Monday, December 30, 2013

My Defining Dash

Today is my birthday. Forty-seven candles to top my cake. This has been a defining year for me. Forty-six has probably brought me to ponder more than any other year. My dad died at the age of forty-six. I was nineteen. Nineteen and green as could be. At nineteen, forty-six seems pretty old. You know, forty-six is young. To realize that my dad was such a such young man when his life on this earth ended is powerful for me. It is a reminder that it's not the year I was born that is important. 1966. Nor is it the date when I breathe my last breath. It's the dash in between that counts. 

I have to be honest and tell you that this entire year of forty-six has made me wonder if I would reach forty-seven. I have now outlived my dad. His birthday was in December as well. He loved birthdays and Christmas. He loved celebrating. Put him in a bass boat and he was one happy man. He learned at forty-five that lung cancer would take his life. Chemo would only give him a few more months. My dad bought a bike. He got on that bike every day and road for miles through the country. I can only imagine what his thoughts held as he rode through the country and over the railroad tracks. That is where he would turn around and head home. It's there on those tracks that I saw him riding as I was on my way home from work. I wanted him to put his bike in the truck and let me take him home. He only smiled and said, "I'm gonna ride longer, Rob. I will be home later." He chose to live in the moment. 

Everyone knew my dad was going to die. Everyone except me that is. I remember when summer came that year. I was sitting next to my dad on our picnic table as he ran his hand through his hair. His hair was in his hand. He looked at me and said, "Rob, I won't be here this time next year." I was nineteen and never imagined my life without my dad. It was inconceivable to me. I refused to believe it. I looked at him and said, "Dad, you will always be here." That April after Easter Sunday he died. 

So, see this has been a defining year for me. Forty-six was a year I seen my dad live with courage and dignity. He fought to live. I don't want to look back on my life and wish I would have fought to live. I want to live today. I want to experience life in it's most precious form. 

It's living and not looking back with regret. It's not wishing away my today for a greater tomorrow. It's taking the moment and embracing everything it holds. It's not taking tomorrow for granted or holding on to yesterday. It is taking every single minute and using it up. It's realizing the possibilities when all seems bleak. It's seeing the opportunities in the smallest of moments. It's not complaining, but expressing gratitude. 

It's loving who I am. It's growing into the woman God has created me to be. I want to experience forty-seven and all it holds. I want to take forty-seven and climb mountains and leap for the tallest buildings. I want to stretch myself. Go beyond my greatest fears and allow nothing to hold me back. 

My dad didn't experience forty-seven. I want to do more than just wake up each morning. I want to experience living. I want to enjoy my forty-seven! I want to make an impact. I want to enjoy life. I want to live a passionate life mixed with compassion and grace. I want to share the Lord in everything I do. Yes, I wanna live in such a way that when others look at me they say, "Yeah, I want what that girl has!" 

I want to think before I speak. I want everything I write to be powerful and have lasting meaning. From the first cup of coffee in the morning to the moment I slip into my pajamas and lay my head to rest I want each moment to be rich with love and purpose.

I want my life to speak that I was a Jesus girl. I want others to see my life and say, "Jesus looked good on her." I want my life to be more than myself. I want my actions to speak louder than my intentions. Yes, I want to soak up life and laugh louder. I want to use up everything the Lord has given me. 

As I look back upon my life there are moments I didn't think I would make it through. But by the grace of God here I am today to celebrate forty-seven. Don't wish for tomorrow without living today. Let go of yesterday and so you can embrace all today holds. Accept who you. See the beauty that you hold within you. Living takes courage. Don't wait for your life happen. Live it today! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Into The Free by Julie Cantrell

"Into The Free", is a book that left me wanting more. This novel is exceptional in every way. Julie Cantrell is a new author for me. I am now reading the second book in the series, "When Mountains Move". This book takes you on a journey beginning the year of March 1936. The depression has hit everyone hard. Mississippi is where we find the main character Millie Reynolds.

Julie's writing is superb. The detail she shares and how her words flow invites the reader to join her along the journey. This is a book that will bring you to experience every emotion.

The characters are real and each carries a burden of the past. Secrets haunt the soul. Each are wanting to leave the past behind and experience life in the present but as we see that is easier said then done.

