Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Question #5

I have loved the past few weeks of questions and all your answers. Cannot even believe it's only four days until Christmas. I'm taking off the end of the year and through New Years and will be back on January 7th. Praying you all have a blessed Christmas filled with family, friends, love, and new wonderful memories.

My last Christmas question today I want to center on the real Reason for this season, because truly, with all the laughter and fun, cookies, sweets and gifts, the real center of the season is all about Jesus Christ. He's the reason we celebrate. The real best memory ever. The sweetest gift we'll ever receive.

So today I want to know, what is your favorite Christmas verse or part of the Christmas story? Is it a traditional one? Or a part of the story that we don't often think of? Is it a verse that points to His coming or one from the night of His birth?

Mine is the very traditional:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Merry Christmas my friends. Be blessed with the gift of His presence in your life!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blessing Wednesday - The End

So this year my word was 'TIME' and as a part of that God challenged my to take the time to count my blessings--to praise Him through thanksgiving. Every Wednesday I've dedicated my blog to being thankful, and I've truly found there is always, always, always something to be thankful for...we just have to choose to see it.

Some weeks it was really hard, while other weeks it was super easy. No matter what though, it softened my heart to stop, look, and acknowledge the many ways God has blessed me--and just by doing so I was blessed even more.

Next week is Christmas, and I'll be taking a break after this Friday's post, which means this is my last Blessing Wednesday. I'll still have Wednesday posts next year, but they'll be something different. Oh, I'll still be counting blessings, just not as a regular post on here.

Which means, time to get counting for the last time!

This week I'm thankful for:

~My sister's ability to do make-up and hair and share it with me and my girls. We had our Christmas Tea last night and she made us all so beautiful!

~My hubby who made me a plate of treats, sat down by the Christmas tree and watched White Christmas with me this week. NOT his favorite movie, but he did it for me:)

~Coffee. (While I tried to not repeat any of my blessings this year, coffee did sneak in more than once!)

~This year of giving thanks. God's used it to change my outlook on so many things!

~The true Gift of Christmas - Jesus Christ.

One more blessing is having heard so many of yours when you shared. Thanks so much, and I can't wait to hear what you're thankful for this week!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Question #4

My shopping is pretty well done. This week will be all about baking. And eating what I baked. Yep, my Jillian Micheal's DVD is still playing strong.

What about you? Have you got all your gifts purchased? Wrapped under the tree? For those of you with kids, do they shake them or try to unwrap them?  I know someone who used to carefully slice open the tape, unwrap their gifts, and then re-wrap them! I'm not naming names, and no, it wasn't me--I snuck into my parents' room and checked it all out BEFORE they wrapped them:) (disclaimer here as my oldest sometimes reads my blogs--peeking TOTALLY ruined my Christmas that year...and beware, I set booby traps!)

So this week I'm wondering, what was your favorite gift ever?

Lovely couch, right? And I'm growing out my
Dorothy Hamill do here.
Mine was my Paddington Bear I got when I was four. Paddington hung out in my preschool class that year and one lucky person each week got their name drawn from a hat and got to bring him home for the weekend. On his weekend home with me I fell in love. I was heartbroken to give him back. And that year for Christmas I opened up a Paddington of my own--who, might I add, I still own.  He may not still have that hat, he's missing a few buttons from the coat and that tag is long gone, but he's tucked away safely at my house.

Anyone else out there still holding onto a gift they received years ago?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - To Write a Wrong by Robin Caroll

This was the first-ever book by Robin Caroll I've ever read. It will not be my last! In fact, this was number two in her Justice Seekers series, and I've already planned to grab the first one from the church library this Sunday.

Here's a short blurb, then we'll chat:)

In Angola State Penitentiary, a man is serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. Riley Baxter is an eager reporter desperate for a story to make a name for herself. When she stumbles upon the daughter of the incarcerated man, Riley sees a little too much of herself in the teen, and vows to help prove her father’s innocence.

At the same time, Hayden Simpson has his hands full with keeping his little sister in line, worrying about his job as Police Commissioner, and dealing with his past emotional baggage. The last thing he needs is someone blowing the lid off his emotional bucket. But when Riley Baxter storms into his life, struggling to understand why God would let bad things happen to good people, Hayden has no choice but to follow his heart.

Now, Riley and Hayden must work together to uncover the truth of the past . . . before someone shuts Riley up for good.

Okay. To Write a Wrong is a romantic suspense, so I had an inkling I'd like it--even though I can't say I'm in love with the cover and cover designs are huge in helping me select books. However, I try to stick with the old adage, "you can't judge a book by it's cover", and am incredibly glad I did.

Robin has an easy way with setting and moving her characters along. And I'm a sucker for good, easy-flowing dialogue, something Robin did very well. The only issue I can really take with this book was the very end. Riley made some decisions where I simply wanted to scream at her...she's a really quick, smart woman who up to that point didn't put herself into precarious situations. Her purposefully dismissing that little voice in her head didn't ring true for me. Still, Robin had me turning pages and staying up late to finish this book, and really, truly liking each of her characters and the well-written plot. As I mentioned, this is the second in the series but can easily be read alone as I did.  

I'm giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars and heading to the library to take out more of Robin's books.

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.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everybody! Hope your week is going well...Christmas shopping in full swing, parties with family and friends, lotsa treats to eat, maybe even some snow in places. Oh so many blessings, so let's count them!

This week I am thankful for:

~Warm, cozy meals that I can place on my table. It's really getting cold around here, and I'm blessed to have a stove and the food to cook in it so I can place a warm meal on our table.

~Funny Christmas movies to watch with the family. I love this tradition!

~Laughter with friends

~Hands that work...I type. A lot. I am blessed to have fully functioning, pain-free hands and wrists.

~Working taste buds. Sounds silly. I know. But think about what it would be like - especially this time of year - if you couldn't enjoy all the wonderful sweets and treats. My father-in-law is struggling through chemo right now and it's temporarily taken away his ability to taste, so I am giving thanks for this blessing today!

What about you? Big or small, start counting your blessings and share a few here!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Question #3

So I've got to know, what's been your favorite Christmas memory? If you're like me, you've probably got a lot of them, and I'm hoping you'll share one. A favorite of mine occurred when I was a young teen. I am the youngest in my family and I love tradition. I remember when my older siblings were starting to move out and how strange that was. I also remember several green Christmas around that time--we live in Michigan, I'm used to very WHITE Christmases. And I LOVE them. Give me tons of snow for the two weeks surrounding Christmas and then it can all go away, but please, oh please, let my Christmas be white :)

Anyway, I was talking and talking and talking about wanting a white Christmas that year, and Christmas Eve it was still green. I was, to say the least, slightly disappointed. Christmas morning we woke up early as usual and got ready, waiting on our family friends to join us--a couple who had made it their tradition to spend Christmas with us. They arrived and I peeked outside and stood speechless! It was like someone had placed us inside a snow globe! We all went out to help them unpack their car and the snow kept coming down. I remember passing my dad who was carrying gifts and as the snow swirled around us he said "so, Susie, this the white Christmas you were asking for?"

I swear he had been praying right along with me, and it was what he'd asked for Christmas that year too--a white Christmas just for me. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but I felt that way, and that moment was forever etched in my mind.

What's one of your favorite Christmas memories?

