Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Journaling Jesus

I recently started a prayer journal. I sat in my quiet time and as I talked with the Lord I wrote my words down. Pretty soon, my pen was writing faster than my words flowed. It is just me and God. My heart listening to the Spirit.

I'm learning that I must be diligent in my quiet time. This is where the idea of my journal came from. I always carry pen and paper with me. You never know when a great idea is going to come along and you need to write it down fast before you forget. Why not do the same with prayer? Why not listen to the Spirit and as He speaks simply write down all those that He is laying on the heart? Ever have people come to mind you haven't thought of for a while? The Spirit moves us to pray for others.

While out shopping with my son, he goes to grab something from my purse and grabs my notebook. He starts thumbing through and sees his name. I tell him, "Hey, put that back.", and he says, "Wait a minute. I see my name". He reads the prayers that I have written down for him. He didn't say anything. He simply read. He knows his momma and I knew he was touched. It blesses us to know others are praying for us.

Recently I shared an afternoon with a friend. We had a lovely time simply talking about Jesus. She was struggling with a few things and I shared that I would pray. I reached for my notebook and said, "Hey, wait a sec. Let me see what I wrote down just yesterday". I fingered through my notebook until I found her name and I started reading aloud. Tears sprang to her eyes. My heart was stirred. Do you know that the very things I wrote down to pray were the very issues she was struggling with! I was blown away. We continued in our chat about how the Spirit moves.

He never ceases to amaze me. When I surrender myself to Him wonder happens. I see things with a new perspective. If and when I quiet myself is when I hear Him most. But He too speaks to us in a crowded room.

I want to be more in tune with the Spirit. I want to move to His calling. I want to be aware of His voice. So, I'm learning to shut everything down. Turn everything off and tune in to Jesus. I want our time to be more intimate. I don't want to just go through the motions and check off our time together from my day.

I want to be interrupted. I want to know His voice so well that as soon as I hear Him I know without a doubt He has something for me. Opportunities to share His love. Possibilities are around every corner. I simply don't always look. I'm in a rush.

Think of a momma who hears her baby at night. She doesn't just roll over and ignore him. She quickly rises and goes to his side. Sometimes that little one doesn't have to make a sound. Momma just knows because she is so in tune with her little one.

Have you ever been watching television and someone enters the room and starts talking? There's a few sounds mumbled and then your son is out the door. You send him a text and ask, "Where are you going?" He replies with, "Mom, I just told you I was running down to grandpa's house." Ah..that's what that was. Yep, now I remember. Kind of..I'm so guilty of that. People talk to us and we even look at them. We watch their mouth move. We even hear the words uttered. But we are totally focused on something else. Are you guilty too? I hate to admit that it happens to me. Breaks my heart. I think, what if that was our last conversation? This isn't the kind of conversation our Jesus wants to have with us and this isn't the kind of conversation that brings us closer to others.

Coming out of my comfort zone is difficult. But it is necessary when listening and obeying the Spirit. I have been reaching out to those close to me and asking, "Is there anything specific I could pray about?" I can tell you that those I have reached out to have been blessed. Isn't this what we are called to do? Aren't we called to reach out? Friends, it takes time. It takes a heart on fire for Jesus.

I must be honest. This isn't my daily life, but oh, how I want it to be. I struggle just as you do. There are times I hear Him and I leave my journal behind. But this isn't who I want to be. To be who Jesus has called me to be takes discipline. A journey of praising Jesus and listening to the Spirit is a journey worth taking. I want to hear from Him. I don't want my heart so trampled with junk that it gets in the way of hearing the Spirit. So, I'm learning to let go of all that junk and focus on what's important. Prayer is part of our walk. Without prayer there is no conversation with Jesus. With a heart glued to the busyness of this world, where is there time to hear the Spirit? We must learn to let go of the unimportant and make time for what truly matters.

As I read through my journal over the thoughts and prayers I have added each day I see God at work. Most of all, in this girl's heart. I am in awe just thinking of how our Lord moves in us and intercedes. Truly amazing. Prayer is powerful. I think to myself, why have I not done this before? Just maybe I wasn't ready. Maybe this is how the Lord wants to speak to me at the moment.

I don't want to live rushed. I don't want to live hushed. I simply want to be aware of my surroundings. I want to put people before phones. I want to turn off the television and chat for an evening. I want to share coffee with friends. I don't just want to ask, "How are you?", in passing. I really want to know. I really want others to care about me and ask me the same. Why don't we give people our time? Why do we not allow Jesus our time? These are questions my heart has been pondering. No more, I say. I want meaningful talks. Heart to heart. If we don't take time now, what happens when there is no more time? We spend the rest of our time living in what ifs? I don't want wasted time.

So, this is where I am with Jesus. If my time with Him isn't where it should be, how can I expect my time for anyone else to truly be where it should? This is so true. If my relationship isn't right with Jesus, how can it be with others? If I'm not giving my Savior time, am I really going to give others time they need?

I want to be renewed through His Word. I want to be transformed into a new woman each and every day. I want my moments to count. As I pen with Jesus, He speaks to me. I just let my pen flow and as I read what I have written I am in awe of how He has spoken to me.

So, I continue to write. Just me and Jesus. It's a journey that isn't perfect. It is one in which I am growing and learning. Just writing down prayer, thoughts, and whatever the Spirit leads is blessing me each and every time I make the choice to pick up my pen and listen to all He has for me.

