Monday, July 6, 2015

A Display of His Splendor

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Have you ever collected anything? Or known someone who did? It became their pride and joy. Each one accounted for, kept perfectly clean, restored to its original beauty, and often on display for all to see. It’s something dearly loved and you desire to share it.
I see a lot of the same thing when I read this verse. Oh, God doesn’t collect us like some sort of hobby; frankly, we’re far too valuable for that. Like a collection, we belong to him, but rather than an inanimate object to stick on a shelf, we are his children. Of far more worth than any other possession he has. (And he owns the entire world, so let that sink in a moment.)
What I love so much about this verse is how God cares for us. He doesn’t leave us with the dust of life, the grime of our days. No, he places beauty over our hurts, and gives us joy in our sadness so that we can once again sing. Then he sets us out for all to see, because he takes such joy in us.
It’s like a parent showing off his child. And God is the biggest show-off when it comes to his children. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for us. His love knows no bounds. We are a display of his splendor, bursting with beauty for all to see.
Including him.
Because where he finds his greatest joy is in you.

Lord today wash over me with a new crown. Let all the ashes of my days be swept away. Fill me with joy and singing. Let me become a walking display of your splendor for all to see, and reveal to me a heavenly glimpse of your abounding delight and love for me. Amen.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Bookshelf Friday

This summer is flying by, and I've been a little focused on finishing my current WIP. It's slowed down my reading ability! But it's still a new month which means giveaway time! So while I'm catching up on a few new reads to review, here's my June Bookshelf giveaway. Just leave me a comment here or on my Facebook post, and you're entered to win your choice of one of these books. 

Winner announced next week Friday! 
Happy 4th, friends!:)

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Love Song

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

If you look up the Hebrew word for delight here you find it means joy or extreme gladness. Its root is found in the verb “samach” which means: to give joy or make happy. So do you catch what that means? Basically, you give someone great pleasure. Just by being you, you make someone happy.
All too often we hear about our shortcomings. Whether it’s from people around us, social media, or our own voices, we can find ourselves listening to a running dialogue in our minds about how we are not enough. Not only do we feel we don’t measure up or bring happiness to anyone, but we start to lose our own joy in the process. Our worth doesn’t seem to amount to much. We blend in to our surroundings.
But picture this. You’re at karaoke night with friends, and this amazing man picks up the mic and starts singing about you. To you. A love song written just for you about how beautiful you are. How you completely delight him. How his love is centered on you.
Corny? Yeah, maybe a little. Yet what woman wouldn’t want a love song written just for her? Well, that’s exactly what this verse is saying. Christ only has eyes for you. Not only that, but you bring him such delight he cannot help but burst into song. He cannot contain his love for you. Nothing you’ve done can stop his love song. Nothing you’ve done can inspire it. It’s simply there because he created you and fell madly in love with you in the process.
You are worth enough for him to die for, and still sing a beautiful love song to simply because you delight him just by being you.
You are more than enough.

Lord, today help me to see that I am more than enough for you. Open my eyes to notice how much you love me and find joy in me. Open my ears so I can hear your love song to me. Quiet all my doubts and fears with your love, and let your melody become the song that replays in my mind. Amen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Nothing but Trouble by Susan May Warren

I'm going old school today. It's summer, and some nights I simply like to sit up all night and read just because I can. Those nights it's fun to pull out an old friend, something that's been on my shelf for years. Something I can remember the characters because they've stayed with me, maybe even a few highlights, but the details have grown fuzzy enough for me to enjoy a reread. Nothing But Trouble fulfilled that bill. Here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

It's not fair to say that trouble happens every time PJ Sugar is around, but it feels that way when she returns to her home town, looking for a fresh start. Within a week, her former teacher is murdered and her best friend's husband is arrested as the number-one suspect. Although the police detective investigating the murder—who also happens to be PJ's former flame—is convinced it's an open-and-shut case, PJ's not so sure. She begins digging for clues in an effort to clear her friend’s husband and ends up reigniting old passions, uncovering an international conspiracy, and solving a murder along the way. She also discovers that maybe God can use a woman who never seems to get it right.

This was the first in a three book series and I immediately fell in love. PJ Sugar was a fun, well-rounded character who's wit and charm made me not only like her, but laugh and cry with her. Each book has its own mystery and even forward movement in PJ's life as she tries to figure out who she is...where her worth comes from...can she ever walk out of her past?

Surrounding PJ are wonderful secondary characters who keep you entertained as well. Between her sister's Russian in-laws and PJ's old friends, there's enough moments that have you shaking your head--in a good way.

