Saturday, January 31, 2015

Anna Touched by The Savior

Anna is known as the willing servant. What a glorious character trait to be known by. Anna is the Mother-in-Law of Simon Peter. 

She has become sick. She's bedridden. We don't happen to know her illness, but Jesus does. He knows the moment she began feeling bad. He too knows the moment He will be asked to come into her room and bring healing to her. Friends, nothing escapes our Savior's knowledge. 

She has a fever. This is what touches my heart. Jesus comes to her. They didn't have a thermometer to gauge just how high her fever was. But Jesus knew the seriousness of her illness. 

When my children were sick I would touch my cheek to theirs. I would place my hand upon them and pray over them. There were nights sleep never came. This is the love a mother has for her children. It's tender and passionate. A mother prays for healing. She places a cold cloth upon their head, gets them into the tub if necessary. There were quite a few occasions we visited the emergency room. Prayer flowed from my lips. 

What did they do when Anna became sick? They called for the Healer. The Great Physician. It wasn't anything Anna did. It was all the Savior. But let us not forget those who called upon the Savior in faith. Jesus goes to her and takes her hand. Can you see His gentle touch? Are you able to see the compassion in His eyes? He goes to His Father on her behalf and there right before the eyes of everyone He raises her up by the hand. It didn't take her a few days to get over the sickness. She wasn't weak from this illness. She was healed in that instant. Just a little while later she was serving the quests. I can see her as she joyfully served her Savior first. (Matthew 8:14-18 and Luke 4:38-41)

See, Anna wasn't so highly valued in the Jewish society. Do you think that mattered any to Jesus? She mattered to Him. It doesn't matter what side of town we live in, what job we have, or who our parents are, Jesus cares for us as if we were His only child. Jesus valued her. That's all that matters. He doesn't show partiality. The benefits of Christ's love are for all who believe in Him. 

"As soon as they left the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew's house with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them." Mark 1:29-31

Here I can just see the passionate love of Jesus coming to one who needed Him. He knew the need. What I love is the fact that He didn't even have to enter the house. He already knew the need. He could have healed her right where He was, but He chose to go near her, to be close, and to touch her hand. What a beautiful sight it is to see someone touch the hand of another. Friends, this is love. This is our Savior. 

"He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes---with the princes of His people. He grants the barren woman's home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 113:7-9

Friday, January 30, 2015

I Can See The Headlines Now

I can see the headlines now. Preacher being seen dining with a sinner. Oh my, the horror of it all. What would a Preacher be doing being seen with any type of sinner? 

Have you been there? Have you been driving and catch sight of someone at church with someone you know doesn't attend church at all? You know those thoughts we have. I'm not the only one. I've been on both sides of this dining table. 

For much of my Christian life I have only surrounded myself with Christians. If you were to ask me who my then friends were I'd have told you they were all Christians. I didn't have one single friend who didn't attend church. 

I look back with great shame. If you ask me now I can tell you that many of my friends have yet to accept Jesus as Savior. Yes, I'm a girl who knows no boundaries. I don't put limits on my Jesus any longer. I open up my life to everyone. Sadly, it wasn't always like that. 

I was taught to surround myself with Christians. Yes, that is true, but we too must remember we are ALL sinners. I am no better than anyone else and if I don't open up my life for the world around me, where God has planted me, how will I share Jesus with those who don't know Him? It's impossible to share Jesus with others if we don't open our hearts and allow Jesus to guide our steps outside of our comfort zone. 

Oh, Zacchaeus, the man, the sinner, the one seated opposite of Jesus. Luke 19:1-10

"Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner."" Luke 19:1-7

Yes, Zacchaeus, the sinner, with those short legs, who climbed up a tree to see just who this Jesus is, is the man whose life was changed forever by the Savior. A Savior who knew the name of Zacchaeus. He didn't have to ask his name. He knew him. He knew his heart. Jesus didn't ask Zacchaeus to come with Him. He told Zacchaeus He was coming to his house! Jesus invited Himself to the home of a sinner. 

Can you hear the whispers of the people watching around every corner? Did they too not know that they were sinners as well? Did they think they were different, somehow more special than Zacchaeus? To God, all of His children are special. He calls each of us to come and join Him. But He goes even farther than that. He comes to us, right where we are, and invites us to dine with Him. One on one, heart to heart, the moment when our soul connects with the Savior and the Spirit comes alive in us. Sheer beauty. 

I can envision the moment Zacchaeus took sight of Jesus. Was it instant for him? He was curious. He was ready. His heart had been prepared for just this moment and Jesus knew he was ready to receive a house call from the Savior. 

Be ready to lay out the welcome mat, my friends. Jesus is always at work inviting people into our paths. People outside of our normal circles. If we are to reach the world we must stop limiting God and putting up boundaries around us. We have to open ourselves up and be ready to be the vessel He has called us to be. 

He has a way of changing hearts. He changed this sinner. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

This is my first novel to read by author Kathryn Springer. It definitely won't be my last. How I have missed this gifted writer is beyond me. 

It was the cover that drew me in and the title as well. I began reading The Dandelion Field and was immediately captivated. Springer brings these characters out beautifully.  

The story line flows easily and Springer brings the characters together with charm. Each of these characters are carrying something within their heart that now is part of every decision they make. As we see these characters grow we see that they come to understand that their decisions have touched the lives of everyone they love. 