Millie is full of life and promise. She imagines a world different of her own reality. She yearns for family and love. What I love about her is the fact that she isn't giving up on hope.This is her faith journey. She knows God is real, but just maybe He has forgotten about her. As we see she finds that Jesus is more than real. He has been present in her life all along. He catches her when she falls and picks her up when she stumbles. She learns she carries a strength beyond her own.

I must tell you this is the best book I have read all year. This is more than a novel. In reading you can see that Julie poured her heart and soul into this creation of beauty. Julie connects each character with purpose and plan. Each life having meaning beyond what they are able to see with their own eyes.This is a gripping novel. Julie touches on many issues that are deep within each character.

One aspect that I love is that Millie finds her voice. She continues to grow. Each time she is knocked down she gets back up again. She is refusing to be in fear of life. She wants to embrace life, but she questions the good of people. Trusting is difficult for Millie. Loss has touched her life at such a young age. But with each step Millie learns more and more about her self and the God she has questioned.

We clearly see that God uses ordinary people for extraordinary things. This novel is a canvas for so many life lessons. I have loved traveling this journey with Millie. This is one novel that will not disappoint you. I couldn't wait until each night when I could simply curl up and spend time in Mississippi with Millie.

Millie's life is reality for many during this time. It was as though I was standing in the kitchen as Millie's father beat her mama. I was nestled up high in the tree while she was dreaming deep into another world. Each and every moment of this story was sheer beauty. If your looking for a winter read choose this novel. Into The Free is a book that brings us to feel compassion. I wanted to bring Millie home with me. I hated to see her go through so much as such a young age. But the Lord has more in store for Millie. She made it through the fire by the grace of God. He places people in Millie's life that bring her to the point that she sees Jesus for who He is. Her Redeemer.

Good and evil battle throughout this novel. Millie questions everything. There are times she finds the answer and others she must learn to trust the Lord. I encourage you to watch the trailer below and take a peek at Julie's site. 

This book was a gift from David C. Cook for sharing my review with you. 

Learn more about Julie Cantrell by visiting her site

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Superman Kind of Faith

What kind of faith do you have? Take a peek at my two grandchildren. See the look of wonderment in their eyes? Jack looks as if all he has to is dream and he could take off any minute. Peyton with her arm shields thinks that she can battle any fierce ugly that comes her way. 

"In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one." Ephesians 5:16

They believe. They trust. They wonder. Faith is a journey. It's an arms stretched out and ready to fly kind of faith. It's a I believe everything is possible kind of faith. It can bring us to soar high. Faith can shout to the world or can be quiet in the deep of a moment. 

"Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Faith takes us from the impossible to the possible. It brings us from despair to peace. Superheros don't walk in fear. They are your normal everyday people who believe in something much greater than themselves. They know their powers are not their own. They do the impossible and the world says, "How did they do that?" 

"Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God's throne." Hebrews 12:1-2

What's your superpower? You walk with a gift. The Holy Spirit moves in us and throughout us. We are never without Him. Where we go He goes. Where He leads we follow. He covers us with protection and fills us with power. 

"In Him we were also made His inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation-in Him when you believed-were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit." Ephesians 1:11-13

Think your not a superhero? Don't let doubt stand in your way. No matter the circumstance you face today you can walk with your head held high. You have One who goes before you. He has made a way for you. He has given you everything you need for the battle. Your power lies within you. Deep within your soul. Say His name and He is there with you. 

"Now may the God of peace, who brought up from he dead our Lord Jesus-the great Shepherd of the sheep-with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

Superheros carry their faith everywhere they go. They know they could be called upon in the next moment to move and use the power given them for the glory of God. They walk in confidence. Not in themselves, but in the One who has called them to be who they are in the world before them.

"Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong. Your every action must be done with love." 1 Corinthians 16:13

Be a superhero today. Have your cape ready and your shields up! Be ready to battle. Be encouraged to love beyond yourself. Be prepared in faith. It is that faith that will carry you through and bring you to a place of unexpected everything.

"Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil." Ephesians 6:10-11

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

This week I have been blessed with new authors and now I can add Carrie Turansky to my favorites list. You must check out her website. It is simply beautiful.

