Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lone Star Trail (A Morgan Family Series Book 1) by Darlene Franklin

Lone Star Trail is the first book in a six book series. Something I find fascinating is that the books are written by different authors. A series that isn't a must to read in order, but for me, I always feel the need to begin with the first book. 

This was a quick read for me. Darlene gives great insight on what life was like in Texas during the 1800's when life was about settling and calling land your own. This book is about finding your place in an area being settled by many coming from new lands. It is about accepting others and letting go of prejudices

Faith and romance play a part in this novel, but for me I mostly took away lessons of giving people a chance. Not looking at others with anger or resentment just because they are different, but accepting them as they are and possibly learning from them and helping us to become more aware and inviting for others to see Christ in us.

There is a new German movement in Texas. This is something about our history that is quite new to me. I love learning interesting facts and broadening my knowledge of history. Darlene does a wonderful job at allowing us to be a part of the characters portrayed in this first book of the series. 

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

Darlene Franklin is an award-winning author of fourteen books and novellas, two of which have been finalists in American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year contest. Darlene recently returned to cowboy country-Oklahoma! www.darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Just Want To Breathe In Everything With A Jesus Perspective

Sometimes the quiet feels like a graveyard. Until I hear the howl of the wind whipping the leftover leaves up into the air as the seed from the feeders is scattered. We can't see the wind. We don't even know the direction it blows until we step outside and feel it blasting into our face. Sometimes that's how the quiet feels to me. I feel like I can't catch my breath. There is nothing to hear, but I feel everything. My mind wanders as if I'm Alice stuck in a place I simply can't figure out. 

I'm trying to understand what it is I'm chasing. Is it my dream to publish the book I'm working on? Is it something more? I feel stuck in the wind and trying to cross the street with a hand full of papers and just as I think I'm about to make it across the wind picks up and scatters everything in my hands. 

My emotions are all over the place. In everything all I want to do is breathe. I just want to soak in every moment, but in that same mind frame I'm fearful of that moment when everything changes and I long for the quiet. There are times when life seems perfect. I have such a blessed life, but in the mix of things I know there are things missing. 

See, I'm that girl who wants to share Jesus with everyone. I know He has more for me. He wants me to be content in the quiet, but yet when the wind is billowing at a speed in which I cannot keep up He too wants me to feel His peace. 

I have built up walls around me. Walls to keep out the hurt and anger. I have such wounds that have cut deep and it has made me fearful of attending a new church. I don't want to be hurt again, but in that same breath I know that if I don't give room for the hurt there cannot be room for love. I must love without the fear of being hurt. I'm learning to tear down the walls. Today I spent time alone, music playing, me on my knees on our living room rug with hands held high with tears streaming. I let it all go. All those church hurts and the anger of church family who has simply left me standing alone. I prayed for each of those life long friends I thought would grow gray with me that I miss so dearly. Why is it that people wound? We are such selfish beings, always thinking of ourselves at the moment. We hurt others without intention, but knowing we have hurt we simply do nothing. There is no, "I'm sorry", to comfort those wounds. 

I am blessed with the most amazing husband that encourages me through every step. He listens to my dreams and as they grow bigger I feel energized and inspired. But there is Satan. Always Satan to tell us it's not going to happen. He brings up every hurt and stabs the heart once again. There are times I cry simply for my big dreams. I know they haven't come from me, but from my Jesus. I know my calling. I know I am to reach out to women and share my story which belongs to Jesus, for He is the One who has brought me through everything. But there is that fear. It's like each dream is wrapped in fear and as I begin to unwrap there is more paper and more paper and I never get to open the dream. 

I long to be surrounded by others. I am a people kind of girl. I love conversation and the more it encompasses my Jesus the more I love it. I love to study. I would love to have a study in my community. I just want to be around Christian women who want to serve big and live out our calling in a huge way. But in my smallness I wonder if I can. I wonder when and if others will join me. I just want to breathe in the beauty of the dream and expose the reality that Jesus is in everything. 

I want to move when He moves in me. I want to live in such a way that every aspect of my life points to Him. I want to let all the junk go and tell Satan to take a hike. But see, I like to depend on others. I like to depend on others to help me in this journey. Can I be brutally honest? I feel so let down. Jesus is teaching me a lesson I seem to keep stumbling over. People are not perfect and they will let me down time and time again, but He will NEVER leave me or forsake me. 

I have the words. I have the heart. I have the compassion. I just need to know where it is I am suppose to go. Where is this calling taking me? I listen and I don't hear where I am suppose to be. It's confusing. I feel a mess, but if there is anyone who can put me together and make me complete it is my Jesus. 

So, what do I do in all this searching and chasing? I simply stop chasing and allow my heart to catch up with my Jesus. I become still and absorb the quiet. I learn to accept what I cannot understand. I give God room to heal the brokenness within me. I simply say, "Yes, Lord". 

I can't be everything people need me to be. I'm going to make mistakes. Just as I cannot look for others to satisfy me, I have to be okay when I can't be everything for others. I don't want to hide within these walls. I want to experience life to the fullest, but the only way I can do that is to let go and learn to breathe. 

What I'm understanding is that in this quiet that surrounds me Jesus is alive and waiting. He's waiting for me to stop looking for confetti to fall from the sky to create a perfect life around me and totally depend upon Him. He is waiting for me to receive ALL He has for me. I don't have to have all the answers. All I must do is simply trust Him. I must open my hands and give Him everything that I continue to hold tightly to. Unless He has all of me He can't move in me as He desires. 