What I love about this story is the realism. We have a young man who is part of the youth group. Grew up knowing Jesus and was taught right from wrong, but yet we see him fall into temptation and make a decision that changes his life forever. This is the real that I admire and love. We see the struggle in life even when we know Jesus and have a relationship with Him. 

This young man gently shares Jesus with the young girl he falls in love with. Reminded me of how my now husband shared Jesus with me. These two come together and keep their relationship quiet. She has come into town with her mom and are quickly judged. We see the reaction of people who assume and fail to give people a chance. 

The adult characters in this story know about loss and tragedy. It has scarred their hearts and changed who they once were. Funny how the circumstances that touch our lives can alter our view on life and on others. We see their pain and also we get to watch their relationships with one another blossom into unexpected blessings. 

This is a tender story and one that will grab your heart. Springer does an outstanding job of allowing us to see the heart of each character, but most amazingly take part in watching them grow and seeing how God can bring beauty from ash. 

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

Kathryn Springer is a USA Today bestselling author. She grew up in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child she spent many hours sitting at her mother's typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books---which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own. Kathryn has written nineteen books with close to two million copies sold. She lives with her husband and three children in Marinette, Wisconsin.  Facebook: Kathrynspringerauthor

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Holman NKJV GIANT Print Reference Bible Brown/Pink LeatherTouch with Magnetic Flap-Indexed by B&H Publishing Group

Okay, if you visit often enough you know that a Holman Bible is my absolute favorite Bible. There is no other Study Bible out there like a Holman. They are truly extraordinary and beautiful. 

Yes, I just reviewed a GIANT print Reference Bible! Hallelujah! Yep, I'm that girl that gets super excited over an amazing Bible and this is one I can see clearly. I have tried the large print, but it still wasn't big enough. The Giant print is more bold and is very clear for the reader to dive in and get lost in the Word. 

This Bible is brown/pink LeatherTouch and has a magnetic flap, which I really love. It is indexed, another awesome tool I love. The pages are sturdy and have a great feel to them. And even with the GIANT print this Bible isn't overly large. In fact it's a great size and easy to carry. 

This is the NKJV translation. When studying I love to have this translation with me as well as the HCSB. The greatest aspect to this Bible is the GIANT print which is really helpful. If your looking for a print that is larger than the large print Bible this is your Bible. There are many different colors and styles to choose from. You just need to visit by clicking on the highlighted links and it will give you a delightful choice. You are sure to find the perfect Bible.

As with any Holman Bible this one has great color maps, the Words of Jesus are in red, and it contains an a helpful concordance. It isn't as big of concordance that is in a study Bible, but it is still a truly helpful tool. 

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

Blessed Persistence

Persistence is what this widow encapsulated within her. Through her persistence blessings flowed. Not only did a judge choose not to continue to ignore her pleas for justice, but her faith grew and gave others a window to see what happens when we decide to trust our God. 

"He then told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not become discouraged: "There was a judge in a certain town who didn't fear God or respect man. And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' "For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or respect man, yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so she doesn't wear me out by her persistent coming.'" Then the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?" Luke 18:1-8

No one knows why this widow was going before the judge. It doesn't give us that information in scripture, but what we do get to understand is that this was a widow. One that was hopeless. Not that she didn't hold hope near her heart, but that she was looked upon as hopeless. Her words didn't matter. She was made to feel that her voice meant nothing and had no determination for any matter. I think just in that we can relate. I know I can. 

Ever feel defeated and hopeless? Feeling as if you have tried everything and are ready to give up? Satan would want nothing more than to see God's people give up. You know what it takes for Satan to succeed? For good men to do nothing. That's right. When we stand in fear and say nothing when we could say something we are giving Satan the room he needs to spin his web. This widow knew that her persistence would turn to a blessing. Not in the fact that it was her that would bring the blessing, but in the fact that she was praying! Through her prayers she became encouraged. 

So often we think all we must do is pray and wait. If that is what the Lord is calling us to do, then that's what we do, but too often He is calling us to action. We pray and ask God to move on our behalf. We pray and leave no detail void. We share every aspect with our Lord. Oh, the raindrops my friend Bobbie has felt upon her heart. Trials don't always end with prayer. It is through prayer that we are capable of living through our trials with grace and mercy, strength and wisdom, love and compassion. Sometimes we feel hopeless. We have tried everything and feel as though there's nothing else left for us to do. God says, NO! Don't give up, my friend. God is near. He is moving and He needs you to trust Him as never before. It is in these moments of hopelessness that God shows Himself mighty. He moves in our heart and counts each step, guiding us forward, to live out His will. 

Our actions end up being meaningless unless our steps are prayed over and guided by our Savior. When we obey Him something happens. We listen and wait. There in the moment we least expect there is God with an open door and He is there guiding His children through the hardest moments in our life. 

You know, we become so discouraged when things seemingly aren't going our way. We want things to happen right now in our time, but we forget that all good things come to those who wait. We courageously pray and pray and pray until we hear from God. He hears our every prayer. Nothing goes unnoticed by Him. He sees beyond our vision and knows exactly what needs to happen next. It's when we step ahead of Him that we tend to make a mess of things. Been there and done that. How about you? 

