Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Third Day's New Single Lift Up Your Face

Just had to share my new favorite song! I can hear this and just get fired up as the music plays. Gotta love those songs that speak to your heart and can give you a message of hope. If I lift up my face to Him, I will see Him clearly. If I lift up my face to Him, He will show me His glory. Have a listen and enjoy!!

Get off that stationary bike!

Stationary= Fixed in a station, course, or mode: immobile. Unchanging in condition.
Have you ever rode a stationary bike? You can peddle for hours, feel tired, feel as though you worked out, but never go anywhere. I must say I never liked riding a stationary bike. It was just so boring to me. You might get a good workout, but I prefer the sun shine. I prefer the fresh air and the beautiful sights outdoors while riding. I have to be honest and say, it has been a long time since I road a bike, but as a kid, it was my favorite thing to do. You could go across our little town. You could visit a friend. Ride to softball practice, or just enjoy the fresh air. I could ride all day and never grow tired of peddling down the street. It didn't matter if I was going up hill or down hill, I could go free hand, stand on the seat. I could even carry a friend on the back. A bike is just one of those amazing gifts of childhood we should never out grow. We should continue in that same manner as we did as a kid.

We get so lazy today. Everything is at our feet. We don't even have to go out of our home if we don't want to. Everything is easy. We just get on the computer or text. We can shop on line, pay our bills and even order take out. How much lazier could we possibly be?

We get so stationary in life. I know I do. I would rather just stay in that one spot, that easy spot, in the safety of my own home than get out there and let the wind blow through my hair and take a chance of falling.

I can think of Peter and Paul. They lived their lives without fear. Change came daily. They never knew what the next day was going to bring. They lived in faith and that was enough. Did they fall? They sure did. They took routes that took them away from the road they should be on, but the Lord brought them right back on track. Once on track, they peddled and peddled with an endurance that left a legacy for others to follow.

We see Peter. We know he denied Christ three times. We know Christ told him he loved him three times after. We know that Christ had three spikes driven in His hands and feet to show the world there is no denying Him. Once Peter realized he fell off his bike, Christ didn't leave him there bleeding. He picked him up. He carried him until he could walk on his own again. Christ was not stationary in Peter's life.

Look at Paul. He was once Saul, the feared man of Christians. He couldn't be trusted for the longest time after He became Paul. Christ changed this man. He gave him a new life. He gave him new meaning. He picked this man who fell up and washed him clean. Paul didn't remain stationary. He walked wherever Christ called him to go. He gave his life for his Savior.

I can only hope I would never deny my God. But do I really know for sure I wouldn't? I can say I would never deny Him, but so did Peter. Peter never thought he would deny his brother, his God, his Savior. But he did. He chose to walk away. I can only hope this new life Christ has given me will only continue to grow. If I am beaten, bruised, imprisoned, I pray I will never turn from God, but will keep moving, keep believing and keep witnessing His name.

It is when I am stationary that I seem to lose my way. I get lazy and bored. It is in those changing times, those times in which I cannot see past right now, that I find Christ there, waiting, leading and motivating me forward. I want my walk with Him to be just as I am riding along as the wind is blowing, peddling fast up those hills and coasting down those slippery slops. I want to live in freedom. I want to live with a smile on my face daily. I want to see the beauty before me, stop and take a close look, getting right back on and seeing what is next in life for me.

God doesn't want me to be a lazy Christian. Is there even such a thing? I don't think so. I don't think they can be combined. I am either one or the other. I must choose to live just in my own little box, or step outside and experience all God has for me.

Where are you? Are you ready to ride? I want to ride with determination. I want to ride with a joy that can only come from loving each moment like there is no tomorrow.

Matthew 26:34-35 "Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times'. Peter said to Him, 'Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!' And so said all the disciples."

Matthew 26:69-75 "Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, you also were with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied it before them all, saying, I do not know what you are saying. And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth. But again he denied with an oath, I do not know the Man! And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you. Then he began to curse and swear, saying I do not know the Man! Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. So he went out and wept bitterly."

John 21:15-19 "So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You. He said to him, feed My lambs. He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, tend My sheep. He said to him a third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish. This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, Follow Me."

In Acts 8 we see that Saul persecuted the church. We see in Chapter 9 that on the road to Damascus Saul is converted. His life is changed forever. He is no longer stationary, but he will continue to move for the Lord until his last day of life. In 8:6 we see Saul changed and moving for God: "So he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord what do You want me to do? Then the Lord said to him, Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

Romans 12:1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

In my stationary life I am not going to go anywhere. It may feel like it,but I need to remove myself from myself and allow the Lord to live through me. Whatever road He takes me down, I must be willing to go. Whatever He calls me to do, I must be that willing vessel. My friends it is time to get off that stationary life and start moving for the Lord toward a life with no regrets!

Can you get any closer?

The television is on and our kids are right up close. They are as close as they can possibly get without being in the television. Our daughter, Whitney, would watch Barney as close as she could get. She would have her eyes glued to each movement of this big, purple creature. She would be singing along and just in awe. She would want to watch all day if she could. Our son would scoot as close as he could to get a glimpse of Elmo. He could dance and sing along, but he wanted to be as close as possible. He didn't want to miss a thing. Now, our daughter Ashley, she was in love with Lamb Chop. She would hold her Lamb Chop while the show was on. You could not get her attention. She was glued to every word and every song. When they were all three small, they would take turns watching. First, Jacob got to watch Sesame Street with Elmo, then Whitney's show came. Barney, the big, purple dinosaur. Ashley would wait patiently for Lamb Chop. But something amazing happened. They all joined in the love that one another had for each show. It was a sweet time in our home. Our three youngest, watching morning television, sitting as close as they possibly could.
There were times they would even sit on my lap and we would watch together. Sitting together, being involved, and loving each moment was just a sweet time. That is how my time with the Lord should be. I should want to sit on His lamp. There are those times I do. I just cry out to Him to hold me. To hang on tight while I cry. I should always want to be as close as I can possibly get. I should move closer when I cannot see. I should get involved in Him like I would a television show. Sadly, I at times can get more involved in watching television than I can paying attention to His calling.

There are those times we cry out to Him, but there are those others He is calling us. He is calling us to come closer. To pay close attention and not to miss a thing. But we do. We get off His lap. We run just like children to go do something else, something more fun. Until we get skinned up. Until we fall, and there we are calling out to Him for help. For comfort.

I should be as my children were. I should be so attuned to Him that nothing can tear my attention away. I should want to wake to Him each morning and as I lay my head down He should be the last One I speak to.

Why does it take me so long to learn? Why can't I just get it the first time? If I spent as much time with Him as I do with other things, my walk would be One that shined and glimmered in this dark world. Today I can sit back and think of those sweet times with my children. I can remember and wish for more time. Does Jesus do that with me? Does He remember when I first came to Him and all the time I spent with Him? Does He wonder why I no longer crawl upon His lap like I use to? Is He longing for more time? I think so. I can hear Him call to me. I can feel His presence wanting me to be closer. To be nearer.