The bottom line is that I can always run to God. He wants to be my every breath. The more I breathe in of Him the more of Him I'm going to breathe out. In this compound of surrounded walls that I have created He is helping me to see how each brick became to pile upon another and another until the silence filled not only the space around me, but my inner being. I can tell you with every fiber of my being that those walls are crumbling down even I as type the words. He is refining me as I let go and let God. 

I am not lacking anything. He has already given me every single gift He created just for me. He wants to use me for His glory. The winds may blow from all directions. The silence may seem like it will strangle me. But in the broad spectrum of this life of mine God knows which direction He wants me to travel and He will me peace to accept the quiet as a time I can spend with Him. I'm finding pleasure in the quiet. 

How about you, friend? What is it that your chasing? Has something stumped you? Do you feel that there is more and you just don't know which direction to move? Stop running. Stop spinning in circles and simply be. Allow God to quiet all that is screaming in your heart. Write your dreams down and seek Him as to how He is going to make them happen, but until you hear from Him simply be in the life you are living each moment. Move in a new way that brings others to see something different in you. A girl perhaps with a new perspective that only wants to share Jesus through everything she does. Give Him time. He is the One with perfect timing. Until then simply breathe Him in. 

"But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

"The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life." Job 33:4

What I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Men by Julie Gorman

I have to share with you a few of Julie's words that totally blessed me. 

"Julie, quit trying to be Greg's Holy Spirit. Allow me to change in you the things needing change, and allow me to change in Greg the things I desire to change. God's message, through not heard audibly, echoed loudly through my soul. His message resonated within me, I alone am God. I have called you to be Greg's helper (small "h"), not his Holy Spirit." 

Wow! If that were the only thing I read in this book I would walk away with a message my heart needed to hear for years! But there's more. This book is one that every woman needs to read. Every young girl approaching dating age. Every young man who is getting ready to date and for every man who has been married and is still trying to figure it all out. This book is for everyone who will love and be loved.

Julie is totally transparent within these pages. She opens up her life for a world to see just how her Jesus has moved in her life to bring her from the young girl who once searched for affirmation to the woman searching for a fulfilling love in men who were not meant to be her prince.

This book is powerful and poignant. Julie doesn't leave out anything. She lays it all out for us. Words that we have needed to hear. Words that will set us free. Like Julie I didn't hear these words from my mother. I heard words much different. Words that caused me to travel down a road searching for a love to fill me. A love to make me feel important and needed. I had a father that I didn't hear the words, "I love you", from until he was close to his battles end with cancer. I knew he loved me, but my heart so needed to hear those words. There were no hugs or kisses goodnight in my home growing up. I missed valuable lessons on what love is suppose to be by witnessing what it wasn't. Yes, I was that girl with a distorted view of what love was and what I was suppose to do for love.

Julie takes us on a journey to finding ourselves in the arms of Jesus, our Prince, our Daddy, our first Love. She shows us that through Him we find a love that cannot compare. Here are just a few of Julie's words that stirred my heart deeply.

"In spite of growing up n a churchgoing family, promiscuity plagued my teenage years. In my hunt for compassion, I crossed lines I never intended to cross. Each instance diminished my self-worth and lured me into a deeper darkness of isolation and despair. My early twenties compounded my desperation to find love. I was so eager for acceptance that I fell in love with the idea of being in love, marrying the first man who proposed. In my desperation, I settled for someone God never intended." 

"As a single woman, you may compromise your standards to accommodate a relationship. You may occasionally lower your standards and settle for someone God never intended for your life. Why? Because you don't want to be alone? Because your relationship is convenient? Because you need companionship?"

Julie's husband, Greg, shares some powerful words too!!

"I'm not saying you should dumb down what you want from your husband-quite the contrary. Don't "settle". But also take the time to ask God to give you the man of your dreams. None of us are Jesus, but the man God has for you will stretch you and complement you. Wait for him; he's worth it." 

Within these pages we find chapters that speak about the lies we believe. "A Man Will Validate My Worth", "A Man Will Rescue Me", "A Man Will Never Let Me Down", "Men Only Want One Thing", "I Can Change Him", "I Can Control Him", "It's All His Fault", "All Men Are Perverts", "Men Are the Enemy", and "A Man Will Satisfy the Longing of My Soul". 

Julie shares two truths we need to understand. "God Loves You Passionately", and "Men Are Worth Celebrating!". 

One of my favorite aspects of this book are the letters from the Father. We are daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. He has nothing but greatness created for us. Through His Word we see what love is. We are valued through Him, not through men. 

Julie shares scripture and quotes from others that complete these wonderful book. This is one of those books that is set apart from others. I wish I had enough of these books on hand to share with every young woman I know. This is a valuable tool for reaching women with the love of Christ. I encourage you to pick this book up. Julie is that girl you want to share coffee with and through her writing style at times it very much feels as if she is right there with you, opening up her heart, and sharing the love she has found to be true through her Jesus. 

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

Julie Gorman is the founder of For Your Inspiration (FYI), a faith-based organization committed to strengthening the pillars common to every woman's life. She is certified  by Dr. John C. Maxwell as an executive coach, trainer, and speaker, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Central Bible College in Springfield, MO. Julie, a prolific blogger and writer, makes her home in southern Florida with her husband, Greg, and their three children.