"Don't stifle the Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 5:19

"He also said to them, "Is a lamp brought tin to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn't it to be put on a lampstand? For nothing is concealed except to be revealed, and nothing hidden except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, he should listen!" Then He said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you. For to the one who has it will be given, and from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away." Mark 4:21-25

"Pray constantly." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

"In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit's mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26-27

Live Free by Kendra Smiley

I really enjoyed reading, "Live Free", by Kendra Smiley. This was a quick read for me. It was like meeting a new friend. Kendra's warmth and love float from the pages she has penned. 

Can we really live beyond the what ifs and if onlys? This is exactly what Kendra shares with us. This book is super inspiring and is a great dose of encouragement. Throughout the book she shares the stories of people from her own life. People who have faced adversity and have overcome with great attitude toward the circumstance they are facing. We see that it is most important how we face the circumstance, but the circumstance itself. Having a positive attitude changes everything. Seeing things with a godly perspective gives us a change to stand back and see that He is in control. 

I loved the stories that Kendra chose to share. Each facing trial of their own, but all realizing there is more to life than the circumstance they are facing. God is in fact in everything about us. He is always at work. I think what I too enjoyed is that in the last chapter, Kendra, shares with us how each of these people are doing today. That's huge for me. To see that they faced such trial and have truly overcome with the grace and strength of God shows us that it is impossible. 

I really connected with Kendra when she shares her own story of having a father who was an alcoholic. Alcoholism seemed the norm when I was growing up. Only then I didn't realize just how it would impact my life and the denial I too would face.

She shares great scripture and quotes that are encouraging. Just through her words you get the sense of just how sweet the heart of Kendra is. She is truly about people. People finding their way to Jesus and she simply living them along the journey. What I love is that we see all she has learned from the those around her. Everything doesn't always turn out like we want, but then again, God's ways are always higher than our own. She is just one of those ladies you would love to share coffee with. 

These are real stories that touch the heart and bring the reader to fully grasp that no matter what comes in life, faith will lead us through. God is forever present in the lives of those who call Him, Savior. 

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

Kendra Smiley brings wit and wisdom to her writing, speaking, and national radio program, Live Life Intentionally. Named Illinois Mother of the Year, she and her husband, John, live on their family farm where they raised their three sons, all of whom are married. Kendra is the author of nine books and a sought-after speaker for women's and parenting events. 

Discerning The Voice Of God by Priscilla Shirer

Wow! What an amazing journey I have taken with Priscilla. Yes, I feel as though we have sat down for an afternoon of coffee and simply shared Jesus. I can tell you that the Spirit is alive within these pages. I don't know where I have been, but Priscilla Shirer is new to me. Truly an unforgettable woman of God. She is inspiring as she shares how to discern the voice of God. I want to start out and share just a few of the things I underlined. I wish I had space to share more, but then, you simply need to read her book! 

"Here's the blessed fallout of living by this "right now" perspective: If you truly believe that God will speak to you in the appropriate time and place, you should never feel hurried or pressured about making a decision. If you're not clear about something, stay put. Don't move. Only when God has spoken will you be cued to respond in obedience."

"Bottom line, you have everything you need from Him at this moment. Otherwise, He'd have already given you more. So until God makes His next message clear to you-at the exact right moment, in His perfect knowledge and timing-here's what you should do; whatever He's told you to be doing right now. Doing this assures you that you are in God's will for your life."

"But the Holy Spirit doesn't give us all His directions upfront and then leave us alone to sort everything out. Rather, He can be trusted to tell us everything we need to know for now, and then to continually update His instructions as we step out in faith and obedience."

"God is no longer in the business of revealing new doctrine. The canon of Scripture is closed. Yet because the Book is alive, it applies anew and fresh to us in every generation."

"Satan's goal is to keep you in the cocoon-weak, effortless, lazy. He would not ask you to struggle out, and he certainly doesn't want you to experience the fullness of God's power. Your ego, likewise, would not ask you to do anything that might cause you embarrassment or a blow to your self-image. Fear will present an option that keeps you protected and safe instead of inviting you into the risky unknowns of God's will."

"When discerning the voice of God, expect Him to be persistent."

This is when I knew I had a magnificent book in my hands!! I knew the Lord was speaking straight to my heart. 

"Really listening in prayer requires getting yourself on a whole other wavelength. You must control your body's urge to get up and move around. You must fight to keep your mind from wandering, from letting stray thoughts dictate what you choose to dwell on. You must keep your eyes from scanning the room and noticing things you need to take care of-things you'd like to get busy accomplishing right now while your thinking of it!"

And right here is where it got even better for me~!

"By letting a thousand interruptions barge in, demanding to be accommodated, we only succeed in setting ourselves up for compromise and confusion. The Enemy wins a victory every time we let our jam-packed schedules invade the sanctuary of our quiet time with God. And when we allow it to happen, we set a precedent that the rest of our lives seem to end up following. See if this sounds familiar...In the stillness of morning, I begin my quiet time-to those moments I purposely set aside for Bible reading, prayer, meditation, listening-and I lean my elbows on heaven's windowsill, eager to commune with the Lord. But first, to satisfy my curiosity, I check to see if I've gotten any new e-mails since last night. When I finally come back, I'm a little more distracted, a little less focused and clearheaded. Suddenly the phone rings. Caller ID beckons my eyes, and I feel compelled to pick up the receiver. The anticipation is too much. I answer it. Oh, never mind, I'll just have my quiet time before I go to bed tonight." 

I cannot say enough about this book. It was as though it was written just for me. I walk away with a clearer mind and a steadfast attitude for putting God first. To walk with Him means that I too must give Him time to speak to my heart. I must dive in His Word and allow Him to search my heart. 

