Stories of faith, life, and love

Category: Contemporary Christian Fiction (Page 1 of 15)

What I’m Reading: Writing Home

I’ve had many pen pals throughout my life, mostly from junior high through high school. Before my teen years, I wrote Jenny whose family served as missionaries in the Philippines. After my first time at a sleep away camp the summer between my seventh and eight grade years, I gained a few more pen pals. Doug and April wrote fairly often. Tara and I stayed connected a little longer.

But there was one person I became pen pals with that became one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I met Craig that same summer I started writing my other new friends. We continued writing regularly all the way through high school and into college. Even after we were both married, our families would send Christmas cards to each other.

How did the friendship last that long when all we shared were letters? There’s a lot you can say in a letter. We chatted about the unimportant stuff that made up the bulk of our days. But we also shared our dreams and struggles and faith with each other. We could be completely ourselves in the letters we wrote, and it created a friendship I’ll always be grateful for.

Old-fashioned, snail mail letters can connect people who never get together physically in deep ways. It’s not only the truth, this is also the premise of Writing Home by Amy R. Anguish.

Christiana longs for that deeper connection. Jordan’s cousin encourages him to write Christiana. It comes as a surprise to find they’re both struggling with making the place they live feel like home.

As they continue to write and encourage each other in various aspects of their lives, their relationship deepens as Christiana hoped it would. She can talk to Jordan about the mundane and the struggles, and he can do the same with her. They challenge each other’s perspectives and cheer each other on to growth. In doing so, Christiana and Jordan learn more about themselves and find their daily lives can have some of those things they’d been missing.

Friendship has been the goal from the start, but as they grow closer they wonder if friendship can turn to lasting love when they’ve never met. If so, where does that leave them? Miles separate the people that the letters have brought together.

Writing Home is a sweet romance that reminds each of us to seek deeper connection, learn about ourselves, and find home. For me, the story also brought up special memories I have of the friends I made through writing letters. I may never have fallen in love through writing, but I recall how it felt to be connected over the miles through the words on a page.

What I’m Reading: The Letters

Mistakes, sinful or just plain old errors in judgment, can hound us long after that single moment has passed. I’ve made my share of both, and I’ve suffered the consequences time and again.

It’s easy to get caught up in the guilt these mistakes create inside us. Even seemingly inconsequential actions can lead to days, months, or years of “what if I’d only”. Throw in the spiritual seriousness of sinful actions and those behaviors that reached far beyond us to negatively or harmfully affect others, and the possibility of crippling guilt rises.

If we fail to deal with these issues, the results can worm their way into every area of our lives for years to come.

Rachel Hamar, the main character in The Letters by C. Kevin Thompson, knows this from experience. Twenty years earlier, the actions of her, her boyfriend, and her father came together to create a perfect storm of guilt that left Rachel the lone survivor. And as the anniversary of that day approaches, Rachel still struggles to move from simply surviving the guilt to knowing freedom and learning how to really live and love again.

Her only family is her mother who is in a psychiatric center for schizophrenia due to her propensity to speak with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph on a regular basis. Rachel finds this impossible to believe, yet she has no answers for why her mother knows things she shouldn’t possibly know. Still, she is her mother, and Rachel wants to keep that connection even if it adds more stress to her already stressed life.

Her best friend is there for her too, but neither is quick to push the other forward in life. And when a series of anonymous letters start arriving for Rachel, and the investigation into their origins takes an unexpected turn, even that relationship becomes strained.

The letters are equally disturbing and comforting to Rachel and, though they don’t reference her mistakes from that night so long ago, they do consistently push those memories to the front of her mind. Concern over why she’s receiving them and the possibility that something sinister could be happening push Rachel to find out the truth. If she finds her answers, will the truth really set her free?

The Letters is an attention grabbing story about the powers of guilt and forgiveness and the great love of God for His children. I look forward to more from this author. It does contain the possible trigger themes of abortion and mental illness for those who might be sensitive to those topics.