Restless by Jennie Allen

There are times we pick up a book and begin turning pages and we feel the Spirit move over us. We realize this book, these words, were created just for us. This is that book for me. There are times I have felt so restless. Wanting to serve, wanting to move, but feeling stuck and in a rut. This isn't what I was made for. I was created for more. I have a purpose. A distinct plan created just for me. 

I want to share some of the phrases I have underlined throughout this book that wrapped around my soul and stirred my heart. 

"He gave us His very self in the person of the Holy Spirit so that we would never be limited to achieve only what is possible on our best day. Dream big, believe big, and dare big during your one and only life on this planet. Impossible is where God starts and miracles are what God does." Christine Caine

"There is a darkness that tries to spread the disease of "be big". Christ whispers the cure to the ego's disease: Decrease so I can increase." Ann Voskamp

"The life that God has set in front of us is exciting, and adventurous, and risky. Sometimes it's even dangerous. And it's going to ask everything of us, because apparently it doesn't care much for our comfort or our happiness or our safety, and yet it is the kingdom that satisfies. It is the gospel that makes us whole and gives us purpose." Jen Hatmaker

"In the quiet, surrounded by everything I thought I'd ever wanted, I felt that everything I'd ever wanted was strangling me. I loved my family, but in the process of making a family I had somehow lost myself. Passions were pushed aside, dreams had trickled away, and the needs of other people outside my family had escaped me." 

"This is a book about discovering ourselves and getting over ourselves all at the same time." 

"This book is about all that lies in our control and how nothing is in our control."

"This is a book about vision and obedience." 

"I want you to dare to believe that God has a vision for how you are to spend your life. Because finding and accomplishing this vision  is quite possibly the greatest responsibility we have as a generation, second only to knowing and loving God." 

"Our creative God has an infinite number of creative plans to make Himself known  through us, His image bearers, so He sent His Spirit to give unique visions to unique people to reach the world in unique and beautiful ways."

"To hide our gifts, or to deny them, or to compare and wish them away is not only taking from yourself; it is taking from God, His church, and a world that needs to see the expression of God you bring. It's the expression He designed you to bring to it." 

"To understand our purposes, we must understand God's ultimate agenda. God is most after His glory. And glory is the visible expression of God's goodness and beauty on this earth. It's how we recognize Him. The ultimate visible expression of God's glory on earth is Jesus. We are to live out the same call. God has chosen to show Himself and His goodness-His glory-through us. And like the millions of pixels that together are displaying Duck Dynasty on my TV right now as my kids are watching in the other room, every one of our unique callings will display God to our world." 

"All journeys have a cost. The path to our purpose here is rarely built comfortably. So are you restless enough to go here? Are you hungry enough for more to do the work?"

"The most inconspicuous tasks usually are building big things we can't see yet." 

I could go on and on sharing the words of this humbly, beautiful woman of God. This is one of those books you grab hold of and find Jesus within. It's a book you pass on to your friends. It's words you share with others to create beauty in this life. 

Jennie Allen is transparent through her penned words. Jesus is alive within this book, within these words. Many times it's a bit hard to do a review on a book. It must be read and reviewed by a certain date. I read through this book for review and will now slow down and read it again. I know in reading it again I will find double blessings. Yes, this book is just that good.  

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

Jennie Allen is a passionate leader following God's call on her life to catalyze this generation to live what they believe. She is the author of Anything and the Bible studies Stuck and Chase, and is the founder and visionary of IF: Gathering. Jennie is married to her best friend, Zac, and they have been blessed with four children, the youngest of whom was adopted from Rwanda. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Big Book of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids 3-in-1 Collection by Rob Elliott

This is a terrific book for all ages. Not just kids love jokes. Maybe I'm just a big kid at heart, but this book is super cute, fun and creative. What a great way to help a child be imaginative in creating their own jokes! 

I giggled my way through this book. Of course, some are corny, but that's what makes most of them enjoyable. Knock knock jokes, riddles and more. This is a 3-in-1 Collection from Rob Elliot. This isn't his first joke book, so you can pretty much guarantee there will be something in these pages to make you smile. Yes, even take you back to yesteryear when your grandparents told you jokes that made you giggle. 

This is a great book to keep on hand for those car rides and doctor visits. All those places where kids get bored a bit easy. Who doesn't love a good, clean joke? I know I do. I shared these jokes with my friends and they got a great giggle. Your kids are going to love sharing these with their friends as well. 

This is definitely a great book that will start your kids off telling their own silly jokes. 

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

Rob Elliott is the author of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for KidsZoolarious Animal Jokes for Kids, and Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids, and has been a publishing professional for more than fifteen years. His three joke books have sold more than 300,000 copies. Rob lives in West Michigan, where in his spare time he enjoys laughing out loud with his wife and four children.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman

If you have yet to read a book penned by Julie Lessman you are missing out on a great read. Julie is gifted with creating characters with charm and spunk. Something about her writing that I admire greatly is the dialog between the characters. It allows us to feel engaged throughout the story. 

Her storytelling is meaningful and flows with great spirit. Here we are again in San Francisco. Romance is in the air and happens in perfect timing once again as it always does with Julie's novels, but these two characters, Allison McClare and Nick Barone (with a long e lol), are not looking for love. Well, at least not in each other. They can't stand each other. That makes for a great story line, because it gives us room to see just what God can do with these two fun characters. They are both strong and independent. But what both carry that brings about the best in each is the extraordinary love and grace that flows from their lives to the people they love. 

