Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Thoughts on "Nightmare" by Robin Parrish

This morning as I woke, I read a few messages I had left for me about a review I did. The review was for "Nightmare", by Robin Parrish. Seems there are a few that did not enjoy my review. First, may I say, Robin Parrish is a talented and amazing writer. He adds detail, and writes so the reader is right there within those pages. He does much work to prepare for his book, as in research. In Nightmare, there were many real facts, and in that, I found it very interesting.
When I do a review I read the book, think upon the book and even take notes. I love to read, and very seldom do I ever put a book down. This was one of the first I have put down.

I read over half of this book, and skimmed through the rest. I did not finish this book. As we read the back of some books it gives little information about what is deep within the pages, and for me, this one carried much more than just on the back cover. It went deep within the paranormal world. Not just meeting a demon, but chasing them. Seeking into this paranormal world was a place I did not feel comfortable going. I had one reader leave a comment sharing that maybe I should steer clear of parts of the bible. That is just not so. The bible, and the truthfulness in the pages written by the Holy Spirit and reading a fiction book are two separate things altogether.

I am a very analytical person. I take deep thought into every aspect of my life, including what I allow to enter into it. I have much respect for all writers. I do not read a book that I can not walk away with something valuable, a nugget, a treasure to hold on to. I love learning and growing.

I am blessed to do reviews for many Christian publishers, and authors. It is something I take very seriously. I write from my heart with honesty and purity. I stand by my reviews. If I am asked to do a review, I am asked to be completely honest. There are many reasons we don't finish every book we pick up. Sometimes it is the wording, maybe it doesn't capture our attention after the first few pages, or it is the content it contains. I do not force my reviews on anyone. I do not force anyone to come to my blog and read them. Just as I do not force my opinions on others unless asked. And that is what I am to do for a review. I am to be honest and forth coming. If there is a reason I did not finish a book, I am going to include those reasons, so others can see a clear picture.

Within this review, I added the back cover, added the characters, and the main plot. Ending in my reasons for not finishing this book. I am sure Mr. Parrish, would want his readers to be honest if they did enjoy or did not. That is how we grow as writers and people. Everyone is not going to be captivated by the same books, styles, and authors. We all have our favorites that we enjoy. It is those we pick up and never put down until we are finished.

I would never go to an other's blog and attack them for writing a review that I did not agree with. That was their opinion of the book. That review is what they took from the book. For all of us who love reading, we can enjoy this gift together. Sharing we what learn. As my Pastor says, "You take the meat and throw away the bones." What did I take from this book? That if I am grounded in my faith, there is nothing in this world that can attack me, harm me, or destroy me. Mr. Parrish shed light on a world that exists and it is a world I do not want to be part of. I applaud Mr. Parrish for his writing skills, technique and passion. I respect him for following in the path the Lord has called him.

We are to respect others opinions. We can always agree to disagree on a subject. Just because we don't agree doesn't make one right or one wrong. There is truth in each side.

I want to say thank you for those who stop by, read my blog and reviews. I am blessed when you share, but please do not attack me when we do not agree. I do not force you to be here, nor do I wish to be degraded by others in a lack of understanding.

WEDNESDAY'S WOMAN

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 about 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."
Today I want to shine a light on Mary and Martha, two women who followed Christ, and wanted to serve Him in every way. I can relate to both of these women. Can't you? As one has a gift for hospitality, the other wants to sit at Jesus' feet and just learn. Although Martha cannot relate to what Mary is doing at this time, I find her heart willing to be a servant. Martha is looking at the details of this day, wanting everything to be perfect for her friend and Lord. She is moving about, and has her mind focused on everything that needs to be done. While we have Mary, who is not so worried and knows everything will be done in it's time, but she is focused on what Jesus is teaching at the moment.

As hospitality is a gift, it is treasured, and not everyone has this gift. Martha is in a take charge kind of girl. She knows what has to be done, and does it. Can't you just see her in the kitchen mad as all get out? She is probably there bustling about, and getting angrier by the minute as Mary is just sitting. I am sure she is trying to get Mary's attention, and even asked Jesus to tell her to come and help out, but this is what really makes my heart stir. He tells her, "There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." Wow, can you see the look on Martha's face now? For me, this would be a humbling moment. In this instant, Mary was right where she needed to be.She wasn't just sitting in the bedroom reading a magazine and doing her nails while her sister was working. She was at the feet of Jesus. What a beautiful place to be, and what a gift for Mary at this time. It doesn't tell us what Jesus was teaching or speaking on, but it was something Mary needed to hear at the time. She was exactly where she was to be. It doesn't say that Martha now sits down to listen, or if she is finishing up the details. But for me, I think both of ladies were right where the Lord wanted them at the time.

We can look in John 12:1-11 and see where Mary anoints the feet of Jesus before His death. (verse 2-3) "A dinner was prepared in Jesus' honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus' feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance." As Martha was sharing her gifts of hospitality, Mary was sharing her gift of mercy. Each sharing, each serving with the gifts given to make them unique, and each was a blessing to Jesus.

Isn't that like us though, we get caught up in all the details that we forget to take a moment and enjoy what is right in front of us. We get so busy with what we know needs to be done, that we think we are the only ones who can do it right, and find others slacking when they are not keeping up. As Martha has gifts for hospitality and serving, she expects Mary to be right there with her, but Mary has other gifts to share, and at the moment sitting at the feet of Jesus is where her heart had brought her.

I don't think either of these women were wrong at all. They were both seeking to serve, but doing so in other ways. I think as women we can all relate to both of these women. As women we have busy lives, and we just simply at times forget to see a simple blessing in all the hustle and bustle.

Romans 12:13 "When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always eager to practice hospitality."

Proverbs 18:15 "Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge."

We can see here, two verses about hospitality and learning. Both are equally important. Just as both of these ladies were blessings to Jesus. They walked with Him, talked with Him, and shared their lives together as friends. I can learn here instead of focusing on what another is or isn't doing, I need to focus on me and where the Lord is needing me to be at the moment. It may not be where another is needed. It is my walk with Jesus that I need to stay focused on, not calling out another and stating where they need to be. We can do this can't we? If we are honest we know that if we are serving, we can sometimes wonder where the others are at our side. In reality, maybe they too are serving in another area, using gifts other than ours, but still working together to bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Treasure Avenue

Who doesn't love a good yard sale? Sometimes we think we can pick out the good ones just by driving by, but no my friend. Sometimes the best finds are in the least places expected. Yard sales are all different too. Some have things laid out and scattered about, while others are a neat, hung, and even have snacks for you. Yes, there are those few that sell soda and water. Who doesn't need hydrated from all that searching?
We can find the greatest treasures at yard sales. I love looking through clothes, while my husband seeks the tools and anything of power. I look for dainty bracelets, while my son looks for old movies. We all seem to have our own picks of what we look for. You can redecorate your home. You can find things for that newly married couple, and for that little one on the way.