What I’m Reading: Year End Wrap Up

Before moving on to new books for the new year, let’s take a look back at some of my favorites from 2020. If you haven’t had the chance to check these out, add them to your list for 2021. You won’t be sorry.

Favorite Christmas Book: While It Was Snowing by Tari Faris. I believe this was the first book I’ve read from this author, but it won’t be the last. It’s a friends to lovers story with a Christmas twist. It is an easy read, and perfect for reading while snuggled under a warm blanket with a cup of hot cocoa.

Favorite Non-fiction Book: Wrestling for My Life by Shawn Michaels. Yes, this is a book about a professional wrestler, written by that wrestler. I didn’t know what to expect when I read it, but I came away challenged and encouraged in my own faith. Much more down to earth than some celebrity salvation stories, Shawn Michaels’ faith seems grounded in the practical truths of God’s word.

Favorite Humorous Book: Turtles in the Road by Rhonda and Kaley Rhea. This one made me laugh. In the middle of the night. Beside my sleeping husband. Who was no longer sleeping and didn’t find the scene as funny as I did. I’ll be revisiting this one in the future.

Favorite Fantasy Series Devoured One After the Other: The Ravenwood Saga by Morgan Busse. I know it’s a long title. It probably wouldn’t fit on a plaque. But who cares? This trilogy was amazing. I loved the characters and the story. I look forward to more from this author.

Favorite Non-Christmas Holiday Romance: The Cupcake Dilemma by Jennifer Rodewald. It’s a great Valentine’s Day centered story that is more lighthearted than others by this author. (Not that the others aren’t as good. They are. Just different.) This one is sweet and fun and leaves you with a good feeling at the end. I’m also currently giving away a copy of this one. Check out more on that below.

Giveaway Opportunity: For those that don’t know, some author friends and I have a YouTube channel called Once Upon A Page. We discuss all things reading and writing. We even interview various authors. Currently, we are working on a video compilation for Valentine’s Day. We want to hear from you! What does romance mean to you? What is the most romantic thing someone has ever done for you? You can answer one or both questions in a short video. We may use your entry in our special Romance Edition of Author Talks. Whether we do or not, you will be entered to win an Ebook copy of The Cupcake Dilemma and a set of ColorStreet nail polish strips in the perfect Valentine’s Day date color.

Check it out the specifics on my Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeatherGreer/

What I’m Reading Christmas: Mistletoe Kiss

Mistletoe Kiss Review

I’ve never understood the whole mistletoe thing. The basics, yes. Simple enough. Get caught standing under the mistletoe and you’re going to get kissed. But why? And who decided this was a good idea?

Luckily, no one I know decorates with mistletoe. I’m a fan of personal space, and an unexpected kiss would definitely be an unwelcome invasion of that space. I can’t imagine anyone would actually be a fan of this idea.

In my experience, kisses never end well when they start as a challenge, dare, or part of a weird game or tradition. Spin the bottle, anyone? It’s like the non-holiday version of mistletoe.

I admit they do make for great scenes in movies and books though. When Lucy and Jack get caught under the mistletoe in While You Were Sleeping, it was both awkward and sweet. It reinforces their growing feelings for each other, though neither is prepared to admit it.

Maybe that’s another drawback (or possibly perk) to a mistletoe kiss. Could it reveal what’s lying dormant under the surface of your relationship? It happened with Lucy and Jack.

And it happened with Chase and Rachel in Mistletoe Kiss by Andrea Boyd. Chase has loved his best friend for as long as he can remember, but she’s never seen him that way. When she suggests they participate in an attempt to break a world record for the most couples kissing under the mistletoe he agrees. But is it going to be a way to show her how he really feels or just a bittersweet moment to forever taunt him with the reminder that he can’t get out of the friend zone?