Friday, December 7, 2012

DVD Shelf Friday

Okay, so we love Tim Hawkins over here, and I just discovered this song from his new Push Pull Point Pow DVD. I don't know if I've ever shared here or not, but those that live by me know I LOVE my yoga pants:) Drives Hubby crazy, but he loves me anyway. I'd wear them 24/7 if I could...

So as a tribute to my Yoga pants...

Have a great weekend everyone!
(Any other yoga pant lovers out there?)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey all! It's Wednesday, time to do some counting...

Today I am so thankful for:

~Other writers. There's just something to be said about the freedom to talk about your make-believe world as if it's the world you live in and having someone jump into that world right along with you.

~My family and friends who don't look at me strange when I call them with questions to create my make-believe world but rather dig in and help me. Chicago living, perfume, antiques, personal trainers, guns...:) And those who encourage me along the way.

~Christmas lights and the people who take the time to put them up. Honestly, I am blessed by all those homes I get to look at in the evenings.

~Texting. Yeah. I said it. Never thought I would, but it really is a great invention. (When used for good.)

~People who can wrap. As in presents. Not the singing--though I can do neither. Thank you Melissa Tagg for bringing this to mind this week. The wrapping, not rapping that is:)

So all, what are you thankful for this week? Share!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Question #2

It's officially December. How's the shopping coming? Wrapped any presents yet? I've got a few under the tree, but I'm pretty sure the kids know what they are...well, they know the ideas, but not what the items look like. See, every Christmas my kids get new Christmas pj's. They get to open them on Christmas Eve and then we tuck them into bed--all in the same room. This cracks me up because I had to share a room as a kid, but mine love to forgo their own rooms and sleep together. I LOVE it. It's my favorite current Christmas tradition.

When I was little it was the Christmas music boxes Santa left for us every Christmas morning. This started because when I was around six or so I was quite convinced Santa wasn't real and that I was also smart enough to "prove it". So I told my parents I was going to ask Santa to leave a picture of himself leaving our gifts. I figured he had to own a Polaroid, right?  Instead, Santa left this music box...and our family received one every year after that Christmas. When I got married, Santa even found me at my new house and left me one on Christmas Eve. Periodically, a music box still arrives come Christmas morning.

So what's your favorite Christmas tradition--past or current?

**I'll be back to my regular Monday devotions come January. For December I thought it would be fun to see how you all spend the Holidays!**

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Beauty to Die For by Mindy Starns Clark & Kim Alexis

A few years ago I read Mindy Starn Clark's Million Dollar Mysteries series and loved it. Even though Mindy typically writes first person, I've been a fan of hers ever since. So when Beauty to Die For came out, it definitely caught my eye. Only this time Mindy wrote her book in third person (for me that was like sprinkles on frosting).

Here's a blurb about the book:

Juliette Taylor walked away from her career as a supermodel twenty-five years ago. Now approaching fifty – an emotionally complex milestone -- she co-owns a beauty supply company that makes skincare products for salons and spas. Her niche is pampering Christian women who usually spend more time caring for others than for themselves under the slogan:Isn’t it time someone took care of YOU for a change?When Juliette arrives at the Palm Grotto Spa to host a spiritual retreat, she runs into an old modeling colleague, Raven, who had always been disliked in the industry for many reasons. She isn’t there for the retreat; in fact, her presence at the spa is somewhat mysterious.Not long after Raven makes a cryptic threat to Juliette, the unsympathetic back-then beauty is found dead, poisoned by something in the green clay of a chai soy wrap. The following morning, a banner for the retreat has been unceremoniously altered:It’s your turn to be nurtured, to be restored . . . to be murdered.Suspicion is directed at Juliette who has history with Raven and certainly knows how to use beauty products. But for murder?! Now she must find the real killer before the police really take care of her.

I loved the premise of this book. Not only the idea that you need to take care of yourself, but also that beauty is more than what we see on the surface. The idea of a model walking away at the height of her career intrigued me. Plus, as you all know, I love romantic suspense and being familiar with how Mindy writes, I knew there had to be romance in this book someplace! So I picked it up and started reading and wasn't disappointed. Juliette is reintroduced to TOTGA (The One That Got Away). His name is Marcus and the angle of their story was incredibly sweet.

While I enjoyed both the romantic and suspenseful moments of this book, at times the plot moved a tad too slowly for me. It took a bit to get into the book, and there were a lot of "remembering" moments, or deep reflections that seemed to kill the forward movement of the story. Still, Mindy is a strong writer, and I loved getting the glimpses into a model's life that I'm sure Kim Alexis added. A great pairing between the two that produced one fun book.

Overall, I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

How can it be Wednesday already? Time seems to fly this time of year, doesn't it? Well if you've been around this year, you know Wednesdays here are all about counting our blessings, so here we go!

Today I'm thankful for:

~the time I got to spend with family and friends over the Holiday weekend.

~pecan pie - oh my yumminess!

~that Hubby helped me decorate the house for Christmas. I love Christmas decorations, just not hauling them out or putting them away. Doug sweetly brought out all the boxes and helped me stick colorful decorations all over, and now we all get to enjoy them.

~that my kids are 

~programmable thermostat, because it's getting downright cold in the mornings! I love that the heat pops on and makes things toasty warm before I need to come out from the covers.

So what are you thankful for today??

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas is Coming!

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great, restful, sugar-filled, turkey-rocking, blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends. We've gone through all the leftovers, and I'm getting ready to turn on my Jillian Micheal's Ripped in 30 DVD--no, not because I'm under the delusion of losing weight amidst this cookie-filled season, but I'm going to try and offset all the yumminess I'm encountering. Hey, it's my Christmas dream, let me live it.

Oh, and I finished my puzzle! All 1000 crazy shaped, each-one-looks-alike, took me way too many hours to do, puzzle. Here's a hint, don't start a big puzzle on the table you plan to set for Thanksgiving dinner only days before Thanksgiving.

But, truly, can you even believe it's Christmas time? I LOVE this time of year! And as we close out the year, I'm going to really be working on my 2012 Word of the year which was Time...spending time with my family, with my kids (who are growing much too fast), with friends who live in the area...and spending time getting to know all of you even better. Because while I'd love to have you all over for a big ol' cookie swap and party, I think the logistics wouldn't work too well. So rather than my devotions on Mondays, each Monday between now and Christmas I'm going to be posing a Christmas question.  I can't wait to see your answers! 

Today I want to know:

What's your favorite Christmas song and movie?

Here's mine!

Song: (especially this version)

Movie: (because I laugh, each and every time I see this movie...this is one of my favorite clips)

So, what's your favorites?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Break

Hey all! I'm going to be taking a break this week to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Gonna clean up the house. Mash some potatoes. Cook a turkey and maybe a pie. Hang out with family. Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade--I still love the Rockettes! Do some Christmas decorating. And avoid the craziness of all retail shops on Friday.

Oh yes, I also aim to finish this 1000 piece puzzle! I began it on Friday and after pecking away at it all weekend, Hubby and I spent two hours on it last night. My goal is to have it finished and packed away before needing to set the table on Thursday. A pretty lofty goal as all the pieces left are tiny and look exactly alike...

So what are you up to this week? Traveling or having everyone over to your house? And who out there will be shopping on Friday?

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

God's Faithfulness!

Normally my Fridays are reserved for books or music, but I HAD to share this. In May I asked for prayer for a young, pregnant mom who'd had a stroke. Her family attends my church, and I wrote a post praising God in advance for what He was going to do. That post was written May 23rd, here.

