Friday, June 29, 2012

Uncle Mordecai

A few days ago I wrote about Queen Vashti. Before moving forward to Queen Esther I thought I would spend a little time sharing about Mordecai. I found him to be fasinating. He is that uncle we all dream of. I had an uncle like Mordecai, who took the position of watching over me, after my dad passed on. He walked me down he aisle and made sure he kept a protective eye on me. For that I am forever grateful.

Life might have been different for Esther had her uncle not stepped up to the plate. In losing her parents her life could have taken a turn for the worst. I know when I lost my dad I thought my world had ended. In many ways I rebelled and searched for something or someone to fill in where it was now void. It was years later, after meeting my husband, that my void spot was filled. You may think my husband was the filler of the spot. Friends, no one can replace your daddy. But I did fall in love with another Father. My Heavenly Father.

Mordecai took Esther under his wings and watched her as she took flight and spread her wings. He watched her grow into the woman God called her to be. Can you see the pride in his eyes? (Esther 2:7)

I like to think about the times they must have spent just sharing. Mordecai could have shared with her that his grandfather experienced the exile to Babylon. Their family can be traced back to Saul's father. To understand that it was King Nebuchadnezzar that exiled them brings perspective to the story of, Vashti, Mordecai and Esther. Especially since King Nebuchadnezzar was Vashti's great grand father. (Esther 2:5-6)

Mordecai was a man of great heritage. I can invision their chats over dinner as night falls. He wanted the best for Esther and for his people. Mordecai seems to be a humble man, but one who carries a wealth of wisdom.

As Esther is being instructed at the great search for the new queen, Mordecai is right there. He takes time every day to walk by and see that she is safe and doing well. This was a long period of time. This process was a year in making. Can you imagine? Gives new meaning in the  for The Bachelorette or Miss America. These ladies are given luxuries and are being provided with the best of the best as the king is on the search. (Esther 2:11)

Before long Esther is chosen and why wouldn't she be? Her beauty could be compared to none. She was that girl every boy only dreamed about, but for the king, it was about to come true. Talk about a royal wedding.

As Esther becomes queen, Mordecai is still there. This is one thing I admire about him. Nothing is too important for the one he loves. Much like the love our Savior has for us. Mordecai in all his wisdom knows there is a higher calling taking place here. God is at work and he is a willing participant to see His will be accomplished.

The king's gate must have been the happening spot. There is a lot taking place here. Mordecai happens to be there and overhears two men speaking about the king. Lets just say, they weren't going to be throwing him a party. And they say women are vengeful. These two had plans to bring down the king and it wasn't going to be pretty. Mordecai takes this information and shares it with Esther. (Esther 2:21-23)

Sweet Esther goes to her king and tells him of the plan. His life is saved by Mordecai's and Esther's courage. It was not an easy thing to go before the king. In fact, it was not heard of. That is unless you wanted death. Can you imagine not even being able to go to your husband at any time and share with him? It will be five years later when the king understands the impact of this moment on his life. We will get back to that in a moment.

Well, these villians are hanged. They are no more, but someone else comes on to the scene and he could be called the bully of the court yard. Haman is second in command. He is the overseer if you will. He is the king's trusted man. Little does the king realize at the time, but Haman has a plan to kill the Jewish people. Not just a few of them. Not just one family, but the entire population. This could have been total genocide. (Esther 3:6-15)

As this is taking place and Haman is putting in place his plan, Mordecai takes a stand. In fact, in the kings presence, all must bow. As Mordecai is there in the back of the room, he is seen doing just the opposite. We must remember, he is a Jew and he isn't bowing to anyone, other than his God. (Esther 3:1-5)

Wouldn't you know there would be tattle tales waiting in the midst of the room? Haman has his men on guard everywhere. These men rush to Haman and of course, what is he to do, but go straight to the king. The king doesn't realize this is Mordecai and calls for his execution. Haman thinks he has it all in the bag, but God isn't finished with him just yet. Gosh, don't you just love that?

Talk about divine intervention! The king just happens to be in his room one evening in need of something to do. He calls for his men to bring him a book. Now, that's my kind of evening. They go to the library and bring him back a book of their choosing. What do you know. The king takes the book in hand and opens to a page that reads something like this. Oh king, remember about five years back when your life was about to be taken? But yet, you were saved, because of the courage of one man, willling to step out and speak up? Mordecai was that man. (Esther 6:1-9)

I can imagine the king reads this over a few times. The light bulb comes on and he now realizes he must reverse the order to have Mordecai executed. What does he do? He plans to honor Mordecai. Can you imagine? What I love is the fact that Haman is clueless in all this.

This is the point where I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. The king calls for Haman. The king shares with Haman that one will be honored. Hello? Haman is thinking it's going to be him! Can you imagine the look on his face when he realizes the king is going to honor Mordecai? The man he wants dead is about to have a royal parade thrown in his honor and the best part is yet to be spoken. Mordecai will be on the horse while Haman will have the reins. Boy, how fast the tide has turned for Haman. (Esther 5 and 6)

We don't have to guess what happens next. Through a few dinners with Esther and Haman, the king comes to know the plot Haman has had all along. I'm not sure Haman thought this through. What did he think would happen when the king knew that his Jewish Queen would be murdered as well? (Esther 7)

Haman is out of there and who becomes second in command? Mordecai, that's who. Don't you love how God works? He knows the evil that exists. Even when we don't know the whole story, God does. He sees what has taken place and what is to take place. He interveins for us. His soveriegnity will be made known. (Esther 8)

The Jewish people are saved. Esther is queen. Mordecai is second in command. There were a few of these men who held this position. Joseph and Daniel. Mordecai is in good company. Mordecai was that uncle filled with love. He was the Jewish man who served God. Mordecai was the vessel God needed and Mordecai took God's work seriously. We can see that in his life. He lived a life of purpose and not one of fear. Most of all, Mordecai was a man of faith and that is a trait we can all desire to have. (Esther 8:8;9)



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Learning The Gas Pedal From The Brake Pedal

When I first began driving I had a lead foot. I loved to go fast. Now, the brake was another story all together. Although pressing on the gas to go was easy, pressing that break caused some problems. I wouldn't begin breaking until I was almost past that stop sign. My stops were urgent and quick. Well, I didn't snap anyone's neck, but you get the picture.

Today, I drive a with a stick. My driving skills have improved. I am a slower paced driver now and my stops are gentle. Now, it's removing that road rage that invites itself in as my passenger.

Our journey down the highway of life isn't much different. I often look at my kids and wonder why they can't get it. Well, they aren't forty-five as I am. Learning and wisdom come with time. We are on a journey. Some of us take each day as a Sunday drive. Others, seem to be on the race track in Indy. The key is finding balance. When I learned to drive a stick, well, lets just say, it took a while. Yes, that's a nice way to put it. I would get frustrated when I couldn't balance the clutch and the gas. If I'm honest, I still have days where I'm out of gear and what happens? I kill it. Gotta look around, start it back up and smile. Knowing next time and there will be a next time, I will learn not to be so hard on myself.