Are you like me and awaiting for the next season of Downton Abbey to begin? Well, get ready, this book will take you on a similar journey into the Edwardian time period. England in the 1900s is fascinating. Through Carrie's penned words we travel to England for a close up view.

Her writing style is so descriptive you are able to see the scene before you. The characters have an unforgettable quality. I was swept away in this beautiful story.

This is one of those reads that I was just able to sit back with coffee in hand and take my time. I must admit once I began reading I couldn't stop. Everything else was put on hold. Beautiful in every way.

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

Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of nearly a dozen novels and novellas, including Snowflake Sweethearts and Along Came Love. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award and the International Digital Award. She lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, counselor and the author of several parenting books.

Visit Carrie Turansky at her website for more information: 

The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls

I love when I have finished a book and then must ponder just how I'm going to write the review. There is so much to share about this brilliantly penned novel. 

William Sirls is a new author for me. I've seen his previous book, "The Reason", for review, but passed it up. I now know I must grab it up for my winter reads. "The Sinners' Garden" will hook you in the prologue. I couldn't read it fast enough. In the prologue we are introduced to the characters. It's real and raw and blurred my vision as tears escaped. 

I must tell you that it was the cover of this book that captured my attention. Beautiful. Once I read the title I had to know more. I encourage you to check out William Sirls website. His story will bless you. 

After being so touched by the prologue the continuing chapters elevate the senses. This isn't just an ordinary work. Sirls is spectacular as he spins a poetically magical work of art. Everything in this story has meaning. He leads the reader to deeply know and understand the characters. This was an unexpected surprise for me. I truly enjoyed this book. I love when a novel takes me to another place and time. This one does even more. It takes you on a journey and as you close the last page you have been blessed with life lessons that lead us right to the Savior. 

This is one book you will not soon forget and one to share with your reading buddies.  

"The Sinners' Garden" was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

William Sirls Once a senior vice president in a large investment firm, William Sirls was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. The Sinners' Garden is his second novel. His first novel, The Reason, was published in 2012. William makes his home in southern Michigan and you can reach him at

Unwilling Warrior by Andrea Boeshaar

If the beautiful cover of, "Unwilling Warrior", doesn't grab your attention the first chapter will. 

Andrea Boeshaar is a new author for me. I can tell you I hope to read more of her work. This was an unputdownable for me. Andrea transported me back in time to New Orleans in the of 186. The Civil War is taking place. All is uncertain and we see the unexpected happen. 

This story moved me. It flowed so natural. The story line held my attention. I can honestly say that my heart was stirred as I read these beautifully penned words. The characters are rich with personality. 

This is a period that I am always excited to read about and Andrea did a wonderful job at making me feel as though I was right there with the characters. Although this is listed as romance I would say there is a bit of suspense here too. If your searching for a great winter collection I would suggest Andrea Boeshaar. I can't wait to read more of her work. 

This is book one in her, "Seasons of Redemption" series. This book was published in 2010. You can now purchase the next three books that follow in this series. "Uncertain Heart", and "Unexpected Love", along with, "Undaunted Faith". 

Andrea Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach; a popular speaker at writers' conferences, workshops, and women's groups and the author of 30 published novels and novellas. 

This book was a gift from Realms/Charisma Publishing for sharing my review with my readers. 

Take a peek at Andrea's website for more information on Andrea and her work.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Maybe We're Not So Different After All

Have you ever wondered how two people sitting in the same pew could have such totally different lives? Two women, both married, both have children and both attend the same church. What could be the difference? 

One walks in church with a smile. She greets everyone with a bright hello. The other remains silent. She is holding her Bible tight to her chest. As the woman with a smile greets all she is praying silently that no one asks her how she is doing, while the woman being silent is hoping someone will notice.

Two women facing each day with fear and doubt. While one tries to hide it all, the other tries so hard to just get someone to notice her pain. But no one does. If they do, they say nothing. They just pass by.

We all have those silent fears that scatter our thoughts and jumble our emotions. There are days we wake and all is grand. Yet we too are touched by life shattering days. We can feel the weight of the world on our  shoulders. We feel pain that rips at our heart. Anger that clouds our vision is lies ready to blow just below the surface. And those regrets that keeps us from seeing the possibilities of tomorrow are at every turn.