I should want to be on His lap not only in those hard times when I am afraid, but in those special times. Those times in which I have much to praise. He should be the first on my list to share everything with. Too often He is not. I choose another first, before Him. I know how that feels. I know how hurtful it is when another chooses something over me. I feel left alone and feel as though I just don't matter. How can do I do that to my God who loves me so? My life is His. My time is His. My joy is Him. I don't need to make more time. I just need to spend the time I have with Him. Once I begin my morning with Him, I can speak to Him all through the day. I don't have to turn Him off like my children did their favorite shows and only wish for more. I can have Him all day. I just need to tune everything else out, and turn up the volume in my heart.

How close are you? How close do you want to be? I think of Mary and Martha. While Martha was busy in the kitchen and through the house, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. She was right where she needed to be. She was tuned in. She was ready. She let everything else go and focused on Him. I want a heart such as Mary's. I want to be so focused that I can hear every word and love note He has for me. I want to hear His correction the first time. Not learn the hard way. His lap is big enough for all. He wants us there close to Him. Mary knew there were other things she could be doing, but she realized Jesus is here! Jesus was in her living room. He was sitting in her chair. Can you imagine? I know in heaven I will get to sit at His feet. I will see Him face to face. But for now, I can crawl in His lap. I can find Him in my heart. I can feel His presence. All I have to do is speak His name.

Luke 10:38-42 "As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, 'Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.' But the Lord said to her, 'My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.'"

Wherever you are today. Don't be so concerned about the details that you miss the big party. Don't allow the busy day to get away from you. Take time and crawl up in the lap of our Savior. Spend a while just soaking in all His love.


I received this beautiful Pitt Minion Reference Bible in brown goatskin leather from Bethany House Publishers. It is an ultra thin bible. The paper is ultra thin, smooth and opaque. The words of Christ are in red. It is easy to read and easy to hold. This beautiful Bible is just the right size to carry to church or along on a trip and even in your purse. This would make a wonderful gift Bible. This is a classic. A Bible that will last a life time. It is compact, but easy to read. I was so excited to receive such a lovely Bible. It is one I will carry and cherish forever.
The first Cambridge Bible-an edition of the Geneva Bible-was published in 1591. As the oldest Bible publisher in the world, iwth an unrivalled tradition stretching back over four centuries, Cambridge has a long-standing reputation for quality and craftsmanship.

This Bible was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.

LOL WITH GOD (Devotional messages of hope & humor for women) by PAM FARREL and DAWN WILSON

Today we instant message everyone. Today everything is fast and easy. We can reach anyone at any time by just a few quick movements of our thumbs. In this fast pass we live in are we making room for God? He is there to receive our messages, are we here to receive His? This is a fun and quirky devotional you will enjoy if you love texting. If you are not, you will learn the lingo and much, much more. This is great for young women, teens, and yes, even us in our forties and older. This book adds laughter to our hearts and a deep message to carry each day. We tend to leave the humor out, but I think God would enjoy a little humor in our lives and trust Him enough to just find pure joy. You will find that in this devotional. This is even one of those books you could use for giving lessons to your Sunday school class or a young teen class. It is a book we can relate to in this world of speedy messages and those LOL's we love to add on to our messages of love. This one is just one that leaves you with not just love, but hope throughout the day.
Feeling tired, stressed or disconnected with God? In this devotional, authors Pam Farrel and Dawn Wilson, provide real-life stories mixed with a splash of humor and an encouraging word from God to help women get through often hectic days. Joy from God, unlike the fleeting happiness of the world, transforms the soul and helps to heal frazzled, broken women. A cheerful heart is still good medicine (Proverbs 17:22), and women need it in mega-doses! There will always be a need for humor to cheer our hearts, and when that humor is paired with powerful truth principles from Scripture, women will be revived and refreshed. To make it fun, the authors have taken Scripture verses and made them into text messages similar to those you might see on your cell phone.
This book was a gift from Tyndale for it's review.
Pam Farrel is a relationship specialist, international speaker, and author of over 25 books, including the best-selling Men Are Like Waffles—Women Are Like Spaghetti. Formerly a pastor's wife and director of women's ministries, Pam is now president of Seasoned Sisters. Pam and her husband, Bill, write a column on relationships and are frequent guests on shows like Focus on the Family.

Dawn Wilson is the founder and director of Heart Choices Ministries. Writing and speaking to women of all ages, she encourages them to make wise, proactive choices that will change their lives, increase their fruitfulness, and glorify God. Her blog, Heart Choices Today, and monthly newsletter, Choices, Choices, Choices, motivate and challenge women in their marriages, parenting, finances, ministry, and personal growth.
As a freelance writer and researcher, Dawn assists author and Revive Our Hearts radio teacher Nancy Leigh DeMoss; writes for a prophecy-focused television ministry; and serves as communications director for Seasoned Sisters—Pam Farrel's national ministry to women over age 40. Dawn worked 11 years for the nation's largest Christian newspaper, Christian Examiner, and continues as a freelance journalist. Each Sunday, Dawn teaches a women's class at Shadow Mountain Community Church near San Diego. The joy of her heart is writing curriculum to help women grow in their understanding of the Christian worldview and how to apply God's truth to their lives.
Dawn and her husband Bob founded the leadership development organization PaceSetter Ministries, and she travels with him in international ministry. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. She loves chocolate, cherry pie, her dog Bailey, and red convertibles.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Where is that compact? What are you seeing in yours?

We all carry them. Those little compacts with mirrors so we can check ourselves through the day. We look in the mirror as we get ready in the morning. Throughout the day we may look into that mirror as we pass, or just to check ourselves before leaving home. We seem to look in the mirror a lot, don't we? Ever walk into a beauty salon? Hmm... There are mirrors everywhere. We need the front view, the side view and back. We pass by those store front windows that allow us to see ourselves as we pass. Sometimes it can be frightening to look if you haven't in a while. Do you ever just catch yourself in the mirror and think, "Who is that lady?" Everywhere we turn we become fixed on what we look like.
As I was listening to my Pastor yesterday, he said, "There will be no mirrors in heaven." That thought stuck with me throughout the day. I began thinking of how many times I look in the mirror at my self. In heaven I won't be looking in a mirror to see myself, I will be focused on gazing at the beauty of Christ, praising Him. So, that brings me to my second thought. Why am I waiting until heaven? Why am I not focusing on Him now, praising Him, and making sure it is He that I look to each morning first? Throughout the day instead of looking at myself, making sure everything is in place I should be focused on, "Is Jesus shining through me?" I need to be wondering if others can see Him through each step I take. That mirror I look in should totally be a reflection of Him. I shouldn't be concerned about how I look, but about how He looks through me. What are others seeing as they catch a glimpse of me? Is it His precious life they see through me? Is it His love, grace, and mercy?

