Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pure Joy

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

It's pothole season in Ohio again, that time between winter and spring when the snow and ice have melted and the blacktop gives way to winter's damage. After church Sunday, Tim and I noticed several deep divots chiseled out of the pavement. Some of them were crater sized. One wrong clunk into the hole could cause a tire puncture, damage to the wheel rim, problems with shocks, suspension or alignment. If the damage isn't repaired one problem may lead to another.
Pothole in the Road 

Sometimes in life, potholes are unavoidable and do a lot of damage. Some are deeper than others. Imagine traveling down a perfectly paved road, then all of a sudden a hole appears in front of you, but you can't avoid it; swerving around it would cause you to hit another car. So you drive over it and bumpety-bump you go. The tire blows, the rim gets bent and the suspension is a mess. Now what! You take the car to a mechanic who knows how to repair the mess.

Life's potholes are often unavoidable. We find out we have cancer, break a leg or have surgery. A friend disappoints us, or a child turns away from God. There are so many holes in the roads we travel. But like the mechanic, we know someone who wants to help us through the potholes. God's waiting to take your burden, he's waiting to hear from you. There's no magical shield to protect us from potholes. But we do have someone who loves us and offers comfort and guidance through the rough bumps of life. When we turn the troubles in life over to Jesus, we gain strength in our faith, perseverance and maturity which results in joy. Beautiful joy!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Work With my Hands

Exodus 35:35
He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

This verse in Exodus 35 made my heart happy. God gave instructions to the Israelites on how to build, design and decorate the tabernacle. Every Israelite was asked to gather supplies, then God called those with the gifts of crafting to work together and create a place of worship. My heart smiled at this verse because I am an embroiderer, a crafter. If I'd lived back then, I may have had the opportunity to put my hands to the task and please God with my work.

God called his people to use their skills, their gifts to work together and accomplish his request. Even though we may not be building a tabernacle, we are building God's kingdom on this earth. When God created me, he knew what my abilities would be. He made me to work with my hands. I love creating. Embroidering beauty, crocheting, and writing. I have been instilled with a love of nature and sharing what I know about God's creation. When I chose to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit added to those skills. He gave me spiritual gifts enhanced by my natural abilities.

I love this about God. He knew me before I was born. He understood my purpose. He calls me where he needs me. I'm thankful for the gifts God has given me, and I pray each day for his guidance as I work for him.
My life verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:11-2 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Fiction Review: A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

Book Description:
Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning--together.

My Review:
I like a good book with a Scottish setting and characters. Laura Frantz penned both. The story of Magnus and Lark spans two continents. The Isle of Kerrera seems like a beautiful place that fairy tales are set in. While the ship ride across the Atlantic is filled with danger, excitement, and a few unseemly characters. Then to the land of hope, America in its early stages. As beekeeper and botanist on the Isle, Lark is quite content. But as her world is turned upside down, she not only depends on what she knows, but Who she knows. The story is filled with twists and turns. I felt like a few ends needed tied up a bit neater. But overall, I enjoyed Lark's story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Rain

Psalm 51:1-2
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

A downpour, gully washer, spilled buckets, whatever you call it, the rain drenched our little part of the planet. As I drove and listened to the drum of drops on my rag top, I thought about how the rain cleans as it falls. Those fine drops of water wash the salt off cars, dirt from the sidewalks and snow from the yards. The rain scrubs the atmosphere and pushes dirt off the streets.

That's how Jesus' blood and grace works. They pour over me and wash away my sins. Jesus heart beats with mine, just like the rain tapping on the top of my Jeep. He knows me, he understands me, and he loves me so much that he died for me. He became the sacrifice for you and me.

I've been reading about sacrifices in the book of Exodus and wow was that an interesting time to follow God. I'm thankful I'm under the blood of Jesus. Like the rain, his sacrifice scrubs away my wrongs. He cleanses me with his grace. Grace that's offered to whomever will follow Jesus.

Sin binds us to this world, but Jesus cleansing blood sets us free.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Suspense Book Review: Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard


The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up

Forensic genealogist Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather's footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from a hospital more than twenty years ago. When someone makes an attempt on Willow's life to keep her from discovering the truth, help will come from an unexpected source.

Ex-FBI agent--and Willow's ex-flame--Austin McKade readily offers to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they'll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he's spent much of his life trying to forget--and put Willow's tender heart at risk.

My Review:
Elizabeth Goddard's fast paced suspense takes Willow Anderson on a crazy trip into the Wyoming wilderness. This is one of those books that's tough to put down, especially toward the end. The plot twists and turns as much as the Wyoming trails. At one point I didn't even trust one of the innocent people in the story. Willow's character is strong but vulnerable, and Austin's story broke my heart. As the two travel a difficult road to crack a case, they discover they aren't alone. I also like the spiritual thread that flows through the book. If you enjoy well-written suspense, you'll want to pick up a copy of Never Let Go. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

There is Joy

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I was helping my grandson, Zeke, with his weekly vocabulary words. I enjoy helping the kids with homework. Watching their young minds work fascinates me. One of the words he needed to know was glee. Not a common word in the third grade. He had to tell me the meaning, a synonym, and an antonym. Can you guess the synonym? JOY! The antonym ? Sorrow, suffering. As we worked, my mind returned to the word glee and how I prayed that joy would fill this young man's heart. But as I well know, his life will also meet with sorrow and suffering. It's not possible to live on this earth and not feel the effects of sadness. But the beautiful thing, the best thing is that through the sorrow and suffering, Jesus offers joy.

James, the brother of Jesus, says to count it all joy when we go through trials. James should know, he watched his brother, Jesus, die a cruel death. But he also knows that Jesus came back to life to bring grace and forgiveness. Even as I walk through the valley of sorrow, my heart holds joy knowing Jesus lives for me. I love what James says in the later part of the verses. " Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete..." That's what growing in Christ is all about; letting the Holy Spirit help us work through the difficult times so we come out on the other side a stronger more mature person in Christ.
There is joy in the journey. Let it be Jesus' joy.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Cozy Mystery Review: The Coffee Club Mysteries: 6 Whodunits by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, Janice Thompson

Six Mysteries Are Brewing in Small-Town Kansas

The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . .

Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop.

Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead.

Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought.

Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing.

Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock.

Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives.

Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care.

My Review:
The Coffee Club Mysteries is a delectable collection of cozy mysteries. I enjoyed each of the six stories. Even though they are all written by different authors, they connect in unique ways. I love that the ladies are tied together as a book club, even though they spend more time solving crimes than discussing books. If you enjoy mysteries, this is the perfect book to cozy up with on a winter day. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing, Inc. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.