Ok, so technically, it is a holiday, but that whole idea got me thinking...
See, as we all put away our plastic eggs today, hang up our pretty dresses, and rush out to get good deals on candy, I can't help but really think that's not what this all is about. Easter was never meant to be a day to go on egg hunts and fill baskets with chocolate (though I am all about chocolate and we still play Easter bingo at our house)...Easter--Resurrection Sunday--is about celebration.
Celebration of LIFE.
Jesus, God, he's all about life. From making dry bones live again to raising Lazarus from the dead (and several others), to raising himself from the grave, he is constantly speaking life. John 10:10 even specifically says it's what he came to give us: abundant life.
And we can celebrate that every day. In fact, we should celebrate that every day, because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is alive, active, and available to us today. All we have to do is ask Him.
Ask Jesus into our hearts.
Ask him into our lives.
Ask him into the middle of our addictions.
The cross isn't merely a pretty symbol simply to be displayed...it is the power of what Christ did for us two thousand years ago. And when we get that deep in our bones, we cannot help but burst forth in praise. We don't have to live defeated, because God didn't stop the story on Friday. We are meant to live in power, fullness, and freedom. Not because of anything we've done, but because of everything that he gave--that's what the cross reminds us of. And that's what we can carry with us all year long.
Not just on Easter, because Easter isn't a holiday, it's a celebration!
So I'm going to be completely transparent here. I had another book scheduled to review today, but after reading it did not feel comfortable posting the review. This left today wide open with not much time to recoup as, well, my life is a tad crazy right now.
However...I know of an amazing author whose book came out this week. Which means I'm going to try something different with this week's bookshelf: you get to see what tops my To Be Read (TBR) pile. Here goes!
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white. If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?
All right, here's the part where we normally chat about the book I'm reviewing, but since I haven't read this one yet, I can't do that. What I can do is tell you what an amazing author Katie is. She knows how to weave such depth into her stories with characters that literally leap of the page. I read her debut Wildflowers From Winter and immediately made room on my shelf for her. Her books are the ones that you'll stay up way-too-late to read and be happy you did. They are steeped in emotion, full of heart-fluttering moments, take you to tears and laughs...and always point toward God. Which is why I know I can put this book on my Bookshelf Friday without having read it, because Katie has gained my trust as a reader. I cannot wait to be able to pull it off my shelf and read it. Trust me, it'll be happening soon!
Oh, and just for fun, this week I'm starting a Would You Rather with the authors I have on my bookshelf--totally random and completely all in fun. I'd toyed with coming up with interview questions for people, but this game asks much more earth-shattering questions that I ever could. So here's Katie's question:
Would you rather be able to remember all your dreams forever OR be able to watch your dream on TV the next day?
I was worried I'd pull a question about eating worms or something, but I actually really liked that one:) So what did Katie say?
"As a girl who thinks dreams are fascinating, it is so hard to choose! I think I would have to go with the second option - being able to watch my dreams on TV the next day. Some of my dreams are so bizarre, it would be super entertaining to see them come to life on a screen."
I had to agree with her, as long as I could pick who was going to view my dream, too! What about you? What would you choose? And for anyone looking to pick up Katie's newest book, A Broken Kind of Beautiful can be purchased here.
Christy Award finalist and Carol Award winner, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband, their young son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.
So I put this picture up on my author page a few months ago, but sometimes you just need to revisit things...
This is so where I've been with my writing lately. See, I've been working toward finishing my latest story, and I won't lie...I feel like writing's ugly stepsister. I question my ability, I worry I haven't got what it takes, I think the words I string together just plain old stink.
But God's been calling me on that attitude of late. Reminding me that it's nothing about my ability and ALL about his. Showing me that every time I step out in him, I'm beautiful. What I produce--the end product, lol--is gorgeous, because it's wrapped in HIM.
Which has made me check my tongue at the door. When those wayward thoughts come at me, instead of speaking them, I pull out my sword (the Word of God) and go to battle. I speak LIFE over my calling. I remember that in my weakness, he is strong. That he's called me to a purpose, and that everything HE creates (even the words he flows through me) is stellar. No, not perfect, because my mistakes reflect his mercy and glory and keep me on my knees...but practically perfect in every way.
Yeah. That's Mary Poppins, but you get what I'm saying.
So today, I challenge you to become a warrior in your thoughts. Change your vantage point from the ugly stepsister to a fighter, and go after who you are in Christ.
Knock satan on his butt.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Paula Mowery has visited my bookshelf before. In the past she's written women's fiction, and her stories centered around blessing others. They were encouraging reads that made you think. Recently she tried her hand at her first solo romance, and that encouraging voice she writes with came through loud and clear. Something unique about her first romance Legacy and Love is that she's split the book into two stories. So let me give you a run-down, and we'll chat on the other side.
The Prayer Shawl
Sean Holland is a magazine reporter always looking for the
next story. Hope Weaver is a pediatric nurse who shares Christ through making
prayer shawls. The shawls are just the touchy-feely story Sean needs, even
though he’ll have to endure Hope’s strong Christian beliefs to get it. An
unexpected connection brings them together as a couple. But, can they find love
if they don’t share their faith?
Alex Lyndon’s life has been a series of fits and starts with
no finishes. She finds herself jobless and divorced. Now her only family,
Granny Olivia, is critically ill. Chase Carson had to step into running the
family business when his father died. The time is past due for him to visit
Miss Olivia. Alex and Chase must go on a treasure hunt. Will each find purpose
and love for their lives in the process?
I'll start with "The Prayer Shawl" as it was the first in the book. It took me a little bit to get into the story--and by little bit, I mean a couple of chapters--but I soon found myself immersed and flipping pages. I enjoyed the twists to this story and the developing relationship between Hope and Sean, along with Sean's continued movement back toward God. I struggled with a story element toward the latter half that pushed Hope and Sean together at a faster rate than I'd have liked, even though I understood the reason behind their decision. Still, other than that momentary blip, I truly enjoyed the two main characters, and their happily-ever-after left me smiling.
Now onto the "Inheritance". This story started out in the first person from Alex Lydon's point of view. Then it switched to third person for Chase's point of view. As a reader, I struggled with the swaps. What I didn't struggle with, however, was the budding relationship between Alex and Chase. I also enjoyed the hint of suspense in this story, because yes, I'm a sucker for mystery or suspense woven into romances. Overall, while I'd have preferred to have the entire story in either first or third person, I enjoyed it very much and again, was smiling at the end.
After closing the entire book, I found myself happy that Paula took the plunge into writing romance too, and hope she continues mixing them into her women's fiction. You can purchase Legacy and Lovehere and if you'd like to know more about Paula Mowery, here's a small tidbit and you can also visit her at paulamowery.blogspot.com
Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and
speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The
Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes
have been the topics of speaking engagements. In November of 2013, her first
romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group.
Legacy and Love is her first solo romance.