Saturday, September 14, 2019

Be Caught by the Spirit

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.

John 14:26
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Tim and I kayaked on Cowan Lake, a small lake that doesn't allow speedboats. The calm water was perfect for a day of paddling. As we floated along, I watched somewhere around 15-20 sailboats take to the water. The way the boats glided across the inlets reminded me of a graceful heron soaring through the air.

The sailboat depends on the wind to power it through the water. As the navigator observes the movement and wind power that propels the boat, he listens to what the wind says.
"Sailing is not about catching the wind. Sailing is about being caught by the wind."-Didi Bacon
As the sailboat is powered by the wind, Jesus followers are powered by the Holy Spirit. Understanding that we have a supernatural being living in us as our guide draws some doubt. Yet, the Bible tells us that when we choose to believe and turn our lives toward Jesus, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He's real and He's with us every day. He nudges me to obey God's calling, He comforts me, He loves me, He reminds me that I'm a child of God, He's my counselor, He listens and prays for me when I am without words. The Holy Spirit truly is a gift from God.

Like the navigator of the sailboat, I need to listen and be aware of the Spirit's guidance. My desire is to be caught by the Spirit, just as the sails are caught by the wind.

Ask the Lord to fill you with his Spirit.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Flower Friday: Hibiscus

My daughter, her children and I wandered through Smale Park in Cincinnati. 
The park's landscape overflows with flowers. 
On our trek, I noticed some gorgeous hibiscus in an array of vibrant colors. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fiction Review: Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble


Description:
Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own. 

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name? 

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future. 

My Review:
Colleen Coble delivers another take-your-breath-away romantic suspense. With so many people checking into their heritage through DNA, Colleen has taken it a step further. What happens when the DNA reveals terrible secrets? Strands of Truth is a fast paced story that kept me reading past my bedtime. One of the things I enjoyed, aside from the mystery, was learning about byssus, silk thread made from a clam's filament. I'd never heard of it. But it played into the story in an interesting way. If you love suspense mixed with romance, you'll enjoy reading Strands of Truth. With the Floridian ocean setting, it's the perfect book to read at the end of the summer season. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fiction Review: You Belong with Me (Restoring Heritage) by Tari Faris


Book Description:
Realtor Hannah Thornton has many talents. Unfortunately, selling houses in the town where her family name is practically poison isn't one of them. When a business tycoon determines to raze historic homes in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, and replace them with a strip mall, Hannah resolves to stop him. She sets about helping Heritage win a restoration grant that will put the town back on the map--and hopefully finally repay the financial debt Hannah's mother caused the town. But at first no one supports her efforts--not even her best friend, Luke.

Luke Johnson may have grown up in Heritage, but as a foster kid he never truly felt as if he belonged. Now he has a chance to score a job as assistant fire chief and earn his place in the town. But when the interview process and Hannah's restoration project start unearthing things from his past, Luke must decide if belonging is worth the pain of being honest about who he is--and who he was.

My Review:
Tari Feris's debut is a winner. I enjoyed reading this sweet story filled with honesty and doubt. Tari created flawed characters who live in a town that's losing hope. I love the quirkiness of the town folk, especially Hannah. She's a mess, but she has a big heart. And Luke is that guy you'd fall for...just because. I look forward to more from Feris, especially in the Restoring Heritage series. If you love small town stories, you'll love You Belong with Me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

He Loves Like No Other

Isaiah 40:11
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Matthew 18:12-14
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

I'd find the widest maple tree in the yard and squeeze myself as small as I could, behind it. The child who was 'it' would call out "Ready or not, here I come" to let us know they were searching for our hiding place. As a kid my neighbors, cousins, and I spent endless hours playing hide-and-go-seek. We especially loved playing from dusk to dark. But in the game of hide-and-go-seek, we didn't want to be caught, or we'd be the 'it' person.

As an adult, I rarely play that old childhood game, unless one of my grandkids talks me into it. But I can tell you there have been times when I've played hide-and-go-seek with God. I've buried my head and ignored his wisdom, his call, or his word. I've run the other way in shame, rolled myself in a cocoon of misery and regret. But you know what, he came after me. He sought me out. Why? Because he loves me no matter what. The God who created the universe called me by name and told me I am his child.