Friends, this would make a great study just one on one with the Lord or as a small group study. Either way, get ready, because He is going to speak loud and clear!! This is a wondrous study that will bring you closer to understanding how we can hear the voice of God. 

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

Priscilla Shirer is an internationally recognized Bible teacher who focuses her ministry on the expository teaching of the Word of God to women. She desires to see women both understand the uncompromising truths of Scripture and intellectually and experience them practically. Priscilla is the author of A Jewel in His Crown, and We Are Changed, and He Speaks To Me. She is also an accomplished vocalist. Priscilla and her husband, Jerry, are the founders of Going Beyond Ministries and live in Dallas, Texas, with their three sons.

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

There are a few writers who stand out to me. Writers who pen to make a difference. They create a story that invites you in for a journey to another time and place. They are set apart by their writing style and the  research that goes into creating a masterpiece. Yes, as a writer, there are many writers I greatly admire. But, it's Cathy Gohlke that holds writing at a high standard. She truly weaves a story that is unlike the rest. She brings history alive. She opens the door for you to fall in love with history. This is a gift. 

In her newest work, it's this that I find to be her finest yet. Usually it doesn't take me long to finish a novel. I dive in and come out the end of the journey wishing for more. A gift that Cathy has is allowing the reader to feel complete as you close the last page. This isn't a story for the faint of heart. I can tell you that I cried through many pages. My heart was torn. I rarely dream of a book I've read. For the last few weeks I have dreamed of SS men and raids. I have dreamed of sweet Amelie. I know, this is probably unusual to put in a review, but I felt such a part of the story, I was so connected, that as I sat the book down, my mind still pondered. 

This is a book that needs to be in every school room and library. The history and attention to detail is so spot on that you feel as though you can hear, smell and see the surroundings. The characters are so richly woven that you come to know them as friends. You turn the pages eager to see what's next, but holding your breath at what could be. 

Cathy is a master storyteller. This novel is more than spectacular. I was so moved by this novel. I'm not sure it is one I will ever forget, but it is one that I will always encourage others to read. Through Saving Amelie, the reader feels every emotion possible. The happiness of freedom and the fear of Hitler's regime. Another time and place, but so much of this story relates to us today. For me, the most profound message I walked away with is that I do not want to walk in cheap grace. Powerful! 

Everything a book can hold is found within the pages of Saving Amelie. This is truly an astounding read that will challenge you. I must share something that was very haunting to me. The characters are listening to the radio. They hear the music of Silent Night. They begin to quietly sing along, but then realize the words have been changed. 

Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm, all is bright. 
Only the Chancellor, steadfast in flight,
Watches o'er Germany by day and by night,
Always caring for us. 
Always caring for us. 
Silent Night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright. 
Adolf Hilter is Germany's wealth; 
Brings us greatness, favor, and health.
Oh, give us Germans all power!
Oh, give us Germans all power!

Chilling, isn't it? I have to share with you one more part of the story. Rachel is having a conversation with the Curate. This left me speechless. 

"Nothing in Germany surprises me now, Curate."
"You are too cynical."
She shook her head, packing her small prop bag. "Just a realist. I've looked at the world through the glasses I was given. Now I've taken them off. It's surprising how distorting the wrong pair of glasses can be."
He sighed. "I suppose nothing like this could happen in America." "Banning prayer from schools? Stripping away crucifixes from walls? That would be like taking down the Ten Commandments in the United States. I've never been a churchgoer, but I can't imagine such a thing happening. The churches, even the people who aren't churchgoers, would never stand for having their rights stripped away like that." 

This is not a novel you want to miss. 

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

Cathy Gohlke is a two-time Christy Award-winning author. She and her husband divide their time between Northern Virginia and their home on the banks of teh Laurel 'run in Elkton, Maryland. Visit her online at

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spirit Bridge by James L. Rubart

Wow! What a conclusion to an extraordinary series! I am so over the top excited about this book I don't know where to begin. Yes, I love everything about this series. I love the title of the series, A Well Spring Novel, and the titles of each of the books, Soul's Gate, and Memory's Door. The cover is fascinating!

This book is exhilarating. It is an unputdownable for sure. I wish I could have traveled to another realm so I could have just ignored all sense of time and read this book in one sitting. Oh, I have some favorites, but James L. Rubart is one of those writers you simply marvel at. A masterpiece!

I loved the first two books, but this third just may be my favorite. Maybe just because it was the perfect time for me to read it. Here's the message. God's Word is living and breathing! Everything is possible when we die to ourselves and allow God room in our life to do His thing. But here's the kicker, we must continue to die to ourselves daily. This isn't a one time thing. Satan is going to throw everything in his power at us, but as we remain focused on Christ, living in His will, there is nothing that Satan can do to distract us. He will try, just he does with the Warriors Riding. They are not immune to attack. No, in fact, they are being attacked on a daily basis because they are walking in the power of the Spirit!

The story line is AMAZING. Rubart allows us to truly know each character. I feel that I have traveled with this group. I must say that I was sad to see them go. The writing flows. Rubart is gifted in storytelling. He brings the reader to the edge of their seat. He allows the reader to wonder and he brings the imagination alive. There is so much to take away from this series. I can tell you without a doubt I walk away being more aware of my surroundings and more in love with the Word than ever before. I realize the power of the Word is useful for us on a moment to moment basis.

Okay, traveling in other realms is fascinating and fiction, but going into the soul of another? I have seen a few reviews where people have said this is impossible. Let's remember we are reading fiction. Although entering another's soul may be impossible for us, but not for God. We can intercede for others through prayer. Prayer is powerful. This is why I love James L. Rubart's novels. He opens the mind and brings us to a new place. A new realm if you will allow.

