Saturday, April 10, 2021

Praise and Pray

Psalm 145:3-5

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Perhaps winter is a time of meditation, spring a time of praise.

I find the change of seasons remarkable. Snow, rain, sunshine, chill all contribute to the nature God has created. For the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed the daffodils, tulips and hyacinth in my tiny garden. One morning, I observed the yellow and white daffodils bowing their heads. In the same plot of soil, the tulips raised their leaves to the sky. It struck meboth stood in a posture of praise and prayer.

In the winter, I tend to bow down and meditate on God’s word. The quiet, sometimes snow-kissed earth allows me to snuggle into my favorite chair and focus on Jesus. But in the spring, I want to shout with the sunshine that Jesus is Lord. Maybe because we celebrate Easter, I raise my hands to God and praise out loud. For whatever reason, spring is a time to celebrate our Lord and Savior.

In observing the flowers, no matter whether I raise my hands like the tulip or bow my head like the daffodil, I am in a posture of praise and prayer. It doesn’t matter how I praise and pray as much as when. And when is every day. I thank God for the beauty of the earth and the people in my life. I don’t need much, yet God has provided abundantly.

As the psalmist says, God is so great and worthy of praise, I can’t even fathom his greatness.

Praise and pray thanksgiving to God the Father, when you bow down and when you rise up.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Praise and Prayer

One morning while the raindrops dotted the flowers, I snapped this photo.

I noticed the daffodil bowed it's head, and the tulip raised toward heaven.

Both were in a posture to praise God. 

The flowers reminded me to check my stance.

Am I prepared to pray in every situation? 
Am I praising God for his mercy and grace?

Praise and prayer go hand in hand.

Raised up or bent down-
Praise God!


 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Book Review: The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Book Description:
Two years after her husband’s death, Amanda Whittier has two children to raise alone, an abandoned dream of starting a business, and a fixer-upper cottage by the sea. She has no room in her life for anything else and little interest in moving on after losing the man she loved. 

Paul Grant is a relative newcomer to the area, and his work with former military dogs needing rehabilitation has been good for the town. Though he loved once before, he’s convinced he’s not suited for romance and is determined to find meaning—alone—through his work and role in the community. 

Widowed Maeve Lindsay was born and raised on Whelk’s Island. Spirited, kind, and a little mischievous, she pours her life into the town. But she carries a secret that shapes her every move. 

Together, these three souls find encouragement in the most mysterious places and discover a love that’s bigger than their pain, healing their wounded hearts in ways none of them could have hoped for or expected.

My Thoughts:
I adore The Shell Collector. This is one of those rare novels that drips with wisdom in the midst of living and appreciating life. Set on Whelk’s Island, much of the novel takes place along a gorgeous beach with sea gulls swooping and sea glass washing to shore. Widowed two years ago, Amanda is raising two delightful children in a cottage near the beach. She cherishes the memories of her husband’s love even as she tries to start over. As she and her children play on the beach, she meets Maeve, a lovely 80 something woman, who has dealt with her own sorrow. Mauve is the mentor Amanda needs to help her move forward. I love the respect Amanda and Mauve have for each other. It’s wonderful to read a book portraying an older adult with such dignity. Then comes Paul. His story will melt your heart along with his kind personality. The Shell Collector is a beautiful story of friendship, faith, love, heartbreak, and joy. Naigle has written a story to be savored and read again and again. 5+ stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Hope of Easter

Luke 24:36-39
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Luke 24:50-53
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

The disciples grieved Jesus’ death.

The apostles, Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ mother Mary, and several other followers watched their Lord and Savior die an agonizing death on the cross. I can’t imagine the heartbreak, especially for his mom.  Jesus’ best friends and family witnessed his torture and his final breath. Even as they mourned, their faith in their Lord did not waver.  

In their hearts they tucked the promise of Jesus’ return. What they didn’t realize was how soon they’d see him again.

Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus body to an empty tomb he’d prepared for himself. After the body was wrapped in cloth, he placed him inside, then he rolled a stone in front of the opening. After the Sabbath day passed, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the grave to pour spices over their beloved friend. An earthquake shook them and an angel appeared propped on the rock he’d rolled from the tomb. Then the women received the surprise of their lives—Jesus stood in front of them and greeted them.

