Showing posts with label grace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grace. Show all posts

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Grow Through It

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Every flower must grow through dirt. 

I've grown zinnias everywhere we've lived. The tall green stems topped with an array of color danced in my flowerbeds all summeruntil we moved to the condo. The little plot where the lavender and black-eyed Susans thrive isn't good for zinnias. I'd given up trying to grow them from seed until a new spot opened on the other side of the porch. The HOA had removed a pine tree and left a gaping hole in the landscape. When the neighbor gave me several packets of flower seeds, I stirred the dirt, laid down some potting soil, and sprinkled the seeds with the hope of growth.

In about a week, little seedlings pushed through the dirt. Those tiny green sprouts brought me joy. Not all the seeds made an appearance, but the ones who did will show the colors of summer. I'm eager to see how they grow and bloom.

Like the seedlings, sometimes we have to push through the dirt to grow. The soil may represent a difficult time in our lives when our hearts are tested by sorrow, despair, or uncertainty. Or maybe we're in the wrong soil, like the zinnias. The dirt in the little flowerbed didn't allow for growth, but the other side had the nourishment the plants needed.

Maybe we're in the wrong place because we aren't listening to God. What if I've allowed myself to stop listening to the Holy Spirit, which means I've cut off my life's supply of grace and hope?

Regardless of where I am in life, I will continue to grow through as I go through. Whether I'm pushing through the soil or finding myself in the wrong spot, I need to seek Jesus and listen to the Spirit of God so my faith will produce perseverance and perseverance will bring me to maturity.

Have you planted your heart in God's soil?

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Contemporary Fiction Book Review: With Every Memory by Janine Rosche

Is the Life She Can't Remember One She'd Rather Forget

One year after her family was in a tragic car accident that killed her teenage son, Lori Mendenhall returns home with a traumatic brain injury that has stolen the last eight years of memories from her. She is shocked to find that the life she was leading before the accident is unrecognizable. Her once-loving husband, Michael, is a distant workaholic she isn't sure she can trust and her once-bubbly daughter, Avery, has spent the last year hidden away in her room.

For Avery, life stopped when she lost her twin. Now, if she wants to graduate high school, she'll have to accept help from Xander Dixon, her brother's best friend and the boy who relentlessly teased her for years. And if Lori wants to reconnect with her husband, she'll have to grapple with information her brain is trying to keep secret. With every memory that returns, she can't help but wonder if the life she can't remember is one she'd rather forget.

My Thoughts:
The author added a trigger warning to the book: "This novel contains difficult and potentially triggering topics, such as death of a child, sexual assault, adultery, and divorce."

This isn't a sweet candy-coated novel. It's a deeply emotional story of people who fail each other, even as they love with a fierceness. Rosche states that she tries to handle the trigger topics with sensitivity while showing the reality of the trauma. I believe she has done this. The book goes back and forth between two points of view: Avery, the eighteen-year-old daughter, and Lori, the mom, who has lost her memory due to traumatic brain injury. My favorite part of the story is Avery's point of view. She recounts the family's struggles as a teenager who has lost so much and is barely swimming above water. The story kept me reading because Rosche went so deep emotionally. She tapped into family dynamics and didn't miss a beat of the ups and downs. The beautiful part of the story is the grace and forgiveness she has woven in. Although not preachy at all, the reader knows there is faith and hope at the heart. If you enjoy realistic fiction that pulls at the heartstrings, you may want to give With Every Memory a try. I received a complimentary copy and my opinions are my own.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Have Childlike Trust

1 Peter 2: 22-25
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

The Easter eggs were plucked from the tufts of grass.

The pink, blue, green, and yellow orbs held a mystery. Something sweet. Only two of the children in our family were young enough to seek out the treats, but I got to hide them. Like a child, I scattered them about the yard and admired the shiny plastic as it sparkled in the sun.

Joys of childhood still thrill my soul, even as I experience them through my grandchildren.

Albert Einstein said, “Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”

I stand in awe of the wonder of God’s plan, His creation.

God created everything on this earth. He spoke and the moon and stars shone. The animals moved and the plants grew.

In the shadow of Easter and the resurrection, give thought to the One who commands the rain to fall. In His original plan, God created a perfect garden, then humans came along and destroyed the perfection with sin. God knew. He always knew He’d have to clean up after us. So, He sent Jesus. The one sacrifice for all people. The One who showed the disciples how to love the unlovable. The One who preached sermons that encouraged compassion. The One who saved my soul.

