Monday, December 7, 2015

Where You Go, He Goes


"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not forsake you or leave you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8)

It's the winter of 2010 and worry is turning into fear. I'm afraid. We are moving to a new place soon. A place where I have never been and didn't even know it's location on the United States map.

We were moving to Iowa. Where? I know, me too. Not Idaho, but Iowa. Home of corn fields, silos, farms for miles, and deer bigger than you have ever seen in your life (mostly slaughtered by vehicles on the sides of the road, blegh!).

I had lived in north Alabama for four years.  My life was comfortable and familiar. My kids called this place home. And now we were packing up through tears, fears, excitement (just a little) and making the trek north-west 900 miles away.

Away from friends, my house I'd made a home (and had written Bible verses on top of all the doorways), my family, my church. All of it. And we were starting new.

New is scary and definitely not comfortable.

I felt like we were pioneers moving west in search of a different future. I can't sit here and write that I wasn't a little bit excited. I was. There was a teeny ounce of curiosity of the unknown that lay ahead...just a teeny ;)

***********
Fast forward nearly five years and I know now it doesn't matter where I live, what I do, the plans I make that succeed or fail. God is always right there moving, planning, dreaming with me. Always.

This has been a huge lesson God has taught me over the years.

Where I go, He goes.

My husband and I recently had another talk about a possible move(this would be the 10th one in our 15 years together). I was telling my sister how much I didn't want to move again, because of the kids.

I was half-complaining about how God never stopped any of the moves. I prayed for Him to. But no dice.

Later that evening I was thinking about what I had said to my sister about praying for God to intervene and stop the moves and how He didn't.

And I realized with a smile, that this world is not my home and this gypsy life, even if it's one I may not want, may be the way God wants to be glorified the most in my life.

I had forgotten what I had known all along, God may not have stopped the moves, but He did move with us. He showed up in the form of bringing us new friends, some that are like family now, and new church homes.

Personally, He grew my faith. My faith would be very small and shallow if I had never made that first move.

If I had instead stomped my foot and refused to go, I would have missed out on a whole lot of experiences, people, and God. My life is richer because of the blessings I gained in the moves. What I gained has more than made up for what I left behind.

Today, if you are struggling to make a hard step in faith, I want to encourage you to trust your unknown future to God. Is God asking you take move, take a new job, go after a dream?

Where you go, He goes. Always and forever. You can trust Him.


**The winners of last week's ornaments giveaway from Come Together Trading are...Mary Bacher-you won the Olive Wood Star Creche and Linda Stoll-you won the Peace Dove ornament!!
Congratulations!! I will be contacting you shortly to get your info! ;)

Linking up with: #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, Thought-Provoking Thurs.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Are You Fair Trade Shopping This Christmas? PLUS Two Giveaways!






Hiya! I hope everyone had a full Thanksgiving!

Did anyone go shopping? I did.

I wasn't planning on it, but Trey and I were sitting on the couch after stuffing our faces and figured our full bellies and tightening pants could use some walking around.

We snagged a couple of good deals. But we weren't out early with the crazies so a lot of things were picked over. Now I'm trying to do some online shopping! Yay, for online shopping. Convenience shopping from your couch in your stretchy pants, does it get much better?

I want to tell you about an online shop I have recently discovered, not only can you shop in your comfy pants, but your dollars will make life-changing improvements to the artisans that created each item. It's called Come Together Trading:

If you look to the right ==> (click here if you are reading this in your email) you will see some shops I have added. They are not affiliates, I do not make any money if you purchase from them, but they are shops from dreamers who make and sell to make a difference in this world. You will find some very cool stuff if you click on one of the picture badges. Go ahead, I'll wait...

waiting...

waiting...

waiting...

Oh, good, you're back! What did you think?



One of the things I love about Come Together is they find beautiful hand-made pieces from all over the country that you will not find anywhere else. Check this out from their About page:
"At Come Together Trading we believe in the importance and dignity of every human life.
We believe no one should ever have to go hungry, drink contaminated water, die of treatable diseases, or be forced to do terrible things against their will.
We believe everyone should have a chance for an education, safe and fair working conditions, and the opportunity to live out their dreams.
We also believe there are many ways we can "Come Together" to make our world a better place."
Terry and Tammy Marshall the dreamers behind, Come Together Trading decided they had to do something after visiting Africa with Compassion International. They joined forces with over 100 artisans in 30 different countries. When you purchase an item from their shop you are saying, NO to poor living conditions, NO to drinking contaminated water, NO to non-treatment for illnesses.

Spending that makes a difference? Sign me up!

I have partnered with them to give away two of my favorite ornaments from their Christmas selection. Two lucky people will win one of the ornaments shown below.

Olive Wood Star Creche

Peace Dove Ornament


How cool is that!?

To be entered click over to their site, leave me a comment here of your favorite item! I will choose two winners on Monday!



Linking with: #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, Thought-Provoking Thursday


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let It Be



 


When worries surmount and stress threatens to overtake me, let it be.

