Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Quotable Wednesday


Last year we read The Hiding Place during our homeschool year. I remembered how much I loved Corrie TenBoom and the wisdom she shared from her life. Then this past week this quote came up in church and it was such a great nudge to me, I knew immediately I wanted to use it.

Because it's not that I don't know the truth of this statement, it's that sometimes I struggle to put it into practice, but I'm working on it. And just like any other habit, it gets stronger and more ingrained each time I do it.

What about you? Where is your focus today? Praying it's right at that sweet spot where you find rest:)

Monday, September 29, 2014

One Kind Word

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25

I was having a bad week a couple weeks back. So much had piled up and I felt the walls closing in. I knew I needed to spend time with God. I knew I needed to make my feelings catch up with the knowledge of what the Word says, but it just wasn't happening. I asked friends for prayer, and I also texted my hubby who was out of town for the week, because anxiety was weighing me down. Big time. Like a weight pressing against my chest, and while I knew I didn't have to live with it, I needed help fighting it.

And that is why we are all here.

God has already won the battles before us, but sometimes we need other warriors to join in the fight. For me, I received several kind words, one in particular from my husband. In fact, he referenced today's verse in an email he sent me. Then he went on to simply speak life over me and my situation. He offered several kind words, and while the weight didn't disappear, it began to lift. And as friends prayed for me and spoke to me, my anxiety level dropped while my joy rose.

We all need that some times. We need to know that we are not in the trenches alone. So today I'm issuing a challenge. Look around you at your friends, family, co-workers...ask God to show them to you in a new light and listen to his voice as he points out who could use an encouraging word. Point out their beauty. Notice their special talent. Remind them you see all the work they've done. Say thank-you. Smile.

Be a kind word to someone today.

It really does bring cheer. And we could all use a little of that:)


Friday, September 26, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - The Wounded Warrior's Wife by Hannah Conway

I had the pleasure of meeting Hannah Conway across a dinner table at the ACFW conference last year. She was an incredibly sweet woman working hard on her story and after hearing about it, I volunteered to read it when she was finished. And then she got contracted! So I volunteered to be an advanced reader:)  She sent me the book this summer, and I read it quickly. Here's a blurb, and we'll chat on the other side:)


Battles Raging Within Are Those You Must Fight to Win 

Whitleigh Cromwell dreamt of a happily ever after with her newlywed soldier husband. Collier Cromwell loved God, his wife, and his country, though military life exacted a demanding toll. An unexpected deployment during the height of war sends Collier away for yet another year. Their lives tumble down a path marked with struggle, and fatalities.Burdened with unseen emotional wounds and crippled faith, Collier's homecoming only increases their trials. The angry, defeated hermit at Whitleigh's side barely resembles the loving, faithful hero she married two years earlier. Concerned about possible career repercussions, admitting his need for help proves difficult for Collier and his behavior worsens. Angry outbursts — and his cold, callous nature — isn't all that provokes Whitleigh to pack her bags. Collier seeks solace for his private suffering in the worst possible place leaving Whitleigh to walk away from shattered pieces of broken trust. Will Collier seek the healing he desperately needs in time to save their marriage, or is it over? Are
there wounds too deep, marriages too broken, and lives so far gone they fall beyond even God's ability to restore?

Can I first off just say I love the names she gave her characters? Crazy little thing, but yeah, it made me like them even more:)

This story opened up a world to me that, while I knew existed, I have never viewed from this angle. That Hannah is an Army wife herself lends a credibility to this story and authenticity to the voice she writes with. It allowed Whitleigh and Collier's story to leap of the page. And the colorful secondary characters only deepened the enjoyment for me.

I loved the story of healing and redemption woven throughout Whitleigh and Collier's marriage. I loved even more the beauty in seeing them fight for staying together when at moments it would have been so much easier to give up. Marriage can be hard. It can be wonderful. It can take twists and turns we never anticipated, and Hannah shows all these moments in the story she created.

And still delivers hope and a happy-ever-after for these two. They fought for it. They deserved it:)

The Wounded Warrior's Wife is a wonderful debut by Hannah Conway, and if you're looking for something to add to your TBR pile, I'd place it right on there. You can purchase it here. But for one lucky person, Hannah is giving an e-copy away! Just leave a comment on my blog today, Facebook page, or even tweet a shout out to Hannah's book and tag me in it, and I'll announce the winner next Friday!

Happy Friday!

Hannah Conway, a Kentucky native, is an Army Wife of eleven years, and a Stay at Home Mother of two. She is an author, speaker, member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and My BookTherapy. She and her family are currently stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. Her debut novel, The Wounded Warrior's Wife, will release this fall through Olivia Kimbrell Press. Hannah has spent many years in ministry working with both youth groups, and women's ministry groups. In her time in ministry, she served two years as a Youth Director, and one year as a Co-Coordinator of the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at her church in Clarksville. She holds a BA from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in History with licensure in Secondary Education. She enjoys volunteering at her son's Elementary School, community service projects, jogging—slowly, gardening, and the challenge of a Pinterest craft. A good book, a piece of chocolate, Chai tea latte, and an outdoor setting have also been known to take her captive on more occasions that she likes to admit. The most important thing about Hannah, is that she's a follower of Christ. It's her prayer that you will be blessed through her words. Hannah LOVES meeting new people! You can meet Hannah at hannahrconway.com.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Quotable Wednesday


Oh, that we would never forget! God did not ask for us to take on sorrow and pain alone, nor did he ask it from us without walking through it himself. 

Pain and sorrow often produce the sweetest fruit. The biggest blessings. While we cannot see it during the growing season, we will taste it once the harvest has ripened.

Praying that if you are walking a difficult road today, that God will give you a foretaste of the fruit sprouting up from this moment and bring encouragement into your life today.


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: www.catherinejwest.com

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.