Monday, January 30, 2012

His Hand

Psalm 37:23-24
The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 94:18
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.

Psalm 121:2-4
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

After the third passage, I began to think maybe God had a theme He wanted to share with me this week.

Life can get crazy. It can feel insecure, and the ground beneath us can crumble. In a breathe, we can loose our footing and slip. But every time—every time—He is there. In the midst of our craziness, He steadies us. With His strength, He catches us. Though we stumble, He will not let us fall. Wow. Talk about security. What else in life can provide that?

I’m not sure where you are today, but know He’s holding you firmly and tightly in His grasp and He won’t let go.


Garrett Walker's "Saving Grace"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Wow. Just assigned a history report to my son. He has to make a list of inventions that have happened in the last few hundred years, pick one, and write about the impact it's had on his life. Suddenly I was very thankful for:

1. Running water. When I'm thirsty, I only need to lift a handle. And it's clean. Amazingly, some places in the world still don't have this luxury.

2. Indoor plumbing. I live in Michigan. It's winter. Nuff said.

3. Electricity. Keeps me cool in summer, warm in winter. Let's me read till 1 in the morning and brews my coffee the next morning to help me wake up. Loving this one.

4. Washing Machine. Don't even want to imagine lugging my unmentionables down to the river each week...

5. Stove. I set marshmallows aflame and char hot dogs all summer long. So glad I don't have to cook over an open fire regularly.

One thing that stood out to me as I made this list is I'm not simply blessed to live in a time period after these things were invented, but in a home that has them. Not everyone is afforded these luxuries which to us are everyday common items. So today, when I tackle my Mount Laundry, I'm going to try and complain a little less. Because when I really look around me, this list grows and grows.

Okay, your turn. What invention are you most thankful for?

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Word

As this year began, I watched several of my blogging friends reveal words for the year rather than making resolutions. Their intent was to study the word God gave them throughout the year, pray over it and see what He wanted to do in that area of their lives. I was completely intrigued by this, and encouraged by the challenge they threw out. So I decided to pick a word too.

I knew God was already working on my focus of blessings this year. Training me to focus on blessings rather than problems. Pushing me to see how I could be a blessing to people around me. I decided ‘Blessings’ would be a great word for the year.

Until God nudged me. Reminded me that He was supposed to give the word, not have me pick it.

So I started to pray again. God was working on another area of my life, one He’s been shaping for over a year now—having courage. Stepping out when He calls. Shedding my “what-ifs.” I decided ‘Fearless” was the perfect word.

And I got nudged again. “Hands off” is pretty much what I was told. To which I replied, “Um…are you looking at a calendar here? Everyone else has their word. You know, the one for 2012—the year that’s already started? So, where’s mine?”

He was silent. Don’t you love it when He does that?

Now, I’d told a friend that I tend to be a late bloomer. Things for me don’t always happen at the same time as they do for others—especially when we’re talking about God. But can I admit something? I hate being late. Hate it as in I freak out. Ask my kids. I am cool and calm unless we are running behind. Then I turn into a screaming drill sergeant. Yeah, I’m working on it. But that’s another post.

So I sat, tapping my fingers on God’s counter, very impatiently waiting for my word. And I waited. And waited.

It was while I was waiting that I felt God looking at me. A gentle smile. Eyebrows raised. Almost like I was missing something. I raised my brows back. Shrugged. Completely missing what was so obvious. And because He loves me, He leaned down and whispered:

Time.

Hmmm...it promises to be an interesting year. And just like I was challenged, I hope to challenge you. You may be a bit late to the game, like me, but that doesn't mean you can't join. Pray over what God wants you to learn this year. Pray over where He wants you to grow. I'd love to hear what He whispers to you-whether it's one word or a whole paragraph:) And if you've already started down the path for 2012, how has it been going? Are you digging in or already finding bumps in the road? Which ever it is, I hope you put a mark on the wall today and keep checking back on it to see how far He grows you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Breathless


Okay, jumping up and down again today. I've had the privilege this year of watching several of my critique partners get published. ACFW grows some really great writers! If you are a writer and want to polish your craft--join them!

Now, onto the book.