In being a light to the world, my life should do nothing but lead others to Him. My life should be a testimony of His redemption and grace. All the good in my life is because of a loving Savior that chose to love me enough to give His life so that I might have life.

So, I don't need to make sure my hair is just perfect, or my make up is just right. I don't need to check and see if my clothes are fitting just perfect. I need to make sure my attitude is one that outshines my appearance. It doesn't matter what I have on, or if I have my hair done in that perfect style. If my heart is not in the right place, nothing is going to make me look more beautiful. Beauty begins on the inside. What this world calls beautiful is not what the Lord sees as beauty.

Beauty is simply loving others. It is serving. It is giving. It is reaching out. It is making it about Christ and those around us. Our mirror should show the Lord's heart and the lives of those around us that we are making an impact on. My life is not my own. The Lord is showing me that daily.

I used to be one of those girls who looked in the mirror quite often. It took me two hours to get ready for school. Our appearance is always something we care about, but more than this world seeing us and making it all about us, they should be seeing a reflection of Christ. It is all about Him.

I don't have to wait until heaven to see Him. I can look around me today and see Him all around me. Everything of beauty is from Him. Everything of good is all because of His love. I don't have to wait until heaven to spend my day worshiping Him. We were created to worship Him. We are created in His image, so when we pick up that mirror it is He that we should be seeing.

I now will carry my compact as a reminder. Each time I look into it, I pray I see Jesus. I pray that is the reflection others are seeing in my life. In my word, and actions, may they always speak of the life of Christ, pointing others to Him.
James 1:22-25 "But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says, and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it."
1 Peter 5:6 "So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The youth? What about their elders?

Today I heard someone complaining about our youth. For some reason this just touches my heart to the very core. I struggle with those complaining about our youth. I struggle with someone putting everyone in one category. I thought upon this all day. Really, when say I struggle with this I really truly do.
When I see our "Youth" I see beautiful people. I see people trying to find their way in this world, and many, if not most are being led by parents and others who still haven't found their way. Can the blind lead the blind?

When I think of our "Youth" I wonder where are the examples? Where are those jumping in to help lead them? Where are those giving their time and love to those younger than themselves? It is easy to complain, but even more so, it is of great courage to step out beyond that complaining and reach out to those who are just simply searching in this dark world for some light. Are we not to be the light? Are we not to reach out?

I know I was once young. It is easy to sit back and think, "How awful these 'Youth' act this way today!" But I once was young and it was hard finding my way through. It was hard trying to be who I was made to be when I didn't even know the One who created me. If anything I can relate to the "Youth" of today. I know that hurt of searching. I know about that selfishness that leads the flesh. But today as an adult it is easier for me to reach out to them.

What is it they need? Examples! They need light and love. They need acceptance and value. They need to be labeled as more than"Youth". They are young people, learning and many are guiding themselves. We seem to give up so easy and blame others for what is going on, but can we really blame others if we ourselves are not stepping out to help? When we see a young person going the wrong way why do we not reach out to them? What is so frightful? In working with the young people I found all they really need is honesty. They need others to listen with loving hearts. Not judgemental people looking at them as if they are from another planet.

As an adult, I struggle daily. I find myself fighting my flesh. I find myself wondering who I am and if I am on the right track. It is hard enough being an adult in this world, but a young person? They have it even harder. They are just trying to find their way. Many are hurting and they just don't know where to turn. So what do they do? They end up turning to those who are leading them another way, into more darkness.

We also have young people to be proud of. If it were not for our young people, we would not have the freedoms we do today. We have young people fighting for the freedoms so we can sit here and complain. Ouch. I know. We have young people making a difference in this world. We have young people who are reaching out to others while we are sitting back in our own little box saying, "The Youth of today are so troubled!" Well, of course they are troubled. Where are the adults leading them?

What we as adults do in moderation, the young people of today will do in excess. We cannot live in a world of, "Do as I say and not as I do." We must be that light in their lives. Will they always follow? No, they won't, but I promise without a doubt they hear every word. They may act as if they are not listening, but they hear every word. When the Lord plants that seed and when the time is perfect they will follow. They will see. Many times we are stubborn and we must learn the hard way. I know I did and still do. I hate criticism. I hate to be wrong and I want to live for myself. If not for the grace of God there go I.

We forget about His grace. We forget His grace reaches all. We forget we at times may be the only bibles the young will ever read. What are they reading from you? From me? Are they seeing an open book? Are they seeing the Lord shine through us? Are we loving them on their level?

It's funny as we get older we expect a young person to just get it. We expect them to see as we do. It doesn't work like that. I am still a work in progress today. God hasn't given up on this stubborn girl yet and He never will. His love reaches all and in His love we should be reaching all.

Step out and reach out to a young person today. Tell them how special they are. Share your heart with them. Allow them to share their dreams and fears with you. Allow love to flow from your heart to another and be that willing vessel for the Lord to move through. We must do more than complain. We must do more than speak words. We must live what we say and say what we live! Make today the day you look at the "Youth" in a new light. May you see yourself in them, and may we reach the young people of today for a brighter tomorrow!