Can you imagine?

Jesus keeps his promises. He told his followers he’d raise from the dead, come back to life, and see them again. Yet, they didn’t understand. Kind of like us. The Bible teaches us of Jesus return, his second coming, that will occur so quickly none of us will be expecting him. But Jesus keeps his promises, and he will come here to take his children home to heaven.

Easter is all about HOPE!

Jesus promises new life. Rejoice in the Lord this Easter!

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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Easter Books for Children


Easter Egg Day by Tara Knudson, illustrated by Pauline Siewert
It’s time for Easter eggs—yellow, green, blue, and red! In Easter Egg Day, written by Tara Knudson and illustrated by Pauline Siewert, kids will love watching how plain white eggs turn to colorful zig-zags, stripes, and patterns as this board book celebrates the classic Easter family tradition.

'Twas the Morning of Easter by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Elena Selivanova
A follow-up to the popular 'Twas the Evening of Christmas from beloved author Glenys Nellist. 'Twas the Morning of Easter tells the story of the resurrection of Jesus in a fresh way, with a familiar rhythm and rhyme that children will love, following the pattern of Clement Moore's iconic "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Mike Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
Young readers will understand the real meaning behind Easter in this addition to the Living Lights™ series of Berenstain Bears books. Children will discover that Easter is more than candy and egg hunts as they read about the Bear cubs at Sunday school learning about Jesus’ resurrection and salvation.

He is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter by Patti Rokus
This unique and unforgettable picture book uses rock art and simple text to tell children the story of the miracle of Easter—the resurrection of Jesus. Through the arrangement of a few rocks and powerful words directly from Scripture, the entire Easter story is told in He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter.

These are all delightful books that celebrate Easter. I particularly like He is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter for its simple, yet powerful format. The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story is a wonderful book to use to teach young children about Jesus, either at home or in Sunday School. The rhyme and rhythm used in Twas the Morning of Easter will entertain and introduce young ones to the morning Mary found Jesus' tomb empty. Easter Egg Day is a sweet book about a family dying eggs and having funI received complimentary copies of these books. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

John 3:16

As I watch my little garden sprout, I'm reminded of new life.
Trees bud, flowers bloom, and herbs green up.

Imagine for a moment what eternal life with Jesus must be like.

A continual spring filled with beauty and joy!



 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Historical Fiction Book Review: The Nature of a Lady (The Secrets of the Isles Book #1) by Roseanna M. White

Book Description:

1906

Lady Elizabeth "Libby" Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn't favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles into the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage's former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished. 

Oliver Tremayne--gentleman and clergyman--is determined to discover what happened to his sister, and he's happy to accept the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth's summer cottage . . . especially when he realizes it's the curious young lady, he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can't quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.

As Libby and Oliver work together, they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.

My Thoughts:
I found the Isles of Scilly in The Nature of a Lady an interesting setting. When Libby escapes the rule laden society she lives in and takes her lady’s maid with her to the islands to explore the flora and fauna, she’s awakened to a life where she can be herself. This book is full of mystery, adventure and romance. With many layers and fascinating characters, Roseanna White has created a tale to savor. The descriptions gave me a feel for the islands, creating an image of life on the sea. The characters, from Oliver’s Mamm-wynn to Libby’s bossy brother, Bram, interlace to make a lovely story of family, faith, and love. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

God Adores his Children

1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

I’m not a materialistic person, but I own items precious to me.

I love the wedding band Tim gave me on our special day, and the turquoise ring he gifted me for an anniversary. In the corner of my living room, a small oak rocker, mom gave me a few years ago, reminds me of her. My dad’s red lunch pail, he carried to elementary school, rests in the dry sink my brother made me. Our home is filled with art created by many family members and friends. And of course, I own a lot of books. So much of what I own has sentimental value. They may not mean as much to someone else, but they are my special possessions.

When our pastor read 1 Peter 2:9-10 in his sermon, the phrase “God’s special possession” leaped off the page. I’m treasured by God, and because I’m his child he adores me, in the way I delight in my children. He created me in my own unique way, and he loves me for who I am. Because I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I’m part of a chosen people, his royal priesthood.

