Saturday, April 30, 2011

SET FREE TO LIVE FREE (Breaking Through the 7 lies Women Tell Themselves) by SAUNDRA DALTON-SMITH, MD

First I must say, Set Free To Live Free, is a book every woman should read. Better yet, read it with your daughters. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. From we are worthless, too fat all the way to we are undeserving. I simply loved this book. I felt as though I had sat down with, Saundra, myself. Now, that is a gifted writer. Saundra shares the seven lies we tell ourselves, but she does something that I just loved. She tells the truth behind the lie. She shares with us how to face the lie and  how to overcome that lie in finding the truth. We have been told these lies by our own mothers who faced these same claiming lies. It is time to break the cycle, friends. With, Set Free To Live Free, we can be released from the past holding us back and move forward to the women we were created to be.

The lies:
1. Perfection is the goal
2. I would be happy too if I had her life
3. If I do this, I can look like that
4. Life is an all-or-nothing activity
5. Being in control is better than spontaneity
6. Emotional imbalance is only for crazy women
7. Everything comes with conditions

The Free Women's Creed:
1. I am perfectly imperfect
2. I am too unique for comparisons
3. My body, my temple, God's choice
4. My balanced life requires addition and subtraction
5. Spontaneity is God's opportunity to surprise me
6. My transparency opens the door for soul connections
7. My only limitations are the ties I allow to bind me

With each lie, Saundra, shares a story of a woman, a woman struggling to overcome. One that deeply touched me was a woman who came into her office with skin cancer. Just one small, tiny spot, changed her life forever. Just one tiny spot that went unnoticed by her, but was noticed by, Saundra. Our lives can be like this tiny spot. We let such things go until they grow and grow. Becoming a cancer that eats away at us. This woman was set free. Not only from the cancer that attacked her, but situations in her life.

Saundra leads us through this journey of lies into the freedom of truth. Everyone needs a doctor like, Saundra. What a blessing. The amazing thing? We all have the Healer who loves us and is waiting to be part of our lives. Only He can set us free. This is not only a great book for women and their daughters, but for men too. What better way to understand your wife and to encourage her than to really know her on every level. I think this would be an awesome addition to a Sunday School lesson or a small group study. I know I will share my book and pass it on.

Another part I loved is a story of a woman searching. Saundra sets her up on a date with the man of her dreams. The only One who can bring her true joy and set her free. You will find yourself within these pages. Women who struggle. Women afraid to share. Ladies, it's time to let go. It's time to be set free. How many stars to do I give this book? Well, you can only give a five, but for me, this book was at least a ten!! Really. This is one you don't want to pass up. I learned much about myself through these pages. Praise the Lord we have willing vessels to share with us. To open our eyes to finding a freedom. A freedom only to be found in Jesus Christ.

This book was a gift by Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD for it's review. It is published by Revell and will be out May 11.

Saundra Dalton-Smith MD is a board-certified internal medicine physician who has been practicing medicine since 1999. She treats a predominantly female population and has firsthand experience with the struggles women face trying to imitate the American dream. Dr. Dalton-Smith has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan. She lives in Alabama.

Friday, April 29, 2011

What's missing from your worship?

What is it that we expect? When we walk through the doors at church, what is it that we want to see? We want to see, Jesus, but is that really who we see? When we walk through the doors at church what is it we want to feel? Jesus. We want to feel Him with His arms wrapped tightly around us. We expect God to move, but to feel Him move we too must be ready to move. We have to stop talking to the one sitting next to us long enough to hear the words spoken by the pastor. Words brought to us in worship. Are we really there to worship or is it just another Sunday and that is what we do?

What is your Sunday like? Walking a little heavy? Things weighing you down? When we walk through the church doors lets bring all our baggage and leave it at the altar instead of carrying it with us. Jesus doesn't just want a part of us. He wants all of us! Isn't it time to trust Him?

We enter looking around to see all who is there. Do we wonder who is missing? Do we wonder why or do we wonder who is looking at us? We take our seat only to pass by others not paying much attention to the sadness written all over their faces. We see things that need to be done, but do we offer to serve? We wait. Expecting another to do the job.

"Something is missing", we say. Jesus knows what that something is. We look around trying to locate just what is missing, but I can tell you. It's us. You and I are missing from church. Oh, Jesus is there. He is wanting to be seen and heard. He is wanting to be felt and He so wants everyone to come to Him. But we don't. We don't move. We are the problem. Not, Joe, sitting three rows back with a drink waiting for him at home. Not Miss King sitting next to you with her crazy kids that never mind. It isn't the singer standing before you who is off beat just a little. Not the usher walking by who will offer you a plate soon. It isn't anyone, but the one sitting there looking for the problem. Ever wonder why we just simply can't put our finger on the problem? No one wants to see that it could really be themselves.

We walk in church as though, "Well, I am here. Everyone, I am here, do you see me?" We gossip about one another. Oh, it isn't really gossip if we are only sharing prayer requests, right? We turn our head when someone is in need. We know the needs all around us, but do we make calls? Do we send cards? Do we offer our hearts to another? Sadly, as we enter the doors we are still making it all about us. When does, Jesus get His turn? When will it be all about Him? When will we really get it?

Oh sure, as Christians we talk a good talk. We like to think we don't do the things the world takes part in, but we do. We do the very same things those we are judging are doing. It might not be the very same, but we too have our own set of problems we refuse to see. Until we refuse to see ourselves we will never fully see Jesus Christ for all He really is.

Where is the encouragement in our churches? Where is the circle of prayer? Who is leading the youth and who is standing behind the pulpit? We blame those standing before us for every single problem. Those pews inside the church are filled with sinners. There are no light sinners and heavy sinners. We are ALL sinners. We don't like to think of ourselves as sinners do we? Oh, we don't like that word, but friends, that is exactly what we are.

We place ourselves in circles of people. We like to say, "Well, she didn't even talk to me." "She walked right by me. Did you see that look she gave me? Oh, I know she doesn't like me?" Once again, who is it all about? We forget when we walk through the church doors we all are there to worship. We are there to worship the Savior who died for each and every one of us. The sinners  who He chose to shed His blood for. We are not there to determine who is best dressed or who isn't there because of their late Saturday night. We are not there to judge one another, casting glances at those we seen over the weekend. We are there to worship. What do we expect? Really? Until we are ready to give we will never be able to receive all Jesus has for us.

I think I expect to find love there. In this room where people gather I expect to see nothing more or less than Jesus. I want to see real. I want to see Jesus face to face as we sing and worship. We don't go to church to be served, but to serve. Somewhere I think we lose that point. We go thinking once again, it's all about ME.

A great day at church is meeting Jesus face to face and getting a little closer to Him. A great day at church is getting to close your eyes to all around you and take in all Jesus has for you. It's leaving all you have at the altar and trusting God to carry you throughout the week with a strength that only He has. It's watching as others come to know Him. Join Him for the very first time, lean on Him like never before, and come back to Him for the love they once knew greatly. A sweet service is seeing a tear of joy. A kiss of laughter and an open bible awaiting a new scribble.

It doesn't quite matter if your church carries a few thousand, a few hundred or just a few. What matters are the hearts that are open to all He has for you to hear. Church is not a building. It is a group of gathered people joined to celebrate all Jesus has for us. We allow this day just to become another day. We go. We listen. We return home. What would happen if we really gave all we had? What would happen if we really checked our baggage at the door, realized it isn't all about us, and totally let our hearts bleed? I mean let it all out, not caring who sees your tears, or how long you stay at the altar. Raising our hands in praise and laying our hand upon another in prayer. What if we stopped the fake smiles and stopped pretending we like everyone in the room and totally focused on the One who came?

What if we stopped talking long enough to really listen? What if for once we just stopped bragging on our family and shared the truth? What if we were honest and shared, "Things are not as they seem?" You know what? More people would come. More people would serve. More people would go to the altar. More people would reach out. Why? Because then my friends it would be real!