What is funny, is the fact that at one time we searched the racks for just the right shirt to go with that skirt, along with that black pair of heals, and paid a nice price for them, but now? They are pulled out of closets, drawers, and basements, being sold for just pennies of what we once thought they were worth. Our deepest treasures no longer give us that smile, but now as another sees them, they light up at their find. You know after a day of yard sales, if you bring home just one great find you are happy all weekend. But most likely, at your next yard sale, that very treasure you purchased on Treasure Avenue will be sold for even cheaper to the next person searching through all your unwanted stuff.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love yard sales, resale shops and those clearance racks. I get giddy just knowing how much something originally cost, and the price now on that little red tag. But we live in a I WANT society. It seems as though we spend our lives searching for those little trinkets, those treasures to add to our life, only to toss them aside a few months later, or even just wearing them once.

A few months ago I cleaned out our closets, drawers and cabinets to find much we no longer needed. We had bags and bags of clothes. We gave them to charity, hoping to bless another family, as we were so blessed when we ourselves were in need. As I sat there, I was mentally calculating the worth of all these clothes in bags before me, and I was amazed to realize how many times I said, "I WANT", when I really didn't need it. Even when we have all we need, a good buy still catches our eye. We seem to think if we can't use it someone else can.

We spend more time wanting, and searching, than we do being content. And isn't that our goal? To be content with what we have? We see a girl with a new purse and think, "Wow, isn't that cute." We see a girl in a summer dress, and think to ourselves, "I gotta have one of those for church." We see, and we must have. Are we ever happy with just what we have? It is the world's way to have more. The more we have the more important we are. The more we have in our closets, our drawers, and homes. It's as though the more we have the happier we are.But hidden behind all that stuff are all those emotions just waiting to be let go of. Almost every buy we make has some emotion to it. Think about that for a minute. If we are buying something that has so much emotion attached to it, should we be opening up our wallet or our heart? Instead of digging deep into our purses we need to be digging deep into why we are feeling as though we need more to bring happiness.

All this stuff accumulates into piles everywhere. We can never have enough of anything. My point is, "Why does it make us feel good when we purchase something?" We can wake feeling blue, and get in the car, driving to the local mall, filling our bags, coming home with a glow, but whatever made us feel blue to begin with is still there when we get home and unload those bags. Ever feel guilty after you have spent money? If there is guilt attached, then we need to place that item back on the rack and move on.

We live in such a way that we think stuff is going to complete us. Stuff doesn't complete any of us, it only adds to more clutter. I am one of those emotional buyers. Yes, when this girl is tired, hurting and feel like I am going to fall apart you can find me in the closest purse section. In each purse I have I can tell you exactly what was going on in my life for me to buy that purse. And in buying that purse it only made me feel better for about as long as it took me to clean out my other one, and place all my stuff into it!

When we are hurting, there is nothing in that mall that is going to bring us lasting happiness. Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes according to our feelings. Joy is added to our hearts, placed there by a loving God, and is there through those good days and bad. When we can find joy, we can find peace, contentment, and freedom from pain.

Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

When you pass by all those yard sales along I WANTED BLVD, take a peek at all they are letting go of. Think for a moment at what cost did they spend for it all? Sometimes it is a marriage gone wrong. Sometimes it is bankruptcy and the family is losing all, trying to find a way to stay above the current trying to drag them under. For each trinket we find, it is a trinket that another once held dear. Before you purchase that trinket think of what the cost is to you. If it is a need, drive it home to FOUND A BUY LANE. If it's not want you are needing, walk away knowing you are content in all you have. Blessed and not wanting, finding treasure in Jesus Christ. Allowing Him to fill us with all we need to not just stay afloat, but to soar above the water below!

ENCOURAGEMENT TUESDAY





There are times in our lives where we feel as though we are walking through a fire and there is no clear way out, the smoke is choking us, and we can no longer see. We feel alone and lost and most of all unsure. It is that unsureness that brings us to our knees, crying out, reaching for Christ in our deepest pain. We have those times of trial that seem as though there is no reason or rhyme, but never the less they are here. We walk into those trials as one person and we leave them another. If we are grounded in our faith, rooted in Christ Jesus, He will not only see us through the fire, but refine us, making us whole as we move through that valley, up the mountain, where we can more clearly. In my times of hurting, this is one song that brought comfort to me. It is one that carried me through some really hard times. So today, I point you to Ms. Ginny Owens and this beautiful song, giving us hope, and encouraging us through the valleys of life.


Even in our strongest faith, life can be hard, it can bring us to a point of despair, but we are not to stay there in those circumstances. There is a way through that fire. As the rains leave, the clouds dissipate, and the sun shines again, giving us a brand new day, a day of hope, a day of life, filled with promise. It is in that promise we find Christ, standing firm in our lives, cheering us on, leading us through, and setting us on solid ground.



Whatever you are going through today, listen to the words of this beautiful song. Listen as the Lord speaks to you, calming you, washing you with His peace, and meeting you where you are. There is joy in the morning. There is laughter in the worse of our times. There are blessings to be seen. But first we must take our eyes off our hurt and pain, and place them on Christ. Leaving them at His feet and picking up hope, faith and love to carry us through. There is beauty in those valleys, in the darkest places we are we can find new hope, new life.



I have been there with you my friend. I have felt the pain of loss and unknown. Although some circumstances have not changed in my life, I have. God has brought me through, changing me, renewing me, and strengthening me. He understands our pain. For He walked through the valley, a valley we have not walked. We can look to Him for hope. He is our encouragement. He is our life. And with Him, we can make it through anything. Seek Him today my friend and find new life in Him, letting go of the past, and pressing forward!


Would you like to more about Ginny Owens and hear her story? You can find Ginny here at this link. She is full of encouragement and hope. http://www.ginnyowens.com/

Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Isaiah 40:28-31 "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

NIGHTMARE by ROBIN PARRISH

Back cover:
Ghost Town is the hottest amusement park in the country, but when Maia Peters visits, she's not expecting to be impressed. The daughter of two world-renowned "ghost hunters," she's grown up around the paranormal and to her most of the park is just Hollywood special effects. Until the very last attraction.
There, in a haunted house, a face appears from the mist. The face of Jordin Cole, a girl Maia knows. A girl, Maia discovers, who has gone missing.
Convinced what she saw wasn't a hoax and desperate to find Jordin, Maia launches into a quest for answers. Joined by Jordin's boyfriend--a pastor's kid with very different ideas about the paranormal--the two soon find themselves in a struggle on the edge of the spirit realm as dangerous forces try to keep the truth from emerging.

My review:

Maia Peters is the daughter of parents who are world known for their work in the paranormal world. Derek Hobbes is an undergrad student, who is in love with Jordin Cole, the young woman who goes missing. This story begins in a haunted house, where three friends travel in together, but Maia is not at all frightened as her friends are, until the end, where she sees the face of Jordin Cole. Jordin tries to befriend Maia Peters. Maia is skeptic of just about everyone who wants to be close to her. Jordin wants to experience the paranormal world and knows Maia can help. Jordin hires Maia, and they set off on visiting ten haunted places. Now, there is some evidence to these places, for they are all real. So, along with these places, the history of them is shared. Maia and Jordin experience the paranormal together, but things soon get very dark. Then Jordin goes missing, and Derek and Maia set out to find answers. Derek is grounded in his faith. That is one promising event throughout the story. This is one book that I must say I felt uncomfortable reading. I felt it took the reader places that a Christian does not want or need to visit. This book is deeply rooted in the paranormal and seeking what is there. Although there are twists and turns throughout this story, I didn't like where it lead. These friends come head on with demons. Although I do not scare easily, I found myself feeling an uneasiness. And in that I could not finish this book. For me, this was one I had to put down and cannot suggest at a summer read.

