Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring!

Hey all! Tuttle Homeschool is taking spring break starting today. With this weekend being Easter weekend, I'm going to be taking a short blogging break too. I'll be back on Wednesday:) Have a wonderful Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Learn the Word Wednesday - Verse #6


It's week number two on this verse, hoping it's coming along for you. I think it goes really well with my post from Monday:)

Boasting in our weaknesses seems like such a strange thing to do, but if God can be seen through them, then I want to shout them out!

Praying this verse speaks to you as you finish the week out learning it:)

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Little Seed's All It Takes

So I've been struggling lately with a little thing called laziness. Ugh. It is awful! Blame it on the long winter up here, blame it on no sunshine, blame it on the homeschooling blues...or just blame it on the fact that I'm lazy.

There. I said it.

Lazy.

My mornings are taking the biggest hit. I don't want to get up. I want to stay in bed and sleep. And no, I'm not depressed. I just really like my cozy bed. And sleep.

Only problem with that? Doing nothing gets me nothing. And if I want an abundant life (remember my word for this year? Yeah. Abundant.) then I can't sit around doing nothing. I need to pursue God in a way I've never pursued Him before.

Except we go back to the fact that I don't want to get out of bed.  Which kind of messes with my morning prayer time. Last week I was determined to get up though and get back to my pursuit of God. It was hard. I kid you not...like really, really tough. We got snow again which meant my cozy bed only looked cozier. Not to mention with this time change, it's dark again in the morning. I prefer waking up once the sun has made its appearance.

Anyway. I sat at the table and stared down my Bible, and decided to get serious. I began to pray that God would shake up my sleep. Leave me restless. Make my bed lumpy and my sheets cold. Keep the peacefulness of sleep away from me. And as I prayed, this little voice underneath it all said, "No way. That's not really what I want. Don't pray for that..."

In that moment I so understood what Paul said in Romans 7:
When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members...

Ugh. It's that whole spirit against the flesh thing, and it was alive and well. And though my prayer spoke one thing, my flesh was shouting another. And I knew God could hear both. Psalm 139 says:
Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar...before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.

I was toast. I couldn't hide from Him. Sure I was praying the right words, but the other thoughts showed my heart--and I wanted to hide from Him, because the good I wanted to do was so not happening.

As I continued to pray, I suddenly saw this picture of my heart. Thick, black weeds wound around it several times, so much that I could barely make out my heart underneath. But shining right in the middle of it was this tiny, little seed. As I continued to pray, that seed shone and began breaking apart those weeds, and I could quietly hear God saying,

"This is what I see. That tiny little seed of faith in the middle. That, I can work with. That, I can water and grow. Look, it's already taken root. And it pleases me."

Not gonna lie. I cried a little.

We see all the crud around us. We see how many times we've failed and hear the thoughts that sometimes scream louder than our very spirit as it cries out to God. But God sees infinitely more. His eyes are trained to see that mustard seed, that tiniest part of us desiring to do good. It's all He needs to get started, because though a mustard seed starts small, it grows big. I love Matthew 13:31-32:
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches."


Oh! Too cool. He takes that little seed, grows it in us--and grows it BIG. Bigger than anything else in our garden, which means it will overtake our weeds. See, because through Him we are MORE than conquerors (check out Romans 8:37)--which means we can conquer our fleshly desires, but only through HIM. (check out Philippians 4:13 too: we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us.)

But He doesn't just stop there. No, He grows that seed for a purpose. He uses that area in our life to minister to others. That's what all those birds perching on the branches is all about.

So here's my challenge today. In that area you're struggling, where you only see the weeds, ask God to search for your mustard seed in the middle and focus on that. Let Him water it and grow it. Growth doesn't happen in one day, it's a season. The seed needs water and food--both found in our God. Ask Him to pour Himself over you today, and begin that season. It is spring, after all--time for new growth :)

For me, guess that means getting up early! What's it mean for you?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund


This is only my second time reading a Jody Hedlund book, and once again I can see why so many readers love her. Jody focuses strongly on her characters and their story, yet gives you a rich background full of history. She knows how to make the setting come alive without it taking over the page. Quite simply, you get lost in her books--and I love it when that happens.

Here's a little blurb for you:
Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic--unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love--but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

Carl and Annalisa were a great pairing. Even from their first meeting, an easiness surrounds them...and laughter--which is new to Annalisa. We get to watch them both learn to love, and through that Annalisa begins to understand how much God loves her. Carl is a great leading man who finds a strength in himself he never knew he possessed, which made me like him even more. And he's great looking--I mean, check out that cover! :) Seriously, though, Jody wrote him in a way that it truly is all about his heart. Annalisa is one lucky girl who finally sees she deserves to know love and have her fairy tale. Marriage isn't about convenience or suffering through--and neither is her relationship with God.