When she realizes their kiss has to last for ten seconds, Rachel has second thoughts about going through with her plan, no matter how much it means to scratch “beat a world record” off her bucket list. When the kiss is more amazing than she ever dreamed it would be, Rachel has to determine if it’s a fluke or if she should have taken Chase out of the friend zone a long time ago.

With Chase and Rachel hesitant to risk their solid friendship, neither is willing to admit their feelings to the other or even themselves. Every action and word is inspected for deeper meaning, as they try to sort out their own feelings and work up the nerve to take a chance on love with another Mistletoe Kiss.

Four Christmas Angel Rating

It’s a sweet and fun story. I enjoyed it and give it a solid three and a half Christmas angels. Though, again, I’m not into decapitating an angel so the picture will show four.

What I’m Reading Christmas: Once Upon a Silent Night

What I’m Reading:
Once Upon a Silent Night

Dreams are funny things. Not the asleep in your bed kind of dreams. The what do I want to be when I grow up sort of dreams.

Dreams are goals on steroids. They’re the major goal that you meet all the minor goals to reach. And dreams have the ability to motivate you to do all sorts of things you wouldn’t otherwise consider. It’s all in hopes of finally achieving that one thing you’ve been straining to reach for who knows how long.

Dreams can also frustrate, confuse, and discourage you. “Only when you don’t reach them,” you might think. You’d be wrong.

Of course, working hard and planning every step to bring you closer to your dream only to find yourself further away than when you started is definitely a discouragement. I’m not arguing that point. But sometimes, the reality of achieving your dream isn’t what you thought it would be back when it was only an idea shining brightly in your mind.

Then, all you saw was the payoff, the prestige, or the fulfillment it would bring. When you finally succeed, the work to maintain the dream or to move to a new stage of the dream hits you squarely in the face. The dream is still sweet, but the maintenance of it can be draining. Still, you wouldn’t trade anything for chance to achieve the dream.

At least, that’s the thought that keeps Alessia Talbot warm at night in Kimberly Rae Jordan’s book Once Upon a Silent Night. I mean, it’s literally keeping her warm at night since she’s living in her car. Her dream got her kicked out of her home. When her dream didn’t immediately pan out, she ended up with a series of dead end jobs that eventually led to no place to call home except the SUV her parents gifted to her before her exile from the family.

With a low paying job, Alessia has a system worked out to provide her basic needs. She simply cannot afford an apartment. She knows she can always go back home, but it means giving up her dream of singing professionally for life as a lawyer in the family practice. She’d rather fight the cold than give in to their demands.

When a local church sign declares their building will be open 24 hours a day through the holiday season, Alessia takes the chance to warm up after her late night shift at the bar where she works. Gio has the overnight shift at the church, and his welcoming no pressure attitude frees her to come back night after night.

As these hours of warming up continues, Alessia soon warms up to Gio too. Though neither is completely open about their past, friendship is formed as they find they’re kindred spirits in many ways. The closeness they share is new for both of them, and they each battle with being attracted to the one they don’t believe they can ever have.

Gio introduces Alessia to the real meaning of Christmas while helping her reclaim a fondness for the holiday season. In the process, his support and encouragement opens Alessia up to possibilities she hasn’t considered for her life.

Even as they’re growing closer, Alessia knows she has to either give up her dream or walk away from Gio and the hope she’s found in the town of New Hope Falls. But she’s already given up so much to make her dream a reality. She’s not going to throw it away now, even if it breaks her slowly healing heart.

Fighting for our dreams is like that sometimes. We get stuck thinking the dream is the be all, end all. We have to achieve the dream no matter what we leave behind. We get so narrowly focused we can’t see God modifying the dream or changing it completely. We end up down a path God never intended us to travel.

Dreams are tricky. Sometimes they’re born out of our own desire. Other times they are God-given. How do we choose which ones to follow and which ones to leave behind? That’s the question Alessia faces in Once Upon a Silent Night.

