Saturday, February 29, 2020

God's Gifts

John 17:1-5
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
Pretty Place, NC

My first thought as I read these words:
Jesus is praying to his Father, God, and I have the privilege to read my Savior's words over 2,000 years later. All I can think is wow! God has given us a gift. Actually, more than one.

First and foremost, God sent Jesus to this crazy place called earth. He knew we needed someone willing to offer his life for our sins. A few verses earlier in John 16, Jesus reminds us, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Jesus knew we needed hope because we'd experience difficulty of all sorts. Physical, emotional, mental and yes, spiritual. At times, I'm exhausted on all counts. I want to curl into a ball and hide. But, Jesus who loves us more than we can imagine, reminds me of the hope, the joy, the peace that waits for me in heaven. The sheer thought of the hope of heaven tugs me up and pushes me forward.

This old world may get me down, but my Father lifts me up through his word, that second  beautiful gift He's given us. The Bible offers comfort and peace, knowledge and wisdom. Jesus' words amaze me as I realize he stood before the people, all those years ago, and spoke out loud for all to hear. Those same words, often printed in red, still speak to my heart today.

May all glory be to God, who loves us.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Jesus Overcomes

When I spied the new growth in my flower bed, my heart leaped with joy. 
A sign of hope that spring is around the corner. 
As much as I love winter, I get excited about the promise of spring.

In this life, we will have trouble. That's no secret. 
But the promise that Jesus has overcome this world, brings hope of 
an eternal life in heaven that's filled with joy and peace.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

How Will I Respond?

Psalm 20:5
We will shout for joy when you are victorious, and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.

A response is a written or verbal reaction.

Photo by Maggie Wickline Jowers

In January, I chose "response" as my word for the year. I'm in deep with this word; honing appropriate answers, pausing before I spew a reply. Recently, I spilled my guts over something, when I should have backed up and evaluated my words a bit more. (Actually, that's happened more than a time or two.) Once my reaction landed, I couldn't take it back.

My mom is currently in a rehab facility. After a hospital stay, she was moved to a great place where the people are caring and kind. Yet, if I see something I think needs addressed, I find myself at the nurses' station asking questions. Not a bad thing, right? Not at all, as long as I keep my mouth in check. 
God urges me to be kind even when I'm fired up.
God gifted humans with emotion. He created us with feelings that enhance communication. He also gave us a guide for our reactions to each other. Galatians 5:22-23 shares a beautiful list of positive responses. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." I need to sprinkle these God-given emotions and characteristics throughout my responses.

As a believer in Jesus, he asks us to show the world who he is. Let's share the gospel by responding with God's love.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


My word for the year is response. 
On Saturday, I'll post more about how I am working with this slippery word.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Want a Second Chance?

U.S. Life Saving Station, Marblehead, OH
Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

He's the God of second chances.

The movie Love Story, starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw, hit the big screen in 1970. As the story goes, A wealthy boy meets a middle class girl, they fall in love, boy gets disinherited, they marry, and she becomes terminally ill. Together they navigate this difficult road.  One catchphrase from the movie is still quoted today. "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

Even as a teenager that quote didn't make sense to me. Jesus is the only person who walked this earth without fault. Everyone makes mistakes,even as we strive to be our best selves. God knows we mess up. That's why he sent his son.

In Psalm 51, King David bowed before God and admitted his sins. He knew he needed mercy. And you know what? God was happy to hear from the wayward king. He wanted David to reach out and seek grace.

David understood that only God could renew his repentant heart. David desired God's love. David wanted to have the Holy Spirit renewed in him. That's why he said he was sorry. He sought out the Lord because he knew only the God of second chances could pour joy back into his heart.

If King David had believed the quote about never saying he was sorry, he would never have been forgiven by God. But he knew God loved him with open arms.
Seek God. He wants to give you a second chance.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

He Offers Grace

In 2016, Tim and I visited Marblehead Lighthouse and checked out 
the newly built lifesaving station museum. 
The builders replicated the original 1876 station, previously located a mile away.
The station reminds me that God offers rescue to all who seek him. 

He's the God of second chances.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Historical Fiction Review: The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin (Sunrise at Normandy Book #3)

Book Description:
In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers' betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for--fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family--the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah's life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay's recurring dream comes true?

