Sunday, May 29, 2011

A sharp knife in the back

Yesterday I worked very hard cleaning my home and my car. It was one of those days I pushed myself beyond my own limits. When you live with chronic pain you don't have to do much to cause more pain. You feel it deep within your body. It's almost as though your bones are screaming and your muscles are saying, "No, no more, please."

As the night approached it felt as if I had a knife in my back. A sharp knife, sticking in my shoulder blade. Each movement hurt. Even being still made me want to cry out. Nothing seemed to take the pain away. The more I moved, the more it felt like it was digging in deeper. You just want to reach back there and pull it out to give relief, but you can't. It's not reachable. It's not doable on your own.

Ever feel betrayed? You feel like you have put everything you have into the relationship and then out of no where comes a sharp object and you know it's going to hurt. You just don't know how much at the time. Maybe just a little sting as the pain enters? No, you feel the blade enter and you feel the wound get bigger and bigger with each push. You want nothing more than to stop the pain. It isn't anything you caused yourself. It was another who pushed in the knife. You try with all your might to reach and stretch trying to get it out. To bring about healing and comfort. But, you simply can't do it by yourself. Someone has to remove the knife. Someone has to apply the ointment for healing. What happens when there is no one to pull it out? Where do you turn?

When we are hurt, all we want is healing. We want to find relief. We search our hearts for a reason and rhyme. Sometimes there just isn't any and that is what makes healing hard. When we don't know the cause, how can we alleviate the symptoms? We can't just cover them up. Oh, we can try. We can try to ignore the pain, but it's always there, cutting deeper into our flesh. When you hurt in one place, you feel the pain all over. The pain grabs hold of every nerve and joint connecting flesh to flesh.

For me, my only option is turning to Christ. Only He can remove the pain. He knows what that sharp knife feels like all to well, doesn't He? How many times was He betrayed by those He loved? What does He say about betrayal and forgiveness?

"Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22

"And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors." Matthew 6:12

"For if you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15

"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To Him who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise." Luke 6:27-31

Jesus makes it pretty clear doesn't He? We are called to forgive. We are called to not only forgive once, but to keep forgiving as we call upon God to forgive us. Isn't that just like us? We hold in such anger towards others. We carry such bitterness around with us. We want to hold onto our anger and wrath, but we want Jesus to forgive us of our sins. We call to Him wanting forgiveness and He is there waiting on us, willing to forgive us. Shouldn't that work both ways? Who are we to hold onto to anger when we ourselves are searching for peace? Jesus also calls us to pray for those who have hurt us. Give to those who have caused us pain. That is not easy is it? Jesus didn't say it was easy, He simply said, do it. There are no if, ands or buts. There are no excuses. We can't stand before Him and say, "But Jesus, You don't know what they did to me." Yes, He does. He knows better than anyone what betrayal feels like. He not only knows the pain, He is the Healer and Comforter in our time of pain. It is in Him that we can find peace even when we don't understand.

Jesus was rejected by His own. He is still rejected today. In Luke 6:12-16 we can read how Jesus picked the twelve disciples. He picked them. He chose them. In verse 16 we read, "Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor."  We too can read in Luke 22:1-6 about betrayal. In verse 6 it says, "So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude." Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss! "But Jesus said to him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" Luke 22:48

Jesus just wasn't betrayed by Judas. He was betrayed by Peter when he denied him, not once, but three times. Ever feel as if you have been denied by those you love? Is there any worse feeling than denial? To have one you love with all your heart act as if they don't even know you? Luke 22:54-62 we can read of Peter betraying Jesus. Friends, Jesus knows the pain of betrayal. It seems His whole life He has been betrayed by those He loves. Jesus didn't turn from Peter. He gave forgiveness. Can you find forgiveness in your heart for those who have betrayed you? It's tough, isn't it? It seems we spend our lives forgiving others. But, isn't that what love is all about? We are fallen creatures. We are imperfect. We will make mistakes daily. We will fall. When we do many will turn away. Many will talk and make that knife appear even sharper, but even in our deepest pain we can remember Jesus. We can find forgiveness and love in Him. If He is the only One standing with us, well then, He is enough.

"And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

See, we can't remove the knife, but Jesus can. He can reach where we cannot. He can heal where we cannot. His love and forgiveness goes beyond reason. His love reaches all doubt. We can't simply give up and not love. Sure, it might be the safe way, but can we really find joy without love? We must continue to pray. We must continue to reach out. We must be who Christ has called us to be. Even when we don't see change coming. Even when the hurt is deep. Just when all hope seems to be gone, Jesus finds a way. With Jesus there is always hope. There is always healing to be found. Yes, of course, we must look to the cross, but friends, Jesus is no longer on the cross!! He is risen! It is in Him that we find hope. Joy. Ever lasting life.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Is that stretch a bit uncomfortable?

Never think something so small has no purpose. Never under estimate God's calling. Two sentences that carry much meaning for me this week. We tend to look at our smallness and think, "No way." We tend to look at God's calling and wonder, "Are You sure, God?" Why do we question Him so? Why don't we just have faith He is going to do what He has set out to do? The thing is, He wants to use us for His glory and honor. If we are not going to make ourselves available, He will use someone else and we will miss out on a huge blessing.

"Relying on God has to start all over everyday, as if nothing has yet been done."  C.S.Lewis


"Continuous effort---not strength or intelligence--is the key to unlocking our potential."  Winston Churchill


Everyday we must wake as if it is a new day. A day awaiting new blessings and new opportunities. Too many times we just have the attitude that as morning breaks open nothing new will happen. We will live that same old day all over again. You know, we will if we simply don't make the choice to change. God gave us free will. We can live and do as we like. But each choice we make will effect the next.

"God will one day hold us each accountable for all the things He created for us to enjoy, but we refused to do so." Rabbanic Saying

"What are your choices? Whom are your choices for? Not just for yourself. Chose now whom you will serve, and that choice is going to affect the next generation, and the next generation, and the next. Choice never affects just one person alone. It goes on and on and the effect goes out into geography and history. You are part of history and your choices become part of history."  Edith Schaeffer

Lately I have been praying for God's will in my life. I have been praying for Him to show me what to do and which direction He wants me to go. I am still waiting. I am trying my best to be still and hear from Him. Many times He is calling. He is whispering, but we have placed so many things before Him we simply can't hear Him. Oh, He's shouting. He is putting up every road block in front of us, trying to get our attention. We just ignore Him. We push Him aside if His will doesn't measure up to what our will is.

I feel God stretching me. It is uncomfortable to say the least. But we weren't meant to live in comfort. As Christians, change is part of the package. Without change we stay stagnate. No change means to gain. No moving forward. We should be changing more and more to mirror Christ on a daily basis. We can't live in yesterday. Yesterday is gone. There is nothing we can do about yesterday, but move on. Let it go and let God take care of yesterday while we focus on today and all He has for us. We seem to waste so much time wondering what happened to yesterday. I think Satan wants us to stay as far in the past as we can. Christ wants us to live in His grace and find His mercy in everything.

Jim Elliot said, "Wherever you are, be all there." The Lord wants us all here today, right here in this moment. If we are staying in yesterday then we cannot be all here for Him now, can we? We can't be in two places at once. We are either living in yesterday, worrying about tomorrow or living in right here, right now. Where are you? I think many times I am in yesterday. I too find myself wondering about tomorrow. So if I am not living in the now, I am missing great opportunities for today.

"Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear."   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


There is a great quote, "When Satan reminds us of our past, we should remind him of his future."

