Monday, April 24, 2017

Children's Nonfiction Review: The Bible Explorer’s Guide: 1,000 Amazing Facts And Photos By Nancy I. Sanders

Description:
The Bible Explorer’s Guide lets children come up close and personal with everyday life during Bible times through photos, maps, and illustrations illuminating, people, places, objects, and buildings of the Bible. What did Noah’s Ark really look like? Who was David and whom did he fight? How did 1st century citizens of Jerusalem live? Each two-page spread is filled with images that bring history alive and drawings that help bring life to people and places that we can only read about. With fascinating, brief text and full-color captivating images, this is a reference that kids will come back to again and again. A great addition to any home or school library.

My Review:
The Bible Explorer’s Guide is a great book that helps introduce the history of Biblical times. The book has great photos of artifacts and architecture. They feature various tools and artwork along with maps of the area. Each two-page spread shows information on a particular theme. So often we try to put the Bible into the context of modern times. With this book children can get a better idea of the world Jesus lived in. The book covers Old and New Testament times. This would be a great gift to anyone who is interested in exploring the Bible times. It's also a great study tool for children who want to learn more about the Bible. I received this book for free from Zonderkidz.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Sower of Seeds

1 Corinthians 3:5-9
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Early this morning I went outside and dug a little ditch behind our lilies. In the row I sprinkled seeds, zinnias and forget-me-nots. The seed packets suggested I plant them in April, where they would grow in full sun. Zinnias have filled my flower beds with color before. I love the bright reds, pinks and yellows. The blue forget-me-nots will be pretty with the orange tiger lilies. Hopefully in a few weeks, I'll see little green sprouts pop out of the ground.  But, all I can do now is water and wait. I can't make them grow. That's up to God.

As Christ followers, we may plant the seed of God's word and truth in the heart of a friend. We may even do a little watering through prayer and compassion. But God is the one who brings growth. He's the one who causes the sprout to burst through the ground and mature in to a blooming flower. He's the one who leads our friend on the path to him. We have a purpose, in planting and watering, but God has the ultimate task of bringing growth.

When I was a young Christian, I thought I had to win people to Jesus all by myself. My heart ached when I couldn't find a way to bring someone completely to Christ. I even found myself getting in God's way. As I grew in the word, I began to understand my purpose. Once I figured out that I was a planter, a sower of the word. I found peace. As a Jesus' follower, plant the seed, sprinkle the water, and allow God to do the rest. He knows what he's doing!

What seeds do you like to sow?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Little Throw Back Thursday-Way Back

I think I was about three or four years old when this photo was taken. Obviously mom got me all set to have this darling picture taken. Including cutting those super short bangs. I've had a love/hate relationship with my hair for years. I prefer it long. It's easier to take care of and so stick straight that it falls back into place most of the time. But over the years I've tried short hair, curly hair, and dyed hair. Now that I'm hovering near sixty, I'm happy to have my natural white hair down my back in a pony tail. And oh yeah-I try to keep the bangs a little longer than when I was four.


I'd love to see your childhood photos.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Children's Book Review: Love Letters From God; Bible Stories For A Girl’s Heart by Glenys Nellist , illustrated by Rachel Clowes

Description: 
In this heart-warming picture book designed for girls, author Glenys Nellist tells the inspiring stories of incredible women in the Bible. With beautiful illustrations by Rachel Clowes and sweet lift-the-flap envelopes, each story delivers a special message for children to open as they read their own personal love letters from God. Full of warmth and love, this picture book will fill girls’ hearts with the wonder of the Lord. The stories of Eve, Miriam, Esther, Mary, and more will delight children and remind them of the bond they can share with God, just like the women of the Bible.

My Thoughts:
I love this book. Glenys has chosen several wonderful stories about women, in the Bible, to retell. She's written each one in easy to understand language and shows that God values girls as the daughters he's created. The lift-the-flap letters from God are encouraging and uplifting. Rachel's artwork is just lovely. The colors, drawings, and ephemera she uses to create each piece goes beautifully with each girl's story. As my daughters grew up I wanted them to know that God loved them and valued them. This book is a great place to start if you want to encourage young ladies in their relationship with God. I will share these heartwarming stories with my granddaughters.