Some of us need to move over in the slow lane for a while. Ever get stuck behind a tractor or a slow moving vehicle? Oh, we moan and groan. We try to get around them, but cars just keep coming. It seems that as we are moving slow, those around us are just moving right along. These are times when the Lord is gently trying to grab our attention and He is saying, "Oh daughter of Mine, could you slow down a bit. You are missing so very much I have created just for you".

Now, back to that road rage. As we are learning balance in life, Satan is going to be there every step of the way begging for our attention and he will use whatever he can to distract us. As we learn the lessons of life, we too must learn his voice and be mindful of the tempation he sets before us. Talk about a speed trap. We gotta make sure we read the road signs.

We love to talk about other drivers and complain about their skills, but are they really any different from us? We are all just trying to move forward. We are trying to reach our destination. We have different ideas of how to get there. We break down. We need gas. We need air. It just might be time for us to pull inot the station for some much needed overhaul. We must keep our eyes on the gages before us and know how to read them.

Have you gotten lost lately? God has a GPS, and He's asking, "Hey, are ya going my way?" If we follow His direction, we won't be wondering if we should turn around at the next stop.



"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."
Proverbs 3:5-6


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Beauty and Character of Queen Vashti

As little girls we are taught to be nice and polite. Not too long ago I heard on the news about a man who was going about the city hugging women. Now, the shocking part is, these women were allowing this man to hug them. I couldn't believe my ears. The man would go up to women and share with them that he knew them from years past and would love to hug them. Excuse me, but were these women a tad bit out of their mind? If a man comes out of no where and attempts to hug me without my permission, someone is going to find a fist in their face.

We must have boundaries.

Remember that shot heard around the world that we have all learned about in history class? We all learned the power that one shot held and it changed the world. Queen Vashti didn't have a weapon in her hand. She held something of greater value. Her voice. She was the woman who stood with integrity and honor. As politely as she could she said, "No". This one word held a great impact on the world.

She was married to King Ahasuerus of Persia. Here is a little fact that I found fasinating. Queen Vashti was the daughter of King Belshazzar and great granddaughter of King Nebuchandnezzar. She was a woman of beauty, in a marriage not created in love. Queen Vashti was forced into marriage. Can you imagine the pain her heart held? Did she live in anger and resentment toward the king?

We can read about Queen Vashti in Esther 1-2. See, the king was a show off. It seems he enjoyed the spot light and was a party host to all. He throws a party. A party of all parties and goes on a benge for seven days. He doesn't just invite the royals. He rolls out the red carpet for everyone. So, what does a king do next to grab the attention of those at his party? He wants to have his queen brought to the party to parade in front of everyone. You know, kind of like saying, "Yep boys, this one belongs to me". Queen Vashti sends her reply back to the king.

Now, I can invision this so well. I can see her sitting in her room. Maybe the music is getting to her and she a bit aggrivated that the king is spending so much time with his friends. Maybe she would just really like to spend some one on one time with the king. So, what does she do? She calls her girfriends to complain. Of course, she picks up a romantic love story to escape. Looks to those who have come to get her and says, "Are ya all insane? I am not going to another stupid party. I am spending the evening in so I can enjoy this book".

Maybe she just wanted to shave her legs or wash her hair. Maybe she had a migraine. Maybe she was tired. You know what? The reason doesn't matter. She said no and that's all that matters. No means no. So the king is mad and throwing a fit. Oh, this poor helpless fool. He has so much to learn about women.

Instead of the king going to his wife to mend what has been done, he instead goes to his friends. Okay, this is beginning to look a bit like high school to me. Reminds me a few boys I dated. So, his friends give their advice. They say he should just kick her butt to the curb and let that be it. He not only listens to their advice, but he follows it. I'm telling you, this guy is not the leading man I would choose for the next The Bachelor.

I can't imagine Queen Vashti being too upset over this. I mean, her no could have brought her death. So, doesn't that tell us that her no was worthy? She chose to take a stand and instead of being paraded for all to see in front of drunkards, she stands firm and says, "No more, my king. I'm done". I love the strength she is portraying.

Just maybe she wanted to feel more than just pretty. Maybe she wanted the king to see her for her heart. None the less, her no, changed the world. In her no, the king went on a search for the next great queen. He finds her and replaces the first queen with Esther. Esther now moves all her things in and is about to change the world for our coming Savior.

See, what I can learn from Queen Vashti is the fact that it's okay to say no. In fact, it's more than okay. It's okay to set boundaries. In this case, Queen Esther was destined to move heaven and earth to save the the Jewish people. God had set forth a plan. His Son was preparing to coming. Esther was a vessel able and willing to do the work of God. Queen Vashti's refusal was set in motion by a God who was in control.

Every choice we make has a lasting impact. Queen Vashti was part of God's plan. No more is said of her in the Bible. We can only imagine what happened to her as she carried her bags out for her ride home. Did she have regret or did she find freedom? I see a strong woman who was willing to stand firm no matter the cost.

I'm sure it was all over town. News was popping and everyone wanted to know the details. The men were now in fear their wives would stand in refusal to them. I'm sure there were women who knew Vashti's story and were cheering her on. As beautiful as she was I'm sure there were men lining up to date her. Her next choice could have been a good one or a bad decision that cost her greatly. We just don't know. I hope she went on to have a life filled with more than what the king could give her or take from her. For us, that is a life with the Lord. Making Him our focus changes things. It gives us a new perspective. When we are focused on Him we don't have to be in search of the bachelor who can give all and make our dreams come true. It is our Savior who makes us complete.

As women we need to teach our daughters to have boundaries. We need to teach them to say no. They need to know how to respect themselves and stand in integrity and honor. As mothers if we don't teach this to our daughters, who will? Our daughters need to know beauty, no matter how great on the outside, begins in the heart. We need to be examples for our daughters and encourage them.

I can hear Vashti telling the young women in her life, "Oh sweetheart, have I got a life lesson for you".

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There's A Better Way Than Bitterness

In studying the story of Ruth and Naomi I learn something new every single time I open this book. We have two women, each very different, but both, women of God. When we look at Naomi we see a woman in deep torment. Pain that is almost unbearable. She not only lost her husband, but her sons also. The man of her dreams and the sons that filled her home with laughter.

I think Ruth was a god send for her. A daughter in law that we dream of having. One that chose to stand by her mother in law in difficult times. What catches my eye today, is not Ruth, but Naomi.

"She said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
Ruth 1:20-21


Naomi had lost all hope. Even though she was a woman of God, she was not seeing God blessing her, but taking away all that brought her happiness. Life was not the same. As she once felt full of life, she now felt empty of all joy. Her perspective has totally changed because of her circumstances. How many times have we done the same?