We all struggle. We all have fears. Why do we try to hide them? It is when we cover up everything and hide in pride that Jesus can't be seen or heard. We want our children to lead? Well, we must lead first. We must take that first step in not gossiping and judging those very people we gather with. We must not make a difference in those we help and in those we pray for. Why can't we simply reach out to everyone? It doesn't matter if you sit in the first row or come in last as service is just beginning. Each and every person is there because at that moment that is just where Jesus has called us to be. He has given each and every one of us a purpose and plan. Why are we not reaching out and encouraging those around us? Why? Because we are feeling it ourselves. Soon, we feel forgotten and lost and we stop looking for Jesus. We go home never to return. Sound familiar to you?

We go to church and we carry within us such hurts and bitterness. Until we are able to let all that go and realize our churches are not perfect we will never find what we are looking for. Only Jesus can heal our brokenness. Only Jesus can fill us from our emptiness. Only Jesus will forever be with us, never letting us down and bringing disappointment. People make mistakes. People are searching. Each person walking through your church doors is searching for something. Until they see a congregation that is real they will never come to know a Jesus that is real.

Friends, it's time to take off our pride. It's time to let down the veil we have been hiding under. It's time to stop talking and listen for once. If we really let go, really let go, we will see Jesus move in a way like never before. Isn't it time? Change? It must begin within our own heart. All we have to do is show up and let Jesus do the rest.

"And now abide faith, hope, love these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Can I make a withdraw, please?

When our kids were all little they didn't quite understand when they had a want and mommy didn't have money in her hand. I remember them saying, "Just write a check, momma." They just assumed I could write any amount in that blank and it would appear before us ready to be used any way we chose. Whether it was a new toy, a lunch time treat, or that shiny pair of shoes just waiting for their feet, they simply thought, "Just write a check."

In trying to explain to a child that just because you have a checkbook doesn't mean you can write one and sign your name at anytime. Well, I suppose you could if you want to find yourself in jail soon. The more I would say, "Honey, I don't have money right now", the more I would hear, "But, just write a check."

Do you ever feel the same way? It seems we live in a "Now world". We don't want to wait. We want what we want right now no explanations given. We all have bills that come in each month. We all have money going out and it never seems there is quite enough coming in. Maybe if so much wasn't going out for unnecessary things we could have more in our fund.

We have always had a savings account. It was filled each week as my husband placed his check into the bank. If something came up there was always a reserve. That safety net if you will for us to fall back on. After losing his job over two years ago, it didn't take long for that reserve to grow empty. Your left holding many checks, but as much as you wish, you can't sign your name and just make all those bills go into the accounts paid pile.

Although my withdraws are limited, Gods are not. He is steadfast and true. I am reminded of the widow woman and her young son. Elijah comes to her home and although she is low on food. Okay, more than low, there is only enough for one meal and what does Elijah say? He wants her to fee him first? Hello, Mr. Elijah, but what about my son? Any mother would want to make sure her son was fed first. But this widow does as Elijah asks. She makes a meal. She not only feeds Elijah, but herself and her son. Each day as she goes to the bin of flour it is never used up. There is always more. Enough for that day. 1 Kings 17:8-16 Listen to what Elijah tells her. "And Elijah said to her, 'Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel; 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.'" 1 Kings 17:13-14

What faith! She was never sent a notice saying, "Your account is over drawn. Pay up!!" She was sent a great message of faith instead. Believe in Me and I will supply ALL your needs. Did she have any extra? No, I don't see where she was able to go out and purchase that new purse she wanted, but she had ALL she needed. How many times do I allow my wants to over shadow my needs? How many times do I find myself not asking God for my needs because I feel like I am not worthy? If I am honest with you. A whole lot! I am not so sure I would have fed Elijah first. But that part of, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel", says it all. When God calls us to move on His behalf, there are no limits to what He can do or will do!!

Why do we place limits upon Him? We either just don't believe or we don't think we are worthy. On both accounts we are wrong. We must believe. We must have faith. In reality, what do we have to lose? Really? We place our faith in so much here on earth and we forever come up empty. Why not place our faith in the One who never runs dry? He loves us so much, He paid our debt. Not only a portion. Not only a months payment. He paid it in full!!

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Now, is God a bank where we can go to Him for each and every desire we have? No, He isn't our genie in a bottle. We can't rub His tummy and have a tree appear covered in money. Everything isn't going to be covered in whipped topping to our liking for every wish. Something better happens. Something even bigger happens. God teaches us our needs. He shows us how invaluable our wants are and just how important our needs are. It's not wanting a new purse that matters. It's why I want the new purse. For me, it is likely to be because I am feeling blue and I think this new purchase is going to make me feel better. I should be going to God to replenish my account instead of searching for it in the purse aisle. Is there anything wrong with wanting a new car? Not at all. Do you need one? Or are you looking to drive through the neighborhood having everyone say, "Wow, I wish I was driving that"? Hmm. That changes the view point, doesn't it?

We place so much happiness in the things of this world. He is forever trying to get me to see that it isn't the things of this world that bring lasting joy. It is giving Him room to do big things in my life that matters. If I am always hunting down all my wants I totally pass up my needs. He knows my every need. Sometimes what I think I need is totally off because I am confusing my needs and my wants. If I totally trust God in all, He will not only show me my needs, but bless me with extras that I never even imagined!!  I don't need a new pair of shoes to make me feel special. I need a new pair of shoes to cover my toes from the cold. There is a huge difference. When we trust God in the little things we might just be surprised at the unlimited supply of gifts He really does have for us. We just spend too much time looking in the wrong places.

Jesus is always replenishing our account. Everything we need is already there. There are no unanswered prayers. He hears every single one as if it was the only one. Sometimes He says yes and others He says no. We may not always understand those no's, but we must get to a place in our walk with Him that we trust His answer for all in our life. When we finally do we are going to find ourselves rich in joy. We are going to see that our account is overflowing with blessing after blessing.

As my husband is out searching for work today I believe God has something big for him. Here we are once again jobless. In this economy it isn't hard to find neighbors in need. Thousands are out searching. But I have come to know no matter what today brings Jesus is here. He is providing. He is caring. No need is being unmet.

My husband's Dodge truck has been sitting in our drive way where it has been broken for months. Over seven months now that truck hasn't moved one inch. Hasn't even started. We have been waiting for money to get it fixed. Two weeks ago my husband had a feeling. He didn't understand why, but he grabbed the keys and headed for that truck. He put the key in and it started right up!! My husband didn't believe it. He shut the truck off and sat there, thinking, "What just happened?" He put the key in again and it started right up once again. Friends, that truck has been running every since. He has driven it every day!! God does mighty things with faith. We must trust Him. That truck broke down right in our drive way, which we thought was a blessing. Right there in that same spot it started right up again.

God is forever teaching us that He is real. He is always with us. When we think our account is empty, God, is there to show us, "Go check again."  To make a withdraw is simple. All we have to desposit is our faith!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Finding a sweet peace as I seek a mighty faith

"Another parable He put forth to them, saying; 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in it's branches." Matthew 13:31-32

"And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, 'How did the fig tree with away so soon?' So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be moved and be cast into the sea, ' it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:22-22

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Lately I have been wondering about faith. Faith that can move mountains. Having faith like a mustard seed. That small seed that doesn't look like much, but wow, when it grows it is mighty!  As we walk with the Lord our faith grows.When we first believe our faith is so small, but after a while it begins to grow. Once we see trial and test upon test we find that trusting in Christ is the only way we can find peace through it all. Planted in the right soil, showered with a little rain, and Son shine, it grows and blossoms into a faith that can move mountains.

I think I have always looked at these verses literally. I have thought, "Now, that is a mighty faith." Maybe Billy Graham could move a mountain, but not little Robin Prater. I have been so wrong. Don't you love it when the light shines and you really get something? In my journey I have faced many mountains. Some I have tried walking around. Not wanting to face them at all. Some I have attempted to climb over, but have given up because the journey was just too much. But through prayer. Through sharing my heart with Christ, He has shown me, in my faith those mountains will move. He can move those mountains. I find that just so cool! We have a God that has such a mighty strength, He can move every mountain out of our way. But does He? Sometimes I think He leaves some of those mountains in my path to strengthen me. To show me all He can do. If I don't have faith in Him going over the little hills in life am I really going to have faith when a huge mountain comes into view?

