Friday, September 30, 2011
Do you ever feel small? Oh my, lately I feel smaller and smaller as I witness the magnitude of God's awesome love. He washes His grace over me daily and is forever trying to lead me. Now, if I can just move outside of the crowd and getter look. Don't you feel that way sometimes, too? I am one of those visual learners. If I have a great seat to where I can see everything I am going to learn so much more than just having a book in front of me.
Zacchaeus didn't just move and get a better view. He spoke with Jesus face to face! Jesus even went to his house. Can you hear the murmur of others? "Can you believe that Jesus? He's going to a sinners house!" Well, I'll be. We are all sinners. I think many times we forget that bit of information. We tend to see others as sinners, but not ourselves. In Zacchaeus's smallness, he knew just who he was the moment he looked into his Savior's eyes. Zacchaeus realizes he was lost and here before him is his Savior.
What if Zacchaeus hadn't moved that day? What if he hadn't sought out Jesus as He was walking by? Oh, Jesus knew exactly where Zacchaeus was. He knew that tree held this little dude that was searching for more. Don't you love how God ordains our walk with Him? He knows each step before we ever move. He too knows when we don't move at all.
Friends, we gotta step out of the crowd and seek the Lord with all our heart. We must be willing to move on His behalf. He calls us to Him, but we must accept that invitation. Once we do our lives will never be the same. It's time we step out and make more time for Jesus. Oh, sure we fit in time with Him. But it's time after we have done everything else on our list. Jesus doesn't want to be on our check list. He wants to have that one on one intimate relationship with us.
It's real easy for us to think, "Well, if we only lived in the Old Testament times. They walked and talked with Jesus." Friends, they may have, but they didn't have the full picture in front of them as we do. We have God's Word alive in our hands. We get to witness His story from the beginning all the way to His return. We have story after story that we can relate to on some level. We have His love story to us. One day we will be face to face with Him. One day maybe we will be able to sit with Him as He shows us how each chapter of our lives come together to make one great story.
This little dude can teach us a great lesson. May we move outside of the crowd. Might we move to higher ground. May we focus on Him and all He has for us. We just gotta be ready to move for Him. He will show us where to go and what to do. As His children, we just have to follow. Zacchaeus was right where God wanted him. There is nothing like God's perfect timing. Is it time you moved to a different area in your life where you can see better? We can be blinded by our past. Our difficulties and disappointments can turn our vision from 20/20 to poor pitiful me. Don't allow this world to blind side you. Get up and move yourself so you can better see ALL that God has for you today!
"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6
I truely enjoyed this book. Sure, it may be words we have heard over and over again, but who doesn't need to be reminded on a daily basis that everything always comes back to our Savior? Life is all about Him and He is all about us. Those no's that we often hear and are upset about? Well, for each and every no there is a yes waiting. A yes that will open another door to big possibilities. Our journey is one that is paved by His plan and carries His grace for each step.
Through these pages we are taken back through New Testament stories. Some of my favorite are of Paul. His struggles and his over coming obstacles thrown in front of him. He was able to see past his circumstances and see that God had a plan all along. That is what this book is all about. Reminding us that God is here. We are never alone and in the midst of our trials and joys He is right there in the midst of it all. After all, He does have a plan for us. I love how Max Lucado speaks of graduation day. Can you imagine when we see our Savior face to face? What a glorious day that will be. But until then, we must strive forward with hope and a renewing of our faith.
I love the scripture Max Lucado shares throughout the entire book. This is one that stands out to me. "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT
This is one of those books to keep on your desk and go back to over and over again. This book even comes in a youth edition, along with a small group curriculum.
This book was a gift from Zondervan for it's review.
In this novel, Marielle Bishop, marries into a family that carries secrets. The man she marries is widowed and although he isn't in love with his dead wife, he is in love with her memory and the house they are living in is holding the hearts of those who live there captive. Marielle is an instant mother to two children. She moves away from all she knows for love. As she begins to form a close relationship with, Adelaide, it isn't long before the sound of the past begins to haunt her.
We see how the past can have a strong hold on us. A past that we must face in order to move into the future. We cannot grasp the blessings of today if we are still holding on to what if and maybe. I loved this story. It wasn't about a ghost per say, it was about the ghosts of our pasts and how they can haunt us. We all seem to carry them. Before we can really enjoy life as it is, but must let go of what isn't. This is a rich story about redemption, forgiveness and hope.
This book was a gift from WaterBrook Press for it's review.
You can check out other books by Susan Meissner. The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting, and White Picked Fences are three that I have read and enjoyed immensely!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
So, being out one Saturday with my husband, I say, "Lets grab some new pots and feed for my flowers." As I look over at them today they are vibrant, beautiful, flowering and are growing like never before. Their roots needed more room. They needed the right food and soil. They were choking themselves as they were trying to grow, but my little pots were holding them back. Have you ever felt like that?
Sitting in church last Sunday my heart was heavy. Today, my heart is still heavy. Nothing drastic is wrong in my life. In fact, most things are pretty awesome. Except for me. Some how I am losing my vibrant sight. Everything is becoming repetitive. I am doing the same old, same old. Been there with me? I need more. I need different. I need more space. I feel like the Lord is calling me to bigger, and I am just choking in my comfort zone.