Well, not only has Amanda continued to improve, but yesterday she had her little boy! God is so, so good!! And as many of you prayed for Amanda - many who'd never even met her or her family - I wanted to share this praise and the adorable pictures with you.

Amanda and her gorgeous family, still healing and waiting
for Baby Boy to make his way here.

And finally, he's HERE!

That's Amanda with her newest child - Ezekial Ippel!


God is faithful!! And if you want to keep tabs on Amanda, follow her at her blog: Spilled Milk and Wet Kisses.

Have an amazing weekend, friends!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted - Bertrand Russell.

Something about that quote stopped me...and helped me start naming my blessings for today:)

Today I am so thankful for:

~hands to type with and hold my children with.

~a mouth to speak and eat chocolate with.

~eyes to see God's glorious creation with. And my Hubby. He's kinda cute;)

~ears to hear my children, the wind, music...

~a nose to smell my morning coffee with. It's one of my favorite morning things.

Nothing we have is guaranteed, and so much is easy to take for granted. So where are your question marks hanging today?

And come check it out. I'm visiting today at my friend Jessica Patch's blog - if you've never been over to her blog before, you've gotta go. Visit with me today, but then hang around because she's a pretty amazing lady! Just click HERE. :) Have an amazing Wednesday everybody!

Monday, November 12, 2012

He's Still working...

I was reading Lazarus' story this week. He got sick, so his sisters called on Jesus to come and heal him. And Jesus, who was not in their town but near-by, sent back word that Lazarus' sickness would not end in death.

And then he died.

And I thought, ya know, that happens sometimes, doesn't it? We pray for something, we hear an answer, and then something else happens entirely. And we're left a little shell-shocked, wondering what just happened, and where in the world is God?

When in reality, He's still working, and He's only a town away.

See, God doesn't do things the way we picture them or with our preconceived notions. He may give an answer, but that doesn't mean we'll know how we'll arrive there. I mean, raising a man from the dead? No way anyone could have seen that. It blew their minds. It blows MY mind. But that's God. When He gives you an answer He's speaking the truth, because that's all He can speak. So hold onto it, even when it seems your dream is dying. You have no idea what He may be up to. And the reality is that sometimes things need to die in our lives before He can bring new life. But that doesn't mean he's not working, not moving, or not listening.

He's doing all those things.

Working in your darkness. Getting ready to move in His time. And hearing your every cry. 

Don't think for a moment that the tears you shed in the waiting go unnoticed. When He finally showed up and sees Martha, Mary, and their friends weeping, look at how it affects Him:

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled...Jesus wept. John 11:33,35)

He cries with us. When all seems dead around us, not only is He still working, but He's crying in our pain with us.

So if everything around you seems dead right now, just know He can call it back to life. Believe and hold to what He's told you. And wait on Him, because He's the God who can blow your mind with what He's going to do.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Till Grits Do Us Part by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

'Till Grits Do Us Part is the third in Jennifer's Southern Fried Sushi series, and I believe, my favorite. I read book two--Sweet Potato Pie--this fall and really enjoyed watching the main character Shiloh Jacobs fall for Adam, even though he wasn't anything she'd ever looked for. It was great to see their love story continue in this book and find them finally receiving their happily ever after--even if the road was incredibly bumpy! Here's a short blurb:

Shiloh Jacobs is planning her wedding without family, without money, and without a clue—and trying to make a go of small-town Southern life. Until she stumbles on an unsolved case about a missing woman that makes her run in the opposite direction—right into the would-be killer’s web of plans. In the midst of sorting through her tragic past and strained relationships, Shiloh finds herself on the run from a madman—and hoping she can make it to her wedding alive.

I think I've mentioned before that while I read all genres, my absolute favorite is Contemporary Romantic Suspense. I think the heavy dose of suspense in this book is what made it my favorite out of all three. Jennifer does a fantastic job of throwing out red herrings and keeping you guessing until the very end. My only issues with the story were I'd have liked to see more of Adam. He seemed to disappear at times, and since this book was finishing up their story and working toward their wedding, I'd have liked more of Adam in the story. Also, the dialect at times was a bit much. My mother is from the South, and while I could hear her clearly at times, at others I felt it was laid on a bit thick. That said, I truly enjoyed this book. Shiloh's sense of humor had me cracking up while her honest struggles as a new Christian made me want to hug her. It was that journey I most loved, her growth in God even when things were nearly impossible all around her. Her choices to do the hard things; forgive, let go of pride, be humble, those were what kept me rooting for her.

Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. And I'll happily pick up another book by Jennifer anytime.

If you'd liked 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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey all! Praying it's a great week for you wherever you are. Let's count some blessings!

~Blessed by those who have fought for my right to vote yesterday. I truly cannot say thank-you enough.

~Blessed by those who spent the day working the polls. Over here it went smoothly and everyone had a smile. Loved that.

~Blessed by my Pandora streaming Christmas music!!  I have to say, I have loved the invention of Pandora and the ease with which I can listen to whatever genre of music I feel like in the moment. And right now, that's Christmas music. (No hating here, people, because YES I know Thanksgiving is next, and if someone records a Thanksgiving record, I'll happily listen to it. Otherwise, Christmas is what's playing to ring in this Holiday season!)

~Blessed and oh-so-thankful for the safe travel of Hubby and Son as they drove to Florida and back last week.

~Blessed by my youngest girl who will turn seven this coming week. She makes me laugh every day. I wish I had half her energy and bravery. The girl will try anything. No fear. No giving up. Love it.

So what about you? What are your blessings this week?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

If My People...

I'm interrupting my normally scheduled blogging for this post...

We’re ready for election day tomorrow. And typically I’m not one to say anything. I’m as sick of all the political who-ha as the rest of you. But this verse stopped me yesterday.  See, I’ve heard it my entire life growing up, especially as we near and election day, yet I’ve always ‘heard’ it wrong.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

That first part: if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face…that part I understood. It’s a call for the church to pray for their nation. To earnestly seek God—especially now. As Christians, we should vote based on His Word, not on anyone else’s, which means we need to seek Him to know His voice.

It’s the next six words that stopped me yesterday: and turn from their wicked ways. Now, I always applied that to the sins of our nation. Pointed the finger at all the people who are living apart from God. All the ways our nation has fallen from God. But yesterday I heard it for the first time and swung my pointing finger around to me.

Because God’s not talking about them, He’s talking about us. He clearly says: my people, called by my name, turning from their ways.


Humbling ourselves not only in prayer but in admitting where we sin and turning from it. None of us are perfect, but we all know right from wrong based on the measuring stick of God's Word. We know when we are living outside His will. And sometimes in our effort to reach this world, or merely by living here and being worn down by it, we blur the line between right and wrong in God’s eyes. We become like Church of Laodicea, neither hot or cold. (Revelation 3:14-22) And before He will move, He’s asking us to move—back to Him.

Yes, we’ll look different—but we are supposed to. It’s the only way we can draw them to Jesus. And THEN He can heal our land and their hearts. 

So today, vote and pray. Pray for God to show us where we can change. Pray for Him to place His healing hand on those around us. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray for God's will to be done. And VOTE. Too many have sacrificed life and limb for us to have that right--so honor them and exercise it. You might think your voice doesn't count, but when someone died for you to have that voice, you need to use it.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...;)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Running Blind

So yesterday as part of the sermon illustration I heard about runners who are blind, following nothing more than their guide's voice. It completely intrigued me, and I went home and looked them up. I mean, how on earth do you run if you're blind, right? I trip when my eyes are wide open.