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

Robin Parrish is a journalist who's written about the intersection of faith and pop culture for more than a decade. He's also the author of the acclaimed DOMINION TRILOGY. Robin and his wife and son live in North Carolina. Visit Robin's Web site at http://www.robinparrish.com/
I have never had so many responses to a review before. I have added more about this book and my post. Visit this link for more of a look into my thoughts. http://robinsnest66.blogspot.com/2010/06/more-thoughts-on-nightmare-by-robin.html

Monday, June 28, 2010

MONDAY QUOTES

Today I am sharing a little more than quote,it is an excerpt from Dr. John Townsend"s book, "WHERE IS GOD?" This is one of my favorite books in my collection, and one that I go back to for wisdom. I will just be honest and say, "This is a favorite of mine!"

"Simply stated, it is this: we are not free to love unless we are free not to love. If you don't have a choice, you cannot freely move toward God-or any person. The Bible never says you have to follow God because you don't. He treats you like an adult. He wants a free choice or none at all. He wants you to choose or not choose Him. (But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Josh.24:15). It is a little astounding hen you think about it. God gives up all the control He could use and puts Himself in an extremely humble and vulnerable position. He asks us to love Him and follow Him. And He waits for us to make up our minds. What a dilemma that puts God in! He certainly has the power and wherewithal to force the issue. He could reach inside your heart and tweak it so that you wouldn't have a choice to turn from Him. But He doesn't do that because He wants to be pursued. He will give back many times more than He will ever receive from us, but He does want to be wanted."


Don't you just love this? When I read this it just speaks to my heart. Isn't that what pure love is? A choice? God doesn't force Himself on us. He allows us to make a choice. How can we be free to love unless we are free not to love? Remember that first young love? As you sat by the phone waiting for their call, couldn't wait for that door bell to ring, and couldn't wait to see them in the hallway, as they carried your books to class. You seem to be so excited and filled with giddiness. When you hear their voice, you just audiomatically smile. When you see them, it just lights up your day. Remember all those love notes? Passing them in class because you couldn't wait to hear from them. You spend your time dreaming about all the possibilities for now and the future. What girl didn't plan her wedding with that first boy she fell head over heals in love with? You just seem to give all you have to pursue that person. I spent no telling how much time by that phone, waiting to hear, and grinning from ear to ear when I heard that voice. As you hold hands you feel a connection and at that moment your love blossoms. My mother would tell you that I only thought of one thing, that boy. She would also add nothing else much mattered. I woke thinking about him and went to bed doing the same. Now, that first love passed as I grew, but now as I walk with Jesus, I realize He was my first love, and forever will be. There is no love greater than His. He doesn't force me to love Him. He doesn't force me to spend time with Him. And unlike that boy, well, I don't have to wait by the phone to hear from God. His voice is just a prayer away. And I have felt His hand upon mine many times and felt a connection like no other. We seem to spend much of our time pursing our dreams, goals, friendships, and all else that makes us smile. I should be pursing God with all I have. As I pursue Him with a pure heart, He will know my love is true, and our relationship will blossom. It's just like that first love. You spend time getting to know him or her. It is in that time that your love grows, and a bond is made. You see the beauty in the other, you listen to them as they share. As you go to bed, pulling the cover up, you dream of them before you close your eyes. When you wake, they are the first person you think of as you open your eyes. And you can't wait to spend time with them. That is the relationship Jesus wants with us. He want to be first in our hearts. He wants to spend time with us. He wants to hear our dreams and share with us all He has for us. He wants to be there on those really great days that make you smile, and on those hard days that seem to bring tears. He wants to share in our laughter.


He is forever pursuing us, and if our eyes are opened, we can see Him in our lives. Today can be the day we pursue Him. It can be the beginning of a new relationship. The more we know Him, the more time we will want to spend with Him. Pursue Him today with all you have and desire. You will find the greatest love in Him. After all, we have His love letter to us. Now, that is one worth reading and passing around for others to see just how special it is!

If you would like to hear more of Dr. Townsend's book you can read my review here or you can find it here at http://www.thomasnelson.com/

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A date? Really?

This weekend I had a date with my husband. Yes, a date! Do you know how long it has been since we went on a date? Well, it's been so long I can't even tell you. When you raise five children, when your priorities change, and live becomes a buzz, you lose those date nights. I should say, you have no energy for date nights after all you have done throughout the day. But I must say, after nineteen years, we are getting back into the swing of things. With one still at home in the nest, we are able to spend more time together. That is when he is not working fourteen hour days, and sleeping throughout the day, and well, you get the picture.
There are times in our marriage where we let our relationship fall aside, as we put our children first. We look back now and wish we would have made it a priority of making time for one another. It seems you don't really see how much time you have spent apart until your nest is almost empty and you are now looking for new things to do! It seems as though when we are married and have children, more times than not we are mom and dad, instead of husband and wife.

I remember when we first met and all those dates we had. All the time we spent together, and then after a while that time got less and less and more with our children. We loved doing things as a family, and most of the time if we did do anything that is exactly how we spend our time, as a family. But then when you are out and you find yourself without children, you begin to think upon them still yet! You see something one would love, and another that reminds you of one. The love of a parent doesn't end even though their children are no longer at home, if anything it grows stronger.

So, yesterday we find ourselves on a date. Wow! I gotta say, I was really excited, and my husband was too. We had dinner, a great drive, and found ourselves in the city. May I just say, that is something my husband rarely does. This country boy has all he needs right here surrounded by hay and farm land! We found ourselves at the mall of all places. We walked holding hands, shopping, picking out things we liked, loved and dreamed of having, but we left empty of bags, but full of love and laughter. We passed up the tools as headed for the purses, dresses and discovered cookware my husband dreams of having, but would rather keep his truck! Maybe he would be happy if I just used the cookware we have here at home more often!

It was a wonderful day out for the both of us, just sharing, laughing and dreaming together as we once did oh, so very often. It's funny how marriage changes, and the more around us, the less we see each other. I am going to make more of a priority knocking myself out for my husband. I want to plan dates, and reunite what we have left aside while raising children. If there is any advice I could share with you today it would be, make your marriage your priority. If your marriage is your priority your children will see that and be forever blessed. Take time with one another, and more importantly, make time for one another. Do things the other loves, you never know, you might just fall in love with hunting as I did, might find yourself learning all the parts of a car, and love just watching those meaningless movies that crash, gush, and overcome the impossible. But isn't that what marriage is at times? Over coming the impossible? Make all your dreams possible. I love just walking along and holding my husband's hand as walk through the mall, growing closer, dreaming together and just reaching for more.

Can thank you ever be enough?

