Monday, September 30, 2013

A Stop Light Praise

Sitting at a stop light. 

A nanny and her granddaughter, laughing and singing. 

Giggles coming from Peyton as we are stopped and waiting to turn. 

We have the grandest times in my truck. We search for hay bales, cows, pigs and horses. She shares what the clouds appear to look like to her. She says, "Nanny, sing a new song." We giggle as Old McDonald has a new critter on the farm. 

I've been teaching her that a red light means stop. Green means go and yellow means to slow down. She caught on quite quickly. As we were slowing to the red light in front of us I say, "What does the light mean Pip?" She smiles big and says, "It means stop." Little did I know at that moment the man in front of us didn't know the meaning too well. 

We are having a ball. Just me and Pip. 

I see through the corner of my eye the car in front of us take off on a red light. 

What I see next catches in my throat. It's as though my heart stops. I look forward as screeching tires take hold of my ears. 

Singing stops in an instant. 

The car goes right on through, but not before cutting off a truck. A truck going at full speed. He slams on his breaks. He jerks his truck to stop from hitting the car. We are in his full view. My eyes catch him as he is trying to control his truck. 

In this instant my heart screams Jesus. 

It was as if He placed His hedge of protection around us. As though He placed His mighty hand and moved that truck over inches. My hand goes to Pip's knee and she places her hand on mine. She says, "Nanny, what happened?" I look to her and simply say, "I love you." 

In a moment of grace God covered us. Tears came as I said, "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You." 

As we parked Peyton is now giggling again. As I took her out of her car seat I just wrapped my arms around her. I couldn't think about our safety without praising Jesus. 

In this one moment our lives could have changed forever. I'm not sure if the people who ran the light gave it a second thought. I'm sure the man who almost hit us was grateful he was able to remain in his lane. So many times things like this happen and we give them no thought at all. We just say, "Boy that was close", and go on about our day. I can share with you that today as I write tears are still falling. I cannot imagine what would have happened if the truck would have collided with us. 

Just seconds. Seconds could have changed everything. 

One thing I do know, without a doubt, is that Jesus was with us. His hand was upon us and I am forever grateful. It was just another reminder to never take one moment for granted. To enjoy the laughter and to celebrate life each and every moment. 

Thank You, my sweet Jesus

"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you." 
1 Thessalonians 5:18 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." 
Philippians 4:8

You Can Find Him Where You Are

God doesn't ask anything of us that He has not first prepared us for. There isn't anything He calls us to that He has not enabled us for. Everything that stands before us today has passed through the hand of God. That should give us hope. There is nothing that is too big for us with Jesus going before us. 

We allow fear to overshadow us. We let others tell us that we are never going to do it. Friends, don't quit! Don't give up. Don't allow Satan to steal away from you what God has prepared for you today. Do not compromise the truths of God for what this world tries to feed you. 

You are special. You are unique. You were created in love, with purpose and promise. Your life is one to be lived. Don't settle for less than anything God has for you. God knows what He's doing. All He is asking is that we seek Him with all our heart. When we seek Him we will never come up empty. He forever fills us with everything we need. He knows us better than anyone else. No, friend. Don't try and hide from the One who created you. Run to Him! As you seek Him your faith will grow as you see the evidence that He has been working in your life all along. 

Things may look really bad today. You may want to give up. I too have been there. But, with the grace of God, He brought me through and continues to show me the path He has created for me. Each day I learn more about myself through spending time with Him. Jesus saves! He changes us to look more like Him. He sets us apart. He pulls us out of the pit. Grace and mercy are for those who seek the Lord. 

No matter where you are today, you are sure to find Jesus there with you. You are never alone. Hope remains alive with every breath and every choice we make to move closer to Him. His Spirit lives in us! Walk in courage today and know that whatever is before you, your Lord, Jesus Christ, is there waiting. 

Don't fear what is to come. Don't be afraid to step into the unknown. There is nothing unknown to our Lord and Savior. He wants to move in you. He wants you to witness the glory before you. He wants you to move on His behalf. He has given all for us. He loves you as if you were His only child. Call upon Him today. Seek Him with everything you have. You will find His glory, great and small, mighty and tender. 

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." 
Ephesians 2:10

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You'll Get Through This by Max Lucado

There has yet to be a book penned by Max Lucado that I haven't enjoyed. My home is filled with his books. I go back to them over and over again. I don't think you could find one that I have not highlighted great insights and written notes from my heart. From each and every one I have learned valuable lessons that bring me closer in my walk with the Lord. 

In this latest release, "You'll Get Through This", Max Lucado brings another message of hope through giving us a close up look into the life of Joseph. Throughout this book we see this phrase.

"You'll get through this. It won't be painless. It won't be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don't be foolish or naive. But don't despair either. With God's help, you'll get through this." 

These words are soothing to my soul. If we are not going through a turbulent time right this moment, we will be one day. Most likely if you are like me, you have been through many valleys and know that without a doubt you made it through by the grace and strength of our Savior. 