"The Lord values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love."
Psalm 147:11

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline." 
Proverbs 1:7

"Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

This is what we do as brothers and sisters in Christ. We put action behind our prayers. We stand with one another and give room for the Holy Spirit to speak, for our hearts to hear Him and then we move. We obey His call and in standing together we create a beautiful bouquet of belief that joins heart to heart as God leads. We take hold of the hand next to us and we pray for God to move. To stir the hearts of those who don't believe. We ask God to do the impossible. To move in ways that will make the world stand up and take notice. Knowing that this would be impossible for people, but through praying hearts there is nothing impossible for we know God is listening and He is all about action and truth and justice! 

"Who can bring an accusation against God's elect? God is the One who justifies."
Romans 8:33

"Dear friends, don't let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is alike a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:8-9

God views time differently than we do. We want justice here and now. We want to see things go our way and have things happen in our desired time. But God's desire is bigger than ours. Our wishes are not always His and what should be most important to us is His will above all else. What I'm learning is that He is patient with me. There is more than 'me' in the picture and through even a smallest faith He can move in ways I've never imagined, touching hearts and the souls of man. I have to believe in Him and in His way. Without Him I have nothing. Without Him there is no hope. So, I pray His Word. I search Him and when I do I find Him. 

This widow was searching. She knew her God would move on her behalf. She wasn't giving up. She knew that God could change the mind and heart of this judge. Even if this judge failed to see that it was God moving she knew without a doubt. 

Can you imagine the fear this woman held as she went before the judge over and over again? Maybe she wasn't like me. Maybe she was fearless knowing that God was on her side and justice would prevail. Yes, this is the woman I want to live as. Fearless! 

Yes, I can imagine this widow going before the judge and being turned down once again. But the amazing part is she didn't give up. She was courageous and made the choice to stand firm in the God she believed in. Once again we see her godly character give us a glimpse of just how we continue to fight the good fight and allow God's light to shine. 

Friends, don't grow weary in your belief. Allow room for your faith to unlimited! Trust your God. Pray and seek Him for everything. There is nothing too small to bring to God. He cares for His children. This brings me to the very last sentence in this parable: "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?" Luke 18:8 Friends, it is our time to show the world what belief can do. God knows our name. He knows the need. We pray, bringing everything to Him, trusting Him to move on our behalf. With our trust, we listen and must be willing to move, placing action behind our prayer. Sometimes God calls us to be still and others He calls us to action. He's listening. The question is: Are we? 

"Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

HCSB Study Bible Large Print by B&H Publishing Group

If you are searching for a comprehensive Study Bible look no further. This is the most amazing Bible out there today. I challenge you to find a better Study Bible than the Holman. You can purchase this Study Bible in HCSB (Which is my absolute favorite translation), NKJV, and KJV. I suggest you take a peek at the site and I promise you will find the perfect Bible you have been dreaming about. 

Seriously. I get so excited about Bibles. I love having different translations around me when I'm studying and here at B&H Publishing you can find all of the best. All you have to do is make your choice. That's the difficult part. 

I am reviewing the Large Print. For me and my eyes I need something a bit bigger and they have done an outstanding job. Could the print be bigger and bolder for my taste? Yes, but then again that would make for one humongous Bible! I have to share that you can find the Giant print and Super Giant print in some Bibles from Holman. I found them in the KJV and the NKJV Reference Bibles. If you search they are here to find. This one is a bit large for carrying to church each Sunday, but if you really don't care about the weight and want to read along with the Pastor and have a fantastic Study Bible for Sunday School this is your Bible! This is the most comprehensive Study Bible I have had the pleasure of reading. It lacks nothing. There isn't a thing I could say that this Bible doesn't include. 

I know a lot of you don't care about beauty, but this is one beautiful Bible inside and out. This happens to be the hardback version. It too comes in just about everything you can imagine. But honestly, for a Bible this size I am loving the hardback. You too can get it in leather and indexed. It's totally up to your preference. That's what I love about B&H Publishing Group. They literally work hard to provide Bible readers with the best of the best and I think that's pretty cool. 

This is the newest version of the HCSB. It will be released in February 2015. You too can find it on Amazon and pre-order it. If I told you everything awesome about this Bible we would be here all day. The concordance is the best of the best. The color maps, charts, and reconstructions are amazing. What's super awesome is the Greek and Hebrew word study. Love this!! It's so helpful when studying in depth. There are tons of study notes and illustrations. Another aspect that I really love is the descriptive view or introduction of the each Book of the Bible. You really get a better understanding of the Word of God when you know the time and people and writer of the Book you are studying. Have you ever been reading and you're stuck on a word you have trouble understanding? I do that all the time. With this Study Bible they too give you Bullet Notes and this is huge for giving meaning to words we don't always find easy to understand. 

This is truly a Study Bible that will guide you in having a greater understanding of the Word of God and I promise it's one that you will love picking up and diving in!

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

Emissary by Thomas Locke

I chose to review Emissary because in reading the description I realized this was a pseudonym for Davis Bunn. How cool! He has totally taken off in a new area and it has worked marvelous for him. He is such a talented writer and now he has brought to his readers a work of speculative fiction or as most of us call it fantasy. 

