Monday, October 5, 2015

Unworthy but Not Worthless...

The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” Zechariah 3:4

Ever spend a day cleaning or doing yard work? You become filthy and sweaty, and the only thing that sounds good when you are done is a nice, long shower and a set of clean clothes. Something fresh smelling to remove the stench of all that dirt.

Our lives are no different. There are times we are spiritually stinky—especially before we came to know Christ. All of us…every single person reading this post…have made poor choices in life. Some may seem bigger than others, but sin doesn’t have a sliding scale. Anything that falls outside of the Word of God separates us from him. Oh, there may be different consequences for sin, but it all makes us unclean.

All too often when we are unclean, we feel unworthy. We peer into the presence of God and think we can’t stand there with him. Except once we are his child, he does for us exactly what he did for Joshua; he takes away our filthy rags covered in our sins and covers us with rich garments, and those garments are all he sees.

Friend, no one on this earth is perfect. Never will we be able to stand in the presence of a most Holy God on our own. We are unworthy of him…but not one of us is worthless. We are valued beyond measure, and God sees that worth buried beneath the grime of our sins. It does not matter what filthy rags are covering us. It doesn’t matter what stench we rolled in. If we confess it to him, he will remove it and cover us anew.

And that makes all the difference in the world. God sees what he’s covered us in, not what he’s removed us from. Our lives our made fresh and clean in his presence, the stink of our past is gone. Don’t wear the filth one second longer. Give it to him and let him clothe you with the richest of garments he’s holding just for you.

Lord today I confess my sins to you and my need for you in my life. Help me to let go of that which is separating me from you so that you can remove it fully from me and pull me fully into your presence. Help me to no longer see the rags of sin you remove from my life, but the beauty of your wholeness and my worth in you. Thank you Lord, amen.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Worth Being Known - Guest Post by Rebecca Jepson

This year I've focused the blog on my word for the year: Masterpiece. It's been all about finding our worth in Christ. I've had several guest posts, women from all different walks, stages, and ages, sharing about what this means to them. Today Rebecca Jepson is here. A dear friend I met two years ago through ACFW, Rebecca lives across the country but Facebook and email make that distance seem much smaller. Welcome, Rebecca:)

I imagine the following prose being spoken by a man with a soft glow of love in his eyes. 

“Woman, I know you. I know when you sit down, after the kids are finally in bed, one leg tucked beneath you in your favorite chair while you read. I know the way you stand in church on Sundays, unable to keep from half-dancing as you worship, one arm waving high in the air. Whenever we’re with crowds of people, you don’t have to say a word for me to know what you’re thinking. I know what each and every expression on your face means. I know all the routes you take each day, how you’ll go the long way around to pick the kids up from school, just so you can get the good coffee. I know how you like to sleep sprawled out at night, how you laugh sheepishly in the morning when you see you’ve hogged the covers. I know every quirk, every mannerism. Even before you speak, I can often predict exactly what you’ll say. That’s how well I know you.”

These words, taken from Psalm 139, sound like the words of a long-suffering, doting husband. One who has invested time in really knowing his wife. Whenever my husband spends quality time with me, that says something to me. It places worth on our relationship. We recently spent a weekend away together, at a beautiful resort in the Sierra Mountains. I marveled at the effect a truly leisurely dinner and long walks could have on my heart. I knew he loved me before, but during that weekend, I knew.

God’s love for us goes far beyond that. “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:5, 6 NASB) Isn’t it wonderful to be assured that wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, God is with us? Friends, we’re loved, cared for . . . and so very, very known.

Rebecca Jepson is homebody who loves a good book, a cup of freshly ground coffee, and all things autumn. She's dreamed of being a writer since she was thirteen, and has been creating stories ever since. One such story, A Highbrow Hoodwink, is being published this coming January in Barbour’s "Lassoed by Marriage" romance collection. She lives in sunny Reno, Nevada, with her software engineer husband, Mike.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Beautiful You

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

We all want to be beautiful, but in this day and age its nearly impossible to figure out what that means. The scale to measure it by is forever changing and always skewed through the eyes of the world. Yet, that right there is the trouble. We’re not supposed to measure beauty through the eyes of the world.

I love this verse. It shows us what God sees as beautiful. Those who overflow with the message of Christ. Who freely share their testimony simply because they cannot contain what God has done for them. People who speak words of peace and are filled with joy. Someone who points to God instead of themselves. And those who live in a spirit of praise.

Beauty isn’t what you put on your face or how you fix your hair. Beauty is how we relate to God and others through him. Don’t let the media today tell you differently. Oh, as women we love our make-up, perfume, and hair supplies—and all that is good. But none of it will illuminate us like the power of God shining forth from our eyes, smiles, and countenances.

That will be a beauty unparalleled by anything this world can create or point to.

God’s beauty always is.

Lord, today let me shine with the beauty of you. That I can speak words of peace in a moment of chaos, point someone to your changing power for their lives, and spill over with your joy. Let me sing words of praise to you in all that I do today. In your name I pray, amen!  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - The Methuselah Project

I volunteered to review this book because Rick Barry is a part of the same agency that I am. He asked for honest reviewers, and once I read the blurb for this book I knew I wanted to be one. So, here's that blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed―until the day he's shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.
When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success―but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn't aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn't Captain America―just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger's sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there's no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It's 2015―and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller―crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle―offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he's trying to flee?
Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Captain America is one of my favorite heroes, and as much as Barry says it's not Captain America, there was a similar element here that simply made me want to pick it up. Once I began to read I could see those similarities on the page, but only in a vague sense. The characters Barry developed are unique to this story and well fleshed out. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them.

