Monday, February 29, 2016

Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh

It's the cover that caught my attention. I didn't realize this was the second book of a series. The first being, Paper Hearts. Although I didn't read the first in the series this novel was a lovely read. Once I began turning pages I simply didn't want to put this book down.

The characters tugged at my heart. This author, which is a new author to me, did a fantastic job at bringing out the emotion of each character. The story flowed easily and I found it very poignant in life lessons.

Evelyn is the main character. She's married a senator. Life seems perfection. That is until the FBI show up at the door. It's then that life for Evelyn takes a detour. Although at the time she is fearful and lost, God hasn't left her. He's still guiding her and as we see He blesses her with unexpected sanctuary. 

What I loved is how the author depicted this character. She brought out how Evelyn gave up all of herself for this man, her husband, and he abused every trust she thought they shared. He crushes her spirit. She had given so much of herself up and became who he wanted and needed her to be that she lost a joy she once had for life. Sure, she had the world at her feet, but it wasn't the things of this world that Evelyn needed. They didn't truly satisfy. Not when they were taking so much away from the beauty of the woman she truly was. 

Throughout the story we have a front row seat to witnessing her blossom. We see her fight the pain of being wounded by a husband she loved. Divorce happens. Another aspect that I loved about this novel. There isn't always a happy ending. I love when writers pen realistic stories that move us to ponder life itself. 

She was surrounded by women, friends, and acquaintances. She was the woman in a room filled with people, but still feeling so alone. Again, another aspect of the life of this woman many of us can relate to. 

Trevor Whitney is another character entwined in Evelyn's life of old and now he enters once again and is the friend she so needs. There is much to Trevor's own story that is shared here in black and white. The author brings him to life as we see him let go of the past and embrace a new day. 

Love, forgiveness, friendship, growth, and faith are all alive in this story. The title of this novel greatly captures the story line. Hearts changing through circumstances brought on by the actions of others cause these characters to dig deep and seek the truths of life and faith. I truly enjoyed this book and would really like to go back and read the first in the series. 

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

Courtney Walsh is the author of Paper Hearts and the Sweethaven series. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, was a New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller. Courtney lives with her husband and three children in Illinois. Visit her online at  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Does God Think We Are Stronger Than We Believe?

So much happens to us, doesn't it? We wake each day never knowing what will happen in the next breath we take. By the time we exhale life could change forever. In the time it takes us to blink the phone can ring and news is brought to our ears that causes shakes us to the core.

What is it we say? "God, why? I can't do this. I don't want this. Please, no, God". Being believers doesn't make us stronger people, it's that we have access to the One who is.  We are frail and weak just as the next. It's through our weakness that God's strength is poured out upon us. We know our God is in control. We believe He loves us. We trust His ways. We don't understand them, but we trust Him to do what is best for us. Does that make it easier for us when tragedy earthquakes into our life?

We all have heard people say, and might I add, at the wrong opportunity, "God never puts on us more than we can handle". Friends, it doesn't say that in scripture. In fact, the opposite is pretty much the truth. It isn't that we are made so strong that we can handle anything. It is the fact that our God is. Through Jesus we find intercession. Through Jesus we find hands that reach out to us. Arms that hold us throughout the night. A Spirit that guides us to living a life surrendering to Him. It's the moment we realize we can't do it that Jesus steps in and says, "Yes, through Me you can. I have given you every gift and have filled you with everything you need for this life and all it contains. Through Me you will not only live but you will find new life.

How is it that we do that? Finding new life in the middle of trial? When it comes down to it what else are we going to do? We could give up. We could try on our own merits. I have found what this world has to offer is of no measure of what my Savior can do.

He has foreseen the trial. He was preparing the road before us. Friends, He was already there, waiting for us. That should give us great comfort. When we find ourselves in anger, screaming at the top of our capacity, He is there. When we fall to our knees with no more muscle to carry the load, He is there to make a way. He's there to say, "My child, let Me".

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

See, we can have peace because of ALL that Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for us. As believers we can know that our life is secure in Him. No matter what happens He isn't leaving us. We have an all access pass to Jesus. We are free to enter into His presence at any time. Oh, the grace in that! I find myself so undeserving of all He gives me, but so wanting of all He has to give.

