Monday, February 28, 2011

Am I loving my neighbor?

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fullfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:8-10

If we are respecting and honoring our neighbor are we ever going to owe them anything? That's a good question. Don't we owe others the same respect and love that we ourselves want? You know, we may not like our neighbor, but we are to love them. Love them as ourselves. Lets think about that for a minute.

We can often look at our neighbor and say, "Wow, they didn't even say hello to me." Now, did we take that step to say hello to them? Why are we so offended if we ourselves did not take that step? We look upon others and tend to see every fault, but when it comes to ourselves what is it we see? What is it we say? We want to be accepted. We want to be loved. We don't want others looking at our faults. We want the chance for someone to get to know us. We want others to see the beauty within our hearts. Not pick apart every detail they do not like or understand.

We love ourselves pretty much. Wouldn't you say? We take care of ourselves. We feed ourselves when we are hungry. We can even spoil ourselves. We enjoy loving ourselves and we want others to love us back. So, why is it so hard for us to do the same for others? Why do we not turn our eyes  to the heart of man instead of seeking out flaws?

Adultery? Murder? Stealing? Coveting? Bearing false witness? All things we do to our neighbor without thought. All things we try to protect ourselves of others doing to us. Adultery can be with anything. Not just our neighbor's spouse. We can lust over the things they have and find ourselves coveting what we wish we had. Why should they have it and not ourselves? Murder? Oh, yes, we have all committed murder. Murder is hate within our heart. If we hated we have murdered. Lying? Are you kidding me? Anyone ever come to your door and you didn't answer because you knew who it was? Ouch. I have. Ever let your phone ring and not answer because you don't want to talk to the person on the other end? Yikes. Guilty as charged. We say we aren't home, but we are. We say we are busy, but all we are doing is tending to ourselves.

Kind of changes those commandments doesn't it? Ever notice the first five are all about God and our relationship with Him and the last five are all about man and our relationship with our neighbor? We look at the commandments with one eye on the Word and the other eye looking away because we don't want to admit that yes indeed we have committed those very acts of sin not only against God, but against our neighbor.

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels." Hebrews 13:2

Love does no harm to your neighbor. Hmmm. When it is storming ever check on your neighbor to make sure they are okay? When you see them working outside on their vehicle ever ask if they need some help? Ever see your neighbor with a walker struggling to get their mail and just watch them walk up the cold drive while you watch out the window from your warm seat? Ever give up your seat for someone else? Offer a neighbor a ride? Take them lunch when you know they are ill? Sure, if they are our friends we go out of our way. It's easy to love our friends, but it doesn't say love your friends. It says love your neighbor.

To sum it all up. If we love our neighbor we are loving God. If we are not loving our neighbor. Well, you can see the point. God should be in every action we do. Every thought. Every motivation. We just don't reach out to people. Long ago when someone new moved into a neighborhood what happened? Someone took them a pie and said hello. Maybe another invited them over for dinner. You took the time to get to know your neighbor.

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12

Our example on loving our neighbor comes from Jesus Christ. He showed the Father's love to all He met. He cared. He had compassion. He served with a thankful heart. He reached out to those no one else saw important. He gave time. We are to be Christ-like to everyone we meet.

If our neighbor's home was on fire what is the first thing we would do? We would call 9-1-1 as quickly as possible. We might even run out to make sure they were out of that burning house. So, how many times do we share the gospel of Christ with our neighbor? If they do not know Christ as their Savior they are in a burning house. We can show them the way out. We can love on them. We can be friendly and give the same respect and love that we too would want if we were in a burning house. Do we wish to wait for that house to go down in flames and  see our neighbor say the words across the fence row, "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you share what you knew about Jesus with me?"

Friends we are to share Jesus with everyone we meet. That is a lot of people we pass in a day. They should know shouldn't they? Someone took the time to tell you about Jesus. May we be the neighbor who reaches out in love. Not the neighbor who just peeks out the window.

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:4

Battling evil

We don't have to look very far to find evil. It surrounds us everywhere. There is a battle of good and evil going on not just around us, but in our hearts as fight our flesh daily.

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Galatians 5:16-18

So, to overcome evil we must walk in the Spirit. We overcome sin, by turning away and calling upon God for strength. We face battle after battle. Satan knows our weak areas. He knows just what trips us up and where we get caught. He knows just what temptation will turn our eyes away from our walk and into our flesh. Sometimes we can be our worst enemy. We walk as though we can do anything. We think we are the exception. Oh, but pride comes before a fall.

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

We all like to point fingers and say, "How could she?" If not for the grace of God there go I. We look at another and wonder, "Oh my, how could he do such a thing?" If not for the grace of God there go I. We are only one temptation from falling. One sin from being in a pit of despair. Our flesh eats away us as we turn an eye away from  the Word of God. We know right from wrong, but we choose to ignore the right because the wrong, in the world's eye, feels so good.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

We must turn completely from evil. We gotta do a 360 degree move sometimes. That means taking out of our sight all that tempts us. It means leaving behind everything that takes us away from Christ. Wow! If we are putting on the Fruit of the Spirit we will walk in love. If we walk in love we cannot help but to share a joy. When we are sharing joy how can we not find peace? In having peace in every situation we will be long suffering. We will share a kindness for those around us. We will open our hearts to goodness and therein we find a life of faithfulness. In being faithful to God we become gentle where are hearts were once hardened. And yes, in that gentle Spirit we find self-control. When we place on the Fruit of the Spirit we are truly allowing God to live through us. We in fact are living a God-centered life. when He is at the center no battle no matter how much it surrounds us will take us captive.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For your sakes we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 35-39

Do you hear that? Nothing, not nothing, can separate us from the love of Christ. Those are powerful words to stand upon. We are more than conquerors. I love that!! Christ makes intercession for us. He stands in the gap of evil and gives us a way out. Our choice is do we stand in the evil that dares to steal us away from God or do we stand firm in our beliefs?

We need to remove ourselves from all evil. There is no such thing as just a little. Evil is evil. When we allow just "a little" to enter our homes Satan now has a stronghold in an area that is precious to us. What could those evil things be? Anything that is not of God. Take the television for instance. Turn on any station and what do we find? Darkness. Somehow we are drawn to it. The blood and guts. The vampires. It is all of darkness. There have been times I have turned off some of my favorite shows because of the darkness that was being portrayed. Some might argue it is a vision of fighting good against evil. I don't see it that way. If it is evil we need to stay clear of all that takes us out of the light for a moments enjoyment. What about books? Now there is a battle line drawn right there. You have those lovers of the vampire series and those who soak up all of Harry Potter. These books might be a little about good and evil, but do we really need witchcraft and sorcery to show us that? We have children pretending they attend a school of witchcraft. That alone should terrify us. This world makes it look glamorous. This world makes it look tempting to dive in just a little. Just a little darkness stirs the soul. It should. It should stir our souls to turn an about face right into the presence of God.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:10-13

We can stand against all evil with the strength of the Lord. He will give us all we need to battle the rage that takes place all around us. We all have our own battles. Battles that try to not only take us down but keep us down. When we openly take part in anything evil are we inviting Christ into our lives at the moment or are we pushing Him aside? We are not to take part in evil but we are to bring it to the light. We are not to indulge ourselves in things that just make us feel good. Those popular things. The very things this world tells us is okay. Most likely if the world is doing it is something that will take us farther away from Christ as we too dabble in it.

