Saturday, October 1, 2022

Anxiety and a Pair of Jeans

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Shopping for jeans raises my anxiety.

After a hot summer, I’m ready for the cool air of autumn. With the change in temperature comes the need for new jeans, part of my standard retirement uniform. I’ve worn out the ones I bought a few years ago, so I gathered my courage (because I need that to try on pants) and went to the store where I bought my last pair. The bins and racks oozed with denim, but every pair I looked at either had pre-ripped holes (I’m too old for those) or buttons instead of a zipper, again, too old. No classic jeans existed. As my anxiety rose and my frustration with it, my daughter, who came to the store separate from me, saw me and creeped up on me and scared the beejeebers out of me (of course we laughed about itlater.)

The whole shopping experience made my anxiety go through the ceiling. I vowed to wear my thread-bare jeans and forget shopping. Then Kohl’s dinged my inbox with a 40% off coupon. Could I try one more time? Yes, I did, and I came home with a pair of classic “mom” jeans and a cute Peanuts t-shirt. I’m thankful that despite my anxiety, I tried one more time.

I laugh now about the ridiculousness of trying to find a pair of jeans, but the anxiety I’ve dealt with throughout my life isn’t funny. The truth is, being anxious leaves me exhausted. I’m so thankful Paul addresses it in these verses. God understands. He reminds us to stop and pray, ponder on thankfulness, and He’ll pour peace into our hearts and minds. Without doubt, I know this to be true.

Full disclosure: I have a medical issue that causes anxiety and with the help of medicine, I am much better. But I also know that without God, I’d be in a heap of trouble. My go to is prayer, always. I’m so grateful I can talk to God about everything, including a frustrating shopping trip. Philippians 4:6-7 is one of the verses I cling toto get me through life.

Pray first, always.

Cozy Mystery Review: Dog Days of Summer, book 2 Gone to the Dogs series by Kathleen Y’Barbo

What the story is about:
Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

My Thoughts:
I enjoy cozy mysteries, and this series has been a treat. Trina Potter wants to help her niece get her rescue business up and running, but in the meantime, someone is sabotaging Second Chance Ranch before they even get set up. I like the idea of dog rescue and love the pups in this delightful mystery. There is a thread of romance, but the kennel and the mystery take the limelight. If you enjoy cozies, give Dog Days of Summer a read and make sure to read book 1, Off the Chain. Book 3, Barking Up the Wrong Tree will be available January, 2023. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Christmas Book Review: O Little Town by Deborah Raney, Janyre Tromp, and Amanda Wen



What it’s About:
Stories of small-town Christmas and the enduring love of God from three critically acclaimed authors

In the sleepy small town of Mapleview, Michigan, Christmas is always something special. In this charming collection of romance novellas, join three generations of Mapleview residents longing for love--and finding it--on the most wonderful night of the year.

"Hopes and Fears" by Amanda Wen

Emma Trowbridge is determined to give her students the Christmas pageant of a lifetime. The last person she expected, or wanted, to encounter in her two-room classroom is her childhood rival, Frederick Oberstein. He would rather be far away himself. He wants no part of cheer, Christmas or otherwise. Can they learn to see each other in a new light--and embrace a new season of hope and faith together?

"While Mortals Sleep" by Janyre Tromp

While World War II rages overseas, news reporter Eleanor Sweers returns home to Mapleview to face the repercussions of the death of her sister and her nightmare of Christmases past. But the homefront isn't as far from the war as she thought: a bomb has landed in the middle of the U.S. Now Eleanor and family friend Gideon Braum may have to choose between the scoop of a lifetime and the love of a lifetime.

"The Wondrous Gift" by Deborah Raney

High school football coach Caleb Janssen and music teacher Rachel Hamblin bond when they both lose their jobs at a Christian school. But when they discover their plans for the future are mutually exclusive, the fallout threatens to tear them apart.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed reading this collection of holiday themed stories. Set in the town of Mapleview, Michigan, three authors create stories from different generations of towns folk. Amanda Wen’s story, set in the early days of the town’s settlement, is a sweet tale of love and forgiveness. Janyre Tromp’s story, set during WW 2 involves intrigue and the most lovable male character, Gideon. Deborah Raney captures modern day Mapleview in her romance of two teachers. I like that the schoolhouse from Wen’s story appears in Raney’s. Each story is unique and thoroughly enjoyable. From historical fiction, to mystery, to contemporary these authors have delivered three engaging and wonderful stories. Add this to your Christmas to be read pile. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Quiet Moments of Purpose

God sees the little things as big things, and the least as most important.