In my sixty-three years, I’ve experienced hurt and heartache. At times I didn’t feel loved or lovely. I’m sure most people can relate. Life on this earth can simply be hard. But take heart, God created you and me in his image and he cherishes us. Because he values us, he asks us to seek him, love him, follow him, and talk to him.

God adores his children—yes, us!

He’s made each of us unique with our own abilities and talents, and he calls us into his wonderful light.

Take a few minutes this week to thank God for his love, and if you haven’t invited Jesus into your life, he’s reaching out his hand and asking you to follow.


This Lauren Daigle song reminds me how much God loves me: 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Children’s Picture Book Review: Candace’s Playful Puppy by Candace Cameron Bure, illustrated by Christine Battuz

Book Description:
Candace’s Playful Puppy is for every boy or girl who has ever wanted a dog and every parent who knows the responsibility that goes along with caring for a new pet. Written by New York Times bestselling author and actress Candace Cameron Bure, laugh along with this story of a little girl who visits a pet shelter to adopt a cuddly new dog and comes home with a rambunctious pup instead.

Candace’s Playful Puppy is a picture book for ages 4 to 8 that teaches kids:

How to be faithful to your commitments

To never give up when you face a tough situation

That patience is a skill that takes a lot of practice and hard work

When Candace’s new pup, Freckles, doesn’t pay attention to her instructions, Candace’s patience is tested and her excitement over the new pet quickly fades. Freckles escapes … but ends up making a muddy return. Candace realizes that being a great dog mommy isn’t as easy as she thought.

My Thoughts:
Candace Cameron Bure has written a thoughtful story of a little girl who needs to understand the commitment needed to take care of a puppy. Candace expects an easy-going cuddle puppy, instead she takes home a pup who loves to run and get into things. This sweet story is a great one to read to a child who’s preparing to adopt a pet. It will help them understand the responsibility of owning a puppy, and the frustration that sometimes comes from having a pet who doesn’t listen. Christine Battuz’s delightful illustrations add fun and entertainment to the story. And make sure to watch for Harry the hamster on each spread. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

You Are Special

You may not know or dare to believe, 
but you are special to the Father who made you.

In this world, we tend to compare ourselves to each other.
Maybe we think we don't have enough money or talent, 
we aren't as good looking as the people we meet. 

Maybe we wonder why we are even here.

Let me tell you--You Are Special! 
God loves you more than you can imagine 
and he's made you and me unique for a reason. 

If you doubt what I'm saying, talk to God and ask him to reveal his love for you.


 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Children’s Picture/Board Book Review: Near: Psalm 139 by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

Book Description:
From Sally Lloyd-Jones, the author of the bestselling The Jesus Storybook Bible, comes an uplifting new board book in a soft padded format that is a perfect fit for little hands. Inspired by Psalm 139—which begins, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me”—Near’s lyrical text reminds little ones that God is with them anywhere they go in God’s wide world.

God is my Father who made everything.

And I am a little explorer of the wide world.

He is near me

And he protects me.

He sees me

And he knows me.

He is strong

And he looks after me. He is with me—always!

My Thoughts:
Jago’s vivid illustrations and Sally Lloyd-Jones insightful text come together to create a dynamic board book that teaches children, God is always with them. As I read through the text, I found comfort in the words. I can imagine this book would fill little ones with peace and joy to know that the one who loves them so much is with them always. I love the opening: “God is my Father who made everything. And I am a little explorer of the wide world.” The beautiful illustrations take the reader on a great adventure with three children who travel from the city—to the arctic—to the ocean floor and more. This is a perfect gift for Easter, a wonderful story to share with grandchildren, or a teaching tool for Sunday School. Five stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Encourage With Kind Words

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I didn’t care about fashion. Shopping left me exhausted, and my hair style skills stopped with braids.

Growing up, I was a tomboy. I’d rather climb a tree or tromp through the woods, than primp and play with make-up. Then God gave me three girls. Instead of focusing on their appearance (although they were always beautiful) I made a point to instill in them the importance of encouraging and loving each other. Many times through the years, I gave a speech reminding them their friends might come and go, but your sister will always be your sister.

It’s been a joy for me to see my girls grow close to each other and support one another. Despite my inability to raise girls in a girly way, God helped me teach them a love for truth, independence to know they could accomplish what the Lord set before them, and the desire to encourage and help others.