Jesus is often called the Good Shepherd. As a shepherd, he searches for that single sheep that strays away from the flock. He chases that one little lamb who lost his way. He seeks in the shadows, climbs the mountains, tears down the walls to find that one who is lost. Once he finds us, he holds us, loves us and gives hope beyond, hope. Jesus said he's happier about finding that one lost sheep than about the ninety-nine who stayed put. Why? Because Jesus wants every child of his to be found, to be saved from the evil in this world. He wants every soul to rest in him.
Jesus loves like no other. Run into his arms.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Flower Friday: Sunflower

I am fascinated by the sunflower. This beauty grows anywhere from ten inches to ten feet tall. Several years ago, I planted seeds along the back wall of our home. Over the summer the seeds germinated and pushed through the soil. A huge sunflower head bloomed as the stem stretched taller than our one-story house. I'd not seen a sunflower so tall. 

My grandsons love to chomp on sunflower seeds during their baseball games, 
and I enjoy the seeds baked into bread. 

I love seeing sunflowers blooming along the highway and in the fields. 
Do you grow sunflowers?



Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Unfurl Your Wings


Olive and I were walking outside, 
and this lovely monarch landed on a zinnia in my garden. 
I love when God sends me a sign of beauty in my every day life. 

Click to Tweet #unfurlyourwings! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fiction Review: Words Between Us by Erin Bartels


Book Description:
Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family's ignominious past. She thought she'd finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels.

When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father's scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. That book--a first edition Catcher in the Rye--is soon followed by the other books she shared with Peter nearly twenty years ago, with one arriving in the mail each day. But why would Peter be making contact after all these years? And why does she have a sinking feeling that she's about to be exposed all over again?

My Review:
Words Between Us is a coming of age story told from two perspectives. Robin's past and her present collide in this literary gem. Erin Bartels' literary prose wrap around the heart as she delves into the classics and their relationship with the reader. Part mystery, part romance, all fascinating. This story of redemption, realization and forgiveness is well written and worth the time to savor. Bartels' unique perspective and writing have a distinctive flair in the field of inspirational literature. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Come Unto Me

I am blessed to be part of a family with an amazing work ethic. 
People who work not only to provide, but to make life better for others. 
That includes my husband, thank you Tim for all you do 
which gives me the opportunity to be retired. 

God knows his people labor and need rest. 
He offers that rest to anyone who accepts him as King of their life. 


Saturday, August 31, 2019

When my Feet Hit the Floor - I Gotta Try

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Mrs. Hatch printed the word 'try' on the over-sized sheet of writing paper. "What does it mean to try?" The students discussed with each other what they thought the word meant. The children piped up with answers like keep going, work harder, and don't give up. She shared with them that as long as they try their best, they are successful.



I like this quote she shared with the students, "It's okay to not know, but it's not okay to not try." Their young minds don't know everything, but they are in school to learn and to make an attempt at doing their best. As believers in Jesus, we don't know our whole story. God has a plan for our lives, one that affects other people. The Holy Spirit guides us even as we don't know the outcome. As followers Jesus asks us to try our best. He needs us to not give up. We don't know when Jesus will return to take us home, but we do know that he wants us to live each day for him.

When I've sinned, I need to repent. When I grow weary, I need to ask God for strength. When I get discouraged, I need to pray and read his word. I need to keep trying. Every day when my feet hit the floor, I need to give the day to God and ask him what he wants me to do. Notice I use the word need in each sentence. I may not want to do those things, but I need to. That's part of trying to do my best for Jesus.


Keep trying. Don't lose heart.

Click to Tweet #Dontloseheart

Friday, August 30, 2019

Flower Friday: Impatiens

I snapped a photo of this gorgeous impatiens bloom in my neighbor's garden. Drawn to the gorgeous shade of pink, I admired the simple flower's beauty. Impatiens come in a rainbow of colors: pink, red, white, violet, coral and purple. Even though the plants do reseed, most folks plant them annually from nursery grown plants.  



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Children's Book Review: Bible Gems to Remember Illustrated Bible: 52 Stories with Easy Bible Memory in 5 Words or Less by Robin Schmitt (Author), Kris Aro McLeod (Illustrator)

Book Description:
Scripture is filled with “gemstones”—concise statements of five words or less that hold great value, meaning, and power. Bible Gems to Remember Illustrated Bible, written by 

Robin Schmitt and illustrated by Kris Aro McLeod, takes children through 52 stories from the Bible, each featuring a powerful gem from Scripture to memorize.
God can accomplish amazing things with just a few words. Imagine what he could do in the heart of a child who memorizes and meditates on these short “gems” of wisdom from the Bible.