When I'm angry and know no cure, let it be.

When I see things I don't understand, let it be.

When I feel I'm in up over my head and sinking fast, let it be.

Let it be if God wills it so.

 "Quietly, He gathered me in His arms and spoke. Don't be afraid. I can free you from worry. Just as I brought light out of darkness, I will bring order out of your chaos. 
The earth was formless and empty-God said. 'Let there be light.' and there was light.' Genesis 1:2,3
That night, I stepped out of denial and surrendered myself . "I am the Lord's servant...May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:26-40)
 This prayer has become my anecdote to worry. During the day or late at night, I say to my worries, Let it be, if that is what God allows for me." Bonnie Gray, Faith Barista
People are at war and we are scared. Right and wrong solutions are not easy to come by. We don't want to be led by fear, but we also want to be safe.

I don't know the answers, but I do know the only thoughts that give me peace are, let it be, and God have mercy.

I do know I don't want to be scared. The opposite of fear is love. Love drives out all fear, so let it be.

Dear Lord, let your love and protection over our good drive out all fear we may have of the future. May we live with open doors and hearts. Using wisdom and discernment, but never letting fear determine our actions. You God are mighty to save, a fortress of protection when we need it. Let it be Your will be done and not mine. In Jesus' name, Amen.

------------------------------------------------------
This song is an oldie but goody. Artists create what moves them at that moment and they have no idea how timeless their creation will be. I think this song, Let it Be is an example of this timelessness.

Let it Be is originally by the Beatles, but I love this version by John Legend and Alicia Keys, so I've shared the video below.



If you are an email subscriber and can't watch the video click here.


Linking up with:#TellHisStory, ThreeWordWed, Coffee For Your Heart, Thought-Provoking Thurs.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lift My Hands

I'm gonna lift my hands
Till I can reach Heaven
I'm gonna shout Your name till the walls come falling down
I've come to worship, I've come to worship
(Place of Freedom, Highlands Worship)
Do you have a song that makes you want to touch heaven with your worship? This song by Highlands Church, Place of Freedom, does that for me. 

I close my eyes, lift my hands, and sing unashamed.

I worship.

I give thanks.

This time of year brings out the best of both of these two things. I remember all that I have to be thankful for and I am humbly grateful.

There is no one else in this world who deserves our praise more than God.(<====Click to Tweet)




Linking with: #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, Three Word Wed, and Thought-Provoking Thursday





Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Waiting For The One



"Big mistakes don't just happen. They start off as one little compromise after another." Kelsey Kupecky
If there was ever a book I wish I could have read before I started dating it would be, "The Chase," by Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky.

I recently requested and finished The Chase and am SO glad I did. I chose it because I knew it would be a good book to share with my daughter, I wasn't expecting it to speak so much to me as well.

You will recognize Kelsey as the face on the cover of her mom's books (Karen Kingsbury) in the Bailey Flanigan series.

Kyle is a christian musician who has toured with, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mercy Me, and LeCrae.

Together Kelsey and Kyle have written a book on the importance of waiting for THE ONE and never settling for less.

It's a book that will speak to the teenage girl getting ready to date to the still single older lady that is getting tired of the wait (though most of the examples are for a younger audience, you may still be inspired by this book)
God cares about your deepest desires, your hopes and your dreams.
I didn't protect my heart when I was young and I didn't trust God. Through reading this book
I realized how much you have to trust God when life is lonely. When we take matters into our own hands we only make things worse.

I have a 14-year old daughter and I want her to read The Chase before she gets anymore serious about boys. I want her to read the words of this young couple who know what it's like to get lonely and be tempted to compromise your standards to have a boyfriend or girlfriend like all of your friends.

I know from experience "it's far better to be single than be with the wrong guy."

Boy, sometimes I really wish I could go back and talk to my younger self. I would tell myself that if you would wait and spend time chasing after God and not boys He WILL orchestrate a love story that feels like a fairy tale.

I am so thankful they wrote this book. I will be recommending it to everyone I know.

"Never stop believing in God. Never stop dreaming and praying for your future happily ever after. God truly has the most amazing plans for you. When you chase after God, your future is full of wonder and endless possibilities."
(I received this book for free from Revell bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own)

Linking up with #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, and Thought-Provoking Thursday

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

His Great Love




Will you love me if I make you mad?

Will I do something?

Will I say something?

Our love with friends can feel conditional.

But God says HE will not be moved in His love for us

His love is secure. We can't make him so mad He would leave us. He promises to always stay.(Deuteronomy 31:6)

This love I've come to know that I'm absolutely sure about is because of the trials I've endured.

Because He allowed me to go through hard battles, I am secure of His great love for me.

He walked through the battles with me.

He stayed. And He showed me that I was never alone, even when I raged against Him & questioned Him.

If you are looking for a love that will never leave you, that will unconditionally accept you as you are, He's whom you have been looking for.

God was, is, and forever will be The One who is crazy for you.

You are unconditionally and completely loved by God.

No exceptions.