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: 'Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.'" Ephesians 5:11-14

We like to say, "It's just a movie. It's just a book. It's just a website. It's just...." You fill in the blank. We all do it. We all take things that seem harmless and bring them not only into our lives, but into the lives of those around us just by simply speaking of them. I can't tell you how many people I have heard say they love Harry Potter and the Vampire Series. I don't care who says they love them. They are works of darkness. There is no good that can come from peeking into the darkness of this world. All it does is invite more into our lives. Then we are standing facing another battle wondering where it came from. Sometimes it is because we invited it into our homes.

"And when they say to you, 'Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,' should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:19-20

"When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or one who conjures up spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord your God, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you." Deuteronomy 18:9-14

It's easy for us to look at the ancient pagan rituals and see that they are wrong. Why is it so hard for us to see the evil that is in our own backyard? We turn an eye to it because it's popular. We see others doing it, those very people we look up to, so how then can it be bad? We must look to what others are doing and look to the Word of God. His Word is truth and He is our guide in keeping us in the light and on the right path. When we face darkness of this world we call out to Him, say His name, Jesus Christ and He will cast out all evil. But we must be careful what we ourselves invite in and invite into the hearts of others.

We can stand firm in the Word of God. The more we stay in His Word the more we will be able to see evil and stay clear of it. The more time we spend with Him the more strength we will gain to fight all that attacks us. We must begin within our own heart and protect our families by not allowing darkness to invade our homes. Don't get caught up in the things this world has to offer. May we show this world another way. A better way and be examples to help one another fight the good fight.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A gift of a life time from a special friend

What does a writer do? They write. They spend their day dreaming of what to pen. It has been my dream to attend an AFCW Conference for a few years now. This year the conference is in St. Louis and guess what? I am attending! I know, can you believe it? This girl who sits at her computer day and night is actually going.  Can you hear me shouting WooHoo? I don't think I have stopped shouting and praising God for His goodness.

Just how did this all come about? Well, a special friend made all this happen. Although I do not know all the details of how she made it happen I know without a doubt she has made me the happiest girl in the world right now. Who would have ever thought? I know I sure didn't. We should always expect the unexpected.  Everything is possible with God!! Philippians 4:13 I can tell you, Jen, and I have never met. We are miles apart, but have have hearts connected through our Savior and love of writing. What a gift!! A treasure. A gem. I think writing pal gals seem to have this bond that no other does. It is a bond of knowing what it is like to sit for hours penning words. Humbling yourself as God creates through you. It's sharing a passion that others don't quite understand. It's a friendship where you gain perspective and share just how awesome this passion really is. Words are powerful. Words are lasting. Words speak right to ones heart.

Sometimes all we need is for another to see our passion.  To see our dreams and reach out. That is exactly what Jen has done for me. She is a special woman who has brought the possibility of dream to life for me. One in which I could have never done alone. So, this September I will be attending my first ACFW Conference. I too get an added blessing. During this time I will be staying with my cousin, Melissa. How awesome is this? I will attend the conference each day and then share all the exciting happenings with my cousin at night!

I will be surrounded by writers!!  I cannot tell you how much this excites me. I don't think my smile has come off yet and I don't think it will any time soon. I want to learn this craft. I want to pursue this dream the Lord has instilled in me. I want to hear the stories of others when they too were just beginning and turn to them for wisdom. Writing is a journey. Right now, I have so many ideas spinning around in my head and on notes left all through my home. I would love write a devotional. A devotional like no other printed yet. I would like to pen a story that changes hearts and leaves a message that will live forever.
Dreams are meant to be lived out. I am living mine. At least I am beginning to embark on this new path. Maybe years down the road I will see my name on the cover of a best seller. Maybe God has other plans. Whatever those plans are I am willing to follow. I am excited to see just where He is taking me and this dream He has given me. Maybe this writing journey is all about finding myself through listening to my Savior. Maybe this is a healing path of the past and a learning stone to bring into tomorrow. I know with each piece I write I wonder how others will perceive it, but maybe, just maybe it is for me to take a glimpse at and see the path the Lord has brought me through. His goodness shines all throughout my life even when I didn't know He was present. I want to reach others all across this world with the gospel of Christ.  

I must be honest and say I feel out of my element. I am a bit nervous. Okay, really scared to death. LOL God doesn't set anything before us that He is first not preparing us for. I am trusting in Him all the way. As I sit here in my jammies with my big cup of tea I write. I write early in the morning and late at night when all is quiet. I think what is most important to me is that I follow Christ. I write what He is calling me to write. That I use my pen to glorify Him through all things.

Thank you Jennifer. Thank you for giving me a gift I do not deserve but will treasure forever. A gift that will only grow into more as I see God move before me showing me the way. Blessings to you sweet friend for helping me to see my path and being there to guide me through this journey of the unknown. Thank you for inspiring me and encouraging me on a journey of a lifetime.

Goodness Gacious Momma

Nope, I didn't forget a letter. I meant to write Goodness Gacious Momma. These are words my, Whitney, use to say whenever something happened or whenever she seen something that excited her. You could hear her sweet voice all through the house on any given day saying, "Goodness Gacious Momma." As I was waking early a vision came across my mind and it was like a soft touch of yesterday. My senses came alive as I heard once again the sweet sound of my daughter's voice. Don't you love it when those little moments come just at the right time to bring a smile?

Although we don't quite have an empty nest yet it can seem like it at times as our youngest son is in and out. Those of you with an eighteen year old boy know they don't like to stay home very much. He is always on the go. I am not sure if I will ever get used to the quietness. Maybe not even so much the quietness, but just a different sound of life. One that is not filled with the sound of children running through the door and kicking their shoes off as they run for a glass of tea.

Goodness Gacious time flies. It seems to pass when we are not looking. Just as when we watch a fighter jet fly over head, it gives such a rush, then passes before you blink. You raise your hand to block the sun. You can still hear it, but it isn't in your scope of vision any longer. Now, we have a home filled with sounds of yesterday. Moments that stole my heart away and will forever echo on these walls.

Now my baby girl is having a babe of her own. Yes, I will be grandma once again. It is mind blowing to see your babies having babies of their own. It seemed only yesterday we were laying in bed all snuggled up reading books before bed and holding hands as we ran to see the animals at the zoo.

As my granddaughter, Peyton, took her first real crawl I sat in amazement. This little one only five months old, now crawling. She will be walking in no time. I look into her eyes and see the blueness of her mother's eyes. There is so much about her that brings back such memories of watching my Ashley do all those firsts. As I watched all those firsts in astonishment I am still in awe of watching my children grow and spread their wings. Isn't is something to watch another grow right from the start? What a gift from God. I cherish each moment.

My kids spent much of their time outdoors. Chasing butterflies, picking up squirming snakes and leaping for lizards. Imagination brought them together and now as I peek out the window I can see them clear as day. Flipping through the yard like gymnasts. Claiming land for America. Discovering life by living it to the fullest. My kids knew how to play.

Those little hands and feet that I once washed in laughter are all grown up. All those prayers I have said for my children are at heaven's portholes. I don't think you ever stop being a mother. You want to hold onto all those memories. You want to remain close to your children. I think that is the hard part about watching your children soar into their own lives. Where does that leave you?

