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Saturday, February 24, 2024

February Book Recommendations

Here is this month’s post with some of my favorite book recommendations. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them too! Feel free to post comments with some of your favorites as well.

 

Fiction – 

In Good Company by Jen Turano

I love Jen Turano’s books, and this is one of my favorites! This fun story is set in the gilded age of New York society (1890s). The main character is a lovable young lady earning her way as a nanny. She has a unique view on life and tries to improve herself by expanding her vocabulary (which provides a lot of humor). The hero is a rather clueless young man newly saddled with three young children whose parents died. As the main characters navigate childish disasters, snooty society people, aggressive peacocks, and an unknown enemy out to get them, they learn about who God made them to be and what their purpose is in life. This is a great read! I hope you’ll give it a try. =) 

 

Non-Fiction – 

Living in Love by James and Betty Robison

Since February is the month we think about love, I thought this book was fitting. Even though I’m single, I enjoyed and was blessed by this book. Both James and Betty share from their perspective about how to build a strong, godly marriage. They have great wisdom, practical insight, and relatable stories. A great read for anyone wanting to improve communication and live in a loving way toward their spouse (or in general as well). 

 

Devotional – 

Becoming a Woman Who Walks with God by Cynthia Heald (KU)

This month-long devotional is full of encouraging truths for women. Cynthia’s godly wisdom and love for people comes through in her writing. If you want to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus, this book will be a blessing. 

 

(KU – available in Kindle Unlimited)

 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

January Book Recommendations

I’ve always been a bookworm, and I love sharing with others about good books I’ve read. So I thought it’d be fun to do a post each month with some book recommendations. I hope you’ll find these helpful. And feel free to post comments with some of your favorite book recommendations as well! 

Most of the books I’ll recommend can be found in your local library (paperback, ebook, or audio editions). Many of them are also available in Kindle Unlimited, if you have a subscription to that. (I’ll include a (KU) notation by those ones.) 

 

Fiction – 

Gaal the Conqueror by John White

This book might be harder to find, but it’s one of my favorites. I’ve read it several times through the years. Written for children, it's the 4th book in a series similar to the Narnia books. It’s full of spiritual truths and encouraging wisdom for readers of any age. If you have kids, it might be fun to read it with them. Otherwise, you can also enjoy the world of Anthropos, meet Gaal the Shepherd, and be reminded of life-giving truths.

 

Non-Fiction – 

Encountering Our Wild God by Kim Meeder (KU)

This book is so powerful! It’s well-written, with a compelling personal story in each chapter. Kim does a great job reminding us who our God is and encouraging us to draw near and experience Him every day. I absolutely love this book and have already given away copies to others. I hope you’ll be blessed by it as well! 

 

Devotional – 

What Your Mind Needs for Anxious Moments by Holley Gerth

I really appreciated both the spiritual wisdom and practical suggestions in this book for dealing with anxiety and growing in God's peace. I love Holley’s books. She’s personable, real, encouraging, and upbeat. This book made a great daily devotional. I highly recommend it! 

 

Happy reading! 


 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Hope, Somedays, and New Year’s Vision

I think I’m finally ready. It’s only taken me 26 years…. 26 years of waiting for “someday. 

“Someday, I’ll have a horse again…” or, “Someday, I’ll be ready to let go.” 

Well, “someday” finally came, and I’m ready to let go. I’m ready to sell my saddle – the one tangible connection left to the horse I loved and lost. 

Grief is a strange thing. I’ve lost several loved ones in my lifetime, but with each of them I grieved with hope. I knew they were now with Jesus. They were healed and living in a perfect eternity. And I know I will see them again, in just the blink of an eye. 

With my horse, I don’t have the same confidence. I sure hope she is in heaven, galloping around, spreading joy. I hope the day I arrive and give my signature whistle, she’ll come running up to meet me like she always did. 

I know Jesus created her. I believe He loved her and delighted in her even more than I did. I know He gave her to me for the time I needed her. He didn’t just give me a horse – He gave me a sweet, sassy, smart, loyal friend, in a season when I didn’t have any friends. He knew that horse would trot into my heart and never leave, even when she died. I still can’t think about her without tears, even though I also can’t help but smile whenever I remember her. She was special. My God-given equine kindred spirit. 

Maybe she’s romping around heaven, I hope so…but I don’t know for sure. And that’s what makes it so hard. That’s probably why I’ve held on to her saddle all these years.

As my mom and I prepare to clean out closets and get rid of some things, I’ve been thinking about this idea of “someday.” I have several large tupperwares full of things that are waiting for “someday.” 

“Someday I’ll host dinners and use those nice dishes.”