Linking up with:Soli deo Gloria, #TellHisStory, Three Word Wed, Coffee For Your Heart, Thought-Provoking Thursday

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

God Wants You Free (even if you don't know what from)



I went to Houston last April unsure of what to expect. I only knew I didn't want fear of the unknowns to hold me back from a trip of a lifetime. It was a chance to meet 10 ladies I only knew from pixels on a screen.

These were women that showed me that friendship through the interweb was possible and real.

Women who encouraged me and prayed for me even though they had never met me in real life.

However, this was also the time I was going through a very dark period in my life due to my health.

I pushed through a lot of darkness (mentally and literally)to make that 4 hour road trip. Leaving at dawn, with no light outside, I weaved my way through Dallas morning traffic (if you've ever been to Dallas you know how horrible the traffic there is day and night, GAH!).

I prayed a lot for God to give me strength and enough joy so that I could come off as friendly and not a kill-joy. I really wanted this group to like me. I was stepping out of my comfort zone, as we all were.

All self-proclaimed introverts with the exception of a two or three,  we needed each other and were so grateful for the ways God brought us all together in a way that only He can.

There was a lot of laughter, food (oh my the food!), talking, and praying.

But what I didn't expect was to awake the first morning there and have Gindi pull me aside and say in her quiet time that morning God placed me in her mind as she read a verse in Isaiah 61:1-3.

It says:
"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
I was too full of meds to cry (I was on anti-anxiety and anti-depressants) so my emotions were zombie-like. But in my head I knew God was speaking, I just didn't know how or why. And Why that verse? 

It's one He's led me to time and time again since I had started writing.

It took some time, but I think I have it figured out.

I mistakenly thought at first He sent me to that verse for me to continue to write about my past and all my yucky mistakes so that they would help someone else. You know, set them free. The other people who are trapped in a prison of guilt, condemnation, unforgiveness.

But nope.

He wanted to set me free.

He started peeling back layers and revealing unforgiveness I had towards people in my past and present who have hurt me. The root of bitterness had started to grow without me realizing it.

I hadn't fully forgiven myself for being the girl that allowed a boy to mistreat her. For getting pregnant out of wedlock.

I hadn't fully forgiven others.

God showed me I was still nursing old wounds and not allowing Him to heal them. Everything I knew about forgiveness didn't apply to the people that had hurt me.

God was showing me areas in my life that was keeping me back from the freedom He wanted me to experience. He wanted this captive to be set free.

And He wants it for you too!

Anger, guilt, unforgiveness will always keep us tied to the past and never allow us to fully appreciate and live in the present.

Since then I've been working on forgiveness and trusting God more. And He's been healing my heart and putting all the broken pieces back together.

If any of this sounds familiar, ask God to help set you free, there's nothing more He'd rather do...even if you don't know what from.





Linking up with: Soli deo Gloria, #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, Thought-Provoking Thursday

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Why I Don't Participate in Boycotts

You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5: 13-15)
____________________________________________________
As christians we try to do well. We really do. It's just sometimes we get it all wrong.

Take boycotts for instance.

We take the stance of We will show them! We will Boycott!

What will we show them exactly?


If you take a look at the past christian boycotts i.e. Disney, Starbucks, certain TV shows, what did it accomplish?

Nothing.

Well, I guess if you consider christians looking foolish, it did accomplish that. Can't you just see Jesus in Heaven shaking his head? I can.

And I know you can see non-christians rolling their eyes and saying,"Here they go again."

We've become known for more of what we are against than what we are for. And this has to change.





People will know we are Christians by the way we love. (John 13:35)

Love, grace, and mercy should be our battle cry. (Tweet This!)

Instead the world knows and hates us by our lack of love and judgement.

Boycotting stores and people that disagree with us is not the way for non-believers to know Jesus.  

We are to be in this world not of it, and that looks differently for all of us. Do I think we should not support corporations that are doing evil in this world? Absolutely. I don't support companies that give to planned parenthood, or contribute to the porn industry.
These are my personal convictions.
However, our personal choices should not be forced onto someone else. In a perfect world our government and schools would have Jesus at the forefront. We wouldn't have to deal with other opposing religions or lack of. But this is not our world. Until then, we are called to love.

We don't have to agree with views different than ours. But we do have to respect and love the heck out of people that are different than us.

When an institution like the church tells its congregants to boycott for Jesus, this rubs me the wrong way. Jesus doesn't need our help. Sometimes we need to get out of His way and let Him work.

The ways of Jesus gets overshadowed by our pride and anger. We feel righteous in our anger, I know, I've been there. I've boycotted places that didn't say Merry Christmas. I wasn't going to let the world take my Christ out of Christmas! I didn't go to Starbucks for a long time because of who they donate money to.

And then I was convicted that this was not something I should do. Jesus didn't boycott people who didn't know Him. He went to them, ate with them, drank with them. That's what we should do too.

