Wednesday, July 28, 2021

All Things Good

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:4

When I came across this verse, I paused and read it again.
Everything God has created is good.
When I am outside, I am always in awe of God's creation.
All that he has made is good.

This beautiful heron posed for me at Old Woman's Creek Estuary.
To me, herons are such graceful birds.
They remind me of God's grace when people, like me, sin.
Even when I've failed and marred the good,
God through Jesus restores the good all over again--through forgiveness.
Praise God--His grace covers all my sin.


 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Clothed With Joy

Psalm 30:11-12
You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Pink, purple, red, and yellow flowers bobbed their heads.

On our trip to Lake Erie, blooms exploded with color. The hydrangea bushes waved blue, pink, and purple heads. The bluemink or flossflower complimented the golden buds of the oxeye chamomile, and the prairie sun blooms. Purple salvia nodded in the sunshine while red petunias rested at their feet. Everywhere we looked vibrant hues filled yards and gardens.

After we returned home, I visited my mom. She has planted flowers for as long as I can remember. Even though she doesn’t do the physical planting now, she has a little flower garden. Family helps her take care of her butterfly bushes, lavender, and many other blooms so she can enjoy their beauty. As I walked with her along the driveway and watched butterflies and bees sip nectar, I thought about how much joy those plants brought my mom.

Just as God’s beautiful creation brings delight, so does the love my Savior gives.

In the Psalm, David mourned his losses and mistakes. But because God loved him and forgave him, David wrote how the one who created the universe turned his wailing into dancing. He replaced his sorrowful cries with blissful steps. He took away his sadness and covered him with joy. As a result, David vowed to sing praises to God forever.

As the colorful beauty of the flowers bring delight, God in all of his glory brings joy. Not just happiness, but pure joy.

A heart full of delight radiates to the face through a smile.  And like the beauty of the flowers, a smile is a gift we can give to anyone.

Be filled with joy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Color of the Flowers

 Tim and I traveled to Lake Erie recently. 

So many vibrant flowers bloomed at the homes and parks.
We spied this flower bed in Vermilion, Ohio. 

Don't you just love the colors? I do. 

I enjoy puttering in my little flower bed where 
I feel close to God, surrounded by his natural creation.

How about you? Do you enjoy the beauty of flowers?


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Fiction Book Review: Beyond the Tides (Prince Edward Island Shores Book #1) by Liz Johnson

Book Description:
When Meg Whitaker's father decides to sell the family's lobster-fishing business to her high school nemesis, she sets out to prove she should inherit it instead. Though she's never had any interest in running the small fleet--or even getting on a boat due to her persistent seasickness--she can't stand to see Oliver Ross take over. Not when he ruined her dreams for a science scholarship and an Ivy League education ten years ago.

Oliver isn't proud of what he did back then. Angry and broken by his father walking out on his family, he lashed out at Meg--an innocent bystander. But owning a respected fishing fleet on Prince Edward Island is the opportunity of a lifetime, and he's not about to walk away just because Meg wants him to.

Meg's father has the perfect solution: Oliver and Meg must work the business together, and at the end of the season, he'll decide who gets it. Along the way, they may discover that their stories are more similar than they thought . . . and their dreams aren't what they expected.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read several of Liz Johnson’s books, and this is the best one yet. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked Meg, but once Meg and Oliver are thrown together their banter and the tension between them makes for an entertaining tale—along with their family stories. I love how Meg’s strong character softens when it comes to her parents. And Oliver’s determination to overcome his family’s history is inspiring. The setting is fantastic. I found myself drawn into the lobster business on Prince Edward Island and enjoying the trips out to set traps and haul in the catch. Meg’s dad is a delight as he helps her mom in his gentle, caring way. As soon as I would stop reading Beyond the Tides, I would miss the characters and want to read more. Now that I’ve finished, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. Available August, 3, it’s a perfect end of summer read. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

A Holiday Tale Review: Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale by Christopher de Vinck

Book Description:

A story that helps us see the unique goodness in each person.

Every town has its secrets. When it becomes known that Mr. Nicholas, the eccentric owner of the local hardware store, is somehow involved with reindeer, toys, and children, the town becomes more and more suspicious that this man is more than just a clerk on Main Street.

JB, a clever, open ten-year-old boy with Down syndrome, is able to figure out the secret from the first time Mr. Nicholas gives him a chocolate deer wrapped in gold foil. 