This is one of the most beautiful books that I have been blessed to read. The cover captures what is held inside the pages. Notice how the cracks make a cross? The clover pushing it's way up through the crack. A beauty where one would least expect. This is the handy work of God. This is what He does in those valleys. Out of our mess He creates beauty. 

"What is coming will make sense of what is happening now. Let God finish His work. Let the composer complete His symphony. The forecast is simple. Good days. Bad days. But God is in all days. He is the Lord of the famine and the feast, and He uses both to accomplish His will." 

You know the feeling of being mesmerized as the Holy Spirit is opening your eyes? This is how I felt as I read this book. Max is gifted at bringing life to the pages before us. His center never leaves the Word of God. This is his focus. From the Word he brings us the story of Joseph. The good, the bad and the ugly. He walks us through and gives us a descriptive look into how God moved in his life. There isn't a moment that God wasn't present. There wasn't one single moment God wasn't able to use. 

"Does He not have the authority to do so? He is the potter; we are the clay. He is the Shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the Gardener; we are the branches. He is the Teacher; we are the students. Trust His training. You'll get through this. If God can make a prince out of a prisoner, don't you think He can make something good out of your mess?" 

Max also shares stories of his life with us. Personal stories of his and of others who have impacted his life. I love his transparency. If we count the pages of chapters this is quite a short book at 162, but it doesn't end there. In the back of the book is a great study guide that follows each chapter. (If you follow the link to Thomas Nelson you can see that a study book, video and more are also available.) This is a powerful book. One of my favorite chapters is chapter 14 where Max shares his time spent in New York just after 9/11. I was brought to tears by his powerful experience. This is what I love and admire about Max Lucado. He is so real. He shares from his heart and isn't afraid to open himself up. 

This is a life changing book. One that has surely blessed me. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris is a new author for me. I was impressed with her writing style in "Dangerous Passage". This is book one in her new series, Southern Crimes.

I LOVED it! I was instantly hooked. Her writing has an easy flow. The characters grab your attention. All I was missing was popcorn and a big screen. Seriously, as I read it was like I was watching a movie. She is amazing with detail and giving the reader a vivid scene. This was a quick afternoon read for me. Once I began reading I couldn't put it down. The story is fast paced and believable. 

The main character is Avery North. Just her name sounds strong. I loved her character. One thing I admired about Avery is her sheer determination. She doesn't give up easily. She knows what is most important in life and she isn't one to take life for granted. Avery is a detective in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been through the death of her husband and brother. She is now a single mom who is dedicated to her daughter and her family. Her partner Mitch is very important to her too. On the outside Avery looks as if she has it all together, but on the inside she is fighting a few battles. I think this is what I enjoyed about her character the most. She's real. She has fears of not being the mom she needs to be and is afraid in trying to do it all something will fall to the side. I could relate to her in the fact that she doesn't want to let anyone down. We get to see Avery grow as she faces life head on. She is realistic and knows the impact her faith has in her daily life. 

We too get to know Mitch and we see the relationship that he and Avery share.  There is another character that I loved as well, Jackson Bryant, who is the Medical Examiner that helps aid in Avery's cases. Murder has happened, suspects are questioned, but there is more to these murders and they hold the key to uncovering even more crime that is happening. We see the relationship between Jackson and Avery grow. This is one area where Avery is uncertain. She's not sure she's ready for a relationship. But then Jackson too is a widow. We see their relationship grow in God's perfect timing. 

Suspense, intrigue, friendship, and romance. These pages hold a story that has me anticipating book 2, "Fatal Exchange", that will be released in the summer of 2014. 

Sadly in our world today we have human trafficking and in this first book of the series Avery uncovers young girls that are being touched by this horror. I admire authors who share a story that changes the heart. 

This book was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you.

Lisa Harris is an award-winning author with more than 400,000 copies of her works in print. She was a 2011 Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom and lives in Mozambique together with her husband, Scott Harris, and their three children. Visit her website at

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Think God Can't Use You? Think Again!

I have heard people say, "Why would God want me? I have nothing to offer." I have a friend who recently said, "I've grown too far away from God. I can't go back and He wouldn't want me now." This is heartbreaking. Why do we allow ourselves to believe such nonsense? I think I know why. We have heard that we are unworthy for so long we begin to believe that we have no worth. 

People are quicker to discount us than they are to simply lift us up with encouragement. Wear the wrong t-shirt and get criticized. Your loving actions have been forgotten. We are a nitpicking people. We look at others with such negative thoughts. They don't have to be spoken through gossip. Thinking them is enough to destroy a person. A look can say a thousand words. 

Friends, we are never too far gone to find God's grace. God can use every single one of us. How do I know? Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute. She was not a woman of faith until God's perfect timing. That didn't mean He couldn't use her. It didn't mean He didn't have plans for her. I can imagine many people had given up on Rahab. All people were seeing were her sinful actions. They didn't know her heart. They didn't know what God knew. 