That's why I don't participate in boycotts. If I feel led by the Holy Spirit in me to not support a company then I won't, but you won't find me doing so out of guilt induced by other people. I feel there are better ways to love my neighbors than declaring what I am against.
"Let everyone see you are considerate in all you do." (Philippians 4:5)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."(Matthew 5:43-48)
If we only show love and kindness to those who think like us, act like us, worship like us, then how are we different than anyone else in this world?


Linking up with: RaRa LinkUp, Soli deo Gloria, #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, Thought-Provoking Thursday

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Being A Christian Means I've Died To MY Rights



It's my life, I have the right to do what I want...

Famous last words, eh?

Right to love who I want.

Right to my body.

Right to wave flags, bear arms.

Rights Rights Rights

We all have them.

We get all caught up in making sure we have don't lose our rights, we lose sight of one important factor.

The only right we have is to love well. Period.

All others have died with Christ.

We technically have all the rights and freedoms of the world. And most people do live as they please.

Even Christians.

But biblically? The Bible says just because we can do something doesn't mean it's good for us.
All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.(1 Corinthians 10:23,24)
As Christians we are called to live different lives than those who don't know Christ. (Tweet This!)
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;" (Romans 12:10)
We don't have the right to ignore those that are suffering and in need because of our preconceived notions of those from different countries. Or be worried we won't have enough for ourselves if we give to others.

We are called to lay down our rights and love others with a radical love that will bring people to their knees before God.

We have a choice, we always have a choice. We get to give unmerited grace because it has been given to us by God.

Easier said than done, no?

I don't want to make a choice based on fear, politics, or religion. I want to listen to the spirit God has given me and do what He has called me to do. I know this isn't easy. But the ways of God aren't.(<==Click to Tweet)

I believe each time we decide to show favor to another person by dying to our right to be right it gets easier and easier.

Next time you are tempted to claim your right to something, think about if it is in the best interest of your neighbor. Think about the pride that God said would become our downfall if we didn't repent of it.

Humble is the way of Jesus and it should be our way too.

Do you see some rights you lay claim to that need to be laid down?


Linking with my girls: Coffee for Your Heart, RaRa Linkup#TellHisStory, Soli deo Gloria, and Thought-Provoking Thursday

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Don't Always Think Before I Speak...



Our online world has created a way of living for people to make comments on another's life without any relationship being involved. We can say something hurtful without any consequences.

We forget there is an actual person on the other side.

Total strangers can now leave commentary on your life without anything to lose.

It doesn't feel good when you are on the receiving end of someone's hit and run.

Whether online or in person, family, friends, or neighbors, let us think before we hit publish. May we ask ourselves are my words:

 kind,

 necessary,

 helpful,

uplifting?


I'm reminded of the verse in Matthew 5:23,24: "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."

Before we air the hurt/anger/annoyance publicly take it the person first. Give them a chance to explain before outing them publicly. 

I like the analogy of comparing speaking our words to a sneeze. Once it's out of your mouth there is no taking it back. Can you imagine someone snatching at the air to try and stuff their sneeze back into their body? ha!

"Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Proverbs 16:24

"The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words." Proverbs 15:28

I don't always think before I speak, but when I do I am always glad!

(psst! did you download my FREE blogging ebook yet? Click over to the site to download your copy today!)

Linking with Holley: Coffee for your Heart

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Very First Mini-Ebook (Free)



EEEK! I've been working on this FOREVER!

I initially put this together for a book launch I had done for a new writer 2 years ago as an MP3 download.

While I liked that format I wanted something that my readers (YOU) could put eyes on.

I hope you enjoy all the tips and tricks I have accumulated over the last 4 years. It's my pleasure and honor to share these insights with you. I hope they encourage you to keep blogging if it is what God has called you to do.

If you have a blog or are interested in starting one, I hope the tips found here will help you out.

Keep on keepin' on friends.

HERE'S THE LINK ==> 10 TIPS I WISH I'D KNOWN WHEN I STARTED BLOGGING

After you've downloaded and read through it, let me know what you think!

Sharing with my friends over at: Soli Deo Gloria, #TellHisStory, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Coffee For Your Heart


Monday, September 21, 2015

I'm About To Make You Look Like Mom Of The Year






I thought it would be a good idea to every once in awhile write out a mom-fail moment, uh hmm.

I have many, but this one from a couple years back is one we still laugh about.

Online it's easy to look at each other's filtered pictures and think, I wish my life was more put together like hers.

We forget behind the quick snapshot of an online post, where all we see are the smiles and fun times there are real moments of frustrations, pain, and failures

Here's one of mine...
************
Before I begin my story I would like to take a moment to drum up some sympathy for me :).

I was cold, Iowa was cold and the weather went to my head, I tell ya.

I had never lived more than 2 1/2 hours from my family. In the deep south if we have snow on the ground, oh heck who am I kidding even a threat of snow, the entire city closes down in anticipation of those tender white flakes.

In the south, if we are threatened with snow we are almost child-like. We stare eagerly out our windows wondering when we will see the first flake drift from the sky.

However in Iowa, a state known for it's massive amounts of snowfall, EVERY WINTER. They have learned to live through it!