Four Christmas Angel Rating

I give this book 3.5 Christmas Angels. (But since I don’t want to half an angel my picture still shows four). It was a good story, and I think it would have been even better if I’d read the earlier stories in the series.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, when I have to determine if a dream is mine or God-given, I start with giving it back to Him. I acknowledge to Him that my heart’s desire is whatever the thing is, but I desire His will above all else. I ask Him to keep me going forward if it is from Him, but to close doors if it isn’t a path I should take. It’s not always 100% clear, but He’s always given me little proofs of which direction I should go.

What about you? Do you have a dream you’ve had to give up things for? Was it worth it?

What I’m Reading Christmas: The Ornament Keeper

Every Christmas, when my children still lived at home, I bought a special ornament for each of my children. I tried to make the ornaments have meaning, whether it was a nod to something they enjoyed or a remembrance of a special time in their life from the year. When they moved out, they had a box of at least eighteen ornaments to take with them. While they are a practical way for my children to have a fully decorated tree when the money might not be there to purchase Christmas ornaments, I hope they are also a gateway to pleasant memories from their childhood.

Memories have power. They can paralyze us with fear, convince us to act differently than we otherwise might, and strengthen our grudges. But they don’t have to result in negative behaviors.

Remembering good ones can lift your spirits and bring hope for the future. An honest look at more difficult memories can help us see patterns in our lives we need to correct. Looking at them objectively can give us a new perspective on the events of the past and lead to freedom from the pains that try to bind us. God can use memories, even the hard ones, to bring us to forgiveness and healing.

Felicia Morgan, the main character in Eva Marie Everson’s The Ornament Keeper, doesn’t want to relive the past. As Christmas nears, her husband had moved out and celebrating the holidays isn’t an appealing option. Her children, however, have other ideas. Felicia finds herself decorating the tree with ornaments her husband has given her through the years.

Each ornament has a story, and the reader gets to relive those stories alongside Felicia. Switching between her past and present, we see the joys she’s forgotten. We stand beside her as she wanders through memories of the failures and trials still haunting her in the present. We begin to understand, along with her, how each vignette of her past has shaped how she sees herself, her husband, and her family.

And it’s these visions of Christmas past that lead Felicia through the lies she’s believed and to a place where healing can begin if only she will allow truth to change her heart.

The Ornament Keeper is far from a feel-good, light-hearted Christmas story. But it is a beautiful story of regret and remembrance that leads to the possibility of hope and healing. It’s a story that reminds us how powerful forgiveness can be in our lives, and that’s a truth we can all use more of at Christmas and throughout the years.

I give The Ornament Keeper four Christmas angels. Come back to see if it gets Five Angels and my choice for best Christmas story of the year. I’ll announce my top book a little closer to Christmas.

What I’m Reading Christmas: While It Was Snowing

While It Was Snowing Review

Trust me. I know. Fall hasn’t given way to winter, and Thanksgiving deserves its time in the spotlight. While I am a supporter of Thanksgiving, there aren’t a lot of Thanksgiving themed reads out there. Besides, if I’m reviewing books so you can find ones to add to your TBR Christmas list, I need to start now.

Today’s book isn’t the first Christmas book I’ve read this year, but it is the one I finished most recently. It also happens to be the one I’m currently most excited about. Let me tell you why.

While It Was Snowing, by Tari Faris, has all the makings of a great, feel-good holiday story. On the surface it may seem like a tried and true friends to lovers story, but it mixes it up a bit right from the start.

Danielle Fair isn’t a girly girl. Raised by her father and older brothers, Danielle doesn’t even use her full name. Instead, she goes by Dan, and it isn’t just at home. So used to being one of the guys, she’s known as Dan everywhere she goes including on the job. Her job just happens to be in her father’s garage as the best mechanic he has. Of course, she has to prove that as her father seems unwilling to leave her the business when he readies for retirement.