Some women have a cheering section. They have a prayer circle. Friends who encourage and inspire. Bringing out the best of one another. Others are lonely.  They feel left out as they just don't fit in at all. For some women it's easy to make friends and find that circle that surrounds you. For other women, it's not so easy. It's hard to open up after you have been hurt. Will you be judged? Will others laugh at you? You might just be shunned right out of that pew and never want to enter in again.

When we have a cheering section around us life is easier. We embrace life with confidence. When you have women surround you in prayer it makes you feel valued. But for many women that just isn't so. If you don't fit the mold you are often shunned. Some women even feel forgotten. They are already so hard on themselves. But when they don't get the love they need from others they go into complete hiding. They build a wall around themselves. They try to keep out the possibility of being hurt again. 

Pain is very real for women. Each of us have our own separate issues. We hate ourselves. We hate how we look. We hate the mistakes we have made. We feel as though we just can't get it right. We try our best to work hard and keep up, but there is just so much to do, how will we ever get it all done?

As we sit in our pew we look around and we see the circle of women and how close they are. They help one another. They call and are always in contact. They have lunch and plan gatherings together. Here are two women who don't have that. As one is trying to reach out, most just say hello and keep walking. The other woman is quiet so they just tend to leave her alone thinking she doesn't want to be bothered, all the while she is screaming inside for someone to just notice her.

I think many times we do see. We see these women very clearly. We just don't want to get involved. I mean after all, don't we have enough problems on our own without inviting more into our lives? We too, think that someone else will help them. Is it really our job to reach out?

We get so self absorbed with ourselves that we don't have time for others. We can often say to another, "Well, I didn't know that was going on with you". Goodness, when was the last time you really asked someone how they were doing and meant it? Oh sure, we do it all the time in passing. We can be in the store and say, "Hi Marsha, how are you doing?", and before they even begin to answer we say, "Well, I'm late, maybe we can chat soon when things slow down. Have a great day".

Have you seen these women? Maybe you are one of these women. It's so hard, isn't it? Here is a beautiful quote I love from Emily P. Freeman. 

"I long for someone to be willing to ask me questions, not for the sake of knowing the answer, but for the delight of knowing me." 
Emily P. Freeman

These words are so true. I don't want someone asking me questions just to know the answers. I want someone to speak to me because they sincerely care. Because they want to get to know me as a person. I want to be valued and treasured. Isn't this really what we all want? Deserve? We are called to love our neighbor as our self. 

"The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31

We need to be connected with women in our communities. To live Jesus means to be His hands and feet. No more just asking in passing, "Hey, how are you doing?" We need to actually stop and make time. Yes, make time. Give ourselves to others. Be a listener for a friend. Lift one another in prayer. 

I know we usually are drawn to others that we find similar to ourselves. Women who have things in common with us. But, just what if we got out of our circle and thought out of the box and approached women unlike us at all? Don't you think the impact would be great? Reaching beyond barriers and touching hearts of women should be a priority for all of us. 

We never want women to feel like they don't belong. We need to embrace women around us with love and tenderness. We may just realize we have more in common than ever imagined. We each have a story. We can impact the lives around us by reaching out. We can learn lessons of value from not only older women, but younger women alike. When we open our heart God does something powerful. He loves through us. 

We were created to love. We long for relationships. As women we need to empower one another. Never allowing another women to feel as though she is less or has nothing of value to offer. You may be that women who is confident and ready to reach out at all times. You may be that women who finds herself insecure and holding back. Reach beyond what your able to give and trust the Lord to move through you. However small of contribution you think you can make, God sees something far greater. In the smallest gesture miracles happen. 

"The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman."
Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What Are You Chasing?

Even today when I see the sky striped white I look up to see the plane and wonder just where it's going. I often dream of it heading to Paris. I picture those on board and wonder what their lives are like. In the next moment I dream big. I ponder just how I would feel on board and flying off to Ireland. I'm a ground girl. I have never flown. So, in my wonderment I travel with others as I see them escaping through the blue. 

I've never been one to wish I was someone else. Jealousy has never been something I've had to fight. But I do dream. Maybe just to live in someone else's shoes for a day. Sometimes I ponder just like everyone else and think what life would be sixty flights up. I love sky high buildings. You know, those that make you wabble as you look up. I wonder what it must be like to live in a big city apartment looking down onto the green grass of the park. Do you wonder? Do you wonder if those who live sixty flights up have a better life? 