This has been a go to verse for me. It is a favorite of mine. So much here for us to carry away. If He gave His all for us before we ever knew Him, how much more is He willing to do now in our intimate relationship with Him? He loved us before we ever loved Him. He prepared the way for us to come to know Him and now He continues through each and every circumstance that touches our lives. Only Jesus can bring beauty from ash. Only Jesus can know what was, what is, and what is to come. This is our hope!

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

We are to keep our eyes on Jesus. We are to run toward Him. The race isn't easy. Ask any runner training for a marathon.  But He is there guiding each step, helping us take a breath, and giving us the strength for the journey. Friends, the journey may be long, but once we are face to face with our Savior, when our feet have met heaven's gates, it will have all been worth it. God wastes nothing. Nothing is just happenstance. There is no such coincidence. Through each moment of our lives God has purpose.

Friend, I don't know what you're facing today, but know that you are not alone. You may not have all the answers. That's okay. Our God does. You may not know what's coming. Our God does. He has prepared in advance to give you everything you need. You are equipped with the best of the best. 

We don't just have to muddle through. We don't have to fear the winds and waves of the storm. We don't have to journey lost and empty. He will make a way. Tomorrow has been prepared for you in advance. Look to Him. Ask Him for your greatest need and expect from Him nothing less than a Father would give to His beloved child. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Today Holds The Potential To Be The Greatest Adventure of All

Embark on today as an adventure. The possibilities are endless when our steps match those directed by our Jesus. Don't live out today just thinking of {me}, but reach out to others. Make a positive impact on someone's life today, let it be friend or stranger. Don't let today pass willy-nilly. Today your path will cross with another. Step forward, doing something extraordinary, not of yourself, not letting fear stop you, but expecting amazing. Our God does amazing, you know? He just needs willing vessels. 

For all of us that have received Jesus as our Savior there was someone who stepped forward and showed us an extraordinary love. We may have planted seeds, helped to water seeds of others, or witnessed them blossom to Jesus. For each of us we will never forget those who made the choice to share Jesus. There are many ways to share Him. Most of all through a love this world doesn't understand. It's a heart reaching out to another, loving them enough to to them to know an intimate Jesus. Say His name today. Share Him. Do others know you are a believer? Be that girl with seeds of grace, mercy, and love in her pocket, just waiting for the opportunity to share the love that changed your life forever. 

God plants us in specific areas and our God has perfect timing. We may not know where the journey will take us, but we do know where it ends. For us here today there is much for us to do. Our greatest impact on another to is to share our own personal story. Not just the pretty and perfect, but the ugly and the struggles that brought us to our knees. We need to allow others to know that their story matters. Let me say it this way; we need to get real with people. Stop pretending we have it all figured out. We don't need all the answers. We only need to love and point people to Jesus. We can do that through our every day lives, through our actions and words. We will leave an impact on every person we meet. It's just what that impact is that is most important. 

We can leave a trail of Jesus in every step we take. We actually have to take time to get to know people. The hard part for me is letting down my walls, releasing those borders and allowing myself to get wounded. That isn't easy, but than again Jesus didn't do it the easy way, right? He took the chance on us. Who are we not to take a chance on others? 

We don't have to share our deepest secrets, but let us remember we all have secrets. Within those secrets are stories and it's those stories that can open up the heart of another to know they aren't alone. I remember walking in church for the very first time. I looked around and said to myself, "I will never be able to be like these people." That's just it, isn't it? We fill this roll like being a Christian makes us perfect now, nothing goes wrong, and we keep all that ugly stuff private so others don't know we struggle. 

Friends, we are going to struggle in this life. We will fight our flesh day after day until Jesus comes. It is through Jesus that we are perfected.It's nothing we can do for ourselves. It's all Him. That's the wonderful part. All we have to do is be real, be ourselves, and share Him through our life experiences. Being a Christian doesn't make us exempt of trial. If anything trial all the more as Satan sees us on the adventure to do Christ's work he will be waiting to pounce, but as he is ready, Jesus too is ready and sees his actions. Jesus will make a way, He has already given us everything we need. We are filled with exceptional gifts and a life of purpose that goes far beyond our wildest imagination. He didn't just instill those dreams in us so we could look out the window and day dream. He wants us to live them!!  