The story starts with Dan being drafted into her friend’s wedding. Can I repeat here that she isn’t a girly girl. She doesn’t do dresses or makeup or hair. Coveralls are more her style. But she is loving friend, and she steps in despite her discomfort at being transformed into a princess for a day. Maybe it will even give her the chance to impress her best friend Gideon.

Gideon and Dan have worked together for years and become best friends. Gideon is gorgeous and catches the eye of every girl in town, including Dan’s. But he sees her as everybody does, one of the guys. Until he sees her dressed up for the wedding. Suddenly their easy going, share everything with each other friendship is thrown off kilter.

Dan finds herself in the position of proving to her father that she’s the best man for the job while trying to show Gideon that she’s the woman to win his heart. Coveralls and cover shoots don’t exactly mix, and Dan isn’t sure she has what it takes to be a desirable woman and a capable woman in a male dominated business at the same time. Is it even possible?

Gideon loves his friendship with Dan and doesn’t want to risk losing it. But after seeing her at the wedding, he can’t get her out of his mind. He begins to wonder how he has been so blind for all the years of their friendship. Sure, she’s attractive in a dress, but her coveralls don’t make her less of a woman or less beautiful. As he considers their friendship through the years, he starts to realize he loved Dan before he saw her as Danielle for the first time. He loves all sides of her. Now if he can only get her to see it isn’t the dress that makes her desirable, it’s who she is in her heart.

Throw in a snowstorm, a holiday, work drama, and a little bit of jealousy to complicate their journey to realizing their love for each other, and you have a fun Christmas story to start off your holiday reading. Plus, there are several moments with all the feels. (Those moments that leave you actually feeling excited or disappointed for fictional movie or book characters even though you know they aren’t real.)

My rating: 4 out of 5 Christmas angels. This is a contender for my favorite Christmas book of the year. Come back closer to Christmas to see if it wins.

What about you? Do you enjoy the friends to lovers scenario in books?

What I’m Reading: Saving Grace

I am the queen of hair-brained ideas. I spent a lot of my early stay-at-home-mom years chasing a lot of those in attempts to find an outlet for my adult side. After all, when children’s programming becomes the bulk of your viewing choices, you need an adult outlet. The call of a little extra income for your one income family also calls like a siren song.

I sold Christmas Around the World, which was based on home parties. I wasn’t horrible at this seasonal business and actually sold it for a couple of years. But knick-knacks aren’t really my thing. And I’m naturally an introvert. Not a great combination.

I was an Avon representative. Yes, the girl who is allergic to most makeup and can wear it only for short periods of time if I’ve taken an allergy pill, sold Avon. I did fairly well with that one. I actually sold it for several years and even won awards.

My time selling makeup was at least better than my idea to open a gift basket business. In theory, it’s not a bad idea. After all, I enjoy putting gift sets together for people. I bought a book about the gift basket business to prepare myself. I came up with a plan, but my fire to do it fizzled out quickly. Not as quickly as my idea to break into freelance editing for companies, with no training and only a book to guide me, but still, quicker than my jaunt into at-home childcare. (I’m a relaxed mom. Having to have a sparkling house and provide healthy, well-planned meals every day did not agree with me.)

At least by the time my big, expensive ideas for opening a bakery or a Christian bookstore/conference center were sparked, I’d learned not to follow every idea that came into my head. Although I have to admit, these two ideas still haunt me at times. I even have floor plans drawn out for each business.

But during these times when I so desperately needed to find an outlet and my dream of becoming an author was still working itself out, I had one thing a lot of people lack. I had a cheerleader. My husband could have easily said no to any of my ideas. He could have told me how ill-fitting some of my plans were to my personality. He could have made me feel foolish for thinking about trying or, even worse, foolish when they fell through.

