Monday, January 30, 2017

Bottomless Pit

I have a teenage son. He eats all the time, as teenage sons do, and reaches more often for whatever is quick and convenient. He truly is a bottomless pit. And you know what? I can be one too. Spiritually speaking that is.

See, we were created with a cavernous hole that only God can fill. Because of this, we have a constant hunger in our spirit. And much like a teenager, we don't always reach for the best things to fill it. We tend to reach for people, asking them to fill the emptiness inside of us and getting upset when they cannot. We reach for success, feeling less-than when we don't reach the mark we've set for ourselves (one often set by comparing our lives to others). We reach out for money, but when it's bought us everything on our list and filled our bank accounts, we still feel empty. Even gaining status or the title you strive for doesn't satisfy for long.

That list can go on. Some of us even reach for alcohol or drugs to try and fill what has left us feeling so hollow. But nothing can fill the spot meant for God. This yearning is supposed to be here because it's meant to make us hungry for him. And when we turn to him, when we seek him, he is faithful to fill us to overflowing so that we will never be hungry or thirsty again.

What are you trying to fill your bottomless pit with today? If it's anything other than Jesus, let go of it right now and turn to him. He's right there waiting with all you'll ever need.

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

Friday, January 27, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - Control Girl by Shannon Popkin

One of the things I love most about working in women's ministry is the vast amount of Bible studies I am privileged to have sneak peaks at seeing. When Shannon Popkin's debut, Control Girl, ended up in my hands, I was immediately hooked by that title. I'll admit to battling this issue in my life, and I couldn't wait to delve into the subject. So here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

Little fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don't match your version of perfect. Tension, anger, fear, anxiety--it all begins with a heart that craves control. When your perspective of how life should go replaces God's, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts. 

Thankfully, there is a better way.

Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and 
about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve's desire to know instead of trust, Sarah's inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah's controlling hand on her family's future, each of these women's stories contain warnings and lessons for us today. 

Learn how you too can lay down this burden of trying to control everything and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.

Like I mentioned above, the title immediately grabbed my attention, but it was the sub-title that hooked me. I love Bible studies that delve into the lives of the women (and men) of the Bible. The reminder that real people dealt with the same struggles as we do--and have since the beginning of time--makes me feel not so alone. It also allows me to see the reality of victory through Christ Jesus. Popkin does an amazing job at this. She has a way of balancing personal moments with the age-old Biblical stories that allow women of today to completely connect with the material. I found the read easy and enjoyable while also pushing me to surrender several areas of my life to God's shoulders rather than my own--a struggle I wage daily:)

Popkin's debut is filled with these relatable stories and attainable applications that will have you releasing any tight grips you still hold on areas you need to release. She backs everything up with Scripture, which only made the strength of this study greater, for there is no stronger Truth to change our lives than the Word of God. 

I truly enjoyed this study and happily give it 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

Happy reading, friends!

***I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.***

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

I've only read one other book by Michelle Griep, and I liked it well enough to keep a watch on her name. The Captive Heart released in October, and I finally had a chance to read it. I'm so glad I did! Here's a short blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

Proper English governess Eleanor Morgan flees to the colonies to escape the wrath of a brute of an employer. When the Charles Town family she’s to work for never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is forced to settle for the only reputable choice remaining to her—marriage to a man she’s never met. Trapper and tracker Samuel Heath is a hardened survivor used to getting his own way by brain or by brawn, and he’s determined to find a mother for his young daughter. But finding a wife proves to be impossible. No upstanding woman wants to marry a murderer.

The Captive Heart was one of my favorite novels in some time. Maybe because Griep did such an amazing job of sweeping me straight into the wooded colonies and the struggles occurring there. At times I felt more as if I was watching a movie than reading, and that only enhanced my enjoyment of this book.

I fell in love not only with the setting, but with these two characters--three if you count Samuel's daughter, Grace. Samuel was such a strong male lead, and Griep balanced that strength with emotion that only served to deepen his character on every page. Adding Eleanor into the mix, a woman who only rose to the challenges placed in front of her, made this book a story I didn't want to put down. The plot was well paced, the story elements organic, and the ending...well one that definitely delivered a sigh-worthy smile. I happily recommend The Captive Heart, and you can purchase it here.

Happy reading, Friends!

Monday, January 16, 2017

God Interrupted

Recently I was having a quiet morning with God. It'd been a busy week, and I'll be honest, I was beyond spiritually dry. I'd sat my devotional and my Bible on the counter, grabbed a cup of coffee, and perched on my stool. Then I invited God to just talk to me right there at my counter. And you know what, he did:) Isn't that just like our Father? He longs for time with us.

The conversation flowed as I flipped through the passages he directed me to and pondered the insight he delivered. It soothed my soul. Then right in the middle of our talk, my phone dinged. I'd had it near me because one of the devotionals I do is on it. I couldn't help my eyes, they cut to the side to see who'd texted or emailed. Turns out it was an important text that I believed I needed to answer. So I grabbed my phone and did just that, then sat it down and picked up with where God and I were at. Another minute and another ding from my phone. Another item I felt I needed to answer, so I did. As I returned once again to my Bible, another beep erupted from my phone and as I reached for it, God delivered a picture straight to my heart.

