Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Stand Firm

I was reading Psalm 121 this morning and the word that came to mind was "secure". The same Lord who made heaven and earth watches over us. He is our help. He protects us. And he doesn't fall asleep on the job. He is ever-present in our lives.

I think my favorite part of this verse, though, is that he won't let our foot slip. Friends, I am one of the least graceful people you know! And sometimes that tendency to stumble pushes into my spiritual life. I trip over my emotions. I fumble over what others say. I wobble with insecure thoughts. BUT GOD promises here he won't let our foot slip. When we lean into his hold, he keeps us secure. Some days I just need to remember that truth!

I pray we both stand firm in him today:)

Psalm 121:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Weebles Wobble

I attended my youngest's gymnastic meet this past Saturday and watched as she took on her beam routine. She's done hundreds of cartwheels on that same beam, but for some reason she'd predetermined that during her meet she wouldn't be able to land it. The cartwheel came and both her feet landed on the beam. But then she wobbled--and gave into the wobble. She landed on the floor then quickly hopped back on to finish her routine.

Friends! Our mindset affects our actions. I've watched my daughter hold onto her landings in much more precarious situations. When she's determined to stick the landing, she holds on with a fierceness that was absent on Saturday. That day one small wobble had her on the ground. Why? Because she was expecting to fall, so when her foundation shook she gave in. And in life, we sometimes do the same. If we're expecting failure, we'll find it all too easily. Let's approach life determined to stick our landings with our feet held firm to the solid foundation of Christ. Wobbles will come, so be ready:)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

12 Days of Christmas GIVEAWAY! - Day 7

Hey everyone! Welcome to Day 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas giveaway! I'm pretty sure gifts are one of my strongest love languages, so this has been SUCH fun to be a part of. What a way to ring in the holidays:)

Scroll on down to see what I'm adding today and check out all the amazing prizes and how to win!

I don't have a book to give away...yet:) I just signed a contract for my debut novel which should be arriving in 2018, so sign up for my newsletter and "like" my Facebook page because I'd love for you to stay in touch! However, I knew immediately what I wanted to add for all you book lovers out there: a book cozy from The Cozy Life. You know, to keep all the books you're receiving cozy! Seriously, if you haven't seen these yet, you're going to fall in love with them now:) Check out all The Cozy Life's amazingness over on Instagram.

The coolest part of this giveaway is that the prizes are building and today's winner will receive the cozy AND all the prizes below!!!

Actual pattern received is shown in the prize package picture above.
This picture is to show how cozy it keeps your books:)

The Memory of You + $5 Starbucks gift card by Catherine West
A Child’s Christmas Wish by Erica Vetsch
On Love’s Gentle Shore + tote bag by Liz Johnson
The Gift of Twins by Gabrielle Meyer
The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride by Jill Kemerer
Christmas Captive by Liz Johnson 

Isn't that awesome!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

OK. Now for important details...Every day there's a winner and every day the prize package grows. That means it's never too late to enter, so check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below; follow some of your favorite authors on social media and sign up for their newsletters. Like I said, we draw a new winner every day, and on December 12th, we’ll give away a Kindle Fire HD 8.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don’t forget to stop by Jessica Patch's blog tomorrow to see what prize is added then!

***winners will be contacted by Liz Johnson and posted on her blog. Visit's Liz's blog here!***

Monday, November 27, 2017

Where's Your Focus?

I was reading all about Peter jumping out of the boat and walking across the stormy waters toward Jesus. I always have loved this story. The faith it took for Peter to leave the safety of his boat. The love he had to have for his Savior to desire so much to be near him. And the fact that even when he falters, Jesus holds tight. Thing is, I've always pictured Peter mid-walk when he starts to sink, but this read-through something stood out to me. He begins to sink and calls, "Lord, save me!"

"And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him..." Matthew 14:31

For Jesus to be able to merely stretch out his hand and take hold of Peter means Peter was only an arm's length away when he began to sink. He was that close to Jesus and yet faltered. It gave me pause.

You see, sometimes we can fool ourselves into believing that if we have a close relationship with Christ, faith comes easily. That our proximity to Christ can stand in for our focus on him. But that is so not true! Yes, we need to be close to him, but we also must continue to keep our eyes on Jesus because it's where our faith draws strength. If we begin to look at the storms of our life, it doesn't matter how tight our relationship is with Jesus, we will falter. We need both; to be so close to him there's not a breath between us, and so focused on him that we see nothing else.

Proximity and focus. The best place to stand with the best view.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Work In Progress - Me AND My Book :)

In the busyness of the last week, this happened! Guys, I cannot express the pure joy I have in saying that I signed a publishing contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I don't have a lot of details on when the book will release, but it will most likely be late 2018, early 2019.