Sometimes those mountains appear so big, don't they? We see them from afar and as we approach them we are almost fearful of going over. Oh, that journey up can be a treacherous one. Coming down can even be scarier. But that is if we are doing the trek alone. Here is where the faith comes in. When we believe even as small as a mustard seed, God will move that mountain. He will either move that mountain or He will move us. Those mountains are just big hills. Sometimes they roll gently across our life with ease. Other times they are rough and jagged. But in faith we can face them. We don't have to have fear. In Christ we can be fearless!

In faith we pray. We give Him all our worries and fears. We trust Him. In doing so, He then gives us a peace we cannot understand. A peace that frees us, but makes us whole. We feel complete in Him. The faith and trust we have in Him is like a blanket of grace. He covers us with His love. He gives us that extra boost to get up that mountain and gives us a vision so we can see the view from the top. It looks mighty different from the valley below. Once we have made it we begin to see the whole picture. It's like we see with panoramic view.

It's then we see all the pot holes and bumps along the way. We see how He detoured us and gave us those open U-turns along the way. There will be many mountains to climb. We can look at each one as an opportunity to see all God can do. We know we can't do it alone. In our journey we concentrate too much on what is behind us. We see all the failures and mistakes. We see the struggle. That constant upward battle. We focus on that and we are on autopilot to have fear for tomorrow. If God had our back yesterday, He will have it today as we rise and tomorrow as we lay our head to sleep. Lets not look behind nor ahead, but right now in today. If not we are going to miss the big stuff God is doing in our life. Lets take our time and enjoy each view. Friends, we don't want to miss out on anything God has for us!!

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

Sunday, April 24, 2011

All I must do is remember

"From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!' But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of things of God, but the things of men.'" Matthew 16:21-23 

"Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.' And they were exceedingly sorrowful." Matthew 17:22-23

"Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.'" Matthew 20:17-19

The disciples followed Jesus. They saw Him heal. They saw Him do miracles of all kinds. They sat under His teaching. They walked with Him. The shared meals together. Three times here in Matthew, Jesus, shares His death is coming. He too shares He will rise again on the third day. Three times. Did they not believe? Did they forget? In all the circumstances and fear surrounding them, did they forget His words? Where were they all when it happened? Where did they all go after? On Thursday everyone stood together with Jesus. Well, at least all those who believed. On Friday, things began to change. People began leaving His side. In fear they ran. In fear had they all forgotten all that He had taught them.

It was the chief priests and pharisees who remembered. They remembered the words of Jesus. Did they believe? They go to, Pilate, and share their concerns. Listen as they share. "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, 'Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver, said, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first.'" Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.' So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard." Matthew 27:62-66  Here they are calling, Jesus, the deceiver. But is that what they really thought? Why have the stone? Why have a guard? Sure, they were wondering if His disciples would try to come and steal His body, but they didn't have to. Jesus did what He said He would do. I think somewhere in their minds they too knew. They knew and were fearful of the truth in His words.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are getting ready to go to the tomb. What must they be thinking? They had watched their Savior be crucified. They watched in horror. As they enter the tomb the stone is rolled away. The guards are not standing. There is an angel, but no Jesus. Matthew 28:1-15 The angel tells them the, Lord, has risen. He is already on His way to Galilee. You are going to see Him. They ran from that tomb rejoicing. Can you see them? Can you just hear the joy in their voices? Jesus did what He said He was going to do. No stone could hold Him back. No guard could keep Him. Not even death could keep our Savior down. No guard was going to admit they fell asleep. Death would surely come. There was no logical explanation. After His resurrection many saw Him. They rejoiced.

The disciples saw, Jesus, as He entered Galilee. He appeared before them. Some believed, but some also doubted. Then, Jesus, gives the great commission. He speaks and says, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

In the midst of my circumstances and fear how many times to I forget His promises? How many times to I forget that nothing could hold Jesus down? Christ did what He said He would do. Where is my faith? When times get tough and I am staring fear in the face where is my faith? Either I believe or I don't?

Jesus had to ask, Peter, three times, "Do you love Me?" Peter denied Him three times. Matthew 26:69-75 It is over breakfast by the sea that Jesus confronts Peter. In John 21:15-19 Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved Him. I love this. Peter is humbled before his Savior. Peter goes on to live for Jesus, sharing the gospel message. He never again forgets the love of Christ. He never again has to be asked, "Do you love Me?" Peter finally got it!!

How many times does Jesus ask me, "Daughter, do you love Me?" I don't want to forget. I want to see. I want to get it. Really get it. I don't want to live a life just knowing the name of Jesus. For me, that isn't enough. I want a personal relationship with Him. I want to talk with Him and hear His voice. I want to share with others all He has done, is doing, and will do in my life. It is either me or Him. It can't be about both. The less of me the more of Him shines through.

Sure, it's easy for us to wonder, "Where were all those cowards on that day? Where were they after?" Where are we? What are we doing? We should be living in such a way that others see something different in us. We shouldn't look like the world, but in fact we do. We try to fit in with this world so much and in reality the more world there is in us the less of Jesus there is. We allow our fear to get the best of us. When it comes down to our faith, are we sharing the gospel every chance we get or are we cowards hiding out waiting for someone else to do it?

Peter was used of God greatly. First he was humbled. Peter had to really get it before he could go out and preach it. He really had to believe it. Do you? Do I? Each time I allow a chance to share pass by I betray Him. The tomb is empty, friends. It is empty! The stone has been rolled away. Jesus is risen. He did what He said He would do. The question remains, "Will we?" We say we love Him. We say we will live for Him. Will we? Do we? It's easy to say the words, but it is the action that matters.

Why do I doubt? Why do I allow fear to tremble in my bones? Nothing can hold me back as long as Christ is standing in the gap for me. His blood was shed for me. He has the scars to prove it. What do I have? His Word. His love. His truth. He did what He said He would do. What more do we need? Jesus gave us ALL He had. The next time we are doubting. The next time circumstances make us shutter. May we remember, He did what He said He would do. Why would He do any less now? We have much to rejoice in today.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Looking for that steadfast love?

I know just where you can find a steadfast love that is sure and true. Yesterday morning as my husband lost his job once again I turned to this verse. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 What comfort this verse brought to this heart of mine.

No matter what. No matter what, my friends, God is good and faithful. He isn't going to leave us. In the midst of test and trial He is right here standing strong in our hearts. There is no where else we can find a love like His. Never ceasing. Mercies never ending. Oh, what a great love we find in Him.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

So, yes, we are on the search once again for a job. This time around there is no fear. Oh, of course I am sure I will have those days where I wake to find myself looking mud in the eye, but all I must do is remember. I have a Savior, steadfast and true! Ever present in my life. For over two years my husband was out of work. For over two years the Lord supplied. He was ever present and active in our lives. He taught us to trust. He showed us there is hope. We proclaim His promises. There is nothing as sweet as His manna. His Word is alive and true. Oh, the people who faced struggle. The many who faced death and triumphed. We see over and over again those who over came. They did not do so on their own, but through the strength of the Lord they found ALL they needed to face each battle. Daniel, David, Joseph, Paul, Ruth, Job, and the greatest of all, Jesus Christ!

This Sunday we celebrate His resurrection. Nothing, not even death can hold our Savior down. He is risen and coming again. What do I have to fear? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Today as I wake I have much to be thankful for. My list of thanks grows daily so how can I focus on one little battle? Jesus has already won the war. He too will gain victory from this battle as well.

"Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God." Romans 8:38-39

My perspective must remain positive. Isn't it all in our attitude? Some choose to see the glass half empty. I choose to see it half full with room for more. God blesses us in the most unexpected places. Just when we think we are at the end of our rope God gives us the strength to hold on even stronger with more intention and purpose. It is through each trial that I see more of Him. Through each humbling experience my love for Him grows even more. He has brought us through so much. More trials will come. Some I won't want to face at all. Unless I trust Him with all I will never see all He can do. Just a few days ago I wrote about trusting Him. Little did I know what would happen just days later. Was God yet once again preparing me? Was He showing me, "Hold on daughter. The road is going to get bumpy once more, but I am with you. Trust Me?" I believe He was. He did. We always taught our children, "Trust is something you earn. It isn't just given." I believe God has earned my trust. He has yet to fail me and the wonderful thing is, I know He never will!! That is exciting to me. It is encouraging to see Him move through all the things I think are impossible. But He forever shows me nothing is impossible with Him!!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Just in case your wondering about Lets Chat Friday

Hi friends, are you wondering where Lets Chat Friday has been? Well, Lets Chat Friday is still very much a part of Robin's Nest. In fact, I am taking the rest of April to bring together wonderful interviews for the entire summer months!! I am really excited about all that God is doing.

When I began Lets Chat I asked everyone the same twelve or so questions. That was really fun and interesting to see just how different everyone responded. We have been blessed by such amazing women and men willing to share their stories of struggle, life and faith. I am now asking more intimate questions and digging a little deeper. This summer is going to be a blast! Beginning May 5, we have, Krista Dunk, visiting. She will share her life and also the new ministry of LeadHer. We also have, Carrie Beth Stoelting, Heather Funk Palacious, Christie Love, Susan Reinhardt and JoJo Tabares. I am honored to have these ladies and many more come by to chat with us. I love seeing how God is moving through His children. All He needs is a willing vessel.

So stay tuned. More blessings are coming. What would you ask? Who has been a blessing to you? What subjects would you like to hear about? Share with me. I would love to hear from you. If you would like to be guest or know someone who would be wonderful to highlight send me an email. Lets get in touch and share heart to heart. It is when we share that Christ shines through and blesses in the most unexpected places.


This is a wonderful addition to your Easter morning. Zonderkidz has published this great book for kids ages 4-7. It is beautifully illustrated with bright colorful pages that will grab your child's attention. The story revolves around a young boy, Thomas, whose sister is very ill. She comes down with scarlet fever and he must stay with friends, John and Mary Sonneman.

They are owners of a candy store. While staying with them he attends church and does activities with the family. On Easter morning, Mary, gives him a chocolate Easter egg and shares the resurrection of Jesus and how the egg is a symbol of new life. This young boy comes to faith and only wants to share with his sister. A sister who he had just gathered eggs with before her illness. Now he understands. He now brings her a beautiful basket of colored eggs. This is a great way to introduce the real meaning of Easter with small children. Easter is all about Jesus Christ. His life, His death and His resurrection. 

This book was a gift from Zondervan for it's review.

Lori Walburg attended Dordt College and graduated from Calvin College and the University of Iowa. Lori is the author of the bestselling The Legend of the Candy Cane and The Legend of the Easter Egg. She lives with her husband and two children in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

LIVE LOVED Experiencing God's Presence in Everyday Life by MAX LUCADO

I love devotionals. They wake me and bring me face to face with the Lord. I don't think anyone does it better than Max Lucado. As I opened the pages of this book later that morning I would learn that my husband lost his job. God placed this book in my hands at just the perfect time. There is nothing like God's perfect timing my friends. He is good and good all the time, no matter what!

This is a beautiful little book. What a perfect title. We can live knowing God's love. We can share His love. Isn't that what it is all about? Experiencing His love every day!! No dates on the pages, just words of encouragement. Stories to lift us to the throne room of Jesus. Scripture to take our eyes off our situation and place them on the promises of God. This little dandy has five sections. Loved with a Steadfast Love, Loved with a Perfect Love, Loved with a Wise Love, Loved with a Merciful Love and Loved to Love Others. Every subject is covered here with God's wisdom through scripture. Max brings beauty through his own words and touches us making us feel refreshed and encouraged to face the day.

I usually give my devotionals away after reading them. This is one I am going to keep close for a while. It is one I can go back to again and again. This would be a great gift for any friend and it is a wonderful companion along with your bible for your daily moments with God.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Use me Lord, but...

I wake each day saying, "Lord, use me for Your glory and honor today." It wasn't always that way. As Christians we want to be willing vessels for the Lord. We want to be used of Him, but how many times do we say, "Lord use me, but don't do this?" Meaning, we place a circle around all we don't want God to touch. We ask the Lord to use us, but not to touch our children. Don't take my husband. Don't change our job. Don't take our heath. Sound like your prayer to Him too?

Isaiah 40:28-31 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

We do this without thought at times. Although we are saying we have given all to Him, have we really? While we are trying to hang on to some control, which we never really have, the Lord is saying, "Don't you trust Me?" I had to ask myself that question. Either I trust Him or I don't. Either I believe in Him or I don't. His ways are higher than mine or I am really arrogant trying to tell God, "Yes, Your way is best, but don't make Your plans by touching what is most important to me." This is not the life God has chosen for us.

Isaiah 50:10 “Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

We tell Him we will serve, but don't make me serve with her. I will go, but I don't want to go there. Is that really being a willing vessel? God isn't going to make things easy just to please us. It is through those very times when we don't want to work with her or go where He is calling that He really moves. It is at that moment we must fully trust Him. In our weakness we find His strength.

Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”

I must open my hands and give Christ all. That doesn't mean grasping my fingers around one thing, but giving Him another. He wants it all. He lifts us up in our moment of doubt and shows us His might. In our vision we can only see a minor glimpse of it all. What of God? Was He saying, "I will give all to my children, but I am not willing to give My Son? He gave the very One who was most precious to Him. He is our example. We are to follow in His ways. That means when it hurts and when we don't understand.

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Living a life for Christ is being willing to go the distance He calls us to. It's not giving up when things get hard. It's not turning from Him when life is not as we expected, but turning to Him in all, trusting Him so that we can catch a glimpse of the unexpected.

Psalm 20: 7-8 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”

I am always one to notice when the dandelions pop up in our yard. I have such memories of our children picking them for me and putting them in a big mason jar. The bright yellow color just brings a smile. A few days ago I noticed how some where already turning to seed. I picked up these beauties and blew them softly. Each seed blowing in the wind brought a new smile to my face. God uses each part of creation to remind us what happens we trust Him with all we have. As each seed was carried away by the light breeze it was a sight to behold. Only God knows where each seed will sprout up and who else will be picking that yellow beauty to bring a smile to one they love. God uses everything!! Nothing goes to waste. We must trust Him on this journey.

 Psalm 31:14-15  “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand.”

Ever notice how we must let go of one thing to grab another? What happens when we try to carry too much? We end up dropping something and it goes crashing to the floor. Then we are left picking up the pieces. This is what our life is like when we try to carry it all. But what happens when we give everything over to the Lord? We can walk knowing He isn't going to drop anything. He is going to handle each item with care and only the greatest love will be present.

Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”

As mothers we tend to hold on too tight. This can lead to such a stressful life. How do I know? This was me. This is me at moments. Oh, yes, I am that girl that is forever trying to hold on to it all, but God is there. Present in my life forever telling me, "Let go and trust Me." He can't fully use me until I am ready to give Him all. Every area in my life.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Where are you today? Are you trying to grasp for control? What do you have circled? Are you finding yourself like me, wanting to serve, but you have that pen in hand drawing a heart around all you don't want Him to touch? As long as life seems easy we are ready and willing to serve, but when things get a little hard and scary, we let go of God and try to take the reigns back. We ask Him to protect everything we love, but why don't we totally trust Him with all He has given us? How do we get to the point of letting go and trusting? We look to the cross. We see what our Father was willing to give. We see what His Son was willing to do. We look at the disciples who dropped everything to follow Him. When we get to the place where we trust Him with all, He will show us it was worth it all.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ”

Lets keep adding blessings to our memory list

Ask someone what is Easter about and what do you expect them to say? "Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection." Last night in Awana a little girl was asked this very question and her answer, "Jesus' birthday?" Do we just assume everyone knows what this day is in celebration of? As a young girl shared that her family really didn't do anything I listened intently. She shared how her family is always fighting when they get together. She added that they are either drunk or high. This broke my heart. Not only for this little girl, but it was at that moment I looked at myself. I thought, "Wow, that was me at eleven." I had no idea what Easter was really about. Easter eggs and bunnies. BBQ and fighting. Drinking. In my family there was always a celebration for drinking. The more drinking the better. This is heartbreaking for a child to have this as part of their memory. A memory that never leaves. But one we try to replace with others.