“Someday I’ll scrapbook 20 years worth of photos.” 

“Someday I’ll read all the books I’ve collected through the years.” 

 

You know what I’m talking about. I’m sure you have your own stash of “someday” stuff. 


So here I am, much older than I thought I’d be, and I still haven’t reached many of the “somedays” I’d hoped to. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. God has taken me on adventures and blessed me with experiences I never planned or expected. I’ve also faced challenges and suffering that I didn’t want, but I ended up grateful for the good Jesus brought from them. I know He is writing the best story for me through it all.  


At this point in my life, my prayer has become, “Lord, help me know which ‘somedays’ to keep praying and believing for. And help me know which ones to let go.” 


It’s a simple prayer. It’s a painful process. But as I’ve learned, living each day by faith is the only way for me to live. I want to keep trusting God’s plan for me and following one step at a time. 


God has already answered this simple prayer in one way – by helping me to finally let go of my “someday” saddle. By helping me to see how good He was to give me such a special horse when I needed her. By giving me hope that some other girl might use my saddle and experience countless hours of joy with her equine kindred spirit. I certainly hope so.  


As we begin a new year, we have our list of “somedays.” We have big dreams. We want circumstances to get better, even while knowing they may get worse. We face many unknowns. How do we move forward with confident vision?


God gave me the following poem as I thought about this new year. It’s the hope-filled vision I want to keep, whatever comes. I hope it encourages you as well. 

 

 

New Year’s Vision

 

New year – same Savior.

Old challenges – fresh grace.

New needs – more faith.

Still sorrow – same comfort.

New joys – more praise.

Same friends – sure love.

New trials – more miracles.

A lost world – same truth.

New experiences – more growth.

Whatever comes – His peace.

Hallelujah – Amen. 

 

 

May God give us wisdom with each of our “somedays” – knowing when to hold on and when to let go. And may we remember daily who He is and that He is our Hope. 

 

Blessed new year! 


Saturday, December 23, 2023

God Gave the Best

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son….” -John 3:16 

We don’t often think of this well-known verse at Christmas, but this year I’ve been reminded of these basic truths again - 

God LOVES us!
God gave us His Son. 

One of my favorite ways to celebrate Christmas is to give gifts to others. It brings me great joy to give something, whether small or significant, to a loved one. It’s a way to communicate to them that I care, that I’m thinking of them, that I delight in them. 

I can only imagine how much greater God’s heart is than my human heart. He gave us a tangible gift so we would always know that He loves us, that He’s always thinking of us, that He delights in us. 

Not only that, but God didn’t just give us a “little” gift or a small token...He gave us the BEST He had. He gave us His beloved Son. 

Pause and consider that for a moment. 

Anytime I start to doubt God’s love or wonder what He’s doing in my life, I go back to this passage in Romans 8: 

"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" -Romans 8:31b-32

God Almighty already gave me the very best He could ever give - Jesus! There is nothing greater than this gift! And along with Jesus, God gives us countless other blessings and gifts. 

So when it feels like life is too hard, the suffering is too much, or something I’ve prayed about for years isn’t happening…I think once again about Christmas, about the gift of a Savior—Emmanuel, and about the heart of my heavenly Father. And the doubts recede and my soul is filled with awe. 

This is our God - the Giver of all good gifts, especially the best gift ever: Jesus! 

Merry Christmas my friends! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Stories of Our God & New Book Release

Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…” Sometimes it’s difficult to tell our stories. Sometimes we don’t know how to put it into words. Perhaps we’re afraid other people won’t understand or may judge us. Yet ultimately, telling our stories is telling about who God is and how He is at work in our lives. And that is powerful. It’s encouraging for us to remember as we share, and it’s encouraging for others to hear.

I’m very grateful that my new book was released this month! Crazy, Hard, Beautiful Journey is a book of stories from my life – stories that tell about who God is and what He has done. It was a very long, difficult process to write this book, but it was also healing and encouraging for me. I pray it will be a blessing and encouragement to many people, especially those going through difficult circumstances 

(If you know someone who might need this book of encouraging stories, it’s available on amazon, and it’s in kindle unlimited.)

Here is one chapter from the book. I hope it encourages you today. 

 

Excerpt from Crazy, Hard, Beautiful, Journey – Stories of God’s Unfailing Grace, Goodness, and Divine Purpose

 

Chapter 12

Trustworthy

 

2017

 

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer….” –1 Peter 3:12


The new year didn’t start well for me. I was very sick for the last two weeks of December and the first two weeks of January. It did give me a lot of time to reflect and pray, which was good. I had planned a trip to Texas for a conference, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it. Thankfully by the middle of January I was up to traveling again, so I kept my plans and went. 