Sure enough, watch this clip:

And as I looked farther, I found sprinters at the Paralympics who actually tether themselves to their guides. By just their fingers! These men and women run faster than I ever have in my life!

And all because they're tied to and listening for the one who CAN see.

That's the key, right? Unfortunately, all too often when we can't see where we're headed, we think God's not working in our lives. But faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

We're not always going to see the finish line, but it's there. And we've got to believe our God can get us to it. Even in our darkest moments, He is still at work. Quiet the other voices around you--telling you you're not enough, telling you your sins are too big, telling you God's deserted you--and hone in solely on His. Beckoning you. Calling you. Leading you.  Tether yourself to Him. Lean into Him. Rely on Him.

He is there.

Even if you can't see Him.

He is speaking,

Even if you cannot hear Him.

Because He's God and the Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you (just like those guides); he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy  31:8)

So tell the other voices around you to hush-up. Grab onto your faith and press onward. Trust He'll make sure you cross the finish line--because He will. And run with abandon toward Him.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him (that's YOU!) endured the cross. Hebrews 12:1b-2a (words in parenthesis are mine)

So I've got to know. Are you a runner? Or like me, do you trip over your own two feet?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson

I am a HUGE Dee Henderson fan. Her O'Malley series still sits on my shelf today and I've reread them all at least three times--and I'm not typically one to rewatch or reread anything. So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard she FINALLY had a new book releasing this October. I'd waited years for this and marked my calendar.

Let me first give you a little blurb about Full Disclosure:

Ann Silver is a cop's cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region's most trusted investigative positions.

Paul Falcon is the FBI's top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder.

Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn't expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention.

The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is...

I finally got the chance to read (or more accurately, listen to) Full Disclosure this past week. And I'm still not fully sure what I thought of it. It's a very long book, and it's quite different than what I'm used to from Dee. And, honestly, that didn't bug me. The book is broken into different sections, though the story flows along nicely. Most of the time we are in Paul's point of view, yet that didn't bother me, either. Dee still writes a strong story full of depth and twists and turns that I truly love. So that wasn't the issue either. What I struggled with was the romantic portion of this book. It read like Paul and Ann were interviewing each other for the position of their spouse. I never really felt a connection between the two of them--and that was something I always thought Dee nailed.

The other small issues I had I cannot say here without spoiling portions of the book for you. One had to do with Ann's "hidden" profession, the other had to do with where Paul and Ann's love story ended up. Don't worry, there's a Happily Ever After for them involved.

All together, I'd give this book three stars because while I enjoyed it, I cannot say I loved it. Like I mentioned, Dee does a masterful job with deep story lines and suspense, and she definitely still delivers those things in Full Disclosure. I only hope to hear more of the romance woven back into her suspense in future books. That said, Dee remains one of my favorite authors, and I'll be watching for her next book to come out.

Have you ever read a Dee Henderson book? If so, what's been your favorite? The first three of the O'Malley series top the list for me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

That about says it all, doesn't it? Especially in the face of the storm out East. I'm gonna keep counting my blessings today, but the biggest of all is our weather over here. A little rain, a little wind, a little cold...nothing compared to what others went through.

But I'm also blessed by:

~my dear friend Jean who allowed me to guest blog over by her at Sislyn Stewart's From the Church House. But she didn't simply put up my post, she gave me some incredibly encouraging words and those were a BIG blessing to me.

~My quiet time in the morning. God is ever-so-faithful to meet me in that time, and it's a big blessing to my day.

~The guys who come and cart away my leaves...they are a HUGE blessing. We bag our yard, as does our entire neighborhood, and they come and carry those bags away.

~Blessed by a even have memories is a blessing for some of us, and this past week I looked over and saw my daughter, Ella, pull a pose that exactly mimicked that of my grandmother. It was uncanny how she looked JUST like her! I'm blessed by a God who carries on generations and gives us those little moments to remember those closest to us.

~Blessed by my BFF who helped me pull off this skirt. I mean, come on, my youngest wanted to be a peacock for Halloween. A peacock, people. Thanks to Pinterest and my crafty friend, she now can be:)

Hope you all are filled with blessings this week - please share. And eats lots of chocolate tonight...unless that's not your thing, then enjoy an apple or something:) Be blessed!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Let the Games Begin...

Yesterday at church our pastor used a great analogy that I want to share here today:

Imagine paying to see a game. Let's take football because I LOVE football! Let's even make it the Super Bowl.  Big time expensive seats, right? You're cheering. You're screaming. You're about to jump out of your skin with excitement because you're there, ready to watch your team play.  And out comes the team. Cheerleaders wave their poms. The band plays. And the team runs onto the field.

They huddle.

And you excitedly wait for the first play.

The huddle continues.

And you sing their fight song.

The huddle goes on.

You sit...

And wait...

And wait...

And three hours later they break the huddle and run off the field, never having played.

Uh, yeah. Pretend that just happened.

You paid for a game, but the players never did more than huddle together, strategize, pump each other up, and then do nothing with it. They even trained ahead of time. But then...nothing.

You can picture that, right? So here's the question: Are we, as the church, perhaps doing the same thing? We come together and huddle on Sundays and Wednesdays, but we never break that huddle and get in the game. We train, we listen to our coaches, we pump each other up, but we don't run any of the plays. All the while Christ is saying, "HEY! I paid a HUGE price here, now get out there and play!"

Don't get me wrong. The huddle is important, friends. We need that time. But it can't be all we become. There is a lost world out there who needs us in the game, actively playing. There is a real eternity, and everyone will either spend it in hell, or in heaven. There is no in-between. And we who are saved need to be reaching those that are not.

And it's simple.

As simple as smiling at someone. Building relationships. Inviting them to church. Yes, just an invitation. We don't need to be perfect...because we won't be until heaven. We don't need to have a seminary degree. And we don't need to have every Scripture memorized. We just need to love them. Ask them. Point them to Christ. Because it's going to take each and every one of us.

God didn't save you to sit on the bench. And He didn't save us to live in the huddle.

He's building a team here where everyone plays.

You may be the quarterback. The defensive line. Maybe offense...but we all play a part. The key thing here is you gotta play. There's a world that needs you.

What are you going to do today?

Friday, October 26, 2012


Hey all. I'm currently in the middle of Dee Henderson's new novel and will have that review to post next week. So today is a little all-over the place. It's Friday. It happens.

First off, how many are ready for Halloween? In case I haven't shared, I loathe Halloween. Oh sure, I'm all about free candy, but the costumes? I'm not about to shell out money for something my kids will wear one night, and I'm not crafty in the least. And my children will not let me bribe them with bags of candy if they only won't dress I'm stuck. It is the one and only thing I can't wait for my kids to grow out of...well, since we're past the diaper stage and all anyway.

Second, is anyone else enjoying an Indian summer? Because we are, and I'm loving it. Warm days, cool nights = perfection.

Third, I want to introduce you to my church, Grand Rapids First. If you are in the West Michigan area, I'm inviting you to church. If you're not, I'm still inviting you and you can catch us on line. It's an hour-and-a-half that could change your an amazing way. Sure, this picture tells you about Big Day, but you can join us any day.

