Friday, March 28, 2014

Downtime Healing

Bandages cover up what the eye isn't ready to see. 

They come off. The bruises are dull and ugly. 

The pain is real and deep. 

Healing begins. At first each movement is agony. I'm almost afraid to move. But I gently wiggle my thumb to make sure..well..to make sure of what I'm not sure. Maybe just that I can feel it. Oh, but I don't want to feel the pain. It's intense. I'm wishing for the day when the pain has disappeared. 

There is numbness. But underneath that numb is life beating. 

I must face my limitations. That's not easy. It's almost unheard of. I'm not one to sit and wait. Patience is a lesson I'm still learning. This is a lesson that doesn't come easy, but it's one that I'm facing head on. After surgery I'm not able to do much of anything. As I peck away at the keys with my left hand, my right there screaming at me. "I wanna be used!" 

Just as beauty flows from the deep inside, healing to begins within. Tiny moments of feeling return. The bruises are fading. Skin is being rejuvenated with moisturizer. Slowly what was broken is being renewed. 

It's a journey. Not even a day by day journey, but a moment by moment. One step forward and two steps back. 

In stillness healing takes place. In rest peace is found. In time God transforms. 

My old hand may never be. I may not be able to write perfection. A softball may not fly from my hand again. But new has been gifted. 

The day will soon come that I  can brush the hair from my granddaughter's face. I can hold a barbie doll and pretend. I can push my grandson on the swing and tie his shoes. I can touch the face of our newest grandchild and with a kiss I can welcome this precious babe into the world. 

So much beauty to be shared. To be touched by the grace of God is to simply open my hands to Him. To look heavenward and feel the warmth of His mercy washed upon me. 

God often works in unconventional ways to bring us into the stillness of hearing His whisper. He has used this surgery to bring me closer to Him. Just a little downtime has a way of putting everything into perspective for us, doesn't it? We realize what is most valuable and what isn't of such high importance. 

So, what am I learning as I travel this road to healing? It takes time. Healing cannot be rushed. The bruises I still carry mean there is deep wounds. The stitches I can see are a reminder that healing isn't complete. The pain is still raw and there are nights that tears flow, but with that ugly pain and cheeks of pink, there too are mornings of sunshine and pure joy. 

I've spent time reading and reading and reading. Did I say, reading? I've studied until my eyes are blurred. The Word of God has been even more prevalent. Prayer is forever alive. Yes, this is what downtime is teaching me. There are times I need to slow down and just simply be. I need to let go of everything that isn't a deep priority and allow someone else to take the lead. I need to accept help and most of all I need to realize, that no matter the journey, I am never alone. 

I've had to admit to myself that I can't do everything. There are times in life where limitations hold us, but as I meet my limitations I too remind myself that there are no limitations for my Savior. He is capable of meeting my every need. 

Friend, I'm not sure what your facing today, but please know that your not alone. There isn't any facet of your life that God is not seeing and not moving in. There isn't anything wrong with downtime. In fact, it's something we often don't choose, but something God often sets in our path to teach and guide us to learn lessons we would never learn any other way.

"For we know all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

Monday, March 24, 2014

Guest Post written by friend Debbie Dillon

"She Bloomed Today!"
by
Debbie Dillon



She bloomed today!

After weeks of watching, waiting, watering, and yes…even a little praying…the long-anticipated event has come!

I stood there admiring her beauty over the rim of my coffee cup, me with my oh-so-alluring morning hair and sleepy smile.

She’d sat so long in the bud stage until finally this morning she announced her presence in a big, bright way. She caught my eye through the kitchen window all dressed in her vibrant coral red and I hurried out to greet her.

Seems the whole garden is just in that bud stage right now; holding life and color tightly beneath folded petals until just that right moment when it gets the official OK to throw back the covers of winter and bring glory to the new season.

Seems like such a tragedy to spend so much time in the bud stage…      doesn’t it?

All that time lost; weeks, months, years spent with arms folded and eyes downcast refusing to look at the world around us and fearful of sharing our many colors. I often write of those I’ve experienced who’ve gone through an entire lifetime tightly guarded, cautious, fearful and refusing to unfurl their gifts and talents… unyielding and unwilling to allow the heart to dream.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 
(1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,” 
(Ephesians 4:11)

I just want to encourage you today, friend…let the voice of your Creator speak louder than your fear. God will only ask you to share what He’s already equipped you to give!