In asking the children what one of their fondest memories of Easter is, I shared mine. I had one upon my heart, but I just simply couldn't find the words to share to this group of young people. The one I shared? When our children were all at home and still young, we went to church on Easter. We had a beautiful cross service. We had two crosses on stage. A hammer and nails. As we sat in our pew, I closed my eyes as tears trickled down my cheeks. Just the sound of nails being hammered into these crosses brought me right to His throne. I could envision Him. I could for once see what Easter is. During this time I was praying for our children. It was my hope that they too could see. Our oldest daughter reached for my hand in tears. She looked up at me and said, "Rob, will you go with me?" We walked together. Each now holding a nail and waiting our turn to hold the hammer within our very hand. We knelt together, crying, worshiping the Savior who died for us. Who died for each and every sin. He took our sin upon Himself so that we could have life. For me, that is what Easter is. Looking to Jesus for hope. Leaving behind our sins and realizing our sin is upon Him. He paid the price with His life. A price that would be death for us, but because of His gift, we now have life. Life eternal.  He willingly took each and every sin. There is no love greater than His. I look back to that Easter Sunday and hold it dear. A sweet memory to always remember.

What did I want to share? Yesterday was the twenty fifth anniversary of my father's death. He has been gone twenty-five years. It doesn't even seem possible. Although so long ago, it seems like yesterday. It was on a Easter Sunday that I last saw him. It was on this day that I hugged my dad. It was on this day that my dad told me he loved me for the very first time ever. It would be just a few days later and he would be gone from this earth. There is good news though. Although his life ended here on this earth, one day I will see him again. He was saved just a few days before his death. I praise God for this. At the time I didn't understand. At the time I really didn't care. I was mad at the God I didn't want to know. I had no intention of ever talking to Him.

God on the other hand had different plans. He knew one day I would celebrate in a different way. He knew one day I would call Him Savior. He knew the pieces of my life would one day all come together and my eyes would see how He and He alone had orchestrated each and every circumstance to bring me to the day where I would accept Him as my Savior. Live for Him, and one day teach other young people who He is and why I choose to live for Him. He knew one day this little girl would sit in front of me and I would share my story with her. She may not realize it now, just as I didn't, but God has a plan for her life also. He will piece together each part for her just as He did for me. Hope.

In Christ we find hope. God forgave you for yesterday, so don't go back to it. God is with you today so don't sweat it. God's already in tomorrow so don't go looking for it. These words come from my friend, Heather Funk Palacios.

A young man shared with us one of his fondest Easter memories. He shared that his family had an Easter egg hunt each year. He said as his aunt placed Easter eggs all across the yard for the children to find she placed in each one something special. A cross, a thorn, and so on. Once all the children gathered these eggs, they opened them to find the treasures. Treasures of this day. Treasures of love. They all gathered around her and she shared the Easter story, bringing these children to the cross. For me, this was one of the most beautiful stories I have yet to hear. This young man will forever remember the loving kindness of an aunt wanting to show her family Jesus. He said he no longer takes part in the hunt, but now helps the younger ones find the eggs. I don't think this young man will ever tire of hearing the Easter story told by his loving aunt. We all need an aunt like this don't we? One who makes a difference.

We all have a story. We all have memories we hold dear. They may not mean much to others, but to us, they make up who we are. All across this land people will celebrate and all will celebrate in a different way. Through our life, through our stories we can touch the life of another. Isn't that just what Jesus did for us?

When I was young I remember my dad getting me an Easter bunny each and every year. He took me to the liquor store with him. As he picked out his beer for the day, he too picked out a bunny for me. Being a child, this was normal for me. There was no Jesus in this picture, but a daddy and his daughter. A daddy loving the only way he knew how and a daughter eager to accept his love. Sadly, this isn't the norm just for me, but for thousands across our land who don't know what this day really holds. It's not about bunnies and eggs. But we can use those small gestures to bring Jesus into the life of another. A chocolate cross with a scripture verse. A basket filled with trinkets of love.

When our children were little we hunted eggs. I made hand made baskets for each of them. They put on their new Easter clothes and went out into the windy cold to laugh and share in the hunt. Isn't that what we are all doing? We are all searching. We are hunting for something to make sense. We are searching for meaning. I am forever thankful I now know the meaning of Easter. I can celebrate this day with a new insight. Now that I have found the best gift of all, it is up to me to show others how to find this treasure. A treasure more valuable than any other. One that holds the key to life. A life of everlasting joy.

What memories do you hold? This is the first Easter for my grand daughter. Although she is not big enough to hunt eggs or really understand the meaning of it all. I can bring a smile to her face. I can begin sharing the greatest gift of all with her now so one day she will look back upon her childhood and find herself in memories of love. What about you? What will you do this Easter? Our story is not over. It's still being told. Add to your memory list. Create a new one. Allow Jesus to pour healing into your life. Forgive your past and give you hope for the future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Do we take our faith for granted? Do I share my faith freely? These are some of the questions my heart pondered as I read the pages of, "People of the Book." If we know Jesus as our Savior we are people of the book, but what we tend to forget daily is that people all across this world are persecuted for believing in the Savior we worship freely. They are not only judged. They are outcasts. They are killed. To me, that is the kind of faith I want to hold. A faith without fear that is trusting in a Savior and believing He is ALL that matters. Is my faith that strong? Would I stand for Him knowing such persecution was at every corner? I can only hope I would be as humble and brave in my faith as Farah Mohammed Al Otaibi.

Kathi Macias has written the, "Extreme Devotion Series". Book one, "No Greater Love", book two, "More Than Conquerors", book three, "Red Ink", and now book four, "People of the Book." In reading the first book I thought it was sure my favorite, but then I picked up book two and quickly knew I had yet another favorite. The entire series is like this. Each book different, but each one carries the same theme. Extreme Devotion to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At what cost are we willing to follow? How much are we willing to leave behind to take up the cross and follow Him? It must be everything. We must be extreme in our faith!! You can check out each book of the series here at this link:

In, "People of the Book", we find Farah in Saudi Arabia in the middle of Ramadan. The Muslim faith is prevalent. Farah wants to grow deeper to Allah. She wants to increase her faith and hear from Allah. Even in the Muslim faith women are not allowed to worship as men do. She is even hiding her Muslim faith as it continues to grow, but she has many questions. She is searching. So is her cousin, Nura. Nura meets Sara through a web site designed for Muslims who have left their Muslim faith and now are following Christ. Sara is strong in her faith and wants to reach out to Nura. As she does, Nura, now reaches out to Farah. It is the beautiful ripple effect that happens when one reaches out to another.

Throughout these pages we see the turmoil in the lives of each of the young women. They each carry their own burdens that this world gives out at every corner. My heart broke as I read these pages. Kathi brought these characters to life. We see their pain. We see their struggles, but we too see the beauty that each of their lives hold. This book is powerful and poignant.

We are all searching for something. Something bigger than ourselves. A reason to wake each morning. A reason to smile. This is one of those series that is not only wonderful to read, but is life changing. This novel is eye opening and will bring you closer in your walk with Christ. May we reach out like, Sara. May we have strength like Nura and Farah to walk with God through all circumstances and be willing to stand alone for the Savior who gave His life for us.

This book was a gift from Kathi Macias for it's review.

Kathi Macias:
Award-winning author Kathi Macias has written more than 30 books, including the award-winning devotional A Moment a Day and the popular “Matthews” mystery novels.

Kathi has won many awards, including the Angel Award from Excellence in Media, fiction awards from the San Diego Christian Writers Guild, 2008 Member of the Year from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association), and the grand prize in an international writing contest.

With women’s ministry as her primary interest, Kathi is a popular speaker for women’s retreats, conferences, and churches.

A mother and grandmother, Kathi and her husband, Al, call California home.