I'm happily giving Noble Groom 5 out of 5 stars. So if you're looking for a great read, you can pick it up here. Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

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 Bethany Publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #6

So we're basically a quarter of the way into our verses! Here's the new one for the next two weeks.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9




I love this verse because it challenges EVERYTHING in me. Boast about my weaknesses? Has He just met me???

This week I challenge you (and me) to take note of those weaknesses we might need to be boasting about--maybe even boast about them once or twice--because next week I want to hear all about them!

So go ahead and grab the pin and keep on memorizing with me (nothing like wallpapering our minds with His word) And I pray you have an amazing week!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Worn

I was listening to the radio the other day and Tenth Avenue North was talking about their new song "Worn". One of the men mentioned they'd gotten the idea for the song when one morning in bed, his wife rolled over, looked at him and said, "I'm tired." And she didn't simply mean she wanted to hit the snooze button, but that she was worn out mentally and physically.

Don't know about you, but I can so relate. And lately I've had a lot of friends who seem to be able to relate to that one little word. So today, I'm simply posting this song and letting it do all the talking. It's a super-cool video (least I think so) and the lyrics only get better as the song goes on.

Happy Monday, friends:)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bookshelf Friday

So this has been a busy week in the Tuttle household--a good, but busy week. As such, I haven't had the chance to finish reading my book for today. In fact, I'm sitting in a dentist office right now as Child #1 is getting his first cavity filled, reading it...well, currently I'm typing this blog post on my phone, but as soon as I hit POST, I'll be cracking my virtual copy back open.

Which book is it, you ask? It's Poison by Jordyn Redwood, her sequel to Proof, and it has been fantastic! Jordyn is an amazing suspense writer, and she tends to be heavier on the suspense than the romance. However, this book opens with an already established relationship, and as I'm only 1/2 way, I can't really say more as to how much romance will play in. What I can say is Poison immediately sucks you in, coat tailing on an event that happened in Proof. It's revisited here, making the beginning familiar to those of us who've read Proof, but not leaving out new readers who may be meeting these characters for the first time.

So if you're looking for a good read this weekend and enjoy a good, clean mystery/suspense (FYI, Jordyn is what some might call a "grittier" writer for this market, but she definitely writes with a message and heart for God, both entertaining her readers and pointing them to Him) check out your local bookstore or Amazon and pick Poison up.

And now I'm hitting the post button so I can finish it up! (Any typos today I blame squarely on this tiny little keyboard!)



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Learn the Word Wednesday - February's Winner & Verse #5

So I collected all the names of those of you who are commenting, pinning, and learning these verses with me, and February's winner is: Jackie Layton! Jackie, check out my gift bag under the Pages at left and then email me your choice and your address.

And keep memorizing everyone! I love that we're doing this together, because I need the accountability. I'm struggling with keeping the first few verses learned, and learning the new ones. It's definitely challenging my memory, but I'm doing it, slowly but surely! How's everyone else doing???

Just to remind you of what verse #5 was:


Source: Uploaded by user via Susan on Pinterest

Next week will be a new verse, but for now let's look one more time at verse #5. Not sure about you, but there is so much I love about it. If forced to pick my favorite part of it though, I think I'd have to say "See I am doing a new thing!" Oh! I want freshness in my life! I want something new...I NEED something new because I don't want to stay the old me.

If you had to pick--what's your favorite part of the verse?

Monday, March 11, 2013

What Not to Wear

Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to clothing. Everyone has their own style--funky, traditional, classic, and every twist in between. I often wonder what Stacy and Clinton would say about me, and I fear I'd be found lacking (I told y'all before that I love my yoga pants!) But it's not the clothing I can run to the mall and buy that's caught my brain, it's more like spiritual clothing.

It all began when I read John 11 again, the story of Lazarus dying and Jesus raising him from the dead. It was the last line that caught me this time:

Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." John 11:44

And I stopped.

Lazarus was alive, and yet a part of death still remained wrapped around him. Stinky and blinding (they  wrapped the face even), the strips still bound him, and yet he'd just walked out of the tomb very much alive.

Made me think of our own walk. For many of us, God's delivered us from a spiritual death and yet we're still strolling around like that miracle didn't happen. We let our past hold us in its grip, and someone needs to say to us: Take off those grave clothes!