We never know what others are truly going through. Just a passing smile, a sweet hello, an act of kindness, can lift another out of a pit and bring encouragement. Give a compliment, start a conversation, give another our time. These are the things that are inviting and warming to the hearts of others. The impact you make on another today just may set them on a course to a new adventure in Jesus and from there the possibilities are endless. 

"Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude." Colossians 2:6-7

"I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plan." Proverbs 16:3

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Gift for All People by Max Lucado

I love how Max Lucado brings the reader to the Word of God. He brings the reader to the heart of Christ. I have been deeply blessed by every single book penned by this man of God. Here is another exceptional choice. This book was first released in 1999 and this copy released in 2004. 

 Lucado's books are timeless. Each of my copies have highlighted parts and underlined favorites with my notes along the sides. They are truly for all people at all walks of faith. 

Here Max shares with us God's grace. This isn't a long read, one hundred and twenty-seven pages, but the thing is that's it is a powerful read. We can never talk enough about the sweet grace of God, right? Max gives us a book compiled with poignant thoughts and stories on the grace of God. 

Here are a few of my keepers:

"The friends want him to heal their friend. But Jesus won't settle for a simple healing of the body-he wants to heal the soul. He leapfrogs the physical and deals with the spiritual. To heal the body is temporal; to heal the soul is eternal.  The request of friends is valid-but timid. The expectations of the crowd are high-but not high enough. They expect Jesus to say, "I heal you." Instead he says, "I forgive you." They expect him to treat the body, for that is what they see. He chooses to treat not only the body, but also the spiritual, for that is what he sees."

"Christ came to earth for one reason: to give his life as a ransom for you, for me, for all of us. He sacrificed himself to give us a second chance. He would have gone to any lengths to do so. And he did. He went tot he cross, where man's utter despair collided with God's unbending grace. And in that moment when God's great gift was complete, the compassionate Christ showed the world the cost of his gift."

"How far do you want God to go in getting your attention? If God has to choose between your eternal safety and your earthly comfort, which do you hope he chooses?"

"Here's the secret about grace-ten little words that explain all you need to know: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) That's really all you need to know. And while it sounds simple, there's a profound message contained within those ten words." 

"God on a cross. The ultimate act of creative compassion. The Creator being sacrificed for the creation. God convincing man once and for all that he would give anything, pay any price to save his children." 

This would make a great gift for the new Christian or for the follower of Christ who needs to be refreshed. This book brings the reader to understand grace. Lucado brings the reader to the cross. He shares scripture throughout this precious book. It is certainly one that will bless. 

I enjoyed this book. I love how Lucado's words are easy as they flow from his pen to heart. A heart changing book for sure. 

This book is a gift from Waterbrook Multnomah for sharing my review with you. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Always Watching by Lynette Eason

I get excited with Lynette has a new series releasing. Friends, this is another one you don't want to miss. If you haven't read anything penned by Eason yet this is a great place to begin! 

Fast paced and a quick read for me. Eason knows how to develop characters in such a way that as the story continues to flow we are allowed to learn more about them in pieces, not giving away too much too soon. As she brings in book 2 of this series we will get to know a different character as Eason brilliantly brings back those that we have gotten to know in the first novel. 

Suspenseful throughout the story. Always watching brings us a character who is being watched by his stalker, one who wants to destroy him. One who knows his every move. We also see this team of strong and capable women surrounding him, watching his every step. Where he goes they follow. Often they are arrive before he even gets there. I find this brilliant!! Good and evil meeting. 

I see the take away as Satan is always there watching our every move. He's out to destroy us and is willing to use every tool allowed. But there's the Savior, with His hand upon us, angels surrounding us with a hedge of protection. Where we go, He goes. His presence is there before we ever arrive. 

How wonderful to have this team of protection surrounding you. Friendships grow, love blossoms, and we see faith anew. I love how these characters face fear head on, knowing they have the support and encouragement from one another to face anything that comes their way. They are willing to step out of their comfort zone and stand in the gap for others. 

