotional by Sarah Young, this new one could be life-changing for you. Here’s a little article she wrote about 10 tips for a joy-filled life, based on the new devotional. I received this devotional from Book Look Bloggers in return for my honest review; I am so inspired by Sarah Young’s writings that I would have bought this one even if it had not been sent to me for free.
  • Victuals by Ronni Lundy: This is a gorgeous hardcover book about Appalachian cooking, including a beautifully written history and lots of recipes. The pictures remind me of home because they are home. I was born, raised, and still live in Appalachia, and I wrote my college thesis on Appalachian literature. Even though I grew up in Appalachia and have some of the traditions, I feel like there are so many food skills and practices that I never learned. This book has lots of recipes for greens, as well as some favorites like West Virginia hot dogs and pepperoni rolls. I have been to a lot of the places that the author talks about, including Staunton and Saltville, Virginia, and Asheville, North Carolina (one of my favorite places). Food, history, and heritage are so intertwined. When she writes about the English and German settlers of Appalachia, she is writing about my ancestors. I have been talking to my husband about this book all weekend. I plan on cooking a lot of the recipes. The way that Lundy intertwines history and recipes is really meaningful for someone from this region. I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review.
  • Say and Pray Devotions by Diane Stortz: This cute little board book is perfect for my three-year-old son. He was so excited when we got it in the mail last night. Each page teaches some new words and then gives a little prayer and Bible verse. Want to win a copy for your little one? Just leave a comment on this post, and I will choose a winner. This book and giveaway were provided by FlyBy Promotions.say-pray-devotions

BOUGHT: I finally joined the rest of the world by getting a Smartphone this past month. I had rebelled against them before because I wanted to save money, and it drives me nuts how attached most people are to their phones nowadays. I do really like my Smartphone though, lol. I also bought a really cute plaid Martha Stewart doggie bed from PetSmart.

LISTENED TO: The new Norah Jones CD and Asheville radio

DRANK: Matcha tea. How can something so green be so yummy to drink? I mix about 1/2 tsp. matcha powder with enough warm water to fill the tea cup and then top it off with some vanilla creamer or vanilla soy milk.



Have a great week.




He Will Never Leave You

20161016_14283320161016_142856This is my first time attempting to make a blog post from my Smartphone. Let’s see how it goes,  lol. This is a really simple journaling page, but I hope it encourages someone today.



Mother Teresa Quote to Remember


I have this Mother Teresa quote glued to the inside back cover of my Journaling Bible. I printed it off the internet and then doodled around it with Micron pens. Even though I am not Catholic, I have always had a fascination with Mother Teresa because of her selflessness — and because I had a preacher who used to call me Mother Teresa when I was a little girl since I’m named Teresa too. This is one of my favorite quotes from her, especially when it comes to forgiveness, which can be such a challenge sometimes.

Happy Monday!



Ancient Ruins . . . Rebuilt.


I just love how this verse sounds and the redemptive value of it. When it seems like hope is lost, God tells his people that they will be repairers and that they will raise up the foundations of many generations. Isaiah is a prophetic book, written around 700 B.C., so God was speaking specifically to the Jewish people, but the message touches us even today. For this Bible journaling entry, I decided to just doodle my idea of foundations and let the verse speak for itself.


Wonderfully Made


Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

In Jen Wilkin’s book None Like Him — which I highly recommend — she writes that the verses in Psalm 139 go far beyond body image. They are about the awe of God’s power and presence in general. Yet, as I read, I cannot help but see the verse in both aspects: a reminder that God created me wonderfully, and a reminder of God’s wonder that goes so far beyond me and my physical self.

On this Bible journaling page, I celebrated the idea of being wonderfully made. I used crayons to write out “wonderfully made” and then watercolored over the page. On the opposite side, I glued a photo of a time that I took on the physical challenge of walking 6 1/2 miles on the Appalachian Trail with a friend earlier this summer. It took us hours because it was very rocky. There were times when I had to slide down boulders because I am short. Other times, we could barely perceive the trail because everything around us was so rocky. The part we hiked was considered “moderate,” but it felt like a huge accomplishment. I don’t think I would do it again because it was not entirely pleasant, and I was just glad to not bust my face, haha. Yet, it was wonderful to be in nature, take on the challenge, and spend time with my friend. I felt like I was looking down most of the time to keep from tripping on rocks, so sometimes I had to pause just to look around and take in the beauty that was around us.

One step at a time . . .


Staying Fully Present


The verses for today’s Bible journaling entry inspired awe in me. The complete verses are at the bottom of this post if you would like to start your day with them as well. Something I have been considering and that God has been continually bringing to my attention this summer is the idea of how He is the only one who can be in more than one place at one time. I cannot expect perfection of myself because humans were created with limitations. To honor God, it is best to be fully present wherever you are placed at the moment, do your best, and trust God to handle the rest. I typed out some thoughts about that on my computer and used Mod Podge to glue the page into my journaling Bible. This is what I wrote:

Only God can be more than one place at one time — omnipresent. In honor to Him, I can be fully present where I am physically placed. I don’t need to be two places at once; I literally cannot be. I can bring my thoughts back to my present spot when I feel like I am not accomplishing enough, giving enough, or not as “in control” of a situation as I would like to be. I cannot be rested, recharging, nurturing others, and accomplishing a big to do list all at once, all the time. God created humans with this limitation, so I can trust that it is for my own good. I can be reassured that GOD IS EVERYWHERE I cannot be, and I can put the unknown into his hands.