There is such victory we could be living in! One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Isaiah 61, and this section especially:

...To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (vs. 3)

Okay. First we get a crown? As a girl, I especially love that part! But then that garment? That word used there stems from the Hebrew word "atah" which means to wrap, envelope or clothe oneself. So we're taking off the clothing of despair (death) and wrapping up in His garments instead! LOVE:)

Want even more? He tells us over and over in His word that He's raised us from the dead. He's removed us from the death of sin and made us fully alive in Him. And to remove those grave clothes and instead:

Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14
Put on your new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24
Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. Revelations 3:18
Put on the full armor of God. Ephesians 6:10

Over and over God speaks to us about what we should be wearing--His very own version of What Not to Wear, only SO much better:) And I can't help but realize that I need His advice. I can completely pull on the wrong outfit some days--past sin, defeat, impatience, jealousy, control...and leave my house not looking so great. I NEED him to say "Take of those clothes" and "Here, put this on." That's a style intervention I can get down with!

So what about you? Are you still walking around with any strips from the grave? Ready to put on something new?


Friday, March 8, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Journey's Embrace by Dora Hiers


I've read this entire series, and I think each one gets better! Oh, who am I kidding, they were all great :) Dora does a fantastic job with chemistry and suspense, tugging me into the pages with excitement and fun. I love that even though she writes Romantic Suspense, there are always moments that make me chuckle. Journey's Embrace delivered much of the same. Here's a quick blurb:


After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. But Delaney’s not so little anymore—and definitely not the young “Dane” Sage remembers.

Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control and order while she embraces life and takes risks. As much as the idea appeals to her, she doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her?

Will Delaney ever be the woman Sage wants by his side? Can Sage learn to live by grace, recognizing that God is in control? Can they overcome their fears to embrace life together?

From page one you could tell these characters were familiar with one another, and yet there was a sudden new awareness of Delaney on Sage's part--while she's always had a crush on him. I loved the dynamic of their relationship! You can pick up a copy here. Though characters reappear in each book, each story is definitely a stand alone, so you can read them in any order. But once you read one, you'll want to read the others--so, enjoy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Learn the Word Wednesday - Verse #5

This verse has been on my heart all week, so I figured I'd make it our verse #5 for the year:)


I hope the memorization is going well for everyone. I'm struggling still with references, but coming along! And I love how God's word is wallpapering my mind. Praying the same is for you.

Please grab today's pic here and pin it to your Pinterest board, and let me know if you're working on learning the Word with me, because it's time to draw another name. Go ahead and leave me a comment here or on Facebook before Tuesday. I'll let you know who gets to grab from the gift bag next week--and keep memorizing!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Bible

So who else watched History Channel's The Bible last night? I saw all but the last ten minutes, and I'm still trying to decide what I think about it. But one part did stop me as I watched...

Moses just before God parts the Red Sea.

I've read that story about a bajillion times in my life. Each time I get something a little different from it. Each time I'm amazed. But as I watched last night I was struck by his choice, because as much as I want to believe I'd make the same one, watching it last night I had to wonder.

See, there he was, leading ALL of the Israelites out of Egypt. He knew the Egyptians would chase them because God had told him that (Genesis 14:4), but he had no idea what God was going to do. All he had was the Red Sea in front of him, Pharaoh's Army visibly closing in behind him, and a bunch of complainers surrounding him.

What a great place to be, right?

Sure. God had told him to go, and he was being obedient, but in that moment--in that very moment where every visible thing around him said he'd either heard God wrong, or God must have been wrong, Moses chose to believe in the invisible.

And I wonder if I'd do the same. I know I want to. I know I strive to have that faith. To stare into all the negatives around me and still cling to the word God has given me. To know His voice so well I don't have to question if I heard from Him. I don't want to join the bandwagon of the complainers. I don't want to fear those things that once enslaved me. And I don't want to worry about what lies in front of me. I just want to trust that God has it all under control, and He will make a path for me--even where there seems there is none.

Because He will. And like the Israelites, it could very well be something never seen before. Reminds me of this verse:
See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert...Isaiah 43:19

Anyone else watch The Bible last night? If so, what stood out to you?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bookshelf Friday

Today I'm naming off a few of my favorites that some of you may have already read. They're not recent releases, but if you haven't read them yet, you'll want to!

Unending Devotions by Jody Hedlund - LOVED! And not just because I'm from Michigan:)

In 1883 Michigan, Lily Young is on a mission to save her lost sister, or die trying. Heedless of the danger, her searches of logging camps lead her to Harrison and into the sights of Connell McCormick, a man doing his best to add to the hard-earned fortunes of his lumber baron father. Posing during the day as a photographer's assistant, Lily can't understand why any God-fearing citizen would allow evil to persist and why men like Connell McCormick turn a blind eye to the crime rampant in the town. But Connell is boss-man of three of his father's lumber camps in the area, and like most of the other men, he's interested in clearing the pine and earning a profit. He figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. Lily challenges everything he thought he knew, and together they work not only to save her sister but to put an end to the corruption that's dominated Harrison for so long.

Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk. Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again. Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

The Trouble With Cowboys by Denise Hunter - this whole series was great.

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.
Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.
The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.
When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

All great books - so pick one up and enjoy a wonderful weekend everyone!