Know that the world needs your passion!

It needs your heart and your many colors unfurled!

Share what makes your heart sing – chances are, you’ll encourage other hearts to sing along!

And when they do, the angels will rejoice and the trumpets will sound in a glorious, “Hallelujah! She bloomed today!”




About the Author: I’m Debbie Dillon, Founder/Editor of Christian Women’s Voice Magazine. I’ve been married to my Matthew for 25 years. I’m also a mom, church secretary, freelance writer, serious coffee drinker, chocolate devourer and dog lover. I love to cook and work in my garden, but I’m most passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with women all across the country. Visit me at christianwomensvoice.org and also my blog: writin4him.blogspot.com



Friends, isn't Debbie just lovely? Can you see her sweet spirit as the Lord flows through her writing? I encourage you all to take time and visit Deb's website where she writes regularly and also visit the site of Christian Women's Voice, a wonderful magazine that is sure to bless all.  Debbie, you bless me, dear friend. You pen from the heart and it always reaches deep for me. Thank you for sharing a guest post as I am recovering from surgery and unable to write. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We Will Catch Up Soon!!

This morning I was in search of comforting words. I pulled out a favorite Bible and opened to an old marker that brought a smile to my face. I looked across the page at the highlighted words that stood out. 

"For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory." 
Psalm 32:7

That's pretty comforting isn't it? When the heart is anxious the mind cannot focus. All we see in sight is the fear of what we are facing. But if we can take our eyes off that shouting anxiety and focus on Jesus, wow, does He always bring us through. He never fails us. He never leaves us to face things alone. He is there before we ever see the fear. He knows what we are about to face and He too knows just what we need to bring us through to victory. 

I continued to follow through my Bible and stop at all the markers I have placed. Don't you just love how God gives us the Word we need exactly when we need it?

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he had 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

Just the words this anxious girl needed. See, tomorrow at 9:15 I will be in surgery. This will be the third surgery I have had on my right hand. This one is a bit more detailed and will take a bit more time of recovery. I have a collapsed thumb. Oh, there's a fancy name for it, but you get the picture. My thumb is no longer where it's suppose to be. It's about a half an inch shorter than my other thumb now. It has been quite painful. So, it's time to get it taken care of. It's not a surgery I'm looking forward to. I suppose that's a silly statement. Who actually looks forward to surgery? I am though looking forward to healing. 

About a month ago I made my appointment for surgery. Funny how that date seems to sneak up on you. Almost as if to shout, "Surprise!!". I think more than anything I'm nervous about the block. Yep, that big horse needle that goes in right under my collar bone hurts like...well..you can very well imagine how it hurts. But at least after the surgery I won't feel anything at all for a while. That is until my fingers begin to tingle and it's then you know that pretty soon your going to feel your entire hand and arm. Yikes! Lol

So, as you can see I have been catching up on book reviews. That's about all I've been posting lately. If you have time, check a few of them out. You are sure to find a terrific book to enjoy for an afternoon. Take a look back at my older posts. Just maybe you will find something new you have yet to read and find it to be a blessing. 

This will be my last post for a while. I'm not sure how long, but at least two-three weeks. I will then be hen pecking with my left hand. After a few weeks I will be facing quite a bit of therapy. I hope you'll stick with me. I am sure to have LOTS to share. A writer will always find a way to write!! Hopefully I will have a few guest posts from friends to share with you too. That's always a treat. You too can visit my favorite sites. You can see them listed at the side of my blog. 

As I pour over scripture I am finding more and more verses to quiet my nervousness. I imagine it will spring up once again in the morning as I ready to leave for the hospital. But the Lord is quick to remind me that I'm not alone and I too have my ever amazing husband at my side. 

It's important to keep a good perspective. Even on my worst day there is one who is facing much more. My worst day is someone else's best day. Think about that? Tomorrow morning could hold so much more for me. Things that would make my surgery look like baking a cake. 