The story switches between past and present and while this can sometimes seem jarring, in this book it worked well. It's so disheartening at times to realize how long Roger would be in confinement, but that only made you root for him more. Barry navigated an intricate relationship between Roger and his captor in a believable way, this dynamic one of the most interesting in the book for me. The other was getting to watch Roger's spiritual growth. When he truly had everything else stripped from him, there was no where else to turn. He discovers peace and hope in God in what felt like a pit of despair. Seeing how this changed his demeanor gave a clear picture of what God can do in our lives.

Roger isn't the only character in this book. We meet Katherine in present day where we're allowed to see The Organization in modern times and anticipate what will happen once Roger escapes and runs into her. This had me turning pages, anxiously waiting for their run-in on page. I was also invested in Katherine's story as she unraveled her past and found independence from everything she once though to be true.

Though this story was not as fast-paced as I typically pick up, nor a straight romance, I still easily recommend it. A book filled with history and modern day references, action and suspense, even a touch of romance, The Methuselah Project was a wonderful read.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Small Things Matter BIG

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…Zechariah 4:10

Sometimes what we’re doing feels so tiny compared to the person beside us. Maybe it’s changing diapers. Maybe it’s sitting beside a loved one while the hours pass. Perhaps its working in a cubicle doing the same task day in and day out. Or maybe it’s even being the janitor at church instead of the worship leader on stage. Whatever it is, we can all at time feel like our contribution is insignificant.
But God sees it. Better yet, he rejoices over it.
Because sometimes the smallest things make the biggest impact. We all start small, and yet from the moment of our conception we are of the biggest value to God. Our size doesn’t matter, we do. And it’s the same with whatever we are called to do. Our walk toward the purpose he created us for must begin somewhere. Oh, don’t despise the first steps! Don’t begrudge where he has you now. And don’t miss the power of your obedience in simply being there. God sees it and he cheers over it.
If you are in God’s will, no matter what task you are doing right now, it matters. You matter. It’s all part of the story he’s writing for you. Don’t give up. Know that small steps lead to big things—don’t miss a single part.

Lord today let me see the importance of where you have me, and help me find joy in the moment. Let me stop comparing to others and devaluing those things which you have called me to. Big or small, it is all part of who you are creating me to be. Help my value to rest solely on you and not on what I do. Amen.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter

Everyone here knows I'm a fan of Denise Hunter's books, and I've been waiting on her new series since she introduced the characters in Married 'till Monday. Then I saw the cover to Falling Like Snowflakes, and I was in love. How could I not be? Big cozy sweaters, beautiful snow, two people obviously falling each other...this cover made me want to curl up with a blanket and read--even in the heat of summer! And I did exactly that, in love with each page even to the very end. So here's the blurb, and I'll catch you on the other side.

Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads.
Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone.
When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.
Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her.
Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

This book opens right off with Eden in troublewhich is a departure from most of Hunter's books. This hint of suspense follows throughout the book and allowed Hunter to craft a unique story that still flowed with all the spicy romance and funny banter she's known for writing. The suspense theme never overshadowed the romance, and I enjoyed how she balanced the two.

Eden and Beau make a wonderful couple with honest conflict keeping them apart. I love how Beau takes to her son and we see a gentle side to him. It also allowed us to see Eden begin to slowly trust again--it's one thing to trust her own heart with a man, but her son's heart? This dynamic allowed growth in their relationship that was authentic and sweet.

The other aspect I enjoyed was getting to know all the Callahans and catching the first glimpses of what is sure to be their stories. I like the slow build-up of the secondary characters as it makes me anticipate the arrival of their books as well.

All in all I highly recommend Falling Like Snowflakes. If you've come to love Hunter's books, you'll not be disappointed in this read. If she's new to you, you'll find yourself searching for other titles by her once you've finished. 

I happily give Falling Like Snowflakes 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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mid-Week Musings

Hey all,

So I'm starting something new on my Wednesdays. God's really been calling me to try something in the video realm. WAY out of this girl's comfort zone. Way out. However, I know outside my zone is where he grows me the most, so I want to be obedient. Today I recorded my first Periscope. My goal is to do a short scope every Wednesday at noon about either our faith life (#faithlife), homeschool life (#homeschoollife), writer life (#writerlife), or family life (#familylife) and then post it here as well. I'd love to see more of you join in on Periscope, but I know that venue might not be for everyone. And first and foremost, this is about me being obedient to God and what he's asking me to do. I'd love to have you come along for the ride though:)

Now, this is where I should post my first scope as a recap, but because I was slightly nervous in doing this, I forgot to save the video to my camera! You live, you learn:) If you'd like to view this week's scope and you're on Periscope, you can catch me at @Susan_Tuttle5.

Before I leave for today though I want to challenge you...what step out of your comfort zone will you take this week? Don't let fear hold you back! Take that step. God will be right there with you!

Big blessings, friends!