Monday, September 22, 2014

Sweet Fruit

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:8

I love blueberries. In fact, I'm rather sure they are my favorite fruit. They are like little pieces of candy, even straight from the freezer! Love them.

My second favorite fruit? Mangos. Their tropical sweetness is like a special treat. Pure deliciousness.

But do you know what those sweet fruits grow out of? Acidic soil. Yep. For them to grow into healthy plants and develop that delectable fruit, the roots need to be sunk into soil that is bitter.

Isn't that how life can be? Look back up at today's verse. Drought. Heat. Those achingly tough moments in our lives, and yet when our roots sprout toward him, we never fail to bear fruit. And that isn't the only place in the Bible where we are compared to trees or plants whose roots need to seek out the living water of Christ. We are encouraged over and over again to grow our roots toward him so that he can develop useable fruit in our lives. And sometimes it is the bitter soil of life that produces the sweetest fruit in our lives.

We minister most deeply out of our hurts.

Our lives speak the loudest out of our pain.

Some of our sweetest moments can come from our most extensive sorrows.

No, that doesn't mean we always like the bitter soil. In fact, I cannot think of one time I've found my roots in that acrid place and automatically rejoiced. If there was another way to grow sweet fruit in me, I'd gladly sign up. But that's not how the fruit I love, the fruit that is sweetest on my tongue and pleasing to others, is grown.

And the truths I've discovered in my toughest moments is that God is always enough.

Joy is a choice sometimes made minute-to-minute.

Bitter soil can be made sweet through the hands of the loving, tender Gardner of our lives.

Father, grow sweet fruit out of our heartbreak, and until this growing season is over, tend our hearts and make us strong. Help us to find joy in the midst of our days. Bring encouragement that we can see and feel. And sink our roots so deeply in you that we are daily refreshed with your living water.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Yesterday's Tomorrow by Cathy West

I was asked if I'd like to read Yesterday's Tomorrow by the wonderful Casey Herringshaw. Trusting her taste in books, I accepted. I am so glad I did! Here's a blurb, and we'll chat on the other side:)  

She’s after the story that might get her the Pulitzer. He’s determined to keep his secrets to himself. 

Vietnam 1967. 

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent, and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes. 
Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something. 

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts. 

I'll be honest, the thought of reading a book set during the Vietnam era didn't immediately intrigue me. I'm happy, however, that it didn't stop me from reading it. Cathy does an amazing job of placing you into both the jungles and beauty of Vietnam while also treading through the war that occurred there. While we see the deep impact this war creates in the main characters' lives, she never allows the reader too far into the actual horror of it. Her descriptions of what they encounter in certain scenes spaced throughout the story play more with the characters' reaction to it than the actual visual of it, and as a reader I was thankful for that.

I did struggle at times with the last one-third or so of the book which, to me, moved at a slower pace than the beginning and middle. However, I truly loved the natural progression of each character. Both Luke and Kristin had their individual journeys of healing from the time we first meet them, and Cathy doesn't string along these hurts or use them as a stumbling block in their relationships any longer than necessary. She balances their internal conflicts with the external ones driving the story in a fantastic manner, keeping their romance right on track.

Because while Vietnam is the setting of this story, the relationship between Luke and Kristin takes center stage and keeps the light firmly on them. I loved their interactions and banter, timeless regardless of the era they were in. Cathy wraps Luke and Kristin into each others' lives with a love that grounds itself in a friendship first, and as a reader it was a sweet progression that tugged me along. With the twists and turns of the story I begged for them to be together and wondered if, in the end, they would receive their happily-ever-after. If two people ever deserved one, it was Luke and Kristin. Hard earned and such a long time in coming, well, I'll let you read The End yourself:) 

You can pick Yesterday's Tomorrow up here and enjoy a great read this weekend! And don't forget to check out Cathy's Facebook party on the 22nd right here. Go ahead and click on over, she's giving away some pretty snazzy pre-party gifts!

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers. You can find her at:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

I love this quote! I'm sure in part because I so love Chronicles of Narnia:) But I also love the idea of our Lord as a lion. So tough and fighting for us. Knowing the raw power those paws possess, and yet they are gentle enough to hold us within them.

What a Protector.

How can we not have courage knowing He's the one holding us?

Praying whatever you're facing today you feel his strength around you, fighting for you and protecting you all in the same breath.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Living Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

I've learned when God repeats things, he's pretty serious about me listening. So lately as he's been pushing me into the word masterpiece, I decided to really stop on that word. I've been doing a lot of digging into it, pondering, and writing, and today I wanted to simply share the tip of what he's been showing me.

You are a living masterpiece.

I am too. (Believe me you, I need this reminder. Daily.)

We are works of outstanding artistry. We are our Artist's best piece of work.

It doesn't matter how anyone else views us. It doesn't matter what they title us. It doesn't even matter if they like us. Just like the hundreds of people through an art gallery in a day, not everyone shares the same taste in art. Yet their opinions don't change the paintings on the wall or the reason behind the artist's hand in creating them. Not one person can walk through and slap a new name plate on the display. No patron can diminish the artist's love or intent behind the creation of that piece of art, or change the purpose with which it was created for.