Tucking a child in at night, kneading dough for bread, writing a sympathy card, giving a hug, creating, walking a pet, laughing with a friend, making soup, and so many more touching gestures give purpose to life.

Love others in the way you know how. 
Embrace the quiet moments and the work of your hands.



Saturday, September 24, 2022

Value Others

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

What would the world look like if we truly valued people?

My granddaughter, Dylan, and her best friend, Emma, have played doubles tennis together for three years. The day I dropped Dylan off for her first practice, she was the only student who showed up. A few days later, more girls joined, and she had recruited Emma to play with her.

In the last three years, I’ve watched these young ladies grow in the game. They’ve improved their serves, thought through their strategies, and learned to slam the ball, when needed. Their prowess on the court has grown from uncertain to confident. And more importantly, they’ve learned to trust each other. They don’t play for themselves or try to steal the limelight. Instead, they encourage each other and value the other one’s skills. I love watching them because they play as a team, dependent on one another. As a matter of fact, their whole team cheers for and champions each other.

What would the church look like if we did that?

Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians to encourage them and to advise on how to live life together as believers. His writing emphasizes the opposite of the ‘me first’ mentality. Instead, he instructed the people of the church of Philippi to humble themselves as Jesus did when He lived life on earth. 

Jesus humbled Himself to the point of being a servant to the people He met. He didn’t bang His chest and command attention. Instead, He lifted people up with His words, He washed the feet of the disciples, and He healed the broken and wounded. Jesus, by example, taught how to love other people and placed great value on everyone. 

Be a team player and encourage each other.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

He Lights the Way

People ask me why I love lighthouses so much.
The reason is simple--
a lighthouse provides safety for ships, which reminds me of Jesus.

He is my safety, my hope, and my guide. He is the light which 
provides safety for me. His Word lights my path, and He gives me hope.


 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Life is Not a Checklist

1 Thessalonians 1:3
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I like lists and calendars. Something about the orderly way they help me organize my life gives me satisfaction. I use a program called Scrivener that helps me organize my writing, and I create Excel sheets to help me keep track of editing. Notebooks with check-off lists and the calendar on my phone help me show up where I’m supposed to. Without my notes, there's a great chance I'd forget something important.

Calendar

As much as I like lists and organization, I can't live my life by checking off boxes. Organization works wonders for a project, like writing a book, but not so much for life. Living life is more about prompts, nudges, crossroads, inspiration, and endurance. Life in Christ includes hope, conviction, the nudges from the Holy Spirit, opportunities to serve, and unexpected joy. If I only stick to my to do lists, I’ll miss out on the blessings.

How about a list infused with hope and joy!

  • If you're a parent, take time to play with your kids. If your children are teens or adults, hang out with them. Enjoy making memories.
  • If you're married, date your spouse and be attentive.
  • If you're single enjoy the adventure God's given you. 
  • If you work outside the home, stop and ask your co-worker how their day is going.
  • Take the walk, pet the dog, smell the flowers, smile at the folks God puts in your path.
  • Sing out loud in church or in the car and worship freely.

My point--God has plans for me. If my head is focused on a check list all the time, I'm going to miss out. Instead I want to live like the Thessalonians who were faithful, and prompted by love and inspired by hope.

Be flexible when it comes to living a life mapped out by God. He has unexpected surprises, if we pay attention.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

What Can We Do?

My daughter Maggie took this photo about thirteen years ago, 
and it has spoken to my heart ever since. 
I love how my granddaughter reaches her hand out to her cousin,
and the look on her face says "I care."

Isn't that how God wants us to react to others, with an 'I care' attitude?

Every person is going through something. 
Some on a small scale, others with overwhelming magnitude. 