Enhanced with beautiful gemstone illustrations throughout, the Bible Gems to Remember Illustrated Bible gives readers 52 powerful verses from Scripture—one for each week of the year—to read, reflect upon, and put into practice. By the end of the year, children will have learned more than 52 easy-to-memorize Scripture verses!

My Review:
Bible Gems to Remember is a lovely book filled with colorful illustrations. But more importantly, the book is full of wonderful short verses for little minds to learn and remember. The premise of the book will work well with small children. Read them the story, show them the pictures, then teach them the verses. This is the perfect Bible for little ones to discover God. This could be shared in Sunday School, home devotions, or one-on-one with your favorite child. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zonderkidz. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Children's Book Review: One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike than Different by Linsey Davis, illustrated by Lucy Fleming


Book Description:
Linsey Davis, Emmy-winning correspondent for ABC News and author of The World Is Awake, brings us One Big Heart, A Celebration of Being More Alike than Different, a beautiful picture book that celebrates diversity as well as the things we all have in common.


From skin, hair, and eyes in a multitude of colors to different personalities and interests, God gave us all special traits and characteristics that make us uniquely ourselves. And we all have things in common too: like sharing fun and laughter on the playground, a sense of curiosity, big feelings, and so many other things that show how we are all more alike than we are different.

My Review:
The whimsical illustrations along with the beautiful rhyme create an easy to read aloud story that celebrates all children. Linsey Davis uses her words to teach children that they may be different, but God created them to be alike with a big heart to love each other. I love the colorful illustrations and the well-chosen words that encourage children to see the best in each other. This is a perfect read for preschool and Kindergarten. Or share this sweet story at home. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zonderkidz. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Suspense Fiction Review: Deadly Intentions by Lisa Harris


Book Description:
Research scientist Caitlyn Lindsey is convinced that someone is taking out her team one by one. First, a friend and research partner was killed in a home invasion. Three months ago, her boss died in a suspicious car accident. Four days ago, another partner supposedly committed suicide. And now Caitlyn herself has miraculously survived a hit-and-run. Afraid for her life with nowhere to turn, she reaches out to one of the victim's husbands, Detective Josh Solomon.

Though initially skeptical about Caitlyn's theory, Josh soon realizes that the attack that took his wife's life was anything but random. Now the two of them must discover the truth about who is after Caitlyn's team--and what their end game is--before it's too late.

My Review:
Deadly Intentions is a tangle of good intention and deadly risk. Well written with great tension, I second guessed myself as I read and tried to decide who was good and who was evil. I like the character Caitlyn, she's brave even when she shouldn't be, and Josh is the perfect partner in this fast-paced, nail-biter. The romantic element in the story is perfectly paced. If you enjoy great suspense, you'll find it in Lisa Harris's books. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Historical Fiction Review: Thimbles and Threads: 4 Love Stories Are Quilted into Broken Lives by Mary Davis, Grace Hitchcock, Suzanne Norquist, Liz Tolsma


Book Description:
Enjoy four historical romances that celebrate the arts of sewing and quilting. When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their talents lead to love?

Bygones by Mary Davis Texas, 1884
Can Tilly figure out how to truly forgive the one who made her childhood unbearable? 

The Bridal Shop by Grace Hitchcock
Charleston, South Carolina, June 1886
Alice Turner, the owner of one of Charleston’s finest bridal shops, is determined never to be dependent on a man for anything after the disgrace of her father’s prison time.  Will the handsome groomsman be able to convince her to open her heart again and finish the quilt once intended for her father?

Mending Sarah’s Heart by Suzanne Norquist
Rockledge, Colorado, 1884
Sarah doesn’t need anyone, especially her dead husband’s partner. When she rejects her husband’s share of the mine, his partner Jack seeks to serve her through other means. But will his efforts only push her further away?