Micah 6:8 "No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

CHOOSING TO SEE by Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn

Mary Beth Chapman takes us to the deepest parts of her soul. She gives us a window into her family. She opens her heart with warmth and love. If you purchase a book this year, this is the book you should choose. I must say of all the books I have read this book was the greatest blessing of all.Within these pages we SEE not only struggle, but we SEE God's hope and joy! We SEE tragedy hit a family of faith, but from that tragedy that changed their lives forever we SEE beauty. Mary Beth speaks of the gifts of her husband, Steven Curtis and all the beautiful attributes of her children, but Mary Beth has a gift of humbleness and she shows us we can find a mighty strength in the Lord. Life is not always as we plan. We learn through life that God has a bigger plan and purpose than we could have ever imagined. God uses for good what Satan intends for harm. Choosing To See is a beautiful picture a real family. A family who chooses to SEE God's script for our lives. That script is not always easy, but through this one family's journey we can SEE we can do hard with Christ. You may find yourself within these pages, or you may just be blessed to cherish life with more meaning and purpose than ever before. We SEE those early days where Mary Beth and Steven met and fell in love. We SEE each of their children come into their lives and we SEE how God takes our unbelief, anger, hurt and molds us into healing. You might still see the cracks, but through this family of faith you will clearly SEE the Light streaming through. Mary Beth takes us inside her home and we get to meet her precious family. I loved this book, every single page unveiled God's truth and hope. From the forward, written by Steven Curtis Chapman, to the Prologue, written by Beth Moore, to the last pages we SEE a new hope in Spring coming.
This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.“Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of Grammy and Dove Award winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman. Together they began Show Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for the world's most vulnerable children by providing financial assistance to families wishing to adopt, as well as increasing awareness of the orphan crisis and funneling resources to orphans domestically and internationally. Mary Beth serves as president of Show Hope and is a speaker for Women of Faith 2010 with her husband. She is also coauthor with Steven of the Shaoey and Dot series of children's picture books. Mary Beth and Steven have six children: Emily, Caleb, Will Franklin, and adopted daughters Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy, and Maria Sue, who is now with Jesus. The Chapmans live in Tennessee.
Ellen Vaughn is a bestselling author and inspirational speaker. Her recent books include It's All About Him with Denise Jackson (wife of Alan Jackson), which debuted at #1 on the New York Times nonfiction list. She is also coauthor with Chuck Colson of Being the Body. In addition to her nonfiction work, Vaughn is an award-winning novelist. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, Lee.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I have read series before where the first book is captivating as each book after is written they lose something, but in this series, "Song of Alaska", they just keep getting better! I must say, this one might even be my favorite among the three. You will have to read to decide for yourself. This third in the series picks up with Britta, Lydia and Kjell's daughter. She is not only beautiful, but talented and has been traveling the world with her musical talents, but her heart is calling her home to Sitka, Alaska. She is determined and she is a strong woman who knows just what she wants. She has loved Yuri Bellikov since he saved her life at a young age. Yuri's life is in shambles. He is drinking and is lost in the ways of the world. Can he find his way back? The Lord has a way of bringing His children back into His flock and we see that happening here in Yuri's life. Love finds his heart after a long time feeling lonely and as though he just didn't fit. But Britta has many choices to make. As Yuri's life is changing she wants to be part of it, but she must come to terms with her past and say goodbye to those dreams that held her heart for so long. She is filled with new dreams now. They are surrounded by the Lindquist family once again and this family encourages and honors one another with a love that every family should hold. This story is of love, forgiveness, redemption, and sacrifice. I loved this book! It can be a stand alone book, but you will miss out on a great blessing if you pass up the first two. This series is one to treasure and one you would enjoy as a fall reading!

This book was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Haelie Heard

Today I have a sweet friend visiting. Ms. Haelie Heard. I first met haelie through the Max Lucado site and I knew right from the bat we would get along just wonderful. She is one of those girls that seems to light up the day with her smile and encouragement. She also happens to be a nurse, and who doesn't admire nurses? She is filled with grace and has a love for writing. If you haven't visited one of Haelie's blogs you have been missing out. She is a gifted writer, with a passion for sharing Christ with all those she meets. I wanted to have Haelie visit because she just has so much to share. She sees the heart of others and wants to serve God with all she has. Here is our chat. I know you will be just as blessed as this girl was.

(Robin) Haelie, tell me a little about yourself.
(Haelie) As I describe myself on my blog, "I am no different than many of you reading this. Because of what I have witnessed in my life of our Lord's redeeming love & saving grace, I testify that you are never too far gone for our God to love, forgive, & accept you. He truly is faithful even when we are not." Also, I will add that I have been married for six years to a wonderful man with whom I am growing and learning daily. We have a son who just turned five years old...man, time flies! He is, of course, a precious young man, full of life and joy.

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Haelie) Absolutely. Off and on throughout my life in various ways, though the time that was the most distinct was in my mid to late twenties as I was going through nursing school then as I was beginning my professional career and "big girl" life. (Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I am a Registered Nurse.) Anyway, I guess I came to a point in life in which I had been the good girl and Sunday School teacher for so long that I became burnt out on church and even God. Nursing school and nursing in general can also make a person become very cynical and jagged in their thinking as well, especially trauma intensive care nursing. I basically just decided it was my time to do "whatever I wanted to do" and did. Additionally, I began to really question all I had grown up believing about God, having grown up in the church. I began to convince myself that He may not really exist after all, so why pretend like He does? Well, after a few years of this, there came a place in my life where God allowed me to be flat on my back feeling utterly hopeless and helpless. At that time, I was face-to-face with the One True God. I must point out that, having been saved in high school, I know that all along this path I took running from God I never outran Him. In other words, I never became "unsaved" because I was not living right nor fully believing in Him. However, when I was at one of the toughest places in my life, I found myself crying out to Him to BE my Strength and BE my Hope because I alone had nothing left in me. At this point, I came to know my God on a very new, very real level. A raw, honest real relationship I had never truly experienced before began to develop from that time forward. True, I still have days when my faith is weak, but my God is never weak. He is always right there with me. He is my all in all.

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Haelie) HaHa! I just answered that in the last question. Guess I got a bit carried away. ;-)

(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Haelie) So many come out strong to me. A couple that are in my mind right now and often are: - 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I even apply this as not only temptation, but also "situation." It has helped me tremendously through the years.- Galatians 6:9 - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."- Song - "You are still Holy" by Rita Springer (& I especially like the way Kim Hill sings it http://community.maxlucado.com/video/you-are-still-holy )- Song - "Hold me, Jesus" by Rich Mullins ( http://community.maxlucado.com/video/hold-me-jesusrich-mullins )

(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Haelie) I look for sincerity in people. I have a good Reality Radar, and "fake-ness" really turns me off...although it does spur me into praying for that person and their obvious underlying issues with who they are. I do hope others see sincerity in me as well. I may not have it all together, but neither does anyone else, really. We all need to be able to let our guard down and be real, and to have others be just as real with us.

(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Haelie) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (have loaned it out so much I have had a difficult time tracking it back down at times), The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers, Fearless by Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado, Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, Esther by Chuck Swindoll, Streams in the Desert - Volume 1 by Mrs Charles E Cowman (was my late grandmother's favorite),and many many more!

(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Haelie) Get alone, read my Bible, pray...just STOP doing...just sit and rest in Him.

(Robin) What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Haelie) My new-found lack of fear. I have learned (often the hard way) that God truly does have everything under control, and even when things negatively surprise me, they are nothing He can't help me handle. I have also become very bold in sharing what is on my heart and mind, specifically about God and His Son and His Spirit - even to the point of carrying on deep conversations with a dear Agnostic friend.

(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Haelie) My husband, my son, and my enormous family. "Things" have dropped off of my love list in the past couple of years. True there are things that I treasure and enjoy, but I have been through some times in which I have learned that things will come and go and break and rust...the people in my life are truly what matters most to me.

(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Haelie) This is a great place to share my mission statement which I just completed about a week ago. My mission is: to be a voice, both written and audible, that unapologetically points to Christ and His sovereignly redemptive love and forgiveness.

(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Haelie) One thing that is so cliche' yet so true is "Let go and let God." Also, just the other night in the Max Lucado Community ( http://community.maxlucado.com/ ) Max himself visited and gave several members advice and such. His on-target advice for me during the "full plate" time of my life was "...be patient. At the right time God will slow things down and you can ramp things up." I just loved that!