I cannot relate to how Naomi must have felt. I pray I never feel that pain. That loss that totally consumed her. Here was a woman grounded in deep faith, but is now lost. She feels as though life is over and I can't say that I blame her. I think I too would have been shouting out to God, asking Him, "Why Lord, why?" In our asking why, is where we begin to seek the Lord on a new level and find that even in our why, He is there with us, every step of the way. I have had my own loss. My own pain. I too was like Naomi and was ready to give up, but the Lord was there. He wasn't allowing me to give up. It was through that pain that I grew closer to Him. I learned more about myself. I experienced God in a whole new way.

But even in her deepest pain, God had a plan. His love had not stopped. His will for her life had not ceased. In fact, He is the God who can turn ash into beauty. Why in our time of greatest emotion do we forget this very fact? No matter what goes on in our lives, He is still God. He still has our life in His hands and there in the midst of our pain. He knows our pain. He lived it.

Ruth is that girl I want to be. She sees things in a whole different perspective than Naomi. Ruth is that get up and go girl. She is filled with hope and sees past the circumstance. These two women were a perfect fit for one another. I imagine that they learned great lessons from one another. They grew in the Lord together as they witnessed Him moving in their lives. They had a relationship that went far beyond family. They were sisters. Nothing was going to separate them and we see nothing was going to separate them from God.

Naomi doesn't want to be called by her given name any longer. She wants to be called Mara. Mara means bitter. Naomi didn't start out this way. Life turned her bitter. She allowed the circumstances in life to change her from the woman she was. Ruth was seeing the depths of what life could bring as well. But she had this hope in her that never left. She too lost her husband. She lost her father in law and brother in law as well. She knew pain, but what is amazing is the fact that she didn't allow it to take control of her life. She kept her focus on God and continued to walk in faith. Ruth carried a spirit of gentleness in her.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
Galatians 5:23a

"Blessed are the gentle, for the shall inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:5

"He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor."
Proverbs 22:9

Ruth carried these qualities in her heart. She was just what Naomi needed. She was that encouragement that she needed to move forward and to see all that God had for her. Life as she knew it was over. But life itself was not over. God had more in store for her. Just as He has for you and me. Ruth was a cheerleader for Naomi. It was as though she was saying, "Yes, things are bad. Life hurts, but we are not giving up! We are going foreword together and God is going to carry us through. We will see joy again!" We all need those special people in our life. Cheerleaders who are there in the good times and bad. They give a strength. A joy. God sends those gentle souls in our paths for inspiration. They are an extention of His love.

These women were on a journey. Just as we are on a journey. We will have highs and lows. Each giving us growth. Each guiding us to a new place with the Lord. God uses every aspect of our lives.

Life doesn't always make sense to us. We can't see past our circumstances, but God can. He shows us that He is enough. This is a lesson I am learning daily. There are times I only see the pain before me, but He says, "Wait, let Me show you more. Allow Me to live through you and take that pain and turn it into something can create glory far beyond what you could ever imagine."

"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Isn't that beautiful? It is through our weakness, that we are made perfect through Him. Perfect means complete. So through our weakness we are seeing His strength make us complete in every way. If it were not for that weakness we wouldn't be turning to Him for strength. Kind of changes everything doesn't it?

Friends, instead of being Mara, allow God to bring you comfort and fill you with all He has for you. We must make a choice to live in joy and not our circumstance. It can be a daily battle for us, but with the Lord, we can not only make it, but overcome with great joy.

"Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him."
Ruth 4:14-15

Great and mighty things came from the life of Naomi. God not only restored her, but redeemed her faith and brought her great joy. A joy that He had always intended to display through her life. A purpose He had planned for her long before she even knew of Him.

Lord, may we keep our eyes upon You. May we see beyond circumstance and live in Your purpose with great joy and gentleness. Thank You for all You give. Even when we cannot see the beauty in the moment, but loss, fill us with Your hope, faith and love, always and forever.

"Travelers Rest" by Ann Tatlock

"Travelers Rest", is the story of three people and how their lives intertwined in God's plan. He weaves grace through the lives of these three people who are all facing different circumstances, but life brings them together in ways that could only happen through God's divine plan for us.

The travelers in this poignant read all need rest from the weariness they face. You have the woman who wants to remain by her love no matter what. The soldier who is ready to give up after battle has cost him greatly and the man who needs to find forgiveness. Ann Tatlock has brought us a fantastic story of God's strength and redemption. We see love prevail and realize everything doesn't turn out as we would like. But once we begin to see past the pain we can see God's plan forming and come to view.

I connected with the main character, Jane Morrow. There is a character in this gem that each of us can connect with. I know there have been times in my early walk with Christ that my faith was not strong. At times it was barely there, but none the less, when times of heartache came, I called out to God. He never failed to answer me. It may not have been the answer I was looking for, but He brought blessings through the pain and touched my life in ways that could not have happened if not for the pain.

You will love the story of Jane and those that surround her in this story.

This book was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.
Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy Award-winning novel All the Way Home. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association "Book of the Year" in fiction for both All the Way Home and I'll Watch the Moon. Her novel Things We Once Held Dear received a starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly calls her "one of Christian fiction's better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories." Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina. Visit www.anntatlock.com

"This Scarlet Cord" by Joan Wolf

"This Scarlet Cord", by Joan Wolf brings to light what the life of Rahab could have been. It gives us a front row seat of times past and what life was like. It is Biblically based, but much of Rahab's story is not recorded in the Bible. So what happens? It leaves room for the imagination. Joan adds the details that could have been there. She helps to bring this woman to life through the pages we read.

Joan tells us in her own words that the story of Rahab takes up five paragraphs in the Bible. Joan goes deeper and brings us a story penned with 85,000 words.

This was a lovely read for me. It gave me a new perspective on Rahab. How would you like to be known as the prostitute in the lineage of Jesus Christ? I love the fact that Rahab was added to the lineage of Christ in the Book of Matthew. This shows us the unlimited mercy of God and the grace He bestows upon us daily. We see a clear picture of love and finding our path by focusing upon God.

I can take away much from this read, but mostly, for me, I see God's grace and His ultimate plan for my life. He had a great and mighty plan for Rahab. God used every aspect of her life to bring about His ulimate plan. Bringing a Savior to the world. Through her life she brought glory and honor to God and isn't that what it's all about? People coming to know Christ and living their lives for Him, no matter the cost?

Wolf has woven together a wondrous story about Rahab. It is one you don't want to miss.