For the last twenty-two years I have been a mother. I have given everyday of myself to loving my children. At least I hope as they look at themselves they too see a glimpse of me. The funny thing is, I grew up through my children. In all those wonderful days filled with laughter and those that I thought would tear us apart, I grew. I grew needing the Lord more and more. As my hand opened to let go of them the Lord graciously opened His for me.

A mother's love is greater even when her children are farther away. It seems you miss most the one you see the least. You go from daily seeing your children and then one day they are all grown up and they are on their own. You begin to feel as though you aren't  needed as much. You begin to feel left out when you were once all they wanted.

Oh goodness gacious how you miss your children. It makes you think back to all those sweaty foreheads, dirty knees and endless chattering. Seeing them first thing in the morning with a big hug and kissing them goodnight before you turn out the light. Yesterday is a memory away.

Now, I am making new memories. Wow, I am a grandma, a Nana, a momma still, but now with my blessed granddaughter, who just lights up with world for me. Wedding bands, baby blankets, dream homes and careers. Everything has changed some how. Their dreams are now coming true. I now see things from a distance. The same view, only different. My daughter will now hear her little one speak words that will imprint on her heart forevermore.

You hear all kinds of advice about these changes. Although you take it all in it doesn't hurt any less. You still feel as though something is missing. You find yourself wanting more and wanting that feeling of being needed once again. You yearn for that phone call just to hear their voice. I hear friends say, "Well, this is your time now. You are now to spread your wings." There is a part of me that is excited about that challenge. I certainly have more time for myself, but yesterday tugs at my heart endlessly.

So, what do I do? Everytime I hear a sound bringing back a memory I pray for that child. Each time I glance at a photo I turn in prayer lifting them up to the Lord. Your child will always remain only one thought away. Maybe that is God's cue for us to turn to Him and pray for the lives they are now building with their own families. Nothing is more powerful than prayer. Praise God maybe one day they will get to see all those prayers and know just how much they are loved. Maybe that will be the gift of all gifts. Maybe He will present us with a box of prayers entitled, "Prayers From Momma."

Hold your babies a little tighter today. Kiss them one more time. Sing them a song of hope and jump rope until your legs give out. Play hide and seek and skip through the park in the sunshine of the day. In the rain get out those books and share story after story. Don't worry about those dirty bedrooms and let all the small stuff go.  Build memories for tomorrow. For tomorrow you will look back and see treasure after treasure as life changes bringing new each day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

While we are here may our light shine for Him

This world is not my home. I must be honest and tell you that those words bring comfort to the soul of this girl. I was not made for this world, but a home in heaven where my Savior is waiting. I drive down my country road with my hand raised in praise in the words of a song that turn my eyes toward heaven. My soul is yearning for more. I am finding there is nothing on this world that can satisfy like the loving grace of God. No matter where I am I am looking for something more. I can tell you I am not satisfied here. Content yes, but not satisfied.

God wants us on the edge of our seat always. He wants us looking for His return. We are to be ready and waiting with anticipation. The question is, "Is my life showing that I am a pilgrim on a journey?" I must tell you the more I see of Him the less I want what this world has to offer.

"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when the speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."  1 Peter 2:11-12

Before all others my life is examined daily. No matter where I am there is always someone watching and waiting for me to slip. To show that I am not in fact a Christian, but a fake. Ever feel like the enemy is in wait ready to attack?

As I read this verse I see that as a pilgrim of God I am to walk in light of Him. I am to be a reflection of His love to everyone along my path. I am to conduct myself in such a way that others know I am different. Not better, but different. Not pious, but humble. Not fake, but genuine. The real deal. Walking the talk and talking the walk.  Of course there are those who are against us. There are those who will attack our character and our motives. But as long as our heart is pure and we are living for God the opinions of others do not matter in such a way as to bring us down.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

As Christians we are to encourage and uplift those around us. We are to give encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ and too many times we do not. Many times in fact we put them down. We hear whispers and we believe what is being said. The words that one says about another speaks more about that man's values than the one he is speaking of. The more we speak of others the more we are truly speaking of ourselves. Gossip is slander. It not only tears apart friendships, but our church family. How is it that we can go to church with one and see them on Sunday with a smile, but then during the week we spill the beans to another about things we have no idea about? But things we only assume? I see this more and more. Friends, we can gather our bibles each Sunday and fill the pews with our bodies, but if Jesus Christ is not present we are not having church. When He is absent from our hearts do we really think He will show up on Sunday just because we have a bible in our hands? We must be more. We must strive for more. Going to church is the easy part. It is living what we hear as we walk outside those church doors. It is Sunday through Saturday that matters. We must check ourselves in our own walk before we judge the walk of another.

Living before the world we must lay down the lusts of our flesh, whatever they may be and pick up the Word of God with a new challenge. To walk upright in a fallen world. Every choice we make effects another. A joke we just want a laugh from. Music that makes our feet move, but our hearts to cold. Television shows that highlight the wrong life is the right life. Movies that we pay to see, but never have the guts to walk out on when the subject matter is unworthy for our eyes.

In the day of visitation every knee will bow and every man will know that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every tongue will confess that He is Holy Holy Holy. On this day He will be made known in the hearts of those who believe and those who have turned will realize that He was the way all along. We need to be ready. We need to prepare. We need to shout from the rooftops that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of all.

What are we missing? The mark. Oh, we throw darts. We aim, but this world has our eyes clouded and our vision is not clear. We focus on the things of this world rather than the hearts of man. We think we have tomorrow and we ignore all the signs God is placing before us. When will we take His coming seriously? We might say, "I am so ready for the Lord to come", but are we really? Have we told our families? What about our friends? Those co-workers we meet everyday? Even those who sit next to us in church. Can we really say we are preparing?

We take part in so much that is unworthy. We are at war with our flesh. We are to make war against all that is taking our eyes off the mark. As long as we have faith to believe Jesus is all we need. When we give up and surrender to Him, He will shine through our lives and others will see a glimpse of something so different they will wonder and ask. We leave opportunities behind. We need to be showing those around us that this world cannot satisfy. Satan disguises the lusts of the world to make us think we need them. We can't live without them. It is time to lay down all that is unholy and pick our cross and follow Him.

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." Philippians 2:14-16

Do we tremble at His voice? Do we raise our hands in praise of mighty works? I don't want to get to the end of my life and look back knowing I left behind unfinished work. Undone work that my Savior made me for. I want to stand before Him and hear Him say, "Well done my faithful daughter."

Friends, if we are not in the Word we will find ourselves becoming immune to all that is around us. We will see wrong and just turn the other the way without standing for what it right. If we are not in the Word Satan will have a foothold in our life in some aspect and try to take over our life. Think he won't? He is out to kill and destroy us. There is nothing he isn't willing to do to bring us down. On our knees is where we fight him. In prayer and petition to God is where we find strength to overcome this world and shine for Him.


The winner of "The Brotherhood" is Ms. Kelley Pounds!! How awesome for you, Kelley. I am excited that you too will be reading The Brotherhood by Jerry B. Jenkins. I will contact you and send out your gift certificate for this new release by Tyndale.

Blessings to all who entered and happy reading!!