With this new genre his fan base is sure to grow even stronger as he has reached out to a whole new group of readers. This is one of those selections you just gotta pick up and give it a try. Honestly I'm not big on fantasy. But this grabbed my attention and took me on a journey that was exciting and fast paced. 

These characters are strong and give the reader the opportunity to go to another place and time, but always within the story is a generous helping of faith that leads the reader beyond just a story, but takes them on a spiritual journey. I love reading a story that goes beyond my imagination and takes my heart for a ride that wasn't expected. 

This is the first in Thomas Locke's new series, Legends of The Realm. I was captivated and again fantasy isn't my favorite to read, but Thomas Lock has changed that. I can't wait to see what's next!

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

Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, the award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies. His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction. Davis divides his time between Oxford and Florida and holds a lifelong passion for speculative stories. As Thomas Locke, Davis is also the author of Emissary. Learn more at

At Home In Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

Last Chance is one of those places that becomes easily home. The people are filled with love, compassion, and grace. When a newcomer enters they are welcomed just as Christ welcomes us. No questions, just come on in and let's get to one one another. 

I'm kind of sad to see the people of Last Chance go, but they won't be far from memory. Cathleen has given a wonderful final goodbye by leaving the reader feeling complete and knowing that everyone we have met in Last Chance is doing just fine. All they needed was a chance. 

If your just seeing At Home In Last Chance again for the first time I suggest that you go back and read Welcome To Last Chance and One More Last Chance. (You can take a peek at my reviews). Yes, you could read this as a stand alone, but you're going to be missing out on a huge part of just where these characters have come from. 

The characters are easy to relate to. Cathleen gives the reader a beautiful portrait of Last Chance and the people who live there. Her writing style is easy and flows with a continued grace of the pen. Her heart is within these pages as we see her passion for reaching out to others and making a difference in their lives. 

Once again I was hooked with these characters. Kaitlyn and Steven just need a chance. They are trying to find themselves and understand who they are deep inside. Sometimes this world is just a hard place and we need a few encouragers to help guide the way. A sweet romance, mixed with faith, love and a renewed hope. 

This was a delightful series from beginning to end. I can't wait to see what's next for Cathleen Armstrong. 

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

Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico wehre she grew up and where much of her family still lives. She is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women's Fiction, and One More Last Chance

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Me and My Friend

I sat with my friend today. Have you ever sat next to a friend while they had to describe to someone the death of their child? No one ever imagines that conversation to be overheard. My friend, with phone by her ear, with words pouring from her lips, sat before me broken and battered. I heard her once again share the impact upon her life the morning her son's life was taken from this earth. 

Can I be real with you? I can't remove this heartbreaking story from my heart. It's not just a story I read in a book. It's life. It's my friend. My beloved friend. I see the images she describes. I keep myself together when I am with her. But when I'm alone it hits. I share with my husband, but still to this day I have never shared with anyone the full story of that day. I can't speak the words. My heart bleeds for her and as a friend there isn't anything I can do. Sure, I can pray with her. I sit with her. I can help her fight for justice, but in no way can I take her indescribable pain away. Sometimes I simply feel useless. If there was only more I could do for her. I keep my phone next to me as I sleep at night. I can only imagine what her nights are like. She's afraid to go to sleep. She's fearful of waking up. It's playing the nightmare over and over again. Reliving the tragedy that took her precious son from this earth, from his family and friends. 

It could have been my child. It could have been my grandchild. It too could have been yours. Let that really sink in for a bit. In about 10 seconds her world changed forever. How people to go work at night and as they get off work at 3am and begin drinking is beyond me. It's something I can't comprehend. To be so drunk, double over the limit, put the key in the ignition and take off for a race with your buddies when children are standing out waiting for the bus to pick them up. They have only been awake for a little while. Long enough to rush the sleep from their eyes and try to prepare for the day. They hurry and eat or skip breakfast because there's just too much to do. Kisses and hugs. Goodbyes from their parents expecting that at a little after 3 they will be getting off the bus and rushing to the door. We take our precious moments for granted. Not any more. Not me. Not after Sept. 12. My friend, Bobbie, will never kiss her son, Donnie, good morning again. 

Now she fights and waits. Shares and reaches out. January 15th Donnie would have turned 16. The birthday every child longs for in excitement. The birthday every parent is fearful of because now their child will be getting their license. I remember those nights of waiting up and praying for safety over my children. Donnie didn't get that chance. No first drive, no first date, no movie night with his buds in his first car, and I might add that he absolutely loved cars! 

On January 15th his momma, daddy, and family settled at Orchard Park in St. Clair, Missouri for a balloon release in honor of Donnie. He would have loved this night. The clear night sky gave way for the bright stars to shine. He was a lover of the night sky. The balloons lighting up the night was breathtaking. More so it was heartbreaking. My eyes weren't so much on the balloons, but on my friend. She is so brave. Such a warrior. If you could truly know my friend you know she is fearless. Lights up the world with her personality, but now everything is different. 

She doesn't know if she can laugh. Can you imagine your friend, one who loves laughter, being fearful of laughing? Laughing is a part of our friendship. She's that friend I can act totally goofy with and the next minute be as serious as all get out. Most of all she's that friend that I can talk to for hours about Jesus. It's pretty cool when every conversation always comes back to our love for the Lord. 