My Review:
The premise of The Land Beneath Us is interesting and compelling. I enjoyed Leah's story, the search for her sisters, and her determination to rise above her own experience. At that time, orphans were ridiculed and looked down on. Yet, Leah wanted to create a better life for herself and the orphaned children. Clay gave Leah hope in the midst of despair. The perfect gentleman, he showed her what a friend could be. Their story is different from any I've read. The depth of character shines. This is a beautiful story of forgiveness, faith and friendship. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Pray with Assurance

Psalm 16:7-8
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

I wake up at least once a night.

Every night when I go to sleep, I hope I'll stay in la-la land 'til morning. But my body has other plans. I'm older now, my constitution has changed, so I get up and take care of business. When I lay my head back on the pillow, there I am, eyes open, mind churning, thoughts darting. All I want is sleep. Sound familiar? I know I have family and friends who experience the same restlessness.

I've found one solution. Talk to God. Share my reflections, burdens, prayer requests, love, and praise. As I lift up my thoughts to my heavenly Father, I drift off to sleep. And that's okay. God understands. He'd rather I pray and fall asleep, than lay awake with racing thoughts.

When I read Psalm 16:7-8, I stopped. I read it again. Wow—even at night when I'm groggy, my heart instructs me. That instruction and direction comes from God. He's right there with me at two am. He's ready to listen to me when the dark covers the sky and the stars shine. The Lord who loves me stays near, so that I can, with confidence, rest in him.
God hears every pray. He's given us this amazing love language of communication.
Keep your eyes on the Lord. Talk to him with assurance, even in the middle of the night.
He loves to hear our prayers.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Fiction Suspense Book Review: Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

Book Description:
Three years ago, a collision between a fast-moving freight train and a school bus full of kids led to devastation and grief on an unimaginable scale. But a fresh clue leads San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez to the unlikely conclusion that one of the children may still be alive. If she's correct, everything law enforcement believes about the accident is a lie.

With time running out, Amara must convince others--and herself--that despite all evidence to the contrary, the boy lives. And she will do everything in her power to bring him home.

My Review:
Fascinating read. The story is more than digging into a cold case that the community thought was solved. Collision of Lies also delves into the lives of the police and detectives who put themselves in danger to solve the mysterious case. Threadgill does a great job developing the characters' personalities. I love the way Amara handles herself, even when she doubts. She's a true hero. The others who surround and support her give an interesting look into how the cops work together (or don't.) The twists and turns will leave the reader wondering, until the very end. If you enjoy suspense or police procedurals, you'll want to read Collision of Lies. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#CollisionOfLies #NetGalley

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

God's Love Language

I've heard that everyone has their own love language, a way that others affirm their love in a way that brings joy. God gifted us with prayer, as a way to talk to him. 
Through prayer we let God know we trust him, believe in him, and love him. 
Give God the gift of love.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Go With Joy

Luke 19:37-40
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Nothing is more peaceful than sitting on a rock by Lake Erie and listening to the natural world.

I hear the waves crash on the shore. Birds splash in and out of the water. Leaves on the trees rustle in the wind. In that moment, I hear the voice of God through his creation. Even the people chattering behind me, as they visit the nearby lighthouse, remind me of God's glory. His incredible creation, so complex yet simple.

When Jesus traveled to Jerusalem on the back of a colt, his followers praised his name. They shouted their love for him and worshiped. The disciples placed a coat on the colt for Jesus to rest on and others laid their coats on the ground. Folks even cut palm leaves and placed them on the dusty road. All because they loved and respected Jesus.

Yet amid the rejoicing, a group of people taunted Jesus. The Pharisees, a religious bunch, ordered him to tell his followers to be quiet. I love Jesus response. He basically said, what good would it do, if the people are quiet, then the very creation my Father made will cry out with joy, even the rocks.

No matter what Satan tries to do to quiet those of us who love Jesus, rejoicing and worship will not stop. The world God designed, every mountain, tree, bird and flower continue to adore the Savior.

Go with joy and praise our incredible Lord!

You will go out in joy    and be led forth in peace;the mountains and hills    will burst into song before you,and all the trees of the field    will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12