Glenys Nellist was born and raised in a little village in northern England.   Her stories and poems have been published in children’s magazines where her writing reflects a deep passion for bringing the Bible to life for young children. Glenys lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, David.

Rachel Clowes grew up in South London and studied illustration at Cambridge School of Art. She began her career in children’s magazines and has been illustrating ever since. Rachel lives in Yorkshire, England with her husband, also an illustrator, her three sons and two cats.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good, Good Father

Luke 24: 1-6a
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"

I don't think it's an accident that we celebrate Easter in the spring, the time of new life.

Two places bring me closer to the Lord than any other. One is the ocean, the other is the woods. Tim and I hiked through one of the local wildlife preserves on good Friday. And I couldn't help but think about Jesus. I spied trillium as blood red as the blood Jesus spilled. White trillium reminded me of Jesus' forgiveness and how he will make us whiter than snow. Patches of purple dwarf larkspur wore their royal robes, like those of the King.


As we walked, the peacefulness of the forest calmed my busy mind. With worries and stress quieted, the beautiful song "Good, Good Father" whispered in my ear. At one point I closed my eyes and let the music fill my head. God is a good, good father and without doubt he loves every one of his children. So much so that he sent his own son to save us from sin and offer us the road to heaven.  

Spring is the time to rejoice in new life. The flowers, the greening up of the trees, but most of all the resurrection of Jesus.

Let's celebrate Jesus this Easter. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bible Review: The Woman's Study Bible (NKJV)

About the book: 
The Woman's Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God's truth for balance, hope, and transformation.
Special features designed to speak to a woman's heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman's identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, 
The Woman's Study Bible reflects the contributions of over 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman's Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Features Include:
-Beautiful full-color design throughout
-Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
-Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
-Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
-Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy
-Book introductions and outlines
-Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
-Quotes from godly women throughout history
-Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
-Topical index
-Concordance

About the publisher:
In business since 1798, Thomas Nelson is one of the oldest Bible publishers in the world and the largest publisher of the King James Version. Their mission is to inspire the world by using our talents, assets, opportunities, and influence to engage and equip people with Scripture and draw people to a deeper study and understanding of God's Word.

Find out more about Thomas at https://www.thomasnelsonbibles.com.

My Review:
As reviewers we were asked to look at a profile or study feature of a particular book of the The Woman's Study Bible . I chose the book of Colossians. To highlight the messages in Colossians the authors have inserted beautiful text boxes filled with wisdom. The insert for "Creativity: Expressing Your Gifts" caught my attention. I've always considered myself to be a creative person, delving into many crafts over the years. But what I love about their insight here is the talk of creativity beyond arts and crafts and how we can be creative in so many other ways. Some they include are: solving a problem, stretching a budget, hatching an idea. God has given each of us gifts. What a joy to know we can use them for Him. Other inserts in Colossians include "Identity in Christ: A Member of His Family," "Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness," and "Employment: The Rewards of Work." These are all beneficial and encouraging in our walk with Jesus. One other insert I love is the one called "My Identity in Christ." The writers list who I am "As a Christian" with "Scripture Reference." Along with the uplifting messages, there are footnotes that explain the scripture's meaning. The Woman's Study Bible is a lovely rendition filled with interesting and useful information that will encourage and uplift women as we study God's word. I also love the colorful flowers on the study cloth cover and pink tint to the gilding on the pages. The attractive cover invites me to open God's word and dig in. I highly recommend this beautiful Bible. I received this Bible from Thomas Nelson.


Colossians 1:29-2:1-3 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fiction Review: Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

Description:

Wishing for things that can never be is foolish . . . or is it?

