Monday, December 19, 2016

What a Gift!

I was thinking of John 3:16 this week. Well, can't say I was really thinking of the exact words, but I was thinking of gifts. Which made me think of God's big gift: His son. Which then led me to the words I learned before I can ever first memory verse...probably yours too:

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NASV

Now that's the version I learned it in and still the one that rolls through my mind, but I have to say I do love swapping out the "begotten" for "one and only". Jesus was God's "one and only" son.

Anyway, as I sat there with those familiar words, God does as only He can do and gave me a new insight on them. It's stuck with me this week, and while this may be an insight you've already been given, it was powerful to me and I wanted to share. You know, sometimes the most obvious of things we don't see. So here it is...

We envision this verse through our eyes today. Eyes that haven't really observed the offering of our children toward gods as a sacrifice. But back then? gods demanded sacrifice and so often it involved the peoples' children. What a price to pay...and they did! But the One true God flipped that on its end when He sent his son. See, while all the other gods asked for the peoples' children as a sacrifice to please them, God sent His as a sacrifice to save us.

Can you even imagine how they read this verse? What it meant to them? What God truly did? Oh what a bottomless love for us! And it wasn't the first time. Go back to the foreshadowing of all this, when Abraham took Isaac up to that mountain, and God had him put his son on an altar. Only He didn't allow Abraham to sacrifice him, instead He sent a ram. And the blood of the animals for years to come would have to try to meet what no one could until Jesus Christ came and died on that cross.

The one true sacrifice. Perfectly blameless and holy. Infinite wrapped in finite clothing. The only One who could truly pay the cost for our sins. God's son.

God didn't hold back. He gave once--to us--what all the other gods had asked for repeatedly, from us. And His gift still gives today. It still covers every mistake, every dark moment, every sin we've every even thought of. The gift of His son is one that cannot be taken back or exchanged. It's one-size-fits-all and can be afforded by anyone. All you have to do is ask, and then believe in faith. The only sacrifice God wants on your part is to lay down your will and take his. That's it.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8

***this is a repost from December 2013

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bookshelf Friday - The Thorn Healer by Pepper D. Basham

Christmas is coming!! That means two things when it comes to books. First, you'll have a few days to treat yourself to a new read while you snuggle up by your twinkling Christmas tree lights. Second, you're making your list and checking it twice! Well, this book should be on it. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of a world at war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans and, much to Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of them. August Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents, but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he find Hot Springs and the intriguing, Jessica Ross, a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance, but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs. Will August’s tender pursuit show Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a ‘true’ enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?

The Thorn Healer is the third and final in the "Penned in Time" series from Basham. However, if you haven't read the other two, you will easily be able to jump into this book as a stand-alone title. While you'll most likely return for the other two, starting here is fine.

Basham has a way with words that suits her to this time period. Her characters are always well fleshed out, believable, and multi-layered--as are her plots. Her stories move at a pace that is neither rushed or stilted, and The Thorn Healer only reinforces this fact. I loved that in this book Basham didn't shy away from a tough subject like prejudice and that we were allowed to see a slice of history others may have overlooked. Basham is known for doing her research of both the time period and locale for her books, and it only enriches the story she weaves.

If you're looking for a read for yourself or a friend, I highly recommend the entire "Penned in Time" series. You can purchase The Thorn Healer here or find out more info on the others.

Happy reading, friends!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas List vs. Prayer List

My kids love to make Christmas lists. I did too. I remember laying on the orange, fuzzy carpet in my family room and pouring over the JCPenny catalog, writing down all my heart's desires. I didn't just write a list, I wrote a phone book! My kids are no different, only now they point at the endless TV commercials or ads on the computer.

It's all in fun, and they know they're not getting everything on their list. In fact, they don't even let me say it anymore, they stop me. "We know, Mom, a Christmas list isn't a check-off list." And honestly, they love whatever they receive. (Ok, they didn't used to, but they're getting older.)