These thoughts came to me after I read the book None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin earlier this summer.


Now, here are the verses that inspired me. Particularly, Psalm 139:7 reminds me God’s presence is everywhere.

Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 139:1-18 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Have a great week!


Grace Be With All of You

It’s the start of another school year for lots of people, so I figured this would be a good time to start sharing some Bible journaling with you again each week. I really like how light and airy this journal page turned out, with marker, water color, and white acrylic paint. It just makes me happy looking at it!

Grace be with all of you this week.

xoxo Teresa

Soul Tunes


Energetic joy pulses through Phil Wickham’s new CD, “Children of God.” Ever since the CD came in the mail this week, I have been listening to it three or four times a day — and that says a lot because I am picky about my tunes. The first morning that I played it, my three-year-old son started dancing to “Your Love Awakens Me.” I took a break from folding the laundry to dance along with him. What a good way to start the morning!

For me, this CD has a great combination of upbeat enthusiasm and of worshipful reverence. The praise band at the church I attend sings “This Is Amazing Grace,” from a previous album of his. I highly suspect that praise bands around the country will be inspired by this new CD too.

I typically listen to pop, country, indie, classic rock, and occasionally Christian music. When I do find a Christian CD I like, it stays in heavy rotation. The last Christian CD that I played this much was Erica Campbell’s “Help.” I  also really like Rend Collective. When someone recommends Christian music that sounds amazing, I take note, and I would say this CD ranks right up there with my favorites. In terms of sound and songwriting, “Children of God” is a substantial album.

It has been three years since Wickham has put out a CD. In fact, in 2014 he didn’t know whether or not he would ever be able to sing again. His dependence on God through that period of struggle led to some beautiful music. I was sent this CD in return for my honest review. If you would like to check out the new album, it is available on iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify.


🙂 Groove on…





What I’m Loving Lately


This has been the rainy view from my front porch for about three weeks. So thankful the sun is shining this morning!

my trike

EXCITED ABOUT: My husband ordered me a trike as a graduation present for earning my master’s degree this month. I rode it for the first time last night and had a great time once I found a spot that was mostly flat! I never learned to ride a bike, and I had scoliosis surgery when I was 12, so I have rods in my back. If I fall off a regular bike, it would probably have to go to a doctor – so this is my way of having the freedom of riding a bike without worrying. Coasting downhill is pretty awesome on this, and my son even rode in the back basket for a little bit. Going uphill with this bike… not so easy (lol). I want to look into getting some gears put into it sometime, but for now, I really like it.

COOKED: My go-to healthy recipe right now is cauliflower soup. I saute a couple shallots with olive oil in my dutch oven for a few minutes, add a head of cauliflower broken into florets, and continue to saute for about four minutes. Then I add homemade bone broth (I make mine in the crock pot overnight) or a box of chicken stock if I don’t have time for bone broth, along with a good sprinkle of garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne, nutmeg, and s&p. I bring the pot to a boil and then simmer it for about 20 minutes. Next, I put the soup into the food processor in batches and puree until smooth. I top my bowl of soup with dried chives, tarragon, red pepper flakes, and a few croutons. I eat this for lunch pretty often.

My favorite recipe that I always recommend to people is engagement chicken. Also, I came up with a burger concoction that my husband likes recently. I make grass-fed burgers, top them with sauerkraut and melt muenster cheese on top. I serve that with a toasted bun and thousand island dressing. It’s a riff on a Reuben.

DRANK: My favorite thing to drink right now is Blackberry Tea from Logan’s Steakhouse. It has lemon, lime, and blackberry in it. It’s really good! It would be pretty easy to duplicate at home.

BIBLE JOURNALING:  I am reading along with 10 Minutes a Day for God. Here’s the link to the first day’s email if you would like to read along too. I’m taking a break from posting my journaling on my blog each week for awhile because I want to focus on God rather than meeting a certain quota. I promise I will post more Bible journaling later though!

READ: I’m currently reading an inspiring, refreshing Christian book, Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly and Haley Morgan, on my Kindle. I’m going to be posting a review on my blog soon. I am definitely being blessed by the wisdom in this book. I was also really happy with the Women’s Fitness magazine with Gina Rodriguez on the cover this month (love her). Mary Oliver’s new book of poetry is wonderful too.

LISTENED TO: I thought this podcast of The Simple Show about spiritual practices was excellent. I’ve been listening to Steve Martin and Edie Brickell a lot. I saw their musical, Bright Star, at the Kennedy Center in December and fell in love with it.


ADVENTURES: We went to Medieval Times for Mother’s Day and cheered for the red knight. Moms got in for free for Mother’s Day this year. My son loved seeing the horses and the falcon, and he was obsessed with the little flashing star sword that we bought him to wave.