Hope Harbor police chief and single mom Lexie Graham has zero time for extracurricular activities--including romance. Ex-con Adam Stone isn't looking for love either--but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief?

When Lexie enlists Adam's help to keep a troubled young man from heading down the wrong path, sparks begin to fly. Could it be that God may have a different--and better--future planned for them than either could imagine?


My Thoughts:

I love that Sandpiper Cove is all about second chances. This is the third Hope Harbor story I've read. And I've enjoyed each one. A trend I've noticed in several of the books I've read recently, is the added viewpoint of a child or young adult. In this story a young man named Brian is at a turning point in his life. I like how his story is intertwined with Adam's. Lexie's mom and son Matt also play an important part of her story. They ground her character and add the voice of reason at times. If you enjoy a solid story with a bit of mystery and romance you'll like Sandpiper Cove. I received this book for free from Revell.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The NKJV Woman's Study Bible' Grow in the Word Giveaway

You're invited to receive God's truth for balance, hope, and transformation in the fully revised and redesigned The NKJV Woman's Study Bible. The new edition features a beautiful, full-color redesign and poignantly reveals the Word of God with Scripture insights and the contributions of more than eighty women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Special features designed to speak to a woman's heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman's identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

This spring, cultivate your heart's spiritual roots and enter to win the Grow in the Word Giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on April 27. The winner will be announced April 28 on the Litfuse blog.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Where the Spirit of the Lord is...

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

This week we remember Palm Sunday as Jesus trekked through the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey. The people met him and waved palm branches and sang, “Blessed is the king of Israel!” In Jesus' humble way he knew his future was death and his celebration meant freedom for all who followed him.

He knew the road led to torture and sacrifice, yet he took the path anyway.

Why would this man who understood his destiny walk right into death's door? 
Because he loves us. He knew he offered the only means to forgiveness and eternal hope.

Jesus death and resurrection offer a freedom like no other.

Freedom from the weight of worry.

Freedom from the love of material things.

Freedom from anxiety.

Freedom from the opinions of politicians and Hollywood stars.

Freedom from society's values.

Freedom to pray at any moment of the day.

Freedom from sin.

Romans 3:23-24 ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Jesus is the only road to heaven. He gives forgiveness, freedom, and hope.

On this Palm Sunday weekend, know that Jesus died so everyone would have an opportunity to live in freedom. Praise the Lord for his Son!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Poetry Month Haiku #1

April is National Poetry Month. One of my favorite types of poetry is haiku. I'll be posting these little poems all month.

I love this particular one written by my husband, Tim. We share a love of lighthouses and watching the great blue heron.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Don't Lose Sight

Matthew 24:42-44 
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

Tim and I drove to a local lake to walk the dogs. With spring weather, we hoped to see some of the blue herons that nest in our area. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed two of them resting nearby. I lifted my binoculars and took in the sight of a male great blue heron on one shore and a female who perched on a limb in the water. As I watched them, I wanted to keep my eyes on both at the same time, an impossible task. Just as I turned toward the female, the male took flight. He didn't go far, but I missed his majestic rise into the air. I'd lost sight of him in a blink. That's all it took to miss my chance to watch one of my favorite birds glide above the water's surface. I wasn't ready to sit and wait on the him.

So many times in my walk with Jesus, I'm preoccupied. My mind is on anything but serving the Lord. In Matthew, Jesus spoke to his disciples, who were often sidetracked and sometimes confused. I mean—they spent every day with the Lord, but sometimes they just didn't get it. In Matthew, Jesus laid the future out for them. He warned them to keep watch, because once he died and rose again he'd be back. We wouldn't know when, but he promised he'd return "with power and great glory."

Last week God gave me three words to think on, "Don't lose sight". I wasn't sure why at first, but I truly believe he was reminding me to be prepared. He wants me to keep my sights on him and be ready for his return. I have no idea when Jesus will come for his followers or when I might leave this world. But what I do know is, I want to be ready. I pray we'll all be prepared to meet Jesus when he comes.