■Beyond Me

■How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I’m Surrounded by Loose Cannons?

■More than Conquerors

■Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today

■No Greater Love

■Red Ink

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mirror mirror on the wall my Creator is best of all!!

Put a woman in front of a mirror and what is she going to see first? She is going to see all the things she doesn't like. Her hair. It's either too short, too long, too curly or too straight. Her nose is too big or too small. Her chin has a huge zit. Her neck is too short. Her breasts are too small. Her waist? What waist?  Her bottom is too big. Her thighs are huge. Her legs are too short. She will complain all the way down to her big toe that is crooked.

We want brown hair. No wait, we want blond hair. Our freckles are too many. Do we even see skin? Our skin is too light. We all want a tan. We don't even like the way we talk. Our shoes size is too big. Our legs are too short. Do I have them all, or can you think of more? Oh wait, ears. Yes, they are too big and stick out. Hmm. Eyes. Yes, those eyes are not blue. Wait, I wish mine were brown. I have no eye brows. My teeth are crooked.

We can see every wrinkle. Every ounce of fat and sign of cellulite visible. We watch the scales and pay attention to our jean size. Most women hate looking in the mirror. All we see is what is wrong and hold the phone, if it is that time of the month, watch out, the tears are going to be flowing too!!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Ask us what is beautiful and we might have to think on it a bit. Now, ask us what is beautiful about our friend and we can name a thousand things. Never once mentioning something not attractive. We see beauty in others, but not ourselves.

If we are out somewhere who is it we watch? Men? Are you kidding? We watch other women. We see what they are wearing. We compare ourselves with every other woman. Lets not fool ourselves. We know we do it. We think things like, "Oh, isn't she cute"? We wish we were that size. We dream of having their clothes. We ponder over what it would be like to have such luxurious hair. We look at other women and feel bad about ourselves. Then we find ourselves jealous and bitter. We go home after our day out and have ourselves a big bowl of ice cream and drown out our pitiful sorrows of why we don't have legs up to our neck. Which is just simply impossible.

We step on the scale. We diet. We buy new clothes. We look at magazines and watch television to see ads that only show us continually how we can be smaller and look better. Wrinkle cream and lotions of all kinds. Do you think women have always been like this? When was the first moment woman said, "I wish I was her"?

"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." Psalm 139:14

How many times have we read this verse and simply looked over it? It doesn't say, "God made me and now I will complain daily." It says, "I will praise YOU." Praise, ladies!! In awesome wonder God created us. My soul knows you well? God knows our very heart. His Spirit lives within us. We are part of Him. He is part of us. God doesn't create ugly! We have simply got to get over ourselves. Stop trying to see what the world calls beauty and see what God says is beautiful. If I am reading this right, it pretty much says, His works are marvelous.

Marvelous: Causing wonder; Astonishing. Miraculous, supernatural. The highest kind or quality; notably superior.

Do you see that? "The highest kind or quality". Do we really have reason to complain? When we complain we are sinning. Yes. We are not praising God for ALL He has done. We are saying, "Look, You created her just fine, but You messed up on me!!" God doesn't make ugly!! We are Marvelous!!

Put down that magazine. Stop looking at the television. Open up God's Word and see His love letter written just for you. His princess!! Ladies, lets lift one another up with the highest form of praise and say, "Praise God for ALL He has done." Lets encourage one another in our journey. Look in the mirror and praise God for creating you. Each day we should be able and ready to praise Him for something new. Our bodies grow older. We age. Wrinkles are going to come and things are going to fall. We are not always going to look twenty.

I look to my daughters and see sheer beauty, but you know what? I can't do that without seeing bits and pieces of me too. My eyes and lips are right there upon their beautiful faces. My grand daughter looks just like her momma. I can't look at my grand daughter without awe and wonder.

I want my grand daughter to grow knowing she is beautiful. That she was created by a God who loves her. Loves her like she is the only one. Lets teach our daughters what beauty is. You can't find beauty in a bottle. It doesn't come in a hundred dollar cream. It begins in the heart and that is where it blossoms and grows into a beautiful and delicate flower that gives a fragrant aroma and spouts seed after seed.

I am no different than you. I have had the same feelings and have seen the same things you have. I can change clothes twenty times before walking out the door. Don't you think Satan wants us to feel that way? Don't you think he knows as long as we are complaining we aren't doing much praising? When we think less of ourselves we aren't thinking much of God. We must learn to see our own beauty. A smile lights the eyes. Can you hear your Father? Your Savior? He is telling you, "Daughter you are beautiful to Me. Look at how I created your eyes like no other. I gave you that dimple and those freckles to make you unique and unlike any other. Don't you know how much I love you?" If others can see our beauty we too should be able to see the beauty we behold. We need to change our approach to the mirror. If we mirror Christ all we will see is the beautiful reflection of our Savior.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:3-4

Monday, April 18, 2011


When you pick up, "Max on Life", you are getting a rich supplement of wisdom. We all have questions we want to ask. Sometimes we have a hard time opening up and sharing those questions. Here in, "Max on Life", Max Lucado shares questions that have been asked of Him, along with his answers. Over 200 pages filled with answers to 172 questions. He doesn't just hit the surface, he digs deep, giving not only his opinion, but godly answers backed with scripture.

As a teacher of junior high kids in Awana I will be using this book over and over again. Youth always have questions and yes, sometimes they stump you. The back of this book gives us index of just where we can find scripture for each answer and it also comes with a topical index so we can find a subject simply.

A few of the questions asked are:  "One of my high school friends believes in purgatory. She lights candles and prays that her dead relatives will get to heaven. Can we pray for the dead to be saved? Does purgatory really exist?" "In my opinion, premarital sex prepares the couple for marriage. Wouldn't you want the soon-to-be-married couple to know each other as well as possible?" "How can I get free of the fear that God might not forgive me? I'm always afraid that I'm not perfect enough." Tough questions. Answers that will give the wisdom to turn to God in every situation.

I think this would be a great teaching tool and a great devotional. One that should only make us ponder more and search God's Word for ourselves, digging deep for those answers we are all looking for. I have yet to find a Max Lucado book I did not enjoy. This is yet another of those keepers!!

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Flaws and all

Here is my thought for the day: "When people are real and allow you to see their flaws and struggles you get to see Jesus. It isn't about our perfection. It is about His perfection through us. When people are fake and try to make others believe their lives are perfect, you not only miss what's real, but you make you the focus. By allowing God to shine through our weakness we see true beauty. Beauty that only comes from being real."

Have you ever received one of those Christmas cards that is a letter of what the entire family has done over the year? You read it and then think something is wrong with your family. How about lining up for a family portrait? Are you able to get everyone in the picture with someone killing another?  Now that is real! We put on such a show. Why? God forbid someone think we have problems. We want others to believe we have the perfect job, the perfect spouse, the perfect children and live in the grandest home. We want others to think that all our dreams have come true. We live in a fairy tale. Why are we so caught up in what other people think of us?

Lets just be real. Gosh, I know there are people who don't like me. I know, shocking, right? I have learned not to pay attention. When another judges me it gives me more cause to be real. It is that very reality that threatens others. We don't want to see our imperfections and we sure don't want others to see them. I am who I am, mistakes and all. I can look back upon my life and see how the Lord has blessed. How He and only He has brought me through each and every mess.

A mess you say? Yes, a mess caused by me trying to be perfect. Trying to live that perfect life. That life that holds no blemish. That isn't my life. As hard as I try I will never be perfect and am I really suppose to be? If I am perfect and my life is so grand why then would I need a Savior? It is those very struggles that brings me to Him. Through each and every challenge I go to Him for strength. It wasn't always that way. I didn't go to Him. I tried to do it all on my own and in my way. As Dr. Phil would ask, "How's that workin' for ya?" It wasn't working. The more I tried to clean up the more of a mess I made.

Life is dirty. Life brings tragedy. It brings struggles of every kind. Only Jesus Christ can wash me clean. He and only He can make me white as snow. It was through the tragedy of His death that He brought me life. A life that can only be all it is to be if I live each moment in Him. I cannot control all around me.