There is a meme on social media that says something like, “Be the woman who fixes another woman's crown without telling the world it was crooked.” Men and women, we all need to encourage each other with kind words and heartfelt gestures. Don’t point out the difficulty, instead quietly lend a loving hand and encourage your friend, family member, or even a stranger.

The Hebrews writer says to urge each other to love. What’s that look like? In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 we find love is patient, kind, thankful, humble, unselfish, calm, and doesn’t carry grudges, rejoices with the truth, protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. That’s quite a list, but if each of us would embrace the love God outlined, we’d build each other up and find the world a kinder more considerate place.

As Jesus’ followers were not called to judge and fight, we’re asked to remind others of their worth to God. He created every one of us in his image. An image which includes loving others. He knows our hearts and has a desire for us to love Him and the people around us.

Encourage one another with kind words and heartfelt gestures.

 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Spread Encouragement

Let's fight the negative speak of the world!

Share kind words 
Peaceful phrases 
and 
Joy filled hope

Spread encouragement and cheer!



 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

If You Feel Hopeless

Luke 8:12-15
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

My garden breathed the breath of new life. 

Ohio’s temperatures teased us with hints of spring. At our condo, the lawn care folks hauled wheel barrows loaded with mulch. They mulched around the trees and the perimeters of the buildings. 

In my little area around our porch, I’ve planted flowers and decorated with garden ornaments. Before the guys mulched our corner, I removed decorative rocks and pulled out dead leaves. I cleaned out the mess the finches made, dropping their leftovers on my flower bed, and dug out a few weeds.

After the landscapers added the mulch, I rearranged the shredded wood chips around the blooming crocus, hyacinth sprouts, and unfurling tulip leaves. As spring approaches, I’ll witness new life as it pushes through the soil and blooms as beautiful flowers.

My garden appeared refreshed, clean, and ready for growth.

I’ve been a Christian for many, many years. At times, I’ve carried rocks in my heart. Stones of guilt and anger weighed me down. Sin disguised as colorful ornaments tempted me. Self-deprecation filled my mind with debris. Yet even in all the darkness of sin and shame, the beauty of being a Christ follower shined through. Jesus reached out and accepted all the rocks, stones, and dirt. He took all of the burdens from me and renewed my life. He’s encouraged me to grow and bloom; to be the best person I can be.

Granted, I still struggle, and I still sin. I’m not perfect. But I know Jesus continues to hear my cries for mercy, and for that I am thankful.

If you feel hopeless, turn to Jesus. In him there is hope, joy, peace, and rest. He wants to take your burdens and replace them with grace. Jesus died to give life to whomever chooses to follow him.

Seek the one who renews life. Jesus loves you.

Click to Tweet If You Feel Helpless

Friday, March 12, 2021

Historical Fiction Book Review: Dreams Rekindled (Mesquite Springs #2) by Amanda Cabot

Book Description:
Though she hopes for a quiet, uncomplicated life for herself, Dorothy Clark wants nothing more than to stir others up. Specifically, she dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers--until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is.

Brandon Holloway has seen the disastrous effects of challenging others and has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he's committed to making a new--and completely uncontroversial--start in the Hill Country.

As Dorothy's involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon's heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who's determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon's livelihood.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed returning to Mesquite Springs in Dreams Rekindled. Dorothy has determined she’ll never marry. If she doesn’t fall in love, life will be easier, less hurtful. And she’s determined to follow her dream of being a writer like Harriet Beecher Stowe. Brandon fears repeating the mistakes of his past, so he’s playing it safe as the new editor of the local newspaper. The two work together and fall into a comfortable rhythm until they see each other as more than friends. Dorothy’s character is strong, independent, and trusts God with her future. Brandon is humble, honest, and kind. I love the comradery they share working together and the story of their possible romance. The story also has plenty of excitement and action when deception and danger come to town. Cabot’s depiction of the era invites the reader to walk the streets of Mesquite Springs with the characters and maybe visit Polly’s Place. Cabot’s references to the folks from book #1 of the series was fun, as well. If you enjoy books set in small towns in the 1800s, you’ll love this series. Dreams Rekindled can be read as a standalone, but why not read them all? I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Book #1 Out of the Embers review.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Look for Wonder in Spring

March offers the first warm days that lead into spring.
Green sprouts from the ground.

The daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips awaken.
Crocus open in colors of joy.

Embrace the Wonder!



 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Window to the Soul

Ephesians 1:18-19a
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. 

Due to COVID-19 rules, all the spectators wore masks in the gym.

The fifth-grade boys ran up and back, shot baskets, and defended their team. We cheered them as they played hard. Tim and I especially enjoyed the enthusiasm of one of the grandparents. She said she played ball back in the day, and I could tell she loved cheering for her grandson.

A week later in a different gym, we sat at the top, away from most everyone. But after the game, I saw the grandma we sat near the week before. Even though we wore our masks, I could see the smile in her eyes. She waved and pumped her hands in the air because she saw me as a co-conspirator and cheerleader for our team. But her eyes told the story. They shared joy, recognition, and excitement.

In our mask wearing society, I’ve noticed peoples’ eyes more. Some look weary and sad, some happy and smiling, while others stare into the distance hoping for better days.

Some say the eyes are the window to the soul.

Paul prayed for the Ephesian church, that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened to hope in Jesus. What do my eyes reflect? Hopeor despair and sadness. As a believer in Jesus, I’m called to show the Lord to the people around me. I pray my eyes glimmer with hope, kindness, and love, for those are the things God asks me to carry in my heart.

Eyes express genuine feelings and reflections of the heart. What do our eyes show others? Confidence? Contentment? Anger? Fear? Peace? Love?

With your eyes as the window to your soul, what will you show the folks you meet?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Dare to the Soul

Our eyes may only see the obvious.

Yet, our hearts long to see more.

God created us to see beyond ourselves and dare to choose faith.


 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Book Review: Blackberry Beach (Hope Harbor Novel #7) by Irene Hannon

Book Description:
Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted--fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn't she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she'll be able to calm the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss--and he has no plans to change the life he's created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. He's had enough drama to last a lifetime. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. And as their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected . . . and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

My Thoughts:

I absolutely love all the Hope Harbor books, and Blackberry Beach doesn’t disappoint. In book seven, Katherine arrives in Hope Harbor to relax and ponder her future. She’s on the verge of success and burn-out as she tries to figure out her future. Zach, Hope Harbor’s barista and coffee shop owner, considers his dating life, or the lack thereof. A kind young man with no prospects in sight meets Kat and the sparks fly, but she needs to hide her identity. As I read of Zach and Kat ambling along Blackberry Beach, I felt the ocean breeze and smelled the salt air of that magical place. Of course, Gladys, Floyd, and Charlie are back. They always bring fun and insight to the story. Hannon delves deep into her characters’ emotions as she ties in their backstory (including a story about Zach’s aunt) and spiritual threads. The references to other Hope Harbor residents who appeared in the first six books is like finding hidden treasure. If you haven’t read the series, Blackberry Beach can be read as a stand-alone. But the series is oh-so-good! If you enjoy reading entertaining and heartfelt stories, you’ll love this one. And I’ll warn you, you may be craving chocolate truffles by the end. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Start Fresh

1 John 1:8-9
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 

I’m sorry Mrs. McGinnis.

He looked at his feet as he placed the picture book, swollen with water damage, on my desk. Every single page rippled. Mold had started growing around the edges. The book, deemed ruined, lay there like a sad proclamation of what not to do. The little guy had left the book under the tree in his backyard. That evening the skies opened and the rain poured. By the time he found the book, the water had done its damage.

What a brave boy to bring the book back to me and confess what happened. Embarrassed, he stood before me no doubt wondering what kind of punishment he’d receive. I knew he had little money and couldn’t replace the book, so I had to think of a way to instill the care of books without him thinking it was okay to leave a book outside.

I knelt in front of him, and we talked about what happened. He understood he couldn’t do it again, but there might be consequences. I asked him if it was okay with him if I showed the book to the class and talked about what water damage does to a book. I promised not to use his name. He beamed over helping the class, even as he showed remorse over his mistake. You see, I forgave him, and he knew he got a second chance.

God gives me second chances (notice the plural.) I know I sin. Whatever the sin is, God has mercy and grace and will forgive me, if I ask. Yes, it’s on me to communicate with God and let him know how sorry I am, and I won’t do it again.