We dream of being someone else. Living somewhere new. Experiencing life in a different way. Somehow we allow ourselves to think that other people don't have troubles. Heartache doesn't touch them. We envy those who have life easier. Some of us seem to struggle more than others. But is that fair? In a world filled with sinners we are all in need of the same thing. Salvation. Some live in the grace of God, while others chase the world. 

It doesn't matter if you live on the first floor or sixty flights up heartache touches everyone. We all feel loss. Friendships end. Loved ones die. Jobs are canceled. Cancer strikes. Our children battle war. Family quarrels. Marriages see divorce. We always think that we are the only people going through trial. It just isn't so. As one family embraces their newborn daughter another family is saying good-bye to their son. Crashes happen and before we know it we hear the news that our friend has died. This is life. It's real for all of us. 

There isn't anything wrong with dreaming big, but when we begin wishing we were someone else, let's think about that. We see our friend who is soaring high. Everything is going wonderful for her. Money in the bank. (I mean, don't we all think money would make life easier?) She is married to a husband most women only dream of having. Three perfect children. From where we sit they literally look perfect. They are all in college. Graduating with honors. Careers a head of them. One is a doctor. Another is a journalist. And the youngest is heading off to New York to be a designer. A home of perfection. We dream of being her. 

If only my life could be like hers. Here I  am driving an old model car. A small home in the country. My husband was just laid off. My mother is in the hospital. The list could go on and on. But then I hear the news. Jessica was just diagnosed with breast cancer. The same friend I wish my life could portray now has cancer. I call her. She tells me that it is so advanced there is nothing they can do. 

Do I still wish for her life? Do I still envy all she has? No. I would rather be in my small country home than hear the news that cancer will take my life. Be careful what you wish for. Be careful with envy. Just because another has more doesn't mean they have less trial. In fact, the stuff of this world is just that. Stuff. Nothing more and nothing less. We didn't enter this world with high rolling salaries and a penthouse filled with friends. We won't leave this world with all the stuff either. We will leave just as we came. Hopefully, we will leave knowing our Savior. Isn't that what is most important? Without Him we have nothing. With Him we have everything. 

We need to stop wishing we were someone else. Enjoy who you are. Embrace who God has created you to be. Dream big, but dream of who God has called you to be. Looking at someone else's life with envy will not get us to who we are to be. We will just spend our time with what ifs and if onlys. Life is not without trial. Too often we can't see the sweet blessings in front of us because we are too focused on living the life of another. 

When we chase the life of another we lose the direction the Lord has intended for us to follow. Through the blessings and trials that touch our life God is wanting one thing of us. Our heart. 

Be present when you dream big and listen for the Lord's guidance. When we spend all our time looking down upon our life we are missing the point. Don't wallow in pity. Strive for more. Not more stuff, but more life. Life abundant is found in the most unexpected places. Chase after God and you will find a life lived extraordinary. 

"Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5

“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” 
C.S Lewis

“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.” 
C.S Lewis

What's In Your Cup?

As I was grabbing for a cup to pour a late night cup of coffee my mind began pouring thoughts in my heart. I realized this had become a movement that was so natural I didn't even think about it any more. I have only been drinking coffee for a couple of years. It's something that I greatly enjoy. There is something special about sharing coffee with my husband. It's a tender moment of us coming together to chat about anything and everything or to just sit quiet next to one another in thought. 

But as I was pouring into my cup it came to me just how often I go through the motions without thought. Without care. Without a sweetness of joy. 

I no longer just want to pour my morning coffee. I want to smell the fresh beans. I want to take a moment and enjoy grabbing my favorite cup. As I pour coffee for my husband I want to settle in for a sweet time. To see his smile. To hear him say, "Thanks", as I cuddle in next to him. I want to hear every word he shares. 

How could pouring into my cup bring me such new thoughts? I have a Savior who wants me to enjoy life. He wants me to savor each moment. Good or bad, easy or difficult. I am to take away from each movement something that is hidden away just for those who want to live in the moment. This kind of joy can't be seen in a hurried morning. 