My life is an open book. I have good stories to share and I too have those that break my heart. But each story, each chapter is part of me. The good, the bad and the ugly. When we try so hard to make others think we live a perfect life, we no longer make it about Christ. When we make our life about Him and only Him, it's okay for others to see our trials and failures. It is through those very times in my life where Jesus has come through and brought with Him a measure of grace and mercy. He has given me a heaping dose of grace.

To be humble is not to stand in front of others and put on a show. It's okay if our kids don't fit the mold of that perfect family. It's okay if our husband doesn't make as much as he once did. It's okay if you have fallen down and slipped in the muck and mire of life. I never want to stand in front of another and make them think I am something I am not. But we do! We like to say what we do or where we live, but that isn't us. That is only a small part of who we are. Where we live is not what lives within our heart.

Answer this question; "Who are you?" When we think of answering we might think back to our past. We might see our mistakes. The judgement. The names. We are fearful for others to see what we see. What we try to hide. I am Robin Prater, daughter of the King of kings. What "I" have done isn't what matters. It's who "Jesus" is in me that matters. No matter how hard I try to make life perfect, it isn't going to be until Jesus returns. It is then that we will see how much time we wasted trying to show others how perfect we are. Too many times we allow our insecurities to bring us to cover up our life. When we are insecure with who we are we want others to think we are something we are not. It's easy to fall into that trap. When we surrender our past, our present and our future to Christ we give Him reign over our lives. Only honor and glory can come from that.

If we look to Hollywood we see women afraid of growing older. They want to cover up every imperfection. Some are willing to go through surgery after surgery to hide that tummy after having a baby. To cover those wrinkles brought on by the sun. After many of these women get done they don't even look real any longer. Isn't that sad?

If you have lived the first part of your life being an alcoholic and now your clean and sober, share your life. The good, the bad and the ugly. Share the redemption and healing that has taken place. Before we share the grace, we must share the mess. I lived the first part of my life not knowing Jesus. Believe me, I carry a lot of baggage. Baggage that I have given Christ. Baggage that He has turned into blessings. Blessings I never thought could come from such a mess. I am not happy with some of the decisions I have made, but I am not afraid to share them. I know there are others out there who have made a mess of things. Praise God is doesn't end there. It's not our perfection that saves us. It's Jesus Christ.

I am finally getting it. Finally, at forty-four years old. If I am really getting it now, I can only imagine all else there is for me to soak up. Each time we give God room in our life that gives room for an "aha" moment. Friends, the less of us there is in the room, the more of Him will show up for others to see.

I like sitting up front in church. The closer I am to the altar the better. I love sitting close to my Sunday School teacher. That is simply how I have always been. It's not because I want to be seen. It's because I don't want to miss a single moment. It seems the closer I am the more I soak in. Some people are hands on learners. I am one who just has to see. If I can have a clear view of whoever is leading or teaching I am going to grasp more.

As geese flew overhead this morning, it was as though they said, "Good morning, Good morning!!" I simply stood with my head back watching them. These two geese fly over every single morning. Each time I see them it is like the first. I look at them with beauty. I am in awe of God's creation around me. Just as I am the people in my life. God places each one in my path for a reason. I believe that with all my heart. There isn't one person I can't learn something from. I can only pray that through my life others can be blessed. See, these geese remind me that each morning is new. Each morning is another chance for me to give Jesus all my imperfections so He can create something of beauty through them.

I have made some huge mistakes. We all have in our mind what that perfect life is. We can close our eyes and picture it. Try it. What do you see? Do we see Jesus or do we see the world? Isn't it those very things of the world that we think we need for perfection? Sinners are some of the happiest people on earth. Before we are found we must realize we are lost. (Thank you, Bro. Ben) Think about that and let it soak in. How do we show a lost person they are in need of a Savior? How do we explain they are lost if we are worried about showing them how perfect we are?

It's time to simply be real. While we spend so much time being fake we are turning others away from Jesus. People know when we are being fake. When we open up and live our lives sharing our imperfections we can lead others to Christ. We can show others how much we need Him. Through each circumstance that touches our life brings opportunity for God to do something big. If we are stuck on what others think of us we are only going to show others the world's view of perfection.

Why don't we spend less time trying to prove we are a perfect Christian and more time humbling ourselves before Christ? We point fingers. We judge our Christian brothers and sisters. We are so quick to fix others. Might today be the day we begin within our own selfish heart. When it all comes down to it, isn't that really what it is? Selfishness? In wanting others to think so highly of us, is nothing but selfishness. We are taking the light off Christ and placing it on our achievements and deeds.

We are all sinners in need of grace. We will never be sinless, but we can sin less. We can stop looking at ourselves as we are better and begin looking to Jesus for all we are to be. A reflection of Him.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Fire In Ember by DiAnn Mills

All Christ needs is for one ember to burn for His light to shine. Family, faith, and over coming great obstacles is what the Timmons family is all about. John is the oldest brother who has taken over the family ranch, in Colorado, after the death of their father. Having younger brothers is not always easy, especially if love for the same girl comes between them. Out of no where, Bert, shows up. Beaten, bruised, and ready to hang. After being saved, Bert, comes to live with the Timmons and quickly understands the real meaning of family. Something, Bert, never had. There is much to Bert. Throughout the story we gather more and more. I must say, I had a hard time keeping this book out of the hands of my husband, long enough for me to read it for review!

This Historical/Romance is so much more. It is has adventure, as cattle rustlers are up to no good and all people are not quite what they seem, even if we attend church together. Going to church does not make one a Christian.

One of my favorite characters is Leah, the mother, of all these boys. What an honorable woman. A woman full of wisdom and laughter. A woman serving the Lord in all she does. She takes, Bert, under her wing and leads this young person to believe there are good in others.

I cannot wait for DiAnn's next book, A Woman Called Sage, to come out. DiAnn makes the 1800's look adventurous and her attention to detail brings us to know and understand the heart of each character. I absolutely loved this book!!

This book was a gift from Zondervan for it's review.

DiAnn Mills

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, has over forty-nine books in print and has sold more than a million and a half copies. She is a finalist for the 2008 Christy Award for her novel, Lightning and Lace. Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Five of her books have won placements through ACFW's Book of the Year Awards 2003-2007. She is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award for 2005 and 2007. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and lives in Houston, Texas.

Author Website:

Friday, April 15, 2011

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Shawna K. Williams

On 7/9/10 I interviewed, Shawna K. Williams, for my Lets Chat weekly special. Today I would like to revisit that chat. Sometimes I love going back and sharing once more all the lessons of life these amazing ladies share. Through them I have witnessed the Lord at work. These ladies stand out and make a difference every day. They challenge us to be more. To be all Christ has called us to be. I pray there is something here today that you need to hear. Maybe just a simple message of, "your not alone."  

I would like to welcome Shawna K. Williams to the Nest today. It is an honor to get to chat with her today. I asked Shawna the very same fourteen questions I ask everyone and again I am blessed beyond words. Shawna is gem of a woman who has a deep heart for the Lord. She is talented not only writing, but designs beautiful jewelery. I just happen to have one of her amazing bracelets and wear it everyday.I have told her I just need a whole collection of them! Shawna has also written a book entitled, "No Other", and it is one you need for your summer reading list. So, lets get on with our chat.

(Robin) Shawna, tell me a little about yourself.
(Shawna) I'm fairly ordinary. Just a mom of three kids, and a wife for nearly nineteen years. My family lives on a ranch in the little town of Mena Arkansas, and we raise the whole gamut of farm animals. I guess you could say that I'm a city girl turned country, but really, I think I've always been small town at heart. It's hard to beat the ambiance of the town fair, Christmas parade, and 4th of July fireworks show in a little town.
I love God, old houses, dogs, hiking through the woods and rock hounding. Nothing captures my inquisitive nature quite like an abandoned house, or dark cave -- just give me a flashlight. And I'm also a bit of a science and history geek, namely geology, ancient history and WWII.