I want to dive into His Word like never before. I want to search all He has for me. Last week was a pretty magnificent week for me. I attended the ACFW conference in St. Louis. During that time I was able to attend I stayed with my cousin. I had such a lovely time with her. As our alarms for the day began to go off I got a text from my daughter that said, "Mom, it's time." Yes, during the conference of a life time, my baby girl was having my first grandson. Where else would I be, but by her side. Like any mother, I packed up my bags and I headed for the hospital. There was no way I was missing little Jack's arrival into this world. Into his mother's arms. Oh, to see the joy on her face as she held him for the first time. I must share with you, he has the cutest baby nose I have ever seen in my life. Just as when my granddaughter, Peyton, came into this world, he too has stolen my heart.
Although I experienced one of the greatest joys in life, I knew I too was missing a great experience in my writing career. I had to take a step back and realize, "Everything in God's timing." His timing is perfect and He knows just where I need to be and just what my heart needs to be full and complete in Him.
During my time at the conference I met, Loree Lough, in the bookstore. Oh, she is such a lovely woman and a sweet friend. I listened as Tracie Peterson spoke and I must tell you, Brandilyn Collins, is drop dead gorgeous! My first chat was with, Maggie Brendan, who wrote, "Deeply Devoted". Oh, this woman's southern ascent kept me captivated. Her wise words to me were, "Girl, you write every day and you get yourself a critique group." While in the elevator going up, the doors opened and there stood my friend, Susan. I jumped out and gave her a hug. It was so sweet to meet such wonderful people. I sat through a five hour class that first day and I must say, it was a life changing class for me. I once told a writer I was making an outline and she laughed, saying, "I have never made an outline in my life." For me, it was reassurance that I was on the right track.
So, my novel is coming together. Again, in God's perfect timing. I am taking a few steps back. It seems sometimes to move forward, we must first step back and a get a good look at where we are and where the Lord is calling us. I am seeking Him with all my heart. Maybe the church home I have shared with my family for eighteen years now is not where I am to be. Again, it is that comfortable place. But God is not calling me to comfort. He wants my life devoted to serving Him and with each new door He opens for me, instead of me walking through I am taking a second glance. I am never going to know all He has for me as long as I sit comfortably in my little circle and go round and round. My roots need deeper ground to grow. Sometimes we must say good bye to some areas of our life in order to say hello to the new.
This past week I have been thinking about all I once accomplished before a computer entered my life. We have only had a computer for a few years now. Although, this computer has brought many blessings it too has held me back. I cannot give ten to twelve hours a day writing. For me, this just isn't a time in my life I can give that much time to that one area. Why? I have found myself telling my family way too many times, "Hold on, I just have to finish this and then I am all yours." I have been saying, "Hold on", more times than I can count and I am stopping that. I will no longer tell my family to hold on. That isn't part of God's will. In writing and researching I must find that balance. For me, my family must come first. I have been losing time with Christ too. Instead of getting up and diving into His Word, I dive right into that research awaiting me. How do you balance it all? Where is that line you draw?
I am feeling a little like my African Violets. Who goes to a writers conference and comes home knowing they must slow down and take a step back? You would think it would make me dive head first into that dream. That passion the Lord has instilled in me. As I have shared with many writers, this isn't about me. It will always be about the Lord and when I get ahead of myself it is time for me to step back. This is a journey for me. I want to take it slow and enjoy every minute. I want my writing to grow and I want the Lord to shine through all I do. But first, I must make sure I am right where I am to be with Him.
Friends, don't think you have to keep up with everyone around you. Don't think you must attend the same church you have all your life. Don't let your circumstances bog you down and kill your dreams. Seek the Lord and He will ignite in you a new passion and give you all you need to accomplish His will for your life. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back. It's okay to say, "No." Take each day you have and live it as if there is no tomorrow. Don't look around you and see what everyone else is doing. Do what the Lord is calling you to do. Go where He is calling you. Sometimes, stepping out of our comfort zone is the best thing we could ever do to find ourselves more intimate with Christ and more complete just by seeking Him and facing our fears.
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." Colossians 3:23-24
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." Jeremiah 29:11-13
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6
I love when the Lord sends me just what I need when I need it. All in God's perfect timing. I have many bibles at home. Many different translations. Well, now I am the owner of one of the most poetic, beautifully written, devotional Bibles I have ever had the pleasure reading. Now, to begin, if you haven't read any devotionals from, Sarah Young, you are missing out my friend. You are now in for a treat with this Signature Series New King James Devotional Bible.
It is filled with prayer and devotionals from, Sarah's early devotionals. When I opened the Bible to begin reading this is the first prayer that my eyes found.
"Lord, You are more than my Creator; You are my Sustainer. You provide every bit of wisdom and help that I ever need. There is never a problem, a situation, or a decision where I cannot count on You. And yet so often, in the freedom that You have graciously given me, I am guilty of forging ahead and doing things my way, as if my ideas, plans, and methods are better than Yours. What's more, I do things without consulting You first-and sometimes without consulting You at all. My failure to look to You wears on me. I get tired of being inconsistent in my relationship with You. Would You help me learn? Would You show me where I'm going wrong and how to stay on track? I really do want to include You in all my decisions, not just to avoid the trouble that comes with foolish choices, but to please You. More importantly, I want to be right with You."