It was such a fun journey watching these two characters connect. I loved every aspect of this book. Julie is the best at romance. She allows the romance to happen naturally. Her writing is never forced. She writes with a graceful hand. 

This is the second book in the series, "The Heart of San Francisco". The first in the series is, "Love at Any Cost". Another great read!! I must tell you that my absolute favorite series from Julie is, "The Wings of Change". But then again, I have loved each and every book penned by this lovely woman. Definitely a pick I can encourage you to add to your book shelf.  

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

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series The recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards, as well as many other accolades, Lessman was chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in theFamily Fiction magazine 2011 and 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. She resides in Missouri with her family. You can contact Julie through her website at www.julielessman.com.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I love when a I receive a book penned by Suzanne Woods Fisher. It doesn't matter which book it is. Every book I have read by her has been beautifully penned and has left me waiting for the next to arrive. Seriously, when you are talking about Amish fiction there isn't another writer like Suzanne Woods Fisher. She is the absolute best. 

"The Calling", is the second book in the series, "The Inn at Eagle Hill". In reading the first book, "The Letters", you don't have to read them in order to be blessed, but it will help you to understand the characters more. 

Suzanne's words seem to flow effortlessly. Her novels are flawless as she does deep research to bring us the best reading possible. In this novel we meet characters that we can connect with on some level. The character I connected with her is Naomi. She has migraines and through those migraines she chooses to see beyond and tap into the gifts of God by serving others and calling upon Him. I suffer from chronic migraines so I could totally relate to her. 

There is a calling on every character in this novel. Yes, there is a woman who is coming to visit Eagle Hill for a week who is a youth pastor and has just been released from her duties at the church, but her calling as she finds reaches far beyond the walls of a church building. She not only finds her calling, but she becomes friends with Bethany Schrock and guides her into fully understanding her relationship with Jesus. She teaches her to pray about everything and to be personal. This is something new to Bethany and leads her to find her calling. 

This novel also brings us to understand just how secrets take hold and touch everyone in our lives. Doing right isn't always as easy as choosing right from wrong. There are so many life lessons to take away from this novel. This is one of the things I love best about Suzanne. I am sure to walk away from each book with a sense of accomplishment. That I just haven't finished a great book, but I've read something that will help me to grow. 

One of the characters that stands out to me is Edith. Oh, she can seem downright mean at times. Almost hateful, but what most don't see is her sweet and tender side. A side she keeps hidden from most. There are so many characters. One is sure to standout to you. 

Within these pages we find not only secrets, but mental illness and a trunk of hidden bones. What can I take way from this? We all have skeletons we'd like to keep hidden, but when the closet is cleaned there is a new peace. Love, faith, and finding our calling are all part of this novel. Healing and forgiveness are to be found also. Yes, this is one that is filled with not only a great story, but lessons to leave us closer to our calling. 

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

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The LettersThe Calling, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, includingAmish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is also a columnist for Christian Post andCooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stranger Things by Erin Healy

I chose this selection from reading the description. It sounded like an amazing book. The cover caught my eye as did the author, Erin Healy. I had read, "Kiss", that she coauthored with Ted Dekker and truly enjoyed it. So, I was anticipating a great read. 

"Stranger Things", seemed more like a supernatural read for me. I never connected anywhere in the story. I gotta tell you most of the time I remained confused at which direction the story was moving. I didn't connect with the characters on any level. I would read a few chapters and go back and reread them thinking I missed something. 

This is the description that Thomas Nelson gives of this book:

(In the forest’s burned-out hollow, a house of dark secrets also glows with bright promise.
Serena’s career as a high school biology teacher comes to a halt when an angry student makes shocking accusations. Stunned and suspended, Serena retreats to the forest where she usually finds peace of mind. But on this day she encounters a killer and his prisoner—as well as a stranger who dies to save Serena’s life.
The stranger, Christopher, had dedicated his life to rescuing girls from forced prostitution—starting with his sister Amber. They formed a tiny nonprofit organization to protect girls and have been working furiously to bring down John Roman, the powerful criminal who first took Amber and has ruined scores of young women's lives since.
When Christopher’s grieving colleagues suspect Serena of being in league with Roman, her life spirals further out of control. How will she clear her name? Why did this stranger protect her with his life? And what is the meaning of the visions she sees every time she visits the gutted house where he died?)
In reading this description I thought this would be an intriguing read and one that I would be glued to. So, I must say, I am disappointed. It isn't like me not to enjoy some aspect of a book or to at least walk away with a gem of some kind. But this one leaves me stumped. 
This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Erin Healy is the best-selling coauthor of Burn and Kiss (with Ted Dekker) and an award-winning editor for numerous best-selling authors. She has received  wide acclaim for her novels Never Let You Go, The Baker's Wife, House of Mercy, and Afloat. She and her family live in Colorado.

A 'No Matter What' Kind of Faith

Finish this sentence. I will continue to have faith as long as________. I've been there with you. We keep our faith in this neatly drawn out box in which we remain in the safety zone. I noticed this a few years back when I had gone in for my mammogram. I received a letter telling me to make another appointment. I called immediately. I mean, that is no way for a woman to find out that she needs another mammogram. Something was seen, but it was unknown. For every woman out there whether you have received this news or have not, this sends you in shock mode with a fear that is almost explainable. 