I ended up having another amazing trip to Texas! God not only provided for every detail along the way, He also gave me some special and unexpected blessings. 


During the ten days I was there, I felt a growing sense that I was supposed to move to Texas. Even though I’d been somewhat “homeless” and moved around for much of 2016, the idea of officially moving to Texas felt like a huge step for me. 


When I got back to Florida, I kept praying about it. I told God I needed three big things if I was going to move. I needed a part-time job in Texas. I needed a place to stay. And I needed a vehicle. 


Would you believe that in less than three weeks God had provided all three? 


First, I shared my thoughts about moving with my mom and asked for her prayers. A couple of days later she said she’d been praying about it, and she wanted me to use her minivan as long as I needed it! 

 

Second, a friend from Texas came to Florida in February for a conference, and I was able to visit with her. As we were talking, I said something like, “I think you need to hire me to help you. What do you think?” The next day she hired me, and I started working that week! 

 

Third, two different friends called and offered me temporary housing in Texas! I ended up choosing the place closer to my job, which worked out great. 

 

By early March I was packing and preparing to move my life to another state.

 

I was in awe of how God had done the three miracles I asked Him for so quickly and easily! It reminded me that He is God after all! He can do anything. Nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing is too small or too big for Him to do. 

 

Sometimes it may seem like certain things are too hard for God…but that’s actually because He is choosing not to do them. I’ve seen Him do too many miracles to ever question His power or ability. At times, though, I question His wisdom or His heart. If He can do anything, why doesn’t He do the things I keep asking for? 

 

Why doesn’t He ease suffering when we’ve prayed for years?

Why doesn’t He provide what seems so desperately needed?
Why doesn’t He fulfill the dream that’s been waiting so long?

 

If I could answer all of these questions easily, then God probably wouldn’t be God. The fact that we can’t understand all His ways reminds us that He is greater than we are. He sees everything, while we only see a small portion. He is working for the good of all, not just for our ease or comfort in the moment. 

 

There is, and always will be while we’re on this earth, an element of mystery to God. We know He can do anything and everything with ease. We also know at times He chooses not to do the things we ask.

 

I often wish God would answer my prayers the way He did in this situation. I wish every prayer was answered with a quick miracle, provision, and open door. In reality, I can’t imagine how different my life would be if God always did that – or more importantly, how different my relationship with Him would be. If He always gave a quick, easy answer to my prayers, would I have the same trust in Him? Would I have the same intimacy and fellowship with Him? I don’t think so. 

 

I think we need both experiences in our lives and our relationship with God – the quick, miraculous answers to prayer, and the waiting, wondering, praying-by-faith seasons. The miracles remind us how awesome and able God is. The waiting and wondering reminds us how wise, patient, and present He is. 

 

No matter what we need or how God answers our prayers, the eternal truth is that He is trustworthy. However He chooses to work in our lives, He is good. He is perfect in wisdom. He loves us! And He is working out His mysterious and perfect purposes for us and for His glory.  

 

“The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” –Psalm 145:13b

 

 

For Reflection –

How has your relationship with God deepened from both His miraculous answers to prayer and seasons of waiting on Him? 

 

What helps you to remember and believe that God is always trustworthy?


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

A Merry Heart

“A merry heart does good, like medicine….” –Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

When life is hard, heavy, frustrating, complicated, painful…it’s important to remember this verse. Jesus has given us ways to have a merry heart even when circumstances are anything but.

In addition to all our spiritual blessings, today I’m thinking about some of the random things that make me smile, laugh, feel happy or joyful. There are actually a lot of them…here are a few: 

Children’s laughter – so precious!

Giraffes, hedgehogs, and dolphins – God certainly displays His sense of humor, tender heart, and joy through these animals He created.

Christmas music – never fails to lift my spirits.

Reading funny children’s books – the classics never get old.

The opening of “The Lone Ranger” tv show, with the William Tell overture playing and the Lone Ranger racing along on his white steed – always makes me smile. 

Waterfalls – looking at pictures or experiencing them brings delight!

Snoopy cartoons, gifs, or memes – can’t help but love the little pup.

Chocolate, ice cream, watermelon (and other tasty foods) – they taste good and bring happy memories to mind.

Watching squirrels chase each other around the yard – highly entertaining.

Quoting silly movie lines with family or friends – can’t do it without laughing!

Rocking in a rocking chair – one of life’s simple pleasures.

 

What are some things that make you smile, laugh, or bring you joy? 


Ultimately, knowing Jesus is what gives me joy and happiness in the core of my being. I can’t help but feel joyful when I spend time with Him. 


“I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.” –Psalm 31:7