This moment has been a long time in coming. To say God's taught me perseverance in a new way is an understatement. But you know what the biggest lesson he taught me was? That this "YES" no more defines me than all the "NOs" along the way did. You see, he's taken this girl who struggles with rejection and placed her in a world full of it. This girl who sometimes can still desire acceptance so badly that she starts to find her identity in who or what it's coming from. Dangerous when that who or what isn't Christ. Sometimes when you think you've learned a life lesson, he stretches your roots even deeper into him to ensure that you actually have:)

While I've been pursuing publication for several years, this past eighteen months were the hardest. God decided to do some work in me that, truth be told, dried me out. Things became pretty barren in some places. But it forced me to seek him in ways I hadn't for some time. To ask some tough questions (which, by the way, not only can he handle, but he WILL have the answers--so ask them) and to keep pressing into him. He had a purpose, as he always does. And I'm beyond thankful that he loves us enough to use whatever it takes to accomplish that purpose in us. When this "YES" finally came, my roots (in this area...I'm a work-in-progress) were so locked into him that even over the joy I felt settled. Firm. Whole. Because he'd seen those little places I was still holding onto--or maybe they were holding onto me--and decided it was time to finally release them.

So though I am beyond thrilled with this new leap God's given me to take, I know that I am the same exact girl I was and always have been: His.

 I am known as the one to TAKE pictures, not to BE in them. So my daughter had a lot of fun flipping this dynamic around:)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Harvest Time

I'm still in Matthew, just taking my time and enjoying the book. I was recently in Chapter Thirteen reading the parable of the sower, and though I've read it many times, something new (at least to me) jumped out. That's why I love reading and rereading the Bible because God always has something fresh to say to us even in passages we're incredibly familiar with:)

Twice in this parable Jesus talks about when the seed falls on good soil it will yield a crop. And oh, do I want to have good soil so that something can grow in me! Something that reaches others and points straight to Jesus. What's so interesting to me is that Jesus goes on to talk about the size of the crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

Those are the words that stopped me this time around. You see, we all have potential to bear fruit. To haul in a harvest for Christ. We all were born with a purpose woven uniquely into us. But not all of us were created to have the same reach. And that's okay! In fact, that's exactly God's design. Unfortunately, in this day and age we play the comparison game all too often. We look to the side and see someone else's reach, the size of the platform they're speaking from, the diameter of their circle of influence; and we think if it's larger than ours then what they've been called to do is vastly more important.

But look closely, friends. Never in this parable does Jesus say the size of the crop matters. No. In fact the entire parable is about ensuring you have good soil so that the seed will grow and you will produce a harvest. That's where the importance lies. Jesus tosses in those sizes to ensure we know and can be confident in the fact that the size of my harvest is going to be different than the size of yours. He doesn't want us so caught up in comparing that we stop producing, so he lays it all out there for us in no uncertain terms. We simply need to remember it:)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper Basham

Basham's newest book released this week, but I'd already received a sneak peek:) Now it's time to share that peek with the rest of you! Here's a short blurb and we'll chat on the other side...

When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looked as good as it did on Rainey Mitchell. 

Rainey Mitchell does not need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptation wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne. When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again?

"Rainey Mitchell is doing just fine. She has a great job helping children in need, her family is around her, she is mother to a fabulous little girl, and is getting over the betrayal of her ex-husband. Dr. Alex Murdock is not doing so well, as he is forced to work at a rural university, his life is full of secrets surrounding his family, and he has to start over in a new town. Luckily, Rainey, the daughter of his landlord, is there to get him settled. Rainey just wants to stay away from the new professor, who has the same charm as her ex. Unfortunately, they seem to need each other. Rainey needs his grant-writing ability to save her program, and Alex is terrible at the lecturing at which Rainey excels. The two must work together to fulfill their goals, but will they be able to do it? Rainey's insecurities and Alex's obsession with protecting his family could be their undoing.

While this is the second in her Mitchell's Crossroads series, you can read it as a stand-alone. Though don't be surprised if you wind up snapping up book number one if you haven't already. The Mitchell family is one you'll love getting to know.

Let's start by acknowledging that Basham uses classics as the base for her contemporary romance novels. She spins an Appalachian twist on them and ushers them into the twenty-first century in a way that still maintains their classic beauty while also making them all her own. So while there's echoes of classic romance in them, the reader is treated with a beautiful story in Basham's incredibly romantic and fresh voice. Charming the Troublemaker is no different!

Rainey and Alex are quite a pair with enough of their own hurts and hang-ups to prevent an easy path to their happily ever after. Still, they handle them like adults and with growth all along the way. Simple misunderstandings don't become large stumbling blocks, but rather they provide ways for each character to step forward and shed their past while being so incredibly relatable. Alex and Rainey are far from perfect, but they make perfect progress together:) And oh, does Basham do swoon-worthy for her romance. She's not shy in writing her love stories but rather embraces the genre, diving full-force into it while maintaining clean lines. So if you love a heart-fluttering romance where the characters have chemistry yet restraint, Basham's books are for you.

I happily recommend Charming the Troublemaker and you can purchase it here.

(PS...just so you know, I received a complimentary copy of this book but was under no requirements to post a review. While I read many books for review, I ONLY post reviews on books I can happily recommend. That's why you'll only find positive reviews from me. Authors work very hard on their books, and while some may not be my cup-of-tea and I'll note that here, I won't post negative reviews.) 

Happy reading, friends!