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Shawna) If you don't mind Robin, I'd like to answer this question and the next one, about the 'aha' moment as one.
One of my biggest struggles in my faith came shortly after a friend committed suicide. That leaves one with a lot of questions. A whole lot to wrestle with! She was a precious person, who was there for everyone else, but kept a lot about herself hidden – mostly, I believe, because she didn't feel safe in disclosing it. There was one statement she made at church one Wednesday night, when she said, "I can't talk about myself." She said it very calm. And none of us realized exactly what she meant. In fact, someone responded with, "That's okay. You don't have to." And that's not bad advice, it just wasn't what our friend needed. She was looking for a safe, loving place to share her burdens. And we didn't give her that.
After she passed away, we all second guessed everything – little comments, expressions. I kept remembering this one time, when I heard my son laugh, and I turned around to see my friend holding his hands and letting him climb up her knees to flip. She looked at me and smiled, and for an instant the thought, "Is that Lenora?" raced through my head. Her smile wasn't quite right. I still think about that a lot.
There was much speculation, afterwards, about what happens to a person when they commit suicide. It actually makes me a little mad to remember. I know we were all hurting and wondering how this could happen. But I remember specifically, in one particularly ugly debate, hearing the word, "No," in my head, almost like a hammer to a podium. "That one moment did not take away who Lenora was." I completely believe that. Maybe Satan had a victory in that single instant, but he's not the Victor. My friend was sick. She had, in fact, been diagnosed with clinical depression, but very few people knew. If I'm to believe that Christ died for past present and future sins, then His sacrifice is enough. There's no addendum to it that says, "except for suicide." That was a real eye-opener to me about the scope of Grace, and a huge comfort. I know who my friend was, a warm and caring person, with a heart for God. And I know where she is -- with Him in Heaven.
Several months later I was attending a Beth Moore study, and this will forever be one of the most precious times in my life. The young woman leading it was a cancer survivor at the age of thirty. She had such a joy for life and the Lord. For some reason, I kept wondering what five years meant to her. Five years -- an amount of time most of us take for granted, but to her it was everything.
I felt compelled to be around this woman and learn from her. Her name was Michelle. I remember after one study, we were talking, and I expressed how I never felt worthy of God's love. She asked me point blank if I grew up in a legalistic church. Her question jarred me because I had never pinpointed some of the teachings that disregarded Grace as the source behind my feelings of unworthiness. I just thought my feelings were the result of failure on my part. I often wonder if Lenora felt something similar. And I suspect that many Christians struggle with this.
I remember praying by myself a few nights later, doing my usual, "sorry I'm such a good-for- nothin'..." mantra, and it just hit me. This was not what Christ intended for me, to dwell in a continual state of guilt. He wants me to rejoice in the freedom He gave me through Grace. He died because I was worth it, to Him.
I obey because I love Him, and I rejoice because He set me free.

(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Shawna) I have several verses that I think of often. Actually, one of them I derived the title for my next book from. And all three play heavy parts in my first two books, No Other, and In All Things. I couldn't help it.
Romans 8: 28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And Ecclesiastes 7:8
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
And I love this from Psalms 40 verses 1 through 3
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Shawna) There are different things about different people that make them special, and in that way I don't really look for anything in a close friend. Those friendships just sort of happen. I can say that wisdom is something that draws me to people.
The wisest people I've met in life don't worry. They seem to always grasp the bigger picture, and usually when I'm rattling off about some little thing they make a simple statement, much broader in perspective, and it's like, "Oh yeah... Never thought of it like that." It almost gives me a small sense of what it must have felt like when Christ calmed the waters. Everything just becomes so clear and peaceful. That's a real gift that God has blessed some individuals with, and coming from a wiry person like me, who feels the need to push and pull, twist, stretch, wad up and ram pretty much every situation in life, I appreciate you guys!
As to the second part of that question, I guess I hope my friends see someone who is genuine, and caring. That's what I want to be.

(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Shawna) I love Francine Rivers, and I never miss an opportunity to say so. Redeeming Love is a life changing book, and if I could only recommend one book of hers, that would be it. However, my absolute favorites are the three books in The Mark of the Lion Trilogy. A friend turned me onto these at a low point, and they were a wonderful encouragement, and entertaining to boot!

(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Shawna) Look out the window. We live in a beautiful place. There's a mountain out our front door.

(Robin) What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Shawna) Hmm...? Do I have to answer this one? I'm mostly just good at telling stories about the stupid stuff I've done. A 'what not to do' sort of manual.
I guess maybe this. I like to be productive. It's so easy for people to sit back and say I wish things were this way or that, and to me that seems like a waste. If you wish things were different, then take stock of your abilities and resources, pray about it, and then see what you can do. If it's something so big it seems overwhelming, start with small goals. If it's something you have little control over, do what you can and learn to be content with the outcome, and always, always, recognize the small blessings.

(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Shawna) My family. I am so blessed. I can't even express how much. Next would be my critters. There's nothing like a loyal doggy. They're totally devoted and will forgive you of anything. Cats are also great. And let me say, goats are awesome. I don't know why there aren't more pet goats! Think about it, city folks! You'll never have to mow your lawn. Pigmy goats don't get very big, and they're hilariously playful. Miniature horses are pretty special too.
What I find to be the coziest setting to surround myself with is an old house in the woods, with a loving family, pets, a fireplace, a good book and a cup of hot cocoa. In other words, home.

(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Shawna) You ask intense questions! I have to say my love for the Lord, because that's a part of me. I can't separate it from who I am. And my family. Same thing. I'm a wife and a mom, and these are the people I think about continually. They're a part of me.
Of course, writing is a huge passion. Huge! No way to explain that either, other than it gives me great joy. I love animals. I had to take a break while writing this to play with kittens.
Hmm, I was about to write about how interesting geology and history are to me, but this is all sounding very familiar. I could probably just repeat my answers to the first question, to tell about myself, and the one before this about my deepest passions.
Hey! That's actually kind of cool that these things match up.

(Robin)What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Shawna) It came from one of those wise friends. It was specifically directed toward some concerns I had in raising my children -- whether or not I was teaching them everything they needed -- and her response was, "To have faith in God's purpose." I've thought about that a lot, and usually somewhere in the process this verse in Proverbs comes to mind. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Of course, then I usually launch into a philosophical debate, with myself, over the meaning of the term "success", but still there's great comfort in that promise.
And, I noticed that you ask me later how I define success. I'll stick with a general answer, because if I launch into a contemplation of its many possible meanings we'll still be here next week.

(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Shawna) To be like my grandmother. She's an amazing woman who has accomplished great things in her life and for her family through her faith. She is the woman in Proverbs 31.

(Robin) What are you currently working on?
(Shawna) I'm just finishing up the sequel to No Other, which is called, In All Things. I'm also working on a novella that releases shortly after that. It's based on a short story I wrote, which was inspired by my granddad's experience, growing up as an orphan during the depression. It's near and dear to my heart.

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Shawna) Hehe... Lots of ways! But... I'll for the sake of brevity here's a general answer that's in line with my desire to be productive:
Setting goals and achieving them.
In life terms though, success is loving others and being loved in return. God gives us a huge boost in that area. And again I think of my grandmother, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. I don't know that she's accomplished every goal that she ever set for herself, but there's no denying that she radiates with the love that grown within her and from her.

Wow, I feel as though I just got to peek into the window of your heart Shawna. What passion you have for life and those around you! You are a gem. One that stands out and shines like no other. Thank you Shawna for stopping by the Nest and sharing such inspiration with us. I am speechless and feel as though an overwhelming blessing has just washed over me. You carry such wisdom and honesty. You have filled me with answers I have been searching for this week. The Lord always knows just what we need when we need it. Blessings to you sweet lady, and may the Lord continue to use you for His glory, bringing life to others through inspiration and joy in our hearts through your writing. If you haven't picked up, "No Other" yet, it is a must read. I cannot wait for the release of "In All Things".

If you would like to connect with Shawna or her blog and find out all she is doing just follow these links:
Shawna K. Williams - Grace-Inspired Fiction
No Other, May, 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing
In All Things, Nov., 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing
Orphaned Hearts, Dec., 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing


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