It was of myself at a dinner table in deep, intimate conversation with a friend. I never saw their face, but I know our conversation was important. Right in the middle of their speaking, another person approached and interrupted...and I gave them my full attention leaving my friend open-mouthed and mid-sentence. Then after I finished my new conversation, I turned and expected for my friend to continue as if nothing strange had occurred.

And I thought, Lord, I'd never do that to someone. To which he replied, "You just did. To me."

Friends, how easy it is to let distractions around us interrupt God's voice. Oh, may we not do that! If we wouldn't let someone break into our conversation with a friend, let us definitely not do it with our God. Protect your time. God may not be physically present in it, but his presence is still there. He is still there. Wanting to talk if we'll only stay engaged and focused with him.

So put aside the distractions. Sit with him. Listen to him. Commune with him. You'll be amazed at all he has to say if you'll only listen.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - Never Forget by Jody Hedlund

I've been a fan of Jody Hedlund's for several years now, so I was anxiously awaiting her newest book in the "Beacons of Hope" series (which I'd thought she'd finished!), Never Forget. I had it in my hands towards the tail end of our Christmas Break and enjoyed my last weekend off snuggled up and reading it. It was wonderful--no surprise there:) Here's a short blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island June 1880 Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves? Abbie Watson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves. Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past. Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse. The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband? 

The set-up for this book completely intrigued me. I was hooked as soon as I saw the blurb. And the story did not disappoint. The interactions between Abbie and Nathanial...well, let's just say they were exactly what each other needed. But not only did I love watching their relationship develop--and wonder how it could survive the truth once it inevitably came out--I also loved Abby's relationship with her Gramps. He was a wonderful addition to the story that only deepened its layers.

Never Forget was a treat to read. I've come to know what to expect from Hedlund's books, yet they never feel like I've read them before. She's a trusted author who once again weaved a unique story that still delivers a fresh happy ending. And while this is book 5 in the "Beacons of Hope" series, it is very much a stand-alone as well. Feel free to start with this one and work your way through the others:) You can purchase Never Forget here

Happy reading, Friends!

***I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.***

Monday, January 9, 2017

Whose Side is He On Anyway?

I was reading recently in Joshua right at the point where Joshua is nearing Jericho. You know, that large city with an even larger wall around it? The one he was supposed to conquer? Well, that evening he camped beside city and the commander of the Lord's army came to speak to him. Here's the passage that stopped me:

Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"
"Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come." Joshua 5:13-14

That one little word neither is what hitched me up. I'd never really paused on it before because I was so excited that Joshua had this encounter. But this time that word caused me to stop. See, so often when God shows up in the midst of our circumstances in a big way, we naturally assume he's on our side! He's here to fight on our behalf and take down our enemies--and he does fight for us! Yet look again at that passage. Whose side is he on? Neither.

He's not on our side or our enemy's side...he just IS. He's the Great I Am, and his ultimate goal is for HIS success, not ours. Saying that, however, doesn't diminish his love for us, because nothing can dim the light of his love--it's bottomless, unfailing, and soul-quenching. But at the end of the day it's not about his being on our side, it's about his glory being seen, and if we experience a success because of that then wonderful! But if we experience a set-back, then let's remember there's a much bigger picture than the tiny piece of it we see.

God is our protector. He's our provider. He's our healer. He lights our way, gives us guidance, and delivers us from our enemies. But he is not our teammate. He's our Sovereign Father. He sees the beginning from the end and holds time in his hand. Let's trust him with whatever we're facing right now knowing that every success points to him and every set-back has a reason. Nothing is wasted with our God. Nothing.

And he loves you so very much.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - Concealed Identity by Jessica Patch

Christmas Break is officially ending at the Tuttle household. I've been especially quiet over here as I've been hanging out with my family and taking a bit of a social media break. Or at least a pause:) Which has also allowed me to do some reading! I'm excited today to share Jessica Patch's newest LIS. Here's a blurb and we'll chat on the other side.

After Holt McKnight's criminal informant disappears, the DEA agent must go undercover to get close to the missing man's sister, who may know more than she's letting on. But when Blair Sullivan's attacked, it's up to him to protect her—without blowing his cover. Blair isn't sure she can trust her new neighbor, Holt. After all, the last charming and handsome man she fell for was her late husband, and he turned out to be the brother of a ruthless drug lord. Yet when it's clear the target on her back is somehow linked to her past, she has no choice but to accept Holt's protection. Even if getting close is the last thing her scarred heart can handle.

With her strong leads that match each other so well, the twists you never see coming, and those little bits of humor that perfectly balance the suspense, Patch is an author whose books I cannot wait to read. Concealed Identity gives us another story filled with everything you've come to expect from her books. The plot moves quickly and intricately even within the shorter length LIS tend to be. Patch connects you well to her characters and the setting, bringing you directly into the story within the first pages. And even though conflict comes up, it's always resolved into a very happily (and believable) ever after.

Looking forward to the next of her books--which should be here yet this year! For now you can purchase Concealed Identity here :) Happy reading, Friends!

***I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.***