This book was a gift by Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way

I often wonder what heaven will hold for us. Will we one day enter the gates of heaven and get to hear or visualize the prayers that were said on our behalf? Prayers spoken on our behalf by those we have never met in person. Maybe they are prayers that were requested by a friend. A co-worker. Prayers come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing is for sure. Prayer is power. Prayer is surrendering that horrific detail of your life to the Lord and Savior and trusting Him to move and do His will and way. Prayer is humbling your heart and realizing you have no control over a situation, but the One above does. Christ knows the circumstances that surround each and every moment in our lives. No matter how big or small. He is involved. There are times when we think He is silent. Oh, those are the times when He is at work. Not only in our circumstance, but most importantly, in our heart.

Have you ever needed encouragement, but found yourself encouraging another instead? Funny thing about encouragement. The more we give, the more we receive. I love how God meets the needs of our life by simply placing others in our path with life lessons and great wisdom. Ever wonder how far a simple hello reaches? A smile? Those little hellos and smiles fill our hearts with joy. As we are filled we then are empowered to reach out to others. At some point when we totally surrender to Christ, a barrier is broken. A wall comes down and we are no longer looking out for number one, but now our life has taken on a new purpose. In serving our Savior, we bring encouragement to others and through that one simple act of kindness and grace, we receive an abundance of love. We must remember, never to expect from others what we ourselves are not willing to give.

Are you receiving encouragement from those around you? I can honestly tell you, I don't always receive encouragement. Especially from those who I most expect it from. But, isn't that the amazing thing about God? He brings us blessings from those we least expect. He directs our travels to new places and introduces us to new people.

Let me put it this way. It's okay to change your surroundings. Seek Christ first and foremost. He has filled us with everything we need for His work. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit. It can't get any better than that. All we must do is tap into that well of riches and stop putting limits on God. It's then we will see blessings flow from His fountain of love.

When we live in a box and shut out other people, we are putting limitations on God's purpose for our life. We are telling Him, "Okay, I will do Your work right here, with only these people." Well, I'm not so sure a blessing is going to come from cutting God out of the picture. Isn't that what we do? We see He has a plan for us, but then we take it and make it our own. God wants more for us. He too wants more from us. He wants to be number one in our life. He wants to have a personal relationship with Him.

When we stop looking for this world to meet our needs and seek Christ for those needs, He is going to open doors in places we never knew possible. But, isn't that our God? The One who does the possible with the impossible?

Be empowered today, not by seeking encouragement from those around you, but by seeking Christ. Seek Him in a new way. When we are filled with joy, that joy multiplies and reaches areas far greater than our simple vision.

We have everything we need for this moment in life. The question is, "What are we going to do?"

Everything in life is a choice. When we make the choice to focus on God, this world holds no limitations over us. Take charge of your today, by surrendering it to the Lord. In doing so, you will be filled with such encouragement that God's light will be present and flowing in each step you take toward living a purpose filled life for Christ.



"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
Galatians 5:22-23

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7


Monday, June 18, 2012

"Mary Magdalene" by Diana Wallis Taylor

When you open the pages of, "Mary Magdalene", you see a story that is biblically based and is woven together in such a way that we are able to see what the intimate details her life could have held. We see deep emotion and the lasting impact that comes from the foundations of a loving family. I truly enjoyed reading this story and it actually brought me to open my Bible and dig in a little deeper. Isn't that what it's all about?

Most of all, what I love about this book is that we see a protective Savior and the healing of that Savior. He truly becomes her refuge in the night as haunting dreams hold her captive. We see this woman, who has been through so very much, come to follow her Savior and spend her life, worshiping and giving praise to the One who came and died for her. This is a story of redemption and one that will leave you blessed.

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

Diana Wallis Taylor is the author of Journey to the Well and Martha, and has published many articles, and has contributed stories to several books. Taylor lives in California.



Friday, June 15, 2012

"The Anniversary Waltz", by Darrel Nelson

This was a lovely read for me. I enjoyed it from the first page until I closed the very last. How wonderful to have an anniversary waltz on your sixtieth wedding anniversary. A day every married couple hopes to enjoy together.

The story begins in the year of 2006, as the couple, Adam and Elizabeth, are readying for their celebration. The family enjoys of hearing of how the anniversary waltz came to be, so the Carlsons begin the retelling of their love story.

Nelson takes us back to the year of 1946. We are transported back to the town of Reunion, Montana. He begins with Adam returning from the war and coming home to a family farm in need of repair. Most importantly, a father's and son's relationship, in need of repair. Adam's mother is full of such grace and carries such a sweet spirit, while his father is angered that his son was off at war. For me, more than anger, I see a father, feeling deprived and missing his son. A father unable to really share his feelings.

We see the lives of both of these people and the families that surround them. Elizabeth lives with her aunt and is that fun loving girl who holds great beauty inside and out. But tragedy strikes and she finds herself in a battle.

This is a story about redemption, forgiveness, healing and unconditional love. A love that over comes adversity and blossoms into sixty years. We see it is not easy, but with faith, love prevails those obstacles that get in the way and love only becomes stronger. We see faith portrayed in these characters as we are transported back to another time and place, where reunion really does happen.

This book was a gift from Glass Road Media for it's review.

Darrel Nelson is a teacher and writes novels, articles, plays and music. He has bachelor's degrees in English and education from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

God's Snug Buckle

Yesterday while shopping with my grand daughter, I hear the words, "I'm stuck!" To her precious mind, she was stuck. Right there in the cart with that snug belt around her, holding her in tight. To her, she wanted to be able to reach for everything she wanted. She wanted to touch all in sight. She wanted to stand and teeter in the seat.

She wasn't crying. She wasn't throwing a temper tantrum. She was just letting me know, I'm stuck! She would wiggle, trying to free herself. She even tugged on the belt holding her in her seat. She just wanted more than anything to be free from that buckle. A buckle she couldn't figure out how to unfasten. Oh, she tried with all her might, and I might add she didn't give up until she was finally free and in Nanny's arms, as I was putting her in the truck to hold her new baby.

Ever feel stuck, yourself? I know I do. There are times I just want to reach beyond my measure. I wanna tug at something new. I want to grab for what I wish to have. But at some point in life, we realize, that snug buckle, is there for our protection. Isn't it really the, snug love of God?

Sure, when we surrender ALL to Him, we find freedom. But God still has His mighty arms around us. He builds that hedge of protection around us. He wants us to stay within His boundaries and He wants to have direction over our lives. He knows what is best for us and sometimes what is best is simply saying, "No daughter". When we remain under His snug love, we don't have to reach. We don't have to teeter in the seat with fear of falling. He will bless us for our obedience.

Many times when we feel stuck it's because we feel we are not moving forward. But have you ever thought that just maybe, in being stuck, we are really called to be still? There is a difference. Peyton wasn't stuck. She was buckled in so she could be still. It was a guard for her so she wouldn't fall. So no harm would come to her.

She doesn't always understand when Nanny must say no, but one day when she is older, she will realize just as I do with my Savior, that sometimes no is the best answer I could have been given.