Friends, there will be times in our journey where we must face our fears. We simply have to do things we don't want to do. This is where faith is made. This is where we see Jesus do His thing. The thing that only He can do. He quiets us and washes us in calm. As we look to Him, He grows our trust moment by moment. 

One way Jesus is quieting this nervous Nelly is to remind me to be thankful. In fact, throughout the day I will be penning my thankful list. How about you? Have you thought about all that you are thankful for? It is a wondrous way to remain focused on what is important. Tomorrow morning will pass. There will be a time where I look back and see just how God was preparing me for another chapter to my journey. One thing is for sure. I will look back and see that He was there with me every step of the way. 

Until we meet again I pray you all enjoy the arrival of spring and may blessings be around every corner for you. 

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Summer of Joy by Ann Gabhart

Oh, how I love visiting Hollyhill again. It's one of those places you love to return to. One of those towns where the people genuinely care for one another. Where everything seems possible, even in a small rural town, where life can be quiet. But life doesn't stay quiet for very long in Hollyhill. I'm so happy to once again read more about lively Jocie. She stole my heart in book one of the series, "Scent of Lilacs", (check out my review). 

I'm sad to say I missed book two of the series, Orchard of Hope. It is one I'm going to have to go back and read. But all three surround the main character, Jocie Brooks. She is growing up quite fast, but once again it is pure joy to take part in her journey. 

We are in the summer of 1964 when change seems adamant. So much is taking place with the characters of Hollyhill. New comers join the story. Some are joyful, but others are unwanted. There is a sweet marriage taking place, a teacher that is out of control, a stalker on the loose, and a returning character that brings Jocie to open her heart after it had broken. 

Jocie is a character that is fun loving, spunky, and one that speaks her mind. I can relate to her on so many levels. My tongue often gets me in trouble too. Jocie wants peace to touch those she loves. Jocie loves the character named Jes. He is her adopted grandpa and when a family member visits town to see Jes, Jocie is torn. She doesn't want anyone taking her special place in his heart. She is very protective of everyone. She is such a strong character, yet vulnerable in many ways. I admire her spirit. 

Ann Gabhart pens stories that touch the heart. I have read most of her books. Two of my favorites are, "Angel Sister" and "Small Town Girl". Ann's series are warm and inviting. You open one of her books and you know right from the start she is going to share a story that will bring you to another place and time, but always bring you right to the love of Christ. She is a favorite author of mine. I hope we see more of Jocie Brooks. She is a character worthy of sharing. 

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

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author ofAngel SisterSmall Town Girl, and Words Spoken True, as well as several Shaker novels--The OutsiderThe BelieverThe SeekerThe Blessed, and The Gifted--and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Distorton by Terri Blackstock

"Distortion", is fast paced and intriguing. You can never go wrong with Terri Blackstock. She is one of my favorites for a suspenseful read. A few of my favorite series from Blackstock are, The Cape Refuge Series, The Restoration Series, and Newpointe 911. She writes fascinating. She has the gift to pull the reader in within the first few sentences. I often wonder while writing does she sit in a dark room with creepy music playing. Her stories take the reader on a journey of unexpected twists and turns. I've never been disappointed by Terri Blackstock. 

With her newest addition to the Moonlighters Series, "Distortion", keeps you turning pages. She writes with such depth and you don't know what is unfolding in the next pages. That's why her reads are unputdownables. Once you begin reading you're addicted. I started reading this last night and literally devoured it with a few hours. 

The first in the series is, "Truth Stained Lies", which I enjoyed immensely. You don't have to read the first in this series to enjoy this read. But as with any of Blackstock's series, it's always a huge benefit to the reader to begin with the first. By first reading, "Truth Stained Lies", you will have a greater understanding of the characters and the story-line. 

There have been deaths in the family. Murders to be exact and now this family is turned upside down once again as evil finds a way into their lives. The main character is Juliet Cole. It's just a normal kind of day. She and her husband are helping her sister move and something goes horribly wrong. The story escalates from there. Oh, the consequences that touch us from the actions of others. 