We may not get the chance to live tomorrow. We sure don't get the chance to go back. Why do we try to hard to get to two places that only steal our time? God wants to use us today for His glory. One day when we meet Him face to face, wouldn't it be awesome to have used up every gift He has bestowed to us?

Gosh, I look at the huge things He is calling me to with fear. Put me in front of a large crowd of people and I am terrified. I think I best get over my fear of speaking in front of others. I feel God calling me to step out. Next month I will be a guest on a friend's radio program. Scared? You betcha, that's why I am already praying for God's leading. In September I will attend the grand American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. Without a doubt I am terrified. But if I just stayed in my fear look at all I miss? I know God has something big planned. He continues to open doors and yes, even the smallest of windows.

"Never lose an opportunity for seeing anything that is beautiful; For beauty is God's handwriting--a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, And thank God for it as a cup of His blessing."  Ralph Waldo Emerson


I want to leave you with one more quote. Yes, this girl is a lover of quotes. There is such wisdom to be found in words of others. If we only take a minute to ponder what one person has said, we might just find the words to carry us into the grand light of seeing all God really has for us. Friends, lets not miss out on all God has for us. Lets put yesterday behind us, along with our fears and embrace today with a faith to carry us over every mountain with a sight that sees how God can bring big blessings in small things. 

"Cherish things while you still have them,

before they're gone,
and you realize how precious they really are.


Life can only be understood backwards,
but it must be lived forwards.


Everything in life is temporary.
So if things are going good,
enjoy it because it won't last forever.
And if things are going bad,
don't worry because it won't last forever either.


Destiny is not a matter of chance,
it is a matter of choice;
it is not a thing to be waited for,
it is a thing to be achieved.


A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.


Never cross a bridge
without knowing how to swim the tides.


If you could not add years to your life
Add life to your years." author unknown 





Do you feel the Lord calling you to something greater? Is He stretching you today? The only thing standing in the way of all God has for you and doing so, is you. We ignore His calling because we think we are unworthy. We put things in front of Him because our free will leads to living selfish lives. We see an obstacle and God sees an opportunity. When we see our cup half empty, He sees a cup waiting for a refill. Don't let the sounds and sights of this world take you away from the fullness that can only come from God. Don't allow Satan to make you feel less than you were created to be. We are children of God. Whatever God is calling you to today, He will do more than meet you half way. He will stand in the gap and make everything possible. He will equip us with all we need to soar above our smallest insecurities.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13






Friday, May 27, 2011

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with JOJO TABARES

When you ask someone to tell you about themselves and the first thing they say is, "I am a child of God", that tells you much about that person already. To know who we are in Jesus is the most important aspect of who we are. It's everything. When we find ourselves in Jesus everything else just seems to find its place. Meaning, when we put God first, He cares for the rest.

My guest today is, JoJo Tabares. JoJo, is a woman of truth and wisdom. Listen to just a few of her favorite quotes.

" A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11 
"Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" 1Peter 3:15

A friend recently commented to me that a friend said to her, "Does every conversation always have to come back to your God?" Our response? Yes, it does. If we are living our Christian walk, every conversation and action of our lives should reflect Christ and our relationship with Him. With JoJo, you get Christ in everything. Her life points directly to Him. Through all her struggles and daily battles, she turns to Christ for wisdom. She opens God's Word for direction. She too laughs. Don't we all just need a little more laughter in our lives?

I love how JoJo is honest and open. Isn't that the kind of friend we all want? There is something powerful when women of God stand together and encourage one another. When we lift one another up we soar above all circumstances that try to get us down. I am so honored to have, JoJo, with us today. Her words will inspire you. It's funny, we really don't know one another until we really begin asking each other questions. I love knowing people on a deeper level. It is so wonderful to go beneath the surface and find out another's passions and dreams. When we open our hearts we encourage others to do the same. When is the last time you reached out to a girlfriend and just asked her, "How are you doing?" In reaching out we find healing. Through healing we find compassion for others. It is my prayer that you are blessed today.

Lets get to know, JoJo, a little better. Sit back. Grab yourself a great cup of coffee and enjoy:)


(Robin) JoJo, it is awesome to have you with us today. Please tell us about yourself.

(JoJo) I’m just your average child of God, work at home school mom of 48 who is married 24 years (and yes to the same man), purple nut, communication speaker and author who always wanted to be a stand-up comedian but is getting older now so she’s doing it sitting down! I not only dance to the beat of my own drummer, but my drum is often a banjo with one string.


(Robin) What is a typical day in the life of JoJo Tabares?
(JoJo) I don’t think there’s anything about my life you could remotely call typical. I typically do what I gotta do when I gotta do it…if I can. It’s an organized chaos in which I rise at the crack of 3am running thither and yon between homeschooling, writing, speaking, cleaning and running my business. I can often be found wearing two or three hats at a time and talking to nobody in particular as I work through each day’s projects. My goal is to get through my “To Do” list each day crossing off more than I add on.


(Robin) I love hearing how others come to know Christ. JoJo, what is your testimony?
(JoJo) The Reader’s Digest version goes like this. I was born of two Atheists of Jewish descent who married a non practicing Catholic and became a nondenominational Christian due in part to some Amway meetings and a Jehovah’s Witness that came to my door. I was never an Atheist and, from the time I was a child, I began asking everyone I knew what their religious beliefs were and why. Christianity just made sense to me and I believe God was reaching out to me my entire life. There is a song that says there is a God shaped hole in all of us and mine gradually filled with purpose as I began to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The long version takes several hours to tell and will one day become a book if I ever get around to it.


(Robin) How many years have you been married? What advice would you give to a couple just beginning on how to have a successful marriage?
(JoJo) My dh and I will be married 25 yrs in January. We’ve been together for about thirty years. I’d say a successful marriage comes from remembering JoJoism#23 Husbands are not Knights in Shining Armor and wives are not young Damsels in Distress, but if you speak to each other that way anyway, you’ll have a long and happy marriage.


(Robin) Being a mother is just the greatest blessing. I am the mother of three and step mother of two. JoJo, what has been the most challenging aspects of motherhood and the greatest blessings?
(JoJo) I have two ONLY children. My dd is 21 and my son is 11. Each is unique and blessing. The challenge is letting go. My dd has been traveling the world since she was young. I had to let her go 1800 miles away to college three years ago and then half way around the world to Russia last semester. It looks like she’ll be going back to Russia in ministry when she graduates and I’ll have to get used to not hearing from her as often. Letting go of your desires for your children can be difficult unless you hold on to the knowledge that they have prayed and been directed by the Lord down their own path. All you can do then is to pray that God watch over them and treasure the time you have with them.


(Robin) I understand you have home schooled your children. I too was a home school mom and I loved it. There were challenging days, but it was such a gift watching my children learn. What are the greatest blessings for you as a home school mom? What have you learned about yourself through the experience?
(JoJo) The greatest joy of a home school mom is to watch your children develop a love of learning and then apply that learning to their lives for the things of the Lord. I taught my children the importance of speaking up for their faith and their beliefs in truth and in grace. It’s such a blessing to hear how my dd has ministered to unbelievers wherever she goes and to learn that they tell her how they wish all Christians would communicate their faith this way. At the age of 7 or 8 my son was discussing his faith with his grandmother on a rather long phone conversation during which she was so impressed with his demeanor that she overlooked her usual negative reaction to discussions of faith in order to listen.


(Robin) Please share with us your ministry. What is your mission statement?
(JoJo) Teaching Christians of all ages to communicate with boldness and grace.


(Robin) Being a writer and speaker how do you make time for everything without losing balance?
(JoJo) What’s balance? Lol I get things done by adhering to JoJoism#4 Insomnia is God’s way of allowing you to get more done I a day.


