Friday, May 31, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Undeniably Yours

Becky Wade's second novel arrived in early May. LOVE the cover!! I had the pleasure of reading it's a short blurb on it:

When Meg Cole's father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted--more interested in art than in oil--she's forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father's empire.

The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father's thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Bo's determined to resent the woman who's decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them--her wealth, his unworthiness, her family's outrage--and earn the right to love her.

But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg's past. Can their love--and their belief that God can work through every circumstance--survive? past. Can their love--and their belief that God can work through every circumstance--survive?

Becky is great at contemporary romance. She has a fresh new voice which is what pulled me through her first book My Stubborn Heart and had me hungry for her second. The two books are stand alones and both are must reads. I love how Becky brings in a wide group of supporting characters, all with their own quirks. She also is great at the romantic tension, crafting believable reasons the two main characters aren't together yet, not problems that could simply be handled if they just had a good talk. This conflict is what propels you through the pages. That, and the simple fact you'll love the people in this book.

I do have to say, however, that this book did not carry quite as much dialogue as her first. One thing that draws me to Becky's writing is her amazing dialogue and the interaction of her characters, and I found that aspect slightly lacking in comparison to her debut novel. Also, in Undeniably Yours the story, while still laced with humorous moments, is a tad more serious and has a more suspenseful bend to it (though it's slight). For someone like me--who loves suspense--that didn't bother me, and I was still happily content when I finished this book. That said, I still love her debut novel more, a fact that was hard to finally admit when I closed the last page of Undeniably Yours, but a testament to Becky's incredibly strong writing. She is an author I will continue to seek out and recommend to friends, family, and really anyone who'll listen. If you haven't read Becky before, summer's here! May I suggest picking up BOTH her books, finding a lounge chair, and digging in. You won't be disappointed.

I give Undeniably Yours 4 out of 5 stars and am already waiting for Becky's next book.

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, May 29, 2013

Learn the Word Verse #11 - and April's Winner

I'm back! And Hubby and I had an amazing vacation. Now it's time to jump back into real life, a task that's proving a bit harder to do than I'd anticipated:) But I'm getting there.

And in doing that, I wanted to let you know who April's winner is...

Rosemary Wenner!

Rosemary, go ahead and grab something from the gift bag under Pages there at the right, then email me. I'll send it out this week:)

And here's our next verse. Praying these words sink into you today.

You can pin it straight from here or from Pinterest. I loved that picture--hands tossed up, singing His praises. There's just something that happens when we stop what we're doing, take a deep breath, and praise Him in abandon.

Praying that you all had an amazing holiday weekend. Praying even more that His praise will be on your lips as you finish out this week.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Learn the Word Verse #10

I love this verse in The Message too. One of the neatest things to do when studying the Word is to pop open different translations. Here it is:

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

Oh. I just love that! Don't you? We've got it all--NEVER forget that! But the part that gets me the most giddy (yes, giddy!) is the picture of our Jesus, arriving on scene for the Grand Finale! This Pentecostal girl may just start shouting some Hallelujahs right now!

Praying you all have an amazing week in this your adventure with God:) I'll be taking a blogging break until next Wednesday the 29th. Have a great Holiday weekend with your friends and family!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Beauty and the Beast

Why is it that our hair day can make us either a beauty or a beast?

Because believe me, it does in this house.

Which is why this verse stood out to me so loudly recently:

The Lord doesn't look at the things people look at. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

See, a bad hair day doesn't mean a thing to God until it changes our heart. Because that's what He looks at.  In fact, I'm always telling my kids their smiles and their hearts are what makes them beautiful, and then I go and let a stray hair turn me into a beast. The thought was enough to make me put down my hairspray.

And as I spoke to God about how hard it is to be nearing forty, to have lost my thyroid and have my hormones go squirly while my metabolism slows, the wrinkles growing right  along with the grey hair...that yes, it was awesome He looked at my heart, but was it so bad to want to be beautiful on the outside too?

He responded with such soft, quiet words I wanted to cry...and maybe did...

"You are all together beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you." Song of Solomon 4:7

I'm beautiful. And not just me--because I KNOW I'm not the only woman who needs to hear this--but YOU TOO! Do you realize that God wrote that for you, too? His Book is a love letter to us all. That means YOU are all together beautiful, that YOU are flawless. And it's because you belong to Him.

So the next time you're getting ready and things aren't playing quite as nicely as they used to be, let that verse sink right through you--listen to Him whisper it in your ear. Better yet, post it on your mirror and read it every day.

Because you're a beauty. Princess and all:)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Learn the Word Verse #10

I heard this verse in church a few weeks ago and it encouraged me so much. I knew when I heard it I wanted it to be one we memorized. First to know we're lacking nothing spiritual in Him, second to be reminded that we're eagerly waiting for Him, and third to know He's going to keep us strong until He comes back. I can use all those reminders in my spirit on a daily basis. All too often I feel drained to my very core, like maybe I don't have what it takes to fulfill His calling on my life--this verse helps me remember He's already supplied it, I just need to tap into it. And allow HIM to be my strength.