I cannot tell you how much I needed these words right at this moment when I feel totally insecure today. I am searching for God's will and this devotional has brought me to a place where I know the Lord is speaking to me. I just have to listen. I must take a step back and remember to seek Him first above all.
This Bible is beautiful. It is a hardback with exquisite detail throughout the pages. It is a devotional you can use on your own or as a teaching tool. It contains devotionals on every subject. Opening this bible really does bring you into His presence and there is no other place I would rather be.
If your looking for a new Devotional Bible, I would suggest this beautifully written devotional that holds valuable nuggets that help bring us to a more intimate relationship with our Savior.
This Bible was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
It is a wonderful feeling to be able to meet everyone in person and hug those very friends I have made on line through Face Book and emails. To top this week off I will be staying with my cousin. How awesome to be able to go back to her home and share everything I experience with her.
God has already opened so many doors. This is a HUGE door He is opening, but does He ever do anything small? As I was preparing to do my nails today I realized I didn't have any left. LOL If I am being transparent again, this has been really stressful for me to prepare for. Although I love being around people, doing something totally on my own scares me too death. Yes, I am that girl ready to step out, but it makes it so much easier with someone by your side. I know I am not the only newbie attending. There are lots of folks feeling the same emotions I am today. It's almost this overwhelming feeling that just simply brings you to your knees asking God to do the leading and bring calm through the unsteady nerves.
Yep, I have started my novel. This young Jewish girl is beginning to become part of my life. Each story, Ariela, uncovers is a part of me opening up my heart and soul. I too am excited to begin a Non-Fiction book. I am excited to be on this journey. This is something I never seen coming, but the Lord had this journey planned before I had that first book in my hand. I just want to make sure I do Him proud. I think of all that is my greatest fear. That in some way I will mess up His plan.
So, I am asking you to pray for me as I travel this journey. Pray that the Lord does the leading and I do the following. I am having such a wonderful time learning from others. God in His perfect timing has graciously given me this gift and it is my prayer that only blessings flow and in my fears I will let go and just simply let God.
I will be back next week to write and I cannot wait to share everything with you, my readers, who bless me daily! While I am away take time and browse around at my earlier posts and take a peek at my stops for blessings. There are some very gifted writers who write blogs that are listed on the right hand side of my blog. I know just taking a peek you will find that extra blessing God has for you just for today!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I struggled with this book. I wanted to enjoy it. But I just couldn't get connected with the characters before me. It wasn't one of those reads that I just couldn't put down. As a writer waiting for my first book to be published I can walk away with the valuable lesson of I need to remain humble. I need to stay focused on the Lord and His will through my writing.
This novel takes us through the journey of, Annie Shaw, and those around her, as they search for that happiness factor. The thing is, they believe it can only be found in fame.
I must share, the ending has a sweet little twist and that made me smile as I closed the book. Sadly, the most valuable lesson is missing. Faith. I expected to see faith. I expected more, so I must say I am a bit let down from this selection.
This book was a gift from Zondervan for it's review.
Jane Kirkpatrick is the author of twenty books and is a two-time winner of the WILLA Literary Award. Her first novel, A Sweetness to the Soul, won the Western Heritage Wrangler Award, an honor given to writers such as Barbara Kingsolver and Larry McMurtry. For twenty-six years she "homesteaded" with her husband Jerry on a remote ranch in Eastern Oregon. She now lives with Jerry, and her two dogs and one cat on small acreage in Central Oregon while she savors the value of friendship over fame.
His life had taken many downfalls and I love how he is so transparent. This is his first book and I believe his story is going to touch the heart of many who are searching deeply for a way out of darkness. He didn't just take a wrong turn, he downright searched for Satan. Called out to him and invited him into his life. But, don't you love when you see those but's? God had another plan for Mr. Michael Leehan. God never left him. Michael may have fell to the depths of darkness, but God was always there, calling him and leading him to safe passage.
This is Michael's true account, his testimony, of rising from the pit of darkness and a life of worshipping Satan. He doesn't leave anything out, he shares it all and that is what I love. I love it when people are so transparent all you can see is Christ moving through them and this is exactly what happens through this book.
Ascent From Darkness was a poignant read. Taking the reader into the depths of despair that Michael himself felt. There is so much more, too. He shares those people who reached out to him. He shares how in God's perfect timing He was always placing a Christian in Michael's pathway. There were many who were not giving up on Michael and the Lord was One of them.
This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sean O'Connor is that young man that all girls are attracted to. He has everything going for him, except one thing. He is battling a rage that he didn't even know was there. His character shows us that we must face our demons head on. Sean has one love and that is, Emma. We watch these two characters battle many things as they are always uplifting others. I found this very poignant. We try to hide our own pain at times by reaching out to others. But we too must find healing through revealing our true heart and that is exactly what they do.
