Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

Reminds me of 2 Corinthians 3:18,
We Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.

Just like the mirror in my bathroom, sometimes my reflection gets some splats and smears on it. Which is why I need Him to work in me. I don't want a dull reflection, but one that glows with Him. And some days I need more work than others:)

Praying our reflections get buffed up today!

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's a Race Not a Sprint

freedigitalphotos: mapichai
Thanks to my husband I've gotten to be a part of the racing world for the past several years. Yesterday, in fact, I volunteered at one of the races he helps put on. Let's be clear though, while he's done everything from a 5K to an Ironman, my role caps out at handing out the medals and cheering.

Yet I'm running my own race, and so are you. It's a thought that's been on my mind all week as I scrambled to finish a never-ending to-do list, meet my family's needs, prepare for our new homeschool year, and simply keep up with things I'd said "yes" to or simple daily tasks. Suddenly I felt as if I was running at an impossible speed and about to burn out when God reminded me of these words from Hebrew 12:

...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...

Emphasis on the word run, not sprint. And that's what slowed this runner enough to mull over all the words there.

See, we can start to sprint, can't we? Racing from one thing to another to another until we're nearly running circles. But if you've ever seen a race, the runners pace themselves. Sometimes they even walk for a bit--especially in longer races--and that's because a body cannot maintain that all out pace for long periods of time.

And when we start to sprint we can miss the markers on the path we're on. Oh, do we need those markers! Without them we can miss our calling, miss those moments God can use us, or even take on so many extra miles that it wears us out.

So pace yourself. Stay on the marked path. Walk sometimes, it's okay. It's a run, not a sprint, to the finish line God has for us and he doesn't want anyone to miss one thing along the way.

Have you found yourself in a crazy sprint lately? What things can you give up so that you can slow down some?

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Beauty in Cancer

Cancer is ugly. It's cruel and doesn't play favorites. And last week it took my father-in-law. Yet in the midst of all that our family is going through, I refuse to let something so ugly get the last word. So I'm looking to the beauty in it.

Like how we held each other a little closer since Dad's diagnosis. They say time flies, and it does, but the reminder that life is so precious slowed down the speed of our days. In those moments that we'd normally tear through, I'd sit back and simply watch Dad. Truly see him. His laughter and joy from being in the middle of friends and family. His truly awful one-liners that made everyone groan while his smile grew. The way he'd position everything exactly where it belonged or scrub something until it shined--because it made him happy to take care of items he considered a blessing...and ok, he had a wee bit of OCD in him:)

I created snapshots not only on my camera but in my mind of him playing full-out with the grandkids; they were his joy. I got to tease him over who took more mashed potatoes from Mom's roast. I sat and chatted rather than rushing past, and didn't simply chat but made sure to listen. Best of all I to got to hug him tighter and say "I love you" all those times I may have simply slid out the door with no more than a "see you later".

Cancer allowed me to savor each moment with Dad rather than hurrying past, forgetting how each day we wake up is a blessed gift with those we love. Time became precious and rather than living with a disease, Dad simply lived. And he lived to the fullest. By extension, so did those of us around him.

I have been blessed to call him my father. Blessed by the man he raised who'd become my husband. Blessed by the relationship he had with Mom that gave us a beautiful picture of marriage and friendship. Blessed by the way he loved my kids. Blessed by his love of Jesus that may have taken a few dents but never wavered.

Time does fly, and oh, how I wish we had more of those precious moments here on earth, but we will see Dad again. Of that we are sure. And while cancer may think it won, it didn't. It took too much from us, but it also gave us this strange little gift of slowing down our moments together and making them count for so much more than we ever knew they could. And that's beautiful.

Exactly as Dad's life was. We'll miss you, Dad:) All our love.

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

Dance. Rejoice. In affliction. In blessing. Our delight is in Him.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Don't Want to be Normal.

Normal says that in the face of adversity we aren't joyful.

Normal says to be beautiful we must be a certain weight--and have no wrinkles.

Normal says our worth is measured in "likes" and "follows".

Normal says our identity is found in our abilities and successes.

Normal says our acceptance is found in the crowd around us.

But I don't want normal. I want God.

