Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Kindness Matters

I wrote those words on Twitter a few weeks back on a particularly trying day, and since I've typed them, they've stuck with me.

See, friends, kindness truly matters. So many of us are missing it in our lives. A well-placed smile. An encouraging word. A simple thank-you. These things matter in our lives and the lives of those we touch. What doesn't matter is if we are liked by those we extend kindness to.

Now, I"m not going to say that being liked isn't a really nice thing. I am a recovering people-pleaser. I understand the gut-ache that comes from people disliking you--especially when they don't particularly have a reason other than, well, they don't like you. I know what it's like to be on the outside of a circle. I've felt ridicule over unpopular choices I've made. I've been told I'm not cool--even as an adult. Yep. Just because we get older doesn't mean we all mature. And I'm learning it's all okay.

No, it's not easy. But it is okay.

Because the moment I start allowing other people's opinions of me to shape how I act, I've lost. Lost site of who God's called me to be. Lost my identity in Him. And lost out on following my purpose, because focusing on pleasing others is the quickest way to walk off the path he carved for me when he created me.

So here's what I've learned. Whether or not others like me doesn't matter. It's inevitable that some won't--I'm not everyone's cup of tea. And some people are just plain old mean. What does matter is how I handle it. I'm choosing to handle it with boundaries, love, and my eyes fixed on Jesus. Because when I'm looking at him, everything else seems to fade away, my hurts begin to heal, and I'm filled with the ability to show kindness to others.

And kindness matters:)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Even in the Silence

Friends, I know I've been quiet around here for some time. Sporadically posting and then disappearing again for a bit. I'll admit to being in a very busy season of life, and that's affected some of my ability to post. In fact, I'm hoping this summer to rearrange things around here and discover new ways to connect! But if I'm being honest, much of the reason I hadn't been posting is because I was going through an extended dry season. And not simply dry, but silent. God didn't only stop speaking, he stopped visibly showing up...and my life felt incredibly barren.

And oh, the questions that pricked my heart. You see, I've known Jesus through loss--he was my comforter. I've known him through hardships--he was my provider. I've known him through unfair situations--he was my defender. I've known him in moments of hurt--he was the banner over me. I've known him in moments of leading--he was my shepherd. And I'd also known him as my joy, my laughter, my abounding love. Through years and years I'd grown to know God in so many facets, always able to attach a name to him. In every situation, God was there. I felt his presence tangibly. I heard his voice directing me or simply singing over me. He was big. He was real. He was present. Even when he didn't answer my prayers the way I wanted, his presence never left my side.

Until it did.

At first I did everything I knew how to do. I opened my Bible...but nothing connected. I prayed...and only heard silence. I worshipped...but the songs fell flat. I called out his Word...but it felt powerless. What had I done for God to desert me?

The answer? Nothing. Because while he was silent, he wasn't gone. God doesn't leave us. Period.

Just like I entered the season in one breath, on another breath eighteen months later, it lifted. God didn't flood me with his presence, instead it began to trickle in. Can I tell you how refreshing even a drop of water is when you've been parched for so long? And as the ground of my soul started to soak him up again, I continually asked why he'd placed me in a silent desert. He didn't answer at first, but as I keep seeking him, one day he responded.

He simply whispered to me: You needed to know I was God even in the silence.

You see, friends, I knew God in so many circumstances. I could call out his names, like I said above.  No matter how hard life became, I knew he was there. He is Jehovah Shalom. He is Jehovah Jireh. He is Jehovah Nissi. He is Jehovah Rapha...I could go on and on about who he is. I've known his presence and power in my life in so many ways. Yet I'd always known him based on a specific attribute. But there is another name he goes by...a name I'd never learned: I AM.

He doesn't need to speak. He doesn't need to move. He doesn't need to provide, protect, or proceed me. Oh, he does ALL those things and more--but the absence of them in my life doesn't make him any less the God I serve. And I serve him not because of those things, but only because He IS God.

Friends! What we believe cannot rely on a feeling or on the attributes we've attached based on the history we've received. It can only come from the knowledge of who he is.

The Great I Am.

And that never changes no matter what season we find ourselves in....one brimming with his presence or one completely silent.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Like a River

I love looking at water nearly as much as I love the sound of it. Rivers, oceans, creeks...there is something soothing about water. There is also something immensely powerful about this element. And I love how God constantly uses it to draw a parallel of his power in our lives.

Water provides us with the ability to be clean. It hydrates us, allowing us to grow. It refreshes. At times it can roar with a surge strong enough to sweep us--or the debris stubbornly clinging to us--away. And yet its delicate trickle can be a balm to our sore bodies. I stand amazed at how we can stand on the banks of a river and see Him, his character, in the very water he created.

God speaks through nature, friends. It is his creation, and it mimics his relationship with us. We see his mighty hand and hear his story through this beautiful world we live in. Today, soak in his peace. Look up and look around. He's there, speaking.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tackling That Mountain

This Sunday I was chatting with a friend at church about Hawaii. I'm in love with Hawaii. I've only been once, but I cannot wait to return! One day I'll get back to Maui, and when I do I want to finally make it up the mountain in Haleakala National Park then bike down it. My friend had done this once, so she began sharing her experience, and friends, all I could hear as she told me her story was...God.

You see, she started up the mountain in a van in the predawn darkness. At the top, they put her on a bike. 6700  feet in the air, a sheer drop to the side, and a decline that promised to move the bikes at a high rate of speed. The instructor gave them all a lesson on how to literally ride their enhanced brakes the entire way down the course and to stay in a line. The van tagged along in case at any point someone wanted to ditch their bike and climb inside. Well, my friend decide to ditch that bike before even trying. Her legs shook. Her brain froze up. As she stared at that mountain, she convinced herself she couldn't conquer it before even starting.