Oh, the characters! In this book I am connecting with all of them on some level or another. The new characters Miyo and Simon help us realize that in God's plan we each have our gifts and as we come together, those gifts work with the gifts of others to complete His amazing purpose and plan. From Miyo we learn that age doesn't matter. In our christian walk it doesn't matter if we are eighty and have walked with the Lord since we can remember or we are seventeen and have known Him for two years. God moves through each of us and the closer we are to Him the more we truly understand of His Word.

Simon is in a battle. He has given His life to Christ. He has done wondrous things for the Lord, but Satan is more aware of him than ever before. Zennon and the other demons have battles of their own. They all want the highest power. They all want control. As we see, they only have as much as God allows. That's not always easy to understand, and in this novel we see that a few of the characters are struggling with that. More than ever before we see the characters grow and come together. But through this growth, Satan, tries with all his might to tear them apart and bring separation.

Spirit Bridge is life changing. This is one astounding series. I would suggest that you read them in order. If you don't you will miss out on valuable pieces. Get ready as you open these pages. Because, friends, you are in for a ride of a lifetime!

Check out my reviews for Soul's Gate and Memory's Door

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

James L. Rubart is a Professional Marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling novel Rooms as well as Book of Days, The Chair, Soul's Gate, and Memory's Door. He lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

When Will I Trust Again?

How long after being wounded does it take one to trust again? Those wounds found deep within the heart are not always visible to the world. I have many scars that tell of surgery or an injury, but those wounds that cut deep into the heart remain hidden still yet. They are no less real than those that can be seen.

I want to trust. I want to walk inside church again and feel something more than the pain in my heart. I pray. I don't want to hold pain hostage. I want to free it. I ask God to take it. To change it. To create beauty from the ugly. He frees me. But there it is again as I pass by a church. 

I remind myself that we are all sinners. We will let others down. None of us are perfect. We believe. We say we are Christian, but actions speak volumes over words. I know that I am to go to church and not take hold of the junk, but simply worship. But friends, is it really that easy? 

My husband says to me, "Hon, you just gotta keep looking. You will find where God is calling you to be". Can I be honest? I'm tired of looking. I don't want a new church. I want my old church back. I want to worship with those I called family. I want to open my Bible in Sunday school with women who have been my friends for over twenty years. I want the hurt to disappear. But it doesn't go away. I compare every church we visit to our home church. It feels strange to still yet call it our home church. 

Wouldn't one think the pastor would call? Wouldn't one think someone inside the church would move? I feel so broken and alone. I feel like all that I have known has been turned upside down and what really kills me is that I feel like I never mattered. That isn't easy to overcome. Is it me that should move? My heart has so many questions. I remain in prayer as I wait to hear the answers. 

I am surrounded by love. I am blessed with a husband that I love more today than yesterday. My life is filled with love and laughter from my grandchildren. My children light up my life in ways that still surprise me. Friends fill my heart with inspiration and encouragement. 

To wake each morning and praise God is a gift. To soak up His Word for hours is a treasure. To seek His calling is a gift beyond all measure. I feel His love. His presence is forever near. Every day I learn something new about Him. In seeking Him with all of myself, He is sure to show me new aspects of myself that grow daily as I journey with Him. 

There are days that my heart soars to move forward and accept the new, but yet there it remains. Can I really move forward without fully letting go of the wounds that still bleed in my heart? Forgiveness is not saying that what was done or not done is okay. Can we really leave things undone? Friends, we cannot find peace with undone. 

What do I do? Do I walk back in this church after two years? If so, what is it that I should do? Do I act like nothing has happened? What can be said when one really doesn't know what happened? When a family decides to visit new churches that doesn't mean they no longer love those they have attended church with for years. Growth comes with change. Growth comes from seeking God with all of your heart. 

What hurts is that no one has come. No one is asking, "What happened?" People just assume. Stories are told, but nothing of truth is being said. Friends, why do we do this to those very people we say we love? How do we ignore those who have filled the pew next to us? How is it that we make people feel as if they never mattered at all? 

I never want to make another person feel the way my family feels today. I want to live in God's grace and mercy and love. I don't want bitterness to take root in my heart. I don't want anger to boil in my gut. It's hard to trust again. 

Those that I shared so much with. Those that I felt so near to. Those very people that stood in the love of Christ with me. Where are they? There are some. Some who stand out among the others. They love. These very people embody the love of Christ. Yes, it is these people that I want surrounding my life, so why does it hurt so terribly to have an emptiness where those who once did are now gone? Friendships have died. Ties that once were so strong are now broken. Why do we do this to those we love? Was there no real love to begin with? 

I just want to be free from the wounds that still bleed. I want to be a part of a growing church and fellowship with sisters and brothers in Christ that want to make a difference in the world. I want to share the Word of God with friends and reach the community that we call our own. 

I don't want fake. I don't gossip. I don't want to be a part of anything that isn't God. I visit churches. I have met sweet people. I have heard sermons that have stirred my heart into the motion of change. I don't want to grow stagnant. So, why can I not let go of the wounds that keep me back? Why do I even want to go back? Is the reason because I was comfortable? Because that was all I ever knew? 

Following Jesus is a journey. I can choose easy or I can choose Him. God's not in the business of pampering His children. He's in the business of perfecting them. I am learning that the journey isn't about what I want, but about what I need. Right now I need to let go and let God. It isn't easy. He is taking this mess of a heart of mine and bringing healing. Healing comes from being honest. It comes from searching for more than what we think it is we need. 