They still go to work and school. They still get up each morning get dressed and DRIVE in their cars to where they need to be! Can I tell you how insane this is to me!?

For this southern girl, this was a shock to my system. Not only did I not want to be out in the blistery white stuff, I didn't want to drive in it either! However, when in Iowa, do what the Iowans do...

*********
One morning there was ice (and you don't mess around with ice, I don't care who you are). School didn't cancel, it was delayed a couple of hours for the sun to come out and melt it so the buses could get through on some of the dirt roads. (Oh yeah, there are dirt roads EVERYWHERE)

I missed the alert on the school delay. So like any good mom would do I made the kids get dressed. I put on my snow boots (by far my most favorite thing about living in snow) got them in the car and drove them to school.

Yes, it was FREEZING. Yes, I grumbled and complained about having to get out in it. And YES, there was NO ONE there when I pulled up to the front of their elementary school.

Did I notice that there was NO ONE at school? NOPE. I thought it kinda odd there weren't a lot of cars in the parking lot. Usually there weren't too many anyways because most of the kids walked to school (no kidding). But definitely more than were there that day.

You know, there are some days I really should pay attention. Today was just not that day.

I pulled in, stopped my car, wished them luck and love on their day and was off for home to get another cup of HOT coffee and maybe a HOT shower.

I forgot to bring my cell, so when I walked in I checked it I noticed a miss call and voicemail. It was my daughter :).

She said, " Um, Mom? School was delayed. NO ONE IS HERE! We tried to flag you down but you didn't notice. You turned the corner and was gone!"

Thankfully for them the office manager had gone on into school (I wonder if this has happened before?) and let them in to call. Can you imagine what a duntz she thought of me?!

I turned right around hopped in my minivan and raced back up to the school. It was only a 5 minute drive so it didn't take me long to loop back into the empty school and pick up my not-so-happy-kids.

Keeli kinda thought it was funny. She was laughing and joking about it in the car. Jackson...not so much.

While Keeli is the more dramatic of the two, he was not happy with being dropped off when school wasn't open, lol.

Yes, I can officially say I am the mom who dropped her kids off at school and LEFT when no one was there. (I must have really been needing some quiet time :))

Thankfully we can all laugh about it now, actually I'm pretty sure I laughed when I got back home.

Now don't you feel better about yourself?  You're welcome!



Linking with my sisters at: SolideoGloria, Coffee For Your Heart,#TellHisStory

The winner of last week's book giveaway, Girl Meet Change is...
Comment #6, Laura Rath (thanks to random.org for the help in choosing a winner!) Congrats, Laura!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

One Thing We Can Count On-Change (Book Review & Giveaway)

"If you've ever found change to more resemble foe than friend, this book was written for you. If you've ever resented change for all the craziness it brought to your life, this book was written for you. If you've ever believed change pushed your contentment just outside of reach and stole your joy, I want to hug you hard because sister, I get it." (Kristen Strong, Girl Meets Change)


I'm a simple girl. I like slow-time, long walks, familiar people and streets. Early on as a young girl I remember my distaste for change. When we moved to Brandon Florida from our small town in Dothan, Alabama I knew then change could take a hike.

Fast-forward many years later and change is an ever present part of my life. I've been married for 15 years now (WOW!) and since saying I-do, we have moved nine times.

Yes, I know change quite well.

Our move to Texas hit me the hardest. I think I was just tired of all the change and wanted a sense of home and familiarity. I wanted to settle down a make roots grow. Neighbors to be friends and church to be family.

About this time Kristen Strong came out with a devotional titled "Serving You." It's 31 days of encouragement for those dealing with change. I think her intended audience was military families, but having moved as much as them, I found it extremely helpful.
"When God sends people packing, He sends them with a promise. So when Abram
and his wife Sarai moved away from the only home they’d known, they packed God’s
promise close to their hearts. And while their future years were not free of trials, they
remained full because of the promise they received for their obedience to God."
My life seemed to be full of never ending change, and her words were balm to my weary soul.

Now Kristen has put her words in a full book called, Girl Meets Change. This book is like an expanded form of the devotional.

As a girl, Kristen grew up in the same town her entire life and even attended the college closest to her because it was familiar. But as a young college student she fell in love and married a military boy.

Change and Kristen were about to become new best friends.


Kristen is a girl after my own heart. We both want to honor God with our lives while admitting it can be hard when our circumstance are anything but ideal. Change is going to happen in our lives rather we want it to or not.

Change doesn't have to be in the form of moving it could be an illness, an accident, a job change. Change is always right around the corner because life is fluid, it never stays the same for long.

We can rebel against or lean into it. 

In Girl Meets Change Kristen pulls stories from her own life experiences, the Bible, friends and family and weaves a story we can all relate to. A story which will have you nodding your head and thinking, oh girl! You are so right.
"God doesn't want us to worry about the tomorrows of change because he wants us to see all the ways he is taking care of us today. He wants us to look into the rearview mirror and remember all the ways he's taken care of us in the past."