I missed out on critiquing Breathless, but happily found myself critiquing the sequel that Kathy recently signed a contract for. So, when Breathless released I snapped it up to discover Matthew and Lydia's story. Kathy's writing is tight and face paced, her story full of highs and lows as we walk with Lydia through sorrow, fear, and healing. And I love how unique she made Matthew--definitely not your typically pastor! If you enjoy Romantic Suspense, you'll want to read Breathless.

Here's a short blurb:

Lydia Frederickson is afraid to answer her telephone. Widowed and alone, she only wants to get through another anniversary of her husband’s death without falling to pieces, but a stalker isn’t making that goal easy. The disturbing calls are becoming increasingly personal and threatening, and everyone who knows her is suspect. The only person she knows isn’t making the calls is her new ponytailed, tattooed—and breathtakingly handsome— minister, Matthew Winters.

Former narcotics agent-turned-minister Matthew Winters knows he’s not what the town expected in their new pastor, but he’s up for the challenge. What he doesn’t expect is the sudden attraction he feels for parishioner Lydia Frederickson. When he discovers she’s the victim of a stalker, he feels God’s intervention has led him—both a cop and a preacher—to her. Matthew knows he’s falling for the beautiful widow, but a secret from his past may undermine their future.

Breathless is available in e-book format. Or check out Kathy's site for a signed print copy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blessing Wednesday


After a very green beginning to winter, we're finally receiving our snow! Isn't it beautiful? We had snow all weekend long, melted on Monday, and came back today with a vengeance--rain, snow, sleet and all. So, with the weather outside these past few days, here's the blessings I've been counting:

1- A roof over my head-and while I'm at it, a roof over my car, too.

2-Heat in my vents.

3-My very fuzzy blanket that my kids made me. It warms my heart and my toes when I use it! Especially because they made sure it was long enough to cover my toes:)

4-Corn bags. Hubby's grandma always made corn bags. These little fabric bags that she'd sew up and put dried corn inside. You pop them in the microwave, and they stay warm for forever! Hubby and I fight over them. You can also do this with rice, but the smell of the corn reminds us of her:)

5-The beauty of this season. Every morning I wake up and am reminded how God promises us that "though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow." (Isaiah 1:18)

What kind of weather are you experiencing this winter? Do you have special blessings it makes you think of?/div>

Monday, January 16, 2012

Skinny Jean Christians


So I went shopping recently with my Christmas money. See, as a homeschooling mom, jeans, t-shirts and comfy sweaters have become my best friends. But I figured it was time to update a little and get some snazzy new clothes for when Hubby takes me on a date. I decided to check out skinny jeans.

***gasp*** I know. It’s like the winter time equivalent to swim suit shopping. But I pressed on.

After several stores, I ended up at one with a very helpful saleslady. They had something there called Modern Skinny jeans…just saying it makes me feel hip. I told her the size I wanted to try them in, and she happily retrieved them—and they were BIG on me! Oh happy day!:) She went to retrieve another size and returned with an eight. I tried not to laugh at her, truly I did. Um…I am not a size eight. She assured me I should try them and for some odd reason, I did.

They fit!

And of course, I bought them.

They were a size eight.

Okay. How smart of this store is that? They made me feel good. I could call myself an ‘eight’ even though I’m not. After all, the tag I’m wearing proves it. So there.

And while this is great marketing…it’s not the truth.

My concern is there are a lot of Skinny Jean Christians out there today. People who have been sold a truth that isn’t really the Truth because someone wanted to make it palatable to them.

Hmm…kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? Do we ever compromise because we believe it will sell God better? Or do we tell the Truth and let His grace speak?



I looked up the word ‘truth’ in the Bible simply to see what I’d find. You know where it’s used most often? It’s used when Jesus speaks. Over and over and over again He begins with, “I tell you the truth…” Now, that truth wasn’t always an easy one to hear, but He never once shied away from it.

And He doesn’t want us to.

Listen as He prays to His father just before He’s betrayed and crucified: (taken from John 17)

13 “Now I am coming to you [God]. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. 20 I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.

He knew God’s Word was truth. He knew His truth would make us holy. And He sent us into the world to tell that truth—knowing it could also make us hated. But you know what I find so neat? He prayed for us. Not only for God to teach us His truth so we could take it to the world. But also for our safety. Isn’t He awesome?