Binding Up Wounds by Liz Tolsma
Regent, Wisconsin, 1865
Melissa Bainbridge is a quirky designer of rag dolls who raises raccoons and never really fit into the small farming town. When Lance Witherspoon arrives in town to thank her for the Sanitary Commission quilt she made that saved his life, she is shocked to learn Lance is a Confederate. Can she and Lance confront the town’s prejudices – along with their own?

My Review:
I enjoyed these gentle stories set in the late 1800s. I'm fascinated with the art of sewing, and love that the women in the stories own businesses. Each author writes a beautiful story, giving the heroin strong faith and determination. The novellas are threaded together by stitches, yet each one is unique. I especially enjoyed Binding Up Wounds. Liz Tolsma did a beautiful job writing about the prejudice that remained after the Civil War and the hurt caused by people who judge. If you enjoy historical fiction, pick up a copy of Thimbles and Threads. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Books via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Joy in the Garden

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Flowers bring me joy. If you've checked out my Flower Friday posts, you know botanicals have played a part in my life since childhood. From the flower garden my mom nurtured to the row of irises (we called them flags) my dad planted, I've always enjoyed flowers. The whole process from sowing the seed or placing the baby plant in the ground to the photosynthesis in the leaves is nothing short of amazing.

My granddaughter Dilly and I planted zinnias, snapdragons, geraniums and a few other flowers in my tiny flower bed in May. As I walked by them this hot August morning I noticed how they had spread, like they lifted their arms toward the sun and stretched. The beautiful array of colors fills me with joy.

Jesus calls us to be a joyful people. Not just happy but filled with joy. In sadness, disappointment, distress, or frustration the joy of knowing my Savior loves me fills my heart with hope. Each time I look at the flowers in my little garden, I'm reminded of the everlasting joy of life with God.

At camp and vacation Bible school we sang a song:

I have the joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
Where?
Down in my heart.
Where?
Down in my heart.
I have the joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
Where?
Down in my heart to stay.
-George W. Cooke (Public Domain)

As simple as the words are, they speak volumes. That joy that is a product of loving Jesus is in my heart to stay.
Do you know the joy Jesus gives?

Friday, August 23, 2019

Flower Friday: Coneflower

The purple coneflower stands guard over the garden. A member of the echinacea family, "The genus name, Echinacea, comes from the Greek word ‘chinos,’ meaning hedgehog." The center of the flower stands out like a prickly little hedgehog.
Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love the coneflower.
They're easy to grow and add lovely color to the garden.




Grant, Bonnie. “History Of Purple Coneflowers.” Gardening Know How, 5 May 2018, blog.gardeningknowhow.com/tbt/history-of-purple-coneflowers/.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Children's Book Review: The One & Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family by Steve Greig & Mary Rand Hess; Illustrated by Nadja Sarell


Book Description:
What makes a family? Is it sharing favorite foods, cuddling up for snuggle time, loving each other no matter what you look like in the morning?
For Steve Greig’s oddly wonderful, real-life family of senior dogs, chickens, rabbits, and a pig named Bikini, family is all those things and then some! And this lovable bunch is now starring in their very first children’s book that showcases the importance of family.

Meet the Wolfgang, a loveable bunch of animals belonging to Steve and each other. Greig looked for the most “unadoptable” animals and gave them a home … his home! Strange and unique, The One and Only Wolfgang will remind readers that no matter how old or how odd, everyone has a place where they belong.



My Review:
The One & Only Wolfgang is a delightful story based on a real-life family. I checked out Steve Greig's Instagram and looked through the fun pictures of his menagerie. His book encourages kids and adults to consider how much each person or in this case pet brings to the family. I like the colorful illustrations mixed with the photos of all the animals. Steve's animals are also seniors. I find this a wonderful way to show kids that seniors, whether animals or people, should be valued and respected. This would be a great gift for anyone who loves animals. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Fiction Review: A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson


Book Description:
Anne Norris moved to Savannah, Georgia, for a fresh start. Now her pirate-tour business is flagging, and paying the rent requires more than wishful thinking. When she discovers evidence of a shipwreck off the coast of Tybee Island, she knows it could be just the boon she needs to stay afloat. She takes her findings to local museum director Carter Hale for confirmation, but she runs after a disastrous first meeting.

Carter has been searching for the location of the wreck detailed in the worn pages of an 18th-century diary, the discovery of which could open the door to his dream job at a prestigious museum. But convincing Anne to help him fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle is no easy task. And working with Carter means that Anne will have to do the one thing she swore she'd never do again: trust a man.