Praise God for Jesus!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Divine Appointment

Acts 2:38
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Galatians 5:25
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 

I love it when God makes an appointment for me. He sets up a time for my path to cross that of another person, without my knowledge. On Thursday, I was meeting family for dinner and I had a little time before our meal. As I drove into town, I stopped by the local library for a restroom stop and just to browse. As I wandered among the shelves I heard a familiar voice. A dear friend, and fellow librarian, was sharing some fun book titles with a young lady. I peeked through the shelf and sure enough there was my good friend. Neither of us work in this library, yet here we both stood. We hugged and had a great conversation God knew I needed.

You see, I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me to stop at the library. I could have gone to a gas station or even the restaurant for a bathroom. But God knew I needed to go to the library and talk with Sharee. One of my daughter's will be traveling out of the country soon. I'll be honest—I've been nervous about the trip. Sharee's daughter had traveled to the same country my daughter intended to go to, so she had knowledge of the area. She messaged me later after she'd looked up the target mission. Her words and information gave me great comfort and reduced the stress I'd experienced about the trip. I know without a doubt, the Holy Spirit nudged me to stop by the library. I had a divine appointment with Sharee. I love this about Jesus. He knows our needs and meets them, no matter how small. It's my job to listen and respond to the Spirit's prompting. Now I am excited for my daughter and the mission she's pursuing. I pray for safety and that her team can help those in need and touch the people with Jesus love. Pray with me, if you would.

Praise God for divine appointments!



Friday, March 24, 2017

Fiction Review: Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart

Book Description:
One body may be an accident. A second body means murder.

The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn't realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she's not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room.

Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky--with a dash of sinister--you'll love this latest whodunit from deft storyteller A. H. Gabhart.


My Review:
First, I like the main character, Michael Keane. He's smart which makes for a good crime solver. And according to the description he's handsome and best of all he is kind. Hidden Springs is a typical small town where everyone knows each other's business. And that just makes the story more interesting. Because even though the gossip floats around like a kite on a windy day, it is seldom accurate. As Michael and his crew sift through the facts and fiction, a killer is on the loose. One of the things I enjoyed about the story is Maggie's perspective, a teenager caught in the middle of the mess. She has a way of being brave and scared all at the same time. The pace of A.H. Gabhart's story is much like relaxing on the front porch on a Sunday afternoon. I'd compare the story to some I've enjoyed on the Hallmark Mystery and Movie channel. If you're fond of small town settings, mysteries and an array of peculiar characters, you'll love Murder is No Accident. I received this book free from Revell.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fiction Review: Home at Last by Deborah Raney

Book Description: 
Why did their differences matter so much?

Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he's stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters' efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.
All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite-well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?

Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

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About the author:
Deborah Raney's novels have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers' Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken Raney have traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deb's novels-for life in the city of Wichita.

Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahraney.com.
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Find us on Pinterest View on Instagram

My Review:

Home at Last is the fifth and final book in the Chicory Inn series. This series about the Whitman family is fantastic. As much as I loved the final book, I hated to see the series end. I had so much fun binge-reading the series. Yet, I think each book could stand alone. But you'd be missing out on some excellent story telling if you skip any of the books. Of the five, I enjoyed this one the most.  Deb created a beautiful story that hit on a scenario which has touched many of our lives. As Link and Shayla explore a possible relationship that puts both families on guard, Deb creates a story of overcoming differences in the face of love. That's one thing I like about Deb's writing, she's not afraid to write about troubling issues. Also, she creates believable characters who are in the midst of the challenges of life. In addition, I enjoyed the romance and the family interaction. As Grant and Audrey Whitman are striking out on a new adventure of their own, they're trying to balance life with their adult children. Deb Raney  has great insight into being a parent of grown children. The Chicory Inn  books will appeal to readers who relate to the grown kids finding their way in life and romance, and the parents who are learning to live in an empty nest (at least most of the time.) I highly recommend Home at Last as well as the first four books, Home to Hickory Lane, Two Roads Home, Another Way Home, and Close to Home. Five stars! I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

