Friday, June 29, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Brave a Bible Study by Angela Thomas

I mentioned earlier this week that I was doing a Bible Study at my church called Brave, so I thought I'd use it for this week's Bookshelf.

Brave--Honest Questions Women Ask...this Bible Study is all about seeking more. Going beyond your every day life and pushing for more. Asking for more. Choosing more. But to get there, you first need to be honest about where you are.
(yeah, I know, tough one. But needed to grow, right?)

The study is broken up into six weeks titled: I Am Worn Out, I Am Suffering a Thorn, I Am Undisciplined, I Am Trembling Inside, I Am Invisible, I Am Broken.

And, can I just admit, last week was I Am Undisciplined and I didn't make it through all my homework. I was still loved and accepted by the ladies at my table:) This week we're working on trembling, and I have to share what I read:

From the circle of my fears, I have many times stood paralyzed in the middle when God was calling me to the edge. I have settled for safe even though God called, "Jump into My arms; I have you!" I have allowed for mediocre when I knew God wanted excellence.

Oh why do we settle for mediocre when God's designed us for excellence? I don't want to stop there, stuck in the middle (ha, now I"m singing, 'Stuck in the Middle With You'), paralyzed...we need to jump for Him. He's really great at catching:)

I gotta say, this has been a great study. I know some of you ladies from church read my blog, and if you haven't attended yet--JUMP IN! There's always room for more. And for anyone else who's interested, this study is through LifeWay. You can purchase the book and then download the teaching videos at

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Anyone doing any early 4th of July celebrating? We're all cramming like sardines into my family's cottage on a lake, letting the kids play, eating some hobo pies and smores, and trying to stay cool in this hot weather for us Northerners' standards:) What's on your agenda?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blessing Wednesday / Word Wednesday

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but we are experiencing some beautiful--and hot--weather up here in the North. It's making for a fantastic summer.

So, today I am blessed by:
~The fact I live by a lake. Well. Lotsa lakes. But one REALLY big one called Lake Michigan:) It's a blessing easily taken for granted when you've grown up here, but isn't it pretty?


~water balloons


~sun tan lotion. I have two colors - white or red, just depends on if I've put it on or not:)

What blessings are you counting today? Look around, then share!

And for those memorizing with me, it's the last week for learning this verse. Keep on going!

Don't be afraid for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Praying for showers of blessings for you today:)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Receiving Rest

I’ve recently started a Bible study at my church called Brave, and the very first week was titled ‘I Am Worn Out’.  Uh, yeah, that’s me. And while I knew I was physically tired, I didn’t realize I was spiritually worn out too.

Or maybe I did. But I didn’t know what to do about it.

Good thing God’s got it covered.

On day four of the study, Matthew 11:28 was written in the margin. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  I’ve read this verse many, many times and always applied it to my physical weariness and rest, but I never really thought about the burdened part. This time it stood out to me, resonated with my tired soul. See, I’d been holding onto things and picking up even more that I shouldn’t have. And I know I can’t be the only one who does this. And while I did a lot of studying on this verse that I’d love to share another time, today I only want to share my immediate response to these simple words.

I was reminded of when my husband and I moved years ago. We had boxes and boxes of books that were incredibly heavy and I struggled carrying them. I remember the relief my muscles felt when Hubby would take a box from me. I didn’t fight him on it, I happily relinquished my hold to him. And that’s what God’s asking to do for us.

Much like those boxes of books, we carry burdens, and they can tire our spiritual muscles out. But God says, “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” See, He’s asking to carry the load for us. But for Him to do that, we must first do two things

For starters, we have to come to Him. No more trying on our own. And He’s not going to chase us down. He’s calling out for our tired bodies and spirits to seek Him out. That part is pretty clear with the “come to me” directive.