"Those who fear the Lord are secure; He will be a refuge for their children."
Proverbs 14:26

"To learn, you must love discipline; It is stupid to hate correction."
Proverbs 12:1

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."
Proverbs 4:23

"He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him. Then you will understand what is right, just and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe."
Proverbs 2:8-11

Monday, June 11, 2012

Seek Him and Find Sweet Rest

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:2-5

As I ready for bed tonight I am reminded of this verse. I am reminded to spend time with the Lord in prayer before I close my eyes. Maybe I will even sit in my rocker and look out at the stars and claim witness to His glory.
 
We forget so easily. We become tired and weary. We need rest. Our eyes need to close, but not before we seek the Lord. In seeking Him we find true and complete peace. A peace that surpasses all understanding. I must be honest and say, there is so very much I do not understand. Even though I can find joy, there is much that saddens my heart.
 
I tend to have the opinion that I can do it on my own. God quickly reminds me how much I do need Him. The road ahead is not always paved smooth, but with the Lord, those bumps don't seem so bad. He can steer us away from those pot holes, if we only give Him the wheel. Oh, I'm even a back seat driver. I know, I am a mess. A mess in need of quiet time with my Savior.
 
Our days can seem almost as if they all rush together in a blur. If we blink we are going to miss something. I seem to go at things backwards. It's not how quickly we move that gets us through the day. It's how often we slow down to remember our purpose isn't always to zoom ahead, but to slow down long enough to find joy in the moment. If only I could just slow down and trust. No matter how fast or slow we move we still blink the same. Ponder that for a minute. Everything in God's perfect timing. As long as our eye is upon Him we aren't going to miss a thing.
 
Don't go to bed tonight in worry. Don't allow the stress to keep you tossing and turning. Pull up that cover and tuck in your toes. Find that cool side of the pillow and rest, sweet friend. God has got your back. He watches over us in the night just as He does throughout the day.
 
Open your hands and lay it all at the foot of the cross tonight. Spill all from your pockets and He will fill your heart. All those things that need fix'in, just take a step back and give the Lord room to do His work. Leave it all at the cross tonight my friend and in the morn it will be a new day to rise and give praise for the Lord God is good. 

"The Unraveling Of Wentwater", by C.S Lakin

What I love about C.S Lakin is the fact that in every story she brings the glory of God alive. We see the power of the cross and heaven's gates are revealed in such a way that the story comes to life. The characters in the latest installment of, "The Gates Of Heaven Series", she brings us to Wentwater.

I love how Lakin takes words and shows the power they have. The town of Wentwater is like invisible ink. It is disappearing as fast as it's being penned. Can we undo our words? Just what can words do? They have the power to bring others to Christ or turn them away for ever. Words hold such power. They can bring love or they can cut like a dagger in hate. Words can undo us or make us feel complete.

Lakin brings fantasy alive and puts a twist on Sleeping Beauty. This is the fourth book of the series. Just imagine, there will be seven tales of heaven when the series is complete. This series is for everyone. If you enjoy fantasy you will be captivated by this series. We see superstition at it's highest and what happens with the truth of words. The characters are rich and vibrant.

Lakin has weaved together a wonderful story that takes us to a place where imagination is at it's best and story telling is at it's grandest height. We see good and evil and the best part is we see God prevail and we see victory won.

Whether adult or young adult, you will fall in love with this series. If my children were still young and at home, bedtime would be after a reading of, "The Gates Of Heaven Series". You will be captivated before you hit chapter 2.

This book was a gift from Living Ink Books for it's review.
C.S Lakin works professionally in CA as a freelance copyeditor and writing coach, and is a member of numerous editing and writing groups. She loves to teach workshops at writing conferences and assist new writers with polishing their books. www.livewritethrive.com and www.critiquemymanuscript.com provide detailed instruction for aspiring novels, and she often guest blogs on top sites.

"Fearless" by Eric Blehm (The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown)

As I opened the first pages of this book about the life of Adam Brown, my heart was not prepared for what I was about to read. God bless his family for wanting his story told. It is a story that holds honor, valor and one worth telling. It shows us the grace of God and His mercies that touch us every day. This is a personal story. A glimpse into the life of Adam Brown and those who loved and admired him. We see a portrait of a young American Hero.

Adam Brown's story doesn't begin as a Navy Seal and it doesn't end there either. Eric Blehm takes us back to Adam's childhood, his teenage years, and those years he struggled. There is such a transparency here that gives us a full glimpse of the walk of a Christian on a journey. It seems Adam was ready for battle when he was born and in his death he was prepared for a new life. A life cut short by battle, but victory awaited him. Victory was around every corner for Adam. It seemed he faced a mountain with a strength that could only come from God.

Eric Blehm was honored to write Adam's story and to recount the days of his life with family, friends, and his brothers. I found this story encouraging and was inspired by Adam to live strong and face each battle with no fear. This is a story that will touch the depths of your heart. I loved the photos shared of Adam, his family, friends and brothers in arms. That made this story even more real for me. Too many times we hear a story and we simply don't connect for one reason or another. But with the talented writing of Eric Blehm we not only hear the story of Adam, we get to know him. My favorite photo? There is one of Adam tossing his son in the air and it held such beauty for me. Such trust and love between a father and his son. Much like the bond between Adam and His Savior.

In this story we not only see Adam face trials along his journey, we see him laugh and have fun. We see the boy behind the man's eyes. We see his tenderness and compassion for others. We see Christ using this young man as His vessel to do mighty works for God's kingdom. Adam's life speaks volumns of a life filled with faith. It seems he checked doubt at the door and made the daily choice to live life to it's fullest.

We see if there were mountains to climb, Adam Brown, was determined to get there. I feel honored to take a glimpse into this young man's life. This is a story for every young man and woman to read. It's a story for every American to read. It's these stories that should be in our history books for young people to read and become empowered by as Americans. Adam Brown proudly fought for his country and overcame obstacle after obstacle running to that finish line.

From the very first pages of this book to the very last I found myself fully absorbed by the life of Adam Brown and those surrounding his life. Such bravery. Such comrades and brotherhood. We see how his family was torn apart by struggles, but brought together through the immense healing and strength of God.

This is a great testimony of faith. A story well written and one that I will not soon forget.


This book was a gift from Water Brook Multnomah for it's review.


Eric Blehm is the best-selling author of The Only Thing Worth Dying For, which recounts the harrowing story of the first Special Forces A-team to infiltrate Taliban-held southern Afghanistan weeks after 9/11. It was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. The author’s The Last Season, winner of the National Outdoor Book Award, was named by Outside magazine as one of the ten “greatest adventure biographies ever written.” Blehm lives in California with his wife and children.

"Waiting For Sunrise" by Eva Marie Everson

Wow! Wow! Wow! I dove into, "Waiting For Sunrise", and didn't come up for a breath until the last page was complete. Now, I'm telling ya, this is a read that you will not soon forget. It's one that will grab your heart and take you for a ride, starting in 1964 and taking you back to 1946. A different time. A different generation and for Pasty Sweeny Milstrap, a life time ago.