When I'm not at Liberty to Speak

Psalm 19:14
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

My co-worker, Natalie and I presented at a library staff conference this week. We'd been working on the PowerPoint and ideas for a few weeks. But I felt I lacked something. I wasn't quite grabbing the baton for my part of the program. Yet, I moved forward and gave the attendees encouragement in the world of library technical services. I thought maybe I fell short because I was nervous or tired. Although the evaluation sheets reflected satisfaction with the program. Still, I couldn't shake the dissatisfaction I felt in my heart. Then it hit me...

I'm enthusiastic about libraries and information. But compared to my love for Jesus, everything else pales. Without the freedom to include words about God and salvation in my talk, I left feeling empty. But that's how it is in the world. There are times when I will be in front of others, and I won't be at liberty to speak of the Jesus I love. But, I will be able to show God's love through encouragement and compassion. I may not be able to quote scripture, but I can speak with a love in my heart to the people God created. You see, it's not always the words that give a resounding message. My actions show others what Jesus already knows is in my heart. Was I kind, encouraging, peace-filled, joyous, gentle and self-controlled? I hope so.

When the woman caught in adultery was taken before Jesus to be condemned, instead of spilling out a string of words, he knelt and wrote in the dirt. He didn't find the need to spew out what he believed, instead he showed patience and gave no condemnation. How often are people watching instead of listening. Most of the time.

Whether an opportunity to speak or a chance to share, I pray the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart are pleasing to God. Praise God for his guidance in all things.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Deborah Raney's 'Home at Last' Facebook Party and Blog Tour

Conclude Deborah Raney's Chicory Inn novels with the final book, Home at Last, a story of acceptance, trying to overcome differences, and love. Everything changes for bachelor Link Whitman one icy morning when a child runs into the street and he nearly hits her with his pickup-and then the girl's aunt Shayla enters Link's life. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Join Deborah on Thursday, March 23, for a live author chat party in her Facebook group with fun prizes to be won! Click the graphic below for more details and to RSVP. Hope to see you there-bring a friend or two who loves to read!

Home at Last by Deb Raney

Raney1

The Lord of Heaven and Earth

Jeremiah 10:12-13
But God made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
    he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

Last week Tim and I stopped by Kroger to pick up groceries. As we drove around the parking lot to find a space, I looked into the field in front of the store. I was appalled. Litter tugged against the green sprouts of spring. Pop cans, food wrappers, and water bottles rolled around in the wind. Why on earth did anyone let that happen? I understand that sometimes a piece of paper might fall out of a cart or car. But good grief, it looked like someone dumped their trash out and let it fly.

God created an incredible place for us to live. The oceans, plains, mountains and the changing seasons. Spring should bring the beauty of the daffodils and forsythia, not garbage in the field. I appreciate God's creation and love being out in the woods or by the water. But mind you, I don't worship nature, instead I worship the Creator of all the wonders of the earth. The people in Jeremiah's time struggled with idols in nature. They bowed down to the sun and the moon. If any weather seemed like a threat, they thought they were being punished and shut down all their work to tremble in fear. But they had it all wrong. God gave us the earth and all the natural resources to use and appreciate. In turn, he expects us to take care of all creation. I thank God for this earth and pray we teach the next generation to take care of our world. Praise God for his creation!

Here is God of Wonder by Chris Tomlin. Love this song!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

In the Palm of his Hand

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Batavia sits in a small valley surrounded by low-lying hills. Just enough hill to cause a cozy, tucked-in effect. But on Thursday morning, the atmosphere seemed anything but cozy. The radio called for thunderstorms and a threat of tornadoes. As I drove through the center or town I watched the sky. Dark clouds billowed toward our little town. As I moved west, the clouds pushed east. The sky darkened as the clouds rolled. Lightning lit up the outline of the hills after thunder crashed through the air. We were in for a deluge. As I pulled in to my parking spot and jumped out of the Jeep the huge drops of rain, that come just before a downpour, accompanied me to the door. After I entered the building, rain let loose and poured in sheets. The wind ripped through and shoved water across the parking lot. The storm arrived with no mercy.

