Monday, November 23, 2015

Full Love

…to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…Revelation 1:5

To him who loves us.

Those words are so powerful, and sometimes…sometimes so hard to believe. Unconditional love can be nearly impossible to understand and accept, but it is what Jesus Christ has for us. No matter who we are, no matter what we look like, no matter what we’ve done, Jesus loves us.

Oh, how we’d act if we realized the depths of his love! Trusting in that love—letting it soak into us—softens our hard areas, soothes our hurts, and roots us in security. Like a warm blanket on a cold winter day, God’s love is something we can sink into and rest in its depths.

Love does that, doesn’t it? It gives us sure footing. It allows us to see our value. It breaks apart our loneliness. Love is incredibly powerful, and yet so many of us miss the fact that we have access to a depth of love we can never exhaust because we are loved by the One who is love, and he offers it freely to all.

Friend, down here on earth we may mess up love. People will get it wrong, but God never will. His love is perfect, and it’s waiting for you to step into today.

Lord, please let me feel your love today. Open my eyes to the way you show it. Strike down any thought that tries to keep me from believing it, and let me accept every drop of affection from you today. Fill me with your all-consuming love, Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2015


I am a neat-nick. Doesn’t always work out well with small children, but if I had my choice, my home would always be neat. I don’t even mind cleaning because it actually calms me. Just don’t ask me to scrub anything. Dust, vacuuming, organize--great, but elbow-grease is where I draw the line. I mean, how relaxing is that, really? Scrubbing one spot over and over and over again? Ugh.

Hubby knows this about me, but it‘s not his favorite trait of mine (good thing he‘s called to love me anyway). I keep messes out of the way, but dirt in the corners? Baseboards that need washing? Stovetops with cooked on gunk? Yeah, not so much. It’s a matter of time, and I have other things I want to do. So, if my house is tidy, I tend to forget about the dirt lurking in other places, especially if it means skipping a task I truly don’t like.

And things go great, until Hubby wanders into an area that’s got gunk lurking. See, while I look at the big picture, God has blessed me with a husband who sees the details - thank you, Lord…truly…eh-hmmm…so anyway, last week when Hubby decided to cook me dinner, he encountered the stove. Sweet as he is, he didn’t say anything. He got dinner in the oven and just started scrubbing away. It took him the entire hour that dinner was cooking, (yes, I let it get that dirty) but that stove sparkled when he was done.

Now I explained to him that he’s much better at this than I am. Had I tackled the task, it would have taken much longer--his elbows are much stronger than mine. That explanation didn’t fly. He offered one of two thoughts--scrub harder or take care of the little messes before they turn into bigger ones. I politely ignored him. God, however, tugged on my ear to make sure I received the message.

I’ve been reading through the Bible during my morning devotional time and the next morning I opened up to where I was in Psalms. Chapter 66. There's a lot of great stuff in there that had me thinking, but I stopped at verse 10, “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” Now I’ve read that before, but God read it to me that morning, then spoke with me a while.

All too often we take care of the big, easy messes in our lives, the ones that are easy to spot and easy to fix. They keep our lives tidy, but do they keep them clean? And what about those little messes that occur along the way? They ones that aren’t as noticeable, so we leave them--not realizing they are digging into the crevices of our lives, creating bigger messes that are harder to get rid of. Then when God comes in and points them out, we don’t want to scrub and polish that area to be rid of them. It takes too much work. And really, is it fun to rub over one spot over and over and over again until it’s removed? The area becomes sensitive, we become tired--who really wants to go through that?

But what’s our choice? To borrow Hubby’s words: Either take care of the messes when they are little and manageable, or scrub harder. Because God wants to refine us like silver.

Silver’s neat, isn’t it? My mom gave me a box of silver bells she used to put out every Christmas. They were a mess. But after some polishing and scrubbing, (by me, no less!) they shined. And you know what I noticed? I could see my reflection. And that is exactly what God wants. See, silver--when shiny--reflects the image of the person who’s holding it. So scrub away at your mess, put the elbow-grease in (Phillipians 4:13 says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, so no saying you‘re not strong enough to scrub, use His strength), because when you’re polished up the world will look at you and see the image of the One who’s holding you: Jesus Christ.

*today's post was taken from 2011 as I'm on a little break until 11/ 23. See you then friends!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Seasons of Hope Novellas by Jessica Patch

Hey friends! I'm super excited to let you know the final novella in Jessica Patch's "Seasons of Hope" series has released. This has been such a great series, so let's take a look at the last one, and we'll chat on the other side!