Unwanted change is hard but I think this book will help you to realize how you respond to it will make all the difference.

**I want you to have the chance to read Kristen's new book too! Leave me a comment below and I'll randomly pick a winner from the comments.**



Enter for your chance to win a copy of Kristen Strong's new book, Girl Meets Change <==Tweet That!


(I had the honor of being on Kristen's book launch team and receiving a complimentary copy of her book. All opinions are mine.)

Linking up with: Soli Deo Gloria, Coffee for Your Heart, #TellHisStory, #RaRaLinkUp

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Time. Why Art Thou Leaving Me Behind?

He was born late afternoon on a Thursday. I wasn't ready to be a mom when his sister was born three and half years earlier. I was all shaky and dumbstruck then. The day Jackson was born I had grown into my mom-skin. Still not fully confident I knew what I was doing, but realizing I was born for this, motherhood.

He's made it so easy.

His jet-black hair and steel-blue eyes made my heart melt. I think he knew even then, he had my heart.

And today he still does. We will celebrate this weekend with a cookout and cake, but his official birthday is today, he is eleven! I can't believe it. And I can't help but to get weepy and sentimental. sigh.



I'm not sure I can handle all this growing up business. I'm already praying now for when the time comes to release you to the world I'll be ready. 




proof they really do LOVE each other! :))









My sweet Jackson, you have a temperament much like mine. You are quiet in your ways with a laid back disposition. You are kind to others and make friends easily. Everyone you meet adores you. Your wide-eyed innocence makes me smile.

You know what you like and don't, which is a good thing. You seem to find yourself caught in the middle with people because you just want everyone to get along and be happy. 

You don't like a lot of hugs (you get that from your DAD!) but I give them to you anyway. You've learned to tolerate them, which I'm thankful for :).

I pray you will grow up to love life and the people in your world. That you will never struggle with what you were created to do and have a heart that loves God and His ways. 

So many prayers I pray over you and your sister each day. I've written them all down in my journal, so that one day when I'm gone you can read them and see how God answered. 

Since your love language is eating good food (which I think you got from your PaPa) :), there will be many cupcakes and cinnamon rolls eaten this week in your honor. My shorts will not be pleased. 

But each bite will be worth it! :)

Oh, and please don't get hurt on that strange scooter your dad and I bought for you. I can already see you now trying to do tricks, jumps, and take sharp curves. You are all boy.


Happy Birthday, Son. 
I love you,

Mom

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dance Through Life:Steps of Courage and Conviction: Book Review



Can I just say how much I adore Candace Cameron Bure? I do, a lot.

But this book? Not so much. The book felt disjointed and never really made a connection with the reader.

I did enjoy reading some of the backstory about her experiences on Dancing with the Stars. I only caught a few of the episodes from her season. This book gives you backstage access to all the activity and preparation and hard work that actually went on behind scenes.

(Candace's life makes me tired!)

As the book went on it seemed to flow easier, I liked reading about the specific scriptures she used as different difficult situations arose. And it was good to see the experience through her eyes.

I think this book struggled in that she tried really hard to make sure the readers knew how much she understands and depends on her Bible more than telling the actual story.

For example in chapter 2, she starts out with scripture from Matthew 14:29 about Peter and Jesus walking on water. At first she integrates the story of faith well with her own, but then comes back to the scripture to explain it to the readers. It felt disjointed.

She does this several times throughout. Pulls scripture and goes on and on for a page or two. It left me scratching my head and wanting to get back to her story.

As an actress who is also a christian she is under tremendous pressure. I can't imagine how hard it is in that "world" to hold to your Godly standards while being around such temptations. She is inspiring to me on many levels.

I may not have enjoyed this book as much as I wanted to, but I have an all new respect for Candace and her life. I also feel sorry for because she endures so much criticism and not so much from non believers as it's BELIEVERS.

Just check out her FB page to see what I mean.






*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.
*************************************************************************

From the Back Cover:

Candace Cameron Bure has grown up before our eyes and we’ve watched as she’s balanced life in Hollywood with her faith for many years. But that all reached new heights when she was given the opportunity to join the cast of Dancing With the Stars. Being on the show was one of her dreams come true; and with that dream came the opportunity to display her Christian faith in front of millions of people, through an intense season of stretching beyond her limits, and to run the race God gave her with joy and perseverance.

Join Candace as she reflects on the self-discovery that came through leaping out of her comfort zone. Go behind the scenes and experience the highs and lows, the roadblocks, and the personal victories. Hear straight from her heart on tough lessons learned about grace, rejection, perfectionism, disappointment, accountability, dealing with criticism, and more. Through God’s strength, and with the help of endless support from her family and friends, see how Candace stayed true to herself and publicly lived out her faith in Christ all the way to the finale.
How do you stand with conviction in your world? Where does your courage come from when faced with challenges? How do you live out your faith on a daily basis despite opposition? Your stage probably isn’t in Hollywood and the challenges you are facing may not be on live television, but they are no less real. Come along with Candace as she shares how she found the courage to stand with conviction on one of the largest platforms of her life.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Simply Tuesday: Book Review



First things first, let's announce the winner of last weeks Wild in the Hollow giveaway!
The winner is...
Carrie McMullen!!! Congrats, girl!