Sounds like life, doesn't it. Except there are not always warnings. Instead the thunder and lightning of life takes us by surprise. Illness, death, loss of job, divorce, broken friendships, disappointment, and on the tempest rolls. It's heartbreaking. But in the midst of all the storms there's hope! My brother sings a beautiful hymn that reminds me of God and his love, "‘Til the Storm Passes By." The lyrics are a prayer seeking God's protection in the midst of turmoil. The vocalist asks God to hold him in the palm of his hand. And that's exactly what he does. He hears our cries and wraps his arms around us, lifts us up and sees us through. No matter how dark the clouds, or heavy the rain, God offers peace and joy on the other end. He is our hope in every storm. Praise God for his endless love and provision.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Seed was Planted

A little over two years ago, the seed of a dream was planted into the heart of someone who saw the need to provide food for local children. Along with her husband and family, she took that seed and planted it in Clermont County. From that germ of an idea Empower Youth grew. And continues to grow.

photo by Lori Conley
The first time I heard Lori Conley speak, with compassion in her heart for children in poverty, I cried. To know that there are children who may not have a meal to eat or a pillow to lay their head on breaks my heart. Young people may be left to fend for themselves for any number of reasons. But they shouldn't have to go hungry, ever.

Tonight, Tim and I were blessed to stand beside other folks from the community and pack boxes of macaroni and cheese, juice bags, fruit cups, ravioli, crackers and various other food items into plastic bags. Each of the 385 bags will go home from school with a child, to provide a weekend meal.

That's not all. Empower Youth not only provides food, they also give a pillow with a pillow case to kindergarteners each school year. Plus they offer scholarships for summer camp.

To read more about empower youth go to their website at https://empoweryouth.me/about/ You'll find opportunities to volunteer, give, and encourage.

I'd love to see this program continue to grow and flourish. Please share this post so that more folks will know, and more will help.


"Empower Youth was founded in February 2015 to partner with children and youth in hopes of instilling in them the confidence and resources needed to break through the chains of generational poverty."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Children's Bible Review: The Jesus Storybook Bible, gift edition

Description:
The bestselling The Jesus StorybookBible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, is celebrating its phenomenal success with this beautiful clothbound gift edition. The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. From Noah to Moses to the great King David––every story points to Jesus. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle––the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God's great story of salvation––and at the center of their story too.

My Review:
Sally Lloyd-Jones has done a beautiful job re-telling many of the Bible's stories. I am impressed that she's written them for children without a lot of sugar coating. Often, Bible stories get watered down and children don't learn about sin or why Jesus died and was raised. Sally does a nice job and leaves room for parents and teachers to give more explanation. The colorful illustrations liven up the pages. I imagine children will love the color and characterizations of the Bible people. This would make a lovely gift for a child or a teacher of children. You might consider giving this book as a gift to students promoted in Sunday School or who have taken the step to accept Jesus as Savior. It would also be a great for family devotional time.  

Fiction Book Review: The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser Description:

Description:
Born into a life of hard work, English housemaid Annie Wood arrives in New York City in 1911 with her wealthy mistress. Wide-eyed with the possibilities America has to offer, Annie wonders if there’s more for her than a life of service. Annie chooses to risk everything, taps into courage she never knew she had, and goes off on her own, finding employment in the sewing department at Macy’s. While at Macy’s Annie catches the eye of a salesman at the Butterick Pattern Company. Through determination, hard work, and God’s leading, Annie discovers a hidden gift: she is a talented fashion designer—a pattern artist of the highest degree. As she runs from ghosts of the past and focuses on the future, Annie enters a creative world that takes her to the fashion houses of Paris and into a life of adventure, purpose, and love.