When you see Jesus on the cross, what is it that you think of? For me, I see love. Unconditional love. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 it says, "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."
So, this brings me to my question that I have pondered throughout the day. Can me saying, "Thank You", ever be enough? Christ was destined to meet the cross with His blood. He was destined to die for sinners, not just some, not just a chosen few, but ALL! Romans 10:12-13 "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." We can move to Romans 5:20-21 "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

That cross was for you and I, and Jesus took our place. When this world was created God was there, along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God knows our past, present and future. He knew when Jesus, His son, would die on the cross He would rise again that third day. He knew glory would abound from His sacrifice. But although Jesus is God, when He was upon that cross He was human. He was perfect in every way, but He was human, feeling everything we felt, feeling the pain, torment and curse from this world. A world that turned from Him that very day He gave all for us. He felt all that we would have felt and more, He carried the weight of the world. He laid it all down for us. As we pick up our cross, we die to ourselves, giving up control of our lives, and giving our lives to Christ. To see Jesus, we must let go of ourselves and live in Him.

I know the burdens I carry. I know the sin of my past and the sin I struggle with daily, but Jesus knows them more. He died for every last one. When I think I all the burden I have carried, and think about Christ upon the cross, thank you can never be enough. He didn't just carry my burden of sin that day, but each man and woman across this world. Our sin was thrust upon Him on this day, and He didn't fight it. He knew what had to be done, that is how much He loves you and I. He was willing to lay down His life so that we might have life to the fullest. And we can, if we turn to Him and have life through Him. Is there really any other life but through Him? Romans 5:8 " But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I think of the debt that we carry from my husband being laid off for two years. I see the debt that friends have. I see other's hurting and suffering loss. So, here comes a friend. He stands and shouts to us, "Bring all your debt to Me. I will pay all debt you owe now, and all debt you will owe in the future. I will make you debt free!" In terms of money, I think each man and woman would turn to Him and give openly, laying upon Him all debts, freeing themselves. See, Jesus paid our debt, but He through His blood, paid our sin debt. Not just for one day, but our sin debt is PAID IN FULL! Our sin debt is caste aside through His grace that abounds much more than sin ever can or ever will. Ephesians 2:8-10 "God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."

It brings me to think upon each day I am given to live, and in each day I should be giving praise to God through the good and bad, through the mighty and the storms. For it is through Him that I have life. And I know this is not the end here on earth, but just the beginning of a new future with Him. No longer is He on the cross, and no longer is He stained with blood, but He is free, and He is white as snow, washed clean by the grace of God of our sin that He carried so we might have life. Doesn't that just make you want to shout praise to Him? It does me. There are many who wear a cross necklace. I have one that I love. There are some who wear one with Jesus still upon the cross, on mine, that cross is empty. He is no longer there, but alive! We must look to the cross to have life through Jesus. We must understand what happened there that day, where all turned dark, and our Savior gave all. If we cannot go to the cross, we cannot fully understand the whole sacrifice Christ gave. We must look to the empty tomb in faith, trusting He has risen and is preparing a place greater than we could ever imagine.

The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Through Him we find redemption to set us free from the sin we wear. Today my friends we can find real life in Him. Today we can look to the cross and stay there a while, seeing our sin, seeing all Christ gave, taking our sin upon Himself, so that we might have life! What a gift. What a love I cannot fathom. I don't understand the love He has for me. A love I do not deserve, but a love He continues to set before me each day of my life and forevermore.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Can you see the heart of a man?

Last night my son and I visited the Muny here in St. Louis. It is an outdoor amphitheater, where each summer the seats are filled with those who love musicals, song and a story. The stars are out, the breeze is blowing softly and no matter where you sit, you see the stage before you, but you cannot help but look up at the beauty in the sky and see God's wonder.
We saw Beauty and the Beast. This is one of my all time favorite movies and my second time seeing it at the Muny. When I see this story I see Jesus. I see Belle, the beauty she holds, the compassion she carries, and the wonder of life. She is the beauty that we all dream of holding in our hearts. Now, on the older hand, we have the Beast. Although on the outside all you see is the unwanted pain, the scars of hurt, and on the inside, well, we see the battle within fighting the anger and resentment of what life has brought. Now there is Belle's father. The man she looks up to. The man who has not been able to provide much in material ways, but there is nothing that could mean more to Belle than the love he shares with her. As Belle's father is held captive, she comes to his rescue. She gives her own self for her father. She is the sacrifice that he might live again. Now, you have Gaston, who is fighting for Belle's attention. He is a distraction, one who does not have good intentions and is only seeking Belle for his own satisfaction. He is prideful, arrogant, and one of those people who are selfish and unruly. Belle sees Gaston for who he is and what he is, but beyond him, she sees past the outer covering of the Beast. A covering he is wearing so his pain doesn't show, but if you are looking closely you can see the deep scars he is carrying. She sees beyond his pain, and sees him for the man he really is. He is more of a man than the handsome Gaston will ever be.

Isn't that what love is all about? Sacrifice, seeing beyond the outside, and looking within at the beauty one beholds? As she gives, she receives. And as the Beast opens his heart, he realizes the pureness in Belle, and a love blossoms beyond all unexpected possibilities.

As Belle loves to read, she just doesn't have her nose stuck in a book. She is searching the pages for life. She is moving forward and growing a young woman. She is not expecting love, but dreaming of it and in the Beast she finds that pure love. In the end, their love is what changes all. Their love breaks the spell, and the Beast is now a prince. But wasn't he always a prince? That fact never changed. He was still a prince, it was just the pain of the curse that covered the beauty that was waiting to get out and shine.

Jesus is our sacrifice. He paid the price for us. He took our place in that dungeon of darkness so we too could have life. His blood covers the pain of our curse and reveals the beauty within us, just waiting to shine humbly before others. In the love of Christ we find peace, comfort, and healing. When we allow Him to remove the anger, resentment, and hurt, He reveals much more in us. He shines through us, bringing a love of unconditional value. A pure love that can only come from Him.

In this world I may never hold the title of princess. But in God's eyes? I am His princess. I am a daughter of the King. And with that title comes my name written in the book of life, never to be erased.

We spend too much time looking at the outward man instead of looking into his heart. As we sat at the Muny watching people, you can see the hurt and anger they carry with them. You can see that they are searching and coming up empty, for they are searching in the wrong places for what is to complete them. Christ alone completes us and makes us whole. The outward man is nothing but a shell that carries what is deep inside. And it is that treasure inside that is valuable and real.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder of our beauty is Christ and is He is waiting for us to come to Him so that beauty might shine before others in a freedom we didn't know possible.

Dreams are not just for children. May we open our hearts and dream of all the possibilities before us in Christ. He is the key to setting us apart, and bringing life to the hurting. May our dreams be the dreams He has for us, and may we look to Him to caste away the curse and bring forth life as we have never known.

SARAH'S GARDEN by KELLY LONG

Oh, the love of a garden can add much to life. As Sarah spends time in the garden she is the one who does the growing. For me, a lover of old quilts, for each one telling a story, I found this book right at home, along with Sarah. As this story is set in the Allengheny Mountains, Sarah is trying to find herself in the garden she loves. Sarah is sheltered from the Englishers who come, and she finds her own shelter in quilting, using each piece to tell a story. She also finds love, forbidden love, in Grant, who is not an Amish man, but he has great desires for Sarah. She finds herself with challenging decisions to make that will change the rest of her life. This is a tale unlike other Amish stories I have read. This one I could really get into as it moved me. I found Sarah to be lovely, as she is shy and quiet, but in that soft demeanor, the Lord shines brightly through her. So, will Sarah follow her heart, or will she follow the life she has always known? We can all relate to this book as we must all come to decisions that bind or change our lives. We watch a young woman find hope, faith, and love not only in the things she loves and is interested in, but in those unexpected finds that begin to stir her heart. We also get a glimpse of a man, Grant, who is doing some changing of his own. Have you found your summer reading collection yet? If not, this is one to add to your summer list.
This book was a gift by Thomas Nelson for it's review.