That should add a giddy-up in our step. Every single one of us has a story. Every single one of us was created by God. The circumstances we think we see tell very little about the heart which is unseen by us who tend to nitpick people to death. 

Think there was gossip surrounding Rahab? I imagine there were folks who thought she was unusable. Maybe they thought she was all used up. But Rahab's story doesn't begin with her being a prostitute, nor does it end with her being a prostitute. We don't know why she turned to prostitution. But we do know God changed her and took her away from that lifestyle. She may not have had a relationship with God, but He had His eye on her nonetheless. 

Within the Book of Ruth we meet Boaz. We read that his father was Salmon. It doesn't name his mother until the Book of Matthew. "Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king." Matthew 1:5 Wow! Who would have thought a harlot by the name of Rahab would be listed in the lineage of our Savior? He did! He knew Rahab before she entered into this world. He created her for greatness. He laid out His plans for her life.

There are times I wonder why in the world God would want to use me. That really isn't a fair question. God doesn't create junk. He doesn't make a mess of things. What He does do is create each of us with purpose. His plans are precise. He doesn't make mistakes. Rahab may have fallen into prostitution, but she too found found God through events that touched her life.

Remember the spies and how she helped them? (Judges 2) Rahab put her own life on the line. The blessings of one scarlet cord. Joshua was to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. He had sent out spies to investigate the land. Rahab held an intricate part in that plan. This is the day the Lord had been preparing Rahab for. I see her as a brave woman. A woman who made a difference. A woman who God created for greatness.

"For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." Psalm 139:13-15

Over twenty years ago when I had first walked into our church I looked around at others and thought to myself, "This is not right. I will never be like these people." I struggled greatly. Every thought possible entered my mind such as, "I'm not good enough", "No one will like me for me", and "I don't belong here." Have you been there with me? Everyone was so nice and inviting. This was something I was not use to in my life. I can tell that when I accepted Jesus as my Savior those feelings parted from me shortly after. Oh sure, I still struggled from time to time, but I realized that I'm not suppose to be like everyone else. I am me. I am the me God created me to be. He created me unique. He knew my sins long before I ever committed them. He knew them all on the cross where He bore it all for me and for you.

You know what's amazing? He loves me despite my sin. He loves me beyond all measure. He created in me things I am still discovering today and will uncover more each day as I continue to grow in Him. Even with my sinful past He was willing to accept me just as I was.

Friends, don't ever think your not good enough. That is a lie straight from Satan. God created you! We could stop there and that would be enough said. There is so much more to uncover about ourselves. Even in those early days of my life when I didn't know Jesus, He still knew me. I can look back and see how He moved in my life to bring me to where I am today. Our Lord wastes nothing. He took my biggest messes and created beauty. From the smallest things in my life He has created masterpieces of glory.

We have a heritage in Jesus Christ. We can have life eternal with Him. That is what He wants. Look at what He did through the life of Rahab. Don't give up on yourself. Don't be so quick to give up on others. Where there is life there is hope.

We will never see all God has prepared for us until we seek Him first. He wants you to be His vessel today. He wants to walk with you. To talk with you. Every pathway holds blessings. Every meeting holds divine purpose. There is not a moment of our lives that is not planned out by our loving God.

"With God in your world, you aren't an accident or an incident; you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God." Max Lucado

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson

"Tattler's Branch" is the newest addition to Jan Watson's penned creations focusing on the people living in the Kentucky countryside. When I selected to review, "Tattler's Branch", I was unaware that it was a part of a series. It follows, "Skip Rock Shallows", "Still House Pond", "Sweetwater Run", and the Troublesome Creek series. With this being said, I think this could be a stand alone novel. I have reviewed a few of the others in this series and found that they too could be read as stand alone novels. It's always a joy to have the pleasure of beginning with the first novel. 

If you enjoy nice, easy, slow reads this book is surely one you will enjoy. I found that Jan Watson has an attention for detail, giving the reader a precise view of the surroundings and a clear understanding of the characters.Watson's writing style flows through this novel like a sweet brook of rippling water. It's easy and has a comforting feel. 

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were real and I was transported back in time in an era where women were not necessarily treated as equals. Let me share with you a few things that I enjoyed from this novel. The main characters are Lilly, who is a doctor. Her husband is Tern. Their marriage is one in which Lilly must be independent. Tern is away from home quite a bit. His job keeps him from being home as he would like. This is a reality in our world today. Both of their jobs are important and both learn great lessons that bring them closer as they see God's dream for them unfold. Lilly is a strong character. Her last name, Still, describes her perfectly. This is a woman who walks in her faith. She doesn't allow fear to stir her. Through her journey she has learned to be still as she waits upon the Lord. 