What can we do to love people better?


 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Contemporary Fiction Review: Dangerous Beauty by Melissa Koslin

What it’s About:

Liliana Vela hates the term victim. She's not a victim, she's a fighter. Stubborn and strong with a quiet elegance, she's determined to take back her life after escaping the clutches of human traffickers in her poor Mexican village. But she can't stay safely over the border in America--unless the man who aided in her rescue is serious about his unconventional proposal to marry her.

Meric Toledan was just stopping at a service station for a bottle of water. Assessing the situation, he steps in to rescue Liliana from traffickers. If he can keep his secrets at bay, his wealth and position afford him many resources to help her. But the mysterious buyer who funded her capture will not sit idly by while his prize is stolen from him.

Melissa Koslin throws you right into the middle of the action in this high-stakes thriller that poses the question: What is the price of freedom?

My Thoughts:

I believe Melissa Koslin had good intentions with this story, but I didn’t really enjoy it. There were too many slow spots and too much repetition. Liliana is a strong character who had been through a terrible situation and Meric Toledan seemed an unlikely protector. I appreciate that Koslin is bringing a horrific crime to light and hopefully Liliana’s story can make a difference
. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Romance Book Review: To Win a Prince by Toni Shiloh

What it's About:
Can she stop herself from falling before she's too far gone?

As a fashion aficionado and best friend of the queen of the African island country Ọlọrọ Ilé, Iris Blakely dreams of using her talent to start a sustainable clothing line to help citizens in impoverished areas and honor the country's resources. But when she discovers that Ekon Diallo--the man who betrayed her best friend--will be her business consultant, the battle between her desires and reality begins.

Ekon Diallo has lost everything: his princely title, his material possessions, his friends, and the respect of his fellow Ọlọrans. To pay for his actions against Ọlọrọ Ilé, he's forced to assist the charismatic Iris Blakely--but he can't allow his heart to distract him from regaining his status.

Though they come from vastly different worlds, Iris and Ekon are both determined to reach their goals, and the only way to do that is to work together--if they can just keep their hearts from getting in the way . . .

My Thoughts:
I love Shiloh's books set on the island of Ọlọrọ Ilé. In this second book which follows In Search of a Prince, we find Iris, a delightful, dedicated lady, setting up a new business to help local artisans. Ekon Diallo's story continues from book one, and now he is making penance for his wrong doing that happens to mean he is working with Iris in her new business. Sparks fly in this story of redemption, forgiveness, and romance. Shiloh has written another lovely story set on an amazing island with interesting characters. If you enjoy romance that is sweet, fun, and a bit fiery you'll love To Win a Prince.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Knowledge and Wisdom

Philippians 1:9-11
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

I’m a life-long learner.

I confess, I didn’t like school. Elementary school was okay, but by the time I reached junior high and high school, I wasn’t a fan. Not being a social butterfly, I was quiet and everything kind of overwhelmed me. I did like having friends and going to basketball games, but I preferred to stay home and read or wander outside.

The funny thing is, I loved learning and I still do. After high school, I attended college for two years, but it took me until I was forty-eight years old to complete my bachelor’s degree. In the meantime, ironically, I worked in education. In the library of the elementary school and in a college library, I encouraged students to read and learn.

Even though I wasn’t a fan of school, I loved gathering knowledge and wisdom, and I do believe school is extremely important. As I tell my grandchildren, whether you enjoy school or not, you need to do your best.

The apostle Paul is writing to the Philippian church and reminding them to keep learning. He prayed they would grow in knowledge and insight. Knowledge of God’s word and insight into the people God called them to love. He encouraged the people to discern or consider what was best when it came to loving people as Jesus loved them, and he reminded them they would grow in the fruit or righteousness, or the fruit of the Spirit.  

God wants me to keep learning and use what I learn to love people better. As I seek the truth in His word, I grow in His love for other people. As a result, I glorify my heavenly Father through my actions.

Are you learning more about Jesus every day?