See, we don’t need to change Christ to get people to buy Him. He’s already the perfect product, and His one size fits all. Oh, we may at times need to change ourselves to be better sales reps, but never the One we’re selling. And when you sell the real deal, they’ll always be satisfied with it.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:14

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Firethorn by Ronie Kendig

Ever been on Rockin’ Rollercoaster at Disney’s MGM park? If you have, you’ll know what to expect from Firethorn. If you haven’t, you’ll feel like it once you’ve finished this book.

Out of the chute at sixty mph, twists and turns in the dark, Firethorn begins with a bang and doesn’t let up. Nothing is off limits in this book. Not the men we’ve gotten to know, their families, or the people they meet along the way. Firethorn takes you across the globe and into multiple character’s minds, never releasing the adrenaline rush that starts at the beginning, wrapping it all with suspense, thrills and romance—yep, this book’s got heart. And it’s why I loved it. Why I love Ronie Kendig’s books.

Firethorn is the last in the Discarded Heroes series, and while I am immensely sad to see these guys go, all good things must come to an end. It’s always hard to let go of a series that pulls you in as deeply as this one did, but Ronie has done it well. A tear, a smile, a satisfied sigh as I closed the last page, this series will remain on my bookshelf for years to come.

If you haven’t read Discarded Heroes, you definitely don’t have to start at book one, but you’ll be cheating yourself out of one giant ride if you don’t. Nightshade is where it all began, Firethorn is where it ends, and don’t miss the action in the middle.

Here's the back blurb from Firethorn:

Don your tactical gear and enter the world of black ops and espionage within the pages of Ronie Kendig’s thriller Firethorn. Former Marine Griffin “Legend” Riddell, a fugitive from injustice, finds it difficult to trust anyone. Covert operative Kazi Faron, the woman sent to free him, has a dangerous secret that may jeopardize her life, mission, and the only man she respects. As Griffin and Kazi race around the globe to save Nightshade, the danger mounts. Will they find the culprit sabotaging their black ops team? Can their newfound feelings and trust survive when Griffin and Kazi face truth and terror?

Pick it up and enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Give a Mom a Muffin

BFF posted this on my FB wall recently, and I'm in love. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is one of my favorite kid's series~I relate to them well. So when BFF found this "mom" edition, I had to share. (not sure who wrote this - but hope it gives you a laugh!)

If You Give a Mom a Muffin...

If you give a mom a muffin, she'll want a cup of coffee to go with it. She'll pour herself some. Her two-year-old will spill the coffee.

She'll wipe it up. Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks. She'll remember she has to do laundry. When she puts the laundry in the washer, she'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer. Bumping into the freezer will remind her... she has to plan supper.


She will get out a pound of hamburger. She'll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With A Pound Of Hamburger.) The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail. She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow. She will look for her checkbook. The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her fourteen-month-old.

She'll smell something funny. She'll change the fourteen-month-old. While she is changing the fourteen-month-old the phone will ring. Her four-year-old will answer and hang up. She'll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee. Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup. She will pour herself some.


And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee, her kids will have already eaten the muffin that went with it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Praise Day - Count Your Blessings


Wednesday. Middle of the week. But before you roll over this week's hill, stop and count your blessings!

Here's my stab at it:)

1. So, so, so thankful for Hubby who changes my tires (even though I know how to). I have awful luck with them. Ever want to find the proverbial needle in a haystack? Just ask me to drive through it.

2. Thankful for neighbors who trust me with their car. Big time trust here, considering I may return it with a flat tire.

3. Thankful Hubby has hooked me up with a voice recorder. One of a writer's best friends--I am convinced! And so much better than trying to take notes while driving.

4. Thankful to see the sun again today. This is Michigan. And it's winter. We're not known for sunshine in winter--but we've been blessed in abundance with it this year!

5. Thankful for dark chocolate. Doctor's say one little square is good for you. And if one square is good, then two has to be even better. Pretty sure that's how math works.