Throughout this story you will find the good guys and the villains. Sometimes it's hard to tell who is on which side. The lines get blurred and truth is questioned. As the truth is uncovered there is more and more to try to understand. But as we see, one cannot understand evil. Distortion is a great title. One of the characters in this story leads a double life. I found myself asking just how one could live this way, but as we see, in a distorted world it's sometimes easy to get sucked into a life that exceeds our entire belief system.

Okay, remember when I said it would be beneficial to read the first in the series? This novel leaves the reader hanging a bit. We don't really have all the answers as to why things happened the way they did. As with reading other series penned by Blackstock, I can only imagine she will catch us up when the third book is released. 

I LOVED this read and I highly recommend it. Get ready. It's a fast paced ride!

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


Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times Bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as series such as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Learn more about Terri Blackstock by visiting her website www.terriblackstock.com.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox

What a sweet read! If you are a parent this book is going to make you think. I think with raising five children with my husband and now being a grandparent, this book was all the more poignant for me. I could relate to most of the characters in one way or another. 

This story opens with a graduation and a party. Lets face it. Not every day is a party. Some stand out more than others. Some we wish we had a do over. Being a parent is a roller coaster ride. We see that through the characters in this story. Each family seems to be facing a different situation at the time. 

There is Butch and his daughter, Ava. Their home is now absent of the love of Butch's life and the mother that would guide Ava is so many ways. Butch doesn't exactly know how to be involved in Ava's life. He worked and counted on Jenny to be with his daughter. Now he is looking back and realizing just how much time he has wasted. We see how both are struggling in different ways with the death of Jenny. 

There is Charles and Helen. They are a super busy family and these parents love to gift their children. Can you relate to this? I think every parent can relate to this couple in one way or another. They love their children by giving them all they can. There seems to be nothing out of their reach. We see the struggles this family faces through the choices they have made. 

Tippy and Daphne are first time parents. As the story begins they are awaiting their first born. The sweet babe comes and now life has changed forever. They are anxious that they won't make all the right decisions. I too remember those days of bringing home my daughter all wrapped in pink. 

Larry and Beth are the parents I think I could relate to the most. The empty nest can be a transition that knocks you off your feet. With one leaving for college and one announcing she is getting married, wow, that's enough to bring a parent to their knees. 

This is one of those stories that is so eye opening and one that every parent and grandparent can relate to. There were parts that brought tears as I remembered our 18 summers and parts where I giggled with the reality these characters were facing. 

I love the message the Rene and Michelle share throughout this story. We have a choice. We can be involved and embrace every moment of our 18 summers or we can look back once the nest is empty with a heart of regret. Each summer seems to fly by. I hear parents saying how happy they will be glad when school begins. But those summers go by quicker than any of us realize. Pretty soon we are watching our grandchildren learn to crawl. 

I truly enjoyed this novel. The walk away gift from the message is priceless. It is not only a gentle whisper to embrace today, but one that brings forth every emotion possible. 

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


Michelle Cox is a speaker, songwriter, conference and webinar instructor, and the author of seven books.  She has been a guest on numerous radio and television programs, including Hannity, The Harvest Show and Focus on the Family. Most importantly, she's a wife, mom to three sons, and grandmother of five perfect grandchildren. Visit her websites at:
www.michellecoxinspirations.com and www.just18summers.com.


Rene Gutteridge is the award-winning and bestselling author of twenty-two novels, including her latest releases, Misery Loves Company (suspense), Greetings from the Flipside (comedy), and Heart of the Country (drama). Her recent suspense titles also include ListenPossession, and Escapement. She has novelized seven screenplays and movies, including two new releases due out in 2014, Just 18 Summers and Old FashionedNever the Bride, a romantic comedy with screenwriter Cheryl McKay, won the Carol Award in 2010 for best women's fiction.

Her indie film—the comedy Skid, based on her novel—is in postproduction and due to release in 2014. Rene is a creative consultant on Boo, a film based on her beloved novel series, which is in development at Sodium Entertainment with Cory Edwards attached as director and Andrea Nasfell as screenwriter. Rene is also a cowriter in a collaborative comedy project called The Last Resort with screenwriters Torry Martin and Marshal Younger. Find Rene on Facebook and Twitter or at her website, www.renegutteridge.com.