But it’s the second part we sometimes miss. God says “and I will give you rest”. He’s got it there, waiting for us. Yet, the very act of giving demands the action of receiving. God can hold His hands out all day long, ready to relieve our spiritual muscles, but we must surrender the hold on our burden to Him and receive His rest.

Believe me, I know how hard that is to do. Allowing the burden out of our arms, letting it loose in essence—removing all control…oh so hard for this control-loving gal—so that with our empty arms we can grab onto His rest. Yet until we do, we cannot receive His rest.

Remember. His shoulders are bigger. His muscles far stronger. And He never grows weak or tired. Even “God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” (I Corinthians 1:25) So whatever is weighing you down today, hand it over to Him right now and receive the rest He’s waiting to give you.

What have you got to lose besides some tired muscles? 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Trauma Plan by Candace Calvert

If you loved ER back in the day, or even like Grey's Anatomy (minus all the melodrama), then I highly recommend Candace Calvert. I've read several books by her, and Trauma Plan is her latest release. As usual, Candace delivers romance, a little mystery, and a lot of healing all in the midst of an ER--and this time she adds a medical clinic into her scenery.

Here's a short blurb:
Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to her former duties as an ER nurse. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart.

I really liked Riley in this...maybe because I could identify with her struggle over trusting God's plan when it's so different from your own. Do you still love Him even when His answer isn't immediate? And even if it's not the "yes" you're looking for? Candace didn't hand out any easy answers in this book, and because of that I think I enjoyed it even more.

I also loved Bandy and Hobo, the old rodeo clown and his dog-on-wheels, who drove the heart of this story at times. I mean, who doesn't love a rodeo clown?

While Candace has her books set into series, they are all stand alone titles. If you've never read anything by her, Trauma Plan is a great place to start. And FYI - if you're on Amazon Prime you can read her Mercy Hospital series for free!

Happy reading and have a blessed weekend:)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blessing Wednesday / Word Wednesday

So ready to focus on my's been a long week and I'm choosing joy right now! 

This week I'm thankful for:

~Fathers. I have been so blessed with wonderful fathers in my life. Dad. Dad-in-law. And Hubby:) I am so very, very thankful for all three of them.

~The heat!

~Air Conditioning!

~My kids laughing together and loving each other. Seriously. They even asked to sleep in each others' rooms. LOVE seeing the three of them discover the blessing of each other. It blesses this mama hugely!

~Prayer warriors. I love that the body of Christ prays for one another. And that God hears those prayers.

What are you thankful for today? I'd love to hear...

And for anyone working at memorizing Scripture, here's our next verse for June:

Don't be afraid for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Have a blessed Wednesday, friends!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Faith, Not Senses

I was recently reading a section of Acts where Stephen recounts what we now call the Old Testament. Stephen summed up all the major plot points and kept it short. I was marveling at what appeared his natural ability to give a summary when something stopped me. It was one line about the Israelites and that golden calf:

“They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made.” Acts 7:41

What their hands had made…

Wow. They’d just been freed from over 400 years of captivity. And not just freed but witness to some of the most amazing miracles God has ever performed. Like parting an entire sea.

Once they left Egypt, they actually saw God’s glory…it led them in a cloud by day and fire by night. His presence was visible.

And He dropped manna from the sky. And quail. And made water come from a rock.

Yet in their first instance of waiting without the visible, they turned back to themselves.

See, God called Moses up to Mount Sinai, and Moses was God’s mouthpiece for them. They knew he would come back with a Word from God. What they didn’t know was how long it would take—because God didn’t tell them.

In the end, Moses was gone forty days. Forty days. That was all it took to shake their faith.

For forty days they were at the base of the mountain, and while they could see the cloud covering the mountain top, they couldn’t see or hear God at work. They had no clue what God was doing. And it was taking longer than they’d thought it should (don’t you love how we put time limits on a timeless God? He’s not bound by time…yet we constantly try to tie Him to it). So in the absence of God’s visible and tangible presence, they took matters into their own hands and made something they could see and touch.

