Monday, May 2, 2016

The Exchange Rate

Over my morning coffee recently I began contemplating the week I was having. There'd been some bumps and bruises brought on from misunderstandings with other people. Sometimes when we only have snippets of conversations or limited interactions with others, we may think we know them but our picture isn't quite as clear as it could be. And being on the receiving end of that my thoughts began to spiral. As I sipped my morning brew, I chatted with God all about how desperately I wanted people to know my true heart. How I felt that in some situations I'd been misrepresented and it frustrated me. But then something subtle began to see, I'd struggle that week with a bit of sadness. I worried that my worth, my value, wasn't significant, and God brought this small shift in thought into the light.

Because what was I doing? I was measuring myself by other people's standards.

It's like the dollar bill. Depending on where you travel, our dollar is worth more or less--all based on what that country sets the exchange rate to. Does that dollar in your pocket actually change in form or in its worth here at home? Nope. But step outside of its place of origin, and it does. And that's exactly what I was doing every time I entertained the thoughts of others; I was stepping out of my place of origin (which is living in God's presence).

Friends, not everyone in life is going to like us. (Crazy, right?) Misunderstandings occur that you won't have the ability to correct. Personalities conflict. Slander is believed or at least entertained. And that is hard because we desire for people to know our truest heart--but that might not happen with some people. Yet that does not affect our worth!

God knows our hearts. God knows us. Let that sink in! He knows you! What others see or believe, especially when misguided by people or circumstances, should not shape us. They are measuring using the scale of their exchange rate, but only the One who knows every facet of us can truly deem our worth.  Which means we must only use God's exchange rate when it comes to seeking our value.

So today I challenge you to see yourself through God's eyes. Let him calculate your value using his exchange rate. I promise you, your worth will be off the charts:)

"You are precious and honored in my sight..." Isaiah 43:4

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bookshelf Friday Winner

And the winner of last weeks Bookshelf Friday giveaway...

Jackie Layton!

Jackie, send me an email with your choice of book and your address and I'll get it out!

I'll be back next week with another review:)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Listen First, Ask Later

So I was reading Jeremiah the other day and chapter 32 stopped me. Mainly because of it’s title: Jeremiah Buys a Field.


Smack dab in the middle of all his prophecies and Israel’s destruction by Babylon, Jeremiah stops to buy a field. And not just any field. One that’s in the middle of the rubble. That’s like buying a block of London right in the middle of the bombing during WWII. Crazy.

But that’s what’s so cool about Jeremiah. He did crazy because God asked Him to. Make no mistake. He didn’t fully understand it at first either, but He did it.  In fact, listen to his response:

“See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine, and plague the city will be handed over to the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’”(vs. 24-25)
Thing is, that response came after he obeyed.

Here’s his initial response:

“I knew this was the word of the Lord; so I bought the field…” (vs. 8 & 9)

Here's the thing, there will be times where God calls us to do something that we don’t fully understand, but all He’s asking for is obedience. That takes a huge amount of faith. It also means we better know His voice. Jeremiah shelved his questions until after he responded because he knew God’s voice.

And that’s what I want—to know His voice so intimately that I don’t even have to ask. I can jump, no matter how crazy it sounds to me. I’m not always going to have the full picture, but I’m not supposed to because that’s His job. All I need to do is be willing.

Ultimately, God does answer Jonah’s question. It’s all one big object lesson. He’s punishing Israel by handing them over to Babylon, but that punishment won’t last forever. Yes, He was angry, yes they were being punished, but then He was going to hug them. He would “bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.” (vs.37) They’d return and “fields [would] be bought” again. (vs. 44) 

And He demonstrates this promise through Jeremiah purchasing the field.

Good thing Jeremiah listened first. It allowed God to bring hope in the middle of what appeared a hopeless situation.

Are we willing to do the same? Even if we don't understand the "why" in the moment, will we still listen AND follow? Praying we all have Jeremiah's boldness!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bookshelf Friday

No review today. Instead I'm doing a giveaway of one of the books I've reviewed this year. Head on over to my Facebook page and "like" the post or comment here for your chance to win your choice of one of these books! Winner announced next Friday both here on on my Facebook page. 