And last, what are you up to this weekend? I'm going to a writer's conference. Yeah me! And while driving there I'm going to listen to the end of Dee Henderson's new novel. The one I'm posting a review to next week. Which brings us full circle...

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

I love that picture, don't you? Maybe it's because I wait for this time of year all year long. I absolutely adore Fall...even those leaves that blanket my ground. But it wasn't just the cool photo of the leaf I liked, it was the reminder to be thankful for "every little thing".

So today I am thankful for:

~My shoes. Yep. Not everyone has a pair, and I have several. What a blessing.

~Warm milk with honey in it.

~Dropbox. I'm not normally a techno-girl, but this has been a huge help with all my writerly files.

~All three of my kids bonding together over a game called Mindcraft. No. It's not a board game like we used to play, but I still see them all playing together, helping each other, and laughing. Music to this mama's ears.

~And this one's not so little. Both my mom and brother had surgeries this week. They both were successes, went incredibly well, and the two are now at their homes healing. Big-time thanks here!

So what's on your "every little thing" list this week?

Monday, October 22, 2012

iPhone Face

Ever gone out and the person across from you looked like this:

Yeah. Worse part is, I’m sure I’ve resembled that picture myself. Ugh. It is all too easy when these phones do so much, making sure we’re always available to the entire world. And then it almost becomes a tick, you hear the ding that you got a new voice mail, or email, or text, or Facebook post…you try to ignore it, but you start to twitch, your eyes stray to your phone, and before you know it, it’s in your hand.

Don’t act like you’ve never been there.

I’ve worked really, really hard to break this habit, mainly because I hated being the recipient of it—it kinda makes you feel unimportant. So imagine my surprise when I was doing my Bible study the other day and God called me out for doing this to Him.

See, I’d slept in later than I should have, but still wanted to squeeze the time in. I sat at the kitchen table when the kids were in the kitchen. I answered questions, made breakfast, even got up to throw in a load of laundry…all the while “doing my Bible study”. (yeah, those quotes are me doing the little quote thing with my fingers.)

And as I sat back down after one more interruption, right then is when God gave me the picture of my distraction. There He sat, at the table I’d invited Him to, trying to talk with me, and I kept getting up and leaving. It was the equivalent to going out and having the person I'm with stick their phone in their face--something I'm pretty sure NONE of us like.

Yet, how often do we do that? Sit with God then give in to other distractions. Holding our finger up and saying, “Just one sec here, God. I need to handle this.”

Oh. There is so much wrong with that statement!

I need to handle? Just one sec? Ugh. And then we wonder why He’s so silent.

God has so much He wants to say to us. He loves us with a love that is beyond imagine. And He’s just sitting, waiting for us…and so often we walk away.

But here’s the thing. He’s still there, waiting. With His unfailing love.

So today I’ve got another challenge for you. If you don’t have quiet time with Him on a daily basis, carve out a moment for it—even if it’s only five minutes. And if you do, make sure you don’t let distractions interrupt that time.

And I’d love to know—any of you been on the giving or receiving of what I like to call iPhone Face?

Friday, October 19, 2012

(Fill-in-the-blank) Shelf Friday

Author Beth Vogt posted a great quote at the beginning of this week on her blog:

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J.R.R. Tolkien

It got me thinking, and doing. Sure, I only got my basket-full-o-socks matched that day, but it was one job that had been staring me down for far too long. And I want to finish a few more things this week.

I have lots of other shelves that can be cleaned off:
~my refrigerator shelves...pretty sure there's things growing in there that shouldn't be growing.

~my pantry shelves...after discovering I'd eaten moldy corn tortilla shells, well, that's a clue to clean out those shelves.

~my closet. Nuff said.

~my youngest daughter's birthday scrapbook. I'm a HUGE procrastinator on these, but they've become traditions for the kids and I love them when they're done. It's their entire year at a glance.

~my email inbox

~my kids' schoolwork and grades. It's all piled together on one shelf, and I need to organize it and put the grades into the computer. Since they get paid on a sliding grade scale (don't judge. yes, we pay our kids for their grades...and yes, we all makes sense to us), they're anxiously waiting for me to do this one.

I obviously cannot finish these all this weekend, especially not with the rate at which the leaves are falling. But I can start one of them. What about you? Do you have a shelf/project that needs tackling? If so, fill in the blank above, and tell me what you're up to this weekend. I think mine's going to be sorting through the past year in pictures to find the couple hundred I want...there's only a few thousand to go through. WHO gave me a camera?

Have a GREAT weekend! And don't forget to PLAY too!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey all, I'm just jumping in today. Come join me, the water is fine:)

Today I am thankful for:

~The joy on my daughter's face as she starts to understand and excel in school work that's been so hard for her.

~A friend who will dance with me in the middle of the outlet mall just for fun.

~Hubby's understanding that I needed a little time away and making sure I got it. I was at my "Calgon, take me away" moment!

~Olives. The bigger the better. Oh so salty and good! I could eat an entire jar by myself. Really. I could.

~That God encourages us--just when we need it-- to do right, especially when He knows we aren't going to feel like it. I love that He loves us enough to give us gentle reminders and the strength to make the right choice. Because though I desire obedience and its blessings, sometimes I WANT to do the wrong thing in the moment. (Okay, and I kid you not, as I'm writing this here's the song that comes lie... )

And yes, I WAS listening to my Hymns station on Pandora. Hymns. Next thing you know it will be the Gaither Homecoming DVD (thanks, Mom)

Huge blessings to you all today! Share a few here before you leave!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Yeah, I know I’m not the only one to cleverly use that title,but it totally fits today.

See, I conducted a little test recently. I’d been getting some what restless and down. The more down I’d get, the more I’d grab my phone and look at my Facebook or e-mail. As a homeschooling mama, my social media becomes a way of connection for me throughout the day—I know I’m not the only mom who does this…not even the only lady who does. Add to the fact I am home all day without any other adults, but I’m also pursuing publication; a world where we hear the word “platform” a lot, which is code for lotsa followers, lotsa readers, BIG numbers people—build a tribe! So when I’d pick up my phone and there were no new emails or no Facebook notifications, well, I’d get more down. Why do we do that to ourselves?

That’s when it hit me…

I was in a dangerous spiral!

Now I know that I’m not suppose to get caught up in all that stuff. I know my value is directly proportionate to only one thing: God. And I’m beyond secure in the fact that He loves me, so that means I’m pretty special. Same goes for you—and if you don’t know that, you should. God LOVES you. An insane amount. TIMEOUT HERE: If you’ve never realized that, take a second right now and ask Him to show you, because He will! (Or inbox me and I’ll pray with you. Let’s get this settled once and for all! GOD LOVES YOU!)

As for me and my incredibly silliness over social media, I was caught up in this world’s value system, a nasty place to be. You’d think we’d outgrow it about the time we left High School, but as women, I think we’re pretty susceptible to this. And as I reached for my Facebook one more time to check who was talking to me I heard this little voice “You know, if you checked My Book as often as you checked Facebook, you wouldn’t be in this spot.”


And I KNOW this.

I just momentarily forgot.

So I decided right then and there that every time I picked up my phone, rather than hitting my email or Facebook Apps, I’d hit my BibleGateway App. I chose one Bible passage for the day (Psalm 62 to be exact)and read through it in place of reading everyone’s statuses or scrolling through my homepage. Whenever I’d get the itch for Facebook, I’d pick up my phone and select a different translation of that same verse—NIV, NAS, The Message—there’s twenty-seven different ones on that App. Or sometimes I’d focus on just one of the verses.