Oh, I am so an Israelite. I mean, how easy is it to follow God when He’s moving and we can see results? When we haven’t even finished our prayer and the answer is delivered? I love those days when my manna falls from the sky. When God’s presence is blowing me over, and He’s parting my Red Sea. But when He’s up Mount Sinai and I'm down below? Not to mention I’ve waited way past my forty-day limit.

My hands itch to take things into my control. To make my own golden calf—just so I have my answer. Waiting is so hard…and what if He’s not working? What if He’s not coming back?

Here’s the kicker. Faith has nothing to do with what we see, hear, feel, taste, or even smell. It’s what we know. What we believe. What we cling to when our senses scream at us to give up hope. Because faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Whatever mountain you’re sitting at the base of today, have faith. He is there, working. You may have waited much longer than forty days, but know this…He hasn’t abandoned you. Take those hands reaching to take control, throw them in the air, and begin to praise Him—and trust Him to finish the work He’s started in you.

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Love on the Line

To all of you who've already read this--it was as good as you said it was.

To all of you still waiting to read it--pick it up!

Here's a short blurb:

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though.  He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers.  Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do.  But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

It took me until about chapter four to get into this book, but it's at chapter four that Luke and Georgie officially meet, and with that explosive moment I was hooked. They didn't exactly fall in love at first site:) But it was how they learned to love, respect, and care for one another despite their differences that pulled me in.

I also loved the amount of research Deeanne did, not only to her location but into her characters lives. I truly felt like I was living in Texas in the early 1900's, learning to watch birds, working a telephone switchboard, and attending the Maifest. The more I read, the more this book came alive.

So, if you're in need of a little summer vacation--time warp style--pick up Deeanne's Love on a Line, sit back, and enjoy:)

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blessing Wednesday / Word Wednesday

Hey all,

First off, Michelle, you're the winner! I know many of you started memorizing Scripture this past month, and Michelle is the first winner. Michelle has a sweet little blog called Sweet Treats & Inspiration...if you haven't ever visited, go now:) It's full of music, books, encouragement, and even a recipe or two. Michelle, take a look at all the books on my Bookshelf  (check out Bookshelf Friday under the Categories on my sidebar) and pick the one you want. Then contact me with your address so I can get the book and a small package out to you. Great job at the memorization! And the rest of you keep memorizing because I'll be pulling a name again after June.

For a refresher, here's our current verse. Next week I'll post the second one for June:
Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

And it's Wednesday! So let's count those blessings:)

This week I'm totally blessed by:
~Finding a new game to play today with my BFF and our kids. Anyone heard of GaGa ball? Serious fun...and such a simple game. Laughter, exercise, and competition all in one place! Added joy--I was the GaGa ball champ. Oh...the simple things:)
~The sales I made, and the deals I found at our used bookstore sale for home school curriculum.
~All the athletes and volunteers I ran into on Sunday (if you missed my Monday blog, check it out here).
~Finally breaking through my writing rut and nailing down 6000 words in two days.
~God's gift of grace and patience.

Blessings you guys ~ share some ~ and I hope your week is going great!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hands, Feet, and a Little Gatorade

So Sundays are typically the day I like to write my Monday blog post on. We have a quiet afternoon, and I can sit, listen to my music, delve into the Word and write. That's relaxation for me.

Today...not so much:)

But it was oh-so-much-fun!
I had to wait for a slow moment to take this.
We had 1200 athletes on the course today...
that's a lot of Dixie Cups:)

Awesome Volunteers!
I've mentioned before how Hubby likes to do triathlons, and after running his Wisconsin IronMan, he got involved in putting triathlons on in our area. So I spent this Sunday helping him by heading up an Aid Station on the run course. What a blast. We got to serve all these crazy people athletes in the 95+ degree heat. Truly being hands and feet for them as we ran beside them (only a few feet--not the miles upon miles they did) handing out water, ice, Gatorade, and lots and lots of smiles and cheers. We provided drinks and encouragement--and I'm pretty sure at the end of the day we volunteers at the Aid Station were more blessed than the runners.