Funny how when we are children we see things one way, but after growing ourselves, we are able to look back and grasp a picture that is more crystal and precise than ever. Our childhood impacts us so for the rest of our lives. Sometimes, it's that very past, holding us back from enjoying today. In Patsy's case, there was love lost, family battles and a heart filled with what ifs and whys, that was ever unfolding in her heart.

Depression has hit Patsy. It may have always been there through the years. Patsy has a devoted husband who has stood with her and prayed her to healing. God is good to Patsy. Through this novel we see a past that seems tarnished, but as God uncovers hurt after hurt, He brings healing to a woman who so deserves to smile and feel the love of her God.

One summer in time changed Patsy's life forever. But as that change came, God was still in control and had great plans for Patsy. We travel back through her childhood. Her hurts and desires. Her greatest fears and the laughter and blessings that flow. We get to watch her grow old and we get a front seat view of the life of those who encircled Patsy.

This is a story of family, sacrifice and restoration. Life in full circle. I encourage you to snatch up the latest installment of the Cedar Key Novel Series by Eva Marie Everson. "Waiting For Sunrise", follows book 1, "Chasing Sunsets", which I also loved.

I cherish the moments I have been blessed to spend in Cedar Key. It feels like home now. A place for all to find rest and a long awaited assurance of solace. Cedar Key just might be the perfect picture of reaching heaven and a Savior waiting to give a heart peace.

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

Eva Marie Everson is a successful speaker and the award-winning author of Things Left Unspoken, This Fine Life, and Chasing Sunsets. She is coauthor of the Potluck Club books and the Potluck Catering Club series. She lives in Florida.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Shoot The Wounded", by Lynn Dove

"Shoot The Wounded", is a book for every young person to read. Better yet, place it in the hands of every parent to make them more aware of the trials and struggles that teens face daily. As parents we often miss the mark because we are too busy not looking in the right direction.

This remarkable book brings us straight to the issue of many circumstances today. Gossip, bullying, teen pregnancy and more. This is real life for teens. It's just not made for the movies. I applaud Lynn for writing about such important truths for us to learn and remember.

The characters here before us in this story are very real. The writing is poignant and powerful. This is a gripping story of  Leigh, Ronnie and Jake. Three young people torn by circumstance. We see faith come alive and grow.

This book is such an encouragment and testimony of God's love and strength.

Following, "Shoot The Wounded", is the second in the series, "Heal The Wounded", and the third book of this series is, "Love The Wounded". A powerful series for any library.

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

Check out the book trailer!!



Lynn Dove has been writing award winning poems and short stories since she was in elementary school. She is a graduate of the University of Calgary, where she earned her Bachelor of Education degree in 1981. She has spent the last thirty years teaching children in the private and public school settings, as well as volunteering in the children, youth and adult education ministries at her church. In 2007, she earned a Master of Religious Education degree from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, in Cochrane, AB. Lynn is "living the dream" with her husband and children in Cochrane, Alberta.
Lynn is the recipient of the "John and Isabel Cunningham Christian Service Award" (2007 -CSBS)

Lynn's debut novel, Shoot the Wounded is a finalist in the 2010 Readers Favorite Book Awards

Lynn's blog: Journey Thoughts is nominated in three categories in the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards.
 
Visit Lynn's site at www.shootthewounded.org

"Chasing The Sun", by Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson is at the top of my favorites list for historical fiction. She is simply the best. In reviewing Book 1 of her newest series, "Land of The Lonestar", she has soared to the top once again. The writing flows. Your heart opens up wider than you would expect and then the blessings begin to flow. She carries you to another time and place. She brings characters alive and places you right there in the depths of this wild and untamed land.

We have two characters, Hannah and William, with two different lives, about to collide. The country as been at war and there are wars close to home. Hitting the heart directly on target. I admired these characters. They make their faith known and they bring family to the forefront of what's important in life. They stand against struggle and fear, coming together in ways they never imagined.

Friends, if you are searching for a great summer read, you will not falter with Tracie Peterson. In fact, you will be blessed by a new hope springing forth right before your eyes.

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

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie's Web site at www.traciepeterson.com and her blog at www.writespassage.blogspot.com.







Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Best View In The House

A few months ago my husband and I looked at a house on the market. I fell in love with this home as soon as we pulled in the drive way and parked. After going inside, some how I was directed to the windows. It was something I really had never done before. Usually I am searching for closet space and cabinets, but something was different. The view.

I walked to each and every window of this home and found the view was spectacular. It was more than spectacular. Breathtaking is more like it. The view was different from each window. You may be saying, "Well, of course it is." But this was a total different view from each window. From one you could see a tree swing. Another you could see a lovely bench parked between two perfect trees. From another you got a wide lens view of the lake. Again and again I was completely captivated at the view I was seeing.

Do you know what I was thinking? Oh my goodness, what a lovely place to write and spend the evenings with my husband underneath the shade and comfort of a big oak. It wasn't the carpets or the door frames. It wasn't even the size of the kitchen. My heart was looking for something totally different. This was a place of peace that I could grow old in with my husband.

As it turns out we didn't purchase the house. Something told us no and a month later my husband was once again laid off. That quiet voice we heard, was the Lord speaking, loud and clear. He knew what was about to be and He was protecting His children. Praise the Lord for my obedient husband. I wasn't so much listening to the voice as I was seeing the view.

A few nights ago I realized something. I have a view right here at the side of my bed that can take me to new depths as the gates of heaven open up. Yes, that perfect view can't really be found outside a window. It can be found by closing my eyes and kneeling beside my bed.

Some how I had lost that view. It was almost like I had misplaced it and was in search of it once again. Why did I go searching when it was here all along? With me on my knees I find myself closer to the Lord. It's me surrendering all to Him. It's me opening up and it's Him moving me beneath His protective hand. It's Him opening my eyes to blessings I have never imagined. It's Him showing me new things about myself. In kneeling with Him I find that this time with Him is more precious because I am allowing all other things to out of mind as I open my heart to all He has. There is nothing sweeter than being washed in the grace of the Lord and being the recipient of His mercies.

We can rise from time being spent with Him with a new vision like never before. With His inspiration we can travel anywhere and see that perfect view. Funny, how the windows of heaven give us even more than our eyes can see here. Somehow our vision is made more clear.

When our heart is seeking God, we don't  need a window.

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Mondays With My Old Pastor by Jose' Luis Navajo

When I saw the cover of this book it tugged at my heart. When I read the description I just had to learn more. I knew this was a book I must review. To say I loved this book is not sufficient. I think this will be regarded as a timeless treasure.

Jose' finds himself weary. He asks the question we have all pondered at least once in our lives, "Perhaps I should dedicate myself to something else?" I treasured the wisdom penned across these pages. The love and passion that was brought to life between these two pastors is almost holy. Through these pages we see the Lord's presence and we see Him moving ever so graciously as Jose' finds that peace he has been seeking.

