Friday, February 27, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Draw the Circle the 40 Day Prayer Challenge

I'm sure many of you have heard of The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, so the title of today's book will sound familiar. It's a follow-up to The Circle Maker, and I just started it. Here's a blurb, and we'll chat on the other side.

Do you pray as often and as boldly as you want to? There is a way to experience a deeper, more passionate, persistent, and intimate prayer life.

Drawing from forty days of true stories, Mark Batterson applies the principles of his New York Times bestselling book The Circle Maker to teach us a new way to pray. As thousands of readers quickly became many tens of thousands, true stories of miraculous and inspiring answers to prayer began to pour in, and as those stories were shared, others were bolstered in their faith to pray with even more boldness.

In Draw the Circle, through forty true, faith-building stories of God’s answers to prayer, daily scriptures and prayer prompts, Batterson inspires you to pray and keep praying like never before. Begin a lifetime of watching God work.  Believe in the God who can do all things. Experience the power of bold prayer and even bolder faith in Draw the Circle.

I never read The Circle Maker, but when a friend challenged me to pick up Draw the Circle I was intrigued. I love encouraging testimonies from others' lives and every day of Draw the Circle includes one. It also challenges us. Not to simply believe if we walk in a circle God will deliver whatever our request is, but to draw close to God. To live a faith that is bold. To believe God can do anything. To ask for our dreams because he's the one who gave them to us. I'm only on day 10, but so far it's enriched my morning prayer time and I'm excited to see where day 40 will leave me!

You can purchase Draw the Circle here. Pick it up and start your journey today. Have a great weekend, friends!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beauty for Ashes...

This is normally a day I sit and count my blessings and look for beauty around me. But my heart has been drifting in deeper directions so I'm sharing something different today. It's definitely God working toward showing me His beauty, His hand, in all things...

God is a God who delights in doing the impossible. We hear this all the time. I say it all the time. We are encouraged to ask for the impossible knowing God can and will do it. This is our faith.

So what happens when you ask for the impossible but don't receive it?

...We asked for healing. We didn’t receive it. Instead, we said goodbye to my father-in-law. And I’ve grappled with this for months, because I have seen God answer prayers of divine healing many times over and applied the same measures of faith to this prayer that went unanswered.

So if God can do the impossible, why didn’t he this time?

This morning after circling back to this constant question God whispered an answer: I am.

His answer immediately settled my soul. In Scripture God utters his name as I am. It's one of the most comforting names I call him, and this gentle reminder opened my ears to what else he was saying:

I am doing the impossible each day you wake up. Each moment you find a sliver of joy again. Each moment you breathe past the grief.  As you live in the valley of the shadow of death and no evil finds you. As your life moves forward and my hands tenderly sew up the hole that opened, I am doing the impossible. Because for those who loved Dad the most, living without him is the impossible, and yet by the grace of God, we are doing it.

And God receives every drop of the glory.

Is it the impossible prayer we wanted him to answer? No. But, in the end, was it the harder one to answer? As I watch my mother-in-law stand, still praising, in the midst of her pain, I know it is. Because as much as the hole Dad left for me, my husband, and my children is huge, it's immeasurable for her. And I know I’m watching God do the impossible every day.

Somehow, in the midst of that, there's beauty.

" comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. "~Isaiah 61:3

Monday, February 23, 2015

Beauty in the Ordinary

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. ..So don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29,31

Sparrows are a pretty insignificant bird. I’m going to guess that many of us couldn’t pick them out of a bird line-up. Cardinal, sure. Blue Jay, no problem. Hummingbird, definitely. I mean come on, there are some birds that conjure up images of beauty, color, or even cuteness. But a sparrow? No clue.
Having looked it up, I can tell you they are a small brown bird, and unless they’ve built a nest in your eaves, you most likely walk by them without a second glance.

Can’t we feel the same way about ourselves? While others stand out and shine, we blend into the backdrop. No extra color, no defining qualities…just us. Nothing special. Except that’s not how God views us—because he does view us, see us. And not only does he see us, but he values us.

It’s all in today’s verse. God didn’t pick the flashy bird to compare us to, he picked the ordinary. I think that’s because God is all about using the ordinary. He’s all about taking what man deems worthless and filling it with his worth. Man might not have seen the inherent value in those penny creatures, but God watched every movement they made—and he compared us to them. Which means that, much like the old hymn says, his eye is on the sparrow and he watches over you too. And why?

Because you are worth so very much more. You are his prize creation, not to be left out or overlooked.

Lord, help us to remember our worth in you. Others around may seem more flashy and at times we may feel like we’re simply fading into the background of life, but you see us. And you find us more valuable than anything else you created. Show us in tangible ways that worth today. In Your name we pray, amen.

Keep your eyes open to those around you today, and ask God to point out someone who needs to know their worth. Find a way to encourage them today. A smile. A kind word. A note. Whatever it is, remind them they are seen and valued by God.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Sweet Surprise

I must confess, I haven't read this book yet. I have, however, picked it up for my weekend read! So I thought I'd share with you:) Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

Join nine modern ladies on culinary journeys that lead to the recipe for lasting romance in this delightful collection, including New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter and eight other award-winning authors. When it comes to romance, will the sweetest treats be any match for God’s timing? Along with food, faith, and fun each story includes a yummy recipe for you to enjoy.

I'm not even going to lie. What drew me to this book first was its cover. I was hungry, and who doesn't love a good cupcake? But then I noticed a few familiar names on the cover. That, along with the blurb, made me snap it right up. I tend to LOVE cooking shows. Baking shows, even better. And with the crazy schedule I have right now, the idea that I can start and finish a story before I fall asleep at night lured me right in.

So, I plan on opening it tonight and reading one...or two of these. Hey, it's just like cupcakes, you can't stop at just one! Have a great weekend, friends!

What are you reading this weekend?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blessings & Beauty

Morning all:) Time to take note of some of the blessings and beauty around us...

~cozy slippers
~peppermint tea (which I've only recently discovered I'm madly in love with)
~the realization that I am not perfect, and people know this, accept it, and love me still
~watching my children finally understand a concept they've struggled with in school
~God's help in parenting
~safety on these slick roads
~God's amazing provision in so many ways--both tangible and spiritually--as we still walk through the grieving process of my father-in-law. Understanding that grief has no timetable, but God is definitely in every step of it.


Ok. I'm going there. Simply because I have to...after waking up to another morning where someone shook Michigan's snow globe, I needed an attitude adjustment. So I decided to try to see the beauty in all this snow. (I haven't found it in the cold temps yet.) And where else to find beauty in a place you can't see it but God's word. We all know this verse, so rather than seeing those mounting flakes as a nuisance, I'm going to try this week to view them as how God pictures snow.

Have a beautiful week, friends!

Monday, February 16, 2015

In Its Time

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT

Have you ever gone to have your hair done for a special event? You sit in front of that mirror and entrust your crowning glory to the hands of a professional, trusting that when they are finished you’ll be picture-perfect?

Then they have you tip your head over while they tease your lovely locks into a mountain of strands that resembles a rat’s nest more than the cover of Glamour. They spray, back come, and spray some more and you sit watching wondering how on earth they’ll tame this into an acceptable do in time for your event.

Except you don’t just want acceptable. If that was all you’d needed, you’d have spent the morning in your own bathroom with your own curling iron. You want amazing. It’s why you sat in her chair to begin with. Only, as you puff away a curl tickling your nose, you cannot possibly see the end product from this messy beginning.

God works the same.

He holds time in his hand. He knows how long it takes to get you ready and the exact moment you need to be made ready. Because not only did he create you, but he created the perfect plan for your life and the seconds that tick by ushering you toward it. His hands move in ways we don’t always understand, but he’s creating something beautiful to be ready at just the right moment.

We can’t always see it, but that’s because we don’t understand the scope of his work. It’s not in our order or how we’d do it ourselves. It’s not always the beginning we’d chose and we’re not quite assured it’ll be the ending we want.

But it is.

And it will be beautiful.

Just like the gasp you have when the hairstylist places that final bobby pin and you see the final product—something you’d never have been able to accomplish on your own—we must trust God to take every strand of our lives, every messy moment and sticky situation, and create it for the perfect ending to our story.

He makes everything beautiful for its time…

And everything includes you.

Father, help us to trust that even when it doesn’t look like it, you are preparing us. Let us begin to see even in the stickiness of life, you are working toward our end. Grow in us the realization that we are beautiful in you, even when we cannot see it, and place in us an understanding of your work in our lives. Amen.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - More Precious Than Diamonds by Darlene Sala

Before I dig into today's book, I have the winner from my January bookshelf...

Lynne Springvloed!

Your name was randomly drawn! So pick out which of the books from my January bookshelf you'd like, email or Facebook me your address, and I'll mail it out to you:) Congrats!

Now onto today's Bookshelf Friday pick. I've actually had this book for quite some time thanks to Netgalley, but it only recently released for purchase. I deliberately held my review until this book was available. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

“More precious than diamonds” is how God views His daughters—and how popular author Darlene Sala wants women to see themselves. These long-form devotions—always affirming and occasionally challenging—will remind readers of the value God places on all people, but especially women; point them to the resources God offers for women; and urge them, as valuable in God’s sight, to live their lives to their fullest potential. Darlene Sala’s previous books have sold a half million copies—women clearly appreciate her inspiring message, which continues in the brand-new More Precious Than Diamonds.

I mentioned above how I've been holding onto my review for this book until it was available to purchase, and that's because I so loved this book I wanted to know people had immediate access to it. As you know this year I'm really focusing on our worth in Christ--a message that's been important to me for years. However, as God was reawakening my passion last Fall for this word, More Precious Than Diamonds wound up on my Kindle. Perfect timing. But it's God, so why am I even remotely surprised?

With encouraging words, relatable stories, and impactful verses, Darlene challenges us to see how valuable we are. That we were created with a distinct purpose and plan by a God who loves us immeasurably. Each day was a gentle nudge to grasp this understanding along with specific verses to fortify the belief. 

Because we are...created by a God who values you more than any other creation. Who measures your worth in unquantifiable means and finds you as cherished. Loved. And so much more precious than diamonds.

You can purchase this devotion here. And have a blessed Friday, Dear One:)

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.