And as I made my mind steadfast on God, His perfect peace invaded my day.

Yes, having a network of fellow believers around us is important. We’re not meant to go-it alone. But it won’t matter how many people speak into our lives if our Father’s voice isn’t one of those speaking, because at the end of it all, His is the only voice that truly counts.

So I challenge you today. Pull out your Bible or pull up BibleGateway on your computer or if you’ve got a phone, download the App. Then mark a passage. And today, each time before you check your Facebook, read that one passage or verse, because there’s nothing better than your Father’s voice speaking into your day.

Okay, truth time here, in this day of social media right at our fingertips, how often do you check your Facebook or other social networking sites? How do you handle balancing it all?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - When A Heart Stops by Lynette Eason

This is not the first Lynette Eason book I've reviewed. It's also not the first in this series. But I gotta say, it's one of my favorites! And it's made me oh-so-curious of what exactly goes on in Lynette's head...the woman comes up with some crazy-good story lines. Here's a blurb:

Spunky and outgoing, nothing much bothers medical examiner Serena Hopkins--except for the thought of falling in love again. But when a serial killer is picking off her former classmates, Serena's life becomes intertwined with her old high school crush, FBI agent Dominic Allen. Is the secret she's keeping putting her next on the killer's hit list? Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late?
Now, if you've read Lynette's Women of Justice series, you'll already know Serena. She snuck into this series too and finally has her own book. Maybe having to wait so long to have her front and center is one of the reasons I so loved this book. Maybe it's that it's such a clever plot. Maybe it was the great chemistry between Serena and Dominic. Or maybe it's simply because I like the way Lynette writes: clean, fast-paced romantic suspense. One thing is for sure--it was a great read.

I do have to warn you though. Unlike her Women of Justice series, this series is one you'd benefit from reading in order. The first book in this group is When the Smoke Clears, and it ends on a cliff-hanger. So now would be a perfect time to read it because you can go straight into When a Heart Stops without having to wait eight agonizing months. Beware though, while this book has some endings tied, there is still a cliff-hanger at the end. I kinda like it...that hanging on the edge definitely has me waiting for the final book.

Happy reading this weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey all. Hope you are all are having a fantastic week. This week has had some bumps around here, but today I want to get out of that funk and count my blessings--because there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. We may have to dig a bit deeper some weeks, but God's blessings abound. So come on, let's start racking them up:)

Today I am thankful for:

~Good friends who make me laugh. I have been blessed with some seriously funny people in my life.

~That my children are all safe and healthy here at home. Even after a tough day with them all yesterday, I could tuck them in, pray over them, and kiss their warm little cheeks.

~That God partners with us in everything we do. I don't have to rely on my wisdom, I get to draw from an Infinite Source.

~That though my chicken turned out more like jerky last night, I still had a warm meal on the table.

~Edy's Slow-Churned Smores Ice Cream

I pray God showers you with blessings this week, my friends. You know the drill by now, share some here! I love to hear how He's working in others' lives, and it always makes me realize even more of the blessings in mine.

Have a great week!

Monday, October 8, 2012


So I have a secret crush...or maybe I'm simply coveting...not sure which it is yet, but I thought I'd share.

Here it goes: I am in love with Shane & Shane's music. Not the men. Though they are pretty cool with their guitars and all, I am so totally in love with Hubby that there's not room for another guy.

See, it all started a few years ago with their song "Yearn". I stopped when it came on. Pretty sure the Holy Spirit was woven through their lyrics and coming out through their voices. Yeah. It's that good. And I added it to my 'Favorites' list. Take a listen:

But then I kept hearing their songs. Each time they'd play I'd run to my iPod to click the little thumbs-up on Pandora and find "Oh, hey, it's Shane & Shane"!

And so my crush began. On their music. On the way the Holy Spirit breaths through the talent God has given them. I desired it! Even tried to recreate it. See this little guitar here, it's my daughter's. Let's just say that I cannot make that thing sound quite like they do with theirs. (I blame it on the difference in quality of guitars.) But that didn't stop me from having grand plans to drop into the back of these jam sessions with Shane & Shane and Phil Wickham. I totally could!

But I've come to realize something. While God loves hearing me praise (I've got love, so I'm no clanging gong) and the Holy Spirit resides in the sound of EVERYONE's praises, I'm not gifted with the talent of music. Not like these guys. That's because God's given me other talents. And rather than try to squeeze myself into one that isn't meant to fit me, I need to develop the talents He has given me.

And not be mad about the ones He hasn't.

The pretty neat thing though is when I started to give myself over to developing the talents He's given me--even when it does stretch me some (or a LOT, we're talking Gumby-Girl here)--is that the Holy Spirit began to breath through what I was doing, too. And THAT's what using our talents is all about. God's given them to us not simply to draw us closer to Him but to reach others THROUGH them. See? Pretty neat, huh?

So. I'll keep crushin' on Shane & Shane's music and rockin' my daughter's purple guitar here at home. Because I do love music and praising. But as for developing my talents, I think I'll stick to writing, because clearly it is NOT playing guitar;)

What about you? What's one talent you really admire in others that maybe you don't possess? And what is one talent God's given you that you're working on developing? And don't try and say nothing, because we ALL have talent - mothering, baking, taking care of other's, gardening, sewing, business,'ve got one, what is it? (And now, once you pin it down and share, go have some time with God and ask Him how He wants you to use that talent this week. Yep. That's right. I just gave you homework;) )

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Amberly by Mary Elizabeth Hall

Mary and I joined the ACFW Scribes group at the same time almost two years ago now (Scribes is the large critique group that ACFW manages where you submit your work for others to critique and give back suggestions). I remember when Mary gave her introduction to the group and I thought, "Well, I'm never going to do critiques with her because she's a WAY better writer than me." Honestly, I don't even remember what she said in that introduction to intimidate me, and I have a feeling it was more my insecurities than anything to do with her, but I'm sure God was chuckling at me.
My friend, Mary.

So I begin grabbing other people's work and critiquing for them until one day I stumbled across this little submission called Amberly. I started reading it before I realized who's it was and I was hooked! I had to go back and pull this author's older submissions so I could start at the beginning of the story. And that's when I realized I was reading Mary's stuff.  I emailed her and told her how much I enjoyed her story. I sent her my critique that I'd done. And our friendship was born. A few months later we even ended up in a small critique group together.  Yep. Never say never.

I've had the immense pleasure of reading Amberly since it's infancy. Through name changes. Through landscape changes. And even through ending changes. But one thing never changed. The heart of this story. Amberly is an epic saga. Truly. I cannot think of any other way to explain it. It sweeps you into another world and simply carries you away. And while Amberly is in another world, a world that Mary fully created, it still feels familiar.

Think Lord of the Rings meets Cinderella.  Battles between good and evil. Commoner falls for a King. Heart-stopping action and romance. I am in love with this book!

And there is a sequel coming.