Happy reading friends, and enjoy this beautiful weekend!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lessons in Laundry Items

My youngest brought me her prized possession yesterday. Its name is Uni. Uni has been a part of our family for seven years now. She goes everywhere with Little Girl. And Uni is well-loved. Held onto with a secure grip, she is now tattered and torn but loved even more than the day she arrived. So Little Girl brought her to me for a much-needed cleaning. It's so hard for her to part with this treasure, but it needed to be done. As she placed Uni in my hands, she asked me to be careful. Quickly followed by needing reassurance for Uni’s safety and a promise they wouldn't be apart for long. Little Girl doesn't trust her unicorn to just anybody. Not everyone recognizes the importance of such a worn out creature, but she knows I do. And yet it was still hard for her to release her grip.

It made me think of the things we hold most dear. Not our possessions, but our dreams or our loved ones. Oh, so much of what we hold can be frayed, ragged, and tattered; well-worn by years of relentless love. It's those very things that can be the hardest to release. But God’s hands are the safest place for those things. Just like my daughter had to loosen her grip on what she held most dear, we must do the same. There comes a time where we’ve done all we can, and it’s only in God’s hand where the remaining work can be completed. It’s only there things can truly be cleaned, repaired, shined, or renewed.

So are we willing to give him our most treasured items today? Those things we’ve worn out in prayer because our love for them runs so deeply? He knows how much they mean to you, and he’ll handle them with the most tender care because He deeply loves you.

“…you guard all that is mine.” Psalm 16:5b NLT

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bookshelf Friday - An Opportunity to Review!

Hey readers! I'm in the middle of reading a whole stack of books while also finishing the school year and a novella I'm writing, so I didn't have a review for today. BUT I do have a great opportunity for those of you who love to read--particularly inspirational historical romance. My dear friend and critique partner, Dawn Crandall, has just handed in the fourth book in the "Everstone Chronicles" to her editor. It's titled The Cautious Maiden and will release his fall. In the meantime, Dawn is looking for readers who haven't already read her award-winning first three in the series! Take a look at these gorgeous covers (with a sneak peek at the cover for The Cautious Maiden!)

SO! If you haven't read the first three in this series, and you're looking for a great series to read this summer, and you have an e-reader, then this is a great opportunity for you! Dawn will send you the first three books to read for FREE. All you have to do is review them on Amazon once you're finished. Easy peasy! An Amazon review only has to be a sentence or two. I loved this book! even counts as one:) And as a quick side note, reviews are one of the biggest ways you can help an author.

If you're interested and able AND wind up loving the books (I have a feeling you will) then you'll also be eligible to help review The Cautious Maiden when it releases. That book you'll have the opportunity to get as an electronic file OR an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). All the links to sign up are listed below, and all the books can be found on Amazon if you'd like to look at their blurbs. If you love historical, you are going to LOVE these!

Message Dawn Crandall on her Facebook Author Page to receive and review all 3 over summer: here

Sign up for a chance to review The Cautious Maiden in ebook or paperback form when it releases this fall: here

Monday, April 11, 2016

Not Your Old School Gym Picking

Remember good old gym class? If you are anything close to the naturally athletic person I am (please inject sarcasm here), you remember it well. You'd line up against the wall, and two of your classmates would start picking who they wanted for their team, whittling down the class until only two people remained. Hint: I was often one of the two. Then the lucky captain would take the best of those two, leaving a situation that typically resulted in the last captain looking at the last pick and saying, "Guess I'll take you."

Yep. Fun times.

And while in all honesty, I chuckle at those memories now, they weren't such fun then. And even if it wasn't gym class, I bet many within the sound of my voice can recall similar moments that shaped within them a feeling of being unworthy. Unwanted. But I'm here to tell you that isn't true!

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders..." Luke 15: 4-5

You might wonder what sheep have to do with being the last one picked in gym class, but look again at that verse because Jesus is flipping everything we know on its head. He not only pursues the last one standing, but he rejoices over them! Friend, he's never been "stuck" with you. Your worth is of such great value to him that he goes after you because he desires you.

Our value on earth might be missed. But God cannot miss it because he is the one who created you. We need to stop looking at painful moments of the past that have coated our memories with lies about who we are, and start looking to the One who set our value and speaks truth over us. The One who chases after us because his love for us is so great, there's no place he'd rather we be than safe in his arms.

You aren't the last one picked. You are the one he pursues.