Skip Rock is a small community and it's people have learned to depend on one another. This is tough for another main character, Armina. She has taken care of herself most of her life. Her husband is away more than he is home. This doesn't lesson their love for one another. It's just the circumstances that are a part of their lives. When Armina needs help like never before it's hard for her to accept it. This independent woman learns what it means to depend on others and trust them. This is quite humbling for Armina, but it is a lesson that brings her to open her heart more and to experience friendship like never before. 

In this story line a baby is born. To some she would look imperfect. To others they see the beauty she holds. In 1911 they had a different word for Down's Syndrome. Mongoloid would be the term they would have used. I think this may be the sweetest part of the book for me. We see this little one born and how some are not accepting. Most of this nonacceptance is because this isn't something that is understood.

So we have murder take place. Armina sees a man taking a woman into the water. What happens next causes great fear in her heart. This is where the story begins to build. Armina sees what happens before her eyes but remains hidden. She doesn't know what to do. If she steps out she fears she will be next.

As this story unravels Jan Watson takes us through each character and gives us time to know them and understand them. If we didn't have a clear picture of the characters their actions would be hard to understand. This was a sweet read for me. One that opened my eyes to a time that is forgotten. A time when women had to be on their own and learn to live independently. But what Jan shows us here is that we can be independent, while depending on God for strength. 

This book was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you. 

Jan Watson won the 2004 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest for her first novel, Troublesome Creek. Her other awards include being named the best Kentucky author in 2012 by Kentucky Living magazine, a nomination for the Kentucky Literary Award in 2006 and second place in the 2006 Inspirational Readers Choice Contest sponsored by the Faith, Hope, and Love Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Jan has published seven novels. As a registered nurse for 25 years at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, she incorporates her nursing experience in the hospital's mother/baby unit into her novels. Jan resides in Kentucky.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Trapped by Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon never disappoints! Here we are with book 2 in the, Private Justice Series. Yay! Let me start by saying sometimes you don't have to read the first book to really get into the second, and without a doubt you would enjoy reading, "Trapped", as a stand alone, I would suggest that you start with, "Vanished"(check out my review). 

I have seen a  few reviews that said, "Trapped", was kind of predictable. To that I would like to say, yes, it is, but in many ways that is what makes this book amazing. Aren't things in life predictable? Of course, boy and girl meet, they fall in love. Girl runs away and gets herself into a world of fear. Predictable. But, it's the story weaved in between these predictable moments that grabs us. Irene Hannon ROCKS at pulling us in and keeping us turning pages. 

The cover is awesome. A storm. An empty bench. Lights up ahead. A girl walking. But then you have the shadow that is casting a huge image. 

These novels are based here in my home state of Missouri. As I read the story I know these cities well and can picture myself in the area. Irene is gifted at painting a scene for us and allowing us to feel as though we are right there in the midst of the action. 

We are back at Phoenix Inc. where they have three private investigators that I would want on my side if I were in trouble. In this novel we get a closer view of "Dev". James Devlin. My heart be still. We too have Nicki, the sassy secretary return. Cal and Connor are here too. The first book was based on Cal. This one takes us to Dev. I have a strong feeling book three is going to spotlight Connor. 

These guys are not only co-workers, but they are great friends. I think the connection they have with each other brings us an even greater story. We see the bond they share and how they are willing to go the extra mile for one another. 

Dev's first appointment of the day is with Laura Griffith, the aunt of Darcy. Laura is terrified as she comes home and Darcy is gone. Everyone's greatest nightmare begins. Laura is trying to find Darcy. Darcy comes with baggage. Don't we all? She and her aunt are not meshing well and Darcy isn't too keen on rules. She thinks life will be easier in New York, but her plan never unfolds as she dreamed. This is where the story begins. 

I started reading this story at night and it was a few hours later that I closed the last page. Once I started I couldn't put it down. This was an unputdownable for sure. Predictable? Yes, but a reality no one wants to find themselves in and that's what kept me turning pages. This young girl will touch your heart. Her aunt is one who isn't giving up. Within these pages is a story woven of love, trust and hope. I truly love the characters in this series. We see them face their weakness and question themselves. We see them as they find their gifts and learn to soar fearless. 

This novel is filled with suspense, romance and faith. You will never be disappointed with an Irene Hannon novel. I fell in love with Hannon's work when I read her series, "Guardians of Justice". Take your pick at any of her series and you will find yourself turning pages way up into the night. 

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, a HOLT Medallion, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine.Booklist also included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Missouri.

For more information about her and her books, Irene invites you to visit her website at

The Promise by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

If you haven't started reading, The Restoration Series, by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley, you are missing out. I admire these two authors so very much. Their works are magnificent. When they come together something spectacular happens. This is one of the best series I have had the pleasure of reviewing. 

The Restoration Series brings us to know a family in need of restoration. Life happens. Struggle appears. We lose sight of what is important. We get off track and it's hard to find your way back. The first book in the series, "The Dance" (check out my review), brought us to know Jim and Marilyn Anderson. In this new release and second installment to the series, "The Promise", we get a close up view of Tom and Jean Anderson. Tom is the son of Jim and Marilyn, and of course Jean is their daughter-in-law. Tom and Jean are blessed with sweet children. They really do have the picture perfect life to all that are looking from the outside in. 