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Christa Allen

When I began doing, "Lets Chat Friday", I didn't know the blessings that would abound from such amazing women. These are women that are compassionate, full of grace, and have a pure heart for the Lord. These are women I look up to and who inspire me to be the best me I can possibly be. My prayer is that they too will inspire you!
Today it is an awesome privilege to bring you author Christ Allen to the Nest. As you read you will find Christa is one of those girls you want to have in your circle. She is not only talented, but filled with such grace and wisdom. She is honest, pure, and simply beautiful. Christa's breakout novel, "Walking on Broken Glass" is one of those books that seems to open your heart to all possiblities of hope. It is one you will enjoy adding to your collection. Here is our chat, as Christa opens her heart in such a warm way to us, giving not just a glimpse of who she is, but who Christ is through her.



(Robin) Christa, tell me a little about yourself..
(Christa) With the exception of some years in Texas, I’ve lived in Louisiana all my life. I was born in New Orleans, and have hovered within 40 miles of the city since then. For the past seventeen years, my husband and I have lived in a city so small we don’t have a traffic light. So you can just imagine what happens to my sanity and blood pressure when I’m driving in Houston when three of my five children live.
My oldest is now 33 and the father of two beautiful girls, ages 5 and 3, who call me Grammy. My daughters are 30, 27, and 27. One of the twins has Down’s Syndrome and lives outside of Jackson, MS in a Christian home for adults with disabilities. My "baby" son will soon be 25; presently, he lives in Baton Rouge.
For the past twenty-three years I’ve taught high school English. My first novel, Walking on Broken Glass, released in February. I recently signed a contract for Edge of Grace, which will release October of 2011. Both are with Abingdon Press.
(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Christa) If being angry with God is symptomatic of a struggle in my faith, then yes. My first grandchild died of SIDS when he was on this earth only 31 days. I experienced the profound sadness of mourning for my loss as a grandmother and experienced my daughter’s raw and heart-wrenching pain for the loss of her son. Moms are supposed to make all the bad things go away. Not this time.
Since God and I have this understanding that my screaming doesn’t mean I don’t love Him, He allowed me the catharsis. He showed me how to be the mother my daughter needed and how to bring her through the tunnel.
(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Christa) Um, daily?! Truly, during my Bible time with God, I’d have to say my moments are more "duh" ones. For example, recently God made it clear to me that my task is not to reveal the desires of my heart to Him; He knows what they are…after all, He placed them there.But what He does want from me is openness and obedience so that He can show me WHY He did.
(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Christa) Mercy Me’s "I Can Only Imagine"
Romans 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed …
(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Christa) A mutual love of coffee, carrot cake and Blue Bell ice cream. Together or separate. After that, I want a friend who holds me accountable to live in a way that glorifies God.
A quality I hope others see in me is compassion.
(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Christa) It’ll probably be faster for me to list authors! Anne Lamott, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kathryn Stockett, Lisa Samson, Bonnie Grove, Jenny B. Jones, Joyce Magnin, Charles Martin, Francine Prose, Ann Patchett…okay, I’ll stop for now!
(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Christa) I start with a bowl of Blue Bell…end with a bubble bath. Seems like the "b" words are comforting.
From January to May of this year I truly thought I was on my way to a legitimate nervous breakdown. I taught 100+ freshmen, I was marketing my book, and then I took on teaching an online class to earn extra money because my husband was laid off in December. The money swayed me plus I’d earn more because I had to actually write the class. What was supposed to have been 20-25 students in the online class grew to 47. They were all seniors and half of them woke up two weeks before graduation and decided to submit months of assignments. Oh, and I was trying to put together some proposals for books that my agent was submitting.
My comfort and peace came from church. It was the one time in my week where nothing else mattered but being present before God. It also helped that my truly amazing husband an eat cereal for dinner more nights than not.
(Robin) What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Christa) I don’t take myself too seriously.
(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Christa) Pictures of my family, a cup of coffee, my bible, and my favorite pens.
(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Christa) Can I reveal those on a Christian blog? Because my daughter has Down’s, I learned early in her life that I needed to be an advocate for her. Unfortunately, not all children with disabilities have someone who can fight for them. I want my students to learn to be compassionate people who "pay it forward" and use their gifts to bless others.
(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Christa) Actually, this particular best came (and continues to) from during one of my bible times, "Be still and know that I am God."
(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Christa) I hope my enthusiasm for being God’s daughter shines.
(Robin) What are you currently working on?
(Christa) Two proposals to shop at the ACFW conference in September. Also, I just signed a contract for a second novel with Abingdon, Edge of Grace, which will be released October of 2011. The hook: When a hate crime threatens her brother's life, a woman struggles to learn that forgiveness means loving others as they are, not as we’d like them to be.
(Robin) How do you define success?
(Christa) I measure success according to the degree to which my life makes a difference in the lives of those around me.

Thank you Christa! What an interview! Your honesty brings such blessings. In sharing I know you will bless others as you have blessed me. You made this girl smile and I was delighted to get to know you a little better. You are an inspiration to me as a writer, but more so as a woman of God. Thank you for sharing some of your journey. Keep shining that light Christa!


If you would like to find Christa and catch up on all she is doing follow these links to her:




Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Look Are You Going For?

When I started cosmetology school at eighteen I learned many things, and one of them was people always want to look different than they are. Even this red headed girl, doesn't want to wear red hair, but give me blond or brown and I'm good. Why do I color my hair? Because I don't like the red on me. Now, on others, I love it! So, what did I recently do? Went with red highlights. Yes, I am finally coming into the girl God made me to be. It takes us a while on this journey doesn't it? Oh, I am not there yet, believe you me. This girl has much growing to do, and one of those things I am working on is just accepting me for me. The girl God made me to be.
When you are a hair stylist one the most difficult things is when a woman or man sits down in your chair, hands you a picture and says, "I wanna look like this." Well, this woman with brown hair, now wants this blond color in the magazine, along with the cut, that just so happens to be something not possible on the woman in front of you! Then you try to explain that this hair style is not possible with their hair type. They then do not want to accept that, and tell you, "But this is what I want, and I want you to do it!" So, you proceed, after telling them already that you can give them this cut, but it will not look the same. Now, you have given an awesome cut, color, and styled it, handing them the mirror, and now they have a look of horror!! They then look to the picture and back at themselves, saying, "But it doesn't look like that!" Well honey, that is what I explained. You cannot go into a salon and want to come out looking like the latest glamor star on the front page of a magazine.

We want what we do not have. If we have brown eyes, we want blue, if we have blue, we want green. Blonds want to be darker or even lighter, and red heads, well, some love it, while others want to just be brown. Are we really ever satisfied with how we look? I can't tell you how many times I have let my hair grow long, even my bangs, to where my hair is one length, only to cut it after saying I will not do so, now to cry and wish I hadn't!