WISHED: For a pair of wide-calf rainboots. I still have not found a pair that I like, and it seems like none are getting great reviews on Amazon.

ENJOYED: Our library is offering Quigong classes, and I tried a free one this week. It’s sort of like Tai Chi, but I think it’s easier. While I did the Quigong class, my husband played with my son in the children’s section of the library. It was a fun evening for all of us. Since I have rods in my back, I’ve always felt left out by all the people doing yoga, but this is something I can do with my back, so the class was affirming.

MADE: I’m catching up my Project Life scrapbook with lots of photos and memories. Project Life is a quick and cute way to do memory keeping.

WORKED ON:  Potty training. Enough said.

BIG GOAL: I am walking 20 miles each week with the Leslie Sansone 5 Mega Miles DVD. I think this is one of Leslie Sansone’s best DVDs, and I own several of her others. She incorporates HIIT training and resistance bands. I can always do all the moves on Leslie’s DVDs without having to modify them for my back.

pete catBOUGHT: A swing so that my son and I can swing outside together. I also bought a cute board game called “Pete the Cat” that I’ve modified so that my son and I can play together. He likes to use the spinner, count the right number of buttons to put in his jar, and tell me what colors the buttons are. When he gets a little older, I figure I will teach him how to play it the right way. The game looks like an artwork.

FELT: Inspired by this image of planets that NASA found. The article is here.



DISCOVERED: The phrase “choose joy” has been meaningful to me lately. It is a choice to make daily.

Hope your spring is off to a good start.

xoxo Teresa

What I'm Into


I’ve enjoyed sharing my Bible journaling journey with you over the past four months. Hopefully you have been encouraged through the winter. It has been fun to express my faith in this way; Bible journaling has brought me comfort and challenged me at the same time.

As summer approaches, I’ve decided to take a break from my weekly Bible journaling posts. I want to enjoy the warm days with my son, cherish our time together, and Bible journal just for personal reflection as the spirit leads. I plan on writing some posts and doing book reviews over the summer, so you will still hear from me. In the meantime, looking back, here are a few of my favorites from the past four months.


On a personal note, I am just wrapping up my master’s degree, so this summer will be a much needed break. After church yesterday, my family went out for Thai food and then saw a new Mucha exhibit at a local art gallery, which was definitely inspiring to me. My favorite piece in the exhibit was the magazine cover below. It depicts Literature as a woman in red and Journalism as the woman in white, with her writing supplies propped on a globe. What a beautiful concept.

1909 'Cover of 'The Literary Digest'


Have a lovely Monday!


This is Joy

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6


This is my first ever abstract painting. For a first try, I think it came out pretty good. At times I wasn’t sure if it was going to look right or be a muddy mess because I really do not know what I am doing (haha). The Bible verse I chose for this week is a reminder to have joy in the chaos. God began a good work, and he will see it through.

xoxo Teresa



Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

This entry in my Journaling Bible is short and sweet, but I think simplicity can be a good thing. I used watercolors and a marker to make the feather. I tend to gravitate toward verses with the word “hope” in them, and this is a good one!

If you are interested in Bible journaling, I encourage you to check out a new Tuesdays to Create Bible Journaling Challenge . You don’t need a Journaling Bible to do this, by the way, even though it is really fun to have one. Any notebook will work as long as you have access to a Bible or a Bible app to look up the verses. I’ve signed up for Tuesdays to Create, and I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great Monday.


Book Reviews

Me: A Compendium

The graphics on each page of this book are adorable. It would make a great present for an elementary age child. The book originally caught my eye because I was looking for some narrative writing prompts for a class I am teaching. I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review. It is a high-quality, thin hardcover book, and it has a whimsical vibe that is really fun.




Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

I really wanted to dive into this book faster, but the truth is that the topic is not a fun one to think about. I procrastinated a lot. I know this book is ultimately about being invited by God, which is a beautiful thought. It is about a shift in perspective — but first, it does take some reflection that might be hard. Christianity isn’t for wimps, right? Here is the publisher’s description.

The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers: • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.

• Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.

• Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.

• Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.”

• End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.


Lysa TerKeurst tackles a hard topic well and does not shy away from sharing her own personal experiences. This book was sent to me by Book Look Bloggers in return for my honest review.

Have a great week!

xoxo Teresa

The Biggest Story (and giveaway)



A CD and DVD of The Biggest Story is up for grabs to the first person who leaves a comment on this post. I thought the illustrations on the DVD were beautiful, and I like how The Biggest Story traces God’s word from the beginning in Genesis to Christ’s sacrifice for us today. The film is intended for children, but the subject matter is deep enough that adults can get a nice refresher (or introduction) to the scope of the Bible through the DVD too.

Featuring beautifully animated illustrations, The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film will captivate children and parents alike as they see how all the classic stories in the Bible connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his people. The audio book of The Biggest Story—written and narrated by the best-selling author Kevin DeYoung—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross and to the new heaven and new earth. Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, husband to Trisha, and father to seven children.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”biggest-story-blog2x-05-1-1024x540