I went in for my second mammogram with fear. As I sat waiting there was a woman seated next to me who was going through chemotherapy. A beautiful woman with a brightly covered scarf wrapped delicately over her head. My first thought was, Lord, please no. Not me. Please don't allow this to happen. I watched this beautiful woman and I noticed she sat with such strength. It was as though it flowed through her. Here I sat in my weakness and fear. 

I began to pray, "Lord, I will continue to love You and walk with You no matter what. No matter what is to come, I pray my faith does not waiver, but grows in strength and grace." No matter what. Yes, I wanted that kind of faith. I wanted a faith that took me beyond my safe little box. God is either God and in total control or He isn't. How arrogant of me to pray a prayer that I obviously thought I knew what was best for me more than my Lord and Savior. 

My name was called. After my mammogram I was told to be seated and wait for my results. Fear assaulted me again. I was going to find out my results now while I sat all alone? The brave and courageous woman who had sat next to me was now gone. I continued to pray. But this time I prayed something different. I asked God to give me strength for whatever come and I asked Him to be with me. 

The nurse came in and had my results. She said, "Let's go to my office". Here it was. Why couldn't she just tell me right here. My legs didn't want to move, but something happened. I stood as if someone pulled me up. I could feel a strength that I had not known. I felt my Lord with me. I could feel Him whisper, "I am with you, My daughter. Have faith." 

I began to cry before we ever entered the room. I stopped the nurse and told her, "Please, just share with me here." She stopped and said, "Please, why are you crying? I haven't told you anything yet." I replied, "But my Jesus has." This nurse had tears in her eyes and she told me I was just fine. It was only a shadow. There was nothing for me to fear. I immediately spoke out and said, "Praise Jesus. Thank You for taking me outside my box." The nurse gave me a hug and I left there with a new faith. I was ready to hear the results that would set me on a new course. No matter what is what I told my Savior. For me to praise God for all the good in my life I too must be willing and ready to praise Him for all that touches my life.

My prayers for my children and family have gone something like this. "Lord, please keep them safe. Keep them healthy. Keep all harm, danger, evil, and trouble far from them. Surround them with love, friendship, laughter, and kindness. Lord, bring them to know You more closely. They once walked with You so closely, bring them back and even more so, bring them to have a new relationship with You." That is just a little of the prayers I would say for my children and family. But after my moment in that waiting room things changed. This is not heaven. It isn't meant to be a perfect world. If all is perfect around us would we turn to Jesus? Would we still walk with Him? Change is evident. It is daily. Moment by moment. 

I began praying, "Lord, as today gives new, be with my children at every corner. Give them strength for what is to come. Give them grace in each movement. Through all that touches them today may they shine for You. May they turn to You, Lord, for everything good and wrong. Give them a positive attitude. May they see each obstacle as an opportunity to overcome. Use them for Your glory Lord. Help them to see the true meaning of success in this world. Give them a heart of compassion and one full of forgiveness." 

Comfort is fine. It is safe. But unless we move outside of that comfort zone can this world truly see the Lord moving in us? Fear isn't a sin. God asks us to bring Him our fears. In doing so He replaces those fears with strength and courage. For us to RAWR in this life we must face obstacles that shake us. In facing trials we are not always surrounded by loved ones and friends who support us. Not everyone has a church family that embraces them in love. We must learn to turn to our Savior for every need and trust Him in the circumstances He allows to touch our lives. He will forever remain in control. It is when we surrender and let go that we truly see His glory move in our lives and in the world around us. 

"Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." Hebrews 11:1 

"And 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 proven character, and proven character 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 5:2-5

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Finding My RAWR!

Don't you love those moments in life that stretch us to the absolute point in which we know without a doubt that the strength we just exhibited was not our own? I experienced this last week. Now, I'm not one who is quick to say, "I can't". I am pretty much one determined girl. Some would even say stubborn. But last week put me to the test. 

Here in Missouri our temps plunged below zero. With chill factor we were somewhere in the zone of -35. Even for this winter loving girl that's pretty cold. Bitter cold with winds that cut right through the bundle of clothes we try to put on without somehow suffocating before getting outdoors. 

My hubs had left for Chicago. Another cold destination. But he arrived safely and for that I was giving praise. Only he didn't get to head home on his regular route. He was caught in Chicago and I was here alone with a Red Bone that pretty near outweighs me. With the cold temps I was trying my best to keep everything from freezing including my son's dog. Gunner is an outside dog. He loves being outside. He has a great house filled with tons of straw, but this was a cold we hadn't experienced in years and it was time to bring him in for the next few days. 

This was certainly an adventure. He loved being warm, but he wasn't okay with being indoors. He wanted out and he was going to bellow until he returned there. It was a night of bellowing and on constant guard of a leg lifting that was more like a geyser erupting. Yes, we were awake all night. At five in the morning I figured I might as well just get up and make coffee. Would you believe that it was at five in the morning this dog finally stretched out on my bed of all places and sacked out! 

I downed my coffee before the nose of this dog was on the hunt again. Did I mention the mirror in my bathroom? Gunner apparently fell in love with himself and couldn't stop staring and whining. Just as I would think he was settled in for sleep there he was again even in the dark of the room smack against the mirror in love. 

There is no walking this dog. He walks me. More so, he drags me wherever he wants to go. So, our outings that were every thirty minutes were fun-filled with excitement. I was soon feeling like every muscle in my body had been pulled and replaced. 