So, although this is a suspense novel that includes lots of action and who done it theme, there is much to take away. Yes, as always this is one to grab up. What a great way to spend a winter afternoon, all snuggled up with a great book!!

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

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice, the Deadly Reunions, and the Hidden Identity series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She lives in South Carolina. Learn more at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Mapmakers Children by Sarah McCoy

This is my first read from Sarah McCoy. The cover and description quickly caught my eye. I was hooked from the beginning pages. I am a huge fan of historical fiction. Sarah has brought us a gift of history weaved in a contemporary setting. Two stories, separate times in history, tied together to make one brilliant and beautiful story.

We begin with a New York setting in April 1859 and then we gracefully move to West Virginia in August of 2014. From there we meet many characters and travel different places in area and time. It's not a messy flip flop story, but brilliantly navigated together, going from past times to present.

These are characters filled with courage and strength. Each adding something different to the novel. Sarah shows us the intimate and transparent soul of these women. I admire how this author shows us their heart, struggles, fears, and we too are there to see them soar above obstacles. 

The words flow elegantly. Oh, the gift Sarah has for revealing the heart and emotion through pages that at times felt like poetry in motion. The detail this author gives is so vibrant that the reader is able to capture the scenes as if we are present within the story.

It's easy to see Sarah's passion in penning this novel. When an author is deeply driven to get the story right we see something magical happen. For me, that makes this penned work all the more spectacular. The author visited Sarah's grave site and leaves us with these words in the Author's Note. "I went to Sarah's gravesite, sat beside her on a bed of pinecones, and listened to the autumn leaves whisper." 

For my friends who strictly read Christian novels, this isn't a Christian novel. But it is a novel that I would recommend to friends. I loved this novel and am interested to now read The Baker's Daughter.

This novel was a gift from Broadway Books and the Blogging for Books Program for sharing my review with you.

Sarah McCoy is the New York Times bestselling author of The Bakers Daughter and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She lives with her husband and their dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl and Sabastian Stuart

I was so excited when I seen this book could be requested in print. I couldn't wait to begin reading. I have read many of Wiehl's novels and they were unputdownables!! This one was a bit difficult for me to stay with. It was pretty predictable and as far as it being marked {Christian}, I'm not sure why Thomas Nelson lists it as Christian Fiction. As an avid reader of Christian Fiction it truly didn't leave a mark of faith with me. 

In fact, I think many might be let down a bit by the language afforded in this book. I've never read a Christian novel that carried ungodly language. Although subtle, some may be offended just for the reason of being reviewed as Christian. The book itself is listed as Fiction/Suspense. 

I enjoy how the main character Erica is transparent. Weihl does a great job at bringing out her personality and her struggles. She is a strong character, a woman who is trying to achieve a life worthy for her daughter to respect. We do see she has a great love for her daughter and is willing to do whatever she must to continue fighting against her past issues with alcohol. Weihl shows us the the destruction this caused in her life and also how Erica fights to overcome. 

The newsroom is a place where we see a battle of good and evil. Erica has been warned that everyone isn't so nice and trustworthy. She has this gut feeling that she doesn't ignore, but trusts. She's a woman whose strength shines through. She is able to lay her fears down and push through this new life of her with unveiled eyes. 

Yes, there is intrigue, but not the thriller I expected. But we do see a woman who is transparent and through telling her story is able to overcome obstacles in life that in her past would have caused her to crumble. I love seeing people overcome. If there is any kind of {faith} message that comes from this novel it would be the battle against good and evil. We see good triumph when one person is willing to stand up and do the right thing. We see through this novel that when we are willing God will use us to complete His will. 

Not what I expected, but still a great story. If you are strictly a Christian novel reader this may not be the book for you. I'll leave that choice in your hands. For me, I really enjoyed this novel and will look forward for the next to be released. 

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

Audacious by Beth Moore

Beth Moore is that girl you chat with over coffee and because there's so much to share your coffee ends up getting cold. She's that teacher you can relate to and the one you wish you could call in the middle of the night. It seems wisdom just flows from her spirit.

Audacious and verve just may be your new {fave} words once you finish this book. This book wasn't what I expected. Maybe with this one I expected a bit more. Something different. But blessings still flowed from Beth's penned words. Her audacious heart touched mine. 