(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Haelie) My love for the Lord and my passion for being a light for Him to anyone who may be in my path.

(Robin) What are you currently working on?
(Haelie) I work full-time as a Nurse Informaticist (work with computer programs for healthcare). In my spare time (HaHa!), I write for and administer three blogs. They are as follows: To Not Decide...Is To Decide (my own that I write and administer by myself) http://tonotdecideistodecide.blogspot.com/, What If... (the latest one I have helped launch...I write and administer it with one other person) http://whatifdotdotdot.wordpress.com/, and of course Faithful Feet: Walking Together in His Steps on our Journey of Faith (I co-administer and write for this one with 7 other writers - including Robin Prater - from all over the USA and the world.) http://faithfulfeet.byethost3.com/. Also, I am just following the path to getting published. I have just learned how to write a book proposal, so that is my next big project.

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Haelie) Living an obedient life of faith in God even in the way I respond to the many mistakes I make along the way so that I am a light for Him to all who surround me.

Haelie, thank you for being a guest here at the Nest. You have brightened my day and blessed me beyond words. I think we are going to have Francine Rivers come and be a guest since "Redeeming Love" seems to be a favorite book among all of us! I pray the Lord continues to bless your writing and I know He has many great things planned for you. I know I will soon see your name on the cover of a book in my hand for review! You are a sweet friend and I am forever blessed by our friendship. Having a sister in Christ like you makes life that much sweeter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feel like a little run?

Now, I am not a runner. But there are those days I feel like running. I feel like just taking off and running as far as I can. It's those hills that really get me though. It seems like you sweat more. You run harder. Your heart beats faster. You begin to run low on energy. It is in those very moments I feel like giving up, throwing up that white flag in surrender.
Ever just feel like going out and buying yourself a new pair of running shoes? Something that will help in that uphill battle? Maybe I am just running the wrong way. I always think it is easier to run away from my trials. It seems the farther away from them I am it would be better, but can we really run that far? I don't think we can. Even if we did run as far as we could, those trials just seem to pick up speed and meet us wherever we end up. Am I right?

Instead of running away from my trials I need to be running to the God who can give me the endurance I need to run the race.

Romans 5:3-5 "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love."

See, I need to run into those problems with a new attitude. I don't need to look at the hill with fear, but see it as a challenge before me. I need to look at that uphill battle as already won, and face it with a determination filled with hope. A hope that Christ gives us daily. He not only will face that challenge with us, but He will run along side us, keeping each step with ours, cheering us on.

I need to put on my shoes with a new confidence. I need to lace them up with a new strength. I need to begin my run toward those trials knowing the Lord is there at the finish line waiting for me!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I an not shadowboxing. I discipline m body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."

I didn't quite understand what shadowboxing was when I first read this scripture, but the Lord has made it clear today. I don't just need to go through the motions. I need to face the day with a determination and move about with meaning and purpose. Just like a boxer training for a fight. He may shadowbox alone with that punching bag, but God wants me to do more than merely going through the motions and saying what I must do. He wants me to do it and do it with a passion. He wants me to get out of that practice ring and go out with my gloves on. I don't even have to train alone. He will train me! He will teach me endurance through each trial to face the next. He will give me strength not to just overcome today, but renew my hope in tomorrow!

Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne."

I can run today with a new energy. A new path set before me. A path where Jesus is leading the way. He will not only lead me through the valleys, but up those hills to the mountain top and back down again. Each race has meaning. Each racer has purpose. Are you ready to lace up with me today? With Jesus we can run in the sunshine on our face or with the rain upon our back. As long as we stay focused on Him and not how hard the run, we will finish with a crown of glory, only to hand to him, the One who crossed the ribbon long before us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What do you do with mad?

As of late I have found myself angry. Angry at what? Just plain old angry. Anger hides itself deep within us, deep within me, and this past week it has just burst out. I go along and think things are getting better, improving and what happens? My mom gets ill, Steve losses his job, his dad becomes ill, and a migraine is still here after thirteen days now. It's really more things too, things that just seem to pile up on us. You see those bills that need paid. You wonder why others lie, cheat and steal. I wonder why my husband cannot have the job he was promised. I lose myself in trying to find my way through this new mom I have. This new mom who doesn't remember well. This new mom who says mean things.
I know there are things I cannot change, and maybe that's why I am mad. I can't control the circumstances facing us. I cannot control this migraine. I cannot see my mom to healing today. I cannot make my father in law better today. I cannot send my husband out the door with a job. You know what? I think at times I am resentful, and I don't even understand why.

I would love to go to school. I would love to work. I would love to help provide for my family. I didn't go to school earlier because I chose to raise my children and stay home, teaching them. I thought once they are all grown, then it will be my turn. Well, now with my mother ill, I must be able to be here to care for her. If I go to school or work I cannot do that. I feel as though I have sacrificed much. And I find myself wondering,"When is it my turn?"

In all that anger there is selfishness. There is a girl who is still trying hold on to the control of life. Now, don't miss understand me. I see my blessings right in front of me. I see my daughter walking down the aisle within a few days. I see my oldest daughter bringing a child into this world soon. I see my son going into the Navy. I see my husband loving me each day and taking my hand through all this unknown. I see the Lord all around me. I see His provision and His love. But there is so much I don't understand. There is so much that breaks my heart. I see other's struggling. I see others in pain. I see others hurting in more ways than I can even fathom. I have friends who are fighting for their lives. I see others looking for jobs and coming up with a loss. I look at this world and wonder, "What is going on today?"

I want my husband to have that perfect job. I want him to find that job he loves and one that is lasting. I want him to be successful in whatever the Lord has for him. I want my relationship with my children to grow and I want to see them soar for Jesus. I want my mom back. I want normal! I want my health back. I want my migraines and Fibromyalgia gone for good! I don't want to see others hurt and struggle. I don't want to feel anger. I don't want to feel resentment over what I am not able to do, but take joy in what I can do. I don't want to be selfish. I want to serve and give. But this anger just keeps coming.

So I find myself asking God, "What have I done? Where do I go? Where are You? What must I do?" Have you ever been there with me? When things are going wonderful I never seem to ask God where He is. When the sun is shining I am not feeling angry. When all is going my way I am safe and secure. It's when things don't go my way that I am lost. Lost in pity. Lost in selfishness. Lost in wonder. Lost in all those emotions that take over and I just want to scream, "WHY?"

I find myself wondering, "Did I do something to cause this? Is God trying to teach me? Is He angry at me?" But then I hear Him. I hear Him tell me He loves me. I hear Him say, "I am here daughter." I turn away from me, the one who I seem to think has caused these circumstances in some way and reach for Him. It is then on my knees that I find redemption. It is there that I find the grace and mercy I do not deserve. It is there I find that my circumstances do not define me or my family. In letting go of my anger I see Jesus on the cross and I can only stop in awe and wonder at why He would give so much for me. He gave because He loves me. He really loves me.