Isn't that how helping typically is?

This year my twelve year old
handed out water--next
year he wants to run it...
This week I challenge you to find a place where you can hand out some cool water and to speak:)

Warning: Do not enlarge this photo!
After 8 hours in the heat, I think I
"glistened" more than any athlete
out there!
And now, I'm going to bed!

Whoever brings blessings will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25
(this was my verse today! :) )

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Loving Liza Jane by Sharlene MacLaren

Well, Blogger and I aren't getting along so well this morning! I've written this post and it's deleted it several while I grab another cup of coffee, lemme see if I can just get a small review out:

Loving Liza Jane was a great book! And it's free on Kindle right BONUS!  Here's a short blurb:

When Liza Jane Merriwether rode into the town of Little Hickman Creek, her first thought was, "Oh, Lord, what have I done?" Kentucky was much different than what she was used to back East, but she knew God had led her here for a reason. Soon, the new schoolteacher is beloved by all–including Benjamin Broughton, a handsome widower with two young children. Despite his protectiveness and the fact that Ben has rescued Liza from several scrapes, her contract implicitly states that she is to have "no improper contact with the opposite sex." Liza has a lot to learn about God and His plan for her life.

Sharlene does a wonderful job with her characters. Liza is incredibly stubborn and determined to be the best teacher Little Hickman Creek has ever seen--a difficult task as the children have run off the last three teachers before her. And Ben is determined to love equally difficult task as he hadn't planned on falling in love again. But when he does, he does it with his entire heart.

I'm not sure how long it will still be free for, so pick it up while you can. Then find yourself a comfy spot outside and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blessing Wednesday / Word Wednesday / Amanda Update

Busy day today:) Got your cup of coffee? Ready to go?

First, the Word:

So, today is the last day for your Scripture memorization of the month...We've worked on two verses, and I"d love to know who's memorized them. If you have them learned, please leave me a comment sometime before Saturday at 11:59 p.m. Then I'll pull a name Sunday (well, a computer generated pully-thing will) and let you know Monday who wins a little something. No, you don't have to be able to say it without tripping up--but know where it's found and the heart of what it says. Yes, you can use whatever translation you'd like. No, you don't have to be a follower. No, you don't have to leave your contact info in your comment, just your name--come back on Monday and if you won, we'll get in touch:) And no, I'm not going to call and ask you to spout off the verses--I'm trusting you here! All you gotta do is leave me a comment saying you participated and have committed these two verses to memory (even if you've got them on a reference card too).  I am so on-fire about learning God's Word, keeping our swords sharpened and's so much easier than we think...that I want you all to be doing this!

Here are the verses:
All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine! Isaiah 43:1

And for our next two weeks, here's the verse:
Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Update on Amanda:

Yes, it's a bit hard to see--but do you see where they're at? A girl's gotta have her coffee:) And do you see her smile? Look closely people--because that is the smile we were praying for last week! Her leg and ankle are doing better also--no more need for a brace! Amanda is blowing the doctors away! Our prayer for this week? Her left hand. Praying life back into it! Amen and Amen! (yes, I know, a lot of exclamation points in this section, but there are times to SHOUT and this is one of them!!!)