Snow. Yes, beautiful snow. Any other time I think I would have sat back in awe of all the snow we received. We had about ten inches, but around our house was drifts much higher. Our driveway was packed with snow up to my knees and higher. 

Our roads were terrible. Not yet treated, but I knew I had to do something with our drive way. If I didn't there was no way my husband could even pull in. Once the highway department got to our country road and bladed it the opening to our drive was higher than I expected. With shovel in hand I walked outside determined, but as I stood there after the snow had fallen, I had no idea as to where to begin shoveling. 

I worked for hours. Oh, I would shovel for thirty minutes or so and come in for a break. Grab a sip of coffee and head back out. I was making progress. But my body was screaming. Everything was hurting, but I wasn't giving up. As I made it to the half way point I looked at all I did and felt a great achievement, but as I looked forward to all I had left, I was beginning to think it was a lost cause. I worked at that snow for a great part of the day until I could do no more. 

The next morning it was a bit warmer. The huge winds had died down and I knew Gunner was okay as long as I continued to check on him throughout the day and night. I warmed with my coffee and began my day filled with tasks, many of which were outside. I grabbed the shovel and headed up to the drive. I can tell you that on this day my attitude was a bit different. I was determined, but I was so tired. My body had been through the ringer. The closer I shoveled to the road I started to become a bit angered. There were many people passing by with a wave or a smile. I can say, many of these people were people that I knew. What would have blessed me would have been for just one person to stop and lend a hand. A man would have had the drive shoveled in no time. A tractor would have done the job within ten minutes tops. My hubs wasn't home to use our tractor. Yes, the more I thought about it the more aggravated I became. 

I wondered where that neighborly love was. I knew without a doubt that our two sons would have never passed by a woman out shoveling their driveway. If you could understand where we live it may be easier to envision. Neighbors look out for one another. It was just this time it hit me pretty hard that my husband was gone. He wanted to be home and he knew I was having a difficult time. He had shared with me not to push myself. He didn't even want me to shovel, but I knew it had to be done. After all if there was an emergency how was I to get out? Not long ago our house would have been filled with five kids all who would have loved getting out in the snow and helping.

So, after two days of working hard I made it! Yes, all the way to the road. I looked back at all I had done in those last few days and tears streamed. I had done things during this storm that I had never done before. I had accomplished things I knew that only came to pass because of a strength that was not my own. 

My hubs returned home safely and his words to me were, "Rob, I am so proud of you." He pulled in our drive and seen the piles of snow that made way for him to pull in. My husband later told me, "We are such a good team". 

When you live with chronic pain everything is a challenge and this week was an extra challenge for me. Not only did I overcome pain, but I grew as a God chick. That's how I found my RAWR this week. It's funny, when I look at obstacles that come my way and think, "No way I can do that", and what do you know, that obstacle is soon an object of the past. There have been many that have come my way and with each and every one God has been there to say, "You go, girl! I'm right here with ya!" Sometimes we can find our RAWR in the strangest of ways. In many cases we don't truly fully begin to rely on God until we are all alone. 

After thinking about being angry at all those who passed by, now I was thankful. My gratitude was soaring. If one person, only one, had stopped in and helped me, I wouldn't have known all I could accomplish. Oh, I didn't do it on my own. I did it through prayer. When I was ready to give up the Lord was there cheering me on. But even more so, He was instilling in me that people are not always going to be there for me. Not everyone stops when there is a need. But my Savior, yes, my Savior, will forever be with me. When I am in need He is the first I should go to. His name is the first I should call. He will never let me and He will never pass by. 

Ruth's Redemption by Marlene Banks

1830 and we are at a slave auction. The place no human should ever be. But that is exactly where Marlene Banks takes us. She writes with conviction and passion about an era that is past, but will never be forgotten. I found this novel to be fascinating as I journeyed back in time. 

This is not a book you put down and soon forget. It will stick with you as the writing is rich with emotion. It brings me to the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.  
If you love historical fiction this is a book you should add to your shelf. Sometimes the writing was a bit unusual for me. The story line is rich in history and opens our eyes to a time and place where freedom was not taken for granted. 

"Bo's frustrated sigh was heavy. He put his fork down. "Ruth, I want you to understand something. God has set you free from a life of uncompensated servitude and abuse to your body and soul. I will never use you in that way...never." "Dat what Massah Stanley say, but ain't stop his sons from havin' me fo dey own when dey wanted or dat rotten over-seea." The thought sickened Bo. "I promise I will never misuse you. I'd have to answer to God for treating you like an animal or dishonoring your womanhood. I know it's hard for you to believe, but I want to help you, not hurt you. Help you getused to eing free and help you feel like a lady in spite of all the mistreatment." "You sho talk like one of dem high-acting  white men. You had schoolin'?" 

"Mara had no hope of help coming or ever seeing freedom again. She was angry with God; she'd been betrayed, and it was God's fault for letting this happen. Why did Jesus let this man hurt and shame her? She'd been God-fearing and obedient all her life, and for what? To end up alone and rejected, abused, and now dragged back into slavery. Though she was upset with Jesus, she was desperate to get away from her captor. So Mara did the only thing she knew to do. She prayed for help from the God she felt had repeatedly let her down. Her hope was that His mercy and grace she once believed in would not be withheld this time." 

Faith, love, and redemption encapsulates this novel. We see what the faith of one can do. A truly interesting read that held my attention throughout the story.  