My Review:
I love this book! What a treat to follow the young woman, Annie Wood, as she contemplates new adventures in America. Set in the early 1900s, I enjoyed Annie's journey through the events and turmoil of the times. Nancy Moser recreates the history of the time with a fascinating story and an excellent detailed setting. Annie meets an interesting array of friends. I just have to say, Sean is delightful! As a seamstress or "home sewer" I've made many dresses and outfits for my children and grandchildren. I've even made a wedding dress. All from patterns. So I found myself engrossed in the process and designers in the early 20th century. Whether you sew or not, this is a lovely story about interesting characters trying to make their way on the world. Along with the beautiful story, there's a bit of suspense that kept me reading. My favorite part of the book is the thread of faith and purpose the author stitches throughout. And I have to say, Sean is delightful!If you enjoy historical fiction or just a great story, I recommend The Pattern Artist

Friday, February 24, 2017

You Might be Surprised

Matthew 9:10-13
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus loves people. It doesn't matter who they were, where they came from, or their occupation. He took the time to sit down with the folks he met, get to know them and share with them--His Story. Yes, he talked to them about salvation because he loved them. Back in his day, tax collectors we're often cheaters who stole money for themselves from the collected taxes. They were pretty much low-lifes in the eyes of the community. And you can bet, the religious leaders of the day didn't bother to even say hello. Yet Jesus sat down at the table with Matthew.

Tax collectors weren't the only ones Jesus befriended. His disciples were a bunch of regular guys who were sometimes a bit clueless and smelled like fish. But he loved them and taught them about the new kingdom, his kingdom and his sacrifice. Then there were the women. Mary Magdalene had been filled with demons. Jesus cast them out of her, and she followed him. He loved children and protected them. He loved older people, sick people, and sinners. Jesus wasn't a push-over. He was a care-taker, one who wanted the best for everyone he met. And that best is salvation. So you might be surprised who the Lord hung out with. It wasn't the kings or queens, rabbis or teachers. Oh he spoke with them, too. But he spent his precious time on earth with regular people. Like you and me. And he still wants to, through us.

He invited regular old Joes and Janes to take up the cross and follow him. He included the lame, the lepers, and the dying into his fold. He healed and loved. Knowing how Jesus cared for people, how can I do any less? It's hard for me because I'm not exactly a people person, yet God puts folks in my path and says love them. With his help I do.


How about you? Who has Jesus called you to love? Who has he asked you to share his story with?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bible Review: The Investigator's Holy Bible, NIV

Book Description:
Using a detective theme, the NIV Investigator’s Holy Bible explains Biblical text for children ages 6–10 using easy to understand, honest language. It also has many features that explain the essentials of each book and challenging concepts.

Have you ever used a magnifying glass? It makes everything bigger and easier to see, right? Detectives and scientists magnify things to understand them better. Well that’s just what this Bible does—it’s a magnifying glass to help children understand the Word of God better.

My Thoughts:
The NIV Investigator’s Holy Bible is a great Bible filled with information that helps the reader understand God's word in an easier way. The teaching tools featured include "The Evidence" an introduction given to each book, "The Breakthrough" which helps understand the meaning behind the words, "The Witnesses" that gives the meaning of names and "The Scene" which explains place. There is also "Check the Facts" and "Case Closed" that offer short quizzes and a summary. All of these handy tools help the reader to better understand the scriptures. I like this Bible and believe it would be a great tool for helping a child get into the stories of the Bible. I love that it gives the meaning of the people's names and a great explanation of the setting. My favorite tool is "The Breakthrough." These are sprinkled throughout each book and give great answers to hard questions. I recommend this Bible for children interested in learning more about God's word. I also think this concept would be great for any adult who is not familiar with the Bible and wants to begin to understand. Even as an older Christian, I want to look through each book and read the explanations. I can also see this being an integral source for family devotion time. A concordance, index, table of weights and measures, as well as maps round out the rest of the book. The format is appealing with touches of color.