Friendship is a beautiful and precious gift. Being sisters in Christ make it even more special. What can I do? I know that prayer is powerful. Listening, just being an ear gives her room to vent and bring healing. We hold hands and we pray together. We look to tomorrow with hope. Remember the story of Moses as Aaron and Hur held up his arms when he grew tired? {Exodus 17} They stood with him in faith. This is what we do for our friends. We stand. It doesn't matter how much time it takes or how tired we become. We hold them up with everything we have and call upon the Lord to give strength and lead the way. There's David and Jonathan. Lazarus and Jesus. John and Jesus. Elijah and Elisha. Friendships that go beyond expression. These are friendships that are lasting and powerful and leave behind a legacy marked with love and honor. 

Bobbie counts the days she has been without her son. These are days I see my children and make plans for my grand-babies to stay all night. The relationship I have with my son, Jacob, is one that resembles the bond she shard with Donnie. A mother/son bond is unbreakable. It's something almost indescribable. My son had just shared with me that I would forever be the only woman who never broke his heart. Do you know what those words meant to this proud momma? Bobbie doesn't get to hear precious words from Donnie any longer. 

But I can tell you that she loves her son and she was the best momma to him. They shared the kind of relationship that most only dream of having with their sons. So, how do I share with her the joys in my life with my children and grandchildren? All I want to do is protect her. I want to guard her from everything that will bring her to even more tears. 

She misses her son and I miss my friend. Isn't that selfish of me? God forgive me. The talks we have shared, the laughter that we shared, the dinners and movies, books and love of so much is as though it has evaporated. A mist that has risen and has left us dry and longing for something more. 

You know what we long for? Jesus. We long for Him to come and save His children from this evil world we live in. We are unsatisfied with this place we must call home for now. Donnie is already home. He has already seen the face of Jesus. In that my friend can breathe with peace and comfort. But that doesn't mean she isn't missing her son. Everyday brings something new. A new battle to face. A new court date. What happens when she sees these men who killed her son? 

I want to surround her in love and just wrap her up and shield her from everything to come, but you know what? There is nothing that can bring more pain than what she is already living each and every day. She knows the Word, knows the promises of God. She bravely walks in faith. She is a woman I admire. A friend I adore. A sister that I will stand with to the end. I just so happen to have the best girlfriend God could have ever sent my way. 

Friendship is a 'no matter what' kind of love. You're just there. Your presence means everything. You stay for however long, do whatever necessary, and simply be a friend. Friendship goes through the valley and over the mountaintops. I am longing for the mountaintop. I am praying healing for Bobbie and her family. God is moving. Oh, on those days where she can breathe a bit, God, in His gentle way showers her in His love. On those days she wants to scream for all of heaven to hear He is there with an unimaginable strength. This is the side you never imagine friendship to go. This is the road no mother should have to walk. And as a friend, I am here to walk with her, every step of the way. Just as I know she too would be walking with me. 

A few weeks back I knelt at Donnie's place of rest and promised him that I would help his mom fight for justice. I would stand by her side and do all I can with what I have. So, I trust and I pray that God will lead. That He will open doors and make a way for justice to prevail. 

Friends, we never know what tomorrow will bring. We never know when that call will come. Nothing in life can prepare us for such devastation. The unimaginable just doesn't make sense. But what we can do is be there for one another. Not just give our words, but put action behind them. Be the friend you would want at your side. Embrace each day and make time for those around you. Don't let the busyness of life get in the way of making time for family and friends. 

If there is someone hurting in your life right now I encourage you to reach out to them. Do what you can and be the vessel God calls you to be. Be the Jonathan to David. Be the Aaron and Hur to Moses. Don't put busyness before people. Open your heart and allow God to move. Although this life shakes us to the core, God is unshakable. This is what we remind one another when everything seems hopeless. Friends, with God there is always room for hope. He is our God of hope. 

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." Albert Schweitzer

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." 
Walter Winchell

"The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." 
Elizabeth Foley 

"A friend is someone who reaches for your hand, but touches your heart." 
Kathleen Grove 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Doesn't She Like Me?

We walk into a room filled with women and our first thoughts are, "I hope everyone likes me". Why is this so important to us? We all want to be loved, accepted, and needed. But sadly that isn't what we always get from women is it? Why do we have to be so mean to one another? 

Ladies, it doesn't matter where we live, what denomination we are, or what our vocation is at the time. We are daughters of the Most High. There isn't one more important than the other. We all stand out to Him. Our Creator, the One who created us all unique. When you're a daughter of the King it's a cool thing to be different. It's those unique talents that He gave to just us that sets us apart. But as sisters in Christ we aren't to be apart. We are stand together. Lifting one another up. Encouraging each other. Inspiring the heart of our sisters. We are to be prayer warriors for one another. We are to bring out the best in one another. 

See, this is something the world may not understand, but as sisters in Christ, knowing the Word, whether we have had an intimate relationship with Jesus for our entire lives or we have just met, this is something we should be getting. In fact, this is a beauty we should be showing the world. 

When sisters of Christ stand as one we are unstoppable! We are to encourage one another in the Word. Walk with one another in our trials and celebrate in our joys. When one celebrates we all celebrate with her. When one is facing the unspeakable we walk the journey with her. 