This book was a gift by Moody Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Marlene Banks lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended Westminster College in Pennsylvania and has an Associate of Theology Degree from Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, Virginia. She is a member of Bethel Deliverance International Church pastored by Bishop Eric A. Lambert II in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. Marlene worked in nursing for over thirty years and in business as an administrative coordinator for over eight years. Her goal as a writer is to create inspiring, gripping and realistic tales with an emphasis on African American literature. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, she considers her writing a Kingdom assignment from the LORD.

Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

If you are a lover of history this is a book that will surely captivate you. Maybe you love to read. Maybe your lucky if you read one book a year. If it's only one, this is the one book you need to read. Jocelyn Green is a new author for me, but one that I now admire greatly. Her work here is beautifully created. Her penned words flow as clear as a movie screen before your eyes. The word picture she paints will transport you to another time and place, the Civil War. Specifically to the heart of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and beyond. The time span covered within these pages is June 1863-November 1863.

This is a book that should be in every school and library across our nation. What is it that you think of when you hear the word Gettysburg? Battle? Death? I must admit those were my first thoughts until I read this book. At the end of this novel you will find the Gettysburg Address. Never before have I read these words by Abraham Lincoln with more clarity than I did after finishing this novel. 

I must admit to you that this is unlike anything I have read. The characters were portrayed so beautifully and their stories penned with perfection. I have yet to read the first book in this series entitled, "Wedded To War", but upon reading this selection I can tell you it could be read as a stand alone. 

As I read I was continually on the edge of my seat. The story flowed well, but also continued to build and draw me in. The main character, Liberty Holloway, is a hero. She is portrayed as strong and steady, but also holds much grace and tender mercy for others. She's giving and her compassion for others is what draws me so near to her. She has been through so much, but yet she prevails. She's not giving up. She may surrender her life to Christ, but that isn't giving up at all. She finds a freedom that lifts her above everything that could hold her captive.

We see there is much more than death in Gettysburg. Much more to be shared and spoken with great honor. Friends, this is one book you shouldn't pass up. One author you will not forget. 

My heart was glued to these pages. From the turning of the first to the very last. Faith, hope and love cover these pages. We feel with great emotion what the characters are journeying through.  You can enjoy book 1, "Wedded to War", book 3, "Yankee in Atlanta", and the upcoming forth in the series, "Spy of Richmond".

This book was a gift from Moody Publishing for sharing my review with you. This book is released by River North Fiction From Moody Publishing. 

I encourage you to visit Jocelyn Green's website at: www.jocelyngreen.com

Visit http://heroinesbehindthelines.com/ to get a complete inside look into the Heroines Behind the Lines Series

Jocelyn Green is an award-winning author of multiple books, including Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives, and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front. She is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Military Writers Society of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa with her incredibly supportive husband and two adorable children. The books in the Heroines Behind the Lines series are her first novels. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Everyday Confetti by Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer

What a great book! "Everyday Confetti", is a wonderful tool for planning events of all kinds. Karen and Glynnis give us ideas for every single holiday and season. This is a planning coordinator for sure, but so much more. It holds LOTS of extraordinary recipes, inspirational stories from the heart of these wonderful ladies, and meaningful ways to let others know just how much you love them. This book literally contains EVERYTHING. 

I found this book to be super helpful. Especially if you have little ones at home or family that live miles apart. They take the stress out of planning and simplify it. Giving us ideas to make everyday special in someone's life. 

This is a book everyone needs on their shelf. It's one to go to again and again. I plan on using many of the recipes they have shared. They give new ways of reaching people with the love of Jesus. They truly give us the tools to celebrate each day and each person in our lives. 

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

Karen Ehman is the director of speaker development and an online devotion writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries whose passion is to help women live their priorities and love their lives. Her latest book is entitled Let. It. Go. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. Karen has been a guest on media outlets such as Focus on the FamilyMoody Mid-day Connection, and The 700 Club. She is the wife of Todd, the mother of three, and resides in central Michigan. Connect with her at www.karenehman.com.

Glynnis Whitwer, executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries, is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 email devotional. She is the author of I Used to Be So OrganizedWhen Your Child Hurts, and Work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home. Glynnis, her husband, Tod, and their five children live in Arizona. She blogs regularly at www.glynniswhitwer.com.

No One To Trust by Lynette Eason

Can you imagine waking to a man hovering over you with a gun pointed at your head? Lynette Eason has brought us another illuminating thriller, "No One To Trust", from her new series, "Hidden Identity". 

The title speaks for itself. Gives a huge clue as to what the book is about, trust. This novel was jam-packed with suspense. I mean around every corner something new was happening. The characters were always in danger. There was a point that I thought, come on, this is too much. But, then isn't that what real life gives us? I thought Lynette brought that out wonderfully through this novel. Just when we think all is well, there is another challenge for us around the corner. 

This is one of those unputdownables! You know, those reads that keep you up at night until you turn the last page. 

I have had the pleasure of reading all of Lynette's books. She is one of my favorites. When I receive a book penned by Lynette I know I will not be disappointed. She is the best at suspense. I was hooked at the prologue. 

Lynette gives us great characters in this novel. They are all connected in one way or the other. Just by one man's choice, other lives are brought into danger. 

A suspenseful read that won't disappoint. You are missing out if you have never read a book penned by Lynette Eason. Her writing style ROCKS as she is gifted at drawing in the reader and keeping the reader glued. I cannot wait for the next book in this series, "Nowhere To Turn", coming this fall!