Please take a peek at my review of THE BROTHERHOOD. This is a book that will change your life!!


Grace Graham likes to run. As in run away from her troubles.Things have not been easy for Grace since she was a teen losing her mother to cancer. A cancer she still today blames her father for. Grace holds such bitterness towards the man who smoked for years and still chooses to smoke today. Why? She feels his choice killed her mother.

Grace receives a call from her sister, Jana, who is needing her to come home to Tennessee to care for their father about to have knee surgery. Jana, would love to say no, but she is facing troubles on the home front with the man she loves. She has given the ring back and is now on the run again, this time running home instead of away.

Once home, Grace, is enjoying seeing her sister, brother-in-law and little niece. She is even warming to her father has he begins to embrace, Grace's son, Dylan. Everyone seems to know Grace a little more than she knows herself. She is on a journey of finding peace. She is almost there when, Dylan, comes down with a fever. Not just a fever, but a rash covering his four year old body.

A week passes and Dylan is not better. In fact he is worse. Seeking treatment for, Dylan, Grace learns he has the measles. Everyone is wanting to know how he has the measles. Grace shocks them by stating that she never had him immunized. Grace has friends in her life that have children who suffer from Autism. Learning of all the risk factors, Grace, makes the best choice for her son. It is that very choice that will soon effect many around her, including her new niece that will fight for her life.

Anger rises and Grace is yet wanting run. Run back to her home leaving behind the choice and all its effects. But a kind neighbor reaches out to Grace and leads her to stay. She is teaching her not to run, but to face what is in front of her with faith. Grace is now realizing the choice that angered her so about her father is now angering others effected by the one choice she made.

This is a story of forgiveness, healing and finding peace when all has been broken. This is an eye opening story about immunizations and the choices we make. How every choice we make effects not only us, but those around us.  There are two sides to every choice and when we are on the other side we often do not take the time to think about the other. I really loved this book. In these pages we witness Grace grow and find all that God has for her. You can also read, "Leaving Yesterday" and "A Promise To Remember" by Kathryn Cushman.

This book was a gift from Bethany House for its review.
Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. After practicing as a pharmacist, she left her career to marry and begin a family and has since pursued her dream of writing. Leaving Yesterday is her third novel. Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California. Visit Kathryn's Web site at  

Friday, February 25, 2011


We are now to the second part of my Lets Chat series where I am bringing all of my guests together to share a piece of wisdom once again. I will begin today with the talented Bonnie Leon. If you have not read a book of Bonnie's you are missing out friends. You will see another glimpse of our first male guest, Lee Warren. I will close with, CeCe Morgan, a missionary, who is reaching the boundaries of Africa for God's kingdom. Every guest here at the Nest has brought life to this blog with their bountiful wisdom and words of grace. God is so good and through these special people He has brought into my life I see Him more and more. On this journey I am on with Him I continue to grow and learn from those He has perfectly placed in my life. I don't have to look very far for insight, inspiration and encouragement. I pray you too find a nugget of gold to place in your pocket today. A valuable insight to help you on your journey to walk closer to Christ.

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?

(Bonnie) Where do I begin? Life has been good to me, but there have been some deep valleys. My children, though they are all walking with the Lord now, have at times, put me on my knees. And some of their life choices made me wonder what I did wrong as a mother. But even during the worst of times, we’ve been close and knew that in the end God would have his way.

I guess my greatest struggle began in 1991 when the van I was driving was hit by a log truck that overturned. Life as I’d known it came to an end. I’d been active, working alongside my husband, gardening and loving my full time role as a mother. After the accident I lived on a pile of pillows on my sofa most of the time. In the months following the log truck encounter I waited for healing or a change of heart. I prayed for strength and growing faith. Instead, I was depressed, scared and angry. I wanted the old me back. The new life was too difficult and filled with pain.

I felt like a failure as a Christian. I’d always believed that whatever came my way I’d stand strong because of my faith in God. But that’s not how it was. And yet, God did not give up on me. He was faithful and full of mercy. In time, he lifted me up out of my pit of despair and set me on a new path. Even now, I have rough days but I know I’m blessed and thankful for all of God’s gifts. Bonnie Leon

(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Lynn) I look for a friend who isn’t afraid of my dirt and is honest enough to let me see her’s as well. My dearest friend calls it “opening your front door”. We need friends who know exactly what is going on with us and loves us just the same! I hope that others will find me to be a friend who loves unconditionally and never judges.    Lynn Martin Cowell

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Noelle) In December of 1998 I started having these extreme attacks out of no where. I would end up in the emergency room & leave with no answers. After 5 visits, one by ambulance New Years Day, the emergency room doctor gave me a xanax. My body was completely exhausted but could not settle down. The next week I was diagnosed with a very extreme case of Panic/Anxiety Disorder. You can read about that on my site, wont go into deets here. I was determined not to let the fear eat at me. The enemy would lie to me out loud. Seriously. He would tell me that I would go crazy & never be the same. I got out my bible. I got my headphones and cassette player. Filled my mind with worship and the Word. Bought 3 of the most influential books in my life by Joyce Meyer and read, cried, screamed through the pages. (Battlefield of the Mind, Be Anxious for Nothing & Managing Your Emotions) My AHA, was that fear was the opposite of Faith. I could not walk in both at the same time. I had to choose & I did.     Noelle Mena

(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Kim) I love that question because it brings to mind a verse I often contemplate: "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep..." (Acts 13:36). I hope the foremost legacy I leave is that I served God's purpose in my own generation, that I lived full-out and unashamed for Him.   Kim Nash Tate

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Loree) I guess for that I’ll cite Deuteronomy 5:33, which says You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you. My humble translation: God’s requirements for success are pretty straightforward … stay the course HE has chosen for you!   Loree Lough

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord, has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Shawn) On March 26th, 1965, I was delivered physically into this world – and on October 30th, 2002, I accepted the greatest gift ever given, and was born into the family of God. Since then there have been many storms; and through my trials, I am strengthened and through my strengthening, I become closer to who God intended me to be. Like many of us, my Christian walk began with scars of my past, thoughts that were flawed and beliefs that hindered. But through the years, God delivered message upon message until I finally listened. He is so faithful, even though I had been so resistant.

I believe my struggle is the same as many others, it is not realizing who I am in Christ, and what that truly means. It wasn’t until God gave me the gift of writing daily about gratitude that the “light” went on, and His love was revealed. As a new Christian, saved from a background full of guilt, works and relying on the approval of others, it took some time to understand grace.

The true breakthrough came when God told me to be grateful for what I have through a friend’s posting, I felt a nudge to take a challenge of giving thanks during the month of November in 2009 – this is how God revealed himself and performed open-heart surgery. Today there is restoration, renewal and healing. Through the exercise of giving thanks daily, I have grown to love the idea of thanksgiving and gratitude in my life. I have learned to love myself more; I can now laugh at my mistakes, cherish my enemies enjoy the struggles and know that there is truly light, not just at the “end of the tunnel”, but through the entire journey, if I just look for it.

Today, I no longer struggle with who I am, for I truly know that I am a child of God, daughter of the King. I can do anything because I have God. If I am tired or weary, all I have to do is call to Him, and He’s got me. My life has a plan and purpose – I am important and significant, because He thought of me in the beginning of time, and has loved me that long.

