Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Little Country Ingenuity

I love rural America.

Growing up, we lived in the country surrounded by farm land. On any given day a tractor might scuttle by the house. So when my husband sent me this photo recently, I had to smile.

Tim shuttles books from library to library in our county. We'd had some snow and ice which made me a bit concerned about his travels. He managed to drive between branches without any problem. At one of the southern-most branches that had more snow, he snapped a picture in the parking lot. An older lady had journeyed across the ice and snow on her tractor, with a heated cab, because she didn't want her books to be overdue.

I've worked in libraries for twenty-four years. Her ingenuity touched my heart. If only we could all muster up the responsibility to be that conscientious.
If you're raising children, teach them to be thoughtful, adventurous, and practical like the woman on the tractor. They'll live a better life for it.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Who's the Coach?

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

From the bleachers we watched our granddaughter rebound the basketball. As the girls hustled up and down the court, the coach shouted plays. Then she'd call a time-out and advise the girls on what to do, and correct them where they'd made mistakes. She was in the game with them.

I coached volleyball for a few years. Honestly, I didn't have the confidence or experience I needed. But I tried. I loved the girls and the game. As I learned along with them, we grew together as a team. As a coach I took on the role of adviser, instructor, and example. 

In life, Jesus is my coach, mentor, and leader. Jesus had the ultimate experience in living life on earth. He was born and raised to live like his brothers and sisters. He worked with his dad, and walked with the disciples. Jesus experienced sorrow and joy. He loved and lost. Satan tempted him, but he didn't partake in sin. He understood the circumstances men and women live in. That's why we can go to Jesus and talk to him. He understands. He's not some lofty spirit who is out of reach. He's the one who lived on earth and knows how difficult life can be. Jesus wants to grant grace and mercy, if we just ask. Even though he knows our needs, he longs for us to talk to him.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fiction/Suspense Review: Secrets at Cedar Cabin (A Lavender Tides Novel Book 3) by Colleen Coble

Book Description:
Her mother lied about her identity and her husband wasn’t who she thought he was—can Bailey even trust herself anymore?

Running for her life in the wake of her mother’s murder, Bailey Fleming escapes to the only place she can think of—a remote, dilapidated cabin in Lavender Tides. Intending to finally get to the truth behind the lies of her past, Bailey only finds more questions when bodies are discovered near her cabin hideout along with traces of a dangerous human trafficking ring. In an unlikely partnership with FBI agent Lance Phoenix, Bailey races to understand the mystery surrounding her life and circumstances before the murderer tracks her down. 

Meanwhile, Lance is determined to rescue his sister, Ava, who was abducted after running away from home as a teenager. An unexpected lead brings him to the remote cabin, and he wonders if Bailey—with her suspicious past and strange connections to his sister’s case—is really who she claims to be and if she can somehow lead him to Ava. 

Filled with Colleen Coble's custom blend of suspense and romance, Secrets at Cedar Cabin takes us back to the evocative landscape of Washington's coast where nothing is quite as it seems. 

My Review:
In Secrets at Cedar Cabin, Colleen Coble takes us back to Lavender Tides and several of the characters from the first and second book in the series. I loved seeing some loose ends tied up from the previous stories. But I have to say, Bailey's story is the most dramatic and stirring of the three books. This story has a beautiful thread of hope, but also speaks out against one of the most horrific crimes of our time, human trafficking; making the reader aware of the dangers. The suspense and drama are spot on. The story brings light to the devastation of lies, then shows what can happen when people work together and reach out to God. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

You are Loved

1 John 4:10-12
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

I've been reading the book of Genesis. Those people were a mess. After Adam and Eve exited the Garden of Eden, things went downhill from there. Bad behavior got out of hand so God sent the flood. Thank goodness Noah and his family still loved God and could climb on the ark with the animals and start again. Abraham and Sarah tried to hang in there and follow God, but ended up lying to protect themselves. As the population once again increased, sin enticed people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God destroyed them. Later Joseph, who loved God, was sold off by his own brothers and accused of things he didn't do. That's as far as I've read.  

How does God keep his patience with the very people he created? From the beginning, God loved Adam and Eve, he tried to direct them on what they needed to do to continue to live in the beautiful garden. But they couldn't control their desires. They believed their tempter and fell into sin. Yet God still loved them.

God's love is greater than anything we can imagine. He out loves us. How do I know that? Because he sacrificed his own son who took our sin on his heart and died for us. God knew he needed to pave a way for people to find their way back to him. He knew if people wanted a relationship with him, he'd need to make a new path. That path is Jesus. God raised Jesus from the dead to give us hope and grace.
God doesn't give up on us, he LOVES us. All he wants is for us to love him back.  