Praying for you today! 

(Oh, and a side note: I'm supposed to be pulling a name today for April's learners, but I'm still away from my computer through next Wednesday. So I'll be pulling that name on May 29th. I haven't forgotten!)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Get Moving!

I've been studying Acts lately and got stopped again by another verse. I kept coming back to it because of the picture it stuck in my mind. 

"As they watched , he was taken up and disappeared into a cloud. They stood there staring at an empty cloud." Acts 1:10

Here were the disciples after having this history-making moment. Jesus Christ had just fulfilled years of prophecy and promise. He'd told them a gift was coming and given them a great commission. He'd been physically in their midst! Not gonna lie, I envy them just a smidge. They got a moment we'll have to wait until heaven for.

But there they stood. Staring at an empty sky. Probably a bit amazed. A whole lot awed. And not wanting to let that moment go.

Ever been there?  Maybe your Sunday worship was blown over with the power of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you were praying, and He erupted in your midst. And it was amazing--because the power and presence of God is just that, uh-maze-ing!

It's so great you want to just stay there and talk about it, keep that moment going. But just like those disciples, we've been commissioned to go out there and reach the lost. While those God-moments are so completely great, they are not meant to only change us, but to change those around us as we carry what we've learned and how we've been changed to those who so need Christ.

Look at what happened next to the disciples.
Suddenly two men appeared in white robes. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand there looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from you to heaven will come as certainly--and mysteriously--as he left." So they left the mountain of Olives and returned to Jerusalem." Acts 1:11-12

I think those angels were sent as a loving kick-in-the-pants. SeeJerusalem is where Jesus had asked them to go. It was where they were going to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, the power and presence He was leaving them so they could fulfill their calling. If they'd stayed there staring at an empty sky, talking about what they'd just shared, none of that would have happened. I can just imagine those angels looking at them and finishing with a "so get a move-on."

And I think that's what we need sometimes. Being in the presence of God is wonderful. I love our Sunday morning worship because always, always, the Holy Spirit is there. I love my quiet time with God, just sitting and talking with Him. If I could, I'd stay in those moments all the time--but that's what Heaven is for. Oh, I long for that. But I'm not there yet. And if you're reading this, neither are you! While there are so many great things we can in this lifetime, the only thing that truly matters is how we reach  people for Christ. It is the ONE thing we cannot do once we die, but staring at the sky isn't going to get the job done. It's time to get moving!

What will you do in your world today to point them to the One who's in that sky?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Gotta restock the shelf :)

Hey all. It's been crazy busy around the Tuttle household the past 6 weeks. Flooded basements, spring sports, sick kids, finishing our school year, and now preparing for a vacation. I've been barely treading water and have had no time to read. Not blogs, not magazines, and definitely not books! However. Hubby and I are heading out on a vacation together, and I hope to rectify that. If you've got any great books to recommend, I'd love to hear it.

I'll still have a few posts in the next week, thanks to Bloggers wonderful ability to schedule them, but I may not be around here to answer or chat with you all. I'll be chatting my Hubby's ear off--he loves it. He does.

Hope you're enjoying spring by you:) And have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #9

I told you last week how much I love this verse! It has been sticking with me for months now. Makes me remember why I'm learning His word--so I can smash things, or burn them. Either way, I'm good.

But I also love the picture of this. God's Word is like fire. A fire that has the power to melt or harden, consume or purify. It simply depends on what substance it's working on. God knows what we need when we come in contact with His Word, and He's more than capable of giving it. Sometimes that Word is meant to change us, other times it's the person we're speaking to.

And then there's that hammer. Even the hardest of hearts can be shattered under His word. And even the toughest of circumstances can be broken through. All because of His Word.

What do you need today? Strengthening in an area? Or maybe softening? Are you praying for something but still waiting for the breakthrough? Seek His Word today. Sit with it and pray over it. Ask Him to give you what you need. He's faithful to meet you every time.

(And for those of you who are still keeping up with Learning the Word--comment here, Pin the verse on your Pinterest board, give me a shout-out on Facebook...lemme know. I'll be drawing another one of you for the grab-bag.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Vengeance or Grace?

So I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and the sermon was on forgiveness. I've got to say, in my life I've had to practice that quite a bit--on both the giving and receiving end. I was rather sure I had it down too, because quite honestly, I don't want to spend my time here bitter and hardened. Not forgiving doesn't hurt anyone but ourselves, and I'm just not willing to go there any longer.

