Tuesday, February 17, 2015

'Beyond All Dreams' | Elizabeth Camden

Beyond All Dreams 

by Elizabeth Camden  
Historical Fiction
Bethany House 

Get ready for the newest book from Rita Award and Christy Award winner Elizabeth Camden. Beyond All Dreams is sure to tug at your heart strings.

Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen before his promising career was shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?
Advanced Praise
"Once again Elizabeth Camden has created a lovely, well-crafted novel that is engaging and fun. Anna is a wonderful protagonist with whom readers will immediately fall in love....Beyond All Dreams is a must-read for fans of historical fiction."
---RT Book Reviews

"Camden creates an intriguing blend of politics, mystery, maps, and family issues that will keep readers interested in this sweet, inspirational romance."


Meet the Author
Elizabeth Camden is the award-winning author of four books, including Against the Tide (2012), winner of a RITA Award, Christy Award, and Daphne du Maurier Award. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. Elizabeth lives with her husband in Florida.
Here's my review of this incredible romance:

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Elizabeth Camden and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Beyond All Dreams" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.
'Beyond All Dreams' by Elizabeth Camden is a thoughtful, entertaining, life-altering read.  Anna is the map librarian at the Library of Congress.  She suspects that the accident that claimed her father’s life didn’t transpire exactly as the Navy reported, but she is meeting resistance at every point of researching the event.  Luke is also experiencing some difficulties.  He is a Congressman who’s been demoted by personal and political conflict with the Speaker of the House.  These two people become acquainted when Luke contacts the Library for some research and Anna is assigned to assist him.

What follows is a well-crafted story of love and loss and some of the best advice I’ve ever received from a book or a person!  I am inspired to dream big and make big mistakes…to take bigger risks and live like I believe God is Who He says He is.  And that’s how I’m praying.  This novel also spoke to me deeply about forgiveness, an area where I’ve needed quite a bit of help.

This is not only an entertaining novel.  It is wise counsel.  It is a glimpse of history and Washington politics.  I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading Elizabeth Camden’s other works.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Homiletics Genesis 24:1-25:18

24 April 2013

Contents:            Where?                  Nahor, Beer-lahai-roi                   Who?  Abraham, Servant, Rebekah, Isaac, Ishmael & sons

When Abraham was old, he made his oldest servant swear that Isaac would not marry a Canaanite, but someone from his relatives.
The servant swore he wouldn’t bring Isaac back to Abraham’s relatives.
The servant loaded 10 camels and went to Nahor and had the camels kneel by the well, then he prayed for success and asked for a sign of who God chose for Isaac.
Before he finished, Rebekah came and filled her water jar, gave a drink to the servant when he asked and watered his camels while he watched her.
When camels finished, the servant gave her jewelry and asked who she was and if she had a place for him to stay, she said yes and he worshiped God for leading him to A’s family.
Rebekah ran to tell her family and her brother Laban ran to the spring and invited the servant home and fed the camels but the servant wouldn’t eat until he told his business.
The servant said Abraham was blessed by God and told them about Abraham’s desire to find Isaac a wife from family, not the Canaanites, releasing him from his oath if she won’t come.
So he came to the spring and prayed that the woman he asked for a drink who offered to water the camels would be God’s choice.
Before he finished speaking, Rebekah came out and did all he prayed for, so I praised God and I’m waiting to know if you will deal kindly with my master.
Laban and Bethuel acknowledge the Lord and told the servant to take Rebekah and he gave them gifts, spent the night and wanted to leave early the next morning.
Mom and brother wanted her to stay a few days, servant wanted to leave, they said they would ask Rebekah and she agreed to go so they blessed her and they left.
Isaac went out to meditate and saw camels, Rebekah asked the servant who he was and she covered herself, he told Isaac what he’d done and Rebekah became Isaac’s wife.
Abraham married Keturah and had more children and gave them gifts and sent them away, but he gave Isaac everything.
Abraham lived 175 years and Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah with Sarah and God blessed Isaac and he lived by Beer-lahai-roi.
Ishmael lived 137 years and his sons were Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kademah – they settled from Havilah to Shur.