(Robin) What is the greatest advice you have ever received?
(JoJo) “Read what the Bible says about that.”


(Robin) How do you define success?
(JoJo) Well, the world defines it as making lots of money. Some say it’s affecting change, influencing others or being popular. I think it’s doing what God leads you to do whether or not it works out the way you think it should.


(Robin) Today women struggle with beauty and what is real. I love when women share beauty secrets. JoJo, what do you teach your daughters real beauty is?
(JoJo) Outward beauty is fleeting and once you get over 40, you realize just how fleeting as parts of you begin to sag and wrinkle and ache. Real beauty is found when people look into your eyes and can see God reflected there. Although I am tyring to start a movement whereby wrinkles are fashionable: http://artofeloquence.com/articles.php?article=49 Psst! Pass it on!


(Robin) JoJo, I didn't grow up in a Christian home. My parents believed I should make my own choices about life and what I believed. I understand your parents were atheists. What impact did that make on your life?

(JoJo) I was taught that weak people, needy people and silly people were religious and that if you weren’t a drug addict who hit rock bottom, you had no need of God. The movies always portrayed the “conversion” where the down and out hit rock bottom, had nowhere else to go, saw a light shining down from heaven, became an instant believer and his life was always perfect from then on. It took me many years to come to accept Christ because I never saw myself that way. I had no idea you could simply see how much sense God made and that He filled a need much greater than that caused by poverty, loneliness, or the like. He fills the need for purpose.


(Robin) We all struggle at some point in life. Sometimes each day can be a struggle to overcome. Has there been a time in your life that really challenged all you believe in? If so, how did you overcome?
(JoJo) The only time where I challenged all I believed in was when I accepted Christ. Though my life has had MANY challenges, I have never been shaken in my faith in God, but I have sometimes questioned if God wanted to fix what I thought was broken. Five years after my dd was born, I had a miscarriage and couldn’t get pregnant again. I figured we were destined to have only one child when 9 and a half years after her birth I gave birth to my son. God’s wisdom is greater than our desires. If I had my son when I wanted him, I’d be a year away from having an empty nest right now. God’s wisdom has allowed me to have 7 more years with my son before he goes off to college. God has cured my dd of a heart condition, brought my son into the world after many complications and saved my family in so many other ways that I never question God’s love or existence though I may question where He’s going with me.


(Robin) Life seems to throw curve balls our way and we often think we are the only one facing the struggle. What advice would you give to someone facing adversity?
(JoJo) Read what the Bible says about that. Almost anything we go through, God knew we’d face it. Adversity is not rare and God tells us what we should do about that. Man may not have the answers, but the Lord does and He reaches out to us in His Word to comfort and guide us.


(Robin) I lost my dad when I was only nineteen. It was a heartbreaking time in my life. A time when I didn't know the Lord. I felt alone and lost. What encouraging words would you give a friend facing loss?
(JoJo) I lost a child in 1995. It was a very difficult situation but I heard so many well meaning people try to comfort me with their words. Even Christians would quote scripture and tell me my child was with God, but that’s not what I wanted to hear right then. I knew it, but that’s not what I needed to hear. I needed to hear, “I’m so sorry. Here’s my shoulder. What can I do to help? Do you want to talk?” and I needed a hug.


(Robin) If you could go back to when you were seventeen, what advice would you give yourself that you now know about life?
(JoJo) God loves you. He’s been watching over you. He loves you and He’s reaching out to you. He’s real.


(Robin) We often think of the impact we make on others. We think of today. In the legacy you leave behind what is the most important impact you hope to make?
(JoJo) My mission is to start a huge movement for the Kingdom of God. To train the Christian community to speak up in grace and truth for the things of God and the missions He has them on and to regain civil discourse in America.


(Robin) Hobbies, books, music, food... What are the things that bring a smile to your face?
(JoJo) Singing harmony with my daughter, making others laugh, making a difference in someone’s life, fulfilling God’s purpose.


(Robin) In looking back to your childhood what are the blessings that captivate your heart that you hope to pass to your children?
(JoJo) I wasn’t a Christian in my childhood and I don’t usually see the benefit in looking back. I look ahead and try to give my children the Christian perspective, training and teachings that will help them to become the adults the Lord intends for them to be.


(Robin) JoJo, what is the Lord doing in your life today? What are your hopes for tomorrow?
(JoJo) God is using a former Agnostic and painfully shy girl to share with the Christian community about how to effectively share with others the missions God has THEM on. My prayer is that I can make a difference in the lives of Christians everywhere in order to further the Lord’s work for each of them.


(Robin) I love when we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ, lifting one another up. Is there a prayer request you would like to share so we can join you in prayer?
(JoJo) Grace and civil discourse has gone out of fashion these days. I am on a mission to bring it back so that Christians have the tools they need and a more receptive audience in which to share God’s love. I’d love prayer that this catches on, if even in a small way, to help further the things of the Lord.

http://artofeloquence.com/index.php
 
http://artofeloquence.com/blog/
 
http://fortheloveofpurple.com/
 
I hope you all will take a few moments and peek at all JoJo is doing. She is sharing Christ with the world and making a difference for the glory of God. It is awesome to see God moving in her life through her ministry. If you have been blessed today share your words of encouragement with JoJo.
 
JoJo, thank you for being my guest today. It has been an honor having you join the list of awesome ladies that have taken time to share at the Nest. I hope you come back and share more with us. Blessings to you sweet lady.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do you know a safe place?

Living in Missouri is a little scary this time of year. Tornado alley as it is called. Tornadoes have been all around us. First, my prayers are at heaven's doors for all those effected by these devastating monsters that come out of no where and attack randomly. Neighborhoods destroyed. Families being uprooted. Once a tornado has come through and wreaked havoc, where and how do you begin again?

Some of us are living as though a tornado has touched down in our hearts. Our lives are surrounded by debris as we try to pick up the pieces. Shattered lives. Shaky ground. Unsteady weather. What do you do? Where do you go?

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Through its waters roar and be troubled, through the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn." Psalm 46:1-5

We have been glued to the television as of late. Watching the weather has become something of normal. When you see the breaking news and the weather man before you, you begin to wonder, "Are we next?" You hear the statement, "Head for safety." Where is that safe place for you? Sometimes it feels as though there is no safe place. Many times we feel as though the winds are whipping from every view. We want to run, but which direction do we go?

"For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings." Psalm 61:3-4

We become fearful. We begin to wonder, "Is there a safe place for me?" Our lives can be uprooted in the matter of minutes. We can try to cover and protect ourselves, but as we open our eyes all we see around us is what was once there is now gone. We scream out, "Why?" Sometimes we just don't know why and I think that is what really hurts. If we knew the reasoning behind the hurt we could handle it. We could work to clean it up. But when we simply don't know, what do you?

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 47:10

Before a tornado hits the sirens go off. Sometimes you have time to find safety. Just like in our lives, don't we always hear sirens go off? We just simply don't hear them because we are wanting to see the sunshine before us. We ignore the sirens and then it's as though a bomb has exploded in our lives. Sometimes the sirens are there warning us, but we ignore them, thinking everything is okay.

