Sunday, December 11, 2016

Joy: Go Tell it on the Mountain

Psalm 19:8
The rules of the Lord are right.
    They give joy to our hearts.
The commands of the Lord shine brightly.
    They give light to our minds.

At church last Sunday we started singing Christmas carols. The music of the season is so beautiful. As we worshiped God one of the men lifted the rich timbre of his voice to lead us in "Go Tell it on the Mountain." Pure joy came from this singers lungs. The melody floated out over the congregation as the words of the old hymn resonated through the sanctuary. At that moment I felt the pure joy of knowing my Savior came to earth for you and me.

Joy isn't something momentary. This deep satisfaction, contentment, encouragement, and peace are not brought on by the temporary. Pure joy is knowing no matter what, Jesus loves me. My littlest granddaughter picked up a tiny Bible from my bookshelf yesterday and started singing "Jesus loves me this I know." Pure joy bubbled in my heart. This a joy only found in Jesus. I pray everyone finds that joy this holiday season. Praise God for sending his son.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Nonfiction Book Review: The 100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible by Troy Schmidt

Book Description:
Everyone struggles with discouragement as they face various trials of life, big or small. Whether you are struggling with your health, family, job, or relationships, God wants to give you hope and peace again. 

What does he want you to know and remember in the hard times? This book goes straight to the source of all Truth to reveal how much God loves you and how he's right by your side through thick and thin. The 100 verses that are highlighted include well-known passages as well as hidden treasures you may have never read. Each verse is followed by a brief devotional reading that will help you find understanding and comfort from the text--and in the process draw you ever nearer to God. The book's length and focus make it perfect as a daily meditation or to read as a family. It also makes an ideal gift for those who love the Bible and seek the hope of God's promises.

My Thoughts:
I love this little book. Each day features a Bible verse and a brief devotion that can be read in minutes. I've found it as a great way to begin the day on a positive note. The verses Troy Schmidt chose are uplifting. And he keeps the devotion simple. The book is done in chronological order according to the books of the Bible. I recommend The 100 Most Encouraging Books of the Bible to anyone who seeks uplifting support from God each day. I received this book for free from Bethany House.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Are You Listening to Christmas Music Yet?

I'll confess, I tuned in to the lovely melodies of the holidays as soon as Star 93.3 started playing them. And I may have sneaked a few in before then, from my Amazon play list. 

On Sunday the church's worship team led one of my favorites, Go Tell it on the Mountain. I've loved that song since I was a little girl. There are so many wonderful Christmas songs, both old and new. I'm writing a blog post for work later this week. For the post I asked my co-workers to name their top three favorite holiday songs. Of course I had to answer the question, too. 

I have so many that I love. I had a hard time narrowing the list down. But I did. 

My all time favorite has to be "The Christmas Song." You know the one about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. I am partial to Johnny Mathis's version, his voice is so smooth. And no doubt we listened to his version on the radio when I was young. 

My numbers two and three are performed in a Charlie Brown Christmas. Charlie Brown's friends sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at the end of the show. I love this carol because it reminds me of the joy the angels brought to the shepherds. I can't imagine how they must have felt, minding their own business on the hillside, when the angels appeared. How exciting to receive the news of Jesus birth first hand.

Last, I love the song "Christmas Time Is Here" written by Lee Mendelson and Vince Guaraldi. 

What are your favorite holiday songs? I'd love to know.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Nonfiction Book Review: Getaway with God: The Everywoman's Guide to Personal Retreat by Letitia Suk

About the book: 

What if a simple day away could transform your life?

Does spending time with God sound like just one more thing to check off an ever-increasing to-do list? How are you supposed to fit in anything that threatens to be more time-consuming? Too often there's simply no room to experience the intimacy, grace, and peace that God offers us.

Getaway with God does more than invite you to step away from life's pressures to take a personal retreat. It shows you exactly why you must---for your sake and for your family's.

With grace and warmth, Letitia Suk provides step-by-step guidance and the necessary tools to enable any woman on any budget to plan time away, whether it's a quick, half-day break or a weeklong time of restoration. You'll find detailed steps for preparation, including descriptions of different kinds of retreats and how to choose the best one for you, and you'll learn ways to bring the renewal you experience home with you. Practical appendixes identify retreat centers nationwide and provide exercises and prayers to kick-start your getaway with God.