Often, consequences result from sin. Like the little guy with the book. He had to own up to his error and he knew there would be some repercussion. But he was willing to seek forgiveness and do what needed done to right the wrong.

When I sin and seek forgiveness, God pours his grace over me and says try again. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead as a sacrifice for all sins. He gave his life for mine. That blows my mind, he loves me so much.

I am overwhelmed by the beauty of Jesus' love for me.

When you sin, seek God. In his great wisdom, with grace and mercy, he forgives. Then start fresh with renewed hope.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Seek the Light

A lighthouse symbolizes the hope I have in Jesus.
He is the light in this dark world.

Jesus offers illumination when the shroud of sin tries to envelop us.

Seek the light of Jesus.


 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Book Review: Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter

Book Description:
Sophie Lawson should be enjoying her sister’s wedding day. But nothing could have prepared her to see the best man again.

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?

My Thoughts:
I love the beautiful cover of Bookshop by the Sea, set in the lovely town of Piper’s Cove, along the Atlantic Ocean. Can I say perfect setting? A dream come true for Sophie who has struggled to finally live the life she wants and needs. Denise Hunter tells a beautiful story as she delves into abandonment issues. Both Sophie and Aiden must come to grips with the emotions that have kept them apart for seven years. A hurricane, a wind storm, and rain tossed on top of the turmoil in their hearts makes for a captivating story. And the bookstore takes on a life of its own, as friends help Sophie realize her dream. I love the nod to Hunter’s Bluebell Inn series. If you haven’t read those yet, you should. If you enjoy a beautiful setting, a riveting story, and well-written characters, you’ll love Bookshop by the Sea. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Whatever is Lovely

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

A penny for your thoughts.

As the snow flew and the ice pelted the ground, I browned hamburger in my soup pot. I crushed stewed tomatoes and chopped potatoes. The mixed vegetables cooked in the microwave, while I prepared the rest. With salt and pepper, I mixed all the ingredients with tomato juice and set the pot to simmer.

What if I’d added dirt or dried, crunchy maple leaves? How about an old shoe or a stinky sock? Disgusting… right? I wanted the soup to be edible and tasty, but if I’d added something other than the delicious vegetables, no one would partake of the soup.

In the times we’re living, what am I allowing into my brain? Or my heart? Like my soup, am I adding ingredients that will make me sick? Not just physically, but heartsick.

With the news and social media constantly throwing drama, pessimism, gloom, and despair at us, how do we fight back?

Paul encouraged the Philippian church to think about positive, uplifting things, instead of negative and stressful. The apostle worked to set a positive example for his friends. He focused on what’s true, pure, and admirable.

Paul’s words make me pause and consider what I allow into my head and heart. Am I contemplating God’s truth or the thoughts the media spouts? Am I reading, watching, or listening to things that encourage and glorify God? Does my heart fill with joy as I take in these things? Do I delight in the lovely?

And how do the things I think about bless others?

I need to answer these questions and determine whether I’ll have the peace of God in my heart or stress and anxiety.

Strive to embrace God’s hope and peace.

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Romantic Suspense Book Review: Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble (Book #3, Pelican Harbor series)

Book Description:
Book Three in the gripping romantic suspense series from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

A chilling murder.

Chief of Police Jane Hardy plunges into the investigation of a house fire that claimed the life of a local woman as well as one of the firefighters. It’s clear the woman was murdered. But why? The unraveling of Jane’s personal life only makes the answers in the case more difficult to find.

Her son’s arrest.

Then Jane’s fifteen-year-old son is accused of a horrific crime, and she has to decide whether or not she can trust her ex, Reid, in the attempt to prove Will’s innocence—and whether she can trust Reid with her heart.

Her stolen memories.

Three days of Jane’s past are missing from her memory, and that’s not all that has been stolen from her. As she works to find the woman’s murdered and clear her son’s name, finding out what happened in those three days could change everything.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read all three books in the Pelican Harbor series, and this one is so, so good. Colleen Coble never disappoints as she delves into mystery and romance. Jane’s son is accused of murderas mother and Chief of Policeshe must find the real killer with the help of his dad, Reid. Coble twists and weaves unexpected elements, as well as familial ties, into this excellent third book. Pelican Harbor, a charming place to live, goes through some tough times along with Jane as she races to right the wrongs in her small town. Colleen Coble does a beautiful job setting up the story and creating the atmosphere. Love the description woven into her prose. This book can now be pre-ordered. If you enjoy romance laced with suspense, you’ll love Three Missing Days. If you haven’t read One Little Lie or Two Reasons to Run, I recommend you pick them up to get Jane’s whole story. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Guard Your Heart and Mind

Our minds hold an incredible amount of information. 
We process and reason, memorize and learn.

