Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Immanuel.



God with Us.

What an absolutely comforting thought. I'd told someone last week it was like wrapping up in a blanket, and it is.

I love this verse because it not only reminds us of that fact, but it issues a command. We are all created for a purpose and plan. And part of that plan is to reach the people around us. For some, God has called us to a huge stage. Others to the most remote places on the earth. Some it's to our neighborhood or maybe our families. Wherever it is, you were created for such a time as this to reach a specific people or person. And God isn't sending you to do it alone. No matter where you are, there He is:)

Forever.

To the end of the age.

So keep reaching. He's got you.

Friday, August 23, 2013

End of Summer Break:)

Hey everyone!

Yes, it's typically my Bookshelf Friday day, but I'm going on a mini-vacation. Up here in Michigan we squeeze every drop out of summer we can to combat the cold that will shortly arrive. Our schools don't start until the day after labor day, and although we homeschool, we share that schedule:)

We've been spending a LOT of time at the beach:)

So I'm taking off a few days here to play with the kiddos and Hubby. I'll have one post on Wednesday (because it's already scheduled) but other than that you won't see me until the beginning of September!

And keep and eye out for Bookshelf Fridays in September because the first 3 weeks will involve giveaways of some books I'm anxiously awaiting!

If you're already back at school, how did you celebrate your end of summer? If you're still playing, what's on your schedule?

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #17 and July's winner!

It's time for a new verse and a new winner! The winner for July is...

Karen Gernaat!

Karen (who also happens to be my aunt...***virtual wave***) check out the bag on the right and email or Facebook me your choice.

Let's recap the names and verses we've done so far:

El Shaddai - The All Sufficient One (Isaiah 46:4)
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord My Banner (Proverbs 21:31)
Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace (Psalm 34:14)
El Roi - The God Who Sees Me (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Jehovah Jireh - Our God Provides (Philippians 4:19)

And this week is Immanuel. Or Emmanuel. I'll take the meaning with either spelling because here it is: God with us. Many of you may already know this name of God, but it touches our hearts in such a way that we need to press it into our very minds and souls. So here is our verse for the next two weeks:


So Pin it, write it, copy it, whatever you need to do to start learning and come back next week so we can talk about it:)

Blessings, friends!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pull Up a Cushion

Ever watch the horizon of your life and see a storm gathering? The clouds slowly darkening and billowing up into the sky, churning around in circles. Then the low rumble of thunder starts.

I've been there my fair share. I mean, it's a part of life. Down here with all our imperfections and sand-paper spots, problems happen. Not to mention God sometimes does his best work on our lives in the midst of our storms.

And while we know this, big or small, no one likes to go through life's storms. We pray, we fast. Maybe we sit at the altar, but sometimes the thunder just keeps rumbling. It's then we realize that while we don't want to go through it, Jesus isn't exactly taking us around it either. And, quite frankly, there was one particular storm where I finally asked him "why not"?

He desires our questions. So I laid it on him.

And he returned my question with a question: Where is your faith? Then he followed it by reminding me of Mark 4:35-40. Jesus had just done a multitude of amazing, miraculous things and told some pretty amazing parables. The disciples actually got to see him teach. Sit at his feet! They were front and center. And then they all boarded a boat.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

Okay. There is so much to those verses, and yet in our own storms, we forget it all. We focus on the waves swamping us and wonder how in the world Jesus can sleep through it all, on a cushion no less. Did you catch that? It's there. Go back and look. And it's why I love Mark's rendition of this story, because he included that little fact and can't we sound just like that? I'm in the middle of a storm here, Lord, and you're all tucked up nice there in heaven on your cushy seat not really caring. Have you not heard my cries? Can you not feel the rolling waves? You certainly haven't done anything about it.

But it wasn't that Jesus didn't care, he was simply living out his faith. He knew they were going to get through the storm, so why worry? Pull up a cushion and rest.

Rest in the midst of a storm. Totally sounds like a crazy idea, right? But it's what our faith is all about. And those storm-challenging moments can oftentimes be what stretch our faith the most, especially when they reach hurricane proportions. Yet if we've got God as our center, we can rest assured that the storm will not harm us, no matter how battered we are by the waves. And how can we know this? The same way the disciples should have, because they'd already learned it though what Jesus had taught them. They simply needed to remember it.

Matthew 6:24-25 talks about where we build our houses.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

That parable doesn't say if a storm will come, but when the storm comes--and it sounds like quite a storm. But it also says that house did not fall because its foundation was on the rock...and that rock is Jesus Christ.

So if we know he's in control of the storm, then why do we worry when we see it building on the horizon? What if this time, as the storm is rolling in, we pull up a cushion and rest in the knowledge that he has it all under control.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - The Love Dare for Parents

I remember when the movie Fireproof came out and paging through The Love Dare. I can't say I did every dare, but it did challenge me to look deeper at my marriage and gave me concrete ways to improve it. Because marriages--no matter how great--can always be improved. Marriage takes work!