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Historical Fiction Book Review: Forgotten Memories by Penny Zeller

What it’s About:
Some memories are best forgotten…

The Wyoming Territory is rife with lawlessness and disorder, something Annie Ledbetter and her parents discover when their wagon train is robbed. Seven years later, Annie settles into her lifelong dream as a teacher in the small town of Willow Falls. When she meets handsome rancher Caleb Eliason through a humorous misunderstanding, she is quickly drawn to his kind heart and charming smile.


Former outlaw Caleb Eliason embraces his chance at a fresh start. Gone are the days of robbing stagecoaches and wagon trains. When he falls in love with the new Willow Falls teacher, he doesn’t realize they’ve met before—under much different circumstances. When his past comes to light, will it put the growing love between them at risk?

Can forgiveness and redemption heal two broken hearts or will the past keep them from sharing a future?

My Thoughts:
I enjoy books set in the old west with settlers trying to make their way. Regardless of a rocky start to the settlement, and a haunting memory, Annie Ledbetter grew up loving her new home. As she sets out on her own to become the new school teacher in a nearby town, something about handsome rancher, Caleb Eliason seems familiar. They getting to know one another when Zeller throws in an unexpected twist. I liked this story because Annie and Caleb had an unsurmountable obstacle to overcome without an easy solution, and the faith and forgiveness woven into the story give the promise of hope. If you enjoy stories set in the old west, you’ll want to read Forgotten Memories. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

In the Storm

On Lake Michigan, the storm created ocean-like waves. 
They surged toward the beach and washed the land. A man, we met by the lighthouse, jumped in the waves and rode his paddle board to shore. 
Rather than fear the waves, he plunged in. 

I'm not sure I would take on a challenge like that, but I have learned to ride out the storms of life with Jesus by my side. 
He gives me confidence and hope for better days.


 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Book Spotlight: Forgotten Memories by Penny Zeller

 


Some memories are best forgotten…

The Wyoming Territory is rife with lawlessness and disorder, something Annie Ledbetter and her parents discover when their wagon train is robbed. Seven years later, Annie settles into her lifelong dream as a teacher in the small town of Willow Falls. When she meets handsome rancher Caleb Eliason through a humorous misunderstanding, she is quickly drawn to his kind heart and charming smile.

Former outlaw Caleb Eliason embraces his chance at a fresh start. Gone are the days of robbing stagecoaches and wagon trains. When he falls in love with the new Willow Falls teacher, he doesn’t realize they’ve met before—under much different circumstances. When his past comes to light, will it put the growing love between them at risk?

Can forgiveness and redemption heal two broken hearts or will the past keep them from sharing a future?



 

Purchase Forgotten Memories:

Amazon


Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today, Penny is the author of over a dozen books. She is also a homeschool mom and a fitness instructor.

When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running,
cycling, gardening, and playing volleyball.

She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her website www.pennyzeller.com and her blog, random thoughts from a day in the life of a wife, mom, and author, at www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com.

 

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Monday, September 5, 2022

Christmas Book Review: A Quilt for Christmas: A Christmas Novella by Melody Carlson

What It’s About:
Christmas should be celebrated with family. But for Vera Swanson, that's not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one--until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help. With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera's help, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request--a Christmas quilt for Mama.

Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together in order to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all--and she may find herself a new family of friends along the way.

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites you to cuddle up this holiday season with this cozy story of giving, forgiving, and a little bit of romance.

My Thoughts:
I look forward to Carlson’s Christmas novella every year. This one is a lovely story centering around a woman whose traditional Christmas’s have been derailed, then she meets a sweet child who changes everything. Four-year-old Fiona spreads Christmas joy just by being her sweet, precocious self. As the quilt comes together, so do the lives of the most unexpected quilters. This story is about healing and transformation and Carlson does a beautiful job telling this wonderful story. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

The God-breathed Word

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

...and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

The Bible speaks to our hearts.

photo from pixaby

In a book launch team I am part of, I was asked which of the four seasons is my favorite. For anyone who knows me well, you know I answered winter. I also love spring when beautiful flowers bloom, summer when I swim with my grands, and of course fall, a gorgeous time to be outside appreciating the colorful leaves.