How wonderful these Monday afternoons must have been not only for Jose', but for his pastor. Jose' shares their intimate moments of conversation. This is pure friendship. We get a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Jose' and his pastor. We get to meet their wives too, who are also filled with great wisdom.

I love how God brought Jose' to this place and how Jose' brought us here, by simply sharing this wondrous message. This is one of those treasures I will return to over and over again for wisdom and inspiration. As the title shares, "Sometimes all we need is a reminder from someone who has walked before us".

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

Jose' Luis Navajo did his studies in the Seminario Evang`elico Espan`ol, the Asociati`on de Formacio`n Teolo`logica Evang`elica, and the Escuela Biblica Salem. Today he is part of the pastoral team of the Salem Evangelical Church in Madrid, Spain. The pastoral ministry is his calling and vision: his other great vocation is literature, as he is an author of several books. He gives conferences, participates as a commentator on different radio programs, and is a column writer. He and his wife, Gene, have two daughters, Querit and Miriam.







Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dinner Time Conversations

Nothing brings a family together like sitting around the dinner table. When I was a kid I could take off on my bike that morning, but I was to be home at 4:00 when mom would have dinner on the table. Mom, dad and I would dine on her home cooking and leave the table feeling more than full of good and tasty morsels. My heart would be completely full of smiles. It is one of my fondest memories of being home. I can remember dad walking in from work and mom placing the plates on the table. Do families even eat together any more?

I loved when all of our children were home. Dinner time was always a treat. Some families may like to eat in silence, but our family was bursting with laughter and stories about the day. There is something about the dinner table that just brings people together. There is a peace in breaking bread with another. Whether your having a cozy dinner for two or a house filled with family and friends gathered in the kitchen, you can't help but smile and feel warm inside.

I'm sure many families have great discussions at the dinner table. This makes me think of the television show, "Blue Bloods". One of my favorite scenes is when they are all gathered at the table, and discussion erupts. What is it that I love? They all seem to have different opinions. They all have reasons behind their thoughts and they don't all agree. But what happens? Sure there are times it gets heated. Sometimes one will leave the table, but they always return. They begin every dinner in prayer and they end knowing that family matters. They realize they can agree to disagree and still love one another.

I think this is something we are missing out on today. We live like we are in high school. Choosing who sits at our table. If we don't like them or don't agree with them we sure don't want to have them at our table. But just what if we invited them to dinner? What if we put all disagreement aside and simply shared a meal? Do you think this could bring about peace as we said grace together? I love the idea of holding hands and praying together.

We are never totally going to be agreement with everyone. So, should we shun the one we disagree with? Just maybe inviting them in we can begin to learn about one another through conversation. As we learn about each other we just might be able to find a common ground. We might begin to see past those very things that once separated us and find something that brings us to a place where we can realize the junk doesn't really matter. What matters is sharing the love of Christ. What matters is opening up your heart, even when it feels uncomfortable and getting to know another. You might walk away from dinner still in disagreement, but you just might find one thing you do agree on. Why can't that be a blessing?

During the last supper, Jesus gathered with His disciples, and broke bread. They had discussions and surprisingly they didn't all agree, but it was a great teaching moment and holds a lasting impact for us to learn from today. Jesus knew Judas would soon betray Him, but He still shared dinner with Him. He too knew Peter would deny Him. Not only once, but three times. Yet, here was Jesus, breaking bread with those He had prayed for and chosen to walk with Him during His ministry.

This had to be heartbreaking for Jesus. To think of all they had been through together and to have betrayal and deception right around the corner. Jesus could have very well said, " Judas and Peter, you two need to find another home that will take you in tonight. You are no longer welcome here." Jesus did the opposite. He opened up His heart. He shared and they had conversation.

We never know the impact we can have on another just by spending a little time with them. One minute, one hour, one day, can bring change to us and open our hearts to life lessons to carry us through to the next test to come in life.

We don't have to accept sin. Of course not. That would be wrong indeed. But mustn't we accept people? Shouldn't we give all people a chance? So much can happen just through discussion. I know I learn a great deal more by hushing my mouth and listening than I do by doing all the talking. Here Jesus is now showing He is not accepting what Judas and Peter are about to do, but He is saying He is making the choice to love them. Isn't that what we should do? Jesus couldn't control the actions of Judas and Peter. After all they have their own free will. But Jesus could and did control His actions. He choose to love even though He knew what was about to happen. Judas choose the wrong steps and ended his life. Peter grew to be a great missionary and continued the work of the Lord. Just what if Jesus would have asked Peter to leave the table? What if just spending those few hours dining together made an impact on Peter?

I have had some of the greatest conversations with friends while sipping coffee and having a slice of cake. I have shared my heart with others over dinner and have walked into a dinner thinking one thing and walked out with a whole new perspective after listening to another open their heart to me.

"On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for You?"
Matthew 26:17

"When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the twelve disciples. While they were eating, He said, "I will you the truth, one of you will betray Me."
Matthew 26:20-21

It was after Jesus shared that Judas would betray Him that they broke bread and shared the Lord's supper. Later after leaving and being on their way to Mount of Olives that not only Peter, but all would desert Him. Peter speaks and  shares that he would never leave Jesus. Matthew 26:31-35

Jesus knew what was about to happen, but it didn't change the fact that Jesus was willing to go all the way. He was willing to give what others would never think about giving. He showed us on this day an example of the greatest love of all. This is the kind of love I want to have. This is the love I want to share.

"Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keeping a humble attitude. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and He will bless you for it."
1 Peter 3:8-9

God's X-ray Vision

I have had my share of x-rays over the years. An x-ray will show what the eye cannot see. It goes beyond all perception and brings a matter into full focus. We get an x-ray when there is a problem. Maybe we are hurting. Could something be broken? There are all kinds of tests that show what is going on deeper than the eye can see. Once the test is complete we then wait on the results. That waiting can be tough. Our mind begins to wonder and worry, forgetting that whatever the test shows God is still God and He is in control. 


You gotta love God's x-ray vision. He can see straight into our heart, past all the blockages, the brokenness, the hardened places. He sees what others cannot see. The heart is the life center. It's the beginning and end. Once we open our heart to Him, the Great Physician, He will bring healing to those places we once thought impossible. He can bring new life that flows grace passed all that once kept us from living true joy.

Ever think of those tests in life as x-rays for God to do His most amazing work? It's through those tests that God is revealed. There have been times in my life when these tests were evident of God. For me, they were unwanted and uncomfortable, but for God to reveal His workings, they were needed. The purpose of the tests that came and are still coming are of greater value than my comfortable wants.