I was very uncomfortable praying, would struggle, even when I was alone.

Now I pray all the time, and love praying with others – Colossians 1:10-14.

I could never be quiet, always had to have something on or someone with me.

Now I love being still and alone with God.

I loved God

Now I am passionate about God, and KNOW who I am with Him in my life.

For years I have been unhappy with how I looked.

Now I accept who I am as He perfects me.

I shared my faith once in awhile, but only when comfortable.

Now I am very comfortable sharing my testimony.

I complained all the time; I was afraid, doubtful and felt it was everyone else’s time to “do great things” or “win”.

Now I am so grateful for where I am and how I got here – Joshua 1:9.

I worried all the time; and made my circumstances worse.

Now I know how to give everything to God.

I felt like the world was against me – so many things went wrong.

Now I am living for God’s purpose and God’s plan.

I was plagued with depression, illness and exhaustion – couldn’t understand “why me”

Now I am encouraged every day that everything I experience is to make me strong – because there are great things for me to accomplish.    Shawn Boreta

(Robin) In your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Karen) Two things:

First, understanding that submission in marriage isn't a 4-letter word, but an act of obedience and love toward Christ. It took me a lot of years, a lot of pain, and many counseling sessions to finally see that the One I refused to submit to wasn't my husband, but my Lord. When I finally started doing that--when I focused on doing what I was supposed to do instead of on what Don was supposed to do, when I placed my "rights" on the altar and served Christ rather than myself--it changed everything. When I didn't feel respect or even love for Don, I put my focus on Christ, loving Don as His representative in our home. And doing that rekindled my love and respect for my husband.

Second, figuring out who I am as a woman without my mom. Her death was a terrible loss for our family, and it took me several years to get past the loss and grief. And anger. It just didn't seem right that someone as wonderful as my mom should die when there were so many awful people who seem to live forever. God had to do some serious work on my heart and spirit, but He finally helped me past all that. I still miss her--so much!--but now I'm grateful for the time we had with her.     Karen Ball

(Robin) What are a few books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Andrea) "So Long Insecurity" Beth Moore

"In The Grip Of Grace" Max Lucado

"Streams In The Desert" Devotional

"Daily Light Devotional" Ann Graham Lotz

"In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart" Ruth Graham       Andrea Bowling Perdue

(Robin) What is the best advice you have ever received?
(Lynn) The best advice ever given to me was something my husband said before we were married: “Don’t sweat the small stuff,…and….everything is small stuff.” I am a natural worrier. I thought I could blame it on my genes, (parents, heritage etc.) but I don’t think I have that as a legitimate excuse anymore. I worry…needlessly, most of the time. It all comes back to submitting myself over and over to God’s sovereignty and everyday claiming the Proverbs 16:9 verse. God is in control. I still have a tendency to worry but when I feel the worry is controlling me and my actions, then I know I need to release it to God. I am so glad He loves me!     Lynn Dove

(Robin) Looking back what advice would you give to yourself at the age of 18 to prepare you for life ahead?
(Dawn) Love unconditionally and don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. Do what you know is right and stick to God’s Word and let Him direct your paths.

Learn to laugh at yourself and find confidence in who God has made you.   Dawn Kingston

(Robin) In your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Peggy) The biggest challenge for me has been overcoming the inner struggle with self—accepting who I am weaknesses and strengths, and battling the negative thoughts about self. This challenge affected who I was as a wife, a mother, and a woman of God. It is a struggle that many women deal with and it can be very crippling. It put me in a pit of depression. I thank God for His healing both emotionally and spiritually. Through God I have learned how to overcome this through taking action and replacing satan’s lies with the powerful promises of God’s Word. “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32 It has been a major challenge but I am thankful that because of my struggle I am able to encourage others and help them find freedom is this area.     Peggy Reeves

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Lee) Following through with the passions God has given me.    Lee Warren

(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Lisa) I learned a verse as a child I refer to often. Psalm 56:3: "But when I am afraid, I will trust in you." It's so simple, yet so powerful. I also love Zephaniah 3:17. And a song from long ago by Amy Grant called "All I Ever Have to Be" ministers to my soul.     Lisa Reimer Whittle

(Robin) I believe a mistake is only a mistake if we cannot walk away with a greater wisdom. Has there been a time in your life where struggle occurred from a poor decision and if so, how did you overcome?
(Leah) I’m a people pleasure by nature. In the past, saying “yes” to something I should have said “no” to has left me with an over-committed schedule, a frustrated family, and a stressed out me. It’s part of that whole “balancing” thing I talked about early.

I’ve learned from my mistakes that I can’t please everyone all the time. I’ve overcome my need to always please others by choosing to pray first before making a commitment. It takes some discipline but produces great results!       Leah Dipascal

(Robin) In your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Connie) Definitely going through a divorce, empty nest syndrome, a milestone birthday and menopause all at the same time. It’s amazing I didn’t end up in the psych unit. God was so faithful to me during that time… filling my life with friends that held me up when I was too weak to stand, showing me the heart and the love of God. If I was sure of one thing in this life besides having to pay taxes and dying, I would’ve bet the farm that we would’ve stayed married until one of us died. I was so naive. In my book, divorce was something I thought I was exempt from because we were both believers. It never occurred to me that it could be possible. Christians don’t get divorced, right? Wrong!! It was the end of the dream that I had…to grow old with the man who was my husband, the father of my two children. We would baby sit our grand babies together, go on vacations together, see the legacy of a beautiful marriage passed down to our children and grandchildren. So, I had to start all over again. I had to rebuild my life as a single woman This was not something I wanted to do but he made the decision to leave. So I could do one of 2 things…shrivel up, be angry about it my rest of my life and die… or forgive, move on and start a new adventure. I chose to look at it as a new beginning, not a new chapter, but a whole new book. It is definitely a huge part of my story that has molded me into the woman I am today.     Connie Wetzell

(Robin) I would love for you to share your testimony
(Michelle) Wow! Testimony…let’s see. My story is not a short one that is for sure. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. My parents did not come to know a relationship with Christ until I was ten. At ten, I had already decided how I felt about life and God and He was not a part of it. The next ten years would be a struggle. I was a “touch the fire” kind of gal. I didn’t just take someone’s word for it. I had to find out for myself. Unfortunately, choices and consequences pretty much go hand in hand. There were many things that played a part in my years of rebellion, the NO-God Years. Those years were all about ME. I didn’t really know they were about “ME”, but they were. I was very selfish, my heart was hard, and I was angry. There were a few things that played into it.

At fifteen I was date raped by a boy. It was a very big turning point in my life. I had already begun going down a wrong road, but after the rape, I pretty much felt it was the only road I could take. The shame, the disappointment, the failure, the feeling of unworthiness, left me feeling like I deserved nothing. I allowed the enemy to lie to me and keep me believing it for about four years. I harbored hatred, despair, insecurity, anger, disappointment, in my heart for four years and out of that came some bad choices,

God was after my heart.