So many wonderful characters come together once again here in book two. They are a combination of married couples and single folks all searching for the same thing. Love and acceptance. Isn't that what we are all after? We see true romance here as the love of God washes over these characters as they are refined by the fire they must walk through. I love this story because we get to glimpse the imperfectness of the characters. We witness their journey forward as they try to let go of yesterday. It's not always easy, but in faith we trust the Lord to lead us into that place where we feel complete in Him.
Once opening this book to the first page I couldn't put it down. Julie pulls the reader into the story through these deep characters that inspire us to take a look inside our own heart and lay down our past as we accept the present with grace and joy.
This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.
Julie Lessman is the popular author of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied, as well as A Hope Undaunted, which was one of 2010's Booklist Top Ten Inspirational Fiction winners. Lessman has garnered several writing awards, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She lives in Missouri.
I kept pushing them away, even though I had a few panic attacks through the afternoon. But late last night as my son was putting my bags in the car, even he was not feeling peace. I could tell something was up. As we walked out the door for him to drive me to meet up with my husband, Daisy, our little Dachshund acted like she has never acted before. She was barking and running around the house in a frenzy as if to say, "No, don't go!"
We travel down to the gas station and fill up the tank and grab our drinks for the road. I drive over to the post office and drop off a bill, only to have Jake look over at me and say, "Mom, don't go." He had no idea of my earlier feelings or attacks. He was already out the door when Daisy was acting up. I looked over at him and asked," Why?", and he said, "I don't know. Something just doesn't feel right."
I can tell you I wanted to push aside the Holy Spirit right then. I was all packed and all ready on the road. I wanted to see my husband for goodness sake. What could go wrong? I don't know, but the Lord knew. He was throwing every road block in the way to keep me at home. So, we turn around and head for home. I walk through the door as Daisy is turning circles of joy. It was like I had been gone for a week. I walked through my bedroom door and began unpacking my bag. It was then that a peace came over me. It was just like I was washed with this protective hedge of love.
I don't know what the Lord was keeping me from. Maybe I should say, I don't know what the Lord was keeping from me. But I know the Holy Spirit was alive and moving in my home last night and He wasn't budging until I listened.
We never know what is up ahead for us, but one thing is true. The Holy Spirit moves on our behalf in constant motion. We are never without Him. The important thing is that we listen to Him when He speaks. I could have chosen to ignore Him last night. I don't know what would have happened. Maybe nothing, but maybe everything to make a difference.
Today I am giving praise to God for His everlasting love and hedge of protection He covers me with daily.
"And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, who He promised long ago." Ephesians 1:13
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I am just checking in before I leave for a week. Tonight I am traveling with my husband to Chicago. I am just loving the quiet times away that I am able to spend with him. Then I will be staying with my gracious cousin as I attend my first ACFW Conference ever! I am over the top excited. I cannot wait to share all the happenings and tremendous blessings that flow from this wonderful gift.
I am trying to catch up on my reading and have many awesome reviews to share with you on my return. One is, "Deliver Me From Evil" by Kathi Macias. Just an amazing life changing book. There wasn't a chapter I read that I was not in tears. Oh, can this woman of God write!
I had a wonderful day at church preparing Sunday dinner with the college group who is raising money for the Passion conference. Praise the Lord they have met their goal and even exceeded it to now give graciously as God has given them.
Last Wednesday was the first night of Awana and it was just awesome! I am blessed to teach Junior High with my sweet friend, Sandra, who is a wonderful teacher. Although I will miss class this week I cannot wait to get back and learn with this group of youth. It is clear to see that God has HUGE plans for this group of youth.
I am awaiting the arrival of my first grandson, Jack. I cannot wait to hold this little bundle of love and wrap my arms around my baby girl who has given me such joy. Jack, when your ready to come, Nana, is on her with Poppy too!
I too will be beginning to do the Lets Chat Friday segment once again. Some changes are coming. I am planning on having guests and guest posts who simply share their story with you. Testimonies of faith of those who have gone through trials. Stories of hope from those who are facing struggles of all kinds today and how the Lord is bringing them through and lifting them above fear and filling them with peace.
Friends, I hope your week is filled with peace, love and harmony. Seek the Lord this week and watch His blessings soar!
When two families come together in God's perfect timing they find a warmth from a beacon light. Jamie and C.J are married, but they have lost their way. Something is missing. I love the character of Jamie. She assumes a lot and is trying to hard to be that perfect daughter to a father not willing to give his all. She is forever trying to be that good girl to please all.
We too have Zach. A character living with his aunt and uncle. He is lost and trying to find his way by leaving the past behind and moving into the future. It's hard to let go of the past when others seem to stay there pulling you back. Zach is that young man trying to find his way in the world while trying to grab on to peace. It's that flesh verses faith battle we all face daily.
Mattie and Solomon Riehl are lovely characters. Sol is so strong and faithful, leading is wife and family in faith. They want to fill their home with another child and in doing so, Mattie's heart is aching for that emptiness to be filled.
In God's perfect timing, He brings these characters together for a Christmas they will never forget. One that is filled with sharing and seeing for the first time. Faith, hope and love are alive in this story. Friendships are made and faith is blossomed, all from a chance meeting? No chance here, only time designed by God for His glory and honor.