We don't need hugs on Sunday morning covered in smiles and how do you do's, but behind our back something ugly and unneeded when we aren't looking. We need sisters in Christ surrounding us who are real. Not afraid to be themselves and not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. 

Something we surely don't need are cliques. Church isn't the place for a country club life. It's the place we worship and grow as daughters of the Most High. Our Abba Father didn't create us to separate ourselves from others or cast others out of our circle, but to invite sisters in and have a wide enough circle that everyone fits and there's always room for more. 

See, what we don't understand is, we aren't going to be fast friends with everyone, but we can be friendly. We aren't going to have giggly relationships with everyone at church, but as we meet sisters in Christ they should always walk away with a smile in their heart and a welcome of love and security. 

Grace, forgiveness, and mercy, should be a part of our sister code. Our code? It's the Word of God. We can't just speak the words. We have to live them. We measure everything against the Word of God. Especially our attitudes and our motives. 

When we walk into a church one of the first people we need to see is a sister reaching out to us in pure love. We need to embrace every woman. In everything we do we should include all women in the church. Not just a few chosen, not just our 'friends', but every single women no matter how old or young. How are we ever going to truly understand friendship unless we reach out beyond our comfort zone. We never know how we will connect with others unless we are willing to reach out. 

I can tell you there are ladies who have made me feel worthless and unwanted. I have felt shunned by the women I thought were my friends. But have mercy, I wonder just how many women I have wounded in the same way. It breaks my heart to think that I could have caused another sister to hurt because of my actions or lack of actions. 

Our relationships with others would be so much better if we would simply be the friend we want to have. The world is watching. Other Christians are watching. We are to be the example. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Love should be flowing from our hearts. Not jealousy, strife and envy. Gossip shouldn't be a part of conversation with others sisters. If we aren't lifting one another up we need to be finding a way of learning how to do so. Look around and see the mentors around us. Pick one and have a prayer partner. Have a sister to help hold us accountable. 

See, our business isn't for everyone to know. We often over share. We don't have to share every aspect of our lives with others, but when we feel led to share and our journey can help encourage another sister, speak up! 

Sisters, we need to be speak up for one another. Live a life of love and tenderness. Open up our heart and have room for everyone. The people we're keeping at arms length could be the very sisters who change our life forever.

The key is finding balance. Of course we are going to have friends in church that we are closer to than others. But when in church we shouldn't be making a difference. In fact, you shouldn't be able to tell who is best friends and who just met a few weeks ago. Our sisterly love should cover all and grace should not just be words upon our lips, but lived out in every action. See, when we make everyone feel needed and wanted we do something spectacular. We give women room to grow into who God has created them to be. 

One of the greatest gifts we can give to another sister is to give her room be herself and to allow her to be the extraordinary beauty she is. 

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Praying God's Word (Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds) by Beth Moore

Beth Moore absolutely ROCKS! Seriously, I have so many of her books and studies that with each and every one I walk away more intimate in my walk with Christ, know more about Him, the Word, and myself. This godly woman is on fire for Christ and she is sharing everything she knows. She's that girl next door you wanna have coffee with every morning. You want to sit in her classroom and see her face to face. But what's cool about Beth's studies is that's how you feel! You feel like your friends. Like your sharing coffee and Jesus is the most precious gift you have in common. 

I love Beth because she's real. She isn't trying to be someone else. She is living as the woman God created her to be. She shares personal stories and connects to women simply by being herself. She's inviting, warm, and writes in a way that you simply can't get enough. 

Praying God's Word was released in 2009. Like I have shared many times before, Beth's writing is timeless. It's for every woman in every season of life. I have this book in paperback. It also comes in hardback. Follow the links and you can also check out all the other books penned by Beth. 

This book holds such valuable life lessons. There are fifteen chapters on just about every subject possible:
  • Overcoming Idolatry
  • Overcoming Unbelief
  • Overcoming Pride
  • Overcoming Deception
  • Overcoming The Insecurity of Feeling Unloved
  • Overcoming Feelings of Rejection
  • Overcoming Addiction
  • Overcoming Food-Related Strongholds
  • Overcoming Ongoing Feelings of Guilt
  • Overcoming Despair Resulting From Loss
  • Overcoming Unforgiveness
  • Overcoming Depression
  • Overcoming Sexual Strongholds
  • Overcoming The Enemy
  • Chapter 15 Now It's Your Turn!
  • Notes

Beth touches subjects many are afraid to speak on, but Beth is able to relate because she too has faced these battles and has been able to OVERCOME! We can overcome all because Jesus has already won the victory. What Beth does is gives us great tools and leads us directly to scripture!

Okay, this book would be worth purchasing if you just read the introduction alone. I could relate in someway in some level to each of these chapters. My favorite chapter, which also happens to be the longest is, Overcoming Despair Resulting From Loss. My best friend is doing through a loss. Her son was killed by a drunk driver. I read this chapter and she came to mind over and over again. As I read I just continued to pray God's Word over my friend. That's exactly what Beth does for us. In the beginning of each chapter she shares on the subject and then the entire chapter is scripture on that chapter's subject. Beth doesn't just give us scripture. She teaches us how to make it personal and how to pray God's Word in an intimate way. 