And so do kids:)

So when this book came out, I knew I wanted to read it.

I think I liked this book even better than the marriage one. Probably because I am in the middle of raising my children and need all the help I can get--especially from a God-centered angle. This book spoke to me in so many ways, and it challenged me! But the part I loved the most is, like The Love Dare, it didn't stop at issuing a challenge, it gave me the tools to conquer that challenge.

The Love Dare for Parents spans forty days and ends with you writing a legacy letter to your children. That's one I have yet to do, but that's in part because each year on their birthdays I give my children a letter of sorts. And that's another thing I enjoyed about this book. You can take the challenges and tailor them to your children, but it's a great springboard of a place to start. 

If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed in your parenting. If you're looking to connect with your kids in new ways. If you're looking for Godly wisdom to help you on this path, I highly recommend this book. Most of the dares are simple and quick, but they all make a lasting impression on your children and strengthen your relationship with them.

I give The Love Dare for Parents 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here :)

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.

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.And here's the other blogs on our A to Z blog hop!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #16 (talk about it)


So Verse 16 centers on the fact that God is our Jehovah Jireh--The God Who Provides.

And He's not simply talking money here.

Did you catch that little word "all" there? (I love the little words in Scripture--they often have the biggest meaning!) He shall supply ALL our needs. That means when we are at our wit's end, He's there to meet us. God has us covered.

Patience for our children.
Calmness in our agitation.
Love for our spouse. (come on, living together produces it's bumps!)
Forgiveness for our enemy.
Creativity for our talents. (because EACH of us has a talent)
Wisdom for our decisions.
Rest for our tiredness.
Strength for our weakness.

The list is endless. We all have needs, and God will SUPPLY them according to HIS riches...and His riches never run dry! 

Whatever your need is today, run to Him with it. None of your needs are too big for Him. He longs to meet them for you. He longs to meet you. Because He is crazy in love with you:) 

Can you add to that list today? What's a need you've seen met in your life?

Monday, August 12, 2013

26

From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things out not to be this way. James 3:10

Twenty-six letters. Arrange them in endless combinations and you've got the English language.

Twenty-six letters creating words that we use everyday.

Words of discouragement or encouragement.

Words of hate or words of love.

Words of gossip or help.

Words of lies or truth.

We have countless ways we can use these twenty-six little letters. How are you going to use them today?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Congrats Karla! The Pastor's Wife Wears BIker Boots by Karla Akins

In keeping with the A to Z blog hops on Friday, I had to come up with a "C" word for this title. It was easy - CONGRATS to my friend, Karla, whose book debuted yesterday! So happy for her. Check out my review:)


I received an early copy of this book from Karla to read after I saw the title and cover and eagerly asked to be a part of her review team. Here's a small blurb:

Pastor’s wife, Kirstie Donovan, lives life in a fishbowl, so when she hops on the back of a bright pink motorcycle, tongues start to wag at the conservative, century-old First Independent Christian Community Church of Eels Falls.

Kirstie loves roaring down a road less traveled by most women over forty, but she’s not just riding her bike for the fun of it. Kirstie has a ministry. However, certain church members have secrets to hide, and when God uses Kirstie’s ministry to fill the pews with leather-clad, tattooed bikers, those secrets could be exposed…and some will stop at nothing to hide the truth.

Join Kirstie and her motorcycle “gang”—two church matrons and a mouthy, gum-smacking non-church member—as they discover that road-toughened bikers are quite capable of ministering to others, and faith is fortified in the most unexpected ways.

Okay. I loved this book on so many levels. Hubby and I have worked in churches and also have close friends who are pastors. I related to that entire aspect of the story. It was what first drew me to the book, but I received so much more from it!

Karla throws in friendship, motherhood, the bumps of growing older...dealing with depression, learning to forgive, navigating life when the picture isn't quite what you'd drawn for yourself. And she does it all taking you from moments of tears to full-out laughter and on a bed of faith. Oh. And while riding a hot pink Harley.

Yeah.

It was fun.

If you're looking for a good summer read, I'd highly suggest this book :) You can purchase it here or here.

Karla Akins is a pastor's wife who rides her own motorcycle. She is the mother of four boys and one step-daughter, and grandmother of five. She lives in North Manchester with her husband who is the pastor of Christian Fellowship Church, her twin teenage boys with autism, mother-in-law with Alzheimer's and three rambunctious dogs. Karla and her husband have been in ministry together for 30 years. You can contact Karla for speaking engagements via her website at KarlaAkins.com

And here's the rest of the blogs in the hop!
C - 8/9

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #16

Good Wednesday morning, Friends! It's time for another new verse. This verse we're focusing on the name Jehovah Jireh - The God Who Provides.