The eggs are gone, but the power of the resurrection remains. Have childlike trust in His love and grace.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Throwing the Rug in the Wash

Ephesians 1:7-10
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,  he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

I’d put off cleaning the bathroom.

ConfessionI don’t like to clean. Oh, I love the results, a shiny sink, sparkling toilet, and glistening shower, but I need motivation to make it happen.

After I gave Rosie May a bath, and I got as wet as she did, I scrubbed the shower, shined the mirror and overall cleaned the bathroom. We have a beautiful crocheted rug, in a hue of rainbow colors, a friend made for me. I tossed that one and the shower mat in the washer. After everything sparkled, I laid the rugs on the floor. The difference between the dirty rug I washed and the clean rug I pulled out of the dryer was remarkable. The colors shone and brightened the room.

At times in my life, my heart resembled the dirty rug. Muted colors replaced vibrancy. Like the dirt, sin darkened my joy and sucked the life out of me. Then Jesus took my sin, my filth, the garbage in my life, and washed it all away. He carried sin to the cross and died with it there, but the beautiful thing is, He rose on the third day and with open arms offers a way out of negativity, addiction, sorrow, suffering, mistakesyou get the idea. In Jesus, there is hope. Through Jesus, God wants to lavish His grace on us. His grace cleanses the soul and restores vibrancy with joy and hope.

I’m thankful Jesus loves me more than I understand.

Seek Jesus and ask Him to cleanse your soul.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Let Things Go

 Psalm 62:5-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

"The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go."

Autumn has arrived in a glorious hue of magnificent color this year. I can’t remember a recent fall as beautiful as the one we are experiencing now in southern Ohio. From the photos I’ve seen on Facebook, the rest of the country is gorgeous, as well.

My daughter and I took a drive to see the trees in Kentucky. She pointed out one on her street in an amazing shade of magenta. Surrounded by oranges and golds, the tree stood out as a true beauty. All of these trees in all of their glory are preparing to shed their leaves and rest for a season. I’m glad they are giving us a show before they go.

And go they will. One day in a few weeks we’ll wake up to bare branches where glorious beauty once waved. The thing is, the trees are okay with it. It’s their process. Every year they let their leaves drop and prepare for a season of dormancy. That doesn’t mean they go to sleep, instead they prepare for spring by reducing water loss in the branches and trunk.

They let go in order to protect themselves from being depleted of the what they need to continue to grow in the coming spring.

Letting go of past sins is hard, especially when guilt and shame tighten their grip on the heart. Part of having freedom in Christ is to let go of the past and the sin and trust in God’s grace. Jesus is my salvation, my cleansing, and my rock. I’ve sought forgiveness and in His graciousness, He’s given.

Like the deciduous trees who drop their leaves in the fall and sustain themselves by preparing for the next phase, I want to let go of the past and store up my trust in Jesus and His grace. It is lovely to let go and find rest in God.

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, June 15, 2022

Do I Show Others Grace and Love?

I've mentioned one of my favorite quotes before:
"You are your words."
What comes out of my mouth should be glorifying God.
Does it always? 
Nope, because I'm human, and I don't always think before I speak.
Then I seek forgiveness and try harder.

As much as my words might influence people 
my actions speak so much louder.
How do I behave when I think no one is watching? 
(Oh, that's right, God is watching)
And so are my family, friends, and anyone else I might be around.

I pray my life shows others God's grace and love, every day.



 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Next Chapter

As a writer, I consider what goes into each chapter of a book.
As I edit and make the words work, 
the characters develop and lead the way through their story.

As a Christian, God knows what my next chapter is,
but because He allows me to have free will, 
He knows I'll make mistakes, even when I try my best.

In my desire to seek God's will, I trust Him
because He knows my future, and 
He gives me courage, grace, strength, and wisdom
each time I turn the page.


 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Butterfly

One thing the children in my daughter's class love to watch 
is a caterpillar's process of spinning a chrysalis, 
sleeping for a time, and emerging a butterfly.

God created those lumpy, bumpy caterpillars 
to go through a metamorphic change
and come out graceful and colorful creatures.