Sometimes what God shows us is extraordinary. We stand back in awe of what He has revealed and we say, "Wow, how cool is that!" But there are other times in fact that what He is revealing has a bit of a sting. After all, He sees straight to our heart. He sees what is hidden deeply that others cannot see.

He wants to bring about change in our lives. He wants to bring healing. He wants us to be exposed so that we can then humbly understand how unique and complex we truly are. If we don't allow Him the room and the time for testing, how will we ever become who He has created us to be?

Just as if we must have a broken bone set. We wouldn't go to a seamstress. We would be in search of a great physician who we could trust to set our bone. If there were blockages in need of repair, we sure wouldn't seek out a dentist. My point is, why do we not seek out God for every need we have? He is the Great Physician. There isn't anything He cannot heal. Nothing broken He cannot mend. No blockages too big for Him.

Instead we put it off. We let decay and hardness build up and then when it's almost too late we drive in to the doctor. Only for him to tell us, "If you would have come to me sooner, surgery would have been much easier. Now that you have waited it is going to take longer to recover." Ouch. Boy, am I guilty of this. Why do we wait? Sometimes it's that very hurt. That pain that brings us to finally say, "I've had enough. I want more. I want better!" We pick ourselves up off the couch and decide that today is the day for a new beginning.

That is exactly what God is waiting for. He is waiting for us to realize there is more. Life can be in fact better. With Him all things are possible. With Him we find purpose. Even in the small daily tasks. We find new joy that goes way beyond any happiness we were once on the search for.

Stepping into that x-ray machine might be uncomfortable for us. But we must get used to being uncomfortable. It's in that very uncomfortable moment that God calls us out and asks, "Won't you stand with Me? Won't you serve with Me? Won't you walk with Me? Won't you allow Me to do the healing that is needed?"

Rehabilitation can be terribly hard. I had to endure this physical therapy for almost two years in two surgeries on my wrist. It was grueling and there were tears that appeared during every visit that lasted two hours. If I would have passed on the physical therapy my wrist would not be working today. It would not function to it's best ability. Does it work exactly as it did before the injury? No, it will never be the same. But I can say the same for each and every test I have gone through. Within each test, each journey, God has brought me to a new place. It is a journey that continues as long as I keep my focus on Him. With Him as my focus I can see what needs to be done and where He is calling me. When I look to Him He opens my heart in unexpected ways and He chisels away at those hard and rough spots. He brings nourishment those places that were once dying.

Jesus Christ brings life and abundant life. He and only can bring about true and healing change that will set us apart and bring us to be who He has called and created us to be in Him.

"Wait patiently on the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."
Psalm 27:14

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

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"
2 Corinthians 5:17

"He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west."
Psalm 103:12

"For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the One to whom we are accountable."
Hebrews 4:12-13

Friday, June 1, 2012

Every Stone Holds A Story

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I went to visit Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. What a humbling experience to pull into a cemetery, holding white grave stones,  that seems to go as far as the eye can see. We would drive through slowly reading over the names on the tombstones. Then we would stop every so often and get out and walk a bit. There are tombstones from the Civil War where you find "Unknown Soldier" engraved.

As I brushed my hand over the top it hit me that this man or woman served and no one knows who or what they did, but their service still today has lasting impact. How many times do we wish to be recognized for our service? How many times do we wish to see our name in lights or just wish someone realized what we did on a daily basis? It gave me a new perspective on serving. My service should be in light of where God calls me and I should be willing to give all for Him no matter the cost. No matter if anyone here on earth ever knows what I have done, He knows. Isn't that really all that matters?

As I looked out across the cemetery my mind came to two thoughts. Each person placed here holds a story. A story worth being told. A story of life and giving. Some of the men and women here died in battle at a young age. Others lived on after battle to live long lives. For me, each gravestone was just as important as the next. Each life held purpose and beauty. I found myself reading their information and wondering what life was for them. When they came home were they welcomed?

My second thought was, "Did they know Christ during their life? Did He stand in battle with them? Did they look to Him for strength and guidance?" As this question came to mind I looked across the cemetery and realized as the evening sun shone down, each tombstone cast a shadow. Each life here made an impact. Each life, whether they knew the Lord or not, gives testimony of life lived in service. God can move through us whether we ever choose to know Him personally or not. Now, how much greater of an impact could one make on another if the Lord was present? The difference would be monumental.

I just found myself so grateful. As thankfulness washed over me, tears streamed freely. Freely at the cost and what others gave so that my life could be as it is today. How often do we give thanks to these men and women? How often do we just see this day as a holiday weekend for a party and gathering of family and friends? We hit the river in our boat, we get the BBQ fired up, and we gather our coolers close. This was a day that made a valuable impact on m life. I too often miss the mark and I don't see beyond my own life. That is a tragedy in itself.

As my husband and I walked through, these green covered fields, on this heated and windy evening, there were flags that were misplaced and fallen. Some how that grabbed at my heart too. I thought about each war and the reasons behind it. But did these men and women reason as they signed up to serve or did they simple serve with grateful hearts and a passion to bring about change? Are we missing that today? I know I am. I seem to take so much for granted and I think that's why walking through these shadowed gravestones touched my heart so much.

As we reached those misplaced flags, we gathered them up and placed them upon the facing of the gravestone. You could see others doing the same. The cemetery was beginning to fill as we were readying to leave. You could see some were family members, placing flowering wreaths, upon the graves of those they now long for. Just a touch, a giggle and another hello. Some were like us. Just coming in to show respect and to learn more about those who gave all.

Each as of these men and women have left behind a legacy. You and I will also leave behind a story, a shadow if you will. With Christ as my Savior, I will one day stand before Him. I hope I can stand before Him knowing I have used every gift and treasure up to it's fullest. Not leaving behind one blessing that could have touched another. Might we live without regret and without fear. Grabbing hold of our freedoms and reaching for the stars with all Christ has given us. Giving Him grand glory and honor through our surrendered lives that cast a glow of all He created us to be.

This was such a great time of reflection for me. Looking out beyond myself and seeing people from every walk of life who served their country with pride. They made a choice to fight for a cause near and dear to them. In this vast field of men and women, lie a great man among them. My husband's uncle, Lloyd. My father in law served in the Army and his brothers all served in different wars. Fighting for different causes, but all hoping for the same result. Peace and change. My husband has been blessed to hear their stories of wartime. He too has heard their stories of faith.  What a blessing for him to be able to pass down such heritage to our son and share with him those in the family who were willing to serve and give of themselves.

I think that seeing so many from all walks of life. All heritages and different faiths. Now all here gathered in one place. On many of the Jewish gravestones people had come to lay a stone of remembrance. Just a little smooth rock, layed in place,  to show they had been there. This is one of those historical places where we can go to reflect on our life and the lives of others. It is through the lives of others that we can learn great lessons about ourself. We can see courage and honor at every eye turn. May we never forget to pass down the stories of those who have come before us. Might we be even more inspired to pray and encourage those who are serving today.




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