God says we can be joyful in all things, because joy in the midst of our sorrows produces in us that which normal circumstances cannot. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

God says we are beautiful. No qualifications. You are all together beautiful, my darling, there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7

God says our worth is measured in him and through the price he paid for us, simply because of his great love. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19

God says our identity is found solely in him. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9-10

God says our acceptance is found in him, and he doesn't play favorites. Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who [reverently] fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:34-35

This life is full of what the world deems as normal, but at the end of the day their "normal" leaves us feeling insecure, anxious, and even unsure of ourselves. Sometimes even hopeless. But when we take our eyes off of this world and focus on God and the Truths he says about us, that one action ushers in stability, security, and bucket-loads of peace.

No. It's not easy to do. Situations can overwhelm at times like a breath-stealing tidal wave, but we can learn to do it. And God never, never, never fails to meet us when our obedience steps us toward him.

Today I challenge you to take one "normal" that you have around you (it could very well be one I didn't mention) and replace it with God. I'll even share the one I'm working on: my worth. I've come a looooooong way on this one, but in today's world of social media (coupled with working on becoming an author) finding my worth can shift into the wrong place. So I'm reminding myself daily of where my worth comes from and even putting myself on a limit of how often I can be on social media. Because at the end of the day, I want God's voice and truth to be the voice I listen to.

I don't want to be normal:)

What "normal" will you be working on?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Love Still Stands by Kelly Irvin

Before I start today's review, I need to let you know who won the July Bookshelf giveaway...

Eva North!

You win your choice of one book off my July Bookshelf. Take a look and then email me your pick, and I'll get it to you.

Now onto building my August bookshelf. Let me give you the blurb and then we'll chat on the other side!

In Love Still Stands, a group of dedicated families leaves Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being disabled in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question…and romance seems a long-lost dream.

Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won’t be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, Bethel must find the strength to face her many challenges and the faith to believe that God still has a plan—and a love—for her life.

I'm rather sure this is the first Amish fiction I've had on my blog. I'll admit, it's not typically a genre I gravitate towards, but I had a chance to read this book and I took it. Lucky for me I did. While Amish fiction was new to me, I truly enjoyed this book.

Kelly Irvin packs these pages with so many different issues yet it never felt too weighty. It tackled things like postpartum depression, rehabilitation, and starting over in a new place all with a depth and breadth that kept me glued to the pages. While the story is not fast paced, it is intriguing in the sense that I honestly wanted to know how each character would overcome the obstacles in front of them.

I did struggle some in the beginning getting to know each character, at times needing to refer to the chart in the front of the book. However, that soon passed and I became acquainted with the main players on the stage. This is a continuation of a series Kelly had already written, but I did not feel it necessary to have read those books first.

I enjoyed the sweet romance as it budded between Bethel and Elijah, and I admit at times to wanting to swat each of them upside the head. They both had a tinge of stubbornness in them that bent in its own direction. I also enjoyed seeing Leah and Luke work at their marriage. Having been married nearly 17 years myself, it was refreshing to see a couple work through struggles but be committed to staying together. It played nicely against Bethel and Elijah's new romance.

All together I found Kelly Irvin wove a wonderful story with rich characters in a setting I don't normally visit but was happy I had. You can purchase Love Still Stands here.

The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter, mostly in Texas-Mexico border towns. She has worked in public relations for the City of San Antonio for twenty years. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and serves as secretary of the local chapter, Alamo Christian Fiction Writers.

Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors. To find out more about Kelly and her books visit her at .

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Winner Wednesday!

I'm on a little vacation today but wanted to at least let you know about the winners from Dawn Crandall's visit last week! (My bookshelf Friday winner will be announced on Friday.)

The winner of the e-book of The Hesitant Heiress is:  Nancy M!
Nancy, Dawn will contact you this week! Congrats!

And then Dawn also let me know that the winner of her weekly prize package was a commenter from this blog too! 

Melissa Tagg!

Melissa, you've won the weekly prize package from Dawn of an e-book of The Hesitant Heiress, an Amazon gift card, a moleskin journal, and an Everstone Chronicles mug. Dawn will be contacting you too.

Congrats to both winners and I'll be back on Friday with a book review and the winner of my July Bookshelf!