As I place my dishes in the sink and wash over the sweet potatoes still stuck I don't want to rush. This is a time for me to feel the warmth of the water. To remember Jesus washes me. Every moment is priceless. Each moment can bring us such sweetness like never before if we just stop rushing and ponder. 

I see my granddaughter and grandson as they play outdoors. They notice everything from the smallest ladybug to the biggest tree in the yard. They see their swing in the backyard like it's the first time every time. When does our wonder leave us? More importantly, why do we allow it to leave? We need wonder. Wonder brings us to worship. 

I no longer want to go through the motions. I hear the Lord speak and say, "Notice Me". He is in everything. Everything points to our Savior. I can worship as I pour my coffee. As I sit on the couch and watch the snow fall I can worship in wonderment of the beauty before my eyes. 

I want to notice the big and small. I don't want to just live for the next moment or what big plans I have on Saturday night. I want to live in my Monday morning. I want to soak up goodness as I change the quilts on the beds, as I clean the wood floors, as I make lunch. I want nothing to go to waste. We wait for Sunday to attend church. Why? We can attend church every moment of our day. Church is worship. Church is living Jesus. We allow our moments to pass by without thought. 

We pass by people without looking them in the eye. We no longer greet people with a smile. How many opportunities to bless others do we allow to pass us by? We live hurried lives. We move through our day with an attitude that if we don't get everything checked off our list the day is not productive. There is success in stillness. 

See, I don't want to get to the end of my life and look back wishing I would have noticed more and loved more. I want to soak in every moment. I want to feel. How often do we go through our day completely numb to everything around us? 

When we live in the moment we worship in a new way. We are present. We show up with gratitude and a humble heart, awaiting God to pour into us. This is the moment I want to live in. So, I ask the question, "What's in your cup?" 

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.” 
Martha Graham

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Heart Hurts

I've been quiet in my writing. My heart has been going through a transition. We are always changing aren't we? Although we don't always realize the change that is occurring until something happens that totally sets us off track. October 31st we had to have our little Daisy put down. Those words still don't sit well within me. I want to spit them out and start again. Go back somehow and have a different outcome. She was our little Dachshund. Daisy was eight years old. She had suffered from back issues for the last three years. We knew this day would come, but you pet lovers out there know that nothing prepares you for that moment. 

I have felt such a loss. She was my buddy. Especially the last three years. She was never away from my side. She was so smart and brave. Funny and filled with personality. She was my study buddy, my writing buddy, and my late night friend. Since she had injured her back we babied her and was gentle with her. Carrying her outdoors. Never allowing her to jump. We were cautious and nervous awaiting the next time she hurt her back, but always hoping that day never came. 

I began sharing with friends just how much my heart was hurting. What I heard from friends was that I was mourning Daisy and it would take time. I can be honest with you and tell you I just wish she was here now. I am carrying such guilt. I have never had to put a dog down before. I pray this is my last time. She trusted me. She looked to me to care for her and at times the tears roll and I feel as though I let her down. Did I take the cowards way out? At the time I didn't think so. I could see how much pain she was in and I knew I never wanted to see her that way again. Over the last few years I would sit with her for six to eight weeks as she recovered. Keeping her still. Which if you knew Daisy was impossible. She was such a people lover. She was so excited when someone came through the door. She greeted everyone with such love. 

She came into my life eight years ago during a very dark time in my life. Life had thrown me for a loop and I didn't want to face tomorrow. As my husband called me into our bedroom one evening to watch television I stopped at the door. I couldn't enter. I knew I didn't want to. I was facing depression head on and I knew where our gun was. It was a thought that came to my mind. I knew I would never do it. I had too much to live for and would never leave my family like that. But even the thought scared me and I didn't want to face my fears. I screamed out to God during that time in my life. I didn't know how our family could be going through such disheartening times. I dropped to my knees that evening and my husband lifted me up and allowed me to just break in his arms. 

That weekend my husband and son came through the door with smiles. My Jake said, "Mom, are you ready? Close your eyes." In my open hands my son placed Daisy. If there was ever a divine purpose for a pup, Daisy was that gift from heaven. I smiled again. I giggled and even though life around us was falling apart she was there loving me through it. So, you see, Daisy wasn't just a dog. That really hurts when people say that. She was much more than a dog. She was my friend. She never failed me. She was there and she always knew when a migraine was about to hit me. During those days I would be sick she never left my side. And here I am without her. My heart hurts. 