He is in our home, our hearts, and surrounding us daily. He is here washing us in His love. I don't understand everything that touches us. I cannot even count back at how many years just seem like it has been struggle after struggle. But as I look back I cannot help but see how He has given us strength to endure and overcome each obstacle that has come our way. He hasn't left us, nor has He forgotten us. When I am in pain He is there motivating me through. In my deepest hurt with my mom, He is there on the other side of her words reminding me, "Love her. Simply love her." It is hard to watch your mother become someone you don't know.

Somewhere in all this I know the Lord is molding me, and teaching me. He is piecing together this girl who is broken. He is giving life to this girl who is searching for Him and His will. In my darkest days He is there casting a light for me to see. Even if it is just a glimmer, I can see it. As He reaches down to bring comfort to me I willingly take His hand and I can feel His touch.

I am a girl after God's own heart, but for me, each day is a struggle, and sometimes it is a mighty one. I fight my fleshly anger. I know if I lay it all down the Lord can take it and change it. Sometimes He chooses not to change the circumstances, but to change me through them. Sometimes there are those things I just have to accept. I am not perfect and this life is not perfect. If anything I am learning just to soak in each moment of beauty around me. To express my love for Him and to love those around me. I am learning my life is not my own. I must surrender everything I am and everything I have in order for the Lord to use me for His glory. In my surrendering, He comes in and covers me with His love. In surrendering I am giving Him my trust and faith. I must believe even when I cannot understand. I must have faith even when things just don't make sense.

Life must be a choice. I can choose anger or I can choose love. I can choose selfishness or I can choose to allow the Lord to be Lord of my life, the life He gave me at the cost of His life.

So, today I am laying my anger down, and picking up His redemption. I am laying down yesterday, and choosing to have faith in tomorrow. I am laying down my anger so that I can enjoy today. In today I can find the freedom in Christ who gives me strength!

I know there will be more struggles to come as I let these go. I know each day will continue to be a battle of some kind, but I know without a doubt that I can find Christ's hand upon me through it all.

Lord meet me where I am today. Meet me in my anger and selfishness and remove it. Take it along with the rest of my sin. Redeem me today. Renew me today. Refresh my life with a new purpose and plan. Wash me today in Your love. Father show me the way. Lead me through this fog, through this desert and set me in Your beautiful land that I will not hunger for more, but be content. I cannot go this alone, please walk this road with me, and show me through each step there is a stone for me to step on. I know even though I cannot see tomorrow You can. You know what is up ahead. You are already there. Help me to hold on, and run this race with an endurance that can only come from You.
Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."
Philippians 4:6-7 "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

When will we stand?

1 John 2:15-17 "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever."

Boy, this world can really get us moving in the wrong direction, can't it? Turn on the television and what do we have? Things that we should close our eyes to. Open the windows and what do we see? Things that our eyes don't want to see, but it's there staring us in the face. Crime, hate, hurt, mistrust, and roads that lead to dark places. There is so much going on around us, and much of the time we are blinded to it. It seems as though we get use to seeing such things that we just get accustomed to viewing it just as though it was on a movie screen, but it isn't. It is happening at our churches, in the hallways of the schools our children attend. It happens in the workplace and in the park where we walk our dog.

So much in this life we shouldn't see, but we choose to see it. We pay to see it at the movies. But then those very things we should choose to see, we push aside, hoping another will take care of it.

If we are not careful this world can suck us in quickly. We can be moving right along and before we know it we are caught up in something that will tear our lives apart. It is those small things that the devil wants to set our eyes on and those big things he very well wants our eyes to turn away from.

This world is not our home. All the glitter before us can catch our eye and soon we no longer care about right and wrong, but what will satisfy our desire. We are told, "You deserve it." What is it that we deserve? To serve ourselves? To dive into temptation? I remember my dad teaching me, "Just one time is all it takes." My dad was an alcoholic. He knew what that one drink would do. He lived that life and he didn't want to see his daughter take that path. Just one of anything can grab us before we know it. Just that one time not only effects us, but others around us. Nothing we do just touches us. Each choice. Each and every single one touches the life of another.

We can soon forget our children at home waiting on us and think we deserve to go out with the girls and have fun. This world's view of having fun is not dinner and movie, but a few casual drinks. Soon, we are no longer thinking of the kids, but we can't wait until work ends to go out and have fun, why? Because we deserve it.

The man who has worked hard all day decided to go out with the boys to the local gambling boat. Just taking a few dollars, no big deal. But soon, their bills are not being paid and no food is on the table. Those first few dollars sucked him in and now the water is rising. The boat is going under.

After taking care of the kids all day, working hard, everyone is now asleep, so what can she do? She can get on the Internet late at night and find someone new to talk to. Someone who can understand. Before she knows, she is packing a bag and saying good bye to the life she dreamed of. Now her children are crying and her husband is lost without her.

This world chases us. This world tries to captivate our souls. It changes our humble hearts into prideful arrogance. It takes innocence and turns it into shame. It takes one night of our life and changes it forever.

There are hurting children across your street. There is a woman about to take her life in your church. There is a man at your work place filled with anger. We can no longer walk about asleep. We must open our eyes to what is around us before it is too late. We must not overlook our neighbors, but reach out to them. They are just waiting for someone to reach them. Someone to love them. Someone to speak out against all that is wrong. Someone to stand for what is right and good. We must stand for those who cannot.

Will you stand? Will you reach out? Will you begin to make a difference? Let's do it together as brother's and sister's in Christ. May we stand as children of God with a faith that is strong and will reach those around us for the kingdom of God.

May we tune out all that tempts us. May we call out for strength to fight against the enemy. As we turn from all that tempts us, may we open our eyes to all that is good, right, and pure. May we be the bibles of this world. May we be the light of this world. May we allow Jesus Christ to live through us. May we put on our armor and take a stand today!

Colossians 3:12-17 "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing Psalms and hymns ans spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A heart's journey

I have been trying of late to keep a schedule of writing. I have been trying to write a quote for Monday, encouragement for Tuesday, pick a woman out for Wednesday, find scripture for Thursday and do an interview for Friday. I think I am exhausting not only myself, but my writing. On Tuesday I may not feel encouraged. On Monday I may just want to write about my struggle. On Wednesday I may want to share a song. I have been trying to hard to please others. When it comes down to it that is what I have been trying to do. I have been trying with everything I have to write for an audience, but in that I have lost track of the audience I am writing for. I began writing for One, and somewhere along the way I am losing that. I use to just sit down at the computer and my fingers would fly. I could sit back with tears in wonder at what I was seeing. It was though the Lord was speaking right to my heart. But now, I am losing that passion with trying so hard to write for others. My passion? Is Jesus Christ. I want to write, but I want to write as the Spirit leads me. It is only then that blessings will flow. It's not who reads it, or how many. It is simply me, following the leading of the Lord. That is where I want to be. That is where I need to be.
The Lord has been doing a work in my heart for a while now. I have had my sights set on dreams and I have been leaving Him out. He should be my focus. He should be the most important factor in my writing. Without Him leading me I have nothing. The gifts that He has given me are to be used for His glory and honor, not my own. I cannot write for the applause of man, but I must write for the One who lives in me. It is Him I need to stay focused on.