Okay, so lemme give you the blurb:

In a world that might have been… Snatched by coldblooded enemies as a declaration of war, Eleanor Williamston finds herself caught in a deadly snare—miles from home and lost in the wilderness. Her heart is drawn to the handsome palace guardsman who rescues her, but she is torn when he challenges her political ideals—and then reveals something he’s kept hidden that will make her choice even more difficult. Marsten longs for a God-fearing wife, but cannot marry the lady he desires. The sassy young schoolteacher he rescues catches his eye, but he fears she’ll turn out to be like the beautiful women who’ve broken his trust in the past. Journey with them through the spectacular but treacherous Aspian Mountains while they evade enemy pursuit and wrestle through the challenges of wilderness and budding love, only to run headlong into Ellie’s anti-royalist family—and a whole new onslaught of foes.

You can buy an e-book format here or a soft or hardcover here. Either way you choose to read it, you'll love this book.

Happy reading and have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Good middle-of-the-week to you all! Hope it's going well. Ya'll know what Wednesdays mean around here, so let's get started!

This week I am so thankful for:

~FALL!!  September through December is my favorite time of the year! It takes until about right now for the colors to really start kicking in, so lately I've had some awesomely beautiful mornings around here. Truly God outdid Himself with the color palette when He created fall in Michigan. And He created all these colors simply to give us eye-candy. Yum!

~Slippers. Seriously. I will live in them for the next several months. Quite possibly because I like my house so  cold that I can cocoon myself in sweats, huge socks, and blankets to feel toasty warm.

~Best Sleeping Weather EVER!

~The doctors and nurses treating my father-in-law. We are half-way through his chemo treatment, and today we find out how well it's working. Of course we know our God is bigger than any chemo treatment out there, and THAT I'm truly thankful for.

~My town. I mean, where else can you live smack-dab in the middle of the movie Tangled? We let off 15,000 lanterns this past week as part of Art Prize, an annual art competition/festival we put on.

What are your blessings this week? Come on and count them with me:)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pronoun Replacement

So I went to the ACFW conference. And it was amazing. Uh-maz-ing! Not in the I-got-a-contract-and-will-be-published-next-month amazing, but in the God-was-so-totally-there amazing!

The rest of it—when it happens—will be pretty cool too. But I gotta tell you, nothing beats the presence of God.

And He was there. Every single moment of every single day.

Even when I stumbled.

See. Things were going great until Friday night. In fact, I had such peace I know it had to have been ticking satan off. My normal introvert ways were nowhere to be seen, and I didn’t even break a sweat with my first appointment with editors. So by Friday night, I think satan decided to hit me with a one-two punch. Insecurities started to flood in. Those small thoughts that magnify before you even know it.  It all started with one thought:

“I really messed up at lunch today.”


“I said the wrong thing to that woman.”
“I handed out the wrong sheet.”
”I stuck my foot in my mouth completely with that one.”
“I asked the wrong question.”
“I bet they don’t really like me.”

And on and on it went. I, I, I…until God leaned down and whispered:

“You’re using the wrong pronoun. Stop with the “I” and start with the “you”.

“You, God are good.”
“You, God, are holy.”
“You, God, have ordained my steps.”
“You, God, keep my mind in perfect peace.”
“You, God, are bigger than my mess-ups.”
And “You, God, LOVE ME!”

Because the truth of it is, I don’t want people seeing me. I want them to see Him. And sometimes He’s seen best in the grace of my mess-ups, because His power is made perfect in my weaknesses.

So I go up Saturday morning and headed down to the prayer room and put Him back at the center. I removed the word “I” and replaced it with “you” and was blown away by the things HE did that day.

What about you? Are you using that “I” word too much? I challenge you today to replace it with “you” and point back to His promises and truth. It’ll change your entire day.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call on you. Psalm 86:5

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Proof by Jordyn Redwood

While looking for a new thriller to read a couple of months back, I stumbled across this book. The fact that it was published by Kregel gave me a sense of security. A good suspense that would be clean. Intrigued, I picked it up and read through the first chapter, ready and willing to dig in. However, I was supposed to be doing other things and found I was laying those aside to read. So I put Proof down with a promise to pick it back up on my plane ride to ACFW as a reward for getting all my stuff prepared.

Only problem? It was on my Kindle. And somehow the nail-biting moments always coincided with that little announcement about turning off all electrical devices. REALLY? My Kindle? As if that's going to cause a problem.

I obeyed. Begrudgingly.

But every minute that I was allowed, I read Proof and I LOVED it! (did I already mention that?)

Now, I read a lot of suspense, and I watch a lot of suspense. I always have. So it's unusual for me to find one that stumps me as much as this book did. But Jordyn matched her medical background with her writing talent and created a well-carved story that keeps you on your toes. She even has the "bad-guy reveal" mid-way through the story and it only escalates the tension. Both the characters and the readers scratch their heads wondering HOW he got away with his crimes. 

Here's the back-cover blurb:

Dr. Lilly Reeves is a young, accomplished ER physician with her whole life ahead of her. But that life instantly changes when she becomes the fifth victim of a serial rapist. Believing it's the only way to recover her reputation and secure peace for herself, Lilly sets out to find--and punish--her assailant. Sporting a mysterious tattoo and unusually colored eyes, the rapist should be easy to identify. He even leaves what police would consider solid evidence. But when Lilly believes she has found him, DNA testing clears him as a suspect. How can she prove he is guilty, if science says he is not?

While the subject matter in Proof can at times create a hard read, Jordyn manages to weave her faith into the story in amazing ways. She gives her characters hope in the midst of difficult situations and delivers a thrilling ride to her readers. Just an FYI: This book is a bit on the edgier side of Christian Fiction, so if you mainly love sweet romances (here! here! I love those too!) then this may not be the book for you. But if you love suspense, mystery, or thrills, this is one you'll want to pick up.

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone! I can barely believe it's been a week. The ACFW conference was amazing. With so many wonderful things offered, I completely lost track of what day it was or what hour for that matter. I'm still attempting to catch-up:)

It is Wednesday though, so time to put the catching-up on hold and count some blessings. I hope you're with me!

Today I am beyond thankful for:

~The amazing people who put in hours upon hours to produce the ACFW conference. It truly was a major blessing in my life.

~The new friends I made, the old friends I got to chat with, and the internet friends I finally got to meet!

~God's daily presence. Seriously. He didn't need to leave us the Holy Spirit, but He DID! It's because He loves us and desires to be with us. I so love His love.

~Brussel sprouts. Just because I like them:)

Our engagement photo - had to
dig deep to find this baby! 
~And Hubby. Today is our anniversary - FIFTEEN YEARS!  And we're still as in love as we were way back before we'd even admit it:)  Hubby's blessed me with his unconditional love and amazing friendship, and I thank God for him daily.

Come on now, your turn! Share the blessings your week has brought. I know for some you're bubbling over with them, others may be at a point where you have to dig for them. But they're there. Close your eyes and ask God to bring them to your mind. He will. I promise.

Praying you feel God's presence in a real and tangible way this week, friends!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Okay. This Wednesday is a little crazy as I'm getting ready for conference. But I couldn't leave without raising a little praise first. Normally I'd get a little nervous before doing something so BEYOND my comfort zone as this conference is, but God is BEYOND faithful and good, and I think He's got me covered. So, today I'm thankful for:

-God's perfect peace

-The amazing rainbow I saw last night!

-The color yellow

-The comfy feeling of being toasty-warm when it's cold and windy outside.

-Apples...especially when they're combined with cinnamon and sugar and baked in, well, anything,  or when they're used to make Caramel Apple Cider...oh pure yumminess!