Abraham sends his servant to get a wife for Isaac.
Choosing a spouse is important.
We should allow God to choose our mate.
Praying about who God wants you to marry is wise.
Watch for God to answer your prayer.
Worship God once He answers.
The Lord gives the servant success and Isaac marries Rebekah.
When God answers prayer, don’t hesitate to act on it.
Bless your children when they leave home to get married.
You learn surprising things while meditating.
Trust God to bring you the right mate.
Abraham fathers more children and is buried by Isaac and Ishmael.
Putting aside your differences to honor your parents honors God.
Ishmael fathers 12 tribes and dies at 137 y.o.
God promised to prosper Ishmael and He kept that promise.


Subject Sentence:

Isaac marries Rebekah and buries Abraham with his brother Ishmael.


Aim (Christian and Non-Christian):

TCMATK that God brings relationships into the lives of His people and desires that we honor those relationships.



What method did you use to choose your spouse?
What can you do – or not do – to insure that God chooses your mate?
What are you praying/did you pray about your mate?
How did God answer your prayer for a mate?
How did you worship God when He answered your prayer for a mate?
How do you respond when God answers prayer?
How did your parents bless you when you married?
How would you have liked your parents to bless you when you married?
How did you bless your children when they married?
How will you bless your children when they marry?
What surprising things have you learned while you were meditating?
In what ways did you trust God to bring you the right mate?
In what ways have you had to put aside differences with others to honor your parents?
In what ways have you had to put aside differences with others to honor God?
What promises has God kept to you?
How has God prospered you?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker – Week 2


Lots of powerful discussion began this week’s group meeting.  A woman from South Africa shared what true poverty is!  In the United States, true poverty doesn’t exist.  We are so clueless, comparing apples to oranges, so to speak.  I was reminded that this is a war we are waging.  We must be deliberate and take time to develop a strategy for attack and then implement it.  This is tough when we have an inaccurate view of the battlefield.  We must keep the ultimate goal in mind:  removing obstacles between you and Christ.

Is food an obstacle for you?  It is for me.  It has been for longer than I can remember.  I’ve tried lots of strategies using my own power.  I’ve dieted and exercised, lost and gained.  I’ve prayed for willpower and miraculous deliverance and faster metabolism and better discipline to eat right and exercise.  I’ve even given up, asking God to make me who He intends me to be physically all on His own.  But I’m starting to see that it’s not about the number on the scale or the tape measure or the tag in my pants.  It’s about me allowing food to come between me and Jesus.  It’s about me succumbing to those seemingly harmless whispers from the devil who wants to keep me captive.

I want to live in victory and I know that means keeping my eyes on Christ.  But that’s hard, isn’t it?  War isn’t easy.  So what’s the battle plan?  I guess I need to establish chain of command, first.  Jesus is my Commander.  As a good soldier, I must obey His commands.  So, what does God say about food?

In Genesis 1:29, God gives every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it for food.  Matthew 6:25 tells us not to worry about our life, what we eat or drink and what we wear.  In John 4:34, Jesus says His food “is to do the will of Him Who sent me and to finish His work.”  Scripture says lots more, and Jen leads us to read some beautiful passages this week in 2 Chronicles and Leviticus.  Can you believe that?  2 Chronicles and Leviticus!  I wish she would’ve also led us to the New Testament where all foods are declared clean in Acts 10 and 11 and 1 Timothy 4:3-5.  Anyway, what I’ve learned is:  it’s about the heart and attitude, and there is only one possible way to get that right.  This leads me to my first battle strategy.

First step in the battle plan:  Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

I’ve tried to begin my day on most days with Bible reading and prayer.  As a result of this week of study, I plan to be more deliberate about doing so.