Friday, March 7, 2014

A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Moseley

Meg Moseley is a master storyteller. She has once again penned a work of art. First we are drawn in with a spectacular cover. Those three blackberries and red stained hands add wondrously to what is found within these pages. The title is ingenious. We don't learn until later into the story what the cover and title give clue to. This is just the beginning. No pages have yet been opened and I'm intrigued.

The characters are deep and real. They are characters we can relate to. They are childhood friends who made a pack long ago to always be there for one another. Each character carrying their own secrets. Their own issues in life. But what I love about these characters is they don't place blame. They don't look back on their childhood and see tragedy. Sure, they see hardship. They see life as it truly was for them. But they are over-comers. They took the life given and didn't give in to what was, but created something much more.

The dialog they share is what makes this novel so rich. The writer goes below the surface and brings out every emotion of these characters. She brilliantly ties them all together and with this we enjoy a story woven together like the strings of a Dogwood tree.

Some may say that faith doesn't play a huge roll in this novel. I don't agree. Faith is huge. Faith doesn't have to be shouted to be understood. We see faith grow within these characters. We see them struggle and go back and forth.

I could tell you the plot of the story and give you chapter by chapter description, but that would ruin the enjoyment of this novel for you. What I love about this story is how every single circumstance is connected. Every choice brings us to a consequence, good or bad. This story was fast paced for me. It was an unputdownable for sure. It was a story of suspense just as much as it was romance. It is about uncovering the truth and believing in something even when no one is ready to walk with you into the unknown.

A part that stands out to me is one character is seeking forgiveness. He has held guilt for his actions for many years now, but the man that he hurt already forgave him long ago. His actions were not remembered. They were forgotten when forgiveness came alive.

Moseley has intertwined fascinating characters in a small town where it's hard to tell rumor from truth with people understanding that everything is not black and white. This is one of those majestic stories that isn't easy to describe with just a few words. I can tell you that I loved this story. I admire a writer who pens a story that leaves me pondering. One that opens my heart and leaves me wanting more.

I highly recommend this novel. It's a journey you will not regret.

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

Meg Moseley is still a Californian at heart although she's lived more than half her life in other states. Holding jobs that ranged from candle-maker to administrative assistant, Meg eventually contributed human-interest pieces for a suburban edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contemporary fiction remains her real love, and she's the author of When Sparrows Fall and Gone South. She lives in Atlanta near the foothills of the Southern Appalachians with her husband.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

inScribed Collection by Donna Gaines (Leaving Ordinary), Wendy Blight (Living "So That"), Heather Zempel (Amazed and Confused), Jenifer Jernigan (Dive Deeper)

Since this is a collection of Bible studies I am going to do it a bit different. First I'm going to share with you the description that Thomas Nelson gives for these extraordinary studies and then I will share my thoughts. 