We cannot judge our God by His children. We are not the nicest of people all the time. We make mistakes. We create messes with our mouths and our attitudes. We push what's right, or what we think it right, instead of simply loving people and letting God do the rest. Peace comes when we find freedom from this world and realize that this isn't our home. Life isn't always going to make sense. God moves in those moments that makes our world spin and our heart yearn for more. 

I'm just a girl who loves Jesus. I'm an imperfect sinner saved by the sweet grace of God. I try to figure things out, but you know what? We can't always do that. Sometimes we just have to let go. We have to let the tears fall and give God room to change us. In many ways walking away from our home church was terribly difficult. But in many others it was the best thing for my walk with Him. But my heart hangs on to yesterday's memories that fill my heart. I wasn't growing any longer. My pew was much too comfortable, but yet my heart was unsteady and unsure. 

When we don't know what to do we pray. We pray until we hear from God. I am searching for ALL He has for me. I know without a doubt, He doesn't want me to lie in the wounds of others, but He wants to bring healing. It may take time, but I know I will get there and through it all He will create in me nothing less than magnificent beauty. 

"Don't worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:6-7

"This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9

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

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Jar Filled With Blessings

I am out doing a little shopping. Checking everything I need off my list. Just to make sure I didn't leave anything behind, I check it twice. Okay, I'm good to go now. I'm in search for a short and quick check out line. Little did I know what the Lord had planned in that twenty items or less lane.

Before I entered the store I sent a prayer up and asked God to move me. As I walked through the store I was bound and determined to have a great attitude. I gave a little lady a compliment on her cute bag. As soon as I told her how cute it was her eyes lit up with a smile. 

See, I'm understanding that when I shift my attitude away from my big O self, things change. I am more aware of my surroundings. I'm not in such a hurry. I suppose I could say that I am tired of going through the motions. I wanna do more than the norm. I want to experience the unexpected. 

So, here I am in line. I push my cart up and start placing my items on the conveyor belt. I notice the young woman in front of me. She has an adorable babe in the seat. I would guess he is around seven or eight months. All of a sudden I notice the cashier chuck the little gadget that separates everyone's items. Yes, I said, chuck! I picked it up nicely and sat it behind my items and shared with the little lady behind me, "Here ya go. Now you can start placing your items too". 

I turn back around and that's when I see the stern look on the cashier's face. She looks irritated and mean. I look again at the young woman. She is trying to remain focused on her baby. I loved that. My heart began to stir. I could feel the Spirit moving in me. I notice her items. Baby food and formula. This young woman is paying for her items with WIC. There is a check for each separate food. Fruits, vegetables, and her formula. Long ago you would have just one slip of paper, but I suppose there is a reason for doing it the way they are now. I could see the cashier getting more and more aggravated as she counted the items and checked them off the list.  

I could feel the unworthiness of the young woman in front of me. I could feel her shame. She was a young mother in need and here was a woman treating her as if she was just a disruption in her day. How do I know? I have been that young woman. That was me twenty-something years ago. A young momma, in need, and not wanting to ask for help, but with little alternatives. My heart was breaking. I could feel tears welling up. 

See, she wasn't unworthy. She was worthy. She shouldn't have been feeling shame. But isn't that exactly how we make others feel at times? Some how our time is always more important. This cashier could have been hurting. Maybe she woke to an extremely bad day. I've been there too. Have you? We wake and everything in life seems to be a mess. But friends, that doesn't give us an excuse to treat others without respect and kindness. 

The cashier picks up a jar of meat. She raises it and looks at the girl as if she was trying to steal a diamond ring. "What is this?", she asks. "This isn't paid for by WIC." The young mother quietly speaks, "I'm so sorry. Just set it aside." The cashier almost bellows, "Do you have money to pay for it?" The young woman shakes her head and replies, "I'm sorry. No, I don't. That's okay". The cashier tosses the food in a bin. She bags everything and hands the girl her receipt. The young mother looks at her and says, "Thank you. Have a nice day".

Now it was my turn. If I'm super honest I can tell you I wanted to grab a hold of that woman. But I remember..grace.Instead I look at her and say, "Could you please put that young woman's jar of baby food on my bill?" She looks at me as if she didn't hear me correctly. She says, "What? You wanna pay for HER food?" I smile and say, "Yes, I do and if you could hurry that would be wonderful. That way I can catch up to her." She starts to toss it in a bag and I say, "No, could you please put it in my hand?" I gather all my bags and as I pay I look at the cashier and with a smile I say, "I pray you have yourself a blessed day". 

I see the young momma pushing her baby in the cart. I am praying this entire time. "Lord, are You sure about this? It's just a jar of food. Are You sure?" I hear Him reply straight to my heart, "Yes, daughter. I'm sure." 

I catch up to her as she is pushing the cart up to her car. She sees me. I'm praying she isn't thinking I'm stalking her. I smile. I mean, doesn't a smile say so much? At this time before I even speak she sees the jar of food in my hand. Her hand goes to her heart and tears start to form in my eyes. I tell her, "I just wanted to make sure you had this jar of baby food." The tears begin to gush from this young momma. She tells me, "Oh, you didn't have to do this. How wonderful. Thank you so very much. I just don't know what to say." I reply in tears with, "I understand. I was once a young momma." By then, tears were streaming down both of our cheeks. 

As I pushed my cart away toward my truck, I could hear her talking to her baby. "Can you believe that? How sweet of that woman." I put my groceries in my truck and I can tell you that I go in, turned the air on and sat and cried. All those difficult moments of being a young mother came flooding back. Every moment I wanted to get something for my girls and couldn't. My heart was flooded with memories of struggle, but of sweet people helping us in every way they could. Oh, not everyone was nice. I had my share of stares when paying with food stamps or with WIC. 