Finding a monetary backer and sticking with a search that's turning up nothing will take all their dedication--and every secret they've tried to hide. If they can find the lost ship, they may discover a treasure worth more than all the pirate gold in the world--love.


My Review:
I've read most of Liz Johnson's books, this one is my favorite. The character Anne is plucky and real, a pixie of a girl. She's paving her way after a terrible experience in her past. Carter is a sweetheart. Imagine cute guy, a bit of a nerd with black glasses. He's not your typical hero. The setting is gorgeous and the history of the lost ship is fascinating. In the story, Anne and Carter share a diary from a young woman who risked everything for her brother. I found the diary excerpts as wonderful as Anne's story. If you want to sink yourself into an enjoyable story filled with mystery and adventure, pick up A Glitter of Gold. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Bucket List

Ephesians 6:19-20
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

The bucket list.

Do you have one? For years I didn't think I did. But then I reached an age of looking back. I had to consider whether I'd accomplished the things I'd set as goals (aka bucket list.) Yes, some of the ideas I conjured came to fruition.
  • I'd finally completed my bachelors degree at age 48.
  • We'd raised the kids to be adults who care about others and give back.
  • I gave myself the freedom to let my hair grow into its natural color.
  • I had a few of my writings published.  
  • Tim and I moved into a condo and see it as our home for the rest of our days.
  • At 60 I finally got to journey to Maine.
  • And I retired.

Yes, some of my bucket list is complete. But what about the opportunities Jesus offers me now. Or the nudges I receive from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes when God calls me to check off or accomplish an item on His list, I react with fear. That's not new to me. I've been fearful of failure most of my life. My anxiety shoots up and leaves me frozen.

I completed my degree, but not without hesitation. We reared the kids, but not without doubts, then there's my writing. That draws out the fear like nothing else. Yet, each time God calls me and adds an item to my list, He fills me with his confidence and equips me to complete the work.

The apostle Paul requested prayer for his ministry. He asked his friends to pray that in spite of fear, he would accomplish his calling. You know what? God answered his prayer. The Holy Spirit worked through Paul and gave him courage to live for Jesus and to share the gospel with everyone. And he'll do that for us, too.
"Life is filled with bucket lists. When God nudges us, step out on faith and check off the bucket opportunities that God gives us." -Tim McGinnis

Friday, August 16, 2019

Flower Friday: Hydrangea

The hydrangea bush produces gorgeous blooms in clumps of tiny flowers to create a pom-pom like bouquet. The ones we saw in Maine had huge clusters of almost cloud-like blue blossoms. Did you know hydrangea bloom in pink, blue, white, and purple

According to the FTD blog the different colors represent these symbols:
  • Pink hydrangeas symbolize heartfelt emotion.
  • Blue hydrangeas symbolize frigidity and apology.
  • White hydrangeas symbolize boasting or bragging.
  • Purple hydrangeas symbolize a desire to deeply understand someone.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Dreams and Bucket Lists

A trip to Maine had been on my bucket list for years. When Tim and I made the journey, I was determined to see puffins. On our third day in the beautiful state, we climbed aboard a boat and sailed out toward Eastern Egg Rock Island. The overcast day made for good picture taking. But the choppy waters challenged me. I held on to the rail, balanced myself and my camera and shot photos of the floating birds. They bounced on the water, I bounced on the boat, but I did it. I captured those cute little fellows in their environment. At sixty years old, I accomplished my dream. 

Atlantic Ocean Puffin

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Knee-deep

Proverbs 1:5-7
Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I'm knee-deep in learning. My friend Jody and I attended a writer's conference at Taylor University. The speakers and teachers shared their knowledge and wisdom about the writing and publishing world. My ears tingled as I listened to Dr. Angela Hunt, a prolific Christian author, share about the skeleton plot. That may sound funny, but I was excited to learn from the best.

I've also been helping my daughter, Sara, prepare her classroom for the new school year. The smell of crayons and paper gets me excited for the kids. The new principal in Sara's building is initiating a super hero theme, encouraging the students to do their best, be a good friend, and be a bucket filler. You see along with academics, the teachers work to instill confidence and positive behavior. Those little kiddos are blessed to have teachers who care about them and want to fill their buckets with kindness and joy.

