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.