Then the instructor stepped in. He coaxed her into believing that if she simply began, she would see she could finish. He changed her location in the line-up so that she was right behind him, and he told her to keep her eyes on him and nothing else. She agreed to give it a shot. Then the most incredible thing happened. 

They started down the mountain with all its twists and turns. As light began to spill into the darkness, she could just make out the instructor in front of her. Do you know what he was doing? His body and bike sped forward, but his entire focus was turned around, facing her as he navigated the trail without looking at it. He called out the turns that were coming, spoke words of encouragement, and helped her through every spin of her pedal. Her eyes remained on him. She didn't look to the left or the right, didn't think about what was coming, she trusted him to tell her and simply followed. That was how she made it down the mountain.

Friends! That is a picture of our God! Yes, in Christ we can speak to the mountain to move, but sometimes that happens through him taking us up and over our mountains so that it moves into our past. He enables us to conquer it! And he does that with his eyes on us the entire time. He doesn't need to look at the path because he already knows it. I just LOVE that! He's not concerned with what's ahead, he's concerned with bringing us through it. He's concerned with us. So he keeps his focus on us, coaxing us through, speaking words of truth and love, empowering us to finish what we thought we couldn't even begin.

Don't stop before you've even started. That mountain may look huge. You may wonder how on earth you can ever endure it. You may even be quaking in your boots and worried that you'll crash and burn. All you have to do is fix your eyes on him and follow his voice. He's waiting for you to tackle your mountain with him leading the way.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bookshelf Friday - Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

I was so excited to see a new series beginning by Lynette Eason and finally had a chance to dive into book one. Here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. With three brothers and two sisters, she's never without someone to hang out with--or fight with. And she knows they'll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Determined to discover exactly what happened, Izzy's investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll--including someone from her own family. With her dead partner's handsome homicide detective brother Ryan shadowing her every move, Izzy's head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she's had a secret crush on for years won't leave her side?

This was a fast-paced start to Eason's new Blue Justice series. It's been some time since I've read a book by her, and opening the pages of this one was like catching up with an old friend. Eason does a masterful job of pulling you straight into the action while tugging at your emotions. This allows the reader to fall for the characters and cements us into their lives. I loved the glimpses of each family member in this new series and cannot wait for their stories.

The suspense plot moved quickly and seamlessly with two strong characters who shared their vulnerabilities with one another. The fact that they'd been friends for so long lended a realism to them falling in love in what some may consider a short timetable. Eason wove a story that hits both the romance and suspense of this genre in such a way that I'm already ready for the next addition.

If you're a fan of romantic suspense and haven't had a chance to read this one yet, I highly recommend it. You can purchase Oath of Honor here.

Happy reading, friends!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Bookshelf Friday - Things I Never Told You by Beth Vogt

Beth Vogt dives into women's fiction with her newest release. Here's a short blurb and we'll chat on the other side. (Oh! And to see who won from Tuesdays giveaway, keep reading!)

It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine—as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.

But with her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside her opinionated oldest sister, Johanna, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope that a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them . . . until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans and her future. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart.

Women's fiction is not typically the first genre I gravitate towards, but I do enjoy it. Vogt's newest book, however, had me falling in love with the genre. The intricacies of family dynamics, the hard diagnosis of cancer, and the grief of loss all swirl together in this heart-tugging story. Each character pulled me into their lives. And I loved the pace of this family's story so far. There were no easy answers reached, yet there was believable forward progression of everyone involved. Even with the hard topics inside its pages, this story was full of hope. That's what I loved most, how even in some of our deepest hurts and painful moments, hope can still be found. Vogt does a masterful job of showing this throughout "Things I Never Told You", and I can't wait for the next book in this series.
You can pre-order Things I Never Told You right here! You can also add it to your Goodreads list as "want to read", because trust me, you want to read this one:)

And as for the winner of Tuesday's giveaway...

NANCY (nanze55) YOU WON! I'll connect with you via email to grab your pick and contact info! Thanks everyone for stopping by and participating:) Have a great weekend, friends!

***Thank you to the publisher for an ARC of this book. I was under no obligation or expectation to post a review. All views expressed are my own.***

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Springtime GIVEAWAY

Hey friends,

While I'm waiting for my debut, At First Glance, to release this November, I wanted to celebrate a few other great reads I've enjoyed--or plan to enjoy--this spring:) All you have to do is leave a comment below and then return here on Friday when I'll randomly select a winner. If you win, you will have your choice of one of the following books:

So which one are YOU looking forward to reading?

***Please leave an email address for me to contact you at if you win. Some books do not release until May and, as such, will not be received until that time.

Official Rules for Giveaways: No purchase necessary. Giveaways open to Continental U.S. residents 18 years and older. Odds of winning depend on number of entries. Total prize: One (1) book valued between $4.99-$14.99. One (1) winner will be chosen from the comments of this post. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator and will be notified via provided email and in a separate post with instructions on how to claim the book. If the winner does not meet the above criteria (Continental US resident 18+), another winner will be selected. If a winner does not follow the instructions within 24 hours to claim the prize, no prize will be awarded. By participating in the giveaway(s), entrants release Facebook, Blogger, or Mailchimp from any liability related to this/these giveaway(s). The giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Blogger, or Mailchimp. Void where prohibited by law.