He never stopped pursuing me. My parents were major prayer warriors and their prayers would no go unheard. At twenty years old, after several years of fighting God, I accepted Him as Lord of my life. I was desperate for Him and at the end of myself. All the answers I had for life were not worth anything to me. They had left me in a pile of broken pieces and now I was crying out to God to put me back together again. I was living in Scottsdale, Arizona, and for about a year a young woman had been sharing Christ with me. Not by telling me to repent everyday, or letting me know I was going to hell if I didn’t change my ways. Those were both true, but I wasn’t ready to hear those things. Instead, she shared her life with me. She asked me to lunch, to play racquetball, she let me stay at her house when I needed a place for the weekend, and she extended love and grace to me in a way I had never seen. She even slept on a hard floor and let me sleep in her bed when I stayed over. This is a woman who changed my life forever, a woman I would never forget. I have no idea where she is today, but Sally Soderman will one day meet me in heaven again and she will see all the fruit that came from her courage to step out and have faith for my life.    Michelle Borquez Thornton

(Robin) My Pastor says, "If the Lord has done something for you the least we can do is say so." Dear friend, what is the Lord doing for you?
(CeCe) He is teaching me forgiveness and humility. That His unwavering love is covering me even when my back is against the wall. There is a sense of protection. He is my friend and protector.   CeCe Morgan

I want to say a big thank you to all the special people who have stopped in to share their heart with us. It is because of these people that my walk is sweeter. It is so hard to just choose one question from each interview. God is doing a work in the lives of His people. Those who are willing vessels are making a difference in His kingdom. Thank you all for helping to mold this girl and teach me how to walk in faith in light of all the struggles we face daily. It would be so easy to give up on some days. You know those days. Those that knock you down and seem to drag you for miles. You are a source of encouragement and your words words are impacting lives of all those you are reaching out to. I cannot wait to see what is to come. From my interview with Lisa Buffaloe God began a work in my heart. CeCe has challenged me to be a missionary right where I am and to answer God's call. I am excited to see how God will continue to bless through a simple Friday chat. Blessings sweet friends.


Hello friends, today I want to do something totally different. Each Friday I highlight one woman standing out and making a difference in this world. Today I am bringing many of them together for one chat. Each guest that has joined me here has made in imprint on my life. A lasting impression of a faith strong in the Lord no matter what life throws our way.

We each struggle and yes, we fall, but we have a gracious God who lifts us out of the pit and sets us on safe ground in His presence. Each guest has blessed me with their wisdom and stories of faith.

I am going to share a culmination of everyone today. I am going to choose a question and answer from each interview that has blessed me in my walk with Christ.
I can honestly say I never expected Fridays to be so amazing, but God had a plan. He opened a door to allow His light to shine brightly through the lives of all who have stopped in. I pray you are blessed by each and every guest who has given of their time to stop by and simply chat. Today is part one of Lets Chat. Stay tuned for part 2 so you can catch everyone who has joined me here thus far.

Grab yourself a great cup of coffee. Maybe even a few pieces of chocolate and get cozy. This is going to be awesome!! We will begin with the beautiful Lisa Buffaloe.

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your outlook? If so, I would love to hear.
(Lisa) When my best friend/sister-in-law, Kathy contracted leukemia she was a young mother. We all had faith in God and His healing power, and I couldn’t imagine God not answering our prayers for her healing. When I realized the answer could be (and was) “no” it rocked my world. Through that experience and others, God revealed different facets of who I am and who He is. I’ve learned regardless of life’s hardships, God’s goodness is never altered. I love this quote by St. Augustine, "In my deepest wound, I saw Your glory and it dazzled me." Lisa Buffaloe

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you like to share?
(Shona) I’ve been blessed in that we haven’t faced any severe challenges as a family, but when my youngest was diagnosed with ADHD, that truly made me lean on the Lord. Long story short, Eric had a severe fear of shots. Each time he had to get dental work or vaccinations I prayed that God would allow him to receive them without having a panic attack. My prayers went unanswered for years, but in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a reason. It got to the point we HAD to address his fear and our pediatrician suggested we try counseling. During the course of addressing the shot issue, the counselor tumbled the fact that Eric had ADHD.That explained some of the other issues we were having with Eric in the area of behavior. Even with the diagnosis, things still weren’t easy, but I prayed the Psalms over Eric and realized that the ADHD diagnosis was the reason God allowed Eric to panic when he needed shots (it proved that God, in His infinite wisdom, had reason for not answering my prayers). If Eric had submitted easily to shots we would have never taken him to counseling. God knew we needed Eric’s fear of shots as a catalyst to get him to the place to help us deal with a bigger issue. My husband and I thought we didn’t have the skills Eric needed to be raised properly, but when the ADHD was discovered, we tweaked our parenting and, almost 6 years later, Eric is doing great and God helped keep our family together throughout it all. Shona Neff

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Julie) Oh my goodness yes. I can’t think of anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time that hasn’t. For me my biggest disappointment and struggle happened when I went through a divorce. For me, divorce was never an option...but unfortunately became an unexpected reality. During the months that followed my divorce, my life spiraled down a long dark hole of depression. Not only did I experience the pain of separation …I also lost my ministerial credentialing with the denomination I had been affiliated with. At the time, that particular denomination didn’t allow someone who was divorced to be credentialed with them. I started making horrible decisions. One night while sitting at the end of a bar, the Spirit of God whispered to my heart, “Julie, there is no where you can go that my grace won’t find you still.” In the midst of my backsliding, God showed up in a bar and demonstrated His unconditional love. Needless to say, I left the bar and never went back. God reignited my passion for Him and actually uses the pain of my divorce to minister the beauty of God’s love and restoration. Those seasons of pain prepared my heart to not judge…there is only one Judge…and what He demonstrated to me was amazing mercy! Now I love to share on the hope found only in Him. Julie Miller Gorman

(Robin) What encouraging words would you give to someone encountering loss?
(Julie) Wow Robin, more than words I would want to just hug them around the neck, offer a shoulder to cry on, and sit quietly with them. Sometimes loss is so great that words just don’t suffice…but with every ounce of sincerity I would muster the courage to say… “I know you feel strangely alone right now, I know there are no words I can offer to make your pain disappear, but I want to encourage you with this truth…God is near. His word declares He is close to the broken-hearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. So, though it feels He’s abandoned you…YOU ARE NOT ALONE…and some how…some day…God will take every part of your suffering and use it for good. Jeremiah 29:11 promises us, His plans are to bless us and not harm, his plans are to give us a hope and a future.” So when you’ve done all you know to do to stand…stand firm. (Eph. 6) Julie Miller Gorman (Interview 2)

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Melissa) That is a great, and hard, question! If you had asked me that a few years ago it would have everything to do with status, money, and influence…now that I am a little more seasoned with battle wounds/scars I would probably say something like…”Success is getting up every day doing the very thing that God created me to do.” Melissa Scarbrough Mashburn

(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. Christa Allen

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Sarah) In 2005, I had been writing for five years, but all doors to publication seemed closed and padlocked. No one wanted to buy historical fiction, I was accumulating “good” rejection letters, and I wondered whether I had heard God correctly. Was I meant to write? Was I wasting my time when I could be doing something more productive?

That year at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I went for a morning walk under the redwoods and stopped to admire a little white flower. I praised God for the flower and felt touched—had He made that flower just so I would praise Him? Then I looked around me. Hundreds of redwoods covered the hills, and thousands more out of my vision, all surrounded by white blossoms. How many of those flowers would ever cause someone to stop and praise God? Were they created in vain? Did the Lord waste His time creating them? Of course not. God is a creative Being, and He made us in His creative image. In His mercy, the Lord showed me that even if my writing was never seen by another human being and never caused anyone to praise Him, I did the right thing obeying His call to write. I was not wasting my time. Sarah Sundin

(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Shawna) There are different things about different people that make them special, and in that way I don't really look for anything in a close friend. Those friendships just sort of happen. I can say that wisdom is something that draws me to people.