Successful bistro owner and worship leader, Sierra Bradley appears to have it all together, but inside she’s a hot mess. Often dictated by fear, Sierra regrets not eloping with high school sweetheart, Ezra Alcott. Now he’s returned to Mistletoe to sketch behind-the-scenes portraits for his sister’s wedding and Sierra has agreed to cater the event. With no escape from crossing paths, she has to deal with the heartache of what might have been. 

Ezra Alcott left for France to make his mark on the art world and nurse the pain of rejection. But somewhere along the way he lost sight of the kind of man he wanted to become. Back in his sleepy hometown, he realizes God might be giving him a blank canvas to start over. 

If Ezra can find the strength to ask for a second chance, and Sierra can trust God with the things she can’t see, they might be able to paint a lifetime together. 

This was a fun end to a sweet and light-hearted series. Patch does an amazing job balancing both struggles and laughter with authentic characters you can't help but root for on every page. Her faith element always weaves organically through her stories with real people who are relatable. And her romance never fails to pull out sighs and smiles. Sierra and Ezra's story is no different. The other element I thoroughly enjoyed was seeing everyone else in the town of Mistletoe. If you're new to the series, you'll feel right at home. If you're finishing it up, you'll enjoy the last glimpse into their lives as we say good-bye.

And...since this is the last in the series, Jessica Patch has put the others on special through Sunday! So if you haven't read them, now is the time!  You can purchase It's Always Been You here. Links to the other books are below. Happy reading, friends:)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Just Be You

I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface—you want us, our true selves. 1 Chronicles 29:17 (MSG)

It’s hard to put our true selves out there, isn’t it? Even harder to find people who’ll accept us for our real selves. For some it’s all about the mistakes we’ve made that still cling to us. For others it’s our hobbies or talents that don’t seem mainstream enough. Maybe it’s our skin isn’t clear, our hair is frizzy, we’re too tall or too short…there are countless reasons people choose to hide behind masks and not reveal who they really are.

But, oh, friend, every one of those reasons (even ones you add to my very incomplete list above) shrink in the light of the One who desires our true selves. And why wouldn’t he? He created us. He put each pound and wrinkle right where it is. He stretched each bone to the perfect measurement and wove into our cores all the talents and passions unique to the very person he envisioned when he formed us. God wants what he created…us. Not what we’re trying to hide behind.

So today shed the surface you’ve knit together that’s covering up your true self and step out boldly into who he fashioned you to be. That’s all he wants. You.

Lord, today I pray that I can step out from behind anything I’ve hidden behind and offer you my true self. Help me to be bold as the person you created and walk confidently in the beauty you gave me. Let me see myself as you do and help me to fall as much in love with each facet of myself as you are. Amen.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Love in the Details by Becky Wade

 I love Becky Wade's books, and normally they only come out once a year. But this year she joined in Zondervan's "Year of Weddings" novella series, so we have a special treat from her this Fall! Here's a short blurb (check out that cover!) and we'll chat on the other side:)

Eight years have passed since Holly last saw her high school sweetheart, Josh. Now the wedding of Josh’s best friend has brought him back to Martinsburg, Texas.  His duties as best man and Holly's as the church's volunteer wedding coordinator link them together.  As they work behind the scenes to plan a beautiful November wedding for their friends, they're forced to confront painful reminders of what might have been.
Holly broke up with Josh all those years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. However, she never told him the true reason behind her actions and now must decide whether to keep her secret hidden.  She's terrified of letting herself fall for him because she barely managed to piece her life back together after losing him the last time.
Not a day's gone by since Josh parted from Holly that he hasn't thought about her.  The pain of the past eight years has been too much to bear and he doesn't want to make himself vulnerable to her again. But the more time he spends with her, the harder it is to deny the love he still has for her.
Will Josh and Holly risk their hearts on the hope that God's timing really can be best?

What I've so enjoyed about this e-series from Zondervan is the ability to fit a great book into my short amount of free time. I was deliriously happy to see that Becky Wade had added her name to the list of authors this year, and I've counted down the days until her Fall release.

As is typical with Wade's books, there's plenty of romance and laughter woven into the story. In Love in the Details she once again balances a story of growth and faith with falling in love, and she does it immensely well especially given the short length of the book. Wade is expert at not preaching at her readers but rather allowing her characters to simply live out their faith in organic ways, struggles and all. Her characters are real, and that is a fact I've always appreciated.

Oh, and she does romance very, very well.

If you've read Wade's books before, you'll definitely enjoy finding her voice wrapped into this shortened version of her storytelling. While her full-length books allow more room to extend the complexity of the plot and characters (something she excels at), this was still a wonderful read in a series I hope she'll continue contributing to in the coming years.

I happily give Love in the Details 5 out of 5 stars and you can purchase it here.