Heavenly Father, I come to You in the wonderful name of my risen Savior, Jesus Christ, to thank You for loving me as I am but refusing to leave me that way!  I don’t like the pain that comes with change, but I trust You to prune me so that my life will be more fruitful for Your kingdom.  I trust You to prosper me and not harm me.  So, I ask that Your will be done in my life in all areas, not just food.  Please draw me to You each morning – FIRST thing.  And if my battle plan needs to change, Lord, make it clear to me.  I love You, Papa.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Homiletics Genesis 22-23

24 April 2013

Contents:            Where?                  Moriah, Beersheba, Machpelah              Who?  Abraham, God, Isaac, Sarah

God tested Abraham:  Take Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering on mountain in Moriah.
Abraham rose early, took 2 men and Isaac and wood and on 3rd day saw place where God told him to go.
Abraham told men to stay and took Isaac and wood, fire and knife and Isaac asked where lamb was and Abraham said God would provide it.
They arrived and Abraham built altar, arranged wood, bound Isaac, laid him on the wood and took the knife to slay him.
The Angel of the Lord stopped Abraham, knowing he feared God, and Abraham saw a ram and offered it up, calling the place “The Lord Will Provide”.
The Angel of the Lord said he would bless Abraham and multiply his seed and all nations would be blessed through his seed because he didn’t withhold his son from Him.
Abraham ret’d to men and went to Beersheba and he was told about his brother, Nahor’s children.
Sarah died at Kiriath-Arba at 127 y.o. and Abraham insisted on buying the cave of Machpelah from Ephron, son of Zohar of the sons of Heth for 400 shekels of silver.
So the land was deeded to Abraham and he buried Sarah.



The sacrifice of Isaac.
God tests His people.
God guides us in where to go.
God rejoices in the obedience of His people.
The Lord will provide everything we need to accomplish His will.
The promise of seed to Abraham.
God rewards obedience.
The death and burial of Sarah.


Subject Sentence:

Abraham obediently offers Isaac, later buying land to bury Sarah.


Aim (Christian and Non-Christian):

TCMAT be aware of God’s provision and promises and notice them in their everyday lives.



In what way has God tested you?
How has God directed your path?
Under what circumstances has God been able to rejoice in your obedience?
How have you experienced God’s provision lately?
What promises has God made to you?
What promises to you has God fulfilled?
How can you prepare to make things easier for the loved ones who will have to bury you?


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker – Week 1


The first group meeting is usually a partial “getting to know you” session with very little meaty content.  This study couldn’t afford to start off that slowly.  “What does ‘excess’ mean to you?”  More than one refrigerator.  Storage facility.  More than what I need.  Getting everything I want.  Greed.  Ouch.  Am I the only one being convicted, here?

One of our group members suggested a clothing drive so we could clear out our closets and donate the items to a local organization.  Great idea!

So, are you ready to stage your own mutiny against excess?  Does this study intimidate you?  It probably should if you’re looking at it properly.  But don’t be dissuaded from participating.  There are different intensity levels at which you can accomplish this study.  They are presented as alternatives within the pages of the study itself, so we will begin to see those with next week’s homework.

The introduction to the study gives a good indication that this is going to be a powerful nine weeks!  This is not about organizing and downsizing for your own benefit.  Well, it is, but not in the way you might think.  This is about removing roadblocks and obstacles that keep you from encountering God and enjoying the fullness of relationship that He wants to share with you.  I am ready to bulldoze my way to a closer walk with Jesus.  I’m still praying about how far to go.  Just because I signed up for the overhaul doesn’t mean that my family did.  So, this must be pursued delicately and tactfully.  I plan to ask my husband to read the Intro lesson so he knows where my thinking is.

Over the next several weeks, we will be engaging seven common areas where we experience excess:  food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress.  The challenge is to engage one area each week and conquer the excess that is standing in the way of a closer relationship with God.  Sure, there are physical benefits to participating in this study.  My personal goal is to be nearer to the Lord.  I’ll let you know how that’s turning out as the weeks pass.  But I am looking forward to the challenge.