Character Review of: When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer

August 28, 2012

Amy Knackstedt moved her family to Weaverly, Kansas, a community of both Mennonite and non-Mennonite residents. While trying to settle into their new home, she encounters her next-door neighbor, a seemingly grouchy man who warns her to keep her children at home and out of his orchard. What transpires afterward is a heartwarming story of family, loss, forgiveness and healing. This is definitely a “five-star” book.

Main Characters in This Book:

Amy Knackstedt, deeply committed to the Christ and a member of an Old Mennonite Order, finds herself widowed with three children, one of whom is a special needs child. She depends on the Lord for each and every decision as she strives to bring her children up “in the way they should go.”

Bekah Knackstedt, Amy’s thirteen-year-old daughter is loyal to her faith and her family. However, she begins to question her faith after her dad’s death and the family relocates.

Parker Knackstedt, Amy’s eleven-year-old son who’s suffered a brain injury due to an accident. He yearns to be accepted as he is and for a father figure in his life since his dad passed away. He finds a “best friend” in Mr. Roper, who’s reluctant to relinquish his heart to these children.

Adrianna Knackstedt, or “Adri” is Amy’s five-year-old daughter is the precocious and precious baby of the family, who comes up with the cutest comments and questions.

Tim Roper is the ex-Mennonite neighbor who wrestles with the loss of his wife and son five and a half years ago in an automobile accident for which he feels responsible. He’s also begun to struggle with the decision he’d made many years prior to leave his family and the Mennonite faith. When the Knackstedts move next door, he grapples with surrendering his heart to the children–and their mother.

Margaret Gerber, a matronly and highly opinionated Mennonite matriarch-type who proves to be a  friend to the Knackstedts as well as the rest of the community.

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling author of twenty-five books. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she writes “gentle stories of hope.” If I could come up with one descriptive word for Kim Vogel Sawyer’s writing style, it is picturesque. She has an outstanding talent for weaving words that will touch your heart.  If you’d like to know more about Kim’s books, please visit her website: Or, you can purchase them at,,  or

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

The Newest Do

August 24, 2012

A few days ago, I gave myself a haircut, and now I’m waiting for someone to say, “Gee, I see you’ve gotten a hold of the scissors again. Someone really needs to hide them from you.”

 You cut your own hair? Really? Yes, really. It all started when I became disenchanted with my stylist. You see, at first I really liked her, but then she started taking two and three appointments at the same time, expecting that we had nothing better to do with our time than to wait for her—and gossip. One afternoon following work, I faced this situation. She had a hair color, a perm, and a wash and style scheduled at the same time as my hair cut. Now here we have one stylist and four–count ’em f-o-u-r–clients waiting to be served. Granted, she is one of the few stylists with whom I can get an appointment after five o’clock. But, I was already tired and anxious to get home so I could get supper over, so I politely excused myself saying I had something to do…and I haven’t been back.

I decided to patronize one of those walk-in salons. When I got home with my freshly clipped do, I looked into the mirror and frowned. There were straggling hairs left all over my head. I had to snip several strands to bring them in line with the others. So I said to myself, “Self, you can do this good.” After all, I’d been cutting my husband’s hair for nigh onto forty-eight years now. Yeah, he had to suffer through some not-so-great haircuts, but I never got any reports of bullying by coworkers, or any suicide notes, and after a while I got the hang of it.

I’m all about saving money and an avid D-I-Y-er, so cutting my own hair seemed like a good way to tuck back a few bucks. Now granted cutting someone else’s hair and cutting your own hair are two entirely different things. However, I’d worked myself into a place twixt a rock and a hard spot. I’d either have to shop around for a new stylist—that could take months, go back to the chop shop, or cut it myself. Besides, this wouldn’t cost anything, except maybe a bruise to my vanity. Trust me—those heal.

About a month later, I got brave enough to give it a try. If I do say so, it wasn’t too bad—at least as good as the last one I’d had done at the drive-thru joint. After a few minor repairs, it was passable. No one knew if I didn’t tell them.

Over the next year and a half, I continued to shear, as needed, to keep from appearing totally unkempt. After all, I was expected to project a “professional image” at work.

I’ve worn my hair short for many years after I’d become weary of fiddling with long styles. This time it is short. I mean really, really short. I could spike it, if I’d add super-duper-cement-hold styling gel. But then, I’d always given a slightly sideways glance to dyed-spiked-haired grandmothers thinking “Who are you kidding? That really doesn’t make you any look younger, Granny. Puhleese!”

Now, look at me. No, don’t. I don’t plan on leaving the house for at least two weeks.

Or maybe I could buy a wig…I kinda like the one with the red streak, don’t you?

Book Review: Two of the Little Kicker Series books by Sandy Sprott

August 9, 2012

First of all, let me say that these are really nice hard cover children’s books with glossy pages. (They may also be available in soft cover, but I’d recommend the hard cover.)

A Prayer for Little Kicker is the first book of the Little Kicker series written and illustrated by Sandy Sprott. It contains an adorable map of “Little Kicker Country” in the front and back of the book that gives children (and their parents or grandparents) a sense of the setting of the stories, who the animal characters are, and where they live.

When Little Kicker is just a newborn, Mother and Daddy Donkey have a special Blessing Day for their little colt. All the animals come to join them and ask God for special blessings for Little Kicker, as they teach him to love and talk to God.

In the back of the book is a page where special prayers by family and friends can be recorded.

Little Kicker’s First Rainstorm, the second book in the series, follows the adorable young donkey colt as he learns about who supplies rain for us and why, the importance of rain, and to pray when he is afraid. He also learns what his animal friends do when it rains.

Both books include a list of fun activities for children, to reinforce the spiritual principles taught in these books. In addition, the author includes a section about animals and plants of the Ozark mountain region.

The illustrations are colorful and the characters are appealing. My opinion is that these books are best-suited to pre-school-age children; however, I believe children through age eight would enjoy them. I can hardly wait to start reading the Little Kicker books to my great-grandchildren, and look forward to the next in the Little Kicker series.

Little Kicker books can be purchased at select bookstores,, or from the author’s website:

(Remember, Christmas is just right around the corner!)

Author and Illustrator Sandy Sprott

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