JB’s father and mother, both cynical and on the brink of divorce, follow the adventures of JB as he flies on the back of a reindeer, feeds Mister Rogers’s fish, and defines what can be forgotten by those who are too busy to remember the magic of Christmas, cuckoo-clocks, and love.

My Thoughts:
Mr. Nicholas is a delightful and heart-warming tale of how a sweet boy helps the people in his life believe in the magic of Christmas. Mr. Nicholas is an eccentric. Jim is a hardened newspaper man. Anna is a disillusioned artist and wife of Jim, and JB, Anna and Jim’s son, is a kind-hearted, imaginative boy who opens the eyes of his disenchanted parents. This is a quick and worthy read. Mr. Fred Roger’s wife Joanne wrote the forward.  If you enjoy Christmas stories, this is one you don’t want to miss. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Fruit, Suit, and a Royal Crown

Ephesians 6:13-17
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Moms and daughters circled the fire.

Photo courtesy of Woodland Lakes

I was honored to be asked to speak at mother/daughter camp at Woodland Lakes Christian Camp. I joined my daughter, Sara, who led the music and granddaughter Ella Cate. With the theme “Daughters of the King,” I wanted to concrete the idea God created us to be part of his kingdom. 

In the evening, we gathered around a campfire in a circle created by porch swings. I loved the cozy family feeling the swings added to the gathering. As I introduced the idea of being a princess in God’s kingdom, I considered the girls impression of a princess. Most, if not all, knew many of the Disney princesses. You know—the ones with the big, bright eyes, gorgeous gowns, and long flowing hair. While those stories are fun, I wanted the girls to understand the verse in 1 Samuel 16:7"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God created “royal fruit” to fill the hearts of his princes and princesses. Galatians 5:22-23—"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” God’s guidance for the heart was only one element of royalty. He also gave us a suit of armor—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

With the fruit, suit, and a royal crown, I deemed each mom and daughter a warrior princess who stands and fights in honor of her kingdom.

God doesn’t want his princes and princesses to sit on thrones and look handsome and pretty, he wants us to raise our swords and fight the battles against the enemy.

We can be warriors who raise prayers, sing to fight battles, protect the innocent, show love and kindness, encourage the weary, discipline ourselves to be the best we can be for God, and fuel ourselves on God’s word.

Fill your heart with the Spirit’s fruit, cover yourself with God’s armor, and wear the crown of Jesus’ righteousness.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Bee Kind

I love honey.
I eat it with peanut butter and add it to my tea.
The sweet, mellow flavor soothes my throat and pleases my taste buds.

This proverb has been a favorite for years.
Like honey, kind words are sweet, encouraging, and healing.

Bee... kind.

I've heard honeybees are becoming scarce. 
Thank you to all the beekeepers out there who are helping
plants grow by keeping bees.


 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Fiction Review: Home Sweet Tiny Home by Melody Carlson

Book Description:
Kate Burrows has a life many would envy—a good job at a design firm, a huge house, beautiful memories of the late husband who gave her everything, and two grown kids doing well for themselves. But it’s all begun to ring hollow as she wanders around a house that’s too big for her. So when she gets caught up in binge watching a show all about tiny homes, something clicks—something that soon has Kate embarking on a whole new life.

Though some people call her crazy, she decides to quit her job and relocate to the small tourist town she and her husband always wanted to retire to, and to buy a tiny home of her own. The Lord seems to be paving the way, and she soon meets just the person she needs to help her get her dream going—and even growing! Hank Branson, architect and gentleman farmer, is quick to jump on board her dream to parcel some land off for tiny homes, and soon they have a community in the works.

But is Kate in over her head? How can she possibly uproot her whole life and chase dreams long dormant? Can Hank and his beautiful farm be as perfect as they seem? And what about their competition—the gregarious, confident Glen who won’t take no for an answer?

Kate may be moving into a tiny house…but it soon becomes clear she’s in for a big adventure.

My Review:
I love Melody Carlson’s stories. Home Sweet Tiny Home is right up there with my favorites. With humor and compassion Carlson tells the story of change in a mature woman’s life after her husband has passed away and her children are grown. I love Kate’s spunk and her willingness to dive into a new venture. Hank is a sweetheart and Glen is a little too confident. And then there is Natalie… This is a funny, warm read you’ll enjoy. I love that Carlson has written a story about older men and women. And I enjoyed the tiny house aspect. If you like light reads with a fun twist, you’ll love this one. I purchased my copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Light up the Dark

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

The fireworks lit up the sky.