"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." 1 Peter 5:10

Life can just be hard. No matter how hard we try to be safe, there is a storm brewing overhead. Everything shatters and it feels as though you are walking on broken glass. There is no way for us to live without feeling some kind of pain. For me, I want to cover that pain up. I don't want to feel it at all anymore. I just want to bury myself in one of those shelters built to withstand any storm and not come out until Jesus is ready to call me home. Ever feel that way? Ever feel as though your just walking along on a sunny day, flowers are blooming and your taking in all the sights and sounds, enjoying each and every moment and then out of no where, your left standing and all around you is gone? What happened to that beauty you felt? What happened to that peace you were so thankful for? Sometimes it is as though we are Dorthy from Wizard of Oz and we are whipped into another place and time. All we want is to go home. All we want is for things to go back the way they were. It's like a tornado has come and not only destroyed what was good, but misplaced everything. Now your left looking for one blessing. Just one piece of something to make you feel whole again.

The only safe place I know is Jesus Christ.

C.S Lewis says, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” Jesus is before the storm. He is in the storm and He too will be there when the storm passes. He can remove us from that storm approaching or He can choose to leave us there in the midst of the rain. If He removes us, we are always so thankful. Sometimes He chooses to allow that storm to reach us, for reasons we can't seem to fathom. But I am learning every storm and every wind that blows into my life has reason and purpose. Maybe it's to blow me in another direction or blow something entirely different in my direction. But I know, God's hand is in everything that touches my life. Whether I understand at that moment or not, I just have to trust Him. No where does it say that is easy. I think that is where our faith is built. It's where it is tested and we find that there is nothing that can separate us from that firm foundation of God's love.

The key is to be thankful for the storm also. That is hard. It's so hard to be thankful for something that we can't even understand yet. But we must remember, it's not about us. It's all about Him. There is so much in my life right now that I don't understand. Everything that I thought was grounded, is now uprooted and I am left with feelings I am not sure what do with. Feelings of anger and fear. I am trying to be thankful in all. I know Jesus sees beyond my vision. He sees past the past and into the healing. He sees restoration where I still see destruction. He is working behind the scenes in areas where I cannot see. So, I must remember to focus on Him and not the situation around me.

"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." Romans 5:3-5

Just as after a storm a rainbow appears out of no where. In our lives if we take our eye off the center of the storm and place it on Jesus, He will give light to our situation. Think of a stained glass window. Broken glass. Little shards that you think could only cut. Separate they are only pieces of colored glass, not really having a place. Put them all together, intertwined with solder, something strong and permanent, and you have something to behold. You now have a masterpiece of beauty before you, that once only looked like broken glass. If God can bring beauty from ashes, He too can bring peace into your heart. Replacing the hurt and brokenness with a solid foundation of love.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Just as in a tornado, in many situations in our life we have no control over how it all plays out. A tornado comes in and changes everything. There is no longer stable air. The pressure is heavy. Clouds are hanging low. We can't change others anymore than we change or control the weather. We can't change situations by simply wishing it was better. How do we bring about change? We begin within our own heart. We clean up our own heart of all the debris. We pick up piece by piece and open our hands, giving it all to Jesus. We get down on our knees and pray. We pray for change. We pray for seasons of grace. We pray for God's hand to lead us and in Him we can find the safety we are searching for when everything seems scattered. In the roaring sound of those blazing winds we can find peace in God that will bring a solace we are so in need of.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A KILLER AMONG US by LYNETTE EASON

Okay, when you pick this book up plan on turning page after page and letting those chores go. Seriously, I couldn't stop reading. To tell you a little about the book, this is the third book in, Lynette Eason's series, Women of Justice. The first two are Too Close To Home and Don't Look Back. If you enjoy, Dee Henderson and Irene Hannon, you are going to love Lynette Eason. Wow, can this girl pull you into a story. She keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole book! Friends, that is a gift.

In, A Killer Among Us, we have Kit Kenyon, who is a hostage negotiator and her new partner? He is Noah Lambert. Of course there is a serial killer and yes, they are on the case. The thing is, they didn't expect to be in the case. Both Kit and Noah have pasts they are trying to escape from and they dive into this case. Noah has gotten peace through his faith and Kit is trying all her might her figure it out on her own. These two characters feed off one another and connect right away. I love Noah's character in how he as a Christian shares Christ with everyone he meets. He doesn't strong arm them, he gently shows them there is hope. Kit is awesome because although her character is strong willed she isn't too wise to learn from others. Lots of life lessons to be taken away from this novel.

This series was filled with suspense that kept me up late until I finished each book. I would say to begin with the first book and follow through the series and you will gain more from, A Killer Among Us. Yes, you could read it separately, but you would miss out on one amazing series!! I enjoy reading, Lynette Eason, because you never know what is going to happen next. Too many times I read a book and after the first chapter you know how the book is going to end. Lynette has that gift of pulling the reader in and making you feel as if you are right there in the midst of the happenings. If your looking for a great series for a summer reading and you love suspense/thriller/romance, this one is for you!!

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


Lynette Eason is the author of Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, and three other romantic suspense novels. She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

God's love flows deep

Matthew 9:20-22 "And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, 'If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.' But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, 'Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.' And the woman was made well from that hour." NKJ

We can find this story in Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56.

I must say, this is one my favorite stories. It is one that blesses me deeply. It is my hope that you too see more to this story and find a deeper faith.

During this time when a woman's flow came she was considered unclean. She was an untouchable. She was not welcome near others. Friends nor family welcomed her. She was dirty. She was in pain. She was lonely. Can you see her there? In her deepest pain and she wants is to be accepted and loved. Everyone has turned away from her. She lived alone. She ate alone. For twelve years she suffered, but her faith did not waver. She hasn't found relief anywhere. No doctors have miracles for her. No answers as to why. This woman spent all she had for medical treatment. She continued to grow worse. What was she to do? To live in faith.

This woman's name isn't given. I think that is important. This isn't just one woman, but many. Many who are searching. Who are lonely and in need. All they want is one touch. But, is there there anyone willing to reach out? This woman carried this pain for twelve years. Twelve long years of being alone and feeling as though she was unworthy. Can you imagine? Maybe you too feel the same today. Do you feel the shame she carried?

As this woman approached Jesus, "For she said, 'If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.'" Mark 5:28 NKJ There is a crowd around Jesus. He is surrounded, but He knows she is there. She sees Him and reaches out. She touches and she is healed before she releases her hand. It was not her touching Jesus that healed her, but her very faith in Him. Her belief.  Everyone had turned away from her, but here we see Jesus turning to her. I find comfort in that. "And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who  touched My clothes?'" Mark 5:30 NKJ

This woman was trembling. She was scared in this crowd. Even in a crowd she felt alone and desperate. But there was One who could bring her peace and comfort. In her need. In Jesus' perfect time He heals her. She is restored. She has life once again. I can see her walking away from this day a changed woman forever. She is accepted and loved by her Savior. I can only imagine how much her faith increased with just one touch. His love flowed into her with healing. Healing not only of her body, but her mind and heart. She was completely healed in every way. We have a mighty God who knows our need before we approach Him.

We see Paul with a thorn in his side. It doesn't say what his pain is, but we know he prays three times. He is crying out to God for relief. All he needs is a touch, but the Lord touches Paul in a different way. God is not ignoring Paul in his need. He doesn't remove the thorn, but gives him grace to endure.  "And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9  NKJ

Here we have two different stories of healing, but both leave us with hope. God knows the healing we need. He will give us strength to overcome and peace to endure. He is all we need. Aren't you thankful we have a God that knows each need and is there for us? He walks toward us when others turn away. It is His love that brings healing. We are made perfect in Him. We can be sure of one thing. No matter where we are we are never alone in our pain.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18 NKJ

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpassed all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ

Friday, May 20, 2011

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with HEATHER FUNK PALACIOS

I am excited today! Yes indeed, I love Fridays! Why? I get to interview the most amazing people. People who love the Lord and strive to leave yesterday behind, while they look forward for all Jesus has for them. That in itself is exciting to see and to be surrounded with. Encouraging others brings us together. It takes the spotlight off our circumstances and places it on the glory of God, opening our heart for more blessings. He pours out His goodness to us. All we must do is lift our cup and it will soon be overflowing.