Do we ever know what we want, really? We see a cute cut and think, "Wow, I want that." We see a color we have never had before and think, "Well, that is what I have been waiting for!" We are always trying to look like someone else, instead of just being the best ME I can be. Come on ladies, ever compare yourself to another? Ever ask that dreaded question, "Am I smaller than her?" And we expect our husbands or best friends to be honest and when they are, ouch! That is not what we want to hear.

We want to hear we are beautiful. And more than anything we want to feel beautiful. Now, I am finding the key is not looking for yourself in someone else, but finding the real you inside of who God made you to be. Of course we want to look our best, but why? Is it for us, our husbands, or is it for others? We should be trying to the best of who we are for one only, and that is Christ. We need to feel comfortable in our own shoes. For me, I need to realize this Irish/German girl has red hair and I just need to go with it. We don't need to be concerned with what others are wearing and just be ourselves. We each have our own style and look. We need to stop looking for acceptance in other people. Stop wondering if we look good enough to walk into the room with other women, and learn to take control of the beauty God has given each of us. I don't want to look like that girl standing next to me, I want to be me. And truth be told, many times that girl we so want to look like, is wanting to look like us!

Ladies we spend way too much time thinking about what's on the outside and not enough time concerned with what is on the inside. When we are feeling beautiful on the inside it will shine outward. When we stop trying to find acceptance in others and find it solely in Jesus, we will be complete. We will never find all we need in another person. The Lord above completes who we are when we are living in Him.

There is beauty in everything. We waste such time concentrating on all those things we don't like about ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to see the beauty that God has created in us. Each one of us has something totally different than the other, our DNA! It makes us who we are, and it makes us stand out from others. God designed us this way. We are not to conform to Hollywood standards, or the run ways of New York. We can shine by just being us. We have a run way before us, and we can learn to walk it in the light of Christ.

I say, "Put the magazines down, stop watching commercials, and put on the blinders so you don't see the billboards telling us, "We can give you the new look you have been waiting for!" The world glamorizes skinny. The world teaches us we are not good enough. The world tells us we just don't fit the bill, and shares with us that we just don't want to grow older. I love being 43 and am not afraid to grow any older! I may not have that same figure I had at 17, but I am no longer 17.

If we can just be comfortable in our own skin our beauty will shine through whether we are dressing for church or sweaty, in the garden, covered with dirt. We must accept ourselves before others can accept us. And if others do not want to accept us, well, we have a heavenly Father who thinks we are pretty special. In the end we are to shine for Him. And to do so we must take the spot light of us and refocus the light to Him. When we are not satisfied with ourselves what are we saying to the God above who made us? God doesn't make junk and He sure doesn't make mistakes. Find who you are in Him. Be comfortable with who you are, and be the best you that you can be. There is nothing wrong with improving the beauty we have, but first we must realize our beauty, not change it, not want what another has, but accentuate the beauty the Lord has already given.

So the next time you sit down in that beauty chair, look into the mirror and see the beauty before you! Look at the magnificent eye color God gave you. Look at each line and each wrinkle, each scar before you. They all tell a story. They all tell of who you are. Accept yourself. Ladies when we accept ourselves, our daughters will do the same. We can see beauty in others, but why not ourselves? Don't be afraid of the mirror ladies. Don't be afraid of time, aging and change. Grasp a hold of each day, make each day worthwhile. Let your beauty shine forth today. You are the only you there is. That is pretty special in itself, isn't it? It's not about how we look, but how we feel. It's about how we take care of ourselves.When we are healthy we feel strong and confident. If we want change, may it be a change for the Lord and not about us fitting in some category. It's about being healthy, feeling good, and letting our light shine before others.
Psalm 139:13-17 "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered."

THURSDAY'S SCRIPTURE

When I was a little girl I imitated everything my daddy did. Yes, when he was in the bathroom shaving, I was sitting next to him on the sink. As he shaved with his razor, he would give me a small comb to use after he put that amazing whipped cream in my hands. That is what I called his shaving cream. You know, that really does feel nice on your face. When my dad would wake at 4am for work each day, I would wake with him, sit down at the kitchen table and eat a fried egg sandwich, with mustard on it, topped with bacon. Of course, he would leave for work, and I would head back to bed with my tummy full. My dad was my hero when I was young. I thought he could conquer the world. He was bigger than life, and I wanted to be just like him.
When our daughter was young, she loved shoes. If there were a pair of shoes left out, her little feet were going in them. And she too would put on her daddies shoes, and try to take his huge steps. She was indeed his shadow. Ever play that shadow game? Absolutely loved my shadow when I was little. I had a vivid imagination, and for a bit, my shadow was my best friend.

I could find myself talking to my children, and here they are mimicking everything I say. You know that game. "It's time for bed." "It's time for bed." Every word is mimicked back, and every action is a replay of your own. Children have a way of mimicking their parents. What we do in moderation, our children will do in excess. When they are small they love to follow their parents. They even pretend to be little mommas and daddies, with babies of their own. Ever catch your daughter speaking to her baby saying something you would say to her? Oh, the mouths of babes. The speak what they hear, and they walk in the steps before them.

We should be great examples for our children to follow. Even when we are not at our best, we can show them grace. When we have just made a huge mistake, we can show them humbleness. When have acted wrongly, we can teach them forgiveness. We are not perfect, but through Christ we are perfect in every way. That brings me to the scripture for today. It is found in Ephesians 5:1-2 "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God."

Just as I loved imitating my earthly father, I too should be walking in the steps of my heavenly Father. Just as I looked in the mirror when I was young, seeing my father before me, today, even though he is gone, I can look in the mirror and still see him. I have all his features, and still carry his mannerisms. I remember others saying, "Wow, you can tell your your daddies girl." That is what I want others to say about my heavenly Father today. I want others to see me, and know that I am His girl, His daughter, living before Him as in a mirror image, trying to mimic each step of His.

In everything I do I should try to imitate Him. Just as we make sacrifices when our children are young so they will have an even better life than we had, Jesus made the greatest sacrifice of all. He gave His life that I might have life. There is no greater gift. When others see me, I want them to see Jesus. It says, "In everything", that is not just some things, the things we are comfortable with, but everything! We will never fill the shoes of Jesus, but we can try to walk in His steps, following each word, each action and allowing our lives to be a reflection of His. When we look in the mirror, it is He that we should see. We should be living in such a way that those around us, well, they know there is something different, and they will see a different love, a kindly face, and a heart willing to sacrifice for his neighbor.

There is no greater manuscript for us to pick up and try to mimic. As we place God's word in our hands, reading each line, we need to be willing to let go of ourselves, and totally allow Him to live through us. That is the only way we are going to fill that part. His dreams should be our dreams, and His ways should be our ways in every sense of life. WWJD (what would Jesus do) is us asking ourselves in every situation, "What would my Father do here?" We need advice, let's go to our Father. We need help, may we turn to His unconditional love. When we have messed up, well, may we humbly go to Him, listening to His voice comfort us, and at times disciplining us in love.

I remember some of the best times of being a mother was sitting on that bed as my daughters asked me questions, advice, and just chatted. My son still today comes to me with questions, and just wants to share what is on his heart. That lights my day as a mother to know my children come to me. It is no different with our heavenly Father. He wants to be there for us. He wants that relationship where we go to Him for everything, just chatting, sharing our deepest dreams, our scariest fears, and those moments of joy where we are about to burst.