I loved this book and all that the characters brought to the pages. This lovely story brings many values and shines a light on how God always places us just where we are suppose to be.
This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, and A Lancaster County Christmas, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of an internet radio show called Amish Wisdom, and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California.
Friday, September 16, 2011
A lot can happen in six years. I don't know how many times I have asked the Lord, "Why? Why did all this happen?" He has answered some questions, but others I am trying to be still and wait. I am not even sure an answer would really ease the hurt my heart still feels.
For the last three months my husband has been working. Praise the Lord! After three years of being laid off that job the Lord had for him finally came. I feel so blessed to have insurance and a growing savings account once again. Today, I know that can be gone within a moment.
In the last six years I have been diagnosed with COPD and Fibromyalgia. Neither has been fun. My COPD is under control today, which I am thankful for. I still have those bad days where I find it hard to get up out of bed and energy just isn't what it used to be. Makes me look back to those five children we raised and think, "How in the world did we do that?" Today, I think I would be crawling and grabbing for that fifth cup of coffee if I was home schooling my children again. God's perfect timing. Just maybe He saw what was up ahead and gave me all those years filled with energy to make the most of each day.
Six years ago Satan attacked our family in the worst way. I wish I could fill you in on every detail, but that just wouldn't be fair. Our girls left home about six years ago. Gosh, it still hurts to even say that. I remember the day my baby girl left home. Barely seventeen years old, but home is not where she wanted to be any longer. She was in love. Love called her away. She is married to that young man now and expecting my first grandson any time now. With prayer and hope in the Lord, He has a way of working things out for His glory and honor. Our relationship is wonderful, but it isn't what it once was. That is something my heart longs for. She was the laughter that filled our home. Without her, you could feel the silence overcome you.
My oldest daughter left home just about six years ago. It's almost unbearable to think of what just one choice can lead to. One decision that will change forever. Some choices change us so greatly there is no going back. You can only pray that the grace of God will cover you and He will bring a peace you never knew possible. This daughter is my spitting image. Inside and out. I am not sure what it is about mothers and daughters. Why is there such a battle?
Just when I thought everything was perfect once again, Satan came in for the attack. It seems he just lies in wait. I haven't seen my grand daughter in almost six months. I wish I could tell you why. I don't even know why myself. I cry myself to sleep at night. It's like I am grieving the loss of my granddaughter. My heart aches to see her. My heart too is eager to sit with my daughter. I just wish I could put my arms around her and go back to yesterday.
Who is to blame in all this? I am sure each of us would like to think it is the other, but in reality, the blame lies on all of us. We are family. Family is love and forgiveness. It is truth and trust. It is hope and everlasting grace. I never pictured being a Nana like this. I never pictured my family so close but yet miles apart.
I found two quotes today I would like to share with you. When I read them, they seemed to bring such great comfort to me. Another reminder that God is at work behind the scenes in my heart and the hearts of those I love.
"God is more concerned with conforming me to the likeness of His Son than leaving me in my comfort zones. God is more interested in inward qualities than outward circumstances - things like refining my faith, humbling my heart, cleaning up my thought life and strengthening my character."
"We will stand amazed to see the topside of the tapestry and how God beautifully embroidered each circumstance into a pattern for our good and His glory." Joni Eareckson Tada
Through these six years He has brought me through some dark nights. Months were I thought I was going to lose my mother to illness. Years where I thought my husband was at the end of his rope. Today, where I see my son missing yesterday and only wanting it back.
The Lord has wrapped His arms around me and brought me comfort through His Word. I have felt His hand many nights where I didn't want to see the sun rise. He was there the night I wanted to end it all. By the grace of God He brought me through and set me on a new foundation. A foundation of hope. He is refining me. He is molding me into the woman He created me to be. I have been humbled in many ways and as for my character, I am not the same woman I was six years ago.
I have learned to surrender ALL to Him. I have learned I cannot bring change to others. I cannot control every situation. The decisions of others effect me greatly, but I cannot allow their choices to over power my life and bring me to a breaking point. I have learned I am weak and I gain strength through my faith in Christ. Without Him I would not be here today.
I love those perfect days where all seems right. It's being in that comfort zone that makes me feel so safe, but I have learned to appreciate those days where all isn't right. I am learning to grab hold of each moment and live. Christ is in everything in my life. Nothing touches me without first going through His hand. I still don't know why some things have happened, but I must trust that He does. I must have hope that through His plan I can be humble enough to see His hand upon everything and know there is a reason and purpose for everything.
Sometimes life is just hard, isn't it? There are so many things we simply just don't understand. Most we don't want to understand, we just want it made right. Well, in order for that to happen we must all surrender to God. We must all be searching for Him and find forgiveness and grace in our hearts for those around us. It can't be all about ME, but about those around us.
I am learning to take a step back and allow God the room He needs. Those very moments I miss, I know He is working on them. He may not be able to bring back yesterday, but in faith, He can make today even more sweeter in surrender.