Today my guest is, Heather Funk Palacios. Get ready for a huge blessing, my friends. Heather loves the Lord and chooses to make her life about Him. Like us, she struggles daily. But the most important thing is, she turns to the Lord and trusts Him in everything. Heather is on a mission to share the love of Christ. Through her words you will clearly see He is present in her life. Grab yourself a great cup of coffee and sit back for an extra special gift today as we meet a girl after God's own heart.

(Robin) Heather, introduce yourself girl. Tell us about yourself.

(Heather) I'm the daughter of a King; wife of Raul; mommy to DJ & Andy. And yes, in that order.



(Robin) I love how the Lord brings His children together. Would you share your testimony with us?
(Heather) I accepted Jesus when I was 4. Like the prodigal son, I strayed to go my own way for many years to party, sleep around, drink, steal, lie.

But at 23, I came home. The Father had been waiting for me. He welcomed me and my life's never been the same.



(Robin) You are so full of life. You are an encouragement to everyone you come in contact with. That is a gift from the Lord. Heather, has there been a time in life when you were the one in need of encouragement?
(Heather) Having a lung disease since childhood that is incurable, having been hospitalized over 20 times for it--this has been my need for encouragement.

But I've learned to let my biggest encourager be Jesus because in my empty & lonely hospital rooms, Jesus is all I have.

He should be our #1 fan, our loudest cheerleader, our biggest encouragement.



(Robin) Today so many young people are struggling to find their way. This world traps us into believing it has all the answers. I remember being young and looking in all the wrong places for answers. What would you say to a young person today searching for the meaning of life?
(Heather) I'm 37 and I am STILL searching for meaning. I don't think it ever eludes us.

But what it DOES do is keep us in desperate need for something bigger than ourselves.

It keeps us needing a Purpose-Provider; a Way-Maker; a Gift-Giver...and that ALL comes through a relationship with God.

That is what I'd tell a young person who is searching for the meaning of life.



(Robin) Women struggle so much with self image. We see Hollywood and are confused about what real beauty is. Share your beauty secrets with us, Heather. As a woman what do you struggle with? What do you call beauty?
(Heather) I'm a little unorthodox when it comes to this stuff. I think women need to strive for beauty INside and OUTside.

Think about it...God said our body is a temple. Well back then, temples were kept up, internally AND externally.

They were tended to, cared for, carefully kept. And we should do the same w/ our temples (bodies).

As much as we should slap on some sexy lip gloss & throw on a pretty accessory, we should strive for the "gloss" of grace and the "accessory" of love.


(Robin) I think of the song, "Peace Like A River.." Is there anything that keeps you up at night?
(Heather) I keep myself up at night. I am my worse enemy with anxious nights.

Straight up, I went to a counselor about this and was prescribed anxiety medicine.

It worked and I give all the glory to God for using doctors & counselors to help us when we can't help ourselves.



(Robin) Being a young married woman, what advice would you give to a couple just beginning the journey of marriage?
(Heather) 1) Divorce is not an option. 2) Work it out!



(Robin) I would love for you to share your ministry with us at leadHership. When did you begin writing? I often feel the Lord speaking to me when I write. Writing is a journey. What is the greatest gift of writing for you?
(Heather) I began my ministry 6 years ago. Titled it "LeadHership" tag-lined it, "Leading from wherever you are for whatever God wants."

Right now, I operate this ministry through twitter, my website and facebook. But someday I hope to turn my manuscript into a book. :)


(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Heather) Best advice comes from my Ma, She says, "Heath, you gotta bloom where you're planted." Love that!



(Robin) When you look back to your childhood, what is one of your memories that simply takes you back in time and brings a smile to your face?
(Heather) When I was 4 years old and my daddy led me in a prayer of salvation.



(Robin) My One Word for 2011 is, "Surrender". Heather, what is your one word for 2011?
(Heather) "DON'T-QUIT" I hyphenated it so it could be one word :)



(Robin) Do you have a prayer request that is on your heart you would like to share so that we could join you in prayer?
(Heather) My prayer request is for the burdened, the despairing and the addicted---that they would be comforted & set free by their Savior.



(Robin) Struggles come. Fear attacks. Temptation strikes. Have you ever found yourself questioning your faith?
(Heather) Yep. As a matter of fact, I tried to "un-salvation" myself once. But He never, never, never, never, ever leaves.

Once we invite him in, even if we question why we did, He's here to stay. I LOVE THIS ABOUT GOD!!!!


(Robin) What is it that keeps you grounded and so uplifted today?
(Heather) What keeps me uplifted is that, "the lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." Psalm 145:14



(Robin) Heather, for so many women it is hard to find the things we love about ourselves because we seem to focus on those things we don't like. What do you struggle with and what are those things you love about who you are?
(Heather) I don't like that I daily disappointment my Father.

But what I love about who i am is that I'm already forgiven and accepted anyway.

There's nothing bad I can do to lose God's love; there's nothing good I can do to get more. NOTHING separates me from it.



(Robin) What are your deepest passions? What dreams has the Lord given you, Heather?
(Heather) I dream of speaking & writing to thousands of lost lambs and helping them find their way to the Shepherd



(Robin) What would your perfect day be?
(Heather) A one-day pass to Heaven



(Robin) Heather, what encouraging words do choose to leave us with today?
(Heather) When we lose control in our circumstances is when we discover we didn't need to be in control in the first place. It's gonna be ok. Gods got you in His hands.

 
 
Wow, don't you love how the Lord works? I needed these very words today. Friends, did Heather share something that blessed you? I know she would love to hear from you. My pastor teaches us, "You gotta bloom where you are planted." Those words could not be more true. We search and wait for the right time to live out dreams the Lord has placed in our hearts. We say, "Tomorrow I will do as He asks." We must live for Him today. We must follow Him now. With Him all things are possible. He has us right where we are to be today for a higher purpose and plan than we can see.
 
Heather, thank you for sharing with us. Thank you for blessing us with such encouragement and inspiration to never give up! Girl, you are shining for Jesus. You are a blooming flower for His glory and honor. Sweet blessings to you:)
 
If you would like to check out all, Heather, is doing. You can find her by clicking on these links below.
 
facebook.com/leadHership
 
twitter.com/leadHership
 
leadHership.net

Thursday, May 19, 2011

WE SHALL SEE GOD (Charles Spurgeon's classic devotional thoughts on Heaven) by RANDY ALCORN

No author in history has more material in print than Charles Spurgeon. During his lifetime, Spurgeon and his writings affected the world far and wide. Today, nearly 120 years after his death, countless people continue to have a passion for this London preacher, and more and more discover him every day. Some of Spurgeon’s most powerful sermons were those that he preached on the topic of Heaven. Up until now, however, very few of these sermons have been accessible to a mass audience. In what is sure to become an instant classic, best-selling author Randy Alcorn has compiled the most profound spiritual insights on the topic of eternity from these sermons and arranged them into an easily-accessible, highly inspirational devotional format complete with his own comments and devotional thoughts. Whether you are familiar with the works of Charles Spurgeon or not, you are in for a treat, as Alcorn invites you to sit at the feet of the Prince of Preachers and discover timeless pearls of wisdom from one of the greatest theological minds of all time.
 