He didn’t. He let me try, as long as it didn’t involve a bank loan. He let me explore and decide for myself whether each plan was a good fit for me or not. When I inevitably walked away from each of them, he didn’t say “I told you so”. And when I finally started focusing on my dream of writing, he didn’t stand off in the corner shaking his head and muttering, “Here we go again.” No, he encouraged me, gave me writing time, and sent me to conferences with the abandon of someone who’d never lived with a woman who’d chased down more bad ideas than good.

That encouragement means the world to me. It’s given me the chance to find out which ideas are in my life for a time/purpose, which ones should never have seen the light of day, which ones are meant to fuel the stories I write, and which ones I should chase after for the rest of my life.

Because an idea can fall into any of those categories. Just ask Michelle Wilson from Amy Anguish’s newest book, Saving Grace. When Michelle is involved in a fatal accident, newborn Grace is left alone in this world. Bonded through the traumatic event, Michelle feels she has been called to make sure Grace is taken care of for the rest of her life.

Initially, this charge seems perfectly set up. Her parents are equipped to provide emergency foster care. Grace’s birth grandparents are dead, and there are no uncles or aunts to claim her. Already moving back home to start her dream job, Michelle is perfectly placed to provide Grace with the love and care she needs.

But it isn’t smooth sailing for Michelle. While her parents agree to help her, they’ve made it clear they aren’t sure Michelle is ready to be a single parent. And when her best friend Greg learns Grace’s parents wanted her raised by a married couple, not a single person, even he has a hard time fully backing her decision.

The lack of support leaves Michelle determined to see her plan through to the end. Will she allow herself the time to search out if God wants her to keep going in this direction or if He has another plan in place for her and Grace?

Of course, Greg has to weigh some ideas of his own. He’s loved Michelle for what seems like forever, even though she’s never noticed the shift in his feelings. In all their years together, he’s never not supported her. But this is a child’s life and her parent’s dying request. How can he support her? When the answer comes to him suddenly, Greg has to decide if the idea is one he should abandon or hold onto no matter what.

Amy has written a story of finding one’s purpose that opens the reader up to the reality of the many paths we have to choose from in life and the importance of quieting our hearts to hear Him tell us which ones to turn from, which ones to travel for a time, and which ones to journey down for the rest of our lives.

https://scrivenings.link/savinggrace

What I’m Reading: Reclaimed: A Rock Creek Romance

Sometimes it’s hard to escape our pasts. My husband was no saint growing up. He, like all of us, made mistakes. He wasn’t a Christian, and while he was a decent guy, he didn’t have any qualms about living in all the ways the world told him he should live. It’s been 28 years since high school, but those decisions haunt him still.

Andy answered the call to preach early in our marriage. Living in small town Illinois, I would often run into people from his past. Upon hearing my last name, they would ask me who my husband was and, on finding out it was Andy, what he was doing now. The looks I received when I told them he was a pastor! I’ve had more than one actually say, “No. We must be talking about a different Andy.”

Of course, other times our past doesn’t haunt us as much as it traps us. Focusing our energies on mistakes that hindsight allows us to see but not fix can cause us to swim in sea of regret and sometimes depression. Focusing on our hurts can trap us in lies about who we are and what we need to do to survive.

When I was in junior high, I wore my hair pulled back in a ponytail. One of the boys in class compared my ears to those of a fictional elephant. Now, I didn’t particularly like this boy. He’d never been nice, and he wasn’t one I usually gave much attention to. But his statement, met with the hearty agreement of his pre-teen buddies, stuck with me.

To this day, I refuse to wear my hair up in public because of my sticking out ears. Do I really have elephant ears? A godly friend that I respect deeply tells me no. Does that mean the many years of believing it have melted away, freeing me to wear headbands, ponytails, and hats which I love? No. I’m working on it though.

It seems like a silly example, in light of the deeper hurts others, myself included, have allowed to attach to their spirits These lies can change how they view themselves and the actions of others towards them. In the grand scheme of things, it is minor. But it is one time the past impacted my present in an undeniable way.

Whether it’s our mistakes hounding us or events of the past shaping who we are and what we believe, our pasts don’t often stay there. And only God’s truth can put it back where it belongs.