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Before the Time Runs Out

Acts 20:24
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

The clock ticks down to thirty seconds. The team needs to score three points to win. Do the players give up? No. The coach uses the clock—down to the last seconds of the game to encourage the players to make a pass, a basket, a win.

Basketball game
We're in basketball season in our family. Three grandchildren play and our son coaches. We watch college teams on TV and in person. Intensity of the games can be exciting. We've witnessed fantastic plays and some that just stink. In basketball, players need to finish what they start. When a player shoots the ball they need to follow through. When the other team shoots, a player needs to rebound. When the point person sets a play in motion, the team can execute a pick or screen. The team pushes through until the final buzzer rings. That's what they signed up for, to finish the game.

As a believer in Jesus, I want to follow through. I need to finish strong. Sometimes I want to give up and take the lazy route. But, Jesus didn't call me to be a slouch. He wants me to be a team player and one who finishes the tasks he sets before me. Maybe it's my age, but I've finally figured out that I just need to plow ahead with what God puts on my heart and not worry. God wants me to continue to serve him and step up before my time runs out.
My aim is to finish the tasks God sets before me; to continue to give glory to God and share the news of his grace.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Fiction Review: Under the Midnight Sun (The Heart of Alaska Book #3) by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

Book Description:
Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems
she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska.

The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated.

The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows?

My Review:
I love this well-written story set in beautiful Alaska! I haven't read the first two in the series and didn't feel I needed to in order to enjoy Under the Midnight Sun. Tayler's character is complex and inspiring. For that reason, I'd recommend this book to young adult women; although I am getting ready to retire and she inspired me. The descriptions are lovely and the story line flows well. Female readers will fall in love with Thomas. He's a hardworking, kind-hearted man. And I got tickled over the secondary story of Mrs. Johnson and her suitors. I was a little sad when the book ended, not because the ending was sad but because I wanted to read more. This is a perfect book to snuggle up with on a cold winter day. Get a cup of coffee or tea and a cozy blanket and enjoy. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Courage Scares me a Little

2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 
Cowardly Lion: [crying] You're right, I am a coward! I haven't any courage at all. I even scare myself. [sobbing] Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven't slept in weeks! Tin Man: Why don't you try counting sheep? Cowardly Lion: That doesn't do any good, I'm afraid of 'em.

The Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz feared everything, even the sweet sheep you count in your sleep. I remember watching the movie and getting frustrated with the "king of the forest." He drove me crazy because he was so timid. But as an adult, I've found myself in the same boat. Afraid I'll fail. Scared I won't say or do the right thing. Uncomfortable making decisions. Paralyzed by fear that stops me in my tracks. I may not be afraid of sheep, but sometimes anxiety has kept me from moving forward.

I wrote earlier this week that my word for 2019 is courage. That scares me a little bit because God asked me to be brave. Not just for myself, but for Him. I feel a tug and a nudge from Him to be bold and move forward for Him. To take my writing goals and conquer them. To speak up for Him. To show the world I love Jesus. As I read this morning, I came across 2 Timothy 1:7. The Holy Spirit gives me power mixed with love and self-discipline. What a perfect verse for me for 2019. Courage, love and self-discipline. Wow! This little verse Paul wrote to Timothy bolstered my confidence. I want to remind myself every day that God placed this on my heart.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018 Fiction Favorites!

Out of the numerous books I read last year and the many I've reviewed, I decided to choose the top five fiction favorites for 2018; in no particular order. I've enjoyed each one. The authors' excellent writing and wonderful stories stood out to me. I was surprised to see that three of the five are historical fiction, since I usually read contemporary. Each title is linked to my original review. If you're looking for a good book to read this winter, check out my favorites!

I have to sneak in at least one picture book my first love in books!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Do you Have a Word?

My daughter, Maggie, has a Cricut, a template cutting tool. She creates beautiful designs for shirts, pillows, and so much more. When I was visiting the other day, I wore a plain pink sweatshirt. She knows I love a particular quote from Cinderella. Before the day was over, I had a newly designed pink sweatshirt that quoted Cinderella's mother, "Have courage, be kind." I love it!

The next day, I saw that Dayspring, a Christian card and inspirational gift company, shared a "Word of the Year" quiz On Facebook. I've chosen a word for the new year before, but hadn't settled on anything for 2019. I trust Dayspring so I thought why not.

My word? COURAGE! Not a coincidence.

My new shirt proclaims to have courage and be kind. Bravery, with a peaceful, loving spirit.  The Holy Spirit is nudging me to have courage in 2019. I love that. God knows what lies ahead. He gives me what I need. May the courage I muster come from Him.