My review:
You might be wondering, "Who is the author of this book, Spurgeon or Alcorn?" Well, for me, it would be both. Alcorn has taken, Charles Spurgeon's words and brought them to life once again. Maybe you have never heard of Charles Spurgeon. That is exactly what Alcorn is doing here. He is bringing his readers to know the work of Spurgeon.
 
This is a 50 day journey into seeking Heaven. As Spurgeon lived from 1834-1992 his words are still as powerful today as they were then. I learned much about Spurgeon that I did not know through this book. In the pages of this book Alcorn hasn't taken away from Spurgeon at all. He has simply added his own thoughts too. I think this book is just amazing. Alcorn gives us an excerpt from Spurgeon's sermon, then shares Spurgeon's words and then his own insight.
 
Whether you decide to read this book in a devotional style or simply read through you are going to find rich wisdom and blessing after blessing. I want to thank, Randy Alcorn, for putting together such an inspiring piece of work. Bringing old and new together. This would be a great gift for a new Christian. This is an outstanding aid to studying God's word. This book makes me want to seek Him even more.
 
This book was a gift from Tyndale for it's review.
 
Randy Alcorn is the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Prior to starting EPM, he served as a pastor for 14 years. He has spoken around the world and has taught on the adjunct faculties of Multnomah Bible College and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Randy is the best-selling author of over 35 books (4 million in print), including the novels Deadline, Dominion, and Deception, Safely Home, as well as The Chasm and Courageous. His nonfiction works include Heaven; If God is Good; Managing God's Money; Money, Possessions and Eternity; The Purity Principle; The Treasure Principle; The Grace and Truth Paradox; and The Law of Rewards. Randy has written for many magazines and produces the popular periodical Eternal Perspectives. He's been a guest on numerous radio and television programs, including Focus on the Family, The Bible Answer Man, FamilyLife Today, Revive Our Hearts, Truths that Transform, and Faith Under Fire.

The father of two married daughters, Randy lives in Gresham, Oregon, with his wife and best friend, Nanci. They are the proud grandparents of several grandchildren.

Visit Randy Alcorn's blog at www.epm.org/blog. Connect with Randy also at facebook.com/randyalcorn and Twitter: twitter.com/randyalcorn.

SHATTERED by MELODY CARLSON

I have been a huge fan of, Melody Carlson, for years. She is now writing moving stories directed for young adults facing issues no one wants to speak about. "Shattered", blew me away. It is the second book of the, "Secrets Series". This book moved me to tears and opened my heart to the pain, Cleo, was facing.

In this moving novel, Cleo, isn't happy with her mother. In fact, she pretty much wishes she was gone from the face of the earth. Her mother might be a little over protective, but she loves her daughter with all her heart. We see this family face a  trial no one wants to face. Cleo's mother is murdered and now Cleo is left with guilt and anger. She wants nothing more than to cover up her pain and she begins doing so with prescription drugs she finds in the medicine cabinet. Soon, that simply isn't enough and she turns elsewhere. Cleo is holding on to secrets. Secrets that are eating her alive. Many times it is our actions that not only hurt us, but those who love us. Cleo faces so much at one time. Her best friend is moving away, and now she loses her mother. She feels so alone and wants nothing more than to just disappear in silence.

Cleo's Aunt Kellie is staying with her and her dad. Kellie sees the pain Cleo is facing. She knows this deep pain all to well. At first, Cleo, isn't wanting her aunt there. She just wants to be alone. As Cleo's father is trying to find healing, he is missing his daughter's pain. He is blindsided, but Kellie sees and is not giving up so easy. Once, Cleo, opens up and shares what really happened, her father isn't forgiving. He stays clear of his daughter. This broke my heart. There is such pain in these open wounds. He had to find forgiveness in his time. Healing cannot be rushed.

Sometimes nothing in this world seems to make sense. We face trials we feel lost in. If the story ended there it would be even more shattering, but we have a mighty God who brings healing and comfort. He restores and gives strength to those who cannot stand anymore.

This was an awesome book. It dives into the shattered life of Cleo, but it also shows us not to take our family for granted. It shows us what secrets and deception can do. This is one every young person should read and one every adult will grasp with thankfulness.

This book is published by NavPress and was a gift from Glass Road Publications for it's review.


Melody Carlson:
Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from preschool teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eleven years, she has published more than 150 books for children, teens, and adults, with sales close to three million and many titles appearing on best sellers lists.


Several of her books have been finalists and winners of various writing awards, including The Gold Medallion and The Rita Award. And most recently, she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.

Carlson’s passion for writing has been greatly focused on teens. Informed and aware of the challenges and struggles teens face today, she writes young adult novels that she hopes will change lives. Her popular series Diary of a Teenage Girl (Multnomah) has sold more than 300,000 copies. Her TrueColors series (Nav Press) focuses on hard-hitting issues such as suicide, addiction, and cutting. Her series The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor explores the paranormal from a godly perspective. And her latest series, The Carter House Girls, offers readers a cleaned-up alternative to the popular Gossip Girl books.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains. www.melodycarlson.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I must believe

What happens when you hurt? You hurt others. What happens when there is no forgiveness? You are slowly being eaten away like a deadly cancer. What happens when one tells lies about you? It feels as though you have a canker sore on your tongue. When someone is in attack mode the natural thing for us to do is be in defensive mode.

What happens when you think everything is going wonderful, but you wake up one morning and it feels as though the earth has stopped spinning? Maybe the axis broke and everything is just standing still. Have you been there too? You shake your head. You try to stand from the shock, but what do you do?

I have found myself asking God, "Okay, where are You?" Really. I see Him in everything around me daily. I am amazed by Him, but today I find myself just wondering what He is up to and where He went, because things are just not right. But all of us could say that in some sort of way today I am sure. We could look into the lives of our own families, our circle of friends, our work environment or just turn on the news. Pain is everywhere. Nothing seems to make sense anymore. Just when I think all is right, something goes haywire and I find myself standing asking, "How did that happen?" It's like being on a merry go round. Your going at a nice speed. The breeze feels good and then someone comes out of no where, grabs hold and begins to spin you faster and faster until your hanging on for dear life. One leg is hanging over, swinging in the wind as your hands grip tighter and tighter, until you can't hang on any longer and you fly off spinning through the wind, landing flat on your face.

We all have a voice, we just have to find it. We have to use our voice with integrity and honor. We must stand in the truth even when others choose not to stand by our side. There is a time to fight a battle and there is a time when we must walk away. Choosing which move to do is quite like playing chess. One wrong move and you have lost altogether. I don't want to be right. I just want there to be peace. I just want to find that place, that day, where all is right.

I look at Jesus. I see His life as He walked and lived among those who didn't believe. He walked past those who chose to scorn Him and spread lies that would scatter like blowing tumbleweed. We never see an instance where Jesus screamed He was right. We never see in instance where He fought just to prove a point. He knew He stood in the Truth and that was all that mattered. He didn't cast out curses and try to destroy those who didn't believe. He knew the Truth could and would stand on it's own. He knew there were battles, but He too knew that His God was bigger than any battle or any scorn cast against Him. He walked in love no matter what. No matter the cost. He gave all. He was willing to pay the debt for a world who didn't believe.

I find myself praying, "Please come today. Please return to us today. Please take us home away from all this pain." Is that selfish? My heart hurts so badly. There is so much pain in this world. We have so much to carry. The weight is overwhelming. I want Him to come today, but I too want everyone to be ready and so many are not. We have a world dying because they choose to live for themselves, the god of selfishness. We choose to pass Him by. Why? Why can't we just see that He is here and HE is all we need?