This is part of the trap. Appearances are not what they seem. Tom is hiding things from his wife. Jean isn't being totally honest and upfront either. Their marriage is in need of repair. Now, just as we seen, Jim and Marilyn face difficult issues and find themselves once again in the dance that gave them new hope, we too see Tom and Jean come together in the promises they once shared. 

You may think I'm giving away something, but not at all. I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. There is so much to these stories. If you haven't read, "The Dance", I encourage you to go back and read it first. It holds valuable information in understanding the characters. 

What do I love about this series? The characters are real. They are facing issues that you and I face today. These are issues our parents and grandparents faced. Issues that we keep hidden. I can relate to these characters on many levels. In our faithfulness we want to keep things from our spouse because we think we are protecting them. In reality we are hurting them but not being honest. As we see with Tom and Jean, their marriage issues are not only effecting them, but their sweet children. 

Through, "The Promise", I have realized sometimes you must go back to find your way forward. Tom had to realize many of his emotional issues were from not having support and encouragement from his dad. I knew my daddy loved me. Sadly I lost him to his battle with cancer when I was only nineteen. I never heard my dad say that he loved me or that he was proud of me until the week before his death. These words are so important for a child to hear from a parent. These words allows them to soar and it helps them to be real with themselves. 

I love that as we see Tom's and Jean's story unfold we too get to continue on with Jim's and Marilyn's story. I could relate well with the women, but too with the men of this series. It has opened my eyes in new ways as I look to my husband and his relationship with his father. Really, such amazing life lessons are woven within these pages.  

I too see the importance of passing down our faith to our children and grandchildren. Through this series I understand more than ever it's okay to share our mistakes with our children. It helps them to understand we are not perfect. We face issues that are difficult, but with faith and trust, we can know that the Lord is there for us. That person we married is there for us and we can learn together God's grace. 

In, "The Promise", Jean is trying to understand why Tom has such a bad attitude. He is crabby and at times downright mean. She is thinking it's something she has done. The kids are wondering why daddy is mad. Tom is trying to figure things out himself. Their emotions are all over the place. As we continue on in the story we see the journey and we see that it's all worth it. We aren't to give up, but to hold tight to hope and the promises of building our lives upon a firm foundation. 

Something extra that I enjoyed about these books are the interviews with Dan and Gary. They share about the books and their personal stories of restoration. Yes, friends, this is indeed a special series that will bless you and leave you with nuggets of gold to carry along in your walk ahead. 

This book was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Dance and The Promise with Gary Smalley, as well as The Unfinished GiftThe Discovery, and The Reunion. He has won three Carol Awards, and two of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year for 2011 and 2012. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for twenty-five years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. Visit for more.

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best known authors and speakers on family relationships. He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of 16 books, along with several popular films and videos. He has spent over 30 years learning, teaching, and counseling, speaking to over 2 million people in live conferences. Smalley has appeared on national television programs such as OprahLarry King LiveExtra,The Today Show, and The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, as well as numerous national radio programs. Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 49 years and live in Branson, Missouri. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Be Careful Not To By-Pass

Over the weekend my hubs and I took a trip to the store for just a few things. Oh, we all know how that is. You go in for exactly two things on your list and you come out with fifteen and a receipt that looks like you've purchased half the store. 

We had ran into Lowe's and then into Walmart determined to get in and out. As we walk up we see the local Boy Scouts in uniform, holding cups for us to drop in our pocket change. One little boy walks up with a smile and says, "Excuse me, would you like to donate for our local troop?" We look at him with smiles in return and my husband says, "We will get you on the way out, okay? Promise we won't forget." His smile disappeared and you could see his whole demeanor change, but he kindly said, "Okay". I told my husband, "You know, I bet he has heard that a lot today." 

At Walmart there are always two exits at each end of the store. My husband says, "Oh man, I didn't think of that. I bet he has heard that and people just go out the other exit." 

We did our shopping and had money ready to hand to him. He wasn't there. We seen him running off with his momma. A man, we are thinking maybe his daddy, said, "Can I help you all?" We tell him of the little guy and how we promised him we would come back by. He explains that he had to hurry and change for his soccer game, but he would be honored to take it for him. As we turn to walk away a woman speaks up and says, "He is going to be so excited that you really did come back by." That was our affirmation that our thoughts were most likely true of what he had faced all day. 

How many times do we by-pass others? We see someone in the store and we skip over an aisle just because we don't want to talk to them. We tell someone we will be there to help and then never show up. We give our word only to take it back, but many times, we don't give even a word. We are so caught up in ourselves that we don't stop for others. I am just as guilty as you. Friends, this isn't just done out in the world, it's done inside our churches. We by-pass people all the time and without thought. Our thought is on us and what we need to accomplish.  