But the best is the hero in these books. He's strong and honest, a bit mysterious, and he sees PJ for who she truly is. Not only that, but he encourages her to grow. To change. To become all God has for her to be. Their banter is pretty amazing, something I personally always look for in books. And seeing as she has two different guys pursuing her, I'm not telling you his name here. But you'll figure it out:)

All together this series of books has stayed on my shelf and will continue to for years to come. I'm sure it's one I'll pull out on another long summer night simply to enjoy:) You can purchase Nothing But Trouble here and look into the next two books, Double Trouble and Licensed for Trouble while you're at it.

Happy reading my friends!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ooze Confidence

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19, 22

Confidence. You see people who have it; it’s a noticeable trait. They walk straighter, speak clearer, laugh more. They’re not afraid to jump into or over anything that falls in their path. They don’t worry if people accept them or not, they’re good either way.
People without confidence are as noticeable. They doubt themselves. Doubt their value. Their moods change depending on if they succeed at a task or if people like them or not. And while this is bad in friendships and the workplace, it’s the worst when we lack confidence in our relationship with God.
We focus on our past and our mistakes. We quake when we speak with him, or we run in the other direction because we believe all he can see is our screw-ups. We truly believe we aren’t anything he could use. But we have it so very, very wrong.
Our mistakes? He views as our testimony. Our weakness? He sees his strength. Our sins? He sees his cleansing blood. He paid such a high price to make us whole and new, and he wants us to walk boldly in it.
Ooze confidence.
Don’t let the enemy use his voice or others’ to shake you. Know who you are in Christ. Keep your shoulders back. Step with purpose. Come into God’s presence and let him show you your purpose, your worth, and then believe it.
He saw it, and he died for it so that you could live in abundance and strength with confidence.

Lord today let me see myself how you do. Help me to walk straight and with a purpose, fully knowing my value and strength in you to take on anything that comes my way. Let me fully shed my past at your feet and walk away unhindered to fully live today.

Monday, June 15, 2015

You Are Pursued

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”John9:3

We can feel like the outsider in this world, can’t we? As if no one wants us. Maybe in your life you’ve been thrown out or discarded. Maybe you were part of a group and now you find yourself on the outside. This happened to the blind man. He’d been a part of a family, a part of a village and its synagogue, but when Jesus healed him the man found himself on the outskirts of his once full life. He refused to change his story that he’d been healed, and people who were once his friends suddenly didn’t want him around. Even his own parents distanced themselves from him.
But not Jesus.
Jesus pursued him.
That’s what he does. When others discard, Jesus seeks. Our lives have value to him. He desires a relationship with us, and he sees us among the many. This man could have been lost in the sea of faces around Jesus, but instead Jesus sought him out to have relationship with him.
I love that! Jesus desires relationship with us. We are worth his time. This man had been physically blind, a beggar, nothing special about him, and yet Jesus saw his value. He didn’t stop at merely healing him, he went after him until he was in relationship with him.
He cares so much more than about our physical. He’s after our heart. And your heart is worth everything to him. When others throw you out, Jesus comes running after you. Let him find you today.

Lord, help me to let go of the hurt of others not wanting me and realize that you’re pursuing me. Let me see how much you love me and discover the beauty of relationship with you. Today let me focus on moments with you that deepen our relationship so that I can grow in you.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund makes me want to read historical romance. Normally, I gravitate towards contemporary first, but there are a handful of authors who I wait for their historical to come out so I can snap them up. Jody is one of them and her newest release, Hearts Made Whole, only reinforces why she's one of my top picks. Here's the blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

After her father's death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren't supposed to have such roles, so it's only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper--even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He's secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation--the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He's not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who's angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he's in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope...and possibly love?

I loved revisiting Ryan in this story, however if you haven't ready Hedlund's first in this series, you won't be lost. The Civil War has taken place between these two books, and we find a very different Ryan in this book. As the description says, he is haunted by the horrors of war and he's simply looking for peace and quiet. He finds Caroline and her siblings instead.

As I've come to love with Hedlund's books, her settings are beautiful and create amazing backdrops to her stories. You can tell she's done her research. And, as a Michigander myself, I enjoy hearing about the history of my state. While her settings are colorful, her characters are even more so. Ryan and Caroline are thoroughly developed, as are their journeys--journeys that at first are facing off against one another. Caroline is fully capable of running the lighthouse on her own, but is denied the chance simply because she's a woman, while all Ryan wants to do is run the lighthouse in solitude. This leads to sweet moments filled with smile-worthy bantering.

There's more than banter, however. Throughout the pages these two characters struggle with realistic problems as they're pulled closer together and eventually fall in love--though not too quickly. The pacing of this story is fast enough to keep the reader turning pages but not so fast that it's unbelievable. A story full of hope, I happily give Hearts Made Whole five out of five stars. You can pick it up here. Happy reading, friends!