I just want to feel His love today. I want to feel His arms wrapped tightly around me. I want to hear Him say, "Everything is going to be okay." I have to trust Him. I have to believe that He has a plan and a purpose for each and every thing that touches my life or else nothing makes sense. Even when I can't see past today, He can. He can make miracles happen. He can bring peace from war. He can restore brokenness and make it whole. He can take what we have shattered and piece it together making beauty appear where we only thought destruction was possible.

I must believe that God meant it for good. I must believe or else what do I have? A mess without hope. In faith I must believe there is hope. I must believe all is possible with God. If not, what do I have? Where are you today? Is there something at your door trying to drag you out of your comfort? As a door closes there has to be another that opens, right? If not we are left with no way out. God always makes a way!

As I stare my hurt in the face today I don't know what will happen. If I give in, I will be destroyed. Satan would love that, wouldn't he? Ah, but I am not giving in. I am not giving up. I am going to battle. Not with words or anger, but with the Sword of the Spirit and all the grace before me I am falling to my knees. I am going to face this battle on my knees and I know as well as Satan, there is nothing more powerful than a child of God in prayer. God gives power and grace in our time of need. He sets before us all we need. We just have to reach for it. We must believe in Him. We must stand in Truth.

See, those attacks that come are not from God. He allows them, yes. But, they are from Satan. He is wanting to destroy us. He wants us dead. If not under six feet, he wants us walking dead. He wants us to turn from our faith and to find our self weak in the battles around us. We must stand knowing God is here. He is present and He is working in the scenes behind the battle, in front of the battle and behind us. He has all ground covered. He isn't leaving us along to fight this world. We can over come. We can choose to walk in the same grace and mercy given to us. We must choose forgiveness and peace. We must wake each day believing in the God who came to save us. The God who lives within us.

Let your tears fall. Let your pain out. Don't try to carry it all alone. Don't pull the cover up over your head and hide from the call. Get dressed. Choose to see the sunshine out your window and grab on to every single blessing you find. Don't let the wrong overshadow the right. We might fall, but we don't have to stay down. We can stay down on our knees until we find Jesus and until He gives us the strength to stand once again. He will. He does. He is. Believe my friends. Believe in the Truth of our Mighty God.

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things." 1 John 3:18-20

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." 1 John 3:1

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:8-11

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A HEART DIVIDED by KATHLEEN MORGAN

What if you had to choose between family and love? Remember the Hatfields and the McCoys? You will soon forget them as you pick up the newest novel from, Kathleen Morgan. She has taken that story that we have heard over the years about feuding families and brings together a story that engages us in each character as hope comes alive. In a feud is there really ever a winner? I don't think so. Not much can come from fighting continually over who is right and who is wrong. As we see here in, A Heart Divided, we see just how much pain comes with a feud and how it separates us from not only family, but all our Savior has for us.

We meet the Caldwells and the Wainwrights in this vengeful story. Two families feuding over property rights. On one dark night in the Colorado Rockies in the late of June in 1851, one family loses a son as gunpowder ignites. This is just the beginning.

The story travels over twenty years later and the feud is still alive. Cord Wainwright and Sarah Caldwell are the main characters. They are now the new generation. They set themselves apart from all that once was and only want to move forward. These families are not only feuding one another, but there are feuds within the family as the father's of these two young people place pressure on them to continue the anger and hate. Cord can't seem to gain his father's love and affection. Sarah is beating herself up trying to stand by a father she has lost all respect for.  The Caldwells believe that once, Cord, is out of the picture there are no Wainwrights left to battle, but the story finds a twist around every bend. Sarah finds herself in love with this young man.

We see love come alive and blossom between two young people that were not to be together. We see just all that the Lord can do in bringing peace if there is just one willing to take a stand. This was one of those stories you just don't want to put down. It takes us back to another time and place, but also brings us to a place of searching in our heart. This is one I would put on my summer reading list!

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

Kathleen Morgan is the award-winning author of many novels, including those in the bestselling Brides of Culdee Creek series. She lives in Colorado.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

SEASONS OF GRACE COMPLETE SERIES by BEVERLY LEWIS

Inspiration lifts us all to take a peek deep within our own heart. Beverly Lewis takes us on a journey through three books, "The Secret", "The Missing", and "The Telling". Each title really tells the emphasis of each story continued.

In, "The Secret", we meet, Grace Byler. Grace lives at home with her Amish family. They hold a deep love for one another, but there is something mysterious going on with Grace's mother, Lettie. This mother is holding a deep hurt. A hurt so strong she can't let go. This hurt is not only bringing, Lettie, to a place of pain, but her entire family. We watch this family fall apart as one secret comes between them. If only, Lettie, could share. If only truth could be found, peace would reach them all. We too meet, Heather Nelson. Heather is an Englisher from the city who would come to the countryside with her mother to find solace. Heather is diagnosed with cancer and avoiding the truth herself.

These are such rich characters that you simply fall in love with. You find a place in your heart to understand all of them. In Book 2, "The Missing", the story is continued as Grace goes on a search for her mother. We see the pain of this family deepen and only widen as they search for the grace of God.

In Book 3, "The Telling", Grace finds her mother and Lettie begins to share the truth. Oh, what a story of compassion, forgiveness and Grace. I think the main character's name is poignant here. Grace is what they are in need of and it is grace that they find.

I loved this series. If you love Amish stories this is one you will love. If you have never read Amish fiction before, this is a great place to begin. You will find faith, hope and love all intertwined within this series.

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

Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, is The New York Times bestselling author of more than eighty books. Her stories have been published in eleven languages worldwide. A keen interest in her mother's Plain heritage has inspired Beverly to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with The Shunning, which has sold more than one million copies and was recently made into an Original Hallmark Channel movie. In 2007 The Brethren was honored with a Christy Award. She has been interviewed by both national and international media, including Time magazine, the Associated Press, and the BBC. Beverly lives with her husband, David, in Colorado. Visit her Web site at www.beverlylewis.com for more information.

Friday, May 13, 2011

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with CARRIE BETH STOELTING

My guest today is, Carrie Beth Stoelting. I am so excited to have her join us. What a precious young woman she is. It is so wonderful knowing there are people like, Carrie, in our world making a difference for Jesus. It is my hope that through our chat you will learn a few things about, Carrie, that are new to you. I hope through her words we can find ourselves seeking Christ on a deeper level.

If you were to go to Carrie Beth's Facebook page today this is what you would see set as her status. "For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 I love this about her. She is all about Jesus and sharing Him with everyone she comes in contact with. I have asked, Carrie, many questions. Some deep and some simply fun, but the amazing thing is, all of her answers point straight to our Savior. It is so wonderful to chat with others and have every converstation point back to the One who has brought us all together for His good. Do you have a question for her as well? If you do, please leave her your comments. I know she would love to hear from you.



(Robin) Carrie, it is wonderful to have you join us. Tell us about yourself.

(Carrie) Thank you, Robin! I appreciate it that you invited me to share. As a Christian from Iowa, I love my God and country. I am busy promoting positive patriotism through my web site: http://www.unitetheusa.org/. I also sing with my sister, Stacie Ruth, and we share about Jesus through word and song. Stacie Ruth and I recorded our first album, Heavenly, with Grammy and Dove Award winning musicians. It is our prayer that Heavenly will bring you into the presence of our Heavenly Father.


(Robin) As you begin today, what is a day in the life of Carrie Beth Stoelting like?
(Carrie) My day begins early with devotions. I think that it is important to start your day spending time with the Lord. After that, I am busy working:)


(Robin) I enjoy hearing how my brothers and sisters have come to know Christ. Carrie, what is your testimony?
(Carrie) I believe that Romans 10:9-11 is true: For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.When I was five years old, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I clearly remember praying the salvation prayer one night when I was in bed. When my mother came in my room to tell me good night, I told her about my decision. We shared the excitement of my decision and prayed together, too!Since that time, I have grown closer to the Lord as I seek and learn about Him. I thank God for giving me a loving Christian family and a wonderful church to guide me as I continue my walk with the Lord.