"Leaving Ordinary" by Donna Gaines
The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and be known by God. God longs for an intimate relationship with us as well. But how do we develop that kind of relationship with a holy God? It is one thing to long for such a relationship, but quite another to experience intimacy with Him. In Leaving Ordinary, Donna Gaines shares from her personal experience how prayer can become the channel that links the believer’s heart to the heart of God.
God gave the pattern of the tabernacle to the Israelites. It was a temporary and portable dwelling for His glory. Through it God taught them how to approach and worship Him before He led them to their reward—the promised land. Using the tabernacle and its articles as a guide, Donna teaches readers how to interact with God in that secret place of true intimacy that leads to worship. Your ordinary daily practice of prayer can become an extraordinary encounter with the living Lord. Leaving Ordinary is essential reading for anyone who desires to enter into and experience the reality of God’s presence.
"Living "So That"" by Wendy Blight
In today’s world, it’s tough to make everyday decisions, let alone decisions that honor God. Our culture is increasingly driven by selfish desires. However, as Christians, our lives should not be self-centered and static; they should be others-centered and active, making a difference for the Kingdom of God.
Living "So That" is a fresh approach to understanding God's Word, focusing on many of the powerful "so that" verses in Scripture, including Jesus Came So That. . .; God Spoke So That. . .; Pray So That. . .; Trials Come So That. . . . Through her approachable style, personal examples, and biblical teaching, Wendy equips readers to take what they study in the Word of God and practically live it out in order to impact the world around them. The result is a renewed appreciation for the power and applicability of Scripture. Through practical examples and biblical truths, Wendy helps readers gain a new perspective on daily living, equipping them to apply these biblical truths to present-day decision-making.
"Amazed and Confused" by Heather Zempel
Most people have prayed for something or someone in earnest, seeking God’s will, only to be left confused by God’s response. Sometimes we ask, “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” InAmazed and Confused, Heather Zempel tackles this question head-on by exploring the book of Habakkuk.
When the prophet Habakkuk prayed that God would bring change to the backsliding nation of Israel, this issue came to the forefront. Habakkuk begged God for revival and that He would turn the hearts of faithless people back to Him.
God’s answer to Habakkuk was, “Take a look at the nations and watch what happens! You will be shocked and amazed” (1:5, The Voice). The vision God gave Habakkuk was one of warfare and exile. How do you respond when God answers your prayers in a way that seems out of line with his character and promises?
Amazed and Confused proceeds systematically through the book of Habakkuk, exploring the prophet’s prayer, God’s response, and the prophet’s journey from confusion to worship. This interactive Bible study is the perfect choice for those who are hurting and confused about God’s responses to their prayers.
"Dive Deeper" by Jenifer Jernigan
Equip yourself to fall deeply in love with God's Word through this unique, interactive Bible study. Delving into the book of Ephesians, Dive Deeper is a tool for women—those who might be satisfied and content with their Bible study and for those who find themselves fearful or numb—to dive deeper into the living and active Word of God.
Dive Deeper comes from Jenifer Jernigan's heart. As a preacher’s daughter, she grew up with some pretty heavy expectations to live up to. Jenifer found herself becoming numb to the things of God because the Bible stories were all too familiar. She longed to break through the serene surface of her safe place and dive deeper into scripture. She wanted to fall in love with the stories she knew so well. Over time, Jenifer learned to do just that. Her unique methods are shared in this one-of-a-kind study. Dive Deeper takes readers by the hand and jumps with them into the exhilarating waters of Bible study.
My thoughts:  These studies are fantastic in every way. First, I simply love the books. The style and the pages are inviting and beautiful. I went through, "Dive Deeper", first and my immediate thoughts were that this was going to be my favorite by far. But then I opened up, "Living So That", and was blown away. This just had to be my favorite of the study. Not so fast. I began reading, "Leaving Ordinary", and again found it to be far above my expectations. I ended with, "Amazed and Confused", and this too was exceptional. 

The ladies share from their own lives stories that will encourage and inspire. They give great Biblical examples and use the Word in such an easy and understanding way. Get your pen and your highlighter ready. I can honestly say that this is one of the best studies I have had the pleasure of reading. I can't wait to actually sit down and go through slowly and on my own time to truly soak in each and every morsel of wisdom these ladies share. 

These are wonderful studies to do on your own or in a small group. They would make for excellent Sunday school lessons. Maybe just get together once a week with girlfriends and go over all you have learned for the week. 

I was familiar with Wendy Blight from Proverbs 31 Ministries. I too have read posts from Jenifer Jarnigan from Internet Cafe Devotions. Donna Gaines and Heather Zempel are new to me, but as with each of these ladies they have their own unique style of writing and teaching. With each study there are valuable lessons to learn. I would highly recommend these selections for Bible study. 

If there is one thing I would have to list as a dislike it would be that much of the scripture is from The Voice translation and for me, The Voice isn't one that I connect with, but you may very well fall in love with God's Word through this translation. Not all scripture is from The Voice translation, but when not emphasized it is. That would be my only complaint, but with each study I do, I always have my favorite Bible on hand, with a few others and compare the scripture so I can understand in full measure the meaning. 


This collection of inScribed Bible studies is a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Little Pine Tree by Mark E. Labriola Sr. GIVE-A-WAY

This just may be the sweetest children's book I have read in many years. I must say I cannot wait for my grandchildren to be able to take part in this story beautifully penned by author, Mark E. Labriola

Who doesn't love a Give-A-Way? Mark was kind enough to send an extra copy for one of you. All you have to do is leave a comment under this review along with your email so I can contact you to let you know you are the winner! I will announce the winner March 8.