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

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Find out more at www.lynetteeason.com.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Making Room For Change

I pull in the drive. There are no curtains moving while a little dachshund head pops up with excitement. I walk into a quiet house. No Daisy to greet me at the door with yips of hello and I missed you so so much. With Jake, my youngest child, now staying with his big sister, there aren't dirty boots in front of the door and towels in the bathroom floor. No banjo playing down the hallway. No phone chiming constantly. With these changes I had to be intentional with my own changes. I had to accept that life would be different. But different isn't always bad. With different comes new. It's what we do with those changes that matters. 

With each day comes change in one way or another. We can remain stuck or we can make the clear choice to move in new ways. It's up to us. 

We surrender our day to the Lord and give Him the room He needs to fill it with ALL. If I'm ready and accepting of the good, I too must be ready and accepting of the not so good. You know those changes. They hurt. They burn deep. They cut like a knife. But we survive. We make it through the day. Night falls and there is Jesus waiting once again to carry us through. Soon, before we know it, we have made it through another day. 

Challenges come. We learn. We grow. Some days I take two steps forward and then one step back. We forget that life is a journey. We want things to remain the same. We are afraid of change. But how sad for us to remain stuck in our constant. To grow with Jesus change must come. Life continues to flow whether we join it or not. Why not make the choice to join? Each day should be celebrated. 

I like change until it hurts. No one is ever prepared for that kind of change, but friends, when we can't see up ahead there is no reason to fear. Jesus is already there. Waiting. He has prepared our path. All we must do is wait for direction. He will lead if we will only follow. 

I've changed my entire daily routine. I am determined to make room for the new that Jesus has. No matter what that new might be, it's okay. I trust Him more than ever. He is showing me the beauty of change. 

There is One constant in my life and in Him I can trust that whatever changes may come today He is with me and will guide me through with grace. 

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8

Chasing God by Angie Smith

Angie Smith is a woman after God's heart. I was blessed to read, "Mended", and was totally blessed. I was excited to receive a copy of her newest gem, "Chasing God". 

"The goal of this book is not to present you with a formula for living out Christianity. It's to offer my thoughts on the difference between looking for Him and looking at Him." Angie Smith

"You chase Me because you trust your own legs more than you trust Me. You chase Me because you can feel the air in your lungs, not because you want to breathe true life. And as long as you can chase, you will get a stay. You maintain part-ownership of our relationship. You would run forever in the wrong direction if it meant your flesh didn't have to admit the truth. You chase because it makes you feel like you can." Angie Smith

Angie shares in a transparent way. She shares her story. Her intimate walk with Jesus and all she has learned about the chase. She no longer chases after God, but follows Him. There is a difference. This book brought tears to my eyes as I found myself in these words. I too have chased. 

We are to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Spending time with Jesus and reading His Word gives us power and strength. 

"If we are choosing not to make time for daily meditation on Scripture, we are simply not convinced it has the power it claims to have." Angie Smith

"In other words, we cannot help but to desire to be more like Him. Once we understand the love He has poured out, we are bound to follow through with action." Angie Smith

I LOVED this book. Yes, those special reads that set you on a new course. Those that bring you closer to Jesus. That impact your life to move, to act. This isn't one to read quickly through, but one to take your time with pen in hand. It will be one to go back to again and again. 

If your on the search for a great guide in motivating you to live intentional this was written just for you. A great addition to your journey with Jesus. 

This book was a gift from B&H Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah), author of I Will Carry You, What Women Fear, and Mended. She is one of the most popular speakers and blog writers in the country. She holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, TN. 

When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell

When I posted my review of, "Into The Free", (check out my review), I shared with you that it was the best book I've read all year. Friends, get ready. I'm about to tell you the sequel is just as spectacular! It's a new year and I have started it off right by reading the sequel, "When Mountains Move".

This novel leads off with the continuing story of Millie and her husband, Bump. The same characters are here to take the journey with us, plus a few new ones that are going to impact you in a great way. These characters add to Millie's journey. They are powerful to her story and they help create the woman of God that she is.

This story has everything. Love, faith, loss, friendship, forgiveness, redemption, are just a few. Romance, family, friendship, joy and anger. With each chapter that passed I was on the edge of my seat.

As I shared in my review of, "Into The Free", it left me wanting more. I couldn't wait to begin reading the sequel. I love when a writer brings us to the core of the characters. Julie goes beyond the surface and takes us on a heart journey that makes the reader feel as if your right there with Millie.

We learn what secrets can do. Millie learns to trust completely. She faces her greatest demons head on while on an unexpected trail. She learns to let go and let God. We accept the joys of life with great anticipation and thanks. But my journey with Millie has helped me to understand even more about our journey. We too must accept the trials of life. Before we know it we are no longer looking back, but looking forward. While reading this beautifully penned novel I have a greater understanding that it isn't the mountains that move at all. It's me that moves.

As I opened this book and read the first page I knew I was going to take a great adventure into the unknown with Millie. As I closed the last page tears filled my eyes. I was no longer wanting. I was completely filled. Julie leaves nothing behind. She gives the reader a front row seat to a spectacular story. A story that you are sure to find yourself in. 

This is one I cannot wait to pass on to a friend. If your looking for a great read this is a must, but I encourage you to begin with, "Into The Free", so you can capture Millie's beginning. This story belongs on the big screen. Yes, it's that good!!

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

Learn more about Julie Cantrell by visiting her site at: juliecantrell.wordpress.com


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