As I've gotten older and hopefully wiser, 
I realize that the dark times I've gone through
have helped me learn to rely on God more 
and be a kinder, more loving person in the end.

I may not be a graceful butterfly, 
but I am a child of God covered by His grace.



 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

So Did I

Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

My columbine cross-pollinated.

When I first planted columbine in my flower garden, I started with one or two plants. I had grown the old-fashioned ones for years, but when I moved, I failed to take them with me. Eventually, I gathered starts of white and purple from my siblings and added a pretty blue one. With their pops of color and lacey leaves, they add bursts of joy to my plot. As the spring flowers bloom, I'm reminded once again of God's handiwork.

Last year as I perused the early blossoms, I noticed a change in one of the columbine plants. The white ones generally have a multi-petaled bloom, while the purple and blue produce more of a bell shape with tiny curls on the edges. When I focused the camera on one of the white blossoms, I noticed it had a bell shape, too. The white had cross-pollinated with one of the other plants and created a delicate white bell with curls.

I'm fascinated by the work of God in nature. Of course this discovery got me thinking. When I as a human "cross-pollinate" with the grace God offers, I become a different person. I'm no longer relying on myself. Instead, I'm a child of God who relies on my heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Through Him my soul reaches a level of beauty I could not imagine possible.

Just as the white columbine changed and blossomed, so did I when I surrendered my life to Jesus. He has a good work for me to do and when I mesh the abilities and desires God has given me with his grace and forgiveness, I'm a new creation who by what I do, brings glory to my Father. I thank God for His grace and mercy and for the chance to make a difference.

Praise God for Jesus and for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Gift of Grace

Luke 34:1-8
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

Sunrise reminds me of the glorious day Jesus defeated death.

When I attended college in Kentucky, they offered a special Easter sunrise service. That year I stayed on campus, and I looked forward to the idea of an outdoor time of observance and worship. Early Sunday morning, we gathered on a hill on campus, sat on the ground, and praised Jesus as the sun rose on the horizon. The experience has stuck with me all these years as a time to reflect on Jesus' sacrifice.

Easter, celebrated in the spring when new life sprouts from the earth, evokes a sense of renewal in me due to the love Jesus has for me. God's plan to give the life of His own Son for my sins, still blows me away. I don't deserve God's love or grace, yet He has cleaned my slate of sins with His blood.

God chose blood for sacrifice and throughout the Old Testament people presented their finest animals to God. In the New Testament, Jesus took the place of the animals and gave His life. What I love most is God breathed life back into Jesus, just as He breaths life back into me through his mercy and grace. When I seek his mercy, He pours His love over me.

This Easter, celebrate the gift of grace.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Celebrate Hope!

What a wonderful time to celebrate life!

Spring, milder weather, flowers blooming all give us hope, 
but Jesus offers the greatest hope of all.

As we contemplate Easter and the incredible gift of mercy God gave us,
let's celebrate Jesus and his grace.


 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Embrace Courage

Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 

I zipped across the water.

Not a fan of heights, I stood on the wooden tower, harness fastened, and looked across the lake to my daughter. She waited for me to step off the platform and fly across the expanse on a cable. And I did. I raised my arms and screamed as I flew to the destination. Stepping off the secure place where I stood took courage. I had no experience with ziplining, but I wanted to give it a try. The camp counselor gave me the equipment I needed to accomplish the task. 

I'd worked years on my manuscript, here and there when time allowed. After editing and tweaking. I finally typed the end. God gave me the opportunity to send the full manuscript to a publisher. My stomach quivered, and my hand shook a little as I pressed send. Sending my book baby out into the world took courage. God gave me the tools and resources to accomplish the task.

After Jesus death and resurrection, His disciples, Peter and John, were given the power to heal. They moved through the community and placed their hands on the sick and weary and restored them. Those who witnessed their deeds spoke of their courage as ordinary men who loved Jesus. Just weeks before, Jesus had died a horrible death and there were people who hated Jesus and wanted to see his ministry end. Those same adversaries kept an eye on Peter and John as they bravely continued teaching about and living for Jesus. God gave them the gift of healing to accomplish the task.

Even in America, land of the free and home of the brave, it's not always easy to speak freely about Jesus and his grace. God calls each of us to serve Him, and He equips us in whatever task He sets before us.