It was just one jar of food. Something so very small. It's amazing what one jar of food can mean to a mother. This was a blessing not only for this young momma, but for me. My heart was overflowing with gratitude. But see, see what God can do with one jar of food? 

The thing is, the thing that makes it all worthwhile for me, is the fact that I asked God to move me. I opened my heart up to the Lord and asked Him to use me. He did. Through one tiny jar of food He blessed. 

But see, there's more. All those tears that flooded my afternoon were not just about one jar of food. It was then that I finally realized the impact of what can happen when I simply listen to the Lord. How many blessings have I allowed to pass by because I didn't move my feet? All the times the Lord asked me to move and I said, No. All the times I seen an opportunity and in my fear my feet stayed firm in my flip flops. 




Just going through the motions of every day. Not being aware of my surroundings. I have heard the Lord's whisper. I have heard His shouts. Instead of listening. Instead of moving. I did nothing. Oh, the shame I felt in that moment. But it was more than shame. In the conviction my heart felt it bled sorrow and regret. 

Later that evening after I arrived home I was blessed to share this story with a friend. I asked her that if the Spirit moved her to do so, would she please pray for this young momma and her baby. I didn't know her name. But the Lord does. He knows everything about her. In His perfect timing we connected. I ask that you too would lift this young mother and her precious babe in prayer. Prayer is mighty and wouldn't be amazing to see God move in this young woman's life through the loving prayers of others she has never met!

See, in the small moments that we think don't really matter at all, they matter a LOT to God. In the smallness of the moment He gives way for something MIGHTY to happen. He touches the heart. He knows the moment before we enter it. All He needs is for us to listen, to be aware, and to move. He needs willing vessels. It is through those vessels that the Spirit moves greatly. Lives our changed through small moments. 

As I was reading a book one day I came across these words that made an impact on my life. "If I must choose between what's easy or what will bring me closer to Him, I pray my choice will always be Him." I wrote them down on a card and sat it on my desk so that I could read them daily. I don't want to live with regret. I don't my fears to grow so big that I no longer see the endless opportunities that are full of possibilities for God's glory to shine bright through my life.    

I have walked through the stores filling my cart with every need and many wants. I can tell you that I am a truly blessed girl. But I too have been standing before the cashier with a food stamp card in my hand. You stand there knowing that others are questioning as to why you are paying with food stamps or WIC. There are some in our world that have never wanted for anything. Everything has always been in their reach. Others work hard, but life can be difficult. Circumstance happens and your left with trying to find your way through the aisle without being empty. Life can leave us feeling empty. No, let me rephrase that. People can leave us feeling empty. Friends, I don't want to ever let another feel empty. I want to be a giver. I want to move for my Jesus.

We can share the love of Jesus one jar at a time.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these." Mark 12:33-32

"Do not quench the Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Daisies are Forever by Liz Tosma

Oh my!! There are just some books that stand out among the rest. You know them well. They are written with passion and such grand emotion that each word makes a presence. You feel that you know the characters deeply and you want to know more about them. When you close the last page you feel that you have walked the journey side by side the characters. You have become friends. 

This is the first book I've read by Liz Tolsma. After reading this gem I'm super excited to grab up, "Snow on the Tulips". She is a gifted storyteller. I will definitely be watching and waiting for the next book penned by Liz. She is truly a gifted storyteller. 

I love history. I love this time period. Liz brings it all together. This is one of those books that could easily make it to the big screen. Although I will settle for a cozy quilt and a glass of ice tea. 

We begin our journey in Heiligenbeil, East Prussia in the year of 1945. Our journey lasts until 1946, where we find ourselves in Los, Angeles, California. Books such as this make you fall in love with history. They bring us to another time and place, allowing us to glimpse back in time to what was so real for others. This was such a devastating time. But in the midst of all the chaos and turmoil, Liz brings us characters that overcome. Gisela is such a strong character. Immediately I thought that having a girl like Gisela in your corner could easily push you onward with encouragement. She is one inspiring girl! Fear may try to engulf Gisela, but it doesn't hold her down. If anything it gives her power to carry on. 

This is writing at it's best. Superb! The story flows easily. It isn't so fast paced that you don't get to know the characters. Liz gives us time to embrace the characters and gives us a glimpse into their heart. Oh, yes, I LOVED this book. Friends, this is a novel you do not want to miss out on. A journey that surely touch your heart and leave you longing for more!

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

Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life. She and her husband have a son and two daughters, all adopted internationally. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. Visit Liz at 

The Holman Study Bible for Women

Holman is my absolute favorite Bible. This study Bible is the HCSB translation which is also my favorite! I have a copy of the HCSB Study Bible and it is my go to Bible for study. It is absolutely the best of the best! This study Bible is different. It is totally designed for women, which I love.  

First of all, when I am sitting down to study there is nothing so amazing as surrounding yourself with different versions of the Bible to get a total understanding of the scripture you are reading. Nothing like totally diving into the Word!

I was able to review the hardback copy of the Study Bible for Women. The hardback is just my preference. This is a beautiful Bible. The cover is very pretty, but the inside is gorgeous. The colors are soft blues and very inviting. 

This Bible holds many features that are super cool. This is not a devotional Bible. This is a study Bible. I encourage you to check out the links that connect you to B&H Publishing and you will find the perfect Bible that you are searching for. 