There are a thousand different ways we by-pass people. Sadly, we just never realize until we are the one being by-passed. We need to slow down and spend time with people. Give sincere hellos to people. Be interested in others. This is how we encourage one another. This is how we show the love of Christ. 

This little guy pricked my heart. Well, lets say the Lord used this little one to prick my heart. We get busy. We live in rush and we simply don't take the time for others. We almost say hello as we are truly passing by. We don't answer our phones when certain people call. Yes, we go out of our way not to see or talk to people. Just what if we made the effort to reach out inside of by-pass? Can you imagine the change in the hearts of man? 

Pretty soon those people that have been by-passed give up. They begin to think something is wrong with them. They no longer smile. They stop reaching out. This isn't what our Lord intends. We are to be connected to people. When we don't reach out we are saying, "I don't care", and "I don't have time for you".

Let me put it this way. We make time for what we want to make time for. Kind of how we like to say how busy we are. Well, we are busy with what we want to be busy with. Just reaching out, like with this little boy, makes the heart smile. When we give time to others it doesn't just bless them, it blesses us.

Friends, too many times we don't even want to give others eye contact. What are we afraid of? Are we afraid someone will ask us for something? Are we afraid to give, to open ourselves up? Maybe we have been by-passed and now we do so unto others. Sadly, our actions do not reflect a people of love, but of a selfish people. Mercy, this has opened my heart up to some serious questions. I don't want to live in such a way. I want to live each day and make a difference.

Remember the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10:25-37) Here was a man hurt and in need of help, but others just passed by. Can you see the people looking at him, but by-passing him? Then one man stops. He stops and gives his time to another. Time is love. It doesn't matter what the situation. Time still equals love. People need our time. They need our love. This is how we tell others they matter. They are important. 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" Matthew 25:35-40

Chicken Soup for the Soul (From Lemons to Lemonade) Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark

Who doesn't love a Chicken Soup for the Soul book? It seems they have been around forever. There is a Chicken Soup for the Soul book on just about every subject. The newest is entitled, "From Lemons to Lemonade." 

I am new to the Chicken Soup for the Soul Blogger Team. This is my first Chicken Soup review. I must say I was so excited to receive my new book. 101 blessings! These stories are rich from the heart. They are passionate and praiseworthy. Uplifting and powerful. Stories of overcoming. Life lines to giving hope for others who have found themselves in the pit of despair. 

This is a great encouragement book. It is filled with stories from people just like you and me. People going through hard times. People facing difficult passages. Through these stories we see hope. We are refreshed just as if we were drinking a cool glass of lemonade! Seriously friends, this is a great addition to add to your reading list. 

Those who have shared their stories here are inspiring. This book holds great life lessons that steer us toward an attitude of seeing endless possibilities. These are real stories that people have journeyed through and you know what? They persevered. They found a way to live the moment in faith and hope.

Another aspect that I love about this book is the wondrous quotes that are used. Amazingly with each story as you read about the trial this person is facing, you too are able to learn a little more about yourself. We learn we that our attitude makes all the difference. It doesn't matter what circumstance we are facing, it's how we respond that matters. This book is a great gift in seeing that there is hope in every situation that life brings.

Adversity is something we all face. Chicken Soup has given blessings for us along that journey. We all have a story and through these stories you just may find the courage to share yours. You will never know just how much your story can touch the life of another until you do. 

Maybe you have collected every Chicken Soup book ever written. Just maybe you have never picked one up before. I encourage you to grab this one up. It's a book for all ages and all people. A book dedicated to giving hope and sharing a message of triumph! 

This book was a gift from Chicken Soup for the Soul for sharing my review with you!

Encouragement For Today (devotions for everyday living) by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer, and the Proverbs 31 Team

Good morning! There is nothing like starting the day with God's Word. I am one of those girls who loves a great devotional to read along with my Bible, while having my morning coffee. I love sharing powerful devotionals with you all. They are not only a great tool to begin a day in grace, but a great value in our everyday living. So, what better than to have a devotional written for everyday living?

The Proverbs 31 team of women have empowered me to be the woman of God I am today. How? They are real, transparent, struggling, surviving women. Women of grace and mercy who are walking the road of faith. They share honest stories of their everyday life. It could socks, soccer, or cancer. We get to walk along with them. Girlfriends who are connected by One God and Savior. Sisters of grace. These girls tell it like it is. They bare their dirty moments and share how they triumphed not by their own merit, but by the sweet grace of God. 

How important for women to share with women. We don't have to hide under perfection or wear masks that hold back who we really are. We can be real with one another and that is exactly what these ladies do. I applaud them for striving to make a difference in this world one woman at a time. 