(This book release tomorrow!!If you buy now through August 28th, Emily will send you a free conversation guide. This would be a good tool for a book club,)

"But people don't need fancy and flashy, they probably just want regular. They don't need a fixer, they need a journeyer. They just need to sit on a bench with someone else so they know they're not alone. I know this because it's what I need to."
Celebrate our smallness. 
Today's book is another good one. When you sit down to read you will want to have your highlighter and pen ready, because you are going to be busy like I was! :)

I can't tell you how many times I wrote, "Me too" in the margins and underlined entire paragraphs.

Simply Tuesday is a reminder that it's ok to be small, after all wasn't that Jesus' way?

In a world where loud, busy, and overachieving is celebrated it's nice to remember we don't have to be this way.

Jesus knew the importance of getting away by himself and being quiet.

In those moments of quiet the world goes silent and God gets louder.

This reminder to be small is one of self -evaluation. Not taking the ordinary of days for granted in pursuit of something more...bigger.

I have the tendency to look around at the work of others and think, what they are doing is more worthwhile and important than what my work is. I needed to read Emily's words to remember that what I'm doing, what "they" are doing isn't better just different.
"We were not made to fill our souls with worth with we construct with our hands."
Simply Tuesday is a call to find the gift in each day and be content with the work God has given us in our corner of the world.

God is using each of us and will fulfill His will in our lives in His time, not ours. So in the meantime let's relax and find joy in the simple pleasures each day brings.

One thing I really loved about this book is that at the end of each chapter she has study questions and a prayer. If you wanted to do a book club, it's ready made for it!

I hope you find time to sit and savor the words in Simply Tuesday, you won't be sorry!



***********************************************************************
About the book:
Is your soul being held hostage by hustle?
If you've grown weary of do more and dream bigger, small-moment living is just what you need. Real life happens in the small moments we find on the most ordinary day of the week. Tuesday holds secrets we can't see in a hurry--secrets not just for our schedules but for our souls. InSimply Tuesday, Emily P. Freeman shows you how to
  • embrace today's work
  • find contentment in the now
  • replace competition with connection
  • learn to breathe in a breathless world 

    It's time to release our obsession with building a life, and believe in the life Christ is building within us--one simple Tuesday at a time.
I was a member of Emily's launch team and it was my pleasure to read and give my honest review of her book :).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wild in the Hollow: Book Review & Giveaway!



Today's book is Wild in the Hollow, oh friends, you are going to LOVE this memoir...
"We're searching for home-a place of acceptance, a place of fulfillment, and a place of identity. At the basest level, we suspect that home is the place where we'll find our fit, where we'll finally be free."
Wild in the Hollow is a must read. If you have a past of mistakes, Amber's words will open your eyes to see that broken can be made beautiful.

She has such a beautiful poetic style to her, similar to Ann Voskamp but easier to read, in my opinion.

I inhaled this book as soon as I started on page one. I may have gotten slightly (ok greatly) irritated every time I had to put it down.

I have a feeling Wild in the Hollow is going to touch a nerve with a large audience of people.
(And I was right, it's sitting on #1 on Amazon in the Biography section.)

I was first introduced to Amber's words through (in)courage, a website with many talented writers. But Amber's style really resonated with me and it wasn't long before I was subscribing to her blog. She has a particular way of catching details and describing them just how you are thinking them in your head.

I didn't know much of her back story until I read Wild in the Hollow, and maybe now that I think about it, there was more than one reason I was attracted to her words. Along with a certain deepness to her writing she openly writes her working-out between faith and life. I like people who acknowledge they don't have it all together and admit the struggle between faith, life, and church.

The details of our stories may not be the same but we spent a great amount of our lives looking for something...God, and didn't realize it.

*******
In the name of freedom we reach our own demise...

Growing up I always believed in Jesus. Always attended church with my family on Sunday mornings. Read my Bible some, but wasn't sure how it could be applied to my life (don't ever give your child a KJV Bible if you expect them to read and understand a word in it!).

Searching for my own love and acceptance in the world I dated a boy who knew hate better than love.

I was a teenage girl who wanted to live out the words of those hokey country songs you hear on the radio about being young, wild, and free.

By the time I was 21, I was pregnant (out-of-wedlock) with my on-again-off-again second boyfriend.

Yup...wild and free wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Scared and only knowing we wanted our daughter to have a family, we married...
*******

Do you love me now, church? Do you accept me?
"I made a mistake when I came into church. I walked in newly transformed, with a diamond on my finger, and I asked them, "Will you love me now?" If I change the way I dress, calm down some, use your language, and learn to defend the faith well, if I accept the parades of the church and all the fancy fireworks, will you love me then?"
"...The church was so tidy and clean, so aware of how it looked, that I kept my focus on what to wear and how to sound when I sang...The way I understood it, no one suffered in this church, except maybe from physical sickness. No one talked about brokenness or the poor unless it was to mention how someone else wasn't doing well: so sad."
What has hurt me the most in my spiritual walk are churches where brokenness was looked upon as spiritual weakness.