Some of the features that you will find in this Bible are, The Hard Questions. I love this! We all have questions and this Bible tackles some of those huge questions. They not only give the question, but more importantly they give outstanding answers that are backed up completely with scripture. For instance: Is there only one way to heaven?, How should I respond to rebuke from the Word of God?, In a culture that does not worship physical idols, how do God's warnings against idolatry apply to you today?, Can we trust the authorship of the Pentateuch?, What was the purpose of the law if it could not save a person? How can I trust a God who has allowed such terrible things to happen to people? 

Another great feature that I really like is the Biblical Womanhood sections. These bring us selections throughout the Bible that gives great insight of the Word of God and what it means to us as women. "The significance of Galatians 3:28", "Sexuality, Social ethics, and Hermeneutics", "A Mother's Influence", "A Gracious Woman" "The Responsibility of Parenthood", "Submission in the Old Testament", and many more. 

Throughout the Bible we find Word Study that is hugely helpful as one is studying the Word. It doesn't just give the worldly definition, but the Biblical definition and the foundation of the word and how it applies to the Word. 

I really enjoy the Character Profiles. These are wonderful in insights on the women of the Bible. Such as, The Wife of Ezekiel, Solomon's Pagan Wives, Naaman's Maidservant, Job's Wife, Sapphira, Candace, A Fortune Telling Slave Girl, and Lydia. What I love is that you are able to find the women of the Bible we are familiar with, but also women that you usually don't see highlighted in other Study Bibles for women. Each of these gives us great life lessons on being a woman of God.

Other highlights for me are, "Eight Key Words in Psalm 119", "Teachings from the Lord's Prayer", "Teachings on Suffering in 1 Peter", "Did a Righteous Mother Make the Difference?", "From Law to Love", and many, many more!!

There are also sections on Doctrine. This is key to understanding the Word of God. Yes, this Bible holds a wealth of information. There are time tables for each book of the Bible and explanations on each Book of the Bible.

This Bible truly holds great information. When I received my Bible for review I simply didn't want to put it down. This would make a wonderful gift for the woman in your life. A truly amazing Bible for a young woman. 

I love a Bible that gives a great concordance and this Holman Bible has a great one! The maps are in color and very bright. You could use this as your only Study Bible or as a combination with your favorite, but I guarantee this will become a favorite of yours too. 

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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris

If you haven't read a book penned by Lisa Harris yet you are missing out! She is gifted with the pen. She can bring a suspense novel to life. She lifts the characters off the pages with great detail and personality. We don't just see the characters at work, but we see their heart. We understand their actions. She gives us a glimpse into what makes them tick. 

Some people don't life cliff hangers. Some feel the story should end in one certain way or maybe just how they expected. Lisa Harris gives the unexpected. I love that she begins this second book by just picking up where the first book left off. Avery is still part of this novel and Mason too! I love both of these characters. Emily Hunt is Avery's sister and she just may be my favorite character. I admired her gentleness and sweet spirit, but when things get a little rough she isn't afraid to get in there and get the job done! 

Book three will release in 2015 and the story will continue. The Southern Crimes Series is a great read! In the back of the boo you are able to read an excerpt from book three. It looks fascinating!! The story picks up with Mason. This is an intricate story that is woven together with many characters. I suppose you could say that this is a story that contains many stories. But as we see it come together we see the talent of Lisa Harris. This is a mystery and romance novel that keeps one pondering. Sure, there are a few parts that I could see up ahead, but that's life, right? Sometimes we see what's coming, but then the unexpected happens and we are flown for a loop. 

I'd love for you to check out my review of the first book in the series, "Dangerous Passage". It's a terrific beginning to this continuing saga!

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

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award finalist, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has sold over thirty novels and novella collections. Along with her husband, she and her three children have spent over ten years living as missionaries in Africa where she homeschools, leads a women's group, and runs a nonprofit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for her to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves . . . the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice" (Proverbs 31:8).

When she's not working, she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa, visit her website at or her blog at For more information about The ECHO Project, please visit

Friday, May 2, 2014

Handcuffs and Gossip

Recently I got that midnight call no mother wants to receive. As soon as you hear the phone ring your alarm in your heart goes off. You begin counting kids and who is home and who isn't. For us we still have one at home, our son. In raising five children those midnight phone calls are almost expected. You count your blessings when you don't receive them, but when you do, you still count your blessings that God is there to get you through. 

On this night the call came from my son. As soon as I answered, I could hear his cry on the other end as he said, "Mom, I need you. I'm being arrested." My son was terrified. As you can imagine my heart was breaking. I was home alone. My husband was on his way to Chicago. In my dark room I felt my knees begin to shake. I felt as though my stomach wasn't going to stay put. Tears came as just hearing my son's voice. 

But then something else happened. The next person I heard from was the officer. Yes, I would love to give this man an award for being such a gentleman and a kind and compassionate officer. My son was speeding. When he was pulled over the officer told him there was a warrant out for his arrest. My son had no idea. Let me back up a bit. Yes, I have a son who seems to have a lead foot. (Although that foot of his isn't so heavy anymore.) He had gotten a ticket and paid his ticket. Had his receipt from paying his ticket. Turns out that the secretary of the attorney's office was stealing money. She had taken my son's money, sent out a receipt, and didn't follow through with her job. She pocketed the money and there was my son being arrested. 

My son was near our home. Not too far away. The officer spoke so kindly to my son. He allowed my son to drive his car to the local gas station and park it there so it wasn't on the highway to get stolen. Yes, the officer allowed my son the privilege of driving his car about fifteen miles or so to the gas station. Now, remember I spoke with the officer on the phone. He shared with me, "Ma'am, your son is okay. We will take care of him." Although I heard his words, my entire body was still shaking. 