Here's a few of my faves from this penned work:

"WE don't have to half Him. Have all of Him. Have the audacity to take Him up on everything He is., And, if you do, I dare you not to live an adventure."

"If we stomp out every bit of spontaneity and edge out every inch of risk in our divine romance with Jesus, we are going to flatten what was meant to be the greatest thrill of our lives into the roadkill of religious routine. When you are head over heels in love, you make a fool of yourself sometimes."

"Participating with Him in something that is humanly impossible or naturally unexplainable. Knowing full-well that He just enabled you to do something you were utterly incapable of doing."

"To audaciously love Jesus Christ is not the only best thing you could ever do for yourself. It's the best thing you could do for those around you even if, at first, they beg to differ. Every relationship in your life stands to benefit from your bold, adventurous affection for Jesus Christ, not because you will run them down with the gospel eighteen-wheeler, but because you will walk the gospel out right in front of them. Audacious is not obnoxious. If our spiritual fire burns people instead of warming them, we have zeal without knowledge. When time affords us the luxury-and it doesn't always-the most effective gospel is show and tell. You share Jesus with your heart by the way you love, with your hands by the things you do, and, yes, of course, you share Jesus with your mouth. Sooner or later, you won't be able to keep from it. Audacious love unties the shiest tongue." 

"We set people free to love us in a way they never otherwise could have done when we no longer hold them responsible for giving us the lives we were born to live."

"We are called by Jesus to jeopardize everything we are on this one supreme love, counting all else as loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ. Only after the risk do we discover the reward: with Him came everything else of ultimate value."

"Boldness says that we don't see every little obstacle as some big hindrance. We're not too fragile to adapt and too finicky to accept. Boldness says that each circumstance is up for rent as opportunity. What we're willing to do with the room we've been given is up to us. Boldness makes the best of it."

"Those willing to give up their insatiable self-preoccupation to identify with Jesus and follow Him furiously will find an ever-unfolding life and love that they couldn't have scripted if they'd tried. God knew better than to lay it all out there at once. With brilliant mastery, He insisted on mystery. We do't get an advance bio of the precise life we're trading our self-absorption for. Even that is a gift from the giver. God authored a masterpiece of a story by setting into motion a process that would require a journey of faith. It was meant to be a nail-biter. It was intended all along to be a process that would require the naked exposure of our most sacred, carefully-guarded human possession: our trust." 

Beth uses scripture, stories from those who lived the Bible, personal stories of her own and from the lives of those she knows well, to highlight the audacity we should be living in Christ. 

This may not be quite what I expected, but Beth still gave me wisdom to ponder and set before me this new way of looking at my journey with Christ and how I can best share Him through this life He has so graciously given me. 

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

Beth Moore is a writer and teacher of the best-selling books and Bible studies whose public speaking engagements carry her all over the United States. A dedicated wife and mother of two adult daughters, Moore lives in Houston, Texas, where she is president and founder of Living Proof Ministries.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I Want That Kind of Peace

Ask a Miss USA contestant what they wish for most and they will eagerly say, "World peace", with a smile that is big as the world. Peace is something we all want, but for some reason we've come to believe that in this world we live in it is unobtainable. 

We search for peace. We look for tranquility and solace. That quiet place where we can escape from the troubles of the world. Maybe shopping for a few hours helps. Fishing the pond and letting our catch go can help quiet us. Sometimes when my Spirit is anxious I feel the need to clean, wash dishes, or do laundry. Going for a walk can clear our mind. All of these things help us, but they can be temporary fixes unless our focus is Jesus. 

Peace comes from that God-spot deep inside of us. That spot no one else can touch. That spot we know is real because we trust in the One who has given us a great hope. A hope that we can believe in because we know His Word is true and His promises forever lasting.

Today we carry such heavy burdens. We can feel all alone in our struggles. It's me and against the world attitude, right? We can feel crushed under all the weight. It's not good for us keep everything hidden inside. That pain needs an escape. If there isn't one we are like a time bomb waiting to implode down upon us. Is peace possible with such troubles upon us? Yes, it is! 