We can lose our way so easily. We not only have writer's block, but we seem to have a block that takes our focus off what is really important. Why do we get that block? It is the Lord saying to us, "Hello, where are you going without Me?" I cannot take off without Him. I cannot be Robin Prater without Christ at the center of all I do.

So, yes, you will see more changes. Those little gadgets at the bottom of each post letting me know if you liked it or not? Gone. I will still leave room for your thoughts. Your thoughts are important, they are rich blessings, but that is not why I write. God's thoughts are higher than any reader that will come along my blog. I can no longer focus on how many followers I have, or who stops by. I must focus again on the passion that Christ has instilled in me. I love hearing from you, the readers who choose to read what I pen. But please know, I want to serve my God before any other.

I am keeping, "Lets Chat Friday." I love having others stop in and share their hearts with us. That has become a blessing I was not prepared for. I have found mountains of wisdom and nuggets of richness to hold on to forever. I value those who stop in and chat. I love when the Lord moves through one to bless another. I will still have my book reviews, but when you stop in, you will just see the real me. The girl who is struggling. The girl who laughs at quirky things. The girl who is still trying to figure it all out. It is my prayer that you will be with me for this ride, this journey of faith, and change. Maybe that is why I seem to change my blog so very much. I am going through changes and I am finding this girl that the Lord is calling me to be. I fight with my flesh daily. Life is a challenge. But I want my heart to be pure. I want my heart to write for the Lord.

I don't want my feelings to lead me, but allow God to move through those emotions that come each day. Whatever this blog is to be, it will not be without the leading of the Holy Spirit and my humbleness to allow the Lord not only to do His will here, but to change me as well. I must be a willing vessel for Him to move through. I cannot do that if I am focused on one thing a day. I must leave my heart fully open to receive Him and His purpose for me.

I hope you will stay around to see all that He is doing, and will do in my life and those around me.

I don't even like Cracker Jacks

When I was a kid my dad would buy me a box of Cracker Jacks. I loved getting these boxes. It was not for the coated popcorn. It was all for the prize at the bottom of the box! Just that little trinket was worth the box. Sometimes you could get a really good box, and the prize would be there waiting for you on top, but more times than not it was on the bottom, way under all that stuff I didn't like. So, like any good daughter, I would give my popcorn treat to my dad and reach into the bottom off the box for the prize.
Just like today, I would rather hand over what I don't like and just reach in to grab the prize. I am learning to get to the prize I must go through the good and bad. I must endure that popcorn I do not like. I can't just pass it on to another or throw it out. Somehow that is wasting. Even if it is stuff I don't like, there is a purpose to it all. That's why the prize is at the bottom of the box. Once we have gone through whats in the box, it makes it even more special to reach it and take hold of that prize, that one little trinket that brings joy to our heart.

My dad was no fool. He knew his daughter did not like Cracker Jacks, but he bought them anyway. Why? He enjoyed seeing his daughter light up when she got to the prize. Not unlike our heavenly Father, He too loves to see us light up when we receive the prize waiting for us. He too knows we do not like what is in the box, but while we endure what it contains, He has that prize there waiting.

Whats awesome is I got to share that box of Cracker Jacks with my dad. He knew I didn't like those peanuts most of all, so he ate them, leaving me the best part. Our heavenly Father knows what we don't like, and He shoulders that for us. He reaches in and shares that box right along with us. He sees us trying to make it through the box, enduring the time it takes to reach the very bottom. Sometimes in my life, I must go to the very bottom before I really take value of the prize. I am hard headed, stubborn and a slow learner, but God stays there with me. Isn't it just like a spoiled child to not want whats in the box, but only take the prize? Oh, that happens in my walk more times than I can count. I can tell the Lord, "No, I don't like that and I don't want that, but please give me the prize, the blessing anyway." I cannot pick and choose. I cannot just pick out all those things I don't like and grab hold of the good stuff. It's when I go through the whole box, after the box is emptied, all the crumbs are shaken out in my hand that I see the prize for what it is really worth. It is then I can take hold of that blessing and see the price that was paid for it.

Jesus Christ paid the price so that I could find the prize. Life. Abundant life with Him. My prize? Heaven. The cost? The shed blood of Jesus Christ. For all He endured, He did it for me. He is alive in me today so that I too endure. I know with Him I can make it through those things I don't like. Just as my dad once sat next to me, taking all I did not want, leaving me the prize, Jesus Christ is right here with me, seeing me through, cheering me on, handing me a gift far greater than anything I could ever find in the bottom of a box of Cracker Jacks.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me, but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So, fun to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what is should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."
Romans 5:3-5 "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."

Monday, August 23, 2010

What a dance it has been

"She spins and she sways to whatever song plays without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here with the wearing the weight of the world on my shoulder's

It's been a long day and there's still work to do

She's pulling at me saying, 'Dad, I need you, there's a ball at the castle and I've been invited and I need to practice my dancing

Oh please, Daddy, please.'

so I will dance with Cinderella while she is here in my arms Cause I know something the prince never knew

Oh, I will dance with Cinderella

I don't want to miss even one song

Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight but I know the truth is the dance will go on."

"Cinderella" Words and music by Steven Curtis Chapman

Our little Cinderella will wear a gown and walk the aisle, looking more beautiful than ever. Our baby girl will take her daddy's hand and walk to another.

Those days where she danced, blew bubbles and looked to us with those big, blue eyes went so very quickly. It seems like yesterday she was walking on our toes and now she is in love with a young man who will walk with her through life. A life I pray that is rich with blessings. A life that is surrounded by love and one that stands firmly on the faith she found as a little girl.

I feel as though we have shared a beautiful dance. Now, she will dance to a new song, and a new hope.

She has always danced to the beat of her own drum. She can light up a room with just a smile. She is strong and people just seem to connect with her everywhere she goes. She is a friend to all her meet her. You catch that smile, those beautiful eyes and you hear her laughter that just makes you light up with joy.

From Barney and Popsicles, dresses and bows, she has lit up our lives in a way we never thought possible. We have watched her take her first step, her first swim, and her first quick peddle on her bike. We have watched her fall, slip and slide. Now we will again watch her take another step, a step of love after to a young man she dreams of standing next to her whole life. We will watch her dance a new dance Saturday, August 28Th. A day she has dreamed of, planned for and will forever remember. We stand proud as her parents. I am honored to be her mother, her momma. For all the changes that may come, that is one that will always remain. I will always be her momma. Her daddy will always remember her sweet hand in his and her giggle that made him grin. His heart will always remain there with his daughter, carrying on with his love of a little girl he fell in love with right from the start.