Today is a new day, yesterday is gone, and right here before me is life waiting to be lived. I want to live it in such a way that one day I hear my Father say, "Well done, by faithful daughter." Just as I so loved to hear my daddy tell me how proud he was of me, I long to hear those words from Jesus, my heavenly Father.

Lord, may I walk in Your steps today. May I live my life in such a way today that as You walk before me, I am Your shadow, imitating each step before me. Lead the way before me Lord, shine Your light, guide the way for Your daughter to follow in word and in deed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

THE MAILBOX by MARYBETH WHALEN

Who knew you could find God in a mailbox? Who knew at fifteen your life would change forever just in one summer, one choice, one moment that you can never take back. And the question is, "Would you change a thing if you knew how the story would end?" In this story of journey we meet Lindsey Adams who as a young girl has not had an easy life, and is searching for more. As she visits North Carolina with her aunt and uncle, her life changes before her eyes, and it is as though life begins. Lindsey meets Campbell, the boy who steals her heart with a glance. But as young love comes, young love also ends. A special place that ties them together is the mailbox. A place where a kindred spirit lives as others pour their hearts out onto paper with pen, leaving their hearts desires, pains, and dreams each year. For some the beach is their home, but for Lindsey, she must leave each summer and return to the home with her mother that really isn't a home filled with love that she is longing for. As she returns home, Campbell, although in love with Lindsey, finds himself making a choice of a lifetime, now marrying another, and is a new daddy. Campbell is always trying to do the right thing, but can he undo the pain he has caused the young girl he loves? As his life continues, so does the life of Lindsey, as she marries, and has children of her own. Only this man is not the man she fell in love with. As Lindsey is struggling with divorce, Campbell finds himself reuniting with his daughter, who is needing him more than ever. As each summer the mailbox is filled, we see how God molds their lives together, and is always at work, even when they do not see clearly past the mailbox. This is one of those love stories that brings you straight to Jesus. As we follow the lives of Lindsey and Campbell we see that in our imperfections, there is always God's grace, a grace that carries us through and brings us into perfection with Him. They find that they cannot complete each other as once dreamed, but through Christ they can find themselves complete in Him. This is a book you will want for a summer read. To just take your time, sit back and enjoy. Marybeth leaves us feeling warm, filled with dreams to reach for all God has for us, never to give up.
This book was a gift from Marybeth Whalen for its review. You can find more about The Mailbox and Marybeth at http://www.tbbmedia.com/

About the Author: Marybeth Whalen is the general editor of For the Write Reason and The Reason We Speak as well as co-author of the book Learning to Live Financially Free. She serves as a speaker for the Proverbs 31 Ministry Team and directs a fiction book club, She Reads, through this same outreach. Most importantly, Marybeth is the wife of Curt Whalen and mother to their six children. She is passionate about sharing God with all the women God places in her path. She has been visiting the mailbox for years.

WEDNESDAY'S WOMAN

I find myself reading in Ruth today. I am seeking life lessons in her story. The book of Ruth is one of faith, love and encouragement. We see the meaning of family and hanging in there when things get tough. My Wednesday woman is Ruth today. We meet Ruth through Naomi. Naomi is married to Elimelech. They had two sons, Maylon and Kilion. Now these young men married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. During hard years, Naomi loses her husband, and then not many years later, she loses both sons. What a traumatic experience for anyone.

Naomi was feeling all alone, but she had her two daughters in law to love and care for her. They each wanted to stay together, but Naomi was encouraging them to go back to their mother's homes and live again, marry again and have children. Orpah listens and goes back to her homeland, not willingly, but obediently. Ruth is not budging. She is staying with her mother in law.

Now see, this is where I have such deep respect for Ruth. I would run the other direction away from my mother in law. I have love for my mother in law, but we do not have a working relationship. I should say, it's one of those relationships that take constant work and most of the time I'm left feeling as if I can never give enough. No matter how much I try, I feel as though I will never be good enough to meet her standards. Although I so wish I could. I would love to have the relationship with her that Ruth and Naomi hold together. They have a great bond. A great love holding them together. Ruth is willing to give up all for her mother in law.

Ruth is determined to care for Naomi, a woman that is heart broken. And you know Ruth is also. Ruth lost her husband, a brother in law and father in law, but she pushes through. She could have taken the easy road and went back to her homeland, but she chooses to stay, and is not concerned with how hard it will be.

Ruth is strong, courageous, and giving. In Ruth 1:16-18 it says; "But Ruth replied, Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us! When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more."

What devotion, what determination, and what love for one another. This is what family is. I love this brave and beautiful woman before us taking a new journey with her mother in law, Naomi. Together they will stand, and together they will follow God. But Naomi is growing bitter (vs.20-21). She feels as though she had much, and now has little, but through Ruth, God shows her just how blessed she is. Isn't that just like us? We spend so much time thinking of what we don't have, we miss out on what we do have. But God has some lessons here to show just how blessings are right before our eyes, even when we think all is lost.

Ruth goes to work the fields, not as others do, but walking behind the threshers, picking up the grain that is left over, which isn't much, but Ruth is willing to work to provide for Naomi. Ruth is noticed by Boaz. Don't you just see a love story beginning here? I picture Boaz as this tanned, handsome, well built man, walking his fields. He sees beautiful Ruth and questions, "Who is this amazing woman in my field?" Talk about a Hallmark movie! They meet, they talk, and it's love at first sight. Boaz takes care of Ruth.He gives her special privileges, and makes sure the other men do not bother her or approach her. Boaz becomes her redeemer or kinsmen. Boaz goes through all that is necessary to marry Ruth. He purchases Naomi's land, and with it, comes Ruth as his wife. Kind of a big purchase isn't it? But I think Boaz would have gone to heaven and back for this woman he was falling for. Together they live, grow, as Ruth has a child, Naomi now has a grandchild to love, to bring her happiness and fill her heart with joy again.

I see sacrifice, giving, service, and going beyond the call of duty. Ruth didn't care for Naomi out of obligation, she did so out of pure love and honor. What a relationship they had. One of trust and great love. In  Ruth 3  it states; "Now don't worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman." For others to see Ruth as a virtuous woman speaks volumes of who she is. She is a woman I want to strive to be like. She set aside her own dreams, and made Naomi part of her dreams. I see Ruth as not holding on to the past, but moving forward in faith. That is why she is my Wednesday Woman. You can read Naomi and Ruth's story in the book of Ruth. It is one that will fill you with wisdom, and give you a picture of family and faith. Together, side by side, these women made life sweeter and richer for one another. They lifted each other up, gave encouragement and set on a course together to live again after tragedy struck their family. They would forever continue to be family. Faith involves the willingness to take risks, to believe in the unseen and that is exactly what Ruth did. Ruth just didn't live the ordinary, she lived the extraordinary!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ENCOURAGEMENT TUESDAY

If you have ever had a broken bone you that being still is not easy. I have had my share, but a few years back when I started having surgery on my wrist after a softball injury, I learned what being still was. I not only had one surgery on my wrist, but two. I must say I have yet to slide into base again head first! But, this girl was safe!
As I had totally ripped my tendons, that surgery was not enough to bring healing. I had to have another, taking out a bone that had died during the healing of my tendons. That surgery was the hardest of all. Three scars later, my wrist will never be the same, but healing is there.