When our pastor asked this question: "When you think about something bad happening to that person, do you get a little satisfaction, even just a twinge?" I could easily answer "no." In fact, I smiled at God and said, "I've got this God, right? I'm soooo past this one, we covered it years ago. Vengeance is all yours, I've left them with you."

But after my pastor's question, God followed it up with a deeper one--because He's God, and He likes to do that, especially when He sees those little corners of our hearts.

"But what if you're idea of vengeance doesn't match up with mine?"

Uh. Say what?

And He didn't stop there. Oh no. He went on.

"What if I save them. Redeem them. Give them grace instead of revenge?"

Yeah. Not a picture I'd thought of before.

And I know He wasn't talking about consequences. Of course there are consequences to sin--but they are God's to hand out, not mine. And while I can dream all the consequences up that I want, there's no guarantee they are the same ones God will be handing out. In fact, I may never see their consequences, but I sure may see their salvation and healing--and I should be praying for it. (oh, and be OK with it too--like even celebrating it, even if it's just a quiet "woo-whoo" in my heart.)

Gives a whole new meaning to: "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44

And yet why was the whole purpose God came? "For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost" Luke 19:10 and "...He is not willing that any should perish, but everyone should come to repentence." 2 Peter 3:9. That includes the person you're trying so hard to forgive.

See, God calls us to something deeper than simply forgiveness when He calls us to pray for them. He calls us to the ultimate end goal--their souls. That doesn't mean we even continue unhealthy relationships. But just because we may need to sever a relationship does not mean we sever our prayers for them.

Believe me, I know what I'm saying is not simple. Exactly how I felt when God nailed me between the eyes with it. But it is His Word, and it is freeing. It happens in steps. Slowly releasing that person to God, and remembering the same grace that has saved us is the same grace He wants to extend to them. Forgiveness is a daily, hourly thing at times, and if you're wondering if you can do it, remember this verse too:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13

And you can. You can release them and pray for their salvation and healing. You can give up your idea of vengeance for God's gift of grace. You can do it because it's been done for you, and His strength now resides in you.

It may take a minute-by-minute reliance on God, but His power is made perfect in our weakness. Pray with Him today, ask Him to start this work on your heart, and then allow Him to move. You'll be amazed at what seems impossible, God makes more than possible.

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with man is possible with God." Luke 18:27

Let Him show you:)

Praying for you today!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Catch a Falling Star by Beth Vogt

Beth Vogt's second novel comes out on May 7th, so you'll have to wait a few more days to read it but mark the date on your calendar!

Here's a short blurb:

What does a girl do when life doesn’t go according to her plan? At thirty-six, Kendall Haynes has seen some of her dreams come true. She’s a family physician helping kids with severe allergies and asthma achieve more fulfilling lives—a childhood struggle she knows all too well. But are Kendall’s dreams of having it all—a career, a husband, children—nothing more than a childhood fantasy? God says He knows the plans He has for her—why can’t Kendall figure them out and be content with her life?

Griffin Walker prefers flying solo—both as an Air Force pilot and in his personal life. But a wrong choice and health problems pulled him out of the cockpit. His attempts to get out of “flying a desk” are complicated by his parents’ death—making Griffin the reluctant guardian of his sixteen-year-old brother, Ian. How did his life get so off course? Can he get his life back on track…or has there been a divine plan all along?

Catch a Falling Star reminds readers that romance isn’t just for twenty-somethings and that sometimes letting go of your “wish I may, wish I might” dreams is the only way to embrace everything God has waiting for you.

I loved the idea in this book that God's plans are not always our own, but they are always the best! For most of the book, Kendall struggles with this very idea, but she eventually gives in to what God has for her--and realizes it was way better than all the wishes she'd ever made. Griffin struggles in much the same way, which I thought made them a great pair. The two don't fall in love overnight, but they definitely do fall in love:) And as I found with Beth's debut novel, Wish You Were Here, I really like Beth's voice. She not only brings you serious moments, but weaves in the lighthearted times too, making her characters well rounded and incredibly relatable. While this book did move a tad slower for me than her first novel, and I would have liked a bit more chemistry earlier on between Griffin and Kendall, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Beth creates a story that pulls you in emotionally and entertains every step of the way, and is chocked full of faith-building moments. Cannot wait for Beth's third book--which I know she's been working on and I'll be snapping up as soon as it comes out too!

For now, this one is about to be released and you can pre-order it here. I happily give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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, May 1, 2013

Learn the Word Verse #9

Is not my word like fire," declares the Lord, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?" Jeremiah 23:29

I LOVE this verse. The power behind it. The image it creates. Reminds me why we're learning these verses. And I truly hope you are. I won't lie, I'm not perfect at it, but I keep trying and God's been so faithful to continually bring these verses to mind.

So pin it to your Pinterest board or write it on a flashcard, stick it on a mirror with a post it...whatever you need to do. But keep learning!