Counting Those Blessings:
And, of course, it wouldn't be Wednesday if we didn't spend some time counting our blessings. Come join me:)
~My back deck and the comfy chair there. It's given me an extra place to work and be inspired:)
~My bike. The kids and I have been biking everywhere this week.
~That my son's team won their baseball game this past week - and he had two great hits! It's been a long Spring of games and these kids have kept up a great moral, but they needed that win! It blessed this mom's heart:)
~the color blue
~that my Bible was still sitting on the pew I accidentally left it on. Seriously. How can I forget my Bible? Luckily God knew right where it was--and reminded me:)

Can't wait to hear what you're thankful for, and don't forget to comment if you've been learning your verses!
Blessings all:)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Easy as Spreading Peanut Butter

So this past week my six-year-old daughter, who’s eating me out of house and home, decided she’d make herself a peanut butter sandwich. I was busy getting dinner started and watched her from the corner of my eye. Everything went fine until she had to spread the peanut butter across the bread. It wasn’t working so well for her—but she refused to ask for help. Finally I came over and took the knife from her and smoothly spread a layer of peanut butter onto her bread. Her big blue eyes looked up at me all wide, her voice a mere breath, “Wow.  How do you do that?” Then she took her PB sandwich and off she went. I stood there thinking if only my kids problems were always as easy to solve as spreading peanut butter.

See, I worry about my kids. Yes, I know we aren’t suppose to worry, but it is a battle I’ll wage as long as I’m a parent. And oh, can I relate to their struggles. My oldest is a boy—thank the Lord for that! My middle is a girl, and at nine-years-old she’s already struggling with all things girl. Growing up a girl is hard…can I get an ‘amen’! As I watch them encounter issues I never had to deal with at that age, I struggle over how to walk them through it. Am I giving them the right advice? Am I truly wise enough to parent them? Am I enforcing the correct rules in this area but loosening up the reigns where needed? Or…am I completely screwing them up?

You know we’ve all wondered that.

And you know what, it's not just with kids.

I worry about messing up my purpose—the very thing He created me for. I wrestle with what my next step is, where I’m supposed to go, what I’m supposed to do. I stand there struggling and all the while, He’s watching me…waiting for me to hand it over. And when I do?

Come on, you know what happens, because I’m sure I’m not the only one here. When we finally cease struggling and ask Him for help, what happens? (Besides wondering why we didn't do that earlier?)

He fixes it. Untangles the knots. Makes sense out of our chaos. Because while our struggles sometimes seem too big for us, for Him they're as easy as spreading peanut butter.

To which we reply, “Wow! How do you do that?”

So I’m not sure where you’re at today—needing help with your kids, marriage, friends, or even your next step in life. But I am sure that wherever it is, He’s waiting to help you out on it. All you need to do is ask.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Chameleon by Jillian Kent

Chameleon is the second book in The Ravensmoore Chronicles by Jillian Kent, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Within the first few pages you're smack-dab in the middle of a mystery, one that comes to quite a unique end. While I would, at times, have liked the story to move at a slightly faster pace--and I think that's more my personality than anything to do with the author--Jillian did a masterful job of drawing you into the early 1800's and the lives of her characters. I especially loved watching the interplay between Victoria and her older brother, Lord Devlin Ravensmoore (told you siblings get me!) and I smiled each time he called her Snoop. So tender and cute.

Here's a quick blurb:

Lady Victoria Grayson has always considered herself a keen observer of human behavior. After battling a chronic childhood illness that kept her homebound for years, she journeys to London determined to have the adventure of a lifetime.

Jaded by his wartime profession as a spy, Lord Witt understands, more than most, that everyone is not always who they pretend to be. He meets Victoria after the Regent requests an investigation into the activities of her physician brother, Lord Ravensmoore.

Witt and Victoria become increasingly entangled in a plot targeting the lords of Parliament. Victoria is forced to question how well she knows those close to her while challenging Witt’s cynical nature and doubts about God. Together they must confront their pasts in order to solve a mystery that could devastate their future.

While this is the second in a series, it can stand alone. The relationship between Witt and Victoria grows slowly throughout, and though I would have liked to learn more about Witt, he makes a wonderful leading man. Between falling in love with him and helping to solve the mystery that plagues both her brother and Witt, Victoria finally gets the adventure she's always longed for. So, if you love Historical Romance with a suspenseful twist, then I think this is one you'll enjoy.

Happy reading!