Posted in book review

Book Review: The Hideaway

Disclaimer: This book was given to me in exchange for a fair and honest review

I might have picked up The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton just for the cover, and I’ll admit that had something to do with my choosing this book. The cover is lovely and the story-line appealing. Who hasn’t wished they’d gotten to know a grandmother or other relative better, before it was too late?

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When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.
Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

Maybe this book wasn’t meant to be Christian fiction, but the name Thomas Nelson/Zondervan on the back cover led me to believe God would be a part of this story, and he was, just barely. It wasn’t until one of the last chapters that one of the characters mentioned prayer or God.

An easy afternoon read.

Posted in creativity, faith

A Mother’s Creative Legacy

Legacy of creativity
Wednesday, June 14, Ruth Suckow Memorial Library, Earlville, Iowa, 6:30 pm.

Living a Legacy of Creativity, with author Mary Potter Kenyon
Growing up, little Mary Potter frequented the stacks of the Earlville library, with the goal of reading every single book on the shelves. By the time she began working there as a teen, she’d come close. With parents who encouraged book-reading, and a mother who demonstrated uncommon creativity in her everyday life, Mary dreamed of becoming a writer and librarian someday. Now, she is both. Potter Kenyon will encourage, inspire, and entertain with a power point presentation on how a legacy of creativity fed a dream that would result in hundreds of published pieces in newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and five traditionally published books, including the award-winning “Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace.”

I’m working on this power point presentation this morning. I’ll be presenting it at library in the small town I grew up in. With classical music playing in the background, I arrange slides that include photos of my mother’s creative endeavors; the woodcarvings, quilts, paintings, pastel portraits, and even a teddy bear made from a coat I used to wear as a child.

I’m revising the power point I’d designed and presented to a group of homeschooling mothers in early 2012, a month before my husband died.  That presentation was in homage to my mother who’d passed away in November 2010, leaving a legacy of creativity and faith behind. As the “keeper of her words,” I’d inherited some of her notebooks and a Memory Book that made it clear that her greatest desire was for her children and grandchildren to utilize their God-given talents in their walk to Heaven’s gate. It was evident she held no doubt that each of them possessed talent.

That had been the central theme of my presentation to young mothers; the reminder that each of them had talent that could be worked into their everyday life. I’d later present a modified version to a group of women who were of retirement age. The young mothers had complained “they didn’t have time” and the older women lamented that “it was too late,” neither of which is true, of course.  We can make time for what is important to us, and it is never too late.

I had no idea then that I would lose the man who had become the wind beneath my creative wings, or that the outline of my presentation would become the framework for a future book encouraging women, young and old alike, to utilize their own creativity. Nor could I have imagined then that I would eventually form a lifelong learning group for the same purpose, but that’s exactly what has transpired. On my off hours at home, I’m developing a book proposal for a book on creativity. At work, I’m in the midst of planning a “Creativity Circle” that will begin meeting in the Dyersville library in September.

I might have had no idea what was in store, but God did. He went before me, and was with me through it all. I haven’t forgotten the faith part of the legacy my mother left. My walk Home might not resemble hers, but neither of us would claim our respective talents came from anywhere but God, The Creator. In preparing to write my book proposal, I’m immersing myself in dozens of books on creativity. I’m amazed to discover how many authors go to great lengths to avoid attributing talent and creativity to the ultimate Creator, instead talking about the Universe, or the power within.

Exodus 35:30-33 “Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.”