Yet, winter remains my favorite because it is a time of peace. When snow blankets the ground and the nothing has touched the pureness, I’m reminded of 1 Thessaloniansmy life verse. I love quiet, and strive to lead a quiet life. I try to mind my own business, unless God lays on my heart to speak up. I work with my hands, either on the computer, with arts and crafts or around the house. Tim and I depend on God, daily. He is the one who provides us opportunities to work and grow.

Do you have a life verse, a scripture that speaks to your heart about everyday life? Is there a scripture God has placed on your heart? One you strive to follow? There are many verses in the Bible I rely on for wisdom and guidance. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord..., “ John 3:16, the book of James, the Psalms. 

We have so many wonderful, life-changing scriptures at our fingertips.

God has given us the gift of the Bible. Have you read any scripture today?

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Look for the Beauty

With summer whirling to a close and fall nipping at its heals, 
there's a beauty which takes place in the transition. 
As the black-eyed Susans and zinnias begin to fade, 
the leaves plan their fashion show for fall.

Don't miss it-don't miss the loveliness of every day.
Take a glimpse of the goodness of God's creation.
Soak in the color and embrace the change.

Too busy? Stop--and look, smell, taste, touch, see the 
incredible nature that surrounds us.


 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Cozy Mystery Review: Mabel Get the Ax (Mysteries of Medicine Spring Book 1) by Susan Kimmel Wright

What it’s About:

Mabel plans to bring the thrills of volunteering to the masses—if she doesn’t get the ax first.

After losing her job of twenty-three years, Mabel decides to launch what will surely be a glamorous new career as an author. Having recently inherited her late grandmother’s house, she has the freedom to spend time volunteering and writing about her experiences.

Unfortunately, Mabel’s plans soon go off the rails. Her inheritance comes with decades of clutter, an overgrown lot, a dog named Barnacle, and a neighbor with an ax to grind. And her first assignment as a Medicine Spring Historical Society volunteer is to lead a tour of the Sauer Mansion, locally known as the “Ax Murder House,” site of a notorious 1930’s double homicide.

As Mabel shepherds her tour group through the house, it appears history’s repeating itself when she stumbles across a body in the parlor. Finding herself on the suspect list, Mabel scrambles to figure out who swung the fatal ax. In the process, she can’t help being drawn into investigating the unsolved historic murders, teamed up with PI John Bigelow, a man she isn’t sure she can trust. With an ax murderer on the loose, will Mabel be next?

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading book one of the Mysteries of Medicine Springs series. Mabel is a hoot. She’s older, awkward, and self-deprecating. The woman tries so hard to do the right thing, and sometimes that gets her into deep trouble. John is the perfect balance for her, but in her heart she’s not sure she can trust him. She’s not sure she can trust anyone. Through all the escapades and efforts, Mabel plows forward to find the truth. If you enjoy cozies sprinkled with humor and quirky characters, you’ll enjoy Mabel Gets the Ax. I read this copy from Kindle Unlimited.


Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Son Will Raise Me Up

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Rain beat against the window and thunder roared through the sky. Clouds dumped water on the garden and drenched the flowers. When I walked outside the next day, the black-eyed Susans looked like they’d seen better days. The wind and rain had pummeled the plants and knocked petals to the ground. The lengthy stems sprawled across the flower bed. This time of year, their days are numbered, but I’m hoping they rally for a few more weeks and wave their golden heads in the breeze.

During Jesus journey on this earth, He met great opposition. Religious leaders, sinners, political leaders took it upon themselves to destroy the Son of God. They ridiculed Him and eventually killed Him. But the beautiful thing is, Jesus rose from death and proclaimed victory over sin. He conquered death to give life to anyone who believes and loves Him. Because of Jesus love and sacrifice, I won’t lose heart.

My black-eyed Susans might lay down after the storm, but the sun will raise them up to bloom a bit longer. I may fall into temptation or simply grow weary, but the Son will raise me up and give me strength to keep going.

Jesus’ death and resurrection encourage me to endure as I keep moving forward. I won’t grow weary or lose heart because I have faith in Jesus.

Trust Him with your heart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Rest

In my years of life experience, I think I've finally figured out--
It's okay to rest.