The wisest people I've met in life don't worry. They seem to always grasp the bigger picture, and usually when I'm rattling off about some little thing they make a simple statement, much broader in perspective, and it's like, "Oh yeah... Never thought of it like that." It almost gives me a small sense of what it must have felt like when Christ calmed the waters. Everything just becomes so clear and peaceful. That's a real gift that God has blessed some individuals with, and coming from a wiry person like me, who feels the need to push and pull, twist, stretch, wad up and ram pretty much every situation in life, I appreciate you guys!

As to the second part of that question, I guess I hope my friends see someone who is genuine, and caring. That's what I want to be. Shawna K. Williams

(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Me) I often tell others, "Jesus looks good on you." I pray at the end of my life others will be able to look back and see Him clearly through my struggles and imperfections. I pray they see His beauty shine in the gifts that He has given me. At the end of my life it is my prayer that everything He gave me is used up for His glory and honor. It is my hope that others see life can be different. You don't have to hang on to your past, but you can have a future in Jesus. Robin Prater

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Marybeth) Most recently I had struggles when my husband was laid off from his job in December. We were without regular income (I am a stay at home mom) for 6 months. For the most part it was a faith-building experience but I would be lying if I said that there weren't moments of wondering why this happened and how we were going to make it. God showed Himself to be the powerful shield and provider He claims to be in His Word. And we learned to take things one day at a time and trust Him even when things seem hopeless and the news all around us is bad. Marybeth Whalen

(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Kathi) I was 26 and a brand new Christian. A wise old pastor took me aside and said, “Kathi, devote yourself to reading God’s Word and using that as your guideline for developing your list of what you’re willing to die for. Never compromise on anything on that list—but keep it short.” He was indeed a wise man! I have learned in the 36 years since that there really are only a few things that need to be on that list, and that they should not be compromised at any cost. However, all else is negotiable. Kathi Macias

(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Carlena) I truly get alone with The One who has loved me from the beginning and seek His face. He is the only one who really does stick closer than a brother and can be counted on to be faithful. Almost everyone in our lives will let us down at some point, but in my opinion God never will. Even when I don’t understand Him, I know He is perfect, and it’s my lack of faith, wisdom, trust, obedience, or whatever it is, that keeps me from having the joy He says will be our strength, even in hard times. So, there is always a lesson to be learned. And, I am the only one I can change, so I have to be open to hear and willing to make the change. Carlena Matthews

(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Alisa) God usually encourages me in specific ways to match the struggle I find myself in. However, when I feel extremely pressed down and burdened, I tell God how much I love Him over and over again. Somehow expressing my love for Him supernaturally fills me with complete peace. Alisa Hope Wagner

(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Mary) The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. Wow. Great book on Sabbath. Gilead by Marilynn Robinson. Breathtaking (although it’s a slow read). A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Life changing. Mary DeMuth

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Sheila) Yes, my "aha moment" has been to understand that "His ways and thoughts" are HIGHER than ours. I believe that finally TRUSTING HIM to bring about good in all situations and to watch Him move and exceed our human minds (in its limited expectancy) is a great peace that "surpasses all understanding" PLUS it makes me smile every time I watch Him MOVE mightily and BE GOD. I had my thoughts of how He should answer my prayers and He showed me different. Sheila Mangum

(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Tricia) I go to my bed, cuddle under the comforter and pray. I ask God to come and be with me. I try to focus on Him on His throne and remember He has everything in control. Tricia Goyer

(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. Haelie Heard

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Jennifer) Oh, wow. I think the better question would be, have there been times when you haven’t struggled with your faith. I’ve got the indecision and insecurities of Moses, the impetuous nature of Peter, the inner demons of Paul, and the doubts of Thomas. My constant battle is with my mind. It’s quick to go on a rampage, focusing on the bumps in front of me, forgetting the power of the God standing beside me. But to answer your question, the greatest, yet most liberating, struggle I had was when we went through a period of unemployment. This was a very dark time for me and it took a while for God to break through the darkness in my heart. It started with a move from Southern California to Louisiana motivated by my husband’s job change. I didn’t want to move. I was happy where we were at. We were part of a close-knit church and were surrounded by wonderful Christians. And what made it worse was the fact that God wasn’t sharing His plans with me. Every time I’d turn to Him in prayer, all I heard was “submit.” No, “Everything’s going to be okay.” or “I’ll watch over you and keep you.” No words of encouragement to give me that nice, fuzzy feeling that makes obedience easy.But I submitted anyway then waited for my red carpet experience. You know, like God was going to reward me with a blessed life on a golden platter. So when things didn’t turn out as I had expected, my world was shattered. A year after our move, my husband quit his job. Quit. We’d weathered a lot of storms together, but this one hit really hard because it wasn’t one that “happened” to us, it was one he brought on. And it just wasn’t fair. I was consumed with bitterness for a while, fueled by all the “well-intentioned” advice my friends threw my way. My favorite? “You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.” Basically, my friends were calling my husband lazy, and that cut deep. It isolated me. I found myself guarding my words, afraid that people were going to judge my husband. I may not have been happy with his choice, but I still loved him. And by this point, God was starting to show me His plan, and my husband’s unemployment definitely was a part of His plan. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to go into too many details except to say that the healing and growth that resulted in both of our hearts and in our marriage during this time was life-changing and well worth every tear.

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Jennifer) That whole job-change, unemployment, shattered expectations changed how I see life and God. So much good, so much deep emotional healing, came from that very painful experience, I’ve learned to trust God even more. It’s easy to trust Him when everything’s rosy and He’s moving mountains and breaking down bars of iron. It’s much harder to trust Him when everything appears to be falling apart. But I’ve come to learn that He has a plan for everything. And He is still on the throne, whether we see His hand or not. Jennifer Slattery

(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Krista) "Trust in the Lord with all of you heart ... lean not on your own understanding ... but in all your ways acknowledge Him & He shall direct your paths." Krista Klassen

(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Diane) From my mom: Stand up straight. (I was always taller than most other girls and she helped me realize that slouching didn’t make me shorter, or fit it better, it just made me look slouchy!) This gave me confidence.

From my dad: Learn the hard way first. (I had to learn to ride bareback before I was allowed to use a saddle and had to learn to drive using a manual stick shift before I could drive an automatic.)

From my father-in-law: There are no bad days (only challenging moments.)

From my mother-in-law: Love people without conditions or expectations.

