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?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant (and my August Bookshelf Giveaway)

Today I've got a book that looks good enough to eat! Take a look and we'll chat on the otherside:)

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

I'll admit it. I love shows on HGTV and Food Network, so when I saw this book (after just reading Betsy's Bride novella) I was eager to snap it up!

As before, I really enjoy Betsy's voice as an author. She writes engaging characters who are easy to like with just enough quirks to make them real. Her dialogue moves smoothly and often makes me laugh. And, having married my best friend, the relationship between Lucas and Kate was one I could relate to! At times I did wish they'd open up more with one another. There were moments where their internal fears or worries could easily have been solved with a good conversation. Because of that I'd have liked to see a bit more of the external conflict the show produced. If that angle had been more prominent I think I would have liked the book even more.

That said, this was a fun read and I'll definitely pick up Betsy's books again. Her wit and romance are a wonderful match and as mentioned above, her characters are people I enjoy seeing on the page.

I happily give All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

Betsy St. Amant is one Good Girl who enjoys writing about Bad Boys in her YA fiction novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable kindergartener, is often found consuming massive amounts of chocolate, and is an avid reader who is constantly wondering where Mr. Darcy went. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance. Her ninth Love Inspired novel will release January 2014, while her first YA novel, ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, released 2012 through Barbour Books. She recently contracted a 2-book deal with Zondervan. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to the Tangled soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.Betsy is proud to be represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. You can find Betsy at her website:

If you'd like to see a break-down of what my stars equal, check out my page My Ratings System to the right there. And a big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

It's also time for my August Bookshelf Giveaway. Leave a comment here or on Facebook and I'll announce who wins next Friday. If your name is chosen, you can pick one book I've reviewed in August and I'll send it your way just as a thanks for being here:)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

I love this quote. It's so true. Often my view of what God is doing in my life is so much smaller than His plan for my life. Anyone else relate?

Well today just know, His plans are perfect, and He's constantly building in your life. Building takes time, but the final product will be more than worth the wait:)

Monday, September 1, 2014

End of Summer Lessons Learned

This past week we took off as a family to enjoy the end of summer. We started off the week helping hubby at the MiTi, a triathlon race he puts on:

Lesson Learned:

The sun still burns. You don't outgrow this, no matter how often you think you have. So when spending 10 AM - 4 PM outside in the blazing sun, wear sunscreen. Every time. Or yes, you will look like a lobster by that evening.

Next we went to Cedar Point where I learned lots of new lessons:

1) When your hubby finds a hole in the fence, don't follow him through. I've now had my first ride in the back of a cop car...with all my children AND one of their friends. Yes. We are the responsible group.

2) Though mentally I'm still an adrenaline junkie, physically I'm older than I realize. If over 35, buy stock in Dramamine and Advil before you go.

3) When a coaster gets stuck with you on it and after a loooong period of time they roll you back and say they're "re-launching" you, pray. And hold on tight.

Our "selfie" after we'd been sitting in this position for 15 minutes.

Then we celebrated my Hubby's 40th. That along with our homeschooling year beginning tomorrow and the recent passing of my father-in-law has taught me this:

1) Life goes SO fast. This is our 9th year homeschooling. When we started this venture, they all looked like this:

and now they look like this:

And yes, that's one high schooler and one junior higher in the mix now. Which means, yes, Chemistry and Algebra all over again. Can you feel my uncontrollable excitement dripping through this computer? But...

2) I truly CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And...

3) He IS all we need. Even still, He's blessed us with some pretty beautiful relationships around us. We need to enjoy every single second with them. Because time is constantly moving.

So for all of you who are bidding good-bye to summer and for those of you who already have, I'll be praying this fall is a wonderful one for you! And that it's full of a few more lessons and certainly a lot of laughs.

Oh. And salted caramel mochas. Because life is just sweeter with them:)