Rather than give up on something--stop--take a break--rest.

Rather than run myself into the ground--stop--take a break--rest.

No matter where you may be in life, it's okay to rest--
to take that fifteen minute or two hour break--
or how about a whole day and rest.

God rested on the seventh day after creation. It's okay for us too.


 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Genesis 2:2-3

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Second Chances

Ephesians 4:22-24
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

God gives second chances.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude every day because I have a God who gives grace and forgiveness. Growing up in church I learned a lot about the rules. Do this, don't do that. In the midst of those teachings, I heard of God's love for me, but being a shy, quiet, rule follower, my focus stayed on right and wrong. I thought if I did everything right, I'd earn my way to heaven. Boy was I wrong. As a human, I didn't have the capability to live a perfect life.

As I grew older, I experienced life. Some good, some bad. The more I learned about Jesus, the more I realized I couldn't go through life focusing on rules. At times Satan tried to push me away from the whole "religion" thing, but God brought me to my knees. Not to punish me, but to remind me of his beautiful, perfect grace.

You see, He loves me unconditionally. Regardless of poor choices, doubts, or frustration, He continues to wrap His arms around me and show His mercy. Once I turned my life, my decisions, my actions, my everything over to Him, I understood. Granted I need to be obedient, I must seek His will, and I have to stop and listen. I'm not in this alone, I'm in this life with the One who created me. And guess what? God wants me to succeed. He has plans for me and a future.

I'm forgiven. Do I still mess up? Yep. But I hit my knees and ask for grace. I praise God with thanksgiving for his Son who took my place and for the Holy Spirit who guides me. I'm thankful for this precious second chance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A Life Without Dreams

My cousin reminded me I had dreamed of being a writer since I was young.
I'm thankful God had given me the opportunity to fulfill that dream.

Do you have a dream? Something you've wanted to do?
Has God placed a desire on your heart?

Ask God for guidance and a chance to make the dream come true.


 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Smell of Crayons

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
       I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Pray for students, teachers, and staff.

The back-to-school sales are on, the smell of crayons and sharpened pencils fill the air. Teachers are prepping their classrooms and children are counting the days until they see their friends again.

We have several educators in our family, and they're setting up their rooms, attending trainings and meetings, and working to make the start of school successful. I’m thankful for the people who teach, whether in public school, private school, or homeschool and the folks who work in support roles. Many of the people who instruct our children in academics also work to instill confidence and positive behavior. The kiddos are blessed to have people in school who care about them and want to fill their buckets with kindness and joy.

Jesus, the best teacher—taught by example. Through parables and sermons He shared scripture and taught us to pray. Talk about hearing from the best. There is no better place to learn than at the feet of Jesus. I love to hear or read every parable, word of wisdom, and proverb Jesus shared. I'm thankful the writers of the Bible penned God's words, and I’m excited I have the very words of Jesus (red letters in many Bibles) to read and tuck into my heart.

God wants his people to keep discovering Him. Every day brings a new experience, a new perspective, a new way to learn and share Jesus’ story as He fills our buckets with blessings.

If you have a minute, pray for all the parents and caregivers sending their children to classrooms, as well as teachers, staff, administrators, and students heading back to school. Pray for wisdom, confidence, kindness, and safety. Encourage your children to embrace learning and to respect their teachers and fellow students. I remember a few teachers who believed in me, and I’ll always be thankful.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Old Age

I love this promise God speaks to Isaiah. 
God told him, He had made him and He planned to stick by him even in old age. 

As my hair has turned white, I've grown to  appreciate 
God's constant presence in my life. 

I'm sure when I was younger, I took God for granted, 
but with the ups and downs of life, 
I've learned that He sticks with me and never gives up on me.

For that I am thankful!


 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

What the World Needs Now

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

While faith and hope may be more personal, love is meant to be shared.

Growing up in the sixties and seventies I listened to a lot of music, mostly pop and soft rock. Songs like What the World Needs Now and Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Jackie DeShannon, and I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing by the New Seekers focused on spreading love in the world. In my bedroom as I belted out the songs, in front of the mirror and into my hairbrush, I believed I could be an instrument in sharing love with everyone. As you might guess, I was a bit naïve. I didn’t understand what loving the whole world entailed, until I understood how much Jesus loved me.