Friends, we all go through such trial and heart ache. We could name hundreds of things that touch our lives each and every day. Although we don't understand the why's, we must trust that on the other side of today, God is weaving a tapestry together with every tear fallen today and every laugh line that carries of memory of yesterday.
Don't give up. Don't turn away from Christ because your comfort zone has been robbed. Take comfort in the life of Christ and know He too knows our pain. He knows sorrow and has seen death first hand. He wants the best for us. He wants us to have life abundant. Sometimes we must go through the fire to have all those impurities removed and have all that He has made glitter in a pureness that only speaks of hope renewed.
"You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver." Psalm 66:10
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4
I speak of many trials that have touched our lives in the last six years. These hurts are still cutting deep today. What makes it worse is that gossip from others who think they know the truths, but in reality they know nothing. Why do we try to bring others down when trials come? Why don't we lift one another in prayer and reach out in comfort? We point our fingers and say, "I would never do such a thing." Well, you don't know the whole story and you have no idea what you would do if faced in the same situation. It's really easy to say what we would do, but maybe we need to walk in that pair of shoes for a bit before we bring judgement on a brother or sister in Christ.
So friends, hold on to your faith. Reach for Christ and allow Him to create in you a new joy and life. Enjoy the love around you and focus on Him. My marriage is better than ever before. I am reunited with my cousin who I had lost contact with and our friendship grows daily. My son is still at home and I am enjoying his days left at home where I must pick up his dirty clothes and hear him play his guitar. There is much life to be lived. We cannot focus on that pain. It will rob us of today. Focus on today and those loved ones around you who need you so very much. Prayer is mighty and a mighty faith brings with it all possibilites in Christ.
What could be more lovely than sitting around a camp fire at night? The cool breeze, the warmth and glow of the fire and friends surrounding you. Everyone has their cup of hot chocolate, all is quiet, until a spark. What kind of spark? The fire crackles and a spark shoots up falling to the ground to singe dry grass. Before you know it the fire is a blaze. Everyone is moving their chairs and backing away as fast as they can. They don't want to get singed and they certainly don't want to get burned. How easy a forest fire can begin with just one spark.
"A lying tongue... a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren"
Lets take this a bit further. Lets say this group is sitting around the camp fire and all is quiet until one speaks up. One voice is heard. That voice speaks about another. Someone who is not there to defend themselves and fan the flames that are about to erupt. What happens? Does everyone stand as fast as they can, picking up their chairs, backing away as fast as they can? No, they sit. They sit in wonder and the sparks that are about to fly. The spark catches on one and then spreads to another. Now, everyone is jumping in, adding to the flames. No one is moving away, but gathering in closer. How can you not get burned by such actions?
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"
All it takes is one ember to take flight and the fire is now spreading rapidly. But to stop that fire, all it takes is one person to step out and contain it. One person to take a stand and say, "Hey, wait a minute. Should we be discussing this?" But too often, this is not what we do. We listen and then add to the fire. It's like hot air on a flame that is already blazing. Everyone leaves that camp fire with soot on them. They have a residue that leaves a smell and a stain. How can you not get your hands dirty from adding to the flame?
"Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge."
Gossip is that one thing that makes us sick. If we are honest we have all been part of gossip. We only notice the flames when we are the one being spoken about. But when we are sitting around the camp fire and everyone is talking, we join in, not giving one thought to that person being spoken about. They are not even there to defend themselves. And what if they were there? Would the conversation take place? No, everyone would smile and act friendly, until another gathering when they were not standing side by side.
"For their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of trouble making" Proverbs 24:2
Gossip should make us sick. Why can't we control our tongue? Why do we have to be busybodies and know every tidbit of information? We speak of others as if we know their life, when in fact, we have all the information we are spreading all wrong. In fact, there is little truth in all we are saying. I think we should all find ourselves being put to shame.
"And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not."
1 Timothy 5:13
We speak of others as if we are perfect. As if our sins are minor in comparison. We speak as if we are holier than thou. When in fact, if we paid more attention to our own affairs we wouldn't be so quick to judge another. Where does our Christianity come in around the camp fire? Our light should be burning for the Lord, not for the latest gossip about our neighbor or our church member.
"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8
"This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine...This little light of mine....I'm gonna let it shine." Do we really understand this sweet song we teach to our children? What adults do in moderation, children will do in excess. We are the examples to those around us and when we cannot stand up and say, "Enough", we are causing others to stumble.
"So lets stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall."
Our speech should be inviting. It should be warm. Love should flow from our lips. We should be lifting others up, not bringing them down. What if we turned that gossip into a prayer? Might we begin with praying for our own sorry selves. If we know a brother or sister has taken a turn off the path, might we invite them to the camp fire. Might we use that camp fire as an invitation to speak about the Lord and how He blesses us. Might we be transparent and speak of our own struggles to make others feel more open and loved. We too often feel like we are the only one in a situation and what is really sad is the fact that as Christians we can be the very people who make others feel this way.
"If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure." 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
We are not here to point out the sins of others. If anything, lets point out our own so others know we struggle daily on our walk. So, what happens after the camp fire? We get in the car and say, "Can you believe Angie said that about Carol?" Oh, how pious of us. We sat right there and we either added to the flames or said nothing at all to stop them.