Tim and I had our first date on July 4, 1992. Twenty-nine years later, on July 4, 2021, we drove home from visiting my mom. As we rode along state route 68, we witnessed fireworks as they flared in the sky. The magnificent burst of color and light reminded us of our first date. As we reminisced, I thanked God for my husband and the years we’ve spent together.

The dazzling display of light brought another thought to mind. As a believer in Jesus, I need to be a light in the darkness. I’ve watched fireworks in different venues, and one thing I’ve noticedThe darker the night, the more brilliant the light.

photo from pixaby

Our world suffers from spiritual darkness. But Jesus light shines through the dark. His hope illuminates every shadow, dismal valley, and blackest night.

Jesus’ light shines grace and forgiveness on a fallen world. Paul writes to the Thessalonian church “brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” He urges them to be a light to the world as they wait for Jesus.

We don’t know the day or hour of Jesus’ return to earth, but as followers of him we are called to shine his light. Be kind, love others, forgive, share joy, be generous, live in peace, be gentle, show Jesus’ gracebe his light.

Jesus shined his light on my life. He loves the unlovely, illuminates our path, and seeks to restore light in the lives of everyone. Jesus’ way offers hope as the brightest light in the darkest night.

If darkness swallows you, seek Jesus. If you have faith in Jesus be his light.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Be the Light

On July 4th, our minster spoke on how Jesus 
is the means by which change can come in our culture. 

He closed the sermon with this quote,
 "Continue to shine brightly. The darker the dark, the brighter the light."

That light is Jesus. He's our hope against the darkness of the world.

Be the candle, flashlight, lighthouse, and even fireworks.


 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Fiction Review: On Cue by Bettie Boswell

Book Description:
When a college sweetheart used Ginny Cline's dreams for his own glory, he stole her joy of composing music and her trust in men. Years later, encouraged by prayer and a chance to help the local museum, she dares to share her talents again. Unfortunately a financial backer forces her to place her music and trust into the hands of another man.

Theater professor Scott Hallmark's summer camp benefactor coerces him into becoming the director of Ginny's musical. The last thing he needs is another woman who uses him to get what they want, especially an amateur who has no idea what they are doing.

As Ginny's interest in Scott grows, her confusion arises over Honey, a member of Scott's praise band. Mix in a couple of dogs and quirky cast members for fun and frustration as the couple work together to discover that forgiveness and trust produce perfect harmony.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed Bettie Boswell’s debut story about two talented music lovers. Ginny spent a year-and-a-half pouring herself into writing a musical about the Underground Railroad, which she’d love to see performed. Professor Scott Hallmark is pressed into becoming the director. She’s excited about the play, but not the Professor. And she’s not ready to open her heart, especially when Scott keeps talking about Honey. On Cue is a delightful story about two people who want the same thing, but have to trust their hearts to find it. The strong Christian thread and the delightful secondary characters make this a pleasant read. If you enjoy sweet romance, you’ll want to read On Cue. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

His Rest Restores

Matthew 11:28-29
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

I was concerned I’d worn her out.

Our seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella Cate, spent the night on Monday. What a delight! (I’m not prejudice, nope, not at all.) On Monday, we played on the playground, swam in the community pool, watched cartoons, drew pictures, and ate kid food with Grammy’s requirement of fruit. She blessed every meal with a sweet prayer and went sound to sleep that night. On Tuesday, we spent most of the day at the pool, met her parents for dinner, then she went home to sleep in her own bed.

On Wednesday morning, I went to her house and discovered a tired little girl. A good tired, mind you, but tired nonetheless. We watched a movie, then went with my daughter to lunch and patio furniture shopping.

When I called Ella Cate on Thursday and heard her perky voice on her momma’s phone, I knew she’d gotten her pep back. A restful morning on Wednesday and a good night’s sleep helped restore her sweet little self.

Ella Cate and I had so much fun, but even in good times, we got tired. A night of rest restored our energy and carried us through.

Jesus offers rest for the weary and burdened. Who does that entail? All of us. Folks worn out from the stress of life. People burdened with sin and folks concerned for family and friends. Jesus knew we’d grow tired, he knew, when he died on the cross, he’d take on the weight of the world. The very picture of Jesus gentle and humble heart reminds me how much he loves me.

In Jesus, I rest in the assurance of grace and forgiveness and the promise of eternal life in heaven. 

Seek Jesus for relief from this weary world.