If you'd like to see a break-down of what my stars equal, check out my page My Ratings System to the right there. And a big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 26, 2015


“What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord.” 2 Samuel 7:20 


So many of us want to obtain that one huge word in our lives. Whether it’s how we dress, how we keep our homes, the grades we strive for, or the relationships we hold, we believe anything short of perfection is a fail. But perfectionism isn’t what God is looking for because he knows the only one who can meet it is himself.

That’s why I love today’s verse so much. See, God knows what we are really like. He’s sees the smudges and streaks that mar our lives…and he’s okay with it. We cannot hide our imperfections from him, and that’s okay. In fact, he expects us to have them because he knows that we’ve all fallen short of his glory—it’s why he sent his son to save us.

Our worth isn’t measured in how close we come to being perfect—thank you, Lord! And we don’t need to hide our imperfections from him—he already sees them. While we may be able to put on a mask for the people around us, God knows what we are really like. He knew it before we came to him, and he knows it even after he folds us in his arms. It doesn’t stop his love for us or prevent him from accepting us. Oh, he wants his best for us, so he’ll coax us to change anything that isn’t in his perfect will, but it will never stop him from calling us his very own.

Isn’t there comfort in knowing that someone sees you just as you are and loves you unconditionally even still?

Let that love surround you today.

Lord, you see me for who I truly am. You know my successes and failures all in one glimpse, and yet you love me. Today help me to let go of anything that is out of your perfect will and to feel your grace and mercy for my imperfections. Above all, let me feel your unconditional love for me today. Thank you, Lord. In your name, amen.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Comparison the Thief of Joy - Casey Herringshaw

Today I am excited to welcome Casey Herringshaw to Steps. I met Casey through ACFW, and she wears many hats; one of which is a homeschool graduate! As a homeschooling mom, I love this fact! But the biggest hat she wears is of a woman fully in love with Jesus, so when the word Masterpiece was laid on my heart this year for a blog topic, I knew I wanted Casey to contribute. Here's what God placed on her heart to share:

Comparison: every woman understands the undertow of this word all too well.

It’s the ugly stepchild of jealousy and the close twin sibling of inadequacy.

Some of us struggle with this more than others and for some of us the fight is a daily battle that shows 
up on our doorstep wearing combat army boots, taunting at our soft underbelly and ready for a fight.

And too often we answer that door only wearing our thin pajamas and sleep-mussed hair.

Comparison seems to stalk up on me for nearly any and all reasons:
My faith/walk with Christ.
My ability to relate to other people (or not relate, since we’re comparing.)
My ability to understand a certain topic or hold a heated discussion with witty dialogue and clever insights.
Crafting abilities.

The list can go on and on…and the statement: if you can do something, I can do something better, applies by our ugly stepchild flipping it on its ear against us.

It all stems back to the root of this lie: I’m not good enough.

If we call into question how good (or how not good) we are, are we not also calling into question the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross?

Are we also not calling into question the grace that is sufficient for you?

Are we not also calling into question that love that flows deep and wide, rich and true stemming from the blood shed on Calvary’s cross?

When we call into question and compare who we are with someone or something else, no matter what that is, we’re telling God that He didn’t do a very good job. He failed when He was knitting us in our mother’s womb and that the gifts He has given each one of us are not sufficient.

So that gift of encouragement that you have? The woman sitting next to you in your Bible study, really wishes she had.

That gift of hospitality that makes someone feel ultimately warm and welcome in your home or your embrace? Your next door neighbor envies.

The thing with comparison? Someone is always doing it with you. Always comparing themselves to you. Probably the same person you are holding a mirror to.

And it steals your joy. Devalues the gifts that only you can uniquely do because God has given you those roles. Those people to reach. Those lives to touch. And because there is no one else like you, only you can do this job.

God is still working on you in that. Still growing and molding you.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Jesus isn’t done with you yet. And He’s not done with the person you’re comparing yourself to. So stop. Breathe in. Exhale.

Jesus isn’t done with you yet.

He has gifted you richly. Don’t throw them away wishing for something someone else doesn’t even want.

Be bold, sister.

And kick that ugly little stepchild to the curb with a well-aimed spiky heel.

What a word, Casey! One we all relate to, so thank-you for sharing:) And for those of you who'd like to get to know Casey a little better, here's a little bit about her and where to connect:

Casey is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is an Eastern Oregon native transplanted into the city of Colorado Springs nestled in her own 1904 bungalow apartment just below the lovely Pikes Peak. Taking the words and stories God has placed on her heart and putting them on paper is one of her highest passions in life. Casey is a member of ACFW and their Carol Awards Coordinator. You can connect with her through her personal blog, Writing for Christ.

Follow her on Twitter: @C_Herringshaw
And on Facebook: