Friday, August 28, 2015

Blogging Break & Bookshelf Friday - Breathe by Priscilla Shirer

So I recently completed this Bible study, and it ended with a challenge to, well, breathe:) So as I'm staring at my last week-and-a-half of summer before our homeschooling year kicks in, that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'll be back here on Wednesday, September 9th, but until then, I'm taking a huge breath of summer and relaxation before the school year starts.

Before I go, though, I wanted to show you this study. If you're in the middle of craziness and wondering how to find a little extra margin in your life, this study is a must-have. Enjoy!

One of the greatest challenges among women in our culture is taking time to stop and cease from all the activities and busyness and just breathe. We are in bondage to busyness. We constantly strive to complete the limitless to-do lists that hinder us from experiencing all that God has for us. We miss the moments because we rush ahead to the next thing. By neglecting time for tranquility, serenity, and repose, we limit our Christlikeness and miss out on some of God's greatest gifts. It is time for us to breathe and build margin into our lives for God. In the Old Testament, God instituted principles and laws that would transform the Israelites' mindset. He didn't just want them legally free; He wanted them to be able to walk in the freedom and enjoy it. So God gave them many gifts, including boundaries in which to enjoy those gifts. Sabbath was intended as a gift, and it is still a gift to us today. If you are weary, worn out, and exhausted the concept of Sabbath will change your life.

You can purchase Breathe here.

And I'll see you in September!

Monday, August 24, 2015

What's in a Title - Guest Post by Kate Breslin

I'm so happy to have Kate here today as a guest. Loved this post and getting to see not only a snippet of the process of writing, but more importantly how God works everything in our lives. I reviewed Not by Sight on Friday, and if you haven't read it yet, you'll want to pick it up. For's Kate:)

As readers, we peruse the shelves at our local book store until the striking statement on a novel’s cover—the title—jumps out at us, piquing our curiosity about the story. We glance at the artwork, perhaps read the premise on the back then later, when we’re reading our new purchase and immersing ourselves in the fictional world and its characters, we may flip back to the book’s cover from time to time and gaze at those words, trying to discern whether or not they ring true.
 Being an author, I put a lot of thought into choosing the right title for my story. To me, that “catch-phrase” is just as important as naming my main characters. Yet while my hero and heroine change and grow throughout the story, the title remains constant, expressing in a few words the theme that will resonate over the next four hundred pages of fiction. I’ve also discovered those words on the front cover hold a much deeper meaning for me, one I didn’t expect…
Purchase here
It started when a good friend suggested For Such A Time as the title for my debut novel, borrowed from a passage in the Bible’s Book of Esther 4:14 (NIV): “…And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”  Because my story was a loose retelling of Queen Esther’s story, the phrase fit perfectly, capturing the essence of my heroine’s journey. What’s more, I’d tried for years without success to publish in the general romance market and this was my first inspirational novel. The title gave me a budding sense of hope. I’d finally heeded God’s call to write for Him. Would this be my time?
I submitted the manuscript, and doors that had been closed for so many years began to open. Almost overnight I landed an agent then a publisher and when the novel released, I was thrilled at the wonderful reader response. Bethany House had allowed me to keep the title too, which often isn’t the case. Yet For Such A Time seemed even more perceptive than I’d first imagined: my faith had grown apace with my heroine’s, and I’d found the courage to write inspirational fiction regardless of whether or not I ever published a novel. And once I saw my first book in print, I realized the other stories I’d written were merely a prelude to the one that mattered. God had been waiting on me, for such a time as this.
Purchase here
My second novel’s title also revealed to me His divine wisdom. Initially I‘d called the story, “The Last Gift,” before my publisher gave it a new name. Not By Sight was another Biblical excerpt, this time from 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV): “…We live by faith, and not by sight.”  As a new author learning the ropes of publishing, the change in title was unexpected. I’d planned my story outline around a theme of hope (not that faith isn’t important!) yet now I’d have to revise and give the new concept more emphasis. As my sophomore novel, this book also came with a deadline. No more aspiring novelist with time to spare; I had just months to complete the manuscript and turn it in. Feeling anxious, I typed my first few chapters, wondering if God would transform the raw words on the page into a story worth telling. Then I remembered the new title and the accompanying Scripture passage, “…We live by faith…” and it gave me strength to continue. I spoke that phrase, over and over, like a mantra in the following months, especially when looking at my story with a critical eye.
          With my novel, For Such A Time, I’d come to believe God had brought me to this point in my writing for His purpose. Not By Sight put that conviction to the test. I had to stop seeing with my eyes and look with my heart, having faith all would turn out according to His plan. My second novel has since released into the world and like the first, has been well-received. I understand now, both book titles were meant for me as much as for my stories, another offshoot thread in God’s amazing tapestry. So what’s in a title? Perhaps a little of the divine, certainly more than meets the eye. I can only wonder at what the next one will be, and the lesson God will reveal to me with His words. 

Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing's 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her debut novel, For Such A Time, is a Christy award, RITA award, and Carol award finalist. Kate's second novel, Not By Sight released in August, 2015. When she's not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington's beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas. Please visit her at

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

Today I am so excited to have Kate Breslin's book Not by Sight up for review. But before I get to it, I need to let you know who won my July Bookshelf Giveaway...

Sierra Faith

you won! Either comment here with your email address and book of choice, or PM me on my Facebook page (just click on the Facebook icon under "Connect With Me" to the right there).

Now on to today's book. Not only is Kate my agency-mate, but she's also one of my favorite authors. I couldn't wait to get this book into my hands. Here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side.

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack. 

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.

Let me first say I fell in love with that cover long before I did the book:) So when I finally purchased it to read, I was ecstatic to open the first page and dive in. The first chapter sets up these two characters so well. He's cocky. She's determined. And they have wrong impressions of each other. I was rather sure I knew where things were headed. That's one detail I loved about this book. After reading the back cover blurb and jumping into chapter one, I anticipated exactly what would occur in their second meeting. I was immediately surprised to find out I did not. Kate adds an unexpected dynamic right when Jack and Grace collide again, and that aspect kept me turning pages with the understanding that Kate holds nothing back from her characters. They are real. Flawed. Hurting.

And funny. Witty. Independent and intelligent.

Suffice it to say, they're multi-faceted. My only complaint about the book is I wish Jack and Grace were on the page more together, specifically at the beginning. I loved their initial meeting, which was intense and filled with a wonderful chemistry. Then things downshifted while other characters were introduced, the setting changed, and Grace and Jack were almost, in a sense, reintroduced. That being said, I loved these two and the supporting cast. Each character is unique and only enriches the storyline along with Grace's life, allowing her to become a lead I enjoyed on so many levels rather than simply through the eyes of the hero--which the romantic in me loved as well! Another aspect I enjoyed was how the plot fully supports the title, and Not by Sight became a running theme on so many levels.

By the time I closed this book, I had been thoroughly entertained. A sweet romance with endearing characters and a well-crafted plot, Not by Sight is Kate's sophomore novel and will find a permanent place on my bookshelf right beside her debut.

You can purchase Not by Sight here. And come back Monday to meet Kate, who'll be guesting on my blog.

Monday, August 17, 2015

He Wipes Our Every Tear

They will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4

Let’s back up before our foundational verse and take a look at someone in the Bible. It’s Tamar, and her story is so very sad. Used and abused by her brother, the last we see of her is this:
Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went. And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. 2 Samuel 13:19-20
Life can be heart-wrenching at times. Without even asking, our lives can be torn apart at the hands of another. We didn’t ask for the pain. We didn’t ask to be hurt. And yet there we are, weeping and wondering why me?
Oh, how I wish I had an answer that could say why…but I can say why not. It’s not because you won an unlucky lottery. It’s not because God doesn’t care. It’s not because he thought you could handle it. And it’s definitely not because he loves you less than another who hasn’t been hurt. There is no easy answer. There is evil in this world, and we will run into it. But, and hear me on this, who you are is not about what’s been done to you, but what’s been done for you.
God loves you. You are not the sum of the hurts you’ve experienced. You’re not worth less because of them, or loved less because something happened to you and not someone else. You are a treasure to God, and he weeps with you. And that’s where today’s verse comes in.
The God who holds you in his hand will wipe every tear from you eye, and he’s the same God who sees you as priceless and whole. He weeps with you, and he has collected your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He will enfold you in his hands. No more sorrow. No crying. No pain.
He loves you, Beloved. He wants to heal your hurts. He doesn’t wish for you to hide and live a desolate life. He wants to take your pain and stitch it up and give you an abundant life even still. You might not be able to see it now, but please hear his whispers of love to you. Because his words are trustworthy and true.
You are his. And he will make you new.

Lord, help me to feel your presence today. Invade my deepest hurts and begin to heal them. Let me hear your truth and see my worth in you, not in those things that happen to me. Speak love over me today, Lord and catch each tear that falls.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bookshelf Friday-a giveaway

I'm behind on my reviews, but will be back next week with Kate Breslin's Not by Sight. Until then, I'm doing my July Bookshelf Giveaway. 

"Like" or "comment" here or on my Facebook post and you're entered to win your choice of one of these books--all of which I reviewed last month.

Winner announced next Friday!

Monday, August 10, 2015

I'm a Big Toe, You're a Smile...and I'm Okay With That (Or: Not Playing The Comparison Game)

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? 1 Corinthians 12:17-19

Never has it been so easy to believe we are not enough. We are inundated with pictures of people who look like they have it all together. With status updates that tell us how deep their impact is, how high their success, how amazing their reach. We see their highlights and wonder why ours don’t compare.
Why we don’t compare.
Why are we a big toe when they get to be the perfect smile?
But did you know the body can’t balance without that big toe? It might be covered most of the time. It might not see daylight but for a few flip-flop wearing days out of the year, but it is a vital part of the body.
Or maybe our comparison isn’t about how different we are, but how similar—only they do it better. Ladies, we are so good at this one. We feel so useless or worthless when we see another person doing what we do only…better. If they find success in that one arena we thought was ours, then are we even needed? (Moms, writers, ladies ministry…add yours because most of us have one.)
Except it’s not always better, it’s just different. And that’s because God doesn’t want the body all looking the same. He created us unique. He made us with a time and a place and a territory to claim. If we all had the same hurts or the same victories, how could we ever speak to all the people out there looking for God?
We will never win when we play the comparison game. And the cost of the loss is step; we miss the very reason God created us. We miss our worth. And the world misses the impact we were meant to be.

Lord today help me to stop looking at what I am not and start seeing who you created me to be. Help me to see not only my value, but how to reach the areas you created me to reach. Give me Godly confidence, that I no longer play the comparison game. Instead of seeing what I think I lack, allow me to see all the unique talents you’ve given me and how to use them. Amen.