"A good-for-nothing man is digging up what is bad, and upon his lips there is, as it were, a scorching fire. A man of intrigues keeps sending forth contention, and a slanderer is separating those familiar with one another." Proverbs 16:27-28
But then, once we are home, we put on our jammies and crawl under the comfort of our warm blanket. You know, since that fire didn't warm us enough. In fact, sitting around that fire was downright cold. You could even say it brought chills. In the quiet of the night we now hear the Lord speaking straight to our heart. What does He say? Can we even hear Him? I am sure sitting around that fire everyone felt His Spirit. But no one spoke up. We sat in silence as He called us to stop the flames.
"Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood. Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one's heart. Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they're deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don't believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public."
Friends, there is no one that doesn't get burned from gossip. It touches the person being spoken of and it too touches us, the very person doing the talking. In our Christian circles we like to say, "Prayer request." Isn't that a hypocritical joke. Gossip singes our reputation. It chars our character. It takes away from the love we should have for our brothers and sisters and turns it into something ugly and cold.
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me, everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
May we encourage and inspire others through our actions and our speech. Too often our actions speak louder than our words. Words cut deep, but our actions can bring healing to those wounds we have caused or opened as we have gathered around the camp fire. When we gather might we gather together in hope and love showing just how mighty God's Light of Truth is. May He shine through us, warming those around us with a brotherly love that invites the heart to glow.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
We meet up with Alison Taylor once again. She is piecing her life back together after a terrible accident. She is surrounded by two brothers who not only love her, but are willing to protect her with every fiber of their being. I love seeing this family come together in such closeness. Alison is working as a Social Worker and is very involved in her cases. They are not just numbers to her. They are families and Alison loves children. She is wanting to make a difference in the lives of those she touches.
After diving into a case she now has strange happenings that are becoming frightening. There is someone very angry at Alison and wants revenge. We see Alison as she is healing from her accident and trying hard to put the past behind her. She meets, Mitch Morgan, a Navy Seal, who is her brother's partner, and we see these two characters come together. Mitch has had a time of his own lately and faith just isn't at the top of his priority list.
Alison is a strong character. We have seen her over come trial before, but now she is fighting for her life in a new way. One that she never expected. This is an edge of your seat thriller!
This is one of those stories that holds characters you fall in love with. With Irene's writing style you get to meet each one and learn about them. She takes you to that next level and I must say, she is a gift. This is certainly a terrific read and one I loved. If you haven't checked, Irene Hannon, out yet, you are missing out!
This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm's Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and two Reviewer's Choice Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.
Click on to this link to see my review of Fatal Judgement: http://robinsnest66.blogspot.com/2011/01/fatal-judgement-by-irene-hannon.html
Friday, September 9, 2011
So now, Moses, is pleading with the people before him. Moses is sharing the Word of God. (Exodus 15:25-27) He shares that if they just obey the Lord none of the diseases that arose on the Egyptians will touch them. After seeing what happened to them you would think they would follow right along. We are so much like the Israelites. We follow, we turn. We follow and we turn. This time they listened to Moses and before them lay twelve springs filled with pure water to quench their thirst. They had to walk through the desert, through that dry land, before they really appreciated that refreshing water that touched their lips. If our feet never touch the desert we forget the sweetness of an oasis.
Here they go again. Complaining. (Exodus 15:1-3) I mean can you imagine twelve springs of water? I see before me beauty, but their eyes were not looking for the blessings God wanted for them. They were seeking what their flesh wanted. Oh, have I been there. God chooses my path. He sets before me what He wants me to have and I sit back and have the audacity to say, "Ya know, that's not really what I want. Can I give you my order, please?" I think God probably sits back at times and shakes His head at our ungratefulness. He is giving. Giving what we do not deserve. And what do we do? We throw it back in His face.
Listen to this verse from Exodus 15:1-5 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Look, I'm going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food AS THEY NEED for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.'" What a gracious God we serve. Giving more than usual. They were heaping in double blessings! He was providing a way.
The Lord gave all the bread they needed in the morning and all the meat they needed at night. He was opening up heaven for them. He not only quenched their thirsts, but He too heard their complaints. He is giving as they need. How many times does He do that for us on a daily basis and it simply isn't enough. We look to heaven for God to answer and that answer just doesn't suffice, so what do we do instead of obey? We turn in anger like a child who can't have a chocolate bar before dinner is prepared.
Okay, so Moses was trying to lead the people as God called him to. Not unlike a pastor trying to lead a flock of sheep that want to go their own way. All Moses could do was give the message of the Lord. Moses told the people not to keep any of the food until morning. They were to gather enough for that day. Just what they needed. Instead they gathered more than their share and what happened? By morning as they were hungry once again they looked and what they had gathered out of disobedience turned to maggots! Yuck! (Exodus 15:17-25)
"'You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.' Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food. The Lord asked Moses, 'How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord's gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay on your own place. Do not go out and pick up food on the seventh day." Exodus 15:26-29
Can you imagine manna falling from heaven? Can you picture this? It's not so hard for us. We receive our own manna from heaven each and every day. God supply ALL we NEED. For the almost three years my husband was laid off from his job we never went hungry. We never thirsted. God provided our NEED. Sure we didn't have everything we desired. Sometimes you had those cravings late in the night for that snack you took for granted, but HE never once let us down. He still provides today. We have manna from heaven. We just have to look for it. We must get past our selfish desires, our fleshly hungers and realize what He has for us is best. When we follow His commands He provides ALL.