We choose what goes in and what comes out.
Feed your mind the word of God, so that...


"... the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:7



 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

New Every Morning

Lamentations 3:22-24
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

God meets me every morning.

Dad rattled around the kitchen, early in the morning. The clinking of the spoon against his cup of tea, laced with milk and sugar, greeted us with the sunrise. On Saturdays, he often made French toast for our family, while Mom filled our hungry bellies with oatmeal and other favorites the rest of the week.

I tried to do the same for my children. On winter days, I even crafted snowman pancakes. But the food wasn’t the best part. Mom and Dad’s presence in the morning added a layer of love and assurance. I was fortunate to have parents who cared about my wellbeing and shared the early hours.

Even though I’m not an early morning person anymore, I still enjoy breakfast. With my bagel or cereal, I open my Bible and read God’s word. And he meets me—right where I am.

Jeremiah, who is believed to have written the book of Lamentations, mourns the devastation and falling away of the city of Jerusalem. All five chapters are his cry for mercy. Yet in chapter three, Jeremiah reminds readers God’s compassions never fail, “they are new every morning.”

God loves us. No matter where we are or what we’re doing. He longs to gather all his children and bring them home. And he gives every one of us a chance to start over again every day.

He has his arms open to meet us and embrace us. Even as I experience him through his word, he sits with me just as I am, a person who has sinned and seeks His forgiveness; a person who desires to serve and love others.

He offers his forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love.

The Lord loves you. Will you seek him?


Friday, February 12, 2021

Historical Fiction Review: A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

Book Description:
All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother's descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother's wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira's mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she's journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends--and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced--as she seeks to navigate a life she'd never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

My thoughts:
Jennifer Deibel creates an incredible picture of life in a small 1920s village. A Dance in Donegal engaged the senses and left me wanting to walk in the village and on the shore. Moira’s story is one of delight and despair. She’s traveled to a foreign country and knows no one, as she strives to fulfill her mother’s last wish. She meets some charming, warm, and friendly people and some who scare the wits out of her. In the book Moira meets Sean, a kind-hearted man who loves his village and people. I am fascinated by the legend and lore in the story, as well as the sprinkling of dialect. Jennifer Deibel lived in Ireland for six years and has captured the magic and beauty of the island. If you enjoy a tale well told, you’ll love this book as much I do. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Good Morning!

Sometimes as I fall asleep, my mind tumbles into itself with anxious thoughts.

My remedy is to bend God's ear with my concerns.


I love that God wakes me in the morning, with the assurance he loves me.

He loves you, too!


 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Suspense Fiction Review: Obsession (Natchez Trace Park Rangers Book #2) by Patricia Bradley

Book Description:
Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she's forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed.

Sam knows that he has failed Emma in the past and he doesn't intend to let her down again. Especially since her life is on the line. As the threads of the investigation cross and tangle with their own personal history, Sam and Emma have a chance to discover the truth, not only about the victim but about what went wrong in their relationship.

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley will have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck with this nail-biting tale of obsession, misunderstanding, and forgiveness.

My Thoughts:
Obsession is a great title for this book, because I didn’t want to put it down. Sam Ryker must protect Emma Winters at any cost, but their feelings and families push and shove for and against them. As Sam deals with family baggage and Emma longs to find her beloved brother, the two are tangled in a mess of lies and danger. Patricia Bradley has written another suspense filled mystery that will have readers wondering what really happened, and who is chasing who. I love the setting of Natchez Trace and the nod to parks and historical remembrance. If you enjoy suspense with twists and turns, you’ll want to read Obsession
. Even though this is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Newsletter Sign-Up

Hi!

As a writer, I've been encouraged to create a newsletter and share about my writing journey. My work-in-progress, Island Girl is a romance novel with some suspense.