Blessings my friends. I'll be gone from here until next Wednesday. Praying wonderful things for you while I'm gone and looking forward to filling you all in once I'm back. I'd love to hear some of your blessings this week, so please share!

Monday, September 17, 2012

He Loves You, He Really Loves You!

I was doing one of my most hated favorite things in the world last week—laundry—when God dropped by. Now, I gotta say, God’s presence is always around in my house. I invite Him in every morning over coffee. We have a sweet, sweet time, and I’m completely in love with Him. But this mid-morning, He gave me a glimpse of how much He completely loves me.

And I needed nearly an entire box of Kleenex.

See, all too often I spend my mornings with God,  and I pour out my heart to Him. He is the best listener and wisest counsel I have ever met. These past two years have been an amazing growing period in our relationship as I’ve allowed Him to stretch me in many, many ways. Each morning (okay, nearly each morning, some days my pillow still wins out) I’d get up and find a place to simply talk to Him. Seek out what step He wanted me to take next and do my best to take it. At times I’d pray the same prayer for weeks, just waiting. Other times I’d feel a quickening in my spirit to “leap now”. I was so focused on obedience that I never really stopped to soak in what was happening.

God did though.

And as I sat there doing my laundry last week, He decided to speak to me.

He’d been watching. He’d seen. And He was pleased. Beyond pleased. He was so totally, completely in love with me. See, I KNEW I was in love with Him, and I know He loves me, but when he pulled back that veil and let that love fall on me, it became more than a head-knowledge. It was like my own personal Sally Field's moment, only better.

You like me, You really like me! No….you LOVE me!

As He hugged me, He went down this list of “when you did this…I saw…and I was pleased. And when you did this…I saw…and I was pleased…you are precious to me…”

It's so fluffy!!
I felt squished by His love. He picked me up right where I was and loved me. (Remember Agnes from Despicable Me? Yeah. I felt like that unicorn she gets.) 

Someone out there today needs to hear this, because in life two things typically happen. You're focused on the work, too busy to stop and notice that God is completely in love with you. OR you only see your mistakes, too wrapped in your guilt and mess-ups to allow yourself to see God is head-over-heels, beyond crazy in love with you.

But He is.

And not just in a read-in-a-book, keep-in-your-head, untouchable sort of way.

But in a real, living-breathing, wrap-His-arms-around you, knock-your-socks-off kind of way.

You need to know--God sees you. He IS watching. He sees the steps you’re taking. Yes, sometimes those steps are more like stumbles (been there, done that, pretty sure I’ll go back), but He SEES how you’re trying. How your heart is focused on simple obedience, and He is so, SO pleased with you.

And He loves you with a love that is beyond anything you can imagine. It's beyond anything you can do or have done. It's a love that exists simply because you are His...

I pray you’re squished by His love today:)

Friday, September 14, 2012

DVD Shelf Friday - North & South

I've finally done it - I watched North & South! If you remember, back this summer I admitted to mixing up North & South and Downtown Abbey. Never again will that happen! While I have finished season one of DA, I still can't say I'm in love with it. The same cannot be said about North & South though. Not even possible.

After writing and editing for twelve hours straight one Saturday, I needed a little inspiration-filler-up, so I fired up my Netflix and settled in to watch the first part of the four-part miniseries.

I was only going to watch just the one.

Nearly four hours later I had a giddy smile on my face and tears in my eyes.


If you haven't seen it - you'll want to. Each character intrigued me. The entire story line pulled me in. And Mr. Thornton? Yeah. If you like Mr. Darcy, you're gonna love Mr. Thornton. And the last scene at the train station...I still sigh. Seriously. Watch it. It's the weekend. You can spare an hour...or four...right?

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Good morning, friends. It's Wednesday, and can I say this week is moving so fast I nearly missed that fact! God's good though, He made sure to wake me this morning and get me let's count some blessings:)

Today I am so thankful for:

~My body. I Zumba'd this, I am not graceful, I'm completely uncoordinated, my knees hurt and so does my back...oh we all have things we can pick on--don't even get me started on my list that I see when I look in the mirror! BUT I'm working on changing this. Because we get to choose our attitudes, don't we? So I"m thankful today that I can move. I have all four limbs and they all work. And so does my laughter...and laughter is a great thing.

~Help from my dad who came over and tore the roof off our shed to fix it for us. HUGE blessing!

~peach tea

~cool, fall nights for perfect sleeping weather

~God's love. And I'm talking about those moments where He overpowers you with it. Reaches out and encompasses you with it. Gives you just a glimpse of how much He LOVES you, and you end up a blubbery mess. If you've never felt God's amazing love for YOU, ask Him to show you today, because it's the BIGGEST blessing of all:)

What blessings are you thankful for today?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Games We Play - Follow the Leader

In the last few weeks I’ve talked about Games We Play: Tag and Hide and Seek. Today I want to talk about Follow the Leader.

We all know how to play this game, right? You line up behind one person and follow them wherever they may go. Not only do you follow them, but you mimic them. This game has the potential to produce a lot of giggles…or a few tears.

It's really no different in our life walk. Except the game has higher stakes. We need to be incredibly careful who we are following. If we choose the wrong person, we’ll end up in places we never wanted to be, and quite possibly as a person we don’t want to be. I don’t know about you, but when I’m being an angry, grumpy mom, I don’t exactly like myself. Which is just one reason I need to choose Christ as my leader, because if I’m mimicking Him, here’s some of what I’ll get:

Slow to anger (Psalm 86:15)
Filled with joy (John 15:11)
Peace & kindness (Galatians 5:22)

Those are not qualities I possess when I follow my flesh.

See, in all areas of our lives—every nook & cranny—we need to be following Christ. We have addictions, mouths that run off, thoughts that shouldn’t be there, people that rub us the wrong way, insecurities…you name it, we have it. But when we’re following Him, we begin to take on His qualities. Not only that, but He leads us through our problems, all the while showing us not only the path to take but how to tackle it (and all our issues along the way).  Because in Christ we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)

And what a testimony we create along the way.

Which is good, too, because we always have someone watching, don’t we? Kids. Co-workers. Friends...Strangers. When they look at me, I want them to see the One I’m following.

This hit home with me recently when I watched an episode of 19 Kids and Counting. I can’t say I watch it often, but this was one episode I caught. I’d actually watched it before, and they were replaying it. Hubby got up and left the room, but I stayed to re-watch. See. This episode impacted me. It was the one where they lost their latest pregnancy. If you haven’t seen it, you should, because it’s an amazing picture of faith. Like, faith that I want to possess when I grow up. Just grab a box of Kleenex if you do watch it.

The line that most impacted me was uttered by Michelle as she did her voice-over for the funeral:
“A multitude of emotions at that moment; gratefulness, gratitude, sorrow, grief. Not understanding now, but knowing that soon I’ll see face to face and I’ll understand later…”

Wow. I mean, I stopped. She said those words in the midst of her grief. That’s faith—blind faith. Not knowing now, yet still following. Understanding that your answer will not come, but trusting that God is still good…and still waiting on Him. Throughout the entire episode she repeated verses she’d learned, at some moments they are the only words she had. She hadn’t just learned these verses, she imprinted them on her heart. She wasn’t just looking to her Savior, she was following Him, even when the path was laid with pain.

And that’s what I want.

To follow the One who will lead me through anything my life may encounter so when others see me, they actually see the One who's leading me.

Who are you following today?

When Jesus spoke again to the people , he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)