"So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan." Exodus 15:35 God's provision is extraordinary. There is nothing about God that is ordinary. He provided each and every day for these people. When will we get over ourselves? We are such a complaining people. As long as we have what we desire we are happy, but when the desert comes we find ourselves miserable. It's kind of like as long as we have money in our pockets to go shopping we walk with smiles, but when that check book is dry, oh how our countenance changes. We become down right crabby.
"How I praise the Lord that you are concerned with me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn't have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:10-13
We can learn so much from the Israelites about thankfulness and contentment. We can learn to follow Christ through every situation that comes. We can trust Him and through our belief in Him, He will never let us down. Sure, we might be searching through the cabinets, but maybe we just aren't looking in the right place. The blessings are there if we can get past our thinking that we must have what we want instead of what we need. When we figure out our needs and wants, God has a way of providing both.
Renee is awesome at being transparent. She shows us how to see beyond our vision and grasp a hold of all God is creating in us. We are a work in progress. It's all in changing our thinking. We must remove the doubt and fear and replace it with faith and trust. God can take us from broken to beautiful. Renee, reminds us who we are in Christ through scripture and stories. This book will bless your walk with Christ and strengthen you to be the woman God has called you to be. It was really a treasure to read.
This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.
Renee Swope is a popular national women's conference speaker, radio show co-host, and the executive director of radio and devotions at Proverbs 31 Ministries. She's also a contributing author to three additional books, including a Gold Medallion finalist and a People's Choice Award finalist, as well as several online and print magazines. Renee is featured writer for Encouragement for Today online devotions that currently touch over 450,000 lives each day across the world. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
As I read these words of scripture they bring me to the edge of Red Sea. Can you see the Israelites standing on the edge of the waters waiting? Anticipating to see what the Lord is going to do? It isn't hard for us to envision. We have all been there. We wander through the desert searching for a way out. Everything looks the same. We cry out to God and ask, "Are You there? Will You rescue me?" It is so hard to wait, isn't it? The most wondrous thing is the peace that God washes over us as we are waiting for that rescue. As God, in His perfect time, parts the waters for you to cross we must stand in faith.
Are you standing at the edge of the Red Sea today? Do you have enemies at your back? Just remember God will make a way! He will lead you out of your fear and despair. He will part the high waters that are surrounding you and clear a path for you to find not only safe ground, but set you a top a hill of refuge! You are not alone my friend. Jesus knows what is behind you and what is ahead of you. Trust Him and surrender all your burdens to Him.
"Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other at night." Exodus 14:19-20
We have a mighty God who will never leave us. He knows we are at the edge waiting for Him. He has His hand of protection over us today just as He did the Israelites. What must we do when circumstances surround us? Stay fixed upon Him. We don't have to look back. He has our past covered. We don't have to fear tomorrow. He too, has His hand upon our future. There is nothing for us to fear as long as we stand in faith at the edge anticipating what God is going to do. He parted those waters for the safe crossing of the Israelites and He closed the path for the wicked that were following them.
"Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord: I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise His name, my father's God, and I will exalt Him! The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is His name!" Exodus 15:1-3
We receive that bad news. The unexpected happens. We are faced with decisions. Opposition seems to be surrounding us. When we are faced with the trials of this world we must not forget our way. We must not allow those troubles to torment our hearts. It seems today we are on overload. We are facing such hard times in our country today. We could just allow fear to overtake us. We could allow indecision to tempt us into turning our own way. God knows each and every moment of each and every day we face. He knows just how real our troubles are. He hasn't left us. If anything we leave Him. We feel He isn't moving as we expect. Maybe He isn't moving fast enough for us. Oh, have I been there. I have felt like I was standing in the desert screaming at the top of my lungs and no one was hearing me. Most of all God. But, He did hear. I can tell you I felt His hand take hold of mine many nights and I heard His voice say, "Just hold on daughter. Hold on and trust your Father."
Everything in my life is not perfect. In fact, it is far from perfect, but even in those imperfections life is good. It is good when I remain focused on God for EVERYTHING. It's when I take my eyes off Him that I lose my way and think all is lost. God is working behind the scenes. He is working in the hearts of those around us. There is nothing that touches our life that is without purpose. God will make a way. He will part the waters and rescue you from your enemies. As we stand on the edge of the Red Sea, lets not forget those who have crossed before us and those who will cross after us.
"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You." Psalm 25:4-5
"He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in Him. He makes the nations submit to me." Psalm 144:2
That same God who we see on those great days of joy that lights up our countenance, is that same God who will bring you through on those very days where all seems to go dark. Even in that darkness, He will light the way. May we learn to trust Him in ALL circumstances. In giving Him praise for ALL we will find that peace to bring us through the edge of darkness into the light of grace.