Hope you have your own list today - I'd love to hear what's on it. Count them up!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Grow

It’s the beginning of the year and that means that most of us are thinking about change. And don’t we simply love it? Isn’t it the easiest thing in the world to look inside ourselves and see the work needing to be done? Yes, that’s a heavy dose of sarcasm you hear.
I am not a big fan of change. Not even going to try to pretend differently. It takes me too long to wrap my brain around something new, and by the time I have it’s time to change all over again. And, let’s just be honest, change is hard. I don’t always like doing ‘hard’. It cramps my style and requires me to give up things sometimes I simply don’t want to give up. Oh, I may desire to change, but then this other part of me starts talking and telling me things are just fine the way they are, I don't really need to do anything different, what's reaaaallly wrong with the way I am...Yep, that’d be my flesh talking. I so get Paul. (Check him out in Romans 7 there towards the end. That's me.)
But as the years go along, I realize if I’m not changing, I’m not growing, and if I’m not growing, well then, we’ve got a problem.
See, God didn’t put us here to stay the same. If He had, we’d all still be in diapers. And wouldn’t that make the world a most interesting place? Unfortunately, all too often we stay as infants in our faith.
But God wants us to grow. I love this verse from 1 Peter 2:2--Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.
What steps are you taking to grow? Maybe it’s finding a church home so that you have accountability and are being fed. Maybe it’s adding a Bible Study in to give you some meat to chew on. Maybe it’s becoming a leader within your church and beginning to feed others. Could be a mission trip. A neighborhood Bible study. Praying with your family. Or simply picking up your Bible on a daily basis and reading a chapter.
Whatever it is, this year take on one new thing.
And grow.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - The Merchant's Daughter


I stumbled across this book while on Goodreads. If you love books and haven't joined that sight yet - do it! What a great place to interact with other readers, see what they're reading, and discover new books.

What drew me to The Merchant's Daughter is simple, one line by a reviewer: "This book is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast." That got me, hook line and sinker. I absolutely love that story. And Merchant's Daughter did not disappoint.

Here's a little blurb about the book:

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

Set in the late 1300's, I loved the glimpse into this time period. I loved Annabel's heart to learn more about God and how God met her each time she sought Him out. And I loved how she see's past Lord Ranulf's scars to the heart of him, because beauty truly is all about our hearts. At times I believe the story could have delved deeper into these characters and even into the relationship as it developed between Lord Ranulf and Annabel, but the story was a very sweet one and I closed the book with a smile on my face.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Praise Day - Count Your Blessings



This year I’m going to try something slightly different with my Wednesday Praise days. All too often we focus on the yucky things in our lives and forget to count our blessings. Oh, if blessings are big enough, we yell them from the rooftops. They’re like neon signs in our lives. But what about our small-ordinary-everyday-blessings? I want to start to call attention to them, because God isn’t just about the big, but He’s also incredibly into the details. Here goes:

So my health hasn’t been the greatest lately (yep, I know, doesn't sound like a blessing, but stick with me, the counting is about to begin). My son—who apparently is taking our theme of ‘sharing’ very seriously—decided to grace me with his cold. Then there’s the little matter of my thyroid—I don’t have one. And my body decided to stop absorbing my medication. Did you know that such a little thing could make a huge difference? Yeah. Ask Hubby. He has to live with me. It was in the vows.

While I could easily focus on (umm…or more honestly, keep focusing on) the yucky way I feel, here's where I start counting my blessings.


1. Praising God for my taste buds. While I may not have been able to smell my coffee this morning, I sure could taste it! Oh, and the lovely creamer I added. Which reminds me…

2. Praising God for coffee creamer and that Mr. Budget said I could get some this week!

3. Praising God for Post-It Notes and Legal Pads. My brain is slightly foggy lately (side effect of low thyroid) and they are currently serving as my memory. Which works great until my six-year-old moves them.

4. Praising God for hands that work. I have a fellow writer friend whose arm is currently in a sling with lots of pins in it. That’s like a runner with a broken leg, an artist with cataracts, a chef with a burnt tongue...you get the picture.

5. Praising God for my overall health. When I look around me at others who have far larger health issues than myself, I realize how truly blessed I am.

What blessings will you count today?

Monday, January 2, 2012

All New, All the Time

Happy New Year! I cannot believe it’s gone so fast. The Holiday Season, all of 2011…wow. I’m still trying to figure out what happened to 2010.

Did you all enjoy your Christmas? Are you excited to start a new year? Or sad to see the last one gone? Any resolutions?

As I start this year a verse keeps going through my mind: Revelations 21:5 “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”

See, we don’t need to wait for January 1st to start new. Isn’t that the beauty of Christ? Any day, any moment, with each breath we take; if we want to start new all we need to do is call upon Him. He’s true, and He’s faithful. And ready to help you start anew.

What new things will you be trying this year?