From my husband: You can go as far as you want to. Diane Markins

(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Angela) Seeing the body of Christ united. There is so much quarrelling in the church it grieves me to the point of tears. I want to see unity like Christ desires for His bride. I want to walk along those hurt and broken because of it. Also teaching the truth of God's word. Being a part of making that light go off in someones head when the understand something for the first time. Angela Biehn Parsley

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Suzanne) That’s such a great question! I ask that of my students in writing classes—because it is important to have a realistic idea of what success will be for you as a writer. If you think you have to be a NY Times bestseller to be a success….you might have a very long, sad wait. But if you consider your readers—and hope to connect to them, to bring some inspiration in to their life, to encourage them to seek God,…well, that, to me, is success. Book by book! Suzanne Woods Fisher

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Vannetta) Hmm. Of course my attitude has changed as I've grown older. I worry less about trivial things, and I don't hold on to anger at all -- there's simply not enough time left. I turn 48 next year, so I must be close to middle-aged! One "aha" moment in particular I recall was when my son was young and I was a nervous mother. My mom asked me if I trusted God or not, and I thought that was a bit harsh, but she pushed me even more. She said either I believed the things I professed or I didn't, and if I did, then I should rest easy at night knowing my child was safe ALWAYS. That was a real turning point in my adult life. Vanetta Chapman

(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Lynn) Ephesians 6:12: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


James 1:2-3: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Lynn Rush

(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Patty) Eat the Word. I would like to say for the sake of vulnerability, though, that there are seasons where your mind is swarming under the weight of crisis, loss, anything that turns your world on its ear, that even Bible reading seems to do nothing. And that’s fine, because we’re all human and sometimes the neurons are so fried that nothing goes in. Those are times when we have to rely on the power of God’s Word to sustain us due to prior deposits. Secondly, I took quite a few sabbaticals about every six months following the loss of our daughter Jessica. I learned about whole facets of faith that were missing from my disciplines such as meditation and solitude. I found great reflective strength in journaling, waking and going to bed with the sun, living by candlelight, no electronics, cell phone off, eating simply, and taking long walks. God allowed me to ask anything I wanted and never judged me. Those times deposited within me a deeper canyon of grace that I had not known until I suffered. Patty Hickman

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Lisa) Readers sometimes write and tell me that my books and the characters were a blessing, but the truth is that, through the books, I’ve been blessed in a thousand different ways. So many people have shared their own life experiences and their experiences with the books. When I hear from readers, it’s one of those full-circle moments—the fulfillment of a dream that began when an amazing first-grade teacher told me I’d be a writer someday. If there’s one thing I take away from being an author, it’s that sense of wonder at being able to do something I think I was meant to do all along. That's success, I think. Success is in finding a way to use your gifts and talents to uplift and encourage others, and to leave the world, and other people, better off than you found them. Lisa Wingate

Well friends, what do you think? This is quite a blessing to have all these ladies gathered in one place. Is there something here that gave you hope today? Maybe a new insight? Share with us. I know the ladies would love to hear your comments. These ladies share so much of their lives with us and we can only bring glory and honor to God by opening up and sharing how He touches our lives daily. So many ladies with such wonderful insight on life, love and faith. God is at work through each of these ladies and He too is at work in you. I pray you have found a nugget of wisdom to carry you through a tough day and a treasure of hope to remind you just how much you are loved by a God who gave His life for you. Blessings sweet friends. As you can see there are many struggles and "aha" moments in life where they learned God's grace is enough. For me, that is what is so amazing. This group of ladies not only speak of Christ and faith, they live it. They share in an honest way that is inviting you too to share. The more we share the more we grow. The more we grow the more we shine for Jesus Christ.

Ladies, I say thank you with all my heart. You have blessed this girl beyond words. You have encouraged me in my writing and in my walk with Christ. You have challenged me to be more. To strive to live a life of thanksgiving and praise to a God who gives so graciously. Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

God designed us to soar


"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31


Have you ever heard of the story about the eagle and the chicken? There was an eagle that hatched with a group of chickens. As he hatched the chickens all accepted him as a chicken. He scratched in the dirt all day for worms. He clucked and clucked as he spent his days looking downward into the dirt. One day he decided to look up and what does he see? Behold, in the sky he witness' this beautiful bird soaring high. His wings are spread out and he looks majestic in flight. He is thinking to himself, "I wish I could do that. I wish I could fly." He sets off flapping his wings and he just gets a little air beneath him, but he stops as he hears the other chickens laughing. He looks at them and says, "Why are you laughing?" They continue in their jest at him and say, "What do you think you are doing you odd chicken?" He proceeds to tell them to look up at the beautiful bird flying. He shares how he too wants to be like the eagle. The tell him, "You are a chicken and you will never be anything more than a chicken. Stop dreaming about what can never be." You know what? He does. He never looks up again. He just keeps pecking away at the dirt and clucking just like the other chickens.

How sad. How sad to allow our dreams to fade because others give us no encouragement. We have a God of hope. We have a God of dreams. He wants us to soar. He wants us to spread our wings and fly. Fly without limit!


Wings of faith, not wings of doubt. We must not listen to others tell us we cannot do something. When we are called to fly we will fly. We are not just called to fly, but to soar. Don't give up on your dreams. Defeat is not possible with God on our side. Defeat does not equal success. Success comes by following all God has for us. By listening to His voice cheer us on. We open our heart to all possibilities.


"For I can do everything through Jesus Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Whatever God is calling you toward today nothing is too big for Him. It might seem huge to us. We might even think it can't be done. Most likely, it can't without God. That is why He has called us to follow in faith. We must believe every dream He instills in us can be accomplished through faith.

We have a life of purpose. We should live each day seeking to fulfill that purpose. The only way to do so is to seek God's will everyday. To ask, "God where do You want me to go?" And to answer with, "I will follow." Don't be like that eagle who just believed others when they said he was nothing more than a chicken. We were not made to look down, but to look up. We were made to have a heart that will soar for God.

Today is the day to make those dreams possible. If He is opening a door for you, He will give you all you need to walk through it. No, lets change that. He will give you all you need to soar through it!!

Monday, February 21, 2011


There are those few books that you pick up and make an imprint on your life. Challenging you to be more. This is one of those books. One Thousand Gifts is a book to inspire us to be thankful. To give thanks. Ann writes with a poetic ability that just seems as though the words are like sweet honey upon your tongue. She shares stories from her life and those tragic days that seem to effect all families. But through these tragedies, Ann, shows God's grace, His goodness in all.

This book is a journey through giving thanks. The cover is what stole my heart, but it is the words that are long lasting. I am taking this challenge that Ann offers. I am now on my journey to write, to pen, one thousand things I am thankful for. Ann shares that in giving thanks we are worshiping God. We are praising Him in all His glory. In giving thanks we are growing and living as Christians. In giving thanks we find salvation, we find freedom from this world and all the evil that tries to attach itself to us.

On the cover it says, "Dare to live fully where you are." What a challenge. What a gift. This is a transforming read. Ann gives such insight to simple things we tend to take for granted and not see. Ann sees the gifts before her and is on a journey to live with purpose. This is a book that sets us on a course to finding God's manna through all circumstances that touch our lives.

I encourage you to grab this book up. It is one I am writing in and taking notes. It is one of those books that lifts us up out of the pit of pity and into the throne room where we find the presence of God in giving thanks for all.

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

Ann Voskamp is a writer with DaySpring (a division of Hallmark), a contributing editor to Laity Lodge’s The High Calling, and a global advocate for the poor traveling for Compassion International. With an educational background in psychology and education from York University and the University of Waterloo, Ann and her husband are farmers in the Mennonite countryside of southwestern Ontario, raising a half dozen kids, crops of corn, and the roof in praise. She writes every day about the everyday wonder every day at .

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