Here is a blurb about the story:

Sadie ran away. Tired of being a pawn for her father and an emotional punching bag for her ex-boyfriend, she escaped to her safe place—Abbott Island.

Joel, a police officer on the island, never expected to see his childhood friend again. When he does—his heart skips a beat.

Sadie longs to trust God with her new life. But can she wrap her head around a Father who loves her and a man who cares?

If you'd be interested in signing up to receive my newsletter click https://bit.ly/39Q4T9Y to add your name and email address, then check your email for a confirmation.

That will also enter you for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. The winner will be listed in the newsletter, February 11, 2021.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Winter Season or Season of Winter

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I love winter, but not so much the winter seasons of life.

About a year ago, not knowing a pandemic was hurdling toward us, my siblings and I fretted over where our mom would live. After hospital stays and time spent in a nursing home, we pondered whether she should remain in the nursing facility, return to her current apartment, or live in an apartment next to our brother. The ultimate decision was up to Mom.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, my siblings and several of our children and grandchildren gathered at the apartment she lived in before the hospitalization. As we prayed for guidance, we packed all her earthly possessions and moved them to my brother’s home, still not knowing her final decision.

Thankfully, Mom moved to the apartment beside my brother just before the pandemic locked down the nursing home. God led us through this difficult winter season just as the door closed on any other possibilities.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote about the thorn in his flesh. In his winter season of life, something difficult plagued him. We aren’t told what the thorn was, only that he had something he referred to as a weakness and hardship. For Paul this must have weighed on him because he wanted nothing more than to serve Jesus. But even in his despair, he thanked God for his trials and claimed delight in his difficult times.

We all go though winter seasons in life. Being with mom through those difficult times of illness and decisions left us all worn and concerned. But Mom pulled through and celebrated her 94th birthday in January, in her new apartment.

The pandemic has been one long winter season for many of us. Prompted by Ann Voscamp’s book, I’ve been writing a list of 1,000 blessings. It’s a bit harder right now, but the list keeps me focused on my journey of gratitude for 2021.

Won’t you join me and seek the blessings, even in the seasons of winter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Something I'll Never Outgrow

I've been a winter person for as long as I can remember.
I practiced hygge before I knew it was a thing.
Cozy sweaters, quilts, a fire in the fireplace 
(or in my case a recording of a fire on my TV)
are all things I adore in the winter.

So when the snow flies and the ground is immersed in white, I love it.

I'll never outgrow the delight I find in the twirling snowflakes of winter.

If you aren't a winter person, take heart--spring is just around the corner.



 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Time-Slip Novel Review: Roots of Wood and Stone (Sedgwick County Chronicles) by Amanda Wen

Book Description:

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

My Thoughts:

Roots of Wood and Stone is a pleasure to read. Whether I was reading Sloane and Garrett’s story (modern day) or Annabelle’s (in the 1800s), the chapters are filled with beautiful words, descriptions you can sink into, and deep emotional insight. The rich history of the house and land drew me in as much as the people. Amanda Wen has taken two stories and intertwined them in unexpected ways. This a perfect winter read that will warm your heart. I love the faith thread that runs between the two eras. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Wisdom to Make a Choice

James 3:17-18
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Decisions can be difficult. How do I know the best thing to do, the best choice to make?

I’m slow when it comes to shopping for most anything.

And I try not to be an impulse buyer (except for maybe that tempting chocolate bar by the counter.)

If I’m considering a big purchase, I want every detail about the item before I make the final decision. I haven’t always been this way. But the older I get, the more I realize I need to weigh my options with care.

If I’m that mindful of the value of material items, how much more cautious should I be of life decisions?

The ones that affect my family and friends require great consideration. But where does the wisdom to make a choice come from?

True wisdom originates with God. Easy answer, but how do we as humans recognize our heavenly Father’s wisdom? Jesus’ brother James says heaven’s wisdom is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, kind, impartial, and sincere. In other words, God’s wisdom does no harm. His measuring stick has a bi-product of peace, consideration, and mercy.

Facts and information are great indicators that help weigh the pros and cons. But as a believer, I know God offers wisdom and understanding that’s more precious than any gold or silver. He wants me to make my choices with his input, through prayer and petition.

When you need to make a decision of any kind seek God’s wisdom and guidance.

tweetable: How do I make a choice?