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

"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

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

"Though the mountains move and the hills shake, My love will not be removed from you and My covenant of peace will not be shaken, says your compassionate Lord." Isaiah 54:10

Having peace isn't based on our circumstances. It is possible to have peace in in the midst of our trials. Peace is a choice. We either believe that God is in control or we don't. If God is in control, and He is, we can trust that He wants the very best for us and He will work all things out for our good and for His glory. That doesn't mean that everything will go the way we wish it to. It means we can trust that God will do what is right and needed for His glory.

"Blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers-never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season." Jeremiah 17:7-8

We can be anxious and live our life trying to manipulate every situation to go our way or we can pray with thanksgiving for each and every circumstance in our life. Is that easy? No way. I'm not saying that peace comes easy. We may be able to find a temporary solace, but there's no easy fix. Peace comes by opening our hands and giving God everything we have and entrusting Him with each and every aspect of our lives. 

Prayer casts out all worry. I find that through prayer, through talking with my Savior, my heart is settled and there deep within me, I know that no matter what Jesus is with me and He will see me through. 

How can we create peace in our life? Changing our focus to Jesus. Being thankful. Giving thanks to God for all in our lives. Make a list and focus on those things. Just think if we changed our mindset to completely praising God for all He has done, is doing, and will do. There would be no room for worry.

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any praise-dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8

We cannot change every circumstance in our lives. What we can do is change our reaction. By living out our faith with an I will believe {no matter what} attitude it brings us to a place of peace in knowing that He is in control and He has already been where we are. He knows where we are going and my friend, He is already there preparing. While our circumstance around us rage, while the storm is wickedly strong, we can know that the God who set the sun to light the day and the moon to light the night will also light our way and make the crooked paths straight. 

"I don't say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am. I know both to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content-whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 8:9-10

What has you worried today? Are you dealing with health issues? A job loss? Marriage troubles? Maybe a child is having a difficult time at school. Taking care of an elderly parent can bring one to make unexpected decisions. A death of a loved one can cause us to question God's sovereignty. In today's world attack comes from every direction. It can feel like life is out of control. I've been there with you. 

"Do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don't realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need." Matthew 6:31-32

We lose sleep over countless battles. One thing we can do is pick our battles. It is important for us to realize what's truly important in our life. In the grand scheme of things every issue doesn't have to be our battle. To often we are letting anger control us. We cannot allow the troubles of this world to consume us. 

"Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life." Romans 8:5

By surrendering all to God, through deep prayer, and trusting Him with every circumstance, we can begin to live a life of peace. Journaling a thankful list can give us an attitude of praise. Be aware that Satan sets things in our path to keep our focus off of Christ. By reciting the Word, penning scripture and placing them in areas that we see often can encourage and inspire can help keep our focus heavenward. Just little reminders that our Jesus is present can be huge in our daily walk in finding peace in this messy world. 

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." Ephesians 6:14-15

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3

Friday, February 5, 2016

Blooming Perfection

Everything blooms in His perfected timing. A season for everything.The difficult part of that for us is waiting for it to happen. But what we must remember is that He is always doing a work. A work that we are not always present to see. 

It's so important for us to be true to who we are in Christ. To live out our faith no matter where we find ourselves. Who are we at work, at school, at home? Are we someone different from the girl who attends church on Sunday? While on lunch at work do we pray over our meal? At home when having friends over is our faith present? 

We pray for our family and friends. We pray for strangers we will never encounter again. We pray for requests shared. Every prayer is heard. Every prayer powerful when prayed in the Spirit. We are human. We pray for what we want, for what we hope. We need to pray His will and His Word. As we listen to the Spirit He will lead us in our prayer. It may be something totally unexpected from what we would hope. We hope for what is unseen not for what is seen.

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

"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 4:18

"Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25

We pray for the salvation of family and friends. There are times we have opportunity to share Jesus. We are able to witness our faith through our daily lives. If we are constantly conforming to those around us to make others feel comfortable they are not going to see an active faith and therefore they may even question if we are really Christian.

Have you been praying for a loved one? A situation that is yet to change? We can often feel unnoticed by God. We pray and pray, but yet we see nothing happening, nothing changing. Friend, Jesus is at work. He is moving, putting things in place. He uses a word, an act, so many things put together to bring change to the heart of man. 

"Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:5-6

We push our prayers heavenward and expect God to move in a hurry. He's moving, but for us not quick enough. We are kind of 'right now' people. We want to see action. We want to see circumstances changed, family situations 'fixed', and healing come quickly. God sees our past, present, and future. He has a perfect plan for our lives. He has knit it together in woven love. Each of us, whether believe in Him or not, are loved and valued. Our prayers, no matter how big or small, are important to Him. 

"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't His mother called Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, aren't they all with us? So where does He get all these things? And they were offended by Him." Matthew 13:55-57

"The Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, so His brothers said to Him, "Leave here and go to Judea so Your disciples can see Your works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he's seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world. (For not even His brothers believed in Him.) John 7:2-5

Think of James, the brother of Jesus, who didn't believe Jesus was Savior. Ponder back with me and imagine the life of Jesus as a child and a teen and then later in His ministry. All we know from scripture is that James didn't believe until after Jesus was resurrected. Don't you know Jesus prayed for His family to believe? Above all else He prayed for their salvation. I can't imagine Jesus changing and acting any different with His family and friends then He did with His Father. He was flesh as we are flesh, but He was still Lord. 

"Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles." 1 Corinthians 15:7

"All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers." Acts 1:14

Can you imagine the joy that exploded in the heart of Jesus when James came to see Him for who is was all along? His brother and Savior. And James seeing Jesus for the first time as Savior. What a glorious picture. I can envision Jesus as a child praying for His family and friends. Just waiting for the perfected predestined time for Him to be witness to the salvation of each love to come to fruition. Later James would lead the Jerusalem church and he too would write the Book of James. 

What a powerful testimony of love and prayer. Our prayers are living. It is a gift when we get to see our prayers answered, but many times it takes many years passed. We cannot forget that God is always at work in the heart of man. In those being prayed for and in the heart of the one praying. As He is working things out for others He too is working in us to bring us to being complete in Him.

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect." James 5:15 

We trust and we hope in our Savior. We believe and it's through our hope in the unseen that our faith grows. Like little seeds watered with love, those buds pop open and blossom a beauty far beyond anything we could have imagined. We are His vessels. His hands and feet to be real in a world that needs to see a faith daily present. We may struggle and trip over our feet, but our continued love of Jesus will be seen by others. Someone is always watching. Always. It may be in the moment we think matters the least that a person comes to see Jesus. Oh, the beauty Jesus can do with the tiniest of moments.

One word of kindness. One act of forgiveness. One heart forgiving. One servant giving. All these moments are seen and to a world that thinks Christianity is fake they can be shown through just one heart that Jesus is as alive today as He was yesterday.

"First of all, then, I urge that petitions,prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human, who gave Himself-a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time." 1 Timothy 2:1-6

"If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:9-14

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Love Shining Through

It's not always easy is it? You know, to love those around us. But we are called to love. To love mightily beyond ourselves. This is how Jesus moves through us to love. He loves in ways that we are incapable. All He needs is a willing and obedient heart.

To love the lovable is easy. What about the unlovable? Those who make life miserable. Those who add a frown to our day. Those who are rude and selfish. Those who aggravate and do ugly. Those who, well, those are unkind and unfriendly. Yes, those people exactly. It's those who need love the most.

"Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:14

People allow us to see what they want us to see. Most keep their hearts hidden. They are already wounded and don't want to be again. They are carrying burdens that outweigh any joy that comes. What we need to remember is that every person has a story. It's one we don't know. 

"Brothers and sisters, keep rejoicing and repair whatever is broken. Encourage each other, think as one, and live at peace; and God, the Author of love and peace, will remain with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11

As Jesus shines upon us we are to reflect His love. As He changes us inward we are to outwardly show His love. That's Christianity. That's being the church to a lost world, to brothers and sisters who are struggling. 