We are blessed to have the most wonderful vet we could ever ask for. On the evening I called him he came to our home. My husband was with Daisy. I couldn't. I laid beside her and told her how much I loved her and just how proud I was of her. I told her everything from my heart. My husband was crying. He knew my heart wouldn't be able to take what was about to come. I traveled to my mom's home and she sat with me and cried. 

I returned home that evening and when I walked through the door I went to Daisy's pallet. Oh, how she loved her fuzzy blankets. I picked up her favorite and noticed that half of it was missing. I turned to my husband and said, "What has happened to Daisy's blanket?" He broke and could barely get the words out. "That was her favorite blanket and I buried her in it." Here is my big and tough husband breaking for the loss of a pup he loved so dearly. 

Daisy will never be replaced. No pup will ever compare to our sweet Daisy. I'm not sure I will ever be ready to have a pup again. Maybe some day, but through sharing with friends I realize more than ever how important it is to take time to grieve. To remember our sweet times together and to embrace what my heart is feeling. 

A friend texted me a few nights ago and said, "How are ya doing, Rob? I mean, really, how are you doing?" It is such a gift to have friends who know me so very well. I shared with her my struggles and just what I have been pondering. 

Almost two years ago this month was our last visit to our home church of twenty years. Church wounds hurt deeply. I have carried such anger and hurt. I have felt like my presence there never mattered at all. We haven't been visited by anyone in our church to ask us why we haven't been there. I can tell you with everything in my heart that I now know I too have been grieving our home church. We have visited many churches, but have yet to find one that we feel the Lord's calling. I am now understanding grieving takes time. Until I am able to fully grieve and let go of every hurt and forgive I can never truly find where the Lord is calling. Just maybe that is why I haven't felt His calling to join another church. He is wanting me to take time. I have many emotions to work through. I lay it all at the feet of Christ, but then something will happen and I pick it all right back up again. Healing takes time. We aren't suppose to rush through what our heart is feeling. 

I have been opening up more and more to the Lord. I can tell you once you have been hurt it is hard to trust again. I have lost friendships that I thought would last a lifetime. Friendships with women I trusted and loved as sisters. I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. When we face loss, and there are many kinds of loss, we must take time to work through our emotions. 

This month I will turn forty-seven. My dad passed from this life to the next when he was forty-six years old. The same age I am today. He died when I was nineteen. When my dad died my entire world was broken. You never get over the loss of a parent. All those people that said, "It will just take time", were lying. Time doesn't heal that wound. But what time does is give you new perspective. Time allows you to grow. Life continues and I know the greatest gift I could give to my dad would be to live my life to the fullest. Now that I am the same age as my father it has hit me even harder. I now understand more than ever just how young he was. I understand so much more that I could have never understood at nineteen. 

This is why I have been more quiet than usual. The words are there to share with you, but my heart has just been going through so much and I have come to understand that when my heart is hurting I just need to spend time with my Lord. I need to soak in all of Him and allow my heart to listen to all He has to share with me. 

Friends, don't be afraid of grieving. There is no right way or wrong way. We all grieve loss. It could be the loss of a job. Moving to a new home and leaving the home you raised your children in. Which brings me to another emotion I have been touched with. The empty nest. Our youngest son has been staying with our youngest daughter. They have such a wonderful relationship. Oh, all of his things are still here at home, but he is missing. I think leaving home is a process for him too. I don't think it's anything he wants to do too quickly. Just a few nights ago he texted me and said, "Mom, I'm so sorry I'm not there with you. I feel so bad." I am blessed to have Jacob as a son. Oh, he worries about his momma, but his momma wants him to soar. I know he is getting ready to fly and when he takes off there is nothing going to hold him back. God has huge things planned for him. But the house is quiet now. His music can't be heard all through the house. His banjo isn't playing the same tune he loves over and over again. Dirty clothes are not scattered and his boots are not stacked by the front door. 

Life is forever changing and what I'm learning is that if I am not fully present I am going to miss out on great blessings. Grieving has it's purpose. It allows us to work through issues that blindside us. Through all of this I am learning to wait upon the Lord. He has been moving greatly in me. Guiding me and teaching me lessons I could have not learned any other way. I am depending on Him like never before in my life. 