This beautiful book will be a gift to my hurting friend. I have shared Beth's books and her words with my friend over these last few months and it has been a tremendous blessing to her. This book would make for a perfect gift. A great study for your Sunday school class or even just a small group study. And yes, simply by yourself as I did. Beth always encourages to open your own Bible and seek God's Word. 

She too shares many quotes and stories about others facing these circumstances and just how God gave them the victory of overcoming. We learn how to overcome the strongholds in our life. This is a book you can't pass up. One to keep upon your shelf to go back to over and over again. 

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

HCSB Large Print Personal Size Reference Bible Indexed with Magnetic Flap by B&H Publishing Group

I LOVE this Bible! First I should say that you cannot go wrong with a Holman Bible. Absolutely the best and HCSB is my favorite translation. I too have a Holman study Bible that is in NKJV and it is fantastic in every way. 

Can you tell that I'm excited to share this Bible with you? Okay, if your like me you love to carry a Bible with you. These Bibles literally come in every size, shape, and color. Just follow the link to this Bible and you can see for yourself just how many there are to choose from. You are bound to find a favorite. 

As I said, I love to carry a Bible with me. A compact is a great way to go. And here is another. This reference Bible has a magnetic flap. Yes! I'm always worried that my Bible might open and my pages will bend or possibly tear. This a the perfect Bible for carrying with you. The magnetic flap is just strong enough to stay closed. Not too strong that you have to tug. This particular Bible is in brown/blue with the pages in a silver trim. Another plus is that it is indexed. A great addition to easily finding books of the Bible.

It is a large print and one that is actually large and easy to read. The maps are bright and colorful. I love the detail that Holman adds. This allows the reader to the best tools in being able to understanding God's Word. The Words of Christ are printed in red. Another attribute that love. For me, as I'm studying the Word this makes it even more personal and intimate. As always Holman carries a lifetime guarantee on all of their Bibles. 

Just a few great tools:
  • Bullet notes
  • A Table of Weights and Measures 
  • A 'Where To Turn' section that helps the reader to find certain detailed subjects 
  • Titles of Jesus
  • A section where Messianic Scriptures That Jesus Fulfilled are shared 
  • Topical Concordance

All of these are great additions. The concordance isn't as big as the concordance the study Bible carries, but it is extremely helpful. For me the highlights of this Bible are the magnetic flap and the indexed pages. This is a great Bible for anyone and if you go to the link I've provided you can pick out the Bible perfect for you. 

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Holman HCSB Large Print Compact Reference Bible by B&H Publishing Group

Reviewing Bibles is the best. It gives me the opportunity to share with you some spectacular Bibles and to pass them along to others. I've always shared that for me Holman is the best and I also love the HCBS translation the best. They have the best study Bibles out there. This gem arrives beautifully packaged. 

I wanted to review a compact Bible for you. I usually carry a lot of stuff with me. The bigger the bag the more room for stuff, right? I'm a book carrier and always have paper and pen with me. I too love having a Bible in my bag. So, a compact Bible is a great idea! This little gem is adorable and the perfect size for carrying it along with you wherever you're traveling.

It makes it easy to take it out at the coffee shop, while waiting in the doctor's office or just carrying it with you at all times. This Bible is genuine cowhide and all Holman Bibles have a lifetime guarantee. This Bible is soft to the touch, beautiful, and very sturdy. 

I love the Word of Jesus in red print. There are to a color maps, a concordance, bullet notes (which come in handy for word study), a table of weights and measures, a section of where to turn when looking for certain topics, titles of Jesus, messianic scriptures that Jesus Fulfilled, and a topical concordance. Yes, this little gem is jam-packed. The pages have a gold leaf trim and a matching ribbon marker. 

I wanted to see what the large print would be like. I was expecting a larger print that I would be able to see without my glasses. With them I can see the print just perfectly. After all it is compact. 

I encourage you to visit B&H Publishing Group and check out the Bibles. You are sure to find the perfect Bible for you. If compact is what your looking for this is a wonderful choice!!

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

In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey

Billy Coffey's words intimately dance across the pages. He weaves a tale. One of good and evil facing off. Everything is in perfect measure. He allows the reader to dream along in a delightful and mystique way. He is a writer who gives great detail and allows the reader the illusion that they too are in the pages. 

This story captured my heart from the beginning and my passion to read it only intensified as I turned the pages. Which when reading a Billy Coffey novel although one wants to turn the pages quickly, you don't. You take your time and enjoy not only the story, but the writer as well. He makes you appreciate the gift of the pen. 

This novel takes place in Mattingly once again. Virginia grows on you and Coffey makes you want to visit if not just for the sheer beauty of allowing the heart to be moved by the beauty of the dark woods. 

Coffey intricately brings faith to light throughout these pages and gives the reader great life lessons. Always love a novel with a great take a way. This is the third novel that takes place in Mattingly. Although you can read them in order, I would suggest beginning with, When Mockingbirds Sing. It will give you a greater understanding of Mattingly. You will no doubt fall in love with these characters. You might even find yourself within these pages. 

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

Billy Coffey's critically acclaimed books combine rural Southern charm with a vision far beyond the ordinary. He is a regular contributor to several publications, where he writes about faith and life. Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Visit him at Facebook: billycoffeywriter Twitter: @billycoffey

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Promise by Beth Wiseman

I chose this novel because Beth is sharing the true story of a friend. I found the cover to be very telling of the story. In reading the description of this novel I had high hopes. I have found Beth Wiseman to be an outstanding writer who is gifted. 