He shared with me what bail would be. Since my husband was out on the road I knew I didn't have that much cash. I called our youngest daughter. Again, when you get a late night phone call you know it's not a something as to just say, "Hi, just wanted to say, I love ya." My daughter seen it was me on the phone and picked up immediately. Of course, she was thinking the worst. So, when I had finally gotten the words out that her brother had been arrested she was relieved. (With having two sons-in-law who are officers I knew my daughters would know what to do.) She said, "Mom, calm down. I will take care of everything." I knew she would. Our daughter is such a strong and confident woman. I'm so proud to call her my daughter. 

So, my son parked his car at the local gas station and my daughter was on her way to meet him at the county jail. My son sat in the front seat of the officer's car. He treated my son with such kindness. They shared conversation in that front seat. Once at the jail, the officer told my son that he was sorry, but he would have to handcuff him as they walked into the station or he would lose his job. 

As they entered, my son looked around and was seated by men who were there for much different reasons. The officers in the station kidded with my son. They treated him as if he were a person. I can tell you they treated him much different than those who would later hear this news. As soon as he was in the building the cuffs came off. He was probably there for maybe thirty minutes. His photo was taken. He wasn't fingerprinted or put in a cell. My daughter was there to meet him with bail. They left together and my son had a long drive home with a huge life lesson he would carry with him for years to come. 

I can tell you that this momma cried. I was on my knees before the Lord begging that He keep His protective hand upon my son. I prayed my son home. It was late when he finally arrived home. We hugged and went to bed. We would talk when morning came. 

My son shared with me the entire story. It would be later that we would find out that the secretary had stolen the money meant to pay for my son's ticket. I am in no way dismissing my son's actions. He shouldn't have been speeding. Praise Jesus, it was that officer that pulled over my son. He treated my son as if he were his own child.

God knew what would occur on this night. He was already busy orchestrating the entire evening putting everyone in their perfect place. He happened to be right inside our county lines. He happened to have the officer who shown great kindness. My daughter just happened to be home and not away at a business meeting. Everything that happened that night flowed perfectly with God's protective and mighty hand. This was a night my son would never forget and one that his mother would learn from. Sometimes it's those hardest lessons in life that bring us to where the Lord wants us to be.  

My son has learned a great many lessons over the past few years. He has learned that each choice has a consequence. But sadly, he too has learned that judgement and gossip make for some heart lessons that are difficult to heal. 

Here in our county there is an app for cell phones that allows you to see those who have been arrested. Yes, my son's photo and information could be seen on that app. Judgement came before he could explain. Gossip began without the entire story being known. 

As my son was shopping for me he came across a couple we had attended church with. The first thing he hears is, "So, we heard you went to jail." What a way to begin a conversation. See, the thing is, this young lady had actually spend many months in jail for a crime. But somehow her actions were forgotten and it was now easy to pass judgement on another. My son didn't bother with sharing the details of his night. There was no need. Judgement had already been passed and gossip still continued. 

Why is it that we do such things? We forget that we too are sinners. We forget that each of us have a past. Not too long after all of this took place I was looking out our window and there in our driveway were two police officers with two young men pulled over. I watched as they searched them and their vehicle. I caught myself judging these two young men has handcuffs were put on one of them and the other was allowed to drive off. I heard the Lord whisper, "You don't know. Just pray for these young men." I was immediately convicted. But this is what we do, isn't it? We quickly judge. We don't even care to know the story behind the cuffs. We just take what we know and run with it. 

Now as I even see someone pulled over by an officer on the side of the road I am very cautious to pass judgement. There is a story there. What could I do as I pass by? I could simply pray. God knows the situation and isn't that really all that matters? I don't have to know what's going to pray for the young man or woman.

We never know the heart of another. One thing I do know for sure is that God has a plan. He uses in everything in our lives to bring us closer to Him. As our son's parents we didn't condemn him. We were not happy that he had gotten yet another ticket, but this was a valuable life lesson for him. God used this night to bring about many things that would turn his life around. Friends, we must remember the sweet grace of God is greater than all of our sin. How we treat others impacts life greatly. Might we think about how we would like to be treated before we quickly come to judgement for another human being. 

See, some of our mistakes are hidden within our homes. No one sees our sin. But there are other times our mistakes are seen by others. Our sin is wide open for all to see. You know what that young couple could have done when they seen my son? They could have simply said, "Hey, how ya doing?" Isn't it always better to give encouragement than to tear a person down? What took place in their conversation impacted my son on a great level. To his thinking, he was simply no good. He was the kid who made a mistake and now everyone seen him as just that. See, they didn't see the good that he had done that week. They didn't know the heart of my son or what he had learned. They didn't seem to care. They just wanted him to know they knew he went to jail. But for that young woman, I would have liked to know how she feels about being forgiven of her time spent in jail. Yes, she could have easily offered my son great encouragement. But instead of encouragement or a kind word, my son received judgement in the form of, "We know what you did". 

Might we remember the next time we see one who is being pulled over or whatever the circumstance may be that we do not come to assume we know what's taking place. May we not give judgement, but live to encourage and inspire with the love of Christ. Encouragement before condemnation. And always, always, sweet grace.

"The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:20-21

"Do not judge, so that you won't be judged. For with the judgement you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye but don't notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and look, there's a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5

"Don't criticize one another, brothers. He who criticizes a brother or judges his brother criticizes the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. but who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:11-12

"Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. We know that God's judgement on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you really think-anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same-that you will escape God's judgement?" Romans 2:1-3


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