In our journey there is nothing that the Lord cannot use to bring glory to His name. Nothing goes wasted with our Jesus. He knows exactly what He is doing. From ash He brings beauty. From grieving He brings growth. From growth we become more like Him and more of who He has created us to be. 

Thank you for allowing me to open up and be transparent with you. If you too are grieving, leave me a message. I would love to pray for you. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls 101 Stories About Friendship for Women of All Ages

Friendships are the headliner for this newest edition to be released by Chicken Soup for the Soul. We meet in the most unexpected places. Our hearts connect as if we have known each other our entire lives. Sometimes we grow up together and have life long friendships. There too are times when we have been waiting our entire life for a friend. Just someone to connect with. Someone to understand. To lean on and to laugh with. Friendships come and go, but friendships are never forgotten. 

Within these pages are story after story of love, laughter and the sweet joys of friendship. Women coming together to support one another. It is special when we can connect with another and find that we have much in common. We form bonds that are lasting. Neighborhood friendships, young and old, across the country friendships. There is nothing like taking an adventure with a girlfriend. Chatting over coffee. Lifting each other up. A tender hug needed. A tear wiped away. 

Sometimes it takes courage to make a friend. Someone must step out and take a chance. Here in, "Just Us Girls", you will be blessed by stories of friendships. They impact our lives in many ways. They help to give courage when needed. Comfort in times of trial. You will find yourself within these pages. You may even find reason to write your own story down and share it with others through the Chicken Soup family. 

I really enjoyed this selection. Heartwarming stories of women coming together through friendship will bring you to be thankful for those special friendships that have touched your life. You will find stories here that are real and powerful. Stories of women giving praise for the gift of friendship in their world. You will be touched by the stories written by these women who have opened their hearts to share the beauty of what a friend means to them. 

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." Flavia Weedn

"Can miles truly separate you from friends...If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there?" Richard Bach

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

The Wall Around Your Heart by Mary DeMuth

Until reading, "The Wall Around Your Heart", I hadn't realized the wall that I have been building. Mary DeMuth is a woman I admire. I admire her for being transparent and being able to take her deepest hurts, give to the Lord, and allow Him to use them to bring healing to others. Mary's writing is elegant as it flows rich with healing. She is genuine and compassionate. Reading this book comes so natural. Mary is inviting and encouraging. 

Every book I have had the pleasure of reading penned by Mary DeMuth has brought great blessings to my heart. She writes from a depth of her soul that brings a sweetness to the reader and makes you feel at home and at ease to be yourself. 

This book is a safe place to uncover the bricks you have been building around your heart. Mary brings us to see the Lord's Prayer in a new way. In reading these paragraphs I share with you, they were powerful to me. In these words I found my heart, hurting and bleeding. 

"Of all the people on this earth who had cause to wall off His heart against those who hurt Him (that would be the entire world), He had cause. And yet He loved people who ignored Him. He interacted with betrayers. He offered grace to those who violated His laws. He dignified outcasts. He engaged Himself in the very world that put Him to death. Jesus is our example of openhearted living, of exhibiting wild love that dared to wash the feet of Judas, who betrayed Him, of reinstating Peter, who denied Him thrice. Jesus, in His divine irresistibility, welcomed all, loved all, endured all." 

"Examine your heart. Has bitterness taken root? Have you walled off your emotions from that person? Do you have a physical reaction when the person's name is mentioned? Or maybe you've had difficulty with a group of people. A Bible study at church? Christian leaders? Your entire family of origin? Think on these people as you read:
Pray like this: 
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May Your kingdom come soon.
May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need, 
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 
And don't let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:9-13)

This is one of those life changing books. You may not be hurting today, but maybe you know someone who is. Hurt may be part of your past and your finding walls around your own heart. This book is for you. If your not hurting today, hurt will touch your life later in years to come. None of us escape hurt. But we can all overcome it. 

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

Mary DeMuth is an author and speaker who loves to help people live uncaged, freedom-infused lives. She is the author of fourteen books, including six novels and her critically acclaimed memoir Thin Places. After church planting in Southern France, Mary, her husband, and their three teenagers now live in a suburb of Dallas. Find out more at


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