This year it got me thinking how sometimes we approach God with our lists. We write down everything we want and hand it off in a prayer, and we do expect it to be a check-off list. But God's not Santa. Not even close. And prayer isn't about a list, it's about an active relationship that we take part in.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

Earnest means an intense mental state or an impressive amount. We approach God with our prayers in a serious way, engaging him and seeking him...not simply hand him a list and walk away. After all, he wants a relationship with us and prayer is our time to talk with him. Thank him. Praise him. Seek him. I'm not saying we can't have a prayer list. In fact, it's wonderful to keep a list of things you pray for and then note when those prayers have been answered. That's an account of the things God has done in your life and a reminder of things to give thanks for. It's an encouragement as you're still praying for other desires, deliverances, and needs. I am saying that your prayer life consists of more than that list. Prayer is knowing God's Word (which is our sword) and calling it out, applying it to our situation, believing with our faith (our shield) that God can and will do what he says he will do and fervently seeking him to be in the middle of our situation.

Prayer unleashes the power of Heaven.

It produces wonderful results.

And is so much more than a list to check twice.

Friday, December 9, 2016

On the 9th Day of Christmas... favorite authors gave to me...

a lovely bookmark to mark what you read:) (And MORE books!)
"So many books, so little time."

Hey all! So I'm the only author here without a traditional length book yet published! While I'm working to have something out soon, for now I'm adding bookmarks to the stash because my love of writing came from my love of reading. And with all these amazing books you have a chance to win, you'll be doing a LOT of reading.
Here's how it works. We'll randomly select a winner each day for the first 12 days of December. And each day the prize builds with another book or book-related goody. So the 9th day of Christmas prize winner will receive one copy of each of the following:

Hazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson
Audiobook download of Watercolor Dreams by Sherry Kyle
Concealed Identity by Jessica Patch
A Family Arrangement by Gabrielle Meyer
His Prairie Sweetheart by Erica Vetsch
Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson
The Gingerbread Pony by Patricia Bradley
Yuletide Redemption by Jill Kemerer
And the bookmark I just added!

All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Every entry carries over for the remaining days, so even if you don't win Day 9, you may win before the 12 days are up! So keep checking back at the blogs to come.

And make sure to visit Sarah Sundin's blog tomorrow for Day 10 and another chance to win!

(Day 9 Winner will be chosen at random tonight at midnight EST. Author Liz Johnson will notify that day's winner by email and then post their name on her blog.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 5, 2016

Our Gift

The idea of gifts has been on my mind...wonder why? ;) Last week I wrote a post on a writing blog that was central to this idea, but the idea stuck with me, so I'm continuing here. See, I'd written to my fellow writers about how our writing is a gift we've both been given and it's one we need to share--but we ALL have a gift.

Some of us are still looking for it. We know we were created for a purpose, but we are still in the process of God showing it to us. Don't give up, God created you with a gift and talent that is designed for the exact purpose he had in mind when he called you into being. You have a gift. Let him unfold it in front of you as you seek him.

Some of us have found our gift, but we're in a spot of refining it. God is maturing us. Growth isn't always fun, but it's in the thick of stretching, carving, and shaping our gift that we grow facets of ourselves God will use to reach others. In the Potter's hands we truly become exactly who God created us to be.

Some of us have discovered it but don't want to claim it. It's not the gift we would have chosen or nearly as shiny as the person beside us. Well it's time to stop comparing. Stop longing after something you were never meant to have. And start enjoying the beauty of what God's placed inside of you! Don't throw away the gift God has given because you think it's not good enough. Everything...everything God created has value. Including you.

And some of us are operating smack dab inside the gift God gave us. And when we are finally there. When we've fully unwrapped, put together, appreciated, and put on the amazing gift he placed within us, an amazing thing begins to happen.

The gift he gave us becomes a gift for others.

And all of it points straight back to the ultimate Gift. Jesus Christ himself.