Only the artist can.

And the Artist that created you considered every brush stroke, every angle, and every color that went into you. God knew what he was doing when he formed you, and when he finished he stood back in awe.

Because you are breathtaking.

There is nothing like you.

And while you may not be everybody's cup of tea, you are God's masterpiece. Now we simply need to live like it:)

Do you struggle with believing you are unique and created with a purpose? Oh, dear one, we all do at times. I challenge you to write out today's verse and memorize it. Let it sink into your heart that you have value beyond measure and a purpose God planned out specifically for you before time even began. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Nowhere to Turn by Lynette Eason

First off, my August Bookshelf winner is:

Jackie Layton!

Jackie, email or FB me which book from August you'd like and I'll be sending it on its way!

As for today...I picked up this book last week and wanted to chat about it! So here is a little snippet, and I'll see you on the other side:)

The day Danielle Harding takes her 11-year-old son, Simon, and flees from her abusive husband, is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, the danger has just begun. When Kurt was alive, he took something important to a mysterious person. That person wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . . 

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold readers in its iron grip. Bestselling author Lynette Eason propels readers along at a breakneck pace in a race to discover the truth and a better future.

I'll admit, I have not finished this book, but it's not because I don't love it or Lynette Eason. It's because we've started school back up, and I'm still getting used to my new schedule. Fall hits harder every year. Anyway, my reading time is slim, but there are too many wonderful books out there to give up those few moments I have! So, I may be slow, but I will be finishing it soon.

That said, as usual, Lynette Eason knows how to open a book with a bang. Nowhere to Turn is no different. She immediately drew me into Dani's life, and I can say my heart was pounding right from the beginning. While the tension doesn't remain that high (good thing, my heart couldn't handle it) there are still plenty of moments that will have you flipping pages as fast as the characters run through them!

I'm excited to finish this story and figure out who's behind everything for sure. As I haven't read "The End" yet, I won't be handing out any stars. However, as of this moment, I'm definitely enjoying this book. What you need to know is while this is the second in Lynette's newest series, it is not imperative to read them in order. You'll also find Lynette's voice as strong as it's always been, so it's like opening pages to an old friend as she unwraps the story for you. 

If you're looking for a suspense that will keep you up at night for GOOD reasons, you'll want to pick this one up here. It's the weekend. You can sleep in tomorrow!

Happy Friday:)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

I talked a little on love on Monday, so when I saw this quote I knew I wanted to use it. The more I read it, the more I loved its truth. Love has a way of allowing us to see the best in someone and give grace to their worst. Sure, I've heard the saying of rose-colored glasses, and those are never a good thing to wear. But when we love someone, honest flaws and all (we all have them) there's something beautiful about that type of love.

It's the type of love God gives us.

See. Beautiful:)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Algebra and God

This year I'm doing Algebra with my son. (Follow my tangent here) As I sat down to explain equations, two verses popped into my head. 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:8, and I saw them in this little equation. See, 1 John 4:8 tells us "God is love." And if that is true, then we could actually write it like this:

Now don't go leaving just because I'm throwing a little math at you. God made numbers too...and I'm not even using any. I'm simply showing 1 John 4:8. And if God is/equals love, then we can replace the word "love" in 1 Corinthians 13 with "God" and read it this way:

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth...God never fails.

I love that, don't you? Those attributes of God? And I'd like to clarify the "God does not envy" one. Oh, to be sure, he is a jealous God. The Bible even tells us that. But what he isn't is envious or covetous of anything we possess. And why would he be? He owns it all anyway. He is jealous, however, when our affections place anything above him in our lives. That's because he is jealous for us.

He's also patient, kind, never concerned with himself but sacrificing everything for us. I especially love the last two...not easily angered and keeping no record of wrongs. Oh, do I need those on a daily basis because I screw up. All the time. I let people around me down. I can be so selfish. I can be demanding. I'll say the wrong thing or get upset rather than forgive. I'll even be short with my kiddos. And I get so down on myself when I do. In fact, I record my wrongs and replay them in my mind. I'll never be as perfect as I want to be.

But God doesn't expect me to be, or you to be. What he does ask is that we take on his attributes to the best of our ability, and where we feel the stretch and inability in our lives we need to let him take over. Where we are weak, he is strong (2 Corinithians 12:9). If he is in us, then his attributes will begin to shine through us (Ephesians 5:1-2).

God is love.

He expends that love on us. We are beyond blessed to receive it. And when he lives in us, we have the ability to pass that love onto others. I said it above, I mess up on a daily basis. Yet I cannot allow his forgiveness to become an excuse to not try harder. Grace is a marvelous thing, but rather than expecting it to cover all my shortcomings and never grow, I chose to work on loving people the way God called me to.

I'll get it wrong at times. I'll be a lifelong work-in-progress.

But if God = love, and he is in me, then Me + God = love too.

See. Who ever told you you'd never use math?