Now, let me share with you a little about this precious book. Mark sweetly shares with us a story of a lonely pine tree. This little tree just wants to be used greatly. He wants to have a purpose. But he seems to be waiting and waiting for that purpose. Still yet, in that waiting God was preparing this little pine tree for a mighty purpose. 

In the beginning of the story a little boy comes to visit the tree. Many years pass and we come to a page in the story where the Roman soldiers are cutting down this little pine tree. He doesn't understand what is happening. But then the fullness of what is happening brings the pine tree to understand he is being used as the cross for Jesus. He doesn't want this job. This is horrific to him. He didn't want to be used in such a way. But then Jesus rises and He asks this pine tree if he remembers Him. Jesus goes on to tell him that when He was a little boy He always knew he would be His cross. 

Mark illustrates beautifully the sweet grace of God and how each of us have a unique gift to be used for His glory. Through the telling of the pine tree the salvation message is shared in such a way that little ones will enjoy this story for years to come. 

This would be a great book for your church library. To share in Sunday school. In any area where you have an open door to share the beauty of the cross. 

Mark brings us right to the cross with this beautiful story. This would make for a wonderful Easter gift for your children and grandchildren. It would be a blessing to sit and read it as a family. Little ones may not fully grasp the connection to the cross and Christ, but they will love this story and as they grow and as you continue to share this story with them it will bring them to ask questions and open a door.

I received a copy of, "The Little Pine Tree", for review from author Mark E. Labriola Sr.  for sharing my review with you. 


RESTLESS A DVD Based Study by Jennie Allen

I reviewed Jennie Allen's book, "Restless" (check out my review), and LOVED IT! Not long after I finished the book I was sent the DVD Study. I was blown away that I had received this beautifully boxed gift. Just a few days earlier some friends and I were chatting about doing a weekly study and decided to pray about it as the Lord led us to seek out great studies. When this gem arrived I just smiled. I knew just what God had in store. 

The study comes with the DVD, study book, leader guide, and cards. I think it would be super possible to also add in her book along with the study. This is a powerful study about understanding that we were made for more. We have purpose. God has a plan for each day of our lives. That alone should motivate us to seeking Him and His will for our lives. 

So, this is an eight week study. This is one of those studies that you could literally do on any time frame. Jennie is one of those girls next door. As you watch the DVD you see the love of God flow from her. She encourages us to open up and be real. We shouldn't hold back, but be open to all God has for us. 

I love the cards that come with the study. Each time you meet with your group the cards are a valuable tool. Here are her ground rules for using the cards: 
  • Be concise.
  • Keep sharing confidential.
  • Rely on Scripture for truth.
  • No counseling.
Each girl grabs her favorite card and get started by simply sharing. The cards go with every chapter of the book. You may not get through all of them, but it doesn't matter how many you get to, as long you just open up and allow the Spirit to move. Here are a few examples of questions:

Restless:
  • If you could do anything and nothing was holding you back, what would you do?
  • What things keep you from dreaming?
  • In what ways do you feel restless right now? Do you think it is a sin, or is God moving you toward more?
  • What discouragement have you faced when you've dreamed in the past?
Gifts:
  • What do you think you do well?
  • What keeps you from using your gifts?
  • What do you imagine God could do through you if you really used your gifts?


God's Story:
  • What do you think God wants from you?
  • Describe the moment that you saw your need for Jesus and He saved you, or describe what holds you back from a moment like that.
  • How do you want this story to impact your dreams for your life?
  • What is difficult for you to believe about God's story?


Suffering:
  • Is it difficult to believe God is in control of your life?
  • What is your hope as you process the suffering in your life?
  • Are you angry with God about the suffering you have faced or are facing?
  • Tell a short story from your own life or from someone you know about how ministry is birthed from suffering.

This study is literally for everyone. There is something for all to grasp from this wondrous study. I love how Jennie takes us through the life of Joseph and allows us to see how God moved in his life to bring him to where God wanted him. Jennie shares how there is nothing random in our lives. We can clearly see this in the life of Joseph. 