Most of the time when I hear 1 Corinthians 13, I’m at a wedding where the pastor reads the passage and talks about what it means to love. The other day I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 and I came to the last verse. Often verse thirteen is skimmed over. Instead of flying past it, I paused and read each word.

Faith, hope, and love remain. Three of the most important words in my vocabulary stand out as three of the most important ideas in this passage. My faith in Jesus is personal. Through my experiences and His grace, my faith has become the springboard for my relationship with Him. My hope in Jesus is also personal, without the hope of heaven and the hope of brighter days ahead, I’d bewell, hopeless. Love is different. According to verse thirteen, love is the greatest of all three, and I believe that’s because love is to be shared. For people to understand my faith and my hope in Jesus, they need to see the love He spills over me as I in turn pour love over others.  What better way to share my faith and hope than to model and live the love mapped out in chapter thirteen.

Share Jesus love with a world who still needs Him.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Contemporary Romance Review: The Last Way Home by Liz Johnson (Book 2 Prince Edward Island Shores)

What It's About:

When Eli Ross left Prince Edward Island to join the NHL, he left a broken family behind. More than a decade later, he's broke and headed home to an uncertain welcome. He wants to make things right with the family he wronged, but his mom's business partner isn't making it easy. To top it off, the coaching job he's accepted turns out to be far more difficult than he anticipated. 

For years, Violet Donaghy has put everything she had into making Eli's mom's ceramics shop a success, and she's not eager to forgive the man who hurt the family that's taken her in as one of their own. But when the kiln at the shop starts a fire that nearly destroys the studio, she'll need all the help she can get to save the business and their summer income.

Can these two strong-willed people come together to mend the broken pieces of the Ross family? Or will the ghosts of the past continue to haunt them?

Return to Prince Edward Island for a romantic story of family, forgiveness, and the power of love.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read all of Liz Johnson’s books and enjoyed them, but this series, Prince Edward Island Shores, is my favorite. And The Last Way Home is her best yet. She has mastered the characters, their personalities and their flaws. Her description made me feel like I was in the story watching the scenes unfold. Violet and Eli are both broken in their own way, yet they are drawn together by the very secrets they guard. If you enjoy excellent writing, an interesting story, and wonderful characters, you’ll want to read The Last Way Home. Thank you, Liz Johnson, for another wonderful story. I’m anxious to read book three. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A Simple Way

It's not hard to be kind. A smile, an encouraging word, 
a moment listening, a gift of food or money.

God calls us to be kind and to love one another.
He asks us not to judge, but to love. 


 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Romantic Suspense Review: Deception by Patricia Bradley

The Story:
After being forced to kill an FBI agent gone rogue in self-defense while working in the violent crimes unit for the Investigative Services Branch, ranger Madison Thorn is comfortable with her move to the fraud and cyber division. At least numbers don't lie. So she's less than thrilled when a white-collar crime investigation in Natchez, Mississippi, turns violent. She could also do without being forced to work with former-childhood-enemy-turned-infuriatingly-handsome park ranger Clayton Bradshaw.

When a woman who looks just like Madison is attacked on the same night Madison's grandfather is shot, it becomes clear that there is something much bigger going on here and that Madison herself is in danger. Madison and Clayton will have to work together--and suppress their growing feelings for one another--if they are to discover the truth before it's too late.

My Thoughts:
If you enjoy romantic suspense, I recommend this series set in Natchez Mississippi. Deception is book three in the Natchez Trace Rangers series and can be read as a stand-alone, but the series is so good! I especially enjoyed this one. Madison is a tough lady who focuses on her work, but has a soft spot when it comes to her grandfather. Clayton is an officer with flaws and a big heart. As the two of them work to solve a crime against her grandfather, secrets unfold in unexpected ways as more crimes come to light. Bradley is a top-notch suspense writer. If you enjoy Colleen Coble, you’ll love Patricia Bradley’s books. I received a free copy of this book with no expectations. My opinions are my own.