No matter what your season in life, the time for retreat is now!

My Review:
Getaway with God is full of great information on how to create a personal retreat. The author is experienced and offers practical advice. I like that she gives different versions and types of retreats. She shares good information for everything from a few hours of quiet to a full five days away from everything. She gives guidance on what to take and ways to focus on God. One of the things I would enjoy is getting out and walking in nature and having someone else cook for me. Letitia shares about her own experiences with retreat and what worked and what didn't. If you're planning a personal retreat or hope for one in the future this is the perfect book. This would also be a great addition to a library. I received this book free from Litfuse.
Purchase a copy:
About the author:
Letitia invites women to chase the Intentional life. She writes and speaks of God's renewal and restoration and offers platters of hope to women in each season of life. Tish is also a personal retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area and moonlights as a hospital chaplain. You might run into her walking by Lake Michigan, browsing resale shops, or making up a new tradition. She blogs at and is also the author of Rhythms of Renewal.

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Do you need a day away from busyness and stress to transform your life? Schedule a day and learn how to make the most of your time of refreshment with Letitia Suk's new book, Getaway with God. You’ll find detailed steps for preparation, including descriptions of different kinds of retreats and how to choose the best one for you, and you’ll learn ways to bring the renewal you experience home with you. Practical appendixes identify retreat centers nationwide and provide exercises and prayers to kick-start your getaway with God.

Get ready for your own getaway with God by entering to win a travel bag set from Letitia.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Getaway with God
  • A Vera Bradley XL Duffel Travel Bag
  • A Vera Bradley Cosmetic Trio

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 16. The winner will be announced December 19 on the Litfuse blog.



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

What does the word peace mean to you? I enjoy a peaceful day. One that is uneventful and goes along as expected. I want my home to be peaceful. I struggle with conflict and prefer everyone get along. I want quiet instead of noise. Those are all examples of external peace. And it's oh so important to be a peacemaker. But the most crucial and sometimes hardest to accomplish peace is the kind that only Jesus can pour in my heart an internal, tranquil calm. This harmony with God brings an internal serenity like nothing else I've experienced.

As I prepare for the Christmas season, life’s already hectic pace picks up. At times I am overwhelmed with all I need to accomplish. That’s when I chase after Jesus' peace more than ever. I grab a moment of quiet and let his calm envelop me. Time in his word, time in prayer, and just time to sit and listen to God all restore my peace. Then I can share that peace with others. As the busyness of the Christmas season begins, I pray that God’s peace brings you calm and rest. Praise God for peacemakers.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

'Tis the Season to be Kind

I love Christmas. The lights, decorations, music, and movies bring a sense of magic and fun. Thinking about the baby the season surrounds brings me joy, but also sears my heart with pain. That baby, Jesus, grew to be a man who would be tortured, mocked, and eventually killed. And he did it all for me and for you. When I think about what Jesus went through it hurts my heart. But then I ponder on why he chose to come to earth and go through humanity and pain. Because he loves us.
Christmas is a time of joy, but may also be a time of sorrow, heartbreak, stress and sadness for many people. Even as I enjoy the glitz of the holiday, I want to pay attention and reach out to the downhearted. Pray for the folks who are going through stressful times. Hug the hurting. As you go about the hustle and bustle of the season, give the gift of kindness to everyone. Jesus gives eternal hope, the least I can do is give a smile and a helping hand.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Book Tree Tradition

As a lover of books, I cringe when one is damaged or worse yet, destroyed. Yet, part of my job is withdrawing books and sending them either on to a new home or to the recycle bin. But one December brought new hope for old books and created a wonderful holiday tradition.

The former director of the library where I work set the tradition into motion. She'd gathered a cart full of books that would be discarded for various reasons. With some ingenuity and a photo, one of the student assistants took the books and built a Christmas tree. The job is harder than it seems, and usually requires someone who thinks like a mathematician. Which leaves me out. 

Every year since, I've admired and appreciated the calculations and work that goes into bringing the adornment to life. This year though, I did get to decorate the tree. From one of the worn and torn dismantled literature books came some delicate, thin pages. I used skills I learned in grade school art class to fold and snip snowflakes. Now we have a recycled tree from top to bottom. My co-workers and I look forward to the tradition of the book tree and plan to continue it for years to come.