So I'm knee-deep in learning...about writing, about kids, and about Jesus. Talk about hearing from the best. There is no better place to learn than at the feet of Jesus. Like Mary in the Mary and Martha story, I want to hear every parable, word of wisdom and proverb Jesus shared. I'm thankful the writers of the Bible penned God's words. I'm excited that I have the very words of Jesus (red letters in many Bibles) to read and tuck into my heart.

God wants his people to keep discovering Him. Every day brings a new experience, a new perspective, a new way to learn and share Jesus story.
What have you learned today?
If you have a minute, pray for all the kids, teachers, and staff heading back to school.

Friday, August 9, 2019

National Book Lover's Day!

I love books, and I cannot lie. 
Big books, small books, short books, tall books!
Here are some of my favorite children's books. 
I love sharing them with my grandkids. 
As a children's librarian for twelve years, I fell in love with the picture book.
Of course I love novels and nonfiction, too. But there is something about the illustrations and words that create an incredible experience for young readers and the young at heart.
Pick up a book and read!

Happy National Book Lover's Day! 



Flower Friday: Hollyhock

When I was a little girl, my mom showed me how to refashion the beautiful flowers into dolls who sashayed in the garden. They wore their bright colored blooms as skirts. 
Hollyhocks can grow as tall as ten feet high. 
With their pops of color, they're a lovely addition to any flower garden. 

Pink Hollyhock

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

He is my Hope

Everyday I am amazed. God made me. He loves me. He carries me through my days. 
Even as I am a white-headed and seasoned, He loves me!


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Rest, Recharge, Refresh

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

My daughter, Maggie, directs the VBS program at her church every year. She pours her heart into preparing the best possible environment for kids to learn about Jesus. Along with her children, she decorates the church with the year's theme and turns it into a wonderland for the kids. This year the beach theme brought out surfboards, Hawaiian leis, hibiscus, palm trees and beach balls. You may wonder, why all the effort? Because she loves creating a place for kids to hear Bible stories, for kids to be loved on, and for kids to know someone cares. I had the privilege of helping her with a few small tasks, and I can tell you this momma's heart is proud of the work she does for Jesus. No matter how many or few kids show up, they will be blessed.

Yet, as much joy that comes from preparing for and working at VBS, exhaustion usually follows. I've been there and done that. I'm guessing you have too. Worked for days, even months on a project you've been called to do, plus all the other responsibilities in life. By the end you are tired. That's when we need to rest, recharge and refresh.
But Jesus who calls us to work the fields also calls us to rest.
I love that Matthew tells us that Jesus has a gentle and humble heart, and that he offers us rest for our souls. When we put in effort doing the Lord's work, we don't just get physically tired. We often become spiritually weary, dragged down by negativity, judgy people, and frustration. Jesus promises to recharge us through his rest. His yoke lifts our burdens and refreshes us because he carries them. When we take on Jesus' yoke, we take on the love he pours over us.

When the weariness and burdens seep in, turn to God in prayer and read his word in order to soak in the Savior. His is a yoke of love meant to lift burdens and give rest. Thank you Jesus for your loving kindness.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Flower Friday: Magic Lily

The delicate pink blossoms stand tall on slender stems. I'd didn't encounter the magic lily until I was in my twenties. A little lady, who lived up the road, told me they were called naked ladies because the leaves had come and gone in the spring. 
These beauties are also referred to as surprise lilies or resurrection lilies. 
These gorgeous flowers bloom in my favorite shade of pink.




Monday, July 29, 2019

Fiction Review: Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker


Description:
When Cohen Marah steps over his father's body in the basement embalming room of the family's funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory. As the last one to see his father, Cohen is the primary suspect.

Over the next week, Cohen's childhood memories come back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his father being asked to leave his pastoral position. The game of baseball that somehow kept them together. And the two children in the forest who became his friends--and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he's been avoiding: Did he kill his father?