When Suzanna Wilton and Paul Rustin, the main characters of Jennifer Rodewald’s Reclaimed, become neighbors in Rock Creek, Nebraska it puts them on the path to finding this out firsthand.

Suzanna has inherited her father’s land, but it’s far from the only thing he’s given her. Hurts and disappointments from the past have also left her with disdain for God and a chip on her shoulder. She’s out to prove herself on the land her father gave her, and those who would tell her she doesn’t belong better watch out. Suzanna carries so many wounds from her past that she can’t see truth through the pain they cause her.

When Paul Rustin, unintentionally joins the ranks of those she feels are out to see her fail, he faces a difficult path to show Suzanna otherwise. It takes his sister’s honesty to help him determine there may be more to his cantankerous neighbor than he first believed. Slowly, they build friendship and trust. Even more slowly, they realize there may be more than friendship growing between them.

When others in town conspire to make her leave, Suzanna’s wounds are aggravated. Her past colors her outlook in the present, and misunderstandings arise. Pair those with Paul’s less than savory past, and the relationship between them becomes less secure. When the truth about Suzanna’s own past and lack of faith come into the open, the lies she believes are reinforced. When Paul’s past comes knocking on his door one more time, it threatens to be the end of all they just started to build.

Truth, love, and forgiveness, both from God and people, are needed if Paul and Suzanna are going to make it beyond their pasts to find a future together.

What I’m Reading: London Tides

Sometimes our past choices leave us wishing we could do it all over again. Maybe it’s the way we treated someone when we were young and impulsive. Or it could have been a chance we didn’t take because of fear. It might even be a path we took against our better judgment that causes us to wonder what life would have looked like had we listened more to those who warned us to go in a different direction.

Even if we don’t wallow in regret, I think we all face those “what if” thoughts on occasion. Second chances don’t come along for every situation, but sometimes life brings us back around to familiar places and faces. This can be a second chance to get it right, or it can be what tempts us back into old patterns.

Grace Brennan, the main character in Carla Laureano’s London Tides, finds this out the hard way. Years ago she walked out on the man she loved to prove herself as a photojournalist. In honor of her brother, she wanted to change the world through showing the devastation and need of people in high conflict areas. And she succeeded, until she was faced with one loss too many.

Knowing she can’t face the horrors any more, she seeks out the one place and person that feels like home, London and Ian MacDonald. She knows it’s a long shot. Ian gave up his Olympic dreams to make a life with her, a life she rejected without reason or warning. But she has to try.

Ian knows there are things Grace isn’t telling him, but he’s drawn to the woman he never stopped loving despite the risks. He gives Grace a second chance, but he’s also forced to deal with his own choices from the past. He stopped living after she left him, and he’s never really started again. Until her return.

Grace has returned to faith, and she’s determined this time with Ian will be different. Neither let faith enter into their relationship decisions in their previous time together, and they ended up going places they shouldn’t have. Grace is also aware some of her coping mechanisms out in the field were not healthy, and she has decided to leave all of that behind. She is a different person now, and she won’t do the things she’s done before.

When a deep tragedy occurs, Grace falls into old patterns. Has she really changed at all? Is her faith real or just something she’s pretending? Can she be a new person with the weight of the past she’s refused to deal with clinging to her? If she can’t, is there any hope for her and Ian to have a future? She’s been given a second chance, but is it only going to end like it did the first time?

As I read about the sinful choices Grace fell back on, I was tempted to be disappointed with her. But God reminded me of the times I’ve also resorted to old behaviors. While they may not have been the same struggles, they were just as wrong.

Second chances are tricky, for Grace and for us. London Tides reminded me of that. It also reminded me how thankful I am that there’s no limit to God’s forgiveness when I fail to be the new me and fall back into the behaviors of the old me.

Have you ever gotten a second chance? Did it turn out the way you expected?

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