So, do I like their devotional? Lol Yes, Ma'me! The ladies share 100 devotionals. No, this isn't a 365 day devotional. These devotionals are powerful, yet simple. They take issues that we face daily. It is written in such a way that you can relate to every single devotional. There is a nugget that you can take away from each one and that is powerful. They begin with the Word of God and share a devotional that points to the power of the scripture. At the end of each devotional they share a personal prayer, and four important aspects to walking in the Word.  Remember, Reflect, Respond, and Power Verses.  

Now, you could use this devotional to read each morning or evening. You could stick it in your desk for a break at work. If your purse is as big as mine (lol) you too could carry it with you. Hey, you never know when your going to have a few minutes alone to soak in some of these devotionals. 

You know what I like? As I read this devotional it reassures me that it's okay to be me. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to slip up. It's okay to be imperfect. I found this devotional to be one that I will keep at my desk to go to again and again. 

This would make for a great gift for a friend or a sweet treat for yourself. I think this is one your going to love!

This devotional was a gift from Zondervan for sharing my review with you.

Check out all of these ladies at

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Don't Leave Me

How many times have you cried out to God, "Don't leave me here, Lord. Don't leave me"? I have tearfully moaned these words to Him many times. Late at night when panic overcomes me I cry out to Him, "Please Lord, please don't leave me here". When difficult times assault us we don't want to face them alone. 

There were many times that I was sick while pregnant with our youngest child. I was so frightened, but just having my husband near gave me peace. Just his hand gently folded around mine brought calm. I have faced ER visits with migraines and panic attacks that shook me to the core. What helped me through was knowing my husband was right next to me. Surgeries have been part of my life. I have never been alone in one single surgery I have faced. My husband has been with me every step of the way. He has carried me in the door when I couldn't walk. He has fed me when I was too weak to hold a fork. This sweet and tender man isn't big on words. It's not his words that have carried me through. It's his actions that have helped me to face my biggest obstacles with courage. 

Just having someone near makes all the difference when we are facing a trial. 

Over the weekend I was readying to drive my granddaughter home. It was extremely hot outside. I had my arms full and one hand holding Pip as we walked down the deck steps. I loaded the truck, but then realized I needed to start the truck before allowing Pip to crawl in her car seat, which was sure to be hot. We walked over to the drivers side and I said, "Just stay right here while Nanny starts the truck". Before I could get the truck started Pip cries out, "Nanny, don't leave without me." I felt my heart stop. I jumped out of the truck and grabbed her up in my arms and said, "Oh, baby girl, Nanny would never leave you behind." She sat on my lap as I started the truck and we let it cool off before she got in her seat. 

That's all she needed. Reassurance. She wanted to feel safe. Just knowing Nanny was near and she wasn't going to be left alone. 

There are times we feel stranded. Alone. Desperate. Scared. Have you been there too? There are times when someone isn't always near us. But friend, we must never feel alone. Not ever are we alone when we know Jesus as our Savior. Our Lord is always near. All we must do is call out His name. He is never leaving us. Never forsaking us.

I want to pass down a faith-filled life to my grandchildren. I want them to know that no matter what they face in life they are never alone. There is a God, their Lord and Savior, who will fight for them, who will stand for them, and who will forever love them through this life into the next. I want to leave a legacy of hope behind for them. I want them to know that with faith everything is possible. There is nothing that God cannot do. No mess too great for Him. No battle He cannot win. He has already overcame. Victory is His and for those who believe. 

There have been times that fear has taken hold of me and I have wondered where God was. I have faced trying times in my life when I felt so alone. I felt no one understood. Times when I couldn't share with others. Yes, you those times as well. Those days and weeks where you just want to curl up and remain under the quilts. I think I'm figuring something out about fear. Knowing God is near, having faith, doesn't mean fear will not touch us. It doesn't mean that our lives will never hold fear. Fear is a part of our lives. But faith drives out fear. Faith overcomes fear. The Lord helps us move through our fears to see beyond that moment. With Christ by our side, standing in the gap, giving us passage, we can find victory over our fears. 

"...He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake." Psalm 23:3

"To the faithful You show Yourself faithful." Psalm 18:25a

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Push Me Higher

My granddaughter will be three in October. I'm in awe of this little one who continues to teach me about the simple blessings in life. Having a difficult time grasping life? Hang out with a little one for a day and they will bring your perspective to a whole new level of growth. I have always said that my children grew me. I need to add that my grandchildren continue to grow me. 

When summer came upon us my granddaughter came up with the idea that her Pa was going to purchase a swing-set for her. I'm not sure where she got this idea, but sure enough, she asked and her Pa delivered. When she first seen her new swing-set she was one joyous girl, bouncing and giggling right out to the back yard. 

When she first sat on the swing she was a little fearful. She didn't want to go too high. She was content just sitting. She climbed up the slide holding onto Nanny's hand and wouldn't go down unless her tiny fingers were wrapped tightly in the safety of mine. 