My Review:
I found the premise of the story interesting, and Cohen's journey through doubt and pain difficult to follow at times. The supernatural elements of the story threw me off at times, or were they nightmares? I wasn't sure. I felt a tug of war while I tried to go back and forth with the author. The ending left me disappointed. Many people reviewed this book and loved it. I guess it's not my cup of tea. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

She Loved the Children


Colossians 2:2-3
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 


Our community lost a treasure. Lori Conley fought cancer and lost that battle. But in the ultimate battle, she won. I know without doubt that Lori is rejoicing in heaven. She's talking to God, whom she loves, and singing his praises, even as the folks left behind feel a huge loss.

The first time I met Lori, she spoke at my grandkids' closing VBS program. Her words and compassion gave me goose bumps. I'd never heard anyone so passionate about helping children. Her program, Empower Youth, was getting off the ground. She'd heard God's voice, felt his nudges and jumped in. She and Scott provided a beautiful pathway for folks to help the kids who needed love, sustenance, a chance to experience camp and so much more. One of the things I loved about Lori was her desire to feed the children who were hungry. She made sure their basic needs were met, then she loved on them. A fireball of energy, she worked all the time. Not to have fancy things, but to make sure kids had food. Just Wow!

I don't understand why she passed from this world at such a young age, in the middle of her ministry. But God does. We may never understand. But what we can do is trust God to move forward through the folks left behind. I know there are people who love the kids, too. God will nudge people to serve. He'll call us to give money, he'll ask for our time, he may ask for leadership. He has a plan for Empower Youth.

If God comes calling, listen. Do it for Lori, do it for God, do it for the kids.

Maybe your ministry isn't Empower Youth. Maybe God has called you to something else. Whatever it is, listen and move on it.
Someone, somewhere is depending on you to do what God has called you to do.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Flower Friday: Zinnia

Zinnias bring me joy. 
I fell in love with the colorful heads that sway in the breeze, when I was a child. 
These jewels grace my flower garden. Their bright shades of beauty speak summer!


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Children's Picture Book Review: The Wonder that is You by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Aurelie Blanz


Book Description:
Every parent dreams of embracing their new child, and when that dream comes true, it’s as if all of creation rejoices with them. In the tradition of Nancy Tillman’s On The Night You Were Born and Emily Winfield Martin’s The Wonderful Things You Will Be comes The Wonder That Is You by critically-acclaimed author Glenys Nellist. This heartwarming book beautifully captures the universal love and joy parents feel as they celebrate the arrival of a new child. A perfect gift for baby showers, baptisms, adoptions, birthdays, or any time you want to tell your little one how much they are loved.

It felt as if the world stood still
The day my dream came true,
And all creation paused to see
The wonder that is you. 

I thought I heard the trees clap hands
And as their leaves unfurled,
They whispered softly in the breeze,
Welcome to our world.

My Review:
Glenys Nellist has penned another beautiful book for parents and children. Her poetic voice and verse sing the joy a new parent has for their child. This is a sweet ode to the child and should be shared often as the child grows. Aurelie Blanz's illustrations are drenched in color and whimsy. Perfect to show to a little one who is exploring the world. As always, I love how Glenys paints a heart-warming picture of God's love. This is a beautiful book to share with grandchildren or any child in your life. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zonderkidz. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

He Sees my Journey


Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

My granddaughter shared with me that she rode her cousin's horse. In the pictures she stood tall and handled the horse well. She was a natural.  I surprised her when I told her my family owned two horses and two ponies when I was young; Musket, Babe, Shotgun and Pistol.  She had no idea her Babaw (grandma) rode horses.
Photo by Maggie Wickline-Jowers

The strength and confidence horses exude gave me the trust I needed to climb into the saddle and ride Shotgun through our fields. God created pure beauty when he made horses. I admire their muscular grace. I trusted my pony would carry me across the rough terrain and then lead me home.

In Bible times, the people traveled by foot, horse, and chariot. They trusted their horses to guide them where they needed to go. Even as they relied on their horses they knew that animals could stumble and fall.
But God never fails.
My faith in Jesus outweighs everything. I place all my trust in the Lord because he never falls short . He has a plan for my life, and I do my best to follow the Holy Spirit's nudges and direction. I loved the freedom of riding Shotgun through the fields as the wind blew through my hair and the weight of the world fell away. By trusting God to guide me through life, I embrace the freedom of knowing he understands me and knows my needs. Sometimes fully trusting my life to God is hard. At times, I don't understand the whys and what fors. But God knows me, he recognizes my needs before I do. He created my path and sees my journey. I trust him with my life.