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:7

God doesn't call us to love the easy. He simply calls us to love. For us to make a difference, for us to show this angry world Jesus, we are going to have to respond differently. We are going to have to change our attitude. When we face ugly we face it with a smile. Oh, I'm not saying be a welcome mat for wounds, not at all. But sometimes it's just a smile or a kind word that can change an atmosphere of difficult to bearable. When people see us respond in a loving way it can very well be the window to Jesus they have been waiting to see. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

Sometimes it takes courage for us to love. It takes us stepping out of our comfort zone and not being afraid to be wounded by rejection. We are to be the vessel, the hands of feet of our Lord. We may not see the response hoped, but that person we shared kindness with just may go home and be encouraged in a powerful way.

Our smallest acts of kindness just may be the greatest treasure to another. A little splash of love goes a long way.

"May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you." 1 Thessalonians 3:11-12

Living Letters

I love writing letters. Hand written notes of love penned with words that try their best to describe what the heart is so trying to convey. 

To go to the mailbox and see a stamped letter from a friend makes the heart soar. This is something that doesn't happen so often now in the age of texting and emailing. A hand written note takes time. It says, "I love you". 

We are living letters of Christ. How cool is that? Think about that for a moment. Let it ponder there for a bit. What is your letter saying? It is happy, angry, or sad? Is is sloppily put together or greatly thought out? Each and every word is counted and has action behind it. Our living legacy. Our words are powerful and our actions mighty. To think of myself as being a living letter of Christ makes me ponder deeply the magnitude of my word and deed. 

"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone. It is clear that you are Christ's letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God-not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh." 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

I have a drawer where I keep card and letters from family and friends. Those words penned are special to me. They are keepers that have written on my heart a love that is mighty. Just as the Word of the Lord is written upon my heart. It's everlasting. I use old cards as bookmarks. I go back and read notes penned over the years by my children and husband. These precious words are those that I especially treasure when I'm having a rough day. 

"I have treasured Your Word in my heart so that I may not sin against you." Psalm 119:11

To treasure the Word is to live the Word. To live in such a way that the world will see Jesus through us and in our action might there be some love ink splashed on the heart of everyone who passes. 

"Keep My commands and live; protect My teachings as the pupil of your eye. Tie them to your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart." Proverbs 7:2-3

May each person who looks upon my life see a reflection of the Lord. May they see through me a living letter of God's love. This is the kind of chain letter we need to pass to one another. A letter that has return. A heavenly return that brings glory to our Lord. 

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

We live in a world that needs to know that feeling of going to the mailbox and seeing handwritten letter. A letter splashed with grace and filled with love. A letter that warms the heart and lifts the soul. 

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Monday, February 1, 2016

Step By Step by Candace Calvert

This is my first novel to read penned by Candace Calvert. Wow! I wasn't sure what to expect, but let me tell you that all that was missing was popcorn. I felt like I was sitting in the front row of a movie theater. Calvert has penned a beautiful novel about tragedy meeting healing, brokenness finding beauty within the ashes, anger letting go and reaching for forgiveness, and love abounding in the midst of a messy world. 

A medical drama, but this novel goes far beyond the doors of the hospital. Calvert takes us to the heart of the characters. 

The characters tugged at my heart. We are introduced to people who are real. People you and I know. They could very well be us. We not only know their story and circumstance, but as the story weaves a beauty of faith we feel their emotion. That makes me admire Calvert as a writer. When the reader is able to connect to each and every character that is a story well written. 

We meet characters who are a part of a crisis team. People  filled with grace and mercy. They go out at all hours and whenever hearts are in need. No pay. Nothing expected in return. Just willing vessels ready to be present. We see that as they reach out to give aid to others, they themselves are overcoming their own wounds one step at a time. Some of these characters are easy to love as others are a bit rough around the edges, but once we get to know them and understand their story we see they too are just as lovable. I think that is one lesson I can take away from this novel. Each of us have our inner struggles. Each person we meet, whether lovable or not, has their own story that they are trying to overcome. 

I enjoyed everything about this novel. The story line flows easily. The characters come to life off of these black and white pages. This would make for a great Sunday night Hallmark movie. This story continues and will be released in fall of 2016. I can't wait to see what's next!

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

Canace Calvert is a former ER nurse and author of the Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team Series. Her medical dramas offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exiting world of emergency medicine. Wife, mother, and every proud grandmother, Candace makes her home in northern California. Please visit her website at 


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