Back Roads to Belonging

Recently I’ve been reading an ARC of Kristen Strong’s latest, which released yesterday. It’s a worthy follow on from Girl Meets Change & I love it. Parts are like I’m actually sitting down with a girlfriend, it feels that personal.

Anyways, I encourage you to pick it up and review. There are always parts of our life where we feel like an outsider & this is about how that’s kind of normal. We aren’t all the same square peg.

There’s a lovely article on Ann Voskamp’s site today. Again, I encourage you to take a read.

When You Don’t Belong – and why that’s Okay

Book Review – The Callaghan & McFadden Series

I re-discovered an author last week. Turns out I’d read the prequel, A Handful of Flowers, a few years ago but for some reason I never moved into the series. I can tell you I’ve certainly fixed that error now!


Blurb Book 1: This Christian romance novel of 80,000 words is the second book in The Callaghans & McFaddens series from author Kimberly Rae Jordan. A HANDFUL OF FLOWERS (ASIN: B01APAIXM6) is the prequel to this series.

Makayla McFadden has been part of her family’s business since it started. At sixteen, she’d helped her dad by answering phones and doing the filing when she wasn’t in school, and now she’s the office manager for C&M Builders. As the company has grown, they’ve had to hire new people, but the core of the company has always stayed the same. When her father announces his plan to retire, Makayla knows change is coming. Hiring from outside the family will disrupt the way they’ve run their business, and she’s not happy about it.

Upon learning that his father and step-mother plan to move to a new city with his younger sister, Ethan Collins knows he needs to move there as well. The day he gets a call from his first choice for a job, he figures God has answered his prayers. But then he meets Makayla McFadden and realizes that she doesn’t want him there. After they offer him a job on a three month probationary basis, Ethan knows he not only has to convince them he can do the job, he has to somehow convince Makayla that he is a good fit for her family’s company.

When he finds himself falling for Makayla, Ethan tries to fight it since he refuses to do anything that might jeopardize his job and his sister’s future. But when the heart can’t be denied, will Ethan take the risk for love? Or will Makayla be reluctant to embrace change on a personal level and leave him without love or a job?

My thoughts: There’s little risk in trying these books – they are available on Kindle Unlimited (and from memory, book one was free on a lot of platforms). I enjoyed getting to know the characters in depth, from children to adults, and the way the books overlap opens up a realism that often isn’t in a saga. If you like interconnecting books, I can recommend you give this series a try.

Books in The Callaghans & McFaddens series by Kimberly Rae Jordan:

  • A Handful of Flowers
  • A Change of Heart
  • For the Love of Grace
  • The Love of Her Life
  • Believing in Tomorrow
  • Crossing Center Ice
  • A Touch of Romance
  • A Little Ray of Sunshine

Philippians 1 6

Book Review – A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

Long-time readers might remember I raved about a book waaaay back in November 2016. Today’s title is connected to this series and is just as good! It released state-side today, so pop into your local retailer and buy it.

alothSYNOPSIS: Though Israel has found relative peace, Moriyah has yet to find her own. Attempting to avoid the scorn of her community, she’s spent the last seven years hiding behind the veil she wears. Underneath her covering, her face is branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods, a shameful reminder of her past captivity in Jericho and an assurance that no man will ever want to marry her.

When her father finds a widower who needs a mother for his two sons, her hopes rise. But when their introduction goes horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee for her life. Seeking safety at one of the newly established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

MY THOUGHTS: It’s no wonder RT Book Reviews have given this 4 ½ stars – it’s detailed, well-written, empathetic and good. I devoured most of this while at the A&E with my eldest son, & it was hard to put down.

Moriyah as a character is well rounded but as we met her, cloistered within her own shame and closed off to the voice of Yahweh, even tho she heard Him as a child. Her scarring means she is the focus of mean comments and she does allow this to influence her daily actions. Things change when her friend urges her to dance; then she meets someone who will influence the remainder of her life.

At one point so much happened to Moriyah that it was a bit rollercoaster, but on a re-read this might well smooth out.

I am in awe of the amount of research that went into this book. The background is so rich and colourful and seamlessly enhances the story. The theme of redemption thru sacrifice resonates.

I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review – but I’m buying it anyway! Book 2 is scheduled for this year; book 3 for 2019.

An Open Letter to the Rt Hon John Key, Hon Judith Collins & Ray Smith…#freevicki

In the interests of full disclosure, I don’t know Vicki Letele. I’ve never met her. I have however met Dave, her brother, and I belong to his fitness motivation group. But these facts don’t come into consideration when thinking about the situation that surrounds Vicki.

I am actually really disgusted that our society needs to have this conversation. I am disappointed. We are a Christian nation – our anthem rings out proudly “God of Nations” – and yet we are behaving in a manner that is most un-Christian like. It is unhealthy for society that anyone is treated in this manner. The Judaic judicial code of “an eye for an eye” is outdated and isn’t what our judicial code is based on.

So what did Vicki do? It’s a matter of public record…

She used fake documents to get finance for low income families, then sold those families properties belonging to people that she was related to – and there was a financial kick back for her. She made a profit. And a considerable profit.

The serious fraud office investigated – and she was found guilty of 10 charges of dishonestly using a document. The fraud amounted to $3.6 million. (Rachel Smalley, NZ HERALD).

In direct contrast, the former South Canterbury Finance Limited (South Canterbury) Director and Lawyer Edward Oral Sullivan was sentenced in the High Court to 12 months’ home detention and 400 hours of community work. The charges arose out of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into SCF’s collapse in 2010 which resulted in $1.58 billion being paid out under the Government guarantee.