This book is nothing as I expected. In fact I was let down. I don't quite understand why Thomas Nelson is listing this as Christian Fiction. It's nothing of the sort. There isn't a story a Jesus Christ based faith here. This is a novel where whatever god you pray to is okay. This novel gives more highlight to Islam than to Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. 

I understand that the main character of this story is tricked beyond measure and her story is a horrific one. A story worth sharing as to warn others not to be deceived. But instead of reading about Christian faith I felt I was being pounded with Islam and Allah. Whatever god you believe in is okay is the message I take away. 

So, as my readers are looking forward to seeking the best of Christian Fiction I cannot suggest that you choose this novel just for the fact that Jesus is missing within these pages as Allah takes over. 

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

Beth Wiseman Award-winning, bestselling author Beth Wiseman is best known for her Amish novels, but she has also written several successful contemporary novels, set primarily in her beloved Texas, including Need You Now and The House that Love Built. Both have received glowing reviews. Beth's The Promise is inspired by a true story. Website: Twitter: @bethwiseman Facebook: Fans-of-Beth-Wiseman

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bringing My Best This New Year

A new year has arrived. I am a winter girl. A snowman creating girl who loves everything blanketed in white. A new year brings forth such hope. Such ponderings for me. 

What to do with this new year is in question. My pondering brings me to something very simple. This year I want nothing less than to bring forth my best. 

I've learned to live one moment at a time. Humble and gracious in each moment. To embrace whatever that moment may hold. For God's treasures are found in the most unexpected places. This year I want nothing less than to bring forth my best. I want to look beyond myself and allow God to destroy every fear that holds me back from experiencing all of Him. 

No spotlight is needed. No accolades to applaud. I want nothing to be about me, but everything to be about Him. I simply want to live in such a way that everything, every word and action brings glory to my Jesus. God understands my shortcomings. But He deserves nothing less than my best.

"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

I want to dream big. Bigger than every before. I want to expect extraordinary. Yes, I want to be ready to see and open to hearing. I'm ready to step out of my box. No more limiting myself and especially no limiting God. I'm ready to soak in everything He has for me. 

I don't want to compare myself to others. Certainly don't want to be like anyone else. Believe me, that's a huge life lesson that takes a lifetime to grasp. I want to be the best Robin Prater I can be. That means letting go of others expectations of me and embracing all of what the Lord is has set aside just for me. Isn't that amazing? Each of us are so unique that He has set forth a plan for each of us and as we come into our own, being ourselves, allowing the Spirit to move through us, we can come together, each one separate, but together, completing the mission He has for us! If you ask me, that's pretty spectacular!

I want to do more of everything. Most of all I want to live extraordinary! I want my heart to be a sanctuary for God. Love, grace, and mercy pouring out from all that I am. I want to be that new woman, renewed and restored, vowing to give all of myself. Yes, living intentional and giving all of myself. My best is yet to come with Jesus making me new each and every morning.

"I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when i was formed in the depths of the earth. You eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began." Psalm 139:14-16

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23-24

A Blue Jay and My Mitten Covered Hands

A loud bang is heard at the back of the house. It sounds like a brick crashing. I come around and take a look out the kitchen window and there still in the grass is a Blue Jay. Snow is falling. The wind is cold. I watch for a few moments. I'm praying this beauty takes flight. But nothing. I see her drop her head. I can see the movement of her beating heart. 

I bundle up warm. Mittens covering my shivering hands. A towel to wrap around the Blue Jay. I walk up expecting to startle her, but she is motionless. I gently wrap her up and snuggle her close. I brush the softness of her feathered head. I smooth out her feathered wings and speak softly. I walked around to the front and sat on the deck with her. I cradled her and soon her head lifts. 

She begins to look around. She is now holding tight to my finger. Jumping out of my mitten covered hands she takes a few steps on the crunchy grass. I pick her up again. Smiling that she has once again allowed me to handle her. Soon, she turns her head and takes flight to the nearest tree. I watch her for a while to see how she does. A few moments later off she flies with the other Blue Jays into another tree. Quietly I say, "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You". 

Some might think me crazy. After all it's just a bird. Why take the time? Just a bird? Not to me. She was created by my God in splendor. It was a great reminder to me that it's not always great and mighty acts that are meaningful and legacy makers. Sometimes it's a hand reaching out that matters the most. Sometimes it's just making an effort. Most of all it's a heart of grace and mercy. My God cares for the birds. Even the smallest of creatures created by Him. 

His love goes beyond all imagination and enters my own heart. He is always reaching out to me. Always willing to wrap me in His tender and loving arms. There is nothing as healing as the hand of God. His love extends through us when we are willing to open our heart and give Him room to make a difference. 

This breathtaking bird hit hard. Startled and shaken, all she needed was loving care. Compassion and grace. Isn't this what we all need? Don't fear reaching out to others. Our actions speak much louder than our words. Those acts done quietly are treasures that speak to the heart. 

"Aren't five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. Indeed, the hairs of your heard are all counted. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." 
Luke 12:6-7

"Look at the birds of the sky: They don't sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don't labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that's how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won't He do much more for you-you of little faith?" 
Matthew 6:26-30


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