(Robin) Having patience is not always easy. It is hard waiting. Waiting for answers. Carrie, in those times of waiting, how is it that you get through and simply trust the Lord?
(Carrie) You are right that waiting is tough. I am a person who likes to take action and make things happen to help others. So, waiting is difficult for me. However, over the years God has helped me trust Him and wait. The Lord knows what is best. He is in control and we can trust Him. On a side note, reading books by Sheila Walsh on this subject has helped me. I especially liked Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God.


(Robin) In our journey with the Lord, He teaches us daily. What is it the Lord is teaching you at this time in your life?
(Carrie) Robin, lately the Lord has placed 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 on my heart which says, "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. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies."This passage reminds me that yes, life is hard but God is faithful. When tough times bite us, we can be assured that Jesus is with us and He will help us. He will bring justice it may be not be immediate but it will be ultimate!


(Robin) So many young women struggle today with their self image. They look to magazines for what beauty is. Carrie, have you ever struggled? What would you share with a young girl today searching through magazines looking for the latest trend to make her beautiful?
(Carrie) You know, the media promotes lies about women's image. I think that Barbie and skinny models confuse young girls. However, all of that is fake! It is not real life. Plus, being that skinny is not even medically healthy for most people. Girls and ladies need to remember that they are beautifully created by God just the way they are. Psalm 139:14 "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."


(Robin) Doreen Hanna wrote a wonderful book entitled, "Raising A Modern Day Princess." What advice would you give to a young woman wanting to remain pure in world where purity doesn't carry much value?
(Carrie) You are right: the world promotes anything but purity. We are bombarded with immodesty to say the least. Fashion trends, group clicks, and a lot of other junk come and go. Life is like a vapor, it is most important to keep your eyes on Jesus and on the promises of heaven. We serve Jesus, not the world. So, what really matters is serving and loving Him.


(Robin) Carrie, I know you have witnessed heartache first hand. What encouraging words would you share with someone today facing a trying time?
(Carrie) Yes, it was a very trying time. In fact, I still experience flashbacks from time to time. Whenever that happens, my hearts cries out to Jesus. He helps me through those hard moments. So, I would tell someone facing a tragedy to pray and lean into the arms of Jesus. Without Him, life would be hopeless. Jesus is our hope. He is our stronghold.


(Robin) How do you define success?
(Carrie) The Lord measures success very differently than people. In life, what is really important is serving Jesus Christ no matter how small that may be. Some of the greatest times of hope, comfort, and encouragement in my life have been from small acts of love and kindness from friends and family  and sometimes even strangers. When the Lord works through you to help others in His name, that is the best example of success.


(Robin) For 2011, my one word is, "surrender." Carrie, what is your one word for 2011?
(Carrie) I think that my word for 2011 is strength. The Lord firmly placed that word on my heart this year when I heard a missionary from Southeast Asia speak. He shared about persecuted Christians in oppressive countries like China. The missionary made it clear that those Christians pray for strength to keep going and serving Jesus. It awakened me. For years, whenever life hit me hard, I would pray for protection. But, I rarely prayed for strength. (Note: Praying for protection is very good. I still pray for it.) I learned from the missionary about the importance of praying for strength. After all, how can Christians serve boldly without being strong in Him? We need to put on God?s armor and fight with His strength:

Ephesians 6: 10-20 says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak."


(Robin) We often think of just the here and now. In your legacy, what is it that you hope to leave behind imprinted on the hearts of everyone you have touched?
(Carrie) I hope to be remembered as someone who loved Jesus, her family, and country. I want to be remembered as an honest and hard worker.


(Robin) I would love for you to share about your ministry, Bright Light. What is your mission statement? How did it begin? What has been the greatest blessings and the most challenges aspects of being a young woman in the ministry?
(Carrie) Our mission statement is: While using word, song, and accompanying action, Bright Light Ministries seek to beam Jesus? light, to proclaim the Gospel, to love the LORD, and to love people without compromise. I think that the greatest struggle of being in ministry is facing persecution. It is hard, but reading John 15:20 helps. Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours." We must stay strong in Christ and He will help us through anything.


(Robin) I love driving our country roads with the radio turned up and my hand raised in praise. Carrie, when your all alone in the car what is it that you have playing on the radio?
(Carrie) I like a wide variety of music styles ranging from the Oak Ridge Boys to Phillips, Craig, and Dean. I also really like the Getty's, Sheila Walsh, and Nicole C. Mullen. Aside from Christian music, I enjoy listening to big band music of the 1940s:)


(Robin) I interviewed your sister, Stacie. I know you are close and family is so important to you. What is the best thing about having, Stacie, as a sister? Have you always gotten along wonderful?
(Carrie) Yes, we are a really close family and that is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I have faced some really hard situations in my life and God has used my family to help me through. I praise the Lord for my family! It is really special to have Stacie as my big sister. We are like twins, maybe even closer than twins. I treasure our close bond and I am thankful that we have always been close.


(Robin) What has been the most empowering advice you have ever received?
(Carrie) Never give up. No matter what, keep moving forward ? keep fighting. I don?t need a goal to be easy, it just needs to be possible. Nothing is impossible with God!


(Robin) I know you love singing. What other hobbies do you love? Would we catch you reading a Christian romance novel or deep in thought on a hike?
(Carrie) If I have time to read, I usually pick up a book about American history or Christian non-fiction (i.e. books by Dr. David Jeremiah or Sheila Walsh). If I do read fiction, it is usually by Kathi Macias. Hiking is great! I also love spending time outside. Visiting parks, especially National Parks are special and moving. So, in answer to your question, I am more of a hiker than a reader. As for hobbies, I am a major classic movie fan! That's my hobby. Movies like High Noon, Swing Time (with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are three of my favorite films.


(Robin) Do you have a life verse? One that has simply blessed you more than any other?
(Carrie) Isaiah 41:10 has helped keep me going many times through life's challenges. It says, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."


(Robin) My pastor says, "If the Lord has done anything for you, the least we can do is say so." I love that! I love when we share what the Lord has done and is doing in our lives. Carrie, how have you been blessed by the Lord today?
(Carrie) He blesses me so much every day. Each day is a gift, even when life is tough. Today, a very special friend of the family called us. Her name is Violet and she is almost 93. Her beautiful heart and faith in Jesus inspires me deeply. The Lord used her to encourage me today. It is a blessing to have such a precious and loving friend.


(Robin) If you were to have a dinner party and you could invite three people from any time throughout history who would you invite and why?
(Carrie) This is a fun question! I think that I would invite President Reagan, Corrie ten Boom, and William Wilberforce. All three people have touched my life via their writings and life examples. They remind me to persevere and stay strong in Jesus. For Jesus, if it worth is all.


(Robin) Carrie, do you have a prayer request you would like to share with us today so we can join you in prayer?
(Carrie) Please pray for opportunities to share about Jesus to the lost. I need prayer for strength to keep fighting and sharing about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you want to know Jesus as your personal Savior, please click here. It is a decision that you will never regret.


Carrie Beth, thank you for being with us today. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart that we get a small glimpse of just who you are and a huge glance at all Jesus is through you. Blessings to you sweet lady. I hope you return to the Nest to share more of all Christ is doing in your life. You are such a joy and a breath of fresh air. Jesus looks good on you my friend. 
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