I haven’t read anywhere that as a tax payer, I paid out for Vicki’s fraud like I have with Sullivan and Hubbard. I do know that as a tax payer, I’m paying a lot more for her to be housed in Wiri’s correctional facility than I would if she had home detention, even before her care needs escalated. And don’t even get me started on how two judges came to such different sentences, given that both pleaded guilty and the start point was very similar. Arguably if Vicki had the same sentence this cancer would have been discovered earlier and her life expectancy would be beyond the 3-5 months that it currently is. She would certainly have been able to see out the full sentence.

The (parole) board said that Letele’s condition would inevitably deteriorate to the extent she would require hospice care and at that time compassionate release would be appropriate.

In contrast to the submissions of several doctors and a nurse, Corrections opposes early compassionate release and has told the board that she is being adequately cared for in prison. (NZ HERALD).

Uh-huh. No. This is not believable, given the delays in obtaining the correct medical treatment for Vicki. It’s not believable, given the lack of medical knowledge that the prison staff have. It’s not believable, given that Vicki’s cellmates are having to share the care of Vicki, who is too weak to care for herself. Leaving her largely isolated from family & respite care until what Corrections judge at 3-5 days from death isn’t humane for anyone, let alone her children, who will need this time with her. All it will do is continue to hasten her inevitable death.

I would like to see Vicki’s sentence transferred to Home Detention. I would also like to see that the same good sense is spread out to other inmates who are in similar situations. We all know that Vicki’s isn’t an isolated case, so let’s look for those people. Let’s take care of the weak and vulnerable. Let’s be both compassionate and sensible.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Kind regards,




Good news – Corrections are re-considering their decision. I really hope common sense & compassion prevail.

Book Review: Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

  • Subtitle: loving, leaving and finding the church
  • Publisher: Nelson Books
  • Subject: 248.843 religion/spiritual growth/Christian life
  • Recommended by: Jessica N Turner
  • Author blog/website:
  • Moments for me: there’s a lot of reasons people leave the church – mine was not hers but this is very thought provoking.

Blurb: Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals–church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it. Centered around seven sacraments, Evans’ quest takes readers through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest. A memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace, Searching for Sunday is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.


While I always have called myself Christian, I’ve been away from “church” for a long time. Hypocrisy, one-upmanship, jealousy, gossip, simply feeling like l don’t belong – those are all valid reasons why I walked away from certain places. It’s not a valid reason as to why I am not at or searching for THE church that will be my second home. I don’t agree with every viewpoint that Evans has but there are enough points for me to have really enjoyed the thoughts this book provoked, even if I am uncomfortable with some of my thoughts.  I’m not going into all those thoughts here on the blog, as they are for my consumption but here’s some portions of the book I am thinking on.

Talking about Hands (relevant verse 2 Timothy 1:6 “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”) There is power in touch – a connective energy, a bond…Jesus didn’t have to touch the blind man’s eyes or the leper’s sores, but he did…the church blessed its sick and commissioned its leaders ith the laying on of hands…the hands that pass the peace can past a meal to the man on the street, the hands that cup together to receive Christ in the bread will extend to receive Christ in the immigrant, the refugee, the lonely, or the sick. Hands plant, and uproot, and cook, and caress. They repair, and rewire, and change diapers and dress wounds. Hands tickle giggling children and wipe away tears. Hands rub heaving bellies of big, ugly dogs. Hands sanctify all sorts of ordinary things and make them holy. My hands bless my family & workmates by what they do, a non-verbal way of saying that “I care about you & what I can do for you”.


The Meal: The first thing the world knew about Christians was that they ate together…rich and poor, slaves and free, Jews and Gentiles, men and women to celebrate the day the whole world changed…they remembered Jesus with food, stories, laughter, tears, debate, discussion and clean up…the focus was not in Jesus’ death, but rather on Jesus’ friendship. Later on in the same section, Evans continues: I need the Eucharist because I need to begin each week with open hands…because I need to practice letting go and letting in…because I need to quit keeping score. Or in the words of Alexander Schememann “No one is worthy to receive communion. No one is prepared for it. At this point all merits, all righteousness, all devotions disappear and dissolve. Life comes again to us as a Gift”.

On Church: but the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors and shouting “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” This isn’t a Kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry. Don’t look at everyone else as worthier than myself. Be secure in the knowledge that I am God’s too, and I am loved.


On Healing & stuff like that: the truth is, the church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace. The Church offers grace.

Book Review: Anchored by Kayla Aimee

Subtitle: Finding Hope in the Unexpected

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group

Subject: 234.2 Christianity, grace

Recommended by: Jessica Turner @

Author blog/website:

I love this book. Love love love. Not only is KA informative, sarcastic, clever & so obviously real, she’s funny too.

Blurb: Poignant and humorous, Anchored recounts Kayla’s gripping story of learning to navigate her newfound motherhood in the most unexpected of ways. With vulnerability and plenty of wit, Kayla lays bare her struggle to redefine her faith, her marriage, and herself in her search for hope.

For anyone who has felt their faith in God falter, Anchored extends a gentle invitation to join her as she uncovers a hope that holds.


There isn’t any hiding of the pain – and with any premature birth there is always going to be pain and uncertainty – but a 25 week birth? I can’t imagine the terror. I have been lucky to have relatively easy pregnancies and births – and even luckier to be able to take my children home soon after. Not 100+ days after.

A good lesson that I took from this was that having FAITH doesn’t protect you from pain (I know, should have paid more attention to Paul’s journey, right?). That FAITH is holding onto God even through the pain – or most especially during the pain.

A keeper – 4 stars. You can start it now by going to KA’s blog and downloading the first chapter.

Non-affiliate links are used in this blog post.