After my surgery I had to wear a cast for about eight weeks. Then a splint for about six weeks, and then the fun beginning of therapy, which lasted a total of about nine months.

So here I was playing softball, laughing and having a great time, then just a few hours later all seemed to change. Here I was in pain, couldn't use my wrist and went through painful injections for almost five months before the first surgery. It seemed as though this pain was just going to stay forever. But with surgery, and therapy I can now do things I couldn't before and am still working on things I can't do, but it was during that waiting period, that time of being still that I realized how life was like my circumstances.

Isn't it though? We are going on along just fine, and then out of no where we slide into something that just about breaks us! It's in that slide that we find ourselves on our face, in the dirt, wondering just how this happened.

When life brings us down we just can't stay there. To find healing, we must get in there where it hurts the most, working out the pain, and bringing in healing. I must say, therapy was one of the hardest things I have had to endure. I was blessed with an awesome therapist who knew my pain, knew how to push me, and just when I needed to rest, well, she was there to push harder. I would sit there before her with tears streaming down, in pain, wanting to give up, but she pushed me through. If not for her, I would not be able to use my wrist today. Healing was beginning.

Today as I still play softball, and am now doing yoga, my wrist flairs up badly. I put ice on it, put the splint back on, and as the swelling reduces, I know healing is at work again. But life is just like that, right? Just as soon as we think we are over something, wham! There is it to flair up again and again. But what I am learning is, I still must use what was once broken and bruised. I can't just not use my wrist, and allow the pain to take over. I must dig in there and work through that pain. I can't close my eyes to pain and wish it away. It takes work, it takes effort and motivation to work through pain. And letting go of our expectations is a start to healing. My wrist will never be the same after being injured, but over time, healing has brought me to a new place. Through the struggles of learning to use it in a different way and learning what I can't do teaches me daily how to live through the pain of other circumstances.

It was during my second surgery that other pain had overcome my life. This was a circumstance I didn't think I would make it through. It was the hardest time in my life I believe. It was the time when my daughters left home, and I was deep in depression and couldn't find my way out. But when I had to go through this second surgery, and through therapy for such a long time, it was in that time of being still that God brought healing and lessons in other areas of my life. I learned I can make it. I chose to make it. Through all the pain and hurt, healing was taking place in my heart, mind and body. God was doing a work in me. It is only now that I can look back and see that God used that time in my life to bring healing in so many ways. I chose not to give up and He chose to stay with me every step of the way.

Just like a broken vase that crashes to the floor. If it is a favorite and means much, you are going to try to put it back together. You will use the strongest glue you have. You might not ever be able to put water in it as you once did, but as you set it on the table you can see the light streaming through those little cracks. Those little cracks that were not once there, but now, add a different kind of beauty, and it is through the brokenness that the light can shine through.

I have been broken just as you. Healing is there. Be still and allow God to move in you in ways you never thought possible. Things may never be the same as they once were, but life has a way of bringing beauty to the least expected places. Just as old things pass away, new things are on the horizon and they are reachable! Healing is possible. It may hurt. It may take time. But healing will come. God has a way of giving us glimpses of hope to encourage us through those times of healing. In Him we find peace, comfort and the love we need to see there is hope. For in that hope is where we find Christ. God can fix all those things I cannot. He is the Great Healer. The Great Physician. Be still and allow Him to wash His healing over you today.

Psalm 37:7a "Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act."

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed."
Philippians 4:13 "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unable to Stand?

Luke 13:10-13 "One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, Dear woman you are healed of your sickness! then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!"
Here we have a woman who has been bent over double for years, eighteen years to be exact. So for eighteen years she was not walking upright. She was not able to look up and see the sun, only to look down. Can you imagine? Whatever this evil spirit was that grabbed hold of her made her to where she could not walk straight any longer. It doesn't say she was born this way, and spent her whole life crippled this way. It says, eighteen years. So just maybe she was able to stand straight at one time, walked looking up, seeing the sun before her, and had her eyes set on the beauty before her. But something happened to cause her to crumble, to bend, and to be downcast.

Ever felt like that? We can be walking along and something will cause us to stumble. There are times we fall, and get up soon, but others where after the fall it takes a while to begin moving again. Have you ever fell, tripped, or just tumbled, got up and brushed yourself off, thinking all was good, only to wake the next morning and feel the pain? Sometimes we can stumble and not feel the consequences for a while, not even be able to see them until the bruise appears. Then we wonder and ponder over just where that bruise came from.

There are times we can fall, place a band aid over it, and pray it heals without even looking at the scrape. It is not going to heal unless we watch it, care for it, and tend to the wound. We can't just cover it up and forget about it. What happens then? It can fester, grow ugly, and pain can set in, deep pain.

We need to watch our step, make sure each step is right in front of the other and keep our eyes open to all around us. It's when we close our eyes that we fall. There are times I have stumbled, only to look back to see what I fell over. When if I was focused on my steps, well, I wouldn't have tripped so hard. Sometimes it takes us falling flat on our faces to see how far and hard we have fallen. Oh, I have been there many times, only wishing I didn't have to tend to the bruises, when if I would have just been looking, I would not have slipped. I am learning though, when I fall, Jesus is right there with me. There are those times that it takes the hardest falls to make us stay on our knees awhile, searching to find the cause of our fall.

It just says in this scripture that evil spirits caused her to be crippled. Aren't we all crippled in some way or another? Couldn't we all stand a little taller, if only we kept our eyes on Jesus, watching out for the evil around us? We are all crippled in sin. We can fall in the light of the day but most of the time we fall in the dark, or at least have our eyes closed to all around us, not paying much attention to the traps before us.

But amazingly the story doesn't end there. For this woman who had been crippled not only in body but spirit, Jesus brought healing to her. He called her over to Him. I think this is a beautiful picture of God's love for us. He called her. He calls us doesn't He? He is always calling. It is when I don't answer that I seem to fall. He shows her grace and love together in one word, healed. Jesus healed her. It tells us that instantly she stood! Can you see her praising Jesus? I can see her clearly as she was once walking in such pain, now she is standing tall in the love of Jesus. In just one breath He healed her. He can heal you and I too. We don't have to be crippled by sin. We don't have to walk with a limp, or be bent over in shame. We can let go of our sin, and pain, cry out to Jesus, taking His hand and find ourselves being washed in His healing love and forgiveness.

When we are trapped in sin, we are being held in bondage. We are in chains, being held captive by sin. We can be set free in Jesus. He can release those chains, for He holds the key to our heart. This woman suffered for eighteen, long years. How long have you been suffering? Today can be the day that Jesus sets you free my friend. Today can be the day you walk tall, stand free, and praise God! Can you hear Him calling? He knows you by name and is wanting to bring new life to you today. As long as we are walking in His light, we are not going to fall. But in those times we step away, it is His grace that will bring us back into His light time and time again.

Matthew 5:3 "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs."

Psalm 43:3 "Send out Your light and Your truth; Let them guide me. Let them lead me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You live."

Romans 5:1-5 "Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. 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."

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