There was so much she wanted to do. She would jump from one swing to the other. As long as Nanny and Pa were near she was okay. Her eyes were so big to all she could do, but fear held her back. Each time she came out to visit she looked upon her swing as if it were brand new. Excitement just travels with Peyton. In everything she does it's as though she is enjoying it for the very first time.  Each time she came out she would sit on the swing of her choice and say, "Push me, Nanny." I would begin to push and she would immediately say, "I'm done." She would giddily move to something else. Who doesn't love the teeter totter? Peyton loves the idea of the teeter-totter, but again, she only wanted to go so high. Once she reached her limit she was done. 

Over the weekend Peyton came to visit. She spied her swing-set from the kitchen window and said with giggles, "Nanny, it's my swing. My swing, Nanny. Let's go!" I figured we would only be outside for a little while before she was done, but something happened. She sat upon her swing and said, "Push me, Nanny", only this time, she wanted to go higher. Her fears had dissipated. I spent over two hours outside with this little one pushing her as she giggled with joy. 

I began thinking how many times I have said to the Lord, "Push me, Lord. Push me. I want to go higher", only to want to stop as soon as my fears reached a height of I'm done. Our fears can keep us grounded into a season of contentment. Not the kind of contentment that leads to a life abundant, but the kind that keeps us from exploring all God has for us. Contentment can lead to..well..nothing. Why do we settle when God has so much more for us? 

Just think if Peyton continued to go outside and just sit on her swing, never experiencing the joys that it holds. In her contentment she would miss out on all that awaited her. Just one push. That was enough. But next time on the swing she went a little higher. She needed to feel security. She needed to know that Nanny was near. She needed to know it was okay if she fell. Isn't that what we all need, to feel God near? To know He will catch us if we fall? To know that we can soar without fear is trusting God with the push.

I do the same thing in my walk. I ask the Lord to push me higher, only to remain still in fear. I'm afraid I will fail. I don't want to fall. I don't want to disappoint. It isn't that I have no faith or that I need more faith. I have ALL the faith I need. Just as Peyton, I need to grow into my faith. It happens little by little. As long as we are willing, God is willing to push us gently until we are ready to take that big leap off the swing. 

Remember leaping off the swing once you learned to go high? I would watch other kids leap off and want to join in so badly, but my fears kept me in my seat. It wasn't too long that I too was jumping off the swing. Even today I love to swing. 

Once we learn to trust there is nothing that can hold us back. 

Faith and trust grows laughter and joy. 

Don't leave the swing empty. Hop on in hope. Enjoy and see just how high you can go. Amazingly we are already equipped with everything we need for our journey. The only thing we need to do is leave the fear behind. 

"...being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

"Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand." 2 Corinthians 10:15b

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14

"Be strong and brave, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you." 1 Chronicles 28:20a

"Wounded by God's People", written by Anne Graham Lotz

Every once in a while I am blessed to review a book that I know the Lord has sent my way for a purpose. Anne Graham Lotz has penned another blessed book, "Wounded by God's People". When I seen this book for review I accepted it graciously. The cover and title caught my attention. When it arrived I tore that brown paper off and began reading. I found the words found in the foreword by Beth Moore to be direct and bold, but filled with grace. 

"Discovering How God's Love Heals Our Hearts", is exactly what these pages gift us with. Anne doesn't throw the church under the bus. She has brought us a personal and touching story that every person can relate to. Whether you have been wounded or have been the wounder. We are people. We are sinners. She realizes the church is not God. The people of God may not always represent God in the way we should, but our response to those wounds inflicted can be. Wounds touch every family in one way or another. 

Anne shares personal wounds. Her words are not to stir anger in the church, but to bring healing. I love her openness. This is a subject many don't want to talk about. Wounded people wound people. Anne touches on every subject. Not only has she been wounded, but she too has been the wounder. She is transparent and so honest in these pages. It's like your having coffee with Anne. This book is inviting and brings hope. 

I must tell you that I have been wounded. Those wounds have been deep. I have forgiven, but those wounds rise up every now and then, causing even more pain. Tears dropped on these pages. This is a book for every wounded person. Maybe you haven't been wounded. This book is for you too. It's a book for everyone. Pastors, Sunday school teachers, leaders. If you have a relationship with Christ this is a must read. If you have never spent time with Jesus this book will not only guide you to a healing a heart, but in finding the healing grace of our Savior. 

Anne brings us the story of Hagar. I have read of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, many times, but Anne brought out aspects of Hager that I never realized before. She too shed a new light on Sarah and Abraham. Let's just say she brought the story of Hagar to life for me in such a new way I was able to relate to her in ways like never before. These are not just great words of wisdom from Anne. These are words of a wounded soul who found healing, forgiveness and grace. 

This book was a gift from Zondervan for sharing my review with you. 

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the president and CEO of AnGeL Ministries, a nonprofit organization that undergirds her efforts to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through his Word. Anne launched her revival ministry in 2000 and has spoken on seven continents, in more than twenty foreign countries, proclaiming the Word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and prisons. She is also the award-winning author of ten books, including her most recent, The Magnificent Obsession.


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