We are all broken and have pasts, though the details differ we all fall short.

Amber's words challenged me to be more settled into who I am and to be proud of where I've been and who I've become.

I may stumble my way to Heaven's gate, messing up and getting it all wrong along the way but I'll get there.

Our put-togetherness may impress people, but our brokenness will connect with them.

Amber's story reminds us in our deepest darkest pains there is redemption and hope because of our God. 






Linking with: Coffee for your Heart and #TellHisStory


I received a copy of Amber's book in exchange for my honest review.
****************************************************************************
Guess what?! You can win a copy of Amber's book! Leave me a comment and I'll use random. org to choose a winner. Winner announced on Monday 8/17.


Amber Haines is a woman haunted by God. Like Eve in the Garden, she craved the fruit that she thought would lead her to freedom. But the whispers of temptation led her instead down a devastating path toward isolation, dissatisfaction, and life-altering choices. In her most broken moment, Amber met God waiting for her in the fallout, freely offering her grace and life.

This is a story of the God who makes himself known in broken places. In prose that is at once lyrical and utterly honest, a brave new voice takes readers on a windswept journey down the path of brokenness to healing, satisfaction, and true intimacy with God. Amber calls readers to dispense with the pretty bows we use to dress up our stories and instead trust God to take our untidy, unfinished lives and make them free, authentic, and whole. Anyone who struggles with doubt or holds secrets, anyone who feels marginalized or like she is missing something, will find in Amber a sister and an inviting voice back home, into the heart of God.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hope Harbor: Book Review


Summer is coming to an end, and so does my annual summer hiatus. I've read many good books in the last couple of months. I'm not sure I have read this many in several years. I think I am officially out of my reading slump!

Over the next few weeks I will be doing book reviews for the books I have read. (Did you know as a blogger you can receive free books? Publishers like Revell, will give bloggers free books in exchange for their honest review)

First up is Hope Harbor...

Do you like a good fiction book? I do too. I love getting lost in a story, especially romance with christian overtures.

I chose to review Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon because lately I've been reading a lot of nonfiction and miss my first love of reading, fiction. Plus I spent a week at the beach on our annual family trip and wanted something a little different to read. I wanted a story I could get lost in. And that is what I found in Hope Harbor. Great beach read!

The story takes place in the small coastal town of Hope Harbor, Oregon. Immediately you are drawn into the story of Tracy Campbell and Michael Hunter and want to know more.

The characters are relatable, mysterious, and interesting because they have both been through life trials that threatens their future happiness.

They deal with past regrets and shame which as a reader makes for an interesting read.

Michael and Tracy try to figure out how to move forward while not being consumed with the past.

In a lovely story that keeps a steady pace, Irene Hannon does a good job of moving the characters along so that you do not get bored.

Michael arrives in the city of Hope Harbor after a tumultuous year of loss and regret. He comes seeking refuge or answers...he's not sure. All he knows is he needed a time out from his life. However when he arrives everything starts to go wrong and he's not sure if he's made a mistake.

After some strange (divine) meetings with 3 of the locals he decides to stay...

Tracy calls Hope Harbor home. She works alongside her uncle at the local cranberry farm-which is struggling to stay afloat. Working the land and living in Hope Harbor is all she has ever wanted, but she is running from a past that has left her grief-stricken and haunted with guilt.

There are a few other characters such as Charley, the local food truck owner who always seems to a strange sense for reading people and giving timely, wise advice.

Anna, the town recluse who refuses to let anyone in after her son abruptly leaves after an argument one day.

Tracy's uncle, Uncle Bud, who raised Tracy after her parents were killed and loves her as his own.

The supporting characters really round out the book and give us additional relational life lessons.

Will Michael find what he is looking for? Will Tracy forgive and allow herself to move forward? You'll have to read the book to find out!

Hope Harbor is a powerful story of the healing powers of forgiveness and love.I really enjoyed the story line and it lent itself to be a good reminder to me on letting go of the past and forgiveness. I think you'll enjoy it too!


(*Disclaimer-I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

How Writing Down Your Goals Will Help You Succeed








"A goal is a dream with a deadline." Mark Batterson
We all want to know how to be successful, right? (<====Click To Tweet)

One way we can do this is to write down what will make us successful-write down our goals. At the beginning of the year we all make New Year’s resolutions and promise ourselves--This year will be different! Somehow two weeks later all the resolutions on our list become guilt-inducing afterthoughts.

Unlike resolutions, goals give us something to work towards over time.

Goals can be broken down into small specific steps, so that each day we can work toward achieving them.

According to Michael Hyatt, “Writing down your goals has proven to be a very effective strategy in accomplishing your goals.”


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