Yes, this is the most amazing study I have yet to come across. It's one I highly recommend!!

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. 

Ask Me Anything, Lord (Opening Our Lives to God's Questions) by Heather C. King

Heather C. King brings us a wonderful soul searching book. Her book, "Ask Me Anything, Lord" came out in November 2013. I received this book for review and found it to be right on time. Don't you love when God does that? 

"Do you want to delve deeper in our relationship with God? Do you want to become a vessel fit for His use and designed to bring Him glory? Do you want to stop hiding from Him in shame? Do you want to clean out the closets of your heart? Do you want to received the fullness of the blessing He's intended for you? Then journey with me through the questions that God asked in Scripture. He asked them of people just like you and me. People who were not perfect and sometimes had secret sins they were trying to hide. People He was calling into revolutionary, powerful ministry, but who first needed to know that He could and would equip them for their calling. And now He asks them of us, Christ followers on a journey to Christlikeness." 

Heather gets personal. She shares personal stories from her life. She brings us personal stories from scripture of those who found God asking them questions. She also asks us questions. Deep questions that only bring us to seek Christ more and more. This is one of the most reflecting books I've had the pleasure of reviewing. What I love about Heather is that fact that she goes below the surface. She goes deep. Deep into the heart. 

I am a chatterbox with the Lord. I'm often asking Him question after question and telling Him all of my desires, but there are times when I don't give Him room in my life to truly answer. But what Heather helps me see is the fact that God asks some pretty amazing questions. Sometimes I'm too busy to hear His whispers, so He speaks louder until He has my attention and there are many ways He will get my attention. What I learn from Heather is through allowing myself to hear God's questions much growth can come. I have to have patience and understand that when He asks a question there is purpose behind it. The purpose is for me to seek Him more and to open my life up to all of Him. 

I connected with Heather throughout these pages. Maybe because she is so real and there isn't anything fancy about her words. Nothing there to distract me from the truth of the message. They are simply beautiful words that flow from a woman of God, who has a desire to bring others to understand the truths that she has found.  The words flow so easily it brings the reader to feel as if she is sitting across from Heather with an open Bible for study. 

We often wrestle with questions such as, "Where we are to be?" or "What we are to do in life?"  In our day to day lives that shout busy, God is asking questions. I need to turn off all the junk in my life and tune in to His voice. 

One chapter that stands out for me is the chapter entitled, "Truly Trusting". Heather shares her own personal story of waiting on the Lord and learning to trust Him, but she also shares the story of Hagar. After each chapter Heather brings about a few points for us to ponder over. Make it Personal, Make it Connect, Make it Real, and Make it Last. This is the time for the reader to dive into the Word and live out what you have just learned. 

This is a book I highly recommend. It could even be used as a great small study guide. I can't wait to see what's next for Heather C. King. She is truly a woman on a mission to share the love of Christ and teach others how to draw near to Him. 

This book was a gift from Discovery House Publishers for sharing my review with you. 

Heather C. King is a Bible study teacher, women's ministry leader, and blogger with a desire to help others apply God's Word to the clutter, noise, and busyness of everyday life. She lives in Virginia with her husband and four children.

The Dating Game 101 Stories about Looking for Love and Finding Fairytale Romance! by Chicken Soup for the Soul

If you love short stories you can't go wrong with a Chicken Soup book. If you are encouraged and inspired by people sharing true stories this book is for you! I received this selection around Valentines Day and although I'm a little late at sharing, this would make for a great bedside book for the book lover in your life. 

Emotional, funny, meant to be, stories about love. There are stories that will have the tears flowing and stories get tickle your funny bone. But most of all, there are stories that touch the heart. 

Bad dates, blind dates,  and happily ever after stories that will leave you feeling blessed. Who doesn't want to read stories of love? They leave us feeling warm and fuzzy. They give us hope and most of all they open our eyes to all the possibilities of love. Of all the Chicken Soup books I have been blessed to review this just may be at the top of my favorites. 

If you love the Chicken Soup books this is another I recommend. There is just something beautiful about normal people coming together and sharing their stories of love. A collection of moments that show us the value of love. 

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

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