As a recap, we've already learned:

El Shaddai - The All Sufficient One (Isaiah 46:4)
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord My Banner (Proverbs 21:31)
Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace (Psalm 34:14)
El Roi - The God Who Sees Me (2 Chronicles 16:9)

And for Jehovah Jireh we're using Philippians 4:19. It may be familiar to many of you, but I want to make sure it becomes heart knowledge and not just head knowledge.


So Pin it, post it, add it to your 3x5 cards...whatever you need to do. I'll see you next week to talk about our Jehovah Jireh:)

Have a blessed Wednesday my friends!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Everyone's Got a Story

O Lord, you alone are my hope. I've trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother's womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you! My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. Psalm 71:5-7

I was raised in a Christian home and brought up in a spirit-filled, Bible-based, on-fire-for God, church. We weren't simply taught about Jesus, we were taught to be in full relationship with him. And for that I'm beyond blessed.

Problem is, around the time I hit my early twenties I fell into a trap. I was through college and married, even felt the first stirrings of a call into ministry...but I didn't feel worthy. Why? Because I was a Christian with no story.

Sure. I'd had my struggles. But I'd never been addicted to drugs, led a party-life, or slept around. I hadn't come from an abusive home or suffered any enormous losses in my life. 

Yes. God had shaped me. Yes, I had major hurts and hang-ups. But nothing that came with large neon lights. They all seemed like normal, growing up struggles. Even my darkest pits felt like shallow dips compared to others. Who was I to talk to anyone about Christ?

I actually lived that way for years. And I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not the only one. Downplaying what God had done in our lives because our trials don't seem large enough effectively shuts us up.

To that I say...stop it!

You are not a blank page with nothing happening in your life. Holding your tongue today instead of spreading gossip? That's a testimony of God's great work in your life. Finding contentment while you're folding laundry and changing diapers because you discovered God has a purpose and plan just for you? That's a testimony. And what about living a life free of the generational sins before you? One of my largest testimonies is how I can look back and see sins in my family burning down the line like a forest fire, only they didn't consume me. Why? Because God's saving power touched me at a young age, and His blood covered me. 

And for many of us, it's not that life hasn't happened around us, it's that God's strength has been demonstrated in how we handle what happens in life. We are not consumed by this world because we are held by the One who created it.

So, beloved, if you've not been consumed...if you're not living in the chains that ensnared those before you...if you're not the same today as you were yesterday... then you've got a testimony to tell. Don't let the devil tell you your story isn't important, because it is. 

Who will you share it with today?




Friday, August 2, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Agent Linda Glaz

See? Did you see how I did that? I'm participating in an A to Z blog hop that started last week and since I missed the letter A, I'm using it this week. Doing both A and B together. Bookshelf and Agent...

I know. I'm pretty excited about making those words work too ;)

Eh-hem...anyway...As the blog hop will be linking on Fridays, and Fridays are typically my Bookshelf Friday day, I may or may not always link. Or, possibly, I'll try and be as brilliant as I was this week and make it all work together. LOL. We'll see.

But let's get back to this week. I want to talk with you about Linda Glaz, my amazing agent, and a few of her books. The two I chose to put on today are her latest releases--one in a full length, one in a short novella. Here's the blurbs and we'll chat on the other side:)

The Substitute Bride:





Rancher Jared Callahan eagerly awaited the arrival of his mail-order bride. But instead of the kindhearted woman who wrote about escaping her constrained city life, the beauty who arrived in his remote frontier town couldn't remember anything. Not him, not their long-distance courtship, not even her own name. What is he going to do with this petite spitfire? 

Dazed and confused from a railway accident, Rebecca Layne finds herself saying "I do" to the handsome stranger who claims to be her betrothed. But as feelings for Jared blossom, the mysteries of her past threaten to unravel her life at the seams. Only when the truth is finally revealed can this marriage of convenience ever become a true union of love.


Miss Fishfly

Searching for love everywhere but in the right places, Christie Hayes is confounded when chocolate brown eyes wink at her at her best friend's wedding. A narrow miss of the bedpan, and she discovers old Mr. Hartway's grandson, Colton Keller, and brown eyes are one in the same.








While I haven't had the chance to read The Substitute Bride yet, I have read Miss Fishfly. The only complaint I have with that story is I wish it had been longer! Miss Fishfly is an afternoon read with fun characters who I'd love to have known even better. Still, if you only have a short hour or two to dedicate to a book, it's the perfect match for you.

Both are available on Amazon here and here. The Substitute Bride released on Kindle just yesterday and will release in book form on the sixth. If you want to know more about Linda and her books, check her out at her blog, here.

As for the Blog Hop, there's a lot of other great posts going on this Friday--check them out!

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.