Saturday, September 21, 2019

Sweet or Stinky, How do you Smell?

2 Corinthians 2:15
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Big Apple Bagel serves the best bagels in Cincinnati. They are the perfect balance of chewy and light. If you stand outside in front of the big picture window, you can watch the bakers process the delicious treats. They pull the dough into an "o" shape, boil them in water, then bake them to a golden brown. When you walk in the door, the smell hits you. That luscious fragrance of fresh baked bread.

Research has shown that smells tug at our memory. Every time I inhale the scent of fresh cut wood, visions of my grandpa come back to me. We had an elevator at work that smelled like oil and metal and reminded me of my dad. A fragrance can conjure up a happy moment and bring back sweet memories.
Odors attract or repel.
As followers of Jesus, Paul says we are the "pleasing aroma" for people who believe and those who don't. As the odor of Jesus, we should smell sweet, drawing others to him. Most everyone has gotten a whiff of a skunk. They reek. The stench they give off isn't a pleasing aroma, instead their smell insults the senses. We've all sniffed a flower. Flowers spread a lovely perfume that draws bees and butterflies. Jesus wants his followers to smell like flowers instead of skunks. Our fragrance reflects our behavior and our faith. People will know Jesus by our aroma of grace and kindness.
Are people attracted to Jesus by your scent? Or are they repelled?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Flower Friday: Love-in-a-mist

I was introduced to Love-in-a-mist by a dear friend. This gorgeous flower belongs to the buttercup family. Once you sow the seed in spring, expect these beauties to bloom and produce seed pods for the next year. They'd be a lovely addition to a cottage garden.


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.