We raised our daughter with love, but more so, I think our daughter grew us. As she continued to grow, we too grew right along with her. Where there were mistakes, forgiveness blanketed those wounds. Where tears once fell, laughter takes over with a joy that has always remained strong. Life is not always easy and through it we can choose to move forward or stay behind. With Whitney, you must move forward. She loves with her heart and lives in the moment. She is the girl you want to dance with. She is the girl who will steal your heart with just one look.

As some girls carry beauty on the outside, her beauty begins within and flows out through her life. She doesn't just dream, she chases those dreams with a determination that will only allow her to soar.

It is my hope that she knows just how loved she is. It is my hope that she can always look back and see us there every step of the way cheering her on. Only heaven knows the prayers that her life contains. Prayers of joy, peace and love. Prayers of health, happiness and a life filled with purpose with Christ as the center. If there is one who can change the world, it our baby girl. I know the Lord has big plans for this woman. This woman who once graced our lives in little shoes, blue dresses and laughter. I pray the laughter continues as she begins a new life on this day.

Lord, keep Your hand upon our baby girl. As she dances, watch over her, keep her safe, protect her and smile upon her life. I pray her dance continues and others dance with her even as the music has stopped. Thank You for blessing us with a beautiful daughter who taught us how to dance.

LOVE, CHARLESTON by Beth Webb Hart

This is the first of the books I have read by Beth Webb Hart. I must say it is was the cover that grabbed me. Here you have a woman opening the windows into a new, beautiful light, casting her eyes across Charleston, South Carolina. This book takes you into the heart of Charleston where the characters are deep and so very real. I was able to relate to each character as their lives are revealed to us through these pages. We meet Roy Summerall who is trying to move forward with his daughter after losing his wife. Life is just not the same, but Roy is trying to find his way through. He is the Reverend at Good Shepherd where the folks are right nice and cheerful. It is where he calls home, but the Lord has new calling for him. He is now called to a new church in the heart of Charleston, where the people are quite different and to him, he thinks there is a big mistake. Is he ready? Is he willing? Drama? There is always drama isn't there? We meet Anne, who is waiting on love, Alisha, her cousin, and Della, her sister, who all have a story of their own to work through. Anne believes she heard God telling her to wait in the bell tower for love and it would come. When God says, "Wait", that is exactly what we should do, even though waiting is not always easy. We see the lives of these three ladies unfold as they intertwine in this beautiful town of Charleston. I must say, this book started out a bit slow for me, but it one with a rich characters and soon grabbed my attention. By Roy moving into a new church, how will these characters collide? I think you will be surprised. Beth Webb Hart has a way of bringing the story together and leaving you longing for more.
This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's inside your frame?

I love going to the St. Louis Art Museum. It is one of those places I can stay for hours just staring at a painting. I look with wonder at what each stroke took. I take in the colors and only imagine what the painter was thinking when he designed the piece. Was it to make a statement? Was it to add beauty? Was it to make us think? Sometimes as I look I don't just wonder about the artist, but I dream as if I were there, deep within the setting. Would I see the same thing? Could I describe it as intricately?
I notice the framework around each piece. The framework can make the painting even more beautiful. Whether it is golden, silver or wooden, it brings out the beauty of the painting in just the right way. They seem to accentuate each other to bring your eye deep within the painting.

Now, there are those pieces that I just pass by. They do not peek my curiosity. They do not make me think, nor do they excite me. I am sure the artist put much time into his work, but there just seems to be something missing for me. I would rather spend my time looking at something that is not only beautiful, but will add wonder to my life.

We can look at our lives in the same way. What is our framework made of? When someone stops by and looks, are they going to stay awhile and admire the beauty or will they walk by with nothing to catch their eye? Who is the designer of your life? Is He well known?

Sometimes I think I try to paint my own portrait instead of handing the brush over to God and allowing Him to make each stroke. I want others to walk by my life and see clearly who the artist is. I want my life to be one that others stop and glance at for a bit, seeing something unique, something that stands out and catches their eye.

I can put whatever I want into the picture, but if the frame is not one of great quality and design whatever is in the picture will not be lasting. The framework holds everything together and brings the eye to the center of detail. God knows how to place that detail in such a perfect way that it always reflects right back to the frame.

An artist who knows much about his craft will use the best of everything. He will have colors in his pallet that will allow the eye to travel through a different time and place to bring something of value to the eye and to the heart. An artist has a heart for creating and a passion for detail. Our Creator has a heart and passion for you and I. He created us with His loving hands. Trust Him with the life He has given you. Give Him the brush today and place His framework around your life. He will create a masterpiece. A one of a kind portrait, signed, sealed and covered in His love.

Psalm 139:14-15 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth."

CATCHING MOONDROPS by Jennifer Erin Valent

The story is continued with Jessilyn Lassiter, a young nineteen year old, who has grown into a woman as one summer changes her life forever. Jessilyn is one of those girls who has no fear. She stands for what is right and here in the country of Calloway there are many things that needs changing. Here black and white do not mix. Here pain and fear take grasp of life according to the color of your skin. Jessilyn is not alone. Right by her side is Gemma, her best friend, who has skin darker than hers, but to Jessilyn she doesn't see that. All she sees is beauty, a friend and a sister. Life's tragedy brought these two young girls together as the Klan terrorized Gemma's family in "Cottonwood Whispers". Life is not easy, but life brings blessings and love to these two young women. Jessilyn is deep in love with Luke Talley. In Jessilyn's eyes, Luke isn't returning that love fast enough. We see this young relationship take flight through trial and tragedy as a young friend is lynched and changes the lives of these sweet young people. Tal Pritchett is a young black man, a doctor, who has come into town and the town is not ready for a black man, yet alone one who is a doctor and wants to serve those around him. Gemma catches Tal's eye and we see a pure love blossom between kindred spirits. Color is only seen by those selfish people filled with hatred. Jessilyn wants to change the world around her. Jessilyn is willing to give whatever it takes to bring change and peace. We see Jessilyn go through a change herself as she finds the faith those around her carry. I loved this book. I cried and there were also parts of sweet laughter. This is a book that is a must read. It is one that will change your heart and open your eyes to what hate and prejudice can do.

This book was a gift from Tyndale for it's review.

Jennifer Erin Valent is the 2007 winner of the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest. A lifelong resident of the South, her surroundings help to color the scenes and characters she writes. In fact, the childhood memory of a dilapidated Ku Klux Klan billboard inspired her portrayal of Depression-era racial prejudice in Fireflies in December.
She has spent the past 15 years working as a nanny and has dabbled in freelance, writing articles for various Christian women's magazines. She still resides in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Visit her Web site at http://www.jennifervalent.com/.


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