Whatever God puts on your heart, embrace courage, use the resources and gifts He gives, and go forward.  

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Look to Jesus

Proverbs 15:30
Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

I tucked Christmas away.

Every year, our home is donned with Christmas displays, trees, and memories. I usually pull out all the treasured ornaments and d├ęcor around Thanksgiving. By early January, I'm ready to take down the beauty of the season and store it away for another year. Wednesday morning, the 4th day of January, I unhooked the ornaments from the tree, wrapped them, and placed them in the Christmas tote. Once the baubles were packed away, I unwound the purple beaded garland, then pulled the plug on the lights, the last remnant of the holiday. When the colorful bulbs turned off, I felt a little tug of sadness. Those little twinklers brought me joy.

When they glowed in various colors, they reminded me of why I celebrate His birth
Shades of pinkHe came as a sweet babe
GreenHe's everlasting
YellowHe's the light of the world
RedHis blood shed on the cross
Blue—everlasting life in heaven

Proverbs 15:30 reminds me to put my sadness away and remember the true light. Jesus came to earth to bring hope. His good news offers peace. When my heart is at peace, the rest of my body feels better.

As Christmas is put away and the new year begins, I choose to look to Jesus as the source of my joy and peace. He loves me more than I understand. I'm a broken human being filled with hope because the King of Kings who came as the only perfect person, loved me enough to die a harsh death on the cross, then gloriously rise to life.

Jesus is grace. He forgives and loves like no other.

Begin this new year looking to Jesus.

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, May 8, 2021

She Washed His Feet With Her Tears

Luke 7:44-47
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Washing another person’s feet is a humbling experience.

At church camp, the counselors and teachers taught us to experience the times that Jesus lived. In Jesus day, folks wore sandals or walked barefoot on the dusty roads. They didn’t wear the latest model of tennis shoes or work boots. As a greeting and welcome to visitors, the host provided water and washed the feet of their guests.

Our camp teacher paired us up, and we removed each other’s shoes and rinsed each other’s feet. I’ll admit as a teenager I thought it a bit weird, but the act increased my understanding of the ancient times.

When a Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner, he failed to provide water for Jesus’ feet. Jesus never complained or questioned, but when the woman who stood in the shadows approached him, he welcomed her. She bowed before him and cleansed his feet with her tears. The tears may have been carried in a jar where she collected them, or she may have cried over him. Either way, she humbled herself before Jesus and as an act of worship poured perfume over his feet.

The most beautiful part of the story is Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. Because the woman humbled herself and believed in Jesus as Savior, he forgave her sins on the spot. She walked away free of the burden of her past into a life of gratitude and love.

She loved much, because she was forgiven of much.

Jesus arms are open to invite you in. He loves us so much and wants nothing more than for us to believe and live for him.

Be the person who loves much.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Jesus Delivers and Forgives

Jesus forgives.
Jesus loves.
Jesus restores life.

I live a life of gratitude and praise because of Jesus' grace.
Had I not experienced sin on this earth, I wouldn't understand the love Jesus offers.

He comforts me and guides me. 

Jesus grace has saved my soul.



 

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

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.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Fiction Book Review: All That We Carried: A Novel by Erin Bartels

Book Description:
Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a backcountry hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. Over the years, they grew apart, each coping with the loss in her own way. Olivia plunged herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world--what you see is what you get, and that's all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life-coaching business around her cafeteria-style spirituality--a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.

Now, at Melanie's insistence (and against Olivia's better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they'll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.

Michigan Notable Book Award winner Erin Bartels draws from personal experience hiking backcountry trails with her sister to bring you a story about the complexities of grief, faith, and sisterhood.

My Thoughts:
Erin Bartels created a brilliant and moving story of two sisters searching for hope. She beautifully balances total disbelief with belief in whatever gets you by, while telling a heartrending tale of love and loss. The sisters, as most are, come across very different from one another with a link that joins them forever. Through all of the ups and downs of the camping trip, I felt like I was hiking along the path with Melanie and Olivia. Bartels reveals a spiritual thread throughout the story that left me seeking more. And there is a twist or two. I won't give that away, but I will say it was the perfect way to integrate grace into a tragic story. If you enjoy heartfelt